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EuroTrash Froome Monday!

Wall-to-wall racing over the week-end from Oman, Spain, France, Portugal and Italy and we have all the news with reports and result, plus rider quotes and all the video action. Sad news for the Cult Energy team as the latest bike theft stopped them finishing the Tour de Haut Var. It’s all in EuroTrash Monday.

TOP STORY: More Race Bikes Stolen
Cult Energy Pro Cycling team was competing in the French stage race, Tour du Haut Var, where Fabian Wegmann took fourth place on Saturday and was targeting a podium position. But the team were not on the start line on Sunday. During Saturday night or early Sunday morning, thieves broke into the team truck and left nothing behind.

Cult Energy team DS, Michael Skelde, said on Sunday morning: “It’s just devastating. We had a car parked in front of the back of the truck, so the thieves somehow must have moved the car and then broke the lock to the truck. They stole everything. Bikes, wheels and all our equipment. Now, we’re waiting for the police to show up and start their investigation. We won’t be racing today and I reckon it’s doubtful that we will be ready for next week’s Het Nieuwsblad. I’m hoping for a miracle.”

On Sunday’s result sheet all eight Cult Energy riders had DNS next to their names: No bikes, no race. Over recent years, races have been targeted by bike thieves going for top end equipment, the bigger teams have, occasionally, managed to get replacement bikes from their Service de Course in time to carry on in a race, but Cult Energy don’t have that luxury. In fact, as Skelde points out, they will be lucky to get things together in time for the Het Nieuwsblad next week-end. Possibly the organizers of the Haut Var shouldn’t have printed the hotel list for all the teams on their website, they made the robbers job just that bit easier. Keep your eye open for some nice Ridley bikes.


header-oman15Tour of Oman 2015
With temperatures close to 40°C during the day, it was a tough Stage 3 for the 141 remaining riders of the Tour of Oman. On the menu: a 158.5 kilometer loop around the Al Mussanah Sports City. After just a few meters of racing, three men broke away: Preden Van Hecke, Jef Van Merhaeghe (both Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF).

The leading three enjoyed a maximum 9:15 lead by 23 kilometers before the pack, led by the Trek team, started chasing. At the first intermediate sprint (34 km), won by Van Merheaghe ahead of Tonelli and Van Hecke, the pack remained 8:55 adrift. Gradually the gap dropped down and the escapees were under the control of the peloton, eager to make it bunched for a final sprint.

The second bonus sprint (136.5 km) was again claimed by Van Merheaghe ahead of Van Hecke and Tonelli, while the pack was 1:20 behind. After grabbing maximum points and seconds on both sprints, the Belgian then stopped his efforts. He was the first to be caught after 157 kilometers. The front two continued on their own and had a 1:15 lead with 20 kilometers to go. They too were gobbled up by the hungry pack 3 kilometers later. The peloton remained together all the way to the final long straight.

After a perfect lead-out from his Katusha teammates, Alexander Kristoff powered to his first success of this 2015 Tour of Oman. Victorious last year in Quriyat, the Norwegian this time beat Andrea Guardini (Astana) and Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) to the line, claiming his second success in the Sultanate. Already a winner of three stages in Qatar, the 27-year-old shows, once again, that he is well on par in his preparation to conquer a second consecutive Milan – San Remo, come March. Finishing 50th today and part of the bunch, Fabian Cancellara (Trek) keeps his overall leader’s Red Jersey and still has a 4 second lead over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and 5 seconds over Patrick Konrad (Bora-Argon 18). Victorious on day one and second today, Andrea Guardini takes command of the points classification and conquers the Green jersey, while Konrad remains best young rider (white jersey) and Jef Van Merheaghe (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) comforts his polkat-dot combativity jersey.

Stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): “The team protected me so well. Gatis Smukulis and Jacopo Guarnieri were the last guys to give me some shelter against the strong head wind. I was in a comfortable position in the last kilometer. GreenEdge started the sprint, Trek took over. I was in the wheel of Danny van Poppel with 300 meters to go but I waited till the last 100 meters to go full gas. It was a perfect sprint. The lead out was like it has to be. We made a nice progress compared to the past. Every race is one step up. I am so happy with my lead out train.”

2nd on the stage Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling): “Of course I am back on the podium, but I really wanted the win. I wanted to get this victory as a way to thank the team and the staff for all the work they have done for me since the beginning of this tour. Just looking at today, the guys did everything they could to make the task as easy as possible for me. I was always covered and protected from the wind. In the final, they brought me up to position and Jonas Van Genechten then gave me a lead out. Kristoff was really just a cut above everyone today. I pulled off the wheel and jumped on the right side with the head wind, but I was not able to make up enough ground. Guardini took Kristoff’s wheel and was pulled into 2nd place. That I have been so comfortable since the beginning of the year is thanks to the work I have done since resuming my training. I had some problems in 2014, but this year everything went well. The sacrifices have paid off, and I must thank my coach, Marcello Albasini, who has helped me both mentally and physically. I found the confidence I needed and above all, I am keen to harvest the fruits of the resistance work I did during the winter.”

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Matti Breschel was 7th: “Even though most of the stage was pretty relaxed, it became fairly extreme. Our SRM controls said 48°-50° C in the sun, so we had to go back and forth to the team car a lot to make sure we had enough bottles to stay hydrated. I rode the sprint for the team today in order to give Peter a respite from having to fight for stage wins every day. So I took some of the pressure today and Peter rode lead-out for me instead.”

Tour of Oman Stage 3 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 3:56:42
2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
5. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek
6. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7. Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
8. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
9. Adam Blythe (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
10. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 3:
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek in 12:18:56
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:04
3. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:05
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:06
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:10
6. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC
7. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
8. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana
9. Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana.

Stage 3 by GCN:

Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) took the victory on the Queen Stage 4 of the Tour of Oman, he dropped Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in the last 100 meters of Green Mountain and took the overall lead. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was 3rd just ahead of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) who was 4th.

