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Alpe di Siusi - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom - RusVelo pictured during stage 14 of the 99th Giro d’Italia 2016 from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi a Mountain Time Trial individual - foto LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2016

EUROTRASH Foliforov Monday!

Giro d’Italia rest day number three and we catch up with all the weekend’s action from Italy and ask the questions that are on everyone’s minds. The Amgen Tour of California finished on Sunday and we have all the results, race reports, quotes and video from the US as well as the Giro. Plus contract extension for Geraint Thomas, IAM Cycling stop and another great ‘Back Stage Pass’ video from Orica-GreenEDGE on stage 14. EuroTrash Monday coffee time.

TOP STORY: Week Two of the Giro d’Italia
So far the 2016 Giro has not be a vintage year, but the murderous final week should liven things up a bit if all the riders are not too tired. The second week has shown signs of excitement with wins coming from Giulio Ciccone, Diego Ulissi, André Greipel and Mikel Nieve, but the battle for the pink jersey was quite interesting with different riders taking it and losing it as quickly. Thank goodness for them, otherwise the race would be quite dull. The race really got underway on Saturday with stage 14 and its six tough climbs. The attacks from Steven Kruijswijk and Esteban Chaves were too much for Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde and so we had new names to watch. Then in the stage 15 mountain time trial Kruijswijk finished second in the same time as stage winner Alexander Foliforov and consolidated his overall lead with the tough final week on the horizon.

Three questions come to mind:
Vincenzo Nibali was the favorite for the win until he couldn’t go with Chaves and Kruijswijk, he also didn’t look so good on previous days, like when Tom Dumoulin dropped him. So, apart from the mechanical problem he had in the time trial, is Nibali in top form? Or holding back?

After stage 14, Alejandro Valverde blamed his inability to follow the attacks from Nibali, Kruijswijk and Chaves down to altitude. The race was climbing to a maximum hight of 2,244 meters (Passo Sella), with the other mountains around the 2,000 mark. Valverde had been training in these mountains recently and usually trains in the Sierra Nevada mountains and on Mount Teide in Tenerife, so why is Valverde not used to the altitude?

Question No. 3 is a tricky one. When you saw the result of the stage 15 time trial, how many of you were immediately suspicious? ‘If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is’, came to many people’s mind. Let’s hope all is well with the result and maybe we should all be a bit more trusting.

Great ride by Alexander Foliforov, we hope:
Alpe di Siusi - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom - RusVelo pictured during stage 14 of the 99th Giro d’Italia 2016 from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi a Mountain Time Trial individual - foto LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2016

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Giro d’Italia 2016
André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) snatched his third stage victory at the 99th Giro d’Italia as he out-sprinted Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) in a bunch gallop in Bibione at the end of Stage 12. Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step) retained the Maglia Rosa ahead of the first mountainous weekend.

In pouring rain and after the usual escape attempts, BMC’s Daniel Oss and Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF) escaped for the break of the day. This suited everyone, especially the sprinters teams who kept them at just the right distance. The pair were reeled in just before the finishing circuit with just over 20 kilometers to go. It had been decided that the timing for the overall would be taken with one lap to go, making the run in for the sprint safer for everyone.

Lotto Soudal were in charge, although IAM Cycling and Lampre-Merida tried to push their way into the lead-out train. Greipel was on Roelandts wheel as they hit the final bend, Greipel jumped and there was only Caleb Ewan who could match the big German, but had little chance to pass before the line.

Full race report HERE.

Bibione - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) pictured during stage 12 of the 99th Giro d’Italia 2016 from Noale to Bibione 182km - foto LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2016

Stage winner, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal): “The team did an amazing job today. Firstly, Pim Ligthart pulled at the front of the peloton and he managed to bridge the gap to the leaders. We really aimed to reel in the escapees before entering the local laps as we wanted to lead the peloton during these two laps with several difficult corners. That turned out very well. In the final kilometers, Tim Wellens and Lars Bak determined the pace. At three kilometers from the finish Adam Hansen took over and he pulled till one and a half kilometer from the end. After that Sean De Bie did his part of the job and finally Jürgen Roelandts made a great lead-out, although there was a strong headwind. We decided beforehand that Jürgen would take the final corner as first and then I would give full gas in the sprint. I think we can be very proud with this fourth stage win. For me, this Giro was very successful with three victories. Together with the team I decided to abandon this year’s Giro tonight. This stage race really obtained an important place in my racing schedule since last year and it’s one of my great goals during the season. But the following nine stages will mainly be something for the GC riders. The fact that I’m wearing the red points jersey makes it a hard decision but we need to be realistic and find a good balance. The season isn’t over yet and I have the aim to perform on the highest level until October. I’m very satisfied with the three victories and I’m going home with a very good feeling. The past few weeks with this team were just amazing, we had a wonderful time. I want to thank the Giro organization for their very attractive stages and the incredible crowd for their huge encouragements. But I also want to thank my teammates and the Lotto Soudal staff for their work and support. I hope that they’re able to continue this Giro in a nice way.”

Overall leader, Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Today was difficult because of the rain, but we had good clothes for this kind of conditions and it made things easier. The organizers took a wise decision to stop the clock on the circuit, as this helped us arrive safely at the finish line. The high mountains await us on Friday and I’m not sure what to expect. My shape is good, but I’m not getting carried away; after all, this is my debut Giro. As I said earlier this week, I will take it day by day and see what happens. All that came and will come since taking the pink jersey is a bonus.”

