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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 17, 2016

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

Why is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person? - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

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Upcoming racing:

Tinkoff racing plans

This came from the team:

After a strong showing at the recent Tour of Langkawi, consistently placing in the top ten, Michael Kolar and Erik Baška return to action this week in Europe with a double header of Belgian races. The duo spearhead a Tinkoff line-up that will tackle Nokere Koerse and Handzame Classic as the spring classics loom.

Joining Erik and Michael at the two one-day races are, Michael Gogl and Juraj Sagan, who also come to Belgium following the Tour de Langkawi. They’re joined by Tour Down Under stage winner, Jay McCarthy, as well as Nikolay Trusov.

Nokere Koerse [just completed]

The first of the two races falls on Wednesday 16 March, covering a rolling 199.5km that concludes with finishing circuits that cover the Nokereberg each time around. As well as the repeated ascents of this cobbled climb, the riders will also tackle the Tiegemberg as well as other cobblestone stretches.

Giving his prognostics ahead of the race, Tinkoff Sport Director Tristan Hoffman said: “Nokere is a race with some history and it’s a great opportunity for some of the young guys in the team to gain confidence in racing for themselves and building for the coming races. The course itself finishes on the Nokereberg, a climb covered often in the classics, and they coverer it several times before on the circuit.

“Our goal for the race is support Michael Kolar for a sprint finish, helping him to be in the best possible position for this. If there are strong moves then of course we will look to take our opportunities, but if this race comes down to a smaller sprint as it usually does then we will support Michael for this.”

Nokere Koerse finish

Timothy Dupont just wins Nokere Koerse

Handzame Classic

Two days after Nokere Koerse is the UCI 1.1 Handzame Classic, another tough, long 199km one-day race in the classics region. The race also includes several cobblestone sectors, meaning that positioning and riding as a team will play a key role on the day.

“With less cobblestone sections than Nokere, and a flatter course overall there’s more chance of a bunch sprint at the Handzame Classic,” explained Hoffman when looking ahead to Friday’s race. “The same team will race as does on Wednesday, but for this race we will look to support Erik Baška for the sprint there. It’s good for him to get his chance, for his confidence as a young rider, and to help the team build for the bigger races to come.

“We will also have Michael there if things don’t work out for Erik, with a strong team that showed in Langkawi that they are already riding well and can get results.”

Tim Wellens extends with Lotto-Soudal

I got this news about the contract from the team:

Lotto Soudal and Tim Wellens are pleased to announce a prolonged cooperation. Wellens remains with the team at least till the end of 2018. The 24-year-old Belgian, who is a product of the Lotto Cycling Talent Project, has been a professional cyclist for four years now and already obtained some nice results. He won the Eneco Tour two times in a row and last year he was the best in the GP Montréal. This season, Wellens won the final stage of Paris-Nice. With this contract extension, the team shows its confidence in the abilities of this Ardennes specialist.

Tim Wellens: “Since I became a professional cyclist in 2012, my contract has been prolonged a few times and I never got to the final year of my contract. Such a season can cause stress sometimes, but so far I never had to experience that. This time my contract has been extended till the end of 2018, that's one year extra. The team made the suggestion for a contract extension and that gives me a good feeling of course, but I won’t lean back. I’m very happy that the team confirms its confidence in me so I can keep building my way to the top. My goals won’t change due to this extension, year by year we discuss which races I need to focus on.”

Tim Wellens wins stage 7 of paris-Nice

Tim Wellens wins 2016 Paris-Nice Stage 7

“I don’t care if I get offers from other teams. Lotto Soudal is the best team to develop myself. In this team, young riders get chances. I was able to become a protected rider here, in other teams this would be less likely. The young Belgians such as Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie, Louis Vervaeke and myself stimulate each other to become better riders and also the cooperation with the more experienced riders is very good. We motivate and trigger each other. The perfect mix!”

Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Soudal: “The team really wants Tim to be part of Lotto Soudal during the following years and also Tim looks forward to this. Then it’s logical that we come to a long term agreement thanks to which both parties can fulfil their ambitions. The progression that Tim has made since he’s a professional cyclist is impressive. No one can predict how much potential he has, but in my opinion Tim can become an established name in the one day races which suit him. Besides that, we’ll have to discover which limits and possibilities he has in the short and long stage races.”

“Tim is part of a small group of Belgian riders who can perform at the highest international level. As a Belgian team in the WorldTour, it’s normal that we want him to be part of the team. We have chosen to prolong his contract before he sets the next step in his cycling career. I think that we express our confidence in Tim in that way. Now we can help him to reach his further goals in a familiar and positive environment.”

Bardiani-CSF headed to Milano-San Remo

This news is from the team:

Only few days left to the first Monument Classic of the season, Milano-San Remo, second UCI World Tour event of Bardiani-CSF. Scheduled on Saturday, March 19, the 107th edition of Classicissima will present 291 km route following the tradition.

