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EuroTrash Merckx Thursday!

The greatest cyclist of all time, Eddy Merckx, was 70 years old yesterday, we celebrate with the full length film of La Course en Tete. We also catch up with results, reports and video from Tour du Suisse, Ster ZLM Tour and the Ronde van Limburg. Plus team news from the Route du Sud, which starts today, Contador speaks, no Tour de France for Philippe Gilbert and the day of a mechanic in Video. Loads to watch and read in EuroTrash Thursday.

TOP STORY: Happy 70th ‘Big Ted’
Eddy Merckx celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday (Wednesday). What can you say about the most successful cyclist of all time, he won just about everything in his career, from Belgian and World champion as an amateur to multiple Grand Tours, Classics, stage races, World championships, Hour Record and on and on. He is without doubt the best there ever was. Many say he was a cold and calculating person as a rider, I’m sure he was, you don’t become known as ‘The Cannibal’ for nothing. I met the great man a couple of times, but the most memorable was in a hotel bar the night before the Wincanton Classic in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England (1989) and he was the most down to earth and friendly person you could ever have the pleasure of having a drink with. Happy Birthday Eddy Merckx!

The complete film – Eddy Merckx – La Course en Tete (1974):

header-suisse15-920Tour de Suisse 2015
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) won Stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse on Monday in an uphill sprint in Olivone beating Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) after a late attack from Orica-GreenEDGE’s Esteban Chaves. The Colombian was caught with 300 meters to the line, as Moreno led through the technical final meters, this placed Sagan in the perfect position for the win.

The stage started at the base of the Gotthardpass which split the race with two riders off the front: Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling) and Marco Marcato (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) with Branislau Samoilau (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) chasing. At the summit of the pass, Denifl and Marcato had 50 seconds on Samoilau and 3 minutes on the peloton. Denifl took the KOM points and the three riders got together on the descent. The three had over 5 minutes by the bottom, but Giant-Alpecin were joined by Tinkoff-Saxo and Orica-GreenEDGE in the chase and the lead was reduced.

Marcato was dropped on the climb of Leontica (Cat 2) and under the pressure of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), the break was over. On the Cat 3 climb of the Aquila, Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale) tried their luck, but the move came to nothing. Into the final kilometers the shrunk lead group was together, Albasini tried again, as did Jérôme Coppel (IAM Cycling) and Steve Morabito (FDJ.fr), but again it was Majka who pulled it together in time for the attack by Chaves. It was down to Moreno’s Katusha teammate, Simon Spilak, to pull Chaves in, but Sagan was on the Spaniard’s wheel and ready for the twisty finish.

Stage winner and 3rd overall, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-saxo): “I’m happy to have won. Big thanks to the whole team, without them it wouldn’t have happened. The tempo was high, Rafal Majka did a great job on the last hill and he held the group together for the sprint finish. Then it was my turn to launch and I’m happy to have won. It was also difficult because the last curve seemed to be a left one so I went left. But it was to the right so I had to change my course. Big thanks to the whole team, without them it wouldn’t have happened. I’m pleased we have the first victory at Tour de Suisse. I’m very happy with how the stage went and the work by the entire squad. Today’s stage was difficult and on top of that it also rained. One group broke away with a lead of 6 minutes. Our team was leading out front on the last 40km and just before the last two hills the gap was only 2 minutes. They pulled very hard during the stage and Rafal Majka helped me a lot during the last two climbs. I can say that we won thanks to the teamwork we showed. I’m very happy with this victory but tomorrow is another day and we will see what happens.”

Overall leader, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin): “It definitely wasn’t easy today to defend the jersey. Today was a little easier. I had Warren Barguil with me but it wasn’t necessary for him to pull because Tinkoff-Saxo wanted a sprint finish and rode for it. That meant we didn’t have to close gaps and we can save our energy for the days to come. For sure it will be harder on the mountain stage to Solden. My shape is good and so if I go at my own tempo I’ll try not to lose too much time. If I only lose one minute or one and a half minutes, then anything is possible in the final time trial.”

