What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Catalunya Thursday!

The Volta a Catalunya takes center stage this morning, but we also have video, reports and results from Dwars door Vlaanderen. In other cycling news: Tinkov/Riis fall out, we preview Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke and the Critérium International. Plus: Velits, beer, Degenkolb and Moser just fit into a full EuroTrash Thursday.

TOP STORY: What is Going on at Tinkoff-Saxo?
With the announcement of the suspension of Bjarne Riis by the Tinkoff-Saxo team (well, by Oleg Tinkov); Twitter nearly had a melt down as the sofa pundits postulated on all possibilities. Lack of wins by the team, money, previous doping by the Dane and a team power struggle were all banded about as reasons. The talk is still being rehashed all over different media outlets and I guess it’s now my turn. What many seem to forget is that Oleg Tinkov is a successful businessmen, he knows what he need to do to get where he wants and no one will get in his way. In the end it’s his name above the shop front and if he wants to lock the door he has the key in his hand. To get where he is in the cut throat world of banking, he must have stood on many toes, and to get where he is in Russian banking he probably did more than stand on toes. Maybe it will be good-bye Bjarne, there have been many calling for it for quite a few years. We should concentrate on the racing and leave the infighting to the board room.

Maybe they will kiss and make up?

logo-catalunya15Volta a Catalunya 2015
The long breakaway of Stage 1 survived to the finish line after having had a ten-minute advantage going into the final part of the stage. The breakaway, with the likes of Pierre Rolland, who can now potentially hamper the favorites GC-ambitions, ultimately finished 2:40 ahead of the peloton. The breakaway containing Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) eventually reached the finish line after 191km of racing from and to Calella. Here, Paterski won the sprint in front of his breakaway companions. Entering the final 25km of the stage, the breakaway had around 8 minutes and the peloton realized that it was a matter of limiting the time loss. However, after a fast chase, the peloton could breath a sigh of relief as the gap had come down by more than five minutes to 2:40 at the finish line.

3rd on the stage Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal): “If you go to the finish line in such a position, then the win is the first thing you think about. I can’t ride a sprint so I had to anticipate. Five hundred meters before the finish I gave it an all or nothing shot. But I got countered immediately and I couldn’t participate in the sprint anymore. Being third is nice but of course I’d liked to win. Although I didn’t believe that this breakaway would carry on until the end. Paterski was clearly the fastest of the three of us. I already noticed his power in the mountain sprints that he won. In the beginning of the stage we had the wind in our advantage but that ended as we changed direction. There was one attack after the other. There was a lack of organization in the peloton. It was clear that there wasn’t a team which wanted to control the race. Thomas De Gendt was in one breakaway but they got caught because of the work from Orica – GreenEdge. From that moment the race could start all over again, so I gave it a shot. At first I was alone but when I looked behind I saw two guys. We rode a decent tempo with the three of us, but I was surprised with the fourteen minutes lead. Apparently it took a while before a team took its responsibility in the peloton. At the end we started to gamble and our gap narrowed quickly. For the overall standings I will see day by day. My current lead is nice but there are hard stages scheduled for the next six days. It will come down to limit my loss in the mountains and then I could get a nice GC. Although it is way too soon to talk big or to start dreaming.”

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “The peloton was pulling hard, really hard, in an unbelievable way! It was indeed surprising that the gap wasn’t narrowing at all. At the end, we gave all we had and managed to bring the gap down. However, given the stages we have ahead, that difference isn’t a joke at all. We will now have to take every day as it comes. It’s true they are first-rate riders and they will manage the 2:40-minute advantage that they have in the best way possible. We will now see what opportunities the parcours will offer us but it is true that it isn’t an ideal situation”

Simon Pellaud (IAM Cycling): “This morning I was a little bit nervous because I am entering a little bit of an unknown world. In the beginning everything went pretty well for me. The sensations in my legs are good, and I was more or less well placed early in the race. I tried to go in the break, but it took an hour and a half before it was established, so it was not an obvious move to make. Then on the first climb, just a small rise, I found myself on the ground, and I did not know what had happened. It took me almost twenty kilometers to get back into the cars, and my shoulder and elbow both hurt. I burned a lot of gas by then. I finished in the gruppetto, and then had the luck to be drawn out for doping control. Needless to say, it’s been a difficult day for me, but there are six more to catch up. What is different is that the pack of riders are so organized. Everyone has his place in the pack and has something specific to do. It’s really different. There’s no rolling to the front just to be at the front; we push there for a reason, essentially to put one of our leaders there. You can feel that there is a special skill in a WorldTour peloton.”

Volta a Catalunya Stage 1 Result:
1. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice in 4:33:41
2. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar
3. Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:02
4. Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:40
5. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step
6. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana
7. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
9. Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis.

Volta a Catalunya Overall After Stage 1:
1. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice in 4:33:31
2. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 0:04
3. Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:08
4. Wouter Poels (Ned) Sky at 2:47
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 2:48
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin at 2:49
7. Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:50
8. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step
9. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana
10. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Stage 1:

Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde and José Joaquín Rojas led the way home into Olot at the end of Stage 2 after a day of cold rain and some climbing. Olot, the city where the late Xavi Tondo lived for his last few years, saw Alejandro Valverde and José Joaquín Rojas cross the line together in a splendid one-two for the team in blue, moving them up to 4th and 5th overall.

The breakaway of the day included Sam Bewley (Orica-GreenEDGE), Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Tom Stamsnijder (Giant-Alpecin) and Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida). They had a lead of 3 minutes with 60 kilometers to go, but with the work of race leader Maciej Paterski’s CCC-Sprandi squad and Movistar pulled back Bewley and Stamsnider while Grmay and Mas Bonet were left out front with 20km to go. Movistar took over the chase bringing the race together for Valverde to cross the line first.

Stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “More than doing it to take sprinters out of the fight, the team pushed into the final kilometers to keep ourselves well placed against the rain and any danger that could show up. Herrada did a phenomenal job leading the group in that section, and the whole team was fantastic from start to finish. All of my team-mates were always focused on avoiding any problems, bringing us weather clothes, food… I want to thank all of them as well as the whole team for their huge work. I started that final kilometer up-front, with a couple of Etixx riders pushing just before myself. When they stopped, I found myself right in front of the whole pack and started looking behind – I didn’t really know who was there, I wanted to position myself better and some riders started gaining places. When I saw Elmiger, I profited from a small split on the lead-out to follow his wheel and start looking for my sprinting distance. When he jumped, I went after him, yet with some doubts as I didn’t know if it was right to give 100% at that point, but then again, I saw many others on the left side overcoming us and I didn’t hesitate anymore, I attacked. I wasn’t conscious about Rojas coming from behind, either; at the end, we took first and second, a big joy for us. There’s a quite demanding climb tomorrow, with a pretty difficult descent afterwards. We’ll see what happens; we must stay focused, as well myself as Ruben who are doing strong this week, and let’s see how I recover from the efforts. I came into this race after Sanremo, which is almost like two stages, and the first two days here were also demanding – but you never know. I want to send all my thoughts and also on behalf of the team to those involved in the Alps tragedy, their families and friends. Also, I want to remember and honor the family of Xavi Tondo. He lived here in Olot and as well today as in other days, we keep him present within the team – let’s hope he enjoyed this one, wherever he’s now.”

