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EuroTrash Monday: Sagan Wins & Giro Rests!

It’s the rest day for the Giro d’Italia, but Peter Sagan scores an incredible gc overall at California. We catch all the week-end’s action – race reports, results, rider quotes and video from Italy, California and Bayern-Rundfahrt. Plus an update on Daniele Colli’s crash and the futures of Ramon Sinkeldam and Maaike Polspoel. We finish with the music for this year’s Vuelta.

header-toc15-leftAmgen Tour of California 2015
Etixx – Quick-Step rider Mark Cavendish had to launch his sprint from longer than usual on Thursday in a rain soaked 154km Amgen Tour of California Stage 5. Despite having to close a small gap from behind, he still won his third stage out of fives stages, this time in Santa Clarita. Zico Waeytens (Giant-Alpecin) was 2nd and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was 3rd.

The original breakaway was down to Danilo Wyss (BMC) inside the final 10 kilometers, but Etixx – Quick-Step was on the front and the peloton caught him with 3.2km to go in the stage after a long day of chasing in miserable conditions. Yves Lampaert was on the front and doing his best to set a fast tempo, while also tracking down Mark Renshaw guiding the Manx Missile. The Belgian rider and his two teammates rejoined right before the final kilometer, and then it was up to Renshaw to have to guide Cavendish for an extended lead-out. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was on his wheel.

Waeytens launched his sprint at the front from long distance, but Cavendish still passed well before the line for the stage win. Julian Alaphilippe moved up to 3rd GC, down 44 seconds going into the individual time trial tomorrow. He remains the Best Young Rider. Cavendish extended his lead in the Points Competition from a single point over Sagan to six points (55).

Stage winner Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step): “The thing is, when you’re going so fast there’s the wind chill as well,” Cavendish said. “It’s one thing to be wet and to be cold when you’re wet, but with the wind coming on you’re freezing to the absolute bone. But it was good. All my teammates, thank you. It was hard to catch them back in the final but my team really looked after me. It was also nice to see so many people out here despite the weather. As for the sprint, I had Mark Renshaw at the end, and as always he was cool and calm, but we had to dig deep. It was a bit hectic in the last kilometer and Mark Renshaw was cooked, so we couldn’t go as fast as we wanted in the end. It was a headwind finish, and I knew I didn’t want to jump early. Waeytens went first and I timed it well enough to catch him before the line. I’m super happy to get the stage win for the team today.”

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’d like to thank my teammates for their hard work today, we pulled at the front during the whole day, at times with other teams. It was raining in some parts of the stage but the heaviest rainfall took place on the last 20km and the colder temperatures made it even tougher. Overall, it was a good stage and I could, probably, have finished in a better position but we did our best and we are satisfied with the result. Tomorrow’s shorter time-trial suits me better and I will certainly try to take the yellow jersey.”

8th on the stage, Matt Goss (MTN-Qhubeka): “Today’s stage was really fast and wet in the final. I had some good help from Matt B and Tyler in the last 5km. It made it through the last turn in an okay position but got caught out in the wind from about 400-500m to go which caused me to hesitate a bit before the sprint. I felt like I had the legs to do a bit better but it just didn’t pan out that way. On the up side, the legs are feeling better and better each day and we will have another opportunity on Sunday.”

Amgen Tour of California Stage 5 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Etixx – Quick-Step in 3:51:37
2. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Giant-Alpecin
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
4. Jempy Drucker (Lux) BMC
5. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Trek
6. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
7. John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare
8. Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) MTN-Qhubeka
9. Mike Teunissen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
10. Justin Oien (USA) Axeon Cycling Team.

Amgen Tour of California Overall After Stage 5:
1. Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team in 22:02:34
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:18
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:44
4. Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:47
5. Dion Smith (NZ) Hincapie Racing Team
6. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC
7. Lawson Craddock (USA) Giant-Alpecin
8. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo
9. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky
10. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare.

Stage 5:

Due to adverse weather conditions, the scheduled Stage 6, a 24.2k ITT at an altitude of 2000 meters was replaced with a shorter one of 10.6km at Big Bear Lake. Peter Sagan rode the TT of his life and took 46 seconds out of the overall leader, Toms Skujins (Hincapie), to put Sagan in the yellow jersey by 28 seconds. Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) was second at 15 seconds, but is no threat on the GC. Young Frenchman, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) showed that he is a big hope for the future as he finished third at 19 seconds, holding hie 3rd place overall.

Stage winner and new overall leader, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I was feeling in great shape today and this shorter race course helped me. This morning I was feeling confident and I believed I could make it. I was aiming at the yellow jersey without focusing on a stage victory but I got both. I tried, I gave my best and I’m happy with the result. My sports director Patxi Vila was following me in the team car and as he was giving me my intermediate times, I saw I was getting faster, which made me confident in the fact that I would have a big advantage. Over the winter, I spent more time on my time-trial position and carried out tests in the Specialized wind tunnel as well as on race tracks in Europe after Paris-Roubaix. That had, undoubtedly, a positive impact on my time-trial performance. If Maciej Bodnar had been here, I am sure he would have won and we could have had two Tinkoff-Saxo riders on the podium. Tomorrow, I will try to be in the front and go for the GC but I don’t know because of my weight whether I will be able to do that.”

2nd on the stage, Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo): “When the camera’s were pointing on me during Peter Sagan’s last kilometer, I knew that he was going to beat me. What a disappointment. I was so close. I was sitting on the hot seat for the whole day. That’s fun, but then you want to win even more, for sure.”

3rd on the stage and overall, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “With the change of the time trial course to a shorter distance in Santa Clarita, this suited me. I felt good at the start and wanted to do my best to defend my 3rd place in the GC. I have been taking it day-by-day, because I came here after some hard racing at the Ardennes Classics. I’ve had good legs so far, including today. I was super pleased with how I performed. Sagan was really strong today, so congratulations to him on the victory. I am really happy to be on the podium and to go into the queen stage having protected my overall placement. This is my first time at an eight-day stage race, and so far I did well at the time trial. We will see how I do on a key mountain stage tomorrow. I know that Mt. Baldy will not be easy, but we will see what can happen. We have a very motivated team here, as you can see with three victories of Mark Cavendish and my two podium placings. We also have the White Jersey and Green Jersey. I will do my best to honor my 3rd place in the GC on Saturday, and to also learn from the experience with the support of my teammates.”

Johann van Syl (MTN-Qhubeka): I was really motivated for today and wanted to give it a good crack to see if I could get a top 10. I felt good during the TT and I think I took the corners efficiently as well. As always there is a lot of room for improvement still. I think ill be hitting the gym soon.”

Amgen Tour of California Stage 6 Result:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo in 12:32
2. Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:15
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:19
4. Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC at 0:20
5. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:22
6. Tom Zirbel (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 0:26
7. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky
8. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:27
9. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
10. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC at 0:28.

Amgen Tour of California Overall After Stage 6:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo in 22:15:23
2. Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team at 0:28
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:45
4. Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC at 0:49
5. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky at 0:55
6. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:56
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
8. Ben King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:58
9. Dion Smith (NZ) Hincapie Racing Team at 1:03
10. Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Trek at 1:04.

