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EuroTrash Dubai Thursday!

The men are racing in Dubai and Bessèges and the women in Qatar this week, we have the reports, results and of course, the video action. In other cycling news: No Méditerranéen, we preview Qatar, Trentino & Paris-Nice, Novo Nordisk win in Filipinas, Craddock on the Mend, Contador’s charity bike and socks. Thursday coffee time.

TOP STORY: No 2015 Tour Méditerranéen
The rumors have been flying around for quite a while that the 2015 edition of the Tour Méditerranéen would not take place. On Wednesday morning it was finally announced that the race has been cancelled due to financial difficulties. The race had not been included in the UCI calendar and even as late last week it was still hoped that the race would fill its usual spot from the 12th to the 14th of February. Talking to the BMC team as recently as last Friday they were looking for an alternative if the race was cancelled, the team won the race with Steve Cummings last year.

The race has not paid money owed from last year, particularly to the French Federation and the Ligue Nationale de Cyclisme. The organizer hopes that the race will return in 2016, but it has been struggling for a few years.

It looks like the French stage race has gone the same way as many Italian and Spanish races in recent years. You can blame it on the recession, but where does the UCI stand on helping races in Europe, races that have been around for many years and have a good history behind them. The men in Aigle seem quick to help a Race in Beijing that no one wanted to ride and didn’t last very long, what about the home of the sport?

The race that won’t happen:

header-dubai15Dubai Tour 2015
Etixx – Quick-Step rider Mark Cavendish won by less than the depth of a tire ahead of Andrea Guardini (Astana) in 145km Dubai Tour Stage 1 on Wednesday, after launching from long distance following a strong lead-out by Mark Renshaw on the front of the peloton. Etixx – Quick-Step spent much of the day chasing down a five-rider breakaway, which was brought back with 20km to go in the stage.

The rest of the stage was teams exchanging control on the front. But it was Etixx – Quick-Step who established firm control with 4.7km to go, with all of the team doing a fantastic job setting up Mark Cavendish for his sprint. It was then up to Renshaw to guide Cavendish to the line, and he put him into position on the very front in the final few hundred meters. Despite Cavendish launching from a longer distance than usual, his power could not be matched and he won his second race of the season. Elia Viviani (Sky) was 3rd.

Stage winner and overall leader Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step): “We planned our lead-out to go in the last few kilometers, but it was so windy there we had to use everyone to stay in the front even in the last 20 kilometers. The other teams were coming strong as always. There was only ourselves and Giant Alpecin riding on the front. As always my team rode incredibly well, and they showed confidence together. To follow Mark Renshaw is so nice. He’s so patient, he’s able to go. Ideally I wanted to leave it late because it was a cross headwind in the finish, and Sky went on the left early. Renshaw just stayed calm, used them to pick up some speed in the slipstream. Then he overtook and he started the lead-out and I felt Swift go on the left. I had to go then. Not out of Swift getting the jump on me so much as other sprints might go with him and get the jump. So I went earlier than I liked, but I know I’ve good form and I was able to hold it. So, I knew it was OK when I went. I knew I was on top of the sprint, but I felt Andrea Guardini coming faster than me. I was happy to just hold on until the line. It’s nice to win, but it’s hard to explain the feeling unless you feel it for yourself. I like winning, there’s no secret with that. I’m happy to wear the Leader’s Jersey here at Dubai Tour. My friend Sir Paul Smith designed the jerseys. I saw him a week or so ago and I said I was going to bring him back one of his jerseys. I’ll dedicate my win to him today. Now we will try to get another win in the next days. I’m super happy with my form and with the cohesion between Etixx – Quick-Step. We really rode strong as a team in Argentina and we rode really well as a team in Dubai today. All winter I was happy. At training camp it was such a strong ambiance. We knew we’d start off on a good note this season. We won more than 60 races last year, and we want to try and or better than this year. It’s not going to be a big ask I don’t think, because we can feel the desire and motivation to go out as a unit and win.”

Second Andrea Guardini (Astana): “At the finish line I saw 74kph on my SRM, but I was too slow for a victory by 10cm”

Lampre-Merida’s Davide Cimolai was 15th: “My team mates were great in granting me a perfect support, but today I was not at the top, I always suffer the first stages. The sprint was very suitable for powerful cyclists, I tried to keep a place in the front of the bunch, where I was when Pozzato helped me to take this position. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be able to do better.”

Chun Kai Feng (Lampre-Merida) the first Taiwanese rider in a WorldTour was 63rd: “My emotions were great today, I was excited for this new step in my life and in my career. I really want to do my best for the team. Today my role was to support the captains during the stage and I think I did it properly.”

Dubai Tour Stage 1 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Etixx – Quick-Step in 3:25:00
2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Sky
4. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha
5. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar
6. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Alpecin
7. Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai
8. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC
10. Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk.

Dubai Tour Overall After Stage 1:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Etixx – Quick-Step in 3:24:50
2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana at 0:04
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Sky at 0:06
4. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha at 0:10
5. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar
6. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Alpecin
7. Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai
8. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC
10. Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk.

