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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 24, 2016

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An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics. Plutarch (AD 46 - 120)

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Most of the major cycling countries are having their national championships through June 26. I've started posting the results. If you are interested in historical national champ info, here's a lot of data.

Tour de France announcements

This came from Giant-Alpecin:

Team Giant-Alpecin is pleased to announce its final nine-rider lineup for the second Grand Tour of the 2016 season, the Tour de France. The 103rd edition of the Tour returns home for the start in the city of Mont Saint-Michel, the first-ever Grand Départ in the region of Normandy.

With an impressive history of nine stage wins in the previous three editions of the Tour de France, Team Giant-Alpecin heads to this year’s race once again with the goal of stage success in the sprint stages with a difficult finale, the intermediate stages and the mountain stages. In addition, the team aims to further develop its riders and enhance the quality of the entire team, with an increasing focus on the overall classification.

Simon Geschke (GER), who took a fantastic victory in last year’s stage 17, will be lining up for his fourth Grande Boucle. French climber Warren Barguil, who finished 14th in his Tour debut last year, will be looking to take another step forward in his long-term GC development and will aim to improve on this result.

Simon Geschke

Simon Geschke

Also in the lineup is John Degenkolb (GER), who will focus on the sprint stages with a tough finale. Degenkolb has had a difficult comeback from the training accident in January. He has shown a great deal of dedication and hard work in making his return to competition, and he made good progress over the last few months of racing at the Amgen Tour of California and the Critérium du Dauphiné. Following the Giro d’Italia, the team identified participation in the Tour as the ideal next step toward Tom Dumoulin’s (NED) second goal of the season, in Rio. Dumoulin will be primarily focusing on stage results.

Laurens ten Dam (NED) is set to make his eighth appearance in the Tour de France and his first with the team. He will bring crucial experience and will provide valuable support in the mountains. Georg Preidler (AUT) showed his potential during this year’s Giro d’Italia with a third place in the queen stage, one of three top-10 results for him in the Giro. Team Giant-Alpecin’s lineup for its sixth start at the Tour is completed by road captain Roy Curvers (NED) and trusty lead-out men Ramon Sinkeldam (NED) and Albert Timmer (NED). 

Coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said ahead of the Tour: “Our goals will be to go for a stage victory, as we see several opportunities to achieve that, and also to explore our possibilities in the GC with Warren. We have made a long-term plan with him, aiming to develop his general classification performance over the next few years. This will be his second appearance in his home Grand Tour, and we believe a top-15 is again a realistic target for him.

“We have a great blend of experience and youth in our lineup. This year’s Tour de France offers more opportunities in the mountains, with some tough stages, and we took that into consideration when we made our final selection.”

RACE: Tour de France (WT)

DATE: 02-24/07/2016

COACHES: Adriaan Helmantel (NED), Marc Reef (NED), Aike Visbeek (NED)

Here's Lotto-Soudal's Tour news:

Lotto Soudal will head to the Tour de France with these nine riders: Lars Bak, Thomas De Gendt, Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.

Manager Marc Sergeant: “I think we’ve made a logical choice. Eight of the nine riders were part of the team last year as well and Jürgen Roelandts is back after one season without riding the Tour. At the Giro he noticed how valuable it is to contribute to the team’s success and with his qualities he’s cut out for that work.”

“Our goals are clear. We aim for a stage win with André Greipel. There is a lot of competition between the sprinters, but the past twelve months André has proven to still be able to perform on the important moments. During the Tour he can rely on his sprint train. There are a few stages where Tony Gallopin can have a go, but of course riders like Adam Hansen and Thomas De Gendt can take their chance as well. They have a free role.”

Lars Bak

Lars Bak

“Lars Bak is part of the selection after a successful test at Halle-Ingooigem yesterday and the medical staff off our team, who also consulted doctor Toon Claes, gave him the green light. After his crash on the last Giro stage there was only a slim chance he would be able to ride the Tour, but right from day one he did all he could to grab that chance. In a team like ours a rider like Lars is very important to work during the flat stages.”

“Bart De Clercq isn’t selected for the Tour. I understand he will be disappointed, but I think that just like last year, he can aim for a good overall result at the Tour de Pologne and a good Vuelta later this season. That way Bart can pursue a good personal result instead of working for the team at the Tour.”

National Championships news:

Tinkoff sent me this:

Michael Valgren continued Tinkoff’s strong run in the time trial championships this week with his best ever finish in the Danish time trial championships, posting the second fastest time to take home the silver medal. Yesterday, Maciej Bodnar was crowned Polish time trial champion while Manuele Boaro also rode to a silver medal in Italy.

Michael raced around the 43km course, starting and finishing in Vordingborg, in a time of 51’45”, putting him just 12” slower than first place. It was a step up from his previous best finish at the time trial when he finished third in 2014. 

