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EuroTrash Degenkolb Monday!

John Degenkolb rode a perfect Paris-Roubaix on Sunday; he saved his energies for the decisive moment when he crossed to the leaders and then showed them how fast he could sprint. We have race reports, rider quotes, results and video from Roubaix and País Vasco. In other cycling news: Fighting cyclists, Brabant, Stetina, pizza and champagne.

TOP STORY: Fighting in the Peloton!
Anthony Roux (FDJ.fr) and Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) were expelled for fighting on Friday during the fourth and final road stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe. The Frenchman and Australian came to blows and the Commissaire Jury decided they should be excluded from the French race.

“Fight in the bunch! The UCI commissaires disqualify Anthony Roux and Jay McCarthy,” Tweeted the race organization.

Franck Pineau, DS of the FDJ.fr team of Anthony Roux, winner of stage 2a, confirmed the incident to the website CyclingPro.net: “McCarthy had already showed his hatred towards my riders on Thursday and we talked about it at dinner. This morning, he continued with insults and then blows at Anthony’s shoulders and slapped him. We’re fed up with these guys who have done nothing in this sport and behave like a hooligan while wearing the jersey of a strong team,” he said.

He found that this is not an isolated incident of insulting and intimidating the French riders: “This attitude is unfortunately still prevalent, and I find it normal that our riders rebel and say enough is enough.”

Jay McCarthy Tweeted: “just a silly push and shove over a wheel in front.Commissaire making an example that it can B dangerous my apologies.”

So, who do you believe? Is it a conspiracy against the French or just the usual jockeying for position that happens during a race?

On this occasion we have no TV video, so we will never know, but for sure it was nothing like this:

header-paris-roubaixParis-Roubaix 2015
John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) doubly made history when he became the first German since Josef Fischer in 1896 to win the Queen of Classics and the first man since Sean Kelly in 1986 to achieve the Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix double in the same year. A frustrated second in 2014, the Giant-Alpecin team leader made the right move at the right time to finally out-sprint the magnificent seven left in contention on the Roubaix velodrome and snatch his third major classic after Paris-Tours in 2013 and the Primavera earlier this season. Czech Zdenek Stybar rewarded a bold performance by the whole Etixx – Quick-Step team by taking second place ahead of Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), third like in the Tour of Flanders last week.

Nine riders made the break of the day after 34 kilometers, they were: Gregory Rast (Trek), Adam Blythe (Orica-GreenEDGE), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Ralf Matzka (Bora-Argon 18), whose lead topped at 9:40 after 76 kilometers. The first cobbles of the day, the peloton tackled some eight minutes behind the break, were already merciless to Belgium’s Stijn Devolder (Trek), who crashed in sector 26 between Visely and Quievy (105km).

The tailwind accounted for a fast pace at more than 45kph and several crashes and punctures took place in the first cobbled sectors. Yoann Offredo (FDJ.fr) was one of the unluckiest riders, puncturing three times and crashing once before half-distance. Pre-race favorite Geraint Thomas (Sky) also flatted twice before crashing after 164 kilometers, definitely ruining his victory chances. A freak incident took place after 162 kilometers as the peloton was heating up after the Arenberg Trench, 5:50 down on the break. The gate at a railway crossing went down, nearly hitting French champion Arnaud Demare and splitting the bunch. The front part of the race was neutralized until the peloton regrouped.

Etixx – Quick-Step raised the tempo in sector 16 as the break lost De Bie and Perichon after punctures. While Terpstra’s team-mates split the pack repeatedly, at first surprising Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky), but they failed to drop any of their most serious rivals. Crashes and punctures took their toll, Frenchman Damien Gaudin and 2011 winner Johan Van Summeren (both AG2R-La Mondiale) losing ground like Italian Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr).

The crucial Mons-en-Pevele sector saw Blythe and Matzka lose contact with the leading group with 45kms to go. In the peloton, Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx – Quick-Step) attacked, chasing on his own behind the escapees, Bradley Wiggins jumped to catch the Belgian, followed by Vandenbergh’s team-mate Zdenek Stybar and Belgian champion Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal). The move was too dangerous and was pulled back.

Rast, Saramotins, Backaert and Gougeard were finally caught with 22 kilometers to go by a group including all the favorites. The decisive move finally took place with 12 kilometers left when Yves Lampaert (Etixx – Quick-Step) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) joined forces. Degenkolb was the only rider to see the danger or was the only rider who could react and caught them with seven kilometers to go.

Van Avermaet and Lampaert knew that Degenkolb could out-sprint them so sat on the German, this allowed Stybar, Lars Boom (Astana), Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) and Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEDGE) to catch the three and assured a seven man sprint in the velodrome. Lampaert led-out Stybar, but Degenkolb was by far the strongest leaving the Czech champion in 2nd place and Van Avermaet in 3rd.

