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EuroTrash Kristoff Thursday!

Alexander Kristoff must like sand and strong winds as he has chalked-up two stage wins in Qatar and we have all the results and video in EuroTrash Thursday. Marcel Kittel won’t be in Sanremo, but he fancies the cobbles of Roubaix. Team line-ups for Murcia, Ruta del Sol and Almeria, plus Rohan’s preparation for the Hour Record. Get the coffee.

TOP STORY: Kittel: Roubaix yes, Sanremo no!
Giant-Alpecin’s ace sprinter, Marcel Kittel, has not landed a big win in 2015, he failed in the Tour Down Under, although he did win the critérium the day before, nor did he score in the Tour of Qatar. The German rider has revealed part of his 2015 calendar, with the news that he will not line up in Milan-San Remo, but will be on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.

The Tirreno-Adriatico and the Classics: Gent-Wevelgem, the Scheldeprijs – of which he has won the last three editions – and Paris-Roubaix are on his program. But he will miss out the Milan-San Remo. “John (Degenkolb) will head for that race. It is the team’s decision and must be respected,” he told Spanish sports paper Marca. “For sure I will go to the Tour de France. The Giro d’Italia no and Vuelta almost certainly not,” he added.

Kittel reigned in the mass sprints of the last two editions of the Tour de France, with four victories in both 2013 and 2014, demoting Mark Cavendish and André Greipel. Last year we had 13 wins and the previous year 16. For the moment none in 2015, apart from that Criterium before the Tour Down Under. Early days yet.

Only one win for the big German, so far:
Peoples Choice Classic in Adelaide 2015

header-qatar15Tour of Qatar 2015
Stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar was the scene of one of the most spectacular stages in the history of the event. A sand storm indeed hit the peloton in the first hour of what was to be an action packed stage. After a tremendous battle between the teams of the favorites, fifteen men eventually made it clear to the finish in Al Khor where Alexander Kristoff conquered his first ever stage in Qatar. The Norwegian beat Guardini and Van Avermaet on his way to conquering the overall leader’s Golden Jersey.

While the riders had struggled against the wind on stage 1, the conditions were a lot more favorable for the second and longest day of the event; a 187.5 kilometer ride from the Al Wakra harbor to the corniche in Al Khor. The 141 riders at the start knew the wind would make the day a fast one, little did they imagine that a sand storm would hit the pack as soon as they left Al Wakra. Straight from the start, making the best of the strong tailwind, the favorites’ teams moved to the front and managed to split the pack apart. At the front of the wind and sand swept race, where the likes of Golden Jersey Rojas, title holder Terpstra, four-time winner Boonen, as well as Sagan, Cancellara, Kristoff, Blythe and Haussler. The front group’s lead grew to 45 seconds over the first chasing bunch but things calmed down and the peloton bunched up again at 50 kilometers from the finish.

It was then the turn of five men to break away at km 51. Michael Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Johan Van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka), Jelly Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Matthew Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE). Their advantage grew to a 1:10 at km 68 just before poor old Wallays was hit by a puncture. The front four continued their efforts and the gap reached 3:50 at 102 km. At the first intermediate sprint (108.5 km), won by Van Avermaet ahead of Hayman and Morkov, the gap had dropped down to 3:30. Led by the riders of Etixx – Quick-Step, around forty riders powered away. The only big names missing where Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin), Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Meanwhile, the front five saw their lead drop dramatically. They were finally caught by the Golden Jersey group after 123 kilometers. Sixty riders eventually bunched up together again before another big explanation occurred. This time 36 strong men made a difference. A decisive move that Cancellara (TFR), Kittel, Bouhanni (Cofidis), Valverde and Wiggins missed out on. The second bonus sprint (157.5 km) was clinched by Tom Boonen from Nikolas Maes (both Etixx – Quick-Step) and Marcus Burghardt (BMC). As the pace continued being impressive, several riders failed to keep up. White Pearl Jersey Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) was the first to be dropped. Then came the turn of overall leader José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar). The Golden Jersey would never manage to move back to the front. With 25 kilometers to go, only 15 riders remained at the front: Terpstra, Boonen, Maes (all Etixx – Quick-Step), Sagan, Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo), Stuyven (Trek), Burghardt, Van Avermaet (BMC), Kristoff (Katusha), Guardini, Tleubayev (Astana), Rowe, Stannard (Sky), Blythe (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Haussler (IAM Cycling).

