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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, August 16, 2015

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

Today's Racing

We had two races finish today. In France, both the 2.1-rated Tour de l'Ain the women's 2.1-ranked La Route de France had their final stage Saturday.

Ending today, Sunday, are the Eneco Tour and the Arctic Race of Norway.

The next big race will be the HC-ranked USA Pro Cycling Challenge, starting Monday, August 17 and running through the 23rd.

Michael Mørkøv signs for Katusha

Here's the Katusha press release telling about Mørkøv's move:

WorldTour Team Katusha is happy to announce the signing of an agreement with the Danish rider Michael Mørkøv. Mørkøv (30) is a multiskilled rider – sprinter, classics rider and track champion.

Last week in a mass sprint he won the last stage of the Tour of Denmark. The former national road champion (2013) also has on his palmares a Tour of Spain stage and a second place in Paris-Tours. In addition, he has become one of the world’s best track cyclists, winning a world title in the Madison and obtaining a silver Olympic medal in the team pursuit. Moreover, he has won eleven Six-Day races thus far.

Michael Morkov

Michael Mørkøv wins Tour of Denmark stage 6

"After seven years in the same team (Saxo Bank, later Tinkoff-Saxo) it was time for me to move. I heard that Alexander Kristoff wanted to have me on the team. For many years I’ve dreamed of working for a pure sprinter. I am fast myself but not fast enough to win the big races. I want to be part of a winning team. I prefer to help a teammate win a big classic than to win a smaller race for myself. It was not hard to make this choice. Team Katusha was rocking this year. I have always been happy in my current team but now I am already looking forward to next season," - said Michael Mørkøv.

"First of all, for Team Katusha the arrival of Michael Mørkøv is a significant strengthening of the sprinters group around our leader Alexander Kristoff, both in the classics as well as in the stage races. Alexander proved this year that he is the right man to build a team around. We continue on the path we have chosen. Moreover, Mørkøv is not only a strong, loyal and tactically superb rider, he is also able to reach top results for himself as well," - said general manager of Team Katusha Viacheslav Ekimov.

Israeli Team Cycling Academy will contest USA Pro Cycling Challenge

This release was from Team Cycling Academy:

Eight short months after its launch, Israel’s first and only professional cycling team is now facing its toughest challenge at the USA Pro Challenge.
Team Cycling Academy was pleasantly surprised to be invited to race at one of the most important and demanding stage races in the U.S., to take place in Colorado during the middle of August (17-23).

For the young Israeli team, the invitation to race against some of the world’s top professional teams comes as reward for a remarkably successful inaugural year during which it has won 13 races across Europe and Israel.

Cycling Academy Team

Team Cycling Academy

“We are excited for this special opportunity” said team founder and owner Ron Baron. “It’s not every day that you hear of a pro sports team from Israel, let alone competing at this level, side by side some of the world’s most gifted athlets.”

The team is expecting a wide local support during the race, especially from the Jewish community in Colorado as it will be the first time that an Israeli pro team will compete in the US. The mayor of Jerusalem NIr Barkat Who Hosted and supported the Team Inaguration said today that he is “Deligted that the team will be now racing in Colorado and I am confident that our friends overseas will stand by the riders and give them the support they need”.

In a way, it’s almost a fairy tale story or if one likes – not much less than a miracle – as Israeli competitive cycling is hardly surviving due a to lack of financial support, forcing its most talented athletes to give up their dreams.
Team manager Ran Margaliot (26) was among those Israeli cycling stars determined to fulfill the dream of becoming Israel’s first cyclist to compete at the world’s most prestigious stage – the Tour de France. A little over a year ago, after realizing that he himself will not be able to achieve this decided to try to provide young athletes with an opportunity to fulfill this mutual dream. “I knew if I couldn’t make it there, I had to at least try to help others achieve this, and at the same time help build a better structure for competitive cycling in Israel”.

In a small country with much more urgent priorities, the problem was obvious: lack of funding.

But then a small miracle occurred. Israeli entrepreneur and cycling enthusiast Baron was taken by the cause and decided to take upon himself to finance this challenging feat. In addition, he was able to enlist the support of one of the world’s top cyclists, Peter Sagan. Together they widened their mission and decided to promote cyclists from other countries as well, who like Israel, lack a professional cycling program and tradition.

The Israeli based team with an international array of riders – was inaugurated last December at an international level race taking place in the narrow streets of the Old City (Jerusalem). Since then the team has successfully competed at races all around the globe. The invitation to race in Colorado is viewed by the team as a reward for this hard work but as a challenge nonetheless.

