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EUROTRASH Matt Monday!

A very full EuroTrash Monday: Matt Brammeier is back home after his big crash in the Tour of Utah, we also round up the Eneco Tour, Tour de l’Ain and the Arctic Race of Norway with video, reports, rider quotes and results. More team up-dates from the Vuelta a España and the latest contract news.

TOP STORY: Matt Brammeier back home after crash at Tour of Utah
Focus on full recovery
Matt Brammeier has returned home following his accident at the Tour of Utah. The Irishman sustained severe injuries in a collision with a race vehicle when descending from Guardsman Pass in Big Cottonwood Canyon. He was immediately transported to hospital by ambulance where he underwent several check-ups.

The injuries Matt sustained are significant, as he suffered fractures of the sacral and pelvic bones, as well as rib fractures on both sides, a bruised liver and fractured tooth. A small pneumothorax is resolved. Matt and the team want to thank the staff at the University of Utah Trauma centre who took great care of him. He is now back in Great Britain where he will undergo further treatment.

At the moment it is not certain when he’ll make his return. “We don’t expect him back on a bike for at least the next 6 – 8 weeks”, says team doctor Jarrad van Zuydam, who’s focus is on a full recovery to allow Matt a return to racing at the top level. The Irishman himself is already focusing on 2016: “It’s looking like my season is well and truly over, so I’m looking forward to return hungry in 2016.”

Dr Jarrad van Zuydam – Team Doctor
“Matt arrived home safely and is recovering well. He will be getting about on crutches for the next few weeks to allow his pelvic fractures to heal. His chest injuries are not as severe as was first feared and his pain is already far better. We don’t expect him back on a bike for at least the next 6 – 8 weeks but we are confident that he will make a full recovery and a return to racing at the top level.”

Matt Brammeier – Rider
“The last days have been tough as you can imagine but I’m starting to feel better already. I had some extraordinary care over in Salt Lake City and can’t thank all of the staff at the University of Utah Trauma centre enough. I’m still in a fair bit of pain, but over all, considering what I just hobbled away from I can’t grumble for one second. I’m just happy to be in one piece and to be back home with my family and Fiancée and looking forward to starting my recovery process already. I’ve had one of my most enjoyable years of my life this year with the team and I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me so far.”

Stage winner in the Stertoer, Matt Brammeier:
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Eneco Tour 2015
Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) took the time trial Stage 4 of the Eneco Tour in Hoogerheide and taking the overall lead. Van Emden was an early starter on Wednesday as he recorded a time of 16:34 for the 14 kilometers, going ahead of early leader Adriano Malori (Movistar). LottoNL-Jumbo teammate Wilco Kelderman came within 5 seconds for second place. Malori held onto 3rd and Lars Boom (Astana) took 4th. Greg Van Avermaet, Manuel Quinziato and Philippe Gilbert, all BMC, took 6th, 7th and 8th and are all within striking distance of the overall win.

TT stage 4 winner, Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo):
Stage - 4 ENECO Tour 2015

Stage winner and overall leader, Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo): “My fifth place in the Tour was nice but winning is something different, especially at WorldTour level,” Van Emden said with a proud smile. “At the moment, I cannot choose between the two yet. I’ll put them equally side by side.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo): “Of course I would have liked to win but finishing second behind Jos is fine as well. I took some time on some other overall riders and I’m in a good position now. That’s a nice bonus. There is still a lot that could happen in this Eneco Tour, but today was certainly good for our moral.”

5th on the stage and overall, Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling): “I am a little disappointed because I gave everything, but I had some mishaps. For example, I lost the visor to my helmet after just about four kilometers after I hit a big bump and had a violent jolt. I never really was able to find a good rhythm, and then fighting the strong headwind on the way back did not help matters, obviously. Frankly, I was looking for the win, and I would have hoped on finishing higher up. I am still ready to fight in the upcoming stages, even if that will be far from simple. But with Heinrich Haussler, Aleksejs Saramotins as well as Dries Devenyns and David Tanner, we certainly have a team that can be competitive. And we are not in the habit of giving up our chips too easily.”

Eneco Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Jos Van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo in 16:34
2. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:05
3. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar at 0:07
4. Lars Boom (Ned) Astana
5. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:11
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:14
7. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC at 0:16
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 0:20
9. Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:21
10. Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo.

Eneco Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Jos Van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo in 12:30:09
2. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:05
3. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar at 0:07
4. Lars Boom (Ned) Astana
5. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:11
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:14
7. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC at 0:16
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 0:18
9. Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:21
10. Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo.

Eneco stage 4:

Wilco Kelderman swapped the overall lead in the Eneco Tour at the end of Stage 5 with LottoNL-Jumbo teammate Jos van Emden in a tough stage over the hills in Dutch Limburg. Van Emden had been leading the race after his victory in Thursday’s time trial in Hoogerheide.

FDJ.fr’s Johan Le Bon won the stage from a breakaway formed with Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin) that made it to the line in Sittard-Geleen. In the closing moments of the race, Kelderman hunted down the two leaders with a small counter-attack. He managed to limit the time loss to nine seconds, just enough to take the lead. Van Baarle moved into second overall at only 1 second. Rain created messy conditions in the stage, and when water started pouring down, the race exploded. Kelderman saw an opportunity, and took it.

Stage - 5 ENECO Tour 2015

5th on the stage and overall leader, Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo): “When we started the local laps, it began to rain and it got hectic. Ultimately, the chase never really got on, and when Wellens and Greipel went, two strong riders, I knew I had to jump. It proved to be a good move. It was a successful day, I’m pleased that the leader’s jersey remained within the team. I’m in white now, which is a nice boost. As a team we will defend the jersey over the coming days as a team. The final stages suit me, but there are a lot of strong riders here. We’ll try our best. It’s going to be hard. Anything could happen.”

Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) lost the white jersey: “I’ve enjoyed it. The start was three kilometers from my home in Veldwezelt, and so the local fan club showed up this morning. The fact that I’ve lost the jersey does not feel like losing. I would have liked to wear it another day, but this is fine. I fought for what I was worth and the jersey is still with the team. It was a beautiful day. My team-mates surrounded me all day long. In the finale, when Wilco was gone, I tried to shut down the chase, which worked. I was strong uphill and able to counter attacks from some of Wilco’s competitors.”

Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling): “From the beginning of the race this week, all the stages start off with a bang. There is no lollygagging early in the race. We are going à bloc from the moment the stage starts right on through to when the break gets away. And on narrow, winding roads, where it is always up and down, we have to stay alert. Today was especially difficult particularly with the finish in the rain on a last lap of the circuit that was already dangerous, and then made only more so by the slippery roads. We were chasing very hard for the last 20 kilometers. There were riders everywhere, and I was concentrating on keeping a reserve for my sprint, but we never saw the front of the race again. For my return to competition after a big break, the sensations are good. I am going to give everything I can to win a stage here, but I will certainly be even better next week in Hamburg.”

Eneco Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ.fr in 4:13:50
2. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin
3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:09
4. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
6. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
7. Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant-Alpecin at 0:11
8. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:15
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 0:27
10. Lars Boom (Ned) Astana.

