8.31.2015

La Vuelta 10: What's in a Name! Sbaragli Sbaraglia Tutti (Smites Them All)

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A nervous, fluid, thrilling start. An early little crash, all back on bike and the break can't go. Vasil Kiryienka attacks but he's quickly caught. 
Puerto del Oronet - 3th cat, 6 km, avg 4.4% - a large group eventually gets a a gap. They are: Cataldo, Montaguti, Henao, Verona, Zoidl, Machado, Navarro, Velits, Craddock, Plaza, Keizer, LL Sanchez, Warbasse, Erviti, Arroyo, Berhane, Van den Broeck, Hardy, Grmay, Amador, Bilbao, Vorganov, Quintero, Monfort,  Boswell, Puccio, King, Elissonde, Cummings, Meyer, Moinard, Bennett, Atapuma, Madrazo, Cherel, Villella, Torres Frohlinger Cousin McCarthy.
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Meanwhile Caleb Ewan abandons, "feeling fatigue" GE says. He's just 21 yo this guy. And he has won a stage.
The break has split in to 3 groups and several riders are dropped, including Meyer, Bennett, Zoidl, Moinard, Elissonde, Cousin, LL Sanchez, Boswell, Torres and Bilbao. It's a fluid situation and the peloton is close. All together 55 km to go.
Roche crashed. Boswell, Henao and Puccio - bday guy - are riding hard to get him back. 40 km to go Terpstra attacks and is solo in front, with 14" on a chasing group of five - Duque, McCarthy, Paulino, Keisse and Engoulvent - and 35" on the peloton. 
Embedded image permalinkBenicasim. All together again. There is no rest and nothing lasts today. It's the intermediate sprint but nobody notice: it's full gas all the way
24 km to go, Alto del Desierto de las Palmas - 2th cat, 7km, gem 5.6%). Roche is back in the peloton but Henao needs a bike change. 22 km to go De Marchi attacks, Siccard tries to bridge, Elissonde and Coppel follows. 
20 km to go, last climb, Elissonde joins and immediatelly attacks. Brambilla attacks from the peloton. Descent. Henao crashed, Kiryienka stops to hand him his bike. Definitely NOT Team Sky luky day! Flat. Brambilla is caught by a reduced peloton preparing the sprint. 5km to go, all together. The sprint is launched. It looks like Degenkolb...but no! Sbaragli smited them all. 'Sbaragliare' in Italian means 'to smite' indead. What's in a name! 

Kristian Sbaragli:
"It is a dream come true for me because it's been four times in this Vuelta that I've tried to do my sprint and today when I crossed the finish line, I still cannot believe it. It is a dream for me and a dream for MTN-Qhubeka.
Embedded image permalinkI was feeling really well on the climb and just didn’t want to miss out again. I came so close a few times already in this La Vuelta, so I decided to wait until 200 meters to go before leaving it all out there. It’s sensational, something I never tasted before. This win is good for our team, but especially for Qhubeka and our 5.000 bikes campaign."
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Team Sky DS Dario Cioni about Roche and Henao crashes:
"They both came down pretty hard but thankfully they are both OK. Nico showed great courage to get back in the peloton before the finish, and while that proved to be impossible for Sergio, he was able to finish the stage. They've both got a few cuts and bruises, and although they will be sore in the morning, we have a rest day now to get them treated and give them some time to recover. The team deserve praise for the way they handled the situation, and everyone played their part in getting Nico and Sergio to the line whilst keeping Froomey protected at the same time."
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Nicholas Roche:
"Thanks to t guys @TeamSky for helping me  after other crash.. Left a fare bit of skin on the way, but #keepfighting"

Chris Froome:

"So @geraintthomas86 would rather drive for 6hrs than take a heli flight to Andorra. We've discovered his weakness 😂 "
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Timo Roosen:
“It was quite tough today,” Roosen said. “At first, my legs didn’t feel really strong, but I recovered well along the way and I was able to follow the peloton over the two climbs. In the final kilometres, I spoke with George (Bennet, ed.) and we decided that I was going to sprint. He did a good lead-out, but when the pace dropped, I attacked. It was a rash decision and looking back, I don’t think it was the best choice, because I didn’t get away. I still finished 12th, but I could have done better.”

José Joaquín Rojas:
"I was close to the win, but I really sprinted more with my heart than with my legs. This was a stage I kept written down on my to-chase-list, because I had won the Spanish national championships here, but my collarbone hurt really, really much - there's still a lot of inflammation on it. I really wanted to do a good race here, and with painkillers and some guts, I tried to bring the team a stage win, but it vanished on the finish line. I really had legs to win in Murcia and here today, but this time, the collarbone pain was too much. The most important thing is that our team leaders got through the day well, and we've got two weeks ahead to keep chasing this victory and get them to overall success."


Alejandro Valverde:
"Looking at how it could have been, the stage turned out pretty well. I can't complain about how I felt on the bike, I can ride well; the worst time is when I have to raise my arm - it really hurts, there's a lot of things (like taking my musette or having drinks, food) that I have to do with the right hand... it hurts, but what worries me the most is that the body blocks itself to recover. I hope to take advantage of this rest day and do all I can on Wednesday."

