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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. - William Penn

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Giro d'Italia May 17 stage 10 video

Tour of California May 17 Stage 3 video

Bennett third in the Tour of California’s queen stage

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this update:

George Bennett, with a strong climb to the top of the Gibraltar Road, placed third in the queen stage of the Amgen Tour of California on Tuesday. Only winner Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx - Quick Step) and Peter Stetina (Trek - Segafredo) finished in front of team LottoNL-Jumbo’s climber. Those three riders are the new top three in the general classification, as well.

“This was the most important stage for the general classification together with the time trial,” Sports Director Frans Maassen said. “The climb up Gibraltar Road was 12 kilometres long and very tough. It was our target to bring George Bennett and Alexey Vermeulen to the foot of that climb as well as possible. We succeeded with George, but Alexey lost the wheels of our men. George delivered a wonderful climb afterwards. His third place shows his strength.”

The performance surprised Bennett somewhat. “I’m happy with my performance today,” the rider from New Zealand added. “I didn’t know how my condition would be because I was sick in the spring classics. I want to thank the boys for their help today and the team for the possibility to train in Colorado to build up again.”

The Tour of California continues Wednesday with a tricky fourth stage. “It’s a long day and a breakaway may have a chance to make it until the end,” Maassen said. “The wind could play a role, but the expectations are that it’s going to be headwind, so that makes it less exciting.”

Giro d'Italia team reports

Mikel Landa abandoned the Giro early in stage 10. His team had no knowledge of Landa's illness.

Here's Team Sky's press release on the subject:

Team Sky’s Mikel Landa has abandoned the Giro d’Italia on Stage 10 after suffering from illness.

Landa, who started the day in 8th place overall, fell ill overnight but was able to start today’s 219km stage from Campi Bisenzio to Sestola. However, despite the support of the team, he was quickly distanced by the peloton and the decision was made for him to abandon the race.

Landa was 1 minute 18 seconds behind overall leader Gianluca Brambilla after a strong performance in Sunday’s Individual Time Trial.

Sir Dave Brailsford said: "Mikel was ill overnight but we spoke this morning and he started today’s stage with the hope of being able to pull through. It was pretty clear that the illness had badly affected him and that he wasn't going to be able to continue.

Mikel landa

Mikel Landa at the end of 2016 Giro del Trentino stage 2

"We are really disappointed for Mikel, who was riding well and looking forward to attacking in the mountains and animating the race. However we came here as a team and we’ll continue as a team. There is a long way still to go and, although our focus was on Mikel, there’s plenty of time for us to still make an impact at this Giro"

Commenting on Mikel Landa’s illness, Team Doctor Inigo Sarriegui said: "Mikel woke up early this morning feeling unwell with abdominal pains. It appears as though he has a viral gastroenteritis.

"We will assess him at the team hotel and then determine the best course of treatment to ensure he recovers as quickly as possible."

Here's Tinkoff's Giro stage 10 news:

At the end of a fast and full-on 10th stage of the Giro d’Italia, Ivan Rovny raced to the best Grand Tour result of his career, taking second place on the tough uphill finish in Sestola. A day of rest brought riders to the start in Campi Bisenzio fresh and ready to ride hard and fast on a tough, mountainous parcours. With Rovny up the road racing to the team's best result of the race so far, team leader Rafal Majka came over the line in 11th position, finishing with the GC favourites and moving up to seventh on GC.

After a well-deserved rest day, the Giro d’Italia hit the road again with another mountain stage. The race so far had tackled some tough climbs, however today saw the race move into some of the bigger mountains. The 219km route had no fewer than four categorised climbs over its undulating parcours, with the final climb to the finish coming shortly after the first category Pian del Falco.

Starting the day in better weather than the downpours experienced in Sunday’s time trial, riders expected clear skies throughout the day. After a few attacks failed to gain ground in the opening kilometres, the peloton upped the pace and started to see riders dropping off the pace at he back. Groups continued to try to escape, but it wasn’t until 60km that a proper break had formed, after climbing the third category Passa della Collina. In turn, after building up an advantage of 2’30”, a chasing group formed after 75km. While this group failed to get away, another group set out shortly after – this time containing Ivan Rovny – which, after 100km of racing grew to ten riders strong.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka time trialing in stage 9 of this year's Giro

After the rest day, the pace was always going to be high, as Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman, explained after the stage. “The race went full gas on the first climb and a big front group formed of about 100 riders. We had all nine guys in the front so the guys were looking good. Jay was feeling a bit unwell but hopefully he managed to get through the stage.”

