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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Sunday, April 12, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

Today's Racing

There are two races today. The classic day on the cobbles, Paris-Roubaix, and the Spanish 1.1 ranked Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta.

Paris-Roubaix at BikeRaceInfo

Weather forecast for Sunday: No precipitation forecast for any of the route.

In Paris at 9AM it should be 9 degrees centigrade (49F), wind from the east at just 1 km/hr (1 mph) and partly cloudy

At Roubaix at 3PM it should be mostly sunny, wind from the southwest at 20 km/hr (13 mph) and 15 degrees Centigrade (56F)

We've got a lot of historical data and info about Paris-Roubaix. First of all, we've got complete results for every edition.

And of course there's this year's race. We'll have complete results, race-day photos and race story before lunch, Pacific time.

Wait, there's more:

Book Excerpt: Les Woodland's Paris Roubaix: The Inside Story,Chapter 11, Eddy Merckx and Roger de Vlaeminck arrive. Click on the Amazon link on the right and you can buy Les' Paris-Roubaix book in either print, Kindle or audiobook format.

Videohistorian Les Woodland discusses Paris Roubaix | Les Woodland's Paris-Roubaix photos

Photo Galleries: With 4 victories each, Roger De Vlaeminck (1972, 1974, 1975, 1977) and Tom Boonen (2005, 2008, 2009, 2012) have won Paris-Roubaix most often. Click on their names for lots of photos of these great racers.

Vuelta al País Vasco - Tour of the Basque Country

The final stage was Saturday, the 11th.

This came from Lotto-Soudal:

There were several attacks in the first hour of the 155.5 kilometres long stage with eight climbs. At last 16 and later 28 riders got away from the peloton. Lotto Soudal was represented by Tim Wellens, Tony Gallopin and Louis Vervaeke. Their lead rose up to more than four minutes; the teams of GC leader Henao, Rodriguez and Quintana controlled the peloton. In the last 30 kilometres the Alto de Aia, with slopes up to 26 percent, had to be climbed three times.

As expected, the front group was reduced on the Alto de Aia. More and more riders got dropped. On the second of three ascents five leaders were left: Wellens and Gallopin accompanied by Landa and the Astana duo Taaramae and Danielson. The five held on to an advantage on the group of favourites. Gallopin and Taaramae got distanced a few kilometres from the finish and the leading trio would fight for the victory in the final kilometer. The Basque Mikel Landa turned out to be the strongest, Tim Wellens was second and Danielson third. Tony Gallopin finished on the fifth place.

Tim Wellens: “I can quickly tell the story of my race day. We took off with a large group with several climbers. We gained an advantage that might be sufficient for some of us to contest the stage win. With the steep climbs in the final I knew it would explode, but we were dependent on the strategy of the favourites. When we entered the last three kilometres, I thought we might make it to the finish line. First Taaramae accelerated, I bridged with Tony and three others. At the end we were left in front with three riders, Landa was the strongest.”

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens at the 2014 Eneco Tour

“Thursday evening evening we had decided that this would be my last stage, so I chose to attack. Now I get an extra day of rest. This Vuelta al País Vasco has been the ideal preparation for the Ardennes classics. It was never the goal to ride a good GC, but to use this race to get the necessary race rhythm after my training camp of the end of March. Next week I’ll take the rest I need combined with a big training on Wednesday, then I should be ready for it.”

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's Basque Country report:

Tinkoff-Saxo finished 15th in the general classification of Vuelta al País Vasco with team captain Rafal Majka, who at the same time displays a shape on the ascendency after struggling with illness and performances below his usual level. Joaquim Rodriquez took the overall win after overthrowing Sergio Henao on the last mountainous TT.

Despite finishing 49th on the final undulating time trial to Aia, Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Patxi Vila noted that he was content with the team captain’s overall performance.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka time-trialing in last year's Giro d'Italia

“We had expected more from Rafal today but looking at the bigger picture and taking into account the entire race, I’m pleased with his performance and the fact that he has performed better here than in Paris-Nice and Catalunya. After seeing that Rafal is on his way back to his real level, I remain poised and assured that he will improve steadily and stay motivated ahead of the Ardennes Classics”, says Patxi Vila and adds: “Today was a really difficult TT, since we started downhill, continued with a short flat part, then a steep climb another downhill and the finishing ramp up to Aia. This meant that it was difficult to find the rhythm and we also had to reach a technical decision on whether to swap bikes. With Rafal, we opted for our aerodynamic Venge with TT handlebar extensions, however it’s difficult to say if it would have been beneficial with a bike swap. But sometimes it comes down to the rider’s intuition”.

