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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, May 6, 2016

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

Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. - Franz Kafka

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Last-minute Giro d'Italia team updates

Lotto-Soudal sent this piece:

One of the nine riders in the Lotto Soudal team will be Adam Hansen. Last year at the Vuelta the Australian completed his thirteenth consecutive Grand Tour, a record. This season he wants to continue on the same path and ride all three Grand Tours again. Why does he keep doing it and what’s special about the Giro? We asked him.

Adam Hansen: “The Giro will be my fourteenth consecutive Grand Tour and it’s nice that I’ve come this far. But I treat it as any other race, regardless the number. I want to do this race as much as anyone even though I have done so many Grand Tours. To me it has just become something I do. Also this year I am motivated to ride all three Grand Tours. I do this because I enjoy the style of racing. It’s a mix of many different styles and I like to be on the road and have race after race after race.”

Adam Hansen

Adam Hansen at this year's Tour Down Under

“The Giro is the most passionate one of the three Grand Tours according to me. I just love Italy and the atmosphere at the race there. During the stages we often pass beautiful places, but unfortunately it’s very difficult to remember exactly where. In all those years I’ve crossed the whole country and have seen a lot of amazing places which aren’t the typical tourist destinations, it’s these places I like the most.”

“But it’s not all fun of course. The Giro always has a super hard profile and the weather conditions can be difficult. You know it’s going to be a tricky and hard race. I already had some good years in the past though, with wins working for André Greipel and for Mark Cavendish many years ago. And then there’s of course my own stage win in 2013 in Pescara. It was such a difficult stage, the weather was bad and there were so many climbs and crashes and then it’s so nice to come in solo in the rain. My first Grand Tour stage will never be forgotten.”

“For sure people will see me in action again this edition, in breakaways and aiming for a good result. I can’t tell when and where yet, that also depends on the team tactics. Only one thing is sure: it is my birthday on 11 May, when it’s the fifth stage. I’m not such a birthday fan and I don’t like the fuss, but people always remind me. The team likes to celebrate it, but for me it’s just another day.”

Tim Wellens will ride the Giro d’Italia for the second time in his career. In 2014, Tim obtained some nice results. He became two times second and obtained also two top ten places. Besides that, he managed to finish fourth in the KOM classification. Also this year the course offers a few opportunities to try something and the 25-year-old Belgian celebrates his birthday in Italy. Because of that he’ll be extra motivated.

Tim Wellens: “In 2014, I rode my first Grand Tour in Italy and actually that was a very good race. During the preparations for this season it was already clear from the beginning that I would participate in the Giro. I have the ambition to go to the Olympic Games in Rio, a combination of the Tour de France and the Olympic Games wouldn’t be a wise choice.”

“The goals for the next three weeks match my way of racing. The finales of a few stages really suit me so I’ll try to ride aggressively just like always. I want to obtain some nice results in these stages. I won’t aim for a good position on GC. Even if everything would go perfectly, a top fifteen place would be the best possible result. But then I need to ride less aggressively in a few stages and I’m not keen on that. I want to give full gas in some stages and I prefer to win a stage instead of obtaining a top fifteen result.”

“The Giro is less hectic compared to the Tour de France. There’s just less stress in the peloton and there’s also less pressure from the media. It’s a very nice race, a lot of passionate fans will support the riders along the roads. After Liège-Bastogne-Liège I didn’t ride on my bike for about three days. After that I was able to train well in the Ardennes. I think I’m satisfied about my feeling after the Ardennes Classics. A body that’s in good form must be able to handle four races in two weeks. That way I’m able to start in the Giro with a good shape just like two years ago.”

Marcel Kittel ready to race the Giro

This is from Etixx-Quick Step:

The most successful World Tour rider of the season, the German sprinter awaits with confidence for the Giro d'Italia to kick off.

Two years after making his debut at the Corsa Rosa and scoring two emphatic victories, Marcel Kittel returns to the race, one of the most prestigious on the calendar. As was the case in 2014, when Northern Ireland got to host the depart, also now the race will start from abroad, from the Netherlands, for what's going to be the 12th time that the Giro will kick off from a foreign country. An omen for another successful campaign of Marcel? Not at all, according to the 27-year-old, who is focused solely on the race, his form and the team which he has for the first Grand Tour of the season.