Stage 6:

Etixx – Quick-Step rider Julian Alaphilippe had the ride of his career so far on Saturday, winning solo on Mt. Baldy at the end of 128.7km Amgen Tour of California Stage 7 and taking the race lead by 2 seconds over Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo). Sergio Henao (Sky) was 2nd, and his sky teammate Ian Boswell was 3rd.

Team Sky did their best to shed riders from the peloton with each passing kilometer heading into the Mt. Baldy (6.92km, 9% average gradient) climb, setting a very high tempo in hopes of setting up Henao to go for the victory. At 13.7km to go the peloton was already down to about 25 riders. As the group headed around the first of 15 switchbacks of the steep climb, many riders immediately lost contact. By 5.9km to go just 12 riders remained in contention for the stage.

Henao was the first to accelerate in an elite group of several riders, including Alaphilippe, Sagan, Boswell, and Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin). Only Alaphilippe could stick to his wheel. The duo then attacked each other continuously for several hundred meters. The winning move came with an acceleration of Alaphilippe with 4.1km to go. He gained a gap of 10 seconds on Henao, and then added five more seconds to the gap going into the last couple kilometers. Boswell bridged to his teammate at about the final kilometer, but it was too late to catch Alaphilippe and he won solo by 23 seconds.

Alaphilippe also crossed 47 seconds ahead of Sagan, which earned him the yellow jersey. The victory was just the 2nd of Alaphilippe’s career, and the 27th on the road for Etixx – Quick-Step in 2015. Alaphilippe has been the revelation of the pro peloton in the past few weeks, having placed 2nd in both Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, as well as placing 3rd in Amgen Tour of California Stage 3, as well as the 10.62km Stage 6 ITT on Friday.

Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I am super happy with this win, today was a short stage and we were going full gas since the beginning. In the final I was there with the best guys. Henao was attacking, stopping, attacking, stopping. He was relentless. At a certain moment at about 4 kilometers to go I decided to try to attack, and see if I could improve my classification. I went, and Henao didn’t respond immediately. When I saw he didn’t follow me I thought he was playing with me, and that he would arrive at any second and pass me. But I kept going and going anyway. The last two kilometers were the hardest of my life. I gave everything to go the distance, my legs felt like they were exploding. In my mind I was always thinking that Henao could come back. But I was doing my best to stay away. It wasn’t until the final 200 meters when I finally understood I had won the stage. I enjoyed the moment, but I kept going 100 percent until the finish line. It was a great emotion for me because this is the second victory of my career. But, what makes me so happy is the way I won. I won a mountain stage in the Tour of California, the first stage race of eight days in my professional career. For me that is really special. I worked for Mark Cavendish on the flat stages and took my chances here when possible. I really rode with good legs this week after the Ardennes Classics. To have this performance with such momentum going into it is really great. Now I am in the leader’s jersey. Of course tomorrow won’t be easy to defend my position. There are intermediate time bonuses, and time bonuses at the finish line of the stage. It is clear Sagan is faster than me, so we will see tomorrow what will happen. I don’t want to put pressure on myself for the GC. For the stage of tomorrow, I think we have to go with our original plan to try and win with Mark. He’s won three stages already and is going really well. Then we will see if we can defend the yellow jersey. If not, it won’t be the end of the world. We won four stages here so far out of seven. I had the best young rider jersey going into this stage, and Mark has the points jersey. So, we’ve already done plenty here and we are simply trying to add to what we’ve already accomplished. The 2015 Amgen Tour of California will be a race I never forget.”

2nd overall Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “It was a very hard stage with a tough final climb. I wanted to be in the front in order to secure my position in the GC as much as I could, in view of Sunday’s fast stage. I did my best and everything will now be decided in the sprints. We will aim at the overall victory and we will give our best to achieve it.”

KOM leader Daniel Oss (BMC): “I was only one point behind, so I had to try to get the jersey, now I am a bit tired. We may try to win the stage with Jempy Drucker again, but there will be a big fight for the lead because Sagan is at two seconds and I am sure Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step) will want to win his fourth stage.”

Johann van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka): “I really enjoyed today’s stage. It’s weird because sometimes mountainous stages like these actually suit me. If I get in the right move and get the motor running then it feels like I can go forever. It was pity Sky didn’t give us more time but they had their job to do as well. Overall I am happy that I got in the break. It just wouldn’t feel right doing a stage race and not being in the break at least once.”

Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka): “I felt better today but I still felt a bit tired. I will have a break now after California though. I was happy with how I went today, starting the final 5km in a select group so that’s good for the motivation. After a good rest I will focus on the Dauphine on then the Tour de France if I get selected.”

Amgen Tour of California Stage 7 Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step in 3:42:13
2. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky at 0:23
3. Ian Boswell (USA) Sky
4. Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:36
5. Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek at 0:45
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:47
7. Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Trek at 0:53
8. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:00
9. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 1:17
10. Laurens ten Dam (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:26.

Amgen Tour of California Overall After Stage 7:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step in 25:58:21
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:02
3. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky at 0:33
4. Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Garmin at 1:10
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:11
6. Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Trek at 1:12
7. Ian Boswell (USA) Sky at 1:19
8. Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek at 1:20
9. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 1:40
10. Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop at 2:06.

Stage 7:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s team leader Peter Sagan secures overall victory after the Final Stage 8 of the Amgen Tour of California after a sprint finale worthy of a Hollywood drama. Finishing third by a few millimeters was enough to secure the bonus seconds needed to regain the top spot. “At first I didn’t believe it,” says Peter Sagan, who takes the biggest GC-win of his career.

Before the stage, Peter Sagan had to finish at least 3rd and ahead of leader Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) to surpass him in the GC. Equally Sagan had to try to make up time in the intermediate sprints and avoid losing seconds to Alaphilippe. Five meters before the finish line he was 4th, but throwing his bike forward in the last moment, he gained the millimeters on sprinter Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka) needed to conquer the sunshine state.

The race finale was affected by multiple attacks and a dedicated effort from Etixx – Quick-Step to secure Alaphilippe’s position. After having received the yellow jersey on the final podium of Amgen Tour of California 2015, Sagan added that the finale was all or nothing. Etixx – Quick-Step’s Mark Cavendish won the final stage for his 4th stage win in this years race.

Overall winner, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’m very happy, and I want to pay a big thanks to all my teammates for doing an incredible job. We lost two riders on the third stage, as Michael Kolar had allergy while Maciej Bodnar suffered a bad crash. I’m very happy and relieved as it was so close right until the end. I never would have thought that I could have won the GC, when I started the race so it’s also a surprise for me. After the finish I didn’t know if I was third or fourth and I had to wait. My soigneur came running to me and yelled “you’re third, you’re third” and I asked him several times, if he was sure and then the race organizers confirmed it to me three times and in the end I believed them. I am very pleased. I didn’t have any further strategy in the final sprint, and I just had to go for it, it’s not just Tinkoff-Saxo and Etixx – Quick-Step as there were many others trying to get a result and we had to pay attention to many factors and teams today in order for us to secure this win. All the stages have been incredible and especially yesterday on the queen stage to Mt. Baldy, where I must admit that I felt really good and had to dig really deep. For me the last kilometers yesterday on Baldy were so hard, my legs were burning but I had to continue on the climb, as I knew that it was still within reach of Alaphilippe. I believed that I could do it. I don’t know if it was the hardest effort that I’ve ever done, but it was tough. It was just 129k, while the Classics for instance are much longer and drain your energy slowly. But yes, yesterday I was in pain almost throwing up. But now everything is OK.”

