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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, October 3, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Yesterday, we had the Italian semi-classic, Giro del Piemonte.

Today we have the stage of the French Tour de l'Eurométropole plus the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro.

Sunday, the Tour of Lombardy (Giro di Lombardia) will be run.

Giro del Piemonte team news

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this report:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Daniele Bennati placed 7th in the final bunch sprint behind escapee and race winner Jan Bakelants after a wet edition of Gran Piemonte. Team directeur sportif Bruno Cenghialta notes that the full squad got through the 185km race unscathed and is ready for Sunday’s monument Giro di Lombardia, where Rafal Majka will be back in action.

Following the race conclusion, sports director Bruno Cenghialta tells that the race was affected by heavy downpour.

Daniele Bennati

Daniele Bennati

“Weather-wise it was a bad day with loads of rain. It was incredible and with no respite throughout the race. A breakaway escaped but never had more than 2 minutes. We rode together with Movistar and Bardiani and worked at the front of the peloton to keep the group out front in a short leash. We caught them with 7km to go and immediately after, with 6k to go, Bakelants countered and made the decisive move”, says Bruno Cenghialta and continues:

“In the end we had a sprint with 25-30 riders behind, where Bennati was 7th. It was not a super race for us today, unlike yesterday good outcome with Rafal Majka. But the objective is Sunday and the final monument of the season Giro di Lombardia. Poljanski, Chris and some of the other key riders managed to save some power and we didn’t have any problems, which is important. We want to be in the best situation possible for Lombardia to support Majka”, finishes Bruno Cenghialta about the 185km race from San Francesco al Campo to Ciriè.

And here's Lampre-Merida's news:

An Asian breakaway for Lampre-Merida in the 2015 edition of the Gran Piemonte, which took place on the 185 km route from San Francesco al Campo to Ciriè.

The team which was directed by Marco Marzano was in fact represented in the head group of 13 riders by the Taiwanese champion Chun Kai Feng. Under the pouring rain, Feng and the other attackers waited no more than 10 km to escape from the bunch, but despite a good cooperation among the 13 riders, the breakaway did not succeed in reaching a top advantage of more than 2'15", because the very high pace of the bunch, which rode at an average speed of 45 km/h.

Feng Chun Kai

Chun Kai Feng

The breakaway was neutralized at 8 km to go and the race seemed to be destined to a massive sprint final, but the Belgian rider Bakelants did not agree on this solution, so he attacked at 5 km to the arrival: his action turned out to be the winning one, in fact the bunch could not bridge the gap and the fast wheels sprinted for the second place.

Sacha Modolo was the first Lampre-Merida rider to cross the finish line, obtaining the 6th place (+4" to Bakelants).

"We appreciated the efforts by Feng, who joined a large breakaway, then there was a very good feeling between Modolo and Cimolai, when this last one helped the team mate - sport director Marzano explained - We were in the head positions of the bunch when Bakelants attacked: the bunch waited for few seconds to react, the Belgian rider exploited his skills in driving the bike in the downhill and in the series of wet turns in the final kilometers and so he could achieve the victory.
We had good feedbacks from the four riders who will participate on Sunday in the Il Lombardia, namely Durasek, Mori, Polanc and Ulissi".

Giant-Alpecin and Marcel Kittel part ways

Here's the Giant-Alpecin release:

Team Giant-Alpecin announces that it will rescind the contract with Marcel Kittel (GER) at the end of this season. He had one year remaining on his contract. The German sprinter recently indicated to the team’s management that he wished to make a fresh start. Kittel wishes to get the difficult 2015 season behind him and achieve new goals in new surroundings, rather then doing so in the improvement-driven elite sports environment of Team Giant-Alpecin.

Kittel experienced a disappointing season. A series of minor injuries and setbacks prevented him from living up to expectations, and having to start all over again in building up his form several times during the season, as well as the unsatisfying performances according to his standards, made it a hard year for Kittel.

The team’s CEO, Iwan Spekenbrink commented: “Marcel has meant a lot to the team and has been a great ambassador for us. Therefore, we immediately decided to respond positively to his request and release him from his contract. His request came very late in the season, but nevertheless he looks able to find and join a suitable team, which makes it realistic to actually release him. Marcel is a great athlete and it will be good for the sport of cycling, for the fans and, most importantly, for Marcel himself if he can produce great sprints again next season, which was an additional argument to respond favorably to his request.”

