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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, June 26, 2015

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

Upcoming Racing

This is national championship week, though some countries hold their championships earlier in the year. I've got the 2015 national championship pagegoing and update it at least a couple of times a day.

On July 4th, the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) begin.

Riis deliberately ignored doping at CSC Team

This will come as no surprise to careful observers of the sport. Bjarne Riis has confessed to a Danish TV station that while he managed CSC, which has morphed into the current Tinkoff-Saxo now owned by Oleg Tinkoff, he turned a conscious blind eye to doping on the team. The most notorious occurrence was Tyler Hamilton's blood doping. "I was not mature enough to carry the responsibility of one of the top teams in cycling," he said. "My credibility is not very high and I am well aware of that."

Riis has also earlier admitted that he doped during his winning 1996 Tour de France ride.

Bjarne Riis in 1995

Bjarne Riis in 1995

2016 Giro d'Italia will start in Netherlands

The Giro organization has announced that the start of the 2016 edition will be an 8.1 kilometer individual time trial at Apeldoorn, Netherlands. The race is scheduled to run May 26 - 29.

Following the time trial there will be two road stages in the Netherlands: 180 kilometers going from Arnhem to Nijmegen and then a return trip, Nijmegen to Arnhem, this time, 190 kilometers of racing.

Then, during the rest day, the race will fly to Southern Italy. We'll know the complete route in October when the 99th edition of the Giro is presented.

This is the third Dutch start for the Giro, having begun also in 2002 and 2012, and is the twelfth foreign start for the race.

This year the Tour de France will start July 4th in Utrecht, in the Netherlands.

Netherlands map

Map of Netherlands. Apeldoorn is east of Amsterdam

Giant-Alpecin's Tour squad announced

The team sent this update:

Team Giant-Alpecin is pleased to announce its final nine-rider line-up for the 102nd Tour de France, which starts in Utrecht (NL) on July 4. After starting in Rotterdam in 2010, the 2015 Tour de France returns to the Netherlands.

With an impressive haul of eight stage wins in the previous two editions of La Grand Boucle, Team Giant-Alpecin heads to this year’s Tour de France once again with the goal of winning a stage in the sprint stages with a difficult finale, the intermediate/transition stages and the mountain stages. Further to this, the team aims to develop the riders’ form and further enhancing the quality of the entire team.

To achieve successful results, German sprinter John Degenkolb will lead the team with his focus on obtaining good results in reduced sprints. With Warren Barguil (FRA), Georg Preidler (AUT) and Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), the team brings three debutants to Utrecht. For Barguil it will his challenge to discover his capabilities in the Tour, which will be an important step in his development as a GC rider. With the young Frenchman, the team aims for stage success in the intermediate- transition- and mountain stages. Preidler is an all-rounder and his qualities will be employed as a support rider in the lead-out as well as the mountain stages. Sinkeldam will be a valuable member of the sprint preparation for Degenkolb.

Other riders forming the line-up for Team Giant-Alpecin's fifth start at the Tour include road captain Roy Curvers (NED), starting his fourth Tour, and trusty lead-out men Koen de Kort (NED) and Albert Timmer (NED), who both participated in all Tour de France tours the team has competed in thus far. The line-up is completed by Tom Dumoulin (NED), who is aiming for a good result in the opening time trial, and Simon Geschke (GER), who together with Dumoulin returns for his third Tour.

The team looks forward to the start in the Netherlands, and for five of the team's riders this will be an extra special experience: to start the Tour de France on their home turf. Specific preparations have been made by the team for the Tour de France, starting back in the winter of 2014. The riders, coaches and experts have been fine-tuning every detail of the team’s equipment, training, support and logistics in a continuous preparation process, using aero wind tunnel tests, course recon's and the altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada.

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb wins a stage at this year's Tour of Bavaria. He'll be at the Tour de France start.

A notable absentee this year will be German sprinter Marcel Kittel, who worked hard with team's coaches and experts to get in shape after recovering from a virus. Good progress has been made in this process, however the team decided that Kittel's basic fitness is still not sufficient to compete in the Tour de France. Therefore the team will be strengthened for stage success over a different type of parcours, the hard sprints. For now, an alternative racing program will be determined by the performance team and Kittel himself and new goals will be set for the autumn to structurally work towards them.

"Of course I am disappointed about not participating in the Tour de France this year," said Kittel. "But I will have to look ahead and focus on new goals."

Coach Marc Reef (NED) is looking forward to the Tour: “Our main goal will be for a stage win, and the team for this year’s Tour has a good chance to achieve this goal. Based on the team’s specific strengths, we already have some great opportunities for success in the first week and fully expect to achieve positive results throughout.”

RACE: Tour de France (WT)

DATE: 04-26/07/2015

COACHES: Marc Reef (NED), Christian Guiberteau (FRA), Rudi Kemna (NED) 

LINE-UP: Warren Barguil (FRA), Roy Curvers (NED), John Degenkolb (GER), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Simon Geschke (GER), Koen de Kort (NED), Georg Preidler (AUT), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Albert Timmer (NED)

Drucker silver medalist at Luxembourg TT champs

Here's BMC's news:

Eschweiler, Luxembourg - Jempy Drucker of the BMC Racing Team rode to a silver medal Thursday at the Luxembourg national time trial championships.

In the 24.6-kilometer race against the clock, Drucker was 50 seconds off the winning time of 33:42 by Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), who won his third national time trial title in the past four years. Jungels's teammate, Laurent Didier, was third, at 1:13.

Jempy Drucker

Jempy Drucker at the Tour of Switzerland a little earlier this year.

Drucker's season-best performance came in his first participation in the national time trial.