Eneco Tour Overall After Stage 5:
1. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo in 16:44:13
2. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:01
3. Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:08
4. Jos Van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:13
5. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:19
6. Lars Boom (Ned) Astana at 0:20
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:26
8. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC at 0:29
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
10. Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:34.

Eneco stage 5:

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) soloed to victory on Stage 6 of the Eneco Tour on Saturday. Wellens won this stage last year to take the final overall and this year he repeated the result. The Belgian finished 49 seconds before of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) and is now 1:03 ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and has 1:17 on Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo).

The break of the day was: Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin), Sébastien Turgot (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), they had a 4 minute lead at the start of the first of three finishing laps.

The leaders were caught by a group of 14 riders, including: Andrey Amador (Movistar), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal), Chris Juul Jenson (Tinkoff-Saxo), Andriy Grivko & Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), David Tanner (IAM Cycling), Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha), Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale). Overall leader Wilco Kelderman had missed the split, but along with Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Tom Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin), Mick Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Geschke they made up the front group.

Brändle tried to go alone, but Van Avermaet pulled him back for Geschke to attack. He joined by Rogers and was chased down by Wellens. Wellens went on a solo move and took the three intermediate sprints in the golden kilometer to pick up the 9 bonus seconds, while Van Avermaet came through behind in second to earn six for himself. Geschke and Van Avermaet chased Wellens as Bakelants and Slagter chased them. Wellens was uncatchable and he put more time into the other before the finish in Houffalize.

Stage - 6 ENECO Tour 2015

Stage 6 winner and leader overall, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “This victory gives a lot of satisfaction of course. Logically, after the Tour de France I started with doubts in the Eneco Tour, but the legs felt very good during the first days. Thursday’s time trial and yesterday’s stage, where I raced in front together with André, were a good confirmation of that. I knew the course very well because I had done a recon of this stage. This morning, it was our intention to give full gas with the team in the beginning of the two local laps, but yet at the first ascent of the Saint-Roch the speed was so high that only a few riders were left at the front of the race. Entering the finale, we were with nineteen riders and many attacks occurred. I focused on Van Avermaet and Gilbert and I had the impression that Kelderman was watching me. After my attack, it was a matter of keeping the pace high. Our SRM wattage meter is perfectly fit to do so, but the most important thing was to persist the physical effort. I constantly tried to proportion my forces. The closing stage looks different than the final stage last year. Then it was a hilly stage without cobbles, now we have to ride a little Tour of Flanders. On the other hand, the gap with the second rider in the GC is now bigger compared with last year. And I can count on a very strong team that is made for such stages. Greipel counts for three, Sieberg and Benoot for two and also Debusschere and Broeckx are experienced on cobblestones.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC): “It was a bit strange because it was on the descent and because it was wet, I lost his wheel a bit. I was seventh or eighth wheel and then we went immediately into a climb. Wellens attacked directly, so I did not see him go. So first I had to find my pace on the climb and then try to chase him back. It suits me pretty well because it is a Flanders-type course with an uphill finish, it will be hard to catch Wellens back because he has more than one minute. But I will go for the stage victory and try to stay second on the GC.”

Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling): “Today there was not one flat meter in the whole stage; at 210 kilometers, the course was more or less a shortened version of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It just did not stop going up and down, and we finally finished with something like 2500 vertical meters climbed. I felt comfortable on the different climbs. In fact, I felt good until the rain started to fall in the final. I suffered from the cold, and I just had too little strength to stay with the best. Tomorrow we still have a card to play with Heinrich Haussler in view of the fact that it will be something like a Tour of Flanders. Now that we don’t have any more chances for the overall classification, we are motivated to get a stage win at the foot of the Mur de Grammont.”

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-merida): “What a pity I had to face a bonk just in the most important moment of the stage, I was in the front of the race with all the top riders of the bunch and I had the feeling I had managed in a good way my energies. I was wrong and I had that problem, probably also because the rain and the cold. I missed a good result, but I’m sure the intense days I spent in Eneco and in Poland will be useful for the next appointments.”

Eneco Tour Stage 6 Result:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 5:28:46
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:49
3. Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Alpecin at 0:51
4. Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:03
5. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin at 1:07
6. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 1:13
7. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek
9. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:17.

Eneco Tour Overall After Stage 6:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 22:12:59
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 1:03
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:17
4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 1:40
5. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek at 1:48
6. Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:51
7. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 1:54
8. Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo at 2:05
9. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:13
10. Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Eneco stage 6:

Manuel Quinziato (BMC) took one of his few victories in Sunday’s Final Stage 7 of the Eneco Tour. Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Yves Lampaert (Etixx – Quick-Step) were with Quinziato when he attacked with 5.7 kilometers to go, they were 2nd and 3rd. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) held onto the top men to take his second overall win in a row.

Fourteen riders managed to make the break of the day, but they were doomed form the start on such a hard course and a new break formed after the first ascent of the Muur de Geraardsbergen, including: Quinziato, Lampaert, and Leukemans. Behind them there were many chase efforts and in the end Simon Geschke & George Preidler (Giant-Alpecin), Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling), Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx – Quick-Step), Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Balois), Roy Jans (Wanty-Groupe Goubert), Johnny Hoogerland (Rompoot), and Rudiger Selig (Katusha) made up the next group on the road.

Lotto-Soudal pulled the peloton back up to the chasers and with 10 kilometers to go the three escapees had a 1 minute advantage. Near the top of the Denderoordberg, with just under 6 kilometers to go, Quinziato attacked and gained a few meters, Lampaert was in trouble and Leukemans tried to hang on, but failed. Quinziato used his time trial strength to gain 30 seconds, he started tire but managed to hold them off by a few seconds. Behind; Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) crossed the line at the head of the chase with Tim Wellens not far behind to conserve his overall win.

Stage - 7 ENECO Tour 2015

Stage 7 winner, Manuel Quinziato (BMC): “I wasn’t supposed to be in the break but it was a really fast start. I was happy to end up in the break, there were 14 guys but we didn’t really believe we could make it. I like the parcours, I was fourth two years ago here, I saw on the first Muur I was feeling good, better than the other guys. Then I was with two strong guys, Leukemans and Lampaert. I’m 35, I’ve not won so many races, it doesn’t happen that often to feel good at the front of the break, so I thought no mistake, no regrets. I did exactly as I planned to do. I made a gap and the guys behind disappeared, but I was à bloc. I said to myself, ‘Don’t look back.’ But I looked back with 500 meters to go and saw that they were coming. I said to myself, ‘You are either going to win, or you are going to die.’ I won, so I am happy.”

