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EuroTrash Katusha Monday!

The Katusha team are having a great season so far and now they have added the two top spots in Romandie. Full round up from Switzerland, Turkey and Yorkshire with reports, results, rider quotes and video. Alex Dowsett takes the Hour Record and we have more Giro d’Italia news. A very full EuroTrash Monday!

TOP STORY: Dowsett Sets New World Hour Record
On Saturday afternoon, Movistar’s Alex Dowsett set a new UCI Hour Record of 52.937 kilometers on the Manchester velodrome. Dowsett brought the record back to team manager Eusebio Unzué twenty-one years after Miguel Indurain in Bordeaux.

The man from Essex kept to around 17.1 seconds per lap in the first half of the competition, the pace set by his coaches prior to the event, Dowsett ‘dangerously’ increased his pace towards 16.5s after 35 minutes in. However, the good signals from the Briton stayed until the very end and Dowsett finished his effort with relative freshness, improving Rohan Dennis’ previous mark by almost half a kilometer and coming just 103 meters short of the record of 53.040 kilometers taken by Miguel Indurain in 1994, under the old rules.

After the ride Dowsett said: “In training, we only ever did like 35 minutes, so there was always those 25 minutes which were a bit of an unknown, but 30 minutes in, I was still feeling comfortably, the time was ticking away a lot quicker than I was expecting. I was scared of the suffering, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. That is a testimony to the preparation I went through – there was a plan, I didn’t like it much, for the risk of riding behind Dennis for the first 45 minutes, but I had faith in my coaches, Mark Walker and Mikel Zabala. I was a little bit enthusiastic at times, but Steve was bringing me back down onto schedule. I just had faith in everything that’s gone into today – it was carefully executed.”

“Everyone in the team said that if I was feeling OK, I’d be let loose into the final five minutes. As soon as it clocked ten minutes to go, I had a lot in me still and I could press on a bit – it really was a dream. I just hope the message comes out – to all the young haemophiliacs, of any age really. There’s a lot of people in the world who faces adversity. I was lucky to have a responsible family to take care of me, and I could push myself to this. It wasn’t about failing or succeeding today – it was about trying something I hadn’t done before.”

When asked if he would make another attempt he said he would, but only after June 7 when Bradley Wiggins makes his attempt in London. From what he was saying it sounds like he had quite a lot left in the tank, which must be a sign of passing the 53 kilometer mark next time.

The record:

header-romandie15Tour de Romandie 2014
Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) took his second stage in a row in Thursday’s Stage 3 by out-sprinting Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick Step) from a split bunch and to keep his overall lead. Alaphilippe had Tony Martin and Rigoberto Uran to lead min out in the final kilometer, but Simon Gerrans got to the front on the final left-hand bend for his Orica-GreenEDGE teammate Albasini. Albasini was too fast for Alaphilippe, coming off his wheel with perfect timing. Alaphilippe held on for second place with Damiano Caruso (BMC) third, just ahead of ex-World champ Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida).

The day’s break went early, including: Kristof Vandewalle (Trek), Cheng Ji (Giant-Alpecin) and Brian Bulgac (LottoNL-Jumbo) and built up a maximum lead of nearly 8 minutes. The peloton had Orica-GreenEDGE and Sky doing the work.

All three were pulled back by a peloton that had shed many riders over the first 100 kilometers of hard, but not mountainous roads. On the final climb of the Côte de Lure; Astana, Movistar and Tinkoff-Saxo teams kept the pace, which stopped any attacks. On the descent Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Winner Anacona (Movistar) and Maxime Mederel (Europcar) rode away with 20 kilometers to go, but didn’t last. Tony Martin was next to go with Rohan Dennis (BMC) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale-Garmin), they were joined by Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Andrey Zeits (Astana), but Zeits would not work and the break failed. As soon as they were caught; Vincenzo Nibali himself tried his luck, which failed, he followed by Rigoberto Uran with six kilometers to go, that also failed and it was down to the sprint that went to Albasini.

Stage winner Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE): “First of all we have to realize what my team did for me today. They really drove strong in the first half of the race and in the final even Santaromita was around to make sure nobody was riding away. Then I had one of the best riders in the bunch lead me out, so I just had to win it.”

A fifth stage victory in two years? “Sure. I knew the two consecutive climbs, they were really hard and most of the really fast guys wouldn’t survive them so I knew I would be one of the faster guys left. Then the team did everything for me to make a sprint.”

2nd Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Today I am happy about this result. At the start and during the race I didn’t really have a great feeling. I think I paid a bit for the efforts of the last days of racing. The toughest parts of the parcours were also especially hard today and it was a difficult race in the final kilometers. In the end I counted on Tony and Rigo, and they brought me to the front. Luka Mezgec was there with his teammates, and Michael Albasini was also there. I knew they were the fastest guys who could contest the stage. The final was nervous and with about a couple hundred meters to go I launched my sprint. I went on the left, and Albasini on the right. He was clearly the faster, more powerful rider and he won. So I have no regrets about this race. I did the best I could against a strong competitor like Albasini. It’s another podium placing. Now we look forward to the next stages to help Rigoberto.”

3rd on the stage Damiano Caruso (BMC): “I am happy and I am also happy for the team. Everybody did a good job, especially in the final of the race. I tried to do a good sprint.I think my condition is good and I am feeling good about the upcoming stages and for the Giro d’Italia.”

4th on the stage Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida): “Today too the stage ended in a sprint, not of a bunch but of a 80 riders group. The team helped me to be in the head position in the approach of the last kilometer and when I was in the final 1000 meters I tried to follow the wheel of Albasini, who was the favorite rider, but it was not simple because the battle involved manby riders. Albasini demonstrated again that he’s now the most competitive cyclist in this kind of arrival, but I’m also satisfied because I did the best I could do, even if the 3rd place would have been better. My gap from the leader of the overall classification is 1’01”: day by day I’ll try to reduce it.”

Stef Clement (IAM Cycling): “During the briefing before the start, the stated goals were to stay warm in the bunch, remain alert, and protect Mathias Frank. Everything worked perfectly, and we were close to getting another top-10 with Jarlinson Pantano, who was given a free hand to try what he liked in the final. But the stage was harder today because the racing really started 50 kilometers from the finish. And tomorrow’s stage looks equally hard, but with much worse weather.”

Tour de Romandie Stage 3 Result:
1. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEDGE in 4:14:56
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC
4. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
5. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
6. Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step
8. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin
9. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Alpecin
10. Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Katusha.

Tour de Romandie Overall After Stage 3:
1. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEDGE in 8:57:38
2. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:20
3. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
4. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
5. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:24
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:25
7. Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha
8. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
9. Egor Silin (Rus) Katusha
10. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha.

Stage 3:

Individual pursuit World champion Stefan Küng (BMC) took a solo victory in Stage 4 of the Tour de Romandie. The young Swiss rider had a 54-tooth chainwheel fitted for the stage with the win in mind and went with the early break of Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale), Bertjan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha). The four riders had a lead of 2 minutes at the summit of the Sorens (Cat 2); the penultimate climb of the day.

With 25 kilometers to go, Küng jumped away with only the final climb of the Treyvaux (Cat 2) to cross. At the summit he had 20 seconds over his pursuers. Bakelants and Lindeman dropped Kochetkov, but could not catch Küng and finished 38 seconds later.

The peloton had left it too late to make the chase as the weather was so bad, it appeared that the team leaders had called a truce of sorts, although Etixx – Quick-Step did send Tony Martin up the road with Julian Alaphillipe on his wheel hoping to take the lead from Albasini. Alaphillipe gave up and left Martin to take 4th and his teammate Gianni Meersman took the sprint for 5th. Albasini finished with the group and held his 20 seconds lead ahead of teammate Ivan Santaromita.

Stage winner Stefan Küng (BMC) reigning world individual pursuit champion: “To win my first WorldTour race in Switzerland, with such a great crowd and with such a great team, is great. I had a look at this stage before, a week ago. I knew it could be something for me. I like this kind of awful weather – rain and a little bit cold. I gave it a shot and in the end it turned out well. I had very good legs. It was amazing to take this win. It is always very hard to know if you are going to win, but when I reached the top of the last GPM (mountain), I know that it was looking quite likely.”

Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida): “The course of the stage less demanding than the ones of the previous stages, there were less climbs, but the rain made the selection. That’s why in the main bunch there were only 55 riders left: for me, the support I received from my team mates was fundamental in order to avoid any trouble.”

Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling): “All’s well that ends well. It was necessary to remain attentive throughout the day with this terrible weather in the Jura. But it is our job to race in all conditions even when it’s dangerous. Everyone was nervous in the peloton because the roads were very slippery and sometimes the gusts would catch you off-guard. I was determined to help Mathias Frank and Jarlinson Pantano stay well protected near the front of the peloton. We needed to protect them as much as possible in order so that they could save their strength for the stage to Champex. It was not all that easy of a task considering the rain and cold. But we managed to accomplish our goal.”

Tour de Romandie Stage 4 Result:
1. Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC in 4:35:10
2. Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale at0:38
3. Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:39
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:45
5. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:52
6. Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7. Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
8. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEDGE
9. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
10. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica-GreenEDGE.

Tour de Romandie Overall After Stage 4:
1. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEDGE at 13:33:40
2. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:20
3. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
4. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:25
6. Egor Silin (Rus) Katusha
7. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
8. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
9. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:27
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:34.

Stage 4:

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) took his first victory of the season in the Queen Stage 5 of the Tour de Romandie. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) finished second at 7 second to take the overall lead going into the final day. Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) headed in the chasers in third at 20 seconds.

Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Bryan Nalleau (Europcar) attacked early and had a lead of 10 minutes by the first climb of the day; the Col des Mosses, the first of the four big climbs of the stage. Overall leader; Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) was in trouble most of the day and in the end had to give up his efforts to hang on on the last climb, the Champex-Lac.

Belkov was leading the KOM competition and gained more points while he was in the break. Behind; Movistar lead the chase and at the start of the final climb the duo only had 2 minutes. Nalleau was first to crack, leaving Belkov to struggle on for five kilometers. The winner of the 2014 race; Chris Froome (Sky) looked to be suffering in the final 10 kilometers to go and at one point was dropped by Nairo Quintana (Movistar), but fought back to the main group. It was not so good for Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Rigoberto Urán (Etixx – Quick-Step) who were both distanced.

With 5 kilometers to go Pinot darted off the front of the lead group to be chased by Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Simon Spilak (Katusha) with him. Spilak’s Katusha teammate Zakarin came after them and got within 5 seconds of Pinot with 1K to the line. Pinot had the big win in his sights and stayed away from the Russian. Zakarin came in second knowing he had done enough for the overall lead by 6 from Pinot with Froome third at 14 seconds and Spilak at 19 in fourth, the others are at about a minute or more.

2nd on the stage and Overall leader Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha): “Today’s plan for the team was to help Simon and me on the final climb. Everything went ok. Later I saw my chance to attack and in the last few kilometers I gave everything I had in my legs. I was a little bit surprised that I took the jersey and I’m very happy. This is really an honor for me. Tomorrow will be maybe the most important time trial in my life. I will start as the last rider in the yellow jersey. I know some strong riders are close in GC and they will fight for the victory, but I will do my best to fight for the best possible place. I hope to do well tomorrow. In País Vasco I did a good TT but I was nervous there. Here I can start relaxed because I have already done a nice thing. In the beginning of the season I marked the Tour de Romandie as my main goal for this part of the season. So I built my form in the Vuelta al País Vasco and through two training camps at altitude. I was able to come here in good shape, ready to fight. I know that our team has some good traditions here in Romandie but this is my first time here. I will do my best tomorrow to carry on the team’s traditions here.”

Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling): “I had good legs, but the level was incredibly high on the final climb. Personally, my job was to place Mathias each time in the front positions of the peloton before the ascents of the Petite Forclaz and then of course for the Champex-Lac climb. Then I rode at my own pace because I did not have the strength to follow. Honestly, I am satisfied because my progression has been constant since the beginning of the season. I’ll take a rest for five days, then it will be perfect timing for a training camp at La Bernina before going to the Pyrenees to do some reconnaissance of the stages for the Tour de France. My program will then continue with the Dauphiné Libéré, and then some recon of the alpine stages for La Grande Boucle, before I hope to be selected for my second consecutive Tour de France.”

Tour de Romandie Stage 5 Result:
1. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr in 4:38:54
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:07
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:20
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
5. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
7. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:53
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
10. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana.

Tour de Romandie Overall After Stage 5:
1. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha in 18:13:00
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:06
3. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:14
4. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 0:19
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:54
6. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:01
7. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 1:04
9. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana
10. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha at 1:06.

Stage 5:

Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step) won the final time trial Stage 6 on Sunday, beating the Katusha pair of Simon Spilak by 11 seconds and overall leader Ilnur Zakarin by 13. Although Zakarin had to change bikes he held onto his race lead over Spilak by 17 seconds and so Katusha took first and second overall.

Rohan Dennis (BMC) was the early leader with a time of 23:39, but he didn’t have to wait long before Tony Martin came in with 23:17 for the win. The battle out on the road was between the Katusha pair of Spilak and Zakarin; at the start of the day they were only 19 seconds apart, even with the bike change, Zakarin only lost 2 second on his team mate. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) had been second overall at 0:06, but his time trial lost him 43 seconds on Zakarin and dropped to 4th overall as Sky’s Chris Froome leap-frogged him into 3rd. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) lost his 5th overall and dropped to 8th.

Overall winner Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha): “Normally I like the TT races and I have had some good results. But during the last two years, step-by-step I have tried to improve my abilities as a climber. It was a hard way to do it but I lost maybe 10 kg to get more speed in the mountains. Of course when you improve in one area you lose in another, but later there is a chance to find a good balance. Now I am there, but I see a lot of things to improve. I want to continue my development as a rider. The bike change was my mistake. At the top of the climb I had to slow my pace a little bit and not push so hard on the pedals to change the gear. But I pushed it too hard and the chain got stuck. But the mechanics did a perfect job and changed my bike very fast. Honestly I did not expect I could win this race. Yes, I wanted to be in form here and wanted to fight for the top 5. During the race I did my best, especially yesterday and today in the time trial. I worked to get the best possible result but of course this is a big surprise for me to win here. I have not analyzed the results of today’s TT and I need to do that to understand what happened. All I know, I did full gas, 100%, and now I am really happy. I want to thank my team – all the guys, the management, sports directors and staff for their support and great help. My victory is a victory of the whole team!

2nd on stage 6 and 2nd overall Simon Spilak (Katusha): This is crazy. I am so happy. You can say ‘2nd again in Romandie’ but Ilnur deserves this. We are a team and the team result counts. When you see that Ilnur had to lose time by changing his bike and he still was able to win – he gets big respect. I am also very happy about my TT. We did recon this morning in the car and during the TT director Florencio coached me so well. Finishing better than Chris Froome is not bad, I think. Now again I am second, but I am very happy. What a team performance!

Stage winner Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I am really happy about this victory, this is my 2nd win of the season. The first was in Algarve, so I had to wait a long time for my next one. It’s a really nice feeling. Today the time trial was completely in the rain, so it was a little bit of a disadvantage, especially on the climb with the cobblestones and a few tricky corners on the downhill. But I actually didn’t mind it. I was really confident in my Specialized Shiv and my materials, especially the tyres. I knew my bike and materials were an advantage for me and I was relaxed in the conditions. Before the race I thought about the mistake of last year on the downhill, and I lost by a second. So this year I was even more focused than usual. I checked the video of the parcours a few times this morning and kept my concentration really high during the race. I think this is a nice victory for me, but also for the team. At Tour de Romandie we were always in the actions, with a few good placements but no victories. So this win is important for the morale of all of us at the end of this race. Rigo also did really well. He finished 5th GC and is building up his condition for the Giro d’Italia. Considering everything we are all quite happy about Tour de Romandie.”

4th on the stage Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto Soudal): “I noticed soon that I was good and I immediately got the right rhythm, so I was hoping for a good result. This type of time trial suits me better than a flat course; it was a bit technical and hilly. I am really satisfied with this fourth place, I did better than some time trial specialists and that pleases me. The Tour de Romandie was my last preparation for the Giro and was important to get race rhythm after my altitude training camp in Tenerife. I needed the intensive stages. After the team time trial we knew a top ten place in GC would be difficult. Yesterday I couldn’t follow the best on the last climb, but today was really positive.”

7th overall Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I had a good day and I think my form is building up. It was a tough stage and the rain made it even more difficult. Overall, the final days of the Tour de Romandie went well, considering the fact we made up most of the time we lost in the first day’s team time-trial. It wasn’t easy to come up from a 55-second deficit in the first stage and finish seventh overall. I’d like to thank the rest of the team for the great effort they put into this. The team was always there, we were in the front and especially yesterday, they showed their form. We were nearly all of us at the front on the last, difficult, climb and that is a good sign for the future. I will now rest for a week and then start preparing for the Tour de Suisse, where I really want to achieve a good result. After that, the big focus, not only for myself but for the entire team, will be the Tour de France. I have to be in great shape in order to be able to help Alberto as much as I can on the tough climbs.”

Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida): “My approach to the time trial was competitive, because I aim to exploit every time trial in order to improve in this speciality. The 25th place in the overall classification was not the one I aimed for, but I’m aware I tried to be protagonist from the first stage to the stage of the summit arrival. Being in the 6th place in the World Tour ranking is something that satisfies me and gives me the energies to look at the next appointments, namely the Criterium du Dauphinè.”

Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling): “I am disappointed, but I know that I can and I must improve before the Tour de France. I am still missing that extra important something. That fact is neither good nor bad. But in an event of this caliber, if you are not 100%, then there is no way you can fake it. I’m not worried because I can analyze my data with my coach and make improvements. We will work to fill in the gaps in the coming weeks, but in the short term, I will rest a little.”

Tour de Romandie Stage 6 Result:
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step in 23:18
2. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 0:11
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:13
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:19
5. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:22
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:24
7. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar at 0:25
8. Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling at 0:26
9. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:28
10. Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJ.fr at 0:31.

Tour de Romandie Final Overall Result:
1. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha in 18:36:30
2. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 0:17
3. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:35
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:49
5. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:20
6. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE at 1:21
7. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:24
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 1:42
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:43
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 1:54.

The final stage 6:

header-turkey15Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey 2015
Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) won the uphill sprint at the end of Stage 5 of the 51st Presidential Tour of Turkey, Muğla – Pamukkale. 159.9 km. Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) was second, and Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), who is fourth in the General classification, was third in the stage. Modolo also took the lead in the points competition. In Modolo’s wake, Rebellin added 15 seconds to his lead over second-placed Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida).

The day began with news that the previous days stage winner, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal), would not start the stage. This change the complexion of the race: Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal), so strong in the final kilometers yesterday, and tenth at the Pamukkale stage finish in 2011, was potentially the new team leader. He appeared at the start line cleanly shaven, to take up the challenge.

The reshaped Lotto Soudal team was quickly active in the stage. After a little over twenty minutes of racing, three riders broke free and established the early breakaway. They were: Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Goubert).

