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EUROTRASH Pra Loup Thursday!

Has the stage to Pra Loup taken the chance of a Giro/Tour double form Alberto Contador? It is looking that way. We have the recent action from the Tour de France with video, results and what the riders have to say. Plus Philippe Gilbert win the GP Pino Cerami and we preview La Course by Le Tour, Tour of Wallonie and the Arctic Race of Norway. Contract news and an Ivan Basso health up-date. All in EuroTrash Thursday.

TOP STORY: The Curse of Pra Loup
OK, so curse might be a bit strong, but the stage to Pra Loup has ‘done for’ some big name riders over the years. In yesterdays stage 17 we saw Alberto Contador probably end his chances of a Giro/Tour double with a crash and then two bike changes. Tejay Van Garderen was sick and had to abandon losing his 3rd place overall. Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18), Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling), Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin), Laurent Didier (Trek) and World champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – Quick-Step) also climbed off on the road to Pra Loup.

But the most famous victim has to be Eddy Merckx in the 1975 Tour de France. The stage was from Nice to Pra Loup and Merckx attacked and dropped Thévenet on the Col d’Allos. Merckx looked like he was laying down the law to defend his yellow jersey on the way to a record 6th Tour win. But then Merckx blew up completely on the climb to Pra Loup. Behind; Thévenet thought he had no chance of victory heard that Merckx was in trouble and lifted his speed to catch Merckx two kilometers from the top. When the stage was over, Thévenet had turned a one-minute deficit at the start of Pra Loup to a two-minute advantage at the summit. Merckx never wore the Tour yellow jersey again.

Magazine – Bernard Thévenet – Stage 17 (Digne… por tourdefrance_en

Tour de France 2015
Peter Sagan again played the leading role in the 201 kilometer Stage 16 of the Tour de France between Bourg de Peage and Gap, but had to be content with his 5th second place in the race this year behind Spanish opportunist Ruben Plaza, who went in the final climb to claim victory. The veteran Spaniard launchd a timely attack on Col de Manse, 15 kms from the finish line, to keep Sagan at bay by 30 seconds. It was a career best for the Lampre rider, who avenged the withdrawal of team leader Rui Costa, the last winner in Gap two years ago.

At the gun, 29 riders broke clear, including green jersey holder Peter Sagan. After 15 km, the leading group split in two groups of 12 riders. The first included Grivko (Astana), Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale), Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Haller (Katusha), Jungels (Trek), Oliveira & Plaza Molina (Lampre-Merida), Navarro (Cofidis), Fedrigo (Bretagne-Séché), and Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka). The second was composed of Erviti (Movistar), Hansen (Lotto Soudal), Golas & Trentin (Etixx – Quick-Step), Voeckler (Europcar), Didier & Irizar (Trek), Mate (Cofidis), Pantano (IAM Cycling), Perichon (Bretagne-Séché) and Boasson-Hagen & Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka). The tailwind helped the average speed reach 53.6 kph in the first hour of the stage.

Sagan collected the fruits of his efforts by taking the intermediate sprint without opposition, adding 20 points to his green jersey tally. After the sprint, the peloton relaxed while the chasers gained momentum and, while Laurent Didier was dropped, the two leading bunches regrouped at kilometer 105, putting 23 riders in the lead. The gap kept increasing, reaching 13:00 at the top of Cat 2 Col de Cabre (130km), which saw Serge Pauwels pick five points. At the back, Cauterets stage winner Rafal Majka crashed and hurt his left knee.

Sagan imposed a hellish pace on the descent and irked his companions, who started attacking with 50 kms to go. Ten kilometers later, Adam Hansen found an opening and went, quickly followed by Austrian champion Marco Haller. The two cooperated well but were quickly reeled in as soon as they tackled the final Cat 2 Col de Manse. Several attacks took place but experience helped Plaza launch the decisive move 3 kilometers from the summit. Despite a reckless descent, Sagan was never in position to make it back to the Spaniard, while Colombia Jarlinson Pantano finished third to gain some 18 minutes in the overall standings and move into the top 15. In the peloton, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali attacked in turn to try an upset the yellow jersey. Nibali managed to escape and finished 28 seconds ahead of the yellow jersey. Geraint Thomas, 6th overall, suffered a spectacular crash on a bend on the descent but escaped unhurt.

Full race report HERE.

Tour de France 2015 - stage 16

Stage winner, Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida): “It’s such an exciting victory, such a great success. This triumph gives happiness to the team and to me. In this Tour de France, we have been unlucky and we suffered for the withdrawal of our captain Rui Costa, who won here two years ago. We tried hard to hit an important target, we did not give up and we made a lot of attempts attacking or fighting in the sprints. Today we achieved our goal. It’s always so difficult to win in the Tour de France, but today everything was in its right place and I added my good legs and my fighting spirit. I put everything in the attack on the Col de Manse and in the descent I try to keep my mind well focused on the road. In my career I had obtained 22 victories, but today the feelings are so special.”

2nd on the stage and points leader, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “If you don’t try, you gain nothing. I tried and funnily I always have second places. But it’s okay, I’m very happy with my effort. I might have some bad luck because everybody is looking at me in the race and follows me, when I try. Today, nobody wanted to work on the final climb but I tried to keep the race open. Well, I have a good lead in the points classification but Tour de France is crazy and everyday something can happen and I have to make it to Paris. I’m very happy with the support I have here at the Tour, it really motivates me. For example, a whole bus from Slovakia is here and follows me at the race to cheer me on – it’s really nice. Today, I also had many great friends in the group that all wanted to stay with me so it was very difficult to do something but I did my best, also for the supporters.”

3rd on the stage, Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling): “I really gave everything I could to play for the win, but this is third place is pretty close. I was only missing a few strokes to find the strength to accompany the main attackers up the final climb. I found myself in the right wave of riders to breakaway by chance, and then we had to work to form a more consistent group on the road. Luckily the pack was not interested in us. So we could manage our pace and reserve some strength for the difficult final. Everything went well on the downhill and I really dug hard to try and get back on terms with the guy in the front. But it was impossible. Now I will try to recover as well as possible on the rest day since crossing the Alps will be anything but simple. My sensations have been good from the start, and I keep hoping that I will be able to help Mathias Frank in the coming stages.”