The front group remained together all the way to the Al Khor Corniche. Despite a few attempts, victory was to be decided by a group sprint. Without any team mates, an exhausted Alexander Kristoff flew to victory claiming his first ever success in his sixth appearance at the Tour of Qatar. Winner of Milan-Sanremo and two stages of the Tour de France last year, the 27-year-old Norwegian adds a prestigious win to his victory record by beating Guardini and Van Avermaet to the line. Kristoff takes command of the GC with a 1 second lead over Boonen and 3 seconds over Van Avermaet and will be wearing the Golden Jersey in tomorrow’s individual time-trial. Fifth on the day, Tom Boonen captures the Silver Jersey (points classification) while Peter Sagan claims the White Pearl Jersey for the best young rider.

Stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): “It was a very long sprint. I bridged up to Terpstra and Guardini who had a little gap and with 500 meters to go I went full gas. I felt I had it under control but Guardini is a fast guy, I was only sure when I crossed the finish line. I am really happy today with this victory. Finally I managed to win here in Qatar! It was a really hard day, but my legs were ok. I felt good during the whole stage and my team supported me. The guys really did excellent work today as well as yesterday, too. They kept me safe all day and I could save some energy for the final. Of course, in the final I was a little bit tired, but I think everyone in the group was in same condition, because last part of the stage was hard. But I was able to win the sprint and this is great! This is my earliest victory ever in my career and I am happy. The windy conditions today suited me very well. In Norway I live at the coast. We even have more wind there.”

3rd Greg Van Avermaet (BMC): “I will see how it goes. I have spent a lot of energy the first two days already. Last year, I did a good time trial and there is not a specialist up front (in the overall standings). So if I can stay close to Tom Boonen and the other guys, that will be good. I am feeling pretty good. The breakaways were not as long as normal, but I feel my form is good. It is a good sign for the classics. It was a hard sprint with the tailwind,” Van Avermaet said. “They surprised us a little from the back so I had to close the gap and then Kristoff started his sprint. So it was hard to come over him. I think I did a good sprint to get third place.”

4th on the stage Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “It was a really tough day. We had headwind at the start, which then soon after turned into crosswind and lasted for almost the rest of the stage. It was a battle throughout the day with many splits and gaps. Overall, I think it was a good day for me and for Tinkoff-Saxo, as we had two guys in the leading group. I’m very motivated and we all look forward to tomorrow’s time trial, which will be very important”.

Andrea Guardini (Astana): “60km to go with 40 riders and it’s just me and Ruslan – then with 30k to go we split again and stayed in the first echelon with 14-15 guys”

Tour of Qatar Stage 2 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 3:49:51
2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
6. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
7. Adam Blythe (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
8. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC
9. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek
10. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky.

Tour of Qatar Overall After Stage 2:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 7:39:31
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:01
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:03
4. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana at 0:04
5. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:08
6. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC at 0:09
7. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:10
8. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
9. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek
10. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo.

Stage 2:

In extremely windy conditions, Niki Terpstra (Etixx – Quick-Step) surprised the field of specialists to clock the fastest time of the day’s Stage 3 individual time-trial. On the 10.9kms course designed around the Lusail circuit and sports complex, the Dutchman managed to beat Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky). Terpstra captures the overall leader’s Golden Jersey and is on course to retain his title.

After yesterday’s hectic stage that saw Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) conquer his first stage win in Qatar and the Golden Jersey, it was time for a totally different exercise. The wind however was just as vicious, it was even stronger than on the previous day with sand sweeping across the roads of the 10.9kms circuit. The first man to clock a fast time was Lars Boom (Astana) who had finished second in the same time-trial a year ago. But his time of 14:33 would be beaten by the former hour record holder Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling) in 14:21.

Then came the UCI World time-trial champion: Bradley Wiggins (Sky). After clocking the fastest time at the halfway mark, the Brit went on to conquer top spot in 14:12. At least for the time being; Wiggins would finally have to settle for third spot. Indeed two men managed to do better. First of all, Fabian Cancellara whose time of 14:11 looked good enough to give him his first success this year. Eventually, Niki Terpstra went on to smash that best time. The Dutchman clocked an impressive 14:03 that gave him his second stage victory on Qatari soil.

