EUROTRASH Berty Thursday!
The first week of the Tour de France is nearly under our belts, but she has not been kind to Alberto Contador, can he ride through it – Top Story. Catch up with all the Tour action, results, quotes and video from the last three days. In other cycling news: Giant-Alpecin and Lampre-Merida announce their Tour de Pologne teams. Tour coffee time!
TOP STORY: Is the Tour Over for Contador?
Two crashes in two days is bad luck and when they are on either side, there can be nothing worse. Nothing broken, but he has lost a lot of skin off both shoulders, right arm, both hips and various other abrasions. If you look at him as he was riding stage 5, his position seems twisted on the bike, with his right shoulder lower, this can’t be good for his spine and so he will be losing power. Sleeping at night can’t be easy either. Contador is made of stern stuff and will not abandon until he can go no further.
In a team press release after stage 5, he said: “I feel my condition improving day by day and it is better than I expected. We have to take the race day by day and try to recover before the Pyrenees and the harder stages. I will give my best in the Alps and try to see what result we can achieve. The morale is good.”
Could Contador be the 2016 Tour de France’s first rider to retire? Although Bora-Argon 18’s Sam Bennett and Katusha’s Michael Mørkøv might beat him to it.
Crash No.2 (1 minute in):
Tour de France 2016
The long Stage 3 from Granville to Angers was also a slow one with a 215 kilometers long breakaway by Armindo Fonseca (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) who was joined by Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) for the last two hours of racing before Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) out-sprinted André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) by a very small margin. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) retained the yellow jersey.
Armindo Fonseca rode away from the gun and had a maximum lead of 11:05 after 25 kilometers. The Tinkoff team set a tempo at the head of the peloton but the Breton rider was still able to exit Normandy and enter his province alone in the lead. The peloton kept cruising in slow motion. 100 kilometers before the finish in Angers, Fonseca was four minutes ahead of the peloton. Ten kilometers later; Voeckler attacked and crossed a gap of six minutes to join Fonseca in Gastines with 83 kilometers to go.
At the intermediate sprint in Bouillé-Ménard (171km), Fonseca and Voeckler had just 40 seconds on the peloton, but they were caught with 8km to go. Several sprinters’ teams prepared the final rush. Mark Cavendish was positioned by his team-mates right behind André Greipel as he knew the German national champion was his main rival on such a slightly uphill terrain. As he claimed his second win out of three stages this year, the Brit equaled Bernard Hinault with 28 stage victories in the Tour de France. Cavendish also took the green jersey from Sagan.
Stage winner and points leader, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data): “I am incredibly happy with this second win at the Tour de France. We planned it for a long time this morning, we had a long team meeting about how the finish would go and it went pretty much exactly how we planned. It’s good that the guys stayed calm and collected. It would have been easy for them to have pulled and then got out of the way with the hectic final, but they stayed patient. Edvald stayed patient, Mark stayed patient and then at the right minute I was able to get on Andre Greipel’s wheel. I knew he’d hit it early, actually he was stronger than I thought he’d be. Andre has guts, he rides like that. I actually didn’t beat him in the sprint, I beat him with the lunge. This is another great win for the team but more importantly, it raises the profile of Qhubeka yet again, and that is the reason we are here.”
4th and overall leader, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff): “It was a long day, 220km – we did the first part very slow then the last 20km got very interesting. I’m very happy to not crash and hold the yellow jersey, which was my goal. For sure I have to try also for the points for the sprint. The finish was again crazy but that’s sprinting. Everybody wanted to be at the front – but I’m here with yellow still in one piece so that’s already nice.”
2nd overall and Best Young Rider, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “The last kilometers were really stressful and we tried to stay focused and keep Marcel at the front. It’s a pity things didn’t work out as planned, but there will be other chances. On a personal level, I’m happy for keeping the white jersey, as it was a great feeling to wear it today. I want to thank my team, the fans and my French friends who were by my side. The support I got was unbelievable and it really helps in this first Grand Tour I am riding.”
6th, Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling): “I still have some things to learn before I can compete to win a stage like this at the Tour de France. I am satisfied with my place in this sprint where you had to have the sheer power to pass your rivals. All the guys who finished ahead of me are definitely members of the sprint elite. I really have also to thank the hard work that the team did for me, and thank Reto Hollenstein for placing me so well.”