Going into the stage, none of the three had any points in the mountains or Beauties of Turkey sprints competitions. With a maximum of 8 mountain points available in the stage, Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) could be content, if the breakaway stayed clear, he would retain his lead in the Red Jersey competition. Bazzana was in a position to defend the position of his team-mate, Federico Zurlo, equal on points with the competition leader Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). Even so, with only one Beauties of Turkey sprint per day, and five points, the danger was that yet another rider would take up position on 5 points, breathing over the shoulders of Mas and Zurlo. The leading trio built a maximum lead of 7:11.

The Category 3 climb after 74.9km was won by De Gendt (5pts) from Veuchelen (3pts) and Alessandro Bazzana (2pts) with Valencia taking the 1 point. Valencia therefore added to his lead in the Red Jersey competition. With 16 points, he was now 6 points ahead of his closest rivals – Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polowice) and Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka)

Bazzana the intermediate sprint after 100.4km from Veuchelen and De Gendt. Bazzana found himself 150 Swiss Francs richer, while the lead of Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step) in the Green Jersey competition was unaffected.

Bazzana, Veuchelen and De Gendt were then caught by a group of 9 riders that had attacked from the peloton: Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal), Damien Howson (Orica-GreenEDGE), Davide Appollonio (Androni Giocattoli), Frédéric Brun (Bretagne-Seché Environnement), Ferrari (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka), Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka), Jef Van Meirhaeghe (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Ahmet Akdilek (Torku Şekerspor). These nine built a maximum lead of 42 seconds.

Inside 43km to go, Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) attacked from the front of the peloton, hoping to cross to the 9 man breakaway, but was chased down by the peloton, led by Etixx – Quick Step riders.

Jim took the Category 3 climb after 111.5km, Van Meirhaeghe was 2nd and Appollonio 3rd. Jim now had 15 points in the mountains jersey, just one less than Juan Pablo Valencia. The chase, at very high speed, neutralized the attack and, with 123 km to go, the peloton was compact again.

Within 30 kms of the stage finish, another small group made off the front of the peloton: Nazim Bakurci (Torku Şekerspor), Jan Ghyselinck (Wanty-Groupe Goubert) and, incredibly, Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare), again. When they were caught, another Torku Şekerspor rider, Muhammet Ataly, attacked, but was quickly caught by the peloton, led by five UnitedHealthcare riders, setting up the sprint for Federico Zurlo.

The Beauties of Turkey sprint at km 139, dedicated to the extraordinary ancient ruins at Hierapolis and Afrodisias, looked like a stage finish, with Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) on one side of the road, and Federico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare) on the other. Mas took it, with Zurlo second. Mas consolidated his lead in this magnificent White Jersey competition, which he now leads by 2 clear points.

Just after the sprint, Dmitri Gruzdev (Astana), had an attack off the front, but, by now, the sprint teams – Etixx – Quick-Step and Bardiani-CSF were at the front, keeping the pace too high for a solo attack even by the twice and former Asian continental time trial champion.

The inevitable sprint finish ended in favor of the Italian sprinter Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), who took the second win of his Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey career. The stage winner’s haul of 15 points gave Modolo the lead in the points jersey.

Stage winner Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida): “I was a bit behind with 1 km to go. I might have touched a wheel, or someone might have touched me from behind, but I nearly came to a halt and I had to start almost from a standstill. Then again, other riders were coming backwards at me. This is my type of finish. I had good legs and I left at 200m. I didn’t want to miss the stages that really suit me. After yesterday’s stage got away from me, I wanted to win today. Last year, I had another program. I knew that after the Tour of Turkey I would finish a block of racing. Last year I came here after a fall at Roubaix, and I wasn’t going well. I had two broken ribs, which is why I abandoned. Since I was going to take a break afterwards anyway, it made no sense not to. This year, I wanted to come to prepare for the Giro d’Italia, but also to win a stage so that I would go to the Giro d’Italia with a good mentality. I have been strong since January, but I haven’t won a race. Even so, I have prepared all, and this is the confirmation.”

(Next race?) “The Giro d’Italia, then the Tour de Suisse, and then we’ll see. Cassini has convinced ed me of the European Championships. I’ve told him that, if I’m good, I’ll do it with pleasure, but if I’m not going well, there’s no point in taking a slot away from someone who is in form. But I’d like to go. Then I’ll take a break, because I’ve been racing hard since January. After that, we’ll see.”

(Can you win Tomorrow?): “Yes! And then, in Istanbul, we’ll see. I rode the finish in 2010, when it was the opening time trial [Ed: won by Greipel. Modolo finished 22nd]. It’s an unknown. But there was lots of climbing today, so why shouldn’t I be able to win the last stage?”

“I wanted this win. In January, I came up against Gaviria and Cavendish in Argentina. And since then, I haven’t competed in a sprint. I fell on stage one of Tirreno, so I wasn’t involved there. I restarted sprinting at De Panne, and here I really wanted a win. This one is special because I didn’t beat sprinters today, I beat riders who are good climbers. You had to have good legs to do that. On this stage, sprinters do not normally finish in the top ten, so this shows that I’m here, finally. This has been good for me.”

Overall leader Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice): “Today was demanding. The race route wasn’t easy, and there were many attacks again today. We knew that the sprinters teams would work towards the end, given the characteristics of the stage finish. I didn’t know the final, but I was told that it was uphill, so I wanted to be up front. I knew I had not to finish on the wrong side of any splits and lose time. So the main thing for me today was to stay up front.

(Tomorrow?): I’ve seen that Durasek is climbing strongly, although it’s a 4 km final climb tomorrow, with a hard finish. I mention him because he’s closest to me in GC. But McCarthy was very good today, so he could pose a threat. I expect a lot of attacks at the foot of the final climb tomorrow. Yes, Saturday, there is a 1st cat climb near the end, with a descent. It is dangerous terrain for whoever is strong; their last chance. I’ll have to work hard with the team. This is very dangerous stage.”

KOM leader Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia): “It was a complicated stage for me because at the start, I hoped to get into the breakaway group. I tried, but the group got away. Then, on the 2nd Category climb, I was a bit behind, so I called my team for help to get up for the GPM. But then a second group of 8 or 10 got away, and the MTN – Qhubeka got all 5 points. I’ll do everything I can to keep the jersey.”

2nd on the stage Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “It was a hard stage, with plenty of wind and lots of hard climbing, so everyone arrived at the sprint at the limits of their powers. I was strong, although I lost to Modolo by a small margin. It’s a good result: the standard is very high here, with the best sprinters in the world, so a second place here really means something. Cavendish probably found all the climbing hard, which opened the stage up a bit, and I gave it everything.”

Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), 3rd On the stage: “It’s a good day for me. We prepared the sprint for Michael Kolar, but he went a bit too soon. I followed the sprint just to see how my rivals were, and I followed one or two of them. I couldn’t sprint as fast as Molodo but I’m on the podium and I’m happy with my good condition. I don’t think I used up too much energy in the final, and I can’t wait for tomorrow because the finish suits me even more than today.”

Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), leader in the Beauties of Turkey sprints competition: It has been a good day for the team. We worked really hard to bring the peloton up to the breakaway so that I could try my hand in the sprint of the day, 20km from the stage finish. I won it, so I couldn’t have asked for more. But we didn’t stop there. In the final kilometers, we concentrated on putting our sprinter Carlos Barbero in a good position, and he achieved an excellent 2nd place.

Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka): “The final was quite chaotic with a few crashes in the final kilometer. I tried to bring Youcef up to the front today because he had really good legs. Unfortunately he was a bit closed in over the final meters so we missed out on the top 10 today.”

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey Stage 5 Result:
1. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 4:06:19
2. Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
3. Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo
4. Michal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast
6. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7. Eduard Prades Reverte (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
8. Daniele Ratto (Ita) UnitedHealthcare
9. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
10. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey Overall After Stage 5:
1. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice in 19:42:08
2. Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida at 0:22
3. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:54
4. Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:20
5. Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:38
6. Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 1:39
7. Daniele Ratto (Ita) UnitedHealthcare at 1:42
8. Alex Cano Ardila (Col) Colombia at 1:56
9. Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 2:11
10. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal at 2:12.

Stage 5:

Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) won at the top of a lightning-fast final ascent of Stage 6 of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, from Denizli to Selcuk, 184km. The exciting young Colombian rider Miguel Ángel López (Astana) was second, and another Colombian, Heiner Parra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) was third.

Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) finished 6th in the stage, but gained 43 seconds on the overnight leader, Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), only 19th today. The Italian now lies second overall at 21 seconds. Third placed Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) finished 7th on the stage, and now lies third overall at 32 seconds.

The race started fast and the racing was intense for the first hour, during which the peloton covered 52km. There were many attacks, but they all failed until the 55 kilometer mark where Malcolm Rudolph (Drapac), Jarl Salomein (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise), Roy Jans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), and Ahmet Akdilek (Torku Şekerspor) managed to escape. At the intermediate sprint at 76km it was Rudolph from Salomein and Akdilek. The Beauties of Turkey sprint at km 122.1 went to Salomein from Jans and Rudolph. The lead of Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) in the White Jersey competition was unthreatened. He still had 13 points, with Federico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare) on 11. Salomein joined Cavendish, Gonçalves and Pozzo on 5 points.

The intermediate sprint after 144.3km was won by Jans from Rudolph and Salomein. With 28 km to go Ahmet Akdilek collected a feed bag full of water bottles for his team-mates, and dropped back to the peloton, leaving three leaders on the climb towards the 3rd Cat summit. With 25 km to go, Bretagne-Séché Environnement replaced Tinkoff-Saxo at the front of the peloton, piloting their GC contender, Eduardo Sepúlveda into position.

