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EuroTrash Eneco Monday!

Four big stage races over the weekend and we have all the action: Eneco Tour, Burgos, l’Ain and the Arctic Race; results, reports, comments and video. Only five days to the start of the Vuelta a España, so we have lots of news from south of the Pyrenees. And Niki Terpstra gets himself into a bit of bother. A full EuroTrash bag Monday!

TOP STORY: WorldTour Points
Alejandro Valverde is at the top of the WorldTour league at the moment, which is fair enough as he has been consistent through-out the season so far and Alberto Contador in second place reflects his early season form up to crashing out of the Tour de France. Nibali and Quintana are third and fourth as Grand Tour winners and looking at the others in the top ten; there is a good spread of top men. But, does a season long competition mean anything these days? In the past, riders rode from February to September, competing in all the Classics and two or three Grand Tours, plus all the other smaller races. Things have changed, look at Chris Froome, he is an automatic favorite for any Grand Tour or shorter stage race, but of course he didn’t race much as a build-up to his disastrous Tour de France and so is in 24th place. Apart from the riders wages being based on their points, is there any point?

WorldTour Standings:
1. VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar) 462

2. CONTADOR Alberto (Tinkoff-Saxo) 407

3. NIBALI Vincenzo (Astana) 392

4. QUINTANA Nairo (Movistar) 345

5. PERAUD Jean-Christophe (AG2R-La Mondiale) 300

6. CANCELLARA Fabian (Trek) 278

7. GERRANS Simon (Orica-GreenEDGE) 268

8. COSTA Rui (Lampre-Merida) 268

9. SAGAN Peter (Cannondale) 257

10. KWIATKOWSKI Michal (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) 257.

The ‘Old Man’ of the peloton; Jens Voigt is in 215th place which doesn’t reflect his popularity with the fans:

header-enecoEneco Tour 2014
Lars Boom maintained his overall lead in the Eneco Tour after a crazy Stage 4. The Belkin rider still holds a 4 second lead over Giant-Shimano’s Tom Dumoulin after the stage finish in Ardooie, Belgium.

FDJ’s Nacer Bouhanni claimed the victory in the flat stage. The Frenchman out-sprinted Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) in a hectic bunch sprint. Boom placed safely in 26th. “Quite easily we got through the final,” said Boom. “The boys did well by pulling at the front and reeling in the only remaining breakaway rider. That wasn’t a problem for us. In the final lap, it was still stressful because we were heading for a bunch sprint.”

A crash in the hectic sprint cost the Eneco Tour its defending champion. Zdenek Stybar of Omega Pharma-QuickStep had to abandon the race after heavy spill that happened right behind Boom. “I haven’t seen a lot except for some flashes on television. It’s never pleasant to see someone crash so hard. Here in Ardooie, it’s always a big fight. Of course, the riders create dangerous situations themselves, but honestly, I have to say I don’t really like the final here.”

BMC’s Silvan Dillier and Daniel Oss each launched attacks in the final 20 kilometers before the big crash near the finish line. No BMC Racing Team riders were involved in the pile-up. Dillier said he was trying to contest the finish of the stage after his attack with 17 km to go was reeled in. “It was a tricky final,” he said. “In the last corner, I came over a lot of guys and had a lot of speed on the finishing straight, which was really long – around 800 meters. Then I saw this crash with 500 meters to go and I had to brake a little bit and lost my speed. Otherwise, I could have made a better sprint.” BMC Racing Team’s Manuel Quinziato held onto his third place overall, four seconds behind race leader Lars Boom (Belkin) and tied on time with second-placed Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano). On the race’s first day in Belgium after three stages in The Netherlands, Oss said he saw an opportunity to attack as the peloton began the second of two laps of a finishing circuit. He gained as much as a 25-second lead before being hauled back with six kilometers to go. “I found a small hole and I tried, but nobody followed me so I was a alone,” he said. “I got a gap, but not enough to enough to make it to the finish. It was a good attack for my morale and to find out my shape.”

Astana’s Borut Bozic after stage four: “The last k was too crazy – too many turns and everybody coming to the front to be in the race.”

OPQS rider Zdenek Stybar suffered a crash during the sprint. The crash forced Stybar to withdraw from the race. 

Stybar, who did not lose consciousness at any point, immediately underwent examinations at H.-Hartziekenhuis Roselare.

Results of the examination showed deep wounds on the upper and lower lip, as well as broken teeth. He had radiological examinations, as well as scans, which showed no fractures or cerebral lesions.

 Stybar has to spend the night in the hospital under observation.

Aleksandr Porsev suffered from a right collarbone fracture after the massive crash in the last hundred meters from Stage 3 of the Eneco Tour at Ardooie. A rider in front of him tried to escape from the crash of Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Giant-Shimano), who went to the right and forced Porsev to hit the barriers along the right side of the road. “There was no way to get away. My front wheel hit the barrier and one second later I was on the floor. I knew immediately that I had a serious problem. It is a pity as I was in good shape and I was really keen to perform well in Eneco, Hamburg and Canada. Now we need to see what is still possible for the rest of the season,” said Aleksandr Porsev. Porsev suffers from a right collarbone fracture and was transported immediately to the Heilig-Hart Hospital of Roeselare (Belgium) where he will undergo an operation (insertion of a plate) late tonight or tomorrow morning.

André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) abandoned the Eneco Tour today. Last night the German champion got ill. He has a throat infection. Greipel did start the fourth stage hoping the situation wouldn’t get any worse. During the stage it became obvious it was pointless to continue. Together with the team doctor he decided to abandon, with the rest of the season in mind. Greipel’s next race will be the Vattenfall Cyclassics.

Eneco Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr in 4:13:59
2. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Shimano
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
4. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol
6. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
7. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
8. Yohann Gene (Fra) Europcar
9. Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo.

Eneco Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin in 12:45:53
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 0:04
3. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC
4. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:07
5. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:09
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:14
7. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin at 0:17
8. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:18
9. Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale at 0:19
10. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:21.

Stage 4:

Tom Dumoulin has assumed the race lead at the Eneco Tour after a powerful finish on Stage 5 to take second and the six bonus seconds that go with it. Tom went into the day with a two second deficit but ended the day with a two second buffer over second place Lars Boom (Belkin).

The stage was the first day of the race to hit the hills, taking in the Geraardsbergen and as expected it was an action packed stage, but in the end a compact front group came into the finish together with Greg van Avermaet (BMC) taking the uphill sprint to the line.

The stage was the first day of the race in the hills and Tom and the team were well prepared for this. Small breakaway formed early on and spent most of the day ahead while behind the peloton waited to pounce before the real fight got underway.

As the peloton approached the leaders the attacks started to come and the repetitive climbs including ascents of the Muur saw the bunch thin rapidly.

Tom never really looked in trouble and even when race leader Boom got away late on he didn’t panic and gradually rode across the gap. The front group was grouped coming into the final kilometres and Tom had Roy Curvers, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Simon Geschke with him until late on to protect and position him.

After the base of the final ramp to the line van Avermaet jumped from a long way and Tom had tom come from a long way back, just running out of from to catch him before the finish but he did enough for second and picked up the key bonus time to take over the race lead.

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) the new race leader said after the stage: “Before the stage it was not my goal to become leader today but I wanted to go for the victory as I felt really good. I was the fastest over the final 500m in the bunch but I was slightly out of position at the bottom of the climb and Greg was too far ahead already. I feel in superb condition – the Tour did me good and I hope to hold onto the overall lead now after today. Even though I did not plan on taking the lead it is not bad to be leading heading into the last two stages. There are people we have to watch tomorrow and it will be a tough race but we will make a good plan and our team is strong.”

BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet took his first victory of the season Friday with an uphill surge on the cobblestoned finish climb of the Muur van Geraardsbergen: “It is a great feeling for me to finally get a win this year,” he said. “It is a very nice win for me and for the team and today’s course was perfect. I have known it from when I was young, which is a big advantage.” Van Avermaet, who moved into eighth overall, said he knew if he could get a gap on the climb he would be hard to catch. “I didn’t want to look behind me because I thought someone would come,” he said. “It was difficult to choose the correct gear and I didn’t know if I was going fast enough. So I kept sprinting until the finish.” BMC’s Manuel Quinziato finished 20th and remains third overall, 11 seconds back, with two days of the race to go.

Astana’s Andrei Grivko after stage five: “Saturday is the most important stage – today’s sprint depends on your position behind BMC – tomorrow it’s the rider and the course.”

Eneco Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC in 3:48:37
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 0:01
3. Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha
4. Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin
6. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:06
7. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
8. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol
9. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC.

