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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

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Tour de France stage 10 team reports

We'll start with stage winner Michael Matthews' Orica-BikeExchange's news:

Australian Michael Matthews sprinted to victory on stage ten of the Tour de France today capping off some outstanding work by ORICA-BikeExchange teammates Luke Durbridge and Daryl Impey.

The ORICA-BikeExchange trio rode a perfect race, infiltrating the breakaway early in the stage before excellent work by Durbridge and Impey in the closing 30km set Matthews up in an ideal position for the win.

The 2016 Paris-Nice stage winner executed a fast and precise sprint carrying the desire for his first Tour de France stage victory all the way to the line and first place.

Matthews was full of praise for his teammates after their selfless work helped the Australian rider banish some painful memories of the Tour. “It’s unbelievable,” said Matthews. “The emotion at the moment is just sinking in. I’ve just won a stage of the Tour de France after two really bad years in this race.”

“I was really close to giving up on this race, I just thought this race is not for me and I’d focus on other races, but today my dreams came true. It was never the plan to get into the breakaway, we thought it was going to come down to a bunch sprint. We have such a strong group of guys here and the way we work as a team is that everyone gives everything for their teammates.

“As you could see Daryl (Impey) and Luke (Durbridge) gave their all for me today and were both amazing all the way to the end."

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews wins Tour stage 10

Durbridge himself proudly added, “When you close out like that you could call it a technical masterpiece. We are pretty happy with that. It took full commitment from everyone from kilometre zero to the finish. It doesn’t always come together like that but when it does it's pretty special.”

To complete the perfect day 2015 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian winner Adam Yates finished the stage in the bunch, safely amongst the race favourites, to retain his best young rider white jersey and second on the general classification ahead of stage 11.

Sport director Matt White was pleased with the win and the concentrated performance from the team. “The boys rode incredibly well today,” said White. “It was a very elite group of riders in that breakaway including world champions and a Grand Tour winner and it was hard for us because we had three guys in there and everyone was looking to us to control it.”

“Our level of concentration was very high and Luke, Daryl and Michael all played their roles to perfection. Luke set a really hard tempo going onto the two short climbs before the end which was very important before Daryl forced the hands of the other riders the final few kilometres.

“Michael finished it off very well and proved that he was the fastest the guy in the sprint and we are all very happy with the stage win.”

How it happened: Stage ten began with a 24km climb ascending straight out of the neutral zone. Two large breakaway groups attempted to go clear after repeated attacks in the first few kilometres, but the Team Sky led peloton were not allowing any room and the field was still together after half an hour of racing.

Once over the climb the breakaway emerged and it was large group of 15 riders that included Impey, Durbridge and Matthews for ORICA-BikeExchange. Six minutes separated the leaders from the peloton after 80km of racing.

It was an elite group at the front of the race with world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), former Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) also up there alongside the three representatives of ORICA-BikeExchange. The rain started to fall heavily with 75km to go and the 15 leaders continuing to work well together maintaining a six-minute advantage over the peloton.

Durbridge and Impey were rotating off the front of the breakaway group with Matthews sensibly and comfortably tucked in a few wheels behind.

Going into the final 30km their lead had slipped to four minutes. Sagan upped the pace on short rise with 20km to go and split the group of leaders in half, the trio of ORICA-BikeExchange all made it on the right side with Durbridge immediately taking over at the front.

Into the last ten kilometres and Durbridge was controlling the lead group of seven riders with the peloton some seven minutes behind. Before the finale came two short yet sharp climbs and with his work well done for the day Durbridge pulled off on the first incline as Impey took up the charge and upped the pace.

Matthews and Impey were positioned well as the mind games began with Sagan and Edvald Boassen Hagen (Dimension-Data) both attacking then pulling off in quick succession. The final couple of kilometres were tense as Impey jumped onto the front with Sagan second wheel and Matthews third.

Van Avermaet initiated the sprint with both Impey and Matthews taking off in pursuit, Sagan was also there but it was Matthews who came around and brilliantly took the stage victory.

Tomorrow’s stage 11 starts in medieval Carcassone and covers 162.5km to the finish in Montpellier. A mainly flat stage with some undulations in the first half before a flat finale that will probably lead to a bunch sprint.

And of course, Tinkoff sent a report after Sagan regained the green jersey:

In the break for the second stage in a row, UCI World Champion Peter Sagan showed just how serious he is about the green jersey contest and his push for stage wins. Taking full points at the intermediate sprint, the Slovakian kept pulling hard throughout the stage and despite having to do much of the work in the final, still had enough in the legs to sprint to second, just missing out on a second stage win. With his points gained, Peter regains the Maillot Vert and leads the contest by 38 points.