RESULTS
STAGE

1 Sbaragli
2 Degenkolb
3 Rojas
4 Van der Sande
5 Goncalves
6 Montaguti
7 Keukeleire
8 Impey
9 Serry
10 Conti
GC
1 Dumoulin
2 Rodriguez +57
3 Chaves +59
4 Aru +1:13
5 Valverde +1:17
6 Quintana +1:17
7 Froome +1:18
8 Majka +1:57
JERSEYS
Red: Dumoulin
Green: Chaves
Polka dot: Fraile

8.30.2015

La Vuelta 9: Tom Dumoulin Climbs Up La Vuelta

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Finish is waiting in Alto de Puig Llorença. A broken climb, hard, discontinous. The sea on the distance is confused to the sky, both pale blue.
Bouet is in the break with Serry, Thomas, Cattaneo, Maes, Fraile, Hurel, Jim, Brutt, Manzin, Danny Van Poppel, Bagot and Tjallingii . They have about 5'. Gougeard is chasing and manages to join. 
A crash brings down several riders, including Thomas Degand who's forced to quit. Fortunately on his foot.
Embedded image permalink43.9 km to go the gap is dropping: only 1’51” when the race start climbing Alto de Puig Llorença for the first time.
15 km to go Tjallingii attacks and is first at the intermediate sprint. He doesn't go on and now Thomas, Bouet and Brutt take a slight advantage. 5 km to go Bouet speeds up but Thomas and Brutt are ready on his wheel.
Embedded image permalinkDown toward the sea, toward the mountains again. The break is caught and they head all together to Alto de Puig Llorença for the second time: 4.1 km, 8.9% average, max 19%. It's a fireworks finale.
Embedded image permalinkAttacks shoot like bullets indead. And favourites drops one by one. Valverde, Chaves, Rodriguez and Quintana are in the lead. Quintana attacks. Aru and Majka are back to the front. 3 km to go Valverde attacks. 2 km to go about 15 riders are left in the Red Jersey group. Roche - who crash - and Henao are hanging onto the back while Froome is able to bridge over to the lead group.
Dumoulin attacks. He attacks again. He has a gap. Froome leads a furious chase up the steep hard climb, with Rodriguez and Majka They close on Dumoulin. Rodriguez attacks, Froome on his wheel. Froome goes solo
Embedded image permalinkBut from behind an incredible Tom Dumoulin comes back, passes Rodriguez, passes Froome in the true last meters and wins. Stage and jersey.

Tom Dumoulin:
“Unbelievable. I could have never imagined this. Yesterday, I had a really bad day. The team told me just to keep going and see how it goes, and today it ended pretty well…
I’m really happy with the first week and my form, as I didn’t know exactly what to expect at this Vuelta. I’m proud to be back in the leader’s jersey now, and I will see day by day how it goes from here. We are not on the big climbs yet, but my climbing is improving and I’m climbing well."


Embedded image permalinkRafal Majka:
"Today I didn’t feel so good and I tried to attack in the finale to gain some meters before the finish. But when the climb is this steep, every hundred meters feels very long but still it’s not bad at the end and I finished fifth and move into the top ten in the general classification. We wait for Andorra and the last week, we still have many mountains with longer climbs, which are more different. I’m satisfied with this first week and my teammates have worked for me perfectly.
But we have to wait, we also have the long time trial and we have some big favorites here but I’m still there and today I tried. I had an advantage with 700 meters to go but I didn’t believe that I would take the win. I told my teammates that I was suffering a bit today and they worked to position me at the front before the final climb. Everybody has bad days and I think I had mine today. It wasn’t the same legs as two-three days ago but we have many days to go".

Chris Froome:
"I'm gutted. I thought I had it for a second there. But Dumoulin has shown incredible form in this race and hats off to him. He's a young rider with a bright future ahead of him.
The guys did a fantastic job for me today keeping myself, Nicolas Roche, Mikel Nieve and Sergio Henao - the four climbers - at the front of the race, and bringing us into the climb in a perfect position. So we've got them to thank today for all the hard work they did.
Embedded image permalinkI gave it everything. I did try and ride more conservatively at the bottom to try and save something for an effort at the top if I had the legs. More than anything I'm just happy that I was up there and didn't lose too much time today."

Maarten Tjallingii:
“It was clear that I was going to have a hard time on the climb, so I decided to attack just before the intermediate sprint with 13 kilometres to go. I thought, that way I’ll at least win that sprint. With a small lead, you never know what can happen on a final climb like today’s. It also provides some extra morale. The climb turned out to be even steeper than indicated in the road book. That is often the case in Spain. All in all, it nevertheless was a nice day. Showing yourself in a grand tour always creates a kind of satisfaction. Hopefully, it’s three times lucky for me as well, just as for Bert-Jan Lindeman.”

RESULTS
STAGE
1 Dumoulin 
2 Froome +2 
3 Rodriguez +5 
4 Aru +16 
5 Majka +18 
6 Quintana +20 
7 Valverde +20 
8 Roche +31 
9 Pozzovivo +33
GC
1 Dumoulin 
2 Rodriguez +57 
3 Chaves +59 
4 Roche +1:07 
5 Valverde +1:09
6 Aru +1:13 
7 Quintana +1:17
8 Froome +1:18

La Vuelta 8: UPDATE Stuyven and Sagan Abandon Due to Crash - Reactions

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The winner of stage 8th, Jasper Stuyven sprinted with a broken left scaphoid. Peter Sagan instead couldn't sprint at all, taken down by a Shimano neutral service motorbike, now the news that he's also out.

Jasper Stuyven:
“Like I said after the finish, I felt my wrist and it was getting more and more painful, so I asked to go to the hospital to make the check. I was already scared that it could be the scaphoid because I know from friends who are cyclists what the pain feels like and where it’s located. And, unfortunately, the X-rays confirmed that it is broken and that my Vuelta finishes today.
At first I was of course really disappointed, but then I realized that I really have to enjoy this moment, because now is the time to enjoy my first professional win. For what’s next, I will see when I get home and have the surgery.”

