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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, September 4, 2015

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

Today's racing:

Today is the Vuelta a España's 13th stage. Also, the Tour of Alberta has its third stage. On Saturday the Brussels Cycling Classic will be run.

Astana thrown out of anti-doping movement

PARIS, Sept 4 (Reuters) - The Astana cycling team were thrown out of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) after the Kazakh outfit failed to comply with the association's strict anti-doping rules at this year's Tour de France.

"After hearing Team Astana representative Dmitriy Fofonov's arguments, the Board of directors of MPCC has decided to exclude Team Astana for non-compliance with article 9 of the regulations," the MPCC said in a statement on Friday.

Astana rider Lars Boom of the Netherlands started the Tour in July despite showing low levels of cortisol in a test on the eve of the race.


Team Astana at the Tour de France

Low levels of the hormone can be explained by the use of corticoids, anti-inflammatory drugs that are allowed out of competition but forbidden while racing unless a rider is granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

MPCC applies stricter rules than the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Under MPCC rules Boom should have rested for eight days but UCI regulations, by contrast, did not forbid him from racing.

"Although cortisol hormones are an allowed medicine when prescribed by a physician, the use of that medicine has frequently been abused in the history of sports (including in cycling) for the purpose of increasing the performance," the MPCC added.

"Besides, a low level of cortisol can potentially endanger the health of athletes in certain circumstances."

Astana are the team of Italian Vincenzo Nibali, the 2014 Tour de France champion, and of current Vuelta leader Fabio Aru of Italy.

Fabian Cancellara will not ride 2015 World Championships

Fabina Cancellara has decided he is not up to the challenge of preparing and riding the 2015 World Road Championships that will be held in Richmond, Virginia in late September. The road race will be on the 27th.

The 34-year old Swiss racer had to leave the Vuelta with a virus and earlier had suffered two vertebrae fractures, one in March and one in July, forcing him to twice regain form.

Fabian Cancellara

Fabian Cancellara at the 2015 Tour of Switzerland

His team, Trek Factory Racing, released this statement from Cancellara:“It’s a matter of focus. Dealing with a serious injury during the course of one season is not easy, and I have had to do it twice already this year. It’s mentally very challenging and it drains your energy. I don’t have batteries anymore for a third come-back in one season.

“I’m sad not to be racing the Worlds, of course. The TTT is an important race for our team and everybody knows how much I love racing for Switzerland. I’m sorry for the TFR boys. The Worlds next year don’t suit me very well, I’m not a sprinter. This could have been my last chance, but then again, the way this season is going for me, not really.”

Orica-GreenEdge's Tour of Alberta news

2015 Paris-Nice green jersey winner Michael Matthews has returned to the winners list, sprinting to a narrow victory on stage two of the Tour of Alberta. The Canadian stage race marks a return to racing for Matthews, who completed his debut Tour de France with broken ribs in July.

The 24-year-old benefited from the heavy effort of his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates in the closing stages of the race, firstly to shut down a late breakaway attempt and then in the final lead out. After yesterday’s narrow defeat in the team time trial, bonus seconds from today’s victory move Matthews into the overall lead by ten seconds from Marco Coledan (Trek Factory Racing).

Michael Matthews wins Tour of Alberta stage 2

Michael Matthews wins Tour of Alberta stage 2

“It’s really nice to be back on the bike and feel like a professional rider again after the Tour de France and not really being able to animate the race,” Matthews said. “We didn’t quite nail the team time trial yesterday so we didn’t have ambitions to help Trek during the stage.  We played our cards on hoping they would bring the break back and from about five kilometres to go we took control of the bunch.

“From then on it was just perfection really, the guys totally nailed it. We had a plan and they really executed it, even with the twisty roads and a lot of rain. I wouldn’t say I was flying but it was my first opportunity to open up in a sprint like that in a while. It was little bit foreign but I just had to take the confidence in my form at the moment.”

Sport director Dave McPartland credited the way the team handled and bounced back from a disappointing narrow loss yesterday. “It’s a credit to all of the guys how quickly they turned things around and knuckled down today,” McPartland said. ”They pulled off one of the best lead outs they have done and they got the reward they deserve.”

“It was a pretty clear and simple plan and it went to plan today. We had numbers in the finish and they were able to execute really well.”

How it happened: In cold and wet conditions, the first breakaway of the 2015 Tour of Alberta formed 20km into the second stage. Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon18), Phil O'Donnell (Axeon), Ben Perry (Silber) and Thomas Vaubourzeix (Lupus) rode off the front of the peloton but never looked too dangerous, the bunch keeping them at just three minutes advantage.