Final overall winner, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “It’s very nice to win the Eneco Tour of course. And not because the Tour de France wasn’t as good as expected. It’s just fantastic to win a one-week stage race, it pleases me a lot. I started in this race with some doubts, because I didn’t know how I would feel after the Tour. After the time trial I really had a good feeling and I knew for sure that the condition was good. The question was; how is Tim going to perform after the Tour? Well, the last days in that Tour I felt that my shape was improving, the choice to ride in the Clasicá San Sebastián appeared to be a good one. This week I confirmed this better shape. This year’s victory is even more beautiful than the previous one I think. The first victory of the Eneco Tour was a bit unexpected, but to perform on a same level this year was much harder. Beforehand, I considered Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert as the most important riders for the overall victory, they were really in a good shape. But yesterday I made the difference because I did a recon of that stage. That Côte de Saint-Roche appeared to be a key point and I was glad that I’d done the recon. I have no other choice than to thank the teammates for their work the previous days, they really did an a-ma-zing job. Everyone supported me very well. Greg Henderson, Marcel Sieberg and Stig Broeckx did a lot of work in the beginning of the stages. Afterwards Jens Debusschere, André Greipel and Tiesj Benoot did their work and they did it fantastic. I’m really thankful. After this Eneco Tour I know that I don’t have to aim on a good classification in the Grand Tours. The one-week stage races without the high mountains like Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico fit me more. For the rest of the season, I hope to maintain the good shape as good as possible. Normally I won’t ride in Hamburg, but I will start in Plouay. After that I’m going to Canada for the races in Quebec and Montreal and to prepare myself for the World Championships time trial. It’s not up to me whether I will be selected or not for the road race in Richmond, but if that’s the case, I don’t have a problem with the fact that I’ll have to ride for someone else. After the World Championships, my final race of the season will be Lombardia. But first, I’m going to enjoy this victory.”

4th on the stage and 2nd overall, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC): “We tried to make the race hard to drop Kelderman but we couldn’t do it. I am happy with second place and with Manuel winning the stage and me being in fourth today. Everything went pretty well for us and I think we had a good Eneco Tour with the win and also picking up a few WorldTour points.”

3rd overall, Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo): “I’m happy with my third place. After the Tour de France, this is a big boost, I really needed this after the disappointment of the Tour, and the Eneco Tour is an important race. The race was under strict control and I knew that riders would respond if I went. I toyed with the idea of an attack on the penultimate climb, but when a few others accelerated, I could only react. I really struggled, but I don’t think I did anything wrong this week. Yesterday was just very difficult because there were so many strong riders in the front. The race wasn’t controllable. Besides that, there’s something extra to being a race leader.”

2nd on the stage, Björn Leukemans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I am very disappointed because there is only one position that really counts, I could have won here today but I come in second. I maybe should not have been in third position when Quinziato attacked but I also had cramps. I could have maybe attacked sooner on the Vesten to come back to him in the final kilometer but those are all thoughts after the race. I would have loved to win here, naturally, but Quinziato is a strong guy just coming off the Tour de France.”

3rd on the stage, Yves Lampaert (Etixx – Quick-Step): “It was a close race today, it was a hard race for the breakaway. The first time on the Muur van Geraardsbergen we went full gas and only Quinziato, Leukemans, and I could stay in front. We worked well together. I was the youngest of the three. Then Quinziato attacked. I had a difficult moment. I had to let Quinziato ride and try to return to Leukemans, but we couldn’t work together to close the gap to Quinziato. We came about 20 meters too short at the finish. It’s very sad. Maybe if we worked together we could have caught him, but these things happen in cycling. It’s good for me that I ended with a top 3 result, even though the goal is always to win. It shows I have good legs coming back from a rest period. That is important looking to the next races on my calendar.”

5th on the stage and 10th overall, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Today’s race was difficult, it really hurt my legs as it did for everyone, the team was good. We had Yves was in front of the race, and we stayed ready in case of the sprint for the victory with Tom. But, the breakaway decided the stage, so I stayed concentrated on a good placing to move into the top 10 of the classification. I finished 5th, so I am happy that I accomplished my goal. This gives me a good boost of morale for the next races, knowing my condition was good at Eneco Tour and it showed in my performance.”

Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling): “Honestly, I am a little disappointed with my performance during this Eneco Tour, but I hope to return to my top form after the birth of our first child. Today, we missed the right move for the breakaway. And since BMC had Quinziato up there, there weren’t enough strong teams with a reason to ride. In the first round of the final circuit, I tried to get to the front and organize the other riders, but we never managed to close the gap. Nevertheless, I felt good and was riding over my training roads.”

Eneco Tour Stage 7 Result:
1. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC in 4:18:18
2. Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:03
3. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:08
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:38
5. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:40
7. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:42
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
10. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-GreenEDGE.

Eneco Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 26:31:59
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:59
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:17
4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 1:40
5. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek at 1:48
6. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 1:54
7. Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 2:02
8. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:11
9. Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
10. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step.

The final stage 7 of the Eneco Tour:

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Tour de l’Ain 2015
Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) took his second stage in a row and consolidated his overall lead at the end of Stage 2 into Pont-de-Vaux, a distance of 159.7 kilometers. The Frenchman is now 15 seconds ahead of Mike Teunissen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Alexandre Geniez (FDJ.fr) who are both on the same time.

The Cofidis team did not want to see a breakaway form and chased any move down. After 41 kilometers, finally four men who got a ticket out: Antoine Duchesne (Europcar), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Cristiano Salerno (Bora-Argon 18) and Elijah Gesbert (France).

14th overall, Pierre-Luc Périchon was virtual yellow jersey; but the local rider from l’Ain knew the move could not succeed. The peloton did not give the four fugitives too much lead and after 93 kilometers they were down to 2:35. Cofidis were obviously the hardest workers in the peloton along with the Armee de Terre and Team Marseille 13-KTM. The leading quartet was swallowed up by the peloton 8 kilometers from the line. Nacer Bouhanni showed he was the fastest in the bunch sprint, he beat Rudy Barbier (Roubaix-Lille Métropole) and Barry Markus (Lotto NL-Jumbo).

3rd on the stage, Barry Markus (LottoNL-Jumbo): “The other boys helped Mike to sprint and I was allowed to go for my own chances, but in the run-up to the sprint, I ended up following Mike’s wheel, he decided to give me a lead-out. I entered the final corner as fourth and was able to overtake one rider in front of me in the sprint. Bouhanni was just too fast, but I’m glad I got the opportunity here.”

Tour de l’Ain Stage 2 Result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis in 3:35:37
2. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole
3. Barry Markus (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
4. Benoît Sinner (Fra) E.C. Armee de Terre
5. Nick Van Der Lijke (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
6. Albert Torres (Spa) Team Ecuador
7. Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Rabobank Development
8. Cees Bol (Ned) Rabobank Development
9. Anthony Maldonado (Fra) Auber 93
10. Merijn Korevaar (Ned) Rabobank Development.

Tour de l’Ain Overall After Stage 2:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis in 7:18:19
2. Mike Teunissen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:15
3. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr
4. Marc Sarreau (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:16
5. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Europcar at 0:17
6. Twan Castelijns (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
7. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:18
8. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole
9. Nans Peters (Fra) French Espoirs at 0:20
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Stage winner and overall leader, Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis):
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Alexandre Geniez (FDJ.fr) won Stage 3 of the Tour de l’Ain, run over 145.1 kilometers between Lagnieu and Bellignat. He beat his last three breakaway companions, Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Theo Vimpère (Auber 93) and Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale), although Elie Gesbert (France Espoirs) was the first to launch hostilities.

After less than 30kms of racing, at the summit of the Col des Fosses, many riders were dropped including the yellow jersey Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis). At km 50, 19 racers out of the peloton including Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R-La Mondiale), but they were caught on the descent. Jérôme Cousin (Europcar) and Frédéric Brun (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) escaped after 70km and were joined by Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) and Antoine Duchesne (Europcar). On the next climb Jean-Christophe Péraud is alone in the lead.

