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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 17, 2016

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Tour of Switzerland team reports

Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's news:

Wilco Kelderman took over the leader's jersey today in the Tour de Suisse stage six. The LottoNL-Jumbo rider finished fifth in the stage and took the yellow jersey from Frenchman Pierre Latour (AG2R). Pieter Weening (Roompot) won the stage after escaping on the last climb from the leading group.

"It’s nice that I have the jersey,” said Kelderman. “I felt good today, the team put me in the perfect spot at the beginning of the final climb and I was then able to follow. I was able to accelerate in the last hundred metres.”

During the rainy sixth stage a group of 15 escaped early.

"Today was not in itself a hectic stage,” said Sports Director Jan Boven. "AG2R had everything under control, it wasn’t exciting until the descent of the Klaussenpass. It was wet and twisty, and Izagirre benefited from it. He quickly took a lead of 4'30”.

"It was mainly another cold day,” added Kelderman. "Especially, on the Klaussenpass, it was really cold, foggy and wet. I did not even realise Izagirre was away. Only in the valley, where it was clear, was I warm again. "

Wilco kelderman

Wilco Kelderman gets the leader's jersey

On the final climb, Izagirre was caught and the group with Kelderman became increasingly small. Kelderman won the sprint from his elite group with Andrew Talansky and Warren Barguil. They are now the only two within 30 seconds of Kelderman in the standings.

"It's nice that Kelderman now has the lead. We're going to do everything to defend the jersey,” Boven added. "Tomorrow is a special day, we climb up to 2700 metres. And above 2000 meters, it’s always exciting. We saw that Kelderman is good and hopefully, he can hold that level in the coming days."

“The higher the better,” said Kelderman. “I am back from altitude training so I'm used to the altitude. And then, of course, I look forward to the time trial. A good classification should definitely be possible by the end of the race."

Here's what BMC had to report:

The second mountain stage of the Tour de Suisse was not only a battle of the General Classification contenders but a brutal battle against the the cold and rain.

An early breakaway of 15 riders including Philippe Gilbert went away after 20 kilometers, to maintain a gap of five minutes for most of the dayAs the breakaway started to disintegrate on the final climb of the day, the battle of the GC riders was heating up. It was a disappointing day for Tejay van Garderen who lost contact with the GC group on the final climb to come home 6’22” behind stage winner Peter Weening (Roompot-Oranje Peloton) and 1’59” behind new race leader Wilco Kelderman (Team LottloNL-Jumbo).

Van Garderen now sits in 13th place on GC, 2’09 behind Kelderman.

Van Garderen and Hurtado

Van Garderen suffers in the cold rain

Tejay van Garderen: “Today’s result is a bit disappointing. I used to be a specialist in cold and miserable days and now I seem to struggle more than others when it comes to the cold. To be honest, it’s the only thing I can put my finger on. I was feeling good all race up until today, so I don’t think it’s so much a question of form. At the top of the first climb I froze up. I don’t know if there is anything else I can attribute it to. It was generally a pretty bad day for a lot of guys and the fact that I wasn’t the only GC guy dropped shows that I wasn’t the only one suffering.”

“The fitness is still good. It’s better to have a bad day now than in the Tour de France. Of course it would be nice to have a good result here heading into the Tour de France too. But the race isn’t over, there’s still a lot of climbing and the time trial to come. When it comes to the Tour de France you can’t have any weaknesses no matter what the weather is like. I’m going to speak to the medical team and see what I can do to better deal with the cold and days like today heading into the Tour de France.”

Philippe Gilbert: “I think on a day like today it is better in front. I was trying to get in the breakaway with Danilo Wyss. We almost made it on one attempt but the peloton was chasing hard and they pulled us back. On the next attempt we were successful at getting away. It was a good group and we quickly organised ourselves and developed a good gap. The bunch was still riding pretty fast but everyone was pulling so once the gap was out to two minutes, we slowed down a little.”

“On the descent of the Klausenpass, Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal) and I were alone. He was riding full gas but I knew it was so far from the finish, and the guys were just behind so I knew we would come back together. At the bottom of the final climbs I was really cold, and probably hadn’t eaten enough so I wasn’t feeling good. I found my rhythm again but the GC guys passed me in the last kilometer.”

Fabio Baldato: “When Izagirre went we knew it was a dangerous move. So we started pulling hard at the front of the bunch and were then joined by some of the other GC teams. At the bottom of the final climb we told Darwin to go full gas and try and bring the gap down.”

“Yesterday Tejay was feeling super strong so we really wanted to go hard today and see what could happen. It was so cold and that definitely had an impact on his legs. It’s clear when there are multiple GC contenders dropped that it’s a tough day. The day before he was feeling super good so we wanted to go hard today. Tomorrow is such a hard day that anything could happen. It’s not over yet.”