Eneco Tour Overall After Stage 5:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano in 16:34:29
2. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin at 0:02
3. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC at 0:11
4. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:14
5. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:21
6. Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha at 0:23
7. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin at 0:24
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:25
9. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
10. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:28.

Stage 5:

Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) won Stage 6 of the Eneco Tour on Saturday. The finish line was on the climb of La Redoute, Wellens had 50 seconds advantage on his first chaser Lars Boom (Belkin). The 23-year-old didn’t only take his first pro win ever, but he is also the new overall leader. Boom is second in GC at seven seconds, Dumoulin is third at thirteen.

A group of eight jumped away soon after the start. The break with Boonen and Nuyens had a maximum advantage of 7:25. Nathan Haas stayed ahead the longest. Then there were attacks from Pichot and Jeannesson. Wellens bridged to Jeannesson first and then both joined Pichot. At the foot of the penultimate climb Wellens had already left his companions behind. He started solo at the last ascent of La Redoute and won impressively.

Stage winner and overall leader Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol): “Before the start we had agreed to see how far Jelle and I would get. After the stage to Geraardsbergen yesterday I already had a good feeling, although that wasn’t completely my terrain. This morning I noticed my legs felt good again and that it could be my day. When I jumped away the riders behind me didn’t give full gas. The team captains were isolated and there wasn’t any organization. Afterwards Lars Boom did everything he could to get rid of GC leader Tom Dumoulin and then the tempo was raised.”

“The stage win was my first goal and then getting in the top ten, that was really important for the team. Considering I stood at 49 seconds I never thought I would be able to get the first position. Fantastic that I win and take the jersey as well. Tomorrow we will do everything we can to keep that jersey. The bonification seconds will play a role, so we will have to race attentively.”

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) finished and moved into fifth overall while teammate Philippe Gilbert was ninth and climbed into eighth in the standings with one day to go. A day after Van Avermaet soloed to the stage win on the Muur van Geraardsbergen, he and Gilbert found themselves heavily marked in the 173.9-kilometer race that wound its way through Gilbert’s home region, finishing on La Redoute. “We tried to do the same as yesterday,” Van Avermaet said. “But Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Shimano) was controlling us and really looking at Phil and me. So it was hard to get away. We are not so far away from fourth place, so maybe we can try tomorrow to come a little bit closer. Some guys are maybe thinking it is over, but tomorrow is another hard day.”

Van Avermaet and Gilbert are 34 and 48 seconds off the lead, respectively, with Van Avermaet only one second out of fourth. Gilbert said he is feeling better after being sick for a time last month, but said he is still not 100 percent. “In the final, I am always there, but just not able to make the difference,” the former world road champion said. “Today, everyone expected us to work and contribute. But it was a bad situation because nobody wanted to help.”

Lars Boom (Belkin) gave a huge push for second place on the slopes of La Redoute. The Dutchman remains second with one stage to go and has a good shot of taking the overall win: “I had a really good day,” said Boom. “Last year, I struggled on the La Redoute once and wasn’t able to get back in the race after that. I’m very happy with this performance. It’s too bad that Wellens snatched the white jersey. I was able to ride in the front the whole day, especially at times when it counted. They have worked very hard for me again. Real class.” Due to his good form, Boom still believes in his chances to take the overall victory. “Tomorrow is going to be another tough day. Seven seconds seems a bit too much, but we’re going to make a plan. During the race we will try to anticipate the moves as much as possible. Today, was a key stage for the overall and it went well.”

Astana’s Andrei Grivko at the end of stage 6: “To win the GC here you need partnerships in the peloton – most teams have 2 or 3 for the finish, and the roads are so hard at the end.”

Eneco Tour Stage 6 Result:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol in 4:28:19
2. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin at 0:50
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:52
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano
5. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:56
6. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:58
7. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol at 0:59
8. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
10. Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale.

Eneco Tour Overall After Stage 6:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol in 21:03:27
2. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin at 0:07
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 0:13
4. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:33
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:34
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:38
7. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:45
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 0:48
9. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:56
10. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 1:04.

Stage 6:

Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) won the 10th Eneco Tour. After his fantastic stage win on Saturday the entire Lotto Belisol team defended the leader’s jersey on the Final Stage 7 for the young rider, who could stand on the podium as the overall winner; the first WorldTour overall victory for Lotto Belisol.

Before the stage the situation was clear: Wellens had to keep an eye on Lars Boom (Belkin) and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) first of all and not give them any space. Also the wind promised to play its part in Dutch and Belgian Limburg, on a course that had similarities to the Amstel Gold Race, with many turns and 22 hills.

It took about fifteen kilometers before a front group of 20 riders was formed. Julien Vermote was the best-ranked rider in GC, at more than six minutes to Wellens, so he wasn’t a big threat. The escapees also took the bonification seconds, so Boom and Dumoulin didn’t get the opportunity to get closer. The gap rose to 5:20 after 80 kilometers, while Lotto Belisol, with among others Dockx and Sieberg, set the pace in the peloton.

With the final coming up it was Belkin, as expected, that took the initiative, but the two attempts to make echelons weren’t successful; Wellens and his teammates were racing really attentively. Behind Roelandts and Vanendert; Wellens saw the distance to the finish getting smaller as the peloton had been considerably reduced. In front it was Guillaume Van Keirsbulck who attacked with 15 kilometers to go. The OPQS rider set a strong performance and rode solo to the victory. On the last hill BMC tried, together with Boom and Dumoulin, to attack Wellens one last time, but Tim responded to all their moves. In the final kilometers the danger had gone.

Tim Wellens, overall winner Eneco Tour: “Before this weekend I had never won a race yet, so this is definitely the highlight of my career so far. A WorldTour victory in Belgium is really special. Many people cheered for me along the way, start town Riemst is at 20 kilometers from my parents’ house. Before the stage there was more attention for the danger of the wind than for Boom and Dumoulin. The way the team performed today is fantastic. I could actually be relaxed in the wheel of Sieberg first and than that of Roelandts. Belkin tried to make an echelon twice, but we never had problems. We were really focused and only on the last hill Boom and Dumoulin tried to force something.”

“Two days before the start I went to see the team doctor because I was ill. We postponed the decision to start and of course I’m very pleased I did start. The beginning of the week was difficult for the team, but as of Friday I started believing there were opportunities. And with Jelle Vanendert I had a teammate who was really strong as well. The opportunities me and other young Belgian riders get wouldn’t be there without the immense support of Lotto. The different projects with which they give chances to young riders to develop their talent brought me to where I am today. The Belgian cycling project, with the support of so many Belgian partners, is indispensable for our cycling sport.”

“This victory doesn’t mean I will start as a favourite in the next one-day races of the WorldTour, but I’m eager to perform well in Plouay – working for the team – Québec, Montréal and Lombardia.”

Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) took his chance, attacking out of the group and immediately getting a gap. Team mates Matteo Trentin launched a well-timed sprint for 2nd, and Julien Vermote finished 4th.

Stage winner Van Kiersbulk (OPQS): “I knew what I was getting into, and that it was far from the finish,” Van Keirsbulck said. “But the wind suits me, so that’s why I decided to go and time trial to the line. This is by far the most beautiful win of my career. I never expected I could get a WorldTour win this year, which makes this special. After Paris-Roubaix I had a hard time finding my rhythm again. This win is everything for me as a Belgian guy in a race like this. It’s really important for my morale. I’m also so happy, after Styby’s crash, to end this Eneco Tour with a positive vibe. I hope he knows we wanted a win for him here and we got it. Even better, we had three guys in the top five. I’d like to thank Julien and Matteo for working to protect my advantage in the chase group behind. It was an amazing day for the whole team and I’ve never been prouder to wear the colors of OPQS.”

Lars Boom (Belkin) ended the Eneco Tour on Sunday second in the overall classification: “Tim was the strongest and deserved to win,” said Boom. “I’m satisfied, however. I have had a super Eneco Tour. I felt good every day of the race. It was a beautiful week. Last year, I had a weak day in the Ardennes, but yesterday, I finished second there. I’m very happy with that. You could say that this is a new milestone in my career. We were in Limburg today and the narrow roads made it very nervous. The boys rode super-fast to put Wellens under pressure. In the final, Greg Van Avermaet was early with an attack and I had to jump to get back in his wheel. That was a pity. Tomorrow morning, I’ll go for a swim with my daughters. After that I’m scheduled to ride Hamburg, Plouay, the Tour of Britain and hopefully the Worlds. I’ve shown that I still have the desire to race and that my motivation is huge.”

Astana’s Andrei Grivko said after the final stage: “Van Avermaet wanted that second back all day – thanks to Borut for the work at the front to keep the GC high.”

