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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, July 16, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Today's Tour de France stage, number 12, features some of the Pyrenees' legendary climbs:

There's nothing here for sissies. In the immortal phrasing of Floyd Landis, this will be a bad day to have a bad day. We'll have complete results, stage story and lots of photos, and we'll post them as soon as they are available

Coming up in a few days are a couple of important single-day races. On the 19th will be the Italian Trofeo Matteotti (1.1) and then on the 22nd the Grand Prix Cerami (1.1) will be run. We'll post complete results for both.

Stage 11 was a tough day in the mountains. David L. Stanley tells the stage story and gives it his usual excellent analysis.

Food for starving racers

Lotto-Soudal tells how to feed hungry racers:

In this second week, the Tour caravan has arrived in the Pyrenees. The riders burn a lot of calories during these tough stages. What are the most important nutrients the cyclists need to take and how does team chef Carol De Dobbelaere put them into tasteful dishes?

Carol De Dobbelaere, team chef Lotto Soudal: “During a flat stage, a rider burns about 6,000 calories. In a mountain stage the amount of used calories can be 8,000 to 12,000. Once the cyclists are in the mountains, it’s important that they absorb more carbohydrates and nitrates and less fibres.

Carol De Dobbelaere

Carol De Dobbelaere at work

“Already at breakfast, the riders have to eat enough carbohydrates, in the form of pasta and rice. If there’s a normal jar of rice on the table, they won’t often take a second portion. That’s why I make sure that I prepare an omelette with puffed rice. I let the rice puff in the oven, afterwards I add an egg for each rider and some cheese. After that, I bake the egg in a frying pan. Finally, I make a soufflé of that egg in the oven. That’s very fluffy and it’s a tasteful way to eat a portion of rice. When the riders get on the bus after the stage, there’s always a recuperation meal available. That can be a potato or pasta salad. Sometimes, I make rice pudding, so that the riders can absorb some carbohydrates.

“Nitrates are an essential nutrient. That’s why I bake waffles with red beet juice instead of soya milk. There are also a lot of nitrates in spinach, a vegetable that I often put in a smoothie. Every night, the riders get a frozen smoothie after their dinner. That cools them down and makes sure that the food digests well. If I make a smoothie, I sieve it to remove the pulp, because pulp contains a lot of fibres. When a rider absorbs too many fibres, it can lead to gastrointestinal complaints, especially during a hard effort or at high temperatures.

“Breakfast is very important, certainly when there’s a mountain stage on the agenda. The riders eat more in the morning compared to the evening. During breakfast, there’s muesli and warm oatmeal on the table among other things. I also bake 35 pancakes and about twenty waffles. The riders may choose how their egg is prepared. Adam Hansen for example always eats a running egg. Five or six half-baked eggs, some olive oil, pepper and salt. He eats that for several years now.”

Menu Tuesday 14th July:

Soup: Zucchini soup

Starter: Polenta with smoked salmon

Main course

Dessert: Tiramisu of cottage cheese with red fruits and meringue


Tour de France team news

Tinkoff-Saxo had a good day at the office and sent this news:

Rafal Majka powered his way to a great solo win on the mountainous stage 11 to Cauterets. Bearing a great resemblance to his two memorable solo wins of the 2014 edition, Rafal Majka put the hammer down on the penultimate climb to Col du Tourmalet. Peter Sagan picked up points in the fight for the green jersey and now leads the classification with 7 points, while Daniele Bennati sadly had to abandon the race due to a crash.

Rafal Majka made his move from a seven-rider front group on the slopes of Tourmalet, 48km from the finish. After the impressive effort in the Pyrenees claiming a notable solo win, Majka dedicates the win to his teammates.

“I dedicate this win to my team and especially Ivan Basso and Daniele Bennati, who crashed today. I only attacked once, but it was at the right moment. I was watching the other riders and noticed that many of them were suffering so I decided to attack. My teammates supported me to go in the breakaway and I told my sports directors that I wanted to attack already on the Tourmalet instead of waiting. I needed a hard climb to create a gap and I took nearly 1’30” on the Tourmalet. I’m very happy with this win and it is great for the morale on the team”, says Rafal Majka, who conquered the win by a margin of 1’00” down to his nearest follower.