7th, Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step): “We rode full gas from 25 kilometers to go and it was really intense. In the finale, we were there, but we did a mistake by hitting the front too early, so in the closing meters the other guys came very fast from behind and I got boxed in. It’s important to learn from mistakes, to remain calm and talk about what happened. The positive side of things is that I feel good and my legs are there. We will try again in the next days.”
8th Christophe Laporte (Cofidis): “It was a long day and nobody wanted to go. Only one rider did and it had to be hard for him. The sprint was not easy to negotiate because everyone was fresh. I finished eighth. I’m disappointed because I was not very well placed. It’s still a good result after the one last Saturday. I’m doing my best, it works well with my team-mates but now I would really like to succeed and get into the top five. I need to have more confidence in my qualities. Tuesday, I can have a new opportunity. There are a few bumps to go in the final, but after there is a finish that suits me well.”
10th, Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo): “I lost the men for a while. Timo Roosen almost crashed, everyone braked at that point, accept me. I passed our train on the right side and lost them. I wanted to take my position afterwards, but Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) boxed me in. I’m in the top 10, but I’m not quite happy with a tenth place. At least, we are improving and we did a good job as a team today. In the end, you need a little bit of luck as well. We don’t have to be scared that were not good enough. We are and we want to show it another time in this Tour de France.”
Richie Porte (BMC): “It’s [the stage] slow but then you know it’s going to be more hectic in the final which it was in the last 60 kilometers. It was super fast and quite dangerous but it’s another day ticked off. It’s still six hours on the bike. It’s not hard enough to be a race but you’re still not recovering. Fingers crossed that it’s a little bit faster tomorrow but each day is a day closer to the goal.”
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC): “Today’s stage is a different type of race, more for the sprinters. And when you only have one guy in the front it’s a bit boring and no one really wants to chase. But then the final is pretty hectic as everyone still has fresh legs, so it’s pretty hard to be up there. It’s pretty risky so I’m happy that it’s over and we’re all safe and on the same time.”
Tour de France Stage 3 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Dimension Data 5:59:54
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
3. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff
5. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
7. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step
8. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
9. Daniel McLay (GB) Fortuneo-Vital Concept
10. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 3:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff in 14:34:36
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:08
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:10
4. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:14
5. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff
8. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
9. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
10. Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx – Quick-Step.
The photo-finish was once again necessary to proclaim the winner of Stage 4 of the Tour de France on Tuesday. Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step) claimed his first Tour victory since 2014 millimeters ahead of Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) after the longest stage of the race, 237.5km from Saumur to Limoges. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) remains in yellow after finishing third on the eve of the first mountain stage.
A day after Armindo Fonseca’s solo act, there were much more riders willing to get in the breakaway on Wednesday amongst the 198 still in the race. Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon18) and Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo) jumped in a first group at the front of the race at km 18. They were then joined by Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling) to build a lead of 3:50 after 35 kilometers of racing.
The longest stage of the Tour was designed for sprinters to shine. And the peloton quickly decided to set its intentions, with Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data) maintaining the gap around 5 minutes. It was not an easy task with the leaders traveling at an average speed of 42.3 km/h over the first three hours of racing. With 90 kilometers to go, the breakaway’s lead was already down to 2 minutes.
Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) was the first attacker swallowed by the peloton, 30 kilometers away from the finish-line. Schillinger, Naesen and Irizar resisted 20 more kilometers before Direct Energie’s efforts ended their breakaway. Unfortunately for the French team, Kittel was there to edge out Coquard.
Stage winner, Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step): “It wasn’t easy for the team and me after the last three days. The ambitions and expectations were high and the pressure was there, especially after getting so many wins in the first part of the season. Yesterday, after the stage, we analyzed the finale, talked about our mistakes in a positive way and everyone learned from it. I tried to motivate the boys and today they did a marvelous job. We were there when it mattered, I was brought up in the right position and had a perfect timing. I am super happy and it’s great to return to the Tour de France with such a victory. I knew since yesterday that my legs are strong and wanted to win for the team, who was really incredible. We still have some opportunities ahead in the race, but first we want to enjoy this day.”
