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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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

Philosophy is common sense with big words. - James Madison

Recently completed racing:

Current Racing :


Store with lots and lots of classic steel frames and bikes

Last week I had the pleasure of wandering around Mike Wolfe's South Salem Cycleworks. He is a long-time supporter of this site (his ad is on the right-hand side of this page). Thanks Mike!

His store is just crammed full of bike lover's eye candy. Steel frames by Merckx, De Rosa, Torelli, Mondonico and others are everywhere, and most of it is new old stock. In love with good bikes, he bought them new decades ago.

Bill McGann & Michael Wolfe

A fine madness. A corner of Mike Wolfe's (in blue shirt) bike lover's paradise.

He's got of enough of this luscious treasure for several stores. Now he's slowly getting these impossible-to-replace frames photographed and posted on his site. Give a look-see at what he's got up so far.

If you are in the area of Salem, drop by. And if you can't and you're interested in some particular work of the framebuilder's art, give him a call or send an email.

Vuelta a España stage 4 team reports

We'll start with BMC, whose Darwin Atapuma is now the GC leader:

23 August, 2016, San Adres de Teixido (ESP): Darwin Atapuma put in an incredible ride on stage 4 of the Vuelta a Espana to cross the line in second place and take the leader's red jersey.

Atapuma, who is leading a Grand Tour for the first time in his career, formed part of a 21-rider breakaway that went clear after more than an hour of racing. The breakaway gained a five-minute lead and managed to hold their advantage with 30km to go to give the group a solid chance of making it to the line. The attacks from the breakaway started with 20km to go, during which time Atapuma rode at his own rhythm to stay in the main breakaway group.

Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) launched the winning solo move with 9km to go on the last climb, the Mirador de Veixia, and behind Atapuma attacked to distance himself from the breakaway and bring himself closer to the red jersey.

Atapuma had the legs to hold off the General Classification contenders' group and power to second place, to now lead the General Classification by 29 seconds going into stage 5.

Samuel Sanchez finished with the main group and holds on to sixth place overall, 1'08" behind Atapuma.

Darwin Atapuma

Darwin Atapuma in the leader's red jersey.

Darwin Atapuma: "It is the best day of my cycling career to now have the red jersey at the Vuelta a Espana. This morning I was thinking to go in the breakaway and it was also the plan from the sports directors. There were a lot of breakaway attempts in the first 50km of racing but the peloton wasn't letting them get away. I had to look at what the right composition for the breakaway, and I managed to jump in the right one that the peloton allowed to go clear. We had a good advantage in the end with a strong group of 21 riders."

"I was feeling really confident in the breakaway because my shape after the Tour of Utah is really good. I was also feeling confident because of the uphill finish and when I looked around at the others in the breakaway I could see that they were suffering a lot more than me. I felt good so I knew that I could try something on the last climb. We arrived at the last climb with a three-minute advantage and it was then that I could start dreaming about taking the red jersey, as it was a realistic possibility. In the last 5km I knew the GC group was riding really fast so I didn't know if I could get the jersey, so then I attacked to try and win the stage. In the end I was second on the stage but I took the red jersey which is a dream."

"I think I can keep the jersey after tomorrow because it's not a super hard stage, but to even wear the red jersey for one stage is incredible. I'll take things day by day and continue to work to support the team's ambitions."

Tinkoff sent me this:

After dropping some time to certain GC rivals on yesterday’s steep finishing climb, Alberto Contador bounced back well today with a solid final ascent to the fourth stage of the Vuelta a España. The second uphill finish of this first week, Tinkoff’s GC leader looked calm and ready to respond to any attacks as the road climbed to the finish line atop the Alto Mirador Veixia, an 11.2km final test to the stage.

With the day’s early breakaway staying clear in front, the GC group was gradually whittled down by a fast pace set on the front, and by the final push for the line the group was down to just 15 riders. On the day, Alberto came over the line in 23rd position, moving down one place to 13th on GC.

"The final climb was made complicated by the wind that was blowing hard and although I felt my form well I wouldn't say it was perfect,” explained Alberto after the finish. “However, it is important to recover and keep putting efforts in.

