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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, May 4, 2015

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Upcoming Racing

Sunday, May 3rd, had five races. I guess the racing world has to catch its breath for a couple of days. Next race is the "HC" ranked Four Days of Dunkirk (4 Jours de Dunkerque), starting on Wednesday, May 6.

Team Race Reports

With so much racing on Sunday, my inbox had lots of news from the teams. We'll start with the Tour de Romandie:

Tour de Romandie News

This from Tinkoff Saxo:

After a slow start to Tour de Romandie, Tinkoff-Saxo bounced back and sent captain Rafal Majka up the GC during the course of the race. Majka finished off by delivering a fast TT, which put him into a final 7th place overall behind Ilnur Zakarin.

Rafal Majka finished as best Tinkoff-Saxo rider on the 17.3km ITT 28 seconds behind stage winner Tony Martin and explains his result with a recent increase in shape. “I had a good day and I think my form is building up. It was a tough stage and the rain made it even more difficult. Overall, the final days of the Tour de Romandie went well, considering the fact we made up most of the time we lost in the first day's team time-trial. It wasn't easy to come up from a 55-second deficit in the first stage and finish seventh overall. I'd like to thank the rest of the team for the great effort they put into this. The team was always there, we were in the front and especially yesterday, they showed their form. We were nearly all of us at the front on the last, difficult, climb and that is a good sign for the future”, comments Rafal Majka, who adds about his next goals:

“I will now rest for a week and then start preparing for the Tour de Suisse, where I really want to achieve a good result. After that, the big focus, not only for myself but for the entire team, will be the Tour de France. I have to be in great shape in order to be able to help Alberto as much as I can on the tough climbs”.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka after winning the 2014 stage 14 Tour de France time trial stage.

Asked about his evaluation of Tour de Romandie and the final day, Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Bruno Cenghialta puts focus on the effort made to move into the top ten overall.

"Rafal had a very good time-trial today. He was focused and keen on achieving a good result. He raced very well and this was reflected in his result. He is happy and so are we, of course, as the whole team has made a dedicated effort to support him. His form is constantly improving as well as his morale. We had a setback with the result of the first day's team time-trial, something that could have allowed him to finish further up in the GC”, asserts Bruno Cenghialta and adds:

“Rafal showed today that he was very strong and I'm confident about the near future. I'm sure he will reach the Tour de Suisse in excellent shape and the Tour de France in near-perfect form. The main bulk of our season starts next week at the Giro and it's important to have Rafal in tip-top shape, both physically and psychologically”.

This Romandie report came from Lampre-Merida:

Rui Costa obtained the 30th place in the individual time trial that ended the 2015 edition of the Tour de Romandie.

The Portuguese rider completed the 17.3 km course in Lausanne (a light hill from the 8th to the 13th km) in 23'35", at an average speed of 42.224 km/h, 1min 18sec slower than winner Tony Martin.

The final position of Rui Costa in the overall classification is the 25th, at 5'48" to the Russian Zakarin.

Rui Costa

Rui Costa in 2014

Thanks to the 5th place in the 2nd stage and to the 4th position in the 3rd stage, Lampre-Merida's captain climbed one position in the World Tour ranking and he's now 6th, preceding the World Champion Kwiatkowski.

In the Tour de Romandie, Lampre-Merida appreciated the battle of Rui Costa in every stage, the improvements of Diego Ulissi and the union between the riders in the bunch, as sport director Mauduit explained: "It's a very good technical improvement the way our riders pedaled as an united group".

"My approach to the time trial was competitive, because I aim to exploit every time trial in order to improve in this speciality - Rui Costa said - The 25th place in the overall classification was not the one I aimed for, but I'm aware I tried to be protagonist from the first stage to the stage of the summit arrival. Being at 6th in the World Tour ranking is something that satisfies me and gives me the energy to look at my next appointment, namely the Criterium du Dauphinè".

Lotto-Soudal's Romandie news:

The last stage of the Tour de Romandie was an individual time trial of 17.3 kilometres in Lausanne. Jurgen Van den Broeck set a really strong performance, he was fourth at nineteen seconds of winner Tony Martin. Maxime Monfort set a good time as well. He finished on the seventeenth place at 51 seconds. In the overall classification both Lotto Soudal riders stand in the top twenty. Van den Broeck as fourteenth at 2’39” of Ilnur Zakarin, Monfort as nineteenth at 3’25”

Jurgen Van den Broeck: “I noticed soon that I was good and I immediately got the right rhythm, so I was hoping for a good result. This type of time trial suits me better than a flat course; it was a bit technical and hilly. I am really satisfied with this fourth place, I did better than some time trial specialists and that pleases me.”

