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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, March 28, 2016

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

Good artists copy, great artists steal. - Pablo Picasso

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Belgian Antoine Demoitié dies after Gent-Wevelgem crash

AFP posted this terrible news:

Lille (France) (AFP) - Belgian cyclist Antoine Demoitie, 25, died after he was struck by a motorbike following a fall during the Gent-Wevelgem race in Belgium on Sunday, police said. "The rider died. An inquiry is under way to determine the circumstances," said Frederic Evrard, spokesman for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional gendarmerie in France.

Demoitie had been transported to a hospital in Lille after the accident in Sainte-Marie-Cappel, northern France.

Antoine Demloitie

Antoine Demoitié

The cyclist's Wanty team had earlier said Demoitie was in a "serious condition" in the hospital's intensive care unit. "His wife and his family are at his side," the team wrote on Twitter.

The Gent-Wevelgem cobbled classic lived up to its gruelling reputation on Sunday, with riders battling strong winds as they tackled 10 climbs over a 243km route, including two ascents of the Kemmelberg.

Former Belgian national champion Jens Debusschere was also hospitalised after he sustained a concussion following a heavy crash, his Lotto-Soudal team said.

Daan Myngheer sufferes heart attack at
Saturday Criterium International stage

In a separate incident, Daan Myngheer, who rides for the Roubaix Lille Metropole team, suffered a heart attack during the first stage of the Criterium International on the island of Corsica.

Myngheer is currently (morning of Monday, the 28th, Pacific time) in an induced coma. His club's site reports that he underwent various tests Sunday, including a CT scan and his condition remains stable.

Volta a Catalunya team reports

This came from BMC:

27 March 2016, Barcelona (ESP): BMC Racing Team has capped off a successful Volta Ciclista a Catalunya with Richie Porte in fourth and Tejay van Garderen in fifth on the General Classification.

After a solid week of racing, BMC Racing Team has also taken out the team classification, finishing 1'08 ahead of Cannondale.

Richie Porte tied with Dan Martin (Etixx Quick Step) in third place, an equal 17 seconds behind race winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) but was relegated from the podium on a count back of points.

Catalonia stage 7 finish

Aleksei Tsatevich wins the final stage at this year's Volta a Catalunya

Porte is happy with his week of racing despite not ending up on the podium. "I think it was the perfect race at this time of the year. I didn't really expect to hold onto the podium when Dan Martin was sprinting for bonus seconds but I think I showed that my form is good. It was always going to be a bridging race so I'm happy with my performance and it was a good chance to race with Tejay for the first time."

Van Garderen agreed with Porte's evaluation of the race. "I had a lot of fun racing with Richie and I think we showed how aggressive we can be working together. I'm happy with my race and I think it can only get better from here. I now head to altitude camp and I'm looking forward to my next block of races after that," van Garderen confirmed.

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said the team had performed well throughout the race. "We walk away happy. It would have been nice to be on the podium but in the end we have two riders in the top five on GC and we have won the team classification, so I think we showed our form and what we can do as a team."

Here's Tinkoff's news:

With seven seconds separating Alberto from the GC lead going into the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya, the race was still on. On a final stage that started and finished in Barcelona, the race saw rapid, attacking riding from all of the teams. Tinkoff’s team leader finished the race second overall in a strong show of form for the coming Grand Tours, ending the last stage in the pack in 27th place, 14 seconds after the stage winner.

In a final stage covering only 136.4km, with a fast finishing circuit in Barcelona, today’s racing was going to be at a breakneck pace. The all-rounders were trying for a final stage win, and the GC contenders aiming to take seconds where they could. In spite of a finishing circuit that climbed and descended the Alt de Montjuic no fewer than eight times, riders remained fresh and in a final 10km that saw attacks aplenty from the GC contenders, the two remaining riders of the earlier breakaway were first across the line.

Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, gave some insight into the team’s strategy for the final stage. “Before the start we planned that we wanted to put pressure on Quintana, and if that risked losing second place then that was a risk we would take. But he was always there and we couldn’t break the race. We were hoping for an attack from the others riders in the top five but that didn’t come, which was unfortunate. Quintana was always there and never really under pressure.”

Fifteen riders had escaped from 5km out at the start of the stage, with their numbers steadily dwindling as the stage went on, the remainder swallowed up by the peloton in the closing stages of the race, leaving two on the front. In the final few kilometres the attacks came from the GC contenders – not to catch the break, but to try and pull a few seconds from the GC leaders, Alberto himself attacking 11km from the finish.

In spite of coming second in the GC, Alberto was pleased with the outcome and, in particular, his form in the early season. “It's a pity that I missed the win for four seconds at Paris-Nice and seven here, it would have been to round it off. However, if I had to choose between the form I have right now and achieving victory with worse sensations, I would definitely prefer the good sensations, especially ahead of the season's big goal, the Tour de France.”

Looking at his strategy during the race, Alberto continued. “In hindsight, had my tactics on the climb to Port Ainé been different I might have had more chances for the GC. Instead of trying to control the two BMC riders and Nairo, I should have let him take more responsibility. However, what was done was done and today it was really complicated to build any significant time gap. Still, as I said, I'm overall satisfied with how I feel right now.”

“The guys rode a good race and Alberto gave 110% as always.” said Steven. “It’s of course mixed emotions to come second again, but we can be happy with how the week has gone. The downside was that we had a bit of sickness in the team and those riders had to leave the race, but we can now recover and look towards Pais Vasco.”

