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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, June 20, 2016

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Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards. - Robert A. Heinlein

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Tour of Switzerland final team reports

Here's what IAM Cycling had to say about the 9th stage:

“I dedicate this victory to my family and everyone at IAM Cycling,” Jarlinson Pantano said after winning the sprint in the final stage of the 2016 Tour de Suisse. “I must be dreaming because on the descent I had no feeling in my hands. They were frozen. Then I gave everything because I remembered my last victory happened on the same day. That was five years ago, already, where I won a stage of the Tour of Colombia on June 19, 2011.”

“This morning, we went again to recon the descent of the Fluela and final in Davos with Marcello Albasini and Rik Verbrugghe,” Pantano continued. “I had no specific plan, but when we arrived in the resort town, I knew I had to try something. The guys responded to a little acceleration I gave, so I focused in on the sprint. I decided to go with 250 meters remaining, and simply gave it everything I had. I am the happiest man right now to be able to give the team such a success in these difficult times. In spite of losing Mathias Frank to illness, we have fulfilled our objectives, which were to win a stage and take a place in the top-5.”

THE FACT OF THE DAY: By winning the last stage, which was shortened because of the rain and cold, Jarlinson Pantano also managed to climb another position in the overall standings, and ended the race in 4th place.

Jarlinson pantano

Jarlinson Pantano wins the Swiss Tour's final stage

THE SITUATION: According to Rik Verbrugghe, sports manager for IAM Cycling: “Jarlinson Pantano rode a perfect race, along with the rest of the team. I was convinced that this stage with its difficult profile and finale, would suit his capabilities. The guys managed to place him well ahead of the Fluela climb. Then Jarlinson climbed it listening to his body, and when he was able to rejoin the lone leader on the descent, I had a good feeling. It was just important not to let Rui Costa bridge back up to this group. I knew his speed would win out within such a group of riders.”

Martin Elmiger. Road Captain of the only Swiss World Tour team, and hailing from Zug, Elmiger was able to defend his jersey for the Best Swiss rider of his national tour.

THE MISTAKE: That of the Tour de Suisse organizer who allotted € 2250 to the 4th place in the overall classification that went to Jarlinson Pantano, and € 2000 to the winner of the best Swiss rider classification that ended up being Martin Elmiger in 24th place. Who’s to argue?

THE NUMBER: 126 – That’s the number of riders who finished the Tour de Suisse, which was marked by poor weather conditions. On Sunday alone, four riders dropped out mid-stage, after 10 decided not to start at all.

And this from Astana:

"I decided to attack," said Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno after last stage of Tour de Suisse, "and everyone was surprised"

"I knew that my opponents would try to attack me then I attacked myself. It went well!".

Miguel Lopez

Miguel Angel Lopez enjoying his race win

The young Colombian has won the 2016 edition of the Tour de Suisse ahead of the Spaniard Jon Izaguirre of 12 "and Frenchman Warren Barguil 18".

"It's been a very tough race with a lot of rain and very cold," said sporting director Dmitri Sedoun, "we have success in nine stages and in the end we won."

And here's Movistar's final Tour of Switzerland report:

Jon Izagirre crowned another day to remember for the Movistar Team. After the Blues' domination in the Route du Sud, with Nairo Quintana and Marc Soler completing a one-two overall, the Basque allrounder -who had presented his candidacy to GC success with Saturday's time trial victory- fought for everything today at an eventful mountain showdown to close the Tour de Suisse with a third-place stage finish and second in the final overall classification.

Jon izagirre

Jon Izagirre riding the stage 8 time trial

Extreme weather on the top of the Albulapass forced race organisers to apply the UCI protocol for such situation, shortening the route on stage nine to just 57km from La Punt -25km of false flat and slight descents and the long Flüelapass (HC) as only climb of the day- to the unchanged finish venue in Davos. The squad directed by Jaimerena and Laguía made a strong gamble with Winner Anacona and Jorge Arcas into the early splits, before the Colombian escorted Ion to the top of Flüelapass. Then, as Miguel Ángel López (AST) kept building a strong gap, Izagirre started pushing on his own.

An excellent descent from the younger of the Izagirre brothers made him reach the race leader with 7km from the finish line. From that point and until the very finish, he didn't stop pushing so Talansky (CPT) and Barguil (TGA) could be left behind. Ion's attitude was the perfect summary to a Tour de Suisse where he knew how to make up his least strong days, like Carì (stage 5) and the 'hell' of the Rettenbach glacier (stage 7), to claim his third 2016 stagerace podium and the sixth UCI WorldTour top-3 finish, including the Tour de Pologne (2013-14-15), País Vasco (2015) and Romandie (2016). Ion now sits in sixth place in the UCI standings, as the Movistar Team gets back to second, 72 points short of leaders Tinkoff.