“It’ll certainly be our toughest test to date but we’re going with the goal of leaving our mark at this race” said Margaliot. “Our hearts and souls will be put into this race and we hope to gain that extra boost from the excitement inspired by the large support of local fans”.

e-MTB's are going to be the "next big thing" had this interesting post:

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany – Even Gary Fisher is saying it; that e-MTB’s are going to be the “Next Big Thing.” Winora Group CEO Susanne Puello said the same mid-July to German dealers; Gary Fisher, one of the MTB creators, recently said this to American market players.

It’s expected that this year’s Eurobike (August 26 to 29) will see a huge offering in e-MTB’s. So, what started with electric city and Trekking bikes is now crossing-over to MTB’s. This indicates a turned around development trend. In particular as in last year’s most MTB innovations trickled down into the city and Trekking categories.

Pedal assist from electric motors is gaining momentum at bikes used in sporty off-road conditions. The MY 2016 bikes that are presented at this year’s Eurobike are the forerunners of what is expected to turn in something much bigger.

“In ten years, there will no more MTB’s without electric motors.” Marc Faude, manager of the Focus brand for German manufacturer Derby Cycle, recently said this at the Eurobike Media Days held in July in Kirchberg, Tyrol. Focus presented its new model year 2016 Jarifa i29 to press representatives. The bike is based on the Impulse Evo drive system, developed by Derby Cycle, which, because of its compact dimensions, will also be used for Derby’s urban Kalkhoff brand.

Eurobike 2015 will see many other bike makers with e-MTB’s. Like Haibike from Winora that has a fundamentally redesign Xduro line-up with Bosch new Performance CX drive system which is developed especially for use with sports bikes. It offers a higher torque, a 500-Wh battery and other special technical features.

Of course there are many other e-drive system suppliers offering MTB targeted motors. Like from automotive supplier Brose, which, thanks to its compact dimensions, is almost completely concealed by the chain wheel.

Eurobike 2015 is with about 1,350 exhibitors again bigger than ever before. 46,000 industry visitors from 100 countries, 20,000 bike fans and around 2,000 journalists are expected the industry trade exhibition at Lake Constance, taking place from August 26 to 29. Demo Day will take place on Tuesday, August 25 on the show grounds at Foyer East.

Arctic Race of Norway team reports

BMC had a good day in Norway and sent this release:

Målselv (NOR) - BMC Racing Team's Ben Hermans won in impressive style Saturday at the Arctic Race of Norway to take the overall lead with a day of the race to go.

Hermans launched himself across the gap to join late-soloist Rein Taaramäe (Astana Pro Team) before making his own attack in the final 150 meters of the 183-kilometer race. He won by three seconds to take his third victory of the year.

"I was always 150 meters behind," Hermans said. "I knew there was a headwind at one-and-a-half kilometers to go and I could have jumped across. But I would have exploded myself. So I waited on the wheel of my teammates. In the last kilometer, it was a tailwind so I attacked full gas. Maybe I could have exploded with 250 meters to go, but I had to do it if I wanted to win."

Ben Hermans wins Tour of Norway stage

Ben Hermans wins Arctic Race of Norway stage 3

Taaramäe moved into second overall, seven seconds behind Hermans. BMC Racing Team's Silvan Dillier and Dylan Teuns finished fourth and fifth respectively, and moved into fourth and sixth overall. Dillier also took the lead in the "best young rider" standings.

Hermans, solo winner at both Brabantse Pijl and on the last stage at the Tour de Yorkshire, said it was amazing to win the mountain-top finish and ride into the overall lead.

"Of course I can win this race, I just need the same legs tomorrow," Hermans said. "I have a strong team, so normally we can control the race. We will still have to race, but I think a win is possible."

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois, who was joined by former BMC Racing Team rider and 2013 Arctic Race of Norway winner Thor Hushovd in the team car for the day, said the strategy was "all in" for the last climb.

"I told the guys this morning to stay calm throughout the race and look to take risks in the last 40 kilometers," Ledanois said. "They trusted this tactic and thankfully it paid off. All the guys did a really good job. Campbell Flakemore did a super job during the last 50 kilometers. On the tough final climb, Floris Gerts and Tom Bohli, the younger riders on the roster, did a fantastic job supporting Hermans, Dillier and Teuns. I am very happy. It has has been a nice day for not only Ben, but also for the whole team."

Ledanois said Sunday's final stage, which includes three categorized climbs in 165 kilometers, is even more challenging.

"It is a very hard stage, but we are in a good place with three riders in the top six on the GC (general classification)," Ledanois said. "I trust these riders going into tomorrow. We have a strong team and I am hoping for another good win for us."

