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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 13, 2016

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall. - Eleanor Roosevelt

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Tirreno-Adriatico Sunday stage cancelled

Tirreno-Adriatico snow

RCS sport posted this picture as part of its announcement that Sunday's Tirreno-Adriatico stage 5 will not be held.

The organizers put out this release (badly translated by yours truly): The following meteorological conditions are expected for the 5th stage (Foligno-Monte San Vicino): rain - low temperatures - risk of snow above 800 meters above sea level. Thus, it was agreed to cancel the 5th stage. This avoids risking the general safety and health of participating riders.

Stage 5 profile

Here's the profile of what would have been a tough day of racing in Umbria and Marche, usually fantastic areas for racing.

Paris-Nice news from Tinkoff

The team sent me this report:

Stage 6 was to be the day the GC standings were blown apart. Alberto Contador danced up La Madone d’Utelle to take 3rd in the stage. An exceptional day for Alberto who, with strong support from his Tinkoff teammates, sees the race move into its final day second in the GC standings – with everything still to race for.

The Race to the Sun took on the mountains for the second day, with a 177km stage taking in seven categorised climbs – two of which were first category. It was a day where the climbers hoped to finally make their mark on the GC standings, with an uphill finish on the first category La Madone d’Utelle.

From the outset came the attacks, with a break leading for much of the first 100km of the route. As the race approached the final climb, Tinkoff riders took control of the pace and pushed to get their team leader in position. As the race leader, Michael Matthews, was dropped in Cote de Duranus, the peloton knew a shake up of the GC was coming.

At the 145km marker, Trofimov, Poljanski and Majka each took points at the top of the Cote de Levens, and minutes later, Contador surged to the front to take 2 points in the intermediate sprint in Levens. Tinkoff’s intentions were clear. With 10km to go, Majka and Contador went, and while a small group of fifteen held on, the gaps grew. It was on the Madone d’Utelle that the decisive move was to come in the GC contest. After an incredible effort by Majka, Contador went solo, taking two riders with him, 5km from the finish. Crossing the line a second after the stage winner, Ilnur Zakarin, Alberto could only wait and see how long the other GC contenders would take to cross the line.

Ilnur Zakarin

Ilnur Zakarin wins at Madone d’Utelle

Alberto knew the stage would be tough, and had hoped to put more time into his rivals. "We tried to make this stage as hard as possible since the start. We didn't want to give even one minute of rest, so that our adversaries reached the last climb as tired as possible. I was feeling well but the climb wasn't as tough as I would have liked. There was a bigger split than I expected but I knew it would be very difficult to make a big difference. I'm very happy with my form but not with the result. I would have, obviously, liked to be further ahead but we have another day ahead and we'll see what we can do.”

Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, described today’s race. “Today was a really hard stage. The team was strong and they did well to make it really tough. There were still a lot of guys in front of Alberto on GC so we had to work hard to get rid of them, and this worked, and then Alberto did a strong ride on the climb. He just couldn't get rid of Thomas at the end but all is still to play for tomorrow.”

The support of the Tinkoff riders for their team leader was exceptional. De Jongh continued. “We started working with Michael Valgren, then Matteo Tosatto then Robert Kiserlovski and the other guys - everyone did their share of the work, and the overall team performance was great.”

Ahead of the final stage, Alberto knew the challenges it would present. “It will be difficult. Sky has a strong squad and it will be complicated to upend the GC. We can't rule out anything, of course, but with the summit finish that cancelled on stage 3, I knew my possibilities were restricted. Geraint Thomas is strong and it will hard to take his spot."

The race’s final stage will see the winner crowned. Starting and finishing in Nice, the 134km route returns once more to the mountains with six categorised climbs, becoming progressively tougher as the day goes on, before a final descent into Nice. De Jongh was clear the race was far from over. “Second place overall is a good position heading into tomorrow which will still be a hard stage and we're going to be going for it again so we will see what happens. It's not over yet.”

And here's Lampre-Merida's Paris-Nice release:

The course of the 6th stage of the Paris-Nice (177 km, Nice-La Madone d'Uteil) had no flat road, considering that the riders covered 7 KOM hills, the first one after 10 km in the race and the last one corresponding with the summit arrival.

On the first climb, the Côte de Gattières, no one succeeded in escaping from the bunch, but 10 km after the summit of the climb 6 riders (Gautier,Terpstra, Rast, Duchesne, Vachon, Siskevicius) started a breakaway, which was joined also by Lampre-Merida's athlete Grmay with other two cyclists. The bunch, which was led by the Tinkoff, controlled the breakaway and neutralized it at 20 km to go.

