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Roubaix - France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Tom Boonen (Belgium / Team Etixx - Quick Step) - Sep Vanmarcke (Belgium / Team LottoNL - Jumbo) pictured during Paris - Roubaix 2016 World Tour Cycling rac e - photoMarketa Navratilova/Cor Vos © 2015

EUROTRASH ‘Hell Of The North’ Monday!

What a fantastic Paris-Roubaix! The race had everything and so there can only be one Top Story today. All the news from the ‘Hell of the North’ with result, rider quotes, report and video. Plus a round-up from the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Circuit de la Sarthe. Other cycling news from Zico Waeytens, Philippe Gilbert, video of John Degenkolb and On Bike video from the cobbles. Monday Roubaix coffee time.

TOP STORY: Roubaix!
Matthew Hayman not only won Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, he also proved the point why we love the Hell of the North. Most people had their money on World champion Peter Sagan to do the triple: Wevelgem, Flanders and Roubaix, and others were convinced there would be a fairy tale ending to Fabian Cancellara’s career. Then the possibility of Tom Boonen taking a fifth Roubaix was on the cards. But what happened, none of those things.

I guess you could say L’enfer du Nord is like the English horse race; the Grand National in that anything can happen. Of course a ‘nobody’ never wins in Roubaix, the victor is always a hard-man of the road and this year the cobbled race kept us guessing right up to the last meter. There are no hills to split the pack, but those cobbles and the crosswind will do the honors. Then you come to the riders; attacks on the cobbles, attacks on the smooth surface and the crashes, all these different facets make for (probably) the most exciting race on the calendar. And this year’s event was, according to the most cynical pundits, the best for years.

The only problem we have is that we have to wait a whole year for the next one.

Maybe next year Tommeke?
Paris - Roubaix 2016 WT

Paris-Roubaix 2016
Matthew Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE) topped a long and dedicated domestic career with an exceptional victory in the race of his dreams, Paris-Roubaix. At 37, the towering Orica-GreenEDGE rider upset all the favorites, starting with four-times winner Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step), who had to be content with second place, to become the second Australian crowned in Roubaix after Stuart O’Grady in 2007. The win was all the more remarkable as early escapee Hayman, who had already twice made it in the top ten of the Queen of Classics, had broken his arm only five weeks ago and had hardly raced since. Briton Ian Stannard (Sky) finished third ahead of breakaway companions Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNl-Jumbo) of Belgium and Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).

The first break of the day involved Nils Politt (Katusha), Kenneth Van Bilsen (Cofidis), Robin Stenuit (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Benoit Jarrier (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), quickly joined by Edvadlas Siskevicius (Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM) and Gediminas Bagdonas (AG2R-La Mondiale). It was quashed after 19 kilometers when crosswinds started to split the peloton. Twenty four riders then tried their luck, involving four team mates of Fabian Cancellara: Devolder, Coledan, Stuyen and Boy Van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo), Joeaar (Cofidis), Wallays (Lotto-Soudal), Trusov (Tinkoff), Viviani (Sky), Cavendish (Dimension Data), Knees (Sky), Ladagnous and Le Bon (FDJ), Van Keirsbulck and Trentin (Etixx – Quick-Step), Zabel and Gerts (BMC), Gaimon (Cannondale), Castelijns (LottoNl-Jumbo), Curvers (Giant-Alpecin), Naesen (IAM Cycling), Schwarzmann (Bora-Argon18), Oliveira (Movistar), Porsev (Katusha) and Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise).Only three of them, Viviani, Porsev and Van Poppel, continued their effort and held maximum lead of 30 seconds over the pack before being brought back after 67 kilometers.

The longest enduring attempt was launched after 75 km by Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) and involved Hayman and Nielsen (Orica-GreenEDGE), Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Popovych (Trek-Segafredo), Le Bon (FDJ), Kump (Lampre-Merida), Martinez (Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM), Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Puccio (Sky), Janse Van Reensburg (Dimension Data), Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Daniel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Mørkøv (Katusha), Bozic (Cofidis) and Erviti (Movistar) in the lead. The escapees tackled the first cobbled sector in Troisvilles (98.5km) with a 55 seconds lead over the peloton. They gradually lost Mørkøv and Wallays through punctures and Martinez, whose chain snapped. Their lead grew with the cobbles and reached 3:45 with 120 km to go.

At kilometer 141, a crash split the peloton, surprising favorites Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), who sank once and for all after two punctures. Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step) seized the opportunity to increase the tempo, leaving the Sagan group trailing by nearly a minute. In the Trouée d’Arenberg, still led by the tireless Tony Martin, with Ian Stannard (Sky), Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE), Robert Wagner (LottoNl-Jumbo) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Tom Boonen was 1:30 behind the 13 escapees, with the Vanmarcke group 2 minutes adrift and the Sagan, Cancellara group trailing Boonen by nearly a minute.