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel winning the first stage of the 2015 Tour of Poland

Kittel said: “After my last setback, where I had to skip still more races, it became clear to me that I want to make a fresh start after a physically and mentally difficult year. When I shared this wish with the team, I was aware that it’s uncommon to release a rider from his contract before the end of the term. Therefore, I very much appreciate that Team Giant-Alpecin placed my personal wishes above the concern of losing a rider so late in the season and that it was receptive to my request to try and find a new team, which is something quite rare in the hard world of elite sports. I knew it would not be easy to make it happen this late in the season, but fortunately I expect to be able to find a suitable team, where I will race for the next few seasons. I am looking forward to it.”

In a way, the release of the powerful sprinter also symbolizes the team’s commitment to its elite sports DNA, the “Keep Challenging” approach – which is very demanding for the athletes and the organization in its focus on continuous improvement of both the athletes and the innovative supporting environment.
Marcel Kittel experienced beautiful highlights in his career thanks to this approach, his teammates and, of course, his great talent. The Keep Challenging approach enabled the team to identify Kittel’s sprinting potential and help him transform from a time trial rider into one of the most successful sprinters of recent years, with many wins, including multiple Grand Tour victories, which excited fans all over the world.”

The team’s decision to grant Kittel’s wish to be released and to remain close to its DNA is a choice for the long term and reflects Team Giant-Alpecin’s commitment to ensuring the continuous development of the athletes and the team, as well as the breakthrough of new cycling stars.

Spekenbrink concluded: “We want to thank Marcel for the great contribution he has made to the team since 2011. We really enjoyed his sprinting talent and the unforgettable moments we shared together, and we will continue to be proud of the sprints he will deliver in the future, as he will always be a ‘product of our school.’ We wish Marcel all the best in his future career.”

LottoNL-Jumbo 's news about Münsterland Giro:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start the Sparkasse Münsterland at 3 October with 3 riders who participated at the world championships. One of them is Jos van Emden, who won the race already two times. They have to make sure that the race won’t end up in a bunch sprint.

“I think that Sparkasse Münsterland is a beautiful race,” sports director Frans Maassen says. “Even since it ends up in a bunch sprint more often, last years. We don’t prefer a bunch kick, this Saturday, but we need some support of the other teams to make sure it doesn’t end up like that.”

Jos ven Emden

Jos van Emden

Jos van Emden will hold the record of most wins in this race on his own, when he is able to grab the victory, this Saturday. Van Emden won the race in 2007 and 2013.

“I have special feelings with the Sparkasse Münsterland,” Van Emden adds. “I always joke about it’s the most beautiful race of the year. But I know that it won’t be easy to deliver again, this Saturday. The race has a quite flat profile, so it will probably end up in a bunch sprint. But in the end of the season, the peloton looses the control, sometimes, so there are chances, anyway.”

Line-up: Brian Bulgac, Jos van Emden, Tom Leezer , Paul Martens, Maarten Tjallingii en Sep Vanmarcke.

Manager: Frans Maassen

Lotto-Soudal's Tour of Lombardy preview:

The 109th edition of the Tour of Lombardy is held on Sunday, 4th of October. This race covers 245 kilometres and brings this WorldTour season to an end. The start will be held in Bergamo and the finish in Como, which is opposite of the last edition. After a year of absence, the steep Muro Di Sormano will once again be  includedin the course, this time near the end, with only fifty kilometres to go. The finale will be characterized by the San Fermo della Battaglia, a 2.7 kilometre climb with the  steepest section being 20% just before the top. Once on top, the riders descend five kilometres till the finish. Also this year the riders will have to find their climbing legs to shine one last time.

At 10.35h the start will be given in Bergamo. The riders will coil their  way North to arrive at Lake Como after 200 kilometres for the last fifty kilometres of the race. In these last fifty kilometres they have to conquer four climbs.

