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No Wiggins EuroTrash!

No Wiggins for Vuelta, will he be missed? Lots of race news: Eneco Tour, Tour de l’Ain and the Vuelta a Burgos, all the results, rider comments and video. In other cycling news we look at the Arctic Race, la Vuelta a España and the transfers, plus a new team on the block in Holland. Get the coffee!

TOP STORY: No Vuelta for Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins will not be in Spain at the end of the month for la Vuelta a España. He was expected to ride as training for the World time trial championships, but has now opted to ride the Tour of Britain which he won last year. Since he won the Tour de France in 2012 his Grand Tour’s have been have been either DNF or DNS and recently Sir Wiggins has been more interested in riding the track again as he wants to compete in the next Olympics. Looking at the list of stars that will be lined up in Jerez de la Frontera on the 23rd of August, I don’t think we will miss the bearded Bradley that much and after the things he said about Spain and la Vuelta in 2011, he won’t be missed by España.

**The good news is that Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador will be at this year’s Spanish Grand Tour.**

Maybe a Roubaix win?
Paris - Roubaix 2014

header-enecoEneco Tour 2014
Astana’s Andrea Guardini won the sprint into Terneuzen to take Stage 1 and the leader’s jersey. The 182 kilometre stage was battered by strong wind and rain causing many crashes; even stage winner Guardini was involved. Ton Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) attacked through the carnage and looked to have the win, but the peloton passed him with 300 metres to go. Guardini had to fend for himself in the last metres and timed his jump perfectly.

Earlier in the race; Laurens De Vreese (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) escaped and built up a lead of 8:30. Behind, the peloton was split by the wind. Smukulis crashed in the break and was caught and eventually De Vreese and Vanbilsen were also pulled in with 17 kilometres to go. Trek and Omega Pharma – Quick-Step controlled the race toward the finish, but with all the crashes, it was everyman for himself. Dumoulin took his chance but Guardini was the fastest man in the end, beating Yohann Gène (Europcar) and Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida).

Andrea Guardini (Astana) after winning stage 1: “Borut said he had no lead-out for me today, so instead we calculated a sprint from behind at 600m to scare everybody into a straight line that I could crawl up. At 200m Dumoulin was in the headwind too long, and the timing of the sprint was perfect for me; I’m proud of my physical condition.”

Eneco Tour Stage 1 Result:
1. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana in 4:14:47
2. Yohann Gene (Fra) Europcar
3. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol
5. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek
6. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha
7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano
8. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
9. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin
10. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Eneco Tour Overall After Stage 1:
1. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana in 4:14:23
2. Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar at 0:04
3. Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:05
4. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:06
5. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin at 0:07
6. Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar at 0:08
7. Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 0:09
9. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol at 0:10
10. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek.

Eneco Tour stage 1:

World cyclo-cross champion Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) made a late attack (or an early sprint) to hold off Lars Boom and Sep Vanmarcke (both Belkin) for the Stage 2 win and the leader’s jersey. Stybar is the defending champion from last year.

A three man breakaway of Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Pavel Brutt (Katusha), they had a lead of nearly 6 minutes, but eventually it was just Brutt on his own with about 11km to go. They were all caught with 4.6km remaining in the race. A select group, led by Belkin and a full gas OPQS, were left to decide the stage. But attacks were still flying with 1.5km to go, with Stybar, Boom, and Manuel Quinziato (BMC) getting a small gap. The Czech champion was able to hang on to a good position in the final meters and he outsprinted Boom and Vanmarcke from the group.

Stage 2 winner Zdenek Stybar (OPQS): “I feel pretty relaxed now despite a very hectic final,” Stybar said. “Everything turned out well and I’m happy with my victory. In the final we were there with the whole team, and we started to make an echelon with the crosswind. We were just riding hard and in perfect position. I knew in advance that I have to be in front on the cobblestones, especially because they were wet. There were only two lines on the cobbles where you could ride safely. Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) in that movement tried to ride away on the left side. We were all on the right side, but we closed the gap. Then Vanmarcke tried on his own, so that was the moment when I jumped on someone’s wheel. Then when we caught up to that move with 1.5 kilometres to go, I saw Boom and Quinziato going. So I directly jumped on their wheel. They were giving everything and I knew that Lars would go full gas to the final to try and win in his hometown. I didn’t work with the others because I knew if I did, I would lose the sprint. In that moment Bauke Mollema (Belkin) came back and he started his sprint a bit early. I took over on the front for the sprint probably at about 250 meters to go, in front of the turn. It was a really long sprint. At one moment I thought it was too long, but I managed to stay in front and take the win. I just have to see what will happen tomorrow in the time trial. I think it will be important to not lose too much time. I’m not a time trialist, but I trained a lot on the Specialized Shiv. So, I’m curious how I’ll do tomorrow and I’ll do my best to defend my jersey and minimize any time losses. We’re a really strong team and the last three days should suit me. The condition is good, so I will try to go for it, whether that means winning another stage or winning the GC for the second year in a row. We’ll see what I can do. I have to thank my teammates for doing such good work to put me in the position to fight for the win today.”