At the end of cobbled sector 16 in Hornaing, Hayman surged from the breakaway group to go on his own but he was rapidly chased down. What remained of the break were finally caught by the Boonen and Vanmarcke group (190km) as the bunch including Sagan and Cancellara were still 40 seconds adrift. The two pre-race favorites kept taking turns to limit the damage between a leading group composed with Boonen (Etixx), Burghardt (BMC), Haussler, Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE), Rowe, Moscon, Puccio, Stannard (Sky) Sieberg (Lotto Soudal), Vanmarcke, Wynants (LottoNl-Jumbo), Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Erviti (Movistar). Team Sky were setting the pace when Rowe, Moscon and Puccio all crashed, disorganizing the lead with 50 km to go. But Rowe managed his way back into the lead.

Five kilometers further down the road in the cobbled sector of Mons en Pévèle (209km), Cancellara crashed heavily with Niki Terpstra, seeing his last hopes vanish. Sagan escaped unscathed but also lost time in the process and never managed to bridge the gap. A group of ten riders – Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step), Saramotins and Haussler (IAM Cycling), Hayman (Orica-GreendEDGE), Rowe and Stannard (Sky), Vanmarcke (LottoNl-Jumbo), Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Erviti (Movistar) and Sieberg (Lotto Soudal) – were left to battle it out for final victory in the last 30 km. In sector 5 (Camphin en Pévèle), only Boonen, Vanmarcke, Stannard, Boasson Hagen and Hayman remained in contention. Wisely, Vanmarcke tried to go in Carrefour de l’Arbre with 15 km to and to hold his four companions at bay.

But the Belgian was reeled in with 11 km to go after a sharp turn by Stannard. The five attempted to attack in turn to avoid the final sprint. It seemed Boonen and Vanmarcke were the strongest while Boasson Hagen lost stamina in chasing behind the breaks. But it was Hayman’s day. At 37, after 15 participations and despite a recent arm fracture at the Het Nieuwsblad, he was unexpectedly the fresher of the lot and gave Australia their second victory in the Queen of Classics after Stuart O’Grady’s in 2007.

Full PEZ race report HERE.

Paris - Roubaix 2016 WT

Roubaix winner, Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE): “I still can’t believe it, I’ve had enough bad luck in Paris-Roubaix in the last fifteen years. Everything went right today, I was in a good place mentally, I was relaxed and I was trying not to put pressure on myself. With one kilometer to go I was thinking that I would be happy just to be on the podium. I had a feeling that my legs were pretty good and I was happy to ride with Tom (Boonen) until the finish line but then it all came back together for the last lap. I’ve been riding some track recently after breaking my arm five weeks ago. My legs were feeling pretty good going into the finishing straight when I started my sprint, I could see Tom’s tyre underneath my arm but I managed to keep going.”

2nd, Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Trying to win my fifth Roubaix never turned out to be an easy task, and coming here today I had a couple of obstacles. I am proud of myself for making it so far, but looking behind I can see how difficult it was. On the last lap, my plan was to take the lead in the final corner, but I had to wait for 30 meters, because Sep was on my side and there wasn’t any space, so those 30 meters cost me the victory. Of course, I am upset for missing out on the win, but being second here after those tough months in the winter is a win in itself for me and I am proud of this. Just this morning I got the message from my doctor who treated me in Abu Dhabi, saying that today was the day in which I should have looked at my bike again, so that means that I’m ahead of the schedule. Our team had a well-defined plan, and that was to make the race as hard as possible. We tried to go in the breakaway, but everyone was chasing us, so then, after the 16 riders got clear, we began to work. Tony Martin did an incredible job today, he kept on going and gave it his all. It was a standard Paris-Roubaix, a crazy race, chaotic, with crashes and flat tires. All five which were in the front had our share of work, and we were all tired. I tried to attack a couple of times, but it was very hard to get away, because everybody knew that I was aiming for my fifth victory. Mathew turned out to be the strongest and deserves to get such a victory after a career of helping people out and not scoring the big wins, so congrats to him for today. I’m not sure how I will feel on Monday, but at the moment I am happy with my performance, because it was hard to come back at this level after that injury. Maybe coming second it’s not so bad in the end and will give me that extra motivation for another year. At this moment I don’t really see a reason why I shouldn’t come back next season.”