KOM leader, Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling): “This morning, I was told I could try my hand. In the team briefing, I spoke with the directeurs and my teammates, and from the first meters, I felt comfortable enough, and decided definitely to try my luck. I want to see if my knee would hold up after months of therapy and training. There were three of us and we all took strong pulls in order to get a reasonably good lead before the favorites finally caught us. But I am very happy with my day because I did not feel any pain. As a bonus, I won the prize as the most combative, and then also took enough points to have the lead in the mountain jersey. Nothing could be better for my confidence. I have not yet had a good look at the profile for the third stage, but I hope to be able to defend my lead in the KOM, especially since we’ll be arriving in Austria, not far from my home. I had a very difficult year in 2014, but now I know that good days are ahead of me.”

Tour de Suisse Stage 3 Result:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo in 3:00:35
2. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr
4. Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
8. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE
9. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky
10. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar.

Tour de Suisse Overall After Stage 3:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin in 6:43:12
2. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha at 0:05
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
4. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:07
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:12
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 0:14
7. Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJ.fr at 0:15
8. Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida at 0:18
9. Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek at 0:19
10. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha.

Stage 3:

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) won Stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse in to Schwarzenback ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) who was 1 second short of snatching the overall lead from Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) was third. Katusha’s Daniel Moreno had been in 2nd place overall, but he was 6th on the stage and dropped to 3rd.

The break of the day was not allowed to gain much time due to the time bonuses available. Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Davide Malacarne (Astana), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Stijn Devolder (Trek) and Frederik Backjaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) managed to escaped and crossed the summit of the Wildhaus (Cat 2) climb with a 2:50 lead, but by the time they got to finish circuit they only had 39 seconds. Howes and De Gendt both tried to stay clear, but Orica-GreenEDGE pulled them back with two laps to go.

The Australian team kept the speed high which got rid of the pure sprinters. Overall leader, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) took 3 bonus seconds at the sprint with 37km to go, which gave him 8 seconds over Moreno and Sagan. Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko attacked to take the bonus with 9km to go, Sagan was 2nd meaning he was now 7 seconds down on Dumoulin. The head-wind was too much for Lutsenko and he was caught with 6.5km to go. It was then the turn of Marco Marcato (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Sergio Henao (Sky) and Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale) to try their hand, which also failed due to the speed set up by Orica-GreenEDGE.

Into the last K and Sagan was following Matthews, but the Slovak champion jumped first and Matthews was able to grab his wheel and then come past for the win. Sagan’s 2nd place gave him a 6 second bonus which puts him 1 second down on Dumoulin overall.

Stage winner, Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE): “It was always going to be difficult. The way he sprinted yesterday was really strong. I knew I had to just glue myself to his wheel and see what I had to come over him.”

2nd on the stage and 2nd overall, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “It was quite challenging today, the stage was 193 km long. The first hill was quite good, but the final circuit was harder than we expected. My teammates did a good job. I messed up the finish myself, because I started sprinting too early and then Matthews got ahead of me. I blame myself, I made a mistake, but such is the sport. We’ll see what happens in the next stages.”

3rd on the stage, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC): “On a finish line like this, you can get boxed in, so I waited a few moments to launch my sprint. I went a little bit too early in the sprint. For sure, it would be hard to beat Matthews in a sprint like this. But I tried and I am pretty happy with my third place.”

Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling): “Fortunately, I fell in slow motion, and I did not hurt myself too much. I had a mission all day to help and protect Martin Elmiger and Sébastien Reichenbach all the way to the finish. Martin was unable to follow the hellish pace that Orica set, so was not there to compete in the sprint. I managed to keep Sébastien in my draft, and he finished in good position. Personally I feel better and better, even if today the speed was super high. I would have expected the pack to race more conservatively in view of the stage we’ll face on Wednesday.”

Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida): “I had good feedbacks from my legs, so I wanted to exploit these great feelings. Considering that there were still in the head group riders faster than me, such as Matthews, Sagan and Van Avermaet, my project was to try an attack in the final kilometer. Unfortunately, a rider from Movistar crashed and so I had no more the opportunity to perform my attempt. We were in the last three kilometers, that’s why the situation in the overall classification did not change.”

Tour de Suisse Stage 4 Result:
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE in 4:36:00
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
4. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
5. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek
6. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
7. Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC
8. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr
9. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step
10. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo.

Tour de Suisse Overall After Stage 4:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin in 11:19:08
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:01
3. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha at 0:09
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:16
5. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 0:18
6. Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJ.fr at 0:19
7. Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek at 0:23
8. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:28
9. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 0:30
10. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 0:32.