Stage winner Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I’m happy to finish off a strong Amgen Tour of California with my 4th win, and the 5th for the team out of eight stages,” Cavendish said. “Really it’s about the team and how we rode all week. We were on the podium every day. We rode so strong. We went for the stage today and still protected Alaphilippe in the GC with some great racing all day, leaving it up to a photo finish in the sprint. In the end we got two jerseys, yet another stage win, and a 2nd place overall. I’m super proud of what we’ve done here and think things are going in the right direction ahead of the Tour de France. I really have to congratulate Julian for how he performed this week going for the overall. He is really talented. I didn’t actually know how talented he was in the big mountains until yesterday. We already saw him in the Ardennes Classics finishing 2nd behind guys like Alejandro Valverde. But to do what he did yesterday really shows his form. But even more, it is about his personality on and off the bike. He’s got a winner’s attitude. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks, he’s going to go for it anyway, and that is someone who is going to go far in life. He’s a good kid too, a super nice kid. As for me, I’ve been happy with my form all year, which to me is the same as my form last year at this time. Had I not crashed in the first stage of Le Tour in 2014 I am fully confident I could have gone for multiple stages. So we’ll see what I can do this year. I’m feeling really good. My team is fully committed and focused. I go next to Tour de Suisse and the British National Championships, and we’ll see what I can do to improve my form even more before July.

2nd overall Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Today the goal was to try and defend my jersey, The guys did it perfectly. Mark sprinted for the intermediate sprint and then I did the best sprint possible both in the intermediate sprint, and at the finish, to try and take away the seconds from Sagan. But it was pretty impossible to beat him. I was hoping for it, because you have to always try to go for the best results. But I would say I’m not very disappointed about it. I considered wearing the yellow jersey into the final stage like a bonus. The glass is half full, not half empty. My first experience at Amgen Tour of California included my 2nd career victory, a 2nd place in the GC, perfect teamwork, Mark winning four stages, and us on the podium every day. We won two jerseys, including me in white as best young rider. What more can I expect? If someone told me at the beginning of Tour of California that I’d be able to win a stage and finish 2nd in the overall, I’d have probably told them they are crazy. So I think in the end I have to be happy I lost to a great champion, and this race will be forever in my heart.”

KOM, Daniel Oss (BMC): “This was strange for me because I was always in the breakaways, accumulating points, But I am not a climber. I weigh 80 kilos. But I was looking for this jersey after the first breakaway and getting some points. I said, ‘this is something we have to do,’ so we went after it. I didn’t know what I could do,” he said. “This was my first race after the classics season. I felt fresh and I felt good and I was just looking to see what I could do to build my shape up for the second part of the season.”

2nd on the stage Wouter Wippert (Drapac): “We came to California to race the best riders and we showed we can ride with them. I, of course, wanted the win today but have to settle for second to Cav. It is good motivation for me and for the team. We can see improvement and that is a positive for us. Graeme delivered me exactly where I needed to be today and you can see we are really coming together as a group, both on the sprint stages and the hilly stages as well.”

4th on the stage, Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka): “I must say I am a little frustrated with the finish but at least we were right in the mix and it was still our best result of the race. It would have been great to be on the podium though. We did a good job during the race as a whole. The team was active in the breaks and we were trying our hand in all of the sprints. The performance we put in this week is certainly one we can build on in the future. It was good to be racing in the United States with MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, people showed that they are excited about the team and what the team stands for.

Amgen Tour of California Stage 8 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Etixx – Quick-Step in 2:14:55
2. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN-Qhubeka
5. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
6. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Jamis-Hagens Berman
7. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Giant-Alpecin
8. Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk
9. Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
10. Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk.

Amgen Tour of California Final Overall Result:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo in 28:13:12
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:03
3. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky at 0:37
4. Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Garmin at 1:14
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:15
6. Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Trek at 1:16
7. Ian Boswell (USA) Sky at 1:23
8. Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek at 1:24
9. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 1:44
10. Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop at 2:10

The final stage 8:

header-giroDanielle Colli: That Giro Crash!
I’m sure you all saw the video or photos of Daniele Colli crashing at the end of stage 6, the same crash that could also have ended Alberto Contador’s hopes of winning the Giro. Contador has carried on after he dislocated his shoulder, but Colli was not so lucky. He received compound fractures to the arm and lets say the photos of him on the road were not nice. It was all caused by a photographer with a long lense who was hanging over the barrier. He was not an accredited photographer and judging by the lense he was using that close, he wasn’t a very experienced one either. Colli is taking legal action against the photographer and his team are thinking of it. The crash also makes you question what more the Giro d’Italia organizers can do to protect the riders. The barriers at the Tour and la Vuelta lean in towards the spectators, this probably wouldn’t have helped Colli. The next step could be the use of two meter high fences at the finish which would separate the fans from the riders. Being close to the riders is one of the best things about cycle sport, it would be a shame to loose that.

Spare a thought for Daniele Colli, he is also a cancer survivor.

Daniele Colli making his thoughts public:

header-giroGiro d’Italia 2015
André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the sprint for victory at the end of Stage 6, out-sprinting Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida). In the sprint Daniele Colli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) caught his arm on a camera zoom lense and crashed bringing down Alberto Contador and a load of others. Contador rode to the finish, but had so much pain in his left shoulder he could not wear the pink jersey on the podium. The team say he also banged his knee.

The break of the day included: Alan Margangoni (Cannondale-Garmin), Marek Rutkiewicz (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli) and Eduard Michael Grosu & Alessandro Malaguti (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and built up a lead of 5 minutes. Bandiera took the KOM points on the climb of Pomarance and Marangoni third. At the intermediate sprint in Ribolla, with 34 kilometers to go, Bandiera took full points. Into the last 20 kilometers and Cheng Ji (Giant-Alpecin) was the engine of the peloton with the Lotto Soudal team on his wheel. Behind them, Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky moved to near the front for safety reasons. The lead was down to 1:30.

The break was caught with 14 kilometers to go and going under the 10K to go banner and the pink jersey of Alberto Contador could be seen in second wheel position and the peloton had shrunk in size with the speed being set along the flat coastal road to Castiglione della Pescaia with that tricky wind.

The sprinter teams moved forward to replace the GC teams at the head of affairs. Lotto Soudal, Trek, Lampre-Merida and CCC Sprandi were all trying to control the peloton. Into the last kilometer and Greipel had two lead-out men, Henderson and Hansen to kept the speed up and launch the big German gorilla towards the line. Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) in second and third were a bike length back.

Full race stage 6 report HERE.

Overall leader, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I haven’t broken anything but I have suffered a dislocation of the left shoulder. The doctors have recommended that I immobilize my left arm during the evening and night, while I try to move it a bit with the help of my other arm to promote the movement of the shoulder. I will focus on this until tomorrow before the stage, where the doctors will come back to put on a layer of bandage for the race. I will try to start tomorrow on stage 7, as I have worked very hard ahead of the Giro. I will try to continue until the very last moment. I’m optimistic about the start tomorrow, but we have to wait until right before the start to see what happens and how serious the effect of the crash is.”