Sonny Colbrelli will be the leader of the #GreenTeam. In the three editions he rode, Italian rider has  always finished the race in the top riders group taking a prestigious 6th place in 2014. At his side, seven riders are ready to support team’s ambition - Nicola Boem, Stefano Pirazzi, Simone Andreetta, Alessandro Tonelli, Enrico Barbin, Mirco Maestri and Lorenzo Rota.

Sonny Colbrelli

Sonny Colbrelli wins at Lugano this year

“Saying that Milano-Sanremo is a target for us could seem too much ambitious for a Professional team as we are. But having a rider like Colbrelli, who showed a great feeling with this Classic, we don’t want to keep us out of the game too early” said team manager Roberto Reverberi, who will support team director Stefano Zanatta managing the riders on Saturday. “World Tour teams will be in charge to manage the race and from our guys I expect the best to support to Sonny in the topic moments of the race. If we want to nurture our dream, we need a bold performance from everyone. This must be our imperative”.

Cannondale's plans for Milano-San Remo

Cannondale sent me this update:

This weekend brings Milan-San Remo to the headlines, the first Monument of the young road season and one of its most difficult and grueling. At nearly 300 kilometers in length, Milan-San Remo is made of equal parts legend and dread as the riders pedal their bikes for nearly seven hours over an erratic and punishing parcours.

The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team enters into “La Primavera” with a multi-faceted attack. Rather than one dedicated leader, the team will start with several options and read the race as it comes.

“We do not have a dedicated leader for Milan San-Remo but many good options for different scenarios,” head sport director Charly Wegelius said. “Tom-Jelte Slagter and Dylan van Baarle have both been in great form of late while Ramunas Navardauskas is also very well suited to the race.”

Coming off a recent victory at GP Larciano, Simon Clarke has proven his high level of fitness and motivation with his new squad. The Aussie’s form combined with his on-road experience has earned him protected rider status on Saturday. A rider with deep Italian connections, Clarke is looking forward to donning the Green Argyle on Saturday.

“I feel like I’ve got a fresh start and a new opportunity,” Clarke said. “I’m just trying to make the most of it.”

Completing the roster for the longest race on the WorldTour calendar will be Matti Breschel, Kristijan Koren, Sebastian Langeveld and Moreno Moser. 

Moreno Moser

Moreno Moser before the start of the 2016 Tour Down Under

Although the route between Milan and San Remo is mostly flat, every pedal stroke counts as the racers encounter high speeds and, in the past several years, extreme winter weather conditions. Dubbed the “sprinter’s classic”,
Milan-San Remo is, by any measure, one of the hardest days of the season.

“I think the most difficult part is that it’s almost 300km. Not so many guys can manage the distance,” said Van Baarle. “We’ve got a few good riders like Ramunas, Matti, Langeveld, Slagter. The race itself, if you split it into sections, is not the hardest race. Because of the distance it’s super hard.”

Cannondale Pro Cycling Team for 2016 Milan-San Remo: Matti Breschel, Simon Clarke, Kristijan Koren, Sebastian Langeveld, Moreno Moser, Ramunas Navardauskas, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Dylan van Baarle

Groenewegen third in Nokere Koerse

This news release came from LottoNL-Jumbo:

Dylan Groenewegen sprinted to third place in the Nokere Koerse on Wednesday. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s fast man had to come from far back in the sprint on Nokere Berg, which made it almost impossible to win the race. Timothy Dupont (Veranda’s Willems) grabbed the victory.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo took the hammer in its hands in the final part of the Nokere Koerse. To give sprinter Dylan Groenewegen the chance to win, the Dutch team used some riders already early on in the final to control the peloton.

“We started with only seven riders and after we had to take control, there weren’t many men left for the sprint lead-out,” Groenewegen said after the race. He was on his own during the final kilometres, so he had to prepare the spring by himself.

“I came from the 40th position. That was too far from behind to win the race. I can only blame myself for that. This finish wasn’t my cup, as well. I prefer sprints at a high pace. This third place was the best I could do in this sprint, even if I wanted to win this race.”

“With Dylan, we had the race’s favourite in our team,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman added. “I think that we handled that well as a team. There was a lot of wind and so it was possible that the peloton would break apart into echelons. We kept control and made sure that the race would end up in a bunch sprint. The team spent a lot energy on that part. We were aggressive and sharp.”

Groenewegen’s own mistake resulted in the missed opportunity. “The turn to the right, with 2.5 kilometres to go was a key point,” Zeeman said. “Dylan gave another rider too much space there so he lost Robert Wagner’s wheel. Robert was going to lead him out and he was strong enough to accomplish that. They were trying to find each other afterwards so Dylan could regain his position, but they failed. Still it’s great that Dylan was able to make up so many positions to finish third. That didn’t initially look possible.”

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