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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, May 8, 2015

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Today's Racing

Three races today, the third stage of both the "HC" ranked Four Days of Dunkirk (4 Jours de Dunkerque), and the 2.1 Tour de Azerbaidjan.

Plus, the first stage of the Tour of California Women's Race.

Giro d'Italia Team News

BMC reports Klaas Lodewyck out of Giro:

Santa Rosa, California - Klaas Lodewyck will not be able to start the Giro d'Italia for the BMC Racing Team Saturday due to lingering concerns about his heart, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa announced Thursday. "This came to me as a big surprise," Lodewyck said. "I am super, super disappointed. Everything went so well in England (at the Tour de Yorkshire). Day-by-day I was getting stronger, which made me think I could do a good Giro."

Lodewyck had surgery performed on his heart last September. He returned to competition to start the season but was sidelined for much of the spring after breaking his right collarbone for the second time in eight months at the Dubai Tour in February. Dr. Testa said Lodewyck underwent testing in Belgium Wednesday as a routine follow up to the heart procedure.

Klaas Lodewyck

Klaas Lodewyck

"Based on the findings, he was recommended by his treating cardiologist to hold off on participating in competitions that are three weeks long," Dr. Testa said. "Klaas will be re-tested after a three-week period of relative rest, during which he will be allowed to train at mild to moderate intensity. Then he will be re-evaluated and decisions on his return to competition will be made. The BMC medical staff is in full agreement with the decision and supportive of the plan that is in Klaas's best interests."

Replacing Lodewyck in the BMC Racing Team's line-up for the Giro will be Amaël Moinard, who finished the Tour de Romandie Sunday. He was vacationing with his family in France when he received the call to make the trip to Italy.

"It is going to be a bit hard the first days for me for sure," Moinard said. "But I will try to look for some good opportunities on some stages. I hope I have the chance to make a nice result."

Moinard will be making his third start at the Giro d'Italia. A stage winner at the Tour du Haut Var last year and the 2010 king of the mountains classification winner at Paris-Nice, Moinard last competed in the Giro in 2006 and 2007 editions.

This Giro note came from Cannondale-Garmin:

Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling today announced the squad that will take on the 2015 Giro d'Italia. Headlined by 2012 Champion and 2014 9th-place finisher, Ryder Hesjedal, the green argyle team is versitile and features a mixture of youth and experience. Janier Acevado, Nathan Brown and Davide Formolo are  competing in their first Giro d'Italia, with Formolo  competing in his first ever Grand Tour. Tom Danielson is coming off great performances at Pais Vasco and Volta Catalunya, where he won the Mountains Classification, while TJ Slagter recently posted strong riding in the Ardennes, including 9th place at at Flèche Wallone. The nine-rider squad includes three Italians for the Italian Grand Tour in Formolo, Alan Marangoni and Davide Villella.

Since inception, Slipstream Sports has historically had great success at the Giro d'Italia, topped by Ryder Hesjedal’s overall GC win in 2012. Hesjedal finished 9th overall in last year’s edition. The organization's first Giro d'Italia win came in 2008 with a victory in the team time trial. A second win in the team time trial came in 2012 Giro d'Italia. Additional stage wins include two sprint victories (2010), one individual time trial win (2011) and a one from a breakaway (2013).

Director Charly Wegelius said: "Ryder Hesjedal, champion of 2012 Giro d'Italia, headlines Cannondale-Garmin's 2015 Giro team. Ryder approaches the Giro in strong form and knows how to pace himself in grand tours. His vast experience, especially as a  Giro winner, will be a precious resource for the team. Racing the Giro with a former winner on the squad is a unique opportunity for our younger riders like Nate Brown, Davide Formolo and Davide Villella and one that I expect them to take full advantage of.  We can also count on the strength and experience of well-grounded riders Janier Acevedo,  Andre Cardoso, Tom Danielson, Alan Marangoni and TJ Slagter. This is a versatile team with a mix of youth and experience, and we'll be looking for opportunities throughout the race."

Ryder Hesjedal

Ryder Hesjedal at the 2015 Giro del Trentino

Ryder Hesjedal added: "I couldn't be more excited to start another Giro d'Italia with such a great group of people. The riders and staff know how hard a 3-week race is and I know we are all ready for the challenge, and prepared to continue our strong legacy with the race."

CANNONDALE-GARMIN 2015 GIRO D'ITALIA LINE UP: ACEVEDO, Janier, BROWN, Nathan, CARDOSO, Andre, DANIELSON, Tom, FORMOLO, Davide, HESJEDAL, Ryder, MARANGONI, Alan, SLAGTER, Tom, VILLELLA, Davide

Lotto-Soudal's latest Giro report:

Both have ridden the Giro twice. Jurgen Van den Broeck was 74th and 7th in 2007 and 2008 respectively, the beginning of his career as a GC rider. André Greipel won a stage in 2008 and 2010, he’d like to repeat that this year.

