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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, June 1, 2015

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

Today's Racing

We'll not be posting any racing results until Wednesday, when the Tour de Luxembourg starts.

Three races ended Sunday, the Giro d'Italia, The Tour des Fjords and the Tour of Belgium. Click on the links if you'slike to see the race results.

Bicycle Riding Is Dangerous Stuff..for some people

The Associated Press sent this report: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in a bicycle crash Sunday after striking a curb and scrapped the rest of a four-nation trip that included an international conference on combating the Islamic State group. He planned to return to the United States on Monday.

Kerry was staying overnight in a Swiss hospital overnight as a precaution, State Department spokesman John Kirby said, before flying to Boston for further treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"The secretary continues to be in great spirits and active," Kirby said. "He has done a range of phone calls including with the president."

Kerry, 71, fractured his right femur after crashing his bike near Scionzier, France, about 40 kilometers southeast of the Swiss border.

Paramedics and a physician were on the scene with his motorcade at the time and provided him with immediate attention. They quickly decided to call in a helicopter to transport him to Geneva's main medical center, HUG, where X-rays confirmed the extent of his injury.

"The secretary is stable and never lost consciousness, his injury is not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery," Kirby said in an earlier statement.

The Dauphine Libere, a local newspaper, said Kerry fell near the beginning of his ride to the famed mountain pass called the Col de la Colombiere, which has been a route for the Tour de France more than a dozen times.

Right around the time of his fall, a Twitter feed about local driving conditions warned of the danger due to gravel along the pass. But U.S. officials said there was no gravel on the road where the accident occurred.

Here's the entire news report.

Post-Giro d'Italia Team Comments

We'll start with a note from Alberto Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo squad:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s team captain Alberto Contador succeeded in what he set out to do: to win the 98th edition of Giro d’Italia! After 21 days of flat-out racing, in what many regard as the hardest Giro in recent times, Tinkoff-Saxo and Alberto Contador can celebrate the overall victory after a grand team effort. “This is a special win”, says Contador.

Crossing the line safely in Milan after a couple of hectic laps, Alberto Contador could finally receive the pink jersey that matters the most. Few moments later he lifted the iconic spiraling trophy with his name now engraved and added his name in the Grand Tour history once again. Turning his attention to the waiting press, the overall winner says: “I thank the people of Italy for their affection. Everyone has been very special with me and I am very happy. During the three hard weeks of the Giro, everything imaginable has happened: I came here thinking about victory having prepared very carefully, but then I had my crash and a shoulder injury”, comments Alberto Contador and adds: “There was the mythical climb of the Mortirolo, but then yesterday on the Colle delle Finestre I had bad legs. It has been a beautiful Giro, and a very special experience for me. I don't know how long it will take to recover. I'm tired, and I know it will take time. It has been an emotional Giro for me. I've said it will be my last, but you never know. As we say in Spanish; never say never”.

Tinkoff-Saxo celebrate

Tinkoff-Saxo team celebrates

Taking extra precautions on the final lap in Milan, Alberto Contador crossed the line and claimed overall victory by a margin of 1’53” to Fabio Aru and 3’05” to Mikel Landa. Across the line, waiting for his champion, stood Tinkoff-Saxo Team Owner Oleg Tinkov, who congratulated his squad.

“When I build my team, Tinkoff Credit Systems, back in 2007, I had the Giro in mind. I live in Italy much of the year and I love this country. And now we’ve won the entire Giro d’Italia with Alberto. It was very hard and I want to congratulate all the guys for their effort during this race, which has definitely not been easy. They have sacrificed themselves for Alberto and guys like Rogers and Kreuziger put their own ambitions aside to support the captain”, says Oleg Tinkov, who adds: “I’m very happy for Alberto and it’s a very great moment. Right now, we are the best and we’ve been very good here in May. Now we will celebrate and then turn our attention towards July to make sure that we will also be the best in Tour de France”.

Oleg Tinkoff with Alberto Contador

Team owner Oleg Tinkoff celebrates

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh is not slow to point out the defining moments of Tinkoff-Saxo’s Giro d’Italia. “If you ask me, there are four defining moments of this Giro d’Italia. The moment, where Tosatto gave his wheel to Alberto after the crash on stage 13 and the moment, where Ivan gave his wheel before Mortirolo. These are two examples that show the teamwork and carefully planned routines. Then there is Alberto’s performance on the time trial and finally his ride up Mortirolo”, notes Steven de Jongh, who adds about the general performance during the 21 tiring stages.