Jon Izagirre: “Following my win in yesterday's TT, there was so much pressure to finish things off well today and take this podium finish. We knew that it would be difficult, as the shortened route would make the pace even more intense. We had to keep focus on many rivals, all of them good climbers, but fortunately, it went well for me - that second place overall is a good prize to come home with.

"The organisers decided to scrap that first climb (Albulapass), and the stage became like another time trial. The only tactics here was holding on and riding as close to the fore as possible. Miguel Ángel López, Van Garderen and Pantano were climbing strong, but soon I got my legs rolling better and better. I could take the gap back into the downhill and confirm my second place.

"Things are going tremendously well in this first part of the season. I know that these one-week stageraces, with some timetrialling and not-to-steep climbs, suit me perfectly well, I prepare for them the best I can, and my morale is high after seeing the results I've got since February. Now we'll be racing the Spanish Championships; it will depend on how it's all going next week to see if I make the Tour roster or not. If I do, I just hope I can help Nairo all the way to the final podium. We're now three Movistar riders into the top-ten of the WorldTour -Nairo, Alejandro and myself- and that's a very good thing for us as a whole. Yesterday's Marc win is another good sign that things are going well overall for the team - let's hope it continues so."

Here's BMC's final Swiss Tour update:

The final stage of the Tour de Suisse ended up as a fast and furious battle with the stage shortened from 117 kilometers to just 57 kilometers due to bad weather.

From kilometer 0 attack after attack took place until three riders broke clear for the first 25 kilometers. When the peloton hit the only climb of the day, the General Classification riders took their last chance to go for the overall victory.

Tejay van Garderen broke clear with four riders to chase down eventual winner Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro cycling) on the decent, before battling it out in a sprint for the stage win.

Van Garderen crossed the line in fifth which was enough to bump him up to sixth place on the General Classification.

Tejay Van Garderen

Van Garderen racing downhill in the final stage

Tejay van Garderen: “Today was a really intense and nervous day. When you have that short of a stage you never have a moment of down time. Actually I think it would be interesting if every now and then in a race they had a stage like that. You actually get to see how the breakaway is formed which is a part of racing that people don’t really get to understand. It would be cool to have this more often.”

“I had confidence from how I was climbing the other days but Lopez was really strong out there. I couldn’t even hold his wheel so we had to pull him back on the descent. I was trying to play it there for the sprint but the other guys were a bit too quick. My legs were a little bit frozen. But I’m definitely with how the day went.”

“I showed some good days here and I learned a few things that I can take away for the Tour de France, in particular the colder days. There were a couple of little mistakes here and there but it’s better to work it out now than in July. Now it’s all about resting and staying healthy until July.”

Fabio Baldato: “We have finished the Tour de Suisse well. Today Tejay was attacking, he showed that he has the morale and the legs. We are leaving the Tour de Suisse confident. If you take out the bad day that Tejay had when he lost time, then it was a great race for him. We won two big stages, with Darwin Atapuma and the queen stage with Tejay, so it was a good week. Now we shift the focus to the Tour de France.”

Ster ZLM Toer team news

This from LottoNL-Jumbo:

LottoNL-Jumbo’s Sep Vanmarcke won the Ster ZLM Toer today in Boxtel, the Netherlands. He placed third in the last stage to clinch the overall title. His biggest competitor Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal) won an intermediate sprint and moved within two seconds of Vanmarcke. He failed to gain more time in the day, closed with a stage victory for Wim Stroetinga (Parkhotel Valkenburg).

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke winning Ster ZLM Toer stage 4

"This victory is very important,” Vanmarcke said. “This is the first ever stage race victory for me.

"It was a very exciting race, we did not know exactly where the intermediate sprint was and then De Bie won. He grabbed three seconds back and I became a bit scared. For the final intermediate sprint, I was sitting on the wheel of De Bie ready, but the breakaway took the seconds.”

"We've had two races in one today,” said Sport director Nico Verhoeven. “Our plan was to get the stage win and the overall. In the sprint we noticed that we were not 100% ready for stage victory and Dylan Groenewegen finished second.

"A race in the Netherlands is always important for our team. And if you win the prologue with Van Emden, two stages and the points jersey with Groenewegen, the team ranking and the overall title -- you're obviously pleased. With Lotto-Soudal and Etixx, arrived with strong teams for the sprints, so this result is more than we dared to dream. "

Vanmarcke added, “It is unfortunate that Dylan was second, but we agreed that overall victory was the most important, and we succeeded."

Maarten Tjallinigii celebrated his final day as a professional with today’s stage. "I’m happy for the wins, but at the same time, I know that my career is over. I do not know how to handle this. In the coming hours and days, I’ll realise it, I guess.