Lars Boom sits second overall, just one second behind Stybar and was awarded the red point’s jersey: “I came a little closer to a victory than last year, when I finished second here,” said Boom. “The pace was very high in the sprint. I was able to find Stybar’s rear wheel, but nothing more. The boys worked very hard. First they closed a gap and later they led the pack all by themselves. They rode a very strong race.” Boom has another chance to take the leader’s jersey in Wednesday’s 9.6-kilometre time trial. “The time trial suits me, but Stybar’s able to extend his lead as well. I’ll focus on the overall this week. When I remain focused, I can go a long way.”

Andrei Grivko (Astana) after stage two: “Same windy day as Monday, but this time the weather changed four times in the last 10k.”

Eneco Tour Stage 2 Result:
1. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 4:06:16
2. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin
3. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin
4. Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale
5. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC
6. Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Davide Appollonio (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin
9. Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
10. Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Belisol.

Eneco Tour Overall After Stage 2:
1. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 8:20:39
2. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin at 0:01
3. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin at 0:06
4. Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha at 0:07
5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 0:09
6. Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale at 0:10
7. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
8. Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEDGE
10. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEDGE.

Stage 2:

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) has made up for the disappointment of losing valuable time on stage 2 of the Eneco Tour by winning the Stage 3 time trial in Breda from Fabian Cancellara (Trek), moving up to 2nd overall 4 seconds behind Lars Boom (Belkin). Dumoulin raced around the flat, fast 9.6km course in a time of 10:55.32 averaging over 52kmh to take the win by two seconds.

Stage winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano): “I am super happy, could not have done it better,” said Tom after the finish. “I was really focused on this race and I did it as perfect as possible, focusing on my position and [the] corners. Yesterday was not easy; I was really disappointed about it. It was really hard work to get back and also disappointing to lose time. This is my first WorldTour win. I’ve had some bad luck and then I have been denied a few times by Tony [Martin] but now it’s great to get the win finally and to move back into contention for the overall.”

Lars Boom claimed the white jersey after placed ninth with enough time to take the lead from Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and to maintain the points classification lead: “I would have liked to take the jersey yesterday,” said Boom, referring to Tuesday’s stage that finished in his hometown. He was just one second short of conquering the lead. “But I’m very happy that I’ve become the new leader today. Yesterday was a beautiful day, anyway.”

Boom now holds a four-second lead over fellow Dutchman Dumoulin. “We will see if that’s going to be enough. I ended the Tour in good form and with a good feeling. I’m now thinking ahead to the heavy weekend.” The peloton heads from Koksijde to Ardooie tomorrow. Boom said, “Tomorrow is still flat, but the weekend is going to be hell, I think. First we face a kind of Tour of Flanders, after that a version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and we end the week on Sunday on a course like the Amstel Gold Race.”

The BMC Racing Team put three riders in the top 10 – and had five in the top 15 – in the individual time trial and Manuel Quinziato moved into third place overall. Quinziato powered his BMC timemachine TM01 to a team-best fourth place, to pull within four seconds of the new overall leader Boom. “This was a good time trial day for the BMC Racing Team,” Sporting Manager Allan Peiper said. “We have been working hard on getting results in time trials and today there was a world-class field. If you see the guys who were racing, it was the top time trialists with really the only person missing was Tony Martin (OPQS). It was a good team effort and is good for the next few days.” After Quinziato’s fourth place (14 seconds back of Dumoulin), Stephen Cummings was sixth (at 17 seconds), Rohan Dennis was 10th (at 20 seconds), Silvan Dillier was 11th (at 21 seconds) and Daniel Oss was 13th (at 23 seconds). Philippe Gilbert, 22nd on the day (32 seconds back), remains in the top 10 overall, 21 seconds off the lead.