“Today the guys had a nice day at the front of the peloton, which is where they’ve been during the last 21 stages to secure Alberto’s win. To the boys I want to say ‘Chapeau’. I am really proud of them. Whatever I said to them, they executed the strategy on the road and it has simply been a pleasure to work with them. It has been a very, very hard Giro and with Alberto’s crash and injury it wasn’t made easier. Alberto is a great champion!”, finishes Steven de Jongh.

BMC sent this final Giro d'Italia report:

Damiano Caruso of the BMC Racing Team finished eighth Sunday at the
Giro d'Italia while teammate Philippe Gilbert earned "most aggressive rider" honors and was also awarded the Bonacossa Trophy for his two stage wins.
Caruso's result was a career-best in a grand tour, bettering his ninth place at
the Vuelta a España last year. He finished 12:08 behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), who won the Giro d'Italia for the second time.

"This is definitely a highlight of my career," Caruso said. "This was a very hard
Giro and I was fighting to keep in the top 10 every day. I have my teammates to
thank for helping me achieve my goal."

Gilbert took the most aggressive title by three points over Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo). With the help of teammates Marcus Burghardt and Silvan Dillier, Gilbert attacked about four kilometers from the special sprint line to overtake Kruijswijk in the special classification that combines points for sprints, climbing and race finishes.

"This morning at the meeting, we saw he could get this prize," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Fabio Baldato said. "Philippe was only two points behind and it was only a sprint and a finish today, so we thought we would give it a try. It was our motivation for the day."

Gilbert also took home the Bonacossa Trophy, as voted on by a jury of journalists,
for producing the "best exploit." He won on the uphill finish at Monte Berico in
Vicenza on Stage 12, then soloed to victory from 19 kilometers out in Verbania
on Stage 18. Gilbert joins Cadel Evans (2010) as the only two BMC Racing Team riders to earn the honor.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert won two stage this Giro

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the team achieved everything it aimed to - and more - during the three-week race. "We certainly have a lot to be proud of," Ochowicz said. "We wanted to win at least
one stage while getting Damiano in the top 10. And we ended up winning two stages in a good display of teamwork both times. So we exceeded our expectations. It is really a tribute to the riders, as well as the sport directors and the staff who worked hard to support them during three good weeks."

Baldato said he was proud of the eight riders who pedaled their BMC teammachine SLR01s all 3,486 kilometers of 21 stages. Only Stefan Küng, who crashed out on a rain-soaked descent on Stage 12, did not make it to Milan.
"The team was really good this entire Giro," Baldato said. "We are really happy
because this was not an easy Giro. Every day, we saw the guys giving everything
and doing whatever we asked of them. It is nice to see us have the success because everyone worked so hard."

Besides Caruso, two other BMC Racing Team riders were in the top 20: Amaël Moinard was 15th (30:35 behind) and Darwin Atapuma was 16th (40:36). The BMC Racing Team also finished second in the team classification behind Astana Pro Team.

Rick Zabel, the youngest rider in the race, joined teammates Atapuma, Brent Bookwalter, Burghardt, Caruso, Dillier, Gilbert and Moinard as the BMC Racing Team's other finishers.

It was the first Giro for Burghardt, Dillier and Zabel. Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick Step) won the final stage ahead of Luke Durbridge (ORICA-GreenEDGE) as the pair broke away on the final circuits in Milan during the 178-km stage.

And this came from Lotto-Soudal:

The 98th Giro d'Italia came to an end today with a stage of 178 kilometres between Turin and Milan. Alberto Contador could put on the last pink jersey. Lotto Soudal riders Maxime Monfort and Jurgen Van den Broeck finish right behind each other in the overall classification. Monfort is eleventh at 17'51" of the Spanish winner. Jurgen Van den Broeck stands on place twelve, at 25'12". Lotto Soudal returns home with one stage win, the victory of André Greipel in the sixth stage to Castiglione della Pescaia. Adam Hansen has completed his eleventh Grand Tour in a row. Maxime Monfort and sports director Bart Leysen make an evaluation of the Giro.

