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EuroTrash World Cross Monday!

Can’t complain that there is no racing now! World cross champs, Mallorca, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Grand Prix la Marseillaise and the World Hour Record with reports, results, rider quotes and video. The Dubai Tour starts on the 4th and we have all the info, plus lots of team & rider news and a Contador video interview.

TOP STORY: No Record for Jack Bobridge
Jack Bobridge (BudgetForklifts) missed out on the World Hour Record by 552 meters with a distance of 51.3 kilometers, as opposed to Matthias Brändle who has the record with 51.852. He does have the satisfaction of setting a new Australian record by beating Brad McGee’s previous record by 1 kilometer. Bobridge started fast and paid for it as his speed dropped after around 20 minutes and by the end of the hour he was in such a state that he had to be helped from his bike by the removal of the front wheel. After the attempt the Australian said: “It’s the closest I’ll ever be to death without dying I think, I’m in that much pain, it’s funny. I don’t know what else to do but smile. I can’t even describe how much pain my glutes and quads are in.” He described how he felt during the ride: “It’s by far the hardest I’ve ever done and the hardest thing I’ll ever do I think. 20 minutes in I think it sunk in what was happening and what was about to happen. 20 minutes, there is nowhere to go. You have to keep going. It was just brutal, it was brutal the whole time. There was nothing nice about anything.”

Maybe everyone has been taking the record to lightly and now there won’t be so many jumping to make attempts. If you think back to when Eddy Merckx put the record high on the shelf in 1972, he said it was “the hardest ride I have ever done” and that it probably cut his career short.

Step up BMC’s Rohan Dennis:

header-WCCC15World Elite Cyclo-cross Championships 2015
Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) dominated the men’s race from the second lap and was never seen agin till the podium. Belgium’s Wout Van Aert looked to have lost all his chances with mechanical problems and a late puncture, but he fought his way back and beat Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) for the silver medal.

After Van de Poel made his move, Pauwels, Van der Haar, Tom Meeusen (Belgium) and Klaas Vantornout (Belgium) tried to pull him back. Van Aert overcame his crash to rejoin the others after a long chase. Pauwels chased so hard behind Van der Poel that Meeusen and Vantornout couldn’t hold on. Van der Haar attacked Pauwels and managed to get within 12 seconds of Van der Poel by 12 seconds as Pauwels was 4 seconds down while Van Aert was still chasing at 35 seconds.

In the sixth lap Van der Haar was only 7 seconds down on Van der Poel, but as young Mathieu jumped the barriers as Lars had to dismount and lost time. On the same lap Pauwels was caught back by Van Aert and then Pauwels fell on the stairs to leave Van Aert to catch Van der Haar. Van Aert punctured but still caught Van der Haar and passed him on the last bend for second behind Van der Poel who crossed the line in tears.

2015 World cyclo-cross champion Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands): “Mentally it was a very hard race. I didn’t have a big gap at all. The gap was always 10 seconds. It was difficult but I had a lot of confidence from last week. In the warm up the barriers were difficult, but I knew in the race it could make a difference. The first two laps weren’t that great, but then I took time there every lap. All race long I was in doubts. Until I was descending to the finish for the last time. Then I realized it. About five times I thought about sitting up to make them come back. But I always kept riding. It was the best choice of my life so far. It’s a lot different. I don’t think I have the confidence to know what it’s going to mean in the next season, but it will be awesome to ride in that jersey.”

2nd Wout Van Aert (Belgium): “I was really looking forward to be riding with my new bike but in the beginning it nearly ruined my race. I dropped my chain but I don’t know how. It was a painful crash. I needed some time to recover from that. I didn’t win silver, I lost gold.”

3rd Lars van der Haar (Netherlands): “I saw Pauwels was dead while I was much better. We agreed that one could try to go without someone else on your wheel. I tried and got a gap. I couldn’t go earlier because then Pauwels would’ve followed. It was a bit too far. When he hopped the barriers I had to start all over again. That killed me.”

World Elite Men Cyclo-cross Championships Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) in 1:09:12
2. Wout Van Aert (Belgium) at 0:15
3. Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) at 0:17
4. Kevin Pauwels (Belgium) at 1:06
5. Klaas Vantornout (Belgium) at 1:12
6. Tom Meeusen (Belgium) at 1:17
7. Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) at 2:26
8. Marcel Meisen (Germany) at 2:37
9. Philipp Walsleben (Germany) at 2:43
10. Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy) at 2:54.

World Elite Men Cyclo-cross Championships:

The woman’s race was full of excitement and in the end came down to a sprint between World road champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France) and European and Belgian cross champion Sanne Cant (Belgium) with the French girl getting the edge. Six time champion Marianne Vos (Netherlands) took the bronze medal.

The two came onto the tarmac finish straight, but Ferrand-Prévot had the road craft and the speed to out do the very disappointed Belgian.

For the first laps Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (France) led the race ahead of Vos, Cant, Ferrand-Prévot, Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) and Nikki Harris (Great Britain). Ferrand-Prévot put the pressure on in the second lap to catch Chainel-Lefevre, but Vos, Cant, Nass and Harris eventually regrouped.

Ferrand-Prévot attacked again, as Chainel-Lefèvre cracked. Nash managed to hang on to Ferrand-Prévot, but crashed and then couldn’t hold onto Cant as she chased down the French girl. The Belgian and French duo got together and fought it out to the line.

World champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France): “It was a fantastic race for me. I’m very happy. I didn’t expect to win today. For me it’s a great year. It’s my second world title in a few months. It’s fantastic for me, also for women’s cyclo-cross.”

2nd Sanne Cant (Belgium): “Before the race I might have been pleased with silver but due to the way it happened it hurts.”

World Elite Women Cyclo-cross Championships Result:
1. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France) in 49:10
2. Sanne Cant (Belgium) at 0:01
3. Marianne Vos (Netherlands) at 0:15
4. Nikki Harris (Great Britain) at 0:21
5. Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) at 0:36
6. Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (France) at 0:56
7. Helen Wyman (Great Britain) at 1:21
8. Ellen Van Loy (Belgium) at 1:35
9. Christine Majerus (Luxembourg) at 1:54
10. Sophie De Boer (Netherlands) at 1:56.

World Elite Women Cyclo-cross Championships:

header-cadelrace15-leftCadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2015
The 174km Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race victory of Gianni Meersman was a combination of masterful tactics and a fantastic sprint by the Belgian rider in the one-day race in Geelong on Sunday. Meersman, known for his prowess in small group sprints, outkicked the group on the right side and was able to cross the line ahead of Simon Clarke (Orice-GreenEDGE) and Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) for the third victory (2nd road) of Etixx – Quick-Step in 2015. Cadel Evans (BMC) finished 5th in is last race as a professional.

Brodie Talbot (BudgetForklifts), Marco Frapporti (Androni), Darcy Woolley (African Wildlife), Laurent Didier (Trek) and Josh Taylor (CharterMason-Giant) made the early break after many other had tried. The four had a maximum lead of 4:30 over a BMC led peloton with Samu Sanchez on the front.

When the race turned into the cross-wind on the circuit the peloton split and with 100km to go the break was caught by the first group for a group of 17 riders up front: Danilo Wyss, Peter Kennaugh, Luke Rowe, Simon Clarke, Mark Renshaw, Nathan Haas, Moreno Moser, Jack Bauer, Alex Howes, Davide Villella, Matt Brammeier, Tyler Farrar and Jesse Sergent with four from before; Taylor, Talbot, Woolley and Frapporti.

After many attacks and chases, it all came back together in the last 20 kilometers. Then in the last 10 kilometers a nine-man group, containing Meersman, Haas, Clarke, Kennaugh and Luke Rowe, Evans, Danilo Wyss, Giampaolo Caruso and Moreno Moser made the important late split. Kennaugh and Moser both tried their luck, but coming into the finalé they were all together. Evans tried to sprint from the back of the group, but Meersman was too strong for everyone.

Race winner Gianni Meersman (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I’m really happy with this victory. As a group we’ve already been in Australia, between racing and training, for four weeks. At Tour Down Under I had one stage where I was in the perfect position at 100 meters to go, but I didn’t have the legs yet. Then we came to Geelong, did a few days of hard training, and followed that with a few days where it was really easy before this race. This plan of training paid off. I felt good in this race and everybody on the team felt good after all the hard work we did to prepare. My team trusted me and had confidence in me and that meant a lot to me mentally as well. On the last lap of the circuit, the first climb, which was the really steep one, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) went. I then gave everything I had to be in the select group that was coming together to decide the race. I made it along with my teammate David De La Cruz. David, once he saw me there, went full gas for me on the front. He did a great job keeping everything together until the last climb, and then it was up to me to finish the job.

“As for the sprint, Haas was with us and I knew he was one of the fastest guys in the group. I was in his wheel. When he launched his sprint I waited until about 150 meters to try and pass him. It worked out perfectly. I’m proud to get my first win of the season already in February. To be honest last year I won at just my third race of the year. I don’t know why, but it seems the beginning of the year I have a knack for getting a win. It’s important motivation not just for me, but for my team. We already have two victories on the road. I am proud to be the winner of the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race, and I want to thank all my teammates for all the work they did today that put me in the position to win. I also want to wish Cadel Evans the best in his retirement after a great career. Now the riders from Etixx – Quick-Step, who spent the past month in Australia, go back to Europe with great morale.”

Australian National champion Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) was 10th: “The sensations have been good since the beginning of the year. I won the Australian Road championships and took many top places in other races. That proves that I am ready for the Tour of Qatar that starts in a week. A top-10 is always a good way to build confidence before the Tour of Qatar. Once again, the team did an amazing job to put me in a position to play a leading role. The course was very difficult and dangerous because of the rain. It was not more than 16 degrees C out there. Under these conditions, the falls came fast and furious. On the last lap Stef Clement, Jarlinson Pantano and Martin Elmiger attempted to get away in a break, but unfortunately we didn’t catch the leaders in the last kilometer.”

Cadel Evans (BMC) finished fifth in the final race of his professional career: “I have to say – from a rider’s point of view – I was very happy to make the front group today. It wasn’t a very hilly race, but (had) windy conditions. It was a really solid, hard, aggressive race. I have to thank my competitors and also the crowd for spurring on all the competitors and for the cheering ambiance. It made it nearly a classic.”

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Result:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Extixx – Quick Step in 4:15:22
2. Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
3. Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin
4. Luke Rowe (GB) Sky
5. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
6. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha
7. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin
8. Danilo Wyss (Sui) BMC
9. Pete Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 0:07
10. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling at 0:09.