Trek Factory Racing had a duel interest at the head of the peloton, working to protect their overall lead and set up their sprinter. Additional teams joined them and with eight kilometres remaining the full break has been swallowed up by a raging bunch.

A secondary move of five riders also tried their luck as a late attack but ORICA-GreenEDGE sent some of its horsepower to the front, including Canadian Svein Tuft, to shut it down.

From there, the Australian outfit could be seen at the head of the race, leading into the final corner and launching Matthews to the line. Finishing with speed, Giant Alpecin’s Nikias Arndt was a narrow second place whilst Alexey Tsatevoch (Team Katusha) rounded out the podium.

The Tour of Alberta continues tomorrow with a lumpy stage three to Jasper National Park.

Vuelta a España team reports

This came from LottoNL-Jumbo:

Tom Van Asbroeck sprinted to seventh in the 12th stage of the Vuelta a España on Thursday. Bert-Jan Lindeman, winner of stage 7, was part of the main breakaway for the fourth time during this Grand Tour, and was caught just one kilometer from the finish line. Trek Factory Racing’s Danny van Poppel gave the Netherlands its third Vuelta stage win so far by winning the bunch sprint. Fabio Aru (Team Astana) holds on to the lead in the GC.

Bert-Jan Lindeman

Bert-Jan Lindeman

“We were very active with the team in the beginning of the stage,” Bert-Jan Lindeman said. “We were attacking one by one to get into the break. When it was my turn, I got in the right move. I didn’t really have a great day, however. Of course, I had a plan for the final kilometres, but the legs couldn’t carry it out. I wanted to fight for a second victory today. Having won already is nice, but once you’re on your bike, you just want to win as badly as ever.”

Van Asbroeck started the sprint from the pole-position after a strong lead-out by his team-mates, but did not have the strength to hold his advantage all the way to the line. Van Asbroeck finished 7th.

“The riders did an excellent lead-out for Tom,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “We are very pleased about that. Our youngster, Timo Roosen and Mike Teunissen, did well again, together with the other fellows. We are making real progress in that area. Tom was in a perfect position, but was short of power. He did what he could, but the lead-out deserved a better result. Of course, we wanted to win, but we also wanted to show ourselves again and we succeeded. That’s a good thing.”

The 13th stage of the Vuelta starts in Calatayud and finishes 178 kilometres later in Tarazona. Along the way the pack will tackle three climbs, two of the third category and one of the first.

“Many teams worked hard for a sprint today, but were not rewarded in the end, so it depends whether or not a team is willing to control tomorrow”, Zeeman said. “We fancy our chances of going into a breakaway again.”

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this:

Although no stage provides an optimum opportunity to recover, today’s one got as close as possible, as Vuelta a España left the mountains temporarily to finish in Lleida, where Van Poppel took the win in a bunch sprint. Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo team leader and currently 4th in the GC, focused on conserving energy ahead of the decisive stages to come.

In the wake of, what many have named, the hardest stage ever at La Vuelta, the riders left the Andorran Pyrenees and pushed south into Spain on a day suited for the sprinters. With only one 2nd category climb on the 173km parcours, the Tinkoff-Saxo squad turned its attention towards preserving the legs, tells sports director Tristan Hoffman.

“After yesterday’s massive effort, it was important for us that especially Rafal Majka and Pawel Poljanski tried to save as much power as possible. They were both at the front of the race yesterday and the Vuelta is still far away from a conclusion. So the team protected them and we tried to take it as easy as possible during a Grand Tour stage”, comments Tristan Hoffman.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka climbs in Vuelta stage 2

Stage 12 from Escaldes-Engordany to Lleida took the riders 173km from the mountainous Andorra to the flatlands of Catalunya. The early breakaway of the day turned into a pivotal part of the stage with the main bunch not catching the last rider until just before the final sprint, where Danny Van Poppel ultimately took the win.

“Bennati was in a good position going into the sprint but he didn’t have the speed today to compete for the top positions, so he eased up and the team made sure that Rafal was brought safely to the line with Brutt finishing just around him. After yesterday’s accident with Paulinho, whom we are obviously going to miss here at the Vuelta, we want to look ahead and keep our full attention on Rafal and the team chances in the GC”, finishes Tristan Hoffman.

Tour of Britain team plans

BMC sent their roster to us:

The BMC Racing Team has announced its six-rider roster for the Aviva Tour of Britain, which begins Sunday.