3rd on the stage and overall leader, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff): “It was a long day, not flat always up and down. I’m very happy to still be in yellow and to take third. I’m back in green also and until now all’s going very well. I think the Slovakians here are very happy and it makes me happy to see lots of Slovakian flags on the side of the road and to hear them cheering. It was a good finish for me, I just started my sprint too early. The sprint is sometimes a lottery and I think I have to wait a little bit more. I started at the same time as Kittel and it was a long sprint from there. Coquard came later and he almost won. I’m happy with the result and the points, and I still have the yellow jersey – it’s going well. Tomorrow is another day, I don’t want to think about tomorrow yet.”
4th, Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo): “We’re improving, it was tough, but we did a good job with the team. This time, I’m satisfied. I didn’t feel very strong, actually, but Sep Vanmarcke told me that I would be able to pass through that feeling. I got over it and went for it. We were still in front with four of us for the final. I was boxed in for a while during the sprint, but found some space afterwards to finish fourth. I came from quite far behind, but was able to come back quite strongly. It’s my own fault that I had to come from too far behind, I needed to be further up. My sprint was strong so this is promising for the upcoming stages. I don’t like to brake, so I chose to jump, if everything comes together, I might be able to win a stage in this Tour.”
6th, Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling): “I am disappointed because there are guys who were able to put out more power on this false flat finish. It was a really difficult arrival, and my legs failed me in the last 100 meters.”
15th overall, Tejay van Garderen (BMC): “I’m really excited to head to the hills and get the GC sorted out a bit more. I think it will be a little less nervous and we’ll get a sense of who’s going well and who’s not. Richie and I did the recon [of stage 5] together and it’s a tricky stage. It’s not going to be as hard as the Pyrenees but it will shake things up. You’re not going to see Sagan and Cavendish up there.”
Geoffrey Soupe (Cofidis): “There was a narrowing to just over three kilometers to go and the majority of the team riders found themselves trapped. Some had to dismount, others lost a lot of places. I passed through the fallers, but it was too late.”
Bernhard Eisel (Dimension Data): “At the start we knew it was going to be another long, long day just like yesterday, probably even half an hour longer. Nobody wanted to attack, nobody wanted to ride in the beginning. Then in one moment there was an attack of 7 riders, we had Natnael there, with a total of 5 sprinter teams represented in the move so that mixed up everything. The next 15km was chock-o-block full gas. That changed the situation and 4 guys got away. It was a good rolling day, not too hard, it was a nice day. It was not a recovery day at all but the fatigue didn’t get too much worse. It was a little breather before a big hard day tomorrow and as we can see, the sun is out so it’s going to be interesting the next few days as it gets warmer and warmer.”
Combativity winner, Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling): “This is a great reward for my first Tour de France, and especially since I’m not scorched. There was a lot of activity at the front of the pack with the attempts by the riders from the sprinter’s teams. Rik Verbrugghe was certain to give us the green light to go into the breakaway. I took Alexis Gougeard’s wheel and we escaped. We caught up with the other two riders, and we worked well together to keep our advantage ahead of the peloton. But there was no chance to stay away in this final. I did try to revive the break one last time on that final climb, but there was too much at stake for the pack to let us succeed. At least I do not return to the hotel empty handed. This combativity prize is a great reward.”
Richie Porte (BMC): “It was a good day. At least we didn’t go as slow as yesterday, but it’s another one ticked off and I’m looking forward to getting to the climbs tomorrow. We have done the recon on tomorrow’s stage and there are a couple of nasty climbs in there. But also the run in is a nasty, technical downhill so that could play a part in it too. There’s a bit of a kick to the finish so for sure the last 40 kilometers are really going to trim the field a little bit. Which is a good thing, it won’t be so hectic as it has been.”
Tour de France Stage 4 Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step in 5:28:30
2. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
6. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
7. Daniel McLay (GB) Fortuneo-Vital Concept
8. Mark Cavendish (GB) Dimension Data
9. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 4:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff in 20:03:02
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:12
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:14
4. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin at 0:18
5. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
8. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
9. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange
10. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac.
One year after he claimed his first victory at the Tour de France in stage 13 to Rodez when he out-sprinted Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet of BMC stepped up in the history of the race as he added the yellow jersey to his brilliant solo win at Le Lioran on Stage 5, taking over from the Slovakian who led the race for three days. In the morning, he feared the stage in the Massif Central was too hard for him but it wasn’t the case. He rode all his breakaway companions off in the hills. Thomas De Gendt was last to surrender with 17km to go on the ascent to col du Perthus. The last yellow jersey holder from Belgium was Jan Bakelants in 2013. This is the fifth yellow jersey in the history of the BMC Racing Team after Australians Cadel Evans (one day in 2010, two in 2011) and Rohan Dennis (one day in 2015).
