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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

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Today's Racing

We're covering one race today, the Belgian 1.1 ranked Nokere Koerse. Tomorrow's race is the Italian GP Nobili Rubinetterie, ranked this year as "HC", up from last year's 1.1.

Tapei Cycle Show

One the biggest and most important events in the bicycle industry is the Taipei Cycle Show, though the Taiching Bike week, held late in the year, is perhaps more important to bike makers and buyers working on their bicycle specifications.

The Taipei show remains the number one show for aftermarket products. And, as usual, the show is sold out. More than a hundred companies are hoping some space will show up. I visited the Taipei show only once, in the mid 2000s. I was stunned by its size and the extraordinary range of products Asian producers were exhibiting back then. Today, demonstrating the show's international muscle, companies from 36 nations will be exhibiting. There are both French and European Union pavilions.

This year the Taipei show runs March 18-21.

Times have certainly changed. When I was a wholesaler in the 1980s, the Cologne, Germany show was the big one. But the Europeans steadily lost ground to Asian producers and suppliers.

Euro Distributors in Trouble

With the falling Euro, says that European suppliers are looking at raising the prices of goods imported from Taiwan at least 25%, trying to find some way to mitigate the consequences of the troubled Euro. The general expectation is that the Euro will drop even more. When I was an importer facing this problem, the question always was how much of the home currency devaluation had to be absorbed to remain price comeptitive. I don't envy the Euros right now. It's a tough place to be.

Lotto-Soudal Looks Back on Tirreno-Adriatico

After a successful Paris-Nice also Tirreno-Adriatico has come to an end. Jens Debusschere won a stage and Jurgen Van den Broeck finished on the eleventh place in GC. The overall victory was for Nairo Quintana.

After the team time trial had been replaced by a prologue Lotto Soudal immediately took a win on Thursday. In a hectic final Jürgen Roelandts led Jens Debusschere perfectly to the front. The Belgian champion could avoid crashing and sprinted to his first victory of the season and became leader in the points classification. The next day Peter Sagan took over that red jersey. In the tough fourth stage Jurgen Van den Broeck remained in the group of favourites. A day later it was time for the stage to the Terminillo, the only summit finish. Nairo Quinana left everyone behind in the snow and on the podium he received the blue leader’s jersey. Jurgen Van den Broeck finished on place thirteen and moved up to the twelfth place in GC.

Jurgen Van den Broeck

Jurgen Van den Broeck riding the stage one time trial of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico

Then the riders ended up in the pouring rain in the penultimate stage. Belgian champion Jens Debusschere came close to a second victory but he ended up on the third place, behind winner Peter Sagan. In the closing time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto, Van den Broeck set the 42nd time, just not enough to finish in the top ten of GC, he was eleventh. Nairo Quintana successfully defended his first place and is the overall winner of this Tirreno-Adriatico. Mollema and Uran could join him on the podium.

Bart Leysen, sports director: “The goal was to finish in the top ten of GC. I think we are as disappointed as Jurgen Van den Broeck himself that he finishes just outside top ten. His condition is fine, but maybe he misses some competition. In the prologue and today’s time trial Jurgen probably lost precious seconds.

“We can be very happy with the performance of Jens Debusschere. He came to this race to get a top five in a bunch sprint, maybe a top three. By winning the second day he already performed above all expectations. Also on Monday he came close to the stage win, but finished on the third place. The entire team raced well and we are satisfied.”

“Unfortunately Stig Broeckx had to abandon yesterday, because he was sick. Maxime Monfort joined a long breakaway the day before. Jürgen Roelandts got better every day and Jelle Vanendert is in excellent shape as well. He seems to be ready for Milan-Sanremo, his first real goal. Lotto Soudal was strong in Italy and I am positive for the classic races the next few weeks.”

And Here's the Lampre-Merida News after Tirreno-Adriatico

The traditional time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto ended the Tirreno-Adriatico. The Lampre-Merida athlete who covered the 10 km of the course in the best time was Josè Serpa, who obtained the 49th place, +54" on the timing recorded by the winner Cancellara.

One second and one position worse than Serpa was the performance by Niemiec, who was 50th: the Polish rider could climb one place in the overall classification, but he missed the target of the top ten for 12" (Kreuziger is 10th).

Niemiec in stage 5

Niemiec racing in the snowy stage 5 of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico

"Today time trial was short and it was suitable for those athletes that can exploit their speed and their power, so it was not good for me - Niemiec explained - In addition, I was battling for a place in the top ten against cyclists that can usually realize good performances in those kind of stages. Despite this, my timing was more or less on the same level of my direct opponents and it allowed me to be 12th in the final classification. I have the regrets of having missed the top ten, even if I don't know when and where I could do better than what I did in this race. I immediately focus my attention on my next appointment, the Volta a Catalunya, where I'd like to exploit the good shape that supported me during the Tirreno-Adriatico".