3rd on stage 2 Swiss Champion Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling): “I never thought I would finish third in a sprint behind these two champions. It was a long day in the rain, and made very difficult by the weather conditions. But I am very happy with this result. The last two ascents made the stage even more difficult for the sprinters. The cold already didn’t help any of us; it took a lot out of us, so it was pretty hard for everyone. For me, the legs were going very well today, and I know when I am well placed, I am able to win. But I also know that there were other strong riders in front of me. Sometimes you’re not missing much, so I am very happy with this third place today.”

Young jersey and 5th on the stage Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo): “I felt pretty good. There was bad weather the whole day, but I never got too cold. In the final, it went quit well. The boys dropped me off in the front perfectly and after that, Steven Kruijswijk and I kept close. I’m happy with the result, which gives me confidence. Plus, it gives me the lead in the youth classification, and that’s nice.”

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-saxo): “The bad weather that we had today wasn’t ideal to recover from my cold. Anyway, cycling is like this and we must just acclimatize to the conditions. It was a hard and cold stage and I would like to thank my teammates, who supported me a lot during the stage and kept me well placed. With the advantage that they have in the GC it will probably be very difficult and hard to fight for the overall win from behind. In any case, Catalunya is my last race before the Giro so I want to test myself before leaving the race. We will try to use any possibility to take time in the GC, maybe tomorrow or maybe to La Molina on stage 4. It is not the best climb but for sure we will try something. In the last kilometers on the stage today we had a small climb of about 1,5 kilometer. I went in the front to look for a possibility but today wasn’t the terrain for doing anything in the final.”

Volta a Catalunya Stage 2 Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 5:02:49
2. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
3. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
4. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
6. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
7. Eduard Prades Reverte (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
8. Fabio Silvestre (Por) Trek
9. Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha
10. Davide Malacarne (Ita) Astana.

Volta a Catalunya Overall After Stage 2:
1. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice in 9:36:20
2. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 0:04
3. Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:08
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 2:40
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar at 2:44
6. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling at 2:46
7. Wouter Poels (Ned) Sky at 2:47
8. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 2:48
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin at 2:49
10. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis at 2:50.

Stage 2:

Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) won Stage 3 in a late jump from a group of seven favorites that escaped on the Cat. 1 climb Alt dels Angels, the final categorized climb of the stage. The group included Rigoberto Uran (Etixx – Quick-Step), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Pozzovivo, Daniel Martin & Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin), Fabio Aru (Astana), and Richie Porte (Team Sky). Talansky and Martin crossed to join after Chris Froome (Sky) had been dropped by the group.

The winner of stage 2: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) had been involved in a crash and finished the day in the chasing group with Froome 19 seconds behind pozzovivo.

Pierre Rolland (Europcar) takes over the race lead 1:08 ahead of Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) and 1.16 ahead of Bart De Clerq (Lotto Soudal). Pozzovivo is now 4th, and Uran 5th in the overall.

2nd on the stage and 5th overall Rigoberto Uran (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Today we finished with seven riders, but to be honest I was aiming for the victory. I was positioning myself in preparation to win the stage, but when Pozzovivo attacked no one wanted to react. After Martin and Talansky, two teammates, came back to the group we were focused on the tactics. Everyone was there looking at each other and Pozzovivo took advantage to win the race. I did my sprint and I was 2nd. It’s another 2nd place after my 2nd at the 4th Stage of Tirreno – Adriatico. These results show I am in good condition, but today I was really hoping to go for the stage win. Considering the overall classification, I am happy because on the climb I responded to the attacks from riders like Contador and Porte, and I felt good. I am happy about my performance and my feeling in the mountains. Tomorrow is probably the hardest stage with an uphill finish. It’s a difficult stage, and we will see what can happen tomorrow. Of course I have a good team around me, so we will do the best we can to defend our GC position and maybe try to do something more for the stage. A few riders crashed today on the downhill and unfortunately Pieter Serry was one of them. I hope it is not too serious. It is a pity for him and the team that he cannot be at the start tomorrow and we wish him the best.”

4th on the stage and 7th overall Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “We gave the maximum we had on the flat parts of the stage, on the climbs as well as the descents. At the end, a small group reached the finish and I don’t think there was anything more one could ask from us. There wasn’t anything more either that we could have done. I’m happy because the feeling I have is quite good, the team is in good shape and taking into consideration this is the last race before the Giro, it is good to try something. This wasn’t one of the toughest stages of the Volta a Catalunya but the team did an extraordinary job from the top of the first mountain pass. They rode as hard as they could in order to try to create the possibility to fight for GC victory after the breakaway of the first day. We were in the leading group and the rest of the riders didn’t collaborate much in order to pull away from the ones left behind, including Rolland. I also understand that the other riders in the leading group defended their own interests and carried our their own strategies. It is understandable.”

Jérôme Coppel (IAM Cycling): “The pace was really fast, so I stayed attentive and concentrated. Unfortunately, there was a crash on the descent of the second to last climb and it split the group in two. We never managed to chase back up to the best placed. It was a bit complicated on the final climb, but it will be better tomorrow. I feel good, and as I began to pick up the pace, the sensations are not so bad, so we’ll wait and see how the arrival to La Molina goes on Thursday. I think I will be better than today.”

Etixx – Quick-Step rider Pieter Serry was diagnosed with a fractured right collarbone when he was examined by team and medical staff at the Hospital Universitari in Girona on Wednesday. The injury was caused by a crash suffered during the 3rd stage of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Serry also needed three stitches for a wound above his right eye, as well as a stitch for a wound on his upper lip. “We were going down the second-to-last descent of the stage and I was on the wheel of Uran, but suddenly a few riders crashed in front of us,” Serry said. “Rigoberto avoided the crash, but I couldn’t and I was on the ground almost instantly. I am disappointed about my injury to my collarbone, but considering the circumstances and the speed this could have been much worse.”

Volta a Catalunya Stage 3 Result:
1. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondialein 3:52:37
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:03
3. Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin
4. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
6. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
7. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin
8. Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana at 0:22
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
10. Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha.

Volta a Catalunya Overall After Stage 3:
1. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar in 13:29:23
2. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 1:08
3. Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:16
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 2:14
5. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 2:21
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin at 2:22
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 2:27
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
9. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
10. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin.

Stage 3:

header-dwarsdoorvlanderenDwars door Vlaanderen 2015
Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) won the 200.2km Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, taking advantage of teammate Edward Theuns work in the four-man escape group that stayed away until the finish line. The group also included World champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – Quick-Step) and Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin).

Theuns, Kwiatkowski, and Van Baarle bridged to Wallays with 54 kilometers to go after the Belgian attacked eight other riders from an earlier break and then another rider who bridged, on the Eikenberg. Etixx – Quick-Step worked hard on the front to reduce that escape group’s advantage to less than 12 seconds before Wallays made his move. Only one rider from his group could stay with Wallays, but eventually he was solo before the Kwiatkowski group joined him ahead.

The four riders stayed away thanks to a considerable amount of work by Kwiatkowski, as well as good collaboration in the final kilometers. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Nikolas Maes were in an 11-rider chase group behind that reduced the advantage of the four leaders to 29 seconds with 12.6km to go. Wallays attacked at about the 1K to go mark, and held off the other to the finish line.