7th on the stage, Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka): It was a really good day for our team with 3 riders in the break. We were working really hard all day and unfortunately we lost Serge at the bottom of the climb. Obviously it was also quite difficult for Eddy on the climb so it was up to me to follow the wheels on the final climb. For me I think 7th at the Tour de France is a good result.”

8th on the stage, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal): “In the past the stage to Gap always was a stage for escapees. So today you needed to be in the break if you wanted to win or at least set a good result. This morning at the team meeting I told that, and together with some others we wanted to attack. In the beginning of a stage you always have to see who’s in the group and how large it is. Eventually two groups melted together and we rode in front with twenty-three riders and it was immediately clear that Sagan was the strongest. Despite my injury I felt good enough to join a breakaway already a few times this Tour. With 23 riders in front the cohesion wasn’t optimal of course. On the Col de Manse the group fell apart; Adam Hansen had already given it a try by then, I could follow the better riders, but with the descent still to come I knew I wasn’t going to take any risks to follow Sagan. I didn’t want to crash again. Much more wasn’t possible today. But normally I don’t get worse in a third week of a Grand Tour, so who knows, I might join another breakaway one of the next days.”

Race leader and KOM, Chris Froome (Sky): “I did hear on the radio that [G] had been caught in a crash behind. At that point I was just trying to say to the guys around me ‘listen there’s been a crash let’s just try and keep the race steady for now.’ But obviously only a few kilometers before the finish the guys wanted to go hard. It’s really unfortunate for us to lose Pete Kennaugh at this point. He’s a big part of the team but he’s had a tough couple of days with illness. I hope he recovers soon. It means we’re going to have to share the work between the eight riders but the guys are strong and I’ve got a lot of confidence in them. Beyond that I think it’s been a pretty good day for us. We saw the other GC teams trying today. Tinkoff-Saxo took the race on at the foot of the last climb. We saw attacks over the top and Vincenzo Nibali going for it. I think that’s definitely what we can expect these next two days in the Alps. The race certainly isn’t over yet. We’re going to have try and keep control of the race and hope we can keep the lead until Paris.”

3rd overall, Tejay van Garderen (BMC): “Some riders were definitely taking some big risks, Warren was trying to come over the top of me. I was just trying to hold my position at the front and stay safe. It was a matter of who braked the latest and he was willing to take big risks and took out Geraint Thomas and almost took out himself.”

5th overall, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “Today has been much better, but there was a lot of wind on the climb, which made it complicated. I think that when I attacked, some people had a little trouble but it was complicated to continue alone. Now I have a day of rest to recover and then we face the Alps, where we will see how it goes. In the Alps, I have to look for opportunities – this is a different Tour for me because I have big time differences to other riders and I’m not at the same strength as in other Tours so I have to look for other opportunities and if I find them I will try. Today was not a day for big opportunities, the margin was very small, just a few seconds, I tried and then Nibali tried but it was just a question of seconds. But a lot of challenges still remain in the Alps, where we will try.”

Crash victim and 6th overall, Geraint Thomas (Sky): “I’m all right. I’m a bit shaken up but I’m fine. I have had a lot worse. It’s frustrating because you try so hard to get over that climb. I don’t know why guys don’t just sit where they are on descents. I was just following the wheel and then all of a sudden Barguil was just going straight on, and pushed me off into a big lamppost and down a ditch!”

7th overall, Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo): “We had headwind on that climb, but the pace was high, especially at the beginning of the climb. They slowed down a little bit afterwards so I came through it. When Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) attacked, I tried to follow him for a while, but I had others with me immediately. It also seemed a little meaningless to me to keep trying because there was a descent still to come. Now it’s rest day. Everyone’s legs are hurting, so it’s nice to recover a little bit at the moment.”

Break rider, Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal): “It’s our goal to win stages, so we wanted to try that again today. It took a while before I and ten others joined the first group. We had to chase for about 100 kilometers because the speed was so high. Luckily some did an extra effort to close the gap. It was the intention to bring Thomas De Gendt into the finale in the best possible position. I had to respond to attacks, but because we were with so many I decided to attack to reduce the group and hoped Thomas could move along. Unfortunately only one other rider joined me, so it was hard to cover more than 40 kilometers. Because of my shoulder injury it’s hard to sprint, so if I would have gone to the finish with some others I wouldn’t have won anyway.”

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), who won Stage 13 last Friday, withdrew from the race before the start. His partner is expecting the couple’s first baby: “I wanted to leave tomorrow morning, but a phone call asked me to go earlier. I hope to be there on time. It is always hard to leave the tour. It is the greatest race in the world. But the team can perform as well without me. I am pretty sure they will keep riding a great tour and hopefully get a great place in Paris. It is my best tour ever, winning the prologue with Rohan Dennis and the team time trial, winning a stage and putting Tejay in a podium position. It couldn’t go any better. It is normal to go home. She has been supporting me for 10 years riding my bike. It is time for me to give something back.”

Tour de France Stage 16 Result:
1. Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Lampre-Merida in 4:30:10
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:30
3. Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling at 0:36
4. Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Alpecin at 0:40
5. Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek
6. Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
7. Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:53
8. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:00
9. Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis at 1:22
10. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar.

Tour de France Overall After Stage 16:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 64:47:16
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3:10
3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC at 3:32
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 4:02
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 4:23
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 5:32
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 6:23
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 7:49
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek at 8:53
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin at 11:03.

Stage 16:

Summary – Stage 16 (Bourg-de-Péage > Gap… por tourdefrance_en

Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) claimed his first Tour de France stage victory on Stage 17 and the third success of his career after stage 2 of the 2011 Critérium International in Porto-Vecchio and the GP Gippingen in 2014. Known as a domestique, he rode away from a breakaway group with 50km on the Col d’Allos and stayed away to keep enough of a lead over Thibaut Pinot who crashed in the downhill. Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey as he crossed the line along with Nairo Quintana, while Alberto Contador was the main loser of the favorites, also due to a crash in the descent of the Allos.