1 km from the top; Salomein attacked the escape, hoping to take the KOM, but the peloton overhauled them all. Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) took the climb from Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) and Xu Gang (Lampre-Merida). Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka) also gave chase, but crossed the line fourth, earning no points. Valencia therefore extended his lead over his closest rival to 5 points in the Red Jersey KOM competition.

Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) led the charge with 3.8km to go, Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) appeared at the front, with Serge Pauwels on his wheel and Carlos Quintero (Colombia). With 2.8km to go, another Colombian, the Tour de l’Avenir champion Miguel Angel López (Astana) attacked. Only Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) went with him. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) led the chase, with Lluis Mas leading a posse of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA riders on his wheel. López accelerated again with 2.4 to go, and dropped McCarthy. The Colombian, 3:24 secs down on GC posed no threat. Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) was the next to give chase, followed by his team-mates Heiner Parra. Bilbao caught the Colombian, rode with him, then darted past in the final few hundred meters to win the stage by three seconds. López was comfortably second, ahead of his compatriot Parra, third. Fourth was Thomas De Gendt, the top five was rounded out by another Colombian, Alex Cano (Colombia).

Stage winner Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros-RGA): “Today we came here with a clear strategy to do a good final climb. We knew that the team was in a really good moment, and in the past couple of stages we saw that in the climbs we were very strong. We wanted to use that power of the team to do a good job today. They guys were incredible and I won the stage, finally. My initial intention was to do a good job in the GC, but in the 3rd stage, I lost all my chances of doing so, so my thoughts turned to this stage. We have been able to do a good job today and I’m happy now. In the third stage, I was really sad because I knew I had a great opportunity to do a good job in GC, but now I’ve forgotten all about it.”

Your future? “Right now, I’m very happy with this team. They give me an opportunity when my previous team [Euskaltel] finished, and right now I’m only thinking of doing a great job. I have good opportunities, a good calendar, to show myself. Later on, maybe in the Vuelta or some other race, I’ll worry about what I’m going to do next year.”

New overall leader Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida): “This morning I knew that this was the last chance I had for the assault on celeste jersey. Today it was a day spent quiet enough in the first part, I must say that with this Team I can run serene right up to the final stages of the race without worrying too much about the earlier km. Today, even in the final then I had available to supporters of luxury, which kept me in the first positions, in a final that had a treacherous curve at 8km from the finish line and subsequently in point of the last climb. The tussle for the stage victory born just on first flights of the ascent toward Seljuk, we never slowed down much. Once noticed Rebellin in difficulty, I understand that the best things to do today was to pull up straight, with the best step I can, avoiding to follow the shots of others and to earn as much as possible in the overall standings. I am happy to have won this jersey, and I hope to keep up in the final stage. The Team is all at my disposal and I will try to reciprocate to the better the confidence that they have given me.”

Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), 2nd on GC: “Today, I couldn’t push the pedals on the climb. I don’t know why. I couldn’t unblock legs, perhaps I needed some climbs before the final one. I’m disappointed. It was a decisive stage which suited my characteristics, but that’s the way it is. That is sport.”

Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) KOM leader: “It was a good day for the mountains. I was 2nd in the first GPM. I thought I was going to win, but I was passé don’t he line.To morrow is the last day in the mountains, so I hope to want to hold off my rivals in the two mountain prize, with God’s help, and take this title home. Miguel [Ángel López] is a very young rider, having his first experiences in Europe. He’s very, very good, and good climber, and Colombian cycling is doing very well.

Miguel Ángel López (Astana), 2nd on the stage: “It was very hard, a fast finish. Having a good position at the foot of the climb was essential. I managed to be up front, and I was feeling good so, with 3 km to go, I attacked. I was just lacking a bit of strength in the end. It’s my first good result as a professional with Astana. I’m very happy, because it’s my first race, and I’m coming back from injury and a two week break, so I’m just coming back into form.”

3rd on the stage Heiner Parra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “I’m very happy. The team worked spectacularly well with all the team. The idea was to win the stage, either with Pello or with me. It turned out to be with Pello, and the team worked hard for him to win the stage. I held on for third place, and I’m happy with my TUR.”

Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling): “All’s well that ends well. It was necessary to remain attentive throughout the day with this terrible weather in the Jura. But it is our job to race in all conditions even when it’s dangerous. Everyone was nervous in the peloton because the roads were very slippery and sometimes the gusts would catch you off-guard. I was determined to help Mathias Frank and Jarlinson Pantano stay well protected near the front of the peloton. We needed to protect them as much as possible in order so that they could save their strength for the stage to Champex. It was not all that easy of a task considering the rain and cold. But we managed to accomplish our goal.”

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey Stage 6 Result:
1. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA in 4:38:46
2. Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana at 0:03
3. Heiner Rodrigo Parra Bustamente (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:11
4. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:14
5. Alex Cano Ardila (Col) Colombia
6. Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida at 0:18
7. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
8. Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:34
9. Fabricio Ferrari Barcelo (Uru) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10. Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo.

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey Overall After Stage 6:
1. Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida in 24:21:34
2. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:21
3. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:32
4. Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:14
5. Alex Cano Ardila (Col) Colombia at 1:30
6. Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:32
7. Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 2:05
8. Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF at 2:08
9. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal at 2:18
10. Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Torku Sekerspor at 2:20.

Stage 6:

Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step) won Stage 7 of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, Selçuk – Izmir, 166 km. After losing ground on the final, First Category climb, his Etixx – Quick-Step teammates piloted him back to the leading group with 12 km go. Cavendish then won the sprint convincingly, ahead of Andrea Piechele (Bardiani-CSF) in second place and Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka), third. The race leader Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) had a puncture just inside the last 3 km but retained the Turquoise Jersey of the race leader overall.

After 18 km, the persistent Muhammet Atalay (Torku Şekerspor) succeeded in joining a trio of riders who escaped the peloton; the other two were Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) and Valerio Agnoli (Astana). Agnoli, at 9:36 in the GC, was the best placed of the three.

At the Category 2 climb after 52.8 km, the trio led by 6:07. De Bie won from Atalay and Agnoli. Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) was 4th at the head of the peloton taking 1 pt. He now has a 6 point lead over Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka), only 10 points remained and were all on the final categorized climb of the race, 85 km later. At the intermediate sprint after 62.9km: Agnoli, De Bie and Atalay. By km 68, the three leaders had extended their advantage to 6:55.

The lead of the front trio touched 7:18 with 72km to go to the finish line, but MTN-Qhubeka started to ride hard to split the field before and on the last climb, this brought the gap down.

The Beauties of Turkey sprint at km 125.6: Atalay, Agnoli and De Bie 3rd. With only 5 more points remaining in the competition, only the leader Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), with 13 points, and his closest rival, Federico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare) with 11 points, could now win the White Jersey overall.

MTN – Qhubek continued to press, and with 32km to go the breakaway was caught. With 1 km to go to the Mountains points, the peloton split, with the big sprinters in the rear group, and also, interestingly, the mountains points leader Juan Pablo Valencia. At the front, Carlos Quintero (Colombia) attacked, followed by Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal). Then Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) appeared at the front. At the summit it was Cano, De Gendt, Rebellin and Pauwels. Barring unforeseeable circumstances, Juan Pablo Valencia had won the KOM Red Jersey competition.

Cano, De Gendt, Rebellin, and Pauwels, formed a leading group over the top with a second group of about 30 riders, led by members of the Orica-GreenEDGE and Tinkoff-Saxo, a few seconds behind. That group included the race leader Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) and his team-mate, the green jersey Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida). Other good sprinters in that group included Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) and Youcef Reguigui (MTN-Qhubeka). With just under 23 km to go, the group of 30 caught the four leaders.

Within one minute of this new leading group, the group containing Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step) was led by his team-mates. Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, including the White Jersey Lluis Mas, were working hard at the front to keep the leading group away to enhance the chances of their sprinter Carlos Barbero, second in the stage to Pamukkale. Their efforts were to no avail. With 12 km to go, the Cavendish group joined the leaders. Cavendish’s Etixx – Quick-Step team-mates then shepherd the winner of stages 1 and 2 towards the front of the peloton.

Cavendish crossed the finish line with a two length lead ahead of Andrea Piechele (Bardiani-CSF), second, and Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka). 6th place in the stage was good enough for Daniele Ratto (UnitedHealthcare) to take the lead in the Green Jersey competition, with Cavendish two points behind, breathing down his neck.

Right next to the 3 km banner, the Turquoise Jersey , Durasek, punctured, he crossed the line 1:43 after the leader, but, officially, thanks to the 3 km rule, in the same time. No more than a scare, but he had negotiated a tricky stage perfectly, never panicking, always in control. Barring alien abduction, he will win the 2015 Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey tomorrow afternoon in Istanbul.

Stage 7 winner Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick Step, 1): “In terms of the sprint this was probably my easiest win with a reduced field. We didn’t have a lot of the pure sprinters there and we knew that. Teams made it clear to us they were going to make it hard on the last climb, and I told them they better make it count because with the team I have with me, I knew we’d make it back. So we just kept our tempo, making sure we didn’t go over the limit on the climb. The gap was a little bigger than we hoped, but my guys did an incredible job on the descent to come back. They grouped together, stayed with me, and they rode immediately. It was superb. I quickly got back, took a breath to recover, and then we went into lead-out mode. It went well. I spoke with Mark Renshaw and asked him to put a few riders of Lampre-Merida between Tom Boonen, because it would put them on the front a bit early. He just missed them but I managed to get them in and it went exactly as planned. They slowed down, Mark came around. I was able to jump on him and it was pretty straight forward from there. I felt super good all the way until the line and I’m super happy with this win. I never went over the limit at any point today. It would have probably been worse if I had stayed with the first group instead of us riding within ourselves. For me the biggest thing I take from today is the way the team stayed together. We did the climb together, straight away worked, and for me that is a bigger satisfaction than crossing the line first.”