André Greipel: “I remember my last Giro really well. I was actually sick at the start, had stomach aches the first three days and it took half a Giro before I was recuperated. Eventually I could win the 18th stage. Racing in Italy and specifically the Giro is special. It’s easy to say that as a rider, but it really is. The riders make the race of course, but the Giro has got something that other races don’t have: the atmosphere, the own character, the stage profiles,...”

“Of course I have a certain ambition again. I want to win a stage. They say there are more sprint opportunities this year, but I don’t see more than five real bunch sprints. Apart from that, with Van den Broeck and Monfort we have two guys with expectations for GC. We have to find the right balance. We have a team that can do something in each type of stage. This year we chose to adapt my programme, therefore this Giro. I really wanted to ride the Giro. As a sportsman it is important to always set new goals. That keeps a rider motivated.”

Andre Greipel

André Greipel at the 2015 Three Days of de Panne

Jurgen Van den Broeck: “I’m happy the Giro will finally start. The departure to the Giro is more relaxed than the departure to the Tour. I’m really keen to start, I always wanted to come back to this race. I’m a rider for Grand Tours, this is what I love most and do best, so I’m looking forward to it. I hope I will grow to be at my best in the decisive week. We’re here with a strong team, we have to use this, not only for GC. I have never asked a team that rides only for me.”

“It’s a varied route. For the riders, followers and spectators it will be exciting to see what happens. The stage profiles are interesting, and I expect that after stage five there will already be kind of a hierarchy, so everyone will know his role in the rest of this Giro. At the team time trial on day one it will be important to set a good performance. Of course so we don’t lose too much time but also for the prestige. With guys like Monfort, Greipel, Hansen, Henderson and Bak we have some experienced riders for this assignment.”

“I aim for a top ten place in the overall classification. This is correct according to the team and me. Considering my past I can’t say I will be happy with the twentieth place. I know what I’m capable of, I have worked hard to be ready for the Giro and I have faith for the next weeks. Because of circumstances I didn’t set remarkable results the previous races, but I was never tired, had a good altitude training camp and I had a good feeling after the fourth place in the time trial in the Tour de Romandie.”

Tinkoff-Saxo's Giro news:

This Tuesday, Tinkoff-Saxo carried out its first training ride in Italy prior to the start of Giro d’Italia. During the three-hour ride, the nine riders alternated between road and time-trial bikes to recognize the course of the inaugural team time-trial, which will, among other challenges, pass through a bike path along the coast to San Remo.

Tinkoff-Saxo Giro team time trial practice

Tinkoff-Saxo practice team time trialing just before the Giro start.

“It's a time trial without any great mysteries regarding the corners”, says Alberto Contador after finishing the morning's work. “It will be important to have a good organization because it is on a bike path, which requires that the relays have to be well coordinated to allow for smooth transitions, because it is a fairly narrow road”.

The team captain of Tinkoff-Saxo says he had “good sensations” two days before the start. “I have arrived pretty well, we have worked very hard since late last year, when I had this race in mind. It is the first big goal of the season and I've dedicated the first part of the year for it. I'm happy to be here and also motivated by the team that I have, because it’s very powerful and all riders are here in good shape and excited about this challenge. Now is the time to have good legs”.

Regarding the result of the time trial, Alberto Contador doesn't expect too big time differences on the 17.6km parcours. “There cannot be big differences because it isn't a technical course. Strong teams will get a good time. I hope we'll do a good time trial, especially regarding my direct rivals, but they’ll also do a great race because they have really strong teams for this”, finishes Contador.

BMC's roster for Tour of California

Brabantse Pijl and Tour de Yorkshire stage winner Ben Hermans headlines the BMC Racing Team's roster for the Amgen Tour of California. The 10th annual edition of the eight-day race begins Sunday.

Riders: Jempy Drucker (LUX), Campbell Flakemore (AUS), Ben Hermans (BEL), Daniel Oss (ITA), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Michael Schär (SUI), Manuel Senni (ITA), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sport Directors: Max Sciandri (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA)

Daniel Oss

Daniel Oss at the 2104 Eneco Tour

Giant-Alpecin Upcoming Races Preview

GIRO D'ITALIA (WT)

Team Giant-Alpecin heads to this year’s Giro d’Italia following a hugely successful 2014 edition with three stage wins. Once again the goal is to win a stage and allow the team’s riders to gain experience over the 21 days with more than 3,000km of racing.

The team announced earlier in the month that sprinter Luka Mezgec (SLO) would definitely be lining up in San Lorenzo, and he will be joined by a strong team with lead-out capabilities and also riders who can take their chances in the breakaways if and when the opportunities arise.