Behind; a group of fifteen riders made up the peloton of favorites and Péraud was caught 11 kilometers from the finish. On the last climb the winning break of four: Vimpère (Auber 93), Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vachon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and Geniez (FDJ.fr) escape and stay away to the line. Geniez, aged 27, proved the fastest in the sprint and as he was second in the prologue on Tuesday in Bourg-en-Bresse, seizes the yellow jersey.

Tour de l’Ain Stage 3 Result:
1. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr in 3:40:27
2. Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
3. Théo Vimpere (Fra) Auber 93
4. Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Julien Guay (Fra) Auber 93 at 0:09
6. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18
7. Sam Oomen (Ned) Rabobank Development
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Nans Peters (Fra) French Espoirs.

Tour de l’Ain Overall After Stage 3:
1. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr in 10:58:51
2. Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:09
3. Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:19
4. Nans Peters (Fra) French Espoirs at 0:24
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:28
6. Théo Vimpere (Fra) Auber 93 at 0:30
7. Sam Oomen (Ned) Rabobank Development
8. Brice Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:31
9. José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Bora-Argon 18
10. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:33.

Stage winner and overall leader, Alexandre Geniez (FDJ.fr):
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Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale) won the Final Stage 4 on Saturday of the Tour de l’Ain, run over 140.5 kilometers between Nantua Lélex and Mont Jura.

Eight men escaped from the pack: Dupont (AG2R-La Mondiale), Hardy (Cofidis), Brice Feillu (Brittany Séché Environnement), Pacher (Army), Levarlet (Auber 93), Paillot (KTM-Marseille 13) Grellier (France Espoirs), Cousin (Europcar). Feillu was a real danger for the leader Alexandre Geniez and so FDJ.fr didn’t allow the break more than 1:25. On the descent of Giron, the penultimate climb of the day, Nans Peters (France Espoirs) burst from the pack and crossed the gap of 1:15 in a dozen kilometers. AG2R-La Mondiale took control and had the leaders back to 50 seconds before the start of the Menthières climb.

Quentin Pacher attacked at the foot of Menthières and was passed by Latour who was joined by Dupont (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Jeandesboz (Europcar). At the top of Menthières, Latour and Jeandesboz had 27 seconds over eight riders: Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Alexandre Geniez (FDJ.fr), Patrick Konrad & Jose Joao Pimenta (Bora Argon 18), Sam Oomen (Rabobank), Theo Vimpère (Auber 93) and William Martin & Nans Peters (France).

The climb to Lélex-Monts Jura is marked by numerous attacks, but overall leader Alexandre Geniez stands firm. The yellow jersey group finished on the heels of two leaders as Latour took his first bouquet in the pros. Alexandre Geniez meanwhile won the general classification of the 2015 Tour de l’Ain.

Tour de l’Ain Stage 4 Result:
1. Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale in 3:41:06
2. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Europcar
3. Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
4. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18
5. Sam Oomen (Ned) Rabobank Development
6. Théo Vimpere (Fra) Auber 93
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
9. Nans Peters (Fra) French Espoirs
10. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr.

Tour de l’Ain Final Overall Result:
1. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr in 14:39:57
2. Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:05
3. Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:09
4. Nans Peters (Fra) French Espoirs at 0:24
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:28
6. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Europcar
7. Théo Vimpere (Fra) Auber 93 at 0:30
8. Sam Oomen (Ned) Rabobank Development
9. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:33
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Stage 4 winner Pierre-Roger Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale):
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Arctic Race of Norway 2015
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) beat his countryman Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka), the Norwegian national champion, to score his nineteenth victory of the season in Stage 1 and take the lead of the Arctic Race of Norway for the first time ever.

Maxime Cam (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Jens Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Max Kørner (Ringeriks-Kraft), Marius Hafsås (FixIT.no), Vegard Stake Laengen (Joker), Håvard Blikra (Coop-Øster Hus) and Jon Soeveras Breivold (Frøy-Bianchi) gained an advantage of 7 minutes over the peloton at the first intermediate sprint at Evenes airport after 40 kilometers. But half way into the stage, the time difference was down to 4.30.

On the first crossing of the finish line in Harstad with 66km to go, the time gap was reduced to 2.30 as the teams of the sprinters, namely Katusha, Lampre-Merida and Europcar, pulled the peloton. Stake Laengen secured the first salmon jersey – and the salmon worth 10,000 NOK – after passing first atop Balteskardet (km 94) and second atop Kvæfjordeidet (km 155.5). He attacked with 15km to go. Among the seven breakaway riders, only Hafsås was able to come across and accompany him until the lanky climber from Team Joker rode away solo again 9km before the end.

As Stake Laengen was brought back inside 5km to go, Davide Malacarne (Astana) tried his luck but it was all together for the last two kilometers of racing. Reduced to five men prior to the start due to Anton Vorobyev’s ribs injury, Katusha positioned Kristoff perfectly at the bottom of the uphill finish. The Stavanger-based sprinter chose the right side of the road while Boasson Hagen was on the left. Kristoff powered to victory to lead the Arctic Race of Norway.

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Stage winner and overall leader, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): “It’s great to win again. I didn’t win all summer so it was about time for me to win again and I’m happy it could be here in the Arctic Race of Norway. Now the team can relax a bit because we already have a win and with only a five-man team, it’s always difficult to win here but my guys did a great job even with one less guy. I was in a perfect position in the last kilometer so I’m happy I was able to pull it off. Of course I wish I had been able to win at the Tour de France, also, but it’s good to be winning again here in Norway. This is just the beginning of my build-up for the Worlds so I’m pleased with the way things have started. This was a difficult finish, and I was a bit on the limit. Normally I can handle up to 1k this way but this was longer and it was hard. My legs were quite stiff by the end. In regards to what’s still to come, my climbing legs were not perfect so I will struggle some up here. This was the easiest stage for me and tomorrow should also be good, but the last 2 stages on Saturday and Sunday will be too hard for me. This is my 19th win of the season and I’d like to make it twenty. Maybe I can make number 20 at the Worlds. I was never the leader here last year, so it’s very cool to have this jersey. It’s possible I can keep it tomorrow but after that we will see as stage 3 will be quite hard for me. I’m pretty sure I will lose it on that day, but you never know. I had expectations that I could win today on a course like this but a 4km climb is hard for me. I think tomorrow will be another day for the sprinters and all of the favorites will again be there at the end.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka): “It was a pretty good stage for us today. The team was really good, supporting me all day and then bringing me into a good position at the end. In the sprint we might have gone a bit too early and Kristoff still had one more man. I kind of got blocked a bit behind Haller though which wasn’t really ideal on that type of finish. I was feeling good though, the team were perfect and so I am focused on the next stages.”