The first of seven climbs is after only fifty kilometres. The honour goes to the Colle Gallo. With his 7.4 kilometres and six percent average rate of increase, it’s a tough start of this Spring Classic. After the Colle Brianza (kilometre 116), it goes straight to the climb where the finale traditionally starts: the Madonna del Ghisallo. On top of the climb sits the sanctuary of Madonna del Ghisallo, a "pilgrimage destination" for a number of cyclists and enthusiasts. The Ghisallo Sanctuary is also home to a cycling museum, featuring a wide range of valuable relics donated by cycling champions. The riders won’t get much time for recuperation after this nine kilometres long climb as the next climb, Colma di Sormano, followsright after . Especially the last two kilometres of this climb are brutal with an average rate of increase of 15.8%., with peaks of up to 27%

After this monster climb there is a break. The riders get twenty-five relatively flat kilometres. With twenty kilometres to go, the riders face the penultimate climb: Civiglio. After these four steep kilometres with an 9.7% average, the descent brings the riders towards the final ascent of the day: the San Fermo Della Battaglia. But the sting is in the tail, with a slope of 20% just before the top.  We’ll have to wait and see whether or not we’ll see a real battle on this final climb,. One thing is for sure,  for those riders who want to attack before the final climb , this is the right moment.  Because after this hill  it goes straight downhill towards the finish in Como.

Last year, the Irish Daniel Martin could just maintain his lead on the chasers, putting the race in his name. . Amongst the chasing group was Tim Wellens, who rode  very attacking race which resulted in fourth place. Whether Wellens can do better this year, we will see on Sunday. For him, motivation definitely isn’t an issue

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens winning the GP Montreal

Tim Wellens: “After my fourth place last year, I can leave for Lombardy with confidence. The course is changed, but the race itself will still decide whether it will be harder than last year or not.  The  fact that the climbs are closer to the finish could lead to an earlier finale . Attackers will get more opportunities to give it a go. As in the past editions, the Ghisallo will be the first climb where the favourites show themselves. It’s a though climb followed by another short but steep climb. This will hurt the legs for a first time.”

“After my victory in Montréal, I travelled to Richmond with the team to do the WC team time trial. After that, I took the first flight back to start the recuperation as quickly as possible. On Wednesday, I had the last intensive training for this Sunday.  I did need this time, it took me five days to fully recover from the jetlag.. I think this could be an advantage as opposed to the riders who did the Worlds last Sunday. Some riders can recover faster from a jetlag than others. Nibali for example, was already capable of winning a race this Wednesday. Together with Rodriguez and Valverde, he’s my top favourite.”

“I’m happy with my season. The victories in the Eneco Tour and Montréal have glorified my year. If I don’t put down a good result this Sunday I will be disappointed, but it won’t be a disaster. I’ll be at the start without too much stress. Personally, I want to play a role in the very final kilometres of the race. If this doesn’t work out, we still have two riders, Tiesj Benoot and Tony Gallopin, in the team who are capable of winning. I can return back home satisfied if we rode a good race with the team and took part in the battle for victory. I’m feeling good and motivated. Let’s hope we can finish this year with style .”

Sports director Bart Leysen: “The change of course is not a bad thing. The past few years, we saw that the race was locked between the Madonna del Ghisallo and the final climbs. This year, the Ghisallo is located further on the course after that  the different climbs follow quickly. The heaviness of the course isn’t changed. The climbs are the same as last year, but they are closer to the final. This will make sure that the race won’t stand still from the Ghisallo to the finish line. This course suits our riders better.”

“Riders as Tiesj Benoot, Tony Gallopin and Tim Wellens are able to manage this succession of climbs. I’m expecting Tim to be the freshest of them all as he didn’t ride the Worlds last Sunday. After his win in Montréal, he could prepare himself quietly. Thanks to this victory, the pressure to perform is less. He already had a beautiful season and can start the race without too much pressure. Tiesj has a double feeling after the Worlds. He felt good but couldn’t show it due to a mechanical problem. He will be motivated and do everything he can to show how good he is. Also Tony is one of our riders who’s capable of putting down a good result. In Richmond, he was seventh and he showed that he’s in good shape. On this course, all three of them could make a shot. As usual, the Italians and Spaniards will be dangerous. Sunday, we need to keep an eye on Valverde, Rodriguez and Nibali.”

Selection: Sander Armée, Tiesj Benoot, Bart De Clercq, Gert Dockx, Tony Gallopin, Maxime Monfort, Louis Vervaeke, Tim Wellens.

Sportdirecteur: Bart Leysen

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