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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, May 1, 2016

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

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. - Robert Kennedy

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Groenewegen centimeters short of second Yorkshire victory

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this update:

Dylan Groenewegen finished second in the second stage of the Tour de Yorkshire today. In the blue leader’s jersey, Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprinter was a tyre’s width too short of Danny van Poppel (Team Sky). Groenewegen holds the overall lead.

Danny van Poppel

Danny van Poppel (Sky) grabs the stage ahead of Dylan Groenewegen

Groenewegen and his team-mates led the bunch in the second stage. Tom Leezer started and the team in yellow and black continued for Groenewegen. They put him in the right position for the final sprint. “We controlled the stage tightly and wanted to take the lead again in the final kilometre,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “We succeeded. That was an impressive performance by the team. In the final sprint, Dylan hesitated for a second and that opened the window for Danny van Poppel.”

“I didn’t see the finish well,” Groenewegen explained. “I thought that the finish line was a little bit further. That’s why I hesitated for a moment and the others were able to take a metre’s advantage.

“If you just look at the top speed, I was the fastest again today. The team worked hard for me in front of the bunch and delivered another strong lead-out. That makes it even more disappointing that I didn’t win, but I learn from these moments.

“Tomorrow, we’re going to fight for Steven Kruijswijk and Primoz Roglic. I will bring some bottles and bars for them. After these two days, it’s my turn to pay back their work.”

Groenewegen’s team spirit is typical for of the way Team LottoNL-Jumbo approached the first two stages. “Our riders are really improving in this task,” Zeeman added. “We’re paying much attention to that and everyone is getting used to work together more and more. Timo Roosen filled the gap that Tom Leezer’s absence created without any problems today. I enjoyed watching a convinced team.”

Giant-Alpecin will be at Eschborn-Frankfurt

Here's the team's update:

The 55th edition of Eschborn-Frankfurt gets underway on Sunday. The 206km German one-day race features a steep ascent, the Mammolshainer Berg which has to be climbed four times before hitting the finishing circuit in Frankfurt. Team Giant-Alpecin's John Degenkolb is set to make his race comeback on Sunday following a recovery period of more than three months. 

John Degenkolb (GER): "First of all, I am really happy to pin my race number on again and to be at the starting line. It’s my home race on Sunday which makes it even more special for me. I am really thankful to all the people who have supported me and who have made it possible for me to race again.

"I am certainly not here to aim for the win. The goal is to get back the feeling of riding in the peloton and of course this is my first test on competition ground since January. Let’s not forget what I have been through the last few months and keep it all in perspective. For Sunday, I hope I can finish the race in a good way."

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb wins stage 21 at last year's Vuelta

Simon Geschke (GER): "I am looking forward to this Sunday and we will try to put in a good performance. It's always nice to race in your home country. As a German, that doesn't happen too often so I will make the most of it.

"I hope that I have recovered sufficiently from my Ardennes classics campaign and be involved in the finale. The outcome of this race is always different. Sometimes it ends up in a bunch sprint but it may also be a sprint with a select group of riders. Either way, we have a strong team here to deal with the different scenarios."

Ramon Sinkeldam (NED): "My form feels good at the moment and I am excited to race in Frankfurt this weekend. I did a one-week training camp after Paris-Roubaix and that went very well. We are really happy to see John back in the team after such a long period out injured and I hope he can have a positive return to racing.

"The organizers have made the route tougher this year but if there is is an opportunity for a bunch sprint, I will go for it and target a top ten finish."   

Mattias Reck (SWE): "It has been a challenging few months but we saw in the Ardennes classics that the results started to get better and I hope we will continue in the same direction. It's great to have John back in the team since the training accident. It 's been a long period of recovery and working hard on his comeback. For Sunday, it's just about regaining the feeling of racing again with no immediate pressure on him for results.

"I expect it to be a tough race and the weather can be a factor throughout the day so we will have to be vigilant. The last time the riders tackle the Mammolshainer Berg will be a key moment so we need to be in a good position before it begins. If the race becomes really hard and uncontrolled, we have Simon and Sam who are able to follow the attacks. If the race is still all together then we will prepare the sprint for Ramon and we can aim for a top 10 result."