On the final climb, the selection became heavy and Lampre-Merida succeeded in being represented by two riders in the 35 members group which was leading the race: Rui Costa and Meintjes.

The battle in the head grouo became at 10 km to go and Rui Could face perfectly the situation, trying also to attack, causing the reaction of the main opponents.

In the approach to the final kilometer, Contador attacked followed by Zakarin and Thomas and the trio succeeded in reaching the arrival for a three-men sprint which was won by Zakarin. The first group of chasers crossed the finish line with a gap of 31": there was Rui Costa (who was 7th in the stage classification) with other 5 riders.

Thomas is the new yellow jersey, Rui Costa is 11th at 7" to the top 10.

"My legs and my conditions are very good, I'm really happy to receive these feedbacks from my body, especially because they allowed me to compete with the top climbers - Rui Costa explained - Today stage was really complicated, we covered many climbs and we rode on winding roads where it was fundamental to pay always a high level of attention.

"Tomorrow I'll face the final stage with a positive attitude: it will be very difficult to enter the top 10, especially because the quality of the opponents is very high, but it would be great if I'll be able to achieve this result".

Tinkoff sent this Tirreno-Adriatico report:

Tirreno-Adriatico’s points leader, Peter Sagan, further cemented his position after a spirited ride in stage 4 of the race, finishing 7th in the sprint in Foligno. In a stage that was to favour the all-rounders, Peter showed fighting spirit as he attacked the peloton before contesting the final bunch sprint. The Maglia Rossa is his for another day.

The Race of the Two Seas reached its midway point today. With a challenging 222km route that passed over four categorised climbs, it was also the race’s longest day. This was a day when the climbers and all-rounders had a chance to make an impact on the standings.

After an early break, Tinkoff riders were instrumental in pulling in the gap. At 30km to go, after catching the lone breakaway rider, the race to the finish began, with teams wondering who was going to make the first move. With 7.9km to go, Sagan, wearing the Maglia Rossa of the points leader, made a move – testing the waters when the other riders were looking the other way – making his intention to take a stage win clear. A marked man in the peloton, however, this wasn’t to be. After a last minute attack by Stephen Cummings, the eventual stage winner, Peter contested the sprint with the peloton, taking 7th place.

Steve Cummings

Steve Cummings wins the fourth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico

Peter was pleased with his performance after a long day’s racing. “It was a really long day. I am happy it started raining after the finish, not before! I tried to attack but everybody wanted to catch me, although I did sprint and won the group.”

Lars Michaelsen, Tinkoff’s Sport Director, was pleased with the racing, but it was not without its frustrations. “We had a good day, apart from when Roman Kreuziger crashed with 46km to go. A rider fell in front and he had to wait a while for a bike. He got back on but it cost him.”

Michaelsen continued. “When the selection came on the final climb, only Roman and Peter made the front group. Roman was on the limit to do the job we planned for Peter. He managed to win the sprint behind the riders away showing his strength again but we were looking at today as a possibility to win. But circumstances were that we were limited at the end. Our strategy was good and we were there with the strongest in the finale but we were limited after Roman's crash.”

LottoNL-Jumbo's report on the Ronde van Drenthe:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Dylan Groenewegen placed third in the Tour of Drenthe today. The nearly 200-kilometre race was won by Jesper Asselman (Team Roompot) who escaped in the last few kilometres. Second place went to Tim Ariesen (SEG Racing Academy).

Jesper Asselman

Jesper Asselman wins the 2016 Ronde van Drenthe

The 54th edition of Energie Wacht Rond van Drenthe was held in good weather, good for echelons until the wind let up.

"We placed third today with Dylan, but I'm not satisfied," said sports director Merijn Zeeman after the race. "We let down ourselves today and it does not feel good. We had victory in mind, but after the first time up the VAM mountain, we lost the initiative. Dylan was alone with a force manoeuvre by team Roompot, which incidentally earned them the win. But from our side, it should have never happen. "

In the final, a large leading group of 17 riders rode away on the VAM mountain.

"We wanted to keep it in check today, with only a small group allowed to move free,” Zeeman added. "That all fell apart. Dylan rode a fantastic race, but even if he had won, I would not be satisfied because it would’ve been an individual and not a team victory.”

"It definitely could have gone better today," Dylan Groenewegen added. "Just before the VAM mountain, I had a flat tyre and got a wheel from Koen Bouwman. I fought me back to the front and made the right escape, but all alone. At some point, you have to gamble. Two men went and I won the sprint for third place. A missed opportunity!

“But I'm happy with my form and won’t dwell too much on this. We have to get going as a team again. We will focus on Wednesday in the Nokere Koerse. We will straighten it out.”

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