Stage 4:

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) solo’d to victory on the Queen Stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse on Wednesday and took the overall lead by 47 seconds from Geraint Thomas (Sky). Race leader from the prologue stage 1, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), finished 1:37 down and is now in 7th place. Second on the stage was Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) at 0:34 and Simon Spilak (Katusha) third at 0:37.

The 236km stage to the Rettenbachgletscher climbed to an altitude of 2669 meters and so the break was allowed to go early. Gregory Rast (Trek), Stefan Denifl & Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Stefan Schumacher (CCC Sprandi) and Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) made up the front runners. At the summit of the Bielerhöhe climb after 109 kilometers, the lead was up to nearly 10 minutes, but in the valley Astana, FDJ.fr, AG2R-La Mondiale and Katusha all rode at the front with Giant-Alpecin to close the gap.

Up front the break started to disintegrate, first Brändle was dropped, followed by Rast, Niemiec, De Gent, Selvaggi and Schumacher, leaving only King and Denifl to try to stay away. The speed in the peloton was kept high due to the constant attacks which put Dumoulin (amongst others) in trouble. But the Dutchman fought hard to limit his losses.

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) Geraint Thomas & Sergio Henao (Sky), Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale), Simon Spilak (Katusha), Winner Anacona (Movistar) and Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) split the peloton and it was Spilak who attacked with 6.5 kilometers to go, but was pulled back as they came into the final 4 kilometers. Pozzovivo was next to try, but it was Pinot and Spilak who made the big effort with less than 3 kilometers to go chasing Denifl who was now on his own at the front. Thomas managed to pull himself up to Pinot and Spilak, but this inspired Pinot to make his final move.

The Pinot passed Denifl and pushed on to put time into everyone to move into the overall lead with four stages remaining.

Stage winner and new overall leader, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr): “I’m very happy. It’s an important win for me and for the team. We wanted to win this stage and I had good legs today to do it. It’s good for my confidence and that’s important in view of the Tour de France. Winning will help me stay relaxed and it’s true, racing in Switzerland seems to suit me. The goal is to win the Tour de Suisse but the rouleurs like Thomas and Dumoulin aren’t far back, It’ll be a long and difficult time trial. We’ll see what happens on the day.”

9th and near stage winner, Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling): “We talked about getting into this break at the team meeting before the start. And we managed to find just the right group to go with. Having Matthias there really made it easy for me. His strength proved invaluable both in setting me up to get the climbing points on the first categorized climb, but also to have me in the best possible position at the foot of the final ascent. Then I just climbed at my own pace, giving my maximum. To have won the stage, we would have had to have a larger gap from the base. But I am very happy about spending this much time at the head of the race.”

12th overall, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo): “It was okay for me today, I’m not extremely happy and I felt a little bit tired after the last three days here in Tour de Suisse, where I have worked for Peter’s chances and it was also the first days after my return to racing. The most important for me is that I feel that my shape is getting better day-by-day. I still have two important weeks ahead of me before Tour de France and I have to continue to work hard on preparing myself. But all in all, I’m satisfied with my progress and we will continue to fight here in Tour de Suisse.”

9th overall, Sébastien Reichenbach (IAM Cycling): “It’s a very difficult climb where you really have to manage your resources. And as far as that goes, Thibaut Pinot and Steve Morabito did everything right. They had planned not to exceed a certain number of watts. They avoided sharp efforts, and I think perhaps I did a little too much. At this altitude, every effort is paid for in cash. You have to do as little as possible. But I am still happy with how well I did the climb, and I have to thank all my team for their support.”

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) dropped from 2nd overall to 41st at 23:46, but held the points jersey: “Today was a day in the high mountains and it was Rafal’s turn to do his race. I could maybe relax a little bit more even though we had two HC climbs. As I didn’t go for the stage win, I tried to save energy for the next stages, where I want to try to get another win. I think I have a chance in the next stages and for sure my team supports me very well and we will see what happens in the next days.”

