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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, January 21, 2016

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

It seems when I put together records, as Henley used to say, they're just like movies. They should have action, tension, love scenes, places to relax. - Glenn Frey

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It seems the season is really getting into the big ring and it's only January. My inbox had lots of post-race commentary from the teams, so here we go.

Santos Tour Down Under team comments

2016 Santos Tour Down Under

This from Tinkoff:

An explosive sprint, slightly uphill led the Australian rider of Tinkoff on the top step of the podium by winning over a group of tough contenders in a fast-paced finale. Topping off Tinkoff's great day, Manuele Boaro gets the polka dot jersey.

A great day in Australia for Tinkoff which saw the Russian team conquer first the King of the Mountains with Manuele Boaro and then the final victory of Jay McCarthy, the home rider, his first as a Pro.

The hilly course of 132 km south of Adelaide, starting from Unley and finishing in Stirling, after five laps in the final circuit provided the riders a variety of speeds and favourable weather conditions for a race without too many surprises, except for some small solo breaks, chased and brought back towards the end of the race by the whole group.

"Today I felt in good shape", said Jay McCarthy, "and even before the start I was hoping to be able to play my chances, and so was it. Definitely a great victory!"

"It's nice to have two team managers with great experience as Lars Michaelsen and Sean Yates you can rely on, and confront with before the start, and listen to their advice. Now I just need to recover at my best and get ready for tomorrow's stage as it will be longer and my work is not finished yet. I hope that in the coming days we can still do well as we did today", concluded McCarthy.

Jay McCarthy wins stage 2

Jay McCarthy wins stage 2

"Great win for the team, great win for Jay!", commented sport director Sean Yates. "We are extremely happy because it was a double victory as he also managed to win the Ochre jersey of the race leader. Furthermore, thanks to Manuele Boaro today we also claimed the polka dot jersey".

"It was a good job to be able to put Jay in a good position, as he was already in great shape during the Australian championship, during the last lap both him and Oscar Gatto, the two riders we counted on, were very motivated to do well. It was an excellent team performance crowned by a great victory. "

"Tomorrow we will have a hard climb towards the end", concludes Yates, "and there will be a close fight, as the top is located just a few kilometers away from the finish line and the other riders will be very motivated to try and win the overall classification. We will definitely try to defend Jay's jersey, but we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Here's how BMC saw it:

Defending champion Rohan Dennis finished third and Danilo Wyss fourth on today's second stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, won by Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff Saxo). Dennis now sits fourth overall on the General Classification, six seconds behind McCarthy who holds the leader's Ochre Jersey.

A crash in the last kilometre made for a tense sprint finish in Stirling, which Dennis said he was lucky to miss. "The plan was just to stay out of trouble. I think if the crash didn't happen I wouldn't have been third. I was a little too far back and I was just lucky enough to miss that."

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis leads at the People's Choice Classic a few days earlier

Dennis' result today has boosted his confidence going into stage 3. "That's the best I've gone in Stirling before. Every other year I've struggled, especially in the last 300 metres. So it's just amazing what happens when you're in the right place at the right time. Your confidence and everything goes up and you just feel better about the race."

Tomorrow the peloton will race 139 kilometres from Glenelg to Campbelltown, which will see the legs tested on the King of the Mountain on Corkscrew Road. 

"Today was another opener and another ticked box before tomorrow's first real GC hit out. That's going to be the real test of how my form is," Dennis admitted.

"I've got a little bit more confidence going into tomorrow. Being able to sprint at the end of the stage still fairly strong in the last 300 metres does give me confidence for Corkscrew and then downhill into the Campbelltown finish."

Orica-GreenEdge had this to report:

Three-time winner and 2016 general classification aspirant Simon Gerrans has been taken down by a crash in the final kilometre of stage two at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Gerrans was perfectly positioned behind teammate Daryl Impey coming into the final only to have a touch of wheels and crash occur immediately ahead, taking the pair out. Softening the blow, the 35-year-old picked up five bonus seconds at intermediate sprints to keep him in contention for the overall title.

Simon Gerrans

Simon Gerrans

“The guys rode the perfect race for us,” Gerrans, who like teammate Impey only suffer minor abrasions, said. “They dragged that first break back so we could pick up the first intermediate sprint seconds and then Adam slipped away but we were able to pick up some more seconds in the next sprint.”

“Coming into the finish we were exactly where we needed to be. We were really well placed and Daryl was just about to go around the group and open up before there was a touch of wheels in front. All is not lost, we picked up a valuable five seconds on the road but I’m obviously bitterly disappointed that we didn’t finish off the teamwork by winning the stage.”

Sport director Matt White, said it was an unfortunate end to the stage but was proud of the efforts on whole team today. “I’m really proud of the boys,” White said. “Again they took responsibility and delivered.”

“We picked up some good time bonuses today, which was the plan, and they did everything perfectly right up until a few hundred metres to go when they were taken out at no fault of their own at a crucial moment.

“The good news is that Daryl and Simon are both OK and will be able to start tomorrow.”

How it happened: As stage two rolled out from Unley riders headed towards Stirling for five finishing circuits, the most laps in the race’s history.

With the sprinters adamant the stage was too difficult to see them feature at the finish, eyes were on the general classification contenders and battle for bonus seconds ahead of the tougher stages to come.

ORICA-GreenEDGE was the most eager to maximise the opportunity and led Gerrans out to claim maximum points at the first intermediate sprint ahead of teammate and race leader Caleb Ewan who patrolled any other contenders.

With Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) out in front solo for the second opportunity, Gerrans and Ewan again contested to roll away with the minor bonuses.

From there Hansen remained in front, hovering at around two-minutes advantage, until he was brought back in on the final lap. As the race picked up for the final sprint a crash involving Astana Pro Team and the ORICA-GreenEDGE pair took them out of contention as Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) rode to victory and the overall lead.

And here's the word from Lampre-Merida:

In Stirling, where the 2nd stage of the Tour Down Under finished (Unley-Stirling, 132 km), Ulissi obtained in 2014 an amazing victory. Today Ulissi was back in Stirling and he was very close to the success: he was preceded by McCharty who realized an impressive performance, obtaining the victory and giving to Ulissi a satisfying 2nd place.

The final kilometer was engaging, with a crash which did not interfere with the plans of LAMPRE-MERIDA. Ulissi was well supported by his team mates and Pibernik piloted him to the easy hill finish, where McCharty anticipated everybody, forcing Ulissi to try the recovery which brought him to half wheel to the opponent.

The Italian rider preceded Dennis, Wyss and Vakoc and he's now 2nd in the overall classification (4" to McCharty, 1" on Gerrans).

Diego Ulissi and  Jay mcCarthy

Diego Ulissi (left) loses a close one to Jay McCarthy

"The success would have been something amazing for me, it's always so good to start the season with a victory, nevertheless I'm satisfy for the second place, especially because it gives me good feedbacks about my fit - Ulissi explained - McCharty performed an impressive sprint, starting in advance his action and keeping the speed high thanks to great legs, my compliments. I tried to recover, but he succeeded in resisting.

The team supported me perfectly, many thanks especially to Pibernik who was my pilot in the final part of the stage".

Sport director Philippe Mauduit is satisfied for the team spirit and by the performance of all the riders.

And then there's big race in Argentina, the Tour de San Luis. Here are more team reports:

2016 Tour de San Luis

Tinkoff sent this stage 2 report:

Tinkoff’s World Champion finished second in the bunch sprint, close behind Fernando Gaviria, after the early breakaway got caught within a kilometer from the finish. For a second consecutive day, the intense heat marked the Argentinean race.

The relatively flat course of the longest stage of the Argentinean tour, 181.9 km from San Luis to Villa Mercedes, saw a breakaway form quickly. The group of six riders that escaped was able to build an advantage of more than 5 minutes but was ultimately brought back within one kilometer from the finish, thanks to the effort of the sprinter teams. The race was decided in the final hundred meters when Fernando Gaviria grabbed the win, ahead of Peter Sagan.

Stage 2 finish

Fernando Gaviria wins the stage. Peter Sagan can seen a little back in his rainbow kit.

"Today was another hot day", commented Tinkoff's sport director Patxi Vila, "and to race during four hours under a scorching sun definitely made the stage very difficult. Given these weather conditions we didn't work that hard during the stage because we couldn't know how much effort we could ask from the team."

"However, the guys were good and did well to be always in the top positions, even though at one point we even thought the breakaway could succeed. Towards the end, though, when we realized that the group could go and get them, we also gave a hand, and in the end we got a good result with Peter since he played it against a pure sprinter", concluded Vila.

Peter Sagan commented on the day, "Cool! It was very hot today, in the end I never lost Gaviria's wheel. But today he had three more gears and eventually he won by three bike lengths."

After two stages Sagan, sits tenth overall, trailing the leader by 27 seconds. Rafal Majka, Pawel Poljanski and Maciej Bodnar are six seconds further behind, holding respectively 16th, 17th and 18th places.

For the third stage, the parcours can grant more surprises.

"Tomorrow's stage", concludes Vila, "will feature a climb at about 11 km from the finish. It's not hard but it's still a climb, so we might see a group of about fifty riders at the finish line."

Lampre-Merida sent me these comments:

The sprinters were protagonists in the 2nd stage of the Tour de San Luis, 181,9 km from San Luis to Villa Mercedes.

Big fight of the fast riders in the massive sprint, which was for the sprinters who flew to South America the first main appointment in the 2016 season.
LAMPRE-MERIDA relied on the duo Ferrari-Cimolai: Ferrari (photo Bettini) crossed the finish line in the 11th position, succeeding in keeping a high speed which however was not enough to be in the top 10. The sprint was won by Gaviria on Sagan and Viviani thanks to a very long progression on the neverending final straight.

The stage started at an altitude of 790 mt and the riders covered a 18 km climb to the Kom of La Cumbre, at an altitude of 1010 mt.

It was a good opportunity for the fighting riders of the bunch, who did not miss the opportunity: six cyclists (Curuchet, Sivori, Ibarra, Nuno, Yamamoto and Gody) soon escaped from the peloton, obtaining a top advantage of 5'20".

After the summit of the climb, the course had no difficulties and it helped the bunch to control the breakaway, which was neutralized at 6 km to go.

Some crashes characterized the central part of the stage and for LAMPRE-MERIDA only Cimolai was involved in an accident 110 km in the race and, despite the fact he did suffer consequences, he could not later give his full support to his team mate Ferrari in the final sprint.

The 3rd stage (El Potrero de los Funes-La Punta, 131 km) could be suitable for some attacks attempt in the final part of the course, which will be characterized by the climb of 3rd category of the Mirador del Potero at 12 km to the arrival and the successive downhill to the finish line.

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