“The next important day is stage 8 with its very demanding finish. Our bodies will be more into race mode and we will see there how my legs respond. I came to the Vuelta without an optimal preparation because I didn't have enough time, but I feel confident that in the coming days I will be able to give more."

Sport Director Steven De Jongh gave his feedback after the stage, saying: “It was a pretty straightforward stage today, with no problems for Alberto or the team. The boys worked hard to put Alberto in position ahead of the final climb and overall it was a better day than yesterday.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador finishing stage 4

“The last climb was irregular, with steep sections before a descent then climbing again. There was some wind on the final climb could have played a factor as it was quite exposed but that worked out OK.”

After another fast start today, with many riders seeing the stage as a good opportunity for a breakaway to stay clear to the finish, a group of 20 finally established itself at the front of the race. The gap soon grew to over five minutes and with a controlled chase behind, the day often looked like leaning in the favour of those out front.

The Tinkoff riders set about staying hydrated on another hot day in the saddle, and looking after Alberto, keeping him in position near the front over the day’s two categorised climbs before attacking the final ascent. Come the last climb, the gap to the break was enough to allow them to fight the stage out amongst themselves, while behind the GC battle was more about who could hold the pace set at the front rather than an attacking one.

As more and more riders dropped off the pace, Alberto looked in control, coming into the final kilometre in third wheel before coming over the finish line amongst the favourites. Despite dropping a place on GC, he put time into some of those who distanced him yesterday and can take confidence from the stage.

De Jongh continued: “Tomorrow and the following day are quite straight forward, but then from stage 8 it gets interesting again starting with the climb of La Camperona.”

Tomorrow’s returns to a steadier profile with the only climb to report being a third category ascent just after the mid-point of the 171.3km stage. The rolling route that takes the peloton into the finish should suit the sprinters having another shot at victory

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this:

Enrico Battaglin finished sixth in the Vuelta a Espana’s second summit finish to San Andrés de Teixido, stage four, today. The Italian LottoNL-Jumbo rider formed part of a big breakaway, but wasn’t able to follow stage winner Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) in the final part of the stage. Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing Team) is the new overall leader. Steven Kruijswijk lost 34 seconds on the group with the overall favourites on the final climb.

“We were a little bit unsure about Steven Kruijswijk’s shape after yesterday’s stage,” Sports Director Jan Boven said. “Today, it was less steep and less explosive, but at the beginning of the climb, they gave it all. That’s where Steven had difficulties, but he took it easy and focussed on the climb.”

“I felt better than yesterday,” Kruijswijk added. “That’s a positive thing. I didn’t expect to stay with the best today, but it wasn’t bad at all. If I keep on improving like this, I might be able to reach the level I aimed for in this Vuelta.”

Battaglin fought for the stage victory. “It was a hard day,” the he said. “It was a tough stage. I did the best I could on the final climb. My legs are feeling good and I’m confident with my performance. Tomorrow should also be an interesting day for me.”

De Tier signs contract with Team LottoNL-Jumbo

The team sent me this contract news:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo signed Belgian Floris de Tier from team Topsport Vlaanderen for the next two years, through 2018. The Dutch WorldTour team will use De Tier as a talented climber.

“Floris De Tier is a talented climber,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “That’s how we’re going to use him, as well. He started his cycling career as a cyclo-cross rider, but excelled as a climber. That’s why he moved to the road. He quit athletics at a late age to become a cyclist, so he’s still developing. He’s going to make his step to the WorldTour now. His signing fits with our philosophy to bring young talents for the highest level.”

“After our first conversations, I immediately felt comfortable with the team,” De Tier added. “The professional way of working encourages me. Team LottoNL-Jumbo is the most logical step in my career. The experience in the team is going to help me in my development. My former team-mate Sven Nys told me that I had to make the step towards the road. This is my third season on the road. I’m looking forward to race more in the high mountains next season. It’s going to make me stronger.”