While the last man on the course, Golden Jersey Alexander Kristoff eventually finished 26th, 44 seconds adrift, the Tour of Qatar changed leader as Terpstra conquered the overall lead in impressive fashion. The 2014 champion now has an 11 second advantage over Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 12 seconds over Ian Stannard (Sky). The Silver jersey (points classification) remains on the shoulders of Tom Boonen while Luke Rowe who finished at a great 15th spot today conquers the White Pearl Jersey for the best young rider.

Stage winner and new race leader; Niki Terpstra (Etixx – Quick-Step): “The victory is a bit of a surprise. I was just going for a good time trial to move up in the classification. But it went so well I ended up with the stage win as well. At the beginning I wasn’t going full gas to save some energy for when I turned into the headwind. Then my Sport Director Wilfried Peeters was pushing me faster and faster until I was giving everything. I kept the speed until the finish line and I am now back in the Gold jersey as race leader. If you see the guys that are riding here, it is a really strong peloton with some time trial specialists such as Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins. So, it’s awesome to get a victory with such big competition. Now the goal is to keep the Gold jersey. First, I’m going to enjoy this win this evening with my teammates, and then we will plan for the next days. I have to pay attention all the time because with this race, if you lose focus for even a second and miss a move in the wind, and you are in the second group, your leadership is over. I had a good winter, the shape is good, and I am really happy with this result. I hope I can still improve in the months leading into the Classics, but I showed today I am going in the right direction.”

2nd overall Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo): “It was a really tough time trial because of the strong winds. The route switched directions several times and we had head, tail and crosswinds, which made it difficult. But I’m very pleased with the result and my performance today. I had ambitions before the stage today and it’s great to sit second in the GC going into the last part of the race. We have some strong adversaries here in Qatar. I finished in the same time as Wiggins and one second away from Cancellara, so I take that as a good sign. The race is not over yet, as we still have three stages left, where we have serious chances – both Peter and I. Terpstra is very strong, but we will do our best.”

6th on the stage; Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) did not hide his thoughts: “I can do even better in a race against the clock. Today we all struggled with the wind and experienced the same conditions. I am satisfied with my performance, although I probably held back a little too long. Due to the conditions, I went cautiously into the wind. And when I crossed the line, I felt that I probably could have gone full gas a little bit earlier, but how was I supposed to know. To lose just ten seconds to Cancellara and even fewer to Wiggins is nothing to be ashamed of. This will allow me to measure my progress; every year I gain another level. Now we will make every effort to set Haussler up so he can win a stage. He certainly is capable of it.”

8th on the stage; Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka): “It was really hard and windy today with sand once again. I managed to pace myself well, I didn’t expect a podium today as it’s quite hard to beat Bradley and the other specialists but I’m happy with my performance though. We just have to wait and see if I can hold on to a top 10 finish.”

9th overall Andrei Grivko (Astana): “All the best Classics riders are here – it’s good to go up against them, it gives me a lot of motivation for the mountains in Oman.”

Tour of Qatar Stage 3 Result:
1. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx – Quick-Step in 14:04
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek at 0:08
3. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky at 0:09
4. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky at 0:10
6. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:18
7. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:20
8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:21
9. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:24
10. Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:25.

Tour of Qatar Overall After Stage 3:
1. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx – Quick-Step in 7:53:42
2. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:11
3. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky at 0:12
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:19
5. Luke Rowe (GB) Sky at 0:33
6. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:36
7. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:42
8. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling at 0:44
9. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:46
10. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:48.

Stage 3 TT:

Stage 4 ended in a bunch sprint in Mesaieed. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) again showed he was the fastest of the pack, capturing his second success of this 14th edition of the Qatar stage race. The Norwegian beat Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Arndt to the line. Comfortably positioned in the peloton, Niki Terpstra (Etixx – Quick-Step) kept hold of the overall leader’s Golden Jersey.

The picturesque site of Al Thakhira, just north of the city of Al Khor, welcomed the riders of the Tour of Qatar for the start of stage 4. The wind direction remaining the same as the previous days (south, south-east), it would be a slow stage heading down south.

After 10 kilometers, despite a fast pace, three riders managed to take off: Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Dimitry Gruzdev (Astana) and Jarl Salomein (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise). Their lead reached 3:40 as team Etixx – Quick-Step took control of the chase. The first intermediate sprint (76.5km) was claimed by Salomein ahead of Venter and Gruzdev while the pack remained 3:00 adrift. The pack kept good control of the escapees and slowly moved closer. The second bonus sprint (136.5km) was this time won by Gruzdev in front of Salomein and Venter while the gap had dropped down to 1:15.