Fifth on Tuesday’s stage, Quinziato said he gauged his effort in earning his fourth top 10 result in six individual time trials he has ridden in this year. “I tried to be a bit conservative the first part, then the last four kilometres, I closed my eyes and went all in,” he said. “I am happy and motivated and I have nothing to lose. Other riders have more pressure.” Quinziato said he is exceeding his own expectations in a race he has targeted. “I asked to have this race as a goal two months ago, after the Giro d’Italia,” he said. “Now I am really happy that I am keeping my promise and really also paying back the team and doing my part.” Cummings, who was third in the final time trial at the Tour de Pologne Saturday, said he lost a few seconds in the turns. “I think there were four or five corners that you had to slow down for,” he said. “I think the form is there. In Poland, I did not pace my effort that well. I started too hard. Here, I maybe went too slow in the corners. I could have saved about five seconds in the corners.”

Andrei Grivko (Astana) finished the short, windy time trial across Breda in seventh, 17 seconds behind stage winner Dumoulin: “We have a good shot at a GC finish this week – everybody comes here and we put it together and we ride for the best result possible.”

Eneco Tour Stage 3 Result:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano in 10:55
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek at 0:02
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:10
4. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC at 0:14
5. Jesse Sergent (NZl) Trek at 0:15
6. Stephen Cummings (GB) BMC at 0:17
7. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana
8. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale at 0:18
9. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin at 0:19
10. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:20.

Eneco Tour Overall After Stage 3:
1. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin in 8:31:54
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 0:04
3. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC
4. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:07
5. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:12
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:14
7. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:18
8. Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale at 0:19
9. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin at 0:21
10. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC.

Stage 3:

header-tourdelain14Tour de l’Ain 2014
Gianni Meersman won the Tour de l’Ain Prologue for the second straight year with a time of 5 minutes and 22 seconds, as Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team swept the first four positions of the 4.6km race in Saint-Amour. Julian Alaphilippe was 2nd (+02 seconds), Pieter Serry 3rd (+03 seconds), and Rigoberto Uran finished 4th (+03 seconds).

Not to miss out on the domination, Mark Cavendish (+08 seconds) was also 9th in his first race back since his Stage 1 crash at the Tour de France. Carlos Verona (+13 seconds) was 17th.

The OPQS quadruple sweep came at the heels of an Eneco Tour Stage victory by Czech Road Champion Zdenek Stybar on the same day.

OPQS will be quite colourful in the 150.2km first stage tomorrow. Meersman will be in the yellow jersey as overall leader, Alaphilippe will wear the white (best young rider) jersey, and Pieter Serry will race in the green (points) jersey.

Prologue winner Gianni Meersman (OPQS): “I am really happy because this morning I thought about this exact result,” Meersman said. “I thought about how I won this stage last year and, why not, I can try to win it again. A time trial is a fight against yourself. It’s a question of how deep you want to go. Today, I really wanted to do well. The course was different from last year in that it was not so technical, but the last 500 meters were uphill. I think that section is where I won the race. I am also thrilled because we finished 1st through 4th, which means the team here is really motivated and strong. This morning, with Davide Bramati our Sport Director, we rode along the parcours five times and trained almost two hours on the TT bike. The training with our Specialized Shivs paid off in the afternoon, so we are happy. It’s a great team result. We’re here with six strong guys. Tomorrow we will try to defend my leader’s jersey. It won’t be easy with six riders instead of eight, but that’s the same problem for everybody in the peloton. We’ll do our best to figure out how to defend my leadership in the best way possible.”

Tour de l’Ain Prologue Result:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 5:22.52
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:01.64
3. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:03.29
4. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:03.35
5. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:04.90
6. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:04.99
7. Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Rabobank Development Team at 0:06.04
8. Timo Roosen (Ned) Rabobank Development Team at 0:07.02
9. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:08.46
10. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 0:08.58.

Tour de l’Ain Overall After The Prologue:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 5:22
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:02
3. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:03
4. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:05
6. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
7. Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Rabobank Development Team at 0:06
8. Timo Roosen (Ned) Rabobank Development Team at 0:07
9. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:08
10. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 0:09.

Stage 1 was won by Garmin-Sharp’s Raymond Kreder, the Dutchman out sprinted the 96 strong peloton with Marc Sarreau (FJD.fr) second and the overall leader Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) in third. Meersman now has 6 seconds over Julian Alaphilippe and 7 over Pieter Serry and Rigoberto Uran, all Omega Pharma – Quick-Step.

