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EuroTrash Monday!

A weekend full of racing; Dubai, Etoile de Bessèges and the Ladies Tour of Qatar finished and the Mallorca Challenge and the Men’s Tour of Qatar kicked off. Will Fernando Alonso team up with Cannondale? Niki Terpstra & Sacha Modolo opened up and Taylor Phinney, Tobias Ludvigsson and Kirsten Wild all had overall wins. Race video, reports and results fills the cycling news in EuroTrash Monday. You’ll need a big coffee!

TOP STORY: Alonso-Cannondale in 2015?
The latest rumour about the Fernando Alonso team is now centred on the Spanish Formula 1 driver becoming a co-sponsor of the Cannondale team. Alonso rejected taking the Euskaltel-Euskadi WorldTour licence for 2014 and has said it wouldn’t be a problem as his team would receive ‘Wild Card’ invites due to its strength. The whole deal is allegedly based on the team keeping its star rider; Peter Sagan and bringing more cash to the team, plus other top riders. Alonso was recently in Dubai to drop the flag to start stage 2, and follow the race as a special guest.

From left: Mr. Osama al Shafar, Fernando Alonso, Saeed Hareb. Photo credit ANSA/Peri-Carconi.

Tour of Qatar 2014
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team likely couldn’t have played Stage 1 of Tour of Qatar any better on Sunday. With two riders in a five man escape group — Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Niki Terpstra — and Tom Boonen and several other OPQS riders in the group behind, the advantage was theirs going into the final kilometres.

It looked like the break, which also included Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol), and Michael Schar (BMC Racing Team), might be caught for a bunch sprint finale with 18km to go and the gap at 20 seconds. However, just a few kilometres later the gap was back up to 32 seconds. The same happened in the final 7 kilometres. The gap hovered at about 22″ with 7km to go, but grew to 31″ at 5km to go. Van Keirsbulck sacrificed his own chances in the final to ensure Terpstra had a chance to contest the stage, as it looked like the sprint for victory would be into a tough headwind.

In the final kilometre Martin Elmiger (IAM cycling) attacked first, but Terpstra immediately reacted and jumped on his wheel. Terpstra then launched his own sprint and was able to hold everyone off for the first OPQS road win of 2014.

Roelandts was 2nd and Schar finished in 3rd place. Van Keirsbulck, after his tremendous effort helping Terpstra, was also 5th and teammate Tom Boonen was 6th, winning the group sprint.

Winds played a factor throughout the race, but OPQS is known for doing well in such conditions.

“First part of the stage was crosswinds so actually that was the hardest part,” Terpstra said. “In the end we had front wind, so the speed was going down, but then we attacked with five riders. Luckily we could keep a small gap until the finish. Fighting against the wind is always hard. But in the end we made it. I’m really happy Guillaume was in the front group with me. He worked really hard. He gave me some motivation and in the end I still had enough energy to do the sprint and it worked out well. So I have to say thanks to him for using all his energy to help give me the best chance for a victory.”

OPQS was able to take a total team effort to put the two riders in the breakaway.

“The team was great all day,” Terpstra said. “When we had an echelon after 55km we were there with five riders. A big group came back, but not everyone. Then in the final after the bonus sprint we got in a breakaway of five. In that group we participated really well together, especially Guillaume. What he did in the last kilometre was perfect for me and I’m happy I could finish the job.”

Van Keirsbulck said truly gave everything to help his teammate in the breakaway.

“It was pretty windy today,” Van Keirsbulck said. “But, I had a good feeling. When me and Niki were in the break I asked him if he felt good and he said yes. So, then I started riding until I was dead. At one point I lost them for about 20 meters, but not more, so I tried to come back. I managed to do it and then tried to attack, which put Niki in a perfect position because the others had to react and use energy. I’m really happy we won today and I could be a big part of it.”

OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere was proud of the first road victory of 2014 for the team.