6th on the stage, Moreno Hofland (LottoNl-Jumbo): “Jos van Emden and I started a bit too far from behind with our preparation for the sprint. It was narrower and more technical than the route book told us, so that made it hard to move up. Together with Enrico Battaglin, I was able to do so eventually. I came out of the final turn in sixth position and finished sixth, as well. I wasn’t able to go faster than this, so this was the best result possible today.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 12 Result:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal in 4:16:00
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
4. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha
6. Moreno Hofland (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
7. Ivan Savitskiy (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
8. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
9. Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC
10. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 12:
1. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step in 49:32:20
2. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 0:24
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1:07
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 1:09
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 2:01
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 2:25
8. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 2:43
9. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step at 2:45
10. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 2:47.

Giro Stage 12:

Last-minute Giro starter Mikel Nieve, who stepped in for Sergio Luis Henao, made up for Team Sky’s disappointment after the loss of their captain Mikel Landa to illness by winning Stage 13, five years after his first stage win at the Giro d’Italia. In the Maglia Rosa, Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step) rode with intelligence and courage but, when he was dropped on the last climb, an opportunity opened for Andrey Amador (Movistar) to make Costa Rica the 24th different nation to lead the overall classification of the Corsa Rosa.

The stage started fast and it wasn’t until after the first intermediate sprint that a group of 40 riders managed to escape, amongst them was Lampre-Merida’s Diego Ulissi at 2:47 overall, but in the end he was no danger to the pink jersey. Stefan Denifl (IAM) dropped the others on the first climb and looked to be going well on the second climb (Crai) when he stopped and was caught by the chasers. There had been a tussle going on between Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini) on the climbs at the first one Visconti took the points but fell off injuring his ribs and Cunego won the second climb. During all this the break only had around 3 minutes lead.

On the Cima Porzus, Nieve made his winning attack and was joined by Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) for a time until he was dropped by the flying Spaniard. At the summit he had 30 seconds on Dombrowski and Visconti and eventually Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-La Mondiale).

Nieve put more time into a solo Visconti on the climb of Valle and had 45 seconds at the top and held that lead all the way to the line

Back in the peloton Astana took the control from Etixx – Quick-Step on the clim of the Porzus to thin the group down and put the pink jersey of Bob Jungels in trouble. An attack from Valverde an another from Nibali saw Jungels dropped. Primoz Roglic was working hard for LottoNl-Jumbo teammate Steven Kruijswijk, pulling back the attacks.

On the descent and the 7 kilometer flat to the finish, some of the dropped riders regained the GC riders group, including Andrey Amador (Movistar) who moved into the overall lead. Nibali out-sprinted Valverde for 3rd place. Jungels fought to save his pink jersey, but dropped to 2nd.

Full race report HERE.

Cividale del Friuli - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) pictured during stage 13 of the 99th Giro d’Italia 2016 from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli 170 km - foto LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2016

Stage winner, Mikel Nieve (Sky): “I took the opportunity that presented itself to win a stage after getting in the long breakaway. Had Mikel Landa stayed in the race, for sure I wouldn’t have been racing for the win today. I’d have been helping him ride for GC instead. I wasn’t scheduled to ride the Giro. I was entered at the last minute. Therefore it’s a great satisfaction to get a stage victory.”

Overall leader, Andrey Amador (Movistar): “It’s a dream. And I wasn’t even expecting to take pink on this stage, after I had attacked many times to seek for it during the week. I might not keep it for as a long as I’d have liked, but that’s why we have Alejandro in the team: he’s a super strong rider and we will support him with everything we’ve got, as it was our plan. We knew todays was going to be an important stage, the first real approach into the mountains. We were sort of expecting attacks when it came to the GC fight, yet we wanted to get into the break to stay calm, and both Visco, José Joaquín and Jasha fulfilled that task in the best possible way. Alejandro proved to be impressively strong on the climbs; I kept my own pace and always stayed with the main field, but into the final climb of Valle, I just lacked a bit of energy, a couple of kilometers before the summit, when I lost contact. Still, and knowing myself well, I knew I could bridge back into the descent to wear this jersey. I’m so happy to have got to this point. I’m not a pure climber by any means; that’s why I consider this as a tremendous feat, which I’m really proud of. The most important thing for the team is keeping all chances intact with Alejandro for the overall. Tomorrow’s stage will be one of the hardest in this Giro, the real key to the race together with Sunday’s mountain TT. For the time being, we must remain thinking day-by-day, enjoy the moment and wear this pink jersey with pride; it’s something massive for my career. Costa Rica is a small country, yet with a big heart. When there’s only one ‘tico’ supporting me in a race, it feels as if they were hundred. This jersey is a tribute to all of them. They’ve always supporting me, no matter if results were good or bad, and I just hope this serves as a boost of confidence for all the youngsters in our country: we’re talented enough to be up here with the top guys in Europe.”

2nd overall,Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Everybody knew it would be a tough stage. Right from the start, a big break went and we all suffered. The team did an awesome job until Astana decided to speed it up the third climb. I was able to follow, but I suffered and on the descent I tried to recover. Then, on the last climb, I wasn’t able to follow anymore, but still continued to fight, with the help of Gianluca, who came back on the downhill. The days spent in the pink jersey were the most beautiful in my career, but now I’ll turn my attention to the white jersey, as I have a nice cushion in the standings. It’s going to be hard, but I’m ready to fight for it. There’s still eight stages to go and I’m sure that the team will have a lot of things to say in the upcoming days.”