TFR Team doctor Nino Daniele:
“The fracture is not dislocated, so in fact it won’t be difficult to resolve it, but it goes without saying that Jasper cannot ride his bike for now. First of all, it would be very painful, but then it’s also possible that the broken bones move and we absolutely want to avoid that. If anything goes well, as I hope, in a couple of weeks, he should be back on the bike and probably sooner on the rollers with his cast."

Peter Sagan:  
“Unfortunately, it isn't the first time such an incident happens. Even if motorbikes are forced to go through a group of riders, they should do it very carefully and not recklessly. In my opinion, motorbike drivers don't take the safety of the riders in consideration seriously. Fortunately, my injuries aren't very serious but can you imagine what would have happened if he had ran over me? 
If I had crashed alone or with another rider, I would have considered that to be part of the sport. However, being hit by a motorbike of the race organization shouldn't be acceptable. The safety of the riders should be an absolute priority and all vehicle drivers involved in a race must be more attentive. I really hope this incident is the start of a series of necessary changes in the way races are organized. 
There was a breakaway in front and, together with a rider from Lotto-Soudal, I was attacking to bridge the gap. Then the group reached us from behind and I was sitting in second place, while another Lotto-Soudal rider came to the front to pull. So, I attacked again to reach him, as he was about ten meters ahead. When I reached him, I signaled to him to go ahead as I was staying on his wheel. I moved to the left and at that moment a motorbike hit me. There was nothing I could do.
I didn't even hear the motorbike coming. I find it unacceptable that a motorbike tries to weave its way into the group at such high speed. They accelerate and try to sneak in when they see an empty space. However, they don’t take into consideration that a rider might fall in front of them or change direction. They go extremely fast and the difference of speed compared to the riders is enormous. Last but not least, I go back to the team hotel and I read I was fined 300 francs for insults and threats as well as behavior that damages the image of cycling. I will, obviously, pay it but I consider it unjust."

TEAM TINKOFF PRESS RELEASE:
"Sagan was hit by a reckless auxiliary motorbike in the final kilometers of stage 8 and suffered wounds and burns of first and second degree on the left side of his body, from the hip to the lower leg. In addition, he has a contusion on his left forearm with an intra-muscular hematoma. The team doctor, together with the sport directors at the Vuelta, decided that Sagan cannot safely continue the race with the injuries he suffered. As a result, he will fly back home as soon as possible.
The entire Tinkoff-Saxo team is disappointed and upset that Sagan's participation in the race comes to such an abrupt end. The Vuelta a España is one of the season's most important races and both Sagan and the team had high expectations. At the moment of the incident, Sagan was wearing the green jersey, he had won one stage, was set to target stage 8, while being in serious contention for later stage wins. 
Despite this important loss, Tinkoff-Saxo will keep its remaining goals intact and the entire squad will support team leader Rafal Majka in his fight for wins in the mountain stages as well as a top position in the general classification".

8.29.2015

La Vuelta 8: Superb Stuyven Survives To Sprint

Alto de la Cresta del Gallo (3rd cat, 4.2 km long, 7.5% average) to be climbed twice A rocky mountain covered in sparse trees. Sunny heat. A break-away up the road including Keisse, Engoulvent, Howes, Van Asbroeck, Cattaneo and Madrazo. A moderate gap - about 5'.
Suddenly a big crash. Boeckmans, Bouhanni, van Garderen and Schleck went down.  Boeckmans is taken to the hospital, conscious but battered. Van Garderen abandones with broken collarbone and few later also Bouhanni  and Dan Martin quit. 
Embedded image permalinkThe peloton has split and the Red Jersey gets spotted in the 2nd group, 30" behind. ORICA-GE stops everybody and they set an effective chase to bring Chaves back.
In front Howes has gone solo. Team Tinkoff is pulling, Rafal Majka in front. Howes tops the climb and flies down the descent. But he takes a bent wrong and the bike went straight against the guardrail. His bood is cold enough to allow him to pilot the crash avoiding a risky impact. Still the move is over and now Madrazo is ahead solo. 
Jasper Stuyven (Trek)The peloton is close and they are all together 33km to go. On the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo again. Team Sky rides toward the front. Niki Terpstra attacks and Brambilla goes on conter, Roosen on his wheel. Many attack, and Roosen is caught by a small group. In the descent a new front group formed, including Brambila, Durasek, Gonçalves, Henao, Losada, Rojas, Rosa. Valverde, Rodriguez and Chaves also join. 
Embedded image permalink10 km to go Losada and Gonçalves attack. They have a gap. The new comes that Sagan crashed, then that a motorbike took him down. 3 km to go they are all together. A last attack by Adam Hansen, then a bunch sprint. And Jasper Stuyven wins. Huge result from TFR that spent all its energy to keep the fast guy in front. Bravo!


Jasper Stuyven: 
“We knew it was going to be really hard today. We were well-placed together with the team and then there was the big crash and we had a few of us go down. I was also in the crash, and I hit my wrists pretty bad, they were hurting a lot, but I said to the guys I am gonna try. 
I suffered a lot the first time up the climb, and I was afraid that I would not make it a second time, but Dirk [Demol, director] was there to say to keep fighting, keep fighting.  And I was in a good position at the bottom so I could drift a little bit back on the climb; I think I was one of the last guys to make it over with the front group.
Haimar [Zubeldia] and Riccardo [Zoidl] were there to pull the guys back, they did a really, really great job. I was in a good place, in the wheel of [Tosh] van der Sande, because he was going well. Then we slowed down and they came from behind, but I felt it was a little bit of a tailwind so I thought [to myself] just go for it and I went with 350 meters to go. 
Then [Bilbao] from Caja-Rural came a little bit from the left, but I felt immediately I had more power. I was so aggressive… mad at myself, motivating myself, [telling myself] I can do this. So I kept pushing. And in the end it was not even so close. Great victory...it’s why I came to the Vuelta.
I always aim high and sometimes aiming high can give you only disappointment. After having so much bad luck this year it is finally nice to be able to do something with the good legs and it’s really nice to take the first victory in a WorldTour race. I am really, really happy. The team did well to pull everything back and even after the crash I kept fighting, kept fighting...Yeah. It pays off.”

