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Nijmegen - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - illustration - sfeer - illustratie at the start in Arnhem pictured during stage 2 of th 99th Giro d'Italia 2016 from Arnhem to Nijmegen in the Netherlands - photo IB/LB/RB//Cor Vos © 2016

EUROTRASH GIRO Thursday!

It’s a full Giro d’Italia EUROTRASH Thursday. Race reports, results, rider quotes and video from the Italian Grand Tour and we look at the proposed Giro start in Japan. The Amgen Tour of California starts on Sunday, we preview the big US race with team news. Three more years for Groupe Gobert and what’s for dinner for the BMC team? Buongiorno.

TOP STORY: Japan Start for the Giro?
The old rumor of the Giro d’Italia starting in a far-away country has raised its ugly head yet again. The fashion used to be for the Tour de France to start in the USA and, as we know, that never came to fruition. So the Giro organizers need some money, but the amount of money they would need to spend to ship all the teams over to and back again from Japan would outweigh any profit they might make.

What about the riders? It would be like riding the Tour Down Under for a couple of days and then flying back to Europe to start a Grand Tour a day later. Maybe the Italian’s should stick to their interests in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the extra cash needed to run the Giro. Or follow the example of the Tour and run a criterium in Japan and call it the Giro d’Italia (Japan).

Maybe RCS could build a Mortirolo in Japan:
Tour de France 2013 stage-18

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Giro d’Italia 2016
Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won Stage 4 on the Tyrrhenian coast after a solo attack from an 11 man group on the final climb, 10km from the finish. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo) jumped away from the chase group to finish 5 seconds after Ulissi in 2nd and 3rd. Dumoulin recaptured the leader’s pink jersey.

Ten kilometers after the start in Catanzaro, Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Matej Mohoric (Lampre-Merida) and Joey Rosskopf (BMC) escaped the peloton and was soon joined by former world hour record holder Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling). Italian team Nippo-Vini Fantini missed the move and chased hard but failed to close the gap. Nippo’s Eduard Grosu then found himself in no man’s land between the escape and the peloton.

The maximum advantage of the four leaders was 3:30 and they were caught with 51km to go. 3 kilometers later, a few sprinters, including the Maglia Rosa, Marcel Kittel, were dropped on the San Pietro climb. Kittel was able to regain the peloton once but not twice, as the racing became harder during the last 20 kilometers. Lampre-Merida’s Valerio Conti rode hard enough to bring ten riders with him and his captain Ulissi made a smart move on a steep section, and stayed away to claim his fifth stage win in the Giro d’Italia.

Italian rider Diego Ussi of the Lampre Merida team celebrates while crossing the finish line to win the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race over 200 km between Catanzaro and Praia a Mare, Italy 2016. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

Stage winner and 3rd overall, Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida): “Like last year, our team’s goal was to win at least a stage at the Giro d’Italia and we have already got it on Day Four. We’ve started the race on the right foot. I was going well all year but I hadn’t won yet. I’m really happy and it was amazing to see a young team-mate like Valerio Conti riding flat out for me without saying a word. At the end, [sport director Orlando] Maini was yelling. My ears hurt more than my legs.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin): “I was feeling good at the start of the stage. We knew that the finale was hard but we weren’t sure if it was difficult enough to regain the pink jersey. We made a plan to pull on the 2nd category climb and we were able to decimate the bunch. From then on the race was completely uncontrollable but we had four guys in the top 10 so we had several cards to play with. On the final climb, Georg was really strong and could follow the late attack. Our aim was to play it smart and get in a good position, as there were not a lot of riders left in the bunch. It is fantastic to be back in the pink jersey, which is what we were aiming for at the start of today. Once again my main focus for this Giro is on the time trials. I didn’t have any specific general classification preparation in terms of an altitude training camp. So I don’t expect my level to be good enough to compete in the high mountains during the last week.”

3rd on the stage and 4th overall, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo): “You’re able to save a lot of energy on the first climb of the day, but you have to be in front to accomplish that, last year, I lost a lot of time in a moment like this. If my team-mates support me as they did today, I’m able to start the final part of the race fresh to compete for a stage victory. I’m happy to reward the team a little bit today so they will keep faith in me. I saw a chance to go along with Tom. I was able to do one effort and finished third. That is a good result, but I wasn’t thinking about that actually. The most important thing is that today’s stage gave me a positive feeling.”

Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff): “I’m happy that I got across to the move but also a bit disappointed that I couldn’t follow Ulissi when he went and to go for the stage – but overall I’m pleased that I was there for the team and that I had my chance to go for the stage victory. It was probably one of the warmest days since I’ve been in Europe – it’s the type of weather I like racing in but it was a bit of a shock to the system too!”

2nd overall and best young rider, Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Maybe what I’ve done today is a good indication of the shape I’m in. I did quite well. I was trying to pull the sprint for [Gianluca] Brambilla but it wasn’t possible to close the gap to Ulissi. I hope to keep the white jersey. I’d normally say that I’ll aim at the Maglia Rosa the day of the time trial but the guy ahead of me in the overall classification is Tom Dumoulin! To be in the Maglia Bianca is already something big for me. This is my first Grand Tour with Etixx – Quick-Step. I’m healthy and I’m looking forward to the two coming weeks.”