After several unsuccessful skirmishes and the passing of the côte de Saint – Léonard-de-Noblat, Raymond Poulidor’s hometown where Jasper Stuyven scored one more point in the King of the Mountains classification, nine riders managed to go clear at km 21: Andriy Grivko (Astana), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Cyril Gautier (AG2R-La Mondiale), Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) and Florian Vachon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept). The front group split at kilometer 85 after a few arguments between the riders. Three of them rode away: Grivko, Van Avermaet and De Gendt.
At half way, the leading trio had an advantage of 1:15 over their six former breakaway companions and 9:50 over the peloton led by Sky. The difference grew to 15:10 with 73km to go. From 60km to go (14:50) to 50km to go (11:50), the pack only recovered one minute. With 35km remaining, Movistar took command while the deficit was 11 minutes. Grivko couldn’t hold the pace of Van Avermaet and De Gendt while climbing to Pas de Peyrol with 33km to go. Several big names got dropped from the peloton after Peter Sagan said goodbye to the yellow jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Fränk Schleck (Trek-Segafredo), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo-Vital Concept).
Van Avermaet attacked De Gendt to go solo in the ascent to the col du Perthus (Cat. 3) with 17km to go. It was a 1-2 for Belgium, the first since stage 2 of the 2007 Tour de France when Gert Steegmans won in Gent ahead of Tom Boonen, as De Gendt managed to stay ahead of the group of the favorites, 2:35 behind his compatriot. This was only the second time the Tour de France had a stage finish at Le Lioran so Van Avermaet made it a 100% for Belgium in the ski resort of the Cantal province where Romain Bardet hails from. The Frenchman accelerated in the last climb. His action was too strong for Alberto Contador who lost 26 seconds while the remaining GC contenders crossed the line with the same time.
Stage winner and overall leader, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC): “It feels great. I was never dreaming about the Yellow Jersey but it is a big dream that has come true. I was happy with the stage win last year, but now another stage win and the Yellow Jersey, I think it’s once in a lifetime for me and I’m going to enjoy it as much as possible tomorrow. I felt pretty good. Grivko was not working at the beginning, Majka was not working, so me and Thomas De Gendt did a really good job. We were the strongest guys from the break I think, and we made the race hard and we saw that the peloton wouldn’t come back on this steep climb. I felt pretty good and I just went on my own because I was strong enough to hold it to the line. I think for my type of rider it’s really hard to get the Yellow Jersey and I’m so happy that I have it. The stage win is something but wearing yellow is the most beautiful thing I think for a cyclist.”
2nd on the stage and KOM, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal): “It wasn’t clear yet whether I would join the break this morning because I thought it might be wiser to save some strengths for the final week. But it was obvious from the beginning that a few strong riders were willing to be part of the break so I decided to join them. We got a lot of advantage from the peloton because no one was a threat to the GC riders. Van Avermaet was the best placed rider at twenty seconds but the GC riders don’t expect that he will play a role in the mountain stages. The cooperation in the front group was gone after a while so we decided to continue the break with three riders. We weren’t sure whether Grivko would be good or not. Greg and I decided that he mustn’t win today’s stage because he didn’t do his part of the job. Eventually he was dropped on the fourth climb of the day. Van Avermaet accelerated on the penultimate climb and it was clear that he was stronger than me. I’m a bit disappointed of course but I realize that Greg was simply the best today. He really deserved this victory. It was clear that the KOM sprints would be today’s goal from the moment that I was part of the break. I was able to win three sprints and therefore I may wear the polka dot jersey tomorrow. Wearing that jersey is a big dream. I was never able to wear a jersey in a Grand Tour so I’m really happy. Obtaining the prize of the most combative rider and the polka dot jersey is a nice consolation prize. I’ll try to defend that jersey for at least one day, after that it will depend on how the Tour will evolve. Today’s stage will affect my condition as it was a very hard day. We rode more than 200 kilometers in the front of the race so I’ll need some time to recover. We’ll see if there are any other opportunities later in this Tour de France.”