Esteban Chaves:
“It was very stressful, everyone wanted to be at the front. Then one Lotto Soudal rider fell in front of me after a roundabout. I think this rider is really bad and I want to say to him that I hope you recover really well. After this the guys stayed with me and helped me get back to the first group. I started the climbs in the first group, the downhill was really dangerous, really small and in the final we keep the red jersey. I want to say again thank you to the boys and also to Neil (sport director), because Neil in the moment after the crash kept talking to me and when the big riders attacked he kept me calm.”

Kristian Sbaragli:

"It was a really hard stage and we weren't sure if I was able to make it over the climb the 2nd time. I had to give it everything just to stay in the first 30 positions on the climb. I was really happy with my performance on the climb. Unluckily for Sagan he crashed in the final so there was no longer any sprinters left and I was thinking I must be one of the fastest riders in the group. I thought maybe I started the sprint too early but if you look at it, for a normal sprint it wasn't too early. It was just a bit early for such a tough day like today. About 2 seconds before the finish I sat up because I was on my limit and they passed me with just 30 meters to go and that was the worst part of the day. When you feel the victory and then they pass you on the line it is not a good feeling. I am not going to give up, there are maybe still 2 or 3 chances before Madrid so I hope to take advantage them." 

BMC PRESS RELEASE
Van Garderen Breaks Shoulder At Vuelta
Murcia, Spain - The BMC Racing Team lost Tejay van Garderen to a broken right shoulder Saturday at the Vuelta a España in a crash that forced the withdrawal of several others. 
Van Garderen went down in a large pile-up as the peloton was chasing a breakaway inside of 50 kilometers to go in the 182.5-km race. Teammate Peter Velits said the crash was unavoidable.
"We were all around Tejay because we were close to the climb and the final circuit," Velits said. "We were trying to move up and suddenly it happened right in front of us. We did not have a chance to avoid it. That is cycling, but it is never nice to see crashes like this." 
Three other riders saw their Vuelta come to an end due to the crash: Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) who was in third overall, Lotto Soudal team leader Kris Boeckmans and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Credits), who was runner-up on Stage 3. 
Van Garderen was riding a second grand tour for the first time in his career. At the Tour de France last month, a respiratory problem forced his withdrawal during Stage 17. 
"It is a pity. Our team has lost a fundamental man," said BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois, who directed van Garderen at both grand tours. "This Vuelta was an opportunity to do well for him and for the BMC Racing Team. I am sure he will come back stronger physically, and above all, mentally." 

TINKOFF PRESS RELEASE:
Tinkoff-Saxo’s co-team leader Peter Sagan was hit by a motorbike deep into the stage 8 finale of Vuelta a España. The reckless collision caused Sagan to crash at speed effectively ending his chances on the stage, while causing extensive superficial wounds.
Tinkoff-Saxo announces after stage 8 of Vuelta a España that the team considers legal actions against the person or persons responsible for crashing into Peter Sagan with 8.2km to go on the stage. A Shimano auxiliary motorbike recklessly and dangerously drove into the peloton at high speed hitting Peter Sagan in his rear wheel. The unacceptable collision caused Peter Sagan to crash and left the rider with extensive superficial wounds on the left buttocks and leg. Sagan was fortunately able to finish the stage but a final medical examination is yet to be made. 
Tinkoff-Saxo believes that such accidents caused by reckless human error, regardless of whether they affect Tinkoff-Saxo’s riders or riders of other teams, are unacceptable at the top level of the sport of cycling. Peter Sagan was wearing the green jersey, he had won one stage, was set to target the stage win of today, while being in serious contention for later stage wins. Tinkoff-Saxo finds it intolerable that an incident like today’s can occur and potentially send the ambitions of a rider and a full season of planning astray. Meanwhile, today’s accident doesn’t only affect Sagan and Tinkoff-Saxo but the race as a whole and its fans, since Peter Sagan is one of the most popular riders drawing attention to both the race and the sport in general."

LOTTO-SOUDAL PRESS RELEASE:
"Kris Boeckmans was taken to a hospital in Murcia, this was the diagnosis: the 28-year-old rider has a severe facial trauma with several fractures, he’ll probably need surgery. Boeckmans also has a concussion, three broken ribs and had a bleeding in his lung. The doctors will now keep him in an induced coma for a few days."

Thomas De Gendt:

"I didn't want to leave boeckie behind before i saw him awake. I was crying like a child seeing him on the ground like this."

