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Caminito del Rey - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Vincenzo Nibali (Team Astana) listening and talking to the jury pictured during La Vuelta 2015 Stage 2 from AlhaurÌn de la Torre to Caminito del Rey - photo Sabine Jacob/Cor Vos © 2015

EUROTRASH Mad Vuelta Thursday!

The madness of the Vuelta goes on: Nibali has gone just like Ben King’s Garmin in today’s TOP STORY! We have all the news from Spain with race reports, results, rider quotes and video. Don’t forget the WorldTour: we preview the GP Ouest France – Plouay in Brittany and the contract news keep rolling in. To finish… a coffee or five, how many do the riders drink.

TOP STORY: The Public!
It was a real shock to see a group gather round Cannondale-Garmin rider Ben King after his crash during stage 4 of the Vuelta and have someone appear to try to steal his bike. A shirtless man smoking a cigarette ran up to King as he waited for a replacement bike and tried to ride off on the damaged Cannondale, the American kept hold of the bike, which was unrideable anyway, and the miscreant gave up. What you couldn’t see was that someone stole King’s Garmin computer from the handlebars. If it wasn’t for the theft, the whole thing was quite funny, but what if the bike had gone too?

One of the best things about pro cycling is that the fans can get much closer to their heroes than in just about any other sport. But what can the authorities do? You can’t fence an entire 200 kilometer stage or have a police moto every few meters or security men guarding every rider on the road. Lets hope this was an isolated case.

More craziness at the Vuelta’15:

Vuelta a España 2015
Peter Sagan put an end to a two-month drought and rewarded his Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates of their efforts by snatching Stage 3 of the Vuelta in a bunch sprint in Malaga on Monday. After collecting second places on the Tour de France, the Slovak finally earned the top spot he deserved by out-sprinting France’s Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Germany’s John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin). Colombia’s Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE), the winner of stage 2, retained his overall lead.

From the gun, Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), Maarten Tjallinghi (LottoNL-Jumbo), Martin Velits (Etixx – Quick-Step) and Walter Pedraza (Colombia) broke clear. Nine kilometers later, they were joined by Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Omar Fraile (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) and Ilia Koshevoy (Lampre-Merida). At the top of the Alto de Mijas (3rd Cat), the eight escapees, led by Fraile, left the peloton trailing by three minutes. The Orica-GreenEDGE team of red jersey holder Esteban Chaves was controlling the chase.

The stage 2 crash continued to take his toll as Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) was forced out after 48 kilometers. Later in the day, Fabian Cancellara (Trek) also called it quits. The gap between the eight leaders and the main pack reached a maximum of 4:20 at the foot of Puerto del Leon, the first 1st Cat climb in this Vuelta. On the ascent, the lead had been reduced to 2:55 by the joint efforts of Tinkoff-Saxo and Giant-Alpecin team-mates of Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb. At the top, Fraile again grabbed the points on offer to take over the polka-dot jersey from Esteban Chaves.

On the descent, the leading group split under the pressure of Sylvain Chavanel but only Velits and Koshevoy were dropped. The gap settled at 1:15 with 50 km to go and was the same at the intermediate sprint in Torre del Mar, won by Chavanel. Shortly before it, Bouhanni, already hurt in the stage 2 crash, went down with Daniele Bennati, they were both managed to rejoin, but had cuts and grazes.

The 30-km mark spurred Tjallingii and Gougeard into action as their breakaway companions were gradually reined in by the relentless efforts of the Tinkoff-Saxo train. Both good time-trial specialists, they took the gap to 1:40 with 20 km to go but were pulled back six kilometers further down the road after Giant-Alpecin shared the chasing duties.

A surge by Canada’s Antoine Duchesne 9 km from the line was the only vain attempt to avoid a bunch sprint. It was launched in the last kilometer by Giant-Alpecin, who seemed to set-up Degenkolb ideally. But the German, who started too early, was quickly overtaken by Sagan, who powered his way to the line with Bouhanni in his wake.

Malaga - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Peter Sagan (Team Tinkoff Saxo)   pictured during La Vuelta 2015 Stage 3 from  Mijas to Malaga - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2015

Stage winner, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’m tired. But I feel good. I’m very happy for this victory. It’s good for the whole team to start the Vuelta like this. I’m very happy to start like this after the rest I had after the Tour de France. Finally one victory! I always try to be in the front. I knew that it would work one day. I want to thank the team for the work they did, especially in the climb. The team was tired after working for the last 20 km to catch the break. It was a stage for a sprinters like Degenkolb and Bouhanni but their teams did not work until the last 3 km. In the finalé, I decided to take Degenkolb’s wheel and I was right. It’s almost funny to always be second. But there is always a day when you finish first. That’s sport. I’m very consistent. I finish second, third, fourth or fifth. But I’ve been looking for this victory a long time. For the whole Tour de France. Finally it’s today. I came here to ride kilometers for the world championships and be in good condition. We’ll see in the next few days. Madrid is far away from here. I want to see how my preparation is going because I’m looking forward for the worlds. I didn’t feel too much pressure. Oleg knows the sport. He knows I always do my best and he must be happy I think.

