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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, October 5, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Yesterday we had the final stage of the Tour de l'Eurométropole and the big dog, the 2015 Tour of Lombardy (Giro di Lombardia). Complete results for both races are posted.

We have complete results of every edition of the Giro di Lombardia posted, going back to the first edition in 1905. You can access them here.

Next race will be Binche-Chimay-Binche/Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke. This 1.1-ranked Belgian race will be run on Tuesday, the 6th.

2016 Giro d'Italia officially unveiled

Today RCS sport unveiled the route of the 2016 Giro d'Italia. Many details had been accidentally leaked a few days ago, which turned out to be correct. The race will have three individual time trials but not have a team time trial.

The 2016 edition will begin May 6 in the Netherlands, and conclude May 26 in Torino (Turin) after racing 3,383 kilometers.

Results for every edition of the Giro d'Italia

2016 Giro d'Italia map

2016 Giro d'Italia map

The stages:

Marcel Kittel signs with Etixx-Quick Step

Here's the news from the team:

Etixx - Quick-Step has agreed to a two-year contract with German rider Marcel Kittel, who is considered one of the best sprinters of the peloton. Kittel built an impressive palmares at 27-years-old, in just a few years time: Eight Tour de France stage victories, three Scheldeprijs victories, five stage wins at Tour de Pologne, and two Giro d'Italia stage wins. He also won the overall of 2013 Tour de Picardie, and the overall of the 2011 Delta Tour Zeeland.

Kittel will wear the team colors for the 2016 & 2017 seasons.

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel at this year's Tour Down Under

"We are thrilled about the arrival of Marcel," CEO Patrick Lefevere said. "In the last years he showed incredible pure speed, which makes him one of the best sprinters in the history of the sport. As a team we will do our best to put him in the right condition, building a group of riders around him. He showed his potential in just a few years time, with dominating performances among his palmares. We are sure that, together, we can achieve more big goals, and that we have yet to see the best of Marcel Kittel."

"I want to thank the team for the faith they've put in me, and that they will support me in this new chapter of my career," Kittel said. "I am looking forward to the new challenges of Etixx - Quick-Step, a team, I consider as one of the best teams in the world. This team has one of the best, well organized structures around its riders. Etixx - Quick-Step offers me a great, highly professional environment, where I can continue to develop and improve. I am also happy that I have a few friends on this team already, including Tony Martin. Tony is one of my best friends in cycling. We rode together when we were younger, and I can't wait to do it again at the professional level."

Tour de l'Eurométropole news:

LottoNL-Jumbo sent this release:

Martijn Keizer place second in the general classification of the Tour de l’Eurométropole today. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s time trial specialist didn’t lose his position after a good prologue. Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) won the race, Jonas Ahlstrand (Cofidis) grabbed the last stage victory.

“This is a beautiful second place for Martijn,” Sports Director Erik Dekker said. “We tried to grab the first position today at the first intermediate sprint. We saw that Gougeard was very strong. It was impossible to beat him in the sprint. We changed our plan afterwards and started to attack, but that didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, as well. The stage ended up in a bunch sprint eventually and Tom Van Asbroeck didn’t get the chance to participate in that kick, unfortunately.”

Martijn Keizer

Martin Keizer earlier this year at the Dauphine

Martijn Keizer was disappointed about missing the victory after the race. “It’s always a pity to finish second,” he added. “But it was the highest possible place this week. We tried to do something, but Gougeard was too strong. It was nice to go for a good result in the general classification. Normally, I’m working for our front men, but the team supported me this time. I’m grateful for that. I’m finishing my season with a good feeling and I’ll take this with me into the next year.”

And here's Ag2r's joyful news after Alexis Gougeard became the final winner:

Ag2r team manager Arturas Kasputis: "Alexis has achieved a magnificent performance. He managed his week with great mastery and on Sunday, he was still very strong. With three laps to go, I even had to calm him down because I was afraid it spends too much energy.