RESULTS
STAGE

1 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing 4:06:05
2 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
3 Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ.fr
4 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
5 Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - Qhubeka
6 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
8 Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
9 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky
GC
1 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 31:12:18
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:10
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:00:36
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:49
5 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:56
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:57
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:18
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:19
10 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:21

8.28.2015

La Vuelta 7: Lindeman From the Break

Embedded image permalinkAlto de Capileira, 40km to go: Cousin, Txurruka, Quinteo, Lindeman and Koshevoy have a big advantage  - around 10' - on a peloton that now has started chasing with determination. Both are flying, break and bunch. 25 km to go gap is down to 6'57".
Lonely highlands. Olive trees. A pastel blue and green landscape.
This is a 1st cathegory climb: a 1st part up to 8.5%, then 4 flat kms and then 9 km up to 14%. Team Movistar is leading the chase, Team Sky is gathering just at its back and riders are getting dropped one by one. 10 km to go Team Astana goes in front and joins the forces. They are now on the flat section. 
Embedded image permalink5 km to go Koshevoy has attacked. Txurruka brings him back, but he attacks again and is solo ahead the race. Cousin tries to bridge. 3 km to go they are together. They are on the steepest of the climb. The white village waiting on the rocky slope looks a mirage. They passed by and so the peloton, decimated but unshattered.
La Alpujarra. 2 km to go  Lindeman joins but Cousin jumps away. Lindeman doesn't let him go.
Behind Aru attacks and Froome gets immediately dropped. 500 m to go Lindeman has dropped Cousin. He's solo. He's won.
Behind Aru has caught Cousine and passed the line ahead the front group, gaining a few nice seconds on the GC contenders, particularly Froome. By this one I expected more.
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Bert-Jan Lindeman:
"I played the game. That’s also cycling, and not only to be the strongest," Lindeman said. "I got all the support from the team. I felt I had a really good day and started to believe in my chances. Normally, Amets Txurruka (CJR) is the strongest uphill, so I was a little scared. But at some point he and I were dropped. I saw that he was really empty and then I closed the gap alone to Jérôme Cousin (EUC) and Ilia Koshevoy (LAM). Only at the very end did we know that the peloton would not come back and that we could win. Cousin crashed in the last kilometre, and Koshevoy then went full gas. I felt that I had power left, and in the last 200 meters, I could easily pass him.
I've come a long way. I was not a professional anymore in 2014, but luckily I got a new opportunity at LottoNL-Jumbo. And today I win this tough mountain stage. I've been working hard for this result. I was ten days in Davos for a training camp with Martijn Keizer. That paid off now. I am grateful for the confidence this team has in me and now we will enjoy this victory together.”
“Ah, it’s the first summit finish and I was looking for some answers,” Aru said simply after catching his breath. “I haven’t been feeling great since the crash [on stage 2 – ed.] and I wasn’t great on the shorter climbs but now I’m recovering and that’s good. Now we’ll just look to recover for the stages to come.”

Fabio Aru:
“I haven’t seen the classification yet but I’m just thinking about my own race to be honest. We’ll see. This is a beautiful Vuelta, really tough and I really like racing in Spain so we’ll try to do well. I gave everything today and we’ll see in the coming days. I tried today and I did my own race.”


RESULTS
STAGE 
1 Lindeman
2 Koshevoy +9
3 Aru +29
4 Cousin +34
5 Majka +36
6 Chaves +36
7 Valverde +36
8 Quintana +36
9 Meintjes +36

GC
1 Chaves
2 Dumoulin +10
3 Martin +33
4 Roche +36
5 Valverde +49
6 Rodriguez +56
7 Quintana +57
8 Aru +57
9 Moreno +1:18

8.27.2015

La Vuelta 6: Chaves The Conqueror

Embedded image permalinkSierra de Cazorla - 3.3 km 6.3% . 7 km to go. There is Cummings solo in front, a few seconds ahead the peloton. Earlier there has been a larger break-away - Gautier, Rubiano, Peter Velits, Durasek, Cummings and Terpstra - but they have been caught one by one. Then Rubiano attacked and Cummings dashed on counter.
2 km to go Cummings is caught. Chaves attacks. Riders are dropping like leaves in the Autumn. Dumoulin follows, in the leader jersey. Dan Martin tries to chase. Chaves is in the last km and his gap is up to 25''. It's done and dusted: Chaves has won and grabs the Red Jersey. Bravo!

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Esteban Chaves:
Embedded image permalink“I can’t believe I’ve won. It was a long, hot, hard stage today. Mid-way I spoke to Matt Hayman and he told me: ‘if you have good legs you had to race because you never know what will happen tomorrow.’ Neil Stephens told me about the climb and said it was really steep, at 10% and even one part at 14%. I had good legs on that part and attacked. I’m really happy I want to thank all the team and staff again, they’re all amazing. Caleb Ewan won yesterday but today he went for bottles. This team is like a family. Darryl (Impey) put me in a really good position and I started the climb in first position. I saw Amador suffering as he pushed the pace. When I saw that he wasn’t comfortable, I tried an went for it.”

Peter Sagan:
 Louis Meintjes in White
“Not with these conditions [could I go for the win]. I hate this heat and it was very hard for me. I don’t know if it was the same for other riders but for me it was too hot. It’s very bad. I want some rules for this weather because it’s impossible. You take water from the car and then after five minutes you have tea.”

Steve Cummings:
"I decided to give it a go but one of the guys was only three back in the overall. They started to chase us early and then when Movistar came on the front, I knew there wasn’t much chance, but you’ve got to try. I’m hunting for a stage win and I hope I can find one. It’s been hot like this every other day and so it's quite nice for breakaway attempts. I’ll try again in a few days."

