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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Saturday, April 11, 2015

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Today's Racing

One race today, the final stage of the Spanish World Tour-ranked Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country).

Tomorrow (Sunday the 12th) there are two races. The big-dog Paris-Roubaix and the Spanish 1.1 ranked Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta.

Peter Stetina Goes Under the Knife

BMC sent this good news about Peter Stetina's surgery:

Bilbao, Spain - Peter Stetina's surgery performed in Bilbao, Spain, Thursday to repair injuries sustained in a crash at Vuelta al Pais Vasco was successful, said BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa.

Stetina and teammate Darwin Atapuma were two of more than half a dozen riders who were hurt in the pile-up that happened Monday in the last 400 meters of the opening stage of the Spanish race.

Stetina broke his right leg in two places and broke four ribs. Atapuma cut his left knee but was able to start the next day.

The crash happened when several riders struck meter-high metal poles near the curb lane. The incident - and concerns over rider safety - led the peloton to stage a five-minute protest before Stage 2.

Poles in sprint road

The poles in the road the riders ran into during the sprint of the Pais Vasco first stage

Dr. Testa said Stetina is recovering well after undergoing surgery to repair his broken tibia and patella.

"The surgery was successful," Dr. Testa said. "The knee specialist who performed the surgery was very happy with the result. At this point in time, we are expecting approval from the treating medical team to move Peter back to the United States. His first stop will be at the Park City Medical Center, where he will be reassessed by Dr. Eric Heiden before starting his rehab program toward full recovery. However, we all know that given the nature of the injury, it will take a few months of rehabilitation and training before he will return to competition."

Paris-Roubaix News

This came from Lotto-Soudal:

The entire Lotto Soudal selection did a recon of Paris-Roubaix on Thursday. It’s the 113th edition of the Hell of the North this year. The route between the start in Compiègne and the Velodrome in Roubaix is 253.3 kilometres long. Jürgen Roelandts is the leading man in the team. Just like in the Ronde, Tiesj Benoot will stand by his side.

Herman Frison, sports director: “We will start with the exact same riders as in the Tour of Flanders, Jürgen Roelandts will be our leading man. Also our strategy will be the same: anticipate and ride offensively. Tiesj Benoot set a wonderful performance last Sunday. We’re very proud he has roots in our U23 team. On Sunday, Tiesj will support Jürgen again.”

“Compared to the Ronde, riders dare to attack a lot earlier in Paris-Roubaix. Roubaix is a race of elimination. Until now, we can be very happy about our spring season. Since Milan-Sanremo we always achieved a top ten spot, but Sunday we will search once again for the icing on the cake. The team did a recon, starting in Denain, 108.5 kilometres from the finish line, and finishing at the Carrefour de l’Arbre. It was remarkable that the cobblestone sectors were cleaner than other years, less sand and gravel. Nevertheless each sector is hard.”

Jürgen Roelandts: “I rested a lot this week. On Wednesday I trained about 100 kilometres, and now we had the recon. The recon was good to put pressure on the legs. It was especially nice with the sun. The next few days it we all be about rest. Since Milan-Sanremo I have a good feeling. It’s impossible for me to be at the start with a better shape than this. I’m hoping for the legs I had in Ghent-Wevelgem, my best day until now.”

“Of course I put pressure on myself. I hope to win one big classic race in my career. There aren’t that many chances and I already had my portion of bad luck and injuries. I have a big sense of inner motivation. Paris-Roubaix suits me more than the Tour of Flanders. Due to injuries in the past, this will only be my fourth participation in the Hell. Concerning the competition I expect  the same riders like in the Ronde: Alexander Kristoff, Niki Terpstra and John Degenkolb. Also Bradley Wiggins will be present. This race is his main goal and last year he already was in the group that was contesting the second place.”

“The team is strong and I hope to have three or four teammates around me for the last 50 kilometres. We have to race offensively again and take the chances if they appear. In the Ronde it’s possible to correct mistakes, in Roubaix it isn’t. Once you have to let go, you barely have a chance to get back to the front of the race. The race could be open in a very early phase and that wouldn’t be a disadvantage for me. I dare to race and I’m not afraid of that. My dream is, just like anyone else, to arrive solo at the velodrome. But if I may put my hands in the air, it doesn’t matter what happened in the race. It’s the final result that counts.”

Jurgen Roelandts

Jurgen Roelandts racing in the 2013 Tour Down Under

Tiesj Benoot: “I feel wonderful at the moment, my shape and moral are good. In the Tour of Flanders I surprised myself. I had a good winter and the team scheduled a well balanced race scheme, but I didn’t expect this. I had hoped for a good result and knew that my shape was good, but I never could have dreamed of a top five spot. Compared to the U23 category the races are longer. This suits me better, it’s less explosive. I’ve set a step each season over the last few years.”