2nd on the stage Andrea Piechele (Bardiani-CSF): “It’s a good result, and the best I could get against Cavendish. I’m very satisfied, also because it’s one of my best results of the season so far. I was already riding well in the previous stages but I couldn’t find a way through. I had lost the habit of sprinting. But today, I crossed the line among the best. I recovered on the descent and I had a clear head, so I found Cavendish’s wheel. Colbrelli was up there with me, on my wheel, but with 1.5 km to go, we lost each other and I wasn’t going to lose Cavendish’s slipstream.”

3rd on the stage Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka): “It’s a positive result but… I was hoping that the climb would thin out the group a bit more, but Cavendish came back. In the final, I was on Modolo’s wheel. We lost a few meters. This third place isn’t bad, but we could have done better.

Overall leader Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida): “The group was still big (when Rebellin attacked). There were 40 or 50 of us at the top of the climb, so I wasn’t worried. I knew it wasn’t a dangerous move. There was still a long way to go, it was windy, and so on… It wasn’t an easy run in to the finish.”

You had a flat tire at the end. Did you wait until the 3km banner before you stopped? I didn’t wait. I stopped at that moment. I wouldn’t have been able to do 200m more, because the bike was weaving from left to right. It happened right at the 3km marker. If you look at the video, I was with my team-mates, weaving from side to side. It is always nice to win, always nice to wear the jersey, for me and the team. It’s good for all of us. My last win was two years ago in Italy [2013, Tre Valli Varesine (1.HC)], a one day race.

Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia), Mountains category leader: “Now I can be happy. I want to thank the team: they really took care of me today. Alex Cano worked hard today, after I was dropped in the final kilometer of the climb. Rebellin was dangerous and could have got the points he needed, but now we can take this jersey home. I want to dedicate it to an uncle of mine who died yesterday. I started the stage sad because of this, but you have to carry on. I also want to say thank you to the fans for supporting us.”

Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), leader of the Beauties of Turkey Sprints competition: “Today, for the White Jersey, I only had to keep and eye on Federico Zurlo. He didn’t attack, so I stayed int he peloton to work for Carlos Barbero in the sprint. We thought he could be a contender today, but he didn’t get over the hill as well as he did at Pamukkale two days ago, and he didn’t have the power to play his cards int he sprint. We won a fantastic stage yesterday, but you don’t end every day with a smile on your face.”

Points green jersey Daneile Ratto (UnitedHealthcare): “I’m happy. Today, the sprint could have gone better. I was boxed in with 150m to go, and I had to brake. 6th place has given me the Green Jersey. I haven’t been far away from it all TUR. I might lose it tomorrow but at least I’ll wear it in Istanbul, which is a great honor for me and the team, and pays us back for all the effort we make to be up among the best in each stage. We aren’t a team with a leader of the General Classification. I have been the best placed until yesterday, but I had a bad day, so today we just wanted to honor the race and to be protagonists. We thought we might be able to win the White Jersey with Zurlo, but it has turned out to be harder than we could have imagined. Now, if I can bring the Green Jersey home, we’ll be happy with that. It will be hard, because I don’t have a big lead, but I’ll fight to the end for it.”

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey Stage 7 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Etixx – Quick-Step in 3:59:49
2. Andrea Piechele (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
3. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
4. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast
5. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-GreenEDGE
6. Daniele Ratto (Ita) UnitedHealthcare
7. Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
8. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
10. Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kaz) Astana.

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey Overall After Stage 7:
1. Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida in 28:21:23
2. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:21
3. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:32
4. Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:14
5. Alex Cano Ardila (Col) Colombia at 1:30
6. Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN-Qhubeka 0:01:32
7. Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 2:05
8. Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 2:08
9. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal at 2:18
10. Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Torku Sekerspor at 2:20.

Stage 7:

Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) confirmed his overall victory in the 2015 Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey on Sunday afternoon at the end of Stage 8. Durasek’s closest rival, the former race leader Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polowice), crashed during the stage and abandoned the race and Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) replaced Rebellin in 2nd place overall. 22 year old Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished 3rd.

Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) won the final stage with an attack 1.3km to go. Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step) had to be content with 2nd place, and overall victory in the Points Green Jersey competition. Mas’s Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team-mate Carlos Barbero was third on the stage, completing a truly excellent race for the Spanish team. Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) finished safely in the peloton to win the KOM Red Jersey.

Kevin De Mesmaeker (Novo Nordisk) initiated an early move. He was quickly joined by Boris Vallée (Lotto Soudal), Eduard Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise). De Mesmaeker then disappeared from the quartet, to be replaced by a solitary chaser who bridged the gap, Carlos Quintero (Colombia).

The breakaway effectively ensured Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) as overall winner of the Beauties of Turkey competition. The final White Jersey result was confirmed after 32.4km, when the Beauties of Turkey sprint of the day was won by De Ketele from Vallée and Grosu. The leading quartet reached its maximum advantage of 2:15 with 68km to go. The intermediate sprint after 82.5km was taken by Grosu ahead of De Ketele and Vallée. With 15 points remaining in the sprints competition, only four riders could now win the Green Jersey. They were the current competition leader Daniele Ratto (UnitedHealthcare), with 48 points, Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step), just two points behind him and the favorite to win today’s stage; Manuel Belletti (Southeast) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) on 41 points.

With 30km to go, former race leader Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polowice) crashed and abandoned the race and Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) moved into 2nd place overall, and Jay McCarthy (Tinkov-Saxo) into 3rd. Rebellin’s CCC Sprandi Polkowice team-mates Jan Hirt and Stefan Schumacher also abandoned.

With 20 to go, the gap was down to 1:25 and then 1 minute with 14.5 km to go. The leaders were caught 4.9 km from the finish line. A bunch sprint looked inevitable, but, with 1.3 km to go, Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) made his move with Cavendish chasing. The Spaniard held on to win, while Cavendish, lacking Tom Boonen in his sprint lead-out, had to be content with 2nd place, and overall victory in the Green Jersey competition. Mas’s Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team-mate Carlos Barbero was third in the stage, completing a truly excellent Tour of Turkey for the Spanish team.

Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), winner of the 2015 Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey: It means a lot. It’s my second victory for Lampre and I’m very happy with it. Normally I’m always calm, taking everything easy, int he race it’s like that. Always easy. I knew that I was going well, but it’s difficult to say ‘I’ll win it’ before the race, because you never know. I came here for victory, like at a lot of races, but this time I have done it. Last night I was really ill with a temperature of 38, a bad stomach and everything. I didn’t know if I’d start today or not. In the morning, I said to myself, I have to try. It was hard for me yesterday and today. The win doesn’t change a lot. The team knew my characteristics. In some races I have to help my team-mates, and in others I can ride for myself. In theory, a Grand Tour. Now we have some ill riders, so I will see. Maybe the Giro d’Italia, but otherwise, Dauphine and Tour. The Tour of Croatia is a Category 1 race, and the Tour of Turkey is HC, so this is more important. I hope I can ride the Tour of Croatia next year, but they have to change the dates, because with the classics, Trentino and Turkey, there are a lot of races. If they want bigger teams, they will have to change the dates. I want to win a stage in a Grand Tour, it would be a dream come true, or a big classic.”

Stage and White jersey winner Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “My first job to work for Barbero, our sprinter. We knew that he could win today. He was 2nd the other day. But I was first around the last corner and my teammate said, ‘Don’t stop, don’t stop…!’ so I didn’t. I feel fantastic. Today, I was thinking of my son, Lluis. I became a father in September, and this is the best present for him. It’s my first victory in a pro race. I won a race in Portugal 3 years ago, but this is my first, most important victory. I’m very happy. All the week, I worked every day to get into breakaways, and to win the Beauties of Turkey sprints competition, but this stage win is the best. I thought it was not a clear final for the sprinters. Their teams couldn’t work easily. In the last few kilometers, with 2 team mates, we worked to try and break the group, thinking of Barbero. It’s a big family. At all the races, we are a really happy team. We work for each other, and when one of us wins, the whole team wins. Without his puncture in stage 3, we came here thinking that Bilbao could win the overall. He had bad luck. We had options with Parra, a good climber, but he couldn’t stay in the front in the General Classification. I’m happy in this team but every rider wants to be in a big team. I like the classics. I’ll go to 4 days of Dunkirk next and I’ll try and be high in GC, then I have 3 weeks to relax, and then the team will name 10 names for the Vuelta. I’ll either relax in the summer and ride the Vuelta, or ride in the summer and relax during the Vuelta.”

2nd on the stage Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I’m super happy with getting the Green jersey at the end. The stage Andre Greipel won I expected to get over the big climb and I couldn’t. I lost clutch of the Points Jersey that day, but I’m delighted to get it back on the last stage. I would have liked to win the stage today, but we tried our hardest. Luis went really strong at the end and I’m pleased we could finish on the podium and get back the Green Jersey. It was a really nice race at Tour of Turkey. I think other races could take organizational ideas from Tour of Turkey and put them to good use. For me it’s one of the best organized races I do all year, in a beautiful country. The riders are put first. It’s really nice to come here. I said the same kind of things last year and after this edition I want to keep coming back here. Now I fly directly to Tour of California to race there. After that I’ll be racing Tour de Suisse, British Championships, and the Tour de France. I am looking forward to the next races in function of Le Tour.”

Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) winner of the KOM Red Jersey: I want to dedicate this to my uncle, Nemesio González, who sadly died on Thursday. He was one of the people who helped me and fed me when I was a child. And to the race organization, and my team: we worked well together, we had a strong team. Sadly, we will not be at the Giro, but we will prepare ourselves for the Vuelta.