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race:

header-mallorca15Challenge Mallorca 2015
Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) won the bunch sprint in the first part of the Mallorca Challenge, the Trofeo Santanyi-Ses Salines-Campos on Thursday. The Italian got the better of Elia Viviani (Sky) and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar). The break of the day came from Damien Garcia (Team Froy-Oslo) and Alex Kirsch (Cult Energy), who escaped early in the 175 kilometer race. At on point they had more than 11 minutes, but in the end Garcia had to leave Kirsch on his own, to be caught coming into the last 20K.

Once the race was all together, Sky were in control with Ben Swift leading out Elia Viviani, but Pelucchi was faster. A crash in the last 3 kilometers saw MTN-Qhubeka’s Andreas Stauff broke his right clavical.

Escape rider Alex Kirsch (Cult Energy): “My role was to cover the breakaways and I was fortunate enough to hit the right one at the right time. Unfortunately, we were only two to share the workload and the fierce head and tailwind made it very difficult to maintain the gap. However, I’m very happy about my debut and proud to be able to flash the Cult Energy jersey out there in the front of the race.”

Trofeo Santanyi-Ses Salines-Campos Result:
1. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling in 4:17:55
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Sky
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
4. Nacer Bounhanni (Fra) Cofidis
5. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek
6. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot
7. Ben Swift (GB) Sky
8. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
9. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
10. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18.

Trofeo Santanyi-Ses Salines-Campos:

The 2nd day of racing at the Mallorca Challenge proved to be a magical day for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung as Steve Cummings earned the team’s first victory of the season by winning the Trofeo Andratx-Mirador d’Es Colomer. Steve put in a late attack with just a kilometer to go after teammate Johann van Zyl spent over 145km’s in the days’ main breakaway.

Johann was a shining star today as he showed some strong form and was clearly the strongest rider in the original 10 man break. On the lower slopes of the Cat 1 Puig Major, our young South African, along with Jose Goncalves (Caja Rural) and Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin), rode clear from the rest of break.

With 38km to go Johann tried to up the ante with a brief solo attack but was soon caught by Goncalves & van Baarle again. The trio fought on valiantly until Johann put in 1 last ditch attack with 3km’s to go but was eventually the last rider caught at 1.5km to go. Johann’s heroics earned him the most combative rider prize of the day.

It was then the turn of Jacques Janse van Rensburg to attack, who really strung out the field in the race to the line. This move set up the finish perfectly for Steve who capped off a great team effort with his race winning move. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) tried to follow the MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung rider but eventually crossed the line in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Race winner Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka): “I’m really happy with today’s victory. I knew I had done a lot of good work over the winter so I’d like to thank the team for the amazing work they did and chance they gave me to focus on today’s race. I was able to come back to the front right near the end and snatch the victory, so I’m really happy with the result.”

Jens Zemke (MTN-Qhubeka): “It was a great ride by Johann after attacking in the first 5km, staying clear all race and only getting caught in the final kilometers. Then Jacques went and put in a great move right at the end and this set up Steve perfectly. It is brilliant result for us especially after yesterday’s misfortune, so we are really happy.”

Clément Chevrier (IAM Cycling): “There must have been about 200 riders at the bottom of the big climb of the day, the Puig Major. Movistar was setting tempo, and by the top there weren’t more than 25 or 30 of us. I was with Jérôme Coppel in this group, but it exploded on the descent. I hung on, but honestly, I was missing a little something. I lacked freshness in the final. I had to let go about 1.5 kilometers from the finish. I was not off by much, but it makes all the difference. Yesterday we were only finished by 4.30pm and I think I was a little burnt. But anyway, we are here to work.”

Trofeo Andratx-Mirador d’Es Colomer Result:
1. Stephen Cummings (GB) MTN-Qhubeka
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
3. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek
5. Leopold König (Cze) Team Sky
6. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar
7. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky
8. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar
9. Ian Boswell (USA) Sky
10. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal.

Trofeo Andratx-Mirador d’Es Colomer:

It was a one-man-show from Alejandro Valverde after a lot of teamwork from Movistar in the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana on Saturday. 120km in the breakaway, 50 of them on the attack to crown a sensational solo and score the teams 3rd win of 2015.

The best reward for an outstanding performance from the Movistar Team during the 2015 Challenge Mallorca came from the legs of last year’s UCI world number one. Alejandro Valverde made the Balearic fans cheer with one of the most impressive breakaways in his career, one that kept him on the front for 120 of the 165 kilometers in the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, the hardest in this year’s event with seven categorized climbs.

Ventoso, Jesús Herrada and Javi Moreno joined Valverde in an early move of almost 30 riders on the first climbs. With the gap up to three minutes, the pace set by Sky to chase behind caused a split in the escape group with about 50 kilometers to go, leaving only eleven ahead including Valverde. On the ramps of the Coll de Sa Batalla (Cat 2), Valverde dropped his rivals one by one until being left alone with Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) on the Puig Major (Cat 2). The Erithrean was left behind on the next downhill as Valverde started a solo ride towards the finish. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) came at 1:23 in 2nd, Konig (Sky) was 3rd with a 1:33. Valverde’s team-mate José Joaquín Rojas crossed the line in 4th, with Giovanni Visconti in 6th at nearly three minutes. Kudus struggled to finish 10th, but was given the most combative rider prize. Valverde won’t take the start tomorrow in the Trofeo Playa de Palma.