Tour de l’Ain Stage 1 Result:
1. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp in 3:44:30
2. Marc Sarreau (Fra) FDJ.fr
3. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Pavel Gatskiy (Kaz) C.T. Astana
5. Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia
6. Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13
7. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Rabobank Development Team
8. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Equipe de France
9. Zhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) C.T. Astana
10. Steven Tronet (Fra) Bigmat-Auber 93.

Tour de l’Ain Overall After Stage 1:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:49:48
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:06
3. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:07
4. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:09
6. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
7. Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Rabobank Development Team at 0:10
8. Timo Roosen (Ned) Rabobank Development Team at 0:11
9. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:12
10. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 0:13.

Tour de l’Ain 2014 parcours:

header-burgos14Vuelta a Burgos 2014
Movistar’s Juan Jose Lobato beat uphill specialist Moreno (Katusha) with an impressive attack and takes the leader’s jersey at the end of Stage 1 of the Vuelta a Burgos.

Showing the same power that saw him taking the triumph in Neufchâteau, on stage two of the Tour de Wallonie sixteen days ago, Juanjo Lobato brought his special talent for uphill finishes to the fore as he claimed the first leader’s jersey of the Vuelta a Burgos, following on from his team-mate Nairo Quintana after the Colombian’s overall success in 2013.

The Spaniard came first across the finish line on El Castillo after 143km ahead of world-class specialist, Dani Moreno, taking to fruition what was a Movistar monologue at the front of the bunch. Imanol Erviti and Rubén Plaza spent several kilometres in pursuit of a four-man breakaway: Luis Más (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Mirko Tedeschi (Neri-Sottoli), Ibai Salas (Burgos-BH) and Victor Etxebarria (Euskadi). They were caught before the first of two ascents of El Castillo where Quintana showed commitment by leading the big group.

The attacks after the climb did not suit Astana and Katusha who had been controlling the peloton. Tiralongo (Astana) and Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) made a late attack to be pulled back in time for Lobato to jump from behind, launching a spectacular acceleration with just over 200 metres remaining, an irresistible punch that allowed him to cross the finish comfortably, arms in the air, to claim the Movistar team’s 28th success of the season and getting off to the best start possible in a race where he will get another good opportunity in Villadiego’s finish on Thursday (152km).

Stage winner Juanjo Lobato (Movistar): “It’s true that not many people were counting me in for the win, but I was confident I could fight for it. I had ridden a similar stage two years ago with the Andalucía squad and even though I was nowhere near today’s level, I knew that if I felt well during the stage, I could give it a try. I already told my team-mates at the pre-race talk I could do it and we could take all work we did to success. We had planned to take control of the race so there weren’t any big breaks – Erviti and Plaza were up-front all day and the rest protected Nairo. How did I see him? I always find him in glorious form, no matter the race – I’m sure he will show it again here.

“I worked out my distance to attack from the finish into the first climb – I was confident I could keep a strong pace if I jumped away with 300m to go. I might have relaxed a bit when I saw I had won, but the goal was achieved. I have spent the whole season taking good places, but the victory did not come until the Tour de Wallonie. Still, it’s not really like this win changed me. I worked hard and I keep doing so, but sometimes, success comes to you when you don’t expect it to. I hope to keep his streak alive, because very often bad moments come together really fast, and you need to enjoy the good ones. I’ve got another great chance tomorrow and we’ll go for it. This victory is a tribute to my friend David, a big fan of cycling who used to come by at my hometown and passed away just hours before coming to this race.”

Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) after stage 1: “Burgos is a good mix of stages – the last day is a TT – my objective this week is to stay healthy and at the front.”

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 1 Result:
1. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar in 3:29:37
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha
3. Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Giant-Shimano at 0:03
4. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Jonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling
6. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:05
7. Daan Oliver (Ned) Giant-Shimano
8. Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Rusvelo
10. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana.

Vuelta a Burgos Overall After Stage 1:
1. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar in 3:29:37
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha
3. Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Giant-Shimano at 0:03
4. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Jonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling
6. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:05
7. Daan Oliver (Ned) Giant-Shimano
8. Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Rusvelo
10. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana.