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step’s Niki Terpstra was disqualified as consequence of improper behavior during the race, go to the bottom of EuroTrash to see why.

Eneco Tour Stage 7 Result:
1. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 4:25:47
2. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:46
3. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale
6. Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar
8. Danilo Hondo (Ger) Trek
9. Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC
10. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin-Sharp.

Eneco Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol in 25:30:15
2. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin at 0:07
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 0:13
4. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:33
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:34
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:38
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 0:48
8. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEDGE at 0:56
9. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 1:04
10. Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale at 1:11.

The final stage 7:

header-burgos14Vuelta a Burgos 2014
Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) won the Stage 2 sprint to Villadiego after 152 kilometres. The Swiss team made a perfect lead-out for Pelucchi as he edged out Steven Lammertink and Thomas Damuseau, both Giant-Shimano. Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) held onto his overall lead with his 10th place on the stage.

Stage winner Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling): “This is my second win of the year. I also won the Clasica de Almeria and I love racing in Spain. I can’t wait to ride the Vuelta a Espana.”

Valerio Agnoli (Astana) after stage two at the Vuelta a Burgos: “I would like to win a stage for Vino, Shefer and Martino and all the Astana staff to repay them for their confidence in me these last two years.”

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 2 Result:
1. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling in 3:33:43
2. Steven Lammertink (Ned) Giant-Shimano
3. Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Giant-Shimano
4. Vicente Reynes (Spa) IAM Cycling
5. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana
6. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
7. Rafael Andriato (Bra) Neri Sottoli
8. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
9. Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling
10. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar.

Vuelta a Burgos Overall After Stage 2:
1. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar in 7:03:20
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha
3. Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Giant-Shimano at 0:03
4. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Jonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling
6. Carlos Barbero (Spa) Euskadi AT 0:05
7. Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
8. Daan Oliver (Ned) Giant-Shimano
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
10. Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Rusvelo.

Stage 2:

Nairo Quitana (Movistar) won the Vuelta a Burgos Queen Stage 3 and Quintana also leads the GC.

Juanjo Lobato, still wearing leader’s jersey, was the first to work for Quintana, alongside Movistar team-mates Imanol Erviti and Rubén Plaza. As several ascents in the last 50k came, the three left room to their climbing team-mates: Szmyd, Moreno, Antón and Herrada all took strong turns up-front. With the day’s break caught on the El Collado (Cat-2) climb, 25 kilometres from the finish, an attack by Mikel Landa (Astana) caused real selection. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), Sergio Pardilla (MTN-Qhubeka) and David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) followed the Spaniard, as well as Quintana, who kept calm despite several attacks from his rivals and only accelerated twice, briefly, to keep the pace before the decisive point of the race.

Nairo’s big attack came at the same point where he outclassed his competition in 2013. Under the flamme rouge, the leader of the Movistar squad was able to drop Dani Moreno (Katusha), who had been glued to all his moves. He caught the solitary Landa (Astana) and crossed the finish line with a six-second margin that granted him the race leadership.

Stage winner and overall leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “It was spectacular, winning here again – everyone in Burgos always treats me well and supports me whenever I come here. I really like the province and I’m proud to have won again on this climb. The team was fantastic and kept me calm before the final ascent. When the rivals attacked, I kept looking behind to control Dani Moreno – to see if he was on my wheel, to know the gaps. When we went into the final kilometer I saw them getting out of my reach, with Dani still behind. I knew I had to give everything to drop him. Fortunately, I could do it. I’m leading the race by just one second, which shows that we’re pretty much equal on force. I felt well today, though many others might be doing better than me. Now it’s just a matter of giving it all at the TT on Sunday; I don’t think anything serious should happen tomorrow, but we’ll stay focused in the finale.”

Third on the stage Mikel Landa (Astana): “Three years ago I won my first race here – it’s perfect for me, not too long, and with a final km that is really hard. We were three, nobody could move, I attacked alone – but in the last 400m Quintana passed me.”

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 3 Result:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 4:27:34
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 0:06
3. Mikel Landa (Spa) Astana at 0:10
4. David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:19
5. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at 0:35
6. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 0:41
7. Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Neri Sottoli at 0:46
8. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana at 0:48
9. Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:58
10. Sergio Pardilla BellÛn (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:07.

Vuelta a Burgos Overall After Stage 3:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 11:30:59
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 0:01
3. David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:37
4. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at 0:46
5. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana at 0:52
6. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 0:59
7. Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Neri Sottoli at 1:04
8. Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:09
9. Sergio Pardilla BellÛn (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:13
10. Daan Oliver (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 1:34.

Stage 3:

Katusha’s Dani Moreno took over the leader’s jersey from Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Moreno finished 9th in Villarcayo, two seconds behind Stage 4 winner Lloyd Mondory (AG2R-La Mondiale). Quintana finished at three seconds. Moreno and Quintana are now equal on the GC, Sunday’s time trial will decide the overall victory.

Dani Moreno (Movistar): “This is nice. Nothing is decided yet but this leader’s jersey is already a beautiful compensation for my two second places in earlier stages this week. José Azevedo told us at the meeting to be attentive to the two corners in the last 500 meters. They could cause a gap in the front group, which happened. I sprinted keeping that in my mind, as a precaution, not trying to cause a gap. Of course when I saw the gap behind me after the second corner, I sprinted full gas. The one second loss for Quintana gives me the overall lead now. Quintana and I are both climbers and not TT specialists. It will be an open battle tomorrow but I am motivated and will defend this jersey. I will start with the idea that I can win the race.”

Astana’s Valerio Agnoli after stage 4: “We set a high pace at the end to keep the sprinters out of the finale – the team is very motivated to get a good GC place here.”

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 4 Result:
1. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale in 3:21:18
2. Vicente Reynes (Spa) IAM Cycling
3. Sebastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
4. Carlos Barbero (Spa) Euskadi
5. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana
6. Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Giant-Shimano
7. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN-Qhubeka
8. Ivan Balykin (Rus) RusVelo
9. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 0:02
10. Sergey Lagutin (Rus) RusVelo.

Vuelta a Burgos Overall After Stage 4:
1. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha in 14:52:20
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
3. David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:37
4. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at 0:46
5. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana at 0:49
6. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 0:59
7. Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Neri Sottoli at 1:04
8. Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:09
9. Sergio Pardilla Bellón (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:13
10. Daan Oliver (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 1:34.

Stage 4:

In an exciting contest, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won by only three seconds over his biggest rival during the week -Spaniard Dani Moreno (Katusha), Nairo Quintana completed an ideal return to competition after winning the Giro d’Italia with another overall success. The Colombian conquered the 36th Vuelta a Burgos after a 2nd place finish in the 12.4 kilometer closing time trial Stage 4 in and around Aranda de Duero, with short slopes and long straights.

Despite the first time checks putting the Movistar Team rider behind the Spaniard, both were equal through the first official intermediate time check at 6 km at 8:04. Nairo’s better energy management would eventually give him a little extra to tackle the urban run into the finish, crossing the line in 2nd place, just 1 second behind Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling).

It’s Quintana’s seventh victory of the 2014 season -his 22nd since becoming a pro-, the second consecutive success for the Boyacá-born rider in Burgos.

Burgos winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “It’s a real important win for me, not just for the sake of victory, but also because it gives me massive confidence before the Vuelta a España. I’m sure there are rivals quite stronger than me at the moment, but this shows I’ll be getting to the race in good condition, and provided that Alejandro and the rest will be strong again, this can only be good. I was really close to winning the stage, but my goal today was the overall, and we got it.

“I knew Dani Moreno was going to be hard to beat – he might as well be a rival in the Vuelta. I wasn’t expecting to do such a good time, either. I started off calm, confident, and I took this TT also as a test for the Vuelta. I’m leaving this region happy with how I did – good form building up before the upcoming three weeks. I really like the race: well organized, really beautiful – it’s a pleasure to win here again. I thank my wife for everything he did for me while I was getting ready for the race; this is for my daughter, Mariana, as well as my family and all Colombians, since I know they were paying attention on the TV. And of course, to my team-mates, just sensational as usual.”

Astana’s Jani Brajkovic was 10th 10 seconds down: “The first 2k were uphill, but I think I lost time on the next 3k downhill – at the first split I had the fastest time check – that’s a good result for me.”

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 5 Result:
1. Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling in 14:00
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at
3. Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar at
4. Chad Haga (USA) Giant-Shimano at
5. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at
6. Rubén Plaza (Spa) Movistar at
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) RusVelo at
8. Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at
9. Artem Ovechkin (Rus) RusVelo at
10. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at.