The BMC team controlled the race and then split the peloton on the climb. Nearer the top; Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) attacking twice on the climb for teammate Jakob Fuglsang and then sat up, but the damage had been done. Alejandro Valverde was dropped due to the accelerations, but rode well to, in the end, to finish 3rd.

Van Garderen was the strongman of the group and soon only had Valls and Majka for company. Then in the last kilometer Majka lost contact and the race was between Valls and van Garderen. In the end Valls had enough to out jump the American for the stage win and overall. Race leader Fabian Cancellara (Trek) was dropped on the steep ramps of the climb

Jef Van Meirhaeghe (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) again made it into the early break, this time along with his teammate Gijs Van Hoecke, Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx – Quick-Step) and points leader Andrea Guardini (Astana). Guardini won the first intermediate sprint (18 km) with Van Meirhaeghe second and then both sat up and waited for the bunch. Vandenbergh and Van Hoecke carried on for a maximum lead of 14 minutes. As the race got closer to Green Mountain; BMC upped the pace to pull back the pair to just over 3 minutes with 25 kilometers to the summit finish. After the race was all together at the start of the climb, then BMC really put the pressure on for van Garderen and the race proper was on.

Big win for Valls, but BMC will be out to move van Garderen into the top spot as the lead is only 5 seconds.

Stage winner Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida): “I could hardly request something more to this perfect day. I won the queen stage, I’m the new leader of the race and I could finalize the perfect support I received from my team mates, among whom there was a champion such Rui Costa. I was aware my fitness is good, in this first part of the season I demonstrated several times I was competitive, so this is a perfect result for me and for my ambitions in these races.”

2nd on the stage and overall Tejay van Garderen (BMC): “I was hoping for the victory. I was feeling good all day. The team rode superb on the last climb. When I attacked, I dropped (Alejandro) Valverde and (Rafal) Majka got dropped off my wheel. So I was thinking, ‘all right, smooth sailing, those were the two guys I was worried about.’ But Valls definitely got the better of me in the final. I was doing all the attacks to get rid of the big names. With him (Valls) being a dark horse, he was able to catch a free ride and sit on my wheel. He attacked, then I was on him and I countered. He countered and had that last little bit in the end. Anything is possible. It is a hard stage tomorrow and who knows if he (Valls) is going to have the team to control. We will be motivated to attack him.”

Ben Hermans (BMC): “Tejay asked me to go as hard as I could to put all the guys on the limit and then he could attack. I pulled until 1.5 kilometers to go, so it was still quite long for Tejay. But I didn’t have more in the tank. I didn’t have the legs of two days ago because of the heat and it was a stage of more than six hours. So I think everybody was quite tired.”

4th on the stage and overall Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’m satisfied with the stage and I think it is a good result for my first race of the season. I followed Valls and Van Garderen until 800 meters to the line, where I felt that I was perhaps about to explode and lifted the pace a little. Unfortunately, Valverde caught me with 100m to go, but many big names got dropped today, so I can only be satisfied. I want to thank my teammates, who helped me a lot today. They kept me at the front and shielded me from the wind. I wasn’t exposed to the wind one single time, which shows how big an effort they made. I arrived at the final climb feeling good and I was able to follow the attacks until just before the finish line.”

Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling): “In view of the health problems I experienced in Qatar, I’m pretty happy with my ride. The team worked hard to put me in a good position at the foot of the climb, and then I just gave it everything I could. My legs were blocked early on, and I even told Mathias to go for it on his own. But then I started feeling better and was able to come back up to him. To complete the second part of the climb, we rode together and we were at the maximum of our capabilities. I think because of that, it will be a little tight for me to be at my best already next week for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. That doesn’t mean I won’t try something there, though, since you never can predict how that kind of race will play out. But it will probably take me until Paris-Nice before I am on top of my game again.”

Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka): It was a really hot day and we also had a pretty strong head wind for most of the day which made it a really nervous and long day in the saddle. The team was really amazing in protecting Jacques and myself though. On the climb, I just did what I could and that was it really. I am happy that I will be able to wear the white jersey tomorrow on my birthday.”

Tour of Oman Stage 4 Result:
1. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lampre-Merida in 5:46:48
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 0:05
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:19
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:22
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:35
6. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 0:49
7. Jacques Janse Van Resnburg (RSA) MTN-Qhuebeka at 0:54
8. Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:58
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC at 1:00
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 4:
1. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lampre-Merida in 18:05:54
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 0:09
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:19
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:32
5. Jacques Janse Van Resnburg (RSA) MTN-Qhuebeka at 1:04
6. Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:04
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1:10
8. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC at 1:15
9. Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek at 1:25
10. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 1:36.

Oman stage 4:

Stage 5 of the Tour of Oman was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. Firstly a sandstorm shortened the route of Saturday’s penultimate stage and the riders travelled by car to the finishing circuit around the Ministry of Housing. The race was to be held on the finishing circuit of 29.5 kilometers, covering three laps for a total distance of just over 90 kilometers. Soon after the start it became obvious that the high temperatures and the gusting wind was too dangerous to race in. The riders and the race organizers agreed to cancel the stage completely.

Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling): “I am in 100% agreement with the decision to cancel the 5th stage, even if it is not really great for the organizers or the racers. We came here to race and prepare for future events. Unfortunately today, the conditions really were just too extreme. My SRM meter showed the temperature to be 49° when we finally dismounted. And I also hit 90 km/h as the maximum speed on the descent. If we were really racing and with the wind at our backs, we certainly would have been hitting 120kph. It was dangerous and could have sent any one of us to the hospital without warning. Honestly, I am glad to see that there is a solidarity among the cyclists. This is the first time that we have successfully done this, even if the organizers threatened to annul the final stage, as well as future editions, as a result of our refusal to continue racing.”

Going into Sunday’s final stage; Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) will hold his lead of 9 seconds over Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and 19 over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 5:
1. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lampre-Merida in 18:05:54
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 0:09
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:19
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:32
5. Jacques Janse Van Resnburg (RSA) MTN-Qhuebeka at 1:04
6. Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:04
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1:10
8. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC at 1:15
9. Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek at 1:25
10. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 1:36.