Read the full race report here.

Winner of the 2015 Paris-Roubaix John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin): “I am so happy with this win. The team was so strong and I received great support from the guys. Everything went perfectly. I chose the right moment to attack. I knew if I waited longer, the same scenario as last year would play out, so I went. I was forced to do most of the work because the others know I am a fast finisher. I was able to stay calm and follow my instincts in the finale, as I wasn’t afraid to fail and that was the key today. The sprint was perfect. The combination of wins in Milan-San Remo and today is very special.”

2nd Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Yves Lampaert jumped perfectly and he took Van Avermaet with him. It was a good situation for us. But when I saw John Degenkolb was going away, I thought then we had to do something. Then we had riders like Lars Boom and the others with me. So, for me, it was a good situation. I tried not to collaborate too much as my teammate was ahead, but I knew I had to make a move soon. I knew there was a little climb coming with about 2 kilometers to go, so I tried to go full gas and bridge the gap to the first group. I had already use some energy earlier in the race closing gaps, including to the Wiggins group and then these guys. Maybe I could have saved some energy if I went after the group at the same time John did, but it is what it is. I had to recover a bit when I joined the leaders because I was really giving everything. I couldn’t attack in that moment, even if it was maybe the ideal tactic to beat John. Then Yves tried to jump, and he was very strong. But Degenkolb closed it down and we went into the velodrome together. Lampaert led perfectly in the velodrome. I took 2nd position going into the sprint. It was a difficult decision because I knew Degenkolb was for sure one of the fastest guys in the bunch. So it’d be hard to beat him in a sprint. But in such a hard race, including with him having to use energy bridging gaps, you never know. So I was hoping he might be tired, but everyone was really at their knees along with him. It was really down to who had anything left. He launched a very good sprint and I couldn’t beat him. He was very strong and deserved the win. I think we have been very competitive in every race. When you look back at all the races where we were 2nd or top 3 or 4, we simply did our best every time. Of course this team is used to winning, but looking back and see how consistently strong we were with our best effort, I don’t think we can complain too much. As for me, I am 2nd at Paris-Roubaix after being 6th and 5th. Of course in cycling I want to win. I hope to come back next year and fight for this victory, because that is what counts. Also I cannot forget about thanking my other teammates. They did such a great job today They weren’t afraid to try an echelons or pull on the front. They sacrificed for us, without fear of blowing up from a full gas effort. For me, Stijn, Niki. So I have to thank them. They were perfect.”

3rd Greg Van Avermaet (BMC): “You always want to win the race, but I knew it would be pretty hard against Degenkolb. He is strong in these kinds of races and he was pretty strong when he came to us. He did a few good pulls and I was a little bit empty at the end. It was hard to come to the finish. I felt a little bit of energy going away in the last five kilometers and had to put out the maximum to get on the podium. I never really had a great feeling today. Last week, I was feeling good at Flanders. Today, I had to fight against myself on the cobbles. I think I did a good attack with Yves Lampaert in the end. But we could not hold off Degenkolb and Stybar and the others. In the end it was hard to beat them in the sprint.”

5th Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling): “I am not a champion; after all I finished second to last in the sprint. But seriously, everything worked really well for me today. The team once again worked amazingly well together. I did not suffer any punctures, and just had to deal with a small mechanical early one, so I was able to rejoin the front of the race before the real fighting began. In the end, I opted to count on Boom taking his sprint from far out, which didn’t happen. But still, I am very happy with 5th place. I did ride into the velodrome with the group vying for the win. In the last few kilometers, I just had to hang on because I was pretty burnt. Given how well I felt today, and the fact I was 10th in the Tour of Flanders to add to my 5th in Roubaix, I am ready to take my chances next week at the Amstel Gold Race. I have always enjoyed that race, even if it has never really smiled on me. I have often figured in the group of favorites coming into the final, but luck has never been on my side. So I will do my best to recover well this week, and then try once again to play for the win.”

7th Yves Lampaert (Etixx – Quick-Step): “In just my 2nd Paris-Roubaix participation I am in the top 10 of the race. That is really encouraging for me. As for the team, We were really strong today as a collective. We rode really full gas and we made the race hard starting from 90 kilometers to go in the feed zone. Then I was able to recover a bit. The race split up again and I wasn’t in the first group until the Carrefour de l’arbre. A little bit after that we came into a small village and I attacked. The attack was instinctive, not planned. I got the feeling in the right moment and I went. I quickly got a gap, and then Van Avermaet followed me, so I was quite sure we would stay in front. But when I heard Degenkolb was coming, and he came really fast, I knew it would be difficult to win. But I didn’t ride in front because Styby was coming. Then he arrived, and at 1.5km to go I tried an attack. But Degenkolb was strong and he closed the gap immediately. Then I led the sprint out for Styby, and he was 2nd. I don’t know if it is disappointing. I’d consider it maybe bittersweet. I worked hard for a lot of kilometers today. I chased the original breakaway, and then I pulled before the feed zone to form an echelon, and then of course I chased back to the first group and attacked before the finale. I’d consider this my best Classics race ever. It was a strange feeling to arrive in the velodrome. To arrive at the front in a race like this isn’t easy and it is such a prestigious finish in the stadium like that. I have to be happy considering where I finished, and how hard I worked to get into the top 10 today, as a Belgian rider in Paris-Roubaix.”