2nd on the stage, Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis): “I gave everything I had but I hurt myself again in crashing during the stage and it was too much of a handicap in the sprint.”

Overall leader, Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE): “I was a bit nervous. It was an important day for me. It was the first time I was riding with the leader’s jersey of a grand Tour. I’m lucky to ride for an experienced team, with riders who rode several Vueltas, it keeps me relaxed. They gave me a lot of advice about feeding and drinking. They were around me all day. It went really well and I hope it continues like this tomorrow.”

6th on the stage, Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka): “It was a pretty hard stage because of the heat and the first category climb. My goal today was to get a podium so personally I am a bit disappointed but it is only the 2nd real stage of the Vuelta so we can’t sit back and complain. The team was good so I look forward to the next chance and I hope to go home with something more.”

KOM and most aggressive rider overall, Omar Fraile (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “It is a good choice to take at least a few days the jersey. Looking ahead to the next stages we will see if we can keep it or not.”

Break away rider, Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo): “It was a tough day for me. I’d set my sights on the mountain jersey, but soon had I regretted being in the break a bit. At first, I was part of a nice group, but later on three good climbers joined us. I still tried to make the best of it, though. On the first category climb, I tried to surprise the others with an all-or-nothing effort, but 200 meters from the top, I broke down.”

Most aggressive rider, Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling): “There was something to try today. I thought about the polka-dot jersey but by finishing only 4th in the 1st category climb, it was not possible. Later, after a good descent, we were only 1:30 ahead of he peloton. I’m one of those who decided to call it a day. There was no chance and I preferred to save some energy for the days to come.”

9th on the stage, Vicente Reynes (IAM Cycling): “I have to be honest, this sprint for the third stage was a little too hard for me. There was a lot of tough rolling terrain, and the peloton was stretched out, so the winner had to have a lot of strength to be able to overcome everything. However, Tuesday’s stage profile should suit me much more. Going for the sprint today was a good way to get back in the mood, to regain some of the sensations. I feel good and I am very motivated to have a good result here in Spain. Sunday, we suffered a lot of misfortune. But I hope with all my heart that this success will flip the switch for us, and signal some better luck in the next few days.”

Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale): “In my head, I told myself that a break would go more easily than yesterday. I told myself I would try once and the first time was the good one. I was better in the front than at the back. The road was rather dangerous in the mountain, there were lots of holes. I think I spent a better day at the front than in the peloton. We believed in our chances but in the finale I was told that there was headwind and with only two of us, it was over.”

Fabian Cancellara (Trek) abandoned due to stomach virus: “After a year like this, you just don’t want to stop. I was alone on the road and had a lot of flashbacks of the past year. But I was feeling totally empty and in the end the most important thing is your health and we had to think about that too.”

Vuelta a España Stage 3 Result:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo in 4:06:07
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
3. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
4. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC
5. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
6. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
7. Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
8. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek
9. Vicente Reynes (Spa) IAM Cycling
10. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 3:
1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 8:04:01
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 0:05
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 0:15
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:24
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 0:35
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:36
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:38
8. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:40
9. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
10. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:47.

Stage 3:

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) had made it clear that he targeted this long Stage 4 to Vejer de la Frontera with a final section suiting him ideally. He delivered perfectly with a blistering finish to win his eleventh Vuelta stage in style ahead of the other two favorites at the start in Estepona, stage 3 winner Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Dani Moreno (Katusha). Colombia’s Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) retained his overall lead.

From the gun, six men broke clear and embarked on a long break in the sun: Mickael Delage (FDJ.fr), Bert Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Nikolas Maes (Etixx – Quick-Step), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) and Markel Irizar (Trek). Their lead quickly rose to 13:30 after 29 kilometers. The gap went down a bit as Esteban Chaves’s Orica-GreenEDGE team-mates seized the reins of the bunch. The red jersey’s team were promptly joined by Tinkoff-Saxo working for arch-favorite Peter Sagan, the winner of stage 3.

Thanks to the joint effort, the lead melted steadily in the heat and was down to 4:00 with 60 km to go. Movistar, determined to help Valverde celebrate his birthday in style, took control in the last 50 kilometers as the wind seemed to offer chances of an echelon. Their move was fatal to the six escapees, whose lead had gone down to one minute, 45 km from the line.

Ten kilometers further down the road, a crash at the back split the peloton and earned the break a reprieve. Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) were among the riders involved. Helped by Amael Moinard and Jempy Drucker, the American returned to the bunch after a 10 kilometers chase.