The stage 5 action, or lack of it:

Matthias Brändle has a great affection for, and knowledge of, the hour record and on-the-road breakaways. One might say he is passionate about them. On the Final Stage 6 of the Tour of Oman, the 25 year old Austrian broke out to remind everyone of his escaping acumen. The IAM Cycling rider attacked his three breakaway companions three kilometers from the finish to win solo and deliver the fourth victory of the season to his team. In all the stage excitement, the general classification remained the same with Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) hanging on to take the overall victory by 9 seconds Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 19.

Overall winner Rafa Valls (Lampre-Merida): “This victory makes me so happy, I want to share my joy with my team mates and with the team’s staff members. I received from them a huge support. Today’s stage put pressure on our team, but the things went in the best way for us. The four attackers were far from the head of the classification and they prevented my direct opponents to obtain seconds in bonus. In the final part of the stage, the strong head-wind helped us to neutralize the attacks. I’m glad I can give to my team and to the sponsors the victory of the Tour de Oman.”

Stage winner Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling): “It’s always a great feeling to be able to raise your arms on the line in victory. I had staked everything on the final and I remained quiet on the final climb with 25 kilometers to go since I could see the guys were still pushing the pedals. With three kilometers to go, I started to give it my all. Today it worked well and all the guys in the break rode equally hard to make the difference. Personally, I wanted to get a stage victory either at Qatar or Oman, so I just managed to reach my goal on the final day. I felt good and I hope it will last the rest of my program which includes Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Tirreno-Adriatico.”

2nd on the stage Iljo Keisse (Etixx – Quick-Step): “We started with the headwind and at the beginning I could count on the help of Stijn to take the breakaway. Then we went in 4 and we took 10′. We had a good collaboration, then all day we had sidewind and tail wind, so we went pretty fast. In the final there were some climbs, but with the advantage we had, we knew that we would have gone for the victory. On the last small climb at more or less 3.5 kms to go Brandle went. I had a small moment of difficulty and he took a good advantage. I tried to come back in the final, but I couldn’t close the gap. I knew Brandle was the most dangerous guy. He is a strong guy and broke the hour record a few months ago. But there was nothing more I could have done on the climb to stay with him. I gave it all. It’s a pity because these kind of situations don’t happen a lot for me during a season, so when the occasion is there you have to take it. In any case I want to see the glass as half full. I go back home in good condition, ready and motivated for the next European races.”

2nd overall Tejay van Garderen (BMC): “Sometimes when you win, you get a little complacent and you think you are where you need to be. When you get second place, it lights a fire and gets you a bit more motivated. I am going to train hard this next week and stay on track. Hopefully, I can bump it up another level at Paris-Nice. I wasn’t expecting that we were just going to win the race yesterday, but we definitely had a chance to and I would have liked to have tried, if for no other reason than to get a good race in my legs. We were here to race and I would have liked to have had the opportunity. But we have to live with it and go forward. Sometimes it is funny in the first race of the year, getting to know everybody’s riding style a bit, but we had no issues. Everything fell right into place. It was easy to follow the wheels. The team always knew what to do. It was super professional. It seems like we are already well into the middle of the season. There was very little I had to tell my teammates. They already knew what they had to do.”

Young rider competition winner Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka): “I am really happy to win the white jersey. I think it’s a good start to the season. The team was really awesome and we worked well together this week. Winning the white jersey has been a really good start, I just hope the momentum can continue now into the rest of the season.”

Tour of Oman Stage 6 Result:
1. Matthias Brändle (Aut) IAM Cycling in 3:02:31
2. Iljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:04
3. Jef Van Meirhaeghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:13
4. Danny Pate (USA) Sky at 0:16
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:16
6. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Giant-Alpecin
7. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
8. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
9. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
10. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18.

Tour of Oman Final Overall Result:
1. Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida in 21:09:31
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 0:09
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:19
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:32
5. Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:04
6. Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:08
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1:10
8. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC at 1:15
9. Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek at 1:25
10. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 1:36

Oman final stage 6 by GCN:

header-rutadelsol-leftRuta del Sol 2015
As he simulated a phone call with his right hand, a tribute to his sponsor and a shot towards glory at the same time, Juanjo Lobato (Movistar) screamed again on Thursday in Stage 2. The Trebujena-based rider took a very convincing win at the slightly uphill final straight in Lucena after 197 kilometers, after getting over the Cat-3 Alto de la Primera Cruz, just 9km from the finish, together with many of his Movistar teammates.

The telephone squad made a strong gamble for the victory from far away from the finish, joining Tinkoff and Giant-Alpecin at the front with Eros Capecchi to keep the original, five-man breakaway on a leash. As the escape was caught into the intermediate passage through the finish, the fight for position was on, with the Blues taking care of both Lobato and Intxausti, their best placed man in the GC. The vigilance by José Herrada calmed down all major, late attacks, including a dangerous move by Quintero (Colombia), and left room for a sprint where Juanjo controlled perfectly his winning distance to beat German John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Slovenian Grega Bole (CCC Sprandi Polkowice).

Overall leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “It was quite an exhausting stage because there was a lot of wind throughout the day. The goal was to minimize the physical wear, avoid any possible crashes and try not to lose time in the GC. We achieved all of that and we now have to rest and recover before tomorrow. We’re focusing on tomorrow’s stage, where the GC will be at stake. The finish features a steep and difficult climb and that’s where we will assess our form. Although I am familiar with the final climb, there are riders that have been preparing for it and given the small time differences in the GC, we will have to see how we compare to them.”

