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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, July 7, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Same as yesterday: Both the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) continue.

The Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy) is also being raced.

Also, we've got David L. Stanley's review of the Tour de France's first three stages.

Today's Tour de France Stage 4

The Tour's stage 3 was a crash-marred trip into the hills of Belgium that took out the Yellow Jersey, Fabian Cancellara, with a broken back. Today's stage 4 may be just as dangerous with it's section's of pave. At 225.5 kilometers, it is also the 2015 Tour's longest stage. L'Equipe posted this note about the stage:

Seven cobblestone sections are on the menu of stage 4 from Seraing to Cambrai. It's a mini Paris-Roubaix on the route of the Tour de France, similar to stage 5 last year when Vincenzo Nibali showed his exceptional agility on the pavés. There are again 13.3 kilometres of cobbles divided in seven sections but they're harder than at Paris-Roubaix, riders say, because most of them are false flat uphill. In 2014, the yellow jersey boosted Nibali's confidence. It might be Chris Froome's turn. The Kenyan-born rider who started cycling on dirt roads in Africa can count on Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe to lead him the way. It'll be again a battle for positions between the top GC contenders among which Tejay van Garderen (3rd overall at 13 seconds) has become day after day a more serious threat than French duelists Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot who are 26th and 27th at 2.54 and 2.58 respectively. A fourth consecutive eventful day is expected on the roads of the Tour de France.

Stage 4 profile

Stage 4's cobblestone sectors

Regarding Cancellara and other riders, L'Equipe posted this report:

Yellow jersey wearer after stage 3, Fabian Cancellara was whisked off to the hospital for a CT scan shortly after he crossed the finish line of the crash-marred stage three at the Tour de France yesterday, and hours later the news confirmed the worst: two transverse process fractures in two vertebrae bones of the lower back.“This is incredibly disappointing for me,” said Cancellara. “The team was on a high with the yellow jersey and was very motivated to defend it. We have had a lot of crashes and injuries since the start of the season, and we finally had a great 24 hours but now it's back to bad luck. One day you win, one day you lose. It was very hard to come back in shape after my crash in Harelbeke and getting the confidence. The yellow jersey gave me a huge boost for the cobblestone stage tomorrow. I guess I have to keep the positive and look forward to the second part of the season.”

Besides Fabian Cancellara who came to the starting area this morning to say goodbye to the Tour de France, another non-starter is South Africa's Daryl Impey who courageously finished stage 3 with a broken collarbone. His team Orica-GreenEdge has paid a big price for yesterday's crash. Simon Gerrans abandoned with a broken wrist. Gerrans and Impey wore the yellow jersey two years ago. Michael Matthews will start today's race despite his injuries. His ribs hurt. Those three riders from the Australian team had targeted stage 6 to Le Havre whose finish suits the three of them

Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon 18) is also a non-starter today

Tour de France team reports

This came from BMC:

Huy, Belgium - BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen placed sixth on the finish climb of the Mur de Huy Monday at the Tour de France to move into third overall, while teammate Greg Van Avermaet was 15th and stands fifth overall.

Following an unprecedented neutralization and stoppage by race officials past the halfway point of the 159.5-kilometer race, Joaquin Rodriguez (Team Katusha) took the stage win ahead of Chris Froome (Team Sky). Van Garderen arrived 11 seconds after Rodriguez and is 13 seconds behind Froome, who assumed the overall lead. Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) is second overall, one second back.

"We saw some pretty bad crashes out there and a lot of confusion with the race being neutralized for awhile," van Garderen said. "In the end, I would say the day was a pretty big success. Froome gained a little bit, but I was able to distance a couple people and keep most of the important guys pretty close.

"I really have to give it to the team today. They did a perfect job of keeping me safe and at the front."

Tejay van Garderen

Tejay van Garderen climbs the Mur de Huy in stage 3

The race was stopped inside of 50 kilometers to go following a crash involving more than a dozen riders, including BMC Racing Team's Daniel Oss. Race officials said their decision came about "due to the extraordinary circumstances of the crash at a very high speed ... and to allow the injured riders to be back in the peloton."