How important was the team in wining this jersey? “Very important. Before the stage yesterday, in our team meeting, we decided to try to neutralize the 2nd climb. We knew Rebellin was a contender, and the Qhubeka guy (ed. Songezo Jim). We kept an eye on them, so the jersey belongs to all the team.”

Peio Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), winner of Stage 6: “Just to be invited to the Tour of Turkey, with some of the best teams in the world, was an honor, and to go home with two stage wins and the Teams Classification is a fantastic result. Team work was the key to our success here. The TUR is the turning point in our season. We started the season in difficulty because of injuries and illness, but now, we are on the right trajectory. In theory, Caja Rural – Seguros RGA is a small team with limited resources. Winning here and in Italy (the Tour of the Apennines with Omar Fraile) in the same week is great for us.”

Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), 2nd overall: “This isn’t the way I’d have liked to finish second in the TUR. It’s a shame about Rebellin. I hope he’s OK soon. To stand on the final podium, whether it is second or third, is a good result which will give me confidence. With this result, I can continue to work calmly for July 9 (ed. and his first Tour de France). My team with continue to gain points to keep the leadership of the Europe Tour, which is good.”

Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), 3rd overall: “I didn’t expect to be on the podium today. It’s a bit of a shame that Rebellin crashed. It’s part of bike racing I guess. Sometimes you can be on the lucky side of accidents but that’s not the way I wanted to make the top 3. Anyway, I’m happy with my week of racing here in Turkey. The hard work has been fruitful.”

5th overall Serge Pauwels (IAM Cycling): I am very proud of how the team rode this week for me in the Tour of Turkey. I have received the best support all week, but more importantly, we were fighting together every day as a team. We left our mark on the race instead of just taking part. That was really good. Even other teams based their strategies on our tactics.”

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey Stage 8 Result:
1. Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA in 2:45:03
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) Etixx – Quick-Step
3. Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
4. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Southeast
5. Daniele Colli (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini
6. Daniele Ratto (Ita) UnitedHealthcare
7. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
8. Eduard Prades Reverte (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEDGE.

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey Final Overall Result:
1. Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida in 31:06:44
2. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:32
3. Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:56
4. Alex Cano Ardila (Col) Colombia at 1:30
5. Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:32
6. Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 1:58
7. Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 2:01
8. Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Torku Sekerspor at 2:02
9. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal at 2:11
10. Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Novo Nordisk at 2:15.

The final stage 8:

header-TdeYorkshire15Tour de Yorkshire 2015
The Norwegian Lars Petter Nordhaug claimed what he said felt like a “home victory” for his Sky team in front of massive crowds on Stage 1 of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire. Rain and a peril-strewn route through the North Yorkshire Moors had wreaked havoc earlier in the stage, with star attractions Ben Swift and Marcel Kittel both forced to abandon. Nordhaug will start stage 2 to York in the race leader’s blue jersey and with a four-second advantage over Thomas Voeckler on general classification thanks to time bonuses.

The first meaningful break of the day formed after 21 kilometers and comprised Mark Christian (Wiggins), Loïc Chetout (Cofidis), Eddie Dunbar (NFTO), Mark Stewart (Madison Genesis) and Rasmus Quaade (Cult Energy). These five riders would stay together for 75 kilometers and build a maximum lead of just under five minutes before a peloton led by Sky gradually clawed back their deficit. The five would be reabsorbed at the foot of the Côte de Rosedale Abbey after 91 kilometres.

The hostilities recommenced with an attack from Pierrick Quéméneur (Europcar) in Danby with 68 kilometres to go. The Europcar rider was soon joined by Tim Declercq of Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, and that pair quickly built a lead of 40 seconds. Meanwhile, at the other end of the race, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) was enduring a miserable time as rain started falling on the North York Moors. Dropped earlier on the Côte de Rosedale Abbey, Kittel had battled on for 20 kilometres but now decided to end his Tour de Yorkshire with just under 70 kilometres to go.

Kittel’s would be the first of several notable withdrawals. Many of them resulted from crashes on a slippery descent in Egton 53 kilometres from home. One of the two leaders, Declercq, overshot a right-hand bend and went straight on into a hedge. In the peloton, one of the pre-race favorites, Ben Swift, tumbled on the same, treacherous downhill section and would follow Kittel into the broom wagon.

Declercq’s slip left Quéméneur alone at the head of the race, with his advantage holding at around 45 seconds over the Côte de Grosmont, with 50 kilometres to go. Confusion in the main bunch briefly allowed the Frenchman to extend his lead to over a minute, until Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) and George Harper (ONE) countered and, behind that pair, the peloton slowly began to regroup. Quéméneur still took full points on the penultimate classified climb of the day, the Côte de Briggswath after 130km, ensuring that he will wear the King of the Mountains jersey on Saturday.

On the uphill drag out of Whitby, with just under 40 kilometres still to ride, the peloton finally swept up Quéméneur. Now the serious attacks began: a fifteen-man lead group starring, among others, Samuel Sanchez (BMC), Philip Deignan, Lars Petter Nordhaug & David Lopez (Sky), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) came together, leaving the MTN-Qhubeka pair of Janse Van Rensburg and Stephen Cummings caught in no man’s land with BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet. Van Avermaet and Cummings caught the leaders only in time for a further selection to occur on the Côte de Robin Hood’s Bay after 145 kilometres. Near the top of the climb, the lead group shattered under pressure from Deignan, with the Irishman dragging four other riders clear over the summit: his team-mate Nordhaug, Voeckler, Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis) and Sanchez. This quintet immediately built a lead of 20 seconds over a nine-man chase group – and had extended the gap to over a minute by the time they reached Scarborough.

Sky sought to make their numerical advantage pay by unleashing Nordhaug with 5 kilometres to go, then, when the Norwegian was caught, by trying with Deignan 2.5 kilometres from the line, again to no avail. The attacks and counters continued until the five leaders rode under the red kite together. At the 300-metre-to-go mark, Sanchez launched his sprint into the headwind gusting down the promenade, but was comfortably overhauled by Rossetto, who in turn couldn’t hold off Nordhaug.

Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka): “It was a bit stressful to get to the start line today. After only receiving my Visa for Britain yesterday, I arrived this morning. I had breakfast at a coffee shop on the airport and pinned on my race number just minutes before the start. It was really hectic, so I am actually quite happy with how my race went.”

Thomas Degand (IAM Cycling): “Everyone thought there would be a bunch sprint. Honestly, I was surprised by this stage for several reasons. First, the weather: it was not more than 10 degrees and there was always wind, so it was not easy. Then judging from the profile on paper, we did not think that it would be this hard. But with 100 kilometers from the finish, there were riders all over the place, and many guys were simply dropped.” This proved a hard recovery for the Belgian rider who has made his return to competition by this race in England after several months without racing. “I was happy because during the stage on a hard climb with 60 kilometers to go to the finish, the peloton was reduced to maybe 50 riders, and I was among them. At the end, I clearly felt that I was missing the race rhythm. I could stay with the group, but I couldn’t take any pulls. That’s normal and nothing alarming; I must remain realistic. But I hope that these three days of racing will help me be even more competitive at the Tour of Bavaria.”

Tour de Yorkshire Stage 1 Result:
1. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky in 4:22:38
2. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar
3. Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis
4. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC
5. Philip Deignan (Irl) Sky
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 1:10
7. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis
8. Erick Rowsell (GB) Madison Genesis
9. Richard Handley (GB) JLT Condor
10. Huub Duijn (Ned) Team Roompot.

Tour de Yorkshire Overall After Stage 1:
1. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky in 4:22:28
2. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar at 0:04
3. Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis at 0:06
4. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC at 0:10
5. Philip Deignan (Irl) Sky
6. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis at 1:18
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 1:20
8. Erick Rowsell (GB) Madison Genesis
9. Richard Handley (GB) JLT Condor
10. Huub Duijn (Ned) Team Roompot.

Yorkshire stage 1:

The LottoNL-Jumbo team was beginning to wonder whether their first victory of the 2015 season would ever arrive. Happily for the Dutch outfit, Moreno Hofland broke the hoodoo in a sprint finish on Stage 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire from Selby to York where 450.000 spectators lined the route. On a day which looked briefly like one for the escape artists, Team Sky were relieved to see the peloton come back together in the finale and their race leader, Lars Petter Nordhaug, retain his narrow advantage on general classification.

After yesterday’s journey to and along the coast, the Tour de Yorkshire peloton headed inland today for stage two. The 132 riders left in the race set out from Selby at 11.20am, cheered by crowds worthy of a Tour de France in both number and volume. Under slate skies, 18 riders including Philip Deignan (Sky), fifth overall and one of the stars yesterday, broke free of the main bunch after five kilometres. Eight of these men remained clear after 16 kilometres: Tennant (Wiggins), De Backer (Giant-Alpecin), Steels (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Bernaudeau (Europcar), Brammeier (MTN-Qhubeka), Edet (Cofidis), Slik (Roompot) and McNally (Madison Genesis).

McNally led the group of eight over the first classified climb, 5:15 ahead of a main peloton driven by Sky. The same rider would also take maximum points on the Côte de Fimber after 78.5 kilometres, with Edet, Tennant and Brammeier following him over the summit in that order. Back at the front of the main bunch, IAM Cycling were playing a game of containment and allowed the eight escapees’ advantage to increase to over six minutes.

The eight breakaway riders continued to work harmoniously as they headed through the feed zone in Norton (94.5 kilometres) with a lead of just under six minutes. With 60 kilometres to ride, though, the chasing pack and the IAM Cycling and LottoNL-Jumbo teams in particular decided to step up their pursuit. Within ten kilometres, the gap had tumbled to just over four minutes. A bunch sprint suddenly looked like the formality that many had predicted.

