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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, May 23, 2016

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

The same thing happened today that happened yesterday, only to different people. - Walter Winchell

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Giro d'Italia stage 15 video, May 22

Tour of California stage 8 video, May 22

IAM Cycling team will cease at end of 2016 season

Unable to find a co-sponsor for the 2017 season, the World Tour IAM Cycling team will cease operations at the end of the current racing season.

Michel Thétaz, the owner of the investment company that is the team's main sponsor, IAM Funds, put out a press release that said, “IAM Cycling will cease operations at the end of the 2016 season. This is a failure for which I take full responsibility.”

Thétaz did not want to run the team on a smaller budget and downgrade the team to the pro continental level.

The press release further said, “We have arrived at a key moment in the team’s evolution with the prospect of entering a new three year cycle; however that proved to be an impossible undertaking for IAM Cycling since we have failed to find a co-sponsor, and consequently will be unable to continue our progress to the summit of the sport’s hierarchy. It was unthinkable to consider returning to the lower levels, or even to play a subordinate role to the greatest teams with budgets of 12 million euros.”

Heinrich Haussler

Heinrich Haussler is one of the 28 riders on the IAM Cycling team

Giro d'Italia stage 15 team reports

LottoNL-Jumbo is having the Giro of their dreams. Here's their update:

Steven Kruijswijk successfully defended his pink jersey in the time trial up the Alpe di Siusi and gained time on his opponents in the Giro d’Italia. Kruijswijk lost the stage by 0.16 seconds to Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-RusVelo), but ended the day with 2'12” on Esteban Chaves (Orica - GreenEdge) in second and 2'51" on Vincenzo Nibali (Team Astana) in third.

Over the 10.8-kilometre mountain time trial, Foliforov rode 28'39". At the first check, Kruijswijk was faster than his main rival Nibali was. The Dutchman put 30 seconds into him there.

Steven Kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk extends his lead in stage 16

"I did not expect this and I think Jan Boven also not," said an enthusiastic Addy Engels. "Jan did the coaching. I drove the car. When we arrived at the first intermediate point, we were already 30 seconds faster than Nibali. I thought, ‘Gosh, I hope he did not start too fast,’ but it also gave us a huge boost. We saw him extending his lead and that something very special is happening.

"In the end, we noticed he could also go for the victory. But uphill you do not go faster than you can. He fought until the finish, you could see that. A second place here is superb, but the most important thing is that he takes time on the competition."

Kruijswijk worked throughout the year towards the Giro d'Italia and went with the team at an altitude training in Tenerife, where he laid the foundation for this year's Giro.

"This is my big goal this year and now fortunately, it all comes together," Kruijswijk said. "This morning, I was hoping I could keep the pink jersey and it did really not matter with how many seconds. I never thought that I could increase my lead in the standings. I’m in shape and I feel good. It’s nice to have this feeling before the heavy final week. I am definitely a contender for the victory. Even I believe it after today.”

The Giro enjoys another rest day tomorrow and continues on Tuesday.

Astana's Vincenzo Nibali had a rough day at the Giro. Here's Astana's post:

"I had a good feeling right from the warm-up", said Michele Scarponi, "and during the race I managed to keep a good rhythm. I'm very satisfied with my time trial."

The Italian rider finished in fifth place only 36 seconds behind the winner the Russian Alexander Foliforov.

A difficult day, however, for Vincenzo Nibali who arrived at the finish line more than two minutes behind the pink jersey the Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk.

"It has been a bad day", said the Italian champion. "I never found the right cadence, not counting mechanical accident in the final." Nibali is now third overall at 2 minutes and 51 seconds behind the leader.

Vincenzo Nibali

Nibali finishes his stage 15 ride

"It can happen in a long three weeks race", said the sport director Paolo Slongo, "to have bad moments. But we are calm, we know we have a good team and for sure we will battle in the last week. "

Tomorrow, the third and last rest day. The Giro d'Italia will continue on Tuesday with a new uphill finish in Andalo in the Trentino Alps.

Here's the report Orica-GeenEdge sent me:

Stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia saw Colombian contender Esteban Chaves produce another incredible ride for ORICA-GreenEDGE to finish in sixth place on the day and move up to second in the general classification.

