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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

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

I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy. - Thomas Paine

Racing just completed:

Current racing

Jens Debusschere out of Ronde van Vlaanderen

This came from Lotto-Soudal:

Yesterday it was already clear that Jens Debusschere has a bruise of the lower back muscles, a bruised junction between the collarbone and shoulder blade, a mild concussion and some abrasions. Further examinations have now shown that Jens Debusschere has two broken transverse processes in his back.  Debusschere incurred these injuries during a crash in Gent-Wevelgem last Sunday. Rest is the only cure so the 26-year old will not race anymore this Spring.

Jens Debusschere

Jens Debusschere won't be at the Tour of Flanders

Jens Debusschere: “This is a huge disappointment of course. I planned to take another big step forward this Spring and I felt really good during the preparations. A crash in the Strade Bianche and a rib injury almost disturbed by Spring, but I had a good feeling in Tirreno-Adriatico, I managed to help Jürgen Roelandts in Milano-Sanremo and I was able to win Dwars Door Vlaanderen. I hoped to maintain that good shape the next few weeks, but unfortunately I crashed in Ghent-Wevelgem.”

“I had really good legs past Sunday, perhaps I could have played a role in the finale. It’s still not clear how I crashed. My head, shoulder and especially my back are injured. I’ll need a few weeks to recover from these injuries. After that I’ll focus on the next part of the season. For me this is painful, but compared to the grief of the families, friends and teammates of Antoine Demoitié and Daan Myngheer my injuries are peanuts.”

And here's BMC's Ronde van Vlaanderen news:

29 March 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): After a strong start to the season, Greg Van Avermaet will lead a motivated BMC Racing Team at the 100th edition of Ronde van Vlaanderen this Sunday.

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Fabio Baldato said Ronde van Vlaanderen is one of the biggest goals of the season for Van Avermaet and the team. "We have a strong Classics team so of course Ronde van Vlaanderen is an important race for us. I think we have shown since the beginning of the season in Qatar and Oman, and then in the early Classics, that we know how to race aggressively and that we can always be up the front, and that's what we hope to do this Sunday," Baldato explained.

It's no secret that for Van Avermaet, Ronde van Vlaanderen is a special race. "If I could choose to win any Classic this year it would be Ronde van Vlaanderen, especially given it is the 100th edition which makes it even more special for me as a Flandrien. I hope that I can rest and recover well this week from my recent illness and be back at 100% on the start line on Sunday. I'm going to give it everything I've got," Van Avermaet said.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet is looking for another success

Taylor Phinney will race his first monument in two years when he lines up on Sunday. "I didn't expect to race Ronde van Vlaanderen but my performace at Gent-Wevelgem was a pleasant surprise, so I'm really humbled to line up at one of the biggest races of the year with such a stellar team," Phinney admitted.

Ronde van Vlaanderen (3 April)

Rider roster: Marcus Burghardt (GER), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA)

Tinkoff's Driedaagse de Panne first stage update:

Juraj Sagan raced to eighth place on the opening day of the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, a tough, windy 198.2km stage taking the riders from the coastal town of De Panne down to Zottegem over 11 Hellingen, including two ascents of the infamous Muur van Geraardsbergen.

The six Tinkoff riders starting the race lined up under grey, threatening skies, with the atmosphere at the start one of high emotion with a minute's silence following the passing of two riders from the peloton in the past days. But once the flag was dropped the thoughts soon turned to the road ahead with a fast and frantic pace set splitting the peloton into groups in the crosswinds from the off.

The situation on the road was constantly changing with crosswinds causing havoc in the bunch, and splitting the race into groups, but Tinkoff's leader heading into the race, Maciej Bodnar, started strongly making a front selection before eventually slipping back into the groups behind, paying the price for a tough start.

Sport Director at the race, Lars Michaelsen spoke of the hectic start to the race. "Today's stage was nearly 200km of racing on tough Flandrian roads, starting with a 16km neutral section and then straight from the gun the race split in crosswinds and echelons making for hard work for everyone. For a time we had Bodnar in the front group but he ran out of legs and lost contact with the group. In the group behind we had Juraj Sagan and Nikolay Trusov and they were able to stay with this group as it thinned down throughout the day."

The race steadied behind a leading group of 14, and into the final 50km these leaders had just over a minute's advantage on a reunited chasing bunch. The situation remained stable with the leaders holding a minute into the final 30km before the decisive move came at the front. Four riders broke clear and soon pulled ahead, being reduced to three that would eventually dispute the stage win amongst themselves, while behind the reduced peloton kept chasing hard, thinning further over the second ascent of the Muur van Geerardsbergen before racing into Zottegem to sprint out fifth place, behind the three leaders and two more who managed to stay clear. A strong sprint from Juraj saw him take third from this main group, 36 seconds behind the stage winner and race leader, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

"It was a hard, hard day for everyone out there today," said a tired Juraj Sagan after the finish. "From the start the race was broken in crosswinds, after the first kilometres. Bodnar tried hard up front but I'm not too sure what happened as it was really hectic. I was behind the break with Trusov, and at the end I managed to get third from the bunch. Coming into the finish there were some turns but everyone was really tired so it was hard. I'm happy with my result but we came here looking for a GC result which will be difficult now. We will refocus and look at the coming days - we are in Belgium and anything can happen."