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said the decision changed the complexion of the race.

"It was very strange," he said. "I cannot remember a time when the organizer has stopped the race during the Tour de France or during the Giro d'Italia after one crash. If you don't have the neutralization and stoppage, you do not have the same race."

Oss's injuries - which include superficial facial cuts and a sore left wrist - are not serious enough to prevent him from starting the next stage, BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said.

Tuesday's stage is 223.5 km and the longest of the three-week race. It includes seven sectors of cobblestones as the race heads into France for the first time. Van Avermaet said he looks forward to the conditions.

"The cobbles suit me a little bit better and it is also not totally flat, which is good for me," he said. "There is a little bit of uphill on the cobbles, so I am looking forward to tomorrow. The main goal is Tejay for sure, but I hope to go for a stage victory."

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this stage 3 report:

Mur de Huy held its promise and laid the stage for a flat-out battle between a diminished peloton. Alberto Contador finished 12th on the stage and moves to 8th overall, while Peter Sagan could pull on the white jersey atop the dreaded climb. Tinkoff-Saxo now directs its attention towards the cobbles of Northern France.

Alberto Contador finished 12th on stage 3 of Tour de France, 18 seconds off stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez, while Chris Froome took over the race lead. Following the stage finish, the team leader tells that he lacked a bit of energy on the final climb.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana climb the Mur de Huy

“We saw some time differences today. I might have lacked a bit of sugar in the finale but I’ve always said that we will see bigger time differences in the mountains. Froome was very strong. He nearly won the stage today. But there are still many days of racing. You must stay positive. The yellow jersey gives you confidence, you tell yourself you're well but it also creates pressure and responsibilities. Still I would love to hold it”, says Alberto Contador, who adds:

“Tomorrow on the cobbles, it will be a matter of survival. It's an incredible Tour with a lot of stress, tensions and nerves everyday. Every year the stress is stronger and you leave a lot of energy. We must be very careful, anything can happen”.

After the 159.5km stage 3 to Mur du Huy, Peter Sagan was able to pull on the white jersey as the leader of the young rider classification.

“Going into the Mur de Huy, I tried to stay right behind Alberto Contador to help him in case he'd need something but the rhythm was too high for me uphill. I lead the best young rider competition and I'm not far down in the green jersey but I'll see day by day if it'll be appropriate to look for points or not. My priority is to assist Alberto and we have a big job to do tomorrow on the paves”, comments Peter Sagan.

Tinkoff-Saxo Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh notes that he was pleased to see the team avoiding the serious crashes that neutralized the race just before the race entered its finale.

“Besides Sagan taking the white jersey, I think the most positive on today’s stage is the important fact that non of our riders were involved in the two big and serious crashes. A lot of guys were knocked down and the race was practically running out of doctors. We support the decision to neutralize the race temporarily - it was a wise decision in a hectic moment”.

“I’m pleased with the team effort today and I think that everybody did exactly what they had to do to support Alberto. I think that their effort today can be seen in the fact that non of our riders were involved in the crash, as we spend energy on staying at the front throughout the stage”, tells Steven de Jongh, who notes that tomorrow’s stage on the cobbles will be another vital day: “As for the stage finale on Mur du Huy, I think Alberto suffered on the last hundred meters. It’s not his type of climb and we know that Alberto is stronger on longer climbs. We still have most of the Tour ahead of us and we now turn our attention towards tomorrow and the cobbles. It’s pretty obvious that it will be a very tricky day”.

Giant-Alpecin sent this release regarding Tom Duloulin's stage 3 crash:

Tom Dumoulin (NED) crashed out of Le Tour de France on the third stage of racing today after a huge crash that took place in the bunch.

"Examination at the hospital have confirmed what we suspected, that Tom has an impression fracture in his glenohumeral joint," said team physician Stephan Jacolino (NED). "Due to the crash his shoulder was dislocated and the medical team immediately put it back into position. The treatment plan will be made up in the Netherlands during the upcoming days."

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin during better days, at the 2015 Tour of Switzerland.