Chaves, the winner of yesterday’s Queen stage, rode out of his skin in today’s 10.8 kilometre race against the clock with the 26-year-old gaining time on all but one of his rivals and moving into second ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) Chaves is now two-minutes 12 seconds down on race leader Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).

“The feeling is really good after these two stages in the mountains,” said Chaves. “Today was very hard but we are happy because we gave the maximum amount of effort that we could and we got a good result. There is still a long way to go and we will continue to ride as we have been doing and stay positive going into the next stage.”

Esteban Chaves

Esteban Chaves wins Giro stage 14

Sport director Matt White was over the moon after another fantastic performance from Chaves at a crucial point in the race. “It was an extremely tough course today,” said White. “There could be better uphill time trials for Esteban (Chaves), but nonetheless he rode this one to perfection.”

“It was very fast and flying at the start and he showed himself to be one of the fastest guys on the climb out of the whole field. We can look forward to some hard stages and competition in the last week. There are thousands of metres of climbing to come and lots of racing but we are super happy to be in this position after another great day.”

How it happened: Another beautiful sunny day in the mountains welcomed the riders to the start of stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia, a 10.8kilometre uphill individual time trial from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi.

The first rider down the ramp for ORICA-GreenEDGE was Michael Hepburn who posted a time of 34minutes for the challenging course. The best early time was set by Aleksey Rybalkin (Gazprom-Rusvelo) who completed the climb in 30minutes 36seconds then settled down for a spell in the ‘hot seat’.

Ian Boswell (Team-Sky) knocked Rybalkin out of the ‘hot seat’ with a time of 30minutes four seconds as Ruben Plaza crossed the line in 31minutes 38seconds. Fresh from his epic breakaway exploits on stage fourteen, Plaza recorded the fastest team time so far for ORICA-GreenEDGE.

Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) was the first rider to break 29minutes posting a time of 28minutes 39seconds to take over from Boswell in virtual first place.

Foliforov’s time was holding as one-by-one the race favourites made their way out onto the road. Chaves, Nibali and Kruiswijk set off in that order with the Colombian the first of the top three onto the climb and 34seconds down at the first time check.

Chaves produced another stunning effort completing the course in 29minutes 19seconds with Nibali suffering a mechanical then a bike change in the final couple of kilometres losing over a minute to the ORICA-GreenEDGE rider.

Kruijswijk retained the pink race leader's jersey by finishing second on the stage, a fraction of a second slower than stage winner Foliforov. Chaves took sixth on the day and moved up to second in the general classification.

Tomorrow is the third and final rest day of this year’s Giro d’Italia with stage sixteen taking place on Tuesday, another mountain stage covering 132kilometres from Bressanone to Andalo.

The stage includes the infamous Mendel Pass/Passo della Mendola that comes before the final climb of the day the Paganella with brutal gradients of 15%.

Here's Tinkoff's stage 15 news:

A time trial for the climbers, there wasn’t an aero bike nor aero helmet to be seen today, and other than the occasional skinsuit to reduce wind resistance, there was no sign that a time trial – in the most traditional sense – was taking place. Passing through the intermediate time check looking strong, Rafal Majka finished the stage in tenth position, and his strong climb enabled him to move one step further up the GC rankings, going into Tuesday’s mountain stage fifth in the overall.

After yesterday’s Queen Stage and its energy-sapping route, riders would be looking forward to tomorrow’s rest day to try and recover some kind of strength to contest the final week, but with one final hurdle to overcome before this, there was no rest for anyone.

It was uphill all the way, on a 10.85km course that climbed from Castelrotto to the top of the Alpe di Siusi, a short distance from the Austrian border in the South Tirol region. With an average 8.3% and a maximum 11% gradient, this would once again be a tough day in the mountains for riders. While the route took place on well-surfaced and wide-open roads, it was the hairpin bends and steep ramps that would take the most out of riders.

As Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman, noted from the finish. "It was a tough course out there, with a false flat to start for a few kilometres before the real climbing started. In and out of the saddle it was full gas from start to finish."