Dubai Tour Stage 1:

TQF12_cobranding_BLadies Tour of Qatar 2015
Stage 1 of the 2015 Ladies Tour of Qatar was decided in a final bunch sprint by the beach in Dukhan. Well helped by her Ale-Cipollini team mates, Annalisa Cucinotta powered to her first ever success in Qatar. The Italian beat two of her compatriots to the line, Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) and Marta Tagliaferro (Ale-Cipollini), on her way to the overall leadership and a well deserved Golden Jersey.

Ideal conditions and almost no wind, a rarity in Qatar, welcomed the 87 riders at the start of the stage, just beside the splendid Museum of Islamic Art in the centre of Doha. While Canada’s Annie Ewart (Optum) failed to start due to illness, the pack took off just before 2:00, heading west.

Without the slightest breakaway attempt, the pack remained bunched all the way to the first intermediate sprint (28km), won by Olds (Bigla) ahead of Hosking (Wiggle-Honda) and Armitstead (Boels Dolmans). At 37.5km, Xiu Jie Jiang (China Chongming-Liv-Champion System) was the first to try her luck on her own. Her advantage went from 45 seconds at 42km to a maximum of 1:20 at 61km while the pack was hit by several crashes, one even forcing USA’s Maura Kinsella (Optum) to retire.

Stage leader Jiang went on to make it to the second bonus sprint (68.5km) clear from the pack, before eventually being caught. Meanwhile Olds had again out-sprinted her peloton rivals, beating Armitstead for precious extra seconds that could count a great deal in the GC.

The pack stayed together until the final moments of the race. On the last straight by the beach in Dukhan, Annalisa Cucinotta was perfectly led out by her team mates and claimed her first stage win in Qatar. Present in the peninsula to prepare for the track World Championships in France, the Italian starts her road season in style with a first win at her first race of the year. Despite being caught in a crash earlier on, there was no stoping Cucinotta who beat two-time World Champion Giorgia Bronzini and her team mate Marta Tagliaferro.

As well as the overall leader’s Golden Jersey that she conquered, and will wear tomorrow for stage 2, the Italian takes command of the points classification (Silver Jersey) while another Ale-Cipollini rider, Arianna Fidanza claims the White Pearl Jersey for the best Young rider.

Ladies Tour of Qatar Stage 1 Result:
1. Annalisa Cucinotta (Ita) Ale-Cipollini in 2:28:36
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda
3. Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Ale-Cipollini
4. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team
5. Shelley Olds – Evans (USA) Bigla
6. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM
7. Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Ale-Cipollini
8. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle-Honda
9. Kelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Pro-Duo
10. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Velocio-SRAM.

Ladies Tour of Qatar Overall After Stage 1:
1. Annalisa Cucinotta (Ita) Ale-Cipollini in 2:28:26
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda at 0:04
3. Shelley Olds – Evans (USA) Bigla at 0:05
4. Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Ale-Cipollini 0:00:06
5. Elisabeth Armitstead (GB) Boels Dolmans at 0:08
6. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle-Honda
7. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team at 0:10
8. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM
9. Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Ale-Cipollini
10. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda.

Ladies Tour of Qatar Stage 1:

It was expected to be one of the most spectacular stages of the Ladies’ Tour of Qatar and Stage 2 was indeed at the height of expectations. Right from the first kilometers, the favorites of the event made the best of the wind to split the peloton. The first group of 16 riders slimmed down to 6 in the finalé and Elen Van Dijk claimed her second stage win on the peninsula after surging in the last kilometer. The Dutch rider also took the Golden Jersey that she had won back in 2011.

A traditional venue ever since the ladies first started competing in Qatar, the Al Zubara Fort, situated on the north-western coast, welcomed the start of the second stage of the Tour. A spectacular site for what promised to be an eventful day, especially with the wind picking up in the early hours of the afternoon. The 85 remaining riders took off for the longest stage of the event at 112.5kms heading north to Madinat Al Shamal.

As early as the 7th kilometer, the pack split into several groups. The Golden Jersey of Annalisa Cucinotta (Ale-Cipollini) failed to keep up with the pace and was dropped and a group of 16 riders pulled away. Among the front group were the likes of Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur) winner in Madinat last year, Hosking (Wiggle-Honda), Johansson (Orica-GreenEDGE), Amitstead, Van Dijk (both Boels Dolmans), Brand (Rabo-Liv) and Worrack (Velocio-SRAM). Their advantage rapidly reached 50 seconds by the 12K mark and continued increasing.

After the first loop around Madinat Al Shamal, the front group crossed the finish line for the first time with a 2:55 lead with four laps of a small circuit remaining to be covered. The leaders would no longer be worried about the chasing bunches as they made it to the first intermediate sprint (72km) with a 3:55 advantage. That sprint was claimed by Hosking ahead of Tagliaferro (Ale-Cipollini) and Johansson. Another decisive move occurred after 79 kilometers when six ladies pulled away: Hosking, Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda), Johansson, Armitstead, Van Dijk and Worrack. At the third crossing of the line, the 6 escapees had a 26 second lead.

The second bonus sprint (4th crossing, 99km) was the scene of another intense battle. Armitstead won 3 precious seconds ahead of Johansson and Hosking, while the closest chase group remained 1:35 adrift. In the final 13.4km lap, despite an early solo attempt from Van Dijk, the leaders stayed together.