Stage winner, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal): “I’m really happy and relieved after this victory. And of course I’m immensely proud of the team, the guys did such an amazing job today. I’m really thankful. We took our responsibility today. We wanted to show ourselves from start to finish, so the others would know we were there. We didn’t make any mistakes. Sander Armée was the first rider who took control in the chase to keep the escapees close and to reel them in later. Grand Tour debutants Stig Broeckx and Louis Vervaeke also did their part of the job. With Lars Bak, Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson I had three riders in front of me when entering the last three kilometers. It all ran according to plan. The beginning of this Giro is not at all like the other Grand Tours that I have done before, it was really tough the third and fourth day. I now have the points jersey. We’ll see what happens the next stages and how long I’ll keep it. It’s an honor to ride in it tomorrow, but it all depends on how the race develops. But now we have a first victory, we’ll definitely aim for a second one.”

2nd on the stage, Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling): “I did not win, and I am very disappointed not to have been able to return the favor to all my teammates who worked so hard for me. They did a fantastic job today to put me in an ideal position. But they also sacrificed themselves, just like Saramotins has done since Monday to help me play my card for this stage which was reserved for the sprinters; they encouraged me, guided me over the hills and made sure that I would be able to finish the previous stages within the time limit. But I must be content with this 2nd place, considering how much I have suffered from the injuries that accompanied my crash on Sunday. I still feel the pain in my ankle, which must affect my performance. This is by no means an excuse because I did give everything I had when we were sprinting for the line today.”

3rd, Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida): “Greipel performed an impressive sprint and I congratulate him. I thank my team mate for having dedicated their energies to me, I would have liked to gave them a top result, but I spent energies in the battle for the head position in the approach of the sprint. Ferrari and Richeze helped me to be on the wheel of Greipel, but this means that we made two little sprints before reaching Andrè, who made a powerful sprint. I could only try to keep the higher possible sprint. Anyway, the third place is fairly good, I’ll try to do better in the next stages.
The sprints are becoming more and more risky because some riders, who can’t rely on their team mates for the approach to the sprint, try to enter in the lead-out trains of the other teams. This is something that an unwritten law of the bunch discourage, but it’s also quite dangerous and it could cause crashes.”

11th, Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo): “That was a strong move by Nick. When the pace suddenly lowered, some riders passed me, though, and I got boxed in. Because of the crash I also had to hit my brakes and that ruined my chances.”

Rigoberto Uran (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I was behind Contador when suddenly he crashed. I was behind him and to avoid him I also crashed. Fortunately I have no consequences, so I am okay. But as I always say, in a three-week race the danger is always around. We have to keep our eyes open at all times to avoid any bad luck such as today. What was supposed to be a normal stage and yet there was a big crash at the end. So, we will stay focused and we will see what can happen in the next days. Tomorrow is 264 kilometers, so it will be the longest stage of the Giro. It will be important to be there and be supported by my teammates. But they are perfect for this job, and I will try and stay out of trouble tomorrow and day-by-day.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 6 Result:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal in 4:19:42
2. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling
3. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
6. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Southeast
7. Elia Viviani (Ita) Sky
8. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Alpecin
9. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
10. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Androni Giocattoli.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 6:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 20:25:36
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:02
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 0:20
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:22
5. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 0:28
6. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:37
7. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 0:56
8. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 1:01
9. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 1:15
10. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 1:18.

Stage 6:

Lampre-Merida’s Diego Ulissi won Stage 7 with a perfectly-executed sprint finish in Fiuggi after a perfect lead-out from his teammate Sasha Modolo. He held off Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) on the tricky uphill finish sprint. Best news of the day; no crashes in the finalé.

The other good news of the day was that race leader Alberto Contador would start and in the end finish. Not so good news was that Daniele Colli who had the terrible crash had compound arm fractures.

Stage 7 was the longest day of the 2015 Giro, Grosseto to Fiuggi was 264 kilometers and over 7 hours in the saddle. That didn’t stop Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi), and Pier Paolo De Negri (Nippo-Vini Fantini) from making the break of the day.

The four up front had a maximum lead of 11 minutes with 200kms still to race and with a strong head wind the race was around 25 minutes slower than the scheduled speed. Into the last 100K’s and Tinkoff-Saxo were joined at the front by BMC and Movistar and the lead started to fall. The break was caught inside the final 25 kilometers and Tinkoff-Saxo took over again with Contador always near the front and out of any more trouble.

Into the last 2K and Lotto-Soudal hit the front too early with Henderson and Hansen towing Greipel before they even reach the red kite. Orica-GreenEDGE and Southeast were ready to take over, but Lampre-Merida come through and Sasha Modolo brings Diego Ulissi in position to take the win.

Contador finished safely in the bunch to fight another day and managed to wear the pink jersey on the podium.

Full race report of stage 7 HERE.

Race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’m happy because I made it through this very long day and that is something I wasn’t sure about before the stage and especially not yesterday. On the other hand, I have suffered a lot experiencing much pain. It was a stage of more than seven hours and after around four hours I had a moment where I didn’t know where to place my hand on the handlebars. Now I hope that with more days on the bike I will be a little bit better, but for sure I have some very difficult days ahead of me. I hope that I can make it through them as best as possible. Yes, tomorrow is a complicated day for me. It’s a day that I was waiting for prior to my crash, because it was a stage, where I could have attacked. But now I have to be calmer and quieter on the bike and wait and see what my rivals do. At this moment, the only thing I’m thinking of is to put ice on my shoulder and knee to recover in the best way possible.”

Stage winner, Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida): “It’s such a joyful moment for me and I like to share it with the people who supported me in the past months: my family, my friends, my fans, the team mates, the sponsors and the team, which always gave me its help – Ulissi explained – The stage was very long and the sprint too: when we exit from the final bend, some riders began their action, but it was too early, I prefer to wait and to start to accelerate in a later moment, exploiting the work by my team mates. What a great feeling after the arrival, something difficult to describe, especially when I saw all of my team mates celebrating as they had won a World title: Mori was so happy, he spent many days with me in the past months, I thank him and all the other team mates, we’ll racing as a united team. I was aware that my form was improving, but I was also aware of the fact that it was important to wait for the best chance: the sport directors kept told me to be patient and they were right.”

2nd on the stage, Juanjo Lobato (Movistar): “I’m not one of those who love to invent excuses, and even though it’s true that I had spent a month without racing and it took a bit for me to get back into top form, this is a Giro d’Italia – you’ve got to give everything you have. Day by day I’m feeling stronger, and I could already give it a try yesterday. To be honest, the sprints in this Giro have been mental – all three finishes I have witnessed were chaotic, lacking a team that set things straight and drove the bunch at high speed to reduce danger. When you’re really strong as I was yesterday and you see so many riders going crazy, you become furious – you can’t simply use your full potential. Today I was doing already more than I could by keeping the pace into the bunch. The final 6k, always uphill, were really hard for me, and I couldn’t do anything else into the sprint. I have my own sprinting distance and launch the effort from that point, but I could only do it from the position I’m in – I didn’t have neither the legs nor the abilities to position myself well and start the sprint from where I’d have liked to. Still, one of the biggest goals for me in this Giro was the second week – I’ve got a stage written down on the roadbook and I hope to improve today’s result there. I’m happy with my team – they’re helping me out as much as they can and we’ll give everything to seek for that chance.”

Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling): “The stage was not only very long, but also there was a strong headwind in the first section. The average speed was impacted, and there were a lot of guys dropped near the end. Personally, I wanted to try and help Heinrich Haussler prepare for a good position in the final sprint. But he was not at his best today, and had to drop back from the main pack on the penultimate climb. In this Giro, my first job is to be there to work for the team, but if I have my own chance, I will certainly seize it. We’ll just see how my legs respond.”


Giro d’Italia Stage 7 Result:
1. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 7:22:21
2. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar
3. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
4. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast
5. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
7. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek
8. Grega Bole (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
9. Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ.fr
10. Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Katusha.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 7:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 27:42:00
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:00:20
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:22
5. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:28
6. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:37
7. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:56
8. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:01:01
9. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:15
10. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 1:18.

Stage 7:

After some early action that left Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the wrong half of a split, the peloton got back together and Contador even managed to take 2 seconds bonus at the intermediate sprint. As the race calmed down, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) jumped away gaining a good lead, he was followed by ten more riders who chased after him, Tinkoff-Saxo took control of the peloton.

Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli) and Carlos Betancur (AG2R-La Mondiale) crossed to him and then they were joined by Kristoff Vandewalle (Trek). The four worked well together and eventually had 9 minutes.

With four strong riders working together at the front, their lead over the peloton grew to more than nine minutes. Eventually they lost Pellizotti to the chase group at 40 seconds. The three still had 7 minutes with 30km to race, but Astana started to speed the peloton up behind. Kruiswijk, Vandewalle and Betancur had 1:23 over the Pellizotti group at the start of the Cat 1 climb to Campitello Matese.

With 10km to race, the leading trio had 4 minutes on the peloton, but Kruiswijk jumped away on his own with Intxausti and Reichenbach catching them. With 6km to go, Intxausti and Reichenbach were a minute behind Kruiswijk, with the peloton another two minutes further back. Another kilometer further and Intxausti and the powerful Reichenbach had caught Kruiswijk. Reichenbach appeared to be the stronger rider as Intxausti couldn’t work, but it turned out to be a bluff and he attacked 3 kilometers out and rode to the line for the win. Contador, Aru, Porte and Uran all finished together just 35 seconds after Intxausti and Contador held his pink jersey for another day.

Read the full race report HERE.

Stage 8 winner, Beñat Intxausti (Movistar): “For me, the most important thing in this Giro was winning stages, but I had that hope inside to fight for the GC, going day-by-day. Unfortunately, that all went ruined during the stage to La Spezia, and we started focusing purely on the stage wins. Happily, it all went well today. We knew the breakaway would stand a chance and that was visible at the start of the stage: we rode incredibly fast on a hard terrain, always up and down, and the peloton got shrunk to only 50 riders ahead. When we started the first long climb (Forca d’Acero), a ten-man group where I was got a gap and Tinkoff didn’t have as many riders to control. It was a good break for us, but there were some serious rivals and we were doubtful if we could make it to the finish, also because there were some riders who could win time for the overall classification.”

“We knew our gaps at all times, as well the ones to Kruijswijk and Betancur as the ones to the peloton behind, with the Astana riders pushing hard. We were thinking about where we should jump, and how to get rid of our rivals. I saw Reichenbach was riding strong from the foot of Campitello, since he was the only one who could follow me when I first attacked. He started to take less turns at the front and I changed my initial strategy: ride on his wheel and let him take bigger responsibility. With 4.5k to go, I saw he was struggling a bit and decided to jump away, because the GC riders were approaching really much. They got close, but I gave everything I had until the finish.”

“I think the team did things perfectly up to this point of the race, even without a victory. Already in La Spezia, with Visconti y Amador; yesterday, with Lobato coming close; and today, practically the same – but the difference was that we won. Taking a stage in such an important event as the Giro is always difficult. We’ve already got it, which makes us calm for the rest of the Giro, but the guys are doing really well and I’m sure we’ll get at least one more before the end of the Race. This one is a tribute to Xavi Tondo and my late grandpa, always looking after us from high above; my team, my family, friends and girlfriend. It’s all easier thanks to them.”

“Now we’re going day by day. I’ve got another personal goal I really like: the KOM jersey. I got the lead today and it’d be beautiful to snatch it at the end of the race. I’m conscious this will take a lot of energy, all the way to Milan. There’s still a long race ahead.”


Race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I’m really happy. Yesterday and today have been really hard days. Today the start of the stage was incredibly fast until the break went. Then at the end Astana made it difficult for us. Aru and Richie both wanted to attack but I think that I responded quite well and now I’m off to rest. It was obvious that Aru was going to attack today. Richie and Fabio are both here to win and that’s what they’re trying to do. They tried to get me, they tried to attack me and despite my crash I’ve been able to respond to these attacks. The last climb was not too steep but the first hour of racing was frenetic, with 30 or 35 riders in the front group. That made the last climb harder. Today was a very important test for me. Today was crucial. I saved it without problems, and I’m happy. The Giro d’Italia has just started. I’m pretty confident. I’ll go better on the bike tomorrow. Time is on my side. My shoulder injury affects me during the race and outside it. I sleep with my arm immobilized, which is uncomfortable, but I couldn’t say in percentage terms how much it affects my performance. There are only a few days to go until the time trial. We will have to do some tests, because I usually race time trials with my arms close together and I may need to change position. I can tell you that, during yesterday’s stage, I had a dislocated shoulder, I’d been racing for four hours, and I looked at how far we still had to go, the wind, and I thought: another four hours. In the end we rode more than 270 kilometers. I thought: this is what cycling is.”

Attack rider, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo): “I decided to attack on the first long climb of the day. I was planning to try something today and I was feeling good. Behind me, a chasing group full of good climbers arose, but they didn’t work together so well. That’s why I chose to hold my own pace. I had to push as hard as I could to have a chance. I was hoping that they were going to fall apart behind me, but I broke! That’s a pity, but I thought that this was the way for me to win a stage. And I wasn’t far off in the end. I know that reaching the top ten in the general classification is almost impossible and that’s why I want to attack and try to grab a stage victory. I feel that I’m good enough for that and I’m going to try it another time, next week, for sure.”

Break rider, Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida): “The start of the stage was very fast and in the bunch everyone made efforts to be in the head positions. For today, I wanted to check my condition and there was the idea of trying to join a breakaway, so I raced in the front of the peloton and I chose to follow an attack which I considered as good. In fact, that was the good breakaway and we could reach an interesting advantage. Unfortunately, the top riders wanted to battle on the final climb, so the pace of the group became higher. Intxausti had still some energies to spend and he used them to resist to the chase, obtaining the victory. It was nice to pedal thinking I was the pink jersey.”