5th on the stage and 6th overall, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff): “It was a very tough stage but I think we did a very good job. I feel my form getting better each and every day and in the final climb I was really strong. The team overall and Manuele Boaro in particular did an excellent job and I would like to thank them for the effort they put in to support me. As I have been saying from the start of the Giro, it is a long race and we have to fight until the very finish in Turin. There are still a number of difficult stages ahead and we will adapt our strategy every day.”

7th on the stage and 5th overall, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo): “I was always in the right place, my team-mates helped me well when they could. Enrico Battaglin came back from the breakaway just at the right time. He was able to recover one moment and reacted strongly to an attack by Vincenzo Nibali afterwards. On a moment like that, you notice how important it is to have someone around you. In the final part of the stage, I was riding at my limit, but I think the others were, too. Nibali gives it all in his attempts to break away, but he doesn’t get the space he’s hoping for. That’s a sign. The six or seven of us are very close to each other when it goes uphill.”

Break rider, Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling): “I really gave everything in the final in order to finish in the top-10. I’m happy, but I also have to give a huge thank you to my roommate and compatriot Matthias Brändle for helping me bridge up to the break. Just like he did in the 2015 Tour of Switzerland, he sacrificed himself for me, which allowed me to manage my effort. And I am ready to get back to work tomorrow, especially if I can recover well after this demanding day.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 13 Result:
1. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky in 4:31:49
2. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 0:43
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 1:17
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff
6. Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale
9. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 13:
1. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar in 54:05:50
2. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:26
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:41
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:43
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 1:37
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 2:01
8. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 2:19
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale at 2:48
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 3:15.

Giro Stage 13:

Following in the path of 2014 Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana, Colombia’s Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) claimed the Queen Stage 14 of the 99th edition in Corvara (Alta Badia) while his breakaway companion Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo) took the Maglia Rosa for the first time, positioning himself as potentially the first ever Dutch winner of the Giro d’Italia. Movistar’s Andrey Amador and Alejandro Valverde lost time, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished 37 seconds behind Chaves and Kruijswijk and now lies second overall at 41 seconds.

There were six categorized climbs on the stage and so it took over 40 kilometers for the big break of the day to form. Of the 37 riders there was Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling), four Lampre-Merida riders with Ulissi, Lotto Soudal had Tim Wellens and two others, López & Roche from Sky, Herrada & Betancur from Movistar, Plaza (Orica-GreenEDGE), Astana had Zeits, Atapuma (BMC), Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) and Siutsou (Dimension Data).

The first climb of the Pordoi saw Denifl attack, but Cunego took the KOM points. Then on the Passo Sella; López took the summit, but then was caught by a group of chasers on the next climb of the Passo Gardena and Plaza went clear to take the points 50 seconds clear of the chasers and over 7 minutes on the Movistar led peloton. On the Passo Giau; Siutsou, Atapuma, Preidler and Roche chased down Plaza and by the time he was caught, Roche and then Preidler were dropped. Plaza couldn’t hold on to Siutsou and Atapuma on the climb and also dropped back.

Astana took control of what was left of the peloton and brought the leaders advantage back to 5 minutes from 7 and lost ‘Best Young Rider’ Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step) and eventually the pink jersey, Andrey Amador.

At the summit of the Giau; Atapuma and Siutsou had 4 minutes on the GC group over the Giau with the overall leader, Amador, at 50 seconds, but with a crazy descent he managed to rejoin as did Preidler to Atapuma and Siutsou.

On the last climb of the day, Valparola, Atapuma attacked Siutsou and Preidler to go for the win. Behind; Nibali jumped away and Kruijswijk and Chaves joined him and then eventually Zakarin (Katusha), Urán (Cannondale) Majka (Tinkoff), but Valverde was in trouble. Chaves was next to go, but Nibali pulled him back for Kruijswijk to make his move to joined by Chaves. Atapuma had 35 seconds on Siutsou and Preidler at the top of the Valparola with Kruijswijk and Chaves just behind and Nibali 30 further back and the Amador/Valverde group 2 minutes later. Atapuma started the final 5 kilometer climb to the finish with 21 seconds on Kruijswijk, Chaves and Preidler, but Siutsou was dropped. The unlucky Atapuma was caught with 2 kilometers to go and on the last bend Chaves shot past Preidler for the stage win and Kruijswijk took the overall lead.

Nibali came in 37 seconds later with Siutsou and Valverde lost 3 minutes.

Full race report HERE:

giro16 stage 14 eteban chaves

Stage winner and 3rd overall, Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE): “Thank you all for being here. Orica-Greenedge has been like a family for me since I signed my contract. At the time, one of my arms was badly injured and a doctor told me that I’d never be able to ride a bike again after my accident. That’s why I raised it in the air when I crossed the line. This year my team-mate Mathew Hayman won Paris-Roubaix after breaking an arm too. I’ve always dreamt of winning a stage at the Giro. It’s wonderful that I’ve done it at the queen stage. It’s too early to say if I can win the Giro or not.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo): “This is a wonderful day for me. I was dreaming a little bit as I was pretty close to the Maglia Rosa. It means a lot to me. This is my sixth participation to the Giro. I love the Giro because I love climbing. Last year I was in contention with Contador, Aru and Landa in the mountains in the third week but I had lost some time in the first week. I only lost ten seconds to Nibali in the previous time trial. If I do the same tomorrow, it’ll mean that I’ll keep the Maglia Rosa but I actually hope to gain time even though of course I’m tired, like everyone else.”