In the last 20 kilometers, while their former companions called it a day, Spain’s Mikel Irizar and France’s Jimmy Engoulvent refused to give up, retaining a slim 30 seconds lead before being pulled back in the last 15 kilometers. The stage was set for an exciting finalé on the last stretch featuring sections at 9 percent. Attacks took place from the foot of the last ascent. Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal) was the first to tackle the climb and Valverde first hesitated to follow suit before waiting for a better opportunity. Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) was next to try his luck. But he was in turn countered by Samuel Sanchez (BMC), quickly joined by Nicolas Roche (Sky). The two seemed to have timed their move to perfection. Despite a brave last gasp effort by Roche, the two could not do anything when the three pre-stage favorites, Valverde, Sagan and Dani Moreno (Katusha) surged to sweep the podium places.

Vejer de la Frontera - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) - Peter Sagan  (Team Tinkoff Saxo) pictured during La Vuelta 2015 Stage 4 from Estepona to Vejer de la Frontera - photo Sabine Jacob/Cor Vos © 2015

Stage winner and 4th overall, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “Despite being a really demanding finish, we hadn’t made a recon earlier and only this very morning we checked it on the Internet to get the knowledge we needed about the slopes. I had to rest a bit after the Tour; should I had stayed on ‘racing mode’, checking the route, I would have burned myself out, and with technology around nowadays, you can check every detail and get more or less the same results. Seeing that it really was demanding, we knew it would suit me well, and with those really hard, final 400m, I kept my mind cold, because Alberto Losada was keeping a tremendous pace at the front. Sometimes, we’re the ones taking the biggest efforts in search for the stage win, as it happened Sunday towards the Caminito del Rey, which we couldn’t crown, and today, even though we always kept the front and it was a really fought stage from the team – I can’t thank them enough for what they did – we saved as much energy as possible while others brought the breakaways back one by one. The headwinds were strong all day and the heat, though not really intense – the Garmin was saying 30, 32 degrees – played an impact on the result. I was seeing that neither Bilbao nor Samuel Sánchez and Roche were opening a serious gap, and I kept Sagan under control. As the shadow on the ground showed him on my wheel, I didn’t have to look back. I knew he was strong, but into such a finish, with 200m to go, when Majka jumped away and closed the gap… you can suffer some sort of misfortune, but it was clear to me that this victory was mine, or at least I had a really strong chance. More than the bonus seconds I took, I’m happy because of this win, which makes my team-mates so confident about our chances. Leading the team alone? Not at all – nothing changes with this. Nairo and I remain equal in terms of leadership. It’s just that this finish was good for me, but Nairo is doing well, as you can see inside the peloton everyday. Caminito del Rey was the first serious day of racing after four of five when our legs almost did nothing like a real effort, and that made the stage really strange. It was very different today. We’re happy with this victory and look forward to keeping this line.”

2nd on the stage and points leader, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “The last climb, about 400 meters, was horrible for me, it was a very hard day, in which I spent a lot of time at the front of the group. I approached Valverde to ask him whether Movistar could help us but they didn’t seem very interested. The last climb was very hard, it was 300 meters up, then a little bit down and then again up. I think I can also be satisfied with he second place as it was extremely hard. I had spent a tremendous amount of energy at the front and in the final stretch I went behind the wheel of Valverde. The last climb, about 400 meters, was horrible for me. I honestly thought that was the end for me. However, when I saw all the climbers passing me, I said to myself I should make a last effort, squeeze out all my forces and push. I stayed behind Valverde but my legs weren’t there, so I finished behind him. The stage was tough and if I knew beforehand the finish would be so hard, I wouldn’t have tried. Still, I think second place in such a stage is good.”

4th on the stage and 3rd overall, Nicolas Roche (Sky): “What was missing? Fifty meters. I just happened to ride against a rider who’s stronger than me and whose name is Valverde. I feel I timed it right. I went at the right time and I did not make any gear mistakes. I had to play it clever because I don’t necessarily have the finish of a rider like Valverde. The form is here. I always try to do well at the beginning of the Vuelta. It won’t be this time though.”

Overall leader and 10th on the stage, Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE): “The finale was very hard, with tight turns, and very nervous. But the team helped me to perfection. We expected Valverde to go in the final part. Of course, we’re going to try to keep this jersey but we’re not going to get carried away. I keep my feet on the ground. It’s always as stressful to hold this jersey but I wish it continues. My team have a lot of experience and it helps me a lot. When the break reached 13 minutes, we saw that the most dangerous rider was the Trek rider (Irizar) who was seven minutes down. We rode to maintain the gap at seven minutes to be more relaxed. And then we let the teams aiming at victory do the job like Tinkoff-Saxo and Katusha, like you could see. The finale was very hard. We were on very large roads at 60 kph and suddenly we turned to face a 10% wall. It was hard but my team-mates placed me in the top ten at the foot and then I was content with following the best.”

5th overall, Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin): “I really wanted to win this stage because I liked the finalé. But unfortunately, Colombian riders brought me down and I was forced to chase for a long time to make it back into the bunch and I didn’t have any energy left. To make matters worse, I also had to change bikes. The finalé was for me but I didn’t have a chance to express myself on it. Maybe next time.”

Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal): “I attacked from the bottom of the last climb to anticipate because my legs were not so good. This finale was too hard for me but for Jelle Vanendert, it was good. I want to finish the Vuelta and I’m dreaming of winning a stage cowing it will be very difficult. But I’ll try again.”

Peio Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “Yes, I have seen the bunch stopped and well… Afterwards, with Katusha with a couple of guys for Purito it was difficult. Well, I have tried and I know these kind of climbs suited me. Last year, in Cabarceno, in similar climb, I tried something similar. It’s a pity. I hope I will find another chance. We have studied the stage quite well with the roadbook and the maps. Finally the problem was the lack of energies. After all, maybe it would have been more intelligent to wait a little more.”

Last to be caught from the break, Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar): “We were hoping for the favorites to leave us a little bit of time but unfortunately the Orica-GreenEDGE started to chase and reduced the gap quickly. Our lead reached 14 minutes but there was a lot of headwind and at time crosswinds favoring echelons. As a result, it was very difficult. It’s true that in the Europcar team we don’t have a Valverde or a Sagan. Our way to shine is to go into the breaks.”

Break rider, Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo): “Already my second attempt was successful, we worked well together and managed to take a lot of time, around 13 minutes, but in the second part of the stage, the roads were too wide. The peloton was able to speed along, and the pace went up more with the crosswinds that caused stress. I’ve been in the break twice now, but I still feel good. I trained hard for this Vuelta. I hope to actually fight for victory later on in the race.”

Thomas Degand (IAM Cycling): “The stage was long, with 210 kilometers ticking past, and the breakaway built up a 14 minute advantage. All these things contributed to a very hard and fast second half of the stage. Then to make matters worse, we had to climb that super steep wall in the final. Positioning was very important. There was a huge fight to be in the right place. The hard part was to get yourself a good spot at the base of the climb, which of course all the big teams wanted, so it was not an easy task to be among them. Once you had your place, I won’t say that the rest was easy, but you were at least free to do a good climb. At the foot of the ascent, the peloton quickly broke apart, and I just went up at my own tempo. My legs feel good and everything is getting better day by day. So that bodes well for the rest of this Vuelta.”

Rodolfo Torres (Colombia): “It was a very hard finish, a punchy climb, which we tried, with the help of the team, to tackle in a good position. Unfortunately, we were held back by a crash that occurred just a couple of kilometers before, and we had to spend chasing some valuable energies in the view of the final climb.”

Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka): “The break went early on and Orica played the fun little game of waiting to see who would ride first. Eventually they decided to start riding and from then on it was quite hard. As I thought Tinkoff-Saxo joined in too, there was a section of crosswind but it wasn’t blowing too hard and no team wanted to commit to anything as it was too far out. It was a bit nervy though as there was always the fight for position in case something might happen. The guys did a good job, we looked after our protected riders pretty well. Coming into the climb, it was like a sprint for the bottom. The climb was a lot steeper than most of us thought so it didn’t really work out as we thought but looking at how Louis went it wasn’t a bad day at all.”

Vuelta a España Stage 4 Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 5:07:30
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
3. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
4. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky
5. José Gonçalves (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
7. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis at 0:03
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
10. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 4:
1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE in 13:11:34
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 0:05
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 0:12
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:25
5. Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:27
6. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 0:32
7. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha at 0:33
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:36
9. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:40
10. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:50.

Stage 4:

Sprint sensation Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) came of age with his first Grand Tour victory in Stage 5 of the Vuelta in Alcala de Guaidara, a great consolation for the loss of the red jersey by his teammate Esteban Chaves. Trapped in a split, the Colombian rider relinquished his overall lead to Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), who also avenged the disappointment of his leader John Degenkolb, who had to settle for second place in the final bunch sprint ahead of green jersey holder Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida) jumped away early and was joined a dozen kilometers later by Canada’s Antoine Duchesne (Europcar) and Belgium’s Iljo Keisse (Etixx – Quick-Step). At the 50km mark, the lead of the trio had stabilized at seven minutes, Giant-Alpecin making the most of the job at the front of the bunch. As the lead was gradually eaten away, the main event before the last 50 km was a mechanical for Chris Froome (Sky), who was brought back to the bunch by Christian Knees and Vasil Kiriyenka. Orica-GreenEDGE, working both to preserve Chaves’s red jersey and for sprinter Caleb Ewan, took turns at the front of the pack from Giant-Alpecin in the last 40 km.

While Grmay was unable (or didn’t want) to take turns in the break, he and Duchesne were finally pulled back 15 km from the finalé, after the intermediate sprint of the day, leaving Keisse to go solo. But with less than nine kilometers to go, the Belgian called it a day too as Ewan’s teammates were imposing a formidable tempo. The finale was a tricky one, with a tight corner 650 meters from the line and a long uphill final stretch. It seemed as though Degenkolb, set-up by two of his team-mates, had the upper hand, followed Sagan, when Ewan surged and found an extra gear in the last 200 meters to upset his elders.