3rd on the stage, Sébastien Reichenbach (IAM Cycling): “I gave everything I had in order to make the break, and in the end I got screwed by the Spanish rider. It was not easy to get into the right break, since there were tons of guys going for it. And the team managers asked us to be attentive, and to be among whichever group got away. I found myself in the winning move, but we were sailing behind the front guys by a minute or even less. It’s a shame because without that pressure, we could have adopted a more regular pace. Then the gap widened, and I knew that the victory would be decided on the final ascent. But I got trapped, and it will serve me as a lesson for the future. The Spaniard refused to pull and I paced him up for 4 kilometers. But then again, I hardly had a choice because the peloton with the favorites was coming back to us at an unbelievable speed. When he attacked me, I did not have the energy to jump with him, nor to latch onto Landa when he caught me. I still managed to hold on to 3rd place, largely because I could keep my rhythm. I learned a lot today, and it will serve me as a useful lesson for the future. After a week of this Giro, I still feel good, but I am admittedly looking forward to the rest day. After that, there are still some stages where I could really show my strengths.”


Giro d’Italia Stage 8 Result:
1. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar in 4:51:34
2. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 0:20
3. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:31
4. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:35
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
6. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step
8. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana
9. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini at 0:45
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 8:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 32:40:07
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:04
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 0:22
4. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 0:30
5. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 0:42
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:00
7. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 1:16
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:24
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 1:34
10. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 1:38.

Stage 8:

The peloton split early but came together for the break of Stage 9 to form after 65 kilometers, they were: Carlos Betancur (AG2R-La Mondiale), Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF), Amaët Moinard (BMC), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ.fr), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Ryder Hesjedal & Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Cannondale), Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo). With 150K’s remaining they had 5:50.

At the top of the Colle Molella Geschke was first and moved into the King of the Mountains lead. Tom-Jelte Slagter rode away on the descent and came through on his own at the intermediate sprint in Lioni. Slagter entered the last 50 kilometers with 6 minutes on the pink jersey group with the break 2 minutes behind the brave Dutchman. 5 kilometers on and the lead for Slagter was 1:45 on the chasers and 5:48 on the peloton. The Passo Serra starts 18 kilometers before the finish line in San Giorgio. Slagter hit the climb with an advantage of 1:45 with still 5:22 on the bunch. Tiralongo attacked the chasers to go after Slagter.

Contador only has Kreuziger with him, Richie Porte and Fabio Aru both have three teammates. Eventually Aru attacks, Contador is on him and so is Aru’s teammate Landa and Porte. Landa puts the pressure on at the front and keeps the speed high, distancing Uran. Eventually Contador, Aru and Landa work together, but Porte wasn’t going to help and sat on.

Tiralongo caught Slagter and they worked for a while but Slagter was dropped on a little rise with 4.2 kilometers to go. Tiralongo gave the camera the thumbs up as he entered the last kilometer with Kruijswijk chasing. Tiralongo first, Kruijswijk was second and Greschke won the sprint for 3rd. Aru took the sprint from Contador with 1 second advantage, but the jersey was safe.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 9The win for Paolo Tiralongo finished off a great day for Astana

Read the full race report HERE.

Stage winner, Paolo Tiralongo (Astana): “Today I was part of a great team. I found the right breakaway. My job was to wait for my team-mates on the final climb, but things didn’t turn out that way. It is an unexpected win. The team car told me to go for it, so I rode the final 5 km at 100%. On the hard final climb, I caught Slagter, then I held on as the finish line approached.”

2nd on the stage, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo): “I wasn’t planning to attack again, I was aiming for the mountain jersey a little bit, so I thought to try something later on in the stage. After half an hour of riding, I felt quite good actually. That’s why I chose to attack again. Of course I was a little slowed down by yesterday’s effort, I felt less explosive, and so I wasn’t able to participate in the mountain sprints. I reached my maximum in the final kilometers, I wasn’t the only one who was tired in the end. Unfortunately, second place in the day was the highest possibility at that moment, but I didn’t expect to reach that before the day. My legs and my back were hurting, so I had to rely on my mental strength. I’m tough enough for that. Hopefully I’m able to grab a stage victory this Giro, because I’m good enough for it.”

The Maglia Rosa, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “I would have preferred to have ridden more conservatively from the final climb to the finish, but Aru asked me to work with him because Urán was behind us, and it was important to put time into him. We worked together, even if he sprinted to gain back a second, but I’m very happy with where I am after nine stages. I have the Maglia Rosa, and I have a rest day for my shoulder and legs to recover.”

Rigoberto Uran (Etixx – Quick-Step) is now at 2:10: “Yesterday on the climbs I had a better feeling than the last days when I had to fight against bronchitis, but, today, when they accelerated, I simply couldn’t follow the rhythm. I had only to try to think about defending my position until the finish. That’s the situation. I lost some seconds again, and now I am two minutes back. The gap is pretty important now. But, I’m a fighter, and I know things can change, even in a moment in a three-week race like the Giro. The goal is to minimize losses until the time trial, and then see what we can do. Then we will review the Giro at that point and figure out how we will approach the third week, which will be super hard for sure. It’s clear at the end of the first week that Astana is very strong, but the Giro is a long race, and we will do our best.”

Clément Chevrier (IAM Cycling): “The hardest part about the Giro d’Italia is that the big teams are racing every day. I mentioned this today to Michael Rogers. Astana, Tinkoff and Sky have not taken breaths between blows to each other. And the fact is that we must be prepared to cope with this sort of racing. Aside from that, we have not been lacking in challenges since leaving San Lorenzo al Mare. I crashed early, and because the attacks were fast and furious from the start since we were heading directly toward a climb, I had to chase in the cars for a long time before I could latch back on. I spent one of my most difficult days on the bike, and I was beginning to think that I wouldn’t make it within the time limit. Fortunately, things calmed down and I managed to reach the finish line within the required time.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 9 Result:
1. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana in 5:50:31
2. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:21
3. Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Alpecin at 0:23
4. Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC
5. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar
6. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R-La Mondiale
7. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin
8. Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ.fr
9. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:27
10. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:56.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 9:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 38:31:35
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:03
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 0:22
4. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 0:46
5. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 1:16
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:46
7. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 2:02
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 2:10
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 2:20
10. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 2:24.

Stage 9:

header-bayern-rundfahrt15-leftBayern-Rundfahrt 2015
Following a 3rd place in Wednesday’s opening stage, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) laid down a strong sprint to the win after a perfect lead-out by the team in Stage 2. Initially, 4 riders made the days break and two others bridged the gap later on. With a maximum advantage of almost 7 minutes, Cofidis, Solution Crédits and Rad-Net Rose Team did most of the chase work. Bringing the leaders back to a playable gap, the sprinters took over the command to prepare another bunch sprint. With a strong sprint effort, Degenkolb was the fastest in Bayern ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Movistar’s Enrique Sanz and stage 1 winner Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18). Degenkolb will also start in the leader’s jersey on stage 3 on Friday.

Stage winner and overall leader, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin): “It was a great day, we targeted this stage win and it’s great to reach it. The team worked hard, but they also did that yesterday where we did not succeeded 100%. Today they gave me a great lead-out and I am very happy with that. The sprint today was a bit uphill for the final 250 meters and that suited me very well. We have the yellow jersey now and we are going to defend it tomorrow. It won’t be easy, but we will see how it goes. It is great to see how excited the German fans are and how they are supporting us here in Bayern right now. German cycling is really going up again after a lot of work and that makes me really happy. That is why it is extra special to show the public a nice win here in my home country.”