Counting on the presence of her team mate Armitstead, Elen Van Dijk gave it another go just after the final kilometer mark. Making the best of her impressive power, the Dutch rider would never be caught and made it victoriously to the line. She claims her second ever stage success in Qatar with a 3 second advantage over Worrack and Armitstead. Winner of the Tour of Qatar back in 2011, Van Dijk captures the overall leader’s Golden Jersey with a slim 4 second lead over Armitstead. The silver jersey also switches shoulders and goes to Trixi Worrack while Italian Beatrice Bartelloni (Ale-Cipollini) claims the Pearl White jersey for the best young rider.

Ladies Tour of Qatar Stage 2 Result:
1. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans in 2:39:21
2. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM at 0:03
3. Elisabeth Armitstead (GB) Boels Dolmans
4. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle-Honda
5. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda at 0:09
7. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle-Honda at 1:57
8. Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Orica-AIS
9. Amy Pieters (Ned) Liv-Plantur
10. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Velocio-SRAM.

Ladies Tour of Qatar Overall After Stage 2:
1. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans in 5:07:47
2. Elisabeth Armitstead (GB) Boels Dolmans at 0:04
3. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM at 0:07
4. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle-Honda
5. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS at 0:10
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda at 0:27
7. Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Ale-Cipollini at 2:01
8. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle-Honda at 2:07
9. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Velocio-SRAM
10. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS.

Ladies Tour of Qatar stage 2:

header-bessesges15Etoile de Bessèges 2015
After the victory of Pim Ligthart in the GP la Marseillaise a Lotto Soudal rider could triumph again today. Kris Boeckmans won the first stage of the Etoile de Bessèges. He was the fastest of a front group of thirteen. Edward Theuns was second and Marco Coledan third. The Lotto Soudal rider is the first GC leader in this stage race and he stands on the first place in the points classification as well.

It was already in the first kilometers of the race that the peloton split and a front group of 28 riders was formed, with Tony Gallopin and Dennis Vanendert. The peloton got reunited and started chasing, but still the gap increased to two minutes. After the last hill of the day the peloton split again and there was a counterattack of 25. Three of them were Lotto Soudal riders: Kris Boeckmans, Pim Ligthart and Maxime Monfort. The two groups melted together, so there was a first group of more than fifty riders. Too big, so lots of attacks followed. Those were without any success, until about fifteen kilometers from the finish. Thirteen riders got away. Kris Boeckmans, Pim Ligthart and Dennis Vanendert were part of that front group. Ligthart attacked, but he was caught in the final kilometer. With his teammate in front, Kris Boeckmans had been quite relaxed in the group and he sprinted towards the victory!

Stage winner Kris Boeckmans (lotto Soudal): “After four years without a victory and ten-second places this feels great. At last all turned out well and I could take my fourth pro victory. In the last kilometers the situation was ideal for the team. With Dennis Vanendert, Pim Ligthart and myself three riders of our team were part of the right breakaway. Dennis had already lost many energy in the early breakaway, but he still did his part of the job. Pim was the perfect teammate and attacked in the final kilometers, so the other teams had to chase. I only had to follow and I started sprinting at 200 meters of the finish line. There was a headwind, but I could stay ahead of the others. At the beginning of the race it didn’t look too good for me. I got surprised by the wind and that’s why I wasn’t part of the big group of 28 with teammates Tony Gallopin and Dennis Vanendert. After the last climb we set up a counterattack. Pim and I helped to set the pace and the peloton split again. We joined the leaders and it was a perfect situation for the team. It will probably be too difficult for me to keep the leader’s jersey. Tony Gallopin and Maxime Monfort are the GC riders in the team. Also Pim Ligthart is really strong. I hope to keep the points jersey, but I’ll see day by day.”
Thanks to the Lotto Soudal team for race info.

Etoile de Bessèges stage 1 Result:
1. Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:25:37
2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
3. Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek
4. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar
5. Julien Duval (Fra) Armée de Terre
6. Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Team Marseille 13 KTM
7. Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ.fr
8. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Loïc Chetout (Fra) Cofidis
10. Brian Van Goethem (Ned) Team Roompot.

Etoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 1:
1. Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:25:27
2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:04
3. Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek at 0:06
4. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar at 0:10
5. Julien Duval (Fra) Armée de Terre
6. Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Team Marseille 13 KTM
7. Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ.fr
8. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Loïc Chetout (Fra) Cofidis
10. Brian Van Goethem (Ned) Team Roompot.

The Etoile de Bessèges stage 1 sprint:

header-qatar15Tour of Qatar 2015
Tour of Qatar will begin in Durkhan and head 136 kilometers to Sealine Beach. Stage 2 will present the riders with 194,5km to Al Khor Corniche – the longest stage of the race. Both stages feature a finale close to the sea, where crosswinds have proven decisive before. The riders face the only non-sprinter stage on day 3, where they’ll tackle the 10,9km TT. Riders with ambitions in the GC will have to deliver a prime performance on this stage. Stage 4 and 5 will likely turn into a cat-and-mouse affair as riders looking to avoid a final sprint will try to catch the sprinter’s teams off guard. On stage six, the riders conclude the 2015 edition on a short and fast stage to the waterfront promenade in the capital Doha.