Race winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “It was a victory with much team work behind it, not only mine but the whole squad’s, as much as yesterday when we didn’t claim the win. Our intention today was avoiding what happened on Friday; always chasing behind because we didn’t react to the moves when we should have done. The start was really fast, on extremely narrow roads and also a bit moist, which started to split the bunch, with several crashes. Once the group got formed, Rory’s injury happened, we were sad to see him leave the race. We had to spend a lot to keep the escape going, but maybe a bit less than yesterday because it’s completely different to be on the break. Sky never pulled us back, they were 20 seconds behind when I attacked into that second breakaway and later with the solo move, increasing that gap to 2:40. I’m really happy because this win confirms the good feelings I had throughout the race and the intense work we made during the off season. I don’t consider it to be a revenge at all, Cummings rode fantastically well in the finale yesterday, showing he was really strong, and it was my turn today. It was a team victory, just like yesterday’s effort, everyone who’s raced for the team in the early season did really well, we’ve started it off like in previous years, motivated and strong. We’ve got a great group, all of us get on with each other well and I think that plays a massive role on our wins. I dedicate this victory to them; to Pascale, our former press officer; and my family, especially the kids. Now we’re leaving for Dubai. As well as in Qatar, the goal will be to gain racing form, profit from good weather in the desert and also help Lobato out into the sprints in Dubai. The Tour of Oman’s route suits me better, I like it more – we’ll see how we’re doing by then.”

Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling): “It was very difficult because the guys rolled à bloc every day. But I am satisfied because I managed to slip into the break. The sensations are good and I can verify that I am not late in my preparations compared to where I was last season. There is still work to do, but if everything continues to go well, I should be competitive for my main targets.”

Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka): “I felt really good today. On the climbs I was also very comfortable and relaxed the whole day. It’s unfortunate because I just couldn’t follow Valverde on the descent. In the end I had to settle for 10th but I am happy with today’s performance and also to with the most combative prize as well.”

Jérôme Coppel (IAM Cycling): “Yesterday I did succeed in getting into the break, but had a flat tire, and that was it. I was not able to get back on terms. But today, the legs were still good even if I was up at the end. In the break I worked for a lot of miles and the sensations were good.”

The worst news on day three of the 2015 Mallorca Challenge for Movistar Team came early in the race as Rory Sutherland crashed on the descent of the Coll d’En Claret (Cat-3), after just 17km. The Aussie rider, only in his second day in Blue colors, had to be taken by ambulance to the Clínica Rotger in Palma de Mallorca, with acute pain in his left shoulder. X-rays on Sutherland confirmed a distal left collarbone fracture, which will force Sutherland to travel back to his home in Girona tomorrow, in order to undergo more checks to decide on the need for surgery.

Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 4:34:29
2. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:23
3. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 1:33
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar at 2:10
5. Marc De Maar (Ned) Team Roompot
6. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 2:53
7. Grega Bole (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
8. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek
10. Kudus Merhawi (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka.

Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana:

The rain, wind, and cold could not dampen IAM Cycling’s day as they had another reason to pop the champagne on the Balearic Islands. On the final day of Challenge Cyclista Mallorca, typically reserved for the sprinters, Matteo Pelucchi emerged victorious for the second time of the series after triumphing on Thursday. The Italian sprinter for the Swiss professional team put his stamp on the day, outsprinting André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Ben Swift (Sky) to take the Trofeo Playa de Palma.

The weather was not ideal for a bike race as riders were greeted with some cold, wet and even snowy conditions during the course of the race. With very little climbing on the menu though, the peloton would only really spring to life late in the day. 3 riders, Dario Hernandez (Burgos-BH), Illart Zuazubiskar (Spain) and Unai Intziarte (Murias Taldea) would form the doomed early break of the day. With 10 km to go, their move was neutralized as the sprinters teams took center stage. A late attack saw 17 riders surge clear and arrive at the line just seconds ahead of the peloton.

Race winner Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling): “The resistance work I did during the winter seems to have worked. I felt comfortable on the 3rd category climb. In fact I suffered more from the wind and cold than I did from the climbs. At one point I was even tempted to climb into a warm car. In the end, I knew that everyone was in the same boat. And anyways, I’m motivated for the win. Holst Enger and Pellaud really helped me in the last kilometers and then Saramotins put me in a perfect position just after the last turn. At that point I took Greipel’s wheel because he had his entire train and I was convinced that I could play for the win. I really take great pleasure in getting another win, but it is very important to note the strength of the team. The guys were able to encourage me and help me through the difficult moments all day.”

10th Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka): “I was in a good position for the sprint today with a top 5 definitely possible. As the sprint opened up I became slightly boxed in. When I wanted to kick for a 2nd time I just had no power left. It was a tough day in the saddle.”

Trofeo Playa de Palma Result:
1. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling in 4:06:17
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
3. Ben Swift (GB) Sky
4. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
6. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot
7. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek
8. Russell Downing (GB) Cult Energy
9. Dylan Page (Swi) Roth Skoda
10. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka.

The final sprint in the Trofeo Playa de Palma:

header-lamarseillaiseGrand Prix la Marseillaise 2015
Lotto Soudal has won for the first time this season. Pim Ligthart won the Grand Prix la Marseillaise on Sunday, a Europe Tour race. The Dutchman beat Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) and Antoine Demoitié (Wallonie Bruxelles).