RESULTS
STAGE
1 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 4:46:16
2 Dan Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin 0:00:05
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin
4 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Lampre-Merida 0:00:11
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
6 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
8 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
10 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky
GC
1 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 21:55:13
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin 0:00:10
3 Dan Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin 0:00:33
4 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:00:36
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 0:00:49
6 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:55
7 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha
8 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 0:00:56
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar 0:00:57
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana 0:01:12

La Vuelta So Far (1-5): A Dramatic Start

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Hey hey hey! I go abroad five days and you manage to mess it up that way?!
First of all... the first stage of course: neutralised because the ttt was supposed to run... well... on the beach! I mean, had anybody noticed it? Anyway the gc guys rode it cautiously waiting for the mountains.
Then BOOM! two young talents gave GE two big big victories and the leader jersey: Esteban Chaves and Caleb Ewan put their name just atop.
Then another BOOM! better a BUMP! a big big crash involving almost everybody with riders badly injuried - see poor Tiralongo - and a complete chaos. 
Embedded image permalinkNow we know how those things go. We are all perfectly aware that in such circumstances riders tend to use all ways to come quickly back to the front, especially when they are fighting for a result. BUT the rule is that they can't use any way, they can't get on the team car nor hanging on it. Still they do it - c'mon we know they do - but they avoid to do it openly, they avoid to do it in front of tv cameras. There are pictures of riders doing that on the Stelvio during the Giro etc etc. Yes, they do. 
When a rider is caught doing things like that the Jury has no option really: the rider is out. No discussion. Vincenzo Nibali has been caught and consequently thrown out the race.
His 'apology' sounds to me a little like Pantani's: "Everybody do it". Of course a lift has nothing to do with doping but the fact others do something that is formally forbiden can't allow anybody to expect indulgence. 
Is this a wrong, unfair rule? I don't think so. If you think it's wrong, you should talk openly against it. But how could you? Maybe the UCI should decide that after a big crash the race is always neutralised and riders allowed to regroup. 
So far this bad story tells more about Nibali's mental and physical condition than about cycling rules. He wants to honour his contract with Astana for 2016 - the opposite would be quite expensive for him - but it's going to be very very stressful.

Esteban Chaves:
“It’s an amazing feeling. I want to say thanks to all of my teammates, all the staff, this is unbelievable. It’s really important. It’s the most important victory of my life. The first road stage of the Vuelta and to take the red jersey… it’s unbelievable. The team have all the confidence in me and they did the best today. Thank you mates!”

Caleb Ewan:
“This is by far the happiest day in my career. To beat some of the best sprinters in the world, especially guys like Sagan and Degenkolb on an uphill finish, it really means a lot to me. It’s an honour to race with those guys and to beat them is just unreal for me. It was a super tough finish, but my teammates did an awesome job of getting me to the bottom in front position. I even had time to stop back a few spots and that always makes it easier than trying to move up. If it wasn’t for them, there is no way I could have won today."

Peter Sagan:
“I’m very happy for this victory because I think it’s good for the entire team. This is a good start to the Vuelta a España. And finally I had a victory! I’m always trying to get the win and someday it has to come. And it did today, also thanks to my teammates, who were pulling all day and I’m very grateful for their effort. I’ve had many second places but you cannot always finish second. So today I finished first. That’s how cycling is, sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. I was searching for a victory during the Tour and now it has come.
My team spent a lot of energy, mostly in the last 20km, where we had headwind and we wanted to catch the breakaway. Bennati crashed in the descent so he couldn’t be there with me in the final kilometers. Today was also a day for Degenkolb and Bouhanni but their teams didn’t work at the front before the last three kilometers and I decided to take Degenkolb’s wheel, which was the right decision. I’m here at the Vuelta to do the best for my team and to get race kilometers into the legs before the World Championships. It’s good to know already that I have some speed in the legs and then we’ll see how it goes. The Vuelta is very hard but this is a good start for me and my teammates."
After his 2nd on place.
"It was a very hard day, in which I spent a lot of time at the front of the group. I approached Valverde to ask him whether Movistar could help us but they didn't seem very interested. The last climb was very hard, it was 300 meters up, then a little bit down and then again up. I think I can also be satisfied with he second place as it was extremely hard. I had spent a tremendous amount of energy at the front and in the final stretch I went behind the wheel of Valverde. The last climb, about 400 meters, was horrible for me. I honestly thought that was the end for me. However, when I saw all the climbers passing me, I said to myself I should make a last effort, squeeze out all my forces and push. I stayed behind Valverde but my legs weren't there, so I finished behind him. The stage was tough and if I knew beforehand the finish would be so hard, I wouldn't have tried. Still, I think second place in such a stage is good", underlines Sagan who now leads the points classification by 10 points. 
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Vincenzo Nibali:
"Per quello che é successo oggi chiedo veramente a tutti le scuse pubbliche, per chiunque sia indignato o vergognato per me!! Molti di voi non hanno mai corso in bici , altri sono grandi tifosi altri pura passione, ed altri ancora si sono avvicinati negli ultimi anni!! La bici il ciclismo è passione, amore , giornate lontano dalla famiglia con allenamenti estenuanti, sacrifici troppi che iniziano già all'età di 16 anni circa!! Quello che è successo oggi alla Vuelta succede in ogni gara ciò non deve dimostrare che non è sbagliato e devo restare impunito!!! La giusta punizione da scontare la dettano i giudici. Un anno andato male per mille motivi arrivo alla Vuelta con la voglia di riscatto da una stagione infame, mi ritrovo alla prima tappa scusando l'espressione con il culo per terra , ti rialzi aiutato da un compagno sperando di non esserti fatto male,ti guardi le ferite lasciate addosso dall'asfalto rovente e cerchi la tua bici che andata distrutta , panico e caos nel gruppo, tardo a partire ...tanto... Troppo al punto che quando risalgo sulla mia bici ho un ritardo di 1:20 , mi fiondo all'inseguimento senza paura, senza acqua da solo, piano piano guadagno terreno e trovo i miei compagni che mi aspettano lunga la strada , a testa che pensa che devo andare e devo rimanere davanti in corsa per quelle persone che mi guardano, per quelle che mi amano, per mia moglie, mia figlia e per quelli che si staranno domandando come sto , vado avanti per far vedere che non mi sono fatto niente , fino a quello sbaglio che mi costa caro una trainata di 150 metri di cui molti sono pronti a gettare del fango , (è rientrato per che si è attaccato)nessuno sottolinea che è caduto è stato attaccato, è da solo all'inseguimento contro 18 corridori che spingono a tutta davanti!! no signori nel ciclismo la corsa è corsa nessuno ti aspetta!! Nel ciclismo episodi come questi ce ne sono molti a maggior ragione dopo una caduta!! Alla fine tutto avrei pensato una multa salata da pagare ed una penalizzazione come si usa fare per restare fuori classifica!!! Avrei accettato anche una penalità di dieci minuti!! Dopo tutto IO non sarò il primo ne l'ultimo di questa vicenda. Mi scuso ancora per avervi rubato del tempo e grazie del sostegno o meno che mi date !! Buona serata a presto ! Vince" 
Embedded image permalink[NdT: I keep it as it is, a little uncorrect."For what has happened today I really want to apologise with all those watching, for anyone who is angry or ashamed for me !! Many of you have never ridden a bike, others are big fans for pure passion, and others have approached cycling in the last years !! Cycling is passion, love, days away from family with grueling training, too many sacrifices starting at the age of about 16 years !! What happened today in the Vuelta happens in every race, this should not prove that it is wrong and I have to go unpunished !!! The Jury decides the fair punishment to be served. This year has been wrong for many reasons, I started the Vuelta with a desire of redemption from an infamous season, I find myself in the first stage - excuse my French - with the butt on the ground, you get up again helped by a mate hoping to not look hurt, you look at your wounds, left by the hot asphalt, and for your bike that's broken, panic and chaos in the peloton, starting again takes a long while... Too much ... to the point that when I go back on my bike I have a delay of 1:20, I chase without fear, without water, only slowly I gain ground and find my mates waiting for me a long way, my head thinking that I have to go and I have to stay ahead in the race for those people looking at me, for those who love me, for my wife, my daughter and for those who are wondering how I am, I go on to show that I do not have anything broken, untill that mistake that costs me so much: a lift 150 meters long about which many are quick to throw mud, (he came back because he was hanging on the car) nobody stresses the fact he fell, he has been attacked, he's all alone chasing against 18 riders who are pushing in front !! there are no gentlemen in a cycling race, nobody is waiting !! In cycling there are many episodes like these and many more so after a crash!! In the end all I would have thought to pay was a hefty fine and a penalty as they do to keep off the gc!!! I wuld have also accepted a penalty of ten minutes !! After all I will not be the first nor the last of this story. I apologise again for having stolen some time and thank you for the support or not you give me !! Good evening See you soon! Vince ]

