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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

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

The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. - William Wordsworth

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Tour of California stage 2 video

Peter Sagan loses GC lead but retains points leadership in California Tour

Tinkoff sent me this update

Race leader going into stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California, Peter Sagan was to lose his yellow jersey by the end of the stage after two riders from the day’s early breakaway managed to stay clear and take the stage honours as well as the overall race lead. Behind these two, Peter put in a strong finish to take fourth on the stage, swapping the GC leader’s jersey for that of the points classification.

The two riders still out front in the final managed to hold onto the smallest of margins as the game of cat and mouse unfolded, but despite the peloton breathing down their necks they had enough to sprint for the stage victory between themselves and cross the line eight seconds ahead of what was left of the peloton.

“It was a really hard stage and we knew from the start that it would be tough to control the race but I’m proud of what the guys did today,” Sport Director Patxi Vila told us from the finish. “They were exceptional and everyone gave 110% - after winning yesterday and fourth today the guys can still be very happy.”

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan gets fourth in the Tour of California second stage.

The stage got underway with a tough first category climb from the drop of the flag, rising for 14.1km at an average of 5.1%. The peloton wasn’t hanging around and the attacks soon started to fly with a group of nearly 30 riders moving clear with Peter present with support and the team in a strong position. This group edged out over 30 seconds advantage but over the top four riders pulled clear and that was to be the break of the day.

A second category climb soon followed and this was where the advantage started to rise, eventually reaching over seven minutes before Tinkoff really started to apply the pressure behind.

Vila explained the difficult but controlled start to the stage. “From the first climb the race exploded and the bunch was in pieces. There was a big group of about 30 in front and Peter was there with Juraj Sagan and Michael Gogl. After this the break went and gained over seven minutes before the guys brought it back down to 2’30”. The final few climbs started to take their toll and at this point the other teams took over the chase to help close the final gap. I don’t think we could have done much more today, and at the end Peter did a strong sprint to take fourth.”

The break of four was reduced to three on the final categorised climb of the day, a second ascent of Little Tujunga Canyon Road, with their advantage under three minutes. Peter was still well positioned at this point with brother Juraj for company on the ascent as many riders began to lose contact with the front peloton. At 10km to go it looked like all was set for a reduced bunch sprint with the gap down to just one minute but the two remaining riders out front kept fighting to the end, just holding off the chase behind.

Peter’s fourth place on the stage, coupled with his stage win from yesterday, gives him enough points to lead and wear the points classification jersey on tomorrow’s third stage.

Stage 3 is the queen stage of the race, featuring two early small categorised climbs before working its way to the day's real difficulty, the mountain top finish of Gibraltar Road  The line falls after the 12km of ascent which climbs at an average gradient of 8% and will surely see a reshuffle in the GC.

Lotto-Soudal's plans for Tour of Norway

The team sent me this update:

While the one peloton is riding in the Giro d’Italia, several others are racing at other places around the world like for example the Tour of Norway, which takes place from 18 May 2016 till 22 May 2016. The sixth edition of this stage race, which is part of the Europe Tour, takes the riders in five stages through the south of Norway.

Mario Aerts, sports director Lotto Soudal: “This is a very nice race which is held in a beautiful region. Also the roads are very good, not like the rough roads in Turkey. It’s a perfect race to maintain the condition with the later goals of the season in mind. Only three WorldTour teams will participate in Norway but it won’t be a walk in the park. Caja Rural for instance already proved in the Tour of Turkey that they’re able to put pressure on their competitors and that they can ride aggressively. We won’t underestimate the other teams, that’s for sure.”

The course of this stage race contains a variety of possible outcomes. The sprinters will get a few opportunities to show themselves, but also the climbers and attackers will have their chances during several stages. Finally, it’s also possible that a break stays ahead.

Mario Aerts: “The first stage will most likely end with a mass sprint. Stage two will be a very hard race as the final kilometre runs slightly uphill. Attempts will certainly be made on the final climb of the day, which is situated at about twenty kilometres from the finish. The third stage ends with an uphill finish, this stage will be important for the general classification. The finish area of the fourth stage is situated at an airport and that’s a rather unique location. Just before they enter the airport, the riders need to climb a tough obstacle. If someone attacks there, it's possible that this rider remains ahead. The final stage will offer another chance to the sprinters, although the final 500 metres are uphill. This will be a sprint for real powerhouses.”

“Our roster consists of five riders. Only six riders per team are allowed anyway. That makes it hard to control the race and therefore the race will be more exciting. It’s a different type of racing but I like it though. We will try to obtain a stage win with Tosh Van der Sande as he finds a few stages which fit him well. Greg Henderson will pull the sprint for Tosh, normally he’s the lead-out of André Greipel in the Tour de France and this race will be used to obtain sprinting rhythm. Sander Armée will be our leader on GC. He already showed this season that he’s in great shape (Armée won the mountains classification in the Tour de Romandie, LTS) and he’ll get the chance to obtain a nice result. It will be important for him to be attentively at the front of the peloton during the second stage. Gert Dockx and Tomasz Marczynski can join a break for instance. But Marczynski can also aim for a good position on GC, it will depend on how the race evolves.”

Roster Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Gert Dockx, Greg Henderson, Tomasz Marczynski and Tosh Van der Sande.

Sports director: Mario Aerts.

Simon Geschke re-ups with Giant-Alpecin

Giant-Alpecin sent me this news:

Team Giant-Alpecin is pleased to announce that Simon Geschke (GER) has renewed his contract with the team. The agreement extends his commitment for another two years, until the end of 2018.

The German is currently in his eighth season with Team Giant-Alpecin, and he will continue to go for results in the hilly classics as well as stages in the Grand Tours and to play an influential role as an experienced teammate who can provide guidance to the younger, developing riders in the lineup. Geschke’s top results include three pro wins to date, with the highlight being his victory in stage 17 at the Tour de France last year.

Simon Geschke

Simon Geschke racing in Italy in 2014

On signing the contract extension, Geschke said: “I am very pleased to be able to renew my contract because I feel good in this team. They have a lot of confidence in me and they know my strengths. We’ve made progress in my development over the last few years, and I look forward to improving further.”

“We are delighted to continue working with Simon for the next two years,” said coach Rudi Kemna (NED). “Team Giant-Alpecin recently expanded its focus from being a pure sprinters’ team to being competitive in the classics and even the Grand Tours. While we won’t forget our roots and will continue to target sprints, we will also increasingly give importance to hilly races that are suited for puncheurs. Simon is one of the riders who is good on that type of terrain as he can play a key role in helping the team to achieve its goals in those hilly races. The team also aims to strengthen itself in this area.

“Simon is part of the core of the team, and his experience is crucial to a lot of our younger riders. He has a very positive attitude and tries to seize the opportunities he gets to have an impact in races. He’s loyal to the team and we are happy that we can continue to move forward with him.”

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