Cult Energy is at Norway and sent this report:

The 183 kilometer long third stage of Arctic Race of Norway from Finnsnes on the Island of Senja to the uphill finish to Målselv was dominated by six riders who did what they could to maintain a lead to the chasing pack. But the GC was up for grabs and the breakaway doomed. Cult Energy Pro Cycling's Rasmus Guldhammer delivered a strong performance and moves to 8th overall.

With 40 kilometers to go, the escapees had a gap of 2.30 minutes and the constant battle for position in the field took its toll on the pack and the pace kept going up towards the finale. The break kept fighting heroically to stay in the front of the race but the last standing escapees was back in the field with 9 kilometers remaining.

Hitting the foot of the uphill finish, the pace was fierce. A few hundred meters up the 3.7 kilometer long climb with an average gradient of 7.8, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Christan Mager moved to the front and ripped the pace. Soon the pack exploded and Rein Taaramae (Astana) leaped up the climb. It all looked like an Astana stage win but Ben Hermans (BMC) slowly and surely narrowed down the gap and on the final hundred meters, he overtook the Astana rider to take the stage win.

Behind, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Rasmus Guldhammer delivered a classy performance to finish just outside the top-10 but overall, he climbed to 8th. Tomorrow's final stage contains a demanding local circuit with a 2 kilometer long, steep climb.

Rasmus Guldhammer

Rasmus Guldhammer

"It was a tough day for everyone out there today. The battle for position started fairly early as everyone wanted to enter the uphill finish in front position. We moved up in a relatively good position for the finale and as the attacks started flying, Rasmus moved up through the field and kept his rhythm to finish 11th in the stage, which is a good result considering the strong riders in the field. BMC are probably the strongest team here but they are going to get a hard time controlling things tomorrow. The time differences between all riders in the top-10 are only marginal so I it's going to be attack upon attack as nothing's settled," concludes Cult Energy Pro Cycling DS, Michael Skelde.

And here's what Lampre-Merida had to say about the Norwegian stage:

The 4th stage of the Arctic Race of Norway was the most northern stage ever raced by Lampre-Merida and it was crucial for the overall classification.

The hilly profile of the course of 183 km from Finnsnes to Malselv and the final hill (3.7 km at 7.8%) selected the bunch and gave good opportunities to the climbers.

Lampre-Merida enlisted the trio Koshevoy-Grmay-Serpa, who received a very good help by Mario Costa, Bonifazio and Cimolai in the approach of the final hill.

Jose Serpa

José Serpa couldn't quite make the cut.

In the first part of the climb, the blue-fuchsia-green riders seemed competitive enough to achieve a top result, especially Serpa was pedaling in the front position. But at 2.7 km to go, he had to give up and got dropped.

The Colombian rider was overtaken by teammate Koshevoy, who had better managed better his energy and succeded in crossing the finish line in 20th place, 42" behind winner Hermans.

Eneco Tour team news

Lotto-Soudal had a good day at the Eneco Tour:

A little Liege-Bastogne-Liege was scheduled today in the Eneco Tour. From Heerlen to Houffalize, the riders had to cover 208.6 kilometres. It was the longest stage of this race. The peloton had to surmount eighteen hills on a very tough course. Five riders set up a breakaway in the beginning of the stage, although it lasted about twenty kilometres till they got away. Polanc, Brändle, Arndt, Turgot and Baugnies were the riders that rode a whole time in front in a rainy stage. At about 50 kilometres of the finish the race really started. A group of nineteen riders, among them Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot, got away and bridged the gap to the leaders. After that there were many attacks.

At 25 kilometres of the finish Tim Wellens accelerated. It appeared to be the right moment because he stayed in front. Geschke could follow for a moment but he was dropped very soon. Van Avermaet tried to bridge the gap but he wasn’t able to do it either. Together with Geschke he finished at 49 seconds. Benoot was in a chasing group and he could hold down the pace, he finished seventh. Because of his fantastic solo, Wellens won the stage and he’s the new leader of the GC. Van Avermaet is second at 1’03”, Kelderman is third at 1’17”. Benoot is now ninth in the GC. André Greipel remains leader in the points classification, he also won a stage in this Eneco Tour. Tim Wellens is very pleased of course with this great performance.

Tim Wellens wins Eneco Tour stage 6

Tim Wellens wins Eneco Tour stage 6

Tim Wellens: “This victory gives a lot of satisfaction of course. Logically, after the Tour de France I started with doubts in the Eneco Tour, but the legs felt very good during the first days. Thursday’s time trial and yesterday’s stage, where I raced in front together with André, were a good confirmation of that. I knew the course very well because I had done a recon of this stage. This morning, it was our intention to give full gas with the team in the beginning of the two local laps, but yet at the first ascent of the Saint-Roch the speed was so high that only a few riders were left at the front of the race. Entering the finale, we were with nineteen riders and many attacks occurred. I focused on Van Avermaet and Gilbert and I had the impression that Kelderman was watching me.”