Green jersey holder Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was once again the most aggressive rider of the early part of the race. There were many unsuccessful skirmishes but the first real event of the day was Tejay van Garderen (BMC) being dropped after 38 kilometers on the ascent to the first categorized climb, the Col des Lèques. The obviously sick American courageously made his way back to the pack at the 82 kilometer mark as he profited from a chase led by Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – Quick-Step). But he was dropped again on the ascent to the Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel and abandoned the Tour de France after 91 kilometers.

A front group of 28 riders had formed after 57k’s: Tanel Kangert (Astana), Jan Bakelants & Mikaël Chérel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot & Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ.fr), Richie Porte & Nicolas Roche (Sky), Rafal Majka & Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jonathan Castroviejo, José Herrada & Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), John Degenkolb & Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx – Quick-Step), Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Kristjian Durasek & Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky & Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling), Merhawi Kudus, Serge Pauwels & Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka). By 88 kilometers they had a lead of 4:20.

On the ascent to the Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel, Alberto Contador and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) attacked from the yellow jersey group. The Spaniard forged on but was eventually brought back by firstly Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and secondly by the peloton led by Team Sky. Vaugrenard won the intermediate sprint at km 111, after which Geschke rode away solo as the others in the lead group were not interested in working, the yellow jersey group also eased up. Geschke pushed on up the Col d’Allos as Pinot closed to 2 minutes. Geschke passed the highest peak of this year’s Tour de France (2250m) one minute before Pinot who crashed in the downhill. The German all rounder whose father Jurgen was an Olympic medalist as a track sprinter in 1972 and 1976 resisted the chase of Andrew Talansky and Rigoberto Uran who had passed Pinot on the downhill. Alberto Contador was the other star whose hopes vanished because of a crash. In the uphill finish to Pra Loup, Nairo Quintana attacked but didn’t take Chris Froome by surprise, so the Brit comfortably kept the yellow jersey.

Full race report HERE.

Tour de France 2015 - stage 17

Stage winner, Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin): “I didn’t feel great. I joined the breakaway group together with John [Degenkolb], which was a strong group. After the sprint I attacked and started the final climb with an advantage. I had 1’30” for a long time, and I thought I’d just see what would happen. I knew it was a difficult descent and I went pretty fast. On the last climb I gave it my all and was able to hold on to my advantage. I suffered incredibly but I cannot put this feeling into words. This is a dream come true. After so many attempts it finally happened. I cannot believe it.”

3rd on the stage, Rigoberto Uran (Etixx – Quick-Step): “The truth is that it took a while today to get into the breakaway. I lost a lot of energy to be in the front at the beginning. It wasn’t easy. I probably paid for the effort in the climb of first category, which is when Geschke went. I was also waiting to see what guys as Majka and Pinot were doing. Then in the downhill I tried to close the gap, but it was already too late. Congrats to Geschke. Concerning me, I’m happy with my third place even if we are always out there to try and win a stage. This stage was really hard, and in the next days it will be just as tough, if not more tough. But I will try again in the next days. It won’t be easy, but we have to take the risk to get into the breakaway and see what we can do in the final days.”
9th on the stage, Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka): “I wasn’t really planning to go in the breakaway today because I thought it might be a stage for the GC riders. When I saw there were a lot of riders attacking and going up the road early on I thought I better get involved. We also had Daniel and Merhawi up there so it was a good breakaway for us. I was also able to make up some time for the GC so it was another good day out for us.”

5th on the stage and 8th overall, Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling): “I was convinced that I could still play an active role in this stage because I already knew it from the Dauphiné Libéré. I knew I had to go on the offensive if I want to break into the top-10. So I made every effort to be in the right group to get away. With such a large group to begin with, it was the perfect scenario for the stage that I had already check in my race book. I remained attentive since in the team meeting we planned to initiate the action on the road to Allos. So I accelerated but Geschke had already slipped away and the gap ended up being too big to hope to reel him in. After a frightening descent of the pass, I mainly tried to finish as well as possible on the final climb. Now I will try to defend this 8th place overall, especially because there are still some demanding stages that are at least as difficult as today’s right up until Saturday evening.”

6th on the stage, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo): “When you go gambling or waiting for the perfect moment, it doesn’t turn out the way you want to all the time. That’s why I went all in from the beginning. It was quite a war for an hour, but I kept feeling good and in the end, I was in the breakaway. I was able to take it easy afterwards. It was important to save some energy, because I knew that it was going to explode on the Col d’Allos. When Geschke attacked, I thought that it was too early. I tried to catch him afterwards, several times, but I didn’t have the legs to win today. That’s a pity, but I can go on with this performance.”

2nd overall, Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “I felt really well today. I recovered fine and did not struggle after the rest day. We fared pretty well, as well myself as my team-mates – with the pace we rode through the Allos climb, I didn’t realized until the end of the climb that we were only four of five at the front. That’s where I tried to attack, just like I did in the finale, though I didn’t get a gap. We didn’t have an intention of trying to turn things around today as there are days where the mountains are more demanding, and we think we’ll be able to try harder later on. Tomorrow’s stage will be complicated; the one on Friday, finishing at La Toussuire, is a route that suits me well, full of ups and downs, with serious climbs, a hard route with long ascents; and Alpe d’Huez is a long climb whose slopes are really good for me. There’s still room for battle. We also entered the podium with Alejandro Valverde, who has a nice chance to snatch a place into the top-3, and kept the lead in the teams’ classification, so today’s overview must be pretty good for us.”

3rd overall, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “Safe on the GC podium? I don’t really know if it’s granted yet. It’s true that there are only three days left in this Tour before Paris, but there’s still much left to cover. It’s also true that I’m feeling really well, working hard for my team-mate Nairo and trying everything to create some gaps, but Froome is really strong and it’s hard to beat him. When Contador crashes I was ahead of him and couldn’t see the incident, but I was told afterwards. Alberto is a really fighting and dangerous rider, what can you say about him, someone you can never leave a gap to and he was really close to me on the GC. It was awful to see Van Garderen leaving the race, too – I want to send him all my support, I know how it feels – the Tour and cycling are as hard as this. I was left out of the podium last year, fourth after the final TT following a tough final week, and know the bad side of this race. All in all, we’re still there and, as many have seen, we keep trying to take the yellow jersey.”