Michale Valgren

Michael Valgren

"It's a bittersweet feeling to get the silver medal after such a close race," commented Michael Valgren. "I came to the Danish TT national championships with a goal to finish in the top five, so the second place makes me happy. On the other hand, being crowned national champion is what every rider aspires to and missing it by only 12 seconds makes me a bit disappointed. Nevertheless, I am very happy with my performance, my legs were strong and I felt in good form, despite the fact I hadn't trained a lot for such a time-trial."

"It was a tough race on a nearly-flat parcours with strong wind. My focus now shifts to the road race on Sunday and the rest of the season with Tinkoff," concluded Valgren.  

In Slovakia, Michael Kolar did not finish the 50km time trial after suffering due to the extreme temperatures at the race. Attention now turns to the road races, with the first being Saturday’s Spanish road race where Alberto Contador and Jesús Hernandez line up for Tinkoff.

Danish National Time Trial Championships

1. Martin Toft (DEN) Team Almeborg-Bornholm 00:51:43
2. Michael Valgren (DEN) Tinkoff +00:00:12
3. Kasper Asgreen (DEN) Team Trefor +00:00:29

I'm sure LottoNL-Jumbo was happy to send this out:

Victor Campenaerts became the Belgian Time Trial Champion with a time of 46’18" over 38 kilometres. The Team LottoNL-Jumbo cyclist was three seconds faster than Yves Lampaert (Etixx). Ben Hermans (BMC) was third with a gap of 12 seconds. Sep Vanmarcke placed fifth.

After the first intermediate point at 14 kilometers, it became clear he would be among Lampaert, Hermans and Campenaerts. Lampaert had the fastest time ahead of Hermans and Campenaerts. This was also the top three after 24 kilometers and Campenaerts remained at eight seconds behind Lampaert.

"Everything went well, I felt that everything was good and that it could be my day today," said Campenaerts. "I am very happy, I've lived for this since the winter. Last year, I did not pace my race well and I did so perfectly this year. I used to swim and race triathlon, which are of course just like time trials, so I am good at spliting a race into sections."

“Campenaerts kept himself disciplined to the plan," said Trainer Mathieu Heijboer. "Last year, Campenaerts broke down in the last part and he learned a lot from that. He divided his race well and the time trial was only secured in the last part.

“We have a lot of confidence in Campenaerts, this was an important goal for a long time. Unfortunately, his preparation was upset by a crash in Romandie forcing him to miss the Giro. Then he just got sick so you could not call his preparation spotless."

"My time trials have always been good, but I did not win much," said the new champion. "I am glad that this works as a professional in my third year. I hope I can use my time trial in the future to shine in short stage races.”

Sep Vanmarcke finished fifth after he was at the first intermediate point a second slower than his team-mate Campenaerts. Heijboer added, "According to the team, Vanmarcke achieved a great fifth place, but he suffered from the heat a bit."

Movistar also had a good day racing against the clock:

Jon Izagirre, Dowsett claim TT titles for Movistar Team: Just like in the previous two editions of the race, the Movistar Team made a clean sweet of the Spanish TT Championships' podium, repeting -though in a different order- the same one that reigned two years ago in Ponferrada. Jon Izagirre put an icing on top of the best season he's completed as a pro with a stunning display in a tough, warm course in Ibi, near Alicante (40.95km), beating two big specialists and team-mates in the process: Jonathan Castroviejo (silver) and Alejandro Valverde (bronze).

Alex Dowsett

Alex Dowsett at the 2015 World's

After Jesús Herrada - 4th at the end - set the early reference within those riders starting just after 6pm, a very close duel between Valverde, Izagirre and Castroviejo started to form after 21km: only seven seconds separated them, in that very order, at the intermediate check. Ultimately, the amazing fitness and good final pace by Ion got the better of his team-mates in the closing meters uphill -22” over ‘Castro’; 25” better against ‘Bala’-, Izagirre claiming his fourth success of the 2016 season -GP Indurain, TT wins in Romandie and the Tour de Suisse- and the Eusebio Unzué-led squad's 28th this year, with eleven different riders.

Jon Izagirre: "Following my victory in Suisse, I was really willing to come to this course and go for the win. I knew I could do well, but I was completely conscious that this was a different story from last week: quite longer, always demanding - you had to stay calm and distribute your energies well during the course. The work by the team with the time gaps was really good - I was having information all the time, knowing that 'Castro', 'Bala' and me were doing pretty equal. Once we got over the Revoltes climb and coming into the final 6, 7 kilometers, I took my gamble: giving 100% without knowing if it would be a win or a silver medal. Fortunately, it all went well.