While the escapees at the front built steadily on their advantage, with 70km of the stage remaining, and with the Pian del Falco the next climb, the original escape group dropped back to the chasing group, making a thirteen-strong group that would be much stronger on the daunting first category climb. In spite of their apparent strength however, the breakaway began to fall apart and with 33km to go, the group had disintegrated entirely, leaving two sets of chasers between a solo break and the Maglia Rosa group.

With 6km to go the gap between the front of the race and the peloton sat at two minutes, and it looked increasingly likely that the stage win was going to come from the breakaway. With the finish looming however, Ivan Rovny went on the attack, escaping the chasing groups and going it alone on the front reducing the gap between himself and Bardiani CSF’s Ciccone who had moved clear on the penultimate climb of the stage. With 3km remaining, the gap between the Russian rider and the leader was just 30 seconds and Ivan was looking strong, climbing well on the third category final climb in the big ring and with the team car behind ready to provide support.

Finishing on his own, 42 seconds after the stage winner, Ivan crossed the line to take a well-deserved second place. Behind, in the chasing peloton, Tinkoff’s leader, Rafal Majka, was looking similarly strong and was holding his own with his GC rivals. Rafal finished with the bunch in eleventh position, which enabled the Polish leader to rise up to seventh in the GC.

Ivan was happy with the result on a tough stage - especially having suffered from sickness after the recent Tour de Romandie. “The stage was really hard today with climbs up and down all day. We got away on the second climb after 30 – 40km and rode out to over 5 minutes. When the group started to attack I was feeling good but not quite enough for the stage. Second is a good result but the win would have been much better. The first week has been OK for me – the first stages were hard as I was a bit sick after Romandie but once the race got to Italy I have been feeling strong and stronger. I’m looking forward to supporting Rafal where I can - he’s riding strong. We will see him in the big mountains.”

Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman, was thrilled with Ivan’s performance today, having gone out early in one of the chasing groups and stayed away much of the day. “Rovny did a great ride today, and it was really nice to see him take his chance. The plan was to get someone in the breakaway and he was the one that made it. His group had to work hard to catch the three riders in front but when they did it was a good group. Then in the final he was there but missed catching one rider on the last climb. It was a very strong ride, and it was not an easy stage. Rovny had the legs but unfortunately one rider was a bit better.”

Rafal’s performance further cemented his role as a GC rider, as Hoffman continued. “Behind the breakaway Rafal stayed with the other GC guys on the climbs. They made good speed at the front and he followed well, moving up one spot overall on GC - still moving in the right direction.”

Tomorrow’s 227km stage sees an almost pan flat parcours for 198km before a fourth category climb less than 20km before the finish in Asolo. While the route may be flat, it’s not without its challenges, with roundabouts, speed bumps and road barriers to contend with in the towns, before the climb at the end of the stage could lead to a late attack. Hoffman’s aim however was to get the team through the coming flat stages safely. “The coming two days are more or less flat, then the mountains come again. We will focus on getting through without any problems before the GC fight starts again on Friday.

And here's what LottoNL-Jumbo sent me:

LottoNL-Jumbo rider Steven Kruijswijk remains fourth overall in the Giro d’Italia after a long mountain stage to Sestola. Kruijswijk has the same time as Alejandro Valverde at 50 seconds behind the new leader Bob Jungels (Etixx - Quickstep). Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani - CSF pro team) won the stage.

The 219-kilometer stage kicked off quickly. Breakaway attempts followed each other in rapid tempo. A large group of riders couldn’t follow. GC-rider Mikel Landa (Team Sky) had to abandon the race. At the front three riders broke away. Later joined by 11 other riders. The peloton was led by the team of leader Gianluca Brambilla. LottoNL-Jumbo leader Steven Kruijswijk was surrounded well by his team.

"Steven Kruijswijk made another step today," Sports Director Addy Engels said. "It was in line with our expectations, but after a rest day it is always exciting. Everyone reacts differently. Steven did what he had to do. We can follow up with that. The team has done very well and we are satisfied. They help each other and by doing so their captain Steven. You can see that they have confidence in their performance. "

Kruijswijk rode with the group of favourites on the final climbs. On the penultimate climb, the Plan del Falco, leader Brambilla fell behind the lead group.