Recent USA Pro Challenge stage winner and race leader Taylor Phinney will be joined by reigning world individual pursuit champion Stefan Küng, who won two races this spring before being sidelined for three months with a fractured vertebrae.

Taylor Phinney

Taylor Phinney wins stage 1 of the USA Pro Challenge

Joining them is Dylan Teuns, who finished 10th overall at least year's Tour of Britain. Swiss national road champion Danilo Wyss, Tour of Austria stage winner Rick Zabel and stagiaire Floris Gerts round out the roster for the eight-day race.

Riders: Floris Gerts (NED), Stefan Küng (SUI), Taylor Phinney (USA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI), Rick Zabel (GER).

Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA).

LottoNL-Jumbo plans to be there:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo Team is expecting to see an open battle in the eight-day Tour of Britain that starts September 6. Sports Director Nico Verhoeven has several cards to play in the British stage race.

“A lot of WorldTour teams with strong riders will be there and that makes it an exciting race,” Verhoeven said. “With Moreno Hofland, we have a fast man who should be able to mix it up in the sprints. Steven Kruijswijk, Nick van der Lijke and Bram Tankink are guys who have the experience and the ambition to get involved on the difficult terrain.”

Verhoeven expects the race across the breath of England to have an open character. “The six-men teams, the hills and the absence of a time trial all provide opportunities for attackers. The fact that Dylan van Baarle won the overall last year with an aggressive racing style offers hope for our three men. In the hills, we’re going to see a battle between the teams that want a sprint and the teams that want to attack. That means the riders have to be on their toes every day of the week.”

Bram Tankink is unsure about his condition after the Tour de France and the Tour of Poland, but the 36-year-old Dutchman is nevertheless looking forward to the Tour of Britain.

“I think England is a wonderful country to ride your bike, and the race is a very interesting one. The hills and the small teams create opportunities. You can really show yourself if you are good. WorldTour races are often structured, but in this race, you never know what to expect. This requires flexibility and tactical insight,” the experienced Tankink said.

Bram Tankink

Bram Tankink

Koen Bouwman, 21, will travel to the other side of The English Channel with the team as a trainee.  “Koen is a climber,” Verhoeven said. “He is young, still has steps to make, and in England there aren’t really big mountains, but we’re looking forward to seeing him in action.”

Team line-up: Moreno Hofland, Steven Kruijswijk, Nick van der Lijke, Barry Markus, Bram Tankink and Koen Bouwman.

Sports Directors: Nico Verhoeven and Ken Vanmarcke.

And here's Cult Energy's Britain Tour update:

Sunday, 6th of September we proudly take on the longest stage race on our 2015 calendar, Tour of Britain counting 8 stages in various terrain starting in beautiful Wales to finish in the historically famous streets of London the following Sunday.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling will be in the race with this powerful line-up: Russell Downing, Rasmus Guldhammer, Rasmus Quaade, Fabian Wegmann, Michael Carbel and Martin Mortensen.

Russell Downing

Russell Downing

DS, Luke Roberts will be leading the troops and he has this view on the coming challenge: “The Tour is proving to be a favored race for riders preparing for the World championships and will boast an extremely good field of starters. The races in Britain reward an aggressive style of racing and that is what Cult Energy Pro Cycling is renowned for, so we are going there with the highest of expectations. Both Rasmus Guldhammer and Fabian Wegmann are in fine form and we will have Russell Downing there providing local knowledge. Unfortunately, Linus Gerdemann was forced to withdraw due to a strained neck muscle, but he will be replaced with Rasmus Quaade who proved in Poitou-Charantes to be in great condition and will be fine-tuning his fine for the TT World championships,” says Roberts.

Etixx-Quick Step signs Bob Jungels

Here's the release from the team:

Etixx - Quick-Step reached an agreement with rider Bob Jungels on a two-year contract (2016 & 2017).

Jungels had a strong 2015 season, as he is the current Luxembourg National Time Trial and Road Champion, he was 6th overall at Tour de Suisse, 27th overall at Le Tour de France, and he also finished twice in the top five of Le Tour de France stages. He also won the overall of Etoile de Bessèges at the beginning of the year.