The pressure from behind began to take its toll on the leaders as they headed towards the last 50 kilometres. Bernaudeau was the first rider to sit up. The peloton had then reduced its deficit to just over two minutes by the time they swept into York with 40 kilometres to go. Fifteen kilometres later, aware that the peloton was closing, McNally and De Backer attacked from the group of seven. This duo held a one-minute advantage over the peloton as they entered the last 20 kilometres. The remaining five escapees were finally absorbed into the main bunch 17 kilometres from the line.

With 5.5 kilometers to race and the peloton now within 15 seconds, De Backer attacked and dropped McNally. The Belgian would hold off the peloton for a further four kilometres before both his 167-kilometer effort and a short-lived counter attack by Anthony Turgis’s (Cofidis) came to an end.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) bolted out of the bunch under the kilometer-to-go kite and briefly looked capable of a vintage coup de finisseur. With 200 meters to go, though, the Belgian was swept up in a bunch stampede led home by Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo). Hofland had been poised on Matteo Pelucchi’s (IAM Cycling) rear wheel throughout the last two kilometres, and comfortably beat the Italian into second place. Further back in the main peloton, race leader Lars Petter Nordhaug coasted home to retain his four-second advantage over Thomas Voeckler on general classification with just Sunday’s “Queen Stage” to Leeds remaining. Perrig Quémeneur also keeps his King of the Mountains jersey.

Stage winner Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo): “I’m very pleased that we are now rid of the hateful nil. I had a difficult start of the season, things didn’t go as planned, but hopefully we can keep this trend going. I was already full of morale, but this gives me an extra boost in the run-up to the Giro d’Italia. It would be great if I can do something like this again over there in Italy. I sat in Robert Wagner’s wheel for the final 40 kilometres. He dropped me off at the front for the sprint. After that, I chose to follow Pelluchi. I waited until the 200 meters sign and then used my speed to pass the others.”

2nd on the stage Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling): “It was a flat stage certainly, but very hard overall. We had to control the race all day. I really want to thank my teammates because they rode on the front the entire time in order to give me the chance in the final sprint. I am very sorry to have taken second, but I was up against someone who simply was faster than me. I gave the maximum of myself, but I do feel that I still lacked that bit of rhythm, that extra something special. That final attack by Greg Van Avermaet surprised everyone a little bit, and it ended up blurring the plan that we were riding to. When Jonas Van Genechten dropped me off for the sprint at 250 meters to go, Moreno Hofland got off faster than me. I could not out pace him. However, I am happy with the result if only because it is a good sign for the upcoming Giro.”

7th on the stage Russell Downing (Cult Energy): “My teammates really did an amazing job keeping me out of trouble and they put me in an excellent position in the finale and unfortunately, I could only reward them by finishing 7th. On another note, it was an amazing day with thousands and thousands of fans along the road and especially, the run-in to York was a scene to remember forever.”

8th on the stage Andy Stauff (MTN-Qhubeka): “The plan was actually to lead out Reinie but we lost each other with 2km to go. I dropped my chain and punctured on the circuit and had to chase for about 20km to come back to the peloton just as we entered the final lap. I had spent a lot of energy so was not really fresh anymore but the adrenaline was pumping so I pushed myself to do the lead out once more. We were well positioned and Steve did a superb job to keep us in front. The final 3k was super technical and everyone was fighting for position, there were no trains, just chaos. The sprint was super fast and I was missing that final kick but it felt good to be up there after injury. Now I am a bit more confident with the next block of racing that includes Bayern, World Ports and Berlin.

Break rider Matt Brammeier (MTN-Qhubeka): “A big group went from the start and I had to make a big effort to go across and make sure we had somebody there. I was feeling good until the final 20kms. After a week of the bike last week the condition isn’t super but it’s on its way up heading into my next important block of races. Of course I always like to show myself in the breakaways, it is a characteristic of mine and something I enjoy. I really want to go the Tour and I think the team want to send riders who can go in the breakaways so I want to take every opportunity possible.”

Tour de Yorkshire Stage 2 Result:
1. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto NL-Jumbo in 3:57:58
2. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling
3. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Giant-Alpecin
4. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing
5. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Roompot
6. André Looij (Ned) Team Roompot
7. Russell Downing (GB) Cult Energy
8. Andreas Stauff (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
9. Harry Tanfield (GB) JLT Condor
10. Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Tour de Yorkshire Overall After Stage 2:
1. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky in 8:20:26
2. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC at 0:10
3. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar
4. Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis at 0:12
5. Philip Deignan (Irl) Sky at 0:16
6. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis at 1:18
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 1:20
8. Erick Rowsell (GB) Madison Genesis
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC at 1:23
10. Richard Handley (GB) JLT Condor at 1:26.

Stage 2:

As if a grueling route through the moors of West Yorkshire didn’t suffice to make the Final Stage 3 of the Tour de Yorkshire a daunting prospect for the 131 riders left in the race, cold drizzle throughout the morning had brought the promise of more misery and – for the spectators – more entertainment. By the time the flag went down, though, the rain had stopped and the stars of the peloton were doing their best to raise the temperature. As early as the ninth kilometer, 23 riders had jumped away, but presence among them of Thomas Voeckler, the third-placed rider on general classification, provoked an instant reaction from the main bunch and disharmony in the breakaway.

Seven of the 23 did manage to pull clear after 27 kilometers and start to build an advantage, now with the peloton’s blessing: Craddock (Giant-Alpecin), Enger (IAM Cycling), Edet (Cofidis), Janse Van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka), Quaade (Cult Energy), McLaughlin (Madison Genesis) and Bibby (NFTO). By the time that Bibby led over the summit of Holmfirth (km 40), their advantage was 3:45 over a main bunch driven by Lars Petter Nordhaug’s Sky team. Bibby, now sensing his chance to stage a late coup in the King of the Mountains competition, was also the first rider over the Côte de Hebden Bridge (km 95).

Apparently unhappy with the pace of his six breakaway companions, Lawson Craddock attacked early on the Côte de Goose Eye (km 110). Edet promptly gave chase from behind. The Frenchman would join Craddock just beyond the Goose Eye summit. Four and a half minutes back, Voeckler’s Europcar team briefly accelerated in an attempt to put Sky under pressure, but the British team quickly regained control – possibly to the relief of prime minister David Cameron, who was among the spectators in Addingham (km 123). With 37 kilometres remaining, the last of the five escapees left behind by Craddock and Edet, the Norwegian Enger, was finally mopped up by the main peloton. Helpfully for his countryman Nordhaug, Enger had snaffled the last bonus second available at the intermediate sprint in Ilkley.

When they hit the lower slopes of the Cow & Calf, 35 kilometres from home, Craddock and Edet’s advantage began to tumble. An attack from Josh Edmondson (GB) halfway up the climb helped to drag the main peloton to within just over two minutes of the lead duo.

On the approach to the final classified climb of the race, the formidable Côte de Chevin, BMC riders swarmed to the front, infiltrating the Team Sky train. The rain had now returned, making the roads treacherous. Of greater concern to Edet was picking up the final King of the Mountains points of the race to seal victory in that competition, which he duly did at the top of the Côte de Chevin. Meanwhile, back down the climb, Sky regained total control.

For the next ten kilometers. Craddock and Edet managed to hold their lead at just over one minute, until Craddock rode away from the Frenchman on the steep, unclassified climb in Arthington (km 151.5). A counter attack from Gustav Larsson (Cult Enery) was swept up on the same sharp rise, moments before Lars Petter Nordhaug took the final bonus second at the last intermediate sprint of the Tour.

Before the ten-kilometer-to-go mark, Steven Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) and Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto NL-Jumbo) both tried their luck, but didn’t gain more than a few hundred meters over Nordhaug et al. Ben Hermans (BMC) fared better, attacking just over nine kilometres from home, then catching and immediately dropping Craddock with 4.5 kilometres to ride. The Belgian, a recent winner of the Brabantse Pill, then forged on to win alone, ahead of a group led over the line by his BMC team-mate Greg Van Avermaet.

Lars Petter Nordaug’s sixth place on the stage was enough to bring him overall victory by 11 seconds over Samuel Sanchez and Thomas Voeckler. Racing on home roads, Team Sky had also claimed their sixth stage race victory of the 2015 season.

Stage winner Ben Hermans (BMC): “Fortunately, today was a good day, I had a hard moment on second-to-last KOM (king of the mountain) when it started to rain. But then I felt better and attacked. We wanted to make the race hard for the last couple of climbs and then some other teams would attack, or maybe I would attack. But I did not feel quite good enough to attack and still go with the good guys. So we stayed together. I think everyone was a little bit dead at that moment.”

2nd overall Samuel Sanchez (BMC): “Second in the GC (general classification) and Ben winning the stage is a fantastic result for us. The final 35 kilometers we had aggressive tactics. It was nice to do so well in this new race that had so many people out to watch.”

Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling): “I’m happy because I was able to follow the instructions that were set out this morning for us before the departure. I tried to hold out as long as I could, but it was impossible to go all the way. However, I will remember the impressive roadside crowds from this Tour de Yorkshire. They offered a lot of encouragement and it always is nice to race in these conditions.”

Tour de Yorkshire Stage 3 Result:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 4:27:22
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:09
3. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
4. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC
5. Huub Duijn (Ned) Team Roompot
6. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky
7. Alex Kirsch (Lux) Cult Energy
8. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Lotto NL-Jumbo
10. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar.

Tour de Yorkshire Final Overall Result:
1. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky in 12:47:56
2. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC at 0:11
3. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar
4. Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis at 0:13
5. Philip Deignan (Irl) Sky at 0:24
6. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC at 1:05
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 1:15
8. Erick Rowsell (GB) Madison Genesis at 1:21
9. Huub Duijn (Ned) Team Roompot at 1:27
10. Richard Handley (GB) JLT Condor.