Stages:
08.02.15. Stage 1: Dukhan – Sealine Beach (136.0 km)
09.02.15. Stage 2: Al Wakra – Al Khor Corniche (194.5 km)
10.02.15. Stage 3: Lusail Circuit (10.9 km) ITT
11.02.15. Stage 4: Al Thakhira – Mesaieed (165.5 km)
12.02.15. Stage 5: Al Zubarah Fort – Madinal Al Shamal (153.0 km)
13.02.15. Stage 6: Sealine Beach Resort – Doha Corniche (124.5 km).

Website: www.qatarcf.org

qatar-route15

header-iamcyclingIAM Cycling to Qatar
For the sprinters in the peloton, the season really kicks off at the Tour of Qatar. Between the buildings and the desert, it is this rather paradoxical setting that breathes a pre-classical flavor into the race. With that in mind, the IAM Cycling team will suit up riders who are able to contest for the win with fast finishes. “Out leader will be Heinrich Haussler,” directeur sportif Eddy Seigneur explained. “The objective will be to have at least one stage win with him, and then we’ll see if we have a chance to play for the general classification after we see the results of the time trial. For the time trial, which will be the third stage of the race, everyone will have his chance. The course is flat and very fast. We will have a very good chance at a great result there since we have Matthias Brändle, and will be hoping for a victory. But considering it is such a short distance, even a rider like Haussler will have the chance to succeed.”

However, speed and explosiveness will not be the only assets that the riders will need to have for this 14th edition of the Tour of Qatar. “Every day there will be risks with gutter riding and echelons,” Seigneur said. “The wind is the greatest opponent on these roads. That is why we need to have good riders in the group to protect Heino. Our vigilance will be even more important in the first two stages because anything can happen at the start of the race.”

Riders:
Marcel Aregger (S), Matthias Brändle (Aut), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Heinrich Haussler (Aus), Reto Hollenstein (S), Roger Kluge (All), Vicente Reynes (Esp), Jonas Van Genechten (Bel).
Sport manager: Rik Verbrugghe. Directeur sportif: Eddy Seigneur.

iamcycling-training15

header-giantalp15Giant-Alpecin to Qatar
Following the Dubai Tour the racing in the desert continues this weekend with the 14th edition of the Tour of Qatar. Marcel Kittel (GER) continues his early season in Qatar after starting at the Tour Down Under, where he won the warm-up criterium, The People’s Choice Classic. He is joined by a strong lead-out and several fast finishers.

Team Giant-Alpecin is sending a strong line-up to Qatar with others around Kittel capable of getting a strong result if the race splits up, including Nikias Arndt (GER) and Ramon Sinkeldam (NED).

For most it will mark the start of the 2015 season following a well-planned and executed few months of training and preparations.

“For this race we have five flat, open stages and one time trial and we have a team that can perform well here,” confirmed coach Marc Reef (NED). “If the weather conditions are relatively calm we can aim for the sprints with Marcel, but if the race splits up in the crosswinds then we will need to adapt and be ready for this. We have lots of guys here who can do something though so we have options. It is also an important race for us to focus on teamwork and to get the sprint formation back up to speed, finding our autonomy once again.

“Marcel and Albert come to the race off the back of the Tour Down Under so they already have a week’s racing in their legs. The rest have been working hard at training camps and are ready to race. For the GC we will look to see what is possible with day-by-day as anything can happen in this race.”

Giant-Alpecin Qatar line-up:
Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert De Backer (BEL), Marcel Kittel (GER), Georg Preidler (AUT), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Tom Veelers (NED).
Coach: Marc Reef (NED).

Peoples Choice Classic in Adelaide 2015

header-MTN14-leftMTN-Qhubeka for Qatar
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will feature in the Tour of Qatar for the first time, this year. The desert race has become a mainstay fixture on the international cycling calendar and is an important event for all riders hoping to have a successful classics campaign.

The UCI 2.HC event takes place from the 8-13 February and consists of 5 pan flat road stages and a 10.9km TT on stage 3. While there is almost zero meters gained or lost in altitude, soaring heat and extreme wind characterise this race. With such racing conditions, it is no wonder that classics specialists and sprinters are the riders who populate the results sheet.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will send a strong 7 man squad to Qatar who will be able to challenge for the top positions each day. Theo Bos, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Gerald Ciolek, Youcef Reguigui, Kristian Sbaragli, Johann van Zyl and Jaco Venter make up our Qatar roster. Andreas Stuaff was scheduled to participate but after fracturing his collarbone during the Challenge Mallorca, he will not be able to start.

Theo Bos – Rider
“I’m looking forward to return to Qatar. The race and its windy conditions suit me and I have done well there in the past. We will be there with a strong team and are surely a force to be reckoned with.”

Gerald Ciolek – Rider
“My focus is already on the spring classics, so the Tour of Qatar will be important for me in terms of getting to know where I am at the moment. The field there is normally very strong, but we will not hide ourselves in the bunch. I look forward to really get rolling.”

Jens Zemke – Sports Director
We’re looking forward to starting the Tour of Qatar, a race for which we are very hopeful. We will have a strong team of sprinters at the start line with the likes of Theo, Edvald, Kristian and Gerald and are eager to play an important role once the race starts.

mtn-qatar-620

header_movistar-leftMovistar Team makes 1st Qatar appearance
Telephone squad continues Asian tournee at ‘echelons’ race’ from Sunday, with five road stages and a 10km TT around the Lusail Circuit.