Maxime Monfort: "We knew it would be very hard in the last mountain stage yesterday, with the Colle delle Finestre on the course. After three weeks of racing you are tired and it's a very hard climb in itself. I immediately looked for the right rhythm. I noticed Yury Trofimov had a bad day, so I saw there was an opportunity to get past him in GC. At the end I came one and a half minute short for the tenth place. Although it's not yesterday that I lost a top ten place, that happened in the stage to Aprica."

"I have mixed feelings. This is definitely a nice performance and I'm glad I raced at my best level. On the other hand it's a pity when you come so close to top ten but don't make it. But I can live with that. On the fourth day I joined a breakaway. After that I noticed I performed strongly and could get a good GC. As the Giro continued I started concentrating on that. In the stage after the second rest day I tried to join a break again, but that attempt wasn't successful. The next days I just focused on securing my place in GC and tried to get in the top ten."

Bart Leysen, sports director, Lotto Soudal: "We came to the Giro with the ambition to win at least one stage and get a top ten place in GC. André Greipel won the sixth stage after a magnificent team effort. That way we reached that goal already in the first week. A second stage win would definitely have been possible for André, but that didn't happen due to several circumstances. At the end only eleven out of twenty-two teams won a stage, so we can be satisfied.

Andre Greipel

André Greipel won stage 6

"We just didn't get a top ten place in the overall standings. Maxime was better than last year, when he was fourteenth. Yesterday's last climb wasn't tough enough to gain more advantage on Trofimov. The difference between him and Monfort was made on the Finestre, but wasn't enough for Maxime to enter top ten. Jurgen Van den Broeck started this Giro strongly and that was very hopeful, especially his performance in the individual time trial at the end of the second week. The day after, he crashed in a descent and he had intestinal problems for more than a week. That takes away a lot of energy. It's great that he didn't give up and is still twelfth. Of course I would have loved to see one of our two GC riders between the tenth and fifth place, that would have been fantastic, but it is the way it is."

LottoNL-Jumbo was also heard from:

Moreno Hofland sprinted to eighth in the Giro d'Italia’s final stage on Sunday in Milan. Iljo Keisse, who defeated Luke Durbridge of Orica-Green Edge in a two-man sprint, won the stage. A few seconds behind the duo, the peloton sprinted for third place.

“I soon discovered that the local circuit was quite hectic,” Hofland said. “With six laps to go, I rode to the front with Rick Flens and Maarten Tjallingii. Maintaining yourself at the front is easier and requires less energy. I’m finished sixth of the pack, which is not bad for me on a flat finish line. Sadly, two riders were still riding in front of us.”

Hofland looked back on his first completed grand tour with joy. “I had a good start with a second place in the second stage. I had hoped to fight for a victory again after that, but unfortunately, that did not work, although I still finished top ten a few times. I became stronger thanks to this tour.”

Steven Kruijswijk moved up to seventh overall on Saturday after a strong performance in the tough 20th stage. His position wasn’t in danger on Sunday. The 27-year-old Dutchman looked back with pride at the three weeks Italy.

“It’s been a wonderful Giro. It went better than expected. I think I rode a very strong tour and have performed at my maximum. I was always there and showed myself every day. I ended up seventh and I’m very proud of that.”

Kruijswijk called the stage over the Mortirolo a highlight. “I arrived at the top first, which was great.” The only flaw was perhaps missing out on the blue mountain jersey. “Of course I was disappointed that I came up a little too short, but I did everything I could to win that jersey.”

Steven Kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk on the Colle delle Finestre

The eight-minute time loss in the first week was a big setback for Kruijswijk, who ultimately finished 11-02 behind winner Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff). He finished 7-48 behind number three Mikel Landa (Astana).

“I had to handle a big blow in the process, but I fought back. You can’t control everything in a three-week race. Some days are better, some less. That’s how a grand tour works.”

Sports Director Frans Maassen looked back on a special tour on Sunday. “I’m proud of Steven’s place in the time trial, but there were more great moments. Like Steven’s two second places.”

Maassen especially found Kruijswijk’s second place in stage nine special. “I was driving right behind all day and he didn’t have the best legs anymore because a day earlier he had been in a long flight. I didn’t think a second place was possible, but Steven pulled it off. At that moment, it felt like a victory and maybe that was the best moment of the whole Giro.”