9th Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal): “The race went pretty well for me, although sometimes I was positioned too far. That’s why I had to close some gaps and that cost energy. At the Forest of Wallers four riders of our team were part of the first thirty riders in the peloton. It was still a long way to go, but it was a good situation. Later I got in a group with Stybar, Vandenbergh and Wiggins, ideal for the team and me. After we got caught Jürgen attacked. Once we had covered the sector of Carrefour de l’Arbre I got in the group with Jürgen. The first seven riders in the ranking were too strong for me. Together with Luke Rowe I jumped away from the chase group. The circumstances changed all the time, I’m happy with the ninth place.”

11th Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo): “I flatted exactly when my final started, I’d just split up the group with an attack and felt strong. I wanted to give my everything one more time and I thought that not many would be able to go with me, but destiny decided otherwise, and not for the first time this spring. Every time when it was crunch time this spring, something happened to me. It’s actually been a very annoying spring, it was a spring of bad luck. I’ve become stronger, but I haven’t been able to show it. The team was superb today. I was happy Tom and Maarten were there for me when I punctured. Thanks to them, I was able to reconnect with the front group, but because of the huge effort, I couldn’t really do more than just chase. I tried to make the most of the sprint and I think there isn’t much shame in finishing behind Kristoff. I left with my head held high.”

Paris-Roubaix Result:
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin in 5:49:51
2. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
4. Lars Boom (Ned) Astana
5. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
6. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEDGE
7. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:07
8. Luke Rowe (GB) Sky at 0:28
9. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:29
10. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:31.

2015 Paris-Roubaix:

header-paisvasco-leftVuelta al País Vasco 2015
Two stages in a row for Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), after his stage 3 victory on Wednesday, he repeated the feat on Thursday and won Stage 4 from a group that escaped on the Usartza, 2 kilometers before the finish in Arrate. Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) was 2nd and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) was 3rd. Sky’s Sergio Henao held onto the yellow jersey, but is on the same time as Rodriquez and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Stage 4 was run over 162.2 kilometers from Zumarraga to Arrate with climbs of Asentzio (Cat 2), Karabieta (Cat 2), Izua (Cat 2), Gaintzagagaina (Cat 3), Santa Eufemia (Cat 3), Pinares (Cat 3) and the finale Usartza (Cat 1).

First break of the day was made up of: Tony Martin & Michal Golas (Etixx – Quick-Step), Tom Danielson (Cannondale-Garmin), Peio Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Rohan Dennis & Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE), Bob Jungels & Fabio Felline (Trek), Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Nicki Sorensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Yoann Bragot & Romain Hardy (Cofidis), but it didn’t last for long as Sky was in control and brought them back. The same happened again when Martin, Danielson, Hardy and Bilbao tried later, although Martin and Danielson stuck out front until the final climb of the Usartza.

Sky and Movistar were doing all the work in the final half of the stage as the Katusha team were in trouble as Angel Vicioso crashed and abandoned, while Rodriguez needed a bike change with 20 kilometers to go.

After Martin and Danielson were caught; Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Ion Izagirre (Movistar) were the first to make a move on the final climb. Izagirre couldn’t hold Zakarin, but Henao jumped up to him, with Movistar and Astana on the front the gap to Henao and Zakarin was held at 3 seconds on the climb.

Izagirre made another attack from the group that was left, this pulled Henao and Zakarin back for the descent to the finish and with Katusha in control the other had no chance against the sprint of Rodriguez at the finish.

Stage 4 winner and 2nd overall Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha): “Finally I did it. I knew I had to go fast in the last two corners. I had to make up something after Valverde beat me in 2012 here after a photo finish. I didn’t dare to lift my hands too early. Arrate is a classic finish and it is an honor to win here. It was a hard day again. The break had many minutes for most of the day. Movistar and Sky took the race in hand and the speeds were so fast. We were comfortable with Zakarin in the break, but the crash of Vicioso changed our team tactics a bit. I had to change bikes and then come back so that cost me some energy, but fortunately the last climb suited me very well. When Henao went, I thought Quintana would go too, but he didn’t. Then I spoke with Simon and told him I needed his help. Good positioning was more important than speed at that moment. Tomorrow also suits me very well. We cross the Aia pass three times. I like this stage the most of all of them. If I can recover from these past two days, we’ll see how I can do for the GC.”