Winner Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise): “I had lost quite a bit of strength from the early breakaway. My only chance was to connect with a small group. It was perfect that Edward [Theuns] was there. Edward felt very strong and he’s super good lately. He’s very quick, I am a bit slower. My only chance was with a late attack. Big thanks to Edward, because thanks to him we are 1 and 2. This is a very important victory for me. I would like to get into a World Tour team. With two big wins, I hope they will notice.”

World champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – Quick-Step) was 4th: “First of all I am happy to say I am doing OK after my crash at Milano-Sanremo. As you can see I felt good at this race. When I went away I thought maybe a bigger group would eventually catch up to us, maybe on the Oude Kwaremont or something, but they never came. So it came down to a sprint with four guys. It was a difficult final. With Wallays attacking and Theuns being his teammate, he wasn’t going to chase him down. The collaboration maybe wasn’t there with the rest of us that was necessary to close the gap. I also used some energy in the previous kilometers to keep our advantage before the sprint. I tried to win it today, but in the end Wallays took advantage of his situation and he deserved the victory. But I have to say, my teammates did a great job today on the front. It wasn’t so easy to control this race and they did a great job. As for me, I am happy about my condition and to be riding again on the Belgian hellingen like the Paterberg and the Kwaremont, as well as the cobbles. I loved hearing the support of the Flemish public on the roads. Everything is going well in anticipation of my next appointment, Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, and I am looking forward to the next races.”

Breakaway rider Boris Dron (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I was in the breakaway so that was good for the team but I have to confess that the legs didn’t feel too good anymore on the hills. When Wallays attacked, I was at the back of the group. I thought that it would come back together but it didn’t and in the end he wins the race. He was very strong today. In any case I hope the weather will be better on Friday, a bit warmer preferably because today was a very cold day.”

Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal): “There was a crash just before the Taaienberg, that I could avoid but that’s why I was too far behind to jump away with Kwiatkowski and the others. I chased them, but there was no real cooperation in the small group I was in. A pity, because we could definitely have closed the gap. When the group with Jens joined us, I believed we could bridge to the front, but then there was a crash in the descent of the Oude Kwaremont. Boom and Devolder were therefore not part of our group anymore and we could have definitely used their help. We reduced the gap to thirty seconds, but there was no smooth cooperation. It’s a pity for our team, especially for Jens. I can be satisfied with my condition. I hope I stay healthy and do not crash, because beautiful races are coming up.”

Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal): “The developments in the first phase of the race were positive for us. After the peloton split on the Holleweg we were in the first part with six riders, while Gert Dockx was part of the front group. Unfortunately he couldn’t join Jelle Wallays who had attacked on the Eikenberg. I got in a chase group, but not everyone cooperated. After the Hellestraat I realized that it was impossible, although at a certain point we came to 28 seconds of the leaders. That was especially thanks to Tiesj who rode a fantastic race. In the chase we actually needed another rider like him. I also helped chasing, because if we didn’t close the gap I could not get a high result either. It’s a pity my group couldn’t sprint for the victory, I really did have a chance and had faith.”

Jérôme Pineau (IAM Cycling): “There was constant nervousness. I was trying to get away in the break. And all of a sudden a rider from Saxo stopped with a broken wheel. I didn’t notice in time, and ran into him with full force at high speed. I finished my race in the ditch. I stood up with tons of bruises and a big gash on my left thigh. But I was most scared for my teammate Marcel Aregger. He was lying on the ground unconscious. But now I am relieved and reassured to learn his diagnosis.”

Martin Mortensen (Cult Energy): “I really wanted to get out there in the break and actually, the break went without our representation After a glance at Fabian (Wegmann) who nodded in my direction, I went for it. I bridged a gap of one minute and naturally, the effort drained me a bit. When Alex eventually made it across as well, I gave what I had in the front of the group and dropped back. We gave it our best shot and I feel stronger and stronger for every race. I wished I was a little bit stronger in Nieuwsblad but now I think, the form is coming along. That gives me reason for optimism before next week’s Three days at Panne.”

Dwars door Vlaanderen Result:
1. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise in 4:35:59
2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:02
3. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:04
5. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:20
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:29
7. Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis
8. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
10. Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Katusha.

Dwars door Vlaanderen final 20K:

header-gent–wevelgemGent-Wevelgem 2015
Gent–Wevelgem is on this Sunday, thought of as a sprinters race, it normally doesn’t end in a bunch sprint as the weather and the cobbled climbs usually splits the field. The event was first run in 1934 and was always on the Wednesday between Flanders and Roubaix, but is now on the Sunday before. The course heads west towards the Belgian coast and then south to cross the French border before heading back inland. Depending on the wind, the ride back can either be a flyer or hell for the peloton as the head towards Wevelgem and the Casselberg, Catsberg, Baneberg, Monteberg and Kemmelberg.

Check out Ed’s Gent-Wevelgem preview on PEZ.

Race website: www.gent-wevelgem.be


header-europcar15-leftEuropcar riders for Gent-Wevelgem
Giovanni Bernaudeau, Antoine Duchesne, Jimmy Engoulvent, Yohann Gene, Morgan Lamoisson, Yannick Martinez, Angélo Tulk.
Directeur Sportif: Dominique Arnould.

Antoine Duchesne:
europcar-Antoine Duchesne-620

header-katusha15Team Katusha for Gent – Wevelgem
On Sunday March 29th, the Russian Team Katusha will start in the UCI WorldTour classic race Gent – Wevelgem, in Belgium.

Team Katusha’s roster:
Jacopo Guarnieri, Alexey Tsatevich, Aleksandr Porsev, Alexander Kristoff, Rudi Selig, Vladimir Isaychev, Luca Paolini and Gatis Smukulis.
Sports directors are Gennady Mikhaylov and Torsten Schmidt.

Alexander Kristoff:

header-bmc15-rosterBMC Gent-Wevelgem Roster
BMC Racing Team’s Greg Van Avermaet will start Sunday’s WorldTour race, Gent-Wevelgem, after crashing Friday during E3-Harelbeke.

“I was a little bit sore today, but I think that is normal,” Van Avermaet said after completing a one-hour training ride with the team. “The doctor checked me and said there is nothing broken so I should be OK for tomorrow. We will see how it goes.”

Joining Van Avermaet on the roster for the Belgian classic is 2007 winner Marcus Burghardt, plus three riders from the BMC Racing Team’s world team time trial championship squad: Silvan Dillier, Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato.

Marcus Burghardt (GER), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).
Sport Director: Valerio Piva (ITA).

Greg Van Avermaet will start Gent-Wevelgem:

header-giantalp15Giant-Alpecin team for Gent-Wevelgem
Team Giant-Alpecin returns to Gent-Wevelgem this spring with defending champion John Degenkolb (GER) leading the way. John won the 2014 race with a commanding finishing sprint to take his first classics win, and he and the team will be keen to push for the double in 2015.