Stage winner Juanjo Lobato (Movistar): “I had this finish written in red and, fortunately, I was able to take that grudge off after yesterday’s crash, though I always kept clear in mind that as well today’s finish, Sundays was better for me, since not every lead-out man would be showing up in the finale. The team was incredible today, already since the beginning of the stage when Capecchi started pushing, not to talk about the positioning work and the control by Herrada. I wasn’t feeling all the good I’d have wished into the climb, but thanks to them I could get over it and hit the front at the final kilometer, where Gorka Izagirre’s help was crucial. It was a finishing straight longer than it was in Australia and I might have launched my sprint a bit too early, but luckily, legs responded well when I needed them too and had room enough to sit back and celebrate. I hope to keep building on this form, bit by bit, in this month before Sanremo and the classics, but for the time being, I just want to enjoy this win. Now I’ll put myself at the team’s service for the mountain stages: should they need it, I won’t hesitate to offer them what I can. We’ve got a strong team but made of climbers, and still, they rode perfectly for me today and I’m really thankful. Let’s hope Beñat can fight for the overall – he’s feeling really well at the moment.”

Break-away rider Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling): “The escape was easy to make since we were the only ones who tried. But there was a ton of wind and that was all to the benefit of the pack, including all the sprinters, who were committed to bringing us back. In the end, we just lacked the punch to play seriously for the victory.”

Ruta del Sol Stage 2 Result:
1. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar in 4:51:57
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
3. Grega Bole (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
4. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr
5. Eduard Prades Reverte (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6. Daniele Ratto (Ita) UnitedHealthcare
7. Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
8. Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Huub Duyn (Ned) Team Roompot
10. Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Ruta del Sol Overall After Stage 2:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 8:03:40
2. Beñat Intxausti Elorriagai (Spa) Movistar at 0:01
3. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:08
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling
5. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 0:12
6. Ivan Basso (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:17
7. Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:18
8. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin at 0:20
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky at 0:21
10. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Sky at 0:28.

Stage 2:

Alberto Contador and his Tinkoff-Saxo team played a perfect game in Stage 3 on Friday and put 19 seconds into his main rival Chris Froome (Sky) on the snow-covered Sierra Nevada. Contador now leads Froome in the overall by 27 seconds, with two stages to go.

The Tinkoff-Saxo team controlled the early break and then once it was caught Michael Valgren Andersen kept the pace high on the foot hills before Jesus Hernandez took over. The peloton was down to around 40 riders with just under 10 kilometers to go, at that point Ivan Basso put in a big attack with Contador stuck to his wheel. Chris Froome was in trouble but his Sky teammate Peter Kennaugh rallied round to help the chase with Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) and Dani Navarro (Cofidis) along for the ride. Basso, his work over, left Contador to ride on for the stage and more time in he bank for the overall lead.

Froome and Kennaugh managed to keep Contador at around 30 seconds and dropped the others, except Bardet and Kennaugh. With less than 4 kilometers to go; Froome was alone and chasing hard pulling 10 seconds back from Contador on the easier final part of the Hazallanas climb.

Stage winner and overall leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’m very glad for this victory especially because it came in place after such a big effort from all of my teammates. Every single guy on the team did an incredible job in controlling the race and setting up my final attack. They kept a consistently high pace throughout the stage, which cost a lot of energy for my rivals. After the short descent halfway up the final climb, I saw that Paulinho had stretched the peloton and Basso then created a gap by pulling hard. So I decided to go early, accelerate and go alone. I knew it would be difficult to catch me, I felt good and I wanted to repay my teammates with a win. Still, the time difference between me and Froome is not big and we’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow, which is also a very hard stage. But I had a good day and I’m confident because of my victory and the way my team performed. I’m not yet in top shape, I still have to loose weight, but for this moment I’m pleased with my performance.”

Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubaka): “Today I can be happy with my performance but also my team were very, very good. The final climb was tough and I tried to follow the main guys. 7th is okay and tomorrow I will have another chance so despite losing time behind the stage 1 crashes, I will stay positive to try get another good result.”

Sébastien Reichenbach (IAM Cycling): “What we had planned today was to protect Jérôme Coppel because it worked well on previous stages, and it was still possible for him to climb into the top-10 on the standings. I helped him by working for him at the foot of the climb to try and improve his position, but when we got to the hardest part, I saw that he was not at ease. So I took the rest of the climb at my own pace, to use mostly as training. This is the kind of climb that I like. When I can go up at my own pace, I can manage my effort very well since I am familiar with these sorts of gradients, which I find on my training routes at home in the Valais. So I like it very much. Saturday will be relatively similar, but slightly longer. It will be important not to forget that we’ll all be a little more fatigued after today, so it will be interesting to see how I recover.”

Ruta del Sol Stage 3 Result:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 4:19:15
2. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 0:19
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:39
4. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 1:58
5. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky at 2:02
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 2:05
7. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka at 2:15
8. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 2:16
9. Reichenbach (Sui) IAM Cycling at 2:30
10. Sergio Pardilla (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 2:42.

Ruta del Sol Overall After Stage 3:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 12:22:55
2. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 0:27
3. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 1:59
4. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 2:13
5. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 2:28
6. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky at 2:30
7. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky at 3:19
8. Sylvain Chavenel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 3:41
9. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis at 4:10
10. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 4:15.

Stage 3:

Chris Froome (Sky) turned the tables on Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) in Saturday’s Stage 4 after the Spaniards win on Friday. The Sky team had the upper hand and towed the Kenyan born rider to the Alto de Allanadas where he unleashed his attack to take the stage and the overall going into the final stage.

The early break of the day included: Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Romain Sicard (Europcar), Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) and Mirklo Selvaggi (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), but only Geschke and Selvaggi managed to stay out front with 10 kilometers go with a lead of 2:30.

At the start of the final climb Sky had Nicolas Roche working hard to keep the pace high, burning off many riders and pulling back the solo Selvaggi to 1:30 with 5 kilometers to go. At one point it looked as though Selvaggi had the stage win, but the fight behind had him caught with 3 kilometers left to race.