Eventually, the front three were caught by the pack with 20 kilometers to go. Fighting against the strong head wind all the way to Mesaieed, the peloton remained bunched without any riders attempting a final attack. Time had come for a bunched sprint. Like on the corniche in Al Khor, Alexander Kristoff victoriously powered to the line, beating Peter Sagan and Nikias Arndt. Thanks to his second stage win, the Norwegian takes command of the points classification and will be wearing the Silver Jersey on Thursday’s penultimate stage.

The overall leader’s Golden Jersey remains on the shoulders of 2014 champion Niki Terpstra, but due to a slight gap in the pack, the Dutchman looses two precious seconds on his closest rival. Indeed in the new GC, Terpstra has a 6 second lead over Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 12 seconds over Ian Stannard (Sky). Great Britain’s Luke Rowe (Sky) remains the best young rider and keeps his White Pearl Jersey.

Stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): “It was a lot of head wind during the whole day, so the pace was slow and the race became easy until the final kilometers. In the final everybody was fresh, so the sprint was very chaotic! It was very important to get a good position. My teammates did a perfect job; they managed to put me in an ideal position in the last km, so I just managed to keep Peter Sagan behind me after a long sprint. Now I am happy with my second stage win; I really like to win here in the Tour of Qatar.”

2nd overall Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo): “We fought hard in the finale to position ourselves in the peloton and I was able to gain 5 seconds in a race that will be decided by small time differences. So our effort was really worthwhile, as we distanced ourselves from Astana and got closer to Terpstra. There have been splits in the peloton on all stages, so we knew that we had to stay focused – especially in the last tricky part. Tomorrow will be the most important day of the entire race and we have to grasp the opportunities that arise.”

6th Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling): “The guys really worked hard for me again. But everyone was very nervous because of the wind in the end. There were two small crashes in the last kilometers, and we had to reset ourselves each time. Vincente Reynes helped me a lot. It was really fast, and my crash did not bother me in the sprint. Everything is fine. Even if there is a lot of wind, and a lot of concentration and energy is required, I feel well protected and am certainly fit for Thursday, no problem.”

Break rider Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka): “We went away after 10km. I was hoping for a lot of crosswind but it was all headwind so maybe it wasn’t the best decision to be in the break because it was a really tough day. At some stages we were really fighting to just ride at 30km/h. I suppose we can say it was a good day of training.”

Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana): “It gets dark here early, so we started the race early and I spent all day in a headwind with two other guys” – Dmitriy Gruzdev

Tour of Qatar Stage 4 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 4:15:57
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
3. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
4. Adam Blythe (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
5. Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
7. Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana
8. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
9. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
10. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida.

Tour of Qatar Overall After Stage 4:
1. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx – Quick-Step in 12:09:44
2. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:06
3. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky at 0:12
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:19
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha at 0:21
6. Luke Rowe (GB) Sky at 0:33
7. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:37
8. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling at 0:39
9. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:41
10. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:42.

Stage 4:

header-iamcyclingIAM Cycling to Clasica Almeria
While the sprinters compete in the heat of Qatar, the puncheurs will be finding a more fertile hunting ground for their qualities racing over Spanish roads this coming Sunday. The Clasica Almeria gets the ball rolling for IAM Cycling Classics riders, most of whom will also be racing the Ruta del Sol, which is a difficult race both in terms of the terrain and the riders likely to participate.

Mario Chiesa will act as the directeur sportif for the Swiss Professional team during their upcoming sojourn on the Iberian Peninsula. He stresses the importance for the team to do well and especially not to give up at the first moment of difficulty. “There are some strong riders who are on the list of entrants for Sunday’s race and for the following week’s stage race. We are not here just to participate and sign in each morning, but to do our absolute best. Of course, we must remain realistic, and not assume that we’ll win every stage. The team, however, has several points in its favor on this sort of course, which, despite the number of climbs, will likely go to a sprinter like Sondre Holst Enger. Matteo Pelucchi already has won this race back in 2011. Everything will depend on how the race unfolds. In Spain, it can get crazy in all directions as soon as the starting flag is dropped. And certainly the Clasica Almeria will be good preparation for Sylvain Chavanel, considering Het Nieuwsblad is already coming at the end of the month in Belgium.”