Best young rider, Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I felt quite good, I have to say. But it’s been an incredibly hard day, something that I had never seen before. On the second last climb, I wasn’t able to follow. I just survived. I’m happy that I still have the Maglia Bianca and I’m not too far off in GC but it’ll take a while to recover from this stage in the mountains. You don’t win the Giro the first time you take part in it. You have to know the climbs. It’s really tough. I hope I’ll come back and win one day.”

8th on the stage and 6th overall, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff): “As said before, it would be a tough and long Giro with strong rivals. Today, it was a very difficult stage that required a huge effort and, unfortunately, I suffered a bit at the finale. I lost time to some GC contenders and gained against others. We still have a week ahead of us and we will keep fighting every day.”

King of the Mountains, Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini): “Today it was probably the first really hard stage of the Giro d’Italia. I was racing for the stage win, not only the Maglia Azzurra, but the changes of rhythm took their toll on me, physically and mentally, and eventually I switched my focus to the mountains points alone. I’m in good shape but the level is very high and the other riders are in good shape too.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 14 Result:
1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE in 6:06:16
2. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
3. Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant-Alpecin
4. Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC at 0:06
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:37
6. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 2:29
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale at 2:50
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 3:00.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 14:
1. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo in 60:12:43
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:41
3. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 1:32
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 3:06
5. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 3:15
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 3:29
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 3:53
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale at 5:01
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data at 5:38
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana.

Stage 14:

Russian rider Alexander Foliforov of Gazprom-RusVelo was the surprise winner in the 10.8 kilometer uphill time trial Stage 15 at Alpe di Siusi with an advantage of 16 hundredths of a second over Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo), who consolidated his Maglia Rosa with one week of the 99th Giro d’Italia to go. He outclassed rivals Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who now follow him in that order in the overall ranking. Vincenzo Nibali’s ride was hindered by a mechanical incident. He finished 25th at 2:10. Kruijswijk now has an overall lead of 2:12 over Esteban Chaves, 2:51 on Vincenzo Nibali, 3:29 to Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar and 4:38 to Rafal Majka (Tinkoff).

Full race report HERE.

Russian rider Alexander Foliforov on the way of the 15th stage of Giro d’Italia cycling race from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi, 22 May 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI

Stage winner, Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-RusVelo): “I was very nervous during the last minute of the race as I was watching TV. I thought Kruijswijk was going to win. I still cannot believe that I’ve won a stage of the Giro d’Italia! It’s my best distance and uphill time trials are my speciality. I won a similar uphill time trial at the GP Sochi in Russia [over a distance of 10.3km last year] and I came 5th at the Giro della Valle d’Aosta [over 9.2km from Champdepraz to Covarey, behind Fabio Aru, Kenny Elissonde, Joe Dombrowski and Ilnur Zakarin – at the age of 18!]. Today’s victory is very important for the team, our sponsors and me, bearing in mind that we’re a wildcard team. It shows that we can fight and win stages.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo): “This is my big goal this year and now fortunately, it all comes together,” Kruijswijk said. “This morning, I was hoping I could keep the pink jersey and it did really not matter with how many seconds. I never thought that I could increase my lead in the standings. I’m in shape and I feel good. It’s nice to have this feeling before the heavy final week. I am definitely a contender for the victory. Even I believe it after today.”

Best Young Rider, 9th on the stage and 8th overall, Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I’m really happy with the way I rode in this very difficult time trial. The climb was better suited to me than the ones of Saturday, so I had a fast start and afterwards I just stayed focused on my effort and gave 100% till the line. Unfortunately, the wind changed near the top and because of this I lost some time. Overall, I’m satisfied with my ride and with getting another top 10”, were the first conclusions of Bob Jungels following the last time trial of this edition. “I’m now 8th in the GC and my goal for the final week will be to keep my top 10 until Turin. Now we have a rest day and then a hard week awaits, which will be difficult not only for me, but also for the other riders. Normally, I recover well, but you can never know, so we’ll take things day by day.”

10th on the stage and 5th overall, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff): “It was a tough stage today and I just gave everything I could, but suffered. It has been a few hard days and the rest day comes at a good time tomorrow. There are still a lot of opportunities ahead and it was good to climb another spot on GC today.”

Igor Anton (Dimension Data): “The Giro is here. You can feel the body is tired but it is normal because it is already the 15th stage and after yesterday, I need rest. I took today’s chrono easy because it is better to stay in a good condition for next week. I have 3 stage options next week and I would really like to take one of these chances. It will either be on Thursday, Friday or Saturday in those mountain stages. After today though we are really happy with Kanstantsin and his position in the general classification.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 15 Result:
1. Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 28:39
2. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:23
4. Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:30
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 0:36
6. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:40
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:47
8. Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale at 0:52
9. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:04
10. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 1:09.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 15:
1. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo in 60:41:22
2. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 2:12
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 2:51
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 3:29
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 4:38
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 4:40
7. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 5:27
8. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step at 7:14
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data at 7:37
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 7:55.

Stage 15:

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Amgen Tour of California 2016
After a long day in the breakaway as the peloton cruised from Lodi to South Lake Tahoe, Cannondale Pro Cycling Team’s Toms Skujiņš led a group of three out ahead of the leaders, up the mountains where elevations approached 8,600 feet at the apex, and over the finish line at Heavenly Mountain Resort in Stage 3.

