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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, July 25, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Saturday is Tour de France's last day in the high Alps.

Here's what the riders will face in stage 20:

Rated ascents:


Stage 20 profile

Stage 20 profile

Next races we'll cover will be the HC-ranked Tour de Wallonie starting on the 25th and the Le Course by Le Tour de France, a 1.1-rated race for women held on the 26th.

Thüringen Rundfahrt report

This came from Velocio-SRAM:

Greiz, Germany, 24 July 2015 - Karol-Ann Canuel has taken the stage win on the final day of Thuringen Rundfahrt yesterday in Greiz. Canuel took the win ahead of Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS). In winning the final stage, Canuel also took second place on the overall classification.

On a tough final stage, the general classification changed significantly. Despite fighting hard, Lisa Brennauer, who had two great stage wins and had worn the yellow leader's jersey for four days, slipped down to fifth overall. The tour was won by Johansson, with Canuel second, and Lauren Stephens third.

Final podium

The 2015 Thüringen Rundfahrt final podium, from left: Karol Ann Kanuel, Emma Johansson and Lauren Stephens

Canuel said, "The whole tour was really hard. We worked amazing as a team and everyone did an awesome job. I think this is why it was so hard to lose the yellow jersey yesterday and we were all very disappointed with that outcome. We knew the final stage was hard, but before the race we were still confident that we could keep Lisa in the yellow jersey. She did a lot of work early in the stage covering dangerous moves but the final circuit was really hard. I bridged to Johannson who was solo at the end but I couldn't drop her. I'm happy to at least get the stage win for the team, and now after racing the Giro Rosa and Thuringen, I'm looking forward to some rest."

The team will next race at La Course by Le Tour de France on Sunday 26 July in Paris.

Tour de France team reports

Here's the news from BMC:

La Toussuire, France - Samuel Sánchez of the BMC Racing Team finished 10th in Friday's race though the Alps and climbed three places to 12th in the overall standings at the Tour de France.

Sánchez had been sitting 15th overall, 18:11 back, but rode for much of the 138-kilometer race in the group that included race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky). He went on to finish in small group that was chasing Froome and Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), who was runner up to solo stage winner and defending champion, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team).

"In the final, I was starting to feel better and better," Sánchez said. "I am glad the team is satisfied with my performance today."

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the 2008 Olympic road race champion is fulfilling the team's goal of not giving up after the withdrawal of team leader Tejay van Garderen during Wednesday's stage.

Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez descends in Tour stage 19

Sánchez is exactly two minutes behind the rider in 10th place, Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar).

"Tomorrow, we will see if he can move up a place or two again," Ochowicz said. "He is consistent. In order to be where he is now, you had to deliver some results every day, for the past 20 days."

Sánchez said his performance Friday bodes well for the final mountain stage, a 110.5-km race that includes two major climbs, the Col de la Croix de Fer and the famed Alpe d'Huez.

"Alpe d'Huez is a special climb in cycling," he said. "We will see tomorrow what is possible. My performance today was good, but tomorrow is important for us, for the team."

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this update:

Alberto Contador had his eyes on getting through the challenging stage 19 to La Toussuire, as cramps throughout the intensive day took its toll. “It was a day where I had to survive”, says Contador, who retained his fifth place in the GC of Tour de France after strong support from his teammates.

After crossing the line 2’26” down on stage winner Vincenzo Nibali, Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain explained that the stage turned out quite well despite bad sensations during the day.

"It was a day where I had to survive. I started with bad sensations and cramps all day so I had to save energy as much as I could. I sent Majka to pull at the front and he set the pace and it calmed a bit down. Things turned out quite well. Nibali is now ahead in the GC and I congratulate him for that. It's true he did a very good job today. In what regards me, I think it deserves more merit to have reached this point than previous victories. I had strong cramps throughout the day and I was praying to make it through. Tomorrow will be another day”, comments Alberto Contador, who finished 9th in the group of GC riders:

“We will see how I will feel tomorrow. The most important thing right now is to have a very good massage and recover. My muscles and tendons suffered a lot because the extreme heat dehydrated me. The most important aspect is to recover for tomorrow”.

Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh notes that the squad executed the team strategy but that he’s sad to see Michael Valgren leaving the Tour after bronchitis forced the debutant to withdraw despite a dedicated effort to pull through.

“The squad executed our strategy to perfection once again but in the end, Nibali, Quintana and Froome were just stronger today. Nobody gave less than one hundred percent and guys like Kreuizger, Majka and Rogers were there to support Alberto in the finale. Rafal pulled hard on the final climb and showed that he’s going well this late in the race. Respect to the guys today and especially to Michael Valgren, who unfortunately had to abandon today due to illness. He was sick from the start, he couldn’t breath and was dropped early. He fought with all his powers but in the end, he had to stop. It’s a real pity, it’s his first time doing the Tour and he has put in big effort”, says de Jongh, who’s backed by Rafal Majka:

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador crashed in stage 18.