As the first riders set out on the course, the top ten of the GC would be waiting to see how the field was performing with the tired legs of yesterday’s stage. As the times started to come in, it became clear that the time to beat was going to be sub-thirty minutes. With more than a minute separating the virtual top ten, as the GC leaders went out of the start, they knew that a good time could help them in the overall standings, while a poor time might make it almost impossible to pull back in the final week. By the time the Maglia Rosa knew how his rivals had performed, it would be too late to make much of an impact on their performance.

After a strong effort, Tinkoff’s Polish leader crossed the line with a time of 29’48” – a time that, once all the riders were home, was enough to earn him a top ten finish on the stage. His performance also moved him up a step on the GC, taking fifth position overall. After his fast time and strong finishing position, Rafal was definitely looking forward to the rest day. "It was a tough stage today and I just gave everything I could, but suffered. It has been a few hard days and the rest day comes at a good time tomorrow. There are still a lot of opportunities ahead and it was good to climb another spot on GC today."

Hoffman added to Rafal’s comments. "As expected the outcome of today was quite like yesterday, some of the GC guys were faster, some slower, but Rafal rode a good time trial and gave it everything he had. Tomorrow we've got the rest day, which is coming at a good time I think for the guys, as it has been a tough few days, then the race hits the mountains again on Tuesday and we'll be ready to go again.”

After three tough days in the mountains, riders will be looking forward to a well-earned rest day tomorrow, but the racing starts again on Tuesday as the Giro enters its final week. With another trip to the mountains, riders will face a shorter stage, at 132km, but a testing one, as the stage crosses two categorised climbs – including the second category Passo della Mendola – before the third category climb to the finish in Andalo.

Tour of California team news

BMC sent this end-of-race update:

22 May 2016, Sacramento, California (USA): Sacramento provided the backdrop to a thrilling finale of the Amgen Tour of California that saw BMC Racing Team secure two of the top three spots on the General Classification.

A seven rider breakaway looked like they might cause an upset to the predicted bunch sprint as it took right up until the last kilometer for the peloton to reel them back in.

From that point on it was down to the sprinters with Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) taking the final win of the week. Jempy Drucker was the first BMC Racing Team rider across the line as he mixed it up in the sprint to finish seventh.

Behind the sprinters, Rohan Dennis and Brent Bookwalter finished safely inside the main group to secure their podium spots. Dennis, who won the Stage 6 individual time trial on Friday, finished in second place, 21 second behind Julian Alaphilippe (Ettix-Quick-Step), while Brent Bookwalter took the final place on the rostrum, 43 seconds back.

Samuel Sánchez also finished inside the top ten on the General Classification. The Spaniard finished his week in California in sixth place, 1'22 behind Alaphilippe.

Rohan Dennis said: "The stage was a little bit stressful today with people worried about losing the GC or getting caught in the crosswinds and the peloton blowing up but we all got through fairly well. The breakaway was really strong today and I don't think the guys that were riding at the front realised how strong they actually were because it took a lot of effort to get them back."

"I pleased with how I have performed this week. Obviously winning would have been better but it's been a rough season for me so far and considering I haven't done a whole lot of racing, I am happy with where I'm at and where I am going from here. This week has definitely given me a confidence boost going in to the next couple of races. It's great that things are starting to come into place and that I am able to be at the pointy end as well as helping out the team when needed."

Brent Bookwalter said: "Today was not a parade by any means. I had one tense moment before we came into the final circuits, I got a flat which put a little panic into me but as they have been doing all week the guys were awesome, they kept me calm and brought be back no problem."

"Coming in to the race the goal was to win but seeing how the week unfolded and how we rode, I am really pleased with the third place that I got and the second over that Rohan got. I've had some other success in week long stages in the US but this was really the first time that the team have given me more responsibility and the chance to lead and prepare accordingly and have the team committed to me. I am really grateful for that opportunity and I'm humbled and inspired to have had such a world class group of guys riding for me all week and hopefully it's not the last one."

Sport director, Jackson Stewart said: "The breakaway came pretty close today. It was pretty windy out there and always changing direction and I think that, couple with the bad roads, made everyone a little nervous. There was a lot of people just trying to stay out of trouble and stay safe in the wind which meant the break was able to go out in front. Then, as we started to head towards town the peloton started to pick up the pace to catch them and our guys sat back a little and let Jempy [Drucker] try and go for the sprint. He ended up seventh and did what he could and then the guys stayed out of major trouble to keep their podium spots."