The final stage:

header-giroGiro d’Italia 2015
Everything at Stake at the Giro d’Italia
With less than a week until the 9th May start, beginning with the Team Time Trial on the Riviera dei Fiori cycling path, the main rider entries for the Corsa Rosa have been announced and promise an open and unpredictable race.

“The toughest race in the World’s most beautiful place” – organized by RCS Sport / La Gazzetta dello Sport – will start on Saturday 9th May with the spectacular and “unique” Team Time Trial on the Riviera dei Fiori cycling path, from San Lorenzo a Mare to Sanremo, to finish on Sunday 31 May in Milan, during the Expo 2015.

There will be 22 teams, each with nine riders, that will battle through the 3,489km of the race on a course full of challenges from the very start.

The favorites for the overall General Classification are announced today with the first provisional entry list and are: the Spaniard Alberto Contador, the Australian Richie Porte, the Colombian Rigoberto Urán, the Italian Fabio Aru and the Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck.

Among stage hunters, finisseurs (a rider who has both the speed and power to attack the peloton in the final kilometer of a stage and stay away on their own) and sprinters there are many top names from the international peloton: the Belgians Tom Boonen (at his first Giro) and Philippe Gilbert; the Australians Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews (winner in 2014 of Montecassino stage and leader of the Corsa Rosa for six days), Michael Rogers (winner of two stages last year, including the mighty Zoncolan) and Australian national champion Heinrich Haussler; the Spaniards Jon Izagirre, Beñat Intxausti, Juan José Lobato, Mikel Landa and Mikel Nieve; the Colombians Carlos Betancur and Darwin Atapuma; the Czechs Roman Kreuziger and Leopold König; Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel; the Russian national champion Aleksandr Porsev; the Germans André Greipel and Simon Geschke; the Dutchman Maarten Tjallingii; the Slovenians Grega Bolea and Luka Mezgec (winner of last year’s sprint for the Trieste stage) and the Italians Domenico Pozzovivo, Giovanni Visconti, Luca Paolini, Diego Ulissi, Fabio Felline, Oscar Gatto, Elia Viviani, Sasha Modolo, Alessandro Petacchi, Giacomo Nizzolo, Matteo Pelucchi and Enrico Battaglin (winner of the Oropa stage in 2014).

There will also be four previous winners of Giro d’Italia at the start: Damiano Cunego (2004), Ivan Basso (2006 and 2010), Alberto Contador (2008) and Ryder Hesjedal (2012).

AG2R LA MONDIALE (FRA) – Pozzovivo, Betancur
ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI (ITA) – Pellizotti, Gatto
BARDIANI CSF (ITA) – Battaglin, Colbrelli
BMC RACING TEAM (USA) – Gilbert, Caruso
ETIXX – QUICK STEP (BEL) – Uran, Boonen
FDJ (FRA) – Roux, Veikkanen
IAM CYCLING (SUI) – Chavanel, Haussler
LAMPRE – MERIDA (ITA) – Ulissi, Modolo
LOTTO SOUDAL (BEL) – Van den Broeck, Greipel
MOVISTAR TEAM (ESP) – Izagirre, Intxausti
NIPPO – VINI FANTINI (ITA) – Cunego, Colli
ORICA GREENEDGE (AUS) – Gerrans, Matthews
TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN (USA) – Hesjedal, Formolo
TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN (GER) – Geschke, Mezgec
TEAM KATUSHA (RUS) – Paolini, Porsev
TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO (NED) – Tjallingii, Kruijswijk
TEAM SKY (GBR) – Porte, Viviani
TINKOFF – SAXO (RUS) – Contador, Basso
TREK FACTORY RACING (USA) – Felline, Nizzolo.


header-tinkoff-saxo15Alberto Contador: “I am very happy with my team for the Giro”
Alberto Contador will wrap up his preparation for the Giro d’Italia in the V. Marcha Alberto Contador, to be held on Saturday in Plasencia, Spain. After spending three weeks at the high-altitude training camp on Teide in the Canary Islands, the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo is ready to tackle the first part of his daunting challenge of the season, which is to try winning the Giro-Tour double.

With one week left until the start of the season’s first Grand Tour, we catch up with our team leader to talk about his form, his thoughts on this year’s race course, his rivals and the strong squad that will support him.

Tinkoff-Saxo will officially unveil its lineup for the 2015 edition of the Giro d’Italia on Monday, May 4th.

How are you feeling a week before the start of the Giro?
Today, I’m in a moment of recovery and assimilation, because I carried out a huge block of work during the last three weeks on Teide, with even more meters of elevation gain than I will have in the Giro. I have confidence in the work done and I will be in optimal condition.

How was the training camp on Teide?
It was a very good training camp with a great working environment among all teammates. We had grueling training sessions, with more than 5,000 meters of elevation gain and over 200 kilometers, covering all levels of intensity. At the same time, we had there the calm and tranquility needed to dedicate ourselves solely to training and resting. We also tightened the screw even further in terms of nutrition, because it gets more difficult every year to reach the optimal weight and we have to make incredible sacrifices in order to be in the best condition.

Did your plans play out as expected in the first part of this season?
Yes, more or less, regardless of the results, with days, where I was in front and others, where I wasn’t. However, my fitness level was the one I had planned this year, one or two points below that of other seasons, always thinking I would do the Giro and the Tour. I knew that the first races of the year, in addition to competing for them as always, would serve to build a solid training base and achieve the rhythm that you cannot get solely by training.

Are you heading into the Giro the way you wanted? Are you in top form or do you still have some road ahead?
I come in a pretty good shape and I’m happy with that. It is true that we must wait and see the race and I’m not at the same level I had at the beginning of the Tour last year but slightly lower. Nevertheless, we have to keep in mind that if I were at the same level it would be difficult to keep in good shape until the Tour. In any case, we must wait for the race to see how I am in comparison to my rivals.

You raced in the Giro twice. How would you compare this year’s parcours to the other two?
This year I would highlight, if we analyze it in detail, that it is different from the others in the sense it doesn’t have mountain finishes that are very, very hard. They are rather smooth climbs, with gradients of 5%, 6% or 7% at most. Such are the finishes of the fifth stage (Abetone), eighth (Campitello Matese), fifteenth (Madonna di Campiglio) and nineteenth stage (Cervinia). Perhaps the most demanding mountains this year are on the stages where the finish is after the descent or when there is still another mountain pass to climb, as is the case of Finestre, the day we finish in Sestriere, or the Mortirolo with the finish in Aprica. I think that until the long time trial on the 14th stage, the differences will basically come from the bonuses on the mountain finishes, because they are not very hard, open, and if it is windy, they will favor a bunch finish between the favorites.

What would you highlight in this parcours? Is it a Giro that you like?
I would probably single out the final week, in which the hardest mountain passes, with steep climbs, can provide a very nice show, with possible attacks from afar. This year, however, I miss a final on summits such as Marmolada or Zoncolan.

What is the hardest stage?
It will surely be the Mortirolo stage, with successive climbs on Campo Carlo Magno, Tonale, Aprica, Mortirolo and then Aprica again to the finish. It will not be only due to these climbs, but also the stage’s place in the race as a whole, five days before the end.

What do you think of the 60-kilometer time trial? What can happen there?
I went to see it after the Volta a Catalunya, taking advantage of the fact that it isn’t too far from my home in Lugano. It is a flatter course than I thought. The final rolling hills can be done even in time trial position. I would have liked the hills to be tougher, which is where I really can make a difference, but I don’t dislike them either. In this training camp we carried out efforts over an hour simulating that stage and I have confidence in my possibilities.

Who are your rivals in this Giro? Who are the most dangerous?
The strongest opponents are those that come up in all the bets. One has to point out the great season of Richie Porte, who has proved very strong from the outset. He will be a tough opponent to beat, like Rigoberto Uran, who already knows what it is like to be close to winning a Giro, especially this year, with a parcours that suits him better than the one in 2014, in which he was second, with that long time trial. Also noteworthy is Fabio Aru, who has already finished third in the Giro and fifth in the Vuelta. If he shows just some slight improvement, he will be fighting for victory. Nevertheless, we also need to keep in mind that in the Giro, there will always be riders, who surprise. Among the three Grand Tours, the Giro is the most open, due to the performance of riders that weren’t considered favorites at the start. In any case, it will be very difficult to win this race and it will require my maximum effort.

How do you assess the Tinkoff-Saxo squad for the Giro? Are you happy with the team that will support you?
I am very, very happy with the teammates I will have in the Giro. They are all highly motivated and everyone has given their outmost to earn a place in this team. The basic pillars in the mountains will be Ivan Basso, Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers. Just by mentioning their names we can get an idea of their quality and the huge experience they have. I have the maximum confidence in them.

Before traveling to Italy, you will ride the V Marcha Alberto Contador. What does this event mean to you? Will it be a good final set-up?
It will be a really important day for me. We always go fast in that ride and this year it takes place in a perfect time to do a good job. It also makes me especially excited because this year it takes place in Extremadura, the land of my parents and all my family. It will be a very special moment to enjoy with all the fans that I will find there. In addition, the course is demanding and will be a good setup in order to get speed into the legs before packing up and traveling to Sanremo.

The Tinkoff-Saxo 2015 Giro d’Italia Team:

header-turkey15Fighting in the Tour of Turkey
No idea what started this bit of bother between Astana’s Dmitry Gruzdef and Eugert Zhupa of the Southeast team on stage 5, but it didn’t come to much. At the end of the stage Gruzdef was disqualified, Zhupa was allowed to race on.

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