Vuelta a Burgos Final Overall Result:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 15:07:09
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 0:03
3. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at 0:55
4. Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Neri Sottoli at 1:32
5. Sergio Pardilla Bellón (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:35
6. Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:40
7. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana at 1:41
8. Daan Oliver (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano at 1:57
9. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 1:58
10. David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:59.

The final stage 5:

header-tourdelain14Tour de l’Ain 2014
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Gianni Meersman won his second race in three days at Tour de l’Ain, winning the bunch sprint of the 158.5km Stage 2 on Thursday.

The race came back together with 3km to go, as one rider out of the original breakaway remained ahead by just a few seconds going into that point.

OPQS dominated control going into the sprint, and was able to place Meersman for the victory and also Julian Alaphilippe was good enough for 4th place. Romain Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) was 2nd, and Leonardo Duque (Colombia) was 3rd.

Meersman held on to the yellow leader’s jersey for all three days so far at the race, having also won the prologue for the second straight year.

OPQS started off Tour de l’Ain strong, earning 1st-through-4th at the prologue. This placed all four riders in the top 4 of the overall classification as well. They remain in the top four of the GC after the second stage.

Stage winner Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step): “The guys did it perfectly today,” Meersman said. “At one kilometer to go there was a corner on the right. Rigoberto Uran entered the corner full gas, and he kept the speed high. At 300 meters to go there was a left U-turn. Cav entered in first position with Alaphilippe and me on his wheel. When I came out from the corner I went all out for the sprint. I felt I had the right power in my legs and with the position I was in thanks to my teammates, it worked out exactly as we hoped. I want to share this victory with the entire team. The leadout was perfect and it’s always special to have Mark Cavendish in front of you in a finale. But also guys like Pieter Serry and Carlos Verona, they did super well. Carlos, for example, pulled since the beginning of the race. It was really impressive. Tomorrow we will see. The graphic of the course is quite difficult but I will do my best to defend the jersey and if I can’t do it, I will help my teammates. That’s the great spirit of this team.”

Thoughts of Meersman were also with teammate Zdenek Stybar, who suffered a bad crash at Eneco Tour that forced him to withdraw from the race. “Immediately after the finish line they informed us about the crash of Styby,” Meersman said. “I wish him a fast recovery, he is a fighter. This victory is for him.”

Tour de l’Ain Stage 2 Result:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:40:17
2. Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
3. Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Marc Sarreau (Fra) FDJ.fr
6. Artur Fedosseyev (Kaz) Continental Team Astana
7. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
8. Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis
10. Benoît Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement.

Tour de l’Ain Overall After Stage 2:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 7:29:55
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:16
3. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:17
4. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:19
6. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
7. Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Rabobank Development at 0:20
8. Timo Roosen (Ned) Rabobank Development at 0:21
9. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:22
10. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 0:23.

Bert-Jan Lindeman (Rabobank Development Team) won solo on Friday’s Stage 3 run over 141.8 kilometres between Lagnieu and station Lélex-Monts-Jura. The Dutchman beat Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Irishman Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp). Bert-Jan Lindeman also captured the yellow jersey of overall leader.

Unlike the previous two days, the peloton let slip a group early in the race. Under pouring rain, the local rider Pierre-Luc Périchon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) was one of the most restless riders along with Fabrice Jeandesboz (Europcar), Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and Higinio Fernandez (Ecuador) who also were off the front at the first GPM, Côte Corlier (Cat 2). But the peloton re-grouped at the top. At the line for the GPM, Artur Fedosseyev (CT Astana) was ahead of Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and William Levarlet (Cofidis).

The battle continued to rage at the head of the race. As the sun reappeared, three riders opened a gap before the summit of the Col de Bérentin (Cat 3 – km 51). Jordi Simon (Ecuador), Julien El Fares (La Pomme Marseille 13) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Rabobank Development) crossed the GPM with a lead of 2:45 on the pack with Cédric Pineau (FDJ.fr) chasing on the descent.

On the 3rd GPM, the Côte Plagne (Cat 2), Pineau was 2.25 back and the peloton 6:15 behind him. The difference between the break and peloton was 7:48 after 88 km.

AG2R-La Mondial took control on the Côte de Giron (1st Cat). Six AG2R riders rode at the front of the race but the gap was still 6:05 at the top. Pineau was swallowed up at km 106.

At the foot of Menthières (110 km) the peloton was still at 4:45 seconds behind and it didn’t look like they could be caught. El Fares was dropped by Simon and Lindeman and then the Dutchman went for it on his own only five kilometers from the summit as Romain Bardet jumped from the peloton.

At the top of Menthières; Lindeman was 45 seconds ahead of Simon and 2 minutes on Bardet. At 2:30 was: Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R-La Mondiale), Yoann Bagot (Cofidis), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ.fr), Romain Sicard (Europcar), Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), Julien El Fares, Rémy Di Gregorio (La Pomme Marseille 13) and Pierre-Roger Latour (France).

The ascent to Lélex-Monts Jura did not allow Romain Bardet to close on Lindeman and he crossed the line 57 seconds down on Lindeman with Martin, Di Gregorio and Péraud at 2:24.

Tour de l’Ain Stage 3 Result:
1. Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Rabobank Development in 3:53:06
2. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:57
3. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 2:24
4. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Rémi Di Gregorio (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13
6. Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) Equipe de France at 3:23
7. Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
8. Grégoire Tarride (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 15
9. Yoann Bagot (Fra) Cofidis
10. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step.

Tour de l’Ain Overall After Stage 3:
1. Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Rabobank Development in 11:23:26
2. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:54
3. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 2:25
4. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 2:27
5. Rémi Di Gregorio (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13 at 2:42
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 3:14
7. Yoann Bagot (Fra) Cofidis at 3:24
8. Romain Sicard (Fra) Europcar at 3:25
9. Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) Equipe de France at 3:26
10. Grégoire Tarride (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 15 at 3:28.

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Julian Alaphilippe won the first professional race of his career on Saturday, taking the Final Stage 4 134.8km stage of Tour de l’Ain out of a select group. It was the third stage victory for OPQS in five days of racing. Carlos Verona, who was part of an earlier breakaway that was eventually caught by a group that included Alaphilippe, finished 3rd.

A select group of 10 riders was formed inside 20 kilometers to go. Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) attempted to go solo out of that group, but was caught inside 4km to go in the stage. There was a 40″ gap at that point to a group that included Bert-Jan Lindeman (Rabobank Development Team) in the race lead.

The group that included Alaphilippe and Verona — two young talents of OPQS — was left to decide the stage, and Alaphilippe was able to go on his own and get the victory. Verona, having worked tirelessly in defense of Meersman as race leader earlier in the week, was an important part of the victory for the team.

Bert-Jan Lindeman of the Rabobank Development Team took the overall win, beating a lot of WorldTour riders. He rode for the Vacansoliel team for two years before it folded and this performance should see him back on the top rung of the sport again. Maybe the new Orange Team at ProConti level if not WorldTour.

Julian Alaphilippe (OPQS): “Of course I’m super happy as it’s the first victory as a professional,” Alaphilippe said. “It’s a kind of dream to win in France as a French rider. It gives me an explosion of joy, this victory. Today we stayed really concentrated in the first part of the peloton. We knew that AG2R – La Mondiale would control the race. We knew also Verona was in the breakaway, which was perfect for us. Then in the final, Dan Martin attacked about 7 or 8 kilometers from the finish. I stayed focused and in the first part of the group because I knew Romain Bardet wanted to go for the GC. So I waited for the right moment. Then at 3 kilometers to go, at the top of the small climb, I attacked and I went full gas. In the end, I won. Also, with this victory I took the jersey as best young rider and the points jersey from the shoulders of Gianni Meersman. So, I kept the points jersey in the team and that gives me satisfaction. I’m thrilled also because this week with the team I learned a lot. It was a great experience. I learned about tactics to defend the GC with Gianni in yellow. I also learned in the leadout train when I worked with Cav for the winning sprints of Gianni. Of course I learned on the climbs too. I learned how to stay with Rigoberto Uran as long as I could when the roads went uphill. Then on the last stage I took my possibility, and went for the victory. Really it was five days of racing I’ll never forget in my life. I’m passing a good period of form. My next race will be Hamburg and GP Ouest France – Plouay. I’m happy and can’t wait to discover those two races, and hopefully have good collective results with our teams there.”