4th, Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNl-Jumbo): “It was a special race today. It was a big fight from the beginning. We were in front with a small group of riders already early in the race. That was a perfect scenario for me. The team did a great job, as well. We were in front with six men at one point. I had a puncture one time and Tom Van Asbroeck brought me back. Not everyone was working in the first group, though, but we had to keep riding so the group with Sagan (Tinkoff) wasn’t able to come back. I chose Carrefour de l’Arbre to try afterwards. I had a gap, but maybe I’m experienced enough to give something extra and hold it. I have the feeling that I was the best on the cobbles, but it wasn’t good enough. Our team took the initiative and we deserved a top three result.”

5th, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data): “It was hard but good. I was able to stay out of trouble for the most part but the last 10km was really hard, with a lot of attacks. It wasn’t possible to get better than 5th but it is the best result I have had at Paris-Roubaix so far so that is good, but obviously you would want more and to get a podium.”

6th, Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling): “I am very happy with this sixth place, the team did an amazing job We ended up at the front with Saramotins narrowly avoiding a pile-up. But today my legs were on fire. Although I was not able to stay with the leaders into the final, I have a ton of confidence for the rest of the season after my 7th place at Milan-San Remo.”

7th, Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Soudal): “At the start I didn’t have a good feeling, but it got better once we hit the first cobbles. In the beginning of the race it was a hard battle to set up a breakaway. For us it was good that Jelle Wallays rode in front, but unfortunately he got dropped because of a puncture. Eventually I could move up to the head of the race. On the slippery cobbles I managed to avoid crashes. On the sector of Camphin-en-Pévèle Sky took the initiative and partly because of the wind our group split, although I admit the strongest in the race battled for the win. Together with Erviti, Haussler and Saramotins I chased them. We got close, up to about twenty seconds, but closing the gap wasn’t possible anymore. We just kept working together to secure our place in top ten. I am really happy with this result in my tenth consecutive Paris-Roubaix.”

9th, Imanol Erviti (Tinkoff): “What a week! I’m super happy. Right after crossing the finish line, the taste was sort of bittersweet since I couldn’t follow the wheels of the group I was in and couldn’t improve that 9th – I was so much tired. But later on, you reflect on what you did and you leave the Velodrome with a big smile. It’s always difficult to get into the break on a Monument, like I did in Flanders, but entering two of them… it’s sort of a master trick. And I couldn’t have done without a big helping hand from my team-mates. They kept the break clear so I could try and bridge, which I did. It wasn’t a comfortable breakaway by any means. We had to ride fast all the time, the pace was high from very early into the race behind after the crash and Boonen’s attack – they were always close to us, we never had a moment to breathe, and once we got caught, every single cobbled section was a small torture.”

11th, World champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff): “Everybody before was asking me if I was going to win or not but this is Paris-Roubaix and you never know what is going to happen. It’s a great race, and really historic, but one that is very hard to win. All of the teams come here and make their own strategies for the race, and today the two favorites were caught behind a crash while other teams had numbers at the front to control things. I was involved in two crashes already before the Arenberg sector and I was already in the second group there and without any cooperation at the front it was hard to get back. Oscar had a heavy crash and some of the others also came down – it was a crazy day. We were cooperating with Fabian but after he crashed we lost momentum – when he came down I jumped and managed to just get over – I was very lucky to not crash. From that point I think the race was over for me.”

Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNl-Jumbo) rode Paris-Roubaix for the last time: “It was a hell today and I like that, I will remember this race for the rest of my life. It was a classic Paris-Roubaix with a surprising winner and an unexpected race story. The situation changed all the time. I have been busy with the race, but now, I realize that it was my last. My kids were there to support me. That was great. I’m finished now for the spring classics.”

Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal): “I got caught up behind a crash at the Trouée d’Arenberg and never got back in the race. Only few riders managed to do that. The last weeks I had some health issues. I did get a podium place in Milan-Sanremo and was seventh in Ghent-Wevelgem, but I would have loved to set a top result in other races as well. Next Sunday I will ride the Amstel Gold Race, but I will start with a different plan. In the team we have several riders who specifically prepared for the climb classics, I will try to support them as much as I can.”

Paris-Roubaix Result:
1. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE in 5:51:53
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
3. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky
4. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) LottoNl-Jumbo
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data at 0:03
6. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling at 1:00
7. Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal
8. Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling
9. Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar at 1:07
10. Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie at 1:20.

2016 Roubaix:

Best of – Paris-Roubaix 2016 por tourdefrance

Vuelta al País Vasco 2016
BMC’s Samuel Sanchez took his first win of the 2016 season at the end of Stage 4 with an attack in the last kilometer on the short finishing climb. Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) were the closest of the chasers with the other GC men. Wilco Kelderman (LottoNl-Jumbo) now leads by 4 seconds from Sergio Henao (Sky) and 7 from Mikel Landa (Sky). Samuel Sanchez is now fourth at 8 seconds and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) in fifth at 10 seconds.