La Vuelta 2015 stage-5

Stage winner, Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge): “This is by far the happiest day in my career,” Ewan said. “To beat some of the best sprinters in the world, especially guys like Sagan and Degenkolb on an uphill finish, it really means a lot to me. It’s an honour to race with those guys and to beat them is just unreal for me. It was a super tough finish, but my teammates did an awesome job of getting me to the bottom in front position. I even had time to stop back a few spots and that always makes it easier than trying to move up. If it wasn’t for them, there is no way I could have won today.”

Overall leader, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin): “It is a strange feeling to have the red jersey now, I wasn’t expecting it today. Our plan was to help John and my part was to lead the team in the final 2km. In the hecticness of the finale I lost my team mates and just sprinted to make sure I didn’t lose any time. On my way to the bus I was a bit disappointed we didn’t get the stage victory until I suddenly heard that I had the red jersey via my radio. Personally I was disappointed after my crash at the Tour as at the time I had the chance to take the yellow jersey. It took me two weeks to recover and from that moment I was really determined to come back even stronger. We have worked really hard and been very dedicated in training, and the feelings are good. Now I am here in the leader’s jersey and I’m really enjoying it. Before starting the Vuelta the time trial in third week was my main goal, but now I will try to keep the jersey as long as possible and will not give it up without a fight. There are some hard days coming up so we will see.”

Orica-GreenEDGE DS, Julian Dean: “At the start of the Vuelta, reading the roadbook with him, we decided that if Caleb had a chance to win in his first Grand Tour, it would be here in Alcala de Guadaira. His team-mates made a fantastic job and his talent did the rest. He still has a lot of work to do but to be honest nobody, including himself, knows how far he can go and to which sprinter he can be compared. One thing we know now is that he is made for hilly sprints against the best.”

2nd on the stage, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin): “It was super hard. I was just coming after him but it didn’t work.”

3rd on the stage and points leader, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I want to thank my teammates – they did a fantastic job for me again to bring me into a good position for the final sprint. It was a technically difficult finish and today I didn’t have the legs to win. I was in a great position but I think that yesterday’s very hard stage, that, looking back, really didn’t suit me, took a lot of energy and I paid the price today. Probably, I tried too hard yesterday but we want to try to take the win everyday even if it looks difficult. Tomorrow, I will try to save myself a bit more. It’s a day for Rafal, who is our leader here, and we will have to work for him. It’s a hard stage, but I will not have to fight for the stage win in the finale.”

Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis): “I took the corner with 500 meters to go in the 25th position and it was already over. We could not find ourselves as a team but things like this happen. I could have given it a go and finish in the Top 10 but it was useless. The crashes I had had their toll and I’m going to try and take advantage of the next stages which don’t favor me to recover as best as I can.”

2nd overall, Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE): “We won with Caleb. It’s amazing how the team worked, it was wonderful. In the end, I lost contact in a roundabout and there were little gaps in the finish because it was quite steep and we lost the red jersey for one second. I’m relaxed and enjoying Caleb´s triumph. In the beginning he suffered a lot and now he has won. The heat is a key factor. Each day is hotter. We began with 28-30 degrees and now it was 36 today.”

KOM, Omar Fraile (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “Today was rather quiet, apart from the heat. It’s too early to make the polka-dot an objective so I helped the team in our other goals. We worked to prepare a sprint for Carlos Barbero. We knew from the start that we would be on the podium with the polka-dot jersey so the team opted for the stage win option with Barbero rather than go in the breakaway.”

Break rider, Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida): “It was the plan to go in the break today and I’m glad I was able to do it. I was lucky to be in it with two strong riders but it’s true that in the end they were riding too hard for me and I couldn’t follow. We’re not the same build. I’m glad I showed the jersey and it’s nice to see Africans show themselves the way we do with Daniel or Natnael. I still fell like a pioneer showing the way to younger riders and I’m sure than in five or ten years, we will see more and more riders from Africa in the peloton and some very good ones I hope.”

Break rider, Iljo Keisse (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I knew that normally it was not possible to win a new Grand Tour stage like in the Giro. When I won in Milan, it was a very technical circuit. Here, it was long straight roads. It was one for the sprinters, who won’t have many chances before Madrid. In the same time, who knows… Duchesne was very strong but Grmay was not strong enough. He rode the whole stage in the front. Three was not enough. I attacked with 20 km to go because we didn’t cooperate anymore but I had no illusions.”

Break rider, Antoine Duchesne (Europcar): “It was not really the game-plan today but since nothing was happening I told myself why not go and try my luck. I talked to Keisse, he wanted to go as well so the both of us attacked. Then you never know, I knew Keisse is a good rider. In the end, the Lampre guy could no longer take his turns, we go disorganized a bit. But it was a nice day in the front. It’s never a bad thing to show the jersey.”