5th overall, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “My wheel slipped and I fell. We tried to fix my bike but it wasn’t working and I took Peter’s bike. I tried to descend as well as I could but at the bottom of the climb I had to change back to one of my own bikes to minimize the losses. Cycling is like this, sometimes you do well sometimes you don’t. But right now the most important thing is to recover.”

6th overall, Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo): “I heard that he was just at a total loss (Van Garderen). That’s why I moved up to the sixth place and I’m satisfied with that. I was hoping that Geraint Thomas (Sky) would have been a little less strong, but maybe I can challenge him in the upcoming days. That went quite well today. I was the sixth man of the peloton to reach the top of the Col d’Allos. That’s moderate. I did the descent afterwards with Wout Poels (Sky) and Thomas. On that last climb, they went all the way and I had to leave a small gap, unfortunately.”

Green jersey, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’m not sure what exactly happened in Alberto’s crash. I was waiting for him on the Col d’Allos and I wanted to help him but Nibali attacked from the start of the descent and everybody was stressed. But just after, Alberto crashed a couple of kilometers down the descent and I had to change bikes with him and he did the entire descent on my bike before he changed again at the bottom of the climb. But it was not a very good day today. It was very obviously hard today to seek the breakaway and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

DS of the leading team, Michel Cornelisse (MTN-Qhubeka): “Once again it was another amazing result for our team today. It has now been 3 days in a row that we have won the best team stage classification. Serge was again very good and also Merhawi and Daniel, they were all very strong. The team are fantastic and we are really happy right now.”

Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) abandoned: “To be fighting for a podium in the Tour de France, and then the next minute you are sitting in the car, was really hard,” van Garderen said. “It was hard to look my teammates in the eyes. It was hard to call my wife and explain to her what was going on. It was a lot of emotions. For a while I was dealing with it just fine, it was just a little bit of the sniffles and not a big deal. But it kept getting a little bit worse. Then, on the rest day (Tuesday), I was having some feverish symptoms and chills. This morning, I woke up and thought the worst of it had passed. I felt ready to race and was back, closer to normal. But then once I got out there, the muscles just had no energy. Straight away from the start, I kind of knew this wasn’t good and hopefully I could just hide and maybe ride into it for a few kilometers and start to feel better. But the sensations never came. It is hugely disappointing.”

World Road Champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – Quick-Step) had to abandon: “It’s sad for me to leave a special race like Le Tour de France, everyone knows how much I like this grand tour. Today I wanted to enter in a breakaway. I jumped a few times at the beginning together with Rigoberto Uran, but then suddenly I felt empty. I lost contact from the group on the first climb. I fought, hoping to recover, and maybe I could feel better along the parcours, but the situation didn’t change. I hung on until the intermediate sprint, but then I decided to stop. There wasn’t anything left in the tank. It’s a difficult moment for me. You never want to stop in a race like this, especially when you have this rainbow jersey on your shoulders. My teammates were great these last couple of weeks in how they supported me. I want to thank them. We had great time together and we achieved great results together. Now I have to recover, and then start thinking about the next race on my calendar. I want to thank all the people on the roads that cheered for me. I wish all the best to my teammates, hoping they can get another victory before the end of Le Tour.”

24 year-old Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) had to abandon: “It was never going to be an easy task, even if I was at full health. I think the lack of preparation really showed, it made the race even more difficult and it is such a hard race. The biggest race of the year in which you can’t hide anywhere but I am really happy that I did it and that I got so far. I pushed my body and raced more and more to see what I can get out of myself. I learned from the race and to see the standard that I need to get is very important. I also think that if I was at 100% that I would have raced a lot better. I felt like I didn’t get to show what I am about in this race which is disappointing and then being last in GC wasn’t good for the ego either. But I went on until I was completely empty until I literally had nothing left. It’s been all I could give.”

Tour de France Stage 17 Result:
1. Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Alpecin in 4:12:17
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:32
3. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:01
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 1:36
5. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 1:40
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 2:27
7. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sky at 3:02
8. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar at 3:04
9. Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN-Qhubeka at 3:05
10. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE at 3:21.

Tour de France Overall After Stage 17:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 69:06:49
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3:10
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 4:09
4. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team at 6:34
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 6:40
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 7:39
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 8:04
8. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 8:47
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek at 11:47
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin at 13:08.

Stage 17:

Summary – Stage 17 (Digne-les-Bains > Pra Loup… por tourdefrance_en

Grand Prix Pino Cerami 2015:
BMC Racing Team’s Philippe Gilbert won his first race back from injury Wednesday by out-sprinting the likes of Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) and Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step) at Grand Prix Cerami.

Winner of two stages of the Giro d’Italia in May, Gilbert had been sidelined from competition since withdrawing from the Tour de Suisse on June 16. An MRI performed between the Giro and the Tour de Suisse had revealed a small, non-displaced fracture on Gilbert’s lower right leg.

But on Wednesday, the former world road champion said he felt no pain during the 211.5-kilometer race.

“More important than the win was that my feeling was good on the bike and that was the biggest news of the day for me,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t have pain the last week in training. But training is always different than a race. So for me, this is very good news for the next month.”

Gilbert’s win was the BMC Racing Team’s 20th of the season. He and teammates Dylan Teuns and Loïc Vliegen were part of a 42-rider group that escaped in a hilly part of the race after about 40 kilometers. From that selection, five riders went on the attack before the last of three laps of a 13.2-km finishing circuit.

“Dylan and Loïc did a very good job to help close the gap on that breakaway,” BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said.

Gilbert took the win ahead of Van Poppel, with Tom Devrient (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) in third. Boonen was fourth and Sébastian Turgot (Ag2r La Mondiale) finished fifth.

Gilbert said the victory was extra special for him, coming in the race named for Giuseppe “Pino” Cerami. A classics specialist and the oldest rider to win a stage of the Tour de France (at age 41), Cerami died last September at the age of 92.

“Pino was one of the first big stars of Wallonie, so I am very proud to have my name on the list of the winners of this race,” Gilbert said.
Thanks to Sean Weide at BMC for the race info.

Grand Prix Pino Cerami Result:
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC in 4:44:03
2. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek
3. Tom De Vriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
5. Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
6. Christopher Lawless (GB) Team Wiggins
7. Antoine Demoitie (Bel) Wallonie – Bruxelles
8. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
9. Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ.fr
10. Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Rabobank Development Team.