Less than 24 hours after completing the Dubai Tour, a second Movistar Team roster directed by Chente García Acosta will join two of the Blues present in the UAE to make their maiden appearance at the Tour of Qatar. For the first time in fourteen editions, Eusebio Unzué’s squad will feature in a flat, windy course (Sunday 8 to Friday 13) whose only point of variety between road stage will be the 10km Lusail Circuit TT on Tuesday 10.

Alejandro Valverde and Pablo Lastras will be the two riders in both races, part of a more explosive, sprinting group than in Dubai. Andrey Amador is set to make his 2015 debut in Qatar, with German Jasha Sütterlin and Spaniards José Joaquín Rojas, Enrique Sanz, Imanol Erviti and Fran Ventoso, winner of stage one in 2004 in his professional debut, completing the eight-man lineup.

Dubai Tour 2015

header-katusha15Alexander Kristoff starts season in Qatar
After the current Dubai Tour, the Russian Team Katusha continues its trip around the Middle East. From February 8th to 13th Team Katusha will take part in the 2.HC stage race Tour of Qatar.
The Tour of Qatar will be the first 2015 season race for Team Katusha leader and 2014 Milano – Sanremo winner Alexander Kristoff.

The full Katusha’s roster: Sven Erik Bystrøm, Jacopo Guarnieri, Marco Haller, Dmitriy Kozonchuk, Alexander Kristoff, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Luca Paolini and Gatis Smukulis.
Sports director: Torsten Schmidt.

tdf14st12-kristoff

header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step to Tour of Qatar
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in Tour of Qatar, a 784.4km stage race from February 8th until February 13th. The race is known for its flat stages, but also its winds that can change the scenario of any stage, at any time.

Tom Boonen, who has won the most stages in the history of the race (22), and also the most overall (four), is included in the 2015 Tour of Qatar selection. He won two stages in 2014. Etixx – Quick-Step was dominant as a team also in the 2014 edition, winning three stages. Niki Terpstra won the overall after winning Stage 1 and never losing his race leadership. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck also took home the Best Young Rider jersey.

Boonen will also be racing for the first time this season, and after becoming a father of two twin girls on January 17th.

“I had good training in the last weeks,” Boonen said. “I am happy about how it went. I went also to training camp in Calpe in the last week of January. The level was high there, so this was important for the condition. Most of the riders of the Calpe training camp are the same riders who will be at Qatar. The team is really motivated. It’s the first race of the season for me and a lot of riders, so I am excited about it. It’s a hard race, but we are also used to that. As usual we will have a couple windy days where you can make or break the race. This year there is also an ITT. There will be a lot of good competitors there, such as Bradley Wiggins, who can be good in the time trial and the echelons. But Etixx – Quick-Step is also very good in the echelons, and we will see what we can do to take advantage of the windy stages. As for the birth of my two girls, I am super happy and excited about the birth of my little princesses. Everything is going well. The girls are healthy, which is the most important thing. They will give me extra motivation to try to achieve other goals already in the first part of the season. It’s a special feeling to become a father.”

“I cannot hide that this race for me is a special race,” Niki Terpstra said. “Last year it was the first of a series of good performances that culminated with Paris-Roubaix. I had a good season after that as well. I really hope this year to get into the race and start having the same feeling I had last year. To be honest I feel OK. This winter I trained really well, and I’m motivated as all the guys are in this team. Qatar is a race where we have a great tradition of success. So, we will try to do something good again, because our selection is strong as usual. Last year i was in a breakaway and took immediately an advantage. The parcours this year is a little bit like last year, so the important thing is to be focused at the start and to pay attention always. At this race after 2 or 3 corners, if you are not awake, you miss the first echelons and your race is gone. We’ll try to stay focused and try to take advantage and do the best race as we can.”

Etixx – Quick-Step Riders for Qata:
Tom Boonen (BEL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Nikolas Maes (BEL), Niki Terpstra (NED), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL), Martin Velits (SVK).
Sports Director Wilfried Peeters (BEL).

Dukhan Beach - Qatar - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclism

header-tinkoff-saxo15Tinkoff-Saxo team for Qatar
Tinkoff-Saxo sends an ambitious line-up to Tour of Qatar spearheaded by Peter Sagan, who’s starting his maiden race in the Tinkoff-Saxo jersey. The star studded 2015-edition of the fast paced, sprinter’s race features six stages in flat terrain and the constant fight for positioning in the crosswinds will most likely turn the race into a tough affair with Tinkoff-Saxo looking for early season success.

Consequently, Tinkoff-Saxo is bringing a squad of powerful riders. Peter Sagan will lead the team backed by Maciej Bodnar, Matti Breschel, Michael Mørkøv, Pavel Brutt, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Ivan Rovny and Nikolay Trusov. Leading sport director Tristan Hoffman expects to see a hectic race, where Tinkoff-Saxo will play an active role.

“Peter Sagan is our team leader and we’ll support him 100 percent. Tour of Qatar is a special race for him and the team as it marks his debut for Tinkoff-Saxo. We got a very strong team also taking into account the seriousness with which the guys have prepared. No doubt that Peter has a good chance in the fight for stage wins and the 10km time trial also makes the GC quite interesting for us”, explains Tristan Hoffman, whose enthusiasm is backed by Peter Sagan:

“I raced in Qatar four years ago and that was the start of a great season. I think it’s the right race for my official start in the Tinkoff-Saxo jersey. I look forward to start racing there”.