Stage 1:

header-orangeNew Dutch team for 2014
The Orange Cycle Team has signed a two year sponsorship deal with Roompot Vakanties and applied for a UCI Pro Continental licence. Before the individual time trial stage 3 of the Eneco Tour a press conference was called to make the announcement by the four men behind the plan to give Holland it’s only ProConti team. Ex-riders: Michael Boogerd, Erik Breukink, Jean-Paul van Poppel and Michael Zijlaard, along with Roompot’s representative described how the team would be mostly made up of Dutch riders, but that none had yet been signed.

The men behind the new Dutch team:
ENECO Tour 2014 stage - 3 ITT

header-arcticArctic Race of Norway

A Teutonic Titan will have a Crack at the Norwegian Stars
Ready to set the ice on fire, Marcel Kittel (Team Giant-Shimano) will line up at the start of the second edition of the Arctic Race of Norway next Thursday (14-17 August). With his confidence high after four stage wins in the Tour de France 2014, the German rider will face a tough test from the revelation Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) and the idol of the North, Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing Team), the last winner of the event and certainly not inclined to give up his crown.

The tough route will represent a serious challenge to the pure sprinters, so the punchers will also make their presence felt. If the Belgians Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Kevin Seeldrayers (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) or Sébastien Delfosse (Wallonie-Bruxelles) will have a part to play, Simon Spilak (Team Katusha), Jan Barta (Team Netapp-Endura), Amaël Moinard (BMC) or Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) will also need to deploy their experience against the emerging young Norwegian riders who are determined to make their mark on the spectacular roads that lead to North Cape. Sven Erik Byström (Team Katusha), Oskar Svendsen (Team Joker) or Vegard Stake Laengen (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) will have to show that they can be prophets in their own land, by confirming the hopes placed in them despite their youth. As for Tormod Hausken Jacobsen (Team Øster Hus-Ridley), the current Norwegian champion, he will have a few ideas about standing on the top of the podium for his 21st birthday on 17th August in Tromsø. Like their countryman Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin Pro Cycling), who returns this year determined to fight for the final victory and the best climber’s red jersey he won in the 2013 edition, the ‘Vikings’ are resolutely bent on fighting it out hard on their roads.

20 Teams and main contenders:
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise : Van Asbroeck (Bel)
Wanty – Groupe Gobert : Seeldrayers (Bel), Napolitano (Ita)
Wallonie – Bruxelles : Delfosse (Bel)

Bretagne-Séché Environnement : Laengen (Nor), Sepulveda (Arg)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits : Sénéchal (Fra)
Roubaix Lille Metropole : Vantomme (Bel)

Team Netapp-Endura : Barta (Cze), Bennett (Irl)

Cannondale : Gatto (Ita)

Belkin Pro Cycling : Nordhaug (Nor), Clement (Ned), Hivert (Fra), Kruijswijk (Ned)
Team Giant-Shimano : Kittel (Ger), Ahlstrand (Swe)

Team Fixit.no : Eidsheim (Nor)
Team Joker : Svendsen (Nor)
Team Øster Hus-Ridley : Hausken-Jacobsen (Nor)
Team Ringeriks – Kraft : Olsson (Swe)
Team Sparebanken Sør : Nilsen Hoem (Nor), Skjølstad Lunke (Nor)

Team Katusha : Kristoff (Nor), Byström (Nor), Spilak (Slo)

South Africa
MTN – Qhubeka : Reimer (Ger)

IAM Cycling : Lövkvist (Swe), Elmiger (Sui), Hinault (Fra), Holst Enger (Nor)

United States
BMC Racing Team : Hushovd (Nor), Moinard (Fra)
UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team: Forster (Ger).

Stage 1 August 14, 2014 Hammerfest – North Cape 204 km
Stage 2 August 15, 2014 Honningsvåg – Alta 207 km
Stage 3 August 16, 2014 Alta – Kvænangsfjellet 132 km
Stage 4 August 17, 2014 Tromsø – Tromsø 165 km

Website: https://www.letour.com/arctic-race-of-norway/2014/us/


Hushovd Leads BMC Racing Team To Norway
Defending Arctic Race of Norway champion Thor Hushovd will compete in his country’s race for the final time when the BMC Racing Team begins the race Thursday.

Five-Rider Roster
Hushovd won two stages en route to the overall title last year in the inaugural edition of the event billed as the “northern-most professional cycling race in the world.” The past world road champion announced in June that this will be his last season. Stagiaires Luke Davison and Loïc Vliegen join him on the BMC Racing Team’s five-rider roster for the four-day race.