The breakaway of the day included: Simone Petilli (Lampre-Merida), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Christopher Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep) and Angel Vicioso (Katusha). They had a tough day ahead of them with climbs of the Alto de Aia (Cat. 2), Alto de Garate (Cat. 2) and the Alto de Aia (Cat 2) twice with the short unclassified climb to the finish.

Sky were in control and held the escape to 2:30 minutes and with 20 kilometers to go they were down to 1:30. On the first time over the Aia; Viciosa was dropped from the break and there were attacks from the bunch that were all pulled back by either Sky or Astana. The break still had 1 minute.

Second time up the Aia; Wellens and Verona rode away from the break as the bunch was slimmed down to less than 50 riders. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Sergio Henao (Sky) crossed to the leaders as overall leader Mikel Landa (Sky) lost time. Verona attacked the new lead group and had small gap after the descent with Mate and Wellens close behind and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Fabio Aru (Astana) between them and the bunch.

Two kilometers out and Wellens and Mate caught Verona, but 1 kilometer further and the race was all together after some hard work from Tinkoff for Contador. The Spaniard made his move with Henao trying to go with him. Sanchez was not far behind and with a strong counter attack he took the lead witch he held to the line.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2016 - stage 4

Interview with stage winner Samuel Sánchez:
The look on your face as you crossed the finish line was of pure happiness. Can you describe this moment?

“For me it was a really, really beautiful day. The victory is really amazing. It’s a victory for my mind. It’s more important for me, for my mind and for the team. For BMC Racing Team today was a hard day because at the beginning of the stage, six of my teammates and I split from the peloton so we worked a lot to catch the first group. Then we caught the group before the final and I won the stage for my teammates.”

It was by no means an easy stage today, how did you feel in the legs?
“The stage was really hard. A lot of rain, a bit dangerous, a lot of big climbs and the pace of the race is so high. There were a lot of attacks at the final. When Contador attacked I stayed in his wheel and counter attacked in the last 200 meters of the climb. And then I went full gas to the finish and I could raise my hands as I crossed the line.”

This is your first individual win since 2013 and it is in Spain. How much more special does that make it?
“It’s my first individual win with BMC Racing Team. My last individual win was at the Dauphine in 2013 and this is too many years for me. Now it is a really, really beautiful day for me and for my mind it is a super important victory.”

And now looking forward to the next stages?
“The GC is difficult and tomorrow is a really difficult day. It’s particularly difficult because of my rivals and the weather. Tomorrow is up and down and with a climb for the finish, so we will take things day by day. For now we will enjoy today.”

8th on the stage and Overall leader, Wilco Kelderman (lottoNl-Jumbo): “I’m feeling very strong. I dared to take the initiative because I knew that there were not many riders who were able to go faster than me. When I attacked, I saw Alberto Contador accelerating. I had to go all in there, but I knew that if I would give everything, we wouldn’t be able to distance me. We really raced as a team. We were focused all the time and were always in the right place. Paul told me during the race that I had to try it on the final climb. I was in the right position and took my chance.”

7th on the stage and 5th overall, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff): “It was a hard and complicated day because of the rain. It’s been raining intermittently throughout the day and that made it even more difficult. The start was crazy and we had to wait 80km to see the breakaway become definitive. The average speed was very high despite the fact we had gone through various climbs and that made for a hard day. On the final climb up Aia I tried to see how my legs were doing but again the rain made it difficult to ride off the saddle. Despite that we passed the summit quite well, but there was no mutual agreement among the ones we were there and in the end we were caught by the main group. There wasn’t any change in the GC, with the exception of Landa losing a few seconds. That was another effort added on the legs that will take its toll. Tomorrow will be another hotly contested stage and people will try to get the breakaway because they know there are chances it reaches the finish. On the other hand we will have to see how that will play out in the GC because there will be few chances to make a difference. Arrate is a tough climb but it’s difficult to get away, so I expect the gap is going to be slim. Everything is at stake at the time-trial.”

Vuelta al País Vasco Stage 4 Result:
1. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC in 4:13:12
2. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
3. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin
4. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff
8. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
9. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale
10. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha.

Vuelta al País Vasco Overall After Stage 4:
1. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo in 17:52:48
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 0:04
3. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Sky at 0:07
4. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 0:08
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff at 0:10
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:12
7. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 0:14
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
9. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
10. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ.

Stage 4:

Diego Rosa (Astana) won Stage 5 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco by over 3 minutes and had time to hold his bike in the air as he crossed the line in Eibar. Rosa had been with an eighteen man break, but left them after 40 kilometers to ride the rest of the stage (over 100 kilometers) on his own for the solo win. Rosa was nearly 15 minutes down on GC, so his win didn’t change the overall positions. The top four riders are within 12 seconds: Sergio Henao (Sky) is 6 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) 10 on Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and 12 on Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha).