7th on the stage and 2nd overall, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “Today we knew that we will face many attacks from the start and that there was a good chance for a break to go all the way to the line. In the final 35 kilometers, Movistar made the pack’s life difficult, trying to test the other riders, and it wasn’t easy to keep the pace, but I handled this situation well and now I’m happy and very proud for keeping the white jersey. Tomorrow, a flat stage is on the cards and we will try to set up Marcel Kittel for the sprint.”
5th on the stage and 10th overall, Dan Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step): “The first mountain stage is a little bit of a shock to everybody, and today it was even more difficult because of the scorching heat, which made the road melt in some places. To be sincere, it felt like you were riding through glue all day long. It was a difficult start to the Tour de France and nobody had the legs to attack on Wednesday, because people are already tired after just a couple of days and 18 hours in the saddle. The team rode well together and I am confident for the mountain stages which will come later in the week.”
10th on the stage and 11th overall, Tejay van Garderen (BMC): “Greg certainly looked like he had good form today. It was a super impressive ride and great for the team, and great for Greg as well with the season he’s had, so he really deserves it. Tomorrow I’m sure we’ll help to control the breakaway but I don’t even expect us to have to do much work to bring them in because the sprinters’ teams will probably want to pull back the breakaway. I think we’ll just enjoy the day in yellow, stay relaxed and get ready for the Pyrenees.”
11th overall, Wilco Kelderman (LottoNl-Jumbo): “I was expecting the top teams to tighten up the race, it didn’t put me into trouble anyway. It was quite steep sometimes, but I was able to find a nice rhythm. I’m glad with that, I’m in a good position and it is going well. I want to keep this level. It’s nice that we raced the first hills of the Tour and the first differences are made. We know a little bit more about ourselves and our rivals, and that gives me a good feeling.”
25th overall, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff): “I feel my condition improving day by day and it is better than I expected. I lost a few seconds today and I was aware Movistar would do a very hard race. I was mentally prepared for that. In the last part of the race the pace was so high we barely had a second to take a breath. We lost time and we have to take the race day by day and try to recover before the Pyrenees and the harder stages. I will give my best in the Alps and try to see what result we can achieve. The morale is good. I have been through tough situations many times in my life and one has to be strong. It’s true that it’s difficult when you have been preparing for so long, taking care of the smallest detail to be in the best form possible and then have two crashes in a row. If this stage had taken place five days from now it would have been different. However the race is what it is and we lost time.”
Break rider, Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data): “Today I made the main break of the day. It was a difficult day, the heat made it really quite tough and I was suffering from it for a large part of the day and didn’t really feel all that good. I tried my best today but in the end, the GC guys caught me.”
19th overall, Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida): “I’m satisfied with my performance, I had good feelings which allowed me to be always with the top climbers. Of course I was involved in a crash; some riders felt in front of me, I stopped my bike, but some athlete behind me hit me, fortunately I only hit my right wrist but I feel there’s nothing serious which did not prevented me to complete a good performance in this stage.”
Points leader, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff): “I actually tried to go in the break early today but the group didn’t let me go – I think they were scared of me, but it’s impossible to do everything. The climbs didn’t matter for me as the break was a long way ahead at the front. I thought it was better to take it easy. The Tour de France is still very long. We will see day by day, now I’ve got the green jersey I’ll keep trying for it.”
Tour de France Stage 5 Result:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC in 5:31:36
2. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:34
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff at 5:04
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
5. Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx – Quick-Step at 5:07
6. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Bora-Argon 18
7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step
8. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange
9. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
10. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 5:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC in 25:34:46
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step at 5:11
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 5:13
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 5:14
5. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 5:17
6. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
8. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
9. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac
10. Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx – Quick-Step.
The 73rd edition starts with a trio of fast-finish stages, through scattered hills and urban areas that should be favorable for the fast riders and the late attackers. On stage four the overall classification riders will need to stay vigilant with five categorized climbs in the middle of the course before tackling a flat finale. Stage five is 223km long and after the first 25km there is basically zero flat kilometers all the way to the finish line. Stage six is the queen stage and the peloton will be in for a tough day with a lot of climbing and a total of 15 categorized climbs. The Tour de Pologne finishes with a 25km individual time trial around the historic city Krakow that should favor the big engines.