Tour de Suisse Stage 5 Result:
1. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr in 6:22:47
2. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:34
3. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 0:37
4. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 0:43
5. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1:15
7. Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 1:18
8. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky at 1:29
9. Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling at 1:31
10. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 1:37

Tour de Suisse Overall After Stage 5:
1. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr in 17:42:01
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:47
3. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 0:50
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:55
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 1:07
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1:27
7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 1:32
8. Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJ.fr at 2:29
9. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling at 2:43
10. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky at 2:46.

Stage 5:

Ster ZLM Tour 2015
Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling) won the 6.4 kilometer prologue of the UCI 2.1 Dutch stage race in Goes on Wednesday. The german rider took 1 second out of Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) and just under 3 from Victor Campenaerts (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) to take the first leaders jersey. Four stage to go before the finish on Sunday in Boxtel taking in many of the roads used in the Amstel Gold.

Stage winner and overall leader, Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling): “I could not have asked for a better start. Last week I participated in the German championships on track and I think it was actually excellent preparation. I really felt very good before coming to the prologue. Now, of course, we will try to keep the jersey. But I am realistic. I’m not the fastest rider on the team, so it may be a bit complicated for the squad in the next few stages. But we do have two very fast guys in Matteo Pelucchi and Heinrich Haussler. I have already worked for Matteo at races like Qatar, and I think we can do some more good work here as well. After that, it is just a question of remaining vigilant, since the forecast is for wind in the coming days, and some teams might try to use these conditions to their advantage.”

2nd on the stage, Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo): “You always have to wait until the last one. We chose to start early after we saw Weerplaza. If some rain was coming, I would have been later in the evening. A lot of the favorites for the win today were not as fast as me, so I started believing in winning this time trial. One of the last riders beat me in the end. That’s a big disappointment.”

Ster ZLM Tour Prologue Result:
1. Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling in 7:30.31
2. Martijn Keizer (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:00.97
3. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise at 0:02.61
4. Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:04.52
5. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek at 0:05.99
6. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:07.79
7. Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Soudal at 0:08.42
8. Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:09.41
9. Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek at 0:09.95
10. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal at 0:10.56.

Ster ZLM Tour Overall After The Prologue:
1. Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling at 7:30
2. Martijn Keizer (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:01
3. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise at 0:02
4. Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:04
5. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek at 0:06
6. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:08
7. Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Soudal
8. Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:09
9. Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek at 0:10
10. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal.

Kluge takes the prologue:

Ronde van Limburg 2015
Next to the team riding in the WorldTour race of Tour de Suisse, another part of Wanty-Groupe Gobert travelled to the Ronde van Limburg with two favorites for the win: Roy Jans and Bjorn Leukemans. They were supported by Tim De Troyer, Tom Devriendt, Yannick Eijssen, Jan Ghyselinck, Fréderique Robert and James Vanlandschoot.

Leukemans won the race in Tongeren by beating Dimitri Claeys and Wouter Mol. “This arrival really suited me to perfection,” the winner declared. “I am very happy with my current form and hope to reach peak form on the day on the Belgian national championships in two weeks time. The upcoming two races (Ster ZLM Toer and Halle-Ingooigem) will serve as final preparation.”

After an hour of racing the breakaway of the day took off with Joeri Stallaert, Kobus Hereijgers, Sjoerd Kouwenhoven and Philipp Walsleben. They gained a maximum lead of seven minutes before the sprinter’s teams started to chase them down.

“Our goal was to not let the breakaway gain too much time because there weren’t a lot of the bigger teams at the start line,” sports director Steven De Neef declared. However, Wanty-Groupe Gobert mostly left the work to Lotto-Soudal with top favorite Jens Debusschere.

When the bunch arrived on the three local loops of 11 kilometers each, the breakaway was within sight and a new group took off including Bjorn Leukemans and nine others. In the final lap Dimitri Claeys attacked on the last climb of the Kolmontberg. Leukemans was the only one who could follow.

“When Claeys attacked, everyone looked at me. I knew it was up to me to counter,” Leukemans said.

Claeys and Leukemans worked together until two kilometers from the line. That was the moment Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s team captain left Claeys behind and went solo for the line.

“I attacked in the last corner where the gradient was the steepest. This arrival really suited me to perfection,” the winner declared. “I am very happy with my current form and hope to reach peak form on the day on the Belgian national championships in two weeks time. The upcoming two races (Ster ZLM Toer and Halle-Ingooigem) will serve as final preparation.”