Kjell Carlström (IAM Cycling): “For this fourth stage, our task was further complicated. The race kicked off to a fast start this morning, but we still managed to make the break with Jérôme Coppel. Everyone tried to get into the break, but I think we have had all sorts of bad luck since the start of the race. We had riders either injured or a little sick before the start, and for a race like this, if you are not at 100% capacity, it is unforgiving. In the end, the peloton caught up with the guys in front, and then four other riders got away. Jérôme still stayed with the front group, but then at the bottom of a descent, he unfortunately crashed and hurt his wrist, so was unable to continue the race. The rest of our guys stayed in the second peloton, but we have also lost Patrick Schelling who has been suffering from digestive issues, and David Tanner who is just lacking some power. So overall, it was a somewhat sad day for us.”

Vuelta al País Vasco Stage 4 Result:
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha in 4:05:10
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek
3. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
4. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar
5. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
8. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha
9. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr.

Vuelta al País Vasco Overall After Stage 4:
1. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky in 17:13:51
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
3. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 0:07
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek at 0:10
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha
7. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC
8. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar
9. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
10. Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha.

Stage 4:

Mikel Landa (Astana) attacked on the final climb to win Stage 5 from Eibar to Aia, finishing 3 seconds ahead of Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and 16 before Tom Danielson (Cannondale-Garmin) with the rest of the peloton spread down the climb. Overall leader Sergio Luis Henao (Sky) finished together with 2nd overall Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) at 56 seconds. Orica-GreenEDGE’s Simon Yates moved closer to Henao and Rodriguez by 3 seconds and is now at 7 seconds in 3rd overall.

The big break of the day escaped in the first hour, it included: Bruno Pires & Chris Anker Sorensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Rohan Dennis (BMC), Giovanni Visconti & Igor Antón (Movistar), Carlos Betancur, Matteo Montaguti & Mikael Cherel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE), Sébastien Reichenbach (IAM Cycling), Nick Van Der Lijke (LottoNL-Jumbo), Mikel Landa, Valerio Agnoli & Rein Taaramae (Astana), Tony Gallopin, Louis Vervaeke & Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Tony Martin & David De la Cruz (Etixx – Quick-Step), Matteo Bono & Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), Tom Jelte Slagter & Tom Danielson (Cannondale-Garmin), Julian Arredondo & Laurent Didier (Trek), Omar Fraile, Antonio Molina & Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Yohan Bagot, Romain Hardy & Rudy Molard (Cofidis).

Sky and Katusha held the leaders at a reasonable gap for most of the day until the first ascent of three up to Aia. On the Alkiza they had 4 minutes, but by the Andazarrate it was down to 3 minutes and with 30 kilometers it was down to 2 minutes.

Vervaeke attacked the break to soften things up for his two Lotto Soudal teammates, but it was Taaramae who caused the most damage jumping clear on the steep 20% section. On the descent Wellens and Gallopin caught Taaramae and was then joined by Landa and Danielson. World champion, Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – Quick-Step), attacked and joined up with his teammate from the break, Tony Martin. The pair made a good effort to catch the front five, but the combined strength of Movistar, Katusha and Sky meant he was not going to shorten his 30 second overall deficit. On the final climb to Aia; Gallopin was dropped and it looked like Danielson was going to take this hard stage, until Landa attacked to go for the victory followed by Wellens.

2nd on the stage Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “I can quickly tell the story of my race day. We took off with a large group with several climbers. We gained an advantage that might be sufficient for some of us to contest the stage win. With the steep climbs in the final I knew it would explode, but we were dependent on the strategy of the favorites. When we entered the last three kilometers, I thought we might make it to the finish line. First Taaramae accelerated, I bridged with Tony and three others. At the end we were left in front with three riders, Landa was the strongest. Thursday evening evening we had decided that this would be my last stage, so I chose to attack. Now I get an extra day of rest. This Vuelta al País Vasco has been the ideal preparation for the Ardennes classics. It was never the goal to ride a good GC, but to use this race to get the necessary race rhythm after my training camp of the end of March. Next week I’ll take the rest I need combined with a big training on Wednesday, then I should be ready for it.”

Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM Cycling): “It was another complicated stage, especially taking into account that we’re all tired from the previous days. Fortunately we had Sébastien Reichenbach in the main break of the day, but behind him, the peloton was always in control. In any case, the final was extremely hard with sections of more than 25% gradients, so we were really facing walls. When you hit climbs like that, you really realize just how difficult cycling is. After all, I live in a very mountainous region, so I am used to doing these sorts of extremely steep climbs, so they don’t really scare me.”