RESULTS
22.08  Stage 1 (TTT) - Puerto Banús › Marbella  BMC Racing Team  VELITS Peter 7.4
23.08  Stage 2 - Alhaurín de la Torre › Caminito del Rey  CHAVES Johan Esteban  CHAVES Johan Esteban 158.7
24.08  Stage 3 - Mijas › Málaga  SAGAN Peter  CHAVES Johan Esteban 158.4"
25.08  Stage 4 - Estepona › Vejer de la Frontera  VALVERDE Alejandro  CHAVES Johan Esteban 209.6
26.08  Stage 5 - Rota › Alcalá de Guadaíra  EWAN Caleb  DUMOULIN Tom 167.3

Cycling So Far: Colorado, Vattenfall Cyclassics, Tour du Limousin

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I'm just back from London with a few pictures and many stories to tell. It has been a smashing stay and in spite that was my 3rd time in the city I must admit it amazed me again. Cyling has really rooted up there!
But about this, later.
As far as pro cycling I see that BMC dominated in Colorado, winning the overall, several stages, and the team classification.
I'm glad to see that Tao Geoghegan won the youth classification. 
The 2015 Vattenfall Cyclassics podium: Kristoff, Greipel and NizzoloIn Vattenfall Classifs Andre Greipel confirmed himself as the best sprinters of the year, while Giacomo Nizzolo collected another podium place. 2nd was Alexander Kristoff and yes, I think he's 2nd also in the best sprinter competition, mostly dued to his fil in the Tour de France... 
Sonny Colbrelli won the Tour of Limousine while Manuel Belletti crashed out, sadly enough. Fortunately nothing is broken and he's back on bike.
La Vuelta started dramatically, I'll write more about it. It's my favourite grand tour and I'm a little ashamed because I missed five stages. Still London was worth of it! I'll catch up.


André Greipel: “We already tried it a few times to win this race, I’m so glad it finally worked out. Although, the race didn’t start so well. I crashed in the beginning of the stage. I wanted to take a sanitary stop, but a guy behind me didn’t see me and hit me in the back. It was without speed, but still painful. Also Greg, Jens and Jürgen hit the ground. For the finale we were four guys down. But I could still rely on Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot and Marcel Sieberg.
As usual it all came down to the last ascent of the Waseberg, that’s crucial for the difference between winning and losing. We controlled as much as we could and all maintained a good position on the climb. Before the sprint I talked to my teammates, it was really important to be in a good position with three kilometres to go. I trusted them to help me. Sibi put me on the wheel of Kristoff and I was happy to have the legs to pass him by. This is the first time I won a one-day WorldTour race, so this is really special. Certainly because it’s in my home country. I won’t compare it to winning a Tour stage for example, I’m just very proud I could win this race.”


Sonny Colbrelli:
”Yesterday I was seven seconds behind Herrada but I was still confident to move up and win the overall classification. It’s a fantastic emotion win the race and I have to say thanks to my teammates and the sport director Mirko Rossato who believed in this success since the first day and led us in the best way. Today was hard because everyone knew I was the fastest rider and also a big contender for the overall victory. So with my team we managed the race for much part of the day. I finished second the final sprint but the most important thing was to take enough seconds to arrive Herrada as happened”. 