Sky’s Mikel Nieve started the final act with an attack, this launched Chris Froome up the road with only Contador on his wheel, but not for long as the Spaniard couldn’t follow Froome’s second acceleration. Froome had a look back and pushed on for the stage win, but the question was if he had enough time to take the overall lead?

Contador came in 29 seconds after Froome to loose the overall lead by 2 seconds with one stage to go.

2nd overall Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’m satisfied with this tour, and of course especially with my performance yesterday. But at this moment of the season there will always be greater variations between the daily shape on each stage. Yesterday, I had a great feeling – today, I didn’t have the same legs. After the stage yesterday, people said that I was perhaps in too good a shape at this moment in my race schedule. But everything is going according to the plan and I’m on track with my preparations ahead of my season goals.”

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling): “It was such a difficult stage for climbers. I have rarely faced an end of a stage that has been so difficult, with pitches of 20% on the climb. I am satisfied with my condition because day by day, I am getting better and better. That’s the main thing to remember at the Ruta del Sol. This is a great race, but you really have to have a top level because it all goes so fast. It was really a great day. With the cold and rain, the stage lasted almost six hours, so obviously I hope that it will be good preparation for what we expect to face in the coming days.”

Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) and Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) rode away together. Their lead grew to 4:30, Geschke kept pushing hard and all Selvaggi could do was follow: “Simon wanted to go full gas for the Meta Volantes. I said, ‘regolare’, take it easy, not so fast, but Geschke went so fast for the ‘Meta Volantes’ I could not take over at all. There were still 40 kilometers to ride and 140 riders chasing us. I had to use my head today. I wanted to go full gas in the final 20km but Geschke kept going à bloc before that. After the last intermediate sprint he was dead. At first I thought I would make it, I still had 2 minutes at the start of the climb. However when I saw the last 3 kilometers were so steep, over 20%, I know it’s impossible to win.”

Ruta del Sol Stage 4 Result:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 5:08:54
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:29
3. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Sky at 0:49
4. Sylwester Szmyd (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:59
5. Beñat Intxausti Elorriagai (Spa) Movistar at 1:00
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:13
7. Sébastien Reichenbach (Sui) IAM Cycling at 1:26
8. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:27
9. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis
10. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:38.

Ruta del Sol Overall After Stage 4:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 17:32:16
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:02
3. Beñat Intxausti Elorriagai (Spa) Movistar at 2:32
4. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Sky 0:02:52
5. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale 0:03:13
6. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 3:50
7. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky at 5:07
8. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis at 5:10
9. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 5:30
10. Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 5:44.

Stage 4:

Juan José Lobato (Movistar) won his second stage of the Ruta del Sol on Sunday’s Final Stage 5. Chris Froome (Sky) finished 6th in the same time as Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) to keep his 2 second advantage for the overall win.

There was a seven man break including Johnny Hoogerland (Roompot), Peio Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Songezo Jim & Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhuebeka), Rodolfo Torres (Colombia), Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi) and Victor Martin (Burgos-BH), but Movistar and Giant-Alpecin wanted to hold the race together for a bunch sprint, so they were not allowed much time. The break disintegrated leaving Paterski out front on his own, but he was caught with 7 kilometers to go as Tinkoff-Saxo but in some strong riding on the front.

Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) jumped off the front of the peloton with just over 1 kilometer to the line, but as the road started to rise in the final 500 meters he was caught in time to see Lobato launch his winning attack. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) jumped after Lobato but it was too late.

2nd overall Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’m pleased with the progression of my shape. Actually, I’m a bit surprised to be at this level at this part of the early season. I’m not too far in my preparations, but I see my performance on the stage that I won and in the time trial as a sign that I’m ready to reach for my main season objectives. Two seconds separated me from the win, but today there was little I could do to take back time on Froome. But the most important aspect is that my preparations for my main objectives are going perfect. It wouldn’t have changed anything if I had won, as we still need to prepare for the next goals with the same concentration no matter what. We have done our best every day and projected a good image as a team. I want to thank all of my teammates for their work, they have been incredible pulling at the front and supporting me.”

Stage 5 winner Juanjo Lobato (Movistar): “You can never say you took an easy win, but to be honest, my team-mates made things quite easier for me this time. Especially since they started to push, both Javi and José, to keep things calmed down in the bunch and not to let the break go away much, and into the final kilometers, with Gorka keeping me in good position. There was some crosswind in the finalé and, together with all nerves up and the fight for position… it all made the finish quite difficult. Still, I was telling Gorka to keep going as long as he could, to stay calm, because I would look for my distance and give it the final shot. Let’s hope that victories like this weeks make me earn some more respect in the bunch for the important races. For the time being, I look forward very much to these 20-some days of rest before the first block of classics, especially San Remo, which I’m so excited about. This joy has been made possible by the team, but also by my family, my girlfriend… everyone who is always by my side – these wins are dedicated to them.”

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling): “I am happy with third place, especially since it was an uphill finish. Lobato was simply untouchable today, he jumped very, very hard before the final corner, which was the hardest part. Degenkolb followed him, and then I followed Degenkolb, and we all kept our positions till the line. So, no regrets. I need to keep in mind that my condition is getting better, and that is the main point. I try to mingle in with the sprints because when you never try it, you lose the ability, you lose the feeling a little. And then the day will arrive when I am coming up to the finish line with a small group, it is important still to know how to act as a sprinter. For this year’s Ruta del Sol, I finished in the top-10, so I am satisfied, both for myself and the team.”

Ruta del Sol Stage 5 Result:
1. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar in 3:48:56
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin at 0:01
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 0:02
4. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal
5. Grega Bole (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
6. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
7. Moreno Hofland (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
8. Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
10. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis.

Ruta del Sol Overall After Stage 5:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 21:21:14
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:02
3. Beñat Intxausti Elorriagai (Spa) Movistar at 2:38
4. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Sky at 3:05
5. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 3:13
6. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 4:03
7. Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky at 5:10
8. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky at 5:17
9. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 5:30
10. Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek at 5:50.