Philippe Gilbert wins GP Pino Cerami:
Grand Prix Pino Ceram 2015

Tour of Wallonie 2015
The five day Belgian race in the Wallonia Region takes much of the small French speaking part of the country. The course suits the in form Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and it is his home race.

More race details on the web site: https://www.trworg.be/tw/news.php

Tour of Wallonia (Saturday, July 25th to Wednesday, July 29th)
Saturday, July 25th: Wanze – Hannut 190.7km (12h30 – 17h04)
Sunday, July 26th: Beaufays – Bassenge 171.4km (12h30 – 16h36)
Monday, July 27th: Bastogne – Namur 207km (12h – 16h57)
Tuesday, July 28th: Waterloo– Quaregnon 164.6km (12h27 – 16h21)
Wednesday, July 29th: Chimay – Thuin 167.3km (12h20 – 16h24).


IAM Cycling to the Tour de Wallonie
In the world of cycling, the month of July does not necessarily revolve around France and the yellow jersey. While the Tour de France indeed occupies a prominent place on the international stage of cycling at this time of year, additional races like the Tour of Wallonia also offer intense racing and have the merit of drawing many stars from the peloton. This year sixteen teams will compete, nine of which come from the WorldTour. The Belgian race will enjoy a strong field including Tom Boonen, Gianni Meersman, last year’s winner, as well as Philippe Gilbert. IAM Cycling will also be bringing a strong contingent that will be very active between Wanze and Thuin. “The list of participants is quite impressive,” Pirmin Lang explained. “You almost have the feeling that the Tour de France isn’t even happening at the same time. The teams are very strong, the stages will be beautiful and difficult, and so it promises to be a very open race. On our side, we have riders like Dries Devenyns and Thomas Degand, both of whom won’t only be racing at home, but are also fond of a parcours like this. And then, we can also count on Jérôme Pineau or Jonas Van Genechten for those days with a slightly more lenient profile. My job will be to help my teammates, and get them as well positioned as possible so they can be successful. I’ll also be happy to get into some breakaways.”

Before crossing the finish line at the top of the wall-like climb in Thuin, the 122 riders who are scheduled to race in Belgium will travel the country from east to west, notably passing through the Citadel of Namur, the Côte de Fraiture climb near Liège, as well as the Côte de la Vecquée. So many challenges will certainly complicate the race more than a little. “What is special about the climbs in Wallonia is that once you get to the top of a hill, there is no descent that follows, so there is no chance to rest and recover,” Lang explained. “Generally you end up on a plateau, and you just have to keep hammering. The climbs are not very long usually, but they are very steep and fast. To do well in this race, you must have two essential qualities: endurance and explosiveness. I have been home training since racing the Swiss Championships, and I have been particularly working on these two points so that I will be in good condition for Wallonia.”

Thomas Degand (Bel), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Pirmin Lang (S), Simon Pellaud (S), Jérôme Pineau (F), Jonas Van Genechten (Bel), Patrick Schelling (S).
Directeurs sportifs: Kjell Carlström, Thierry Marichal.

Jérôme Pineau:
Paris - Nice 2015 Stage - 4

Lotto Soudal for Wallonie
The 36th edition of the Tour de Wallonie, a Belgian stage race that is part of the Europe Tour, brings the peloton in five stages through the beautiful but sloped French speaking area of Belgium. From 25 July till 29 July, the riders have to cover some tough stages. In every stage, there are a few steep hills on the course. The classics riders will certainly love it. Nevertheless, the sprinters will have their chances too.

For Lotto Soudal, Jürgen Roelandts and Kris Boeckmans will participate among others. There are other interesting names that will start in these stage race, like Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert and Edward Theuns. The winner of last year, Gianni Meersman, will also be there. Lotto Soudal sports director Mario Aerts gives a little preview.

Mario Aerts: “It’s certain that the riders will get a tough stage race, Christophe Brandt has done his best to make a diversified course. The classics riders, the sprinters and the riders for the breakaway will all have their chance to win a stage or to obtain the overall victory.”

“The first stage will most likely be a sprint stage. Therefore we have Dehaes, Boeckmans and Vallée in our selection. The second and third stage will be tougher for the sprinters because of the many hills, the breakaway can last till the end here. Maybe that Vanendert can try something on the Citadelle de Namur in the third stage. Day four and five are stages where the classics riders can do something like Roelandts or Gilbert. Vervaeke and Van der Sande will get a sort of free role. They can be in a breakaway for instance.”

“We’ll see which one of our riders can aim for a good GC . If someone does well in stage two or three, he can be considered as a candidate for the GC. It will also depend on who will be fully recovered from the training camp in Livigno. Everyone has been training very well, but one always have to wait how the legs will feel in the first race after such a training camp. Principally, the aim is to win a stage. After that we will see how the race is evolving.”

Kris Boeckmans, Kenny Dehaes, Jürgen Roelandts, Boris Vallée, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Louis Vervaeke.
Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Kenny Dahaes:

Team Katusha for Tour de Wallonie
WorldTour Team Katusha starts in the 2.HC stage race Tour de Wallonie, which will be held in Belgium from July 25th to 29th.
The team’s roster: Sergei Chernetckii, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Sergey Lagutin, Gatis Smukulis, Alexey Tsatevich and Ilnur Zakarin.
Sports director is Gennady Mikhaylov.

Ilnur Zakarin:
Giro d'Italia 2015: undicesima tappa

Roster: Tour de Wallonie
Past world road champion Philippe Gilbert headlines the BMC Racing Team’s seven-man roster for the Tour de Wallonie.

Gilbert has three victories to his credit this season: Wednesday at Grand Prix Cerami and two stages of the Giro d’Italia in May. Among those joining him are Tour of Austria stage winner Rick Zabel and past Slovakian national time trial champion Peter Velits.

The five-day race in Belgium begins Saturday.

Marcus Burghardt (GER), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Peter Velits (SVK), Loïc Vliegen (BEL), Rick Zabel (GER).

Sport Directors:
Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA).