Tour de l’Ain Overall Stage 4 Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:23:12
2. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 0:05
3. Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Cofidis
5. Brice Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
6. Romain Sicard (Fra) Europcar
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
8. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:48
9. Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis
10. Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Tour de l’Ain Final Overall Result:
1. Bert-jan Lindeman (Ned) Rabobank Development in 14:47:26
2. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:11
3. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 1:36
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 2:16
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 2:27
6. Rémi Di Gregorio (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13 at 2:42
7. Romain Sicard (Fra) Europcar
8. Yoann Bagot (Fra) Cofidis at 3:24
9. Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) Equipe de France at 3:26
10. Grégoire Tarride (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 15 at 3:28

lain-bert-janBert-Jan Lindeman overall winner

header-arcticArctic Race of Norway 2014
The Belkin team’s rising Norwegian star, Lars Petter Nordhaug, took the greatest victory of his career on Thursday, winning the 204km Stage 1 of the 2014 Arctic Tour of Norway from Hammerfest to Nordkapp.

The 30-year-old from Tonsberg, who won the race’s King of the Mountains competition last year, finished all alone with enough time to kiss his wedding ring at the finish line. Teammates Steven Kruijswijk and Jonathan Hivert rounded out the top five just seconds later, finishing third and fifth respectively behind second-place finisher Davide Vilella of Cannondale.

Stage winner Lars Petter Nordhaug (Blekin): “For a Norwegian to win in Norway, in this special place, is really good. I was feeling super today,” Nordhaug said on worldwide television immediately after the stage. “I have to thank my team for pulling at the front. We are three in the top five, so that’s amazing.”

The Belkin boys, led by Kruijswijk, controlled most of the stage through the dramatic, rolling tundra of Norway’s Finnmark region above the Arctic Circle, the northernmost part of Europe and the farthest north pro cycling has ever ventured.

The Belkin team rode at the front of the peloton the entire race, then dominated the final kilometres as the race blew apart in crosswinds. Frenchmen Hivert and Dutchmen Nick van der Lijke controlled attacks from other teams hoping to launch their sprinters; but Nordhaug, seeking victory in his home country, proved to be the strongest man of the day, launching a series of blistering attacks, the last one taking him alone to the finish line.

With Kruijswijk, who placed 15th overall in this year’s Tour de France, poised to follow through in the remaining stages, the Belkin team is in a very good position to capitalize in the coming days. “We’re the strongest team here,” Nordhaug said. “There are two stages for sprinters, but our goal is the overall classification.”

The four-day race, in its second year, concludes Sunday in Tromso.

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 1 Result:
1. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin in 4:51:14
2. Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale at 0:06
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin
4. Martin Elmiger (Sui) IAM Cycling at 0:09
5. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin
6. Paul Voss (Ger) NetApp-Endura
7. Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
8. Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:13
9. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC
10. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:15.

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 1:
1. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin in 4:51:03
2. Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale at 0:11
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin at 0:13
4. Martin Elmiger (Sui) IAM Cycling at 0:20
5. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
6. Paul Voss (Ger) NetApp-Endura
7. Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
8. Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:24
9. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC
10. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0.26.

Stage 1:

Norway’s Lars Petter Nordhaug of the Belkin successfully defended the blue-and-orange jersey as overall leader on Friday’s Stage 2.

Nordhaug finished in the lead group of riders on the 207km second stage from Honningsvåg to Alta, the City of Northern Lights. Fellow Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the stage in a mass sprint to the finish line ahead of compatriot Thor Hushovd (BMC), Belgian Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) was third.

Nordhaug continues to hold an overall advantage of 11 seconds over Davide Villella (Cannondale), with Belkin’s Steven Kruijswijk in third at 13 seconds and Jonathan Hivert fifth at 20 seconds. Nordhaug is now tied with Kristoff in the race’s points competition, as well, with 16 points; and Team Belkin continues to lead the team competition, 1:05 ahead of Team Katusha.

Most of the day, spent battling nasty headwinds across Norway’s scenic northern Finnmark province, was animated by a four-man breakaway that reached a one-time advantage over the peloton of more than eight minutes before the teams with big sprinters — Team Katusha for Kristoff and Team Giant-Shimano for Marcel Kittel — joined the Belkin boys at the front to chase it down just 10km before reaching Alta.

Katusha controlled the race in stage 2 for Alexander Kristoff to take the win and move into fourth place overall: “It was an uphill finish during the whole final km. Of course it was not really a hard climb, but anyway the finish was tough enough. I had good legs today as well as yesterday. The team worked very well and the guys did everything they could for me. Marco led me into the final km, but with 400 meters I still was a little bit inside because of the uphill. But later I found my way on the right side and I started my sprint. Yeah, I am happy to win here in Norway again. Every time it is a pleasure for me. I still have one more chance on the final day because tomorrow will be too hard for me. Anyway I will try to do a strong race, because it could be like training for upcoming races. After some rest after Tour de France step by step I am coming back into good shape.”

BMC’s Thor Hushovd matched his best result of the season on Friday with runner-up to Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) on Friday’s stage of the Arctic Race of Norway.

The former world road champion said the 207 kilometre race was made more difficult by a strong headwind that saw the peloton finish nearly a half-hour behind schedule. “Today was a long day with the headwind,” Hushovd said, “but we went through some nice places. This was a really hard stage. Yesterday was also really tough and so was today with the wind. Plus, we did 1,500 meters of climbing.” Hushovd won two stages of the Arctic Race last year on the way to capturing the overall title in the race’s inaugural edition. But on Thursday’s opening stage, he finished 56th and 1:38 behind stage winner Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin), effectively ending his hopes of a repeat. “The guys did a good job to help Thor today,” BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said. “Today he had good legs for the final. He did the maximum.” Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) finished third behind Kristoff and Hushovd while Nordhaug kept the overall lead with two days of the race remaining. BMC Racing Team’s Loïc Vliegen (10th overall) is 24 seconds back and teammate Amaël Moinard (11th overall) is 34 seconds behind.

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 2 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 5:30:08
2. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC
3. Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano
5. Scott Thwaites (GB) NetApp-Endura
6. Sébastien Hinault (Fra) IAM Cycling
7. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Roubaix Lille Métropole
8. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Haavard Jorbekk Blikra (Nor) Team ØsterHus-Ridley
10. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Roubaix Lille Métropole.

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 2:
1. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin in 10:21:11
2. Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale at 0:11
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin at 0:13
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:16
5. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin at 0:20
6. Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
7. Paul Voss (Ger) NetApp-Endura
8. Martin Elmiger (Sui) IAM Cycling
9. Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:24
10. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC.

Stage 2:

The climb to Kvænangsfjellet was an exciting challenge for Katusha’s Simon Špilak in Saturday’s Stage 3 Arctic Race of Norway. The Slovenian rider attacked in the final for the win, making it two victories in a row for Katusha.

Stage winner Simon Spilak (Katusha): “I wanted to attack today. We had a plan for doing it in the hardest part of the climb. After winning with Kristoff yesterday, we agreed that the team would work for me today. It’s beautiful. I am happy to bring the victory to Team Katusha.”

Špilak was joined on the podium by Steven Kruijswijk and Jonathan Hivert (Belkin) 2nd and 3rd on the stage. Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff and Simon Špilak are fourth and sixth respectively on GC.

The early break of the day included three riders with a maximum advantage of 2.50 with the last rider finally brought back with 13,5 km to go. Špilak waited for his moment and with 5 km to go put in his attack on the last climb, followed only by Kruijswijk. Špilak outsprinted his challenger for the win. Teammate Alexander Kristoff took fourth on the climb and consolidated his lead in the points competition.

Steven Kruijswijk (Belkin) now leads the Arctic Tour overall with an advantage of 8 seconds over Belkin teammate Lars Petter Nordhaug, who led the tour of his home country since winning the race’s first stage on Thursday. Hivert moved into fifth place overall, at 0:24: “I went with Spilak when he attacked. I went as hard as I could to follow him and with 500 meters to go I tried to pass him but it was not possible.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 3 Result:
1. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha in 3:18:39
2. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin
3. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin at 0:15
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
5. Martin Elmiger (Sui) IAM Cycling
6. Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Daniel Schorn (Aut) NetApp-Endura
8. Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
9. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Roubaix Lille Métropole
10. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC.

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 3:
1. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin in 13:39:57
2. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin at 0:08
3. Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale at 0:17
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:21
5. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin at 0:24
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 0:25
7. Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:28
8. Martin Elmiger (Sui) IAM Cycling
9. Paul Voss (Ger) NetApp-Endura
10. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC at 0:32.

Stage 3:

Coming from behind with a tremendous turn of speed, Norwegian Alexander Kristoff stole the win in the Final Stage 4 from former world champion Thor Hushovd (BMC), catching his fellow countryman at the 50m mark and continuing to gain speed all the way through the finish line. With today’s win Kristoff becomes the current most winning rider in the world with 13 victories in UCI races, four second-places and 3 third places.