Vuelta al País Vasco Stage 5 Result:
1. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana in 4:06:01
2. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:03
3. Thomas Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:16
4. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 0:28
5. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal at 0:38
6. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:53
7. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky at 0:56
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
9. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin at 1:05
10. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:06.

Vuelta al País Vasco Overall After Stage 5:
1. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky in 21:20:48
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
3. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:07
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:12
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 0:22
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:28
8. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar
9. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC at 0:36
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr.

Stage 5:

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) rode the time trial of his life to finish just 4 seconds slower than stage winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) to take the final overall from Sergio Henao (Sky) by 13 seconds. Dumoulin won with a time of 28:46 for the 18.3 kilometer course, Rodriquez in 28:50 and Ion Izagirre (Movistar) was 3rd on the stage with 28:51 and moved from 8th overall to 3rd. Nairo Quintana finished in 29:16 and so dropped to 4th overall. Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) started well, but his time of 29:29 meant he dropped to 5th place overall. Ex-World Champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and current World champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – Quick-Step) both rode well to jump up the overall, 7th and 8th respectively.

Vuelta al País Vasco winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha): I am so happy! After a year without a victory – now three victories in four days. This is very special to me, but also my good performance in the TT makes me so happy. I didn’t look at it as a TT. I imagined myself to be in a normal stage on the attack. I took some risks in the descent but stayed fully concentrated. At the climb José Azevedo kept me informed about my advantage against Henao. I really gave everything on that climb, I was riding on the limit, but it worked. You can say that it is a surprise to see me performing so well in a TT but already in the past, like in the Tour de France of 2013, I also did very well. Afterwards it is easy to say that I won this Tour of the Basque Country because the course suited me. In reality it was a very complicated race, but we brought home the victory. That’s what counts. País Vasco is important for all riders. Already as a youth rider I raced here. We only have big names as winners here as all top riders are in their top shape, just before the Ardennes classics. This race is an important race on the UCI calendar. It is also fun to ride between the Basque fans, who are cycling-crazy. Already before this race I was really keen to perform well here.”

Stage winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin): “It was a difficult time trial with two very hard climbs in the second part. The first part was mostly descent. The irregularity of today’s course fits me well. This morning during the recon we decided to start with my Giant Trinity TT bike and change to the Giant TCR road bike along the route, which was the best decision. I am very happy but surprised as well that I can compete on this level and even stay ahead of all the climbers. I didn’t start with a clear target to go for a good GC here, as we knew that a finish in the top 10 GC is very unlikely. That is pretty much the reason we didn’t waste too much energy in the past stages to really go for it in today’s time trial, which fits my upcoming classics ambitions, too. I felt better every day this past week and I am heading towards next week’s Amstel Gold Race with a lot of confidence.”

3rd overall Ion Izagirre (Movistar): “Personally, I’m really happy with this result. To be honest, I’d have happily taken a podium finish like this if they have offered it to me before the race. I finished the race really strong, and even though I couldn’t win the stage, fighting for everything until the very last moment is something to be truly proud of. More focused on the GC without Nairo here? You can’t think about that, never – we knew we were coming here to support him, we were by his side and the goal was doing whatever it took to win this. We had chances until the final TT, with both myself and him, and though we lacked a stage win, the team showed commitment and made huge efforts from the start of the race to achieve a prize. Team-wise, we leave with that bittersweet taste, but looking at myself, I think I took a step forward in my career. Making it onto the podium in my home race, with such a strong field of contenders, makes me mentally stronger to keep doing my work. You become more mature after all this years in the pro peloton, and that pays off when you race important courses – I feel more solid, and having a team like this by your side makes things even easier. Now it’s time to enjoy this result and then, we will start thinking about the Giro. I’m raring to go after this race – let’s see what we can achieve in Italy.”

8th on the stage and 7th overall Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida): “I’m very happy for the 7th place in the overall classification of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, which is a race in which I always made huge efforts. This year edition was particularly demanding and the level of the opponents was so high. I had to face difficult moments but I did not give up and, thanks to the support of the team and of my team mates, I succeeded in obtaining this result.”

Vuelta al País Vasco Stage 6 Result:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin in 28:46
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 0:04
3. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 0:05
4. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky at 0:17
5. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 0:21
6. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek at 0:23
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:30
8. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 0:34
9. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 0:36
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:37.

Vuelta al País Vasco Final Overall Result:
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha in 21:49:38
2. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky at 0:13
3. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 0:29
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:38
5. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:46
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 1:06
7. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 1:14
8. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:15
9. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 1:25
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 1:33.