7th overall and KOM, Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Goubert): “My legs felt good today. I won both sprints for the mountain jersey relatively easy. With six points I was level pegging with the Cololmbian (Rodolfo Torres) and knew that my position in the overall classification would be decisive in who would get the jersey. I was happy to take these four seconds. Now I would have to finish in the bunch and I succeeded in doing just that! I am now seventh in the overall and get to wear the mountain jersey on Friday.”

9th on the stage, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka): “I’m a bit disappointed with the result as I think I was 8th or 9th again. I was a bit too far back in the corner with 1km to go. Andy did a great job for me today, keeping me in the top 10. We were swamped with 2km to go and the final few kilometers were pretty dangerous being downhill and having cars in the road.”

Patrick Schelling (IAM Cycling): “At kilometer five, I decided to attack. Three riders came with me and then later we were joined by two more. In the beginning we were not riding very fast since we knew that we could not be faster than the peloton which had several sprinters tucked in. But then we started to ride à bloc in order to stay away until the finish. Unfortunately, we were swept up with some ten kilometers to go. However, being in the break always gives one confidence. I felt good, but I know that I can get even stronger. The least few races I’ve been at have really helped me progress.”

Bayern-Rundfahrt Stage 2 Result:
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin in 4:25:06
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
3. Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar
4. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
5. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin
6. Willi Willwohl (Ger) LKT Team Brandenburg
7. Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
8. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
10. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Roompot.

Bayern-Rundfahrt Overall After Stage 2:
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin in 9:55:31
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis at 0:02
3. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:04
4. Jonas Koch (Ger) Rad-Net Rose at 0:06
5. Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha at 0:07
6. Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar at 0:10
7. Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar at 0:11
9. Johannes Weber (Ger) Team Stuttgart at 0:12
10. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Colombia.

Stage 2:

Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) won his second stage at this years Bayern Rundfahrt on Ebern on Friday. The Irishman took Stage 3 ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale-Garmin).

The break of five riders escaped in the early kilometers of the 205 kilometer stage, but were not allowed much space and were caught as the sprinters teams were preparing for the finish. There had been three climbs during the stage, but they were not hard enough to split the field and it was down to the sprinters to make the decision.

Bennett also took the overall back from John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), who finished in 7th place. Bennett has 2 seconds on Bouhanni and 3 on Degenkolb going into Saturday’s stage 4 – 26.1km time trial in Habfurt.

Stage winner and overall leader, Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18): “The sprint was quite hectic. We were all together on the last five kilometers and I tried, despite the high speed, to put myself in a good position, which wasn’t easy at all. I kicked it quite late, only 100 m before the finish. It was real tough final. My team again did a great job. I am happy to have conquered the yellow jersey once again. But in the time trial I don’t see many chances for me, to defend my lead. Anyway, it’s so fun to race here in Bavaria. The streets are awesome, the atmosphere is awesome and the audience is completely thrilled. A great race!”

9th on the stage, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka): “Well today was a bit disappointing once again for me. I was really hoping that the lap would have been a bit harder but it was not so. It was definitely my aim to get a better result than I did but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Bayern-Rundfahrt Stage 3 Result:
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 in 4:59:33
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
3. Ramuna Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin
4. Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar
5. Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM-Cycling
6. Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
8. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis at 0:02
9. Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
10. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Cult Energy.

Bayern-Rundfahrt Overall After Stage 3:
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 in 14:54:58
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis at 0:02
3. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin at 0:03
4. Jonas Koch (Ger) Rad-Net Rose at 0:14
5. Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha at 0:15
6. Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar at 0:16
7. Ramuna Navardauskas (Ltu) Team Cannondale-Garmin
8. Jack Bauer (NZ) Team Cannondale-Garmin at 0:18
9. Marco Minnard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10. Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar at 0:19.

Stage 3:

A glorious Saturday overall for the Movistar Team started in south Germany as Alex Dowsett claimed his first road victory of 2015 exactly two weeks after smashing the UCI Hour Record in the Manchester velodrome. The Essex-based rider became the new leader of the Bayern-Rundfahrt after snatching the decisive Stage 4, 26km TT in Hassfurt by the smallest of margins (1 second ·45) over Portuguese stage-racer Tiago Machado (Katusha), whom he was leading by only two seconds through the intermediate point.

Movistar had a good references with Javi Moreno in an early second place, helped the 26-year-old Briton, who got back in yellow eight months after his one-day lead in the Tour of Britain. Dowsett became the tenth rider to score a win in Movistar Team colors this season by a few minutes over team-mate Beñat Intxausti, adding up to a victory tally that increases to 22 with the duo’s combined success in Germany and the Giro d’Italia. A 198km stage from Hassfurt to Nürnberg, with bonus seconds available at both the intermediate sprints and the finish, is on Dowsett’s way to his first GC victory as pro.

Stage winner and overall leader, Alex Dowsett (Movistar): “I’m happy to have won this one because I wasn’t sure I could even make it – it was my first real, proper time trial since last year. Obviously, everything was about training for the Hour Record since the start of the season, and the longest TT I did on the road was a 10km one in the Circuit de la Sarthe in April. Plus, I wasn’t comfortable on the bike, and that made it not the best TT I could – the saddle wasn’t on the ‘right’ place, because it’s different to ride on a time trial on the road than on the track. My power wasn’t the best, so I had to ride a clever TT: focusing on when to put the power down and to take some rest was the key. I was really pedaling more with my head than my legs today. After the Hour Record I had some rest, didn’t do a lot of training up towards this and wasn’t sure how I’d feel – that’s why I’m so happy with this yellow jersey. Bonus seconds might possibly become crucial tomorrow – we just need to make sure that the right breakaway goes, and hopefully I can sprint a bit stronger than Machado. As long as he doesn’t get many seconds and we can control the breaks, I feel we can keep it tomorrow.”

3rd on the stage and overall, Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18): “I am not really happy with this third place. The course wasn’t so easy to ride. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough strength for a first or second place. But if I can defend my third place overall, this result shall be ok for me.”

7th on stage and overall, Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling): “When I first saw my program, I looked at the calendar, and I marked this race from the start of the season. The route was not very demanding, but it’s important to be on top of things every day, and that suits me well. I’m pretty satisfied. I really wanted to do a good time, and it worked. Of course, a win would have been even better, but I am definitely happy with my place. This race is really a good test for me. I think that I am pretty much at 100% of my condition, and my place in this time trial proves that; I’m in good shape. The guys who finished ahead of me were all really specialist, and I am more of an all-rounder. I like it when there are climbs, but I am not really at my best on this type of finish. I always love time trials, so I think I am where I should be.”

9th on the stage and overall, Gustav Larsson (Cult Energy): “It was a nice course. It suited me very well and I was able to fall into a good rhythm and I felt powerful out there. The result tells me that I’m on the right track getting closer to peak shape and that’s very positive. Now, we need to focus on tomorrow’s stage to put that overall 9th in the pocket.”

Bayern-Rundfahrt Stage 4 Result:
1. Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar in 31:33
2. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha at 0:01
3. Jan Barta (Cze) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:16
4. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:26
5. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:29
6. Nils Politt (Ger) Team Stolting at 0:31
7. Larry Warbasse (USA) IAM Cycling at 0:46
8. Jack Bauer (NZ) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:48
9. Gustav Larsson (Swe) Cult Energy at 0:50
10. Berden De Vries (Ned) Team Roompot at 0:51.