Break rider, Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling): “I’ll get another chance to try to show what I can do. I am satisfied with how I feel, but the heat and the general topography of the stage were not to my advantage. The legs were good, and I put in a little alone time before making the connection to the front three. We got along well together. Unfortunately, and oddly, the Nippo-Fantini team chased us hard from behind for a long time. The gap was cut to below 45 seconds in spite of all our best efforts. Then the peloton just controlled us, giving us a little more than four minutes of rope before pulling us back shortly before the first real climb of the 2016 Giro.”

Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I’m a little bit sad that I’ve lost the pink jersey. I knew it could happen. It’s still a very nice Giro for me. My first experience in the Maglia Rosa and my first day of racing at the Giro in Italy have made it a nice day in my life. Now I’ll look for more stage wins but without pressure. My team remains strong and focused.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 4 Result:
1. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 4:46:51
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 0:05
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:06
5. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha
8. Matteo Busato (Ita) Southeast-Venezuela
9. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 4:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin in 14:00:09
2. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:20
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 0:24
5. Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant-Alpecin
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:26
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:31
8. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 0:35
9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 0:37
10. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE.

Stage 4:

With a show of raw power André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia in Benevento by a couple of bike lengths from Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step). The final meters were slightly uphill and on cobbles, which suited the strong German who avoided a crash on the final corner to storm through the pack, soundly beating everyone. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) finished in the peloton to keep his pink jersey by 14 seconds from Jungels with Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) 3rd at 20 seconds. Stage 4 winner Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step) had to ease off on the finish circuit to finish nearly 4 minutes down.

The Nippo-Vini Fantini team held the race together for Damiano Cunego to take the KOM points on the climb. After 40 kilometers the break formed with Daniel Oss (BMC), Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Amets Txurruka (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff) for a maximum lead of 6:30 with Giant-Alpecin in charge of the bunch. Oss crashed, but managed to rejoin the escape.

Six kilometers out from the finish the break was over as the race started the last lap, it was at this point that the red jersey of Marcel Kittel was seen in trouble. The Lotto Soudal team had been in control of the race for most of the day, but it was every man for himself coming into the last kilometer. On the final bend, Rein Taaramae (Katusha) slid to the ground which caused a bit of confusion at the front which played into the hands of Greipel. The German saw a gap and jumped through and powered up the cobbled rise to the line for his fourth Giro stage victory.

Praia a Mare - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) pictured during stage 5 of the 99th Giro d'Italia 2016 from Praia a Mare to Benevento 233 km -

Stage 5 winner, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal): “It was a really hard chase to bring the four breakaway riders back. Luckily other teams helped but I owe a big thanks to my team. They are a big part of this success. Before the start, I said it would be a nice finish for me and it really was. I was behind the crash [involving Rein Taaramae] but I found my way through and launched my sprint when I saw a gap with 300 meters to go. I hesitated a bit, then I gave it everything. I’m really happy.”

Race leader, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin): “I was told the Giro is a difficult race. Now I know why. Today it was up and down all day and the peloton went crazy in the finale. I didn’t bother when Bob Jungels went for the sprint because the bonus of four seconds that he could have taken isn’t much. I just looked after myself and that was already hard enough.”

4th on the stage, 2nd overall and best young rider, Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick-Step): “The stage was very long. They said it was one for the sprinters, but it was really hard, as we were all the time up and down through the mountains. With Marcel suffering, we decided to go for Matteo, but unfortunately he got caught behind the crash. I was in a good position and started my sprint, although it wasn’t easy at all. Still, to finish fourth in a bunch sprint it’s a nice result, which shows that I have good feelings in the legs. Now I am looking forward to tomorrow’s mountain stage and especially to the individual time trial on Sunday.”

5th on the stage, Moreno Hofland (LottoNl-Jumbo): “It was a tricky stage with some tough climbs that weren’t actually climbs in the road book, everything still went well for us. Maarten Tjallingii brought us to the front just before the final lap and Jos van Emden did a great effort afterwards. Enrico Battaglin kept me in front afterwards so I was able to start the descent in a good position.”

Points leader, Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step): “It was very hard out there. We had a lot of altitude meters, a 230-km long stage, and a high tempo in the peloton at all times, all these before the tough finish. It was very difficult, and to be honest, I didn’t have the legs. That’s cycling: in some days you have it, in some you don’t.”

KOM, Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini): “Everything has gone well today. The past two stages were important for the King of the Mountains competition. It’s a good result for myself and my team. I’m yet to determine my priorities, whether it’s the KOM, the GC or a stage win. If I lose the Maglia Azzurra tomorrow, let’s be patient, there’ll be possibilities to get it back later. I haven’t identified my rivals for the KOM yet so it’s too early to make this classification a goal.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 5 Result:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal in 5:40:35
2. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
4. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step
5. Moreno Hofland (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
6. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast-Venezuela
7. Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC
8. Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant-Alpecin
9. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
10. Alexey Tcatevitch (Rus) Katusha.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 5:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin in 19:40:48
2. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:16
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:20
4. Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant-Alpecin
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 0:24
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:26
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:27
8. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:35
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 0:37.

