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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 24, 2016

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I have noticed that even people who who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it look before they cross the road. - Steven Hawking

Recently completed racing:

Today's racing:

Eneco Tour stage 5 team reports

Let's start with the report stage winner BMC sent me:

23 September, 2016, Sittard-Geleen (NED): BMC Racing Team dominated the Eneco Tour stage 5 team time trial by smashing the 20.9km course to cross the line with a six second margin.

As two-time UCI World Champions in the discipline, BMC Racing Team started the stage as the favorites and put in a performance that sees Rohan Dennis take back the overall lead with two stage remaining.

The time to beat changed throughout the day and out on the course BMC Racing Team, the third-to-last team to roll down the start ramp, was looking to better 23'17", the time set by Etixx-QuickStep.

In a brilliant show of strength and teamwork BMC Racing Team crossed the line with all eight riders and clocked 23'11" which was more than enough to claim the stage win and reshuffle the General Classification.

Dennis now leads the race by 16 seconds over teammate Taylor Phinney, and 24 seconds over Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep). Manuel Quinziato and Greg Van Avermaet sit in seventh and eighth respectively to make it four riders in the top ten for BMC Racing Team.

The team time trial win was also enough to put BMC Racing Team in first position on the team classification, 23 seconds in front of Team LottoNL-Jumbo.

BMC team

BMC starts its team time trial ride

Rohan Dennis: "We finished with 8 riders and we showed that there is a reason why we are the number one team in the world when it comes to the TTT. We weren't too stressed about performing. It was more about how much time we would take out of Sagan and Tinkoff. I am pretty satisfied with how we did. It wasn't perfect today. We still have some stuff to work on and you never win easily so everyone in the team suffered a bit but we worked really well together. I would have been happy to finish the TTT with an advantage of anything over 20 seconds and I was aiming personally for around 30 to 40 so to get 34 seconds in the end and bring me to a 27 second advantage in the GC was good. Although it is by no means a given that we will take the win, it will make it a bit easier."

"I don't race in Belgium or Holland that often so I have to look to riders like Greg Van Avermaet, Manuel Quinziato and Daniel Oss for direction and the best thing to do at certain stages at the race. We have Taylor Phinney, Van Avermaet, Quinziato and myself in the top ten so we have a lot of cards to play in that sense and if one of us wins that's great. If that means the team wins but I lose it doesn't matter if it is still BMC on the podium."

Greg Van Avermaet: "It was a great feeling to win with the team. We are World Champions in this discipline so we always have to defend this title every time and we are pretty happy that we did it. We have such a strong team and all eight riders put a real effort into it and that's what makes us the best team on the day."

Fabio Baldato, Sports Director: "I'm really proud of the guys' performance today. We knew that they were strong and had trained well for the team time trial, but to win by that margin is a really good result. We wanted to put in valuable time over Peter Sagan and Tinkoff which we did, and we also put Rohan Dennis back in the lead and really strengthened our position in the General Classification. A result like that gives us confidence ahead of the UCI World Championships and we'll work hard to refine our team time trial even more. Now we need to focus on the GC and put all of our energy into defending our lead in the next two days."

Second-place Etixx-Quick Step had this to say about the stage:

Despite starting with seven men, our team put in a solid ride in Sittard-Geleen and finished a close second.

Bob Jungels, Iljo Keisse, Marcel Kittel, Tony Martin, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin, Niki Terpstra and Matteo Trentin were keen to show that Etixx – Quick-Step still is one of the best outfits in the world in the races against the clock, even though the team was missing a quintessential rider, Tom Boonen, who was forced to abandon during the previous stage, due to a crash in which he was involved.

A fairly flat but technical 20.9-km long course was in store on Friday afternoon in the Netherlands, and Etixx – Quick-Step left the start house full of confidence for the stage dubbed by many as one of the most important at this year's edition, and rode a solid and smooth team time trial, at the end of which the squad bettered the result of provisional leader IAM Cycling by 20 seconds and went into the hot seat with a time of 23:17.

Eventually, BMC set a time six seconds faster, but Etixx – Quick-Step's runner up spot which the team got with one rider less came as confirmation that everything is on the right track ahead of the World Championships in Doha, scheduled next month. On top of it all, the team placed no less than four riders in the top 10 overall, all within striking distance of race leader Rohan Dennis, with just two days to go.

One of these men is Tony Martin, the 2010 Eneco Tour winner, who is third in the GC: "This was one of the nicest team time trial I've ever done. The course was beautiful and our team was strong and coherent. Every rider gave it his all and was motivated to work hard for a good result. We missed Tom Boonen, as he is a super strong guy and as the 8th man we could have saved more energy, but we are satisfied with the way we rode."

Tony's feelings were echoed by Niki Terpstra, 5th in the standings, who will give the team more cards to play in the final stages of the Eneco Tour: "It's a pity Tom wasn't here, because he is a big turbo for the team. We raced with seven riders and at the end of the day we are happy. We enjoyed the course, the corners and the small climbs, but mostly how strong we were during the day, as this gives us confidence for the future."

Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's Eneco Tour news:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo placed third in the fifth stage of the Eneco Tour today. BMC Racing won the 20.9-kilometre team time trial in 23-11 minutes, six seconds faster than Etixx and 23 seconds faster than team LottoNL-Jumbo. Rohan Dennis (BMC) took the lead in the GC.

The team averaged 53.2 kilometres per hour in Sittard-Geleen. Wilco Kelderman had a tough day. "In the beginning, it was not good, I was not following the wheels well and that cost a lot of energy. In the end, I came around and improved my rhythm,” Kelderman said. "It’s a cool discipline because you do everything together, from preparing to the suffering."

Sprinter Dylan Groenewegen finished with the five men. "We kept our GC guys well in the standings. We gave everything and this is the result,” Groenewegen said. “A sprinter is made for this sort of thing, short turns and then pushing the pace.”

Jos van Emden remains the team’s best rider in the classification, but he dropped to sixth overall. "Third was actually good for us,” Van Emden said. "Maybe I was riding too fast on the first climb when Robert Wagner got into trouble. Today, I went like a rocket, but it makes the rest of the guys suffer more. I started with the idea to compete for the win."

Trainer Mathieu Heijboer analysed the last test before the world championship team time trial in October. "We delivered a good performance, third in this field is good,” he said. “But there is certainly work to be done in order to be as fast as BMC and Etixx. The ambition was to stay close to BMC, and 23 seconds is quite a lot.”

Heijboer explained a big difference is that BMC finished with eight men and Team LottoNL-Jumbo with just five. “We lost a rider too early and therefore we lost time."

Tinkoff had this to report about stage 5:

Today’s team time trial was, from the off, ear-marked as a stage that would re-shuffle the GC, and at the end of the 20.9km effort the team crossed the line with a time of 23’45”, leaving them eighth on the stage. Going into the day in the white skinsuit of race leader, after back-to-back stage wins, Peter Sagan slipped down to fourth on GC, 27” down, but with two tough days still ahead where anything could happen.

Team Tinkoff

Team Tinkoff

The race crossed back into The Netherlands for today's stage, with the start and finish in Sittard-Geleen and a quite technical parcours to tackle as a unit. With Peter the race leader, the team was the last off the start ramp, and had the other times for reference ahead of them. It was a case of pacing the effort right and navigating the technicalities on the route, as Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman explained: “There was street furniture, corners, speed bumps and two climbs to get through, the first after just 6km. We wanted to have everyone together over that climb so maybe we lost a little time there but then we had the whole team to pull over the top. In the last kilometres we lost guys one by one but that was OK.

“In the end it was eighth, we hoped for a top five but the boys did everything right so we can’t complain. Maybe we missed a bit of speed in the start but we had a plan and they stuck to it and gave their all. The GC will be difficult now with 27" in it, but everything is possible, especially with Peter.”

Starting with eight riders, the team stuck together until around halfway where one by one the guys gave one big final pull before dropping off, to leave four eventually in the final 1500m. Peter, Erik Baška, Maciej Bodnar and Pavel Brutt were left to finish off the job, and crossed the line 34” down on the fastest time, finishing with an average speed of just shy of 53km/h.

After warming down, Peter added: "We knew it would be a difficult team time trial as we were racing against some of the world's best teams. We gave our best and I don't see what we could have done better. I am now fourth in the GC, 27 seconds behind Dennis but with all the bonus seconds up for grabs in the last two stages, we still have options. It will be tough and we will have to race smart on Saturday and Sunday."

The coming stages resemble the typical Belgian classics racing, with cobblestones and climbs to tackle. First up tomorrow is a 185.2km with a rolling route, crossing six main climbs, the last of which – the Muizenberg – falls with 18km to race. At 650m and 6.6% it could be one of several launch-pads for attacks.

Ben Hermans extends with BMC

The team sent me this news release:

23 September, 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Ben Hermans has extended his contract with BMC Racing Team after three solid seasons with the team, General Manager Jim Ochowicz today announced.

"Ben is an exceptional athlete which he has proven on many occasions this year. His progression throughout each season has always been better and better and certainly the Vuelta a Espana was his high point this year. Yet there's a lot more to come from Ben. He's demonstrated his ability to support leaders and support the team, but he's also capable of winning on his own which is a great combination. I'm very happy to see Ben stay with BMC Racing Team," Ochowicz said.

Ben Hermans

Ben Hermans racing in this year's Vuelta a España

Hermans, who was on the podium at Vuelta a Burgos this year is looking forward to continuing his progression as a rider. "I've always enjoyed riding for BMC racing team, as it is one of the best teams in the world. In the past 3 years since 2014, I've been able to race in a lot of nice races at the highest level, getting a program that suits me best. Even after those three years I still have the feeling that we make improvements and more is possible in 2017," Hermans explained.

"In 2017 I would like to make a step forward in winning a race in the World Tour. I have been close several times in the past, so it should be possible. The Vuelta a Espana this year also gave me more confidence for the grand tour races, proving that I am able to ride at a good level for three weeks. With this in my mind I would like to do something special in one of the grand tours next year. Together with the hilly classics this gives me enough goals for the next season."

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