“It’s always a pleasure to get the first victory of the year,” Lefevere said. “Today the team was strong. They took the initiative and Niki had a great win, so of course with this I am happy.”

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Lars Michaelsen said after the stage: “The boys did a very nice effort after kilometre 38 where they managed to explode the field in the cross wind making a huge selection between the GC favourites through the next 6 kilometres. But eventually the favourites were once again in the same bunch before the finale. But it was never an easy effort getting through as the wind kept splitting up the field. However, we had Matti (Breschel), Kump (Marko), Kroon (Karsten) and Michael (Mørkøv) in the first group to cross the finish line and Michael sprintes his way to tenth position.”

Tour of Qatar Stage 1 Result:
1. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:13:42
2. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol at 0:01
3. Michael Schär (Swi) BMC
4. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
5. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:07
6. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
7. Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin
8. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Fdj.fr
9. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol.

Tour of Qatar Overall After Stage 1:
1. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:13:26
2. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol at 0:09
3. Michael Schär (Swi) BMC at 0:12
4. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:17
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:21
6. Sam Bennett (Irl) Netapp-Endura at 0:22
7. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:23
8. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
9. Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin
10. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Fdj.fr.

Stage 1:

Mallorca Challenge – Trofeo Palma 2014
Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) won the first race of the Mallorca Challenge on Sunday in a close sprint with Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol) and Dylan Groenewegen (Cyclingteam de Rijke). Groenewegen thought he had the win, but the win was given to Modolo. The race of 116 kilometres is based on a 12 kilometre circuit in the capital of Mallorca; La Palma. A group of five managed a small lead ahead of the fast bunch, including: Alex Howes (Garmin Sharp) in his first race of the year, slipped clear with compatriot Ian Boswell (Sky), Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) and Ronan Van Zandbeek (Cyclingteam de Rijke). They were caught with 20 kilometres to go and Lampre-Merida, Orica-GreenEdge and Sky took control of the race. In a chaiotic sprint with not team in charge, Groenewegen was convinced he had the win, but the commissar’s decision went to Modolo.

Modolo commented on the sprint after the finish: “Today I thank very warmly all the team, especially in the final, Richeze did the work of 3 men! Max was been able to escort me to the best riders in the last 300 metres where I managed a jump start on the rest of the competition.”

Mallorca Challenge – Trofeo Palma Result:
1. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 2:29:12
2. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol
3. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Cyclingteam De Rijke
4. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis
6. Jon Aberasturi (Spa) Euskadi
7. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
8. Andrea Peron (Ita) Novo Nordisk
9. Davide Vigano (Ita) Caja Rural – Seguros
10. Yoeri Havik (Ned) Cyclingteam De Rijke.

XXIII Iberostar Challenge Ciclista 2014 – Mallorca:

Dubai Tour 2014
BMC Racing Team’s Taylor Phinney was third in the bunch sprint at the end of Stage 3 to increase his overall lead by one second over teammate Steve Cummings with two days to go.

Phinney earned a one-second time bonus for finishing behind stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and runner-up Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Phinney said his main goal was to stay safe and let the BMC Racing Team control the pace in the 122-kilometer race. “The team rode really, really well as a unit,” he said. “Rick Zabel and Sebastian Lander rode the whole day on the front and controlled everything and Yannick Eijssen, Steve Cummings and Klaas Lodewyck looked after me in the final.” Phinney said he was not aiming to win a second straight stage, but saw an opportunity 500 meters before the finish and decided to go for it. “Some guys were pulling off and with a tail crosswind like that, you can gain a lot of speed from behind,” he said. “I just started to pass everybody and did my own sprint. I started really early – maybe 300 meters out – but unfortunately started to die a bit with 75 meters to go.”