Tour de Romandie stage four team news

Here's what Etixx-Quick Step had to say about the day's racing:

After Bob Jungels netted a podium in the Sion time trial, the 23-year-old decided to test himself on the tough queen-stage of the race.

The hardest day at this year's edition included five categorized ascents, making up for more than 3000 meters of climbing. Taking the peloton from Conthey to Villars-sur-Ollon, the race was a nervous one right from the gun, as many riders gave it a go and tried to book a place in the breakaway. The escape was formed after the first hour, and included two Etixx – Quick-Step riders, Bob Jungels and stage 1 winner Marcel Kittel, who were joined by Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha), Martin Kohler (Team Roth), Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin), Marco Marcato (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Cameron Meyer (Dimension Data), Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) and Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff).

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels riding the Tour de Romandie time trial

They didn't stick together for too much time, as the tough climbs took their toll on many of escapees, who were distanced and reeled in by the bunch. Only Bob and Kochetkov stayed at the front for the last part of the stage, while behind, the peloton was becoming more and more slim, as a result of the rain, cold temperatures and Movistar's pace. On the penultimate climb, Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) attacked and got a good gap, before cresting the ascent and making the junction to the two leaders on the descent. Together, they made sure that the advantage over the chasers will increase by the point they'll arrive at the foot of the final climb.

First to get dropped from the group was Kochetkov, who was already latching at the back, while Bob – who's preparing for his Giro d'Italia debut, next week – managed to stay with Froome and Van Garderen for a couple of minutes more, before he too was distanced. Of the two at the front, the Brit proved to be the strongest, as he surged clear from his US companion and powered to the finish line, where he nabbed the victory. Behind, the peloton made up for the lost ground and came in Villars-sur-Ollon only four seconds adrift, with Ion Izagirre (Movistar) taking second, ahead of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).

Not only Bob Jungels gave it his all and made the most out of this hard stage, but also Carlos Verona. The Spanish rider of Etixx – Quick-Step began the final ascent together with the main group, and although he couldn't respond to the attacks of the favourites, he put on a strong ride on the challenging 8.9-km long climb and at the end of the stage he jumped five positions in the general classification led by Nairo Quintana, to 20th place, with one stage to go (Ollon – Geneva, 172 kilometers).

Lampre-Merida sent me this report:

Rui Costa climbed two positions in the general classification after the summit arrival in the 4th stage of the Tour de Romandie, which started from Conthey and finished in Villars sur Ollon after that the riders covered, under a cold rain, 173 km and the climbs of Corin, of the Col des Planches, of the La Rasse and a first passage at Villars sur Ollon.

Lampre-Merida could not be at the start with one of his most competitive cyclists for the mountains, who's Louis Meintjes, because he's suffering, as other riders in the peloton, for the flu.

Despite the absence of the South African cyclist, Lampre-Merida could realize a very good performance which was finalized by Rui Costa, who pedaled for the whole course with the top riders and could be, on the final climb, with the first chasing group of 7 riders who were chasing the attackers Froome-Van Garderen (the America athlete was dropped and reached by the chasers).

Rui Costa increased the pace when he noticed that Spilak and Frank were slower than him and he succeeded in overtaking them in the overall classification: the Portuguese champions was 7th in the stage standing, at 4" to the winner Froome and in the general classification is 6th at 1'12" to Quintana.

Very good performance by Polanc, who pedaled with Rui Costa until the final climb, and by the whole team which helped the captain in approaching the climbs in the best possible positions.

Cimolai quit the race because of flu symptoms.

"Today result is very good for Rui, considering the situation in the overall classification - sports director Pedrazzini explained - He managed the energies in order to be reactive on the final climb, it was not easy because the weather conditions were very bad.

However, Rui was great in speeding up when he realized that he could overtake Spilak and Frank, he focused his attention more on the overall classification than on the stage result, also because today Froome was very strong".

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