11th on the stage, Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo): “They kept me perfectly out of the wind all day, Maarten Wynants could drop me off with five kilometers to go, but he went on until the final two. That was great effort. A final straight like today’s used to suit me, but of course, that was when I was still riding at EuropeTour level. I started my sprint in the wheel of Degenkolb, but to get there, I’d already had to accelerate. In the final part, I exploded and shut down completely.”

Marcel Aregger (IAM Cycling): “We tried to do our maximum to help set up Vicente Reynes for the sprint, there was basically a 100% chance that this was going to end in a sprint, and that’s why the beginning of the stage was so odd. Everyone knew that the day would be decided only in the last kilometers, so nobody wanted to go in the break. The first part of the race, we were doing something like 25km/h, but then suddenly the pack began to ride at full speed. This change of pace was pretty amazing. Today was special for me because it is my birthday, but I stayed focused throughout the race and did my best to help place Vicente. Tonight we will have time to celebrate, but within reason, of course. Day after day, I feel better and better, and I am trying my best to support the riders we are protecting for a given day. Unfortunately, luck has not been on our side so far, but eventually our efforts will pay off.”

Vuelta a España Stage 5 Result:
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE in 3:57:28
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
3. Peter Sagan (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo
4. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar at 0:02
6. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
8. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
9. Tosh Van der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 5:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin in 17:09:06
2. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEDGE at 0:01
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 0:16
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:27
5. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha at 0:31
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:33
7. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:35
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 0:36
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:39
10. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:52.

Stage 5:

GP Ouest France Plouay 2015
As one of the heartlands of French cycling, it’s not surprising that Brittany hosts a UCI WorldTour race. Indeed, the small Breton town of Plouay has been home to a major bike race since 1931 and the UCI Road World Championships were held there in 2000.

The GP Ouest France – Plouay was created by the then Tour de France doctor Monsieur Berty in 1931. He used his influence and friendship to attract some of the sport’s biggest names to the first ever edition and the race has often been won by the stars of professional cycling. Supporting events have grown over the years and now include BMX races, track racing, a mass-participation ride, the GP Plouay-Bretagne UCI Women Road World Cup race on the Saturday and then the grand finale with the men’s UCI WorldTour race, this season on Sunday August 30 in 2015.

The event organization is always world class thanks to the hard work of the hundreds of local volunteers, and a holiday atmosphere reigns at all moments. Riders love to ride the GP Ouest France and it is one of the biggest objectives of the season for the French athletes.

The athletes cover eight laps of a demanding 27km circuit that includes climbs and technical descents that really test riders’ fitness just a few weeks before the UCI Road World Championships. The race ends with a final lap of 14km with the late climb of Côte de Ty-Marrec providing the perfect place to launch attacks. Sometimes a small group of riders manages to stay away but often they are caught by the sprinters and their teams in sight of the finish line.

The roll of honor at the GP Ouest France – Plouay includes many illustrious winners. The 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali took a surprise victory in 2006, at the age of just 22. Sean Kelly was the first English-speaking rider to win in 1984. More recently, Simon Gerrans and Matt Goss of Australia won in 2009 and 2010, with Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen showing his class in 2012 and Italy’s Filippo Pozzato helping resurrect his career with a surprise win in 2013.

In 2014 the attackers managed to hold off the chasing peloton, with Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) winning the seven-rider sprint ahead of Italy’s Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo) and compatriot Arthur Vichot (FDJ.fr). Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was only two seconds behind but had to settle for eighth place. Perhaps it will be his turn for victory in 2015.

Race website: www.comitedesfetes-plouay.com


IAM Cycling for GP Ouest France Plouay
Sylvain Chavanel, the first rider to win a classic on the WorldTour calendar for IAM Cycling since it was established in 2013, will miss the Grand Prix Ouest France Plouay on Sunday. Since he is currently racing the Vuelta, Chavanel, who has also been the national time trial champion of France many times over, will leave to eight of his teammates the task of defending his win over the demanding circuit of more than 230 kilometers in Brittany. The Swiss professional team will be ready for the challenge taking place in the French department of Morbihan with a crew full of sprinters and punchy riders.

Jonathan Fumeaux has already proved to be essential help to his teammates at the Tour of Poland where Matteo Pelucchi won two stages and Sébastien Reichenbach earned himself a 3rd place on a stage as well. Then Fumeaux was off to recon the Rio de Janeiro course for the 2016 Olympic Games, and now is carefully prepared for his appointment in Morbihan. Fumeaux, who comes from the Valais region in Switzerland, was happy to speak about his form for the race. “I have had the chance to take numerous training rides on my home roads. So I am beginning the second part of my season feeling very good. The Tour of Poland went well and then I followed that with the pre-Olympic test. Despite the difficulty of the circuit in Brazil, I felt at ease. I even climbed that last hill among the top-10, but I missed a turn on the descent and ended up in the trees. Fortunately, I came away without a scratch, but the leaders were already far up the road by then.”