"I am pretty happy about it," he said. "Losing against Jungels is nothing to be ashamed of. He is a specialist who just finished sixth in the final time trial at the Tour de Suisse. So he is pretty strong in time trials. I am satisfied with my performance."

Sunday, Drucker will look to better a career-best third-place finish (from 2013) in the national road race.

Lotto-Soudal's Belgian championship preview:

This week the Belgian Championships take place. On Friday 26th June it’s the time trial, the road race is scheduled two days later. Lotto Soudal will have a large delegation in both races.

The time trial championships are being organized in Postel, part of Mol. Two laps of 24.5 kilometres have to be covered by the men and because of practical reasons the riders start in two shifts. Sean De Bie, Thomas De Gendt, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Boris Vallée and Tim Wellens will represent Lotto Soudal.

Jurgen Van den Broeck

Jurgen Van den Broeck time-trialing at this year's Tirreno-Adriatico

Thomas De Gendt: “Time trials are a strength of mine, I am ambitious for tomorrow and want to win the title. I’m in a good condition. I wanted to test myself in the time trial on the last day of the Tour de Suisse, but I wasn’t recovered yet after my long breakaway. I took some rest this week and that will be enough. The course should suit me. There are many straight parts and only a few turns which don’t seem too technical.”

“Kristof Vandewalle is one of the main favourites. I also expect a strong performance of my teammate Tim Wellens. I also think Victor Campenaerts and Yves Lampaert can finish on the podium.”

“It’s good that the time trial championships take place just before the road race. Lots of riders want to be good on Sunday and are in a good shape. In the past the time trial was organized after the Tour, only few people were keen then. Last year it was scheduled in May, at the time of the Tour de Romandie and Tour of Turkey. This new date is a good change.”

Tervuren, near Brussels, hosts the Belgian road race on Sunday. The riders have to cover fourteen laps of eighteen kilometres, 252 kilometres in total. On the course lies the Horenberg, a short climb which could definitely cause a selection.

Like every year Lotto Soudal starts with many riders. Gert Dockx won’t take part as he crashed in the Dauphiné. If Maxime Monfort is fully recovered after his crash in the Tour de Suisse he will start. For Stig Broeckx it will be the first race since his crash in the Giro.

With a nice mix of different types of riders the team can make it a hard race. With among other Tiesj Benoot, Kris Boeckmans, Jürgen Roelandts and 2014 winner Jens Debusschere Lotto Soudal will aim for a second victory in a row.

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “It’s a tough course in Tervuren, tougher than lots of people think. That could be tricky. The roads are good and I expect they will race at a high speed, especially in the first phase. After the climb there is a part where the wind could play a role. I don’t think it will be a bunch sprint at the end. It will probably be a small group of about ten riders that will fight for the title. Last year such a breakaway was caught, but this year such a group could make it.”

“Like every year we start with a large team, but you only need one man to win. There is only one place that counts. Last year we finished it off perfectly, hopefully we can do that again on Sunday. We have several riders that could win. Jens Debusschere, Tiesj Benoot, Kris Boeckmans, Sean De Bie, Jürgen Roelandts and Tim Wellens for example. We have to work well together like last year, that was perfect. We want to see that again.”

Jens Debusschere: “On Tuesday, in Ruddervoorde, I had my last race before the Belgian Championships. I wanted to win, but I also considered it as a training. I enjoyed the race. I am aware that this could be the last days in the national jersey. I will definitely miss it. It was nice to wear the jersey in the spring classics, lots of people cheered me on, everyone recognized me. I will certainly always remember Ghent-Wevelgem and my stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico.”

"I have a chance of winning the title again this weekend. My condition is really good. You need luck as well, but I don’t have less chance than other riders. It’s not an easy course, but not too tough either. A race of 250 kilometres is always hard, even if it’s flat. The last three to four laps the ascent of the Horenberg will get tougher. I consider Tom Boonen, Sep Vanmarcke and Van Avermaet to be the main favourites. We have several cards to play.”

Lampre-Merida has lots of riders racing this week:

The weekend of the Team Lampre-Merida will have lots of appointments: 17 riders will participate in the national championships of 6 different Countries.

The Italian selection will be the largest with 9 riders at the start of the road race.
In Portugal, 3 blue-fuchsia-green cyclists will take part in the time trial and 2 of them will participate in the road race, 2 Lampre-Merida riders will be at the start of the Slovenian championship, 1 cyclist will be in the Polish race, 1 rider will participate in the Ethiopian time trial and road race and 1 in the Belarusian championship.

This is the list of the national races and the Lampre-Merida athletes who'll participate:

ITALY
Road race (Legnano-Torino Colle di Superga, 219 km), 27 June: Bonifazio, Bono, Cattaneo, Conti, Ferrari, Modolo, Mori, Pozzato, Ulissi.

BELARUS
Road race (Mozyr), 28 June: Koshevoy

ETHIOPIA
Time trial, (Jimma, 30 km), 27 June: Grmay (present champion)
Road race (Jimma 140 km), 28 June: Grmay (present champion)

POLAND
Road race (Sobotka, 234 km), 28 June: Niemiec

PORTUGAL
Time trial (Braga, 36 km), 26 June: Mario Costa, Rui Costa, Oliveira (present champion)
Road race (Braga, 193,2 km), 28 June: Mario Costa, Rui Costa

SLOVENIA
Road race (Mirna Pec, 178,3 km), 28 June: Polanc, Pibernik

Niemic

Przemyslaw Niemiec will race the Polish road racing championships. Here he is suffering during that dreadful 2015 Tirreno-Adiratico snowy fifth stage.

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