The speeds were high on the flattest part of today’s 131.7-mile course, the second longest of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California, as the peloton rolled out along Lodi’s vineyards and orchards, a reprieve before the rising altitudes approaching South Lake Tahoe, where crowds were 10 deep for long stretches.

A breakaway of 18 riders escaped at about 45 minutes into the race day and was holding a 3-minute advantage around today’s midway point. Cannondale’s Skujiņš attacked at Kirkwood summit, the first of three King of the Mountain (KOM) categorized climbs today. Now down to 16, the leaders had increased their lead to four minutes with 20 miles left to ride, and with the second KOM at Carson Pass in their sights.

BMC Racing Team picked up the pace between the two climbs, pulling the peloton to steadily close the gap, while 24 year-old Skujiņš, who claimed the mountainous San Jose stage and a three-day stint as race leader last year, launched a solo attack on the leaders at the front. He was soon joined by Rally Cycling’s Adam De Vos and Team Sky’s Xabier Zandio, the oldest rider in the race at 39.

The three quickly built their lead to nearly one minute over the remaining breakaway riders. The peloton containing Etixx – Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe wearing the Amgen Race Leader Jersey, and World Champion Peter Sagan of Tinkoff was about three minutes back from the leaders with less than 10 miles to go.

With less than four miles left to ride, the chase group remained about 50 seconds back from the race leaders, splintering with various attacks and counters to pull it back together. The three leaders held strong on the final uphill mile to Heavenly Mountain Resort, all vying for the stage win, with Skujiņš ultimately coming to the line the clear winner of the day ahead of De Vos and then Zandio. In addition to the stage win, Skujiņš came away from today’s stage with the Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey.

Riding in the main peloton today, Tinkoff’s Peter Sagan retains the Visit California Sprint Jersey. The SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey stays with Roseville, California native, Neilson Powless of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team for the third consecutive day, and Rally Cycling’s Evan Huffman retains the Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey, which he’s worn since Stage 3.

The leader board remains mostly in tact after today, with Alaphilippe retaining the overall lead by 22 seconds over Trek – Segafredo’s Peter Stetina, followed by George Bennett of Team Lotto Nl – Jumbo, who held onto third place overall despite a flat tire on the descent of the second KOM today, and BMC Racing Team’s Brent Bookwalter in fourth; Team Giant-Alpecin’s Laurens ten Dam moves up to fifth place.
Thanks to ASO for the race info.

Lake Tahoe - USA - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Toms Skujins (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) - Adam de Vos pictured during stage - 5 of the Amgen Tour of California 2016 from Lodi to Lake Tahoe - photo Brian Hodes/Cor Vos © 2016***USA Out***

Stage winner, Toms Skujins (Cannondale): “To get into the break, you have to try at least a couple of times. I knew that the altitude was going to make people suffer, and I knew that even if it wasn’t the steepest hills that the race would be blown to bits. It was a good day for the breakaway. I was really happy I could get into the move, and of course, I was happy to take out the win.”

Amgen Tour of California Stage 5:
1. Toms Skujins (Lat) Cannondale in 5:54:45
2. Adam de Vos (Can) Rally Cycling
3. Xabier Zandio (Spa) Sky at 0:08
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:28
5. Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha at 0:43
6. Rob Squire (USA) Holowesko-Citadel
7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step
8. Travis McCabe (USA) Holowesko-Citadel
9. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC
10. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale.

Amgen Tour of California Overall After Stage 5:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step in 24:01:45
2. Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 0:22
3. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNl-Jumbo at 0:37
4. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:40
5. Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 0:49
6. Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman at 1:01
7. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC
8. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC
9. Rob Britton (Can) Rally Cycling at 1:12
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 1:15.

ATOC Stage 5:

BMC Racing Team’s Taylor Phinney (BMC) who placed third in the 2014 Folsom time trial, put up the time to beat in Stage 6 and held the lead for over an hour until Cannondale Pro Cycling Team’s current U.S. National Time Trial Champion Andrew Talansky overtook him by three seconds.

The fastest time of the day was yet to come from the current Australian Time Trial Champion and Tour de France time trial speed record-holder Rohan Dennis (BMC) at 24:16. Talansky finished the stage in second place, 17 seconds back, and Dennis’ teammate Phinney, a two-time U.S. National Time Trial Champion, rounded out the podium in third.

Etixx – Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe, who as the overall race leader was last to take off today and is known for his mountain victories rather than as a time trial speedster, would have to finish the stage within one minute and one second of Dennis to retain the lead. He pulled out all the stops to post a time of 25:01 for an eighth place finish today, well within what was needed to retain the Amgen Race Leader Jersey he claimed after Stage 3 and the Gibraltar Road climb.

After six stages and more than 24 hours on a bike since the Amgen Tour of California began in San Diego Sunday, Alaphilippe leads Dennis by 16 seconds heading into the final weekend of racing. The 23 year-old Frenchmen is well aware that every second counts here in California, having lost the race to World Champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) by a mere three seconds last year. Dennis has also come close to the overall win, having placed second in the 2014 Amgen Tour of California behind Bradley Wiggins.