Jonathan Fumeaux was also keen to speak with respect about the GP Ouest France Plouay: “I have recovered from the fatigue of the journey to Brazil, and I have carefully prepared for this traditional appointment for the last Sunday of August in France. I am curious to ride this demanding circuit. I have only ever seen it on television, but I know it is important to make good use of the climb just before the finish line. It’s also important to note that a lot of riders start to struggle with races that exceed 200 kilometers. But we have some very strong cards to play with riders like Haussler, who has already taken third at the race, and Elmiger, as well as our sprinters like Holst Enger and Van Genechten.”

Clément Chevrier (Fr), Stefan Denifl (Aut), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Martin Elmiger (S), Jonathan Fumeaux (S), Heinrich Haussler (Aus), Sondre Holst Enger (Nor), Jonas Van Genechten (Bel).
Directeur sportif: Kjell Carlström.

Martin Elmiger:
TDFR 2014 - stage -15

Giant-Alpecin for GP de Plouay-Bretagne
Team Giant-Alpecin heads to this Sunday’s GP Ouest France – Plouay, after Paris-Roubaix the second and last French one-day race on this season’s WorldTour calendar. The 229.1km race in the Brittany region is made up of eight laps of 26.9km and a closing lap of 13.9km.

With a tenth place by John Degenkolb (GER) in 2013 the team aims for a strong result on Sunday. Leading the team on Sunday is German sprinter Marcel Kittel, who won the points jersey and opening stage at the Tour de Pologne. With Warren Barguil (FRA) the team has a strong rider to counter possible attacks on the ascents in the finale. Strong lead-out men to help Kittel are Roy Curvers (NED) and Bert De Backer (BEL). The roster is completed by Caleb Fairly (USA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Carter Jones (USA) and Tom Veelers (NED).

“Marcel is our leader and Warren enjoys a free role,” explained coach Marc Reef (NED).
“It is a difficult course, where attacks are likely to take place in the finale, although in recent years the race has usually ended in a bunch sprint. Tom Veelers is making his return to racing on Sunday, but without expectations, as he is only recently back in training after recovering from his knee injury. He is not completely ready to play a role in the finale, but we are glad to have him back with the team.”

“We aim for a good result and with this team we are prepared for several different scenarios.”

Warren Barguil (FRA), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Caleb Fairly (USA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Carter Jones (USA), Marcel Kittel (GER), Tom Veelers (NED).
Coach: Marc Reef (NED).

Local boy, Warren Barguil:
Tour de France 2015 - stage 16

LottoNL-Jumbo able to attack and sprint in Plouay
Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start the GP Ouest France-Plouay on Sunday, August 30, with two protected riders.

“With Moreno Hofland and Sep Vanmarcke, we have two men for the final kilometers,” Sports Director Frans Maassen said. “The course around Plouay is hard, so hard that it makes the race very calculated. If the peloton would make it a hard race from the start, it will be a real elimination race.

Maassen plans to use a similar tactic to the one colleague Jan Boven used on Sunday in the Vattenfall Cyclassics: attacking with Vanmarcke and waiting for a sprint with Hofland.

“We want to have a little more luck on Sunday,” Paul Martens said. “Because of the crashes of Moreno and Sep, our plans failed in Hamburg.”

Martens finished third in 2009 in the GP Ouest France-Plouay. “Back then, the course was a lot more selective. Now it is somewhat more technical, but the race is easier to control for the sprinters’ teams.”

Crash in crit
Martens is aiming to play in similar role as Vanmarcke in Plouay. Maassen wants the same, but the team is cautious after Martens’ heavy crash in a post-Tour de France crit.

“Physically, I’m fit, but my head is not fully recovered. I’m still paying on the bike. In the Tour du Poitou Charentes, I want to improve day by day so that I can attack alongside Sep in Plouay.”

Team line-up:
Brian Bulgac, Rick Flens, Moreno Hofland, Nick van der Lijke, Paul Martens, Bram Tankink, Sep Vanmarcke & Robert Wagner.
Sports Directors: Frans Maassen & Ken Vanmarcke.

Moreno Hofland:
Ster ZLM Toer 2015 stage-4

Adam Blythe to join Tinkoff-Saxo in 2016
The young British rider will strengthen the Tinkoff-Saxo squad in the next season, with the main focus put on working in support of Peter Sagan in the Classics.

Tinkoff-Saxo is pleased to announce that Adam Blythe, 25, will form part of the team in 2016.

Blythe started his professional cycling career in 2010 at Omega Pharma-Lotto, where he stayed for two seasons, before moving to BMC for another two years. In 2014 he joined continental team NFTO and scored what he considers to be the most important victory of his career so far, the Prudential RideLondon Classic. In 2015 he rode for Orica-GreenEdge and had seven top-10 scores.

On signing for Tinkoff-Saxo, Blythe said: “Sean Yates was a sport director at NFTO and I got on with him very well. When he mentioned to me there was an opportunity, I didn’t think twice about it! I consider Tinkoff-Saxo to be the best team in the world that has the best classics rider in the world, Peter Sagan. It will be an honor for me to help him in the classics and do a great job for him. It will be a dream to me to support Peter in the best of my abilities so that he wins a classic”.