Riders: Luke Davison (AUS), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Sebastian Lander (DEN), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sport Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA)

Giant-Shimano team for the Arctic
Marcel Kittel (GER) returns to racing after his successful Tour de France campaign in Norway this week with a view to get back up to speed and target the sprint opportunities in the race.
The race gets underway in the aptly named town of Hammerfest, with a relatively testing stage due to the hills that fall in the final 25km of the 204km stage.

This is followed by what should be a good opportunity for a sprint on day two before another uphill finish on day three. The race then concludes with a relatively straight forward 165km fourth and final stage that the team can focus on for another fast finish.

Kittel is joined by Albert Timmer (NED) who also returns to racing after a short break following the Tour de France. It is also stagiaire Fredrik Ludvigsson’s first race with the WorldTour team.

“For the Arctic race we will focus on stage success and given that some of the riders are restarting after a break from racing we will look at it day-by-day,” said Team Giant-Shimano coach Aike Visbeek (NED).

“Marcel will start here without any pressure and we will see how his shape is. There are maybe one or two chances here depending on how he is feeling.

“Then it is also Fredrik’s first race with the pros – he is still suffering a bit with a problem with his leg so we will keep a close eye on how this develops. He will have a focus on learning how the team works and on gaining experience and hopefully he will be able to have a good race.”

Jonas Ahlstrand (SWE), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Marcel Kittel (GER), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Albert Timmer (NED).
Coach: Aike Visbeek (NED).

Arctic Race of Norway Challenge:

header-vueltaLa Vuelta a España 2014

Fabio Aru: “The Vuelta is my second goal of the year”
Astana is the only team to have made the final podium of the past three Grand Tours with Vincenzo Nibali second at last year’s Vuelta a España and recent winner of the Tour de France. With Fabio Aru in third place, the Kazakh outfit also showed its depth at the Giro d’Italia.

Can a young man succeed to 42-year old Chris Horner in Spain? If anyone, Aru leads the charge against a hot favourite who was also born in 1990. Giro winner Nairo Quintana and the Italian are expected to fight again at the eight uphill finishes scheduled in the 69th Vuelta a España.

“I just returned home from the Tour de Pologne, which was an important race in my lead up to the Vuelta”, Aru declared. “The Vuelta is the goal of the second half of the season for me. I’m excited and I’m looking forward to it since it’ll give me the opportunity to race against so many champions even though I’ve never done two Grand Tours in a single season up to date.”

Following a break post-Giro, Aru spent four weeks in July training in altitude in Sestrière with his guardian angel Paolo Tiralongo who will captain the Astana team at the Vuelta as well at the age of 37. “What I’ve done at the Giro belongs to the past so I’ve resumed training seriously for my future”, Aru explained. “I still have a lot to prove and a lot to learn but I’ll go to the Vuelta with the same state of mind I had at the beginning of the Giro: without any precise goal but the firm intention to give my best, as always.”

“I don’t want to call it a season because I’ve done well at the Giro”, said the winner of stage 15 to Plan di Montecampione. “There are still great races to take part in and I’d like to repeat some of my performances.”

Aru however seems to be impressed by the start list of the Vuelta a España. “It’s an honour to race against Chris Froome and those guys”, added the Sardinian with a hint of admiration also for FDJ.fr’s Thibaut Pinot who preceded him on the record books of the Giro della Valle d’Aosta-Mont Blanc in 2009. The provisional start list is full of exceptional Under 26 GC contenders with Wilco Kelderman (Belkin), Rohan Dennis (BMC), Natnael Berhane (Europcar), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ.fr), Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano), Peter Kennaugh (Sky), Esteban Chaves and Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Carlos Verona (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), recent Tour of Denmark winner Michael Valgren (Tinkoff-Saxo), Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) who will be the youngest participant at the age of 20, all against the leader of their generation Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who was also born in 1990 like Aru and Pinot.

Lotto Belisol: The nine riders for the Vuelta
On Saturday the 23rd of August the 69th Vuelta starts with a team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera. After 21 stages, on Sunday the 14th of September, this edition comes to an end with an individual time trial in Santiago de Compostela. Lotto Belisol has selected the following nine riders: Sander Armée, Vegard Breen, Bart De Clercq, Jens Debusschere, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Pim Ligthart, Maxime Monfort and Jurgen Van den Broeck.

Giant-Shimano Announce 13-Rider Long-list for the 69th Vuelta a España.
The final selection of nine riders will be selected from the 13 man list and announced the week prior to the start of the race.

