What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Monday!

There is no shortage of race action at the moment and as usual we bring you every pedal stroke from Spain, the US, Norway, France and Belgium. As well as looking back we also preview the Eneco Tour which kicks off today. Get a very large coffee and settle back for a full EuroTrash Monday, but don’t laugh too much at Mr. Tinkov!

TOP STORY: Tinkoff Bank; Not so Clever!
Today’s top story doesn’t really have much to do with cycling except for the Tinkoff Bank connection, but it gave me a laugh.

The Telegraph has reported that 42 year old Russian, Dmitry Argarkov received a Tinkoff Credit System’s credit card and a letter of terms of use and just like the rest of us he didn’t like the terms. He came up with a good idea and scanned the terms and made some adjustments with 0% interest, no fees and no credit limit. He also added that every time the bank failed to comply with the rules he would fine them 3 million Rubles (€68,000 or $91,263) and if the bank tried to cancel the contract it would cost them 6 million Rubles (€136,000 or $182,526). No one at the bank thought to check the small print and passed the contract.

Tinkoff Bank tried to terminate Argarkov’s credit card twice in 2010 because he was late paying the minimum amount, but a judge ruled in his favour because the Tinkoff Bank had signed an agreement and ruled that he would only have to pay the outstanding balance of 19,000 Rubles, about €430 or $578. The judge commented: “They signed the documents without looking. They said what usually their borrowers say in court: ‘We have not read it’.”

It gets better; Argarkov is suing Tinkoff Bank for 24 million Rubles (€524,000 or $730,104) for not honouring the contract and breaking the agreement.

I doubt that’s the reason for Oleg Tinkov pulling out of the Saxo-Tinkoff team, but maybe it didn’t put him in the best of moods that morning when he came in to his office.

Pau - Frankrijk - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - T
How to save some money; Alberto?

Vuelta a Burgos 2013
Jens Keukeleire powered his way to victory on the uphill finish of Stage 2 of Vuelta a Burgos after what was a nervous day in the peloton. Coming on the heels of his contract extension announcement with Orica-GreenEdge, Keukeleire put his stamp of authority on the team’s decision to bring him back for another two years. The win marks Keukeleire’s first win this season and his first individual win with the Australian outfit. “It was not very easy today,” said Keukeleire. There wasn’t a lot of wind but there was enough to make it nervous in the bunch. You had to stay attentive the whole day.”

Almost from the gun, a small break of seven riders formed at the front of the race. Looking for another opportunity after spending a long day in the break on stage one, Christian Meier was at it again amongst the break on day two. During the break’s escape, Meier was able to grab sprint points in all three intermediate sprints. Meier now sits in second in the sprint classification behind Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).Within the final 10km, several attempts were made from the breakaway riders to slip away. Two riders managed to open a small gap, but their advantage was short lived. With 4km to go, it was gruppo compacto.

All together leading into the closing kilometres, the Orica-GreenEdge team was attentive to keeping Keukeleire well positioned. “The hardest part was 2km from the finish when we took a left turn on a small road,” said Keukeleire. “Then it gradually started going up to the finish and got steeper in the last kilometre. The team brought me in to a perfect position going into the final stretch.”

The surprise attack of the day came within the last kilometre from the Columbian climber Nairo Quintana (Movistar). “It was a bit bizarre when Quintana went off the front with an attack at the end,” said Keukeleire. “I’ve never raced with him and I only know him from flying uphill at the Tour. I wasn’t scared when he attacked but I was surprised he thought he could get away at the point.”

With help from Mitch Docker, Keukeleire was able to neutralize Quintana’s move ensuring a bunch kick to the finish. “With 300m to go, I had enough power in my legs to keep going into the finish,” added Keukeleire. “I just went, and I had enough to hold on.”

Already happy about his contract extension, the win gives Keukeleire even more reason to celebrate. “Winning is always a special moment,” said Keukeleire. “It’s extra special when you can finish the work the boys have done for you. It’s been a very good day. I would really like to thank the team for the job they did. The work they did was amazing.”
Thanks to Orica-GreenEdge.

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 2 Result:
1. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge in 3:37:02
2. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale
3. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky
4. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ
5. Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ at 0:02
6. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana
7. Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha
8. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
9. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis
10. Jeffry Johan Romero Corredor (Col) Colombia.

Vuelta a Burgos Overall After Stage 2:
1. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ in 6:53:36
2. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana at 0:02
3. Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha
4. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:03
5. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky
6. Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ at 0:07
7. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
8. Mikael Cherel (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
9. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:08
10. Jeffry Johan Romero Corredor (Col) Colombia at 0:10.

Stage 2:

Jens Keukeleire followed up his first win of the season with victory number two in Stage 3 at the Vuelta a Burgos. The punchy Belgian sprinter won the uphill dash to line in Ojo Guareña ahead of race leader Anthony Roux (FDJ.fr) and Daniele Ratto (Cannondale). “This second win is really special,” said Keukeleire. “I’ve never won two races in one tour before. To do it now, and to finish off the work the boys did, is just amazing. I’m really happy at the moment. I hope I can keep this form until the end of the season.”

The third stage of the Spanish tour featured a hillier course than the two previous days, with six category three climbs on the menu. Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Janez Brajkovic (Astana), Anthony Ravard (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Zakkari Dempster (NetApp-Endura) escaped the feisty field after 20 km of aggressive racing. The quartet built up a maximum advantage of 3’10 over the FDJ.fr-led field. “Overall, today was harder than yesterday,” Keukeleire explained. “There was a lot more up and down the whole day, and the stage was longer. There were several places where the road narrowed, so it was quite important to stay in good position all day. The team did a great job keeping me in the first half of the peloton all day.”

Ravard and Dempster lost contact with the break before the first passage of the finish line. Brajkovic and Txurruka maintain a 1’45 gap over the chasing bunch as they hit the finish circuit. “We passed the finish line once, so I had a good look at it,” said Keukeleire. “It was less hard than I had expected. I was pretty confident I could do something. The boys began to ask how I was feeling, and I confirmed I was up for the sprint.”

Movistar took over for FDJ.fr on the last lap, bringing Brajkovic and Txurruka back to the bunch with 15km left to race. The counter-attacks began almost immediately with Euskadi, Colombia and Cannondale launching significant moves.
“The team was very good when the attacks began,” Keukeleire said. “They kept me in a good position, and everyone stayed calm. I especially want to give a lot of thanks to Mitch [Docker]. He was right in front of me and closed down every gap. Every moment, I thought ‘Ok, now he is going to swing off’ but a kilometre later he would still be there. He did a little lead-out to drop me off at the bottom of the climb to the finish.”

In the final kilometre, FDJ.fr asserted control at the head of the peloton, hoping to get Roux up for the stage victory. Keukeleire was third wheel, behind the FDJ.fr pair, when he opened his sprint. “Yesterday, there were attacks in the finish, and I was following moves,” said Keukeleire. “Today it was different. There was just one sprint. I was in third position when I stood up to begin my sprint. I was maybe at 300 metres, and I was thinking there was no way I was going to make it.”

“When they didn’t pass me, I realised that everyone was suffering,” Keukelerie added. “They were all suffering maybe more than I was. I was able to finish off the sprint, but it hurt a lot more than yesterday.”

Sport Director Neil Stephens watched the action unfold on Spanish television and was full of praise for the display of teamwork he witnessed. “The team was calm, cool and collected in the final,” Stephens said. “FDJ did a really good job looking out for their leader, but we played the finish perfectly. Jens hit them hard at 200 metres. He had to fight for it today. It wasn’t like yesterday where they finished off his wheel. It was still a bloody top win for him and the team!”
Keukeleire will withdraw from Vuelta a Burgos tonight. He heads home to Belgium where he will continue his preparation for the Eneco Tour that begins on Monday.

“It was always the plan that I might only race three stages of Burgos,” Keukeleire explained. “I’ll have a little bit of recovery at home before Eneco. The race next week is another important target for me.”
From Orica-GreenEdge.

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 3 Result:
1. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge in 4:13:33
2. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ
3. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale
4. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5. Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha
6. Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ
7. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana
8. Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Spa) Euskadi at 0:03
9. Francesco Failli (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
10. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Vuelta a Burgos Overall After Stage 3:
1. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ at 11:07:09
2. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana at 0:02
3. Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha
4. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:03
5. Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ at 0:07
6. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:10
7. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
8. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:11
9. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky
10. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale.

Stage 3:

Overall leader; Anthony Roux (FDJ) was given the win on Stage 4 after Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) was relegated for “irregular sprinting”. The rest of the stage was quite steady with a break of four dominating the action, they were; Efrén Carazo (Burgos BH), Ricardo García (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Aritz Bagües (Euskadi) and Romain Hardy (Cofidis). They were caught with 20 kilometres to go by Pablo Torres (Burgos BH) and Jon Larrinaga (Euskadi), but were all pulled back before the sprint started.

The final 800m turned from a swooping boulevard into a narrow, twisting finish chute that disrupted any kind of pure frontal attack, and instead required a willingness to hesitate and ride through a curve at the best possible angle, rather than be sent wide and away from the fluid line of momentum towards victory. Ratto led out the sprint and moved from one side of the road to the other pushing Roux close to the barrier and brake when the two momentarily clashed. Ratto also had to unclip his foot to save hitting the road. Ratto was first across the line, but the result was changed in favour of Roux.

Anthony Roux of France kept his dark purple overall leader’s jersey into Sunday’s decisive fifth and final day.
Second placed Simone Ponzi (Astana): “The last 20 or 25km the team was at the front, controlling the race up the final climb. It was a false flat, really, but we saw the opportunity to drive the peloton forward under pressure and see what kind of reaction we could get. In the end it was very positive, as all of the teams saw us leading and saw the order we could create in the race. It’s a good sign.”

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 4 Result:
1. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ in 3:54:59
2. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana
3. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
4. Luke Rowe (GB) Sky
5. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
6. Daniele Colli (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
7. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
8. Edwin Alcibiades Avila Vanegas (Col) Colombia
9. Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Spa) Euskadi
10. Mikael Cherel (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale.

Vuelta a Burgos Overall After Stage 4:
1. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ in 15:02:08
2. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana at 0:02
3. Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha
4. Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ at 0:07
5. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:10
6. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
7. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:11
8. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky
9. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale
10. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha at 0:13.

Stage 4:

The hard work from the Movistar Team through the whole 35th Vuelta a Burgos was paid back on Sunday’s Stage 5 with a resounding success by Nairo Quintana. The Colombian proved one more time in the 2013 season his impressive climbing abilities after a restless, 170-kilometer trek on the Queen stage of the Spanish event, with no less than seven rated climbs. The telephone squad took control of the situation from the beginning, with Gutiérrez, Jesús Herrada, Intxausti and Plaza neutralizing the original, five-man breakaway into the Cat-1 climb of Pasil de Rozavientos, 30k from the finish. The 17-rider elite group at the summit still contained four Movistar riders as José Herrada, Szmyd and a remarkable Visconti protected Quintana perfectly to the foot of Neila, when an attack from Nibali (Astana) took Basso (Cannondale), Arroyo (Caja Rural) and Quintana with him.

A second acceleration from Arroyo with less than 3k remaining forced Nibali to react, countering the Spaniard’s move and taking Quintana on his wheel. Quintana kept the pace extremely high and pushed solo until the very line to increase the gap -the GC already decided on his favour- to half a minute over Arroyo. The Movistar Team leader claimed his sixth win of the year (second GC after País Vasco) and the 15th in his short pro career, before heading to Colombia on Tuesday to prepare for the late-season races and receive national honours following a joy-filled 2013.

Nairo Quintana: “It all turned out perfectly, just like we planned it before starting the race. We were hoping to lose as little time as possible in the days prior to this stage to try and win the race on the Queen one. The climb suits lighter specialists well, and the team worked perfectly so I could deliver. It’s not that I was fearing of losing, but with such strong rivals, in great condition leading up to the Vuelta a España, I had some doubts about being able to stay on their wheel or lose it. I spent the whole stage at the front and that costs you some more energy, but when I saw them losing a bit of spirit, I attacked and it all came to fruition. The team was sensational: they supported me throughout the race so I did neither suffer crashes nor lost any time, and they were protecting me until the last climb today – I was really calm thanks to them. They relied on me all season long – they were even more convinced of my own chances than myself. They really knew that, when we were committed to win, we would be doing our best and achieve it. Now it’s time to travel back to Colombia, take a bit of rest and getting into preparations for the Worlds.”

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 5 Result:
1. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar in 4:26:57
2. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:23
3. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale at 0:25
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:48
5. Andre Fernando S. Martins Cardoso (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:08
6. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana
7. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha at 1:18
8. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1:24
9. Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha at 1:44
10. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Cannondale.

Vuelta a Burgos Final Overall Result:
1. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar in 19:29:22
2. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:23
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:55
4. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha at 1:14
5. Andre Fernando S. Martins Cardoso (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:16
6. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1:24
7. Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha at 1:29
8. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1:53
9. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Cannondale at 2:07
10. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale at 2:17.

Quintana takes all:

Tour of Utah 2013
Greg Van Avermaet finished runner-up for the second straight day at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah to remain second overall, while taking the lead in the XO Communications sprint classification. But the BMC Racing Team was left wondering what might have been on Thursday’s Stage 3 had others helped with the chase of Garmin-Sharp’s David Morton, who won the 191.9-kilometer race and took the overall lead.

When Morton launched his solo move on the steeper parts of the climb of Mt. Nebo, no one followed. The Australian rode through the remnants of a shattered breakaway, gaining more than a minute’s lead that was still 34 seconds when Van Avermaet beat Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) in a sprint of 20 riders from nine different teams who comprised the chase group. “No one wanted to help (with the chase),” BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Jackson Stewart said. “For sure, we all knew at the top of the climb – where it wasn’t climbing or descending – that we had to close a minute. And we weren’t going to do it on the downhill. Michael Schär and Jakub Novak gave everything they could to bring him back, but it wasn’t enough. Second is great, but it’s disappointing because we knew we had a good chance of winning again. When Greg commits and digs as deep as he did to get over a climb like this, he deserves to win.” In the overall classification, Van Avermaet is 22 seconds behind Morton while Euser is at 40 seconds. Only 17 riders are within a minute of the lead with three stages to go.

Van Avermaet said when Morton made his attack, it was not a moment he could respond. “We tried to close the gap with Michi and Jakub and Yannick (Eijssen), but for me it was a hard moment,” he said. “I think everyone was at their limit. Then it was only downhill to the finish.” Winning the field sprint, which earned him the sprint jersey, was less of a challenge than his solo attack Tuesday that earned him his fifth win and the race lead after Stage 1. “It’s always a bit tricky with a downhill sprint, but Michi (Schär) did a good lead out with 500 meters to go,” he said. “I started to sprint with 200 to go and it was easy to win. So it is a little disappointing that one guy was away.” Early in the race, BMC Racing Team’s Larry Warbasse was part of a 20-man breakaway that enjoyed a four-minute lead before splintering on the lower slopes of the final climb. “It was probably the least cooperative breakaway I have ever been in,” Warbasse said. “I think a lot of the bigger pro teams were told that they shouldn’t work. So a lot of guys were sitting on. So the continental teams were doing most of the pulling.” Friday’s early evening circuit race is only 54.7 km but will feature 1,082 meters of climbing.
Thanks to BMC for the race report.

Tour of Utah Stage 3 Result:
1. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin Sharp in 4:20:21
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:34
3. Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
4. George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack Leopard Trek
5. Janier Alexis Acevedo Calle (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman
6. Gregory Obando Brenes (CRi) Champion System Pro Cycling
7. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
8. Philip Deignan (Ire) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
9. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack Leopard Trek
10. Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek.

Tour of Utah Overall After Stage 3:
1. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin Sharp in 13:49:07
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:22
3. Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling at 0:40
4. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:43
5. Gregory Obando Brenes (CRi) Champion System Pro Cycling at 0:44
6. Michael Schaer (Swi) BMC
7. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
8. Benjamin King (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
9. Carter Jones (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling
10. Benjamin Day (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling.

Stage 3:

Michael Matthews won a fiercely fought uphill battle to the line in Salt Lake City to take out Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah. The young Australian finished off the work of his teammates who had fully committed to delivering Matthews to the top step of the podium.

The victory marks Matthews second win and third podium this week and the second victory of his career in Utah’s capital city. It is the 100th victory for the GreenEdge family since the team’s inception with 62 wins from Orica-GreenEdge and 38 wins from Orica-AIS. “The boys did exactly what we said we wanted to do,” said Matthews. “They did a perfect job tonight. We couldn’t have asked for much more out of this race. We’ve got two stage wins and three top threes. We’re all pretty happy with the way things have gone.”

Having lost two riders over Mt. Nebo yesterday, the team was at a distinct disadvantage at the start of the five lap circuit race around Salt Lake City. Sport Director Matt Wilson suspected most of the peloton would look to Orica-GreenEdge to control the stage “With only five guys in the race, it was very hard to organise a lead-out,” Wilson said. “We had to commit three guys to controlling the breakaway, which basically left only Cookie [Baden Cooke] to help Matthews in the sprint. They did an amazing job today. For four guys to do what they did is incredible.”

Jens Voigt (RadioShack Nissan Trek) spearheaded the formation of a five rider escape group. The popular German was joined up the road by Marsh Cooper (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Francisco Mancebo (5 Hour Energy/Kenda), Chris Baldwin (Bissell) and Craig Lewis (Champion System). “We had to commit from the start because no one wanted to do any work except for Garmin, who obviously wanted to keep the race together for Lachlan [Morton],” explained Matthews. “They helped us out during the first three laps, but we were on our own during the last two.”

Damien Howson, Sam Bewley and Wesley Sulzberger assumed control ahead of the bunch, setting a tempo that slowly but steadily reeled in the breakaway. Lewis was the last man standing, managing to hold off the field until the final kilometre. “The team put me in the best position at the bottom of the climb,” said Matthews. “They delivered me to Greg’s wheel, which was exactly what we had discussed in the team meeting. This wasn’t a typical sprint. I had to play my cards right, following Greg in the sprint and seeing what legs I had in the finish.”

“Baden went from 1km to go until about 500 metres,” added Wilson. “As he started to fade, Van Avermaet jumped and made a big effort until 200 to go. From what I understand, he turned around and saw Matthews glued to his wheel and just balked. Matthews came off Van Avermaet’s wheel at that point and put clear distance between himself and the others at the finish.”

Matthews had two big lengths on Van Avermaet as he powered across the uphill finish line. Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager) rounded out the podium. Morton finished safely in the bunch to retain his race lead.

With two wins from Jens Keukeleire this week in addition to the double victories from Matthews, the Australian outfit currently has 30 victories from the men’s team in their second season. Fifteen riders have contributed to the tally. “It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Wilson. “To even think we could match our success from last year was a little ridiculous, but with what happened at the Tour de France and what’s happened this week, we’re well on our way to better than last year.”

“Fifteen guys have won races,” Wilson continued. “That’s more than half the team. We have more guys who have won races than not on this team. I don’t think there’s any other team that’s doing that right now. It says a lot about the depth of our team, especially when a good portion of those wins of come from our young talent.”

The Champion System Pro Cycling Team says it is motivated to keep moving its riders up the general classification at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah despite suffering a few setbacks in the first three days of the race.

Stagiaire Gregory Brenes – fifth overall and only four seconds out of third place – has been one of the revelations of the race. Brought on to add climbing depth, the 25-year-old Costa Rican finished sixth on Thursday’s Stage 3 that summited Mt. Nebo before plunging to the finish in Payson.

Brenes is 44 seconds off the lead of Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Sharp), while Butler is also the same amount of time behind in 17th overall. Having two riders within 44 seconds of the lead has taken some of the sting away from Wednesday’s Stage 2 that saw Beyer crash badly and stagiaire Fu Shiu Cheung withdraw at the feed zone.

Beyer said even after getting on his replacement Fuji and getting his wounds cleaned by the doctor, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to continue. But he forged on, and finished eighth on the stage. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to pulling out of a race,” he said. “But I’ve put in a lot of training and didn’t want to throw it away. So I decided to push through. I’m pretty much taking it day-by-day now. It was hard for me to get out of bed this morning (Friday) and some of my muscles just weren’t working. The Snowbird and Park City stages are going to be tough, but I’m always up for the challenge as is the rest of the Champion System team.”
Race info from Orica-GreenEdge & Champion System teams.

Tour of Utah Stage 4 Result:
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 1:10:17
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
3. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Bontrager Cycling Team
4. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
5. Jesse Anthony (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
6. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
7. Gregory Obando Brenes (CRi) Champion System Pro Cycling
8. Janier Alexis Acevedo Calle (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman
9. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp
10. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin Sharp.

Tour of Utah Overall After Stage 4:
1. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin Sharp in 14:59:24
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:26
3. Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling at 0:40
4. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:43
5. Gregory Obando Brenes (CRi) Champion System Pro Cycling at 0:44
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
7. Benjamin King (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
8. Benjamin Day (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
9. Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
10. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin Sharp.

Stage 4:

The Queen stage of climbing made for racing excitement on Saturday’s Stage 5 as veteran racer Chris Horner made his move at just the right moment to take home the victory as well as a season ski pass to Snowbird.

Chris Horner, 41, made his return to racing this week in the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and reinforced his return to form by taking an exciting uphill finish at the well-known Snowbird ski resort, earning the yellow jersey in the process.

Horner: “This is more than I expected. Utah is my first race in 5 months. The knee is 100 percent – it’s recovered. As soon as I knew I would miss the Tour de France, I knew Utah would be my next objective. Honestly I came here a little bit under-trained but with the few days of racing, I was able to get a little more training in and it worked out really good. I expected to be good after Utah, but I am already thinking I’m not so bad. Of course I feel bad, but all riders do at high altitude. In all honestly, Tommy D was a little bit better than me on the climb, but I had an awesome team and I was able to take the win.”

It was a major show of strength from RadioShack Leopard Trek on Saturday’s 182.7km/113.7mi climbing stage from Snowbasin to Snowbird. After thinning the front group on the category 1 climb of Guardsmans Pass, Horner and friends were ready for the final task at hand. At the bottom of the HC climb of Little Cottonwood, Horner was surrounded by teammates Matthew Busche, George Bennett and Tiago Machado with only BMC’s Yannick Eijssen ahead of the riders left in the small group. Race leader, 21 year old Lachlan Morton (Garmin Sharp), was down to teammate Tom Danielson to aid in the defence of the jersey. The riders from RSLT went to work to distance the young rider and knock him off the top step of the podium. Once Morton cracked, Danielson had no choice but to attack the group in an effort to bridge to Eijssen. George Bennett responded first and was soon replaced by Horner who rode the wheel of Danielson as the finish line drew closer.

Horner continued: “It was team tactics. I had three teammates behind me and we were playing tactics all day. We had Jens jumping, we had Tiago jumping, we had George jumping. I had to do a big effort to get across to Tom when I saw that George was dropped. He was up there alone so I knew I had to go across. After that I had three teammates behind and I didn’t have to pull at all. “

Horner and Danielson reeled back Eijssen, who made one last attempt to get away, but the American duo quickly distanced him and battled ‘mano y mano’ for the finish line. Horner came around Danielson in the closing meters to take the win and the yellow jersey.

Danielson is tied on time for the general classification with Horner and Lucas Euser (United Healthcare) is 32- seconds behind in third place. Horner’s teammates Bennett, Busche and Machado hold places 4, 5 and 7 on the classification, making four team riders in the top seven. Horner concluded: “Hats off to Garmin and Tommy D. They rode a great race.”

After being overtaken by eventual stage winner and new race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) and runner-up Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) with three kilometres to go in the 182.6-kilometer race, Eijssen finished 31 seconds later to earn the Vivint most aggressive rider jersey. “I did everything I could,” Eijssen said. “I’m a little bit disappointed, but I’m happy I did a good breakaway.” Eijssen left the remnants of a 10-man breakaway that teammate Steve Cummings whittled to four with a sharp acceleration as the race passed through Park City. With 10 km to go to the summit, Eijssen ventured off on his own. “I decided to go full gas to the top because I felt good,” he said. “The teammates I have here really motivated me and told me I was capable of doing these performances. They told me, but I didn’t believe. That really motivated me.”

Tour of Utah Stage 5 Result:
1. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek in 4:52:45
2. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin Sharp
3. Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC at 0:31
4. George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:37
5. Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
6. Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
7. Philip Deignan (Ire) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling at 0:58
8. Janier Alexis Acevedo Calle (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman at 1:08
9. Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda at 1:14
10. Michael Schaer (Swi) BMC at 1:31.

Tour of Utah Overall After Stage 5:
1. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek 19:52:53
2. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp
3. Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling at 0:33
4. Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:37
5. George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack Leopard Trek
6. Philip Deignan (Ire) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling at 0:58
7. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 1:41
8. Michael Schaer (Swi) BMC at 1:42
9. Janier Alexis Acevedo Calle (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman at 1:43
10. Chris Butler (USA) Champion System Pro Cycling at 2:00.

Horner takes stage 5:

Paco Mancebo (5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda) showed his old class by winning the Final Stage 6 into Park City. Behind him second placed rider on overall; Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) attacked race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard Trek) on the final climb up Empire Pass to distance him by 1:25 and take the final overall prize.

A break of fifteen riders eventually got a nice lead, they were; Francisco Mancebo (5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda), Jakub Novak (BMC), Baden Cooke & Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), Ted King (Cannondale), Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare), Martin Wesemann (MTN-Qhubeka), Jason McCartney (Bissell), Tyler Wren & Luis Amaran (Jamis-Hagens Berman), Tanner Putt & Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager), Joey Rosskopf & Joe Lewis (Hincapie Sportswear) and Alexander Hagman (Jelly Belly). They had 3 minutes when they hit the Empire Pass and Michael Matthews split the group taking Mancebo and five others with him. The action had also started behind as Danielson put the pressure on the peloton and rode away from everyone. Matthews put in another attack and only Mancebo could live with him and eventually the Spaniard left Mathews behind.

Danielson eventually caught Mancebo after hovering up the others in the break, on the decent Danielson, Mancebo and Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) got together. The stage win was fought out between Mancebo and Avevedo as Danielson knew he had done enough to take the overall. Mancebo was the fastest in the sprint.

BMC Racing Team’s Greg Van Avermaet, who won Stage 1 and was runner-up on the next three stages, was unable to hold onto XO Communications sprint leader’s jersey when Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) slipped into an early breakaway. Van Avermaet had teammate Jakub Novak in the break, but the recently-signed stagiaire could not out-sprint the winner of Stages 2 and 4. “Jakub really did a great job – the best he could,” BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Jackson Stewart said. “We wanted to be up the road in the break for other reasons and to protect the points. But it didn’t work when GreenEdge sent Matthews across. A lot of guys were sleeping and race radio told us the wrong guy. By the time we could really organize, it was really too late.” Schär said he rode his own pace when Garmin-Sharp ramped up the speed to launch eventual race-winner Tom Danielson on the final climb of the 125.5-kilometer race. “I knew I would be better the higher we went, so I had confidence I would be better toward the end of the climb,” Schär said. “So I dropped a little bit, but came back, step-by-step, to the group of Horner. In the downhill, I tried to make a recovery as best as possible for the sprint.” Francisco Mancebo (5-Hour Energy presented by Kenda Racing) took the stage win while Schär arrived in a group of six, 1:29 later. “It was good to make this top 10 because it is a really hard stage race with a lot of climbs and I’m not a pure climber,” Schär said.

Champion System had a solid showing throughout the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. American Chris Butler was Champion System’s best-placed rider in the six-day race, finishing 12th, 4:53 behind race winner Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp). The race also saw Chad Beyer finish eighth on Stage 2 while stagiaire Gregory Brenes was sixth on Stage 3 and seventh on Stage 4.

“I’m pleased with the way Brenes and Butler rode and just the team in general at the race,” Beamon said. “We were hoping Chris would go stronger on the final climb today, but the acceleration from Garmin was too intense and he got caught off guard. He still fought his way all the way to the top.”

Tour of Utah Stage 6 Result:
1. Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda in 3:12:52
2. Janier Alexis Acevedo Calle (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman
3. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin Sharp at 0:04
4. Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling at 1:29
5. Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
6. Michael Schaer (Swi) BMC
7. Philip Deignan (Ire) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
8. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
9. Carter Jones (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling
10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Bontrager Cycling Team at 1:39

Tour of Utah Final Overall Result:
1. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin Sharp in 23:05:45
2. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 1:29
3. Janier Alexis Acevedo Calle (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman at 1:37
4. Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling at 2:02
5. Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 2:06
6. Philip Deignan (Ire) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling at 2:27
7. Michael Schaer (Swi) BMC at 3:11
8. Carter Jones (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling at 3:49
9. Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda at 3:50
10. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack Leopard Trek.

The final stage 6:

Arctic Race, Norway 2013
Vacansoleil-DCM took first and second places in Stage 1; Kenny van Hummel and Barry Markus got the better of Rudiger Selig (Katusha) and local hero Thor Hushovd (BMC) in fourth. The opening stage of 192.5 kilometres around Bodø was in cold and wet temperatures. A break escaped with 70 kilometres to go, including; Lars-Petter Nordhaug & Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), Marco Haller (Katusha), Angelo Tulik (Europcar), Nicolas Vogondy (Accent Jobs-Wanty), Stijn Neirinck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Sébastien Delfosse (Crelan-Euphony) and Filip Eidsheim (Øster Hus-Ridley). Nordhaug split the leaders and was joined by his Belkin team mate Vanmarcke, but they were pulled back in the last 10 kilometres. Argos-Shimano controlled the peloton, but Kenny van Hummel jumped 200 metres out and Barry Markus got past all the others.

Arctic Race Stage 1 Result:
1. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM in 4:23:45
2. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
3. Rudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha
4. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC
5. Jetse Bol (Ned) Belkin
6. Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Argos-Shimano
7. Jo Kogstad Ringheim (Nor) Team People4You-Unaas Cycling
8. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Plussbank
9. Ralf Matzka (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
10. Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis.

Arctic Race Overall After Stage 1:
1. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM in 4:23:35
2. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0:04
3. Rudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha at 0:06
4. Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Europcar
5. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC at 0:07
6. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin
7. Matthias Friedemann (Ger) Champion System Pro Cycling Team at 0:08
8. Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty
9. Jetse Bol (Ned) Belkin at 0:10
10. Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Argos-Shimano.

Stage 1:

On the strength of a flawless lead-out by the BMC Racing Team, Thor Hushovd easily won Friday’s Stage 2 sprint finish at the Arctic Race of Norway and took the overall lead.

Hushovd’s victory – his sixth of the season and the BMC Racing Team’s eighth in the past 19 days – was his best yet, the Norwegian road champion said. “I was so motivated and it just worked perfectly,” he said. “The crowds have been amazing. There’s not a lot of inhabitants in this area, but it seems everybody has come out. So it couldn’t be more perfect to give them a win in my national jersey.” In the final moments of the 156.5-kilometer race, the BMC Racing Team lined up its other five riders ahead of Hushovd, with Adam Blythe providing the final lead-out. By out-sprinting runner-up Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and third-placed Marco Haller (Katusha), Hushovd earned a time bonus that put him three seconds ahead of Stage 1 winner Kenny van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM) in the overall standings with two days to go. BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Yvon Ledanois said the result made up for the disappointment of Thursday’s rain-soaked opening stage which saw Hushovd finish fourth. “I’m happy for the team: the riders and staff,” he said. “Today was important, not just for the stage, but for the general classification. So to get another victory makes for good satisfaction.” Hushovd also leads the race’s points classification. With 21 victories this year, the BMC Racing Team has matched its win total for all of 2012.
Thanks to Sean at BMC.

Arctic Race Stage 2 Result:
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC in 3:38:09
2. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
3. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha
4. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
5. Sondre H Enger (Nor) Team Plussbank
6. Jetse Bol (Ned) Belkin
7. Yannis Yssaad (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93
8. Louis Verhelst (Bel) Cofidis
9. Ralf Matzka (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
10. Tony Hurel (Fra) Europcar.

Arctic Race Overall After Stage 2:
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC in 8:01:41
2. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0:03
3. Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:04
4. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:07
5. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
6. Rudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha at 0:09
7. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha
8. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin at 0:10
9. Matthias Friedemann (Ger) Champion System Pro Cycling Team at 0:11
10. Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty.

Stage 2:

BMC’s Thor Hushovd finished fifth in the bunch sprint at the end of the 201,5 kilometre Stage 3 and slipped out of the overall lead with a day to go. Nikias Arndt (Argos-Shimano) won the stage beating Kenny van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM) into second place, but the Dutch man took over the overall lead.

Hushovd is now three seconds off the lead of Stage 1 Van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM), who moved back into the blue jersey on the strength of a second-place time bonus. Nikias Arndt win came after the BMC team working hard to bring back an eight-man breakaway, of which the last riders were only caught in the final 10 kilometres. “In the last 30 kilometres, with the tailwind, it was very fast, so it was a lot of work for the team,” BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Yvon Ledanois said. Hushovd said he remains optimistic he can regain the lead on the final stage, which includes both mid-race and finish line time bonuses. “The guys had to work a lot so it’s a shame that I couldn’t keep the jersey,” the Norwegian road champion said. “But what counts is tomorrow.”

Arctic Race Stage 3 Result:
1. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Argos-Shimano in 4:40:29
2. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
3. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
4. Benoit Drujon (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93
5. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC
6. Jo Kogstad Ringheim (Nor) Team People4You-Unaas Cycling
7. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Haavard Blikra (Nor) Team Oster Hus-Ridley
9. Jon Einar Bergsland (Nor) Oneco-Trek Cycling Team
10. Edwin Wilson (Swe) Joker-Merida.

Arctic Race Overall After Stage 3:
1. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM in 12:42:07
2. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC at 0:03
3. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0:06
4. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Argos-Shimano
5. Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:07
6. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:09
7. Tony Hurel (Fra) Europcar at 0:10
8. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha
9. Rudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha at 0:12
10. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Oster Hus-Ridley.

Stage 3:

Race ambassador and race favorite Thor Hushovd was true to his words as he won Stage 4 and the event of his dreams in the far north of Norway. His successful final sprint awarded him the time bonus he needed in order to pass Kenny van Hummel in the overall classification. It was not just another victory but an absolute triumph for the “Thunder God” [Thor in Scandinavian mythology] who overcame health troubles and difficult time to come back as a great champion despite missing out on the Tour de France this year.

The pro riders were excited by the promise of the mayor of Kongsvik to offer a piece of building land to the winner of the intermediate sprint located in his town at km 77 of racing. Therefore, after several skirmishes, the escape was only formed three kilometers before the crucial point where Stijn Neirynck of Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise became a landlord. The Belgian was faster than his five breakaway companions: Canada national champion Zachary Bell (Champion System), Edwig Cammaerts (Cofidis), who was already noted on the offensive with five kilometers to go the day before, Filip Eidsheim (Øster Hus-Ridley), Gilles Devilliers (Crelan-Euphony) and Steven Caethoven (Accent Jobs-Wanty). But the latter was soon dropped off and brought back by the pack.

Bell’s lap was with five laps to go on the finishing circuit of Harstad packed with enthusiastic spectators as the Canadian was the last breakaway rider to refuse to being reeled in. Even though Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) was already sure of being the King of the Mountains of the Arctic Race of Norway, he showed once again that he was the best climber by winning the last price of the classification he led since day 1. After his acceleration, it was all together with 25km to go. Attacks kept going on with the likes of Baptiste Planckaert (Crelan-Euphony), Reidar Borgersen (Joker-Merida), Jetse Bol (Belkin) and Zico Waeytens (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) but it went down to a bunch sprint for the last intermediate sprint with two laps to. Hushovd was beaten on the line by Tony Hurel (Europcar). It meant the Norwegian was still one second behind Kenny van Hummel on GC.

The last three attackers were Sondre Holst Enger (Team Plussbank), Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos-Shimano) and Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis). The young Norwegian prodigy was the last man caught with 1.7km to go. The final sprint was launched on the uphill stretch by Belkin in favor of Paul Martens but the German got passed by Hushovd who had to go very deep to grab the result he needed for winning the Arctic Race overall. Coming home in third place, stage 3 winner Nikias Arndt of Argos-Shimano confirmed a second day in a row that he’s the revelation of the Arctic Race of Norway. Third overall and best young rider, the 21 year old German has boosted his confidence ahead of the first Grand Tour of his career, the Vuelta a España, starting in two weeks.

“Well, that was deep”, reacted Thor Hushovd about the violent effort he was forced to produce for winning the final sprint uphill in the Skolegata (the school’s street) at Harstad. “Having not won the last intermediate sprint, I had to gain time over Van Hummel. Winning the stage was the best way to make it. Before coming to the Arctic Race of Norway, I said I wanted to win a stage and the overall, so I feel that it is mission accomplished now. It’s massive but it’s been hard. I was encouraged so much by the public that I couldn’t let them down. I had to win for all these people who came and support us, not only myself. I’m proud of what I’ve done but I’m even prouder of what my country has done for cycling this week. The support alongside the road has been incredibly fantastic, as well as the success of the race on TV. For Norwegians, this is the small Tour de France and they want it to look the same with the same enthusiasm. I don’t know if I’ll be the race ambassador for ever but for sure, the race has a great future.”

Arctic Race Stage 4 Result:
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC in 3:27:36
2. Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin
3. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Argos-Shimano
4. Russell Downing (GB) NetApp-Endura
5. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
6. Tony Hurel (Fra) Europcar
7. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony at 0:03
8. Magnus Børresen (Nor) Oneco-Trek Cycling Team
9. Bryan Nauleau (Fra) Team Europcar at 0:06
10. Mathieu Drujon (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93 at 0:08.

Arctic Race Final Overall Result:
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC in 16:09:34
2. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0:09
3. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Argos-Shimano at 0:10
4. Tony Hurel (Fra) Team Europcar at 0:16
5. Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin at 0:19
6. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:26
7. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha at 0:27
8. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony at 0:28
9. Magnus Børresen (Nor) Oneco-Trek Cycling Team
10. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM AT 0:30.

The “Sprint God” Thor:

Tour de l’Ain 2013
Gianni Meersman and Dries Devenyns (Omega Phara – Quick-Step) finished less than a second apart from each other in the punchy 4.5km Tour de l’Ain Prologue in the streets of Trevoux just North of Lyon.on Friday. And because of the short distance, the time gaps in the stage classification were extremely small. Meersman averaged 48.876km/h, finishing with a 5’31” time.

“I am really happy about my performance,” Meersman said. “I didn’t expect to win this race because I was off from competition for five weeks. So, it was a long time without racing and I was surprised by my performance. But I also have to say I felt how good my legs were immediately this morning when we did the recon. I had a good feeling about the parcour. It was really good for me. Not so much the first part, but the last 500 meters. It was slightly uphill and cobbled, so I could really sprint. I think the final was my best part for sure. This was for me the first time I won a time trial in my career. It is also something special because I was one of the first guys to take off. I was early, so I had to wait almost two hours until the end of the race. That made this win pretty special. I can now understand the time trialists who have to wait a long time. I understand perfectly what they feel how as I was so nervous and stressed in the hot seat. But in the end, everything came out great. If I have to be stressed to get a result like that, I will do it with pleasure. Now, we will see about the next two stages for the sprinters. We will try to go for Andy Fenn. Concerning the GC, we will see day-by-day what will happen. But the first goal is to put Fenn in position for the sprint in the next days.”

Saxo-Tinkoff’s Nicki Sørensen and Sergio Paulinho did the course in the same time finishing 14th and 15th: “Nicki and Sergio are both doing pretty well at the moment while the others guys are still building up form for the challenges ahead. But I hope to see our usual aggressive style from the boys in the coming days and we’ll see how far that takes us. I’m pretty sure we’ll see our boys participate in chase for breakaways and if you do get a gap that lasts all way there’s a good chance of a decent overall result as well and we’ll do what we can to hit the right breaks,” said Saxo-Tinkoff’s Fabrizio Guidi.

Tour de l’Ain Prologue Result:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 5:31.45
2. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:00.12
3. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:01.05
4. Stef Clement (Ned) Belkin at 0:01.77
5. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin at 0:02.31
6. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 0:02.37
7. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis at 0:02.56
8. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:03.50
9. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 0:03.74
10. Martijn Keizer (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0:03.92

Tour de l’Ain Overall After the Prologue:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega – Pharma-Quick-Step in 5:31
2. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega – Pharma-Quick-Step
3. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:01
4. Stef Clement (Ned) Belkin at 0:02
5. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin
6. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
7. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis at 0:03
8. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
9. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:04
10. Martijn Keizer (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM.

Prologue winner Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step):

The 156.3 kilometer long first and relatively flat Stage 1 of Tour de l’Ain from Lagnieu to Bourg-en-Bresse was dominated by a tandem breakaway consisting of Alexis Guerin (Fra) and Cyrille Patoux (RLM). But the field was chasing hard and the two escapees were forced to forfeit with 12 kilometres to go where they were reeled back in. In the inevitable bunch sprint, Leonardo Duque (Colombia) was the fastest rider in the field and he took the stage win while Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) retained the overall lead.

Leonardo Duque unleashed a superb sprint to cap his ninth career win, and the first for Team Colombia after joining Claudio Corti’s outfit at the beginning of 2013 season. “It feels great to get another crucial win here, in the place where everything began for me, – an excited Leonardo Duque said – we have been working hard all season long, and now celebrating two great successes in 10 days is really huge. Of course many things changed in 8 years, and I took more wins on my way, but this is also my first win with Team Colombia, so it’s really special.”

“This success is for the whole team, who worked patiently for the whole season and is now starting to get rewarded, and of course for Colombia and our fans all over the World.”

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was definitely among the happy Colombian fans as he tweeted just after the race “Great Leonardo Duque of Team Colombia. His win in Tour de l’Ain stage 1 fills us with pride. Let’s go!”

With today’s win, after a good prologue on yesterday, Duque moved within 2 seconds of GC leader Meersman in 5th position, and could try to move further up tomorrow in the 2nd stage, Ferme-Oyonnax of 149 km: the race profile features a Cat. 1 climb with around 20 km to go, but “we are in great conditions, and definitely looking to give it a go,” Duque concluded.

Saxo-Tinkoff’s line-up contains no sprinters so DS, Fabrizio Guidi is looking forward to a more open stage: “Today’s stage was text book cycling. A small break worked up a small gap and the sprinter teams gathered in the front to reel them back in close to the finish line where the expected bunch sprint decided the outcome. We have no sprinters here so I’m pretty excited about tomorrow’s stage where there’s a small climb in the finale. It might be one of those stages where the field gets confused and no one’s taking control but with only six riders in a team, control is hard to maintain. I think the stage is up for grabs,” said DS, Guidi.

Tour de l’Ain Stage 1 Result:
1. Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia in 3:45:23
2. Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille
3. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM
4. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
6. Andrew Fenn (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
7. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
8. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) France Espoirs
9. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
10. Rick Zabel (Ger) Rabobank Development Team.

Tour de l’Ain Overall After Stage 1:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:50:54
2. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:01
4. Stef Clement (Ned) Belkin at 0:02
5. Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia
6. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin
7. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
8. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis at 0:03
9. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
10. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:04.

Stage 1:

Sunday’s 149.3 kilometre long Stage 2 of Tour de l’Ain turned the GC upside down after a wild and hectic finale. The stretch from Ferme-Musee de la foret and Oyonnax offered an undulating finish. Four riders managed to work up a lead of more than seven minutes before the field started dragging them back in.

On the climb, Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) was dropped from the pack and everyone knew the leader’s jersey was up for grabs. On the top of the climb, only 20 riders were left in a chase group.

On the finish line, the escapees were caught and several riders had bridged the gap to the front group and the stage was then decided in a bunch sprint where Grega Bole (Vacansoleil-DCM) drew the longest straw ahead of Fabio Felline (Androni Giocattoli) who is the new leader.

“A breakaway went away and towards the climb, the French teams made an alliance to haul the escapees back. On the ascent, a fierce war was starting to get to the top in the first position and Bruno, Sergio and Mads all made it. Unfortunately, several riders made it back in to the group on the descent and even though none of our guys are sprinters, Bruno managed to sprint his way to tenth position,” said Team Saxo-Tinkoff DS, Fabrizio Guidi.

Tour de l’Ain Stage 2 Result:
1. Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM in 3:35:04
2. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
3. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp
4. Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille
5. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Riccardo Chiarini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
8. Alex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
10. Bruno Pires (Por) Saxo-Tinkoff.

Tour de l’Ain Overall After Stage 2:
1. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli in 7:25:54
2. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:04
3. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:05
4. Stef Clement (Ned) Belkin at 0:06
5. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin
6. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:07
7. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:09
8. Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0:11
9. Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Saxo-Tinkoff
10. Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole at 0:13.

Belgian TT Championship: Vandewalle Repeats
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Kristof Vandewalle won the 44.2km Belgian National TT Championship on Sunday by more than a minute, with a finishing time of 54’04.66. It is the second straight year Vandewalle has won, and is also the 47th win (45th road) for OPQS in three disciplines this season.

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) was 2nd (+1:02.89), and Julien Vermote of OPQS was 3rd (+1:05.73). Guillaume Van Keirsbulck was also 7th (+1:43.74).

“I am happy as you can imagine because the parcour was not exactly the parcour for me,” Vandewalle said. “But I started really strong and after the first lap I was already first, so I built up my race kilometre by kilometre. Everything went perfectly, no mechanicals or anything. It was a consistent performance and I am happy about it. For me it is also something special to be champion two times in a row. After Tour de Pologne I really worked on my TT to be ready. This race was one of my goals and I made it, so I am really happy about it. I would like to dedicate this victory to all the people who believe in me — the team, my family, friends, and everybody else. I really did something good today. Now my next objective is to try and be selected for the UCI TTT World Championship as I was last year. I know it’s difficult because in the team we have a lot of good time trialists, but my goal is to be there and to try and contribute to the team for Worlds.”

“This week we came and we did the recon of the parcour,” Sport Director Tom Steels said. “Kristof was immediately super fast since the beginning and we saw immediately he had a good day ahead of him. Outside of the corners he was always relaunching really well, his speed was really high. His performance was really good. Julien also did a really good TT, but the problem was the parcour was not really dry 100 percent when he started. So he didn’t really speed up out of the corners. He had to pay attention and not take too many risks. But the fact that he was 3rd was a big result for the team and Julien was happy about it, and we are happy for him.”

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) said after some mishaps early on, he found his rhythm. “My legs were good and this was more important,” he said. “Vandewalle was the best, but I am on the right spot.” BMC Racing Team Performance Director Allan Peiper said Gilbert got faster on each lap. The winner of the race in 2011 and third-place finisher a year ago conceded 39 seconds on the first lap, 19 on the second and nine seconds on the final lap. “He never weakened the whole time,” Peiper said. “If you look at the splits, he was getting better at the end when the other guys were dying.” Gilbert will start the Eneco Tour of Benelux with the BMC Racing Team on Monday.

Photo: OPQS team.

Eneco Tour 2013 Preview:
The Eneco Tour starts today (Monday) with the first of seven stages. A tough Northern race using many of the Classics roads of Belgium and Holland. Six road stages and a 13.2 kilometre individual time trial on Friday. Previous winners are Lars Boom last year, Edvald Boasson Hagen 2011 & 2009 and Tony Martin in 2010.