Starting the first stage after a rest day with a first category climb always looked like it would cause fireworks, and it did just that. Stage 10 opened with the Port d'Envalira – an average gradient of 5.5% stretching on for 22.6km. Not only was the climb long, it was also the highest point of this year’s edition of the race, topping out at 2,408m – making the Envalira the Souvenir Henri Desgrange. After the summit came a long descent and a fairly flat 100km before a short, punchy climb before the finish in Revel.

After a day to rest, recuperate and come back to the race refreshed, stage 10 saw the Tinkoff team’s first stage without Alberto Contador amongst them. There was a spirited start to the day however, with Peter testing his legs several times on the mountain, showing just how strong he can climb, before making the day's breakaway and staying up front as the group swelled. With the first climb out of the way, the break stayed ahead as the kilometres ticked down, as did the number of riders in the break – shrinking to nine. Peter was out on the front to take the points in the intermediate sprint, and taking the full twenty, the UCI World Champion was the virtual Maillot Vert on the road.

At around six minutes, it was possible that the break would be pulled in by the chasing peloton, but with some of the stronger puncheurs of the Tour out in front and the peloton finding the going hard, this was a breakaway that wasn’t going to be caught – and with a few kilometres to go the gap was rising as opposed to falling.

Peter led over the final climb, the third category Côte de Saint-Ferréol, and there was all to play for with just six riders remaining at the front. He was left to do the work and chasing the attacks on the run in, but despite this Peter still looked strong and came into the sprint in second wheel. He had some work to do with riders coming past as the sprint opened up but still clawed them back to take second on the line. Taking a further 25 points on the line, Peter confirmed his green jersey, leading the contest by 38 points.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan is back in green

The difficulty of being one of the strongest riders in the peloton is that so few people will work with you, as Peter explained from the finish. “I used a lot of energy during the stage as a lot of guys in the breakaway wouldn't always work. I was trying to keep turning with everybody then I attacked in the crosswinds in the last 20-25km. I then did a lot of attacking in the climb but couldn't get away. The guy from Orica was attacking in the last 3km - I always chased him and all the work was on me in the final. I took second and I'm happy for Michael as he took his first stage at the Tour de France, and I took more points for the green jersey.”

Sport Director, Sean Yates, saw how difficult the finish would be with Peter having worked so hard throughout the stage. “We would have liked to won, but even though Peter was pretty much superman, he was against some strong riders in the breakaway today.  It was a tough start to the stage, bodies everywhere and only strong guys present at the front. Peter just kept attacking and eventually they let him go even though he was a marked man. But we knew it wouldn't be easy as it was a strong break of 15 out front. Obviously Matthews is no slouch in a fast finish, and neither were the other riders up there - they were all big names at the Tour de France.”

In spite of finishing second today, Yates was pleased with how Peter had performed – especially working so hard in the points contest for the past two stages. “Peter has pulled out a big lead in the green jersey competition now. A stage win would have been the cherry on top, and it wasn't for a lack of trying but some days it just goes against you. He really made a spectacle today. All the other guys were fine - once it had steadied down it was a pretty steady stage.”

The road to Montpelier is traditionally a sprinters’ stage, and stage 11 is no different. The 162.5km route crosses two fourth category climbs in the first 60km, but this is nothing that will trouble the fast men – especially with 100km to regroup and come together for the finish. A flat run-in means this will almost certainly end in a bunch sprint. With the number of chances for the sprinters running out, Yates expected the teams without a win yet to be pushing hard. “Tomorrow's another day where we should have a sprint - the sprint teams that haven't won a stage yet will be keen to try so I don't expect a break to go the distance.”

Here's BMC's stage 10 report:

12 July, 2016, Revel (FRA): Greg Van Avermaet and Damiano Caruso spent the majority of stage 10 of the Tour de France in the breakaway, with Van Avermaet sprinting to fourth place in a close finale in Revel.

The return to racing after the first rest day saw the peloton tackle a tough climb from the get go, before the day's breakaway finally formed on the descent to build an eventual gap of more than nine minutes.

As the winds picked up in the final 30 kilometers, the 15-rider breakaway split into three groups. Van Avermaet launched the first attack to the the line to be edged out by stage winner Michael Matthews (ORICA BikeExchange). The peloton rolled across the line more than nine minutes later.

1Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet was in yellow a few days ago

Caruso and Van Avermaet's efforts see BMC Racing Team resume the lead in the Team Classification, and Caruso move into 21st place in the General Classification.

Greg Van Avermaet: "I wanted to surprise them and go from far as most of the time it's my strongest point, but a few guys came over me. It's been pretty good. It was a dream for me to ride with the Yellow Jersey and have a stage win. Now I've recovered well after the rest day and I'm pretty happy with my legs today so I was happy that I could fight again for the victory."

"It was a hard day on the climb and I knew if a big break goes then it would go to the finish, and that's why I tried to stay as long as possible. I climbed with the peloton, did a good descent and then bridged with Sylvain Chavanel to the breakaway. But I think Sagan was really strong so it was hard to beat him."