Tom Dumoulin explained: "It was nervous all day and with 60km to the finish a rider in front of me went down and I tried to pass him on the right side, but I was hit by one of the riders next to me and crashed headfirst. I slid into the grass and immediately knew that it was wrong.

"I am very sad that what should have been a beautiful day became a disaster.”

Team coach Marc Reef (NED) added: "It's a blow. For a long time we have worked towards this Tour de France to take our opportunities, which are ruined by this crash. This is top sport and we have to stick to our goals, although it is a big loss. Tomorrow there is a new opportunity and we have to move on."

Here's what Lotto-Soudal had to say about the Tour's third stage:

The third Tour stage started in a sunny Antwerp, where thousands of people welcomed the Tour caravan. Then the peloton headed to Wallonia, where the stage finished on the Mur de Huy. The riders had to cover 159.5 kilometres and that didn’t go without any accidents. At the end there always is a winner and today that was the Spaniard Joaquim Rodríguez. Tony Gallopin was fifth, a nice result, and is now fourth overall.

Just like yesterday there was a breakaway of four immediately after the official start. Jan Barta was again one of the escapees. Elmiger, Nauleau and Pauwels accompanied him. Sixty kilometres before the end, ten kilometres before the first of four climbs, there were two big crashes. Greg Henderson was one of the victims. He finished the stage, but went to hospital afterwards. After the crashes the race organization decided to neutralize the race due to safety reasons. The peloton stopped. When everyone had returned they started moving again. The neutralization continued until the top of the Côte de Bohissau, from then on 50 kilometres were left.

The four escapees were back in the peloton and there were no new attacks until the Mur de Huy. Tony Gallopin held on to a good position in the group that fought for the stage win. The Lotto Soudal rider crossed the finish line as fifth. Joaquim Rodríguez could hold Froome off and won, but the Briton is the new GC leader. Gallopin is fourth on GC at 26 seconds. André Greipel will ride in the green jersey again tomorrow, he took the maximum of points at the intermediate sprint.

Juaquin Rodriguez and Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin following Joaquin Rodriguez up the Mur du Huy.

Tony Gallopin: “I’m really glad with this fifth place on the Mur de Huy. It was a race like I had expected; we arrived at the bottom with 40 to 50 riders. The teammates helped me to get in a good position and I could turn up the climb as one of the first. I tried to hang on to the same rhythm, so I wouldn’t explode. At a certain moment I was riding at the front, but in the last 200 metres the others were stronger. Nonetheless, a fifth place is a nice result at a finish of which I know it doesn’t completely suit me. That proves the condition is good.”

“On the moment of the big crash I just had a puncture. That way I was lucky, otherwise I might have crashed as well. Now I could pass the riders involved and I immediately saw that some were severely injured. The neutralisation was a good decision. Many riders were involved and the damage was huge. People are always talking about the safety of the riders; now everyone could take a pause for a moment.”

“I hope everyone will be spared from bad luck tomorrow, because it will be very nervous with the cobbles. We have a team that’s good at this. Sieberg is in top shape, André is very strong, Jens is a rider for the classics, just like Lars and I don’t say ‘no’ to it myself. Depending on the wind I think we will get to the finish with a large group. And then we’ll see. We have different cards to play.”

LottoNL-Jumbo had bad luck today:

A heavy crash dominated the third stage of the Tour de France from Antwerp to Huy. Wilco Kelderman was involved in it and Laurens Ten Dam’s shoulder was dislocated because of it. After his shoulder was popped back in, he finished the stage. Robert Gesink place 14th up the Mur de Huy, 22 seconds behind winner Joaquím Rodriguez (Team Katusha).

With around 50 kilometres to go, a big crash occurred on the right side of the peloton. Several riders abandoned the race because of it and it looked like Laurens ten Dam was one of them. His shoulder was dislocated.

“I said that they had to pop my shoulder back in,” Ten Dam said. “I have trained very hard, so I don’t want to abandon the race even before we enter France. As long as I’m in the race, it’s possible that I can recover. Tomorrow, I’m going to try it on the cobblestones. It will be painful, but afterwards, I have four days to recover. The Alps are just in two weeks and maybe everything is different at that moment.”