Marcel kittel

Marcel Kittel

"I'm very happy to be here. We come with a really good and experienced team, that's working well together. I hope that this race will bring the team closer and that together we will overcome the difficult moments that everyone encounters during a Grand Tour. As you could see, I had a very strong spring, with many victories, and I can't complain about anything, as the team was always there, although not all the riders were used with doing a lead-out. I'm coming here with a strong form and with the right mental approach, as does the whole squad, and this gives us all a lot of confidence", said Kittel, who's won eight races so far in 2016, the most recent victory being the one recorded last week at the Tour de Romandie.

Questioned about his goals for the Giro d'Italia and the chances of wearing the pink jersey at some point, Marcel – who led a Grand Tour in the past at the Tour de France – said: "The plan is to take things day by day and see what will come out of all this. I want to try and do a good time trial and then, if I won't lose too many seconds, maybe I'll begin thinking of taking the pink jersey on the first week-end. We have to be focused all the time, because there are many good sprinters here. I'm really glad to be in the Netherlands, a country which is very passionate about cycling; even today I could see their love, as the people supported and cheered us during the training ride."

Gianluca Brambilla, David De La Cruz, Bob Jungels, Fabio Sabatini, Pieter Serry, Mateo Trentin, Carlos Verona and Lukasz Wisniowski will be the other riders of Etixx – Quick-Step to race the Giro d'Italia, and while many of them already got to taste this event in the past, this will not be the case for Bob Jungels – the Luxembourg champion – who'll do the Corsa Rosa for the first time in his career.

"I'm feeling good and I'm coming here after a solid display in Romandie, where I proved that my shape is there. I'm healthy and I hope for some luck. We checked the time trial course today, and I can't say it's too complicated: flat and with big roads. The wind could play a role, but I don't want to think about it. The general classification won't be a priority for me. I just want to take it step by step, test myself and discover how far I can go", said Bob less than 24 hours before the start in Apeldoorn.

IAM Cycling's pre-Giro news:

The Swiss team had this to report:

Giro d’Italia – Marcel Wyss: “I will be aiming to join a breakaway with a chance to go for the win”

“The Giro has not actually become more humane,” Marcel Wyss commented when discussing the first grand tour of the 2016 season.  “I have had a chance to study the course, and it seems just as difficult as previous editions.  Personally, I will be aiming to join a breakaway that has a chance to play for the win.”

Now that he is approaching his 30th birthday (June 25th), Marcel Wyss will be participating in his third Giro.  The IAM Cycling rider from central Switzerland took the trouble to travel to Tuscany this past March to reconnoiter three important stages that should in principle be advantageous for the climbers.

“I hope that the team reiterates and confirms its attacking temperament,” IAM Cycling founder, Michel Thétaz, explained.  “That sort of aggressive riding should give us at least one chance, whether in a sprint or mountain stage, to go for the win.”

Since the Grand Depart is set to take place at Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, the RCS who organizes the Giro, have scheduled the prologue for Friday, May 6th.  And then after two stages that will take place in the vicinity of the Dutch city, the whole travelling circus will then transfer more than 3000 kilometers to continue the race at the tippy toe of the country in Catanzaro (Calabria).

Matthias Brändle has set himself the goal of taking the first pink jersey of the race by winning the 9.8km prologue through the streets of Apeldoorn.  The former holder of the world hour record will certainly have formidable competition in this event, starting with none other than Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo).

Matthias Brandle

Matthias Brandle

Rik Verbrugghe, IAM Cycling’s sports manager, is keeping his feet on the ground when setting the objectives for his nine riders scheduled to participate.  “We won’t be looking for a place in the top-10 overall.  I would definitely like to see an increasingly aggressive team try to win a stage by going into intelligent breakaways.  And then we also have several strong sprinters for the fast finishes, including Matteo Pelucchi, Leigh Howard, and Heinrich Haussler.”

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