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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Saturday, September 13, 2014

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There was a lot of racing Friday: the Vuelta stage 19, Tour of Britain stage 6 and the GP Québec. Here are the rider and team comments that were in my inbox.

Vuelta A España Stage 19 Rider and Team Comments

This from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Today, Tinkoff-Saxo and the rest of the Vuelta peloton took on stage 19 of the Spanish Grand Tour. The 180.7 kilometer long course from Salvaterra do Mino to Cangas do Morrazo was dominated by a breakaway trio but several teams eyed an opportunity of stage success and with support from Tinkoff-Saxo, they were reeled in. Adam Hansen launched a late attack and won the stage while Alberto Contador enjoyed a day in the peloton and is now two stages away from the final podium.

Laurent Mangel (FDJ), Pim Lighthart (Lotto-Belisol) and Wout Poels (Omega-Pharma Quick Step) formed the long-lasting breakaway of the day. But as the Tinkoff-Saxo pack picked up the pace in the front of the bunch, they were swept up with 20 kilometers remaining.

Hitting the final of two minor climbs of the stage, Team Sky controlled the pace while Alberto Contador stayed behind with teammates supporting him. Cresting the summit, attacks lit up the finale on the tricky descent. On the bumpy run-in to the finish line, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) sailed off into the distance on the final kilometers and as the sprinters were too few to drive the peloton at their usual pace, the Aussie took the win.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador finished in the diminished bunch surrounded by teammates to keep the overall lead.

Matteo Tosatto says: “Today's stage was a photocopy of the last few stages. A very fast start, then a breakaway while we did a good job trying to be in front before the climbs. Another stage is over and now we have only two to go. The 19 stages covered so far have been exhaustive but we have been helped by the good weather. Something that in my opinion is very important. We have shown excellent team work and that helps you go through even the toughest stages.”

Our DS, Steven De Jongh comments: “I think it was a good day for us without any problems. Once again, the start of the stage was very fast. After that, a group went away and Giant-Shimano took control, trying to win the stage with Degenkolb. At the end, Adam Hansen attacked and got a well-deserved victory. For Tinkoff-Saxo it was a good ride. On the climb we were where we wanted to be. We suffered no crashes and I really hope Cataldo is doing fine. Now, it is all up for tomorrow.”

Tinkoff-Saxo also sent these remarks from Alberto Contador:

The captain of Tinkoff-Saxo, Alberto Contador, got through the stage safely and is now ready to take on the remaining two stages that will decide this year’s Vuelta a España.

After the stage, the Spanish rider commented: “It was a difficult day with a very fast pace in the final part. I had to be well positioned on the final short climb because we knew that it was a difficult descent, where the risk of crashes was high. I was very lucky to avoid being dragged down by Dario Cataldo’s crash. I don’t know how I did it, but I'm happy that I got through the day without any problems and I'm already thinking about tomorrow”.

Tomorrow the riders of Vuelta a España will have to take on the final mountain stage featuring the dreaded climb to Ancares, which will very likely determine the outcome of the race.

“Tomorrow will be a very demanding day, where especially Froome will try to take time on me. I have to see how the race unfolds and hope my legs are good enough to protect the lead”, said Alberto Contador.

Alberto explained that he's familiar with Ancares from the Vuelta 2012, where he finished 2nd on the climb.

“This year the climb is slightly longer. It is really hard and I'm sure this mountain will create time differences. On a 12 km climb with an 8.7% incline, 1:19 is not enough time if you have a bad day, but it’s of course better that I have the advantage. I need to have confidence in myself and we'll see what happens tomorrow”, said Contador.

As for the strategy, Contador will wait to see how the race unfolds although he thinks that "Froome is the most dangerous. I don’t think that it will be bad if there’s an attack on the penultimate climb. I have to follow his wheel if I have the legs and I think it shouldn’t be too problematic. It’s true that Froome is strong, each day he’s getting better and his attack will be strong”, concluded Contador.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador has to defend his lead for just two more stages. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC's Vuelta Stage 19 press release:

Samuel Sánchez of the BMC Racing Team took a flyer off the front to stay safe on a descent late in Friday's stage of the Vuelta a España on the way to holding onto his seventh place overall with two days to go.

Sánchez said his move – which put the top contenders on the defensive – was not an attack. "It was more to do my own pace on the descent because I preferred to avoid crashing as happened to Dario Cataldo of Team Sky," Sánchez said. After Sánchez was brought back, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) countered an attack by BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert with four kilometers to go and went on to solo to the stage win, five seconds ahead of John Degenkolb (Team Giant-Shimano) and Filippo Pozzato.