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman

“His bike was already on top of the car,” sports director Nico Verhoeven said. “We thought that he was out of the race, but he said that he didn’t want to leave the Tour and that his shoulder had to be popped back in. When we knew that the race was neutralised, he was able to return quietly. He was chatting quickly afterwards. Laurens is a tough one.” Kelderman came out of his crash with several abrasions. He is going to start on Tuesday as well.

Robert Gesink was glad that he came through the chaos without too much damage. “I passed it quiet good. The race was neutralised. That’s hard because the peloton is really stressed out at a moment like that. In the end, it didn’t escalate anymore, fortunately.

“The final was tough. A finish on the Mur de Huy is always spectacular and exciting. Bram Tankink brought me in good position for the Cote de Cherave and I gave everything I had on the Mur de Huy. It was my maximum.”

The stage to Cambrai on Tuesday has seven cobbled sections, which suits Sep Vanmarcke. “I’m allowed to go for my own chances,” the Belgian said. “But the general classification of our front men is even more important, of course. Only Robert is well placed at this moment, so I will get some more space from the team.

Tour of Austria news

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Robert Kiserlovski took 6th place behind stage winner David Tanner in Tour of Austria after a dedicated effort from his teammates in an attempt to keep him safe in the final sprint. Sports Director Bruno Cenghialta takes the result as a sign of Kiserlovski’s shape ahead of the mountains.

Stage 2 of Tour of Austria was concluded in a bunch sprint decision, where Tinkoff-Saxo’s GC captain Robert Kiserlovski finished 6th. According to Bruno Cenghialta, team sports director, the team had done a good effort in keeping him safe.

“Today was a good day because Kiserlovski was sixth and stayed safe in the final 30 kilometers that were quite difficult. It was up and down with many turns on small roads and we also had wind in the last part. Chris Anker and the other guys supported Kiserlovski very well and they kept him out of the crash in the finale. I think that Robert’s sixth place in the sprint shows that he is in good shape as this is not his kind of terrain”, tells Bruno Cenghialta.

Stage 2 of Tour of Austria took the riders 196.2km from Litschau to Grieskirchen in hilly terrain. In the end, the stage was decided in a bunch sprint, where David Tanner (IAM) proved the fastest on the line. Bruno Cenghialta adds that the team looks forward to the rapidly approaching mountains that emerge on stage 4.

David Tanner wins Ausitra stage 2

David Tanner wins Tour of Asutria stage 2

“The team supported our ambitions well today, Robert showed good signs and I think it’s a good sign ahead of the difficult terrain that we will face from stage 4 and onwards. Tomorrow will probably be another day for the sprinters but already here we will face some climbs on the first part of the stage. We will take the race one day at a time and we remain poised ahead of the mountains”, finishes Bruno Cenghialta.

And here's Cult Energy's Tour of Austria news:

The 196 kilometer long second stage of Tour of Austria between Litschau and Grieskirschen counting 1800 meters of elevation was dominated by a breakaway trio. But just like yesterday, the day was concluded in a bunch sprint decision where Cult Energy’s Troels Vinther finished 4th.

At first, the stage seemed a textbook stage with a morning breakaway stealing the attention in the first part of day but already with 61 kilometers to go,  Matthias Krizek (Felbermayr Simplon Wels) went solo. As he was caught in due time, several breaks including both CULT Energy’s Christian Mager and Romain Lemarchand escaped from the field but no one was allowed to go.

In the bunch sprint, Cult Energy’s Troels Vinther made another strong impression by finishing 4th. First across the finish line was David Tanner (IAM Cycling).

DS, André Steensen says: “It was another thrilling stage finale where we had first Christian Mager in an attack and when he was caught, Romain Lemarchxnd launched the counter-move and he worked very hard to stay out there but was brought back with two kilometers to go. The finale was so technical that the bunch split up and Linus put Troels in a perfect position for the sprint while Romain was able to maintain a spot in the raging train to finish 10th while Troels finished 4th. Tomorrow’s stage is a bit more complicated due to a number of climbs and an uphill finish but I believe we have the strength to finish among the best again,” said a confident DS, André Steensen.

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