“A lot of people are asking me whether I want to go for the polka dotted jersey, but it’s not easy to do that and ride for Alberto at the same time. Today, I was given the opportunity and I wanted to do my best but I am here to support Alberto and we still have two weeks left to race, and many riders suffered today. I like when it’s warm and the climbs are hard so I felt good today”, adds Rafal Majka.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka climbing to the finish line

The eleventh stage of Tour de France took the riders deep into the Pyrenees, where they had to tackle no less than six categorized climbs. Team captain Alberto Contador, who finished together with the GC contenders, tells that his sensations were better than on yesterday’s stage.

“Peter was able to sprint perfectly and took the green jersey. Rafal grabbed very well the opportunity, caught the breakaway the moment one needed fresh legs and then crowned it with the stage win. It could have been a perfect day if it weren't for the crash of Daniele Bennati and his withdrawal from the race. It's an important loss to the team. He was a fundamental part of our squad in the first half of the Tour and if we didn't have him, I would be a near catastrophe. I hope he doesn't have anything serious”, says Alberto Contador after the stage before adding:

“In what concerns myself, I feel a bit better than yesterday but it's true I didn't push as hard as yesterday. I think I need some more time to feel very well. The heat was tremendous today and the forecast for tomorrow calls for higher temperatures. It's crucial to recover every day. Tomorrow’s stage will bring me good memories, when in 2007 I was able to win after five attacks. However, every year is different. The legs I have today are maybe different from the ones in the past, especially the ones from last year. I wish I had them today but we have to take it day by day and focus on recovery.”

For Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh, the day was very positive with the exception of the withdrawal of Daniele Bennati, who crashed out of the race.

“First and foremost, I think that it was a very good news that Ivan’s operation went well. We are all very happy for that. Then, it’s a real pity that Daniele has to leave due to a irritating crash like that. But let’s hope that the scans don’t reveal any fractures and that he’s able to recover quickly. He’s a very important guy for the team and it’s a pity to lose him, but he was in a lot of pain”, says Steven de Jongh, who underlines that the outcome of the day was a turning point.

“Today, our race took a big turn with Rafal winning the stage and Peter back in green compared to the last few days, where it has been tough. I’m so proud of the guys and their fighting spirit.”

Unfortunately, Daniele Bennati suffered a crash on the stage, as another rider swirled in front of him shortly after the intermediate sprint. Bennati crashed on the right side of his body and suffered extensive skin wounds and a large hematoma over his right tibia. The size of the hematoma did not allow for the examinations needed to rule out a fracture on his tibia. As a result, Daniele Bennati will return home as soon as possible and further examinations will be completed later during the week.

“I’m very sad that I have to leave the Tour and my teammates but this is unfortunately the reality. Another rider switched direction suddenly around the feedzone and that brought me down. I immediately got back up and continued and at first the pain was not overwhelming but during the next kilometers my leg swelled up due to the hematoma. In the end, I couldn’t pedal and I had to stop”, says Daniele Bennati, who will now direct his attention towards making as swift a recovery as possible.

This report came BMC:

Cauterets, France - Tejay van Garderen of the BMC Racing Team remained second overall after a second straight day in the Pyrenees Wednesday at the Tour de France.

Van Garderen placed 13th on the summit finish of the 188-kilometer stage, just behind teammate Samuel Sánchez and in the same time as nearly all of the race favorites. Chris Froome (Team Sky) still leads van Garderen by 2:52, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) in third, 3:09 back. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) soloed away from a breakaway group to take the stage win.

"Astana was a little bit aggressive on the Tourmalet, but all in all, it was a pretty smooth day," van Garderen said. "The Tourmalet, when Astana was making a tempo, was quite difficult. But with this finish, and the Tourmalet so far, it was more just following wheels. Tomorrow should really shake up the GC (general classification) a lot more."

Thursday's 195-km stage features four major climbs, including a third straight summit finish.

Tejay van Garderen

Tejay van Garderen

BMC Racing Team's Rohan Dennis said warm temperatures made the stage more difficult as the race crossed its highest point.

"The Tourmalet is not so open at the bottom, but at the top there is no shelter," Dennis said. "You get a little bit of relief with the tunnels, but that's about 30 seconds and then you're back out in the sun.

"Tejay being second overall is good for us," Dennis said. "Our goal is the podium in Paris. Obviously, we will protect him again tomorrow. Then there are a couple of flatter stages before we get to the Alps and then it is game on again."