Cult Energy's Tour des Fjords Report

Today, Tour des Fjords was concluded with a 188 kilometer long slightly undulating stage from Hinna Park to Stavanger where two laps on the hilly circuit formed a demanding finale. Cult Energy Pro Cycling's Rasmus Quaade participated in the long-lasting breakaway and even though the time trial specialist was caught, the Danish team ended up with two riders in the top-10.

Rasmus Quaade and his breakaway companions managed to hold on to the gap entering the local circuit where they were caught and a new quartet set forth on adventure. The four escapees made it to the finish line where Edvard Bassoon-Hagen (MTN Qhubeka) took the stage win. In the front group, Katusha's Marco Haller was also hiding and he took the overall lead from Søren Kragh Andersen (Trefor-Blue Water).

Cult Energy Pro Cycling's Mads Pedersen finished 7th and Rasmus Guldhammer 10th on today's stage. Guldhammer finished just outside the podium overall while Pedersen finished 8th.

Rasmus quaade

Rasmus Quaade

DS, Michael Skelde says: "It's hard to complain when you have two riders in the top-10 on the stage as well as in the overall classification but to have had a perfect finish, we should have had Rasmus or Mads in the front group in the finale. However, I think this is the best stage race we have done so far this year and I'm embracing the development of the riders individually and the team as well. We can be proud of our accomplishments here and we have a lot to be looking forward to with these kinds of talents on the team," says Skelde.

BMC's Greg van Avermaet wins Tour of Belgium

Here's the BMC writeup on the race:

Sankt Vith, Belgium - BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet soloed to win the last stage of Baloise Belgium Tour Sunday and capture the overall title.
Van Avermaet narrowly held off a charging Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) after attacking Benoot and Egor Silin (Team Katusha) in the final kilometer of the 199.2-kilometer race.

"I had in mind to give the stage victory to Benoot," Van Avermaet said. "But that
would be possible if you are with two. Then I could go for the GC (general classification) and he for the stage. But with a third, he was fast and not working and I did not want to give something to someone who was not working - and he even started attacking. I wanted to wait for my sprint and with one kilometer to go, I had in my head to just try and go. If I make a gap, it is hard to get me back. I gave it all to finish and it is nicer to win the stage and the GC. This gives a little extra to the victory."

Van Avermaet and the two others broke free from a rapidly dwindling group as the
race split up severely in the last 20 kilometers. Hilly terrain, wet descents and
a fierce pace set by BMC Racing Team were all contributing factors.

"We controlled the race all day long," Van Avermaet said. "We had Dylan Teuns and myself in the front. It was a big group and there where big groups going away and I was a little bit afraid to have everybody in and that we had to start riding directly from the beginning, so I moved also in. That was easier for the team.There were also some strong guys in the group, so it was good to be up there. I spent a little bit of energy there, but not too much."

Greg van Avermaet wins Tour of Belgium srtage 5

Greg van Avermaet wins tour of Belgium stage 5.

Teuns finished fourth on the day and fourth overall as the BMC Racing Team took
home the team title of the five-day race. Joining Van Avermaet and Teuns in the
race were Rohan Dennis, Jempy Drucker, Campbell Flakemore (who withdrew on Stage 1), Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär and Manuel Senni. After a pair of runner-up finishes here in 2088 and 2011, Van Avermaet won his first Baloise Belgium Tour title by 41 seconds over Benoot. Gaëtan Bille (Vérandas Willems
Cycling Team) was third, at 56 seconds. Van Avermaet's victories add to his stage
win at Tirreno-Adriatico in March and are the BMC Racing Team's 11th and 12th victories of the season.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said it was good to see Van Avermaet win again. "He needs to win these races and Greg is a guy who was second and third so many times, so he finally got it," Sciandri said. "The team really rode together where you don't have to have the radios. The plan was good, not because of me, but because the guys had a really good vision and executed well."

In a strange development, the riders who were ahead of Van Avermaet on the classification heading into the final stage - Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) and double-stage winner Arnaud Démare (FDJ) - both dropped out during the final stage. Brändle complained of food poisoning while Démare's withdrawal was not immediately explained.

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