Coach Morten Bennekou (DEN) said: “We are aiming for the sprints with possibilities for more than one rider, such as Nikias and Max. They are both in good form at the moment with the latter taking a silver medal at the German national championships. With Bert, Koen, Tom and Zico we have a strong lead-out.
“On top of that, we are ready to take opportunities as they come and on the hillier stages we will look to profit from the breakaway possibilities with Tobias. So we will focus on day results rather than the general classification.”
Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert De Backer (BEL), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Koen de Kort (NED), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL), Max Walscheid (GER).
Coach: Morten Bennekou (DEN).
Lampre-Merida for the Tour de Pologne
In the same period as the Tour de France, Lampre-Merida will also race in another WorldTour event, which will be the Tour de Pologne, scheduled from 12th to 18th July.
As for the team which is now racing in the Grande Boucle, the line-up for the Polish competition will be characterized by the high quality of the riders, who will be Mario Costa, Ferrari, Modolo, Mohoric, Mori, Niemiec, Petilli and Ulissi.
The first two stages (Radzymin-Varsavia and Tarnowskie Gory-Katowice) are suitable for the sprinters, then the third day (Zawiercie-Novy Sacz) will be good for the breakaway hunters. After another stage for the sprinters (Novy Sacz-Rzeszow), the general classification contenders will battle in the 5th (Wieliczka-Zakopane) and 6th stage (Bukovina-Bukovina). The individual time trial in Krakow (25km) will be the final stage.
“The final time trial will shape the battle for the general classification in a different way from the past editions,” sports director Maini explained. “We’ll start with the targets of trying to achieve top results in the stages and we’ll rely on our captains Ulissi and Modolo. For the sprints, Ferrari and Mohoric will be precious for Sacha, while on the climbs Niemiec and Petilli will try to be as competitive as possible. Important roles for Mario Costa and Mori too, who’ll support the captains and eventually join the breakaways.”
IAM Cycling for Poland
THE SWISS CHAMPION: Jonathan Fumeaux. “I want to race aggressively with my Swiss champion’s jersey,” explains the 28 year old Fumeaux, who celebrated winning the Swiss national road race championships nearly two weeks ago. “I am very pleased to be racing with this jersey for the first time. I will wear it with great pride, and it will motivate me. After my victory, I took a week’s rest, but am now back training and am looking forward to the Tour of Poland. I feel good, and I would especially like to do well on the more demanding stages like five and six where the scene can be set.”
THE GOAL: For Eddy Seigneur, who along with Thierry Marichal will act as directeur sportif for the seven day Tour of Poland, the aim is clear: “We want to fight for stage wins. For most of the guys, it will be the first race they have done since their national championships, and some have recently been at altitude training. The first stages will probably be reserved for the sprinters, and we can hope that we will be able to fight on those days with Matteo Pelucchi. We’ll also have Roger Kluge and Heinrich Haussler on the team, so we have additional fast guys here. The general classification will be decided in the second half of the race. For those stages, we have Jonathan Fumeaux, Stefan Denifl and Larry Warbasse who will be given the opportunity to try their luck. Winning the overall is not a top priority.”
THE RACE: On account of the Olympic Games in Rio, the 73rd edition of the Tour of Poland will take place this year in July instead of its regular slot in August. Between Katowice and Kraków there will be seven stages that will divide the 1190 kilometers among them. In addition to the 18 World Tour teams that will be racing, the event will also field seven wild card teams. A total of 200 riders will be at the start in Poland.
THE COMEBACK: “I am glad that I can finally get back to racing again,” explained Matteo Pelucchi, who was forced to take a break after his time at the Giro because he was suffering from a sub-acute prostatitis. “I am doing much better again, and I have been able to train well. The last two weeks I have been with the team training at altitude. I’m certainly not at 100% yet, but I am not in bad shape. A year ago I was able to celebrate two stage wins here. Let’s see how it goes and whether I can equal those achievements this year.”
Marcel Aregger (S), Stefan Denifl (Aut), Jonathan Fumeaux (S), Heinrich Haussler (Aus), Roger Kluge (All), Matteo Pelucchi (It), Aleksejs Saramotins (Let), Larry Warbasse (USA).
Directeurs sportifs: Thierry Marichal, Eddy Seigneur.
GoPro: Tour de France 2015 – Stage 4 Highlights
Where would we be without the on-board cameras? We would miss a lot of action we never used to see. Here is stage 4 and the sprint win by Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step).
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