Like last season, La Vuelta gets underway with a team time trial on 23 August, this year in Jerez de la Frontera with a flat 12.6km effort.

The first mountain stage comes after just six days with a summit finish in Granada. The rest of the race presents a plethora of different opportunities and the Team Giant-Shimano line-up will reflect this.

One rider who has had a focus on this race for a while is double stage winner from 2013, Warren Barguil (FRA) who got the latter half of his season off to a strong start at the Tour of Poland in preparation for the Vuelta.

Team Giant-Shimano coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA) said of the preselection ahead 0f the race: “We head into the Vuelta with two real objectives, firstly to help support Warren towards a good overall result in the race.

“In this we will also help both Warren develop as a leader and also some of the other younger riders in the team to progress in working every day for an overall goal.

“As well as this we want to target a sprint win but the opportunities for this outcome are few and far between. The team will be built around aiming for these objectives while at the same time focusing on the development that you get from riding a Grand Tour.”

La Vuelta long-list:

Nikias Arndt (GER), Warren Barguil (FRA), Lawson Craddock (USA), Thomas Damuseau (FRA), John Degenkolb (GER), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA), Koen De Kort (NED), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED).
Coaches: Christian Guiberteau (FRA) & Lionel Marie (FRA).

La Vuelta a España 2014 promo:

header_belkinTeam Belkin extends contract with Gesink, Kelderman and Kruijswijk
The Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM, which recently signed a declaration of intent with De Lotto, BrandLoyalty and speed skating Team BrandLoyalty, extended the contracts of three riders. Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman and Steven Kruijswijk will remain with the team for the next two years.

General Manager Richard Plugge is very happy with the contract extensions. “With Robert, Wilco and Steven we keep the top GC riders with us. We’re proud that they have chosen for our vision. Along with Laurens ten Dam, Moreno Hofland and Sep Vanmarcke we now have a strong core in our team.”

“Thanks to the training Rabobank provided these guys with and the initiated support of De Lotto and BrandLoyalty we can keeping developing our vision. Which is to build a new future for cycling under the motto #RideTheFuture. The cooperation with Jac Orie’s speed skating team ensures that we have one team, with talents who will make their presence felt throughout the year. We are confident that the business world will appreciate this new project and will embrace it.”

Nico Verhoeven
Sports Director Nico Verhoeven is pleased that the team now has a solid foundation. “This is great news for our team,” said Verhoeven. “For the next two years, we have a basis we can continue to work with. Especially in the stage races. There are three Grand Tours, so we have to make a selection which means everyone is going to get his chance. Moreover, it’s very pleasant that we, as a Dutch team, have been able to sign three Dutch top riders.”

Robert Gesink
“I’m very pleased that the largest Dutch cycling project ever will continue with De Lotto and Brand Loyalty. I’m happy to be a part of this project. After a difficult period, I feel that I’m on my way to re-connect with the top and to make beautiful things happen again. Within this team, I find a lot of people whom I worked with when I achieved my best performances. I’m happy that I can keep working with them the coming years.”

“The presence of Wilco Kelderman is a blessing for me, as I see him as one of the biggest cycling talents of this world. I’m ready to work and fight with him, side by side. Wilco and I connect well in terms of character and I expect that we can help each other to reach a higher level. I’m very happy to have my friend and neighbour Steven Kruijswijk as a team-mate and of course veteran Laurens ten Dam. Together we are a strong core of contenders for races which will be decided in the mountains.”

Wilco Kelderman
“I’m super happy to have the opportunity to perform at the highest level for the next two years under a beautiful new Dutch sponsor. I’m looking forward to shine as a team. There was some interest for me, but I feel good in this familiar environment where, as a young rider, I can ride for my own chances. Besides, this is simply the best team for a Dutchman.

“I hope to ride the Tour de France next year and to obtain great results as a team. We have the riders to do so. I also hope to improve myself every year, which should work out fine, because when you look at the team setup, everything is well organized and the conditions are perfect.”

Steven Kruijswijk
“I’m very happy with this new contract. Two months ago, it was still uncertain whether the team could continue, but fortunately everything is looking good now so that we can look at the future. I’m glad that I can stay with this team. I’ve been in it for a few years now and I feel at home here. I have great colleagues and I like the way we work. I know the coaches, they know me and together we are a well-oiled machine. I haven’t been at my best last year, because of an injury, however, I’ve always felt the team’s support. I hope to get back to my old level and give the team something in return for the support.”

header_OPQS_PROPQS Extends Contract with Julien Vermote
OPQS announces that it has extended its contract with Julien Vermote. The Belgian rider from team Omega Pharma – Quick-Step will continue racing with Patrick Lefevere’s team for the next two seasons (2015-2016).