This victory in the Ronde van Limburg was the second win of the week for the team (after the stage win of Danilo Napolitano in Boucles de la Mayenne) and the fourth of this season.

“I am happy to see that we found some luck back after all the crashes and illnesses the team suffered earlier this year. I hope we can continue on this path. Things always come in three’s, not two’s,” De Neef smiled.
Thanks to José at Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Ronde van Limburg Result:
1. Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 4:45:38
2. Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team at 0.04
3. Wouter Mol (Ned) Cyclingteam Join’s-De Rijke at 0:11
4. Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot
5. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Robin Stenuit (Bel) Veranclassic-Ekoi
7. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (Ned) Metec-TKH Continental Cyclingteam powered by Mantel
9. Benjamin Verraes (Bel) Cibel
10. Gijs van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Leukemans takes Limburg:

‘Final stop’ for Quintana in Route du Sud
The Colombian climber will lead the Movistar Team in Pyrenean race from Thursday, two weeks before the start of the Tour de France.

The last stagerace for the Movistar Team before the depart of the ‘Grande Boucle’ from Utrecht on July 4th will also mark Nairo Quintana’s comeback into racing. The Boyacá-born rider is set to lead the telephone squad at the 39th Route du Sud, a four-day stagerace which includes three flat stages with consecutive uphill finishes in Auch and Saint-Gaudens, on Thursday and Friday, plus Gaillac’s closing ride on Sunday and a big mountain stage on Saturday 20th, over the Category-1 cols of Haut-Balestas, Val Louron and Balès.

Imanol Erviti, John Gadret, Marc Soler, Dayer Quintana, Enrique Sanz, Jasha Sütterlin and Alex Dowsett will join Quintana and sports director Chente García Acosta at the French event which Quintana won in 2012.

Nairo Quintana:

Tinkoff-Saxo and captain Contador take on Route du Sud as final race before Tour de France
Tinkoff-Saxo is set to start Route du Sud as defending champions. This time, team captain Alberto Contador will spearhead the race as preparation for the Tour de France. Contador will get the backing from a proven squad of climbers and all-rounders.

According to Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Patxi Vila, the Route du Sud holds primarily two main objectives for Tinkoff-Saxo.

“Firstly, it’s the first race after the Giro for Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso and Michael Rogers and these three riders need to compete before the Tour. The main objective for Tinkoff-Saxo is that they compete and enter into race-mode once again. After nearly three weeks of break they have to get into the mindset of a competition”, says Patxi Vila and adds:

“Secondly, these four days of racing will provide a very good assessment of their form, especially for Alberto. The real test will come in the third stage. It’s the race’s queen stage with three Cat 1 climbs, including the famous Port de Balès and will give a very good indication of Alberto’s form. He will, obviously, fight to be in the front and being a very competitive athlete, we don’t rule out the possibility that he might try to go for a stage win. However, there will be other, fresher, riders from other teams that will give their best because the GC will most probably be decided there”.

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso, Michael Rogers, Sergio Paulinho, Chris Juul-Jensen, Ivan Rovny, Jesus Hernández and Oliver Zaugg, who makes his first appearance after crashing out of the Vuelta al País Vasco.

The Route du Sud features four days of racing with a total of 692km in Southern France. About the route, Patxi Vila asserts that Tinkoff-Saxo will focus on building race shape on the first days of racing.

“The first two stages are fairly flat and suited for sprinters. Tinkoff-Saxo will not bring sprinters to the race and as a result these initial 350km of racing will be used to bring the riders to race-mode and prepare for the third stage. If Alberto feels good on the third stage, he will obviously need the entire squad to help him and that will be their task. The fourth and final stage is also fairly flat and will provide the last, real-race training for Alberto prior to the Tour de France”, finishes Patxi Vila.


Escarabajos up for the Route du Sud
Team Colombia-Coldeportes’ riders are ready to take in the last two stage-races before the usual break in July. Claudio Corti’s team will face the Route du Sud, in France from Thursday 18th to Sunday, June 21st.

One of the most important non-World Tour events in France, with a tradition of four decades, the Route du Sud kicks-off this Thursday, from Lourdes, with a stage for the puncheurs, as the final kilometer will have a 5% average gradient. Next day will also be a hilly one, but should end up in a bunch sprint. The GC will be decided in stage three, which has three first category climbs, including the Port de Balès (18,9 km and a 6,3% slope), that ends 21 kilometers before the finish in Bagnères-de-Luchon. The race wraps up on Sunday, with a flat stage to Gaillac.