The 240km WorldTour classic includes ascents of the Casselberg, the Catsberg, the Baneberg and the Kemmelberg amongst others. Degenkolb will come to the race full of confidence after Milan-Sanremo, as will the riders looking to support him again here, including Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Koen de Kort (NED), Albert Timmer (NED) and Zico Waeytens (BEL) all of whom raced La Primavera on Sunday. Marcel Kittel (GER), previously announced as a rider for the race, will not start on Sunday, as he is still working back to full fitness and towards his next goals.

“After last year with John we know what it takes to win here, and he will be our leader for Sunday,” explained team coach Aike Visbeek (NED). “Last year Koen and Ramon played a crucial role in the final of the race and I expect for them to be there again to support John.

“The wind can be a factor in the early part of the race so we will have to be vigilant in the early stages. What’s also important for us here though is that we have other fast finishers in this race, so that we have other cards to play alongside John.”

Nikias Arndt (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), John Degenkolb (GER), Koen de Kort (NED), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL).
Coach: Aike Visbeek (NED).

John Degenkolb:
Milano Sanremo 2015

header-iamcyclingIAM Cycling to Gent – Wevelgem
Marcel Aregger (S), Matthias Brändle (Aut), Sylvain Chavanel (F), Heinrich Haussler (Aus), Reto Hollenstein (S), Roger Kluge (Ger), Vicente Reynes (Sp), Jonas Van Genechten (Bel).
Directeurs sportifs: Eddy Seigneur, Rik Verbrugghe.

Heinrich Haussler:

header-lottosoudal15Preview E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem
Two Belgian WorldTour races are scheduled this week: E3 Harelbeke on Friday and Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday. Jürgen Roelandts, eleventh in Milan-Sanremo, will race for the fifth time in Harelbeke. He hopes for a hard race. German champion André Greipel tells about his expectations for Ghent-Wevelgem, a race where he crashed in the final last year and couldn’t sprint for the victory.

Jürgen Roelandts: “I just finished outside top ten in Milan-Sanremo. I could have finished higher, top five was possible. I had to brake in the last corner and in the sprint as well. In any case Milan-Sanremo was good to be on the bike for 300 kilometres. I could use that after my illness. When you have a positive feeling about the condition after Milan-Sanremo that’s good for the next weeks.”

“The E3 Harelbeke definitely is a race that suits me, but the weather and wind also decide the race. Sometimes forty riders go to the finish line together and other years the whole field is split up. In 2011 I was second after a really open race. I hope the battle starts early, that’s an advantage for our team. It would be good if the weather is like the day of Dwars door Vlaanderen, that makes the race harder, more spectacular and more difficult to control.

André Greipel: “Of course it’s still in my mind that I crashed in the final of Ghent-Wevelgem last year, but that won’t have any influence on this year’s race. The weather forecasts show a lot of wind on Sunday, so I expect a lot of echelons. In Ghent-Wevelgem you can always make the difference with echelons.”

“We have to be attentive all day long. We have to make sure we are part of the first group and don’t have to waste any energy chasing. That’s especially important in the loop with the Kemmelberg. But because of the wind the Kemmelberg itself won’t be the main obstacle on Sunday. Ghent-Wevelgem is a classic I’d really like to win. I already could have won it in the past. I’ll strive for the win again on Sunday. The line-up of Lotto Soudal is really strong, everyone is in excellent shape. We are ready.”

E3 Harelbeke (Friday 27th March):
Tiesj Benoot, Kris Boeckmans, Vegard Breen, Sean De Bie, Gert Dockx, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Dennis Vanendert.

Preselection Ghent-Wevelgem (Sunday 29th March):
Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Vegard Breen, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Dennis Vanendert.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Belgian champion Jens Debusschere will be riding Gent-Wevelgem:

header-lottonl-jumboleftTeam LottoNL-Jumbo ready for infernal Gent-Wevelgem
The Team LottoNL-Jumbo-riders will face an infernal edition of Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday with storms and 10°C predicted. In that fight, Sep Vanmarcke will rely on a strong team.

“It’s going to be a serious war this Sunday,” Tom Van Asbroeck said.

“There’s no reason to complain the way I handled the bad weather last week. I’m not always able to endure those circumstances, but at this point, I can. That reinforces my hope to keep improving my form after my crash in West-Vlaanderen. I kept getting stronger in the last races, and I hope that I’m able to take the next step in Gent-Wevelgem.”

Gent-Wevelgem should be interesting for Team LottoNL-Jumbo after the rollercoaster ride in the last two Flemish races.

“Nico Verhoeven and I are always able to put things in perspective,” Sports Director Jan Boven added. “But last Wednesday even left us speechless. The fact that we finished Dwars door Vlaanderen with only one rider was bad luck.

“E3 Harelbeke went very well on the other hand. We were in the front of the race a lot. It’s extra nice to see that Bram Tankink did such a great job and Sep Vanmarcke was terrific, too.”

Battle of survivors
E3 gives the team hope for Sunday in Gent-Wevelgem, a longer race at 230 kilometres. “It’s going to be a battle of survivors,” Boven said. “You have to be very strong to be in the final sprint in Gent-Wevelgem. It would be nice if we were in the final with Sep and two other riders. Tom Van Asbroeck, Maarten Wynants and Bram Tankink are the ones to watch for that.”

Team line-up:
Tom van Asbroeck, Rick Flens, Moreno Hofland, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Wynants.
Sports Directors: Jan Boven & Nico Verhoeven.

Sep Vanmarcke:
Het Nieuwsblad 2015 sep-620

header-tinkoffsaxo14-leftTinkoff-Saxo led by Peter Sagan lines up at Gent-Wevelgem
Tinkoff-Saxo, led by team captain Peter Sagan, lines up at Gent-Wevelgem ready for the “Sprinter’s Classic”. As one of the most prestigious races of the cobblestone season, Tinkoff-Saxo looks to build on the team performance at E3 Harelbeke.

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Peter Sagan, Matti Breschel, Maciej Bodnar, Michael Mørkøv, Matteo Tosatto, Pavel Brutt, Michael Kolar and Nikolay Trusov.

After a promising show of forte from Tinkoff-Saxo led by Peter Sagan at E3 Harelbeke, which eventually fell short of power with 3,5km to the finish line, the team is now looking to secure a result in the prominent Gent-Wevelgem.Sports director Lars Michaelsen notes that Tinkoff-Saxo will try and build on the team performance from Friday’s race.

“We’re starting Gent-Wevelgem with a good moral and ambitions to create a result. Sagan won the race in 2013 and was on the podium the year before and after. Not to forget Matti Breschel who was third in 2012. So we definitely have some experienced forces on the team, which helps to motive our squad. Of course, we want to win, but as it often happens with Gent-Wevelgem the race could very well come down to a sprint in the final, where a lot of guys will be fighting for the same target”, comments Lars Michaelsen, who himself won the race back in 1995.

“We will be at the start of Gent-Wevelgem with E3 Harelbeke fresh in memory and with a bit of mixed emotions. We saw that there’s a high level of cohesion on the team and that we’re absolutely able to ready ourselves, when we have one of the favorites in the race”, continues Lars Michaelsen.