8th, Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling): “It was a long stage with 213 kilometers ticking past, the final circuit that we raced was really technical. Basically, I was working for Sondre Holst Enger, but the finish line was at the top of a small bump of maybe 4-5%. I did my job, but I think this final might have been just a little too hard for him at the moment, so I kept going to try my luck. I like this kind of muscular finish, and I know I can do great things. The peloton was nervous; everyone wanted to test their sprint. And I launched my sprint from very far out, so my power was not enough. That being said, I am not unhappy with my result. This is my first race since the Tour de France finished, and I am pretty satisfied with my condition.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 1 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 4:58:36
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka
3. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
4. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis
6. Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Cult Energy
7. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
9. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis
10. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 1:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 4:58:26
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:04
3. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:06
4. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:10
5. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis
6. Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Cult Energy
7. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
9. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis
10. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling.

Arctic stage 1:

Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) masterfully outsprinted Federico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare) and overall leader Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), moving the Irishman into 2nd overall at the end of Stage 2 in Evenskjer. The first intermediate sprint was located after only 12 kilometers, so no breakaway was allowed to escape. MTN-Qhubeka’s Edvald Boasson Hagen won ahead of Amaury Capiot (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Kristoff. The Norwegian champion was virtually two seconds down on his rival on GC but his MTN-Qhubeka squad was one rider down as Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg was a non-starter due to throat infection and fever and Theo Bos had to abandon.

After the sprint Maxat Ayazbayev (Astana), Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Carl Fredrik Hagen (Sparebanken Sør), Torstein Traeen (Ringeriks-Kraft), Sindre Eid Hermansen (FixIT.no) and Krister Hagen (Coop-Øster Hus) managed to get away. Katusha started to chase them down when their advantage reached 3 minutes with help from IAM Cycling. The deficit of the bunch was under 1 minute when Bideau won the special reward of half a ton of salmon that will be delivered to him in France by the Norwegian salmon farmers as he won the last KOM price of the day at Lavangseidet with 45km to go. Bideau was rejoined after the climb by K. Hagen, Hermansen and Ayazbayev. The latter gave up with 35km to go. Two counter-attackers from the same team, Kristian Aasvold and Andreas Erland of Sparebanken Sør, tried to bridge the gap with the leading trio but didn’t make it.

Bideau went solo with 20km to go. It was all together again for the last 15km as Stef Clement did most of the work for IAM Cycling at the helm of the peloton. Several teams showed up at the head of the pack in the lead up to the inevitable bunch gallop: Giant-Alpecin for Ramon Sinkeldam, Bretagne-Séché Environnement for Daniel Mclay, Cofidis for Michael van Staeyen, but Bora-Argon 18 was the most impressive besides the Katusha team left with only three helpers for Kristoff. A last minute acceleration by Tinkoff-Saxo racing for Slovakian sprinter Michael Kolar also disturbed the plans of the other Russian squad (Katusha). After beating the likes of Nacer Bouhanni, Peter Sagan and Tom Boonen on the cornice of Doha in the Tour of Qatar in February this year, Bennett proved at the age of 24 that he’s not afraid of challenging the world’s top sprinters.

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Stage 2 winner and 2nd overall, Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18): “The guys did an absolutely amazing job today. In the end it was a little bit of a downhill. I can’t believe I lost my team-mate’s wheel. I was in such a bad position, I want to apologize to the guys for that because it’s my job to hold the wheel. I was looking coming in the final I just kept sprinting and going through gaps. In the end the door just opened at the right time and I was just able to take the win. It feels good to beat Alexander Kristoff on his home soil but regardless it feels good to win and I’m delighted. But it wasn’t a straight sprint against each other. He got boxed in. It was a really quick and dusty finale in the military camp, everyone came down the hill with a lot of speed. There were a lot of touching wheels and it was a bit scary. It’s really important for me to win here after the Tour de France. As a sprinter, if you want to be a good sprinter, you need to deliver results when you’re feeling good all through the season. I had terrible legs in the race today but with the support of the team, I was still able to get a result and that’s very important. If I have fantastic legs tomorrow I’ll try to hold hard but the way I was climbing today I don’t think I’ll be able to.”

9th on the stage and 7th overall, Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling): “Racing in my home country of Norway naturally gives me a bit more punch, I have to be honest, I had the chance to see some of my friends and my dad will be coming to see me on the last stage. This will be the first that will have happened to me at a pro race. Even if that motivates me, I am a still disappointed with my performance. My results are pretty good, but I expected better. After my victory at the Tour of Austria, I had hoped some switch would click. But then again, I have to be realistic. There are a lot of very good sprinters here, and I am still missing a little bit of racing in my legs, and certainly a little training. I had a small break after Austria because I had a little injury that I wanted to let heal properly. So I am not really at my best here, that’s for sure. That thought is reassuring for the future because I am going to progress; I realize already that the little climbs do not hinder my sprint, so that’s a positive.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 2 Result:
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 in 3:41:05
2. Federico Zurlo (Ita) UnitedHealthcare
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
4. Michal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Daniel Mclay (GB) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
6. Floris Gerts (Ned) BMC
7. Arman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana
8. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis
9. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
10. Oscar Landa (Nor) Team Coop-Oster Hus.

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 2:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 8:39:26
2. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:01
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:06
4. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:13
5. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis at 0:15
6. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
8. Floris Gerts (Ned) BMC
9. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis
10. Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Stage 2:

BMC’s Ben Hermans won the Queen Stage 3 of the Arctic Race of Norway as he came past Astana’s Rein Taaramäe in the last 200 meters of the uphill finish in Målselv. Local hero Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) kept his chance of winning the overall classification as he is only 24 seconds down on the new leader with one day to go while blue jersey holder Alexander Kristoff has switched his focus to the points classification which he still leads.

Six riders rode away from the gun: Herman Dahl & Fridtjof Røinås (Sparebanken Sør), Marius Hafsås (FixIT.no), Håvard Blikra (Coop-Øster Hus), Jon Breivold (Frøy-Bianchi) and Chris Williams (Novo Nordisk). There was no reaction from the bunch, so the advantage was over 6 minutes after only 20km of racing. Blikra won the first intermediate sprint at Slettemøen after 14 kilometers ahead of Røinås and Hafsås. The same three riders crested the first categorized hill Krokelvvatnet (40km) in the same order. A maximum time gap of 6:30 was recorded after 50 kilometers were covered. Astana, the first team involved in setting the pace of the pack, received the help of BMC and IAM Cycling. As he outsprinted Røinås again atop Mefjordbotneidet (79.5 km), Blikra virtually became the King of the Mountains ahead of the uphill finish in Målselv.

Diabetic cyclist Chris Williams (Team Novo Nordisk) claimed the second hot spot sprint at Grunnvåg (101.5km). Astana and IAM Cycling stabilized the gap between the six leaders and the peloton around 3:30. BMC returned to work and the deficit was down to two minutes with 30km to go. Continental team Joker was next to move to the front. Blikra who had scored enough points to take over from his teammate August Jensen in the lead of the KOM competition was the last man to surrender 8km before the end. Several teams showed their ambitions in the lead up to the 3.7km long final climb: Joker, Lampre-Merida, Astana, BMC, IAM and Katusha.

Taaramäe attacked just inside the last two kilometers after passing a head wind section. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) remained pretty close to him. The Estonian rode away again with 1.5km to go, but was held close by Frank and a BMC trio formed of Ben Hermans, Silvan Dillier and Dylan Teuns. Hermans paced himself at perfection to deprive Taaramäe of the victory in the last 200 meters. Hermans leads the overall classification by 7 seconds over Taaramäe and 24 seconds over Boasson Hagen who can keep his ambitions alive in the conclusive stage expected to be a very spectacular one in Narvik on Sunday.