Stage 5:

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Amgen Tour of California 2016
The 2016 Tour of California starts on Sunday the 15th in San Diego and after eight stages finishes in Sacramento on the 22nd of May. Always a tough race with a mix of terrain. US riders will be looking to perform on home soil against the European Pros.

Stages:
15.05.16 Stage 1 San Diego – San Diego 170.5km
16.05.16 Stage 2 South Pasadena – Santa Clarita 148.0km
17.05.16 Stage 3 Thousand Oaks – Gibraltar 167.5km
18.05.16 Stage 4 Morro Bay – Laguna Seca 215.0km
19.05.16 Stage 5 Lodi – South Lake Tahoe 213.0km
20.05.16 Stage 6 Folsom – Folsom 20.3km (ITT)
21.05.16 Stage 7 Santa Rosa – Santa Rosa 175.5km
22.05.16 Stage 8 Sacramento – Sacramento 136.5km

Website: www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.

Stage 1: San Diego – San Diego, 175km
The opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California starts and finishes in stunning, beach-front city of San Diego, and it should offer the race it’s first chance at a bunch sprint to settle on the first yellow leader’s jersey of the race. It will not be plain sailing for the bunch, however, with a relatively tough first category climb to conquer mid-stage, 9.5km at an average of 5.5% gradient. But with there being mainly descent and then flat roads from 101km to the finish at 175km, there should be plenty of time to reel in those who have pushed ahead.

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Stage 2: South Pasadena – Santa Clarita, 148.5km
The second stage offers little flat from start to finish, and the 14km climb from the start will remind the riders of this fact. Despite all this climbing, the ascents aren’t too aggressive, and if a breakaway moves clear early on you could still see a relatively decent sized bunch stick together over the hills. There are four classified climbs along the parcours, the second reaching the highest point of the stage, 1,410m, before descending for over 40km towards two second category climbs. The crest of the final climb comes with 30km to go, so there’s still a long way to go for it to be a real launch pad for attacks.

Stage 3: Thousand Oaks – Santa Barbara County, 167.5km
Day three is definitely the queen stage, and the day that will shuffle the general classification by the finish, with its 12km finishing ascent of Gibraltar Road, averaging 8% gradient. The day starts with two smaller classified climbs, serving as a launch pad for the day’s escape, before a long valley stretch mid-stage. The road then rises gradually to a third category climb after 121km before dropping back down towards the bottom of the day’s main difficulty.

Stage 4: Morro Bay – Laguna Seca, 217km
The longest stage of the race falls straight after the hardest, and despite only featuring smaller climbs along its route, stage 4 still has a sting in its tail. The day features three third categorized climbs within the first 142km, before more flat roads towards the final 15km where two more climbs await. The first of these climbs for 5.5km at 5.7% average, before dropping down then straight back up for a 1.1km ramp at over 10% gradient. The finish comes on a plateau after this final climb.

Stage 5: Lodi – South Lake Tahoe, 212km
Starting in Lodi, south of Sacramento, the race moves north east towards its finish on the shores of Lake Tahoe, Nevada. After around 50km of flat roads, the race gradually starts to climb, and continues for nearly 100km reaching the highest point of the week, 2,615m, after 164.5km. From here the stage rolls to the finish which comes atop a third category climb of 1.7km to the line. Altitude could play havoc on the riders today, but one thing’s for sure – the scenery will be spectacular!

Stage 6: Folson – Folson, 20.3km, ITT
The race’s only time trial is an out and back downtown route that gradually climbs in the first half, and descends back on the return leg. The ascents are shallow and the roads large, so will suit those that like the discipline.

Stage 7: Santa Rosa – Santa Rosa, 175.5km
There may be six classified climbs to tackle on the stage, but the climbs come in flurries and return to the flatter roads after each, and then there’s a long 30km flat run-in to the finish. The first climb is just 1.9km at 7.6% average, coming just 19.5km into the stage. Flat roads fill the gap until the climbing starts again after 53km with four categorized climbs in succession, the longest of which is just 2.8km in length. The final climb, 2.5km at 7.9%, crests at 123km so there’s plenty of time for the bunch to grow in size and for another group sprint opportunity.

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Stage 8: Sacramento – Sacramento, 138km
As always, the race culminates in a sprint showdown in the city street, this year in Sacramento. A pan flat out-and-back loop brings the peloton to three finishing loops around the Capitol Park in the city centre. Tinkoff will be looking to add another stage win to the growing number Peter Sagan already has in his palmarès.

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Van Avermaet Returns to Racing in California
Greg Van Avermaet will make his return to racing at the Amgen Tour of California following the crash at Ronde van Vlaanderen which left him with a broken collarbone.

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Jackson Stewart said he is expecting a strong showing from the eight-rider squad. “We’re taking a really strong team to the Amgen Tour of California so we are going in with both General Classification and stage win ambitions. There’s not one rider on the team who isn’t capable of getting a good result and for Brent Bookwalter and Taylor Phinney, it’s one of the few occasions they can race on home soil too, which is extra motivation. Of course it’s great to see Greg back racing too.”

Van Avermaet is looking forward to getting back into the peloton. “It’s been a long road to recovery since breaking my collarbone at the beginning of April so the Amgen Tour of California is a perfect race to use as a transition and build up my racing form again. At this stage it’s not so much about getting a result but more getting the race days in the legs. I’m really looking forward to racing with my teammates again!”

Rider roster:
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Taylor Phinney (USA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI).
Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart (USA), Valerio Piva (ITA).

Greg Van Avermaet crashed out in Flanders:
100ste Ronde van Vlaanderen 2016

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Craddock to lead Cannondale Pro Cycling Team at Amgen Tour of California
After a strong spring season, Lawson Craddock has been tapped as the team leader for the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team at the Amgen Tour of California.

Craddock has ridden a solid schedule with consistency up to this point: He lined up at the Ardennes classics and finished ninth at the Tour of the Basque Country in miserable weather. The Basque race is widely regarded as one of the harder races on the professional calendar. He finished third in California in 2014.

“I think Lawson earned his place as a real leader for this race in the spring. I think he’s got the papers in order to really go for the top result. That’s going to be our first priority, to support him,” said head sport director Charly Wegelius.

Cannondale Pro Cycling Team will ride for the general classification, but will also look to cover breakaways with riders like Ben King and Toms Skujins, and the sprints with Wouter Wippert. Skujins, 24, won a stage at California last year.

“It’s going to be a tricky race to control,” noted Wegelius. “There’s two very long stages and one stage at high altitude. But we’ve got the people who can ride the breaks and a reliable leader in Lawson.”

“We had good expectations of Lawson in Pais Vasco, but our expectations were actually lower than his performance,” Wegelius added. “Now we’re in line. He’s ready, the team is ready to support him. This is what he’s been working toward with his results.”

Craddock is looking forward to the challenge of leading a WorldTour team.

“The Amgen Tour of California is always one of my favorite races of the year,” Craddock said. “My first year racing there was back in 2012 on Axel Merckx’s Bontrager-Livestrong team. I’ve returned every year since then and have made some awesome memories including being on the final podium in 2014.”

“I can’t express how excited I am to return this year as one of the top American teams in the world. It will be an incredible experience, and we will make the best of it,” Craddock added. “Looking at the team, it’s easy to tell that we have one of the best overall group of guys heading to the race. There won’t be a moment that we aren’t prepared for. Being the leader in California is something that I really enjoy and take true to heart. I have a lot of experience at this race, and I am really looking forward to bringing that to the team to help achieve the best place possible.”

The Texan pointed to two decisive days: the climb up Gibraltar above Santa Barbara on stage three and the individual time trial on stage six.

“Those are two major GC days, but the race is very challenging as a whole this year. It will be very important to remain attentive for each stage this year as they are all days where it’s possible to lose the race,” Craddock said. “All in all, it suits us very well, and we are looking to mix it up at the front of the race.”

Andrew Talansky will also race California. It’s a home race for Talansky, who lives in Northern California, and marks a chance for him to keep building toward the Tour de France in July.

“Because it’s a home race it’s a good place to start again as the first step toward the second half of the season and fresh start. And home is a good place to do that. I think he has to have realistic expectations, too,” Wegelius said.

Talansky has been at home training in California prior to now.

“It is very nice to be back in Napa training at the moment and I’m really looking forward to kicking off Tour of California next weekend down south. ToC is the premier race in the U.S. at the moment and I am looking forward to lining up at the start with a great team. It’s always a special feeling to race on home roads,” Talansky said.

He’s also looking forward to riding for Craddock.

“Lawson has had a great spring campaign so far, I know he has been motivated for the Tour of California since he began training in the winter,” Talansky said. “He has been on the podium before, so obviously he wants to improve that result by another couple steps. There’s not much to tell him, he knows when to stay relaxed and when to switch on. Lawson is very talented and a natural bike racer. He knows how to be at the front when he needs to be and he’s a fighter. We will have a great team there to support him and I have no doubt he is up to the challenge.”

Talansky aims to keep building his way toward July.

He said: “I am looking to continue building my fitness while supporting Lawson in his bid to win. The entire team will be looking to race aggressively and do all we can to put Lawson on that top step at the end of the week. If we can do that, and I can come out of the week stronger than I came in, then I will consider the Tour of California a success.”

Cannondale Pro Cycling Team for 2016 Amgen Tour of California:
Patrick Bevin, Lawson Craddock, Phil Gaimon, Ben King, Alan Marangoni, Toms Skujins, Andrew Talansky, Wouter Wippert.

Lawson Craddock:
lawson craddock cannondale

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Giant-Alpecin for Amgen Tour of California
With the Giro d’Italia underway over in Europe, riders are crossing the Atlantic for the 11th edition of the Amgen Tour of California, which gets underway this Sunday. The 2016 parcours offers a scenic but difficult route with a total distance of nearly 1300km to cover, including the race’s iconic ascent the Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara County. Team Giant-Alpecin heads to the United States with the necessary experience in the line-up, as well as two talents who are in their first year being part of a WorldTour team.

Coach Aike Visbeek (NED): “The Amgen Tour of California is an exciting race with quite a few tricky stages where late attacks could avoid a bunch sprint. It is also important to be aware of certain circumstances, such as the crosswinds or the heat. Overall, it’s a challenging course that should suit the all-rounders instead of the pure climbers.

“For the overall classification, we will focus on Laurens and I expect a fight for every second all the way to Sacramento. For stage results, we have several options, primarily with Ramon in a possible bunch sprint. For John is all about gaining race rhythm and there is no immediate pressure for him to deliver results.”

Line-up:
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Roy Curvers (NED), Laurens ten Dam (NED), John Degenkolb (GER), Caleb Fairly (USA), Koen de Kort (NED), Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED).
Coach: Aike Visbeek.

John Degenkolb:
John Degenkolb of Germany / Team Giant - Alpecin

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Defending champion Peter Sagan returns to Amgen Tour of California
Following a break after the successful Spring Classics campaign, combined with a few mountain bike forays to test his off-road form, 13-time stage winner at the race Peter Sagan will return to road action at the Amgen Tour of California this May. Peter won the event in 2015 and will be looking to add to his tally of stage successes at this year’s edition.

Joining Peter at the eight-day race in America will be many riders that also supported him in the classics. These riders include Erik Baška, Adam Blythe, Oscar Gatto, Michael Gogl, Michael Kolar and Nikolay Trusov. The line-up is completed by Peter’s brother Juraj who made strong progression during the spring, and will be starting his first Tour of California.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back this race – it’s a great event at which I have some really good memories,” Peter told us before starting his journey over to America. “The Amgen Tour of California means a lot to me, it’s a race I’ve liked competing at over the past years and it has now become a tradition in my program. Previously, in California, I’ve been very successful and I believe that, after a little rest, I will be back again at a good performance level. I would be happy if I am again competing for some strong results here. This year will be a very difficult edition, and not quite suited to my style but stage by stage we will see what we can do.”

Despite coming into the race as defending champion, the course doesn’t suit Peter for another shot at the overall classification due to a punishing mountain finish on stage 3 to Santa Barbara County. The 167.5km day ends in the 12km climb of Gibraltar Road, averaging 8%, and this will be a day for the climbers to stamp their authority on the race.

Sport Director for the race, Patxi Vila gave his thoughts on the Tinkoff line-up. “We have a fast team here in what is going to be quite a tough race. We come here with Peter as leader in search of stage results, and then for the GC we will see how Gogl is – he can test himself and then see how he stands against the others.

“We then have a strong team around Peter to target stages with Blythe, Gatto, Trusov & Kolar back racing. The race will also be used by many of the guys to touch base with race rhythm again and to restart their focus for the second half of the season. Peter has had a good break after the classics with some mountain bike racing and some time at home so he’s relaxed and ready for the next stage of the season. I don’t expect him to come here on top form like last year but it will be a good race to build on for his coming goals.”

There will several other opportunities for Peter to show his turn of speed, including the opening stage which also presents the chance to steal the first leader’s jersey of the week. There’s also a 20.3km individual time trial on the day six to make sure there’s something for everyone at this race. The week then comes to a close with a town centre sprint showdown in Sacremento.

Looking at the stages, Vila added: “Stage 1 is already a good one. I don’t think the whole bunch will be together but it will be a good one for Peter. An early result would be great to take the pressure off for the rest of the week. Then stages 2 and 7 are also quite suited to his strengths. It’s a nice race this – good roads, well looked after in the race hotels, and not too stressful so I’m looking forward to heading back to California.”

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After Strong Gila, Team Targets Amgen Tour of California
Rob Britton and Jasmin Glaesser to Lead Rally Cycling in Golden State

Rally Cycling heads in to the 2016 Amgen Tour of California with momentum after a successful Tour of the Gila. Rob Britton and Jasmin Glaesser both finished on the podium with mirror third place finishes in Southern New Mexico and will lead Rally Cycling in California.

“During the Tour of the Gila I was climbing very well,” said Britton “That was made possible by the work the team did before the climbs. A lot of the same guys from Gila are going to the Tour of California so that bodes very well for us. Last year I was 10th overall and I would like to improve on that. The team has had some great preparation and I’m really looking forward to the race getting underway.”

In addition to Britton, the men’s team will include other general classification threats Danny Pate and Evan Huffman. Pate is a strong time trialist with over a decade of European experience at the WorldTour level. Huffman is also a noted time trialist and will be extra motivated to stand on the podium in Sacramento, having grown up just south of the capitol city in Elk Grove. A dark horse for the general classification, but surely one to watch in the best young rider competition is Canadian climbing specialist Adam De Vos. Pierrick Naud and 2014 Amgen Tour of California stage winner and King of the Mountains champion Will Routley complete the Canadian contingent. Rally Cycling rounds out the ATOC roster with 2015 Elite National Champion Emerson Oronte and Jesse Anthony, a stage winner in the 2011 Tour of Utah.

“The Amgen Tour of California is one of the premier events on the calendar and a great opportunity for the team to show its capabilities against the best teams in the world,” said performance Manager Jonas Carney. “The team has been riding well and are bringing a squad to challenge for stage victories and the general classification. The team has pulled off some big results in California and we are grateful to have another opportunity to compete in such an amazing event.”

Rob Britton:
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The women of the Rally Cycling started the season as an unknown quantity in the peloton but soon established themselves as a force to be reckoned with through aggressive racing and high profile victories. This past week in New Mexico was no different as the team ended the week with two stage wins, courtesy of Jasmin Glaesser and Heather Fischer. Fischer claimed the points jersey while Glaesser finished third overall and took home the Best Young Rider’s competition.

“It was so close last year – I went into the final day third last year and dropped down to fourth, so it’s great to reverse that this time around,” said Glaesser of her podium at Tour of the Gila. The team’s performance this week is credit to how strong our squad is. It is great to have these wins and momentum heading into California.

Kirsti Lay will join Glaesser in California as they both continue to divide their road ambitions with Olympic aspirations. Lay claimed the Queen of the Mountains title in the inaugural women’s edition of ATOC in 2015. Another threat for the overall, as well as the special jerseys on offer in California, is Redlands Bicycle Classic Queen of the Mountains Sara Poidevin. Tour of the Gila stage 4 and Points Competition winner Heather Fischer will continue her aggressive, attacking riding on the roads of California. With the stage 2 team time trial crucial for the overall classification, Rally Cycling will include 2015 Junior World Time Trial Silver medalist, Emma White. Hannah Ross, another strong rider against the clock makes her return from injuries suffered at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

“The Amgen Tour of California is the biggest challenge yet for the women of Rally Cycling,” said Team Director Zach Bell. “We will have a great mixture of seasoned veterans and exceptional young talent to take on the challenges of California. We are looking to have a strong showing in the team time trial and give our young riders a chance to measure themselves at the highest level.”

Tour of California Men’s Roster:
Jesse Anthony, Rob Britton, Adam De Vos, Evan Huffman, Pierrick Naud, Emerson Oronte, Danny Pate, Will Routley.

Tour of California Women’s Roster:
Heather Fischer, Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay, Sara Poidevin, Hannah Ross, Emma White.

Jasmin Glaesser:
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Axeon Hagens Berman Reveals Amgen Tour of California Lineup
The Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team’s lineup for the Amgen Tour of California again features opportunists who will race to their strengths, General Manager Axel Merckx said Wednesday.

“We always hope to be aggressive in the breakaways and score a couple top 10 finishes if possible,” he said. “We are really excited that we are able to come to California with some great results already under our belt. But we are respectful and eager to learn and also to show one or two things that we have that can maybe influence the race a little bit.”

Now in the program’s ninth year and making its fifth straight appearance in the Amgen Tour of California, the Under 23 American continental team represents the next generation of professional cyclists. Through the team’s first eight seasons, 18 riders have advanced to the WorldTour ranks.

“Most important for us in California is to be present, to be part of the race, and to be active – not just following,” Merckx said.

The team’s multi-national roster for California includes four different riders – Tao Geoghegan Hart of Great Britain, Ruben Guerreiro of Portugal and Americans Logan Owen and Neilson Powless – who have won three races in Europe and four in the United States this spring.

Five Axeon Hagens Berman riders are making repeat appearances in the eight-day race: American Greg Daniel, Geoghegan Hart, Guerreiro, Owen and American Geoffrey Curran. The other three – American Will Barta, Krists Neilands of Latvia and Powless – are competing for the first time.

The 1,253.8-kilometer race begins Sunday in San Diego and travels north to finish in Sacramento.

Guerreiro won G.P. Palio del Recioto in Italy in late March, Geoghegan Hart won Trofeo Piva in Italy in early April and Owen won the Under 23 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in Belgium later that same month. Powless has four wins to his credit: the individual time trial at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and the overall of the Joe Martin Stage Race, both last month, and the Copper Town Square Circuit Race and UC Merced Road Race in February and March. The Roseville, California, native also leads the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour standings.

What the Axeon Hagens Berman riders are saying about the Amgen Tour of California:

Will Barta, helped win the team title at GP Liberty Seguros:
“I am really looking forward to taking part in my first Amgen Tour of California, which is my first race of that level. I hope to play my role well for the team at the best of my ability through the week.”

Geoffrey Curran, fourth overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic:
“I am looking forward to Stage 2 from Pasadena to Santa Clarita. I have ridden parts of the stage before and think it will be a particularly dynamic one. My grandmother’s family grew up almost next door to the stage start and much of my family still lives there. So it will be nice for them to see what I do at a more hands-on level.”

Greg Daniel, runner-up on Stage 4 at the 2014 Amgen Tour of California:
“Over the past two editions of this race, I have had fairly good luck in the breakaways but have yet to get that elusive win. This year, I would love to showcase my aggressive style yet again, but go one place higher than I did two years ago and get that stage win.”

Tao Geoghegan Hart, winner of Trofeo Piva:
“California is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year for the team. It is a race I am very excited to return to for a third time. It consistently has amazing crowds, scenery and routes throughout the state.”

Ruben Guerreiro, winner of G.P. Palio del Recioto:
“I am really excited to come back to the Amgen Tour of California. Last year, I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot. This year, I will fight for one good result in a stage and a good place on the general classification while helping the team.”

Krists Neilands, Latvian Under 23 national road champion:
“This will be my first Tour of California, I want to show my best and do my best for the team.
Of course I would like to see a stage win or a podium for the team. I am really proud about this chance to start such a big race and am really excited for next week. This race includes some of the best cyclists in the world, so that is awesome.”

Logan Owen, winner of Under 23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège:
“Last year was my first year racing the Amgen Tour of California and it was an amazing experience racing with the best of the best. This year I am hoping to do well on a few stages while also helping our GC (general classification) guys as much as possible on the harder, hillier days.”

Neilson Powless, leader of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour:
“Our team is looking really strong with most of the riders on the squad already having results which speak for themselves. After taking our recent success into account, I believe we have a team strong enough to get some good results and possibly a strong GC showing.”

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Amgen Tour of California
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka looking forward to start at America’s biggest race
On Sunday, May 15, the Amgen Tour of California will kick off with a 175km long stage around San Diego. From there on the race will head north leaving only the opening stage as a chance for victory to the fast guys, before the race will conclude on May 22 in Sacramento.

The first real test for the overall will be stage 3 with an uphill finish at Santa Barbara County, which covers the Gibraltar road climb for the first time. The stage 6 time trial in Folsom will be another challenge for anyone who has GC ambitions, as will the stage to Lake Tahoe the day before.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will be prepared for all race situations and has travelled with a well-rounded team to California. Mark Cavendish will spearhead the line-up of our African team and will be eying success on the flat run-ins. With Bernhard Eisel, Mark Renshaw, Matt Brammeier and Tyler Farrar he will have a strong support around him. Nathan Haas, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Jaques Janse van Rensburg will be our trump cards for an active and offensive racing on the hilly stages.

Roger Hammond – Sports Director
The Amgen Tour of California is an exciting race. We’ll look for our chances in the sprints with Mark Cavendish, but do also have allrounders in the team that can be a surprise in the hilly stages. Nathan Haas was recently crowned the King of the Mountain at the Tour of Yorkshire. Together with Daniel Teklehaimanot and Jacques Janse van Rensburg he will be one of our key riders for the latter part of the race. We are here to show ourselves!

Jacques Janse van Rensburg – Rider
After my crash at Paris-Nice earlier this year I recovered well and felt my shape getting better during the Ardennes classics. I had some good and structured training in Italy and South Africa, so it’d be nice to get a good result in the GC here at the Tour of California. The profile of the race looks promising and should suit me. I hope it’s going to be a good week.

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Etixx – Quick-Step to Tour of California
The US race will take place between 15-22 May.

Punchy arrivals, flat stages, a 20-km long individual time trial, many categorized climbs and a tough summit finish, all these will feature on the course of the 11th Tour of California, which kicks off in just a couple of days. Of the ones mentioned above, Gibraltar Road looks to be the key for winning the yellow jersey: the ascent – which is due to make its debut at the event – comes in the stage 3 finale and averages 8% over 12 grueling kilometers.

Making his return to competition following a break which he took after finishing a close second in Paris-Roubaix, Tom Boonen will look for opportunities in a race which is known for being friendly with the sprinters. Still, despite the numerous chances it gives to the fast men of the peloton, the Tour of California will be decided once again on the climbs, and Julian Alaphilippe – who was runner-up at the previous edition for only three seconds, having won the queen-stage en route to this result – is well aware of this thing.

“I have some beautiful memories from last year, despite losing the general classification for a handful of seconds. At that time I was disappointed, but it’s all bygones now as I’m coming to the US motivated to try and go for another good performance. We have a strong squad for the race and I hope that we will be once again in the heat of the action”, said Julian, the first Frenchman to finish on the podium of the Tour of California.

Also Brian Holm, the team’s sport director, is looking with confidence to the start of the race: “We are lining up a balanced outfit in California, for both the flat and the climbs. In the sprints, Tom is the one who will try to get in the mix, as he’ll have a nice lead-out here, with Nikolas and Max. Julian, Maxime and Petr will be our men for the hilly terrain, but before putting any pressure on their shoulders, we have to take into account the fact that this is their first race in weeks, so it will be important for them to feel the rhythm again.”

Riders:
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Tom Boonen (BEL), Maxime Bouet (FRA), Nikolas Maes (BEL), Maximiliano Richeze (ARG), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Petr Vakoc (CZE), Martin Velits (SVK).
Sports Director Brian Holm (DEN) & Jan Schaffrath (GER).

EQS_2016_Etixx - Quick-Step to #ParisRoubaix

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Team LottoNL-Jumbo takes sprint train to California
Team LottoNL-Jumbo aims for stage victory with Dylan Groenewegen in the Amgen Tour of California. The sprinter can count on the main guns in his sprint train in the United States. George Bennett will also have the chance to go for the general classification.

“The sprint train is an important target for us during the Tour of California,” Sports Director Frans Maassen said. “There are only a few chances for bunch sprints in this stage race, though. The first stage might end up in a bunch kick, but only the final stage will end up in a sprint for sure. We want to win that one with Dylan Groenewegen. It’s also important that the important riders in our sprinting project ride together often. They will be this week. Besides that, George Bennett gets the chance to go for the general classification. This race is a nice opportunity for him to show what he’s capable of.”

Lead-out
Groenewegen knows that he has to climb often during the Tour of California. “It’s about surviving as much as possible and finding out if I’m able to maintain my spot in the peloton,” he said. “It would be nice if the first stage ends up in a bunch sprint. There’s quite a long climb in it, though, so it depends on the way the other teams approach the race. The final stage is totally flat. It’s our goal to build a good lead out there and it’s my task to finish it off afterwards.”

Line-up:
George Bennett, Dylan Groenewegen, Timo Roosen, Mike Teunissen, Alexey Vermeulen, Robert Wagner, Dennis van Winden and Maarten Wynants.
Sports Director: Frans Maassen.

Dylan Groenewegen:
Tour de Yorkshire 2016 - 29/04/2016 - Premiere etape : Beverley / Settle (187 km) - Royaume-Uni - Victoire de GROENEWEGEN Dylan; Team Lotto NL - Jumbo

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2016 Amgen Tour of California Leader Jerseys
Champion System Returns as Exclusive Race Jersey Partner for Men’s and Women’s Events

As the Amgen Tour of California (May 15-22) and the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race empowered with SRAM (May 19-22) draw near, cycling fans and pros alike know that a new race season means new jerseys to earn, covet and collect.

Leader [or classification] jerseys are a time-honored tradition in the sport and are awarded in five categories at the California race to signify the best performers each day. The 2016 Amgen Tour of California jersey lineup will feature designs unique to the men’s and women’s races from Champion System, the race’s exclusive jersey provider for the fourth consecutive year.

“The Amgen Tour of California and its elite field provide a tremendously high-profile display for Champion System’s leading edge technical apparel,” offers Champion System co-founder and president Scott Kaylin. “Every rider in the field vies for the honor of wearing and defending this year’s edition. As fans, we can’t wait to see them claimed by the best riders and teams this May.”

The five classification jerseys that will be awarded daily at the Amgen Tour of California, America’s largest and most prestigious professional race, each represent a different skill or achievement: overall race leader, “King of the Mountain/Queen of the Mountain,” best sprinter, best young rider and most courageous rider. These five jerseys will be presented daily on stage near the finish line during a special awards ceremony where the recipients will be zipped into custom classification jersey designs. The jerseys will be personalized with the leaders’ names printed on the back, a tradition that began at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California.

The coveted classification jerseys are refreshed each year, and for the first time feature designs unique to the separate men’s and women’s events, including:

· Amgen Race Leader Jersey: The hotly contested “yellow jersey” will be awarded to the rider with the lowest cumulative time over the entire race as of the end of each stage. Traditionally yellow, this jersey often changes hands from stage to stage as each day’s results are added into the equation. It is possible for a rider to win the Amgen Race Leader Jersey without winning a daily stage since the jersey takes into account overall race times, not stage finish results.

· Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey: This meaningful jersey will be awarded daily to the cyclist who best exemplifies the character of those engaged in the fight against cancer – courage, sacrifice, inspiration, determination and perseverance.

· Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM)/Queen of the Mountain (QOM) Jersey: This jersey will go to the peloton’s strongest climber each day – the rider who collects the most points at designated KOM/QOM locations at the tops of mountains and hills. Only the first three cyclists to reach the top on rated climbs will receive points toward this award.

· Visit California Sprint Jersey: The “green jersey” is awarded to the rider who accumulates the most bonus points based on Sprint Line performances and finishing the stage in the top ten. Cyclists who specialize in bursts of power and speed, or consistently finish near the top of each stage, have the best chance to wear this respected jersey. Visit California has been a jersey partner since the race’s inception in 2006.

· SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey: This jersey will be awarded daily to the young rider under the age of 23 with the least amount of elapsed time over the entire race to that point. The wearers of this jersey are best bets to become future cycling stars.

“Every day of the Amgen Tour of California is filled with epic battles and, ultimately, amazing triumphs,” said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports. “We are thankful to Champion System for helping us honor the moments these extraordinary athletes train the whole year – and really, their whole lives – to accomplish.”

For fans who want to ride in Amgen Tour of California style, leader jerseys just like the pros will wear are available now at amgentourofcaliforniastore.com, and will be at the Amgen Tour of California Lifestyle Festival near the finish line each day of the race. Also available is a commemorative 2016 Amgen Tour of California limited edition jersey in sleek black, white and gray with modern graphic styling including the fan-favorite California cycling bear.

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Groupe Gobert Extends Partnership for Three Years
After WANTY‘s company announced in January the extension of their partnership until the end of 2018 with the team, our partner Groupe Gobert assured its support for the next three years, a sign of their trust and satisfaction with our work.

Team manager Jean-François Bourlart is obviously delighted with the good news: “This is an incredible opportunity for the team to work with reliable partners who have a long-term vision.”

2017 will be the fourth season of the team as the WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT “A cycling team is not built on one or two seasons but in the long term. WANTY and Groupe Gobert understand it very well. We made a great step forward for the first World Tour victory in the Amstel Gold Race. The team is constantly evolving and it is thanks to the trust and investment of our sponsors.”

“This partnership is the result of a fruitful collaboration and values. This extension means for Groupe Gobert a symbol of reliability and faith in the future. The team is in the image of our company, constant professionalism while maintaining a familial and structured mind to achieve great goals. It is with immense joy that we are pursuing this adventure in a team in constant evolution and recognized in the world of cycling”, CEO Groupe Gobert Ronald Gobert said.

Gasparotto’s Amstel win must have been a boost to the team:
Amstel Gold Race 2016

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Giro d’Italia Stage 4 – What’s on the Menu?
It was the first stage of the Giro d’Italia on Italian soil so we figured the focus of our daily video should be on food! Our chef Massimo Carolo explains what’s on the menu on the evening of Stage 4. #BMCRacingTeam2016


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