Mikel Landa attacked from the GC group to join up with his Sky teammate David Lopez who had been in the break. They caught Simon Clarke (Cannondale) and the three of them built up enough of a lead to put Landa in the virtual overall lead, but they were caught on the final climb of Arrate. Alberto Contador made his move with Sergio Henao on his wheel as Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) took up the chase. Overall leader, Wilco Kelderman (LottoNl-Jumbo), managed to go with the move, but blew-up in the last 2 kilometers to lose his lead. Contador and Henao worked well together building up a good gap on the others. In the finalé Henao attacked Contador for 2nd place, but they both finished on the same time.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2016 - stage 4

Stage winner, Diego Rosa (Astana): “I did it like a ‘circus act’ today! I still had a big gap on the riders behind me so I’ve decided to cross the line as a mountain biker normally does, I was a mountain biker so it came natural to me. For sure, almost 130km alone at the front hasn’t been a joke but I dared, my legs gave me the answers I was searching for, and I didn’t look back until I’ve seen the arch of the finish. Besides the super exploit that gave me the victory in the queen stage of this important race, I’m satisfied because I was finally able to grow in a stage race as I dreamt of but this year I had always some flu or health problems in the previous races and, before today, I’ve never felt really well. On the contrary today, I had very good feelings so I joined the first escape. Then we were too many out there and the bunch couldn’t give us space. So I decided to take out a smaller group and I attacked. When I remained alone at the front I thought to continue even if I was at 130km from the end. I dared so much but it went so good. It was a real ‘circus act’! One thought is for my captain Fabio Aru who crashed in today’s stage and was forced to abandon the race: I have just heard that he has no fracture and this is the best news. It was time to win a good race. I started the season with stomach problems, but then I trained well and I am in shape. This is my first race after the Paris-Nice and the truth is that I felt very well. Many riders always try to join the break but today I managed to be there and no one could follow me. I’ve given everything and I feel very happy to have reached the finish line.”

3rd on the stage and 2nd overall, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff): “It was a complicated day that really brings out the hardships of the sport of cycling. We had to be focused and attentive all day long because of the combination of incredible downpours and very low temperatures. The race had a fast pace and the most important point was to stay well protected from the cold and eat. We gained time against some riders but the race remains still open. We have to make sure our legs work well tomorrow and we’ll see what result we get.”

4th on the stage and 4th overall, Joaquim Rodriguez Katusha): “It was so cold today, which made it really hard for all of us. We used up forces to keep our bodies warm, but on the other hand, I have to say that at the end I really felt good. So this race is not over. Tomorrow we have a time trial that really suits me, as it is a climbing time trial. I am fourth now in GC. My goal is to finish on the podium and why not in first place?”

10th on the stage, Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data): “This was a very hard stage. The weather was again pretty bad and there were a lot of climbs. On the steepest climb of the day I felt pretty good and decided to anticipate and to attack on the descent. Then Landa came across on the next climb and so we had a little advantage to start the finishing climb ahead of the Contador group. There I rode my own rhythm to finish top 10. I am happy with the result as this is the highest level of racing you can get.”

Vuelta al País Vasco Stage 5 Result:
1. Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana in 4:19:19
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 3:13
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 3:15
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 3:40
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3:41
8. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale at 3:56
9. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 4:12
10. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data.

Vuelta al País Vasco Overall After Stage 5:
1. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky in 22:15:24
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff at 0:06
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:10
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 0:12
5. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 0:31
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:38
7. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale at 1:00
8. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 1:07
9. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 1:09
10. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 1:11.

Stage 5:

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) put everything into the Final Stage 6 16.5 kilometer time trial to take stage and the overall crown. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was second at 5 seconds to finish third overall as Sergio Henao (Sky) was third on the stage for second overall. This was Contador’s fourth overall win in the Basque Tour.

4th place went to Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) who lost his place on the podium to Quintana, the Colombian jumped from sixth to third. The Frenchman was only 10 seconds from the overall lead at the start, but by the finish he had lost 1:09 on Contador, 1:04 on Quintana and 51 seconds to Henao. He was also beaten by Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Samuel Sanchez (BMC).

Contador was so happy with his performance he is now thinking of not hanging up his wheels at the end of the 2016 season.