Tinkoff-Saxo also Looks Back on Tirreno-Adriatico

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Maciej Bodnar finishes Tirreno-Adriatico off with a 5th place in the final time trial behind winner Fabian Cancellara. After a week of racing and a consistent team effort, the GC was concluded with Alberto Contador taking 5th behind overall winner Quintana, while Roman Kreuziger rode his way into the top ten. Peter Sagan was awarded the red jersey as the winner of the point’s classification.

Tuesday, the “Race of the Two Seas” had forced its way across the Italian peninsula and was set for a final showdown between the GC riders and the time trialists respectively. The 10k pancake flat TT was dominated by the powerful riders with Maciej Bodnar clocking in the fifth fastest time. Following the stage, the strong Pole noted that he was happy with his performance at Tirreno-Adriatico.

“I finished off well today with a fifth place, which is a good result for me, since I’m normally better in time trials a bit longer than we had today. Overall, I feel that I’ve worked well for the team this week at Tirreno-Adriatico”, says Maciej Bodnar and elaborates: “I feel confident about my current shape and it will be exciting to start looking ahead to the next important races, such as the Classics. I have seen some good teamwork and I’m also confident that the team will perform well in the next races”.

Maciej Bodnar had the best time for a while during Tuesday’s TT before Adriano Malori and ultimately Fabian Cancellara overtook him by 16 seconds, with Kiryienka and Castroviejo squeezing themselves in between. Among the GC riders, Alberto Contador rode the second fastest time crossing the finish line in San Benedetto del Tronto in 16th place. Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Steven de Jongh was pleased with the performance.

Peter Sagan wins stage 6

Peter Sagan wins Tirreno-Adriatico stage 6

“Today was a good performance by the team. Alberto retained his 5th place and did a good time trial compared to his GC rivals. I think he can be happy with how he finished off. Also, Roman rode well and made his way into the top ten, which is especially important in a World Tour race. The TT was flat but intense and not ideal for GC guys, but luckily they all rode under the same circumstances. Bodnar and Chris Juul-Jensen did a strong ride and clocked in some good times”, comments Steven de Jongh, who adds:

“Now it’s all about recovery. Some of the guys are heading to Milano-San Remo and Alberto will start looking ahead to Volta a Catalunya, which is his next goal”.

Giant-Alpecin for Milano-San Remo

Team Giant-Alpecin heads to the first 'monument' [Milano-San Remo] of the season with a team focused around a very motivated John Degenkolb (GER) who is looking to make up for missing out on a shot at victory at this race in 2014. The race route is back to its normal parcours, with no planned additional climb, meaning that the key points of the race will once again fall on the Cipressa and the Poggio.

John Degenkolb wins stage 17 of the 2014 Vuelta

John Degenkolb wins stage 17 of the 2014 Vuelta a Espana

Degenkolb will be joined by Nikias Arndt (GER), road captain Roy Curvers (NED), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Chad Haga (USA), who starts his first monument, his final lead-out man Koen de Kort (NED), Albert Timmer (NED) and Zico Waeytens (BEL).

"We have had some bad luck in preparation to this first monument with crashes and sickness but we will still come here with a strong line up ready to go for our goal - to get a strong result with John," explained coach Marc Reef (NED).

"The support includes Chad who will line up for his first ever monument and is very excited to give his all for the team. With a good team performance, we should be able to make an impact on this race."

And Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's News for Milano-San Remo

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start Milano-Sanremo, the first monument of 2015, with targets: seek out opportunities and provide its youngsters a chance to learn. “We don’t have favourites, but with Moreno Hofland, Bert-Jan Lindeman and Paul Martens, we have three riders who should be able to compete with the best,” said Sports Director Erik Dekker.

“For Moreno and Bert-Jan, it will be the first time that they participate in this classic. That’s why we will make an extended reconnaissance on Thursday. We will try to focus on the future with them. In training, it’s always easier to explore a race than it is in the race itself. You look at it in a very different way. That can be useful for the young guys.”

Hofland puts Milano-Sanremo on top of his list. He hopes that he can return at his normal level after a small setback. “I didn’t start Paris-Nice in form,” he explained. “I improved during that race, but after the fifth stage, I didn’t have anything left at all. I think it was a good decision to go home after that day. I feel that I recovered a little better afterwards and those extra days off feel like a super compensation. I hope that I’m good enough to cross the Poggio with the first group. I will talk with Paul Martens a lot about that. He is an experienced rider, who has competed in the front in Milano-Sanremo in the last years. He can help me.”

Moreno Hofland

Moreno Hofland at the 2014 Tour of Romandie

“They predict good weather for this weekend,” Dekker added. “That will help this edition of Milano-San Remo to be a traditional one. I think that a group of 50 to 100 riders will arrive at the foot of the Poggio. We have to try to be there, too.
Moreno is able to play a big role in this race in the future. He can try to do that already this year. If there are chances for us this year, we surely want to take them. The only way we can enforce that is to bring Moreno, Bert-Jan and Paul in a good position for the final.”

Team Line-up: Rick Flens, Moreno Hofland, Tom Leezer, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii & Robert Wagner.

Sports Director: Erik Dekker. 

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