"Samu [Samuel Sánchez] moved up to sixth on GC as well today so, in the end, to come here and get three guys in top ten and two on podium is pretty successful. We were really competitive this week and even though everyone wanted that elusive GC win, I think we still delivered. We left everything out there and we did our best job."

Here's Dimension Data's Tour of California news:

The 2016 Amgen Tour of California ended with a bunch sprint finish in the streets of Sacramento. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Mark Cavendish had the fastest legs. He crossed the line ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Julien Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) won the overall.

The final stage of this year’s race through the sunshine state began fast and saw an early break of 7 riders going up the road on their way out of Sacramento. The break pulled a gap of more than 3 minutes when our African team decided to set the pace in the peloton. Jacques Janse van Rensburg was the first to drive the pack, and was later joined by the rest of the riders.

The gap to the break began to come down on the way back to Sacramento. With less than 10 kilometers to go, the break only had a minute left, but it was only a matter of time until they were to be caught. In the finale Team Dimension Data was joined at the front of the race by Tinkoff and Katusha.

Inside the final kilometer Mark Cavendish took the wheel of Peter Sagan and then opened his sprint with only a hundred meters to go. He crossed the line in first position to finish this weeks racing in California on a high note, after Nathan Haas 3rd place finish on stage 4.

Mark CAvendish wins stage 8

Mark Cavendish wins stage 8

Mark Cavendish – Rider: "Its been a tough week, Nathan was third the other day, but we really wanted to get this stage win. It was a windy day, so we had to take on the race. The guys rode out of their skins, Jacques rode the whole day on the front, and then everyone was just really going for it. We had to use our whole lead-out to catch the break, so in the end it was a bit a case of free styling. I was on Sagan’s wheel and know this finish really well. I’ve won here before and knew that, if was in the right position I should win here."

And Tinkoff sent me this:

The final stage of the Amgen Tour of California presented one more clear cut opportunity for the team to go for a third stage win of the week, and, like the day before, Peter Sagan just missed out on another victory finishing in second place in the bunch sprint.

Having already scored enough points the previous day to put his green jersey lead out of touch, Peter secured this in crossing the line, ensuring he took home a jersey from the race again this year.

The stage got underway in Sacramento before heading out of town on a flat 138km route that tracked the Sacramento river before returning back into town for three finishing circuits to end the day. The situation 12 months ago was much different to this year with Peter sprinting for bonus seconds to secure the overall victory – this year was all about getting a third stage win of the race, adding to his tally of 15 stage wins here already over the past seven seasons.

The team worked hard throughout the stage to keep Sagan in position, and to race for a sprint finish.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan wins 2016 Tour of California stage 2

With seven riders moving clear the day was set and they built a healthy advantage of over 2’30” before the gap started to be whittled down by the chasing bunch. The Tinkoff jerserys were often based around the front and into the final 15km the whole fluo train was leading the peloton around the finishing circuits to close the gap. At 10km to go the gap was down to 45”, and despite a hard fight, they were all swallowed up in the final 2km.

Into the final kilometre, Peter was safely sat on the wheel of yesterday’s winner, Kristoff (Katusha) and as the finish line approached he jumped off this to open up his sprint in view of the line. For a moment it looked like no one would be able to come around Peter, but Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) managed to get past in the final 100m to take the win, leaving Peter in second.

“Another second place, we can be happy even if we wanted the win of course,” explained Sport Director Patxi Vila after the stage. “Peter said before that he wanted it to be hard coming into the finish and the guys did a good job of keeping the pace high and stringing out the bunch then at the end he did a good sprint and fought to the line.

“The stage itself was pretty straight forward, with an early break and the chase behind. Towards the end the boys did again a great job, all present at the front. I’m really proud of the team for what they’ve done this week – they’ve all been so committed and have fought everyday. We came here with the goal of a stage win, and we leave with two wins, two second places, a fourth and the green jersey. We’ve seen the young guys race well here and they can take a lot from this race going forward.”

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