In form Philippe Gilbert:
Milano Sanremo 2015

Tinkoff-Saxo targets stage win at Tour de Wallonie
Seven riders, coming off the back of a race break, represent Tinkoff-Saxo at Tour de Wallonie in the search for stage wins and a return to race rhythm. With the race taking place in the highly undulating terrain of the Ardennes, the stages present the puncheurs with opportunities to create a difference.

Tinkoff-Saxo is set to embark on this year’s five stage Tour de Wallonie from July 25th to 29th. Team sports director Lars Michaelsen tells that the squad aims to get back into race shape after a stint at the team’s altitude training camp in Livigno.

“It’s a race over five days, which suits the puncheurs of the peloton very well. The GC will probably come down to bonus seconds or time taken in a successful breakaway. I expect that we will see gaps and fragmentation in the bunch on several stages, as the terrain is demanding, which means that it’ll be crucial to stay well-positioned throughout the entire race. Our ambition is to get back into race shape with this squad, as the last races they did were the National Championships in June”, says Lars Michaelsen.

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Matti Breschel, Pavel Brutt, Nikolay Trusov, Jay McCarthy, Chris Juul-Jensen, Michael Mørkøv and Juraj Sagan.

“The guys have been a month away from racing, in the meantime they’ve trained at altitude to prepare for the second part of the season. They need to get back into rhythm, something that is especially important for Breschel, as he even had to skip the nationals. Many of the guys have to be ready for Tour of Denmark and other concurrent races. We are going to take it day by day but we hope to get a rider into the top ten of the GC, while we aim for a stage win”, adds Lars Michaelsen.

Tour de Wallonie consists of five stages in the hilly terrain known from the Ardennes Classics. According to Lars Michaelsen, the parcours will make for a challenging race.

“I think that the first stage will be very important, the profile looks like a saw blade and it will be vital to ride the race from the front. Chris Juul has shown strength and he could potentially do very well if he continues in the same manner as previously. Meanwhile we also have fast guys in the likes of Trusov and McCarthy. The third stage from Bastogne to Namur features an uphill finish on the cobbled roads up to the Citadel, where we’ve seen before that the strongest will do an all out effort to create a selection. The squad is motivated to race and it will be exciting to see how it all pans out”, finishes Lars Michaelsen.


La Course by Le Tour: A New Rainbow Over Paris?
Following the success of the first edition last year, La Course by Le Tour is back. On 26th July, the day on which the Tour de France 2015 finishes, the already famous women’s race will return to the Champs-Élysées on which the queens of the pack are awaited. The world champion, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, will be attempting to follow on from Marianne Vos…

On 27th July 2014, the history of women’s cycling experienced an unforgettable leap forward with the launch of La Course by Le Tour. On the Champs-Élysées, as part of the last stage of the Tour de France, the best women cyclists on the planet came together to race. On completion of the 89-km Parisian circuit, who other than Marianne Vos, the immense star of the pack, could have left their mark on this prestigious event? “My dream has come true”, admitted the Dutchwoman with the incredible roll of honor, at the finishing line after having won a sprint on the most beautiful avenue in the world.

Women’s cycling had never before enjoyed such exposure. Since then, La Course by Le Tour has inspired others. Many events on the international cycling calendar now have a feminine twin. Some races are in the process of being set up, such as La Course by la Vuelta. Like its French model, this event will take place on 13th September in Madrid as a curtain raiser to the finish of the Tour of Spain 2015, a sign that women’s cycling has entered into a new era.

Bolstered by this both sporting and popular success, La Course by Le Tour will be back for a 2nd edition to confirm its place on the calendar. On Sunday 26th July, at the start of the afternoon (the virtual start will be at 13.25), all the leading lights of the pack will do battle over the same circuit as in 2014. The only notable absence will be Marianne Vos, who won last year wearing the world champion’s rainbow jersey. Suffering due to repeated injuries since the start of the season, the leader of the Rabo-Liv team has had to give up on defending her title on order to facilitate her recovery.

The battle therefore seems open between the 120 riders enrolled, split between 19 UCI teams and 1 national team. However, it is not impossible for one world champion to succeed another on the Champs-Élysées, namely current world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, a team-mate of Vos. The new star of the pack has sparkled on all terrains and should legitimately be able to tame the cobbles on La Course by Le Tour, all the more so since the Frenchwoman, who fell at the finish in 2014, is after revenge. “PFP” is among the main favorites for victory, alongside the Italians Elisa Longo Borghini and Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda), Dutch riders Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products, 2nd in 2014) or Ellen van Dijk (Boels Dolmans), Great Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans), German Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM, 4th last year) or Sweden’s Emma Johannson (Orica – AIS).

In the French ranks, other than Ferrand-Prévot, the presence of the French national team should be noted, whilst the Poitou-Charentes-Futuroscope team will be able to count on its solid sprinters Roxane Fournier and Pascale Jeuland.

The main participants:
VELOCIO-SRAM: Lisa Brennauer (Germany), Alena Amialiusik (Belarus), Elise Delzenne (France)
ORICA – AIS: Emma Johansson (Sweden), Melissa Hoskins (Australia)
LOTTO SOUDAL LADIES: Elena Cecchini (Italy)
LENSWORLD.eu – ZANNATA : Kim de Baat (Netherlands), Sofie de Vuyst (Belgium)
TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN-PRO-DUO: Kelly Druyts (Belgium), Ann-Sofie Duyck (Belgium)
BIZKAIA – DURANGO : Elena Utrobina (Russia)
POITOU CHARENTES FUTUROSCOPE 86: Pascale Jeuland (France), Roxane Fournier (France)
WIGGLE HONDA: Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Jolien D’Hoore (Belgium)
MATRIX FITNESS: Laura Trott (Great-Britain)
ALE CIPOLLINI: Annalisa Cucinotta (Italy) Shelley Olds (USA)
INPA SOTTOLI GIUSFREDI: Tetiana Riabchenko (Ukraine)
HITEC PRODUCTS: Kirsten Wild (Netherlands), Lauren Kitchen (Australia)
RABO LIV WOMEN CYCLING TEAM: Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France), Lucinda Brand (Netherlands), Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands).
BOELS DOLMANS CYCLING TEAM: Elizabeth Armitstead (Great-Britain), Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands)
TEAM LIV-PLANTUR: Amy Pieters (Netherlands)
BTC CITY LJUBLJANA: Martina Ritter (Austria)
BIGLA PRO CYCLING TEAM: Ashleigh Moolman (South Africa), Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands)
1 national team
France: Fanny Riberot.