The 239km route of Gent-Wevelgem is guaranteed to create a selection with only the most durable riders making it to the finish line in Wevelgem. After 110 somewhat flat kilometers, the riders face nine registered short but steep climbs – many of them made even tougher by the cobbled road surface. Gent-Wevelgem derives its label “The Sprinter’s Classic” from the fact that the race often sees hardened sprinters fighting for victory on the final 30km of fairly smooth roads.

“It’s going to be another kind of race than Friday’s E3 Harelbeke and Ronde van Vlaanderen next weekend. It all comes down to the constellations after the decisive Kemmelberg and Monteberg with around 30km to go. If there’s an elite breakaway, it might make it to the line, as we saw with Sagan in 2013, or it may come down to a bigger group sprinting for the win”, explains Lars Michaelsen, who details that Tinkoff-Saxo has several cards to play:

“Sagan is our team captain, but we also have a very capable lieutenant in Matti Breschel and someone like Bodnar, if he is feeling strong in the finale, could have a go as well. In summary, we aim to have as many guys in the leading group after Kemmelberg to boost our opportunities on the last 30km section into Wevelgem”, concludes Lars Michaelsen.


header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step to Gent – Wevelgem
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in 240km Gent – Wevelgem on Sunday. The UCI WorldTour race, considered a sprinter’s Classic, includes nine Belgian climbs (hellingen) between the Casselberg, Catsberg, Baneberg, Kemmelberg, and Monteberg from Deinze to Wevelgem.

Mark Cavendish (GBR), Nikolas Maes (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL), Martin Velits (SVK), Lukasz Wisniowski (POL).
Sports Directors: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) & Tom Steels (BEL).


header-sky-leftSky team for Gent Wevegem
Bernhard Eisel, Andy Fenn, Christian Knees, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas, Elia Viviani and Sir Bradley Wiggins.


header-e3harelbeke15E3 Harelbeke 2015
The E3 Harelbeke has become famous for its podium antics and the race advertising, plus it is named after a motorway, but has always had a top field and the winner is always a big name. Tom Boonen has won it the most with five victories, but wont be here this year. Last year Peter Sagan was the winner and the race has seen Fabian Cancellara, Pozzato, Cipollini, Musseeuw, De Vlaeminck, Maertens, Raas and Van Looy on the top step; quite a line up. The race starts from Harelbeke’s Grote Markt and travels east, the first 110 km are flat with cobbles around Oudenaarde and Zottegem. The race then goes west to pass through Geraardsbergen and Brakel. The race then hits the short, sharp climbs of La Houppe, Berg Stene, Boigneberg, Eikenberg, Stationsberg, Taaienberg, Oude Kruikens, Kapelberg, Patersberg, Oude Kwaremont, Knokteberg and the Tiegemberg which is 16 km from the finish.

Race website: www.e3-harelbeke.be

header-bmc15-rosterBMC team for E3 Harelbeke
Marcus Burghardt (GER), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Rick Zabel (GER).
Sport Director: Valerio Piva (ITA).

Greg Van Avermaet:
Paris - Roubaix 2013

header-katusha15Kristoff and Paolini back on racing in E3 Harelbeke
The Russian Team Katusha is ready for the prestigious UCI WorldTour classic E3 Harelbeke, which will be held this Friday, on March 27th, in Belgium. The recent heroes of the monumental classic Milano – Sanremo, Alexander Kristoff and Luca Paolini, come back on racing after a very short rest to lead Team Katusha in the E3 Harelbeke.

The full Team Katusha roster: Sven Erik Bystrøm, Jacopo Guarnieri, Alexey Tsatevich, Alexander Kolobnev, Alexander Kristoff, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Luca Paolini and Gatis Smukulis.
Sports directors are Gennady Mikhaylov and Torsten Schmidt.

Luca Paolini:

header-iamcyclingIAM Cycling team for GP E3 Harelbeke
Matthias Brändle (Aut), Sylvain Chavanel (F), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Heinrich Haussler (Aus), Reto Hollenstein (S), Roger Kluge (Ger), Jérôme Pineau (F), Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat).
Directeurs sportifs: Eddy Seigneur, Rik Verbrugghe.

Sylvain Chavanel:
Paris-Nice stage-5

header-giantalp15Giant-Alpecin for E3 Harelbeke
After his monumental victory at Milan-Sanremo on Sunday, John Degenkolb (GER) will head into Friday’s E3 Harelbeke as one of the race favorites, and it’s he who will lead the team at this one day WorldTour classic.

The parcours covers 211km and no less than 17 climbs to tackle, including the well known ascents of the Taaienberg, Paterberg, and the Oude Kwaremont. With Zico Waeytens (BEL) in the line-up for E3 the team also has some extra local knowledge that goes a long way in these arduous races.

Waeytens will be joined by the experience of road captains Roy Curvers (NED) and Bert De Backer (BEL) at the race, with more support for Degenkolb coming from Nikias Arndt (GER), who returns from illness that hit him ahead of Milan-Sanremo, Koen de Kort (NED), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED) and Albert Timmer (NED).

“In this race John is our leader and like last year we aim to have riders with him in the final 40km of the race to help ahead of the finale,” explained team coach Aike Visbeek (NED). “E3 is one of the hardest Flemmish races considering the course, with a lot of climbs and small roads making it a really hard race.

“With the confidence boost from Milan-Sanremo our focus is on teamwork to support John because that in the end will make the difference. Having Zico there, who lives near Harelbeke, together with Roy and Bert we should have a lot of knowledge of the roads which will be very useful.”

Nikias Arndt (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), John Degenkolb (GER), Koen de Kort (NED), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL).
Coach: Aike Visbeek (NED).

header-tinkoffsaxo14-leftTinkoff-Saxo’s captain Peter Sagan looking to make it two in a row at E3 Harelbeke
Peter Sagan is leading a Tinkoff-Saxo squad assembled to offer the Slovak champion support on the bumpy road to winning E3 Harelbeke for the second time in a row. However, the obstacles are numerous and come in the form of cobbles, bergs and tough competition, recognizes sports director Lars Michaelsen.

E3 Harelbeke, semi-classic and part of the World Tour, is by most considered as one of the toughest cobbled races of the season, only second to Paris-Roubaix and the much similar but longer Ronde van Vlaanderen. Last year, Peter Sagan was first to cross the finish line in Harelbeke and his ambition is to do so again.

“I will go to Belgium with a great desire to perform well. I won the E3 Harelbeke last year and I will try to do the double this year. The cobblestone Classics kick off and I want to be ready”, says Sagan and adds:

“I focus on the Classics ahead and I feel very well and in very good form”.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s team for E3 Harelbeke is Peter Sagan, Matti Breschel, Maciej Bodnar, Michael Mørkøv, Matteo Tosatto, Nikolay Trusov, Michael Kolar and Pavel Brutt.

With the defending champion on the roster, Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Lars Michaelsen agrees that the team will be at the start of E3 with ambitions. However, as with all cobbled races, it’s impossible to predict the outcome.

“We have last year’s winner on the team in the shape of Peter Sagan, so we ought to be one of the favorites. At the same time E3 Harelbeke is a very hard and challenging race. No doubt that Peter is in form, but we need to avoid crashes and then we have to cross our fingers and hope that the race develops in the right direction for us. We have a plan A and B but as we saw in Dwars door Vlaanderen, crashes and tactical deadlocks can throw a spanner in the works”, explains Lars Michaelsen.