Steven Kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk in the Giro stage 9 time trial

"I stayed in the group when Brambilla was dropped" Kruijswijk said. "I saw that Jungels was good and I know Brambilla is a good descender. So I chose not to waist any energy. I felt good on that steep climb, but did not really see a chance to attack. In the final sprint, I lost some metres on Valverde but that’s OK. I am happy with my form and the team. They are focused and I can see that well in the race. They are always there for me.”

Nevertheless, on the descent of the Plan del Falco it almost went wrong for Kruijswijk. His rear wheel blocked just before a hairpin, but he prevented a crash at the last minute.

"That was a shock," said Kruijswijk. "I made a mistake. I misjudged a corner. My rear wheel blocked. Fortunately, Majka was there and caught me. I apologised later. Majka also understood that I did not do it on purpose. But it was quite a shock.”

Tomorrow is a mainly flat, but long stage to Asolo. The peloton has to cover a distance of 227 kilometres.

“The final will be a moment to watch," Kruijswijk continued. "There is still a climb 20 kilometres from the finish. I'll have to be at the front there. Maybe tomorrow Battaglin can do something and can go for the victory.”

BMC had a good day at the Giro. Here's their news release:

17 May 2016, Sestola (ITA): Darwin Atapuma put his climbing legs to the test on Stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia to cross the line in third place on the summit finish in Sestola.

After the first categorized climb of the day, a three-rider breakaway established and were later joined by a chasing group of ten riders, including Atapuma.

Attacks ensued on the second-to-last climb of the day, which broke the thirteen-rider group apart, and saw various groups form to chase down the leaders on the summit finish. Guilio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF) took the solo win, followed by Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff) in second, and Atapuma in third, 1'02 behind Ciccone.

Darwin Atapuma: "I felt really good today and had good legs on the climbs. I was lacking a little bit when the last attack of three riders happened but I was able to slowly make my way back on the final climb. I'm really happy with third place because I didn't have anything left when I crossed the line, so I know I tried my best today."

"It was good to get the chance to get in the breakaway and test my legs on the climbs. I'/m hoping there will be some more stages that are suited to me, and I can get stronger and stronger with each stage."

Darwin Atapuma

Darwin Atapuma earlier this year

Max Sciandri, Sports Director: "We wanted to get a rider in the breakaway today and we thought that Darwin was our best shot. They all went full gas on the first climb and Visconti launched a big attack. We were expecting a large breakaway of ten or fifteen guys to form, not just three riders. They slowly established a gap of two minutes but it wasn't really getting too far, so I told Darwin to attack on the next climb. And he went. We knew there would be a lot of teams who wanted to be in the breakaway so this was a good opportunity for that chase group to form."

"There were a lot of tactics from Baridani-CSF towards the end and they had a bit more manpower in the break. At the end it doesn't always turn out like you plan, but for us it was really good to see Darwin up there and showing what he can do. I think it's the start of a good second part of the Giro d'Italia for us and Darwin. He and Manuel Senni can really try something on the climbs. We're not looking for a top result on the General Classification, but rather taking those opportunities like the one we had today."

BMC rider medical updates

And here's how a couple of BMC's riders are doing:

17 May, 2015, Santa Rosa, California (USA): In the interest of increasing communication around the health and fitness of BMC Racing Team's riders, the team will release a regular update from Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa on all rider injuries and illnesses. The update below concerns two of BMC Racing Team's riders.

Silvan Dillier:

Dr. Testa: "Silvan fractured the first phalange of his second finger on the right hand in a crash on Stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia, and underwent surgery the following day to secure the fracture. His recovery is going very well and he is already back training on the rollers. He will soon be able to train on the road and we expect he will be back racing in three or four weeks. Once he can train on the road again we will have a clearer idea of his exact return to racing."

Dillier: "One week on from my crash I am starting to feel better and have begun training on the rollers. My braking power isn't at 100 percent yet so that's why I'm still training indoors, but as soon as this improves more I will be out on the road again. I'm looking forward to getting back to my usual training program and do some good sessions to build up towards my home race, GP Gippingen and the Tour de Suisse."

Philippe Gilbert:

Dr. Testa: "Philippe is recovering from multiple fractures of his middle finger on the left hand sustained during training in April. He is recovering well and will need some more time to rebuild the strength and condition completely. We expect he will be fit to race again at the end of May."

Gilbert: "I have been seeing the physiotherapist a couple of times a week so the muscular pain is reducing more and more, and I can ride in my natural position. I've been improving week to week and am looking forward to racing again at the Tour of Luxembourg."

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