Today’s 12.6-mile course highlighted Folsom’s historic downtown and lake views. Folsom also played host to the men’s and women’s time trial events in 2014, with Wiggins (GBR) taking the day’s top prize on the way to his overall race win that year. The Tour de France champion is back with his development team, Team WIGGINS, this year as he trains for the Olympics though did not plan to be a factor today. Two familiar faces on the awards stage today were on the podium in 2014 as well, with Dennis placing second and Phinney again in third for that time trial stage.

The leader board after today: Alaphilippe keeps the overall lead by 16 seconds over Dennis, who stood in seventh place before today. BMC Racing Team is having a good showing in the overall as well as on today’s stage with Brent Bookwalter (Albuquerque, New Mexico) turning in a strong ride to move up a notch to third place (+0:38) just behind his teammate. Talansky’s ride shot him up the chart from eleventh place to fourth (+0:47). Roseville, California native, Neilson Powless of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team sits in fifth place (+1:08) and retains the SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey for the fourth consecutive day. Trek – Segafredo’s Peter Stetina, who had been in second place overall going into today, fell out of the top-10 and George Bennett of Team Lotto NL – Jumbo fell from third to ninth.
Thanks to ASO for the race info.

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Winner’s Interview with Rohan Dennis
The look on your face as you crossed the finish showed you had given it your all today. Can you describe how you felt in that moment?

“I was fairly confident as I crossed the line that I had set the quickest time for the rest of the race. I was in a fair bit of pain, the main thing I remember was that I had that taste of metallic in my mouth for the last four or five kilometers from the lactate so it was good to get a drink and wash that out.”

The condition were by no means an easy today, how did you feel as you were riding?
“The wind was definitely getting stronger and stronger throughout the day which actually played into our favor a little bit with Alaphilippe because he is a smaller rider and would have been blown around a little bit more. In the end it didn’t make too much of a difference with the stage win, that was my goal for the day as well as trying to take time out. So, it was still a good day, even if we didn’t get the yellow jersey.”

You won by a fairly significant margin today, what are your thoughts about that?
“I think that today was probably one of the best time trial’s that I have done so I am happy with that, really happy after looking at the power profile. It was also a good indication that after six days, everything I have done leading up to now has been working and I am on the right track especially after not a whole lot of racing. I am in a good place mentally with my form and I was pretty happy to come away with that win.”

And now looking forward to tomorrow’s stage?
“Tomorrow is going to be a difficult one I think. A lot people have been saying watch out for Stage 7 as Santa Rosa is super hilly, it’s going to be possibly the hardest stage. I struggle to believe that in some way as everyday has been hard and a few days have been super hard so it may just completely explode the peloton and that could actually open up possible chances to get that yellow jersey.”

Amgen Tour of California Stage 6:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC in 24:16
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale at 0:17
3. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC at 0:20
4. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Giant-Alpecin at 0:33
5. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:43
6. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky at 0:44
7. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale
8. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:45
9. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Katusha at 0:49
10. Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman at 0:52.

Amgen Tour of California Overall After Stage 6:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step in 24:26:46
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:16
3. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:38
4. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale at 0:47
5. Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman at 1:08
6. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale at 1:17
7. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC
8. Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 1:24
9. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNl-Jumbo at 1:45
10. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Katusha at 1:48.

ATOC Stage 6:

With thousands of fans lining the streets of Santa Rosa, Team KATUSHA’s star sprinter Alexander Kristoff catapulted to a stage win, his eighth of the season, by a rim over all-time Amgen Tour of California stage win record holder Peter Sagan of Tinkoff, who had spent much of the 109.1-mile Stage 7 in a breakaway.

With the men’s main peloton heading together into three downtown Santa Rosa circuits after 8,600 feet of climbing around the veteran Host City, no one gained time over race leader Julian Alaphilippe of Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team, putting the 23 year-old in good position to defend his Amgen Race Leader Jersey earned on the Gibraltar Road Queen Stage (3), with hopes of becoming the race’s youngest champion when the race concludes tomorrow in Sacramento.

Sagan rode as part of a breakaway of six until he struck out solo with around 30 miles left to ride, increasing the gap to +1:30 over the chase and two minutes over the peloton at the 20 mile mark.

Sagan, sporting the Visit California Sprint Jersey which he’s held for the entire race, kept a +1:10” advantage over the peloton with 14 miles left to ride, and also picked up the Most Courageous Rider Jersey today. Sagan holds the all-time record for stage wins (15) at the Amgen Tour of California, with Mark Cavendish next with nine. The Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider celebrated his 31st birthday today out on the roads of Santa Rosa.

Team Katusha drove the peloton forward, catching the chase group with 18 miles left to ride, which had included George Bennett of Team Lotto NL – Jumbo, Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing Team and later on, Cannondale Pro Cycling’s Lawson Craddock. They went on to sweep up Sagan just inside of 12 miles to the finish.

Back together, the group approached downtown Santa Rosa and three 2.5-mile circuits, with the cyclists riding at about 35 mph and the sprinters moving forward in anticipation of a bunch sprint at the end. During the second lap, Team Lotto NL – Jumbo’s Mike Teunissen launched an attack, but could not hold off the thundering peloton, though he held on to his position toward the front to take fourth place today. In the final mile of the final circuit, two Team Katusha members led out Kristoff, flanked by Sagan, with Team Giant-Alpecin’s John Degenkolb nearby as well. The young team of Axeon Hagens Berman continued their week of aggressive riding with a couple of riders up front, including Tao Geoghegan Hart.