Strong lead-out for Sagan
Tour of Qatar has been a part of the race calendar since 2002 and has predominantly been a sprinter’s race. This year is no different. Five out of six stages favor the fast men of the peloton. Tristan Hoffman is confident in the team’s setup, where Peter Sagan will be the final rider in the yellow-fluo colored lead-out train.

“Looking at our squad, I think we have a strong lead-out if a stage turns into a classic sprinter’s duel. All the guys are capable of setting a very high pace – and in especially Michael Mørkøv and Matti Breschel, who finished 2nd overall in 2005, we have two really fast riders to do the lead-out for Peter”, says Tristan Hoffman and adds:

“However, there’s a high risk that the crosswinds will split up the peloton as Qatar is generally a quite windy race with long open stretches. We have to ride the race from the front and act in the wind instead of reacting”.

TT could prove decisive
Stage 3 sees the riders race against the clock in the 10,9km individual time trial at the racetrack Lusail Circuit. This could very well mean that the overall win will go to a time trial or prologue specialist. According to Hoffman, Tinkoff-Saxo has several options:

“Of course, Peter Sagan does a great time trial. But we need to keep our opportunities open. Maciej Bodnar is a three-time national TT champion and really strong against the clock. We’ll keep Breschel and Bodnar in a protective role for the first stages and see how everything plays out at the time trial”.

Tour of Qatar is considered an important and ideal lead-up to the northern classics as the riders will encounter the same high-speed fight for positioning as during the classics – however under warmer conditions. The race also gives the riders an opportunity to see the 2016 World Championships route set to take place in Doha, where Tour of Qatar finishes on stage six.

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header-bmc15-rosterBMC team for Qatar
Tour of Qatar (Feb. 8-13)
Rider Roster:
Marcus Burghardt (GER), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Peter Velits (SVK), Rick Zabel (GER).
Sport Director:Valerio Piva (ITA).

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Team NN simple stacked.pdfTeam Novo Nordisk Captures First-Ever Win At Tour De Filipinas
Scott Ambrose Solos to Victory on Stage 2.

Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team, earned a historic win Monday as Scott Ambrose (NZL) soloed to victory on Stage 2 at the Tour de Filipinas. This win marks the first victory in the team’s three-year history.

“Coming into this season, our priority was to get a win early on,” said Team Novo Nordisk CEO & co-founder, Phil Southerland. “Since Team Novo Nordisk began, our riders have shown they can compete against the best cyclists in the world, and today, they proved they can win. Scott Ambrose is an amazing athlete and I’m so proud of what he has accomplished as part of our team. This victory is also for Novo Nordisk and their 41,000+ employees around the world, who continue to believe in the mission of the team to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes.”

Beginning in Balanga, the 154-kilometer stage saw immediate attacks from the start. Team Novo Nordisk’s Ambrose and Joonas Henttala (FIN) made a 12-man break, which quickly gained a sizeable advantage over the peloton. Current race leader Eric Sheppard (Attaque Team Gusto) and his teammates worked on the front to reel in the break before the finish in Iba, Zambales. Inside the final five kilometers and as the peloton grew closer, Team Novo Nordisk’s Ambrose attacked the breakaway and held on to cross the finish line alone.

“This is a great day for our team. We’ve fought so hard for this moment and words can’t express how important this win is to us,” Ambrose said. “I feel so proud to be able to give something back to this incredible team and all those affected by diabetes.”

Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, Ambrose won the Junior Tour of Canberra in 2011, Australia’s Premier Junior Tour. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years later after seeking medical advice because his performance had begun to deteriorate. He learned about Team Novo Nordisk from his hospital bed and knew he would race again. He joined the team’s development squad in 2014 and was invited to stagiaire for the men’s professional team in August of that year. The Tour de Filipinas marks his first official race with the men’s professional team.

“Everyone at Team Novo Nordisk is very proud of these athletes and the determination they have shown. The win today at the Tour de Filipinas is our biggest and most important result to date,” said Team Novo Nordisk General Manager, Vassili Davidenko. “These riders have been working extremely hard to get results and today’s win was truly the product of teamwork and dedication.”

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header- paris-nice15Paris-Nice 2015: Get Out the Stopwatches!
The 2015 Paris-Nice, scheduled for March 8th-15th, has a familiar theme this year with the return of a prologue in the Yvelines Department, then a final time trial on the col d’Èze to add to the suspense. Yet it is a new mountain top finish at the Col de la Croix de Chaubouret (1201 m) that could be the decider.

At this time of year all roads lead to Nice. But the detours or shortcuts taken to get there could radically affect the outcome along the way. Of course, the route profile also provides clues to the type of rider likely to compete for victory on one of the most prominent early-season races. Stamped with “tradition”, the 2015 Paris Nice features the return of the time trials and shortens just a bit the list of potential winners among the most complete riders in the peloton. First off, the riders aiming for the overall victory will have to finish among the leaders on the technically challenging Maurepas prologue; the likely winner will also have to rely on a solid and prudent team to protect him on the three stages that follow. In Sologne, on the route to Contres, in the Cher plains heading to Saint-Amand-Montrond, or while crossing the Allier Department on the way to Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, headwinds could split the peloton.