Jugen Van den Broeck

Van den Broeck checks his bike before the start of 2015 Romandie stage 2.

“The Tour de Romandie was my last preparation for the Giro and was important to get race rhythm after my altitude training camp in Tenerife. I needed the intensive stages. After the team time trial we knew a top ten place in GC would be difficult. Yesterday I couldn’t follow the best on the last climb, but today was really positive.”

Frederik Willems, sports director of Lotto Soudal: “This was a really positive way to end the Tour de Romandie, with the Giro in mind. The team time trial was bad, but the riders that are selected for the Giro got stronger each day. Sander Armée had some back problems after his crash in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and as a precaution we let him go home earlier.”

"Yesterday Jurgen could follow long on the last climb, but on the steep parts he lost contact. Today he got a mental boost. Maxime already had a good feeling uphill yesterday, although he had expected to hang on a bit longer. He also rode a good time trial. This lets us hope for the best for the Giro, where the toughest stages will be taking place three weeks from now.”

Now for the Tour of Turkey Report

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

The final stage in Tour of Turkey saw young Jay McCarthy move up in the general classification to finish 3rd in Tour of Turkey. The final result marks the best GC-finish for the 22-year old Australian, who, according to Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director, has shown very promising signs during the eight-stage race.

The final day in Tour of Turkey saw a surprise winner, as Caja Rural’s Lluìs Mas Bonet took the sprinters by surprise on the technical run-in towards the finish line. According to Tinkoff-Saxo DS Nicki Sørensen, sprinter Michael Kolar lacked the last power after bouncing back from days of stomach problems.

“It was a very technical finish, but Kolar didn’t have the legs today to follow the first group, when the peloton split on the narrow uphill roads before the finish line. It’s normal after days of illness, but Jay was there and secured the team a podium finish in the final GC, which he can be very proud of”, says Nicki Sørensen.

Jay McCarthy

Jay McCarthy

Stage 8 presented the riders in Tour of Turkey with the race conclusion spread across 121 fast kilometers. With just around 1km to go, the stretched out pack turned right into the narrow streets of Istanbul, where Mas Bonet put in his decisive attack. Although the sprinters made up ground on the final stretch, he proved beyond reach and took the win. Jay McCarthy crossed the line in the first group, moved up to 3rd overall and finished off a week of active racing for Tinkoff-Saxo on a positive note.

“The team can be very proud with the effort made. We are all very happy with Jay’s 3rd place overall, which shows that he has made progress. In general, we can be satisfied especially with the way we’ve raced. I think the team has played an active part of the race. However, we didn’t get the stage win that we had been aiming for but I’m certain that several riders will leave Turkey with a moral boost and in great shape. McCarthy, Kolar and Brutt are in very good shape, while Bennati has mounted a quick comeback after his injury”, finishes Nicki Sørensen.

BMC's Tour de Yorkshire Release:

Leeds, Great Britain - Ben Hermans led a 1-2-4 finish by the BMC Racing Team on the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire Sunday while teammate Samuel Sánchez was runner-up overall in the inaugural edition of the British race.

Hermans attacked the peloton with nine kilometers left, passed breakaway rider Lawson Craddock (Team Giant-Alpecin) with five kilometers to go, and had time to freewheel his BMC teammachine SLR01 across the line as he thrust both arms in the air. Teammate Greg Van Avermaet was runner-up nine seconds later, ahead of Julien Simon (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) and Sánchez.

Hermans, a solo winner at Brabantse Pijl last month, said he wasn't sure he had the form to go alone to the line again. "Fortunately, today was a good day," Hermans said. "I had a hard moment on second-to-last KOM (king of the mountain) when it started to rain. But then I felt better and attacked. We wanted to make the race hard for the last couple of climbs and then some other teams would attack, or maybe I would attack. But I did not feel quite good enough to attack and still go with the good guys. So we stayed together. I think everyone was a little bit dead at that moment."

Ben Hermans wins the final Yorkshire stage

Ben Hermans wins the final Yorkshire stage

Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) won the overall title, 11 seconds ahead of Sánchez, who enjoyed his best result in a stage race since winning Vuelta al Pais Vasco in 2012. Hermans and Van Avermaet were sixth and seventh, respectively, in the final standings of the three-day race.

"Second in the GC (general classification) and Ben winning the stage is a fantastic result for us," Sánchez said. "The final 35 kilometers we had aggressive tactics. It was nice to do so well in this new race that had so many people out to watch."

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Jackson Stewart said Joey Rosskopf was one of the unsung heroes by helping chase down the day's two-man breakaway of Craddock and Nicolas Edet (Cofodis, Solutions Credits). "Rosskopf did an amazing job to get the gap down to 30 seconds so Ben could go on the attack," Stewart said. "It was nice to get the stage win and keep our spot in the GC and move some other guys up the standings. It was a good team effort."