The final stage 6 ITT:

header-brabantse15Brabantse Pijl – Flèche Brabançonne 2015
The Brabantse Pijl or Flèche Brabançonne on Wednesday, April 15th starts in Leuven and after 205.4 kilometers of cobbles and short climbs finishes in Overijse. The finishing circuit is perfect for the fans to catch sight of the stars. Last year BMC’s Philippe Gilbert won ahead of Michael Matthews of Orica-GreenEDGE. The race profile suits riders of Gilbert’s talents, similar to other previous winners: Peter Sagan, Oscar Freire, Johan Museeuw and all the other top men of cycling history: Merckx, Maertens, De Vlaeminck, Criquielion, Van Springle, Janssen and in the first edition in 1961; Pino Cerami.

Website: www.debrabantsepijl.be

***More team line-up’s will be added when we receive them.***


header-iamcyclingFlèche Brabançonne – Matthias Brändle: “The legs are turning well and I feel mentally fresh”
The waltz of the spring classics continues. After a brief stint in France on Sunday for the Paris-Roubaix thriller, many of the riders will be returning to Belgian and Dutch roads next week. IAM Cycling hopes to take advantage of these upcoming events to highlight and animate the races much in the same way they did last Sunday at the Tour of Flanders.

Matthias Brändle, winner this year of the final stage at the Tour of Oman in February, is ready to seize his chance at the Flèche Brabançonne, an event he has already raced once. “I have good memories of this race. It is ideal preparation for the Amstel Gold Race. There are climbs, cobbles, and narrow roads. When I raced it before, I joined in a breakaway with some other riders, and the peloton only caught us with less than fifty kilometers from the finish. I hope to try to repeat my good ride, but without weakening near the finish this time.”

At 25, the former world hour record holder now has a slightly different program to race than he did in 2014. Even before he suits up for Paris-Roubaix, the Austrian on the Swiss professional team will have already logged 3475 kilometers over 23 days of racing. “In agreement with the sports management, I wanted to ride the classics this year because I am eager to try some new things. After Tirreno, I raced Dwars door Vlaanderen, GP E3, Gent-Wevelgem, and the Tour of Flanders. I am also very happy to be starting my first Paris-Roubaix this Sunday to discover what this level of cobbles really are like. And returning to the races like Flèche Brabançonne and the Amstel Gold Race does not scare me. The legs look good and I still feel fresh mentally.”

Matthias Brändle (Aut), Sylvain Chavanel (F), Thomas Degand (Bel), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Pirmin Lang (S), Vicente Reynes (Sp), Patrick Schelling (S), David Tanner (Aus).
Directeur sportif: Mario Chiesa.

Winner in 2008 Sylvain Chavanel:

header-cult-leftLast fine-tuning of form before Amstel Gold Race
Wednesday 15th of April, CULT Energy Pro Cycling take part of the 206 kilometer long, Flemish one-day race, Brabantse Pijl. The race is characterized by a severely hilly course where home turf favorites most often have prevailed. Last year’s winner, Philippe Gilbert is just the latest Belgian to win the race, which has been been on the calendar since 1961.

CULT Energy Pro Cycling will be making their fine tuning of form before the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday and Liege-Bastogne-Liege the following Sunday with this line-up: Linus Gerdemann, Rasmus Guldhammer, Martin Mortensen, Christian Mager, Karel Hnik, Alex Kirsch, Michael Reihs and Joel Zangerle.


header-europcar15-leftEuropcar for Flèche Brabançonne
Yukiya Arashiro, Bryan Coquard, Jérome Cousin, Tony Hurel, Julien Morice, Brian Nauleau, Angélo Tulik, Thomas Voeckler.
Directeur Sportif: Benoit Genauzeau.

Tommy V:

header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step to De Brabantse Pijl – La Flèche Brabançonne
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in De Brabantse Pijl – La Flèche Brabançonne, a 205.4km one-day race on Wednesday, April 15th. Brabantse Pijl is a race held between the Cobbled Classics and the Ardennes Classics, with some characteristics of both. There are 26 total short, but punchy climbs in the race, as well as some cobbled sections. The key part of the parcours is a three-lap circuit of 23.4 kilometers each lap. The peloton has to ascend five climbs each lap, and one of them includes cobbles. The climbs include the Hagaard, Hertstraat, Holstheide, Ijskelderlaan, and the Schavei. Shavei starts just 1.2km from the finish line and ends just before a turn into the last 200 meters, which are slightly uphill.