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Stage winner and overall leader, Ben Hermans (BMC): “I was always 150 meters behind, I knew there was a headwind at one-and-a-half kilometers to go and I could have jumped across. But I would have exploded myself. So I waited on the wheel of my teammates. In the last kilometer, it was a tailwind so I attacked full gas. Maybe I could have exploded with 250 meters to go, but I had to do it if I wanted to win. Of course I can win this race, I just need the same legs tomorrow, I have a strong team, so normally we can control the race. We will still have to race, but I think a win is possible.”

7th on the stage, Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka): “The climb was very short and fast with a crazy run in. Edvald was really climbing well and I just tried to help him lose as little time as possible as he was pretty good on the GC. I am happy with how my legs are feeling before the Vuelta.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 3 Result:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 4:27:10
2. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 0:03
3. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:10
4. Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC at 0:14
5. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC at 0:17
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:20
7. Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:23
8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka
9. Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling
10. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Team Joker at 0:28.

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 3:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 13:06:41
2. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 0:07
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:24
4. Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC
5. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:25
6. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC at 0:27
7. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Team Joker at 0:38
8. Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Cult Energy at 0:40
9. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:41
10. Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:42.

Stage 3:

Just like the first two editions of the Arctic Race of Norway, the third one has had a thrilling finale with Rein Taaramäe (Astana) taking the title from race leader Ben Hermans (BMC) who had a mechanical and then couldn’t respond to all the attacks. The BMC Racing Team didn’t lose everything as Silvan Dillier claimed the last stage in Narvik in style.

124 riders started the Final Stage 4 in Narvik. Green jersey holder Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the first intermediate sprint ahead of Maximilian Walscheid (Giant-Alpecin) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) in Vidrek (km 18.5). Seven riders rode away just after the sprint line: Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Maxime Cam (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin), Gert Joeäär (Cofidis), Robert Förster (Unitedhealthcar), Philip Eidsheim (FixIT.no) and Reidar Borgersen (Joker). Team Sparebanken Sør was unhappy to have missed the move and rode hard behind but they didn’t make it across.

Elmiger was the highest ranked of the breakaway riders, 52 seconds adrift, so BMC Racing Team took care of the chase. The deficit of the bunch was three minutes with 100km to go and Europcar came to help. The front group split at the entrance of the finishing circuit with Cam, Borgersen and Elmiger staying ahead. With 32km to go, race leader Ben Hermans had a mechanical. He made it across but that was only the beginning of his worries. Attacking from the bunch, stage 2 winner Sam Bennett bridged the gap to the leaders and replaced Borgersen in the three-man group opening the race. As they got caught 26 kilometers before the end, August Jensen (Coop-Øster Hus) sprinted for the second King of the Mountains prize of the day. That awarded him the trophy for the second year in a row and the new salmon jersey.

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Rein Taaramäe (Astana) rode away with 20 kilometers to go, initially with Audun Brekke Flotten (Ringeriks-Kraft), Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Michael Gogl (Tinkoff-Saxo). Hermans was isolated. He got no help from other teams and only kept losing time to the three leaders. With 7km to go, Taaramäe couldn’t hold the pace of Zakarin but he courageously made it back at the top of the hill. As he was racing in support of Hermans, Dillier was fresher than the two others. The Swiss rider sprinted to victory, his first as a professional except for time trials (he’s the national champion for individual time trial and a world champion for team time trial), and claimed the second place overall behind Taaramäe who took his second stage race in two weeks after the Tour of Burgos.

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Stage winner, Silvan Dillier (BMC): “In the final 30 kilometers, I think Ben had a problem with his bike, so I stayed in front to check the situation. First, both Astana and Katusha were pushing forward. But then Astana set a hard tempo and split the field. I just stayed on the wheel and hoped that Ben could get back. But then, at the end, I saw the chance to win the stage and I took it.”

Overall winner and 3rd on the stage, Rein Taaramäe (Astana): “I was surprised to drop Ben Hermans so easily. We didn’t even attack in the climb. The pace was not really high. I liked the course of the final circuit. There was almost no flat part, so I rode away because I thought the peloton wasn’t going to be able to catch us. It’s a fantastic feeling to win the Arctic Race of Norway, firstly because it’s wonderful to win two stage races in two weeks, this one after the Tour of Burgos. It’s amazing. Yesterday I was pretty disappointed in the evening but it’s the complete opposite feeling now. We’ve had a very nice podium presentation by very nice people here in northern Norway. I feel like at home. The atmosphere is so different than in the other countries where we normally race, France, Spain, etc. I really want to come back here one day. It’s an important win in my career. That’s the kind of targets I’m looking for as a pro bike rider. I’m delighted with the Arctic Race of Norway on my palmarès.”

10th on the stage and 4th overall, Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka): The pace was high on the final circuit and I was just hanging on as best I could even though I could feel the lactic acid. I tried to claw my way into the main move but it was just too tough. I finished with the 2nd group and that was the best I could do on this stage today.”

5th on the stage, Rasmus Guldhammer (Cult Energy): “Actually, I started the stage not feeling on top of things but as the stage progressed, I felt the power coming back. It was a tremendously intense finale with a steep climb which drained the power out of almost everybody. I prefer to race for the win but that wasn’t possible today. But the way the day developed, I’m happy about finishing 5th.”

9th on the stage, Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling): “I am happy with the work I have done in the break for this last stage, we tried to put some pressure on BMC. Our goal was to force them to work to control things and tire them out before arriving on the final circuit. My legs were good and I am confident again. I said that I would try something on this last stage, and I did exactly that. In the end, I attacked, but it did not result in the win. I wasn’t able to follow the three riders who attacked in the final kilometers. There had already been many attempts when Dillier, Zakarin and Taaramae took off, and I was not prepared for this effort. Then I tried to bridge up alone, but it was too late. This race has proved to me that I have recovered well from the Tour. And then there were always the landscapes to enjoy. They were really beautiful, almost as beautiful as Switzerland.”

9th overall, Ben Hermans (BMC): “There was something wrong with my bike, I am not sure what. I decided not to change bikes as I knew if I changed bikes I would lose the race for sure. When the attack went off at the top of the climb on the second lap, I was in a good position but I was not able to match their speed. I just had to ride tempo.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 4 Result:
1. Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC in 3:35:18
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha
3. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana at 0:02
4. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Katusha at 0:40
5. Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Cult Energy at 0:42
6. Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo
7. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Team Joker
8. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis
9. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling
10. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka.

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 4:
1. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana in 16:42:02
2. Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC at 0:08
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 0:31
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:02
5. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 1:04
6. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Team Joker at 1:17
7. Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Cult Energy at 1:19
8. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis at 1:31
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC at 1:33
10. Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling.

The final Arctic Race stage 4:

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Vuelta a España 2015
Less than a week to go before the third Grand Tour of the season and we have some more team announcements. MTN-Qhubeka are looking for stage wins, as is Nacer Bouhanni in the sprints for Cofidis. Will Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez be looking for the overall prize? Whatever happens, PEZ will bring you the Vuelta news.