The BMC Racing Team's impressive performance in Yorkshire topped a day that included "most combative rider" honors for Stefan Küng at the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland. Küng soloed to win Friday's stage in rainy, cold conditions to earn one of eight victories by the BMC Racing Team on the season.

Velocio-SRAM's Gracia Orlová Tour Report

Orlová, Czech Republic, 3 May 2015 - Velocio-SRAM have finished the Gracia Orlová Tour in emphatic style with Elise Delzenne winning the final stage today in Orlová. Alena Amialiusik won the General Classification by 15 seconds, ahead of team mate Trixi Worrack, with Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana) 32 seconds behind in third place. Amialiusik capped off an incredible tour for the Velocio-SRAM team who won four stages and finished in the first five places in the Individual Time Trial Stage.

The fifth and final stage was a six lap circuit race around the town of Orlová today. The 100.2 kilometre stage was a tough undulating circuit that constantly saw the peloton string out and slowly come back together. Early attacks were marked by the youngest member of the team, Mieke Kroeger, who continued her hard work all week for the team. A late break with Karol-Ann Canuel was brought back with seven kilometres to go, and Delzenne made a late solo attack with four kilometres remaining. She was joined by Vieceli (Michela- Fanini) and the duo stayed away until the finish. Delzenne outsprinted the young Italian to take the final stage victory for Velocio-SRAM.

Delzenne said, "The team has had an incredible week, and as well I'm very happy with my own performances. We had the goal to keep the top two places on GC and if a stage win came out of that, then it was a bonus."

Amialiusik completed the final stage without issues to secure the overall classification. "My team mates were so strong all week, I am so happy to have the win for them. Trixi did work on all of the climbs for me, she was always there, she was great. The Gracia Orlová Tour is special to me because I remember when I was a little bit younger I did this race and for me then, it was a big race, really! And now I have won it, it's amazing, and almost too much to take in at once," said a delighted Amialiusik. The Belarusian also took home the points, climbers and activity classifications.

Trixi Worrack

Trixi Worrack

The Velocio-SRAM team demonstrated their strength across the four days as they held the yellow jersey for the entire tour and moved Trixi Worrack from fourth into second position overall. They had stage wins with Alena Amialiusik (Stage 1), Lisa Brennauer (Stage 3), Karol-Ann Canuel (Stage 4) and Elise Delzenne (Stage 5).

Team Director Sportif Beth Duryea praised the work of the team. "It was a strong ride from Alena all week, but it was not an individual effort. The whole team has created an atmosphere amongst the rider group since the beginning of the year and have slowly been building momentum with each race we do. The results in the last three weeks for the team demonstrate this momentum and there is not a lot more that needs to be said."

The team will next race the Amgen Tour of California powered by SRAM on May 8-10 in USA.

Giant-Alpecin sent this Festival Elsy Jacobs Report

Nineteen year-old Floortje Mackaij (NED) has once again confirmed her huge talent and strong form with another big win at Festival Elsy Jacobs, Luxembourg. In the pouring rain, Mackaij followed up her first win at Gent-Wevelgem to confirm the progress she has made over the winter period to take a strong sprint victory after a hard day in the Luxembourgish hills. Mackaij also takes home two jerseys for winning the Youth- and Points Classifications.

"I am very happy with this win. After Friday's prologue I was a little disappointed but today's result totally makes up for that. The weather was really bad from the start and with the constant attacks that took place it was a real elimination race.

"The team was very strong today, we were part of each escape. After 60km we got away with 25 girls, including four of us. In the second lap, Niewiadoma (Liv-Rabobank) attacked from that group. Both me and Garfoot (Orica-AIS) were able to follow. Garfoot was riding for yellow so I could save my energy a bit.

"The sprint was a very close call. I won, by what felt only a couple of inches and also the bunch was very close behind us."   

Festival Elsy Jacobs

Racing at the Festival Elsy Jacobs

Hans Timmermans (NED): "The plan for today was to be part of each group that escaped. Because of the bad weather the chance that such a group makes it to the finish is quite large. A large group of 25 riders broke away including four of our girls. Too bad that Julia [Soek] punctured at that very moment, otherwise she would have been included too.

"At the local laps many attacks happened as Floortje [Mackaij] got away with Garfoot (Orica-AIS) and Niewiadoma (Liv-Rabobank). The three leaders managed to stay away just in front of the sprinting bunch, and Floortje was the fastest in the sprint. I am extremely happy with this result. Especially because it was a real team effort. We performed very well at all stages here and this win was really deserved." 

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