LottoNL-Jumbo's Ster ZLM Toer news:

Jos van Emden retained his yellow jersey lead in the Ster ZLM Toer today. Wesley Kreder won the second stage in Oss, the Netherlands. The team Roompot cyclist remained from an early escape. Dylan Groenewegen sprinted to fifth place, second in the bunch behind Marcel Kittel.

Early in the stage, a group rode free with Jasper Hamilink (Metec-TKH), Merry Korevaar (Rabobank), Twan van den Brand (Jo Piels) and Wesley Kreder (Roompot). Kreder beat his rivals and 10 seconds later, Kittel led the group sprint.

Jos van Emden

Jos van Emden riding the race's opening time trial

“Escapees have an advantage in the rain,” Van Emden said. “The final was harder than you might think. I had to go deep. I was hoping that Dylan was going to win, and not Kittel."

"It was a race with two goals: the leader's jersey and a sprint win,” said Sports Director Nico Verhoeven. "If some other team has the leader's jersey you can control the break with two teams, but it all fell on our shoulders. You may have to sacrifice everyone, and doing so, you pull for another rival rider."

“With only 200 meters out, I started my sprint and only Kittel passed me,” Groenewegen said. “Unfortunately, it was for the fourth place. I am satisfied, I sprinted well.

“Today, we spent the whole day riding in the lead, but we have strong men here to do so. I think we will have two more chances, one tomorrow and one Sunday.”

Keukeleire wins the opening stage of the Tour of Slovenia

Here's the story from Orica-GreenEdge:

Belgian Jens Keukeleire took the victory on stage one of the Tour of Slovenia today after outstanding work in the finale by Australian teammate Jack Haig who finished fourth.

A tactically sound day unfolded for ORICA-GreenEDGE with Haig splitting the race on the final climb after a vicious acceleration before leading Keukeliere out for the sprint and the win ahead of Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida).

“It was a hard stage today,” said Keukeleire. “There were a few teams trying to control the race but it was a good course for me, I’m pretty fast on that kind of finish."

“I have to thank the whole team but especially Jack (Haig). His attack on the final climb got rid of a lot of the faster guys and then he committed fully to set me up perfectly for the finish.

“We raced very intelligently today and also with some luck. I am really happy with how we raced as a team, the way we attacked in the final and I'm thankful that I had the strength to finish it off.”

Sport director Matt Wilson was pleased with the result and full team's performance. “A really great performance from the team today,” said Wilson. “The course was tougher than we anticipated and in the end that worked out well for us."

“Jack buried himself in the finale after a superb attack on the last climb and Jens (Keukeleire) was very strong in the sprint to the line. It couldn’t have gone any better for a five-man team today.

“We came here with the objective of winning stages. We have achieved that on the first day and also taken the race lead. There is no pressure on us but we are happy with our position and will do everything we can to defend the leader's jersey.”

How it happened:

A beautiful sunny day in Ljubljana welcomed riders to the start of the Tour of Slovenia today with the action beginning immediately from the flag.

Five riders went clear early in the stage and with the peloton sitting back, the quintet formed the day's breakaway.

After 70 kilometres of racing over the lumpy, undulating parcours the group had a lead of over six minutes.

Thirty kilometres later and the situation on the road had not changed, but the weather had. The rain started to fall as the peloton passed through the feed zone.

The fast pace of the race continued into the final 40kilometres as the advantage of the breakaway began to fall below the two-minute mark.

Dimension-Data and Lampre-Merida were doing the lion’s share of the work at the front of the peloton as Team Sky began to move up the field with under 30kilometres left to race.

Five became four with 25kilometres to go and the escapees now had less than a minute on the peloton. The catch and subsequent sprint finish seemed inevitable.

Approaching the finishing circuit the breakaway completely fell apart as attacks began to spring from the peloton. Around forty riders were left at the front with only ten kilometres to go, including Keukeleire and Haig for ORICA-GreenEDGE.

Haig attacked ferociously on the short but steep final climb and split the group before unleashing another acceleration with Keukeleire on his wheel. As Haig pulled off Keukeleire gave it everything and held off Ulissi and Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon18) to take the stage win and the race leader's yellow jersey.

Haig impressed further by finishing in fourth place after carrying his speed from the lead out all the way to the line.

Tomorrow’s second stage is the mountainous Queen stage and covers 217kilometres from Nova Gorica to Golte. It is a brutal parcours with a few thousand metres of elevation before a very tough summit finish.

Tour of Slovenia stage one results:

1. Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 04:27:34
2. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) ST
3. Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon18) ST

General classification after stage one:

1. Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 04:27:34
2. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) ST
3. Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon18) ST
4. Jack Haig (ORICA-GreenEDGE) +0:03

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