“Unfortunately due to a few injured riders, and the withdrawing of Michal Golas as a precautionary measure ahead of Amstel Gold Race due to a sore throat last night, we are at the start with six riders,” Sport Director Rik Van Slycke said. “But we will still be there with a good team able to do well at this race. Gianni Meersman will play the role of road captain due to his experience, and also because the parcours suits him. This is also a good possibility for riders coming to this race from Catalunya and Pais Vasco, who showed good condition, like Julian Alaphilippe, Petr Vakoc, and Julien Vermote who was our top finisher in 8th place for the 2014 edition. These riders will try to get their chance in a parcours where condition, with the legs for these short but steep climbs, is very important.”

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Nikolas Maes (BEL), Gianni Meersman (BEL), Petr Vakoc (CZE), Julien Vermote (BEL).
Sports Director Rik van Slycke (BEL).

Yves Lampaert:

header-lottosoudal15Flèche Brabançonne with Bart Leysen
On Wednesday 15th April, the 55th edition of the Flèche Brabançonne takes place. It’s the last one of the ‘Flanders Classics’ races. In the Flemish-Brabant region, the peloton gets served 26 climbs.

The start is at the Grote Markt in Leuven, the capital of the region. There after it goes straight to the first climb of the day: the Rue de Hal. This one is only the beginning of a long series of climbs. There are eleven climbs to be covered before the peloton reaches the finish line in Overijse for the first time. Among the climbs: the Alsemberg, Krabosstraat, Holstheide and the IJskelderlaan. With 70 kilometres to go, the riders will start the first of three local laps. Each lap is 23.4 kilometres long and contains five climbs. These laps are the hardest part of this race. Respectively the Hagaard, Hertstraat, Holstheide, IJskelderlaan and the Schavei will cause a natural selection in the peloton.

Lotto Soudal will start in this Europe Tour race with among others Tony Gallopin, Thomas De Gendt and Pim Ligthart. They will strive against Philippe Gilbert, last year’s winner. Also riders like Jan Bakelants, Gianni Meersman and Thomas Voeckler will probably want to show themselves.

Sports director Bart Leysen: “With Pim Ligthart and Tony Gallopin we have got two riders in our team who have chances to set a high result in this Flèche Brabançonne, the route suits them. Tony has prepared himself for this period and Pim has rested the last ten days to recover from the first hard part of his season. Also other riders in our team could take their chance on the right moment.”

“The Flèche Brabançonne is a pretty predictable race, especially because the weather forecast is optimistic. In the first loop there shouldn’t be an escape of a big group or a group with teammates of the favourites. Probably the peloton will be still big and racing at high speed at the beginning of the 23.4 kilometres long local laps. From that moment on it will be an elimination race. Because of all the climbs on the route it will be hard to get back in the race once you had to let go.”

“I think there is only one favourite: Philippe Gilbert. BMC will have to control the race and he will be the man to beat. Besides Gilbert, Belgians like Bakelants, Meersman and foreigners Matthews and Voeckler will be present.”

Selection Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Thomas De Gendt, Gert Dockx, Tony Gallopin, Pim Ligthart, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert and Louis Vervaeke.
Sports director: Bart Leysen.

Tony Gallopin:
TDFR 2014 - stage -11

header-giantalp15Giant-Alpecin in De Brabantse Pijl
After an extremely successful campaign in the Spring Classics, with two wins out of three ‘Monument’ races, the team aims for more success in the upcoming Ardennes Classics, starting with this Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl.

With a few top ten classifications in the previous editions of the Belgian one-day classic, the team comes to the race with a line-up of riders who have competed in the Spring Classics, including Roy Curvers (GER), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), and Zico Waeytens (BEL), complemented by riders that followed preparations in the Southern European stage races.

“We start the race with riders who are well-prepared for the Ardennes Classics. We hope it will become an open race as our strategy will be attacking,” explained coach Rudi Kemna (NED).

“Caleb Fairly (USA) and youngster Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE) will receive the space to grow into races like Brabantse Pijl and we will try to ride a good final with Zico Waeytens.”

Roy Curvers (NED), Caleb Fairly (USA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL).
Coach: Rudi Kemna (NED).

Roy Curvers:

header-bmc15-rosterBMC Roster: De Brabantse Pijl
Defending champion Philippe Gilbert headlines the BMC Racing Team’s roster for De Brabantse Pijl Wednesday.

Damiano Caruso (ITA), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Campbell Flakemore (AUS), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Manuel Senni (ITA), Dylan Teuns (BEL).
Sport Director: Max Sciandri (ITA).

A repeat win for Pilippe Gilbert?
Kuurne - Brussel - Kuurne 2015

header-lottonl-jumboleftLa Flèche Brabançonne first test for Team LottoNL-Jumbo
Next Wednesday’s La Flèche Brabançonne is the first real test for the Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders who want to perform during the Ardennes Classics over the upcoming weeks. Sports Director Merijn Zeeman wants his riders to be attentive in Belgian Brabant.