Sunday’s course totaling 165km was in Tromsø, located 350km north of the Arctic Circle and included six closing laps of 8.5km each. Katusha Team controlled the front of the main field for most of the race, working to keep Kristoff fresh. While the six laps were difficult with the climb coming on each circuit, Kristoff looked strong and was ready to follow when Thor Hushovd attacked at under 2km to go.

Stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): “Thor did a very strong downhill and it was an impressive attack. But I tried to follow him. When I saw that I was catching him, I wasn’t sure if he still had something left to give. I had to dig deep in the last 500 meters to get to him and it wasn’t until 200 meters that I was sure I could. I am happy to win a second stage here in Norway. For me this is my first race since the Tour de France, and I am happy I have this shape for the moment, which is improving every day. I have some ambitions in my next races, for example in Hamburg. Today the team was perfect and I had really great support from my teammates. I want to thank all of the guys because it was a hard race to control it and they did it! With Thor retiring this year, I hope I can be his Norwegian successor. He has such good bike handling skills. No one could follow him on the downhill. He rode fantastic today.”

The last day of racing brought a third victory in a row for Katusha Team, with Kristoff taking his second sprint win in three days. Teammate Simon Špilak took the mountain stage on Saturday, giving the Russian Global Cycling Project victories in three of the four stages for the Arctic Race of Norway. Kristoff just missed the overall victory by four seconds to race winner Steven Kruijswijk of Belkin.

Steven Kruijswijk of the Belkin team took the greatest victory of his career: “I am really happy. I’d never expected this in advance to win this race. It’s really great,” Kruijswijk said. “It’s nice to give something back after the renewal of my contract with the team.”

BMC Racing Team’s Thor Hushovd attacked with 1.5 kilometers to go on Sunday at the Arctic Race of Norway: “I really wanted to win for myself and everyone here,” Hushovd said. “I could hear the cheers and applause of the crowd all around today. I was thinking I had to attack and I think I did a good move, but I could not stay away. To get beat on the line like that was hard.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 4 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 3:42:06
2. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC
3. Sam Bennett (Irl) NetApp-Endura 0:00:02
4. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Cannondale at 0:04
5. Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
6. Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
7. Paul Voss (Ger) NetApp-Endura
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin at 0:07
9. Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale at 0:09
10. Romain Lemarchand (Fra) Cofidis.

Arctic Race of Norway FinalOverall Result:
1. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin in 17:22:12
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:04
3. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin at 0:18
4. Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale at 0:19
5. Paul Voss (Ger) NetApp-Endura at 0:25
6. Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:29
7. Martin Elmiger (Sui) IAM Cycling at 0:30
8. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC at 0:42
9. Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC at 0:45
10. Romain Lemarchand (Fra) Cofidis at 0:52.

The final stage 4:

header-vueltaVuelta a España 2014

Movistar: “We’ve got two riders for winning”
The Movistar team doesn’t hide their ambitions for the 69th Vuelta a España. On paper, they have the strongest line up with Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. The young Colombian, a runner up in the 2013 Tour de France, has won the Giro d’Italia this year, and the Spaniard came fourth in the Tour de France last month. Valverde won the Vuelta five years ago. As a sponsor since 2011, Movistar hasn’t made it yet but the Navarra-based team has the experience, the collective strength and the motivation required for bringing the red jersey to Santiago di Compostela this time around. “Every year, the Vuelta is the most important Grand Tour for us on pair with the Tour de France”, explained sport’s director José Luis Arrieta. “Therefore we try to line up riders who are still fresh even though the season is long. So we’ve combined riders who have taken a rest after winning the Giro with Nairo and others who are still strong after the Tour de France. I believe we have a very nice team with our two captains but also Igor Anton, Adriano Malori, Jose Herrada, Gorka Izagirre, Jonathan Castroviejo and Imanol Erviti.”

This interesting mix of rouleurs and climbers are likely to handle the responsibilities in the race pretty early. “Looking at the start list, the Vuelta is the number one Grand Tour this year”, Arrieta commented. “We’ve got two riders for winning, but we know that Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has been preparing for this race for weeks. Astana looks very motivated with Aru. Team Sky needs to make up for the difficult time they’ve had. It won’t be easy for us but we’re confident. Quintana resumed racing this week at the Vuelta a Burgos and he already looks strong while Valverde has chosen to not race between the Clasica San Sebastian he won and the start of the Vuelta.”

Movistar’s first goal will be the inaugural team time trial at Jerez de la Frontera on August 23. “In a three-week long race, we have to gain time anywhere we can”, Arrieta added. “We always try to do well in team time trials. It would be wonderful to win it but we’ll be happy if we just don’t lose time there.”

Trek Factory Racing releases Vuelta a España line-up
Trek Factory Racing has named its nine riders who will compete at the Vuelta a España, which is scheduled to take place between August 23 and September 14.

Trek Factory Racing has opted to showcase a youth-focused team in the third and final Grand Tour of 2014.

Trek Factory Racing for the 2014 Vuelta a España: Fabian Cancellara, Julián Arredondo, Haimar Zubeldia, Kristof Vandewalle, Bob Jungels, Jasper Stuyven, Yaroslav Popovych, Jesse Sergent and Fabio Felline.

Lotto Belisol name Vuelta Team
Jurgen Van den Broeck will lead the Belgian team in the Spanish Grand Tour later this month with strong backing from Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson and Sander Armée. Jens Debusschere will be the man for the sprints and Maxime Monfort could also fight for the overall. Vegard Breen is a Grand tour first timer.

Riders: Sander Armée, Vegard Breen, Bart De Clercq, Jens Debusschere, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Pim Ligthart, Maxime Monfort and Jurgen Van den Broeck.

Europcar team for la Vuelta a España
None of the Europcar riders for the Vuelta rode the Tour de France. Hard to say who will be the team leader, Vincent Jérôme who has ridden six Grand Tours, Romain Sicard his fourth and Jimmy Engoulvent has ridden the Tour de France five times. Natnael Berhane, Dan Craven, Bryan Nauleau and Yannick Martinez are all Grand Tour first timers.

Riders: Dan Craven, Jimmy Engoulvent, Romain Sicard, Yannick Martinez, Natnael Berhane, Jérôme Cousin, Maxime Mederel, Bryan Nauleau and Vincent Jérôme.
Directeur Sportifs: Andy Flickinger & Ismaël Mottier.

IAM Cycling Announce Vuelta Line-Up
The Swiss ProContinental team has named its nine riders for the teams first Vuelta a España. Sébastien Hinault at 40 years old is unsurprisingly the oldest rider on the team, Johann Tschopp, Vincente Renes and Aleksejs Saramotins all have experience of three week stage races, the other five are new to Grand Tour riding.

Riders: Marcel Aregger, Jonathan Fumeaux, Sébastien Hinault, Pirmin Lang, Matteo Pelucchi, Vicente Reynes, Aleksejs Saramotins, Patrick Schelling and Johann Tschopp.

Opportunists and first ever GC consideration for ORICA-GreenEDGE at Vuelta a España
An opportunistic roster will start the Vuelta a España for ORICA-GreenEDGE this Saturday targeting stage wins and, in a first for the team, an interest in general classification proceedings.

Two-time 2013 stage winner Michael Matthews and 2012 King of the Mountain Simon Clarke feature amongst the versatile line up for individual opportunities, whilst debutant Esteban Chaves will focus his first grand tour efforts on an overall performance.

The nine riders for the Vuelta a España are: Adam Yates, Brett Lancaster, Cameron Meyer, Esteban Chaves, Ivan Santaromita, Michael Matthews, Mitch Docker, Sam Bewley and Simon Clarke.

Sport director Neil Stephens is confident that the roster for this year’s Tour of Spain ensures the team’s options are plentiful.

“This year we are going in with a multi-task team,” Stephens said.

“There have been times when we have just targeted stages with one or a couple of riders but this year the whole team is basically all opportunists.

“I think that anyone who looks at our line up for the Tour of Spain will see that there are some great standout stage winners there and we will be trying to give some attention to the general classification with Esteban Chaves too.”

Matthews and British neo-pro Adam Yates are amongst those stand outs, the former with two 2014 Giro d’Italia stage wins to go with last year’s Vuelta double and the latter with a recent win at the GP Industria and Artigianato in the lead up to his debut grand tour.

“Matthews has come here with some great assistance and on the harder sprint stages where there may be a little bit of a reduced field he is going to be a real challenger,” Stephens said.

“We are not going to be a team with eight guys dedicated to one certain sprinter, but we have a little pocket of guys including Mitch Docker, Brett Lancaster and Sam Bewley, that will be looking after Michael on certain days.

“And then we have the fire power of Adam Yates who perhaps might not do the whole Tour of Spain but certainly he is in great shape.