Bob Junels

Bob Jungels riding to the start of stage 7 of this year's Tour de France

"I am happy to ride for this team starting next season," Jungels said. "I had a good talk with Patrick Lefevere after Le Tour de France, and we came to an agreement. It's a great team, and in the bunch you can really see them riding as a unit. The image of this team is really good in the peloton. The plan Patrick proposed for me was one I agreed with. I will focus on the shorter stage races and on the Ardennes Classics in my first year with the team. We will then approach the grand tours step-by-step to see what I can do for those in the future. For me, it's nice to be a part of a group where there are a lot of young riders, like Carlos Verona, who I know very well. I also know Julian Alaphilippe, who is the same age as I am. It will be a good mix of young riders and experienced guys on Etixx - Quick-Step next season. I have to say also that I like the style of this team. They are always aggressive in races, which fits my style of riding."

"We are satisfied with this agreement," Lefevere, CEO of Etixx - Quick-Step, said. "Bob is one of the riders who stands out as one of the talents in cycling right now. He is also the first rider in the history of our team from Luxembourg, which is a nation that is growing up in the cycling world. Bob knows what he wants and we think we can achieve good results together, and move him to the next step of his career. He impressed us in the past, but especially this year with his attacks in Le Tour de France, and his 6th place in the Tour de Suisse. His racing this year really stood out for us. We thought this guy could be an important piece of our team in the future. We're really looking forward to collaborating together, and having a great 2016 season."

Louis Meintjes signs with Lampre-Merida

The climber of the future comes from South Africa and will be wearing the Blue-Fuchsia-Green colors from 2016. Team Lampre-Merida are proud to announce the signing of Louis Meintjes, cyclist born in Pretoria (South Africa) on 21 February 1992.

Silver medalist in the 2013 World championships in Florence, the young South African turned professional in 2013. His talent was first noticed when he won both the road race and time trial in the national championships as a junior in 2010.

He rode in the amateur ranks with both Crabbe in Lot-Benison U23, where he won two titles in the national time trial in 2012-2013 and the road race in 2013 as well as the time trial victory at the Tour of Korea. His debut in a World Tour race was Il Lombardia in 2013 finishing 52nd.

2014 was a year of memorable results, winning the national championship road race as well as a stage at the tour of Mzansi, best young riders jersey at the tour of Trentino and his debut in Grand Tour races when he raced in the Vuelta a Espana.

Louis Meintjes

Louis Meintjes winning stage 4 of this year's Coppi-Bartali

In 2015 Meintjes won both the African championship road race as well as the best young riders jersey in the Tour of Oman, the 4th stage and overall classification in the Coppi e Bartoli and an impressive 5th place in the 12th difficult stage of the Tour de France.

He's 10th in the overall classification of the Vuelta a Espana after 11 stages.

Meintjes having chosen to associate himself with team Lampre-Merida for the next two years is something of great satisfaction for the team, once again recognition for investing in young talented riders, with him being one of the promising climbers in world cycling for the future.

Confirmation of the South African cyclist for the team's roster means having two African riders on the team, together with the Ethiopian national champion Tsgabu Grmay Gebremaryam. This highlights the fact that the team manager Brent Copeland believes in investing in riders from different cultures.

This is the comment by Meintjes: “I’m really excited to be taking this step up to the World Tour level with team Lampre-Merida for the next two seasons. I think it will bring with it lots of new opportunities and the possibility to learn from a very experienced team. One of the reasons I decided on going to an Italian based team is because Italy has become my home away from home.

"Motivation is super high and can't wait for 2016, also for trying to give satisfaction to Lampre-Merida, to the team manager Brent Copeland and to Giuseppe Saronni, to Galbusera family from Lampre company and to Merida company. They demonstrated high confidence in my qualities.

"I also have to thank Doug Ryder, MTN- Qhubeka and all the partners who gave me the chance to race the past few years in Europe. Without them I wouldn't be where I am today. It's been a great experience and I really wish the team all the best for the future. The experience with them has left me with great friends and lasting memories".

“Louis is a rider we have always kept a close eye on, we believe in his talent and know that his future career will be one of great value - Brent Copeland, Lampre-Merida’s team manager, explained - Meintjes will have his space to grow at Lampre-Merida. And with our technical staff’s immense experience in working with young talented riders such as Louis, he will certainly contribute to bringing important results to himself and the team

"We believe he is a complete rider and probably one of the most promising GC riders in the peloton for the future, being a natural climber as well as an excellent time trialist. Therefore this the area where we will be concentrating on working with Louis. I have personally worked with the well-educated and respectful Louis in the past and know his ability. Although he has already shown the cycling world what he can do, we believe he still has a huge margin of improvement and this makes it even more exciting for all of us to be working with him in the future”

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