"I will miss my team-mates a lot. This team is more than just a team, we have grown closer together and give everything for each other.”

"Maarten has a big work spirit,” Verhoeven explained. “A no-nonsense rider. Maarten is the first to raise his hand if you need some work done. He did a tremendous job in his last race”.

Lotto-Soudal sent me this:

The Ster ZLM Toer ended today with a stage between Someren and Boxtel. The peloton was on its way to a bunch sprint, when a crash occurred in the last kilometre. Sean De Bie was one of the riders involved. Wim Stroetinga won the stage, Sep Vanmarcke became the overall winner. De Bie finished on the second place overall, six seconds behind Vanmarcke.

Sean De Bie: “Together with the entire team I did all I could to get the leader’s jersey back today. I won the first intermediate sprint and therefore I was only two seconds down on Vanmarcke. The teammates led me to the second intermediate sprint, but then I made the wrong tactical decision and I got boxed in. In the sprint at the finish I was involved in a crash, but then I wasn’t in the running for top three anymore. It seems that I only have some abrasions.”

“I can look back on the Ster ZLM Toer with satisfaction. I notice that completing the Giro, my first Grand Tour, has made me stronger. Of course I was tired at the end of the Giro, then I took some rest the next two weeks and I stood fresh at the start in Goes. I knew the prologue suited me, as I was fourth last year, but now there were some bigger names at the start like Küng and Phinney. I set the fifth time, which is a nice result.”

“During stage three we handled it the right way and thanks to the bonus seconds I could take the leader’s jersey that day. I won an intermediate sprint and was third at the finish. André Greipel had ridden aggressively during the stage and told me I could do the sprint. I had the help of one of the best lead-outs in the world with André, Henderson, Sieberg and a strong Jasper De Buyst. It gave me confidence that I could count on them. Yesterday, we controlled the race all day long. With the six of us we entered the local circuit, I didn’t have to do anything till that point. Sep Vanmarcke was too strong at La Gileppe though, but I was happy with the fourth place.”

“Next week I’ll ride the Belgian Championships time trial and road race. My condition is good so if I recover enough I can be confident for those races. Although I have to wait and see if I really don’t have anything other than abrasions after today’s crash. In the time trial on Thursday I can achieve a top five result. The stage to La Gileppe proved that I’m ready for the road race on Sunday at Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure.”

Movistar's Route du Sud report:

Nairo Quintana won his first Route du Sud overall in 2012 at the age of 22, when he was ‘only’ one of cycling’s best young talents. Four years later, the Movistar Team leader took again the final ‘corail’ jersey in the Pyrenees after a fantastic season: five stagerace podiums out of five appearances, three wins including WorldTour Catalunya and Romandie, and excellent legs from what is arguably one of the biggest candidates to win the Tour de France in five weeks’ time.

The work from the whole Movistar Team to take care of the Colombian into the 155km stage five -eight laps of a circuit in the Astarac countryside, in and around the village of Clermont-Pouyguillès, with as many climbs of the Côte de Moncassin (Cat-3)- was flawless thanks to the experience from Erviti, Sutherland, Herrada, Dayer and Rojas. It was José Joaquín’s task to try a late move, once the day’s breakaway was caught, in pursuit of Julien Loubet (FVC) and Vaugrenard (FDJ); unfortunately, his move won’t stick and was caught by the sprinters with two kilometers to go. Arnaud Démare (FDJ) prevalied across the line, with Rojas in 7th spot.

Nairo Quintana

Nairo Quintana riding the Route du Sud's time trial

Sunday’s success in France marks Nairo’s 29th triumph in the pro scene -twenty-six within the ranks of Eusebio Unzué’s squad, which takes him to fourth in the team’s historical rankings, joint with ‘Chava’ Jiménez and Laguía- and the 26th victory for the Movistar Team in 2016, rounding off its final stagerace before the ‘Grande Boucle’ with second overall, and best Young rider, for Marc Soler. A beautiful way to set things straight before the #SueñoAmarillo comes at stake next month.

Nairo Quintana: “It’s a very important victory. I was coming into this event following long weeks of training in atlitude at home in Colombia, and I could confirm I’m in good form. Legs have gone as usual for me in the mountains and it seems obvious that I’ve improved quite a bit into the time trial. Friday, I rode the 2016 Canyon Speedmax TT bike for the first time - it’s really great, and this technological progress makes your efforts worth.

“The team did really well: great job from them from the beginning to the end of the race, crowning it today after a mountain stage where they rode fantastically, including Marc’s win. Both victories in the race -this overall win I confirmed today and my first success in 2012- have been really significant into my sporting career and for my preparations for the Tour. Reaching the ‘Grande Boucle’ this way feels really good.”

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