On the finishing straight, Kristoff took off toward the line; Sagan came close to overtaking him in the final meters as he launched his bike over the finish, but ended the stage in second by a tire rim. Team Sky’s Danny Van Poppel took third. Degenkolb pierced the top-10, ending the stage in eighth place as he finds his form following a severe injury.

The leader board stays in tact today with Alaphilippe maintaining his16-second lead over BMC Racing Team’s Rohan Dennis and his teammate Brent Bookwalter at +:38. Cannondale Pro Cycling Team’s U.S. National Time Trial Champion Andrew Talansky (New York, New York) remains in fourth (+:47) with Roseville, Neilson Powless of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team in fifth (+1:08).
Thanks to ASO for the race info.

atoc16 stage 7 kristoff

Stage winner, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): “We had to chase hard and still in the end Peter Sagan was right there with me even though he had been out there by himself all that time. Unbelievable. I was happy to be able to hold him off. I think if he had saved some energy from earlier he would have beaten me. I had wanted to see how I felt after the climbs before I put my team to work, but once we came across the last one I could tell I was OK. I was tired, but I knew everyone else was also tired. The guys all did such a good job. It’s always good to finish it off with a win and it shows I am going the right way for the Tour de France.”

Overall leader, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Today I think for me it was the hardest stage of the week, because I really felt the pressure on my shoulders… I had a lot of enemies today. But I finally stay in yellow for tomorrow, and it’s not finished yet but I’m really, really happy to keep my yellow jersey again today after a really hard stage… It’s not finished, so we will see tomorrow.”

Amgen Tour of California Stage 7:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 4:19:52
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff
3. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Sky
4. Mike Teunissen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
6. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
7. Travis McCabe (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team
8. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
9. Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
10. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Axeon Hagens Berman.

Amgen Tour of California Overall After Stage 7:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step in 28:46:38
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:16
3. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:38
4. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale at 0:47
5. Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman at 1:08
6. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale at 1:17
7. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC
8. Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 1:24
9. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNl-Jumbo at 1:45
10. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Katusha at 1:48.

Stage 7:

After 782 miles and eight days of racing, 23 year-old Julian Alaphilippe of Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team clinched the 2016 Amgen Tour of California championship, becoming the youngest rider to hold that title in the race’s 11 years.

After ceding last year’s race to Tinkoff’s Peter Sagan by a mere three seconds, a determined Alaphilippe earned the traditional yellow Amgen Race Leader Jersey with a solo victory on the Gibraltar Road Queen Stage (3) Tuesday and has successfully defended it every day since, with a 16-second advantage at today’s start that he grew to 21 seconds when all was said and done. This first stage race win of his young career may foreshadow more headlines on the horizon with what would be his Grand Tour debut if he’s selected for his team’s Tour de France squad this summer.

The Stage 8 Sacramento course took the 133 world-class cyclists on a 85.7-mile jaunt including a crossing of the iconic Tower Bridge leading into three 2.2-mile laps around Capitol Park to the finish line in the shadow of the Capitol Building. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Mark Cavendish came away with a hard-earned victory after an epic sprinter showdown, claiming his tenth all-time Amgen Tour of California stage win, second only to Sagan who holds the race record with 15 after taking Stages 1 and 4 this week.

Even Alaphilippe joined the final flurry to the finish where Cavendish delivered his tenth Amgen Tour of California stage win (second only to Sagan), followed over the line by Sagan himself then Kristoff. Team Sky’s Danny Van Poppel took third yesterday and settled for fourth today, followed by Team Giant-Alpecin’s John Degenkolb, who has had a strong showing in California as he comes back from a severe injury after a car hit several team members during a training ride in January.

Cavendish, who holds a near record of 26 stage wins at the Tour de France, won four stages last year at the 2015 Amgen Tour of California, including several neck and neck finishes with Sagan, to claim last year’s Points classification. Today marks Cavendish’s fourth stage win in Sacramento (2010, 2014, 2015, 2016) including another close finish over Degenkolb in 2014.

In the classification competitions, the Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) award for the week went to a rider familiar with the Sacramento-area terrain, Rally Cycling’s Evan Huffman, after what was one of the most mountainous of all the Amgen Tour of California editions. In addition to his World Championship title, Sagan has racked up Points classification wins at the Tour de France (4) and will take home his career sixth Amgen Tour of California Visit California Sprint Jersey with the classification win this year. The SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey went to the Sacramento-area 19 year-old Neilson Powless (Roseville, Calif.) of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team, who has worn the jersey and been in the top-5 overall for much of the race, finishing in ninth overall after today. Toms Skujins of Cannondale Pro Cycling Team was the Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider.
Thanks to ASO for the race info.

atoc16 stage 8 cavendish

Stage winner, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data): “I’ve been coming to the Amgen Tour of California for many years. There’s a reason all the top riders in the world come over to America to race here. It’s always been a great race, and Kristin and AEG always put on a tremendous show, as well a great, relaxed race for the riders to come to….I’m happy to be here and I’m definitely coming back.”

Overall winner,Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “This victory is really important. It’s my first win of the season, and it’s the first time that I won a General Classification. It’s really something special to win this race, especially here in California, and I’m really proud of my team all week, especially today because it was a really stressful day for a lot of riders in the peloton. Everyone wanted to be in the front….It was a good day and I’m really, really happy.”