Stage and overall winner, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff): “The fans were crazy today at the time-trial. I consider the Basque fans to probably be the best in the world and since my amateur days I have strong links to this place. For me it was a pleasure racing and winning the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. It’s a very hard race, one that is difficult to control and where a thousand things can happen. When I think about it, it still seems incredible that I won. I’d like to dedicate this victory to all the fans and to Oleg Tinkov for his support, his passion and for making this team a reality. This victory goes to him. Recently, I have been pondering and thinking about my future with my entourage and most probably I will continue riding. I’m sure this isn’t the last time I come here. To be honest, I don’t like finishing second. After two second places in Paris-Nice and Catalanuya, this is a nice victory. However, I’m aware that the level of the peloton is always very high and there are strong rivals. However, it’s good to finish this part of the season and go to a much-need rest with a victory.”

2nd on the stage and 3rd overall, Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “It’s a nice finish for us in this race – clearly a progression from where we were at on Monday. Before the start I was still feeling not quite well, due to the virus which affected most within the team, and also missing two valuable team-mates in the Izagirre brothers. That really changed our way to tackle the race and look for our chances. Seeing we’re now on the overall podium on Saturday, knowing that I recovered way faster than we all expected, is a great feeling, a boost in our morale before the big, upcoming goals. We did quite a good time trial, though we’re obviously a bit sad since we couldn’t win it. We took a strong gamble with that bike chance, hoping we could ride faster into the final stretch, and even though it helped, it wasn’t enough for the win. It’s still worth as we couldn’t leave this race without trying something different, and this test will be useful for the future. We didn’t win the race, Alberto was stronger this time, but we were close and we’re happy about that.”

3rd on the stage and 2nd overall, Sergio Henao (Sky): “I’m happy with my performance this week. OK, I didn’t win the overall, but I gave 100% right from the start. I tried to go with a different tactic today – I held back slightly on the climb and then really pushed it over the second half of the course. Contador was super strong though and he deserved his win. We can be pleased with our performance as a team as well this week. We were strong and every rider played his part. The fact that we won the team classification shows this, and of course we also got a stage win, and topped the points classification. I’m back on the podium and I am second again, but I’m proud of what I’ve done and how I trained. The climb was very hard and then the descent, with the rain, was very dangerous. Contador has also taken risks, that’s his way of riding. He is a great rider. Mr. Alberto Contador is a great opponent.”

6th on the stage and 4th overall, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ): “My place in the time trial is good but the differences are significant. Under these conditions, even if I’m not on the podium, I have nothing to regret. The other satisfactions are the descents. I had no problems in the rain. Today, I only lost 10 seconds to Contador in the long descent. Although I am not suited to this race, I am never bored here. It’ll take off some pressure for the Tour de Romandie.”

9th overall, Lawson Craddock (Cannondale): “Ninth place overall at Pais-Vasco is something that I can take a lot of positives from, but at the moment I’m left wanting more. To slip a few spots on the final day my initial reaction is disappointment, but in a few days I think I can be proud of the steps that I have taken. My main goal this spring was to consistently ride at a very high level, and I think that is something that I have been able to do. At this point now, I’ve just got to focus on recovering from this race and making sure I hit the Ardennes Classics in the best possible condition I can. With the level that I have been riding at, I think I can help the team perform at a really high level. Today wasn’t a traditional TT, with a 4-kilometer climb that had a lot of sections over 20 percent, it was going to be tough no matter what. The technical descent that followed was also going to be a big challenge in the rain. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best day for me. I laid it all out on the line, but it wasn’t quite the result I was looking for. This week felt really good to come out and race, from the start, we truly raced like a team and it was special to be a part of. The overall result that we earned was due to the commitment that we showed to each other. With everything that the team has been through this spring it’s really nice to see things start to come together. Every race has gotten better and better and it’s really exciting to look towards the future races.”

Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling): “This week has been very important for me, taking part in the breakaways allowed me to regain some confidence. It would have been perfect if I could have also walked away with the mountains jersey as the best climber. But apart from that, I finished the Tour of the Basque Country with a sense of satisfaction.”

Vuelta al País Vasco Stage 6 Result:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff in 29:13
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:05
3. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 0:18
4. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:53
5. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 1:04
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 1:09
7. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 1:16
8. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
9. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 1:21
10. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:26.

Vuelta al País Vasco Final Overall Result:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff in 22:44:43
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 0:12
3. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:37
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 1:13
5. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 1:22
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 1:29
7. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 2:19
8. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 2:47
9. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale at 2:52
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 3:14.

The Final Stage 6:

Circuit de la Sarthe 2016
Anton Vorobyev (Katusha) took two in a row by winning Stage 3 on the summit of Mont des Avaloirs. Overall leader, Marc Fournier (FDJ) held his yellow jersey by 1:57 from Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling) and 2:11 on 3rd placed Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie).