Going into the final 18.3km time trial, race leader Sergio Henao (SKY) and Rodriguez were neck and neck in the fight for the overall GC. Ultimately, Rodriguez’ second place, behind stage winner Tom Dumoulin (TGA), was enough for him to secure the win with 13 seconds. For Tinkoff-Saxo, Rafal Majka lacked the same good sensations from stage 5 and slipped from 13th to 15th in the final GC.

“When you’re still not in prime shape, your daily form tends to fluctuate. Yesterday, Rafal was feeling good, while today was a different story. However, País Vasco is, in my opinion, the hardest one-week race on the calendar, so for Rafal it’s an ideal preparation ahead of the Ardennes. Now, together with the rest of the squad, he will have some days of recuperation and then we start building”, notes Patxi Vila, who was all in all satisfied with the teamwork.

“I saw many of the guys improving during the race and the overall level of the team was better than in Volta a Catalunya. Pawel Poljanski improved, Chris Anker showed form and will in the breakaway on stage 5, Bruno Pires as well and Oliver Zaugg was also better until his unfortunate crash. However, Oliver has now been discharged from the hospital and is on his way home”, finishes Patxi Vila.

Lampre-Merida sent in this Basque Country report:

Rui Costa obtained a place in the top 10 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco thanks to a very good performance in the final time trial.

The Portuguese rider covered the Aia course (18.3 km, the first part in donwhill, the second part with two short, but demanding hills) in 29'20", at an average speed of 37.432 km/hr, 34" slower than the performance of the winner Dumoulin, obtaining the 8th place.

The most important consequence of this performance is that Rui entered in the top 10 of the final general classification (he was 12th): he's 7th at 1'14" behind winner Rodriguez.

Rui Costa

Rui Costa riding stage 8 of the 2014 Tour de France

"I'm very happy for the 7th place in the overall classification of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, which is a race in which I always made huge efforts - Rui Costa explained - This year edition was particularly demanding and the level of the opponents was so high. I had to face difficult moments but I did not give up and, thanks to the support of the team and of my team mates, I succeeded in obtaining this result".

Sport director Philippe Mauduit, who received the support of his colleague Marco Marzano, confirmed that: "The result Rui achieved is very good for him and for the team. The value of the 7th place is even higher if we consider that there were a bunch of top riders and that the course was very suitable for light weight cyclists".

Giant-Alpecin riders on the Pais Vasco:

Tom Dumoulin (NED) achieved his first victory of this season in the closing time trial of Pais Vasco. Putting in a huge effort, Dumoulin set the fastest time in today’s extremely challenging time trial. It was a close call, as time differences were very small. The 18.3km time trial was the final stage of the six-day race in northern Spain.

Tom Dumoulin (NED): "It was a difficult time trial with two very hard climbs in the second part. The first part was mostly descent. The irregularity of today’s course fits me well. This morning during the recon we decided to start with my Giant Trinity TT bike and change to the Giant TCR road bike along the route, which was the best decision.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin finishes stage 3 of the 2015 Tour Down Under

"I am very happy but surprised as well that I can compete on this level and even stay ahead of all the climbers. I didn’t start with a clear target to go for a good GC here, as we knew that a finish in the top 10 GC is very unlikely. That is pretty much the reason we didn’t waste too much energy in the past stages to really go for it in today’s time trial, which fits my upcoming classics ambitions, too.

"I felt better every day this past week and I am heading towards next week’s Amstel Gold Race with a lot of confidence." 

Aike Visbeek (NED): “This time trial was extremely hard, as it went up and down constantly. All week we have worked toward today, so Tom saved his legs during the previous two stages. This was a great performance, and I am very happy. We saw him improving every day; his form is really good at the moment.

“One of the reasons he was able to win today is because he really paced his effort well over the 18.3km route.” 

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