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Europcar for la Vuelta
Riders:
Yukiya Arashiro, Jérome Cousin, Antoine Duchesne, Jimmy Engoulvent, Cyril Gautier, Tony Hurel, Fabrice Jeandesboz, Pierre Rolland and Romain Sicard.
Directeurs Sportifs: Dominique Arnould & Benoit Genauzeau.

Tour and now Vuelta for Yukiya Arashiro:
Tour de France 2013 stage-18

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Cofidis Vuelta 2015 Team
The Cofidis team for the Vuelta a España:
Yoann Bagot, Nacer Bouhanni, Romain Hardy, Cyril Lemoine, Daniel Navarro, Dominique Rollin, Stéphane Rossetto, Julien Simon and Geoffrey Soupe.

More Vuelta stages for Nacer Bouhanni?
Halle - Ingooigem 2015

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Team Katusha for Vuelta a España
World Tour Team Katusha is ready for its last Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a España. The anniversary edition (80th birthday – 70th edition) of the biggest Spanish race starts in the south of the country in Marbella on August 22nd and finishes in Madrid on September 13th. On the menu of this edition: an opening team time trial, an individual time trial of 39 km in Burgos, 6 flat stages and 13 hilly and mountain stages, including nine unprecedented high-altitude arrivals.

The team’s line-up: Joaquim Rodriguez, Giampaolo Caruso, Vladimir Isaychev, Pavel Kochetkov, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Egor Silin, Angel Vicioso and Eduard Vorganov.
Team directors: José Azevedo, Gennady Mikhaylov and Xavier Florencio.

Could this be the Grand Tour for Joaquim Rodriguez?
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MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung with seven Africans to La Vuelta
Team continues to make history

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung is preparing itself for its second Grand Tour of the 2015 season. Like last year the team is proud to travel to La Vuelta with high hopes – and an exceptional team that features no less than seven African riders.

Reigning Eritrean road race champion Natnael Berhane and Tour de France stage winner Steve Cummings are spearheading the line-up, with the latter being one of the two riders on the team that hail from Europe. African road race champion Louis Meintjes was forced to withdraw from Le Tour due to illness but has fully recovered and makes his return to Grand Tour racing when he rolls to the start in Marbella on 22 August. The trio will be accompanied by Jay Thomson, Jaco Venter and Kristian Sbaragli who were all part of last years La Vuelta team. Youcef Reguigui, Songezo Jim and Johan van Zyl will make their Grand Tour debut.

Apart from bringing seven African riders to Spain the team continues to make history. Reguigui, winner of the Tour de Langkawi 2015, will be the first Algerian to take part in the race. Furthermore, Songezo Jim will be the first South African of color to ride in a Grand Tour.

The team’s sporting goals for the race are similar to the ones at the Tour de France with a stage win and wearing a special jersey being the main objectives. In addition to that MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will further drive its #BicyclesChangeLives campaign to help putting 5.000 children on bikes.

La Vuelta starts on 22 August in Marbella. From there the race will head to the North East of Spain, before turning West. After 21 stages the race will conclude on 13 September in Madrid.

Brian Smith – General Manager
“This team is about opportunities. We wanted to give most of our riders the opportunity to ride a Grand Tour this year. After our success in the Tour de France we want to keep up with the same momentum in our goal of raising 5.000 bikes for children in Africa. We are going to La Vuelta with the same goals as the Tour de France and the team has been selected to obtain these goals. Berhane and Meintjies will shine in the mountains. Sbaragli and Reguigui will battle in the sprints. We will look at opportunities for Cummings, Jim, Thomson, Van Zyl and Venter. All riders have proven to us that they are motivated to fly the team flag high over the 3 weeks of La Vuelta.”

Jens Zemke – Head Sports Director
“In our second year at La Vuelta we will have seven African riders to represent MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. Our strategy will be very similar to the one at the Tour de France, where we focused more on the stages than on the GC. With two riders onboard who raced in France – our Golden Boy Steve Cummings who took the stage on Mandela Day, and Louis Meintjes – as well as seven riders that specifically prepared themselves for La Vuelta in the last few weeks, I am sure we can live up to this goal. We feel extremely humbled to come back to La Vuelta and to get the chance to promote our cause of putting 5.000 children in Africa on bikes through the way we race.”

Natnael Berhane – Rider
“I am happy to start my second La Vuelta. As Eritrean champion I will have the chance to represent my country and Africa. I hope to ride a good race and to continue where I left off in Utah. The team is well rounded and I think we will continue to keep the African, and in my case also the Eritrean fans proud.”

MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung La Vuelta team:
Natnael Berhane (Eritrea), Steve Cummings (Great Britain), Songezo Jim (South Africa), Louis Meintjes (South Africa), Youcef Reguigui (Algeria); Kristian Sbaragli (Italy), Jay Thomson (South Africa); Johann Van Zyl (South Africa), Jaco Venter (South Africa).
Reserve: Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda).

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First Pro Win for Fernando Gaviria
Etixx – Quick-Step stagiaire Fernando Gaviria wasted no time earning his first victory wearing the team colors. In just his second race participation with the team, Gaviria won the 178km 2nd Stage of Czech Cycling Tour, out of a reduced group formed originally by tough crosswinds with 50km left to race on Friday.

There was originally a breakaway of four riders, which Etixx – Quick-Step controlled as race leaders after the Stage 1 TTT victory. Etixx – Quick-Step was also at the start with five riders in all the classification leader jerseys. Eventually the breakaway was caught, but as the parcours went flat, the winds became a factor. The peloton splintered due to a full gas tempo, with a 22-rider echelon getting a significant advantage. Kilometer-by-kilometer the group reduced to 15, and then to 12 leaders. Four riders of Etixx – Quick-Step were present: Gaviria, Zdenek Stybar, Pieter Serry, and Petr Vakoc. This lead group decided the stage, with Gaviria out sprinting his fellow break mates.

“I’m over the moon with this victory, as it was not an easy one for me with the crosswinds,” Gaviria said. “The team was super strong. They stayed with me the whole time and made sure I was there in the front group. In the end Stybar starting pulling for me at 600 meters to go, leading me into the sprint and I won. For me, this is a great emotion. It’s the first time I raised my arms at the finish with this Etixx – Quick-Step jersey. It’s a dream come true for me. A lot of things changed since I raced Tour de San Luis in January. But it is clear that I love what I do and I love this team. I have a lot to learn from all the guys here. They are really professional. I am sure day-by-day I can always learn something new. I will continue to do so in the next days, and also at Tour of Britain. I’d like to dedicate this win to my girlfriend and my family, especially my father. We dreamed of me coming to Europe and winning a race. I did it here in the Czech Republic. But for me, it’s also a great satisfaction to pay off all the hard work we’ve been doing until now. It was all more than worth it.”

Fernando Gaviria wins stage 2 of Czech Cycling Tour:
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Tinkoff-Saxo Announces Six Extensions for 2016 team
Tinkoff-Saxo extends with six current team riders, as Jesper Hansen, Michael Kolar, Pawel Poljanski, Ivan Rovny, Nikolay Trusov and Jay McCarthy will all be a part of the team’s 2016 roster. As existing riders, this group featuring several young talents has contributed to the team showing high dedication, while further extensions will be announced during the second half of August.