Damiano Caruso: "Today was a good day for us because Greg and I did a good job in the breakaway. It was also good for the team as well, as we took the lead of the Team Classification again. At the end it was a really fast and hard day because the first climb was really hard and then in the descent we formed the breakaway and we kept going to the finish. It was really hard at the end with the wind and rain and the breakaway split into two parts. Greg was in the first part which was good because he is faster than me. My condition is good and I think we're in for some really hard days, but I think I'm ready to help our leaders, Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen."

Richie Porte: "To be honest I'm just happy to get back into the swing of things and be racing again after the rest day. There's a flat stage tomorrow and then we'll be back on the climbs."

Tejay van Garderen: "It was a rude start back into the race with a 23 kilometer climb right off the bat and then you add the rain to it. But it was good. It was nice to have the day of rest and I feel good, ready to tackle the second week."

LottoNL-Jumbo didn't have quite so good a day, but sent this note about tomorrow's stage:

LottoNL-Jumbo failed to make the break in stage 10 of the Tour de France to Revel. The escape succeeded, with Australian Michael Matthews (Orica-Bike Exchange) winning the stage ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).

The break formed on the Port d'Envalira pass. Peter Sagan forced it on the descent and a group of 16 men moved clear. "It was impossible today,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “It was war on the climb. Kelderman and Bennett spent some time in the front, but they couldn’t get in the first group over the climb. We were not good enough today. "

Bert-Jan Lindeman regretted the miss. "I was not good enough for the breakaway,” he said. “Starting with a climb is very hard. If you don’t have a good day then you're done.

“Normally, I come out of a rest day OK, but this time it was harder. If you are not in the breakaway then it is quite frustrating, but now we will focus on the next stages and we’ll fight to be in the escape."

Wilco Kelderman rode his own pace on the first climb. "The start was not really good, but I knew that everything would come together,” he said. “I’m working on recovering after my crash.” He fell in the eighth stage and suffered some abrasions.

"It cost me a lot of energy, but I feel it getting better every day. My wounds have to recover well and then I want to be in top shape for the Alps. " "I am optimistic about his recovery,” Zeeman added. “I assume he will be fit enough for the Alps."

"It is almost flat and there are a lot of open parts,” Zeeman said. “With the wind that is predicted, it may be a tough day. We will do everything to put Dylan Groenewegen in good position. "Tomorrow, the sprinters have another chance to prove themselves. The 11th stage will start in Carcassonne and finish in Montpellier.

LottoNL-Jumbo also sent this note about re-signing Robert Wagner:

German Robert Wagner re-signed with team LottoNL-Jumbo for another two years, though 2018. Wagner, who is already an important part in Dylan Groenewegen’s sprints, will continue to support the team’s sprint project.

"I am pleased to stay with this team,” the 33-year-old said. “I'm happy to be part of the sprint project with Dylan Groenewegen. To improve that sprint train is my main goal for the next two years."

Wagner plays an important role, said Technical Director Nico Verhoeven. "We started the sprint project with Robert Wagner in the service of Dylan Groenewegen,” Verhoeven added. “Wagner proved to be a good lead-out for Groenewegen. We are glad that he can continue to help build the sprint project towards 2018.

"Wagner has a lot of experience and it shows in the way he races. He is a real lieutenant who likes to work for the team. In addition to his work in the sprint train, he has been a fixture in the classics."

Despite his experience, Wagner made his debut this year in the Tour primarily to support Groenewegen. "I've ridden many races, but the Tour is totally different. It is more hectic and very big. We certainly have the ability to compete in the sprints at the Tour, it's really the details that still need to be strengthened. But you can see that even the big teams struggle with it. If all the pieces fall into place, we can help Dylan to the podium. We saw in Limoges that we have the power. “The alignment and the details are still not perfect, but I am convinced that this approach is working."

Live-Plantur headed to BeNe Ladies Tour

Here's the team's press release:

After a tough week of racing in the Italian mountains at the Giro Rosa, Team Liv-Plantur is back in action on the flatlands of the third edition of BeNe Ladies Tour. This three-day race taking place in the Netherlands and Belgium is set over four stages - an opening 78.1km stage on Friday followed by a doubleheader on Saturday, starting with a short and flat 6.3km morning time trial then a 101.3km road stage in the afternoon. On Sunday it is another flat stage where a fast finish is expected

Coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "We have a strong team to challenge well at the BeNe Ladies Tour with three riders coming out of the Giro Rosa. The weather often has an impact on this race with the wind and cobbles that can make a difference, and we will be ready for these.

"We will play the card of Floortje as our sprinter. She is showing good form at the moment and can aim for podium finishes, which might result in a good overall classification. Next to that we will be targeting a strong result in the time trial with Riejanne, who took second in the final stage of the Giro Rosa last week."

RACE: BeNe Ladies Tour (2.2)

DATE: 15-17/07/2016

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

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