Sánchez finished 20th and in the same time as the peloton. He is 6:59 behind race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and said he will keep fighting all the way to Sunday's finish in Santiago de Compostela. "Tomorrow will be the last tough stage and Contador will defend his red jersey, while the rest of us will try to move up," the past Olympic road race champion said. "How much depends on how much strength you have left. For sure, this Vuelta has been really spectacular until now and that has been good for the fans."

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Fabio Baldato said he liked the squad's aggressive approach near the end of the 180.5-km stage. "We waited until the last climb and then it was full gas and really nervous," he said. "Our guys were there and Samuel was always in the front to be safe."

Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez riding Vuelta stage 18. Photo ©Sirotti

Lotto-Belisol's happy report after Adam Hansen's stage win:

Lotto Belisol animated the nineteenth Vuelta stage, between Salvaterra do Miño and Cangas do Morrazo. Adam Hansen jumped away at less than five kilometers from the finish and won. Before that, Pim Ligthart had been part of a breakaway of three. The Dutchman got the combativity award.

The stage was 180.5 kilometers long, with two climbs of second category. The last mountain top lay at 15.5 kilometers from the finish. Pim Ligthart was part of a long break for the third time this Vuelta. Now he was accompanied by his fellow countryman Wout Poels and Laurent Mangel. They didn’t get much space, never more than 3’30”. Just before the Alto Monte Faro, the second official climb of the day, the peloton caught them. Lutsenko arrived alone at the top. With just over five kilometers to go the Astana rider was reeled in. At the end there was still a short climb, that’s where Adam Hansen did his attempt. In two times he succeeded in getting away. He arrived solo at the finish, where he could triumph. Five seconds later the first peloton, with Maxime Monfort, finished. John Degenkolb sprinted to place two, Filippo Pozzato got third.

Adam Hansen: “In the beginning of the stage I did try a few times to get in the breakaway. Pim had also been very active and he made it. It was very good that we had a man in front. I kind of had a back-up plan in mind; to attack in the final. On the last climb of second category I took care of Maxime Monfort. I made sure he was in good position and stayed in the first group. I had told Greg Henderson earlier that this was a stage for me. After the climb there won’t be many lead-out men left, so if I would attack it would be difficult to catch me. I had tried in one of the first stages as well, but then they caught me with 500 meters to go. When we had finished the descent Maxime and I were part of the first group and he said to me that I could have a go.”

“I wanted to go a bit later actually then I did. There were attacks at the bottom of the short climb at 5.5 km from the finish and I followed directly. It was very steep at the bottom. At the top I rode  for 500 meters with everyone in the wheel, I was swaying over the road then to look at everyone and see how they were feeling. I could see that everyone was on their limit and I knew it was time to go. I got a gap then.”

“I’m very satisfied. I already won a Giro stage and it’s nice to put a Vuelta stage in the collection. After the Giro stage I really wanted to win one in the Vuelta as well. This victory is very special, also because of how I won, I made the move in the final. It’s different than the Giro stage win, this is more spectacular.”

Adam Hansen

Adam Hansen wins Vuelta stage 19. Photo ©Sirotti

Here's Team Belkin's news:

Belkin Pro Cycling team's Paul Martens sprinted to seventh as Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) surprised the bunch in stage 19 at the Vuelta a España. The Australian attacked with 5km to go to spoil the chances for the sprinters after the peloton lurched over a late climb. Martens dashed to his third top-10 of this Vuelta, but Hansen took the flowers, crossing the line five seconds ahead of the main pack.

"It was the last chance to show something in this Vuelta. I gave it all today. I was glad I could hang on over the top of the climb, and then I was focused on the sprint," Martens said. "In the end, there was no control in the bunch, and because it wasn't so fast, it was hard to find the position. Also, on the last corner, it was different than what they said in the road book, and I went around a long way, so I lost a bit there. But it's a good sign that I could hang on during the climb and still make a strong sprint. I hope that I can come out of this Vuelta and make a strong world championships."

Wilco Kelderman finished safely tucked in the main pack, crossing the line 28th with the same time as the main GC contenders.

Kelderman retained 14th overall, 20:05 behind race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). Saturday's climbing stage will be final decisive battleground for the top riders.

"I think Wilco and maybe Laurens [ten Dam], they are the only two guys who are capable of going in the break or doing a result tomorrow. For everyone else, it's a survival day," Martens said. "Today was the last chance to have a good result, and we can be satisfied with seventh place. Tomorrow we will try, but everyone is a bit tired at the end of the Vuelta."

The 69th Vuelta continues Saturday with the 185.7km 20th stage ending atop the race's final major mountaintop finale at Os Ancares. The last hard stage before Sunday's time trial finale should see the overall standings all but settled.