E3 Harelbeke is, without doubt, more than a warm-up for Ronde van Vlaanderen. The big engines of the peloton are all vying for victory on the route, which features clusters of climb and cobbled sections such as the always decisive and dreaded Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. The 192 riders will have to tackle no less than 17 listed bergs, many of them on cobbles.

As the name denotes, the riders will start and finish in Harelbeke but visit cycling capitals such as Geraandsbergen and Oudenaarde along the way. According to Lars Michaelsen, real racing will commence after the first 100 relatively flat kilometers.

“The race tactics will come down to the constellation after 100km of fairly flat racing, where a break will most likely form. I expect Etixx-Quickstep to be very strong, so we have a group of riders, who’ll support Sagan and stay with him as long as possible. Guys like Bodnar, Breschel and Tosatto should play a key role here. A lot can happen in the last part of the race and this is where the game of tactics and constellations of the groups will impact the race heavily”, concludes Lars Michaelsen.

Race details
Dates: 27 March
Total length: 218 kilometers
Kind: Cobbled World Tour Semi-Classic
First edition: 1958
Last year’s winner: Peter Sagan
Best result of Tinkoff-Saxo: 1st – Kurt Asle Arvesen (2008), Fabian Cancellara (2010).


header-sky-leftSky team for the E3 Harelbeke
Bernhard Eisel, Andy Fenn, Christian Knees, Salvatore Puccio, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Elia Viviani.

Sky cobbles info:

header-MTN14-leftMTN-Qhubeka for E3 Harelbeke
MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung look to impress as feeder team has graduate debut in World Tour race
The E3 Harelbeke gets underway today and serves as the first World Tour cobbled classic of the year. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will be lining-up with intentions of being a prominent fixture throughout the race.

At 218km long, and a route that includes most of the famed Helingens and cobbles sectors in the West Flanders region, today’s race could be considered as a mini Ronde van Vlaanderen. This stern test ensures that all the top classics riders will be present at today’s race.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will rally around Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tyler Farrar and Gerald Ciolek today with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Kristian Sbaragli, Youcef Reguigui, Matt Brammeier and Nic Dougall strengthening the arsenal of our African team.

Today also marks the debut appearance for Nic in a World Tour event. After graduating from the World Cycling Centre MTN-Qhubeka feeder team into the MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung pro team last year, this is another significant step for Nic but more so for the development of cycling in Africa.

Nic Dougall – Rider: “I am happy to be starting my first World Tour race today. The Dwars Door Vlaanderen was a real eye opener to my first proper race in this region but I am excited for today. I will look to support and aid my team as best I can while taking in each kilometer to gain as much experience as possible. We have some real contenders for the classics in our team so I am fortunate to be learning from the best.”


Lampre Merida Team f_chiariThe Northern campaing of LAMPRE-MERIDA begins
On Friday March the 27th, the Northern campaign of Team LAMPRE-MERIDA will start: the blue-fuchsia-green team will take part in the E3 Priis Vlaanderen – Harelbeke, World Tour event that will be soon followed, on Sunday the 29th, by the Gand-Wevelgem.

In both races, the sport directors Scirea and Righi will have at their disposal Bonifazio, Cimolai, Modolo, Mori, Oliveira, Pibernik, Pozzato e Richeze.

In the operative staff there will be the doctor Guardascione, the mechanics Bortoluzzo, Pengo, Romanò and Tiede, the masseurs Capelli, Del Gallo and Redaelli and the driver Bozzolo.

Bonifazio and Cimolai recently realized very interesting performances and on Sunday they were both in the top ten of the Milano-Sanremo: their goal is to improve the past year results, exploiting the experience they gained in the past.

For what concerns the experience, Filippo Pozzato is a master and he will aim to compete at the top level.

The support from Oliveira, Richeze and Mori to the team mates will be fundamental, while Pibernik will try to size his skills for this kind of races.

An extra value to the team selection will be given by Sacha Modolo, who’ll be back to races after the unlucky participation in the Tirreno-Adriatico.

The team will be hosted in the Sandton Hotel Broel di Kortrijk (Broelkaai 8, Kortrijk, Belgium).

***No Filippo Pozzato at the E3 as he has a high temperature.***

Niccolò Bonifazio:
Coppa Agostoni 2014

header-lottonl-jumboleftVanmarcke wants to set a high pace in E3 Harelbeke
Team LottoNL-Jumbo is targeting the top three during the first Flemish World Tour classic on Friday. Sep Vanmarcke dashed to fourth in last year’s E3 Harelbeke, and hopes to do even better this year.

“It’s going to be the first real clash with the best riders on the cobblestones”, sports director Nico Verhoeven explains. “We are looking forward to Sep Vanmarcke’s performance with curiosity. We’re talking about the highest level, at the moment. We will try to do better than last year. Sep is our main gun for that. He has to do the job.”

Vanmarcke prepared himself in Tirreno-Adriatico after a strong opening weekend and a great performance in Strade Bianche in Italy. “Tirreno didn’t go so well for him”, Verhoeven says. “He had a hard time there. After that race, he did a good training camp. He rediscovered his good feeling for the classics during those training sessions. At the moment, he is at the level he should be.”

Physical discomfort
“The reason for the fact that I didn’t feel great in Tirreno was due to some physical problems”, Vanmarcke explains. “I was a little bit ill and that manifested itself in some aches. Fortunately, that illness didn’t worsen. I conquered it, and found my good feeling. I had to survive Tirreno to return in my best shape back home. I wasn’t really doubtful about my form, anyway. I knew I was in perfect condition. My performance in Strade Bianche proved that.”

The strong Belgian knows that everything has to come together to win in Harelbeke. “I need to have a very good day, and a little bit of luck. I fear that if there will not be a big crash like last year, a lot of riders will be able to survive the hill section. We have to set a high pace to prevent that. If you want to win, the peloton has to fall back in pieces.”

Small group
Verhoeven knows what to do when you want to have chance to win E3 Harelbeke. “The main point is always in the final”, he says. “The recent past showed that there are always a few riders who are able to escape. If you want to win, you have to be with those riders. We have to make sure that we’re not getting ourselves in a defensive position in the end. Sep or someone else has to be with the leaders.”

Team line-up:
Jos van Emden, Rick Flens, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke, Robert Wagner and Maarten Wynants.
Sports directors: Nico Verhoeven and Jan Boven.

Sep Vanmarcke:
Kuurne - Brussel - Kuurne 2015

Koen de Kort:
Santos Tour Down-Under  2015 - 1

header-europcar15-leftEuropcar riders for the E3 Harelbeke
Giovanni Bernaudeau, Antoine Duchesne, Tony Hurel, Vincent Jerome, Yannick Martinez, Alexandre Pichot, Angélo Tulk, Thomas Voeckler.
Directeur Sportif: Dominique Arnould.

Thomas Voeckler:

header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step to E3 Harelbeke
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selection for E3 Harelbeke, a 218km race on Friday, March 27th. E3 Harelbeke includes 17 Belgian climbs (hellingen) including the following: Kattenerg, Leberg, La Houpe, Berg Stene, Boigneberg, Eikenberg, Stationsberg, Taaienberg, Knokteberg, Hotondberg, Rotelenberg, Kortekeer, Kapelberg, Paterberg, Oude Kwaremont, Karnemelkbeekstraat, and the Tiegemberg. The Tiegemberg is located 20 kilometers from the finish line.