The Volta a Catalunya is another race where both Alberto and the team have put in a strong ride to place well, as the Tinkoff leader explained. "My preparation this winter has been very good. I'm satisfied because this first block of races of the year is concluding with a very good form. My body is recovering and I look forward to more. We now have a week ahead of us before the next race, Pais Vasco."

LottoNL-Jumbo's Gent-Wevelgem report:

Sep Vanmarcke finished second in Belgium’s Gent-Wevelgem today. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Belgian missed the first echelon in the beginning of the race, but fought back with his teammates to grab his spot in the leading group in the final of the WorldTour race. Only Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) was faster in the final kick.

“The race didn’t start well for me,” Sep Vanmarcke said. The wind played its role to force echelons and that didn’t turn out positively for Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s front man. “It broke after 65 kilometres of racing and I have to blame myself for not being in the first group. Jos van Emden brought me in good position just before, but I lost some positions again afterwards.” Vanmarcke couldn’t afford to miss the move. He added, “I gave everything I had in that chase.”

It worked because the first two groups merged. “I felt that I was powerful today,” Vanmarcke continued. On the Baneberg, he attacked on his own. “That was a nice move, but I’m glad that I recovered before the Kemmelberg. That climb was tough. I reached the top just after Sagan and Cancellara, and had to take some risks in the turns on the downhill to bridge to them. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to get there anymore.”

Peter Sagan wins Gent-Wevelgem

Peter Sagan wins Gent-Wevelgem ahead of Sep Vanmarcke

Nico Verhoeven noted Vanmarcke’s mistake after 65 kilometres. “That chase took a lot of energy from him and it took a lot of time, as well,” the sports director said. “He almost wasn’t able to play a role in the race final at all. Think of how good he could’ve been if he was in front already from the beginning. It’s a pity that he wasted so much power there. It wasn’t a perfect race, but he showed that he is one of the best in these races.”

Etixx-Quick Step had this to say about the race:

Sixth place at the finish meant that the 21-year-old Fernando Gaviria scored Colombia's best-ever result in a cobbled classic.

Ten climbs, cobbles, crosswinds, headwind and a very fast pace, these were the ingredients of the 78th Gent-Wevelgem, a race which began with a five-man break taking shape right from the first kilometers: Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff), Josef Cerny (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Simon Pellaud (IAM Cycling), Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Lieuwe Westra (Astana). The group had a maximum lead of ten minutes, before Etixx – Quick-Step came to the forefront and chew into the advantage of the escapees. The crazy pace at the front also led to some echelons being formed with 160 kilometers to go, as the pace was upped in an attempt to force an early selection.

The gap began to drop in the final 66 kilometers, when Paris-Tours winner Matteo Trentin decided to make others work by attacking from the pack. He was soon joined by the likes of Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and Daniel Oss (BMC), and this move had the desired action, as Dimension Data and LottoNL-Jumbo were forced to chase and reel them in. Despite catching these riders, things didn't cool down, because Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) and Stijn Vandenbergh jumped from the pack inside the final 50 kilometers, spicing up things.

As the 31-year-old Belgian was brought back, the Russian kept going and surprised everyone by opening a gap of around one minute. At that point it became obvious that the second ascent of Kemmelberg – on the side which ramped up to 23% – will become crucial in the outcome of the race, and so it was. Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) accelerated, while the peloton disintegrated on the rough cobbles of the climb. Before the riders who got distanced got the chance to organize the chase, the leaders (including Kuznetsov) built a 30-second advantage.

Once again, Etixx – Quick-Step was the team to pull behind the quartet and rode really hard, dropping many riders in the process, but even though they took back half a minute thanks to the impressive work of Niki Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh and Tom Boonen, it was still very difficult to neutralize that move, which made it to the finish, where Sagan won after outpacing Vanmarcke and Kuznetsov. From the mini-peloton that arrived 11 seconds later, Fernando Gaviria sprinted to sixth place, an important placing for the 21-year-old neo pro, who recorded Colombia's best ever result in a cobbled Classic, despite hitting the deck at one point during the race.

"This morning, in the first two hours, I couldn't find my rhythm and I was a little bit concerned. Then I crashed, but as the race progressed I began thinking that I could do something, and eventually came sixth. To be honest, I really enjoyed this race and I am glad that I could count on a great team and look up to guys like Tom and Niki from whom I can learn a lot about riding in the wind. Belgium was a great experience and I am now returning to Colombia satisfied with the way I rode", said Fernando Gaviria, who scored three wins in 2016, proving with each occasion his unlimited potential, which helped him come with the best not only in Gent-Wevelgem, but also in Milan-Sanremo and Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Having the team again among the protagonists, showing how united it is even in tough weather conditions, left Etixx – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere content and confident that the riders can go for a big result in the following Monuments, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix: "The guys did a good race, there's nothing to say about this. We were always at the front, fighting, and on two occasions we tried to anticipate the others, with Trentin and Vandenbergh, but unfortunately the bunch didn't allow them to get clear. On the Kemmelberg, Zdenek came 10 meters short of making the junction with the guys in the lead. I want to congratulate Fernando for this 6th place in his first Gent-Wevelgem. We still have two weeks to try and go for a big result and we will give everything to get it."

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