“He had a little bit of a set back at the Clásica San Sebastián, he knocked himself around a fair bit, but we are hoping Adam is going to be able to target certain stages.”

In his first year with the ORICA-GreenEDGE team Chaves, a promising young Columbian rider, will become the team’s first grand tour general classification consideration.

“It’s a bit of a test, a bit of a step up for the future of Esteban, and our team as such, to go into a major tour with thoughts of general classification,” Stephens said of the 24-year-old.

“It is a big ask to say let’s go off to the Tour of Spain and try to race in the general classification. But by the same token we will get to the end of the second week and we’ll reassess.

“If it is working, great, but if it’s not the year to be able to do that properly then we will just try to refocus on winning a stage win in the mountains in the last week.

“2014 was going to be a bit of a come back year for Esteban. He had a pretty serious injury last year and we were conscious of that and didn’t want to put any great pressure on him. He has surpassed our goals and has kicked goals in all areas, culminating in a mountain top win at the Tour of Switzerland.”

Whilst the engine capacity of Clarke, Cameron Meyer and Ivan Santaromita will offer support to Chaves, Stephens said it would not restrict their own opportunities.

“Sometimes the best form of defence is attack so those guys can take breakaway chances,” Stephens explained.

“They are all opportunists so we will give him support but we will be using those three guys to get off and try their own luck as well.”

The 2014 Vuelta a España starts this Saturday, 23 August with a team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera in the south of Spain and finish on Sunday, 14 September in Santiago de Compostela. The three-week tour features five flat stages, 13 hilly and mountain stages, two individual time trials and the initial team time trial.

ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Vuelta a España:
Adam Yates, Brett Lancaster, Cameron Meyer, Esteban Chaves, Ivan Santaromita, Michael Matthews, Mitch Docker, Sam Bewley, Simon Clarke.

Quintana & Valverde to Lead Movistar at la Vuelta
Nairo Quintana y Alejandro Valverde will lead the nine-man roster the Movistar Team will bring to the start of the 69th Vuelta a España on Saturday. Quintana, winner of this year’s Giro d’Italia, will start his first Spanish Grand Tour in a leading role after debuting in 2012, with full confidence after his recent victory in the Vuelta a Burgos. In turn, Valverde, leader of the UCI WorldTour standings, will start for the ninth time in the GT he has earned biggest success -winner in 2009, five-time podium finisher, including 2012 and 2013-.

Alongside Quintana and Valverde, the Movistar Team –which is also on top of the UCI world ranking– will present a strong lineup that features Andrey Amador, Jonathan Castroviejo, Imanol Erviti, José Herrada, Gorka Izagirre, Adriano Malori and Javi Moreno. A last-minute absence will be Igor Antón, suffering from a flu and tonsillitis and subsequently advised against taking the start in Jerez de la Frontera.

Eusebio Unzué, Movistar Team general manager: “Probably, no Grand Tour has had a stronger field in recent years – almost all big riders in the WorldTour, all of them confident about their chances of overall success. As far as we’re concerned, and with all due caution against such a startlist, having Nairo and Alejandro in our team means we have to start the race with the intention of contesting the victory. Nairo has spent 70 days without racing, but still brought his professionalism to the fore coming in good shape to the race; plus, Alejandro is a really important man for us, and I also think he can be in the thick of things GC-wise. It will be the race itself which decides who our leader will be. By their side, they will rely on a balanced, strong group. It seems like the mountains are really playing the main role in the race, but with all climbers favouriting for the win and still taking such many mountain-top finishes into account, the 45 kilometers of time trials might play a massive impact on the race’s outcome.

“Froome has been the dominator of Grand Tours in recent years, and respecting that, he should be the main favourite. About Alberto (Contador), after the fitness level he’s shown all year long, if he has decided to race, it’s because he feels close or right in his top condition. Nairo has proven to be doing well, and the only concern you could keep is how he will react to a second Grand Tour in the same year, because there are no precedents for him. Purito and Alejandro are always a guaranteee, because they’ve always done well in this race. And after all those, there’s a ‘second tier’, including Daniel Martin -who will probably be the freshest of all favourites- and a new generation that should dominate Grand Tours in the future: Aru, Talansky, Pinot, Barguil, Chaves… With all those names, I think we’re facing a promising Vuelta a España.”

Sky Announce Line-Up for 2014 Vuelta a España
Team Sky has selected its nine man line-up for the 69th edition of the Vuelta a España, starting on Saturday 23 August, with Chris Froome as team leader.

Froome, who was forced to abandon the Tour de France last month due to injury, will make his return to racing in a team that includes fellow Brits Peter Kennaugh and Luke Rowe.

The nine-man line-up is drawn from six different nations and also includes: Philip Deignan, Mikel Nieve, Vasil Kiryienka, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Christian Knees and Dario Cataldo.

Confirming the Vuelta a España line-up, Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “This year’s Vuelta is a great opportunity for us to get back to Grand Tour racing and I’m delighted that we’ll go there with a strong team that’s very capable of performing well.

“Chris Froome will be our team leader and it’s great to have him back on the bike and focused on the challenge ahead. He was obviously very disappointed after having to withdraw from the Tour de France but Chris has recovered and trained well since the injury. He’s now more determined than ever to get back to what he does best – riding Grand Tours.

“Chris is joined in the line-up by Peter Kennaugh and Luke Rowe, demonstrating once again the depth of British talent we have in the squad as they are both capable of making a big impact at the Vuelta. Philip Deignan and Mikel Nieve both race their second Grand Tours of the season and will add real quality in the mountains, with Dario Cataldo adding all-round ability to the team.

“Experience and expertise are vital components when selecting any successful team and Chris has three hugely experienced riders alongside him in Christian Knees, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Vasil Kiryienka. Together they have raced 36 Grand Tours and that adds a huge amount of value to the team.

“We’re all excited, focused and ready to get started.”

Team leader Chris Froome said: “This is exactly the sort of challenge that I need after the disappointment of withdrawing from the Tour de France. You can’t dwell on disappointment, you have to move on quickly to next thing and the Vuelta has become the perfect race for me to focus on.

“I’ve always really enjoyed racing at the Vuelta, it’s a tough race but a great opportunity for the whole team. I know that the level of competition will be incredibly high this year, but we’ve got a strong line up so we hope to be as competitive as possible.”

“I’m really pleased with how my recovery has gone since the Tour, I’ve been training hard and the support team are pleased with my progress. I’m a little bit light on racing days this year so getting a Grand Tour under my belt will not only help me now, but it will also help my preparation for next year.

“Going for the win will certainly be tough, but we’ll give it everything we’ve got.”

The Team Sky squad for the 2014 Vuelta a España:

Chris Froome United Kingdom – age 29
Chris heads into the Vuelta highly motivated after crashes and subsequent fractures to his wrist and hand brought an end to his bid to win a second Tour de France. Now fully recovered, the Brit will look to go one better than a breakthrough Vuelta in 2011 which saw him finish second. With overall victories at the Tour of Oman and Tour de Romandie already this season, he will look to chase more success in Spain.

Dario Cataldo Italy – age 29
Lining up in Jerez de la Frontera for his fifth consecutive Vuelta start, Dario knows the Spanish roads well and will be a key rider for a testing 2014 event. The Italian famously took a stage win in 2012 on the incredible gradients of the Cuitu Negru, and with his climbing and time trial ability has repeatedly shown he is capable of targeting a strong GC finish in his own right over three weeks.

Philip Deignan Ireland – age 30
Set for his second Grand Tour start in Team Sky colours, Philip has fond memories of the Vuelta after taking a stage victory and top-10 finish in 2009. The Irishman has shown he can climb with the best in the world and his support in the high mountains will be key to a good result for Team Sky across the three weeks.

Peter Kennaugh United Kingdom – age 25
After being crowned British road race champion in June, Pete will look to continue his momentum as he campaigns the famous jersey at the Spanish Grand Tour. The Manxman captured his first professional victory at Settimana Coppi e Bartali this season and went on to win the race, a feat he replicated at the Tour of Austria. Part of the 2012 Tour de France-winning squad, Kennaugh’s climbing talents will be a great asset.

Vasil Kiryienka Belarus – age 33
A stage winner for Team Sky in the Vuelta last season, the Belarusian is renowned for his hard, selfless riding and tireless stints on the front of the peloton. A key asset to the team on the climbs, Vasil will be called upon to keep breakaways in check and to help set the pace when the road ramps upwards.

Christian Knees Germany – age 33
One of the most experienced riders in the peloton, Christian is a powerful rouleur who is most at home riding hard on the front. The tall German is an accomplished domestique and plays an important role in keeping his team leader out of the wind. Part of Team Sky’s Tour de France-winning squad in 2012, the former German champion is a great addition to any line-up.