The parcours bring many opportunities for Team Colombia-Coldeportes, so that’s why Sports Director Valerio Tebaldi will line-up an experienced team, capable of lighting up the race on every stage. Miguel Angel Rubiano – 10th in the latest edition of the Tour de Luxembourg – comes here with ambitions, the former national champion having the form and the confidence that he can score another important result in a race he did also last year.

Another cyclist who has had a successful Tour de Luxembourg, where he won the best climber’s jersey, is Fabio Duarte, who will look forward to the penultimate stage in order to lay his mark on the race. The team will be completed by Cayetano Sarmiento, Camilo Castiblanco, Leonardo Duque, Daniel Martinez, Sebastian Molano and Edwin Avila, a rider to watch out for in the sprints.

Edwin Avila, Camilo Castiblanco, Fabio Duarte, Leonardo Duque, Daniel Martinez, Sebastian Molano, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Cayetano Sarmiento.
Sports Director: Valerio Tebaldi.

Leonardo Duque:
Colombia 2015

A Handful of Cards to Play in Route du Sud
From Thursday 18th to Sunday 20th of June, CULT Energy Pro Cycling take on the French stage race, Route du Sud. The hilly stage race takes place in Southern France in and at the foot of the Pyrenees where big names like Laurent Jalabert, Michael Rogers, Daniel Martin, Nairo Quintana and Nicholas Roche have prevailed in the demanding terrain. The first edition of the race was held in 1977 and has traditionally been used as a last preparation before the Tour de France.

CULT Energy Pro Cycling enter the race with a solid mix of riders for all terrains; Rasmus Guldhammer, Linus Gerdemann, Romain Lemarchand, Karel Hnik, Christan Mager, Michael Reihs, Mads Pedersen and Michael Carbel.

DS, Luke Roberts expects an open race: “We are entering the race with a strong team and with both Linus and Rasmus in the line-up, we’ll have a decent chance for a good overall result. There’s only one big mountain stage but without a mountain top finish, which doesn’t favor the pure climbers. However, our priority is not the GC. We’re better off looking for stage results as we have Carbel here for the sprints. I think the absence of the biggest sprinters leaves an open door for him. There’s also a solid chance of breakaway success if the break can eventually outfox the bunch,” says Roberts.


Alberto Contador: “I’ll be back in motion at the Route du Sud”
Alberto Contador will return to competition on Thursday, June 18th, after being proclaimed winner of the Giro d’Italia on May 31st. After fifteen days of active rest, Alberto is very motivated in view of his next challenge, the Tour de France. “If it were easy I wouldn’t have this motivation. I hope to reach the start in top condition,” states Tinkoff-Saxo’s leader two days before the start of the Route du Sud.

“Physically and muscularly I still feel the wear from the Giro, especially that of the final week, which was very hard. As a result, I tried above all to rest as much as possible during this time,” stated Alberto Contador. “I focused on recovering and I have only done three days of specific training to activate my body.”

How do you think you will feel in the four stages of the Route du Sud?
For me it is an unknown. I can’t know now in what form I will be. I took great care of all the details, both rest and nutrition, which is somewhat complicated, because you have to eat little, just the opposite of what happens in a competition. The most important thing is that I look forward to racing in the Route du Sud because it will give me speed in the legs and I will be in motion again. Surely, it will take some time to ramp up, but I have a good foundation and this will allow me to carry out a good training in racing mode.

Do you already think about the Tour de France? How do you see it right now?
I see it with uncertainty, but also with the motivation to experience something that is new to me. I’m mentally very excited and motivated with this challenge. Physically, when I get up, my legs still hurt, I feel some muscle fatigue, but this is normal. If it were easy, I wouldn’t have this motivation and, on second thought, there are still more days ahead to recover than days that have passed since the end of the Giro. I hope to reach the start in top condition.

Where have you been training?
After going to Pinto to celebrate the victory with my friends and family, I went to Lugano and from there to Livigno, where I was isolated and concentrated. It’s a good place, with iconic mountain passes very close, such as Gavia and Stelvio, but also with the possibility to train in flat terrain at an altitude of 1,800 meters. I took advantage of this to prepare my return to competition, although I will face this race in a more relaxed mode.