Five escapees, among them Frederik Veuchelen, were keen to start the season. They gathered up to eight minutes lead, but the bunch kept control. The entire race Lotto Soudal was positioned on the front rows of the peloton. The battle really started with about fifty kilometers to go, when counterattacks were set up. Tosh Van der Sande and Vegard Breen both jumped away in one of those attempts. This made the gap decrease and after the last climb of the day a new front group was formed. This time eight riders rode in front, Sean De Bie was one of them. The 23-year-old attacked with one kilometer to go. A few hundred meters further he was caught by a reduced peloton. Teammate Pim Ligthart sprinted to the victory, the first win for Lotto Soudal. Ligthart beat last year’s winner Kenneth Vanbilsen.

Race winner Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal): “The season couldn’t have started better. I trained hard this winter and it’s fantastic I immediately benefit from it. Sean De Bie attacked in the final, there was headwind, and three riders joined him. Four others bridged. Our team was relaxed in the bunch and I could save my strengths. Cofidis led the chase and the escapees got caught. I was well positioned and started the sprint. I looked next to me a few times and didn’t see anyone passing by, so I started to believe in it. It’s really nice to win this way. In the beginning of the race I didn’t feel very well, maybe because it were the first race kilometers of the season. The legs got better further down in the race. The team really took control. I hope to continue this way, the condition is good. This was the first victory of the season, my first win for this team. I hope that this gives a boost to the team, starting in the Etoile de Bessèges next week.”

6th Marco Marcato (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “It was a fast race. We rode up the climbs à bloc. On the final climb we faced a strong headwind which meant that everyone stayed together. The legs felt good in the final but I was a bit too far back. I didn’t get the room anymore to make my sprint. But this is okay, step by step.”

Grand Prix la Marseillaise Result:
1. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto-Soudal
2. Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
3. Antoine Demoitie (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles
4. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Roubaix-Lille Métropole
5. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Seché Environnement
6. Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Maxime Renault (Fra) Auber 93
9. Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Team Marseille 13-KTM
10. Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

The sprint:

header-dubai15Nibali and Cavendish Among the 2015 Dubai Tour Starters
Valverde, Martin, Rodríguez, Gilbert and Degenkolb amongst others complete the list of the starting champions. Press conference on 3rd February.
A line up full of stars will take to the start of the 2015 Dubai Tour, the race, organized by the Dubai Sports Council in partnership with RCS Sport and running from 4th – 7th February.

Some of the greatest cycling champions in the world are on the official entry list, including: Vincenzo Nibali, reigning Tour de France champion and former winner of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, who is having is seasonal debut at the Dubai Tour; Mark Cavendish, former UCI Road World Champion and winner of 43 Grand Tour stages; Alejandro Valverde, winner of the 2014 UCI WorldTour ranking; Tony Martin, three times UCI Time Trial World Champion; Joaquim Rodríguez, two times winner of Il Lombardia; Philippe Gilbert, former UCI Road World Champion and John Degenkolb, 10-time winner of Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España stages amongst others.

The Teams:
As a class 2.HC race, 16 teams (including 10 WorldTour teams) of 8 riders will race it:
AG2R LA MONDIALE (FRA) – Bakelandts, Van Summeren
ASTANA PRO TEAM (KAZ) – Nibali, Boom
BARDIANI CSF (ITA) – Battaglin, Pirazzi
BMC RACING TEAM (USA) – Gilbert, Zabel
ETIXX–QUICK STEP (BEL) – Cavendish, Martin
MOVISTAR TEAM (ESP) – Valverde, Malori
TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN (GER) – Degenkolb, Mezgec
TEAM KATUSHA (RUS) – Rodriguez, Porsev
TEAM NOVO NORDISK (USA) – Megias, Verschoor
TEAM SKY (GBR) – Thomas, Swift
TINKOFF-SAXO (RUS) – Valgren, Kiserlovski
UAE NATIONAL SELECTION – Badr Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed Alhammadi, Mohammed Yousef Ahmed Abdulla

The Race:
The inaugural Dubai tour took place in 2014, and has established itself on the international cycling calendar, with the UCI upgrading it from a 2.1 to 2.HC class race for its second running. Re-classing the race to the UCI’s second highest category allows a greater number of the elite UCI WorldTeams to race at the event.

It also allows for a longer, more exciting race, with the total distance raced increasing by 60% to 660km. In this second edition of the race no time trial stage will be held, whilst a hill-climb finish has been added.

The four stages will be:
Stage 1 – The Westin Dubai Stage (Dubai – Dubai) 145km – sprint stage
Stage 2 – Nakheel Stage (Dubai – Jumeirah Palm) 187km – sprint stage
Stage 3 – Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority Stage (Dubai-Hatta) 205km – with hill-climb finish
Stage 4 – The Burj Stage (Dubai – Burj Khalifa) 123km – sprint stage

Mark Cavendish, commenting on the forthcoming Dubai Tour, says: “I’m looking forward to riding Dubai Tour for a second straight year. It’s well organized and it is an important early season race to prepare our leadout train. We’ll be going with Mark Renshaw and also Fabio Sabatini, who is a new part of our leadout. It will be the first time the three of us work together in a competition.”

“I worked really well with Sabatini in the first race of the season. He fits in really well. I think he will be great to position Renshaw as the final leadout man, and to also keep the train smooth. We’ll be looking for wins at this race just as we did at Tour de San Luis, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do and further fine tuning our lead out.”