Blythe considers that his biggest strengths lie in his sprint finishes and his ability to position himself when helping his leader. “Someone described me this year as the most ‘economical’ rider in the peloton. I’m someone who knows where to place himself, weathering the wind, always in a good position. You could call it a sneaky rider and that is, I think, important when helping a team leader”, commented Blythe.

For Steven de Jongh, Head Sport Director of Tinkoff-Saxo, Blythe’s main role in the team will be to help Peter Sagan in the next season: “The main priority for Adam will be Peter, especially in the Classics. That is where Adam will focus on, to work in support of Peter and deliver him to wins. We have been watching Adam and he has shown he can do good races. We hope he will further develop as a rider and reach his best level next year”, commented de Jongh.

Adam Blythe:

Ryder Hesjedal joins Trek Factory Racing
Trek Factory Racing is proud to announce the signing of 2012 Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal.

Hesjedal joins the team as a General Classification leader, notably for Italy’s Grand Tour, which holds a special place in the heart of the 34-year-old Canadian. He finished fifth in the latest edition of the race.

Hesjedal: “I am very excited about this. Trek’s management and I are on the same page in terms of what we can achieve together. I know that I still have podium level legs for the Grand Tours.”

“The Ardennes Classics will be important as well,” says Hesjedal, who has a series of top ten placings in the Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège – most notably his second place in the AGR in 2010. “You basically work backwards with the Giro being the number one goal. The rhythm to get to your best shape in the Giro leads you to those races. I know the routine to get there.”

General Manager Luca Guercilena is very pleased with the arrival of Hesjedal. “This is an excellent signing for our team and I have no doubt our fans in North America will be very happy as well. Ryder is a very strong racer and he has a very constant performance.”

“Welcoming a Grand Tour winner makes us feel very proud,” continues Guercilena. “I believe he will be a good fit for our team.”

Hesjedal joins Trek Factory Racing from Cannondale-Garmin, a team where he spent no less than eight seasons. “I have excellent memories from the past seasons and I have a lot of friends there. But I’m thrilled about this change of air. I believe it’s what I needed.”

Hesjedal began his road career on a Trek, and now finds himself back to his road bicycle roots. “Back on a Trek, yes, that’s true,” says Hesjedal. “People ask me if I’m contemplating the end of my career. If I was, the circle would now be complete. The truth is I don’t really know how long I’ll still be racing. As far as performance goes, and how I feel, I feel there’s still a lot in there. This year’s Giro was a confirmation of that. But yes, I don’t see myself racing for another five years. One, two or three, we’ll see.”

Ryder Hesjedal:

Rein Taaramäe joins Team Katusha
Team Katusha is happy to announce the signing of an agreement with the Estonian rider Rein Taaramäe. Taaramäe (28) is a born stage tour rider being a good climber as well as a good time trial rider. Last month he won the Overall Classification in his last two stage races, the Tour of Burgos and the Arctic Race of Norway. Rein Taaramäe also has a Vuelta stage win (2011), two national road titles (2009, 2013), three national time trial titles (2009, 2011, 2012) and the Overall Classification of the Tour de l’Ain (2009) on his palmarès. Moreover, he finished on the podiums of the Tour de Romandie (2009), Tour of Catalunya (2010) and Tour of Turkey (2014).

“I am so happy to come to this strong team. Team Katusha is a winning team in 2015. You could feel this atmosphere at races when hanging around Katusha in 2015. What convinced me the most to make the move was the fact that the team directors and the team manager really believe in me. I will be able to obtain more results than I have so far. They have convinced me that I can still improve. These past years I have had so much bad luck in my career with mononucleosis, fractures and other health issues. Now I am back. I feel that I can start my second career. Katusha believes in me and I will not disappoint them. Grand Tours, smaller stage races or classics, it doesn’t matter. I will be good everywhere. My goal is to work for guys like Joaquim Rodriguez, but also for others. As long as the team wins, it doesn’t matter if it is me or another rider who wins,” said Rein Taaramäe.

“Rein Taaramäe is the type of rider we were looking for. The last months we worked hard on making our team stronger for the classics. We also needed to strengthen our team for the stage races. Rein has finished 11th in the Tour de France and that means a lot. His results, his power and endurance, but most of all his character match perfectly with our group. I believe we have not seen everything Rein has to give. I look forward to working with him in the near future,” said general manager of Team Katusha Viacheslav Ekimov.

Rein Taaramäe:
Aix en Provence - Frankrijk - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Parijs - Nice - Paris - Nice - tijdrit - tijdrijden - contre le montre ITT - zeitfahren - 6e etappe Rognes > Aix en Provence - Rein Taaramae - foto Cor Vos ©2011

How much coffee?
We all like a coffee before a ride and after sometimes, but how much coffee is the pro peloton taking on-board before a stage of la Vuelta a España? Matt at GCN asks finds out:

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