The opportunists in the lineup include Simon Geschke (GER), who will head to the Giro following a strong comeback in Liège-Bastogne-Liège after recovering from a fractured collarbone, as well as Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), who will also have the opportunity to develop his long time trial skills in stage 14 with the 59.4km individual time trial.

This will be the first appearance in the Giro d’Italia for Americans Chad Haga and Caleb Fairly. Haga rode his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, last year and Fairly did the same at the 2013 Vuelta. The first Chinese rider ever to start in the Giro d’Italia, Cheng Ji, will be present again at the starting line in San Lorenzo.

Coach Addy Engels (NED) is looking forward to the Giro: “Our primary target will be the sprint stages with Mezgec, as we have a strong lead-out team including Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert De Backer (NED) and Tobias Ludvigsson (NED).

“In the Giro there are always some stages that are too tough for a bunch sprint and not hard enough for the GC contenders. For these days we will bring riders such as Geschke and Tom Stamsnijder (NED) to Italy to aim for a good stage result.”

COACH: Addy Engels (NED)

LINE-UP: Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert De Backer (BEL), Caleb Fairly (USA), Simon Geschke (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Tom Stamsnijder (NED) 

Simon Geschke

Simon Geschke will start the Giro. Here he is at the 2015 Tour Down Under.

RABOBANK 7-DORPENOMLOOP AALBURG (UCI 1.1)

This Saturday will see Team Liv-Plantur in action in Wijk en Aalburg in the Netherlands, in the 7-Dorpenomloop Aalburg. The team can look back on some good results in recent editions, with a fourth place for Amy Pieters (NED) in 2013 and second and fourth for Lucy Garner (GBR) and Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE), respectively, in last year’s race.

This race will be a chance to continue the winning streak from last weekend’s Festival Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg, where talented Floortje Mackaij (NED) won the closing stage and took ninth in the GC as well as the points jersey and the young rider jersey after a strong performance by the whole team.

Mackaij is also part of Saturday’s lineup for Team Liv-Plantur, which will be led by sprinter Garner and a strong Pieters, who took 10th in the final GC in Luxembourg. The lineup will be completed by on-form Julia Soek (NED), Willeke Knol (NED) and Kyara Stijns (NED).

Coach Hans Timmermans, looking ahead to Saturday’s race, said: “Aalburg is traditionally a race that is decided in the bunch sprint, and with Lucy we have a strong sprinter on board.  

“We also have Amy, who has returned to top shape after a short break due to a crash in Gent-Wevelgem. In a tough race with strong wind, she has a good chance in a small group. As a team we will not hesitate to take the initiative and make the race difficult for the other teams. A lot will depend on the weather again.”

Amy Pieters

Amy Pieters

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED)

LINE-UP: Lucy Garner (GBR), Willeke Knol (NED), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Amy Pieters (NED), Julia Soek (NED), Kyara Stijns (NED) 

AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA (2.HC)

This weekend the peloton moves across the ocean for the 10th edition of the Amgen Tour of California. Team Giant-Alpecin will be looking for another top-10 result in the general classification at “America’s Greatest Race” as Lawson Craddock (USA) took third place in 2014. 

Team Giant-Alpecin heads to the United States with a mixed team of climbers and riders who are good on the flat. Craddock will lead the team together with Warren Barguil (FRA), who is continuing his season after finishing the Ardennes campaign. Carter Jones (USA) will test his climbing legs in the two mountain stages.

The team is also bringing Koen de Kort (NED) and Zico Waeytens (BEL) to California. Both riders have the spring classics behind them and will go for good stage results during the flat stages. The lineup is completed by Roy Curvers (NED) and Thierry Hupond (FRA).

“California is a special race with hot conditions and not too many difficult stages, so it will be an ideal race for our guys to look for good stage results. For others, like Lawson and Carter, it will be an ideal opportunity to show their qualities as we aim for a top-10 result in the GC again.

“For the flatter stages we will bring Koen de Kort (NED) and Zico Waeytens (BEL), who will aim for a good result in a reduced bunch sprint,” said coach Aike Visbeek.

The teams sprinter Marcel Kittel (GER), who initially was announced for the Tour of California, will not participate. In consultation with the performance staff and Kittel himself, the team decided to follow a different program in building up to his upcoming season goals. An alternative racing program will be determined by the team. Kittel said, "After the Tour de Yorkshire we decided to take some more time for training, as I am not yet back to the race fitness needed for such a big and prestigious race as the Tour of California, and I will focus on training and working toward the next goals this season."

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED)

LINE-UP: Warren Barguil (FRA), Lawson Craddock (USA), Roy Curvers (NED), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Carter Jones (USA), Koen de Kort (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL) 

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