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this report:

Robert Gesink maintained himself in the top of the overall in the second day in the Pyrenees. The leader of Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished 15th in the eleventh stage of the Tour de France and the Dutchman remains eighth in the general classification.

Wednesday’s stage was 188 kilometres long and ran from Pau to Cauterets. Along the way the riders, climbed the Col d'Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet. Chris Froome (Sky) finished in the same group as Gesink and retained his yellow jersey. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the stage after being in a breakaway.

Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) attacked on the final climb of the day, the Côte de Cauteret, to gain some seconds on the other contenders, but Gesink couldn’t follow. “I wanted to attack as well, because the favourites aren’t really marking, but Bauke beat me to it,” Gesink said. “He took off too fast for me.”

Like a day earlier, many riders lost time. “Astana pulled really hard on the Tourmalet,” Gesink said. “We arrived at the top with only ten men. My legs hurt now. I really had to dig deep today, but I think many more men suffered.”

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink

Laurens ten Dam tried to get in the early break several times, but did not succeed in his mission. “But still I was able to follow the favourites until very late. Luckily, I was of value to Robert today, as I had promised after the team time trial, but today took a lot of power. We need to make a good plan for tomorrow. If I’m going to attack like today again, I probably won’t be able to help Robert in the final kilometres. Then he needs to get his own bottles and from my personal experience, I know it is very nice to have someone with you in the final part of a mountain stage.”

Wilco Kelderman is experiencing less and less trouble from his back injury. “There is improvement. I was able to do my job today. I could have gone all-in to the top, but that doesn’t make sense at the moment. I want to improve towards the last week, so that I can try something.”

Steven Kruijswijk had a tough day in the Pyrenees. “I’m a little less than in the Giro. I noticed that I couldn’t follow the others on the Tourmalet. If attacking is not possible, it’s better to support Robert so we can do a nice Tour with the team.”

Tom Leezer hopped on his Bianchi on Wednesday with a bruised nose and suffered along the way. “Given the circumstances, I shouldn’t complain, but there were moments that I would’ve liked to feel better.”

Merijn Zeeman looked back on the 11th stage with satisfaction. “Laurens did what he could to get in the early brake, but unfortunately his groups never got any space. Robert made a good impression on the Tourmalet. After that, it was about consolidating and that went according to plan.

Velocio-SRAM will race Thüringen Rundfahrt

The team sent this update:

The Thüringen Rundfahrt will start Friday 17 July. Lisa Brennauer, already winner of two stage races in 2015 (Energiewacht Tour, and Aviva Women's Tour of Britain) will lead a strong team including Trixi Worrack (winner of 2015 Amgen Tour of California Empowered by SRAM). The duo will be joined by fellow German Mieke Kroeger, as well as Karol-Ann Canuel, Tayler Wiles and Elise Delzenne to round out a formidable roster for Velocio-SRAM.

The seven-day tour kicks off in Gotha with a short 66km evening road stage on Friday 17 July, before moving to Erfurt, the capital of Thüringen the following day. Individual Time Trial World Champion Brennauer, who has finished third on the General Classification for Thüringen Rundfahrt in 2013 and 2014 said "I'm really looking forward to the stage race. It's special to me as it is a race in Germany and important part of our race calendar. I'm very confident going into the tour with a strong team."

Lisa Brennauer

Lisa Brennauer

An individual time trial on Sunday 19 July will provide Brennauer with another opportunity to show off her coveted rainbow stripes. She said, "I've seen the profiles and previews and expect a tough tour. It'll be a challenging tour with Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) for example as well as a strong Bigla squad and many more contenders for the overall victory. The double stage with the time trial in Schmölln and a afternoon stage up the "Mauer von Meerane" (Wall of Meerane) will be very exciting and will play a big role for the General Classification. I don't feel more pressure because it is on home soil. I really enjoy to ride there. Crowds are always amazing in Thüringen and the tour very well organized with nice stages. I hope that my team and I can build on the nice results that we achieved at the tour last year."

Team Director Sportif, Ronny Lauke added, "We have had several stage race victories already this year from Lisa and Trixi, and they both can provide the team with great opportunities to contend for the overall classification here. Elise, Tayler, Mieke and Karol-Ann have been recovering from racing at the recent Giro Rosa in Italy and I'm sure they will be ready to look for their own stage wins along with contributing to the team success as always."

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