RESULTS
US PRO CHALLENGE
17.08 Stage 1 - Steamboat Springs › Steamboat Springs PHINNEY Taylor PHINNEY Taylor 155.5
18.08 Stage 2 - Steamboat Springs › Arapahoe Basin BOOKWALTER Brent BOOKWALTER Brent 185.5
19.08 Stage 3 - Copper Mountain › Aspen REIJNEN Kiel BOOKWALTER Brent 163.2
20.08 Stage 4 - Aspen › Breckenridge DENNIS Rohan DENNIS Rohan 202.5
21.08 Stage 5 (ITT) - Breckenridge › Breckenridge DENNIS Rohan DENNIS Rohan 13.5
22.08 Stage 6 - Loveland › Fort Collins KREUZIGER Roman DENNIS Rohan 164.5
23.08 Stage 7 - Golden › Denver MURPHY John 109.7
23.08 General Classification DENNIS Rohan 0
Points Classification REIJNEN Kiel 0
Mountains Classification DENNIS Rohan 0
Youth Classification GEOGHEGAN HART Tao 0
Teams Classification BMC Racing Team 0

VATTENFALL CLASSICS
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 4:57:05
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
3 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr
7 Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
8 Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
9 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10 Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling


8.18.2015

Colorado 1: Some Comeback (and not)

Embedded image permalinkSteamboat Springs. There was a break-away - Clarke (UHC), Kerby (DPC), Boivin (OPM), Oronte (SSC), Miller (JHB) Oram (BDT) and Torckler (BFL) - then only two riders left up the road: BMC Rohan Dennis and Optum Guillaume Boivin. 5 km to go their advantage was 25'' but Boivin, exhausted, refused to colloborate. 1 km to go they got caught and Taylor Phinney won.
It seems the usual cycling race routine: a break, a chase, a win. But look closer: the winner was "racing for only the eighth time since returning from a potentially career-ending crash in May of 2014" BMC press release says "Phinney fought back after losing contact with the peloton on the final climb of the 155.5-kilometer race that started and ended in Steamboat Springs, Colorado", still he won.
Embedded image permalinkTaylor Phinney had already step on a podium in Tour of Utah, in his true first race since he had got injuried in 2014 US National Championship that he was dominating. Now that's what you call a 'comeback': when a champion knows that he has got the chance to be back at his/her own level he/she does all he can to achieve the result as soon as he/she can. It's a matter of awarness, of self esteem. It's a matter of mind strenght. 
Embedded image permalinkI can't avoid to add that Andy Schleck failed just here. He failed to understand how important a great comeback was for himself, for his personal growth. I'm sure, as far as I know him, that it was possible and that it was completely on him. But it was immediately obvious that he didn't want. He was attracted by the idea of it but he wasn't putting the power of his will on it and it didn't work. It's probably the case to question that will and his skill to deal with reality and frustration. No doubt it wasn't as strong as Phinney's. Family has been probably another important factor for both: Phinney's parents are people used to fight back and cleaver people. The Schleck family, as far as I know them, spent many years just defending and covering their sons, offering affection of course but probably not the guidance you need in hard times, when you must face the fact that it's on you, your own bussiness, your own life and what you are going to do with it will be just your merit and your fault. 
Do you remember Timmy Duggan? he decided to quit, he wasn't forced to but realised that he was done with procycling and eager to be engagged in a new challenge. That's also a very appreciable life choice. You need a perspective to do that, a clear view of the future as you want it and then an effective, realistic effort to get there. I see nothing similar in Andy Schelck's retirement and it made me sad. I thought he was something more than that. Instead he's going to be remembered for few great performaces (Zoncolan, Liège, Galibier) and a messy personal life. A cut flight.  But cut by his own hands. And we'll never know how far he could really have gone.  
Taylor Phinney at the opposite is back where he belongs and where he wants to be. Well done guy! Wellcome back!

Taylor Phinney:
"I actually got dropped but made it back. It was kind of what I like to call 'a Davis Phinney special,' where you get dropped and then come back and win. I knew I don't have the pop to beat some of the best bunch sprinters in the group. So I just thought I would 'diesel style it' and go early. I didn't think I was going to be able to win until maybe 100 meters to go and then I had a slight moment of panic because I thought I was going to lose it. But I just put my head down and I spent a lot of time and a lot of energy pushing through those last eight or nine seconds. I have had 15 months to think about putting my hands up in the air. It was everything that I thought it would be." 

RESULTS
STAGE
1 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 3:39:07  
2 Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
3 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
4 Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
5 Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
6 Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
7 Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing
8 Ivan Rovny (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
9 Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
11 Alexandr Braico (Mda) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
12 Taylor Shelden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
13 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
14 Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie Racing Team
15 Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
16 Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek Factory Racing
17 Daniel Alexander Jaramillo Diez (Col) Jamis - Hagens Berman
18 Leonardo Basso (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
19 Jordan Kerby (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
20 Flavio De Luna (Mex) Team SmartStop
21 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Axeon Cycling Team
GC
1 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 3:39:07
2 Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
3 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
4 Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
5 Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
6 Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
7 Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing
8 Ivan Rovny (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
9 Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
11 Alexandr Braico (Mda) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
12 Taylor Shelden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
13 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
14 Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie Racing Team
15 Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
16 Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek Factory Racing
17 Daniel Alexander Jaramillo Diez (Col) Jamis - Hagens Berman
18 Leonardo Basso (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
19 Jordan Kerby (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
20 Flavio De Luna (Mex) Team SmartStop
21 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Axeon Cycling Team