“These riders have all contributed to the greater good of the team during the season and several of them are promising talents”, evaluates Steven de Jongh, Head Sports Director of Tinkoff-Saxo.

“Together with the 14 strong group of riders that already had contracts for 2016, Hansen, Kolar, Poljanski, Rovny, Trusov and McCarthy have indeed earned a place on Tinkoff-Saxo. We’ve seen the progress of the younger riders that we expected and the more experienced guys have obviously worked in a committed and keen way to meet our ambitions. These six guys will all play an important part in meeting the next season’s goals, as supporting riders for Alberto, Rafal and Peter and they will likely get their own chance at some stage”, comments de Jongh before adding:

“Our philosophy and approach are essential to our performance as a team. The camaraderie is very important for us to keep. It requires a stable group of guys that know each other, and with these six extensions we ensure a well-founded base for 2016”

Jesper Hansen, 24, will embark on his third year as a pro on Tinkoff-Saxo. The young climber has taken swift steps and his progress culminated with the overall victory at Tour of Norway, where the Dane captured a splendid solo win along the way.

Michael Kolar, 22, is equally set to start his third year as a pro on Tinkoff-Saxo. The fast Slovakian has on several occasions shown that he holds true speed, when it comes to lead-outs and as the tip of the spear in a sprint. Multiple top-ten finishes and a stage win at Tour of Slovakia in 2015 bode well for the coming season.

Pawel Poljanski, 25, has been a part of Tinkoff-Saxo since August 2013, where the Polish rider joined, first as a stagiaire. Since, Poljanski has made certain progress, while supporting the team captains at crucial points during the races.

Ivan Rovny, 27, has contributed with steadfast and strong support since the beginning of 2014 and has seen extended action as part of the teams Grand Tour squads. Latest, the Russian offered vital backing during Tinkoff-Saxo’s overall win at Giro d’Italia.

Nikolay Trusov, 30, will equally commence his third season on Tinkoff-Saxo. The experienced Russian defines sturdy power and has played a key role in lead-outs and during intense racing, where the team has taken to the front of the field in the fight for positioning.

Jay McCarthy, 22, first joined Tinkoff-Saxo in the autumn of 2013 as stagiaire. After two seasons with constant improvement, Australian rider McCarthy will ride his third full season for Tinkoff-Saxo in 2016. His ability to climb and ride punchy finales has secured him a place on the overall podium at Tour of Turkey in 2015.

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Reichenbach Signs With FDJ.fr
FDJ.fr announced via Twitter that the French WorldTour team had signed Sébastien Reichenbach on a two year contract. Reichenbach has been with IAM Cycling for the past three years, but the team had said that they could not come to any agreement for the future with the 26-year-old Swiss rider.

Sébastien Reichenbach:
Criterium Dauphine Libere 2014  stage -2

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Michael Mørkøv joins Team Katusha
WorldTour Team Katusha is happy to announce the signing of an agreement with the Danish rider Michael Mørkøv. Mørkøv (30) is a multiskilled rider – sprinter, classics rider and track champion. Last week in a mass sprint he won the last stage of the Tour of Denmark. The former national road champion (2013) also has on his palmares a Tour of Spain stage and a second place in Paris-Tours. In addition, he has become one of the world’s best track cyclists, winning a world title in the Madison and obtaining a silver Olympic medal in the team pursuit. Moreover, he has won eleven Six-Day races thus far.

“After seven years in the same team (Saxo Bank, later Tinkoff-Saxo) it was time for me to move. I heard that Alexander Kristoff wanted to have me on the team. For many years I’ve dreamed of working for a pure sprinter. I am fast myself but not fast enough to win the big races. I want to be part of a winning team. I prefer to help a teammate win a big classic than to win a smaller race for myself. It was not hard to make this choice. Team Katusha was rocking this year. I have always been happy in my current team but now I am already looking forward to next season,” said Michael Mørkøv.

“First of all, for Team Katusha the arrival of Michael Mørkøv is a significant strengthening of the sprinters group around our leader Alexander Kristoff, both in the classics as well as in the stage races. Alexander proved this year that he is the right man to build a team around. We continue on the path we have chosen. Moreover, Mørkøv is not only a strong, loyal and tactically superb rider, he is also able to reach top results for himself as well,” said general manager of Team Katusha Viacheslav Ekimov.

Michael Mørkøv:
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Louis Meintjes Staying with MTN-Qhubeka
South African, Louis Meintjes will be riding for his present team, MTN-Qhubeka, for the next two seasons even though he had received other contract offers from WorldTour teams for 2016. Apparently nothing has been signed yet, but the team and his agent have both confirmed that he would be with the team next year.

Louis Meintjes, stage winner in the 2015 Coppi e Bartali:
Coppi e Bartali 2015 stage 4

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Tom-Jelte Slager & Dylan Van Baarle Stay with Cannondale-Garmin and add Wouter Wippert
Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling today announced that Tom-Jelte Slagter and Dylan Van Baarle have re-upped with the team, and it has added young Dutch super talent, Wouter Wippert. While Cannondale-Garmin will be Wippert’s first World Tour team, the Dutch rider has already won at the World Tour level with a sprint victory at the 2015 Tour Down Under. The signings continue to bolster the strong core of young talented riders for the team’s future.

Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports and Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling, said “Tom-Jelte will look to build on the success of his fifth and sixth places in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallone in 2014. Next year, the Ardennes will be a big focus for him as he continues to hone his great skills and develop as a rider.”

Slagter added, “I’m very happy and excited to be part of Cannondale-Garmin for the next two years. It’s been a great experience for me and I’m proud to be part of this team. I can’t wait to improve personally with the team and show that to all the fans who support us.”

Of Van Baarle, Vaughters said: “Dylan is an exceptional talent and will look to keep progressing in the cobbled Classics, building on his third place in Dwars door Vlaanderen. Dylan showed his strength in his first Tour de France this year and brought that forward with strong riding in the Eneco Tour. We look forward to seeing how he continues to grow as a rider and know that he has a huge future.”

Van Baarle agreed that he is in the best possible environment to develop himself further as a rider and work on specific goals, adding: “I’m very happy to sign again with Cannondale-Garmin. I feel a lot of trust with them and I’m looking forward to the next two years.”

25-year-old Wippert, according to Vaughters, is “an incredible up-and-coming sprint talent, and we are very excited to add him to the team. We have always been committed to developing young talent, and all three of these riders are young and talented. The upcoming two years will be important for them, and we look forward to helping them grow as athletes.”

Wippert, potentially one of the future sprinting superstars, had no doubt that Cannondale-Garmin had the best career plan ready for him: “After two fantastic learning years with Drapac, I’m ready for the next step in my career. Cannondale-Garmin is giving me the opportunity and guidance to succeed in the World Tour. Together we’ve made a plan for the next two years to develop myself as sprinter and that gives me a lot of confidence. I can’t wait to start this new project!”

Dylan Van Baarle:
Tour de France 2015 - stage 20


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