“Jürgen  is our only leading man, and I feel good in my free role. I still can benefit by my status. The favourites won’t focus on me, so if I attack they won’t react that fast. I can race without any pressure and stay relaxed. If I have the same legs in Paris-Roubaix as in the Ronde I could get far, if I don’t have bad luck. But I’m not going to predict a specific result. I put myself under a little bit of pressure, it has a stimulating effect.”

Lotto Soudal team selectio: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Bart Leysen.

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this note about their Paris-Roubaix plans:

The iconic Hell of the North is rapidly approaching with 52.7 km of cobbles, dirt and dust to wrap up the cobblestone season in a grand finale. Spearheaded by team captain Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo is looking to secure a good result in Paris-Roubaix despite having two riders suffering from hand injuries.

Few one-day races encapsulate the grandiosity, torment and sacrifice quite like Paris-Roubaix. And for Tinkoff-Saxo’s team captain Peter Sagan there’s no doubt that the cobblestone colossus truly is one of the great monuments of the sport.

“For me there’s no doubt that Paris-Roubaix is an iconic race, the Queen of the Classics or Hell of the North depending on your perspective. It’s always a very tough race and luck is an important factor as much can happen. You simply need to have a bit of luck in order to avoid crashes or unfortunate injuries. It’s so unpredictable. However, I feel in quite good shape and I’ve been in the mix in the final part of Paris-Roubaix before”, says Peter Sagan and adds about his chances:

“In the last races, I have been at the front but there was always something missing for me to win. My shape is quite good and I need to have confidence combined with luck and ride the race from the front in order to minimize what can go wrong. If I hit the day, I think that it’s possible for me to take part in the finale of Paris-Roubaix”.

Lining up alongside Peter Sagan are Matti Breschel, Maciej Bodnar, Chris Juul-Jensen, Matteo Tosatto, Nikolay Trusov, Michael Mørkøv and Pavel Brutt.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan winning stage 6 of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico

Sunday morning, the 113th edition of Paris-Roubaix sets off from Compiègne and travels 253.5 kilometers north en route to Roubaix and the famous velodrome, where the winner can pick up and raise the cobbled trophy. After 98.5km the riders got to brace themselves, as they hit the first cobbles of Troisvilles followed by 26 tiring sectors totaling 52.7km of rough racing. Once again the bottleneck afflicted Trouée d’Arenberg, the Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre form the most challenging sectors, each of them given a difficulty rating of five stars.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Lars Michaelsen underlines the importance of riding the race from the front: “Paris-Roubaix is a race where you need to be at the front. It’s simply too risky to sit and hide and there are some key parts where it’s simply crucial to enter among the first in the bunch. We’ll have Trusov, Brutt, Mørkøv and Tosatto covering the first half of the race, while Juul-Jensen, Bodnar and Breschel have to stay with Sagan and keep him positioned into the finale”.

“However, both Juul-Jensen and Trusov are suffering from hand injuries, but we’ll have to wait and see how the status is on Sunday, when they hit the cobbles”, says Lars Michaelsen, who during his active career saw his fair share of action on the cobbles of northern France finishing within the top five in multiple editions.

“Sagan is of course our team captain and the other guys will support him fully to ensure that he can arrive as fresh as possible to the final part of the race. He’s one of the outsiders and we’re facing some very strong competition. I expect to see an early break but already around Arenberg the elimination race commences, where we’ll get the first predictions on who has the ambitions and legs. Then on Carrefour de l’Arbre with 18k to go, we’ll for sure see the favorites going toe-to-toe. And if everything goes according to the plan, Peter will be there”, finishes Lars Michaelsen.

Race details

Giant-Alpecin sent this about Paris-Roubaix:

This Sunday is the third “monument” of the season, Paris-Roubaix, also known as the “Hell of the North.” Team Giant-Alpecin will line up for the race with a strong team boasting a wealth of classics experience, including John Degenkolb (GER), the winner of the first monument of the season, Milan-San Remo and seventh in last week's Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Degenkolb will be joined by: Nikias Arndt (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Koen de Kort (NED), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), and Albert Timmer (NED).

John Degenkolb: “I am really looking forward to this Sunday, and we will try to put in another great performance. I am not feeling a lot of pressure because we already have a victory.

“We worked hard to prepare for this classics period, which ends after Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. It is special for me to see how much effort and sacrifice the team puts into these races, and that motivates me to get even more out of myself. 

“I am happy that this period is almost over, as it has been very challenging for me, both mentally and physically. At this moment, my form is still very good, as I have recovered very well from Flanders.” 

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb climbing the Patersberg in the 2015 Ronde van Vlaanderen

Koen de Kort: “I am very excited for Sunday, as I’ve never been in such good shape as I am now.

“I expect an open race, since it isn’t very clear who is the top favorite. Maybe it will be the same scenario as last week’s at Flanders, where the first serious attack in the finale was the winning move. But it may also be a sprint with a small group. In either case, John [Degenkolb] has a chance to win.