The final stage 5:

header-algarve15Volta ao Algarve 2015
Geraint Thomas solo’d to victory and race lead on Stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve. Thomas attacked on the final climb to catch Rein Taaramäe (Astana) and then on to the finish to win by 19 second lead over Taaramäe, with Valerio Agnoli (Astana) winning the sprint from the chase group with world champion Michal Kwiaktkowski and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick-Step) at 23 seconds. Thomas is now in the overall lead by 30 seconds from Taaramae. Stybar and Kwiatkowski are 3rd and 4th at 33 seconds.

A five man breakaway made up of Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Soudal), Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon 18), Frabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Wesley Kreder (Team Roompot) and Ivan Balykin (RusVelo) nearly achieved a 5 minute lead, but before the hilly final circuits they were caught with 25 kilometers to go. The next group of Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Astana), Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Ian Boswell (Sky), Phil Gaimon (Optum) and Alberto Gallego (Rádio Popular-Boavista) dangled just off the front before being caught on the final climb. Taaramae attacked in the style of his Vuelta a Murcia win and looked to have it in the bag. Thomas jumped after the Estonian, caught him and rode on to the finish.

Stage winner Geraint Thomas (Sky): “It was pretty unexpected if I’m honest. I knew I was doing OK but I didn’t know how I’d feel on that climb. It was pretty steep at the bottom, leveled off during the middle, and then ramped up towards the top again. Once I’d got over the summit, there were still some more little rises to overcome which definitely hurt, but I managed to get enough out of myself to take the win. It was an amazing feeling crossing the line. Once I’d decided to follow Taaramae, I looked back and everyone behind me was on the limit, I jumped across, took a few deep breaths, and then went over the top of him and managed to hold a decent lead all the way to the finish. I don’t get to win too often – especially not on my own – and it’s a great way to kick start my year.”

Volta ao Algarve Stage 2 Result:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 4:59:13
2. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 0:19
3. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana at 0:23
4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana
5. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar
6. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step
7. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step
8. Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha
9. Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Katusha
10. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky.

Volta ao Algarve Overall After Stage 2:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 9:12:56
2. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 0:30
3. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:33
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step
5. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana
6. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar
7. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
8. Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Katusha
9. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step
10. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha.

Stage 2:

Etixx – Quick-Step rider Tony Martin won the 19km Volta ao Algarve Stage 3 ITT by less than a second over Adriano Malori (Movistar), and was 3 seconds faster than race leader Geraint Thomas (Sky). Martin averaged 52.174kph along the up-and-down parcours. The German TT Champion was also accompanied in the top 10 by Michal Kwiatkowski, who placed 4th at 9 seconds. Thomas remains the race leader after the 3rd Stage. Martin and Kwiatkowski move up into 2nd and 3rd on the GC podium, trailing Thomas by 30 and 39 seconds each.

Stage winner Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step): “It’s nice to get a win in my German National TT Champion skinsuit. I wore it also as Champion in 2011, but since then it was just more or less in my cellar, in my training room, because I was always wearing my UCI World TT Champion jersey. I’m also proud to wear this German Champion jersey to represent my country. It maybe doesn’t carry the same prestige as the one of the world champion, but you can still show the colors of your country and that is always an honor. So far it has brought me some luck. It’s a really nice start to the season. The first race is always difficult because you don’t really know where you are. I felt already really good in training, but races are still different. So already getting a good result is big for my confidence. As for the parcours today, most of it was the same as last year. But still, it was longer than last year, with a hard finale and a headwind section. It was decent for me because there was a hard part at the end where I could really play with my power. I think in the split times I was a little bit slower than Thomas, but I made up the time in the final to even win against Malori. That’s what I love, going really hard on a flat with a headwind or a crosswind. That lets me show my power. But seeing where you are is not just about the results. It’s important to check the condition overall and it was even good yesterday in the climbs. In February you never know where your condition is and I’m really happy it is going so well. Especially in Algarve, as I come here every year and it is nice to win again. Algarve always gives me a lot of confidence so I can’t imagine a better beginning of the season. My motivation is now super good. As for the next days, tomorrow will be hard. The gap to Thomas is still 30 seconds. We will see what we can do as we have a strong team here who can maybe make a good tactic besides even me. Michal Kwiatkowski is in 3rd, so we have some other cards we can play.”

Volta ao Algarve Stage 3 Result:
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step in 21:51
2. Adriano Mallori (Ita) Movista
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:03
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – QuickStep at 0:09
5. Anton Vorobyev (Rus) Katusha at 0:19
6. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar at 0:26
7. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 0:26
8. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 0:32
9. Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha at 0:34
10. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha at 0:37

Volta ao Algarve Overall After Stage 3:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 9:34:50
2. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:30
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:39
4. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 0:53
5. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 1:02
6. Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha at 1:04
7. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha at 1:07
8. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:31
9. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 1:33
10. Rubén Fernández (Spa) Movistar at 1:38.

Stage 3:

Sky’s Richie Porte solo’d to victory in Stage 4 at the end of the Queen stage on the summit finish in Malhão. He was just 3 seconds in front of World champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – Quick-Step) and 6 seconds ahead of Ion Izagirre (Movistar). Overall leader Geraint Thomas (Sky) was 4th at 9 seconds and held the lead over Kwiatkowski by 27 seconds and Tiago Machado (Katusha) by 1:11.

The early break of the day included Davide Malacarne (Astana), Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal), Adriano Malori (Movistar), Mauritis Lammertink (Roompot), Kamil Gradek (ActiveJet), Filipe Cardoso (Efapel) and Beñat Txoperena (Murias-Taldea). At the first intermediate sprint after 30 kilometers the group had 2 minutes which grew to 4:30 by the second intermediate sprint after 85 kilometers.

Time trial winner Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step) attacked on the first climb with his teammate Michal Golas, Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto NL-Jumbo) and Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and gained a 31 second lead, but by the second climb the race was one peloton. The Etixx – Quick-Step was out to make things difficult for Sky, this time with Zdenek Stybar who attacked on the Ameixieirinhas climb. The Czech national road champion crossed the summit 5 seconds ahead of Thomas and around 30 others riders.