Lotto-Soudal & Liv-Plantur upcoming racing

This came from the teams:

GP DE PLOUAY-BRETAGNE (WWT)

After last weekend's Vårgårda races in Sweden, the women's WorldTour continues in France this Saturday with the penultimate WT race of the season, the GP de Plouay-Bretagne. Held in Brittany, the race features a rolling circuit that often wears down the legs over the course of the race, providing a worthy winner on the long finishing straight into Plouay.

Leah Kirchmann (CAN) leads the Team Liv-Plantur line-up at the race, with a strong support team to keep her third place overall and get her into the final ready to fight for the win.

Leah kirchmann

Leah Kirchmann

"Plouay is always a hard course here, and every year you see a selection of top riders racing for the win," explained Coach Hans Timmermans (NED). "With Leah we have a rider who can be there in the mix and a podium is a realistic target for us. Besides Leah we have a strong team in support on such a hard course."

RACE: GP de Plouay-Bretagne (WWT)

DATE: 27/08/2016

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP: Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Riejanne Markus (NED), Rozanne Slik (NED), Kyara Stijns (NED), Carlee Taylor (AUS), Molly Weaver (GBR)

BRETAGNE-CLASSIC - OUEST FRANCE (WT)

A day after the women race around the hilly circuit of Plouay, the men head out to fight over the roads of south Brittany. There's a change to the usually route, but the race will still be based on a tough circuit that leans towards a fight between the puncheurs and the sprinters that manage to survive the large amount of climbing to be done over the race. Team Giant-Alpecin will be looking to leave its mark on the WorldTour race.

After a win on the final stage of the Arctic Race of Norway, followed by a close second place at the EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg, John Degenkolb (GER) comes to France looking for another result. He will be aiming to improve on his best result of 10th here, from back in 2013, the team's first and only top 10 finish at this race.

Degenkolb will be joined by a strong line-up capable of both challenging for the late breakaways on the tough climbs that the circuit repeatedly tackles, as well as delivering him to the finish in a position to sprint for the victory.

Coach Adriaan Helmantel (NED) said ahead of the race: "There’s a different course to usual which will for sure have an influence on the race. If you ride the same course you know how to react and what should happen, so now it will be a more open race, but I expect that like other years that it will be close between a small bunch sprint or a breakaway just staying away.

"In the team we have John who showed in Hamburg that he’s getting better and better. The course suits him here so we will aim for a good result with him, while the others will support him as much as possible and will try to be sharp with the dangerous breaks, making sure that we are there."

RACE: Bretagne-Classic - Ouest France (WT)

DATE: 28/08/2016

COACH: Adriaan Helmantel (NED) 

LINE-UP:Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), John Degenkolb (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Max Walscheid (GER) 

BOELS RENTAL LADIES TOUR (2.1)

The six-day Boels Rental Ladies Tour, previously Holland Ladies Tour, gets underway next Tuesday for six fast, predominantly flat stages in the Netherlands, with a sting in the tail at the end of the week.

The opening stage takes the riders 103.1km on a circuit that starts and finishes in Tiel, after covering two loops of a large circuit. The preceding stage will be a team effort over 26.4km, with this time trial, longer than the previous individual efforts over the last few seasons, potentially shaping the GC for the days to come.

The race comes to a close with the toughest stage, a rolling 119.4km route from Bunde to Valkenburg, a stage that last season saw the GC decided on the final day.

"The race covers six stages with two hilly days, three opportunities for a sprint and a team time trial," coach Dirk Reuling (NED) explained when looking towards the race. "The goal for us is firstly to go for a stage result with Leah and after the TTT we will decide whether the GC is still a realistic goal to go for.

"The TTT is only on the second day so we will know pretty early what our strategy will be focused on. The third stage has a start and finish right in front of the team house in Sittard, so that will be quite special."

RACE: Boels Rental Ladies Tour (2.1)

DATE: 30/08-4/09/2016

COACH: Dirk Reuling (NED) 

LINE-UP: Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Riejanne Markus (NED), Sara Mustonen (SWE), Rozanne Slik (NED), Julia Soek (NED), Kyara Stijns (NED) 

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