We are very pleased with this twenty-third [team] victory. The team [stayed] around him, doing a great job all week defending his jersey."

Alexis Gougeard's victory is the twenty third for the team this season. Gougeard has just won the Eurométropole prologue as well as the 2014 Classic Loire Atlantique, the third stage of the 2015 Four Days of Dunkirk and the 19th stage of the 2015 Vuelta.

Il Lombardia team reports:

Astana's release was short and to the point:

"We all had the same legs, it wasn't easy to invent something" Vincenzo Nibali after Il Lombardia.

Nibali took an impressive solo victory after the whole team [worked to control] the race across Lombardy. Nibali, helped by Mikel Landa and Diego Rosa, imposed a great pace from the Muro di Sormano and especially before the last two climbs.

Vincenzo Nibali wins Il Lombardia

Vincenzo Nibali wins Il Lombardia

At the top of the Civiglio, with less than 20 km to go, Nibali pulled out a little advantage then grew up to 40 seconds on the descent towards the finish. Nibali arrived on the lakeside of Como with a lead of 20 seconds enough to win this great classic of the international calendar.

Katusha had a little more to say about Il Lombardia:

The fifth and final monument of the 2015 cycling season played out on Italian roads Sunday for the 109th Il Lombardia. Team Katusha’s Daniel Moreno was attentive and active in the final, sensing the downhill attack from Italian champion Vincenzo Nibali was the winning move and being the first to break free and mount a furious chase. Moreno came up just a little short, taking second place to Nibali at 21-seconds in the “Race of the Falling Leaves.”

"Yes, I am very happy with my performance. It was a nice race and I was able to get a very strong result. I am happy to bring this podium in Lombardia to Team Katusha. I know the victory was very close, but I did all I could in this race, so I can be satisfied with the result. It's a pity "Purito" missed Il Lombardia because of his knee, maybe we could realize different tactics today. Anyway, I think today's podium is a good result for me and this is a really strong finish of the season," said Dani Moreno.

Thibaut Pinot and Daniel Moreno

Thibaut Pinot leads Daniel Moreno downhill to the finish

"Dani did an excellent race. He was the guy who was countering everybody on the Civiglio climb in the final and he closed all the gaps. When Nibali went away in the descent, Moreno did an amazing job on the San Fermo della Battaglia. On his own he reduced the gap from 40 to 10 seconds on the top. More was impossible but it was a really good try. There was just a descent and a TT left until the finish and that was more something for Nibali’s skills. Taking second in a WoldTour race is of course a super result and again another strong result for our team this year. I am also happy that Dani Moreno showed his positive attitude until the end of the season. He is a great professional," said team director José Azevedo.

It was constant attacking over the last two climbs. On the next to last climb of the Civiglio, Nibali put in several attacks to soften up the group and immediately the front group was thinned out. Moreno was responsive to the moves, keeping himself in a front position and able to ride down the attacks before the climb topped out. But it was on the descent that Nibali made the decisive move, with Moreno chasing hard to reach the 2014 Tour de France winner. He gained ground but the last climb San Fermo della Battaglia with 7 km to go still showed Nibali in the driver’s seat, a position he held to the finish line for a winning time of 6:16.28 on the 245 km course from Bergamo to Como.

Joining Moreno and Nibali on the distinguished podium was Thibaut Pinot of FDJ at 32-seconds.

"We had bad luck when there was a crash around the second feed zone. Zakarin, Lagutin and Guarnieri were involved in it. Zakarin needed to change bike and it took him a while to come back and just then the attacks started on the Madonna del Ghisallo. Otherwise I am sure Zakarin would have been in the front too. That's bad luck, but that's cycling too," continued Azevedo. 

With the last WorldTour race now concluded, the rankings are in for the year with Katusha taking second place.

"It is a pity that Katusha will not finish the season as number one on the UCI ranking. We just miss 13 points... Movistar has 1619 points and Katusha 1606. Number three, Team Sky, has 1378 points. With Joaquim Rodriguez we surely would have had a second rider in top ten and would have scored many more UCI points. It would have been nice after a season in which we won 3 WorldTour classics and three WorldTour stage races," concluded José Azevedo.