“I hope to be there until deep into the finale. Hopefully the team will be able to avoid crashes and other problems. We have excellent equipment, and the classics bikes are very comfortable as well. We have nothing to complain about.” 

Bert De Backer: “Paris-Roubaix is a special race for me, and I am in very good shape at the moment. When we did the recon and I hit the first cobbles, I could imagine myself riding over them during the race.

“I expect to perform on the same level as last year, and hopefully better. In this race you need a bit of luck too, but luck isn’t something that can be forced.

“I will be satisfied if I can show that last year’s performance was no coincidence.” 

Marc Reef: “The team is in very good shape. I think we have grown in this classics period, as the confidence level is rising. In Milan-San Remo we showed what the team is capable of.

“This year we decided to do less racing to focus more on training and specific race preparation.

“This week we had a very good recon with beautiful weather conditions. For Sunday’s race, John [Degenkolb] will be our man for the finale. Not surprisingly, I expect the Arenberg Forest to be a crucial section of the race.” 

Circuit de la Sarthe Finished Today

Here are complete results for every stage

Cult Energy sent this news:

The first part of the 178-kilometer long fourth and final stage of Circuit Sarthe from Abbaye de d’Epau to Le Lude was rather uneventful from Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s point of view. However, a series of attacks was launched along the way but it all came down to a bunch sprint where Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) once again proved superior.

Besides the stage glory, the overall classification was still up for grabs and Ramunas Navarduaskas (Garmin-Cannondale) took advantage of the golden opportunity to rip the leader’s jersey from Tinkoff-Saxo’s Manuele Boaro by going into the break to sweep up the bonus seconds, he needed. In the meanwhile, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Russell Downing was lurking in the peloton and waiting for the moment to open the sprint, as the escapees were caught with 2 kilometers to go. The CULT Energy Brit finished 12th.

DS, Luke Roberts comments: “Naturally, our ambitions weren’t quite fulfilled in terms of results but I’ve seen initiative and a Romain Lemarchand who was seconds away from taking the top spot in stage one. We have witnessed a Rasmus Guldhammer who was so unfortunate at a crucial point of the race yesterday and missed the chance of taking the stage but he is ready for the big challenges in Amstel and Liege-Bastogne-Liege and doing this race has provided a lot of solid race kilometers."

Cult Energy Pro Cycling's Rasmus Guldhammer finished 15th overall.

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's Sarthe report:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Manuele Boaro had to see the GC-lead slip away on the final day of Circuit de la Sarthe as he dropped his chain in both intermediate sprints of the stage 5 finale. After winning the queen stage yesterday, it was naturally a heavy blow for Boaro and the entire team who, according to DS Nicki Sørensen, had put in a dedicated effort throughout the race.

Manuele Boaro finishes 2nd in Circuit de la Sarthe, just 1 second behind race winner Ramunas Navardauskas (TCG), who gained six seconds through intermediate bonification – just enough to secure the win. Sports director Nicki Sørensen admits that the stage had been a proper anticlimax.

“We are naturally very disappointed today after the stage. Navardauskas was strong and took both bonus sprints and enough seconds to take the lead. It was really close and Manuele has been very strong. Unfortunately, Manuele incurred two mechanical failures involving his chain coming off the chainrings in the middle of both sprints for bonus seconds. This ultimately meant that he had to change bike, but by then the party was over. Fortunately, he managed to get back in the peloton and didn’t lose additional time”, explains Nicki Sørensen.

The 187.5km stage 5 to Le Lude, which was won by Nacer Bouhanni (COF), marked the ultimate day of racing in Sarthe. And despite having to settle for second in the GC, Nicki Sørensen underlines that he’s utmost satisfied with the team performance displayed by Tinkoff-Saxo.

Manuele Boaro wins stage 4

Here's Manuele Boaro's Sarthe stage 4 win.

“I dare to say the guys did a fantastic job. They’ve been professional and committed and I cannot put a finger on their effort. They’ve supported first Valgren and Boaro and then later on Boaro in our attempt to win a stage, which we did, and in our effort to secure the lead. Today, they fought throughout the stage and they can be proud”, says Nicki Sørensen.

Going into the final part of the stage, Jay McCarthy, who led the youth classification, was disqualified alongside Anthony Roux (FDJ) for what appears to have been pushing and shoving at the front of the peloton during a fight for positioning. Nicki Sørensen notes that the team respects the ruling of the commissaries.

“Firstly, I’m very satisfied with Jay’s performance during la Sarthe. He has shown dedication and willpower during the race. Then, of course, he should have kept a cool head in this situation. We don’t necessarily agree with the ruling of the commissaries but we have to respect their decision, as rules are rules and it’s up to them to choose the correct measures”, finishes Nicki Sørensen.

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