Vorobyev was part of the early breakaway with Patrick Gretsch (AG2R-La Mondiale), Benoît Jarrier (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Nicolas Baldo (Team Roth) and after 80 kilometers they had a 6 minute lead. With 50 kilometers to go; Vorobyev headed off on his own to tackle the difficult finish including the Mont des Avaloirs, the highest climb in this part of France. Back in the peloton; IAM Cycling and Direct Energie started to make life difficult for overall leader Mark Fournier who was in trouble with 25 kilometers to go. With a lot of help from his FDJ team, Fournier managed to only lost 27 seconds on his rivals.


Stage winner, Anton Vorobyev (Katusha): “Initially I didn’t plan to go in the break, I wanted to help Matvey Mamykin to try for himself. But I caught a small group and decided to continue. In the group we worked well. I thought to work during the stage to do something like a race training because I expected some hard climbs on the laps, but later Dmitry Konyshev told me to try to attack. When we passed the first lap I checked it and found a right place for attack, so on the second lap I knew exactly where to go. Of course I had a tough 60 km alone, but I want to say a big thank to Dmitry Konyshev, who helped me a lot, saying where to work more, where to recover a bit. His help was crucial today. The last kilometers were really hard, but I did my best to keep the gap and to win it. I am really happy, I feel like it is the way to continue. I want to thank the whole team for their support and trust.”

Overall leader, Marc Fournier (FDJ): “Really my teammates did a great job. This morning before the start, having never been in this situation, I was a bit stressed but I’m lucky to have experienced riders with me. They worked from the start. Benoît Vaugrenard is a great road captain and didn’t stop talking to me, just like Thierry Bricaud in the radio and finally everything went well. On the last lap, I could see that the front guys hesitated a bit and I attacked to do the final climb as a time trial that allowed me to catch up with the peloton and finish 27 seconds behind Voeckler who was in the main group. I didn’t start well but it paid off and I am super happy. I think that with a one-minute advantage before the last stage which is flat, there is some room for me and my teammates.”

4th, Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie): “We didn’t have the capacity to smash the bunch into pieces. Fournier is a solid rider. He fought really well.”

Circuit de la Sarthe Stage 3 Result:
1. Anton Vorobyev (Rus) Katusha in 5:13:53
2. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:51
3. Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis at 1:15
4. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie
5. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar
6. Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Cyril Gautier (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
8. Julien El Fares (Fra) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM
9. Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Roompot-Oranje Peloton
10. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling.

Circuit de la Sarthe Overall After Stage 3:
1. Marc Fournier (Fra) FDJ in 12:07:26
2. Jerome Coppel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 1:57
3. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie at 2:11
4. Gaetan Bille (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 2:12
5. Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar at 2:13
6. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 2:15
7. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha at 2:18
8. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar at 2:21
9. Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energie at 2:22
10. Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis at 2:27.

Stage 3:

Young Frenchman, Marc Fournier and his FDJ team defended his lead on the Final Stage 4 to take the final win by 1:50 from Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling) and 2:04 from stage winner Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar). Lobato won in a bunch sprint from Marco Benfatto (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling).

Delio Fernandez (Delko-Marseille-KTM), François Bidard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Chris Anker Sørensen (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Eliot Lietaer (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Daniele Ratto (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and two stage winner Anton Vorobyev (Katusha) made up the break of the day, but were not allowed more than 2 minutes by the sprinters teams. The race came together for the bunch sprint with Movistar leading out Lobato for the win.


Stage winner and 3rd overall, Juanjo Lobato (Movistar): “I’m finally getting to the place I wanted to be at. This victory is a huge boost of confidence for me, something that allows me to take some fury out and tackle my goals with less pressure. Having six riders per team made it extremely difficult to control the race – that’s why breaks succeeded both on stage one and yesterday, both days where I did well. We relied on my chances today from the very beginning, putting Dayer at the front to push and keep the break on a leash. The rest of the team supported me really well until the final circuit. I kept my mind cold into the sprint, I knew I wouldn’t win if I was too anxious. I didn’t really get into the fight for a position till the Roompot guys moved to the front as a whole with 1.5km to go. At the final turn with 600m remaining I always already in third place – I could really measure my forces today and launch the sprint comfortably. Those problems with my knee from two, three weeks ago – which made me not to finish Paris-Nice – did hurt me as I couldn’t focus on my goals, but I’m feeling strong again and willing to go for the next competitions. After Roubaix I’m expected to ride two of the Ardennes classics: Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne. I haven’t put any goals on myself for them, I just want to know the courses. After that, I should be doing the Vuelta a Madrid or rather taking some rest before the summer.”