In the overall standings, Phinney leads Cummings by 15 seconds, with Lasse Norman Hansen (Garmin-Sharp) in third at 17 seconds. BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said he liked what he saw from the BMC Racing Team after three riders (Francisco Mancebo, Diogo Nunes and Willie Smit) escaped the clutches of the peloton. The trio enjoyed a nearly three-minute lead before being reeled in with 10 km to go. “The team was really good,” Sciandri said. “We have Thor Hushovd, who is an experienced guy, always looking after us. He’s kind of the road captain. Taylor finished it off with a great sprint. But you never know what to expect when you look at these maps, especially with the wind and finishing on an island.” Friday’s penultimate stage contains some undulating terrain near the end of the 162-km route.

After being set up in a good position by his teammates in the finale, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) kept a cool head in finding his way to the front and powering away to the line to take his second win of 2014. The race came back together in the final 10km, with the peloton having stayed together despite the efforts of some strong winds, and Team Giant-Shimano hit the front in a technical finale to keep the pace high and keep Kittel out of danger. In the final, even though he was a bit isolated, Kittel didn’t panic and kept his composure to take the first road stage of this new race in the cycling calendar.

Stage winner Marcel Kittel (Team Giant – Shimano): “Personally I like Dubai – I’ve been here already as a tourist once – and it’s also very important to test the lead out train to see how well it goes. We’ve got very good guys, and today it all worked out good so that makes me happy too.”

“We planned to be in front out of the tunnel, because we knew the wind would be there, so it was a bit calculated that we wouldn’t have enough riders in the end, so they brought me to the final 500m and I got on the wheel of Taylor Phinney. He started his sprint early, I waited there… and I’m happy I’ve won today.”

“Crossing the finish line first is a very nice feeling, of course, and for me as a sprinter it’s important to get the win, but I like to celebrate it as a team win in the end. Because everyone works for one goal, and in the end I’m the lucky guy who gets to finish it off. It’s always a big relief when we finish first. I can also understand the anger of the riders who finish 2nd. I would be angry too if I wasn’t first.”

“I’m trying to go my own way, to follow the goals that I personally have, together with the team. Then we have to see who we have to beat to achieve those goals. Here it’s Cavendish, and I can’t deny that this race is important because it is an opportunity to sprint against him. At 1.5k we moved up next to his team and Cavendish was still there. I didn’t see what happened – I don’t have eyes in the back of my head – but personally for me it’s much more satisfying if you can beat a sprinter next to each other, when you fight it out and you can see them. It makes it more interesting for the spectators. It’s fighting for the win that gives you a lot of excitement, and I like that.”

Overall leader Taylor Phinney (BMC): “I didn’t know Thor punctured until you told me. It’s definitely hectic in any race that’s short, and then you put in the wind, it’s a kind of cluster in the final. I wasn’t thinking of going for the sprint. In the final couple of kilometres, everybody was all over the place, no team was really organised. We knew coming out of the tunnel that there was a big chance there could be really strong crosswinds so Klaus Lodewyck took me to the front, and I just stayed there and tried to stay safe.”

“I knew with it being a tail cross sprint, mostly tailwind, that you could jump early and you could maybe stay, so I saw 500 m to go and I was just moving up on the left side, and decided I’d just give it a really long sprint and see if I could take some of the pure sprinters by surprise. I was thinking of staying safe and keeping the jersey and the best way of staying safe was just to sprint early and stay out of the carnage. I was really happy with 3rd place.”

“I’ve been working a lot on my sprint and it’s something I want to do better in, it’s something that I have to physical capabilities to do well in, but it’s a lot about timing and tactics and so any sprint that I can be up in the mix for is a good one. I’ve been racing against these guys since we were juniors, and now we are pros, I see their success and I say, ‘Well, maybe I can still do this.'”

Lampre-Merida’s Roberto Ferrari described: “My team mates helped me in such a marvellous way that it seemed almost easy to be on Kittel’s wheel. I hesitate a little bit when the finish line was approaching, because I could not decide to anticipate the action because I was afraid of the wind. When Kittel began his powerful action, I tried to reply, but I missed the necessary speed, so I found myself in the second row and I could not recover positions. It was my first seasonal sprint, so the result could be good, even if I would have preