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EUROTRASH Vuelta Thursday!

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Only two days to wait for the third Grand Tour of the year and in some ways the best. Mostly short and fast stages with summit finishes, but the sprinters also get a look in, here and there. Team news from la Vuelta, plus results, reports and video from the USA Pro Challenge and action from Zottegem. Close shave for Katusha, Cult Energy saved and more contract news. Bring on the Spanish fun!

TOP STORY: Caruso Positive in 2012!
The Katusha team has had a bit of a scare on the run up to the Vuelta a España. Giampaolo Caruso has been found positive for EPO in a sample taken in March 2012, due to retroactive testing on old samples. This comes after Luca Paolini’s positive for cocaine. According to MPCC rules: If a team has two adverse findings in a 12 month period the team must suspend its self for a month (see Androni). No problem as they are three years apart. Under UCI rules: If a team is ‘notified’ of two adverse findings in 12 months they will be banned for a time decided by the UCI. This looked to be a problem for the team, although we are still waiting for the ‘B’ sample tests for both riders. Luckily for the Russian team the UCI cannot use a law retroactively as that law did not exist in 2012 and so the team will not suffer.

Two questions come to mind: If samples are being held from up to 10 years ago, who could be next? And why have we not heard anything of the ‘B’ samples of Paolini and Tom Danielson? Paolini’s sample was taken on the 7th of July after the Tour de France stage and was informed on the morning of the 10th, that is less than 3 days.

Statement on Giampaolo Caruso
Team Katusha has been informed this afternoon by the UCI that Italian rider Giampaolo Caruso has been notified of an Adverse Analytical Finding. The presence of erythropoietin has been detected in a sample collected on 27th March 2012. In accordance with the UCI Regulations the rider has been provisionally suspended.

Bearing in mind the anti-doping regulations, the team will wait until the analysis of the B sample has been conducted before taking any further action or making further comment. However, Team Katusha would like to underline that this news comes as a complete shock.

Giampaolo Caruso won 2014 Milano – Torino:
Cycling : 95Th Milano - Torino 2014

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USA Pro Challenge 2015
BMC Racing Team’s Taylor Phinney dazzled his home state crowd Monday by sprinting to victory in Stage 1 of the USA Pro Challenge. Racing for only the eighth time since returning from a potentially career-ending crash in May of 2014, Phinney fought back after losing contact with the peloton on the final climb of the 155.5-kilometer race that started and ended in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Teammate Brent Bookwalter finished third, behind Kiel Riejnan (UnitedHealthcare), as Phinney notched the BMC Racing Team’s fourth win in the past three days and its 26th of the season.

Heading into the final 15 kilometers, it looked like BMC Racing Team’s Rohan Dennis would be contesting the stage win. The Tour de France stage winner and past world hour record broke away with Canadian national road champion Guillaume Boivin (Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies). The pair led by as much as 25 seconds with five kilometers to go, but Boivin – who had been in the day’s breakaway – refused to share the workload and the two were caught with a kilometer to go.

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Stage winner and 1st overall leader, Taylor Phinney (BMC): “I actually got dropped but made it back, it was kind of what I like to call ‘a Davis Phinney special,’ where you get dropped and then come back and win, I knew I don’t have the pop to beat some of the best bunch sprinters in the group,” Phinney continued. “So I just thought I would ‘diesel style it’ and go early. I didn’t think I was going to be able to win until maybe 100 meters to go and then I had a slight moment of panic because I thought I was going to lose it. But I just put my head down and I spent a lot of time and a lot of energy pushing through those last eight or nine seconds. I have had 15 months to think about putting my hands up in the air. It was everything that I thought it would be.”

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Jackson Stewart said of result that he was “totally surprised. We definitely didn’t plan that today. It was really great teamwork there. We had to control the race and we had to make it hard on the climb and Taylor was a big part of that. All of the guys really contributed today. It is a testament to the depth of our team.”

USA Pro Challenge Stage 1 Result:
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC in 3:39:07
2. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare
3. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
4. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
5. Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
6. Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
7. Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek
8. Ivan Rovny (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
9. Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC.

USA Pro Challenge Overall After Stage 1:
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC in 3:39:07
2. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare
3. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
4. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
5. Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
6. Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
7. Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek
8. Ivan Rovny (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
9. Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC.

USAPC stage 1:

BMC’s Brent Bookwalter soloed to win in Tuesday’s Stage 2 mountain-top finish at the USA Pro Challenge and teammate Rohan Dennis was runner-up as Bookwalter replaced Taylor Phinney as the race’s overall leader. Bookwalter, who won for the first time since February of 2013, said he did not immediately realize he was the winner of the 185.5-kilometer stage that finished at the Arapahoe Basin ski resort.

In the overall standings, Bookwalter leads Dennis by six seconds. Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) is third and Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) – who finished third on the stage – is fourth. Both are 10 seconds off the lead. Phinney kept his lead in the sprint classification while the BMC Racing Team remained leaders in the team standings.

USA Pro Challenge 2013 (2.HC) stage - 2

Stage winner and overall leader, Brent Bookwalter (BMC): “The last time board we saw was to (breakaway rider) Nate Brown – and was a minute, I think, with over a kilometer to go, maybe a kilometer-and-a-half, Rohan had me cross-eyed, just biting my stem the whole time. I wasn’t really aware of when Nate came back or who was going on. I was just concentrated on doing the best climb I could and holding Rohan’s wheel. Then, with about 500 meters to go, I actually caught my breath and felt recovered. I chucked it in the big ring and gave it everything I had. Obviously I was going for seconds also, so there was no time to celebrate. It is a good feeling. These guys were riding like machines all day,” he said. “They were incredible. I had to keep telling them to slow down and not bring the break back too quickly. They were hurting me when they were surging over the climbs. I didn’t really feel great all day, but I think a little bit of that was the attitude. It was actually nice to get to that last climb and have Rohan put the hammer down. Then it was simple: hold the wheel, ride as hard as we can and it’s done. There is no more conserving at that point.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Rohan Dennis (BMC): “I saw on the TV screen that Brent was sort of next to me, so I tried to get on him, but he went straight past me and got into position to win. It is great we went 1-2, and I sort of surprised myself. I rode pretty well from the bottom to the top, and I was expecting to blow with at least three kilometers to go when people started attacking.”

BMC Sport Director Jackson Stewart: “Brent has always been the guy who led out our other guys to get there, for me, he deserves so many more results than he ever got. He was so close to being national road champion and national time trial champion in the same year. Little things like that where he has been so close in results before. And that was in the few times he was able to try for himself. Most of the time, he was working for others. So to win a race like this and take the jersey like this is huge for him and his career. It is a big payoff for all the work he has done in the past.”

USA Pro Challenge Stage 2 Result:
1. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC in 4:37:03
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:06
3. Hugh Carthy (GB) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:10
4. Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare
5. Robbie Squire (USA) Hincapie at 0:13
6. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis at 0:25
7. Jaime Roson (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:27
8. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:31
9. Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek at 0:33
10. Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek at 0:38.

USA Pro Challenge Overall After Stage 2:
1. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC in 8:16:10
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:06
3. Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare at 0:10
4. Hugh Carthy (GB) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5. Robbie Squire (USA) Hincapie at 0:13
6. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis at 0:25
7. Jaime Roson (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:27
8. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:31
9. Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek at 0:33
10. Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek at 0:38.

Stage 2:

BMC Racing Team’s Rohan Dennis rode to his second straight runner-up finish at the USA Pro Challenge Wednesday while teammate Brent Bookwalter kept the overall lead by finishing ninth on Stage 3. Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) won the finish into Aspen for the second straight year while Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale-Garmin) was third. Into the last kilometer of the 163.2-km race, Dennis was following the lead of past Swiss national road champion Michael Schär, who had encouraged him to go for the stage win with a long attack.

In the overall standings, Bookwalter, who took the race lead by winning Tuesday’s mountain-top finish still leads Dennis by six seconds. Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) is third. Nineteen riders remain within 90 seconds of the lead with four days of the race to go. Bookwalter said he was impressed with the team support he received at the base of Independence Pass as the race turned into the teeth of a strong headwind while chasing an 11-man breakaway. A reduced peloton caught what was left of the breakaway on the downhill plunge into Aspen.

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Overall leader, Brent Bookwalter (BMC): “Our boys were up there, just plowing away like a herd of cattle, bringing the breakaway back, so I am really proud of them there. The downhill was a lot of headwind, so the headwind went a long way toward making the group bigger and neutralizing the attacks.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Rohan Dennis (BMC): “It was very fast on the front: 75 or 77 kilometers an hour. I could not pedal any faster on his wheel (Michael Schär). A couple of UnitedHealthcare riders came underneath me and I didn’t think it was worth it, so I sort of jumped in behind them. The last corner, I nearly put Brent into the fence. He started yelling my name so I moved left and thought I might as well go. It ended up being about 300 meters, so it was bit too far.”
Thanks to Sean Weide of the BMC team for all the USAPC news.

USA Pro Challenge Stage 3 Result:
1. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare in 3:56:52
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC
3. Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin
4. Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
5. Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek
6. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
7. Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie
8. Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie
9. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
10. Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare.

USA Pro Challenge Overall After Stage 3:
1. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC in 12:13:02
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:06
3. Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare at 0:10
4. Hugh Carthy (GB) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5. Robbie Squire (USA) Hincapie at 0:13
6. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis at 0:25
7. Jaime Roson (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:27
8. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:31
9. Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek at 0:33
10. Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek at 0:38.

USAPC stage 3:

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GP Stad Zottegem 2015
The GP Stad Zottegem on Tuesday, in and around the East-Flanders City the peloton had to cover 189 kilometers in total. The riders had to surmount eight hills and they had to ride over three cobbled sections. The pace was very high from the beginning so it was really difficult to get away. Eventually several riders could set up a break, but the large front group didn’t get much advantage. After that, a split occurred in the front group and fourteen riders remained in front. At fifteen kilometers of the finish, four riders accelerated at the front of the race; Kenny Dehaes, Antoine Demoitié, Oliver Naesen and Elias Van Breuseghem. There were a few attempts in the background but the four leaders stayed ahead. They sprinted for the victory and Dehaes appeared to be the fastest, just before Demoitié. It’s the second victory for Dehaes in one week, last Tuesday he also won Heusdenkoers.

Race winner, Kenny Dehaes (Lotto Soudal): “It was a very tough and uncontrolled race. The course was a bit different compared with the previous years. When we rode in front with 23 riders, there was no cooperation. Eventually some riders wanted to make something of it and fourteen riders remained in front. In the final lap we were with four riders at the front of the race. Naesen attacked a lot because he knew that he couldn’t win against Demoitié or me in the sprint. Van Breuseghem was already happy that he could hold the wheel. At 250 meters of the finish I started my sprint but actually that was a bit too early. Demoitié came really close, at the finish I had about half a wheel advantage. I’m very glad with this victory because it certainly wasn’t an easy sprint.”

“In the spring I had a lot of misfortune, it wasn’t easy to build up again and to regain the good condition. Also my self-confidence wasn’t that great. After the training week in Livigno the feeling was better and better. In the Tour de Wallonie it wasn’t superb, in Denmark I felt really good. I confirmed that good shape last week in Heusden and today. The next race that I’ll ride is Leuven, I hope that the good legs will be present there as well.”

GP Stad Zottegem Result:
1. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 4:13:00
2. Antoine Demoitié (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles
3. Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:02
4. Elias Van Breuseghem (Bel) Verandas Willems at 0:07
5. Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:18
6. Joeri Stallaet (Bel) Cibel at 0:23
7. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Roompot
8. Wouter Mol (Ned) Cyclingteam De Rijke
9. Stef Van Zummeren (Bel) Verandas Willems
10. Mark McNally (GB) Madison Genesis.

Kenny Dahaes wins GP. Zottegem:
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Vuelta a España 2015
The Tour of Spain could hardly have hoped for a better way to celebrate its 80th anniversary. The Grand Tour created in 1935 looks set to offer a grandiose show between Malaga and Madrid on a course of an extreme density and with a new major showdown between the last two leading contenders of the Tour de France, Christopher Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

From Marbella, where will be held the traditional opening team time trial with its floating podium and beach finish, the Vuelta will take full advantage during three weeks of the rich variety of landscapes in Spain to offer the subtle blend of tradition and innovation which has been the trademark of the race since it has been taken over by Javier Guillen.

Four leading phases await the riders along the way –– eight stages in Andalucia, from Marbella to Murcia, an incursion in the principality of Andorra where will be held the queen stage between Andorra Viella and Cortals d’Encamp (140 km, five mountain passes and nearly 5,000 in vertical drop).

The race will then head for the North to cross Cantabria and Asturias before reaching the Madrid region, in which will again take place the final stage at El Paseo della Castellana. In all, 21 stages, 13 in the high or middle mountains, six on the flat, a 39-km individual time trial, a 7.4-km team time trial, 44 climbs and 3,357 kilometers.

It is one of the strength of a country offering such a diversity of terrains that Javier Guillen has been able to include eight unheralded mountain top finishes to the race course. Caminito del Rey (Stage 2), Serria de Cazorla (Stage 6), La Alpujarra (Stage 7), Cumbre del Sol.Benitaxtell (Stage 9), Cortals d’Encamp (Stage 11), Alto Campoo. Fuente del Chivo (Stage 14), Sotres.Cabrales (Stage 15) and Ermita de Alba. Quiros (Stage 16) are new locations ready to make the history of an event attracting an exceptional field.

The podium of the Tour de France (Froome, Quintana, Valverde), two of the top three finishers in the last Giro d’Ialia (Aru, Landa) and the only active rider to have won the three Grand Tours (Nibali) are all at the start.

To this prestigious start-list should be added the names of the ever popular Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), American Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), the big disappointment of July, as well as a solid bunch of riders capable of making it into the top 10 in Madrid (Pozzovivo, Betancur, Samuel Sanchez, Rolland, Dan Martin, Talansky, Dani Moreno, Chaves, Frank Schleck, Kiserlovski) as well as a few sprinters and finishers of repute eager to win stages and prepare for the world championships (Degenkolb, Sagan, Bouhanni, Gerrans, Cancellara).

The race to take over from 2014 winner Alberto Contador should be a superb one.

Check-out Ed Hood’s Vuelta preview HERE.

More news on www.lavuelta.com

Vuelta a España 2015 in 3D:

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LottoNL-Jumbo focuses on attacking, developing talent during Vuelta
Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start the Vuelta a España on Saturday in Puerto Banús with a team of adventurers, and plans to show off team colors in an attractive way. The development of rising prospects, whom will see their chances, is also very important within the team during the three weeks in Spain.

“We travel to Spain without overall ambitions because of the absence of Laurens ten Dam, which does not alter the fact that there remain plenty of challenges,” Sport Director Merijn Zeeman said. “Within our qualities, we’ll be looking for opportunities. On the days that the GC men make their mark, it’s going to be difficult, but with Tom Van Asbroeck, for example, we have someone for whom the team can work during the sprint stages. We’ll also attack in our pursuit of success. All nine riders get the chance to make opportunities for themselves.”

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start with several young riders for whom the Vuelta will be their first Grand Tour. “It is an important moment in the careers of Tom, Timo Roosen, and Mike Teunissen. We see them as hot prospects. And regarding talent development, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to become stronger and better.”

TTT
The team time trial, which opens the Vuelta on Saturday in Puerto Banús, is a significant moment for the team. “We approach the TTT very seriously,” said Zeeman, who is encouraged by the recent successes on the Bianchi Aquila CV. “Time trialing receives an important focus within our team.”

Tom Van Asbroeck
Tom Van Asbroeck, 25, expects a few good opportunities for the sprinters in the first week. “I hope to force something on those days with the help of the team. I had a good run-up to the Vuelta. It felt good to get involved again in Poland,” the Belgian said, after finishing third and sixth in stages at the Tour of Poland. “That was a boost to my confidence.”

Timo Roosen
Timo Roosen, 22, is hoping to come out of his first grand tour a stronger rider. “I want to do my job for the team, and finish the race. I haven’t done a three-week race before, and to improve, it’s important to finish. I think I can learn a lot from experienced men like Martijn Keizer, Maarten Tjallingii and Maarten Wynants. If I feel good, I definitely want to attack.”

Mike Teunissen
For Mike Teunissen, 22, it’s been a lovely week. “First. I won the prologue of the Tour de l’Ain, and now I can announce that I’m going to ride the Vuelta. It’s my first three-week race, but I think I can handle it. I look forward to helping Tom in the sprints and to fight for my opportunities. Unfortunately, we miss a man for the overall because of Laurens’ incident, but it gives me the opportunity to focus on my personal development.”

George Bennett
George Bennett, 25, will have a free role in the Vuelta. “It sucks that we have to do it without Laurens, because he’s important in our team, but his absence also opens a few doors for others. I won’t focus on the GC, but the Vuelta always offers opportunities for riders like me. And who knows where it will end if I ride into a nice escape? I’ll take things day by day, and hope to avoid unnecessary time losses.”

Team line-up:
Tom van Asbroeck, George Bennett, Martijn Keizer, Bert Jan Lindeman, Timo Roosen, Mike Teunissen, Maarten Tjallingii, Dennis van Winden and Maarten Wynants.
Sports Directors: Erik Dekker en Merijn Zeeman.

Maarten Tjallingii:
Sittard-Geleen - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -   mechanical problems Maarten Tjallingii (Team LottoNL - Jumbo) pictured during  Stage - 5 ENECO Tour 2015 from  Riemst (Belgium) to Sittard-Geleen, the Netherlands - photo Davy Rietbergen/Cor Vos © 2015

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Team Sky Announce 2015 Vuelta a España Line-Up
Team Sky has announced its nine man line-up for the 70th edition of the Vuelta a España, starting in Puerto Banús on Saturday 22 August.

2015 Tour de France winner Chris Froome will lead the team for the final Grand Tour of the season alongside Sergio Henao, Mikel Nieve, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Ian Boswell, Salvatore Puccio, Nicolas Roche and Geraint Thomas.

Announcing the Vuelta a España squad, Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “It’s been an unforgettable summer for us after winning the Tour de France for the third time, but it’s important to move on quickly, realign our goals and focus on the new challenges ahead.

“We’ve selected a strong squad for the Vuelta that has the right blend of talent and experience to support Chris Froome through the tough three weeks ahead.”

Team leader Chris Froome said: “I have great memories from this race so I’m pleased to be back. I’ve had a good rest after the Tour and now I’m ready for my next challenge.

“It will certainly be a very competitive race given the strong field – which will be great for the fans to watch. The competition will be tough and this is bike racing so anything can happen, but we have an excellent team and we’re ready to get the race started.”

The Team Sky squad for the 2015 Vuelta a España:

Chris Froome – age 30 – Great Britain
Returning to action following a historic second Tour de France victory, Froome will be looking to end his year on a high in Spain. Twice a runner-up at the Vuelta, the Brit is no stranger to the demanding Spanish test. After reaffirming his credentials as the best stage racer in the world, Froome will hope to continue his outstanding recent record in Grand Tours he’s completed.

Sergio Henao – age 27 – Colombia
An exceptional climbing talent, Henao returns to Grand Tour action 14 months after a serious knee injury threatened his career. The Colombian has impressed greatly this season, taking a podium finish overall at the Tour of California, as well as stints in the race lead at the Tours of the Basque Country and Poland. He will provide valuable mountain support in his fifth Grand Tour.

Mikel Nieve – age 31 – Spain
One of the best pure climbers around, Nieve’s first pro victory came at the Vuelta in 2010 with a memorable stage win. The Basque rider has competed in four of the last five editions of the race and will be relishing the chance to perform in front of his home fans. Second place at the Tour of Slovenia, plus a strong recent outing at the Tour of Poland, show a rider in form.

Vasil Kiryienka – age 34 – Belarus
Lining up for a 15th Grand Tour and a fifth appearance at the Vuelta, Kiryienka has supported Froome in each of his last two attempts at the race, as well as Tour de France victory in 2013. The Belarusian is a feared presence in the peloton, capable of setting a relentless, grinding pace on both the flat and the climbs. He’s also a time trial specialist, as shown by his stage win at this year’s Giro.

Christian Knees – age 34 – Germany
An experienced and assured presence, Knees has seen it all during 10 years spent competing at the highest level of cycling. The former German national champion is an accomplished domestique, equally happy pushing a tempo on climbs or working hard in the cross-winds and tense flat stages. Recent experience of the Vuelta makes him a valuable member of the team.

Ian Boswell – age 24 – United States
The young American makes his Grand Tour debut after a season which has seen him come of age in the WorldTour peloton. Part of winning teams at the Volta ao Algarve, Giro del Trentino, Tour de Yorkshire and Criterium du Dauphine in 2015, Boswell has impressed greatly on the climbs. Seventh overall at the Tour of California showed that ‘Boz’ can also race up front at the highest level.

Salvatore Puccio – age 25 – Italy
Improving with each passing season, the Italian gets set for a second appearance at the Vuelta with a valuable team role to play. With impressive experience despite his young age, Puccio had ridden all five of cycling’s monument classics by just his second year as a pro. Salva has the punch to help on the flat, and is increasingly comfortable setting a pace on the climbs.

Nicolas Roche – age 31 – Ireland
The second of three riders to attempt the Tour-Vuelta double this year, Roche has excelled at the Spanish Grand Tour in the past. With a fifth and a seventh place overall finish to his name, as well as a stage win in 2013, the Irishman has the climbing credentials to race at the very front. That, in addition to 14 Grand Tour starts, makes him a significant asset to any team.

Geraint Thomas – age 29 – Great Britain
One of the most accomplished all-round talents in the sport, Thomas gets set to make his Vuelta debut after demonstrating the best form of his career. Whether tearing up the spring classics or riding with elite GC contenders in the mountains, ‘G’ can do it all. The Welshman rode as high as fourth at the Tour de France in July and was invaluable in supporting Froome’s victory.

More stem watching for Chris Froome:
stage 7 - Criterium du Dauphine Libere 2015

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Mario Aerts talks about the ambitions of Lotto Soudal for the Vuelta
The nine Lotto Soudal riders can’t wait to start the 70th Vuelta a España on Saturday. The first stage is a team time trial of 7.4 kilometers along the coast, from Puerto Banús to Marbella. Then there are twenty stages which take the riders through Andalusia first, via the east coast it goes to the north with a visit to Andorra. Then the caravan heads to Asturias. The last five stages the Vuelta heads towards the capital of the country, the last stage finishes in Madrid. Considering the tough course there are many climbers in the team, Bart De Clercq and Maxime Monfort aim for a good overall classification. Kris Boeckmans can take his chance in the sprints. Sports director Mario Aerts tells more about the ambitions of Lotto Soudal.

Mario Aerts: “Kris Boeckmans is the sprinter in our team. He’ll have to compete against among others Nacer Bouhanni, John Degenkolb and Matteo Pelucchi. Kris has demonstrated his fast legs already several times this year and his eight victories have given him confidence. ‘Boeckie’ definitely has a chance to win during this Vuelta. Of four stages it’s almost certain they will end with a bunch sprint: the third, the fifth, the twelfth and last stage. The best scenario would be that the sprinters can battle for the victory in the eighth, tenth and thirteenth stage as well.”

“Jasper De Buyst will be the lead-out man for Kris. He wanted to ride a Grand Tour before the Olympic Games in Rio next year and this perfectly fits into his programme. I think the Vuelta is a bit easier to make a Grand Tour début. Tosh Van der Sande needs to make sure that Jasper and Kris enter the last kilometers in a good position to start the sprint. In the tougher stages Tosh can take the climbers to the front. Tosh is a very good pilot and will definitely be able to use this quality on several occasions. In the last week there are some stages in which a breakaway might make it to the finish and then Tosh can definitely attack in the beginning of the day. He is fast and that can be useful as well. Tosh is very versatile.”

“There are stages for sprinters, climbers and escapees. As we know Thomas De Gendt he will again be motivated to join breakaways. There will be sufficient opportunities to get away, especially the last week looks good for the adventurers. That means the eighteenth stage, the nineteenth stage to Ávila and the penultimate stage with four climbs of the first category. The escapees could be successful in these stages because it isn’t the toughest stages where the GC riders will fight. On top of that everyone is already tired at that moment and then a breakaway has a big chance to survive.”

“Also Adam Hansen is a man who can join an early breakaway. But he can score with a late jump as well. He will definitely have studied the route, last year he had marked the stage he won as well. So Adam can aim for a stage win of his own, but apart from that he will also support the GC riders in the mountains and he can take the sprinters to the front. He’s a valuable rider in the team. It’s not easy what he does, all those Grand Tours in a row, nothing may go wrong. That almost happened in the Tour, but he has such a strong character that he accomplished that as well.”

“The first part of the Vuelta takes place in the south of Spain, so that means the high temperatures will be a crucial factor. In the first week there are a few opportunities for Jelle Vanendert. There are some tough finishes with steep parts, perfect for punchers. The second, fourth and sixth stage are really something for Jelle, who already proved his skills in the Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne. Later in the Vuelta Jelle can of course have a go on the longer climbs, which he’s good at as well, just think about his victory on Plateau de Beille in the Tour of 2011.”

“There are nine uphill finishes in this Vuelta. The toughest stages are in between the two rest days. The eleventh stage in Andorra, just after the first rest day, is immensely hard. It’s a short stage of 138 kilometers with six climbs and 5200 altitude meters. That will definitely be the hardest day. Before the second rest day there are three tough stages in a row: the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth stage. Together with the individual time trial of 38.7 kilometers in Burgos after the second rest day these stages will determine the overall classification. Afterwards I don’t expect too many changes. Last year there were more extreme climbs on the route, now it seems that’s not the case, although you always get surprises in the Vuelta. Now there is only one very extreme climb in the sixteenth stage to Ermita de Alba, a climb with gradients above twenty per cent!”

“For Jurgen Van den Broeck the Vuelta is partly a preparation for the World Championships time trial. He doesn’t’ specifically aim for a good place on GC. It’s better for Jurgen when a stage contains many climbs, so the stage in Andorra is perfect. It would be great if he could win a stage in a Grand Tour.”

“In our team Bart De Clercq and Maxime Monfort are the GC riders. Bart De Clercq won a stage at the Tour de Pologne and showed his good condition there. If there is an opportunity to win a stage, like in Poland, all the better, but he focuses on GC. Maxime Monfort is in good shape as well, I saw that in Poland. When Bart had the leader’s jersey, Maxime did lots of work for him. He and Bart both aim for a top ten place. The competition is hard, but they have the qualities to finish in top ten and that may certainly be the goal.”

Lotto Soudal’s GC man Bart De Clercq:
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Team Colombia-Coldeportes announces Vuelta a España line-up
Corti: “It’s a mix of experience and reliability for three demanding weeks”
After the last tests in the Vuelta a Burgos and the Tour of Utah, the technical staff of Team Colombia-Coldeportes, led by General Manager Claudio Corti, has selected the nine riders who will represent the colors of the only Pro Continental South American team in the 70th edition of the Vuelta a España, which will start from Puerto Banús (Marbella) this Saturday, August 22nd, and will end in the Country’s capital, Madrid, on September 13th.

The nine cyclists selected are Alex Cano, Fabio Duarte, Leonardo Duque, Walter Pedraza, Carlos Julian Quintero, Brayan Ramirez, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Rodolfo Torres and Juan Pablo Valencia. The squad will fly to Spain from Milan (Italy) on Wednesday, August 19th. The upcoming Vuelta a España represents the third time that the Escarabajos will get to ride a Grand Tour, following the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Giro d’Italia, and the first participation for a Colombian team in the Spanish race since 1993. Three of the riders will make their debut in a Grand Tour: Alex Cano, Brayan Ramirez and Juan Pablo Valencia.

General Manager Claudio Corti explained the selection made by the technical staff: “The Vuelta a España is a very important event for us, and for this reason we have built a team able to deliver experience and maximum focus through three weeks of racing”.

“The story of this Vuelta will be written on the mountains – Corti continued – and that’s where we want to put ourselves into the spotlight. We are confident that we have a solid squad, capable of leaving its mark on the race and meeting the expectations of the fans from Colombia and all over the world. Our first goal will be to win a stage, but we’ll have a better picture of what we can do – not only in stages, but also in the general classification – once the race will develop”.

“A couple of days ago I made a visit to Coldeportes Director and Sports Minister Andres Botero and he confirmed to me that there’s a great atmosphere of anticipation in Colombia now that our Vuelta debut is drawing closer: we hope he will join us in the final days of the race also this time”, the General Manager of the Escarabajos concluded.

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Movistar Team set for Vuelta a España
Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana to lead telephone squad again in Spanish GT’s 70th edition, looking to crown an already magnificent 2015.

Eusebio Unzué has confirmed the nine-man squad that the Movistar Team will bring to the start of the 70th Vuelta a España in Puerto Banús on Saturday. Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde will be the leaders of a roster completed by Andrey Amador, Rory Sutherland, Javi Moreno, Imanol Erviti, Fran Ventoso, José Joaquín Rojas and Giovanni Visconti. José Luis Arrieta and Chente García Acosta are the two directeur sportifs for the final Grand Tour of the season.

“We didn’t have to leave riders who were ready for the Vuelta out of our roster,” underlined Unzué. “We asked José Herrada and Beñat Intxausti, who had already ridden another Grand Tour, to remain in decent form should any misfortune happen, but luckily, the nine riders we kept in mind are perfectly fit to ride and are the most appropriate ones. It might well be the most polyvalent group out of the three Grand Tour squads we lined up this season. Even though some of them might not be able to stick to the front into long climbs hit at a hard pace, all of them can get well through almost any mountain stage in this Vuelta. Most of the lads are fresh -Sutherland, Moreno, Rojas, Ventoso-, with no GTs on their race programme so far, and the whole block is raring to go, which gives us a great guarantee of success.”

Despite Quintana and Valverde coming into this race after “successful seasons, having fulfilled their respective programmes with no major setbacks,” Unzué concedes that “there’s always a sense of pressure on us, in every race – responsibility of doing well wherever we go. We always try to get to every key race in good condition, and both of them are excited about this Vuelta and had it on their calendars for many months.” Unzué doesn’t think that their intense efforts during the Tour might play a huge impact: “All contenders will get to this race in similar condition. Obviously, it’s harder for those present at the Tour to reach top condition again with short recovery times, but the rest also rode the Giro and, in general, pretty much everyone, except for the ‘galactic’ 1989-90 generation -Landa, Aru, Nairo-, is mature enough to cope with a second GT so close to the first one. Again, the biggest difficulty remains staying motivated for such a challenge.”

Regarding the race favorites, Unzué spoke about “the consistency by Froome, who did start showing the best of his game with a second place overall here in 2011, later becoming the biggest reference on GTs; the regularity by Nibali -who already knows how to win this race-, strong for all TT, mountains and rolling terrain and able to improvise tactics which add value to his sporting quality; also Purito, who always shines at his best in this race; and, of course, the solidness by Aru and Nairo, already proven at this race. And Alejandro – what can we say: after such a brilliant season, any extra from him will be more than welcome. With Landa in as well as any surprises, which always happen in the Vuelta, the contenders’ field looks magnificent.”

Lastly, the route: “It’s an exaggeratedly ‘new’ Vuelta, with all mountain-top finishes not included in any edition before. Most of the race’s main difficulties will be at the north of Spain and Andorra, while a different kind of hardness will be found in Andalusia. Everyone could feel the high temperatures we suffered for a whole week last year, and that will surely add some wear and tear when the riders hit Murcia and Valencia before the first rest day, from which the race will start to get decided.”

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Trek Factory Racing announces Vuelta a España roster
Fabian Cancellara, Markel Irizar, Jasper Stuyven, Yaroslav Popovych, Fränk Schleck, Boy Van Poppel, Danny Van Poppel, Riccardo Zoidl and Haimar Zubeldia will be the nine riders at the start of the Vuelta a España (August 22 – September 13) in Marbella.

“I believe we are bringing a strong and balanced team to the start of the third Grand Tour of the season,” says General Manager Luca Guercilena. “We have our eyes set on the GC with Fränk (Schleck) and we’d like to come home with at least one stage win.”

“Fränk is our overall leader. Everybody knows how much experience he has. He has had a couple of setbacks this season and missed out on the Tour (de France), but he’s ready for this Vuelta and more importantly, he’s very fresh. He raced Utah and only narrowly missed out on the podium because of bonification seconds,” says Guercilena.

The Vuelta a España counts no less than ten stages with an uphill finish, eight of those with a climb longer than three kilometers to the line. Haimar Zubeldia and Riccardo Zoidl will be riding in support of Schleck, says Guercilena.

“Haimar (Zubeldia) needs no introduction. His wealth of experience is tremendous. He suffered from a stomach virus after the Tour but is all set to race now. And Riccardo (Zoidl) has proven in the last one and a half seasons with us that he’s a very classy rider that can be competitive in many ways.

Six stages in, the Vuelta a España may see a sprinter raise his arms at the end, and Trek Factory Racing’s roster includes two sets of fast legs ready for the fast finishes.

Luca Guercilena: “With Danny (Van Poppel) and Jasper (Stuyven) we have two very fast men at the start. Their profiles allow us to play in terms of who will be the designated sprinter. Danny has shown some serious progression over the last months and Jasper showed his Grand Tour value with three top-4 placings and ninth in the closing time trial last year at the Vuelta.”

“With Boy (Van Poppel), Markel (Irizar) and (Yaroslav) Popo(vych) we have three sturdy all-rounders. All three are hard men on a mission to support the team’s goals,” continues Guercilena.

Last but not least, the team can count on Fabian Cancellara during the Vuelta. The Swiss champion will return to racing at the Vuelta after sustaining two transverse process fractures in two vertebrae bones of the lower back while wearing the yellow jersey on stage three of the Tour de France.

Guercilena: “Fabian comes to the start with different expectations and goals than other years because of the injury. It’s absurd to think that he’s doing this for the second time this season. But everyone knows his talent and his capacity to recover. I have no doubt that he will build great shape in the Vuelta. The first week won’t be easy for him, but he can suffer a lot and he’s determined to finish the season on a high!”

Fabian Cancellara:
Tour de France 2015 - stage 2

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Giant-Alpecin to the Vuelta a España
Team Giant-Alpecin heads to this year’s third and final Grand Tour of the year following successful campaigns at both the Giro d’Italia and this summer’s Tour de France. The main focus for the team will be on day success in the sprint stages. Alongside the sprints the team remains focused on the general development process of its riders.

This year’s Vuelta presents opportunities for different riders to battle for stage wins, over a parcours that features nine summit finishes as the Vuelta celebrates its 70th edition. The race once again gets underway with a team time trial before heading straight into the first uphill finish on day two. The first week continues with both sprint and attacking opportunities as well as a mountain top finish on stage seven.

John Degenkolb (GER) returns to the race having won the green jersey of points leader in 2014 and will be looking to make the most of the sprint opportunities over the three weeks. Team Giant-Alpecin has a strong line-up to support Degenkolb in this, but one that is versatile enough to challenge across other fronts. Degenkolb will be joined by Tom Dumoulin (NED) who will have an eye on the race’s individual time trial on stage 17 as well as the puncheur-style finishes, together with Lawson Craddock (USA) who showed his progress once again at the Tour of Poland by taking third on the toughest stage of the race.

“Our main goal is to go for stage success with John, as we targeted at the Tour,” explained coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA). “With Koen, Luka, Zico and Tom D. we have a strong lead-out for John. With Lawson we are working towards the longer-term development, and will not target specific GC ambitions but rather we aim to help him learn how to behave as GC rider.

“We have shown at the Giro and Tour that we are ready to take any opportunities as they come and on the in-between stages we will look to profit from the breakaway opportunities. In addition we have Tom D. here who will look to target the TT along with the classics style stages.”

Line-up:
Lawson Craddock (USA), John Degenkolb (GER), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Koen de Kort (NED), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL).
Coach: Addy Engels (NED) & Christian Guiberteau (FRA).

John Degenkolb:
La Coruna  - Spain  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  John Degenkolb (Germany / Team - GIANT - Shimano) - Michael Matthews (Australia / Orica Greenedge Cycling Team) - Stuyven Jasper (Bel - Trek Factory Racing)   pictured during  stage - 17 of the Vuelta de Espana - Tour of Spain 2014 - from   Ortigueira to  La Coruna  - photo Sabine Jacob/Cor Vos © 2014

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Vuelta a Espana – Michel Thétaz: “The goal is a stage win, and we have the talent to achieve it”
For 80 years, the organizers of the Vuelta have emphasized originality in their courses. This 70th edition of the race will be no different with the peloton facing 3359.8 kilometers of racing, which will include nine summit finishes. And of these nine mountain top finishes, every one of them will be new to the race. Without question, the Tour of Spain wants to offer a robust and selective course, and the two consecutive stages that will total some 10,000m of climbing present stark evidence of this design.

Sticking with the novel but robust theme, IAM Cycling will be fielding a group of riders, some of whom will be grand tour neophytes while others will bring a vast and deep experience, able to influence the race and succeed in getting a stage win. “The idea is that we will take a group of young talented riders to this Vuelta as a way to promote their progress; that way they can gain a lot of maturity by rubbing shoulders with the more experienced riders,” explained Michel Thétaz, founder of IAM Cycling and CEO of IAM Funds.

Having already garnered 40 podium places since the beginning of the season, the Swiss professional team hopes to clinch its first grand tour victory since joining the peloton in 2013. Michel Thétaz did not hesitate to reveal the direction the team will take on Spanish roads to achieve this goal: “In this race, we do not have a single leader like we had with Mathias Frank at the Tour de France, for example. The goal is to have a stage win, and we have many strengths to achieve that. On the one hand, we have Matteo Pelucchi who is in great shape, and very well supported by Vicente Reynes and David Tanner. Then, on the other hand, we can spring a few surprises on stages with tougher profiles that will be more suitable for riders like Jérôme Coppel, Thomas Degand or even Larry Warbasse. I have a lot of confidence in our team because we can rely on the unity we have been building since the beginning of the season. There is an improved symbiosis and better harmony in our team because the riders have learned to know each other. It shows in our results for several months already. So there is no reason to think that this unity won’t also be reflected in our performance at the Vuelta.”

Riders:
Marcel Aregger (S), Sylvain Chavanel (Fr), Jérôme Coppel (Fr), Thomas Degand (Bel), Simon Pellaud (S), Matteo Pelucchi (It), Vicente Reynes (Sp), David Tanner (Aus), Larry Warbasse (USA).
General Manager: Michel Thétaz.
Sports Manager: Serge Beucherie, Rik Verbrugghe.
Directeurs sportifs: Mario Chiesa, Eddy Seigneur. Trainer: Marcello Albasini.

Sylvain Chavanel:
Ronde van Vlaanderen 2015 men elite worldcup

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Majka and Sagan head dual ambitions for Tinkoff-Saxo at La Vuelta
Tinkoff-Saxo has selected the nine riders that will represent the team at this year’s daunting Vuelta a España, where both rivals and terrain represent the hardest edition in years. Rafal Majka will captain the team gunning for a top spot in the general classification against big GC stars, while Peter Sagan is set to tackle the fight for stage wins.

Tinkoff-Saxo sends team captain Rafal Majka, Peter Sagan, Pavel Brutt, Jesper Hansen, Daniele Bennati, Maciej Bodnar, Sergio Paulinho, Pawel Poljanski and Jay McCarthy into action at Vuelta a España 2015, where the team lines up as defending champions.

“Here, before the start of the Vuelta, our goal is to win a stage with Majka and secure a good final position in the general classification with him. Majka is our clear GC captain and he will be up against most of the big stars such as Froome, Quintana and Nibali. At the same time, we’ll support Sagan, who’s feeling ready after a post-Tour recovery period. He will be targeting the flat and hilly stages, while Rafal will have the backing of the entire team in the mountains”, says Tristan Hoffman, leading sports director at La Vuelta.

“With riders like Majka and Sagan we must have ambitions. They both had a really big peak in condition during the Tour, especially Peter, so we will have to see, where they stand as we get underway. Hansen, Paulinho, Poljanski and McCarthy will be important helpers for Rafal in the mountains, while we will be able to set up a strong sprint train and lead-out for Peter with guys like Bennati, Bodnar and Brutt”, adds Hoffman.

Vuelta a España commences Saturday, August 22 with an intensive TTT to Marbella immediately followed by undulating and mountainous stages that practically continue until the grand finale in Madrid after one of the toughest Vuelta routes seen in years. Rafal Majka, acclaimed climber, will take up the GC reins for Tinkoff-Saxo and notes that he enters the race with motivation.

“I start and face this Vuelta a España with great enthusiasm. I’ve recovered well, both physically and mentally, which is also very important before a race this long, hard and far into the season. I have prepared well at altitude and I will soon know how my shape is exactly, as this Vuelta definitely doesn’t have an easy start. I’m happy to lead Tinkoff-Saxo at this Vuelta, I believe that we have a competitive squad and personally I’m very motivated”, comments Rafal Majka, while teammate Peter Sagan notes that he’s excited to see how the legs respond after a period of rest.

“After a tough and demanding Tour de France, I had a good period of rest and I prepared myself in order to give my best at the Vuelta a España. I will assess my shape during the race. It will, undoubtedly, be a hard and challenging Vuelta and I look forward to going back to racing with my team”.

Vuelta a España will challenge the riders with no less than nine mountain top finishes concentrated in the first two weeks. Tristan Hoffman underlines that, although none of the 2015 Vuelta’s summit finishes have ever previously been faced, the three weeks of racing will undoubtedly feature large doses of demanding climbing.

“It’s a really tough race, there are so many stages that finish uphill on either proper mountains or on steep, shorter climbs. Stage 11 in Andorra has no less than 6 categorized climbs in just 138km and it is simply one of the toughest stages I’ve ever seen. Stages like this will be up to Rafal, he’s a specialist in this terrain and guys like Hansen and Poljanski will have to support him for as long as possible”, explains Hoffman before finishing:

“On the hilly and flat stages, we’ll be there for Sagan. Earlier this year, him and Bennati showed that they were able to set up successful sprints together. Furthermore, it will be difficult to control this race, so several of our guys might seek the breakaways to actively search for the openings. No matter what, we bring a group of guys that want to fight and we’ll see how the race progress day by day”.

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Lampre Merida Team f_chiari
Lampre-Merida for the Spanish Grand Tour
These are the names of the 9 riders who’ll be at the start from Puerto Banùs:
– Mattia Cattaneo: 24 years old, Italy, first appearance the Vuelta, climber rouleur.
– Valerio Conti: 22 years old, Italy, 1 cap in the Tour de France, climber.
– Kristijan Durasek: 28 years old, Croatia, first appearance the Vuelta, climber
– Tsgabu Grmay Gebremaryam: 23 years old, Ethiopia, first appearance the Vuelta, climber.
– Ilia Koshevoy: 24 years old, Belarus, first appearance the Vuelta, climber rouleur.
– Przemyslaw Niemiec: 35 years old, Poland, 4 caps in the Vuelta, 1 stage victory in the Vuelta, climber.
– Nelson Oliveira: 26 years old, Portugal, 1 cap in the Vuelta, rouleur.
– Ruben Plaza Molina: 35 years old, Spain, 3 caps in the Vuelta, climber rouleur.
– Maximiliano Richeze: 32 years old, Argentina, 2 caps in the Vuelta, sprinter.

The cyclists from Team Lampre-Merida will represent 8 different Nations (Argentina, Belarus, Croatia, Ethiopia, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain) and 3 Continents (Africa, Europe and South America).
The average age is 27 years.

The team will be directed by Orlando Maini and Bruno Vicino. In the operative staff there will be the doctors Michele De Grandi and Matteo Beltemacchi, the masseurs Capelli, Chiodini, Del Gallo, Lima, Napolitano and Redaelli, the mechanics Baron, Bortoluzzo, Coelho and Pengo and the driver Bozzolo.