2nd overall, Jérôme Coppel (IAM Cycling): “The team showed itself well throughout the week. We were always there in the mix of the action, but we just missed out on any victories. The defeat in the time trial was hard to accept, but that’s sport. And I can believe that second place in the time trial and second place in the overall is pretty good, even if the victory was so close. We tried everything, but in the end it was not quite enough. Marc Fournier, who surprised us by winning the first stage by over two minutes, and his team had more luck than we did this time.”

3rd on the stage, Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling): “I’d like to thank the whole team. They have helped me a lot in my sprints. Unfortunately, I could not repay them with a victory. I was fortunate, and I feel good. I am in good shape, and am looking forward to the next race.”

Circuit de la Sarthe Stage 4 Result:
1. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar in 4:01:07
2. Marco Benfatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling
4. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Roompot-Oranje Peloton
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
6. Brenton Jones (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
7. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Clément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis
9. Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Circuit de la Sarthe Final Overall Result:
1. Marc Fournier (Fra) FDJ in 16:08:40
2. Jerome Coppel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 1:50
3. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar at 2:04
4. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie
5. Gaetan Bille (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 2:05
6. Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar at 2:06
7. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 2:08
8. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha at 2:11
9. Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 2:16
10. Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis at 2:20.

The Final Stage 4:

Zico Waeytens Extends Contract for Two More Years
At today’s cobblestones classics press meeting at the international headquarters of one of the team’s key loyal partner, Renson, Team Giant-Alpecin announced the contract renewal of Zico Waeytens (BEL).

Waeytens has agreed to a two-year extension, until the end of 2018. The Belgian is currently in his second season with the team and so far he has achieved consistent results. Last year Waeytens’ highlights included third place at the Garmin Velothon Berlin and second place at stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California. At the Vuelta a España Waeytens made his first Grand Tour appearance.

On signing the contract extension Waeytens said: “I am happy to extend my contract with the team. It’s a sign of trust for me that we can show our commitment for two more years. I feel the team has confidence in me and it was a straightforward decision. We are on the same level regarding ambition and expectations and I will get the opportunity to grow in the classics and further develop my sprint.”

“We are delighted that Zico has signed a contract extension with the team,” explained coach Rudi Kemna (NED). “Over the past year, he has developed very well as a rider. We appreciate that he has recognized the value of our team and understands our top sports vision. We work according to the Keep Challenging approach and the contract extension reflects our objective to develop young riders and help them fulfill their maximum potential.”

Zico Waeytens:
team training RVV Giant - Alpecin

Gilbert Suffers Fractured Finger in Training Altercation
Philippe Gilbert has undergone surgery on a fractured finger sustained during training on Friday, BMC Racing Team announced today.

Gilbert was training with Loïc Vliegen in Belgium when the two riders were targeted by two intoxicated men in a car. One of the men stepped out of the car and acted aggressively towards Vliegen and Gilbert, fracturing Gilbert’s middle finger on his left hand in the process.

BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Doctor Max Testa gave the following update.

“Philippe was taken to hospital and underwent surgery to have five pins inserted to secure three small fractures in his middle finger. He is otherwise fine but will need to take a day or two off the bike,” Dr Testa said.

“After the weekend we should have a better idea of the impact this will have on his Ardennes Classics campaign, but at this stage he should be fine to race. Luckily Loïc was not injured in the altercation.”

“I’m not feeling too bad at all. More than anything I am shocked that this happened as you don’t expect anything like this to take place when you head out for a training ride,” Gilbert explained.

It is understood that the two men were arrested by Belgian police at the time of the incident.

Update on Incident Involving Philippe Gilbert
Following the incident involving Philippe Gilbert and Loïc Vliegen during training on Friday which left Gilbert with a fractured finger, BMC Racing Team provides the following update.

The surgery to implant five pins to secure fractures in his finger went well, BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Max Testa said.

Gilbert is now recovering at home and he and Vliegen will provide their statements to the police on Monday when the station is open.

Gilbert has provided the following information on the events that unfolded.

“Loïc and I had been riding for five and a half hours and were on our way home from doing a recon for Liège-Bastogne-Liège when a car drove at as full gas from behind while we were in Theux which is when the altercation started. I will cooperate fully with the police with their investigation.”

Given this matter is an ongoing police investigation, Gilbert is unable to provide more details at this time until he has provided his statement.

He will no longer line up for Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday but his participation in Amstel Gold will be decided later in the week.

Philippe Gilbert:

The long and hard way back to the top with John Degenkolb
2015 Paris-Roubaix winner, John Degenkolb, tells the story of his fight back to fitness after the terrible training accident in January.

Paris Roubaix On Bike Highlights
In one of the most exciting Paris-Roubaix races in years, Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE) sprinted to a thrilling win, with Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step) second and Ian Stannard (Sky) third.

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