“I tried to help Alberto as much as possible during the stage and surely on the final climb. But it was difficult because there were some flat parts on the climb, which made it difficult to keep the rhythm. I like the steep climbs but in the end, it is what it is and we are going to try our best again tomorrow for sure. It’s a shame that Valgren had to abandon today but if you are very sick it’s not possible. The body spends so much energy and in the end it’s better to stop otherwise you kill yourself completely. He has done a big job for the team but he’s a young rider so he will come back again”, adds Rafal Majka.

The green jersey of Peter Sagan got one step closer to claiming the jersey in Paris as he leads the classification by 104 points. However, Sagan notes that he has to make it through the Alps before turning his attention to the sprinters’ battle on the Champs-Élysées.

“I hope that I feel good tomorrow and that I will make it to Paris as fresh as possible. Now I’m thinking about resting and that tomorrow will be really, really hard and then I can start focusing on Paris and the Champs-Élysées. Today I felt a bit better than yesterday and I hope that I will be fresh again tomorrow. If I can finish within the time limit tomorrow the green jersey is just one day away in Paris, which is more like a celebration race before the finale. But on the Champs-Élysées, everybody of course wants to win and I will try if I’m there”, finishes Peter Sagan.

LottoNL-Jumbo had this to say about Tour stage 19:

Robert Gesink maintained his sixth position in the general classification of the Tour de France. After Steven Kruijswijk supported him perfectly, he was able to finish eighth in the third stage through the Alps. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) won the stage and stopped Gesink from moving up to the fifth place.

“It went quite well,” Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s front man said after the finish on La Toussuire. “It’s a pity that I wasn’t able to win the sprint for the fourth place, because I think that I deserved that actually. It was a big fight from the beginning of the stage. We were there every time. The team led the chase of the breakaway for a while to ensure that the gap stayed small and Steven did a great job too. The pace was high already in the beginning of the day. I wasted a lot of energy, early in the race. I had to go through my limits. Because Steven was part of the break, he was able to ride at his own pace. When he returned to our group, he helped me a lot. He did a superb job for me.”

Gesink noticed that Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) was distanced early in the stage and knew he was going to overtake him in the overall, but stage winner Nibali passed him with his solo victory. That means that he’s still sixth with two more stages to race. “We already were expecting that Nibali was going to pass me. He is last year’s winner so it’s no shame that he’s passing me. Besides that, I’m able to hold on. I think that I’m doing well.”

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink leads a small group in stage 19, followed by Alberto Contador.

“It was a tough day,” Kruijswijk added. “It was nice to compete in the front. I escaped to aim for the stage victory, but the breakaway I was part of was tricky for our team so they started to lead the chase. That’s why I slowed down on the second climb to support Robert. It wasn’t hard for me to make that effort in front of his group afterwards. I know that Robert likes to climb on a high pace. I tried to do that for him.”

Sports Director Nico Verhoeven was glad with the team’s effort, as well. “We took the matters in our own hands,” he said. “A group of 15 riders stayed in front. Two of them were Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders. That’s good and I’m very satisfied with that. Tomorrow is the final of the Tour de France in a very short, fast and tough stage to the Alpe d’Huez. That’s a classic one in the Netherlands and it’s going to be very beautiful for us to ride up there.”

Here's Lampre-Merida's stage 19 report:

The most demanding stage of the Tour de France did not extinguish the fighting spirit of Rubén Plaza. Just few meters after the start of the 19th stage, 138 km from Saint Jean de Maurienne to La Toussuire with the climbs of the Col du Chaussy (1st category), of the Col de la Croix de Fer (hors categorie), of the Col du Mollard (2nd category) and of the final climb to the arrival (1st category), the Spanish rider from Lampre-Merida and other 14 cyclists escaped from the bunch.

The breakaway welcomed 12 other riders for a total of 26 members, who were later reeled in by the yellow jersey group.

Some of the attackers (Plaza was one of these athletes) did not give up and after 35 km in the race they attacked again, forming a 22 rider escape group.

On the very long climb of the Croix de Fer (22,4 km), Rolland attacked and only Plaza and Uran resisted br chasing the French rider, before being reeled in by the yellow jersey group.

The Spanish athlete from Lampre-Merida tried to anticipate the top riders group in the approach of the Col du Mollard, before the battle between the general classification contenders began and before Nibali began his solo winning attack. Nevertheless, Plaza finished 13th at 4'53" to Nibali, who preceded Quintana and Froome (still in yellow).

Ruben plaza

Ruben Plaza descending on the way to his stage 16 victory.

"I'm having very good feelings, but I'm also aware of the fact that, if I want to achieve again good results, I need to anticipate the top climbers, so today I attacked many times and I paid attention in joining the breakaways - Plaza explained - My legs gave me good feedback on the climbs. I succeeded in pedaling with the best climbers, except when the gradients are too high, over the 7%. I aim to realize another interesting performance in tomorrow stage with arrival on the Alpe d'Huez".

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