“Julien is a guarantee for the squad when it comes to putting himself at the service of his teammates” OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere says. “His performance at the Giro d’Italia in the last few years and other great performances in support of his teammates during the season are proof of this. Julien is a product of the team, he has grown with us and we are proud of him. He’s an eclectic athlete, capable of adapting to different situations. He is still a very young athlete with potential margins for important improvement in the near future.”

“I’m very happy that I can stay with this team” Vermote says. ”I passed to the pros with this team in 2011 and for me it’s a kind of second home, where I know everyone and where we talk about future plans with no problem. I’m happy that I can continue my development process as an athlete in a professional but also familiar atmosphere with people who appreciate my work. I like my role on the team. I can be useful in a sprint for Cavendish like I can help Uran in a major Tour, or pedal for the team on the roads of the classics. Will I get my chance? Maybe yes, but when the conditions are right. I’m still young and I still want to progress to become a better rider.”

OPQS Reaches Agreement with Fabio Sabatini
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has reached an agreement with Italian rider Fabio Sabatini. Sabatini will ride with the team for two seasons (2015 & 2016).

“This is a rider who can be a weapon in multiple ways,” OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere said. “He can be good for Classics, but at the same time he can also be useful in a leadout train of Mark Cavendish, or any sprint train we may have during the season. He’s a good worker with skills for the cobblestones, which is a talent we embrace. He was even 13th in the 2012 edition of Ronde van Vlaanderen.”

“I am so happy,” Sabatini said. “For my characteristics as a rider, to join OPQS is a kind of dream. It’s a good step in my career. I love the cobbles. For these kinds of races, to be on a team like this will be important. I also know a few guys already after a few years as a professional. So, I’m looking forward to my transition to my new team starting in 2015. I can’t wait to start the season in new colors, with great motivation to do well.”

KAT14_Logo_624_317Team Katusha extends with Aleksandr Porsev
The Russian WorldTour Team Katusha extends its contract with 2014 Russian road race Champion Alexandr Porsev for two more years, which means that Porsev will be part of the team at least till the end of 2016.

“Aleksandr has a great potential, and during the last Tour de France we could follow his progress. The new agreement, signed for the next two years, allows us to focus not only on the further development of the rider, but also on the preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, where he should be one of the possible leaders of the Russian team. Moreover, for us it is important to keep the Russian Champion jersey within Team Katusha,” said general manager of Team Katusha Viacheslav Ekimov.

Aleksandr Porsev (28 years old) began his professional career in 2011 coming to the Team Katusha from the continental team ITERA-Katusha. Since then Aleksandr won 3 races, including the recent Russian road race Championships, and took 8 podium places.

Giampaolo Caruso stays with Team Katusha
Italian rider Giampaolo Caruso will stay in the Russian Team Katusha during the next two years. The respective agreement between the rider and the team’s management was signed this week.

For the moment Giampaolo Caruso, who showed very good form in the recently ended Tour de Pologne, is preparing for the last grand tour of the season, the Vuelta a Espanã, where he will support Katusha’s leader Joaquim Rodriguez.

– Giampaolo is a valuable rider in the team’s roster at stage races and grand tours; he has repeatedly reaffirmed this. In addition, in the last Liège – Bastogne – Liège he proved that he can achieve high personal results. I am happy that Giampaolo will continue his career in our team and I hope we will see the realization of his high potential at the Vuelta, which starts next week, – explained general manager of the team, Viacheslav Ekimov.

Giampaolo Caruso signed with Team Katusha in 2010. Since that time Giampaolo showed himself both as a strong helper to the team’s leaders at stage races and grand tours as well as a rider who can produce strong personal performances. Among the best results for Caruso are a team’s victory at a stage of Vuelta a Burgos 2010, 3rd place at a stage of the Vuelta a Espanã 2010, 3rd place at Trofeo Melinda 2012, 4th place in the general classification of Vuelta a Burgos 2013 and 4th place in Liège – Bastogne – Liège 2014.

Bekin bike Cam
And to finish with; a bit of Belkin bike cam from Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California:

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