"Today, Giant-Shimano took control of the race, and it all came down to the last climb. I told the guys they could attack if they had the legs, but Hansen is the one who did, and it worked," said Belkin Sports Director Erik Dekker. "The guys have been recovering well, and tomorrow, they will be fine, but it will be very hard. That's a grand tour. They are always hard. But a time trial on Sunday of only 10km, they will love that!"

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman before the start of the 2014 Vuelta. Photo ©Sirotti

Tour of Britain Stage 6 Rider and Team Comments

This from BMC:

BMC Racing Team's Sebastian Lander kept his lead in the sprint classification Friday at the Friends Life Tour of Britain, but teammate Dylan Teuns dropped from third to fifth overall after a three-man breakaway won the day by nearly two minutes.

The trio of Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team) and Thomas Stewart (Madison Genesis) led by more than nine minutes with 87 kilometers to go in the 205.6-kilometer race. Despite the chasing efforts of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team of previous race leader Michal Kwiatkowski – with help from the BMC Racing Team – the trio arrived 1:51 ahead of the peloton. Brändle took the win and his second straight stage while Dowsett was runner-up and assumed the overall lead, 34 seconds ahead of Kwiatkowski.

Teuns is now 51 seconds back and hoping he can immediately make amends on Saturday. "Kwiatkowski for sure will try something and probably Nicholas Roche as well," Teuns said. "I need to follow them. Also, Dowsett was not in the front group the past couple of days so I think we will try to drop him again." Lander held onto the sprint jersey by two points over Dowsett with two days and three stages of the race to go. BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said the difficulty of Saturday's stage gives Teuns a chance to get back into podium position. "It has a very hard final: two climbs, one after the other," Sciandri said. "The last one is two kilometers at 10 percent. We're going to go for it."

GP de Québec Rider and Team Comments

This from Orcia-GreenEdge:

Liège-Bastogne-Liège champion Simon Gerrans has become the first rider to win two editions of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec with a well-timed victory this afternoon.

Fittingly, the victory marks the 100th win for ORICA-GreenEDGE since the team began in 2012, Gerrans also posting the very first result at the Australian championships in the team’s debut season.

All did not go to plan for the 34-year-old, a mechanical with just 20km to go threatened his ambitions, but with the support of a fully committed ORICA-GreenEDGE outfit the Australian champion was able to recover back to the bunch

“It was a very stressful last 20km,” Gerrans said. “With a mechanical problem with just over 20km to go I actually thought my day was over.

“I had to go back and change my bike but fortunately our team car was right up there in the convoy so I didn’t lose alot of ground and the bunch slowed ever so slightly when I was trying to come back which gave me the chance to come back pretty quickly.

“Then I had some great support from the guys in the group to put me back in contention to go for the win.”

In the final, an early bolt to the line by Giant-Shimano’s Tom Dumoulin looked to have caught the select finish group off guard, but Gerrans timed his move perfectly to hit the front in the final metres.

“It was a pretty quick run in to the sprint,” Gerrans explained. “There was a little group off the front, which Pieter Weening and Michael Albasini dragged back.

“I was staying with Daryl (Impey) who was going to lead me out, but with 300m to go when Tom Dumoulin opened his sprint up I had to make the decision to also start my sprint early otherwise I didn’t think we were going to catch him.

“I started sprinting with about 250m to go, uphill and into a head wind, so I went from a really long way out, managed to squeeze through a gap about 200m to go and rounded Tom up in the final few metres.”

When told about the team’s century milestone, Gerrans said it was a nice bonus but also a great sign for such a young team.

“That’s a nice feather in a cap,” he said. “It’s huge for the team to have 100 wins and in only our third season so that’s fantastic.”

Earlier in the race, Orica-GreenEdge sent Canadian Christian Meier to the front of the peloton to chase down an early breakaway of four riders who had built an advantage of over ten minutes. The 29-year-old all but single handedly dragged the escapees back by the 50km to go mark.

Belgian Jens Keukeleire then joined a second and larger breakaway of 11 riders with additional numbers bridging across but, lacking the commitment, it was wound back in with seven kilometres to the finish line.

Sport director Matt Wilson commended another full team victory, “Christian Meier rode 140km on the front with just help from one other rider which is an incredible effort in itself,” Wilson said. “From there on we always had guys around Simon (Gerrans) and we had the other moves covered with Jens Keukeleire in the final as well.

“There were a few nervous times when we had a bike issue with two laps to go but again we had teammates to bring him back on and obviously he wrapped it up in the finish.

“Gerro is a very fitting guy to wrap at the 100th victory too, he has won some of the biggest races in the world and in the national champions jersey as well, so it’s great.”

Simon Gerrans wins the 2014 Gp Quebec

Simon Gerrans wins the 2014 GP de Québec. Photo provided by Orica-GreenEdge.

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