Mikel Nieve Spain – age 30
Mikel is making his fourth appearance at the famous race in a year which has seen the Basque rider go from strength to strength. Fresh from a stage victory at the Criterium du Dauphine, he went on to impress at the Tour de France with a consistent performance. Along with team-mates Froome, Cataldo and Deignan, Nieve is also a Vuelta stage winner.

Luke Rowe United Kingdom – age 24
Making his second Grand Tour appearance, Luke returns to the Vuelta with another year of experience under his belt. Comfortable riding hard on the front, the Welshman has quickly become one of the most popular riders in the peloton and will play a key role in keeping team leader Chris Froome safe in the bunch. No matter the conditions Luke will be ready to race.

Kanstantsin Siutsou Belarus – age 32
Kanstantsin starts his third Vuelta and first in Team Sky colours ready to continue his run of Grand Tour success. Part of both of Team Sky’s winning Tour de France squads, the Belarusian combines experience with all-round ability and will be called upon to help Chris Froome in the medium mountains.

Joaquim Rodriguez will lead Team Katusha at the Vuelta a España
The Russian WorldTour Team Katusha is ready to start in the last Grand Tour of the 2014 season Vuelta a España. The winner of the 2013 UCI WorldTour ranking Joaquim Rodriguez will lead Team Katusha at the Vuelta a España.

The full roster of the team is:
Joaquim Rodriguez, Giampaolo Caruso, Sergei Chernetckii, Alexander Kolobnev, Dmitriy Kozonchuk, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Iurii Trofimov, and Eduard Vorganov.
Sports directors are José Azevedo, Claudio Cozzi and Gennady Mikhaylov.

MTN-Qhubeka Announce La Vuelta a España Team
As Africa’s first ever professional cycling team to race a grand tour, we are extremely excited and very proud to announce the 6 African and 3 European riders that will make history and represent Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung at the 2014 La Vuelta a Espana.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung La Vuelta a Espana Lineup:
Sergio Pardilla
Gerald Ciolek
Louis Meintjes
Jay Thomson
Jaco Venter
Jacques Janse van Rensburg
Daniel Teklehaimanot
Merhawi Kudus
Kristian Sbaragli
Reserve: Ignatas Konovalovas

Team Principal- Douglas Ryder
I must truly thank Unipublic for giving us this opportunity to participate in La Vuelta a Espana this year. It is fitting that Africa’s first ever team to race a Grand Tour starts the one Grand Tour that is closest to the African Continent. I am really proud of this team and how the riders have stepped up in the last 2 years. To have such a great team dynamic in our first Grand Tour with a strong representation from the African Continent shows how far this team has come and how all of our European riders have helped fast-track this team to success. It was a really tough decision to select the final 9 riders as our team has riders that have so much to offer. Thanks to the management team and the staff who built the team up to this incredible milestone for African Cycling and to our invaluable title sponsor MTN who believed in the dream so many years ago. The recent support from Samsung helped us step up to another level and the Qhubeka Foundation gave us a reason to exist way beyond performances on the bike. Support our team through this journey as another chapter starts

Gerald Ciolek
It’s a great thing that we’ll be at the start of La Vuelta, it is a big step forward for our team. I am personally looking forward to it too because I believe our team can perform really well at this race. It is a race that suits our team and especially our climbers can be successful.

Louis Meintjes
I am super happy to have been selected to race La Vuelta, I still can’t really believe it. I think after La Vuelta I will only realise what it actually means. My main goal will firstly be to just reach the finish and after that I will definitely look to target 1 or 2 stages for a result. Of course I will help support Sergio for the GC on the mountain stages too.

Jay Thomson
This is probably one of the proudest moments in my career to be on the start line of my first grand tour. I just can’t wait to get the ball rolling. Having 4 riders from South Africa is unreal and a total of 6 from Africa to start La Vuelta is something really special. Never before has this been done so it’s a massive step for African cycling.

Jaco Venter
I am so happy to have been selected. I must admit, it has been a really stressful few weeks leading up to La Vuelta but I couldn’t be happier and I hope to make the team and all our fans proud.

Kristian Sbaragli
I am really happy and proud to be part of the final selection for La Vuelta. It will definitely be a hard race but I am confident I can do well at my first grand tour. I have been preparing for a long time at altitude for La Vuelta so I will be ready.

Thibaut Pinot: “I’ll ride the Vuelta for fun”
After finishing third overall and best young rider under an intense pressure at the Tour de France, Thibaut Pinot will target a stage win and the King of the Mountain competition at the Vuelta a España starting from Jerez de la Frontera on August 23.

On the eve of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Leeds on July 4, Thibaut Pinot made an interesting point when everyone was focused on the world’s biggest race that was just about to kick off. “I’m looking forward to the Vuelta”, the Frenchman said. “I just love this race. Shall I do well on GC here, I’ll be able to go to the Vuelta with no pressure and ride for a stage win and the King of the Mountain competition.”

The Tour de France went beyond expectation for the FDJ.fr climber. But he didn’t modify his race program, neither his state of mind even though he now belongs to the circle of the top champions.

“One week ahead of the start at Jerez de la Frontera, I still feel the fatigue from the Tour de France”, Pinot realized. “I’ve had a two-week break. I went for a holiday and I rode three criteriums. On August 11, I resumed training but I don’t feel like I’m back in a good shape yet.”

Pinot underlined that the Vuelta played an important role in his career. “Last year I was coming out of a failure at the Tour de France”, he remembered. “At the Vuelta, I fought with the best riders every day (7th overall). It put me back on track for a solid preparation of the 2014 season. But I haven’t won a race this year yet. I don’t want to go for my winter break without raising my hands up in the air. Climbs are difficult in Spain. I like them. I want to win a stage.”

“I don’t know I’ll overcome the fatigue, that’s all”, Pinot continued. “I hope that my team-mate [and last year’s winner at the Angliru] Kenny Elissonde will ride for GC. Or else Alexandre Geniez [who also won a mountain stage at Peyragudes last year] could be the man. It would be something good for my team to focus on and it would make me free from handling the responsibilities. I want to ride for the fun of it.”
FDJ.fr is also expected to shine at the Vuelta in the bunch sprints with three time Giro d’Italia stage winner Nacer Bouhanni who claimed stage 4 at the Eneco.

Vuelta A España Preview Show by Global Cycling Network:

KAT14_Logo_624_317Team Katusha extends with Egor Silin, Eduard Vorganov and Vladimir Isaychev
The Russian WorldTour Team Katusha announces new agreements for the next two seasons with 3 Russian riders: Egor Silin, Eduard Vorganov and Vladimir Isaychev.

“Team Katusha is a part of the Russian Global Cycling Projects and of course, the priority of the team – is development of Russian riders. That’s why it is very important to hold a strong Russian core of both experienced and young domestic riders. We signed new contracts with Egor Silin, Vladimir Isaychev and Eduard Vorganov and I am sure that in the very near future each of these riders will bring nice emotions to Russian fans because of strong performances,” said general manager of Katusha Viacheslav Ekimov.

Egor Silin started his professional career with Team Katusha where he stayed in 2010 and 2011. In 2014 he returned to the Russian team. This season Egor took an 8th place in the overall classification of Tour Méditerranéen, was 10th overall in Tour Down Under, took a podium place at a stage and in the mountain classification of Critérium du Dauphiné.

Eduard Vorganov joined Team Katusha in 2010 and became the Russian road race Champion. In addition, Eduard has some Top-10 places in GC of Tour Down Under and 19th position in overall of the Tour de France.

Vladimir Isaychev became the member of the Russian team in 2011. In 2012 he won a stage of Tour de Suisse, while in 2013 Vladimir won the road race of the Russian Championships.

header-enecoBit of a tussle in the Eneco Tour!
Niki Terpstra was disqualified after having pushing match with Belkin’s Maarten Wynants. “I’m sorry for what I did,” Terpstra said. “I don’t know who I was in that moment. I want to apologize first to Wynants and Team Belkin, because I put other riders in jeopardy with my actions and it is something you simply don’t do in the peloton. But I want to also apologize to my team and the guys who were specifically here racing at the Eneco Tour. They worked hard for me all week and then I ruined their effort with this foolish action. I take full responsibility for my behavior. Everybody knows I’m a guy with a lot of charisma, but it does not turn into abrasive behavior on the bike that can harm others. Today was out of character. I’ll take this as an important lesson on how to handle situations the right way for the sake of myself, my team, other teams in the peloton, and cycling in general including the fans.”

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