“It will be fundamental for us to have a good attitude in approaching each stage of the Vuelta: our task is to battle each day,” sport director Maini explained. “Conti, Grmay and Koshevoy are young and full of energies so they’ll be good performer in the attacks and Durasek and Cattaneo will be good resources on the more demanding stages.”

“We have some concerns over the general classification: Valls could not ride because he’s facing some health problems, and we’ll evaluate the condition of Niemiec, who was involved in a crash in the past week while training, the first mountains stages will be an important test. Oliveira and Plaza are important values for the team, since they demonstrated their qualities in the grand tours. Richeze will be our captain for the sprints and he’ll try to reach the top result he missed two years ago. The team will be international, with 8 different nations represented: that means we’ll have many fans all around the world.”

Przemyslaw Niemiec rode well in the 2014 Vuelta:
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Etixx – Quick-Step for la Vuelta
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in La Vuelta a España. La Vuelta is a three-week, 3356.1km stage race and the last grand tour of the 2015 season. The race begins on August 22nd and ends on the 13th of September.

The 2015 route promises to be as challenging as ever, with 13 hilly and high mountain stages, a team time trial, an individual time trial, and six flat stages. The individual time trial of Stage 17 is 39km in length, while the team time trial, which opens La Vuelta, is a distance of 7.4 kilometers. There are a total of 44 summits at La Vuelta this year. There are two rest days.

The definitive day for the general classification may be the penultimate stage on the 12th of September. Stage 20, from San Lorenzo de El Escorial to Cercedilla, includes four Category 1 climbs, and a descent into a short uphill finale. However, La Vuelta is a difficult race and any stage can be a surprise.

“We have a nice team, a mix of experienced riders and young guys,” Sport Director Rik Van Slycke said. “Our goal is to try and be a protagonist by entering into the breakaways ,and doing the best we can in any situation as the race evolves. In a race like La Vuelta any day can be something unexpected, and we will see what opportunities we can pounce on day-by-day. We will see what we can do in the final grand tour of the year.”

David De La Cruz will participate, just 18 days after crashing at Tour de Pologne and breaking his collarbone.

“I’m super happy to be at the start,” De La Cruz said. “Together with the team, we did everything to make sure I was recovered and ready for this race. I really wanted to be at La Vuelta. I would like to thank Etixx – Quick-Step, and the medical staff, for the trust they had in me, and for helping me to make sure the condition is there to race without any risks. Of course I don’t know how I will be, as I lost a few days of training. But I think I should be OK with the preparation I had before my crash. But at an exigent race like La Vuelta, you never know. The most important thing at the moment is to be at the start and then see what the race can bring, and what I can do in supporting the team.”

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Theuns and Bonifazio join Trek Factory Racing
Trek Factory Racing is pleased to announce it has reached an agreement with two of the brightest prospects in cycling. Belgian Edward Theuns and Italian Niccolo Bonifazio will join the pinstriped team on a two-year deal.

Edward Theuns joins TFR from Topsport-Vlaanderen and is currently leading the UCI Europe Tour. The 24-year-old Belgian had a breakthrough 2015 season with three victories and a long series of podium placings since the start of the season.

Theuns: “This is huge for me. It’s all gone so fast this season. I was hoping to do a solid season and catch the eye of the big teams, but very early on Trek Factory Racing reached out. I’m super happy to join a team with such a strong focus on the ‘races of the north’ and possibly the best classics rider of his generation, Fabian Cancellara.”

General Manager Luca Guercilena: “Edward has shown this year his potential as a specialist for the Belgian races and a strong winner’s mentality. We believe he can be an excellent support rider for Fabian (Cancellara) and that he can be a leader for some other select races where his speed will be instrumental.”

“My ambitions are to continue my development as a rider, all while supporting the team’s goals,” says Theuns. “I want to help Fabian have an amazing spring campaign and, when given the chance, I’d like to obtain a good result myself.”

Niccolò Bonifazio, 21, arrives from Lampre-Merida. Like Theuns, he’s had a breakthrough season with a fifth place in Milano-Sanremo and a victory in the GP Lugano. He also won a stage in the Tour of Japan and sprinted with the best in the Tour de Pologne and the Arctic Race of Norway.

Bonifazio: “I’m super happy to join Trek Factory Racing. It’s a team with a very good image and a focus on developing young riders. I’d like to thank the management for the trust and I hope to reward it with some good results as soon as possible.”

Luca Guercilena: “I have known Niccolò since a couple of years now. I used to provide training schedules for him in my lab in Milan when he was a junior, so I’m very familiar with his capacities. He has given proof of his talent, in particular in Lugano and San Remo, and I believe he can turn into an important rider for the classics.”

“Winning a Classic is my dream,” says Bonifazio, “and I realize it takes a lot of factors to get there. Experience would be the number one thing, and I’m very motivated to start gaining experience with Trek Factory Racing.”

Niccolo Bonifazio:
Coppa Agostoni 2014

Lampre Merida Team f_chiari
Young, talented, winning riders and still blue-fuchsia-green in 2016
Valerio Conti, 22 years old, signed an agreement to race in 2016 with Lampre-Merida, becoming one of the main members of the grass roots group of the team together with the Slovenian Jan Polanc and Luka Pibernik.

Valerio Conti has been on the team since 2014, the year he won the GP Beghelli. Fast climber, he’s going to take part in the Vuelta a España, his second experience in a Grand Tour (debut in the 2014 edition of the Spanish race), few days after having honored the participation with the Italian National team in the pre-olimpic race in Rio de Jaineiro. The rider from Rome chose to continue his blue-fuchsia-green experience because he’s aware that this is the best solution to improve his qualities in order to become one of the most important Italian cyclists.

Jan Polanc (23 years old, in LAMPRE-MERIDA since August 2013) and Luka Pibernik (21 years old, first season in the team) both have an agreement with the team for the whole 2016 season. The Slovenian duo has already demonstrated his quality: riding on the new Merida Scultura, Polanc won the Abetone stage in the Giro d’Italia 2015; in June, Pibernik obtained his second victory in the national championship.

In 2016, LAMPRE-MERIDA’s technical staff will rely on a trio of young guns who have already been valorized in the team and who’ll give for sure additional satisfactions in the next season. The team management is working in order to complete some deals which will grant further value to the team’s roster.

Valerio Conti:
San Fernando - Spain  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Conti Valerio (Ita - Lampre-Merida)  pictured during  stage - 2 of the Vuelta de Espana - Tour of Spain 2014 - fram Algeciras to San Fernando - photo Sabine Jacob/Cor Vos © 2014

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Russian champion Yuri Trofimov to join Tinkoff-Saxo in 2016
The versatile Russian champion will bring a wealth of experience to the Tinkoff-Saxo roster where he will support team leader Alberto Contador in next season’s major challenges but also assume leading roles in a number of races.

Tinkoff-Saxo is delighted to announce that Yuri Trofimov will strengthen its squad in the next season and play an important role in achieving the ambitious but challenging goals in 2016.

The reigning Russian champion and accomplished rider has been with Katusha since 2011 and had a notable 2015 season that saw him assume the lead of the team in the Giro d’Italia, where he stayed in fifth position of the GC until Stage 18 when illness slowed him down. Nevertheless, Trofimov ended the first Grand Tour of the year in 10th place. When asked what he considered to be his strength as a rider, Trofimov was quick to reply: “I never give up, no matter how hard it might be”.