Alberto Contador will race at the Route du Sud from June 18 to 21. The Tour de France start in Utrecht on July 4.

Giro d'Italia 2015

No Tour for Philippe Gilbert
Philippe Gilbert withdrew Tuesday from the Tour de Suisse, citing an injury to his right leg that will keep him from being considered for the BMC Racing Team’s Tour de France roster.

BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said a recent MRI revealed a small, non-displaced fracture on Gilbert’s lower leg, likely related to his crash at La Flèche Wallonne in April.

“The MRI showed a small fracture of the postero-lateral tibia head,” Dr. Testa said. “The fracture is small, and not involving the joint articular surface and the injury is not worrisome for his cycling career. Philippe had no particular pain on the bike. But he had been complaining of knee discomfort, especially off of it, and especially going up and down stairs. So we decided to look into it.”

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said he and Gilbert mutually agreed the former world road champion and recent double stage winner at the Giro d’Italia will not participate in this year’s Tour de France.

“We had a productive and open discussion regarding his current health and the second part of his season and goals,” Ochowicz said. “The eight riders that we do select to support Tejay van Garderen will be chosen based on current health and performance. We want the best eight candidates at the start in Utrecht and right now Philippe is not at his best.”

Gilbert said while it is disappointing not to be able to be considered for the Tour de France, he is already looking ahead to some big goals for the later part of the season.

“Of course, I was motivated for the Tour because it is going to pass in a part of Belgium and there is also the nice finish on the Mur de Huy,” he said. “But the Tour de France is every year. It is not like I am missing something like the Olympic Games. So every year you have a chance to do it and I have already done it a few times and have had a lot of success at this race already.

“Also, a big goal for me is always the worlds and Il Lombardia, which is one of the nicest classics of the season,” Gilbert said. “I know with these problems, I can maybe go to the Tour, but not at 100 percent. Even if I do this, I will finish the Tour completely empty and that will mean I will do everything – the Tour and the end of the season – at 80 percent. So at this point, I have to make a choice to skip the Tour. My first objective is to feel healthy again and not feel the pain anymore.”

Ochowicz said the team expects to announce its nine-man roster for the race sometime after the Tour de Suisse, which ends Sunday.

Philippe Gilbert:
Milano Sanremo 2015

Koen de Kort and Tom Veelers Renew Contracts
Team Giant-Alpecin is pleased to announce that Dutch riders Koen de Kort and Tom Veelers have renewed their contracts with the team. De Kort has been with the team since 2009 and will extend his commitment to the team for one more year, while Veelers joined the team one year earlier, in 2008, and will extend his contract for another two years, until the end of 2017.

“Koen is an important support rider both in the classics and in the sprint preparation. Koen is part of the core of the team, and his experience is very important to a lot of our younger riders.

“Tom has gained a great deal of experience over the years as well, which he conveys to the team. As the last man in the lead-out train, he makes a significant contribution to the victories of our sprinters,” said Rudi Kemna (NED).

De Kort commented on his contract renewal: “I’m excited to be on this team for another year. I have been part of many big victories in the past few years, and I hope there are many more to come.”

Veelers said: “I am very happy with my contract renewal. The team feels like home to me, and I completely support the team’s vision and way of working. My personal goals include educating the younger guys and preparing them to one day take over my position. I also want to keep challenging myself to contribute to the victories of the team and distinguish myself in my role.”

Tom Veelers:
Trainingscamp Giant - Alpecin 2015

The Day of a Mechanic
The latest in Shimano’s behind-the-scenes videos sees BMC Racing Team’s mechanics in the spotlight.

They work tirelessly day and night to ensure the BMC Racing Team riders have the mechanical support they need on the World Tour. Top notch mechanical skills are a necessity in this job, as well as the ability to work round the clock, get along with colleagues in close quarters and be away from home for up to 250 days a year.

In this fascinating 4-minute insight BMC Racing Team mechanic Ian Sherburne tells us about the repetitive nature of the work, albeit one that takes in glamorous locations (and car parks) around the globe. Tune in to find out how Ian ended up doing a job where everyone always finishes work together and where the high parts are a lot higher than your normal 9 to 5.

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