12.08.13 Stage 1 Koksijde – Ardooie 175.3 km
13.08.13 Stage 2 Ardooie – Vorst 176.9 km
14.08.13 Stage 3 Oosterhout – Brouwersdam 187.3 km
15.08.13 Stage 4 Essen – Vlijmen 169.6 km
16.08.13 Stage 5 Sittard-Geleen – Sittard-Geleen 13.2 km (ITT)
17.08.13 Stage 6 Riemst – Aywaille 150.0 km
18.08.13 Stage 7 Tienen – Geraardsbergen 208.0 km.

Lotto Belisol for the Eneco Tour
André Greipel and Jürgen Roelandts are the leaders at Lotto Belisol. With Lars Boom the winner of the previous edition is standing at the start of this WorldTour race. Sylvain Chavanel and Niki Terpstra who shared the podium with him last year will also be participating. Just like former Tour winner Bradley Wiggins. Apart from them also a bunch of fast guys will attend against whom André Greipel can sprint, like Daniele Bennati, Theo Bos, Danny and Boy Van Poppel and Marcel Kittel.

In the opening stage the sprinters will more than likely get to battle a first time. The day afterwards the finish lies in Vorst and there are six hills on the course. In the final the peloton has to cover the Alsemberg and Bruine Put, known from the Brabantse Pijl. In the next three stages the race heads to the Netherlands. The fourth stage starts in the Belgian town of Essen and in the early phase of the race there is another passage in Belgium. On Friday there’s an individual time trial of 13,2 km in Sittard-Geleen. This will already be important for GC, but in the weekend the toughest part has to come with two hilly stages. On Saturday the finish is on La Redoute, where the race passes for the third time that day. On Sunday the final stage ends with two loops around Geraardsbergen, the Muur has to be conquered three times.

Selection Lotto Belisol: Sander Cordeel, Jens Debusschere, Gert Dockx, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts, Jonas Van Genechten, Tim Wellens and Frederik Willems.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Jean-Pierre Heynderickx.

OPQS to Eneco Tour
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in Eneco Tour, a 1080.3km stage race from August 12th until August 18th.

“Following tradition the race features a first part — the first 4 stages — that are more suited to sprinters,” Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. “On the other hand, the weekend will be hard, with a time trial on Friday and the two reigning stages on Saturday and Sunday with the arrival on the Geraardsbergen. Compared to last year, Saturday’s stage will be more challenging, so there could be some surprises.”

“As far as we’re concerned, we’re lining up for the start with a competitive squad,” Peeters continued. “For the sprint finishes in the first four days we will be able to count on fast riders like Gert Steegmans, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Alessandro Petacchi. Alessandro is at his first race with our jersey, so he will definitely be very motivated and determined to do well. once we reach the weekend we’ll have athletes like Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra and Sylvain Chavanel ,who are very comfortable on these types of routes that recall the classics. The formation is rounded out by two solid riders like Kevin De Weert and Stijn Vandenbergh, who we can always count on to be ready in any racing situation. The goal is to try and clinch at least one stage and get at least one of our athletes into the top 10 of the general classification.”

Sylvain Chavanel (FRA), Kevin De Weert (BEL), Alessandro Petacchi (ITA), Gert Steegmans (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL).

Sports Directors: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) & Tom Steels (BEL).

Orica-GreenEdge to Eneco Tour
Orica-GreenEdge will head north to the cobbled roads of Belgium for the Eneco Tour with a strong and versatile line-up, chasing a repeat on last year’s success.

The team will go into the seven-day stage race looking to build on a hugely successful showing last year. Canadian Svein Tuft took out the win in the individual time trial and narrowly missed out on a podium finish, after wearing the leader’s jersey into the final stage. A win in the team time trial and three riders inside the final top ten overall capped off a remarkable week.

Orica-GreenEdge for Eneco Tour:
Aidis Kruopis, Daryl Impey, Jens Keukeleire, Jens Mouris, Luke Durbridge, Pieter Weening, Sebastian Langeveld, Svein Tuft.

BMC Racing Team’s Gilbert, Phinney Anxious For Eneco Tour
World road champion Philippe Gilbert and Tour de Pologne stage winner Taylor Phinney will lead the BMC Racing Team’s ambitions for the general classification at next week’s Eneco Tour of Benelux, Assistant Director Fabio Baldato said.

Strong Team Around Them
Gilbert said his past success at Eneco – second overall in 2011 and fourth in 2006 – boosts his confidence, particularly after a break from racing. “I’ve always been good here, so I hope I can have the same results,” Gilbert said. “It’s been very warm in Monaco since San Sebastián (July 27) so I have had to train in the heat, which has been good. I also got to enjoy two full weeks at home for the first time since December.” Phinney won the Eneco prologue in 2011 on the way to finishing fourth overall. “I’m very focused on trying to get a good result in the overall,” he said. “Also, I’m targeting the time trial, which unfortunately is a lot shorter – 13 kilometres – than the 37 kilometres we just did in Poland.” Baldato said those two will be surrounded by a strong team that includes other possible contenders for the general classification. “Daniel Oss is also really in great shape and he was very strong in Wallonie,” Baldato said. “Manuel Quinziato, Marcus Burghardt and other great teammates like Danilo Wyss, Klaas Lodewyck and Amaël Moinard are there to support them.” Missing from the line-up is the winner of the final stage last year, Alessandro Ballan. Baldato said the past world road champion has been cleared to race after suffering intestinal problems, “but it’s better to not take risks and keep him fresh for some one-day races,” Baldato said. The seven-day race begins Monday.

BMC Racing Team Eneco Tour of Benelux Roster (Aug. 12-18):
Marcus Burghardt (GER), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Daniel Oss (ITA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA) & Yvon Ledanois (FRA).

Lampre-Merida: Pozzato will be back on Northern roads
Pozzato will be the leader for Team Lampre-Merida in the Eneco Tour. Pozzato will be back on Northern road in search of satisfactions for blue-fuchsia-green team, the ones that were missed during spring. The Italian cyclist, after the pause that came after Giro d’Italia, restarts his activity in Tour of Qinghai Lake and, after having come back to Europe, took part in Clasica San Sebastian.

In Lampre-Merida there will be also two fast cyclists; Viganò and Richeze, who both will try to increase their fitness in view of a possible participation in Vuelta a Espana.

The mixed courses could be suitable for Pietropolli and Wackermann, in addition to Matteo Bono: he won one stage in 2011 edition, but this year he’ll race Eneco Tour as a comeback after he had quit Tour de France because of a muscular injury. Talking about injuries, the Dutch and Belgian race will be the chance for Anacona and Dodi, who both missed the first part of the season because of physical problems, to improve their competitiveness level.

Cycling Imitator
Funny video of how riders ride, great on video, but can’t see it ever going on stage!

Don’t forget to check the “NEWSWIRE” section, you can find it down the right hand side on the home page, just above the EuroTrash section. The bits of news that missed the EuroTrash deadline are in there, plus any news as-it-happens will be added there too.


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