A few weeks after the Giro, Trofimov went on to be proclaimed Russian road champion, a very important moment in his career, according to him. He scored a commanding victory in a tough, 204km-long race that included the best Russian riders. Trofimov has competed in all three Grand Tours and considers his stage win in the 2014 Dauphiné to be one of the best races of his career.

Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov commented on Trofimov joining the team: “I am very excited to have in our Russian team our national champion. This is my sixth season as team owner and for the very first time I will have a Russian champion in the team. In addition, it is especially important that Yuri is very keen on riding for our team, in order to help our leader Alberto Contador but also aim at scoring his own victories”.

Trofimov said on his move to Tinkoff-Saxo: “For me it was a hard decision since a new team brings new opportunities but also means a new challenge. I join the team which together with its leader Alberto Contador is going to fight for victory at the Tour de France. I am also going to have opportunities for myself to win races”.

For Trofimov, the Russian identity of Tinkoff-Saxo was an important factor: “I leave one Russian team for another one and I will still have Russian riders by my side. For me that is an important aspect”, commented Trofimov.

For Steven de Jongh, Head Sport Director of Tinkoff-Saxo, Trofimov will be a key support in the mountains. “After the Giro we saw the need for a very good climber that would support Alberto. Yuri has been a while with Katusha and was looking for new opportunities. We are excited to see him joining our team and we are sure he has all the skills to make him an excellent addition to our squad”, commented de Jongh.

“Yuri’s race program will be set up around Alberto’s with the Tour de France being, obviously, the major focus of the season. However, he has proven to be a good leader, so he will be given that role within the team in some races”, concluded de Jongh.

Yuri Trofimov:
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BORA – ARGON 18 signs Silvio Herklotz
Silvio Herklotz has signed a two-year contract with the German team BORA – ARGON 18 beginning 2016. The 21-year-old is regarded as a great talent for demanding stage races earning his reputation in recent years with numerous successes in the U23-category. These include prestigious results as winning the Tour Alsace, a second place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the victory at the German championships with only 19 years. With a height of 1.90 meters and weighing 68 kilograms, Herklotz brings in qualities for time trials and the mountains – both key conditions for a classification rider. With the signing of Silvio Herklotz, BORA – ARGON 18 continues its philosophy to bind German-speaking stage race riders, like Dominik Nerz (25 years) or Patrick Konrad (23 years) and the current German champion Emanuel Buchmann (22 years) who both ride a convincing first professional season.

“We are delighted that Silvio makes the step to the pro level with us, despite offers from the WorldTour. Our team has shown that we are developing young riders extremely well by combining a demanding racing program with specific phases of regeneration. Respectively, we’ll also plan the first professional year for Silvio. He’ll have few but intense days of racing. Depending on the first months, he’ll get the freedom for own results in smaller tours after the spring”, Ralph Denk, Team Manager of BORA – ARGON 18, comments the signing of Silvio Herklotz.

Silvio Herklotz, born on May 6, 1994 in Berlin, started with cycling at the age of nine years. After he pursued both road cycling and cyclo-cross since the youth, he now focuses completely on road cycling. Herklotz has been riding for the German Team Stölting since 2013.

Silvio Herklotz:
RAD-WM 2013 - FLORENZ - STRASSENRENNEN U23

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Cannondale-Garmin Announces Patrick Bevin and Ryan Mullen will join the Team in 2016
Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling today announced that Patrick Bevin and Ryan Mullen will join the team in 2016.

Bevin burst on to the radar of many cycling fans when he dominated the second half of the 2014 National Road Series (NRS). The 24-year-old New Zealander has enjoyed major success in the 2015 NRS, including victories in the Oceania and Asia Tours. At the Tour of Korea, he nabbed seven podiums, including five second-place finishes and a stage win, and took second overall.

Jonathan Vaughters, CEO Slipstream Sports and Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling, said: “In Asia and Australia, Patrick has shown great diversity in skills from bunch sprints to climbing. He is a rider who seems to have it all and he’ll be a great addition to the team.”

Bevin is looking forward to the opportunity to continue his progression as a rider at the top level of the sport: “I am delighted to be joining Cannondale-Garmin for the next two years,” he said. “To race at the World Tour level is a big opportunity for me and I hope to play an important role in many team performances and victories over the coming seasons.”

Hailed as one of the top young time trialists in the world, Mullen made history in 2014 when he became the youngest rider ever to win Ireland’s elite national road and TT championships. Last September, at just 20 years old, he took second at the U23 men’s TT worlds, narrowly missing the title by less than half a second.

“Ryan is one of the best, if not the best, up and coming TT talents in the world,” said Vaughters. “It will be exciting to see how he progresses as a rider.”

Mullen added: “For me, Cannondale-Garmin is the perfect learning environment. They have a wealth of experience between riders and staff and working with them, I will hopefully make big steps forward over the coming seasons.”

Ryan Mullen:
European Games in Baku, Azerbaidjan (cycling ITT men)

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CULT Energy Pro Cycling continue as CULT Energy-Stölting Group
Today, Thursday the 20th of August the Danish Pro Continental team, CULT Energy Pro Cycling are hosting a press conference at CULT Energy headquarters in Lystrup, Denmark to inform the public that the team management has succeeded in finding a co-sponsor. The Danish based professional cycling team joins forces with the German continental team, Team Stölting.

For the following three seasons, the team will be named CULT Energy-Stölting Group.

Owner of CULT, Brian Sørensen is happy to break the big news in Aarhus: “We are happy, proud and incredibly relieved. The signing of this sponsor agreement is the happy ending of a long, hard struggle and naturally it is great news to deliver to the riders. Cycling is up and rising in Germany and there is potential for a solid partnership with exciting prospects for both us and the riders. I think it’s a partnership with great perspective and it not only ensures the team’s survival but it also contains promise of an exciting future project for both CULT, Stölting and the riders. We never gave up and the agreement shows that where there is a will there is a way. Now we’re looking forward to hitting the German roads with a Danish cycling team,” Sørensen concludes.

Naturally, this is the day sports director, Michael Skelde has been looking forward to: “This is a big day for us and I’m proud to let you all know that with this agreement, we will continue having have a strong team in the next years to come at Pro Continental level. It has been more than a hectic year. Besides running the team and participating in races, we have been looking for and negotiating with potential sponsors since we started the project in the Autumn of 2014. With Stölting we have come to a solid agreement running for the following three years. Stölting have been in cycling for several years and the mutual understanding is a solid foundation for everyone within the team and the long-term agreement allows us to finally fully concentrate on making results on the road.”

Managing director RA Christian Große Kreul says: “Today is a really important day for both of the partners. CULT and Stölting had partnership negotiations from the very beginning and since then, the relationship grew better and better. For Stölting, it was the logical step to rise to Pro Continental level, but we didn’t want to do it without a trusting and powerful partner. So, we are very happy to joining forces with CULT now. Of course, we also like the idea of having some of the best experienced and young German riders into the team. We truly believe in the team performing like our respective companies: Successful against much bigger competitors by going its own way!”

The Stölting Group specialises in safety, cleanliness and people. As a leading service provider in the fields of cleaning, security and HR, the company, based in Gelsenkirchen, offers complete solution packages for all property issues. Originally founded in 1899 as a window cleaning business, Stölting has since developed into an infrastructure and HR service provider with 5,000 employees over 23 locations and a nation-wide network of professionally managed branches.

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La Vuelta a España in History
The Vuelta organizers have released this great bit of race retro, I think you’ll agree that racing has got much easier.


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