Above all, to be among the handful of leaders still in contention on Thursday night, the best prepared climbers will have the advantage on the unprecedented arrival at the Col de la Croix de Chaubouret. In the past, the Paris-Nice podium was often decided on the Mont Faron, or the col de la République; and more recently on the Lure Mountain, in Mende or at Mont Serein. This time the leaders will battle on the hills above Saint-Etienne. The final 10km climb (at an average 6.7% gradient) will separate the best from the rest at the end of the longest stage of the week (204km). Ambitions of the vengeful will have to be controlled on the final stage of the race, potentially nervous just until the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais on Saturday afternoon. Finally, the gaps could be just a handful of seconds in an exercise that is as traditional as it is merciless: the individual time-trial on the col d’Èze.

The 2015 Paris-Nice stages:
Ø 8/03. Prologue: Maurepas – Maurepas, 6.7 km
Ø 9/03. Stage 1: Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse – Contres, 192 km
Ø 10/03. Stage 2: ZooParc of Beauval Saint-Aignan – Saint-Amand-Montrond, 172 km
Ø 11/03. Stage 3: Saint-Amand-Montrond – Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, 179 km
Ø 12/03. Stage 4: Varennes-sur-Allier – Croix de Chaubouret, 204 km
Ø 13/03. Stage 5: Saint-Étienne – Rasteau, 192 km
Ø 14/03. Stage 6: Vence – Nice, 181,5 km
Ø 15/03. Stage 7: Nice – Col d’Èze, 9.6 km (individual time-trial)

20 teams, the probable leaders:

Australia:
Orica-GreenEdge: Matthews, S.Yates (Aus)

Belgium:
Lotto Soudal: Gallopin (Fra), Greipel (Ger)
Etixx – Quick Step: Boonen (Bel), T.Martin (Ger)

Spain:
Movistar Team: Gadret (Fra)

United States:
BMC Racing Team: Gilbert (Bel), Van Garderen (Usa)
Team Cannondale – Garmin: Talansky (Usa)
Trek Factory Racing: Jungels, F.Schleck (Lux)

France:
AG2R La Mondiale: Bardet, Péraud (Fra), Bakelants (Bel)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Bouhanni (Fra), Navarro (Esp)
FDJ: Démare, Vichot (Fra)
Team Europcar: Coquard, Rolland, Voeckler (Fra)
Bretagne-Séché Environnement: Fédrigo (Fra), Sepulveda (Arg)

Great Britain:
Team Sky: Thomas, Wiggins (Gbr), Porte (Aus), Roche (Irl)

Italy:
Lampre-Merida: Costa (Por)

Kazakhstan:
Astana Pro Team: Aru (Ita), LL.Sanchez (Esp)

Netherlands:
Team Giant – Alpecin: Barguil (Fra), Degenkolb (Ger)
Team Lotto NL – Jumbo: Kelderman, Hofland (Ned)

Russia:
Team Katusha: Kristoff (Nor)
Tinkoff-Saxo: Majka (Pol)

Switzerland:
IAM Cycling (IAM): Sy.Chavanel (Fra), Frank (Sui).

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header-trentino15Giro del Trentino Melinda Queen Stage to Sparkle Things Up
Monte Velo the unknown and insidious stage2 hurdle: 168 km loaded with three tough peaks and the summit finish in Brentonico

It is already a certainty: 2015 Giro del Trentino Melinda (from 21st to 24th of April) will not let anyone down. Stage2 of the Italian stage race was unveiled by Gs Alto Garda organizers, and it will definitely be a difference maker. The tough 168 km race from Dro to Brentonico, on Wednesday April 22nd is loaded with three categorized climbs, all of which coming inside the second half of the race, laying ideal ground for an amazing cycling show to come to life. Just 24 hrs after the opening TTT from Riva del Garda to Arco (13,4 km, on Tuesday, April 21st), the Italian four-day race’s queen stage aims to increase once more the event’s appeal and global popularity.

Those riders looking to contend at the Giro d’Italia will find an extremely valuable, and possibly decisive, test in the Dro-Brentonico stage. After the first 100 km of rise and falls through Valle di Ledro, Valli Giudicarie and Valle dei Laghi landscapes, the race starts to ramp up with Monte Velo, then a long run down to Valle di Gresta (famous for its organic vegetables) up to the summit finish in Brentonico, slightly over 700 mts of altitude.

Monte Velo is the key difficulty of this stage, the toughest uphill albeit quite unknown in the top cycling circuit. The HC category climb twists and turns from Bolognano to Passo di Santa Barbara (1170 mts high) from its steepest slope, with hairpin turns and bends forcing the riders to often relaunch their tempo. The 15 km ramp features an almost 1000 mts altitude difference, 8,6% average gradient and no way to catch breath as a fast and demanding descent must be handled from the top, where a brave attacker may have a chance to open a serious gap.

An exciting finale expects the main favorites on Brentonico plateau, in the heart of Parco del Baldo, considered “the Italian garden” by worldwide botanists. The last 8 km uphill features a misleading 6,9% average gradient but a sustained 2 km drag with 8,5% average from Castione (famous for its chestnuts) to the summit finish will prove tough with so many kilometers and climbs already in the legs.