And here's Lampre-Merida's Il Lombardia report:

The young gun Jan Polanc became the leading figure of Lampre-Merida in the 2015 edition of the Il Lombardia. The Slovenian rider, winner of the Abetone stage in the Giro d'Italia, realized an impressive performance in the speciality which suits him the best, that is the breakaway.

He escaped from the bunch few kilometers after the start from Bergamo with other 10 riders, increasing the advantage on the bunch to 9' minutes on the first climb of the course, the Colle San Gallo, despite the heavy rain. The situation did not change until the climb of Onno, where the chasers increased the speed and began to bridge the gap to the attackers, who were reached after 170 km of leadership of the race.

Jan Polanc

Jan Polanc winning stage 5 of the 2015 Giro d'Italia

On the most important climb of the course, the Muro di Sormano, Rui Costa succeeded in limiting at 30” the gap to the head of the race, despite the degree of the hill was not suitable for him, but in the following sector of the course he could not complete the recovery to the leader and he reached the arrival in 46th position. Same fate for Ulissi, who was 74th.

The best rider for the blue-fuchsia-green in Como was 37th, at 8'55 to the leader Nibali.

“We were not able to be in the front of the race in the main moment, our possibility of achieving a good result had vanished before – sport director Mauduit commented – The best note from the race is the impressive performance by Polanc: he's young and he can always be in the most important breakaways of top quality races”.

Sam Bewley renews with Orica-GreenEdge

The team sent me this release:

New Zealand’s Sam Bewley has been rewarded for his strongest season to date with a new two-year contract at ORICA-GreenEDGE. The 28-year-old joined the Australian outfit in its inaugural season in 2012 and has bounced back from a series of injuries that have hampered past seasons to put together a strong year that included a team time trial victory at the Giro d’Italia.

“This has been my best season so far,” Bewley said. “I've had a year without interruptions and injuries and that has made a big difference. It’s given me the chance to be more consistent with my training and develop and improve certain aspects so I can be a more all-rounded rider and do my job in this team to a higher standard.

“Winning the team time trial at the Giro was a big highlight for me. Winning a team’s event in an organisation like this is a special feeling; it's the reward of hard work from a lot of a different people not just the nine guys riding the bikes.”

Bewley, who will finish his season at the Abu Dhabi Tour starting Thursday, provides his biggest value as a worker at ORICA-GreenEDGE, a role he is eager to continue developing over the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

“I am very excited to have two more years in this team,” he said. “Riding for this team feels to me what professional sport should be, you work hard but you have fun as well and that creates an environment that everyone wants to be involved in and with that comes success on the bike.”

“It gives me the opportunity to do some new things, some different races and keep improving in my role. I work hard for the leaders at races and it's a job I get a lot of satisfaction from and want to continue to do that well.

“I also feel like it's time to take a few of my own chances. Everyone has their time in this team and it’s up to the rider to take those opportunities. I would like to do that also.”

Sport director Matt White said it had been pleasing to see the New Zealander’s progression after a tough start with the outfit. “It’s been good to see Sam’s continual development,” White said. “He had a rough start with the team, always having injuries or things that restricted him from fulfilling his development through the season. This is pretty much his first full year without injury so he has gone up to another level.

“I expect him to keep developing even more over the next couple of years with us.  He has ridden a Giro d‘Italia and a Vuelta a Espana with us now. He will be back with a Grand Tour again next year, whilst also fitting into that group around our sprinters as well.”

Sam Bewley
Date of birth: 22nd July 1987 (28)
Nationality: New Zealand
Turned pro: 2010

-       1st Giro d'Italia - Stage 1 (TTT)
-       2nd Tour de Romandie - Stage 1 (TTT)
-       2nd Tour of Alberta - Stage 1 (TTT)
-       4th National Championships New Zealand - Road Race

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