Clasica Almeria (Sunday, February 15th)
Almeria – Roquetas de Mar, 178 km.

Sylvain Chavanel (Fr), Clément Chevrier (Fr), Jonathan Fumeaux (S), Sondre Holst Enger (Nor), Simon Pellaud (S), Jérôme Pineau (Fr), Patrick Schelling (S).
Directeur sportif: Mario Chiesa.

IAM Cycling team leader for Almeria, Sylvain Chavanel:
Paris-Nice stage-5

header-europcar15-leftEuropcar Team to Almeria & Murcia
Antoine Duchesne, Tony Hurel, Vincent Jerome, Alexandre Pichot, Perrig Quemeneur, Romain Sicard, Angélo Tulik.
Directeur Sportif: Lylian Lebreton.

Giro di Turchia

header-lottosoudal15Double programme for Lotto Soudal
From Wednesday 18th February until Sunday 22nd February Lotto Soudal has a double programme. In Spain the Vuelta Ciclista a Andalucía, or Ruta del Sol, will be contested for the 61st time while in Portugal the 41st edition of the Volta ao Algarve will take place. These are the Lotto Soudal team rosters for the two Europe Tour races.

Volta ao Algarve:
Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Ruta del Sol:
Bart De Clercq, Pim Ligthart, Maxime Monfort, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Jelle Vanendert, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Marc Wauters.

Tony Galopin goes to Algarve:
TDFR 2014 - stage -11

header-lottonl-jumboleftLottoNL-Jumbo starts eagerly in Ruta del Sol
Team LottoNL-Jumbo will travel to Spain for the 60th Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol with confidence high. The 2015 season will start for most riders, but Sports Director Merijn Zeeman still hopes for success like last year, when Moreno Hofland won a stage.

“All of our riders, except for Maarten Tjallingii who was in the Tour Down Under, will ride their first race kilometers in Ruta,” said Zeeman. “We’ve worked hard this winter. We had few setbacks during our training camps, but made good progress. We are all eager to make it a good race.”

Moreno Hofland
Hofland, 23, began his season in 2014 with a victory in the final stage of the Ruta del Sol.
“It was my first victory in Europe, a very important one,” said the Dutchman. After his Ruta del Sol win, he continued his development with a stage win in the highly regarded WorldTour stage race, Paris-Nice

“I have had a good winter so far,” Hofland said. “I cannot wait to start racing again. After my stage win in last year’s Ruta del Sol, expectations will be high. I hope to get in the mix straight away in order to work my way to top form for Paris-Nice and the classics.”

“We aim for a sprint win with Moreno again. We want to take him to the top,” said Zeeman. “As a team, we’ll work hard to support him as much as we can. He’s already shown what he can do in Paris-Nice. Now we want to help him make the next step.

Wilco Kelderman
Wilco Kelderman prepared himself for Paris-Nico at altitude in Tenerife together with Tom Leezer. The 23-year-old Dutchman aims for a good time trial and overall in the Ruta del Sol. “The third and fourth days, with tough uphill finishes, are going to be important for him,” said Zeeman.

Free-role Kruijswijk
Steven Kruijswijk, 27, will have a free role, said Zeeman. “The Giro d’Italia is his big goal this year, but he already feels strong and is full of confidence for the Ruta. He’ll have space to ride for the GC and to test himself on the climbs.” Zeeman knows that his team will face a big challenge from February 18 to 22. “There will be a lot of top and there are going to be fireworks. We want our riders to move to the top, so the Ruta del Sol is a good opportunity to see where we stand.

Team line-up:
Laurens ten Dam, Jos van Emden, Moreno Hofland, Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Tom Leezer en Maarten Tjallingii.
Sports Director: Merijn Zeeman.

Laurens ten Dam leads the LottoNL-Jumbo in the Ruta del Sol

header-katusha15Tour of Murcia & Clásica de Almería 2015
Spanish weekend for Team Katusha

This weekend, the Russian WorldTour Team Katusha will take part in two one-day races in Spain. On Saturday, February 14th, will be held the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, while on Sunday, February 15th, will be held the Clásica de Almería.