Elizabeth Armitstead:

Arctic Race of Norway 2015: 12 Tour de France teams above the polar circle
This will be the first time that Norwegian champion Edvald Boasson Hagen rides the Arctic Race of Norway, whose third edition will take place from August 13 to 16 on a revamped route that will have something for local power sprinters (Alexander Kristoff, Sondre Holst Enger), Tour de France climbers (Mathias Frank, Rein Taaramäe) and something the potential champions of tomorrow (Silvan Dilier, Niccolò Bonifazio).

“This’ll be the strongest field ever seen in a professional cycling race in Norway”, says a happy Knut-Eirik Dybdal, the director of the Arctic Race of Norway, an event which was promoted to the Hors-Catégorie class by the Union Cycliste Internationale after a mere two editions. The presence of twelve Tour de France teams (i.e. more than half of those at the Grand Start in Utrecht), including seven World Tour outfits, is a new record for a Norwegian race. “When I came to North Cape last year I discovered a huge craze for cycling in a part of the world with not so many inhabitants”, points out an enthusiastic Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France.

Freshly retired Thor Hushovd, who has served as the ambassador of the race ever since it joined the international cycling calendar, savored the sporting legacy he left his country at the announcement of the selected teams. Edvald Boasson Hagen, who has not had the chance to take part in the event yet, will be making his debut at the front of the MTN-Qhubeka team, which is turning heads at the Tour de France and will be one of the strongest squads on the start line in Harstad. He will be flanked by Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot, fresh from a stint in the polka-dot jersey, as well as sprinters Theo Bos and Gerald Ciolek. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) is back with renewed ambitions after winning two stages and finishing second overall last year. Hushovd’s protégé Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling) has just claimed his first professional victory at the Tour of Austria and will have impressive back-up in the shape of the battle-hardened Mathias Frank, Stef Clement and Martin Elmiger, currently at the Tour de France.

Although the start list will be finalized in the week before the event, it already boasts contenders for the general classification such as Rein Taaramäe (Astana), Linus Gerdemann and Fabian Wegmann (Cult Energy), Silvan Dilier (BMC), Ilia Koshevoy and José Serpa (Lampre-Merida), as well as famous sprinters ready to give the fast Norwegians a run for their money: Niccolò Bonifazio and Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida), Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18), Jonas Ahlstrand (Cofidis), Robert Förster (United Healthcare), Russell Downing (Cult Energy) and Yauheni Hutarovich (Bretagne-Séché Environnement).

Norwegian TV viewers will get live coverage of the last two hours of the first two stages and the entirety of the other two stages on TV2.

Route of the 2015 Arctic Race of Norway:
Stage 1 (August 13): Harstad-Harstad (210 km)
Stage 2 (August 14): Evenskjer-Setermoen (155 km)
Stage 3 (August 15): Finnsnes-Målselv (175 km)
Stage 4 (August 16): Narvik-Narvik (160 km)

22 teams selected:
Astana, BMC, IAM Cycling, Lampre-Merida, Giant-Alpecin, Katusha, Tinkoff-Saxo, Bora-Argon 18, Bretagne-Séché Environnement, Cofidis, Europcar, Cult Energy, MTN-Qhubeka, Novo Nordisk, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, United Healthcare, Coop-Øster Hus, FixIT.no, Joker, Sparebanken Sør, Ringeriks-Kraft, Frøy-Bianchi.


Sánchez Renews With BMC Racing Team For 2016
Past Olympic road race champion Samuel Sánchez will race for the BMC Racing Team in the 2016 season, President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz announced Tuesday at the team’s Tour de France rest day media conference.

Already this year, Sánchez has earned a runner-up finish overall at the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire while helping Tejay van Garderen to the same result at the Critérium du Dauphiné. At the Tour de France, Sánchez sits 14th overall while playing the role of lieutenant to van Garderen.

“I think that everybody has seen what a good job Samuel has done at this Tour de France,” Ochowicz said. “So we made a decision that we are going to extend his contract for a lot of good reasons: His mentorship, his leadership in the team and his senior position in the peloton. All three of those things add up to an overwhelming decision to keep him on board for 2016.”

Sánchez said the decision puts him at ease. He first signed with the BMC Racing Team in 2014 following the folding of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, of which he had been a part since turning professional in 2000. This season, he was a late signee, making his debut on Feb. 1 at Cadel Evans’s final race, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

“I am very happy about next year and pleased with this decision,” Sánchez said. “The BMC Racing Team is the best team in the world, with good teammates, good management and good staff. All of them are good people and good professionals.”

The “king of the mountains” winner at the 2011 Tour de France and third place finisher in 2010 said he is motivated for the final week of the race.

“The last four stages are important and I think Tejay is in a good position,” Sánchez said. “And with the team already having three victories – Rohan Dennis in the time trial, the team time trial and Greg Van Avermaet’s win – it is fantastic.”

Samuel Sanchez:
Tour de France 2015 - stage 11

Adam Hansen extends his contract
Lotto Soudal is building its team for 2016. Adam Hansen extended his contract with the team and will stay two more years. Hansen has been riding for the team since 2011 and the last years he proved to be a Grand Tour specialist. Since the Vuelta of 2011 he completed every Grand Tour. If he reaches the finish line in Paris safely on Sunday, he’ll equal the record of completing twelve consecutive Grand Tours.

Manager Marc Sergeant: “We absolutely wanted to keep a valuable rider like Adam Hansen in the team. Of course other WorldTour teams would love to welcome someone like him, but Adam knows what to expect of our team and vice versa. There aren’t many better riders in the peloton with his profile. He’s useful to any other rider in the team, and now and then he can take a chance himself. That way he won a stage in Giro and Vuelta the past years; not many riders in the peloton can say that. We are very pleased he’ll stay with our team for the next years. His professionalism is fantastic and he’s an inspiration to all of us, everyone in the group likes him.”