Michaelsen concluded by saying: "Juraj taking third in the bunch sprint was a real positive note for us today. We're out of the GC fight with Bodnar now, so for the coming days we will look to seize the opportunities as they come - we have guys here that can sprint and so there will be chances for us to shine."

And here's Lampre-Merdia's Driedaagse de Panne report:

Flash of competitiveness for Lampre-Merida in the first stage of the Three Days of De Panne, which started from De Panne and finished in Zottegem (198.2 km).

The riders climbed 11 hills, the last one (Klemthoutstraat) 5.3 km from the arrival.

The sprinters Kump and Modolo gave Lampre-Merida the most interesting messages in the Belgian race. The Slovene athlete was not caught when, after 1 km in the stage, an echelon broke the bunch into three parts: Kump succeeded in remaining in the front group with 44 other riders, while Ferrari, Modolo, Pibernik and Zurlo were in the first chasing group.

Meanwhile, after 40 km in the race, Feng, who tenaciously has started the competition despite suffering from the flu, surrendered and quit the race, as did Xu.

16 riders counter-attacked from the head group, unfortunately Kump could not be with them and he slowly got absorbed in the rear positions of the race.

The race was won by Kristoff, who preceded Lutsenko and Westra: they had attacked on the Ten Bosse, at 38 km to the arrival, together with Rowe, who was lated stopped by a puncture (5th place, preceded by Pedersen).

Behind them, the peloton was united again and Modolo succeeded in pedaling in this first chasing group when it was reduced to 33 riders.Lampre-Merida's athlete was fairly competitive on all the hills of the course, however he could not perform a good sprint for the 6th place, crossing the finish line in 21st place at 36" to the winner.

Giant-Alpecin and Liv-Plantur's upcoming racing

The teams sent me this update:


Team Giant-Alpecin takes part in the 100th edition of Ronde van Vlaanderen this Sunday for the second monument of the season. Ronde van Vlaanderen is one of the toughest one-day classics and requires concentration from start to finish with strong legs, as the riders tackle 18 steep hills as well as 19km of cobblestones sections over the course of 256km of racing.

"The Ronde van Vlaanderen is of the most demanding one-day races of the year," said coach Marc Reef (NED). "It is considered as of one of the biggest days in the calendar and it is always a very special day for the riders that are involved.

"The objective of the team is to be visible at the front of the race. Next to that, we also want to put Zico and Koen in a good position ahead of the key moments of the race and, in particular, the hill sections. During the second time the riders tackle the Oude Kwaremont, the race usually starts to open up so we need to be attentive. Last year, the team finished seventh in the race and this year we will aim to go for a positive result with either Zico or Koen."

RACE: Ronde van Vlaanderen (WT)


COACH: Marc Reef (NED) 

LINE-UP: Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Nikias Arndt (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Koen de Kort (NED), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL) 


Team Liv-Plantur are also in action at Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday, the fifth race of the UCI Women's WorldTour. The team heads to the race with a strong line-up, looking to make its mark on this race. The parcours covers a distance of 141,2km including ten hills and nine cobble sections. The finale is the exact same as the men's route.

Looking ahead to the race coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "The Ronde van Vlaanderen is always a really difficult race and usually the best riders of the bunch can make a difference during this race. I am expecting this scenario to happen and we can be very confident that Leah, who is showing great form at the moment, can make the decisive selection. Since the start of the season, Leah has been within the top 10 and she currently is ninth in the WorldTour ranking.

"The important moment of the parcours will be of course the Kwaremont and Paterberg in the final 20km and we have to stay alert and be in a good position. The goal of the team will be a top 10 result with Leah and this would be a great achievement in such a race."

RACE: Ronde van Vlaanderen (WWT)

DATE: 03/04/2016

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP: Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Sara Mustonen (SWE), Rozanne Slik (NED), Julia Soek (NED), Carlee Taylor (AUS) 


The WorldTour stage racing continues next week with the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, starting on Monday 4th March. Following a consistent performance in Catalunya, the team returns to the Spanish mountains to once again test themselves against some of the world's best climbers. The six stages that make up the 2016 edition will maintain a similar format from past seasons.

"Pais Vasco is traditionally a race for the climbers and we have the necessary climbing capacities in our line-up," explained coach Aike Visbeek (NED). "Our aim is to perform well with Warren and we will see how he can place himself in the overall classification by the end of the race. We need to take a day by day approach and see how he will respond to his second race of the season.

"As we have seen in the past races, every stage is important when aiming for a GC result and we will need to stay focused every day and the experience of our road captain Johannes will be vital. The last two days will again be responsible for deciding the overall standings with an uphill finish in Arrate, and an individual time trial of 16.5 kilometers on the final day."

RACE: Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (WT)

DATE: 04-09/04/2016

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

LINE-UP: Warren Barguil (FRA), Caleb Fairly (USA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Carter Jones (USA), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR), Sam Oomen (NED) 

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