Iljo Keisse (BEL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL), Julien Vermote (BEL).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) & Tom Steels (BEL).

Zdenek Stybar:

header-critinter2015 Critérium International: A Duo for a 3-Stage Race
Davide Cimolai surged in the final stretch to steal the show from more renowned sprinters in the 192.5-km 5th stage of Paris-Nice in Rasteau.

The route and a preliminary entry list for the 84th edition of the Critérium International, the 6th to be held in southern Corsica, were presented last week in Porto-Vecchio, by Mayor Georges Mela and race organizer François Lemarchand. Defending champion, Jean-Christophe Péraud, will be one of the main favorites for the win on the three-stage race this coming 28 and 29 March. But the runner-up on the 2014 Tour de France will face stiff competition, led by Thibaut Pinot, who joined him on the podium in Paris last July.

Since 2010, a strong field of riders and teams will make its way to Porto-Vecchio in late March to celebrate the start of spring season. The varied topography of Corsica offers a terrain perfectly adapted to the Critérium International, an intense stage race, which calls upon multiple qualities. This geography has proven itself in sporting terms over the past five editions. Two winners of the Tour de France, Christopher Froome and Cadel Evans, have won on Corsica’s roads, while last year’s winner, Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R-La Mondiale), brilliantly capitalized on his triumph in finishing second on the Tour last July. At ease on the time trial and an excellent climber, the runner-up to Vincenzo Nibali on the 2014 Tour de France presents the ideal profile for a repeat performance. But he will have to battle with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who finished just 38 seconds behind on the Champs-Elysées and who could make the most of the three-stage race to claim, at the age of 24, his first overall victory in a stage race.

The two French heroes from last year’s Tour de France will not be the only riders heading to Corsica with high ambitions. The Trek Factory Racing team will land on the island with four credible candidates for the overall win, including winner of the 2011 edition, Franck Schleck, who will have the support of Bauke Mollema, Bob Jungels and Julian Arredondo. Victorious on the Ospédale stage last year and second to Péraud overall, Switzerland’s Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) too has the profile to contend for a spot one place higher on the podium this year. Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne-Séché) will also be one to watch. The Argentinean finished fifth last year and recently won the Classic Sud Ardèche and will be able to rely on the experience of his road captain, Pierrick Fédrigo, laureate of the race in 2010 and two-time winner of the Ospédale stage (2010 and 2012)…

16 teams: the primary entrants (16 March)

Bora – Argon 18: Konrad (Aut)
Team Giant – Alpecin: Ji (Chn), Van der Haar, Veelers (Ned)

Cult Energy Pro Cycling: Gerdemann (Ger), Larsson (Swe), Wegmann (Ger)

United States:
Team Cannondale – Garmin: Formolo, Moser (Ita), Navardauskas (Ltu)
Trek Factory Racing: Arredondo (Col), Felline (Ita), Jungels (Lux), Mollema (Ned), F. Schleck (Lux)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team: Brajkovic (Slo), Ratto (Ita)

AG2R La Mondiale: Bakelants (Bel), Péraud, Vuillermoz (Fra)
Auber 93: Dassonville (Fra)
Bretagne – Séché Environnement: Fedrigo, B. Feillu (Fra), Sepulveda (Arg)
Cofidis Solutions Crédits: Chainel, Edet (Fra)
FDJ.fr: Jeannesson, Pinot, Roy (Fra)
Team Europcar: Arashiro (Jpn)
Team Marseille 13 KTM: Di Gregorio, El Fares (Fra)

The Netherlands:
Team Roompot: De Maar, Kreder (Ned)

Tinkoff – Saxo: C.A. Sorensen (Den), Zaugg (Sui)

IAM Cycling: Frank (Sui), Pelucchi (Ita)

The 2015 Critérium International stages:
28/03 (Morning). Stage 1: Porto-Vecchio – Porto-Vecchio, 92.5 km.
28/03 (Afternoon). Stage 2: Porto-Vecchio – Porto-Vecchio (time trial), 7 km.
29/03. Stage 3: Porto-Vecchio – Col de l’Ospédale, 189.5 km.


header-cult-leftSkelde looking forward to Criterium International
This upcoming weekend, CULT Energy Pro Cycling are participating in the French stage race, Criterium International on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. The two day stage race contains three stages. Saturday, the peloton will be taking on the 92.5 kilometer long and flat stage one and in the afternoon awaits an individual time trial covering 7 kilometers. The queen stage Sunday will be the decisive one covering 189.5 kilometers in mountainous terrain and a 14.1 kilometer long uphill finish to Col de l’Ospedale with an average gradient of 6.2 per cent.

Several Tour de France winners have won the race from Cadel Evans and Chris Froome to Bernhard Hinault and Laurent Fignon. Last year’s winner of the race, Jean-Christophe Peraud finished second after Vincenzo Nibali in Le Tour 2014.

CULT Energy Pro Cycling’s line-up: Linus Gerdemann, Fabian Wegmann, Rasmus Guldhammer, Michael Carbel, Christian Mager, Karel Hnik, Romain Lemarchand and Joel Zangerle.

DS, Michael Skelde says: “Criterium International is a prestigious race, rich in tradition. It contains three very different stages. One for the sprinters, one for the time trial specialists and one for the climbers. We enter the race with a mix of all three types. I know that Linus (Gerdemann) is in good shape and I’m looking forward to watching him on Sunday’s mountain stage but everyone gets their chance. We’re targeting stage wins but we might get a solid overall result if things work out for us on Sunday,” says DS, Michael Skelde.

The team also participate in the 203 kilometer long warm-up race, Classica Corsica Thursday.


header-iamcyclingClassica Corsica – Jonathan Fumeaux: “It’s important always to ride at the front”
IAM Cycling will be racing on three fronts for this first week of spring. In addition to the riders who will be on the road in Belgium and Spain, eight more of their teammates will be taking on the competition in Corsica. Before taking up arms in the ASO’s Critérium International this coming weekend, the IAM Cycling riders will be competing and hoping to build a good foundation at the Classica Corsica, which is a new event on the calendar taking place between Ajaccio and Bastia.

Recently awarded a Bachelor Degree in Economics for his university studies which he conducted in parallel to his cycling career, Jonathan Fumeaux (27) is pleased to be returning to race on the beautiful island of Corsica for the second time. “The new event in Corsica will be a good warm up for the Critérium. If the race is well controlled by the teams, it will likely end in a bunch sprint. But nothing is certain on the narrow, winding roads of Corsica. It is important always to remain at the front.”

Fumeaux, who comes from the Valais region in Switzerland, has very fond memories of the 2014 edition of the Critérium International. “Last year, Mathias Frank won a great stage at the top of the col de L’Ospedale. He finished second overall, and won the points jersey as well as the best climber’s. And then with Sébastien Reichenbach, we were in the top-20. For this edition, we again have a great team that will be capable of animating the race. So far this year, I have not raced a ton, but there is a chain of fantastic events on the horizon for me, including the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour of Romandie. And the season is still long. I have had good feelings in the training I have done at home, where the conditions have been ideal for a hard block of work.”