2nd overall, Rohan Dennis (BMC): “The stage was a little bit stressful today with people worried about losing the GC or getting caught in the crosswinds and the peloton blowing up but we all got through fairly well. The breakaway was really strong today and I don’t think the guys that were riding at the front realised how strong they actually were because it took a lot of effort to get them back. I pleased with how I have performed this week. Obviously winning would have been better but it’s been a rough season for me so far and considering I haven’t done a whole lot of racing, I am happy with where I’m at and where I am going from here. This week has definitely given me a confidence boost going in to the next couple of races. It’s great that things are starting to come into place and that I am able to be at the pointy end as well as helping out the team when needed.”

3rd overall, Brent Bookwalter (BMC): “Today was not a parade by any means. I had one tense moment before we came into the final circuits, I got a flat which put a little panic into me but as they have been doing all week the guys were awesome, they kept me calm and brought be back no problem. Coming in to the race the goal was to win but seeing how the week unfolded and how we rode, I am really pleased with the third place that I got and the second over that Rohan got. I’ve had some other success in week long stages in the US but this was really the first time that the team have given me more responsibility and the chance to lead and prepare accordingly and have the team committed to me. I am really grateful for that opportunity and I’m humbled and inspired to have had such a world class group of guys riding for me all week and hopefully it’s not the last one.”

KOM, Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling): “It is great to win the King of the Mountains jersey, it is a special thing to win a classification jersey at a major event like the Amgen Tour of California. Being able to do it in my home state with my friends and family here is amazing. The team was incredible all week. The KOM competition was one of our goals and once I had the jersey the team defended it perfectly. Will (Routley) got in the break on stage four and got most of the KOM points – and then Adam (De Vos) did it again on stage five. In stage seven the other teams made a play for it, but Danny (Pate) made a heroic effort and bridged me up to the break and in a position to defend my jersey. Without my teammates I would not have the jersey.”

Amgen Tour of California Stage 8:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Dimension Data in 3:01:12
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
4. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Sky
5. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
6. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC
8. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Etixx – Quick-Step
9. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
10. Travis McCabe (USA) Holowesko-Citadel.

Amgen Tour of California Final Overall Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step in 31:47:50
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:21
3. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:43
4. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale at 0:52
5. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale at 1:22
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC
7. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNl-Jumbo at 1:50
8. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Katusha at 1:53
9. Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman at 1:57
10. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 2:13.

Final Stage 8:

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Geraint Thomas: Signing New Team Sky Contract “An Easy Decision”
Geraint Thomas has signed a contract extension to remain with Team Sky.

The Welshman, 29, has been an integral member of Team Sky since its inception in 2010 and has played a crucial role in the team’s continued success. Thomas switched his focus to stage races this season, winning the Volta ao Algarve in February before claiming his first Paris-Nice title in March. He is expected to be a crucial part of Team Sky’s bid to win a fourth Tour de France in July.

Speaking from Team Sky’s training camp in Tenerife, he said: “Signing again was an easy decision. Team Sky feels like home. From the other riders to the staff, I love it here. I’ve only really just started when it comes to trying to win stage races. I’m learning all the time about how to get in the best shape for them and how to lead a team. For me, this year started with winning Paris-Nice and is now about going to the Tour in the best shape possible to support Froomey. After the Tour we can start looking to next year and keep setting bigger and better goals. It’s about keeping that progression going, and Team Sky is the best place to do that. I’m just super happy being part of the team.”

Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford has welcomed Thomas’ decision to extend his stay with the team. He said: “We’re all delighted that Geraint has renewed his contract with Team Sky. “He epitomises what the team is all about both on and off the bike. He’s a great ambassador for Team Sky, cycling and, let’s not forget, Wales!”

Looking ahead, Brailsford is excited about what the Welshman can achieve in the next chapter of his career. He added: “Geraint is one of the most versatile bike racers in the world. He has demonstrated this by winning on the track, in the Classics and now in stage races. He has gone from strength to strength and winning Paris-Nice this year was another step up. I think it gave him real confidence and now he can set his sights on developing his performances in the Grand Tours. I still believe the best is yet to come from Geraint and we will enjoy supporting him to see just how far he can go.”

Geraint Thomas:

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IAM Cycling will cease operations at the end of the 2016 season
IAM Cycling will not be participating in a fifth season in the professional peloton. After four years of competing as a top professional team, including two years in the World Tour, Michel Thétaz, the founder of the Swiss cycling team, has with deep regret announced to his riders, managers, sports directors, and employees that this beautiful adventure, which began in January 2013, will be ending.

“IAM Cycling will cease operations at the end of the 2016 season,” commented Thétaz, who is also the founder of IAM Funds, in a press release sent this morning to all staff. “This is a failure for which I take full responsibility. In these four years of intense activity, which have been marked by unforgettable memories, IAM has enhanced its credibility and received enviable visibility. We have arrived at a key moment in the team’s evolution with the prospect of entering a new three year cycle; however that proved to be an impossible undertaking for IAM Cycling since we have failed to find a co-sponsor, and consequently will be unable to continue our progress to the summit of the sport’s hierarchy. It was unthinkable to consider returning to the lower levels, or even to play a subordinate role to the greatest teams with budgets of 12 million. Of course, I regret this situation, but I prefer to rejoice in what we have accomplished over the past four years.”

No IAM Cycling next year:
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2016 Giro d’Italia – Stage 14 by OGE
Stage 14 saw young Colombian Esteban Chaves win the stage and move into contention for the overall and his Orica-GreenEDGE team made another great ‘Back Stage Pass’ video of the day:


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