Vincenzo Nibali said in November at the Dubai Tour 2015 presentation: “I’m convinced that Dubai represents a great opportunity for cycling and vice versa. Dubai Tour, which I raced last year too, will be my seasonal debut in 2015. The course is very interesting and the third stage, with the final steep climb, it’s something very nice, [and] very hard to find in these surroundings.”


header-katusha15Joaquim Rodriguez opens the season in Dubai Tour
The Russian Team Katusha leaves to the Middle East to take part in three prestigious stage races. The first race in the series is the Dubai Tour, which will be held in United Arab Emirates from February 4th to 7th.

The Dubai Tour will be the first 2015 season race for Team Katusha leader Joaquim Rodriguez.

The full Katusha’s roster is:
Joaquim Rodriguez, Sergei Chernetckii, Simon Špilak, Aleksandr Porsev, Anton Vorobyev, Eduard Vorganov, Angel Vicioso and Egor Silin.
Sports director: José Azevedo.

Giro di Lombardia 2013

header_movistar-leftDubai starts Blues’ Arabian Tour
Alejandro Valverde, Juanjo Lobato lead strong squad for first of three Movistar Team races of the season (Qatar, Oman) in Middle East.
After completing three consecutive races in the 2015 season opening with a stage victory -Australia, Argentina and the recent Mallorca Challenge-, the Movistar Team heads into the Arabian Peninsula on Monday to take part in the 2nd Dubai Tour, from Wednesday 4 to Saturday, February 7. No time trials on this year’s route -Adriano Malori (7th) was the telephone squad’s top performer in 2014- mean that the overall winner’s blue jersey will be decided into three sprint stages in the capital plus one hilly finale on day three, finishing at Hatta (Friday 6) near the UAE border.

For their first of three races in the Middle East -the Tours of Qatar (8-13) and Oman (17-22) will add up a total 16 days of racing in Asia-, Movistar Team bring all three riders who have claimed victories so far in 2015: Malori, Alejandro Valverde and Juanjo Lobato. The eight-man roster is completed by Italians Eros Capecchi and Giovanni Visconti plus Spaniards Pablo Lastras, Jesús Herrada and Jonathan Castroviejo. José Luis Jaimerena will be the sports director.

Dubai Tour 2014

header-bmc15-rosterBMC Team for the Dubai Tour (Feb. 4-7)

Rider Roster:
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Stefan Küng (SUI), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Rick Zabel (GER).
Sport Director: Max Sciandri (ITA).


Lampre Merida Team f_chiariFeng, the debut of the first Taiwanese in a World Tour team
Interest for the debut in Dubai Tour of Chun Kai Feng, the first Taiwanese cyclist to race in a World Tour team.

Feng will take part in the Arabian race wearing the jersey of Taiwanese national champion. “I want to give my contribution to the team in Dubai Tour – Chun Kai Feng said – I’ll meet again the team after the winter team meeting that took place in the early days of December, when I spent 7 days in Italy for medical checks, clothing fitting and tests with cycling equipment. I received my new bike Merida Reacto Evo and I met my new team mates, the team staff and the trainings responsible: I’m sure the feeling with the new team is very good. Before I came back to Taiwan, I chose the house where I’ll live when I’ll be in Europe, I set with the training consultant the program of trainings for the winter and the nutritional programs with the team doctors.

After the training camp, I flew back to Taiwan and I start training with huge enthusiasm: trainings are always demanding, but it’s the cycling the nature! Also the nutritional programs are very precise, it’s not like eating at the restaurant. Day by day I respected the training programs, I checked constantly my weight and I was always in contact with the team in Europe, so I’m confident to be ready for my debut in Dubai.

As it will be for my Asian friend Xu Gang, my role in Dubai Tour will be as support to the team captains for achieving the top results. I want to improve my performances and I want to be a better cyclist: I’ll have the opportunity to learn from the top level riders. We’re a good team, we’ll be able to work all together to achieve the best goals: we’ll try to do it already in Dubai Tour.”

Ritiro Lampre - Merida - Boario Terme

header-giantalp15Giant-Alpecin to Dubai Tour
Team Giant-Alpecin’s early season continues this week with another race under warmer climatic conditions than currently settling in Europe, with the second edition of the Dubai Tour.

The race features just one rider who raced Down Under, with Chad Haga (USA) continuing in Dubai. For the other seven it will be the start of their 2015 campaigns. These seven come to Dubai following a period of training together in Cambrils, Spain, where the riders continued their season preparations under the close guidance of the performance team.

While last year’s overall classification was in effect decided in the opening prologue, this year’s race will feature four road stages from which an overall winner will emerge. For the three largely flat stages the team will have options for the sprints with both John Degenkolb (GER) and Luka Mezgec (SLO). They will be well supported by the experience of Roy Curvers (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER) and Thierry Hupond (FRA) together with Haga, Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE) and Zico Waeytens (BEL) who makes his debut appearance for Team Giant-Alpecin.

“Our focus in Dubai will be with John and Luka for the sprints,” confirmed team coach Aike Visbeek (NED) ahead of the race. “Tobias and Chad will then be the protected guys for the GC, and we will do a recon of the hilly stage before the race to see what we can expect.

“The riders had a very strong training camp in Spain in January, with separate sprinter and climber groups working hard to get into good shape for the start of the season. It’s the first race for most of the guys but I think we can hope for a good week.

“When racing in the desert the weather conditions, and wind speeds in particular, can play their part and the riders will have to be alert to these circumstances, and riding as a team will be key.”