The team’s line-up for both races: Alexander Kolobnev, Sergey Lagutin, Alberto Losada, Tiago Machado, Aleksandr Porsev, Rudi Selig and Iurii Trofimov.
Sports director: Claudio Cozzi.

More race details on the web site: https://www.vueltamurcia.es/ (Vuelta a Murcia) and https://clasicadealmeria.net/2015/ (Clasica de Almería).

Tiago Machado:

header-giantalp15Giant-Alpecin to the Vuelta a Murcia

Team Giant-Alpecin lines up this Saturday at the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia in Spain, a tough, up and down one-day race in the south of the country.

John Degenkolb (GER) continues his season here after taking an impressive stage win at the Dubai Tour, and he is joined by several climbers and all-rounders from the team including Caleb Fairly (USA) who will start his first race in a Team Giant-Alpecin jersey here in Spain.

“Murcia looks like it will be a tough course and the race situation may have an impact on whether John can make it over the final climb within reaching distance of the leaders,” explained coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA). “It will be a course where we look to race on the front foot and go for the breaks from early on so we don’t have to take responsibility.

“In this early season phase it is always important to work on getting the autonomy of teamwork back into the head and this is also an important goal for this race. It will also be a good test for Daan [Olivier] on the climbs to see where he is at after his preparation over the past months.”

Team line-up:
John Degenkolb (GER), Caleb Fairly (USA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Daan Olivier (NED).
Coach: Christian Guiberteau (FRA).

John Degenkolb leads the Giant-Alpecin team in Murcia:

header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step to Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia & Clasica de Almeria
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selections that will participate in Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia and Clasica de Almeria on February 14th and February 15th.

Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia is a 198.1km race which was once a stage race. However, it has become a one-day race with four categorized climbs. Category 3 climb, Alto Fortaleza del Sol, is the finale. There are two Category 1, and two Category 3 climbs in the race. The two Category 1 climbs include summits at kilometer 142.7 and kilometer 150.8 of the race. The previous winner was Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Clasica de Almeria, a 183.3km one-day race, appears to be far more sprinter friendly. While there are two Category 3 climbs and one Category 2 climb, they all are completed with more than 60 kilometers to go. The race descends into a flat finish. Mark Renshaw won the 2013 edition of the race.

Riders of note in the Etixx – Quick-Step selection include Mark Cavendish, and also Zdenek Stybar. Cavendish already has four victories in 2015, including the overall at Dubai Tour. He will be unable to count on Fabio Sabatini in his leadout, however, as Sabatini is ill with gastroenteritis and unable to participate. Sabatini will be replaced by Carlos Verona, who showed good condition in his previous race.

Stybar is making his 2015 race debut after terrible luck toward the end of his 2014 season, which he was forced to end early after he crashed at a cyclocross race in Hoogerheide. He also crashed in Hoogerheide not much earlier in the season at Eneco Tour on the road. Both crashes resulted in the need for significant recovery time. But the Czech rider worked hard during the off-season to recover and rebuild his condition.

“Actually I think I had a really good winter,” Stybar said. “I could do almost my whole training that was scheduled, except in January due to my tooth implantations. But this was anticipated and my training was already organized around the surgery for my teeth implants. So I took the time during that period to take it easy and recover from training. I training in Mallorca after that, and at the end of January I did another camp with the team in Calpe. So to be honest, everything is going well. I’m curious to see where I stand with my condition at the moment. I didn’t race cyclocross, so all my training was on the road. I am anxious to see how my body reacts to this. I am really excited to get back to racing regardless. I crashed at Eneco Tour, and my first cyclocross race back I crashed, so I haven’t raced in several months. I’ve never been on the bench so long in my career. So I am really looking forward to getting back into competitions.”

Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia (ESP) 1.1
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Mark Cavendish (GBR), David De La Cruz Melgarejo (ESP), Mark Renshaw (AUS), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Carlos Verona (ESP).
Sports Director Brian Holm (DEN).

Clasica de Almeria (ESP) 1.1
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Mark Cavendish (GBR), David De La Cruz Melgarejo (ESP), Mark Renshaw (AUS), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Carlos Verona (ESP).
Sports Director Brian Holm (DEN).

Will Cav win in Spain:

header-bmc15-plainBehind The Scenes at the Hour Record
Here is a short look at the preparation and training Rohan Dennis put into his attempt on the UCI world hour record at the Velodrome Suisse.

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