“The riders who will start on Wednesday, have had different spring programs and this great race is a good opportunity for the group to get used to each other again,” Zeeman said.

“The course of La Flèche Brabançonne is never flat and with all the twisting and turning the race is quite explosive,” Zeeman continued.
“We have to be really attentive and we have to do it as a team. Teamwork is what we’re going to need in the real Ardennes classics.”

No real leader
Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start the race without a real leader. Zeeman expects a good performance by Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens and Wilco Kelderman though. The latter will be the card to play by the team in hilly classics.

Paul Martens
Martens, who finished fourth in the 2010 La Flèche Brabançonne, was ill last week. The German hopes to appear fully healthy at the start on Wednesday.

“I was really sick. I could only lie on the couch and even that was very hard. I’m a little better now and I’ve been able to train properly on Tuesday, but I mustn’t make the mistake of trying to repair the damage too fast.”

Main goal
The Ardennes Classics are the first main goal of the year for Martens. “Before I got sick, my condition was as expected. I will find out what it costs me on Wednesday. My ambition goes beyond finishing, but I know I cannot expect too much too soon.”

Team line-up:
Brian Bulgac, Moreno Hofland, Wilco Kelderman, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Nick van der Lijke, Paul Martens, Mike Teunissen & Kevin De Weert.
Sports Director: Merijn Zeeman.

Brian Bulgac:

header-MTN14-leftMTN-Qhubeka Preview: Brabantse Pijl
Sbaragli and Reguigui key men for MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung

The 55th De Brabantse Pijl – La Flèche Brabançonne will take place tomorrow, 15 April. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will line-up for this UCI 1.HC Belgian classic for the 3rd time after making its debut back in 2013 already.

The Brabanste Pijl is somewhat of a transitional classic as the race is seen as the bridge between the cobbled classics and the Ardennes classics. Some of the cobbled specialists look to carry their form into Brabantse from Flanders and Roubaix while the punchers and other climbers who are hoping to excel at races like Amstel Gold and Leige-Bastogne-Liege look to Brabantse as their first classics outing.

MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will have a slight mixture of the two specialists as well for tomorrow’s rendezvous. With the race suited to a rider with an explosive climbing prowess as well as a fair kick for the line, Kristian Sbaragli and Youcef Reguigui become our leading candidates for the race. Both riders will look to be competitive in the finale that has always seen a very small selection of riders in years gone by.

Supporting Kristian and Youcef on the day will be Daniel Teklehaimanot, Natnael Berhane, Songezo Jim, Nic Dougall, Jay Thomson and Serge Pauwels. 26 Hellingen and 205km is what await the riders tomorrow and our African team will have an eye on the podium for sure.

The Brabantse Pijl will be broadcast live on SuperSport, channel 205 from 15:00 tomorrow.

Songezo Jim – Rider
I did the race with the team 2 years ago so I know what it is like. The most important part comes during those final 4 laps on the circuit. There are 5 climbs on the circuit and the pace is always high and this is where the race should be decided. We will try to see what we can do here, Kris and Youcef are our fast guys for this race so we will try to take our opportunities.


header-bmc15-plainSurgery Successful For Stetina
Peter Stetina’s surgery performed in Bilbao, Spain, Thursday to repair injuries sustained in a crash at Vuelta al Pais Vasco was successful, said BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa.

Stetina and teammate Darwin Atapuma were two of more than half a dozen riders who were hurt in the pile-up that happened Monday in the last 400 meters of the opening stage of the Spanish race.

Stetina broke his right leg in two places and broke four ribs. Atapuma cut his left knee but was able to start the next day.

The crash happened when several riders struck meter-high metal poles near the curb lane. The incident – and concerns over rider safety – led the peloton to stage a five-minute protest before Stage 2.

Dr. Testa said Stetina is recovering well after undergoing surgery to repair his broken tibia and patella.

“The surgery was successful,” Dr. Testa said. “The knee specialist who performed the surgery was very happy with the result. At this point in time, we are expecting approval from the treating medical team to move Peter back to the United States. His first stop will be at the Park City Medical Center, where he will be reassessed by Dr. Eric Heiden before starting his rehab program toward full recovery. However, we all know that given the nature of the injury, it will take a few months of rehabilitation and training before he will return to competition.”

Peter Stetina:
TDFR 2014 - stage -13

header-paisvasco-leftBasque Pizza!
On the crazy hard stage 3 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, some nice fans were handing out pizza to the riders. Stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez had to miss out, but Orica-GreenEDGE’s Michael Matthews was one of the lucky recipients.


header-katusha15Kristoff is Frightened by Champagne!
Not Alexander Kristoff, but his son Leo. The young lad was on the podium with his proud father when the champagne blew its cork. If the little Kristoff is going to follow his fathers into cycling he had better get used to it.

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