Roy Curvers (NED), John Degenkolb (GER), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Tobias Ludvissgon (SWE), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Zico Waeytens (BEL).
Coach: Aike Visbeek (NED).

Tour of Spain 2014 stage - 17

header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step To Dubai Tour
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in Dubai Tour, a 663km stage race in its 2nd year. Dubai Tour is part of the UCI Asia Tour, and it has been upgraded to 2.HC status for 2015. The race is held from February 4th until February 7th. The parcours of the stages normally favor a bunch sprint, as was the case in three out of four stages in the first edition. Unlike the 2014 edition, there will not be a prologue.

Mark Cavendish will be the leader of the team, and his leadout train will include Mark Renshaw and Fabio Sabatini. Tony Martin, three-time UCI ITT World Champion, is also part of the selection.

“I’m looking forward to riding Dubai for a second straight year,” Cavendish said. “It’s well organized and it is an important early season race to prepare our leadout train. We’ll be going with Mark Renshaw and also Fabio Sabatini, who is a new part of our leadout. It will be the first time the three of us work together in a competition. I worked really well with Sabatini at Tour de San Luis. He fits in really well. I think he will be great to position Renshaw as the final leadout man, and to also keep the train smooth. We’ll be looking for wins at this race just as we did at Tour de San Luis, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do and further fine tuning our leadout.”

“We go into Dubai Tour with a team set up around Mark Cavendish in anticipation of the sprints,” Sport Director Brian Holm said. “Stage 3 is one that can likely make the difference with the GC, with some uphills at 10% and 7%, as well as a finish at Hatta Dam with a steep ramp of 17 percent. But even with the other stages that are predicted to end in sprints, we aren’t taking anything for granted.”

With the upgrade in UCI status, the race has drawn tougher competition for 2015.

“There are some good teams here with some talented riders,” Holm said. “But we also have Mark Renshaw here as the final leadout man for Cav, which is something we didn’t have at Tour de San Luis last week. Fabio Sabatini did a nice job in his first race with the team filling in that role, but even though this is very early in the year, I’d like to see what these three guys can do together in Dubai with the support of other very hard working, strong riders like Tony Martin, Julien Vermote, Carlos Verona, Lukasz Wisniowski, and Petr Vakoc. This is a well organized race and everyone is excited to come back here with even better competition. In the first edition none of the teams knew what to expect from the conditions and the parcours. This year we return with a better understanding of Dubai Tour. But of course, this is cycling. Anything can happen at any stage. We need to be awake at all times. We are here with a strong team, racing against good competition, and we will see what can happen.”

Mark Cavendish (GBR), Tony Martin (GER), Mark Renshaw (AUS), Fabio Sabatini (ITA), Petr Vakoc (CZE), Julien Vermote (BEL), Carlos Verona (ESP), Lukasz Wisniowski (POL).
Sports Director: Brian Holm (DEN).

Dubai Tour: "Circle of stars by Pininfarina"

header-sky-leftTeam Sky Rider Line-Up
Team Sky has confirmed its rider line-up for the Dubai Tour and Tour of Qatar:

Dubai Tour [4- 7 February]:
Ian Boswell, Bernhard Eisel, Andy Fenn, David Lopez, Salvatore Puccio, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas, Elia Viviani.

Tour of Qatar [ 8-13 February]:
Bernhard Eisel, Andy Fenn, Christian Knees, Danny Pate, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Chris Sutton, Bradley Wiggins.
*rider line-ups subject to change.

Worlds14-TTT-JY-SKY copy

header-colombia15Escarabajos make European season debut in France
After the brilliant seasonal debut at Tour de San Luis (Argentina) with Rodolfo Torres overall runner-up, the best performance ever by Team Colombia-Coldeportes’ 4-year history in stage races, the Escarabajos will take part to the first stage race of European calendar, at Etoile de Besseges (February 3rd-8th).

In France, the riders led by Sports Director Valerio Tebaldi will find a blend of routes suitable for sprinters and puncheurs like Leonardo Duque, Carlos Julian Quintero and Edwin Avila, the latter at his seasonal debut as well as five new Colombia’s riders: Brayan Ramirez, Carlos Ramirez, Camilo Castiblanco, Walter Pedraza and Sebastian Molano.

“We have picked up a good mix of experience athletes and new entries”, Tebaldi explained. “We’ll look to show up in the breaks and good placements with our sprinters, Duque and Avila”.

Etoile de Besseges (February 3rd-8th) Line-up:
Edwin Avila, Camilo Castiblanco, Leonardo Duque, Sebastian Molano, Walter Pedraza, Carlos Julian Quintero, Brayan Ramirez, Carlos Ramirez.
Sport Director: Valerio Tebaldi.


header-etixx-qr15Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw To Race Cape Town Cycle Tour
This year, Mark Cavendish, one of Etixx – Quick-Step’s biggest riders, and his lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, will participate in the Cycle Tour for the first time.

The Cycle Tour attracts 35,000 cyclists to Cape Town every year and, over the past 36 years, has emerged as one of the greatest cycling events on the planet, with everyone from rank amateurs to Hollywood celebrities to top pro riders taking part.

The headquarters for Cavendish and Renshaw will be the beautiful wine estate of Klein Constantia, owned by team owner Zdenek Bakala. Starting this year, Klein Constantia will be a jersey sponsor for team Etixx – Quick-Step.

As they did in 2014, Klein Constantia and Etixx-Quick-Step will host a special cocktail function and auction, and a short bike ride to support Francois Pienaar’s MAD CHARITY ™ (Make a Difference) on Friday, the 6th of March.

Mark Cavendish and five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx, the undisputed greatest pro cyclist of all-time, will be guests of honor at the event.

“I’ve never been to South Africa before,” says Cavendish. “I’ve heard great things about the Cycle Tour and I’m excited about the trip. I’ve heard from a few riders who have been there before that it’s a lovely place, and a beautiful event to race. To ride with 35,000 people, that’s not something I’ve ever done in a bike race before. But I’m looking forward to it. Klein Costantia is a new sponsor of the team this year, and I want to do them and Mr. Bakala proud by going and showing my support. Also, I am happy to be associated with the charity actions they will sponsor. I’m really looking forward to visiting South Africa for the first time and taking part in a well-organised event that comes with a history of goodwill and charity attached to it.”


header-trentino15Riva-Arco TTT returns as Giro del Trentino Melinda opening
The 39th edition of the Italian stage race (from 21st to 24th of April) to start again with team time trial. More news on the 2015 routes will be unveiled soon
The 39th Giro del Trentino Melinda (April 21 to 24, 2015), one of the most popular and prestigious international stage races for its level of participants and technical contents, is coming to life. The event’s growth has been confirmed by the agreement recently reached with the Melinda Consortium, in order to reinforce a race with a strong local rooting and a glorious history wrote by great cycling champions

Gs Alto Garda organizers are at work to complete 2015 route, the clinging to the race frame but also harboring some interesting surprises, set to thrill the cycling fans like it happened with the “discovery” of climbs like Punta Veleno in 2012 and Sega di Ala in 2013. In recent years, the race has always consisted of four stages: an opening team time trial, a medium mountain stage and two heavy mountain stages, taking full advantage of a number of route options available in Trentino. A perfect mix of time trial, lumpy routes and uphill finishes, which teams and top rides consider as the ideal Giro d’Italia’s dress rehearsal.

Also this time a team time trial (TTT) will open the race, replicating 2014 stage1, a 14,3 km from Riva del Garda to Arco. The course features long flat straights perfect to synchronize the teams’ mechanisms that make this discipline extremely demanding, mostly for those teams preparing for the upcoming Giro d’Italia TTT. After the departure from Riva del Garda (in the Fraglia della Vela area), the course continues on the banks of Garda Lake till Linfano, then turning in the up-country towards Arco, where the finish line is placed after four technical bends. The intermediate timing is placed in San Giorgio.

At 2014 Giro del Trentino – whose overall winner was Aussie Cadel Evans, ahead of Domenico Pozzovivo and Przemyslaw Niemiec – US BMC Team clinched the TTT victory clocking 14’12”; Team NetApp-Endura placed second (+ 0:05”), Team Sky third (+ 0:09”); BMC’s Trentino-native Daniel Oss wore the first leader jersey in front of his home fans and supporters.


header-paris-roubaixParis-Roubaix 2015 Route: Cobbles with a Taste of Le Tour
With a total distance of 253 kilometers between Compiègne and the Roubaix velodrome, the 13th edition of the Queen of the Classics, which will take place on 12th April, holds 52.7 km of cobbles in store for the riders (1.6 km more than in 2014). The cobbles will be spread over 27 sections, three of which will also be on the programme for the 4th stage of the Tour de France…

The start of the season never lasts very long. For the leading lights of the pack, the objectives are as lofty as they are rare. They are meticulously prepared, especially with great anticipation. Some of them have therefore set their focus on Paris-Roubaix, the route of which this year slightly differs from 2014, but which is identical to the one that the pack tackled in 2013. The changes concern the section around Valenciennes, located at the half-way distance of the race and more particularly just after the thrills of the day’s first cobbles, situated as always, at Troisvilles (after 97.5 km). Whatever happens there, the decisive charges for victory in the velodrome take place, more often than not, further north in the Nord-Pas de Calais, where the most perilous portions still await the riders: the Trouée d’Arenberg (after 158 km), Mons-en-Pévèle (after 205 km) and the Carrefour de l’Arbre (after 236.5 km).

However, the 2015 route also boasts certain characteristics that will not go unnoticed by the pretenders for a podium finish on the Tour de France. As everybody saw, Le Tour title holder Vincenzo Nibali stole a march on his competitors thanks to his robustness and agility over the kilometers of cobbles preceding the finish in Arenberg last summer. A similar scenario is by no means beyond the realms of possibility in Cambrai on 7th July. Even though the stage on Le Tour will make the riders tackle them the opposite way round, in April the most watchful competitors will seize the opportunity to carry out reconnoitering in racing conditions on the three sections that the Tour de France will share with Paris-Roubaix.

The cobble sections included in both Paris-Roubaix and the 4th stage of the Tour de France 2015:
Ø Quiévy (after 107.5 km – 3,700 m)
Ø Saint-Python (after 112.5 km – 1,500 m)
Ø Verchain-Maugré (after 130 km – 1,600 m).

Peter Sagan on the cobbles of the 2014 Tour

header-GCN-leftAlberto Contador Interview
In this interview at Tinkoff-Saxo’s pre-season training camp, Alberto Contador talks about his favorite races, training roads and his aims for the rest of his career. Interviewer, Matt Stephens, seems a little out of breath!

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