Classica Corsica (Thursday, March 26th) Ajaccio – Bastia, 203km (12h – 16h52)
Stef Clement (NL), Mathias Frank (S), Jonathan Fumeaux (S), Pirmin Lang (S), Sébastien Reichenbach (S), Patrick Schelling (S), David Tanner (Aus).

Critérium International (Saturday, March 28th – Sunday, March 29th)
Stef Clement (Ned), Mathias Frank (S), Jonathan Fumeaux (S), Pirmin Lang (S), Sébastien Reichenbach (S), Patrick Schelling (S), David Tanner (Aus).
Directeur sportif: Rubens Bertogliati.

Sébastien Reichenbach out of Classica Corsica
Sébastien Reichenbach (25) will not be taking the start of the Classica Corsica tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, he was hit by a car door while out training before heading to Corsica, and consequently suffered a hematoma on his right knee. A decision as to whether he will take part in the Critérium International this coming weekend will be made according to how his recovery from this injury progresses.


header-giantalp15Giant-Alpecin for the Classica Corsica & Critérium International
Team Giant-Alpecin heads to Corsica, the French island that hosts Critérium International, for the first edition of the one-day Classica Corsica. This 203km UCI 1.1 race will feature many of the same roads and climbs used on the second stage of the 2013 Tour de France when Le Tour visited the isle.

The team includes riders looking to gain experience from racing on the offensive here in Corsica, including Chad Haga (USA) who had a strong Tirreno-Adriatico before playing his part in Sunday’s Milan-Sanremo victory. Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE) also returns to racing here after several months of patient recovery from an operation in the winter.

“With the recent number of unfortunate injuries and sick riders we are heading to Corsica with just six riders but we will still be ready to challenge and to make an impression as a team,” explained team coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA). “The parcours looks like it will favor a smaller group towards the end but if the race does come back together after the main climbs and Tom [Veelers] is there then we will be sure to go for a result with him. Otherwise we will look to take what opportunities we can.”

Critérium International:
In 2014, Tom Dumoulin (NED) assumed the overall race lead after winning the second stage time trial before conceding it on the final mountain finish on Sunday. Dumoulin isn’t lining up for this year’s race but it is still a well-rounded team that heads to Corsica for the two-day, three stage race.

As usual the race features a short sprint opportunity on the opening morning followed by a 7km individual time trial in the afternoon. This is then followed by a 189.5km mountain stage on Sunday finishing atop the Col de l’Ospedale.

It is an opportunist line-up for the two-day race that will be looking to infiltrate the escapes and take what chances arise. Tom Veelers (NED) also provides a strong option for the opening day’s sprint opportunity, a race for him to take his own chances.

Team Giant-Alpecin coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA) said ahead of the race: “We start Critérium International with the same team as the Corsica Classic and will be looking towards using the collective strength of the team to push for a result.

“I think our best chance of a result will be with Tom in the opening sprint stage. Chad will look towards the time trial but he comes here after a busy opening race period so there’s no pressure on him for this. It will also be good for Caleb to test his climbing legs here on the final stage.”

Caleb Fairly (USA), Chad Haga (USA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Tom Veelers (NED).
Coach: Christian Guiberteau (FRA).


header-europcar15-leftEuropcar team for the Critérium International
Yukiya Arashiro, Thomas Boudat, Dan Craven, Romain Guillemois, Brian Nauleau, Maxime Mederel.
Directeur Sportif: Lylian Lebreton.

Dan Craven:

header-bmc15-plainVelits To Undergo Surgery
Slovakian national time trial champion Peter Velits will have surgery on his left leg to treat an overuse injury, the BMC Racing Team announced Monday.

BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said the injury has developed over the past few months. Part of the BMC Racing Team’s victorious team time trial squad at the world championships last September, Velits’s best finish this season has been 27th on Stage 1 at the Tour of Oman.

“His leg has definitely been bothering him the past few weeks,” Dr. Testa said. “So after the medical staff consulted with an external specialist, we decided it was best for him to have surgery.”

Velits said the problem first revealed itself in training camp last December, though it did not initially affect his performance.

“But as the season started, the symptoms got worse so we decided to undergo surgery,” he said. “The team has been very supportive in every aspect, which I am very thankful for. I am looking forward to get back to racing with the team again.”

Dr. Testa said Velits will undergo surgery in the next week or two. If everything goes to plan, Velits will be back to racing by mid-summer, he said.


header-etixx-qr15Brewery De Bie and Etixx – Quick-Step launch ‘De Bie Vélo’
Healthy Beer for Winners

Brewery De Bie in Wakken and cycling team Etixx – Quick-Step are launching a new beer as part of a partnership. ‘De Bie Vélo’ is a traditional, light and flavorful beer especially for cycling and team fans!

“It is possible to have a healthy beer. We brew with natural quality products and not with chemical products,” tells Nicolas Tjoen of Brouwerij De Bie.

“Etixx – Quick-Step is a cycling team that stands out for success and innovation. But we never forget our Belgian roots and our traditions. We feel that quality and passion is what binds De Bie and Etixx – Quick-Step.” says CEO Patrick Lefevere.

Taste of victory
‘De Bie Vélo’ is a blond triple with 8% alcohol. “The beer has a special flavor”, says beer expert Robbie Defraeye. “There is a good sweet-bitter balance. The beer tastes fruity and has a malty aftertaste. The spicy notes of star anise, coriander and sage are the finishing touch. Both men and women will love this beer. It is a very tasty and hearty alcohol in percentage terms, but still has good drinkability. ”

Beer for the fans
‘De Bie Vélo’ is a beer for the fans, a beer for winners by a team of winners. “The beer will be available in our fanclub, for the VIPS during the races and as a special gift package in the online fanshop of Etixx – Quick-Step”, says commercial director Marnix Drysdale. “We are looking forward to serving the ‘De Bie Vélo.”


header-shimanoracetvBehind the scenes with John Degenkolb at Milan-San Remo 2015 by ShimanoTV
Before the 106th edition of the Italian spring classic, ‘La Primavera’ Milan-San Remo we caught up with John Degenkolb of the Shimano-sponsored Giant-Alpecin team to discuss what makes the race so special and why he’s trained throughout the winter to prepare specifically for this race. John also talks about race being won and lost on the climbs of the Poggio and La Cipresa and how saving energy is the most important factor in this brutal race. Shimano are proud to provide John and the rest of the Giant-Alpecin team with Dura Ace and Pro components. La Dolce Vita!

header-girohalloffame-moserGiro d’Italia Hall of Fame: Francesco Moser
As reported in EuroTrash Monday; in a ceremony at Milan’s Upcycle Bike Café, Francesco Moser was inducted into the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame. One of Italy’s greatest professional cyclists, Moser sealed his victory in the 1984 Giro d’Italia in dramatic circumstances: on the last day of the race, in the magical setting of Verona’s extraordinary Roman amphitheater, the Arena, he sped across the finish line at the end of a 42km individual time trial to win the stage and take the final Maglia Rosa from his closest rival, Laurent Fignon. Here is a short video on that 1984 Giro:

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