"I've got that feeling that this one really is my best season in the pro scene. Ever since the start of the year, I got to keep this regularity over all courses, doing well no matter the terrain. That makes you incredibly confident and gives you a reason to keep working hard, so you can keep success coming. Canyon's new bike has been completely satisfying: the new materials are really good, which is amazing considering the amounts of work they have always put to bring us the best quality. Claiming wins from the first race with this Speedmax has been a result of that. Now TDF and the Games, you say? Well', one would have to ask Eusebio and Javier Mínguez [Spain's national team coach]; I'd like to ride both of them, but it's their choice."

Dowsett claims record-setting fifth title in GB: At the same time the Ibi TT was ridden, Alex Dowsett claimed a fantastic fifth British TT title in Stockton-on-Tees, becoming the first-ever rider to go past Stuart Dangerfield's record of four victories. The 46.4km course was the path for another exhibition by the Essex rider (55:38.523), coming 1'16" faster across the line than James Gullen (silver), with Ryan Perry in bronze medal position. It's the Great Baddow rider's fourth consecutive champion jersey in Movistar Team colours, having kept this success line since 2013.

Alex Dowsett: "Win number five is as special as the first. I get to wear this for another year. It saves Endura making another one or a blue one. It's always special. It's nice that I didn't have any problems this year, every year the nationals seems to throw something at me but that went very smoothly, fantastic course. Stockton should be very proud of what they put on today, very spectator friendly and this is what time trials need".

Here's what Etixx-Quick Step had to say:

Top 3 finish for Lampaert and Vakoč at ITT Nationals

The Belgian came second in Postel, while Petr rounded out the podium in the Czech Republic for the second year in row.

Last week, Yves Lampaert was part of the Etixx – Quick-Step team for Tour de Suisse, and besides helping the likes of Fernando Gaviria and Maximiliano Richeze on the flat, the 25-year-old also showed his form was improving in the time trial, an encouraging sign before the National Championships, where his goal was to take the victory, after coming second at the previous edition.

Last rider to set off on the 38 km course in Postel, Yves recorded the fastest time at both intermediate checkpoints and was on course for getting his maiden win of the year, but unfortunately had to settle with the runner-up spot, just three seconds behind winner Victor Campanaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo). Besides Lampaert, Etixx – Quick-Step had two more riders in the top 10, neo-pro Laurens De Plus (7th) and Julien Vermote (9th).

"I had a fast start and after 15 kilometers I held back a little, before going really fast again. It was really warm out there and such conditions hit your body hard. The parcours suited me and I came here after working hard in the past weeks, especially as I wanted to make up for missing the Spring Classics campaign. To finish second hurts a little, as it was a big chance to finally take the victory, but I hope to return here next year and have another shot", Yves said right after the finish.

Also on Thursday afternoon, but in the Czech Republic, Petr Vakoč managed to come into the spotlight and notch up his third podium of the season. Held around Hodonin, on a 50-km long route, the individual time trial race wasn't an easy one, but 23-year-old Petr – who is poised to make his Tour de France debut next week – left it all on the road and concluded the event in third position, just like in 2015, behind new champion Leopold König (Team Sky) and Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18).

Petr Vakoc

Petr Vakoč earlier this year

For Petr, victorious in three races this season, this was his best result of the year in an individual time trial, one which bodes well ahead of the road race scheduled on Sunday: "It was a very tough ITT, in which I had a strong start and finish, but struggled in the middle, as I still felt some fatigue from the Tour de Suisse. I wanted to win, and even though in the end I came on the podium, I am satisfied with my performance, because I made some big improvements in this area and it all paid off, as I was much closer to the first place than 12 months ago."

Quinziato extends with BMC

This update came to me from the team:

23 June 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Newly crowned Italian National Time Trial Champion Manuel Quinziato has renewed his contract with BMC Racing Team.

2017 will be Quinziato's seventh year with BMC Racing Team, during which time he has proved to be a very valuable team member, General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

Manuel Quinziato

Manuel Quinziato winning stage 7 of the 2015 Eneco Tour

"Manuel Quinziato is one of our key support riders and a rider that any of our leaders would be happy to have at their side. He is, as he showed yesterday, an exceptional time trialist and has been instrumental in our team trial wins over the past few years. It's a pleasure to have him remain with BMC Racing Team," Ochowicz explained.

For Quinziato, it was an easy decision to stay with BMC Racing Team. "I'm not so young but I think I have shown a good level in this last year, both when I was working for the team and also when riding for myself. I'm really enjoying being here in BMC Racing Team. I've been a professional cyclist for 15 years but these past few years were the best of my career from the sporting point of view, but also for my happiness and how I enjoy riding a bike as my job," Quinziato said.

"It's a really good atmosphere in the team, but also the highest level of professionalism possible, with the staff and riders. Since I've been with BMC Racing Team I haven't even thought of moving elsewhere."

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