Adam Hansen: “Of course I’m happy. Lotto Soudal shows lots of appreciation for what I do for the team and I feel very good here. I try to do as much as possible for the team and the other riders and I think everyone appreciates my role. And I want to keep on doing it the next years. The Grand Tours? Everyone knows the story. I just love doing it. Some guys prefer the classics, I feel good in the Grand Tours of three weeks. After my stage wins in the Giro and Vuelta a stage win in the Tour would be the top of the bill. But I still have a few years to achieve that.”

Adam Hansen:

Joaquim Rodriguez renews in 2016 with Team Katusha
Next season Joaquim Rodriguez will again be part of the WorldTour Team Katusha. The Spanish rider and the team reached and signed an agreement to continue working together for one extra season.

Joaquim Rodriguez (36) just obtained two prestigious stage wins in the Tour de France – on the Mur the Huy and on Plateau de Beille. Earlier this season he won the Tour of the Basque Country and finished third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

– How could I make the choice not to continue with my current team? Our climbers as well as our sprinters, we are all in the winning mood already a year-long. The atmosphere never has been better than this season. It was my dream to go on with Team Katusha, with my current teammates and current staff. For me it was a logical choice. We decided already a while ago to continue our relationship but in the end it always takes a while to finalize the contract. I am happy I could sign on this rest day. Worry-free I can now tackle the final week of the Tour de France, – said Joaquim Rodriguez.

Joaquim Rodriguez is currently in his sixth season with Team Katusha. For the team he ended the season three times as the number one of the UCI ranking and finished on the Overall podium of Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España with a total of 13 Grand Tour stage wins.

– Despite his age Joaquim Rodriguez still delivers. We don’t see any regression in his results or attitude. On and off the bike Joaquim is a model of professionalism. It is the key of his successes. Joaquim is an example for his teammates. We are happy he continues with Team Katusha. Our future looks bright, – said general manager Viacheslav Ekimov.

Joaquim Rodriguez:
Tour de France 2015 - stage 12

Sven Erik Bystrøm extends agreement with Team Katusha
Current U23 World Champion Sven Erik Bystrøm extended his contract with WorldTour Team Katusha. The appropriate agreement was signed both by rider and team management.

Sven Erik Bystrøm was one of the key riders of the team during the spring classics. This season Sven Erik helped Alexander Kristoff to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen as well as the Three-Days of De Panne-Koksijde. He was also part of the group guiding Kristoff to stage wins in the Tour of Qatar, Tour of Norway and Tour des Fjords. Moreover, Sven Erik won the Best Young Rider Classification in the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe and was 7th in the Norwegian Road Championships.

– It is so fun for me to be in this team and have all of these victories. I am still learning but it is nice to see that Alexander Kristoff and the Team Management appreciate my work for the team. I can grow a lot in cycling and I am convinced this will happen with this group. Team Katusha is not pushing me – they give me the necessary time to evolve, I am still living a dream. When Team Katusha asked me to extend my agreement, I did not hesitate one second, – said Sven Erik Bystrøm.

– Sven Erik has a lot of potential. This year he showed his skills in the “Kristoff races” but I am convinced he can do more than this. Also in the Ardennes and in smaller stages races he will surprise many people. The way he took last year’s world title in Ponferrada tells us enough. Sven Erik is still young. That’s why we give him the time to grow. We are sure Sven Erik will not disappoint us, – explained General Manager Viacheslav Ekimov.

Details on the newly signed contract will not be disclosed.

After the Tour of Austria, where Sven Erik Bystrøm was part of the team winning the team time trial, he will resume competition in the Tour of Poland. Later he will start in the Arctic Race of Norway, Vattenfall Cyclassics and Grand Prix of Plouay.

Erik Bystrøm:

Two more years with Team LottoNL-Jumbo for Leezer
Tom Leezer extended his contract with Team LottoNL-Jumbo. The multifunctional rider signed a new contract that keeps him with the team in 2016 and 2017.

“I’m feeling good in this team,” Tom Leezer said about his contract extension.
“I’m happy with my position in the squad and the cooperation with the other riders and the staff. Everything runs smoothly.

“After the spring classics, I wanted to work on continuing our cooperation. They reacted quickly on my question. The team is satisfied and so am I. We all know what I’m capable of, so we made our decision quickly.”

The mortars
“Tom is one of the mortars who hold the team together,” sports director, Nico Verhoeven said.
“He is capable in every kind of race. He is useful in a grand tour and is good in the spring classics, as well. He isn’t a very visible rider, but he’s worth a lot for the team.”

Leezer is riding the Tour de France with Team LottoNL-Jumbo at the moment. In the first ten days, he drove at the front for his captains to ensure they reached the high mountains safely. “We’re doing a good job in the Tour,” he added. “Robert Gesink is riding a great Tour. The first ten days went very good for me, as well. I was able to help our front men those days. I crashed heavily afterwards, which affected my part in the team’s performance.”

Tom Leezer:
Tour de France 2015 - stage 16

Ivan Basso successfully operated; currently no additional treatment needed
Professor Francesco Montorsi, Director of the Urology Surgery Unit at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, issued the following statement regarding Ivan Basso’s latest medical condition:

“Today, 20 July 2015, Ivan Basso underwent a post-surgery checkup. The patient has perfectly recovered from the intervention. The final histological examination shows, currently, no indication for additional treatment and the patient will be closely observed during the following months. It is recommended the patient should rest for a period of one month. Professor Montorsi and his team are absolutely optimistic on the complete healing of Ivan Basso.”

A joyful Basso commented on the encouraging news: “I am extremely happy with the outcome of the surgery and I would like to deeply thank Tinkoff-Saxo’s team doctor, Piet De Moor, the doctors and medical staff of the Tour de France as well as Professor Montorsi and his team. Professor Montorsi has allowed me to travel by plane and I look forward to meeting the rest of the Tinkoff-Saxo squad in Paris to celebrate the end of the Tour de France.”

Ivan Basso:
5th stage of the 61st Tour of Andalusia Ruta Del Sol

Where it all went wrong
Alberto Contador crashed and then changed bikes twice, here he has help from Peter Sagan and Michael Rogers. Nice that the Mavic service car drove past. Neutral Service?

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