Bayern-Rundfahrt Overall After Stage 4:
1. Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar in 15:26:51
2. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha at 0:02
3. Jan Barta (Cze) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:17
4. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:22
5. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:31
6. Nils Politt (Ger) Team Stolting at 0:32
7. Larry Warbasse (USA) IAM Cycling at 0:46
8. Jack Bauer (NZ) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:47
9. Gustav Larsson (Swe) Cult Energy at 0:52
10. Jasha Sutterlin (Ger) Movistar at 0:53.

Stage 4:

UCI Hour Record holder completes sensational comeback to road racing as Movistar Team carries him on wings to overall win in Bayern-Rundfahrt. It got as close as it could be to a ‘comfortable’ defense for Alex Dowsett as the 26-year-old Briton conquered the 36th edition of Bayern-Rundfahrt (UCI 2.HC) in south Germany following the final circuits in Nürnberg (198km) in the Final Stage 5. The whole Movistar Team led the Essex boy home brilliantly, with all Soler, Sanz, Capecchi, Moreno, Anacona and Sütterlin – entirely focused on the UCI Hour Record holder’s success.

A five-man break avoided any of the three intermediate sprints being contested by Dowsett’s nearest rival Tiago Machado (Katusha), which meant he only had to keep any gaps into the final bunch kick tight to conserve the yellow jersey. It’s Alex’s 10th pro victory – his first overall classification after 24-hour stints in yellow at both the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Tour of Britain last year – and also the Movistar Team’s 23rd success of the 2015 season, only thirteen short of their best record in 1998 with almost five months of competitions still to come.

Overall winner, Alex Dowsett (Movistar): “I’m really good on losing yellow jerseys, so keeping this one makes me really happy! It was amazing to have the whole team working for me. Everyone committed at 100%, more or less from kilometer zero. We had a good plan for today by the team directors, plus Javi (Moreno) made some good calls on the road, took some good sort of decisions on how to ride so everything could go right. Really all of the guys gave their best – It was so fantastic that even inside three kilometers to go, the Movistar Team was still sending guys to the front to make sure the bunch came all together. When I crossed the finish… it was phenomenal. I barely did anything today. These races are definitely something I wanted to aim since I came here – obviously, events with not much climbing and all flat finishes are already good for me, but I just need to work now on making my climbing better. I can obviously do good time trials, but I need to make sure that I can stay close to the others on the climbs. Getting into the Tour de France will be my next target. The adaptation to what was needed for the track made me put on two or three kilos more than I’d be normally, so I’ll need to work harder on losing that. Hopefully I can make it into the Tour team, but before that, it’ll be the National Championships – I would like to get my white skinsuit with the national stripes back for the TT’s! I’ll go to Mallorca after this for some time in the hills and the heat, and then, I believe, I’m doing the Tour de Suisse.”

Stage winner, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin): “It was a perfect day, everything went according to plan and I am very happy with this victory. The finale was hectic but the team did well. We stayed together and they guys laid down another good lead-out for me. From 200 meters I started the sprint and won. After my small mistake in the sprint of stage 3, by choosing the wrong side in the corner, this is a nice way to set things straight. It is never easy to win a second stage since everyone looks at us and it’s difficult with the pressure that is involved. It was a special victory for me personally, this is close to where I grew up.”

5th on the stage, Michael Carbel (Cult Energy): “Entering the finale, Rasmus Quaade worked hard to keep me on the front and when things got more hectic, Alex Kirsch and Linus were there to guide and protect me to the finish line where I managed to come in fifth. The finish line was pretty straight forward compared to the other lumpy finals in this race but this was a perfect match. I haven’t been racing for almost a month so it’s great to be back like this and feel that I have the power to compete. Now, I’m looking that much more forward to the next challenges.”

Bayern-Rundfahrt Stage 5 Result:
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin in 4:40:38
2. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Katusha
3. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Roompot Oranje
5. Michael Carbel (Den) Cult Energy
6. Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
7. Andriato De Mattos (Bra) Southeast
8. Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM-Cycling
9. Willi Willwohl (Ger) Lkt Team Brandenburg
10. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis.

Bayern-Rundfahrt Final Overall Result:
1. Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar in 20:07:29
2. Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha at 0:02
3. Jan Barta (Cze) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:18
4. Ramuna Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:22
5. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:31
6. Nils Politt (Ger) Team Stölting at 0:33
7. Jack Bauer (NZ) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:46
8. Lawrence Warbasse (USA) IAM-Cycling at 0:47
9. Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Cult Energy at 0:52
10. Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar at 0:53.

Stage 5:

header-giantalp15Ramon Sinkeldam Renews Contract With Giant-Alpecin for two more years
Team Giant-Alpecin is pleased to announce that Ramon Sinkeldam (NED) has renewed his contract with the team. The new agreement extends his commitment for another two years, until the end of 2017. Sinkeldam is currently racing his fourth season, as he joined the team in 2012.

A former Under-23 Dutch champion and winner of the Under-23 Paris-Roubaix, Sinkeldam has achieved three pro wins to date. His best results on the highest pro level include two stage wins at the 2012 Tour de Hainan, a third in the GC of 4 Jours de Dunkerque in 2013, a second in the GC of the Tour de Picardie in 2014, and a win in stage 2 of last year’s World Ports Classic. Recently, Sinkeldam finished third in stage 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire.

“Ramon is an important member of the lead-out train; he is part of the core of the team and is increasingly becoming more of a specialist in the spring classics and WorldTour races,” said coach Rudi Kemna (NED).

“I am very happy with the confidence showed by the team and with the chance to further grow and develop,” said Sinkeldam. “I want to be an important rider for the classics as well as the sprints. I feel at home with the team, and the positive atmosphere is an important factor in helping me feel good and perform well. I am really looking forward to the coming years.”

Ramon Sinkeldam:

Liv-Plantur_WhitePolspoel’s Contract Terminated
Maaike Polspoel (BEL), a member of Team Liv-Plantur, Team Giant-Alpecin’s women’s program, leaves the team. She has been diagnosed with autoimmune pancreatitis, a disease that requires treatment with various medicines, including corticosteroids. The regulations of the MPCC (Mouvement pour un Cyclisme Crédible / Movement for Credible Cycling), of which the Team Giant-Alpecin men’s program and Team Liv-Plantur women’s program are members, do not allow riders to race while being under corticosteroid treatment.

Autoimmune pancreatitis is a disease that can arise spontaneously. “It is a serious disease and proper long-term treatment is necessary, as the pancreas could otherwise deteriorate, with severe consequences”, explained team physician Anko Boelens (NED).

“Being diagnosed with this disease has been a shock for me,” admitted Polspoel. “I will require long-term treatment with corticosteroids and other medicines to overcome it. Thanks to the treatment, I am currently feeling well and able to train. I actually feel fit enough to race again. Due to the MPCC regulations, however, I am not allowed to race while using corticosteroids. I asked the team to terminate my contract, which they did, so that I can go elsewhere and race with immediate effect.”

Maaike Polspoel:

header-vuelta-leftLa Vuelta a España Song
The Spanish Grand Tour always have a song, some are quite good and others, well, maybe not so much. This year the music is by Endurne and is called Amancer (Dawn). It is also Spain’s entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest. Is it a winner?

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