Porte pulled the group back up to Stybar and also reduced the lead group a hand full of riders. Porte then put in a late attack for the stage win.

Stage winner Richie Porte (Sky): “This time I was not expecting to win. The Etixx team wore us out a lot and I was booked to ride strong in the last 10 kilometers before the climb. It is good to reward Thomas with the yellow jersey because he, in recent years, has done a lot for me and my career. 300 meters from the finish he told me to attack and everything went well. Days like this are rare in cycling. It was perfect. It is an excellent start for the season and strengthens the morale of the team.”

Volta ao Algarve Stage 4 Result:
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky in 5:55:34
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:03
3. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 0:06
4. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:09
5. Michael Woods (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 0:13
6. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha
7. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:16
8. Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha at 0:21
9. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 0:25
10. José Mendes (Por) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:31.

Volta ao Algarve Overall After Stage 4:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 15:30:33
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:27
3. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha at 1:11
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 1:14
5. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 1:18
6. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 1:19
7. Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Katusha at 1:32
8. Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha at 1:55
9. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar at 2:04
10. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 2:21.

Stage 4

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the Final Stage 5 of the Volta ao Algarve, his first win of the season. In a bunch sprint the German champion beat Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Rüdiger Selig (Team Roompot). The stage to Vilamoura was flat with only one 3rd Cat. climb. The situation changed a few times. First there was a front group of three riders, then it was five and finally seven escapees. The front group was caught in the final kilometers, thanks to the chasing of among other Lotto Soudal. The lead-out train of Greipel rode on the front and the German finished it off perfectly. The overall victory went to Geraint Thomas.

Stage winner André Greipel (Lotto Soudal): “It’s always a nice feeling to get that first win of the season. The team set up the sprint perfectly for me. They did a great job all day long. A lot of Portuguese teams tried to get in the breakaway. The situation changed a few times, at the end seven riders were in front. We were worried that if they would all work together, they could stay ahead until the finish. Sean De Bie and Stig Broeckx controlled the breakaway. We knew the finish area, which really suited us. We had a plan and it worked out well. The Volta ao Algarve is a good race for us to lay the foundations for the next races. My condition is good, the same goes for the teammates. The spirit is good, we all worked for one goal. We look forward to what’s coming. It was not easy for me to skip the Tour Down Under this year, I participated seven years in a row. I started the competition later than usual. I had a calmer start and hopefully that pays off during the season and I’ll be more fresh. The same goes for the others who rode a different program. The next few days will be more relaxed and next weekend the classic season can begin. I will ride Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne. I’m ready for it, hopefully the weather will be good.”

2nd on the stage Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo): “Today was incredible. My team-mates kept me out of the wind all day. They did everything to help. Unfortunately, Greipel was too strong, but everything else was perfect. I’ve never experienced that before. It made me emotional. I thanked everyone personally. Sep Vanmarcke, Paul Martens and Robert Wagner helped me get in the wheel of Greipel. I started to get a little bit nervous around that moment, because the team had worked so hard for me and now I had to finish it off. I was able to get next to Greipel, but that was it. He found his second gear and won.”

Volta ao Algarve Stage 5 Result:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal in 4:15:40
2. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
3. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot
4. Rudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha
5. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
6. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
7. Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha
10. Ben Swift (GB) Sky.

Volta ao Algarve Final Overall Result:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 19:46:13
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:27
3. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha at 1:11
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 1:14
5. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 1:18
6. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 1:19
7. Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Katusha at 1:23
8. Alberto Losada (Spa) Katusha at 1:55
9. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar at 2:04
10. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 2:21.

The final stage 5:

header-hautvar15Tour du Haut-Var 2015
Ben Gastauer (AG2R–La Mondiale) pulled off a great ride in the first stage of the Tour du Haut-Var. A member of the early breakaway, the Frenchman won solo with just a handful of second to spare between him and the hard-charging peloton.

Protected along with Jonathan Fumeaux, Patrick Schelling and Larry Warbasse with eyes on the general classification, Clément Chevrier succeeded in meeting the expectations of his team. The young 22 year old rider from Picardy finished in the main pack on the heels of the day’s winner. “The most difficult thing was not the parcours, but the weather today. It’s really important to know how to protect yourself from the cold, wind, and rain. Personally, I’ve never worn this many layers. And I also had to make sure to rub myself down with an embrocation balm, which is still burning me after the stage. Fortunately, I managed to keep in touch with each acceleration on the climbs. This is encouraging, and if I was not able to fight for a good position in the end, it is more from lack of experience than from confidence. But on Sunday, the difficulty of the stage will be greater and the climbs will be longer. And then there will be the big climb 15 kilometers from the finish. So it will be a stage for the punchy climbers.”

3rd on stage 1 Philippe Gilbert (BMC): “I was feeling OK today in very difficult conditions,” Gilbert said. “Manuel Senni and Rick Zabel were pulling to try to control the breakaway, always keeping it at three minutes. But we did not get help until late in the race. Plus, there was not a lot of information about the gap. So it was not easy to know what to do. Sometimes we went 20 kilometers without any information.”

4th Fabian Wegmann (Cult Energy): “It was a really tough day out there. It was raining cats and dogs in the first two hours of the race and the pace was intense. But we did a tremendous finale. With one kilometer to go, Rasmus went to the front to pull and with 500 meters to go, Linus took over to lead me out and I managed to finish third in the peloton. It’s not a victory but I’m happy about the result and I’m especially happy about the team effort. This gives us confidence before tomorrow’s stage.”

Clément Chevrier (IAM Cycling): “The most difficult thing was not the parcours, but the weather today. It’s really important to know how to protect yourself from the cold, wind, and rain. Personally, I’ve never worn this many layers. And I also had to make sure to rub myself down with an embrocation balm, which is still burning me after the stage. Fortunately, I managed to keep in touch with each acceleration on the climbs. This is encouraging, and if I was not able to fight for a good position in the end, it is more from lack of experience than from confidence. But on Sunday, the difficulty of the stage will be greater and the climbs will be longer. And then there will be the big climb 15 kilometers from the finish. So it will be a stage for the punchy climbers.”

Tour du Haut-Var Stage 1 Result:
1. Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R-La Mondiale in 4:11:15
2. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:07
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
4. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Cult Energy
5. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
7. Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Katusha
8. Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ.fr
9. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Cult Energy
10. Angel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha.

Tour du Haut-Var Overall After Stage 1:
1. Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R-La Mondiale in 4:11:15
2. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:07
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
4. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Cult Energy
5. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
7. Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Katusha
8. Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ.fr
9. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Cult Energy
10. Angel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha.

Stage 1:

Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin) won the Final Stage 2 of the Tour du Haut Var in Draguignan on Sunday, as Ben Gastauer (AG2R-La Mondiale) finished in the front group to win overall seven seconds ahead of Philippe Gilbert of BMC.

A nine man group went clear after 50 kilometers, this forced the AG2R-La Mondiale team to chase for overall leader, Gastauer. From the leaders Johan Le Bon of FDJ.fr jumped off on his own to gain a lead of 1:10 with 20 kilometers to go, but he was soon caught. Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi) launched a fierce attacked with Julien Loubet on the Côte des Tuilières in the company of Julien Loubet, but they were pulled back on the run in to the finish. In the bunch sprint, Mezgec was just too fast for Gilbert and Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix Lille Metropole). All Gastauer had to do was make sure he was with the front group to take the overall win.

2nd overall Philippe Gilbert (BMC): “It is too bad he came back with four or five kilometers to go. If Mezgec didn’t come back, I have an even better chance to win. But all of the guys were working well and then Joey Rosskopf really helped me in the sprint by doing a nice lead-out. This result is good for my confidence because it is a good result in a hard race.”

Stage 2 winner Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin): “It was hard today and at first look at the stage profile I didn’t think I could be present at the finish but coach Aike [Visbeek] and the team had confidence in me and looked after me all day so I have to thank them all. We made a plan for me to save my legs right until the end where it would matter, and the confidence of the others really motivated me to be there. The guys got me into position at the bottom of the final climb, and at first I couldn’t follow the front group but I wasn’t giving up there. Together with two others I attacked from the second group and managed to jump across to the leaders where Chad was already present. It was a big effort but I managed to recover just before the sprint. Chad then got me into the right wheel and I could do a really good sprint. I knew from feelings and the analysis of the numbers in training that I am at a higher level compared to last year but you always need a big result to confirm this for the confidence, so it’s good that I’ve got this win so early in the season.”

Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling): “Personally, I am not at my optimum form, but the team worked hard for me and placed me well at the bottom of the final climb. However, the pace was a little too much for me today.”

Tour du Haut-Var Stage 2 Result:
1. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Alpecin in 5:03:06
2. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
3. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Roubaix-Lille Métropole
4. Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ.fr
5. Julien El Farès (Fra) Team Marseille
6. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
7. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
8. Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis
9. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha.

Tour du Haut-Var Final Overall Result:
1. Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R-La Mondiale in 9:14:21
2. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 0:07
3. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
4. Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ.fr
5. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Roubaix-Lille Métropole
6. Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha
7. Julien El Farès (Fra) Marseille
8. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
9. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Yoann Bagot (Fra) Cofidis.

Stage 2:

header-Laigueglia15Trofeo Laigueglia 2015
Davide Cimolai won the Trofeo Laigueglia, which is Lampre-Merida’s third consecutive victory in the Italian one-day race after Filippo Pozzato and Jose Serpa. In the sprint Cimolai beat Francesco Gavazzi (Southeast) and Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) from a medium sized group.

Jonathan Paredes (Colombia), Nicola Gaffurini (MgKVis-Vega), Adriano Brogi (D’Amico-Bottecchia) and Jerome Cousin (Europcar) made the early break that maxed out at 7 minutes until Lampre-Merida started the chase. The gap fell to 4:40 as the break reached top of the Crocetta climb after 70 kilometers. Cannondale-Garmin and Katusha teams helped with the chase and with 50 kilometers the lead was down to 30 seconds. Behind; Cannondale-Garmin split the peloton causing a large group of 80 riders rode away from the others.

The peloton avoided any risks on the twisting descent back to the coast, with Cannondale-Garmin again in control before the three late climbs. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) attacked on the Colla Micheri climb, but he was pulled back. Due to the hard chase and the late climbs there were only 35 riders still in contention as the race tackled the Capo Mele climb. Ilnur Zakarin gave it another go, but was chased by Simone Stortoni (Androni Giocattoli) and Linus Gerdemann (Cult Energy) with Lampre-Merida at the front of the chase. With just over 1K to the finish the race was all together for Cimolai to bust out for his first professional win.

Race winner Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida): “I always liked Trofeo Laigueglia, it’s a joy to have won this race, especially after that two team mates had conquered it in the recent past. The path to the victory began in Australia, where I improved my condition. Coming back to Europe I suffered from bronchitis that influenced my performances in Dubai, but when I came back to Italy I focused my attention on recovering the necessary fitness. I came here to Laigueglia and I had morale for a top result. The team realized an amazing race, Niemiec was outstanding in supporting me in the final kilometers. This victory makes me face the hard trainings in view of the next appointments, Paris-Nice and the Classics.”

Trofeo Laigueglia Result:
1. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 4:53:47
2. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Southeast
3. Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Katusha
4. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek
6. Angelo Tulik (Fra) Europcar
7. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
8. Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Cult Energy
9. Simone Petilli (Ita) Unieuro Wilier
10. Javier Megias (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk.

Trofeo Laigueglia:

header-uci_edited-1The Best Bits of the World Track Champs
The track championships have been on this last weekend, here are some of the best bits:

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