“After my attack, it was a matter of keeping the pace high. Our SRM wattage meter is perfectly fit to do so, but the most important thing was to persist the physical effort. I constantly tried to proportion my forces. The closing stage looks different than the final stage last year. Then it was a hilly stage without cobbles, now we have to ride a little Tour of Flanders. On the other hand, the gap with the second rider in the GC is now bigger compared with last year. And I can count on a very strong team that is made for such stages. Greipel counts for three, Sieberg and Benoot for  two and also Debusschere and Broeckx are experienced on cobblestones."

BMC had a good day the Eneco Tour as well:

Houffalize (BEL) - BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet was runner-up to solo winner Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) Saturday to move into second overall at the Eneco Tour while teammate Philippe Gilbert finished sixth and is fourth with a day of the race to go.

Several times in the last 65 kilometers of the rain-soaked 208.6 km race, Van Avermaet was on the attack. But when Wellens put in his own move with 23 km to go, Van Avermaet said he was not in a position to respond.

"It was a bit strange because it was on the descent and because it was wet, I lost his wheel a bit," Van Avermaet said. "I was seventh or eighth wheel and then we went immediately into a climb. Wellens attacked directly, so I did not see him go. So first I had to find my pace on the climb and then try to chase him back."

Wellens and Van Avermaet engaged in an individual pursuit of sorts for the next 15 kilometers until Van Avermaet was joined by Simon Geschke (Team Giant-Alpecin), who would go on to finish third. The two arrived 49 and 51 seconds, respectively, after Wellens, who took the overall lead. Gilbert finished in a small group about 25 seconds later.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet finishes Eneco Tour stage 6

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said Wellens was "unbeatable" as he took a 63-second lead over Van Avermaet heading into the final day. Wilco Kelderman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) is third overall, at 1:17, while Gilbert is another 23 seconds back in fourth.

"Wellens was the strongest today," Piva said. "We did everything. We attacked with Greg and he was amazingly strong. But Wellens was not going to be caught."

Van Avermaet said he is looking forward to Sunday's final - which finishes in Geraardsbergen - where he won a stage of the race last year.

"It suits me pretty well because it is a Flanders-type course with an uphill finish," he said. "It will be hard to catch Wellens back because he has more than one minute. But I will go for the stage victory and try to stay second on the GC (general classification)."

Tinkoff-Saxo had this to report about the Eneco Tour's sixth stage:

Tinkoff-Saxo takes a step forward in the general classification of Eneco Tour after heaps of action on a day of flat-out effort in punchy terrain. Rogers and Juul-Jensen took turns attacking at the front of the soaking wet racing, where last year’s winner Tim Wellens ultimately secured both stage win and overall leadership, while Tinkoff-Saxo’s duo took 11th and 12th on the stage.

The finish line atop the final punchy climb in Houffalize seemed to beckon the riders on after nearly 5.5 hours of hard racing in soaking rain. After a head-on approach from Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Rogers and Chris Juul-Jensen with several attacks out of the front group of favorites, the duo managed to climb the GC ladder.

Michael Rogers

Michael Rogers attacks in stage 6 of the Eneco Tour

“I’m very happy with the team’s effort today and Rogers and Juul-Jensen undeniably rode a great stage today. After all, they advance to 6th and 8th in the general classification and against such a strong field, I think that is more than approved. Tim Wellens was in a class of his own in the finale putting in his acceleration at the right moment. It was indeed a very hard race - 208 kilometers of constant up and down on classic Ardennes roads”, says team sports director Patxi Vila and adds:

“We wanted to try our chances today and Mick also launched an attack in the decisive part of the race. We wanted to wait until the final circuit with three steep climbs, as the front group would be more fatigued at that point. He was eventually caught but had the legs to hang on and play an active role in the main group behind Wellens and Avermaet. Chris tried several times to break free on the final circuit but they wouldn’t let him go. Meanwhile, the time lost to Wellens on the final 10 kilometers shows that the group wasn’t adequately well-organized”.

With one day to go at Eneco Tour much can still happen in the general classification, as the riders will face 188km of racing to the esteemed cycling city of Geraardsbergen with multiple bergs and cobblestone sections along the way.

“The time differences in the GC were widened today but tomorrow is another arduous trial. It’s some of the same terrain as we see in Tour of Flanders and we must see how each rider copes with the cobblestones”, finishes Patxi Vila.

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