Last year’s Giro del Trentino also featured an uphill finish in Brentonico (at San Giacomo resort) where Bardiani-Csf Edoardo Zardini soloed to win and Aussie Cadel Evans (BMC) grabbed the leader’s jersey he would eventually hold on until the end.

Two stages are still to be unveiled, but it is already crystal clear that Giro del Trentino Melinda will follow its tradition, providing a great deal of spectacular mountain racing once again in 2015 while relying – as usual – on medium-altitude climbs to splinter up the field.

brentonico2014-620From left: Michele Scarponi, 2014 Giro del Trentino’s winner Cadel Evans, 2014 Giro del Trentino’s stage 2 winner Edoardo Zardini and Domenico Pozzovivo in action on Brentonico’s climb, the last ascent of 2015 Giro del Trentino Melinda’s stage 2.

header-giantalp15Lawson Craddock on the Mend After Tour Down Under Crash
Following his heavy fall on Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under, Lawson Craddock (USA) has been able to return home to Texas, USA, where he will recover in the coming weeks.

Craddock came down hard during the stage from Glenelg to Mt Barker, and was immediately aware of his injuries, not returning to the bike to finish the stage. He was later to find out that he had fractures to his sternum, wrist and a rib.

After extensive medical checks from both hospital staff in Adelaide and the team’s medical experts, Craddock was discharged before heading to stay with teammate Koen De Kort (NED) in Australia, awaiting his flight back home to the USA. The team’s medical experts are now in contact with his local practitioners and physiotherapists to keep a track of his progress.

“I’m doing a bit better,” confirmed Craddock from his home in Texas. “It has been a long couple of days in and out of the doctor’s office but things are coming together. The good thing is that surgery isn’t necessary which is a huge bonus. I’ve got a cast on my wrist to stabilize it now and the team’s medical staff are keeping track of this.

“The longer issue is the sternum, which will take about six-weeks to fully heal, but hopefully the pain will subside in the coming weeks. From there I should be OK to get on the rollers to keep the legs turning. So given the situation it has been good news.”

The injuries sustained are a set-back for the twenty-two year old, but with a long season ahead and a good plan for recovery and rehabilitation together with the performance team he will be back fighting at his best in 2015.

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header-tinkoff-saxo15Charity Auction of Alberto Contador’s Winning Bike a Great Success
The charity auction, organized by Tinkoff-Saxo and Specialized, of the S-Works Tarmac bike Alberto Contador rode to victory in the 2014 Vuelta a España concluded on a high note. After drawing bidders from far afield, ranging from the USA, Europe, Israel and Turkey to as far as Singapore and Japan, the bike went to Steven Bennett from Swindon,UK for €15,000.

Very rarely does one get the chance to own a bike ridden by the pros of the WorldTour, as very few specimens are sold to private persons. Imagine being able to own a Grand Tour-winning bike. When Tinkoff-Saxo and Specialized presented this unique charity auction of Alberto Contador’s S-Works Tarmac that won the 2014 Vuelta, expectations were that it would be met with big interest from all over the world.

And so it did. A continuous stream of bids were placed throughout the duration of the auction on the Tinkoff-Saxo website, raising the price from the initial €3,000 to nearly €11,000 when with less than a minute to go, Steven Bennett placed his winning bid at €15,000! An avid cyclist himself, Bennett couldn’t resist this unique opportunity to own the bike of one of the world’s best riders while contributing to such a worthy cause.

“During the 1980’s & 1990’s I spent many summer holidays cycling through Europe & further afield, often on an early Specialized Stumpjumper, very happy days. Retirement next year will be a great opportunity to rediscover the iconic climbs and beautiful scenery and rather fitting that it will be once again onboard a Specialized machine, this time the unique Alberto Contador S-Works Tarmac. An incredible incentive to improve my fitness and health. A huge thank you to Tinkoff-Saxo and Specialized,” commented an elated Bennett.

Stefano Feltrin, CEO of Tinkoff-Saxo, thanked Bennett for his winning bid. “It’s with great pleasure that we will now make Alberto’s bike race-ready again and officially hand it over to Steven. We look forward to welcoming him at the Tirenno-Adriatico race next month where Alberto will personally give him the bike and offer him some tips on how to get the most out of it. This highly-successful auction demonstrates, once again, Tinkoff-Saxo’s commitment to great causes.”

Simone Toccafondi, Head of Specialized Racing Road, commented on the successful auction, “we are delighted to have been able to contribute to such an important cause. Once again, cycling fans showed their affection and valuable support.”

All proceedings from the auction will be destined to the Matonyok Orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania, through The Foundation For Tomorrow, a North-Carolina-based foundation that since 2006 has been providing invaluable help to numerous orphan and vulnerable children in Tanzania. Thanks to Steven Bennett’s action, dozens of needy children at will now have a brighter future.

This auction concludes the successful charity fund-raising that Tinkoff-Saxo and its partners started with the team expedition in Kilimanjaro.

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header-GCN-leftSock Height & Sock Color: The Pro Opinion from the Dubai Tour’15
The Global Cycling Network is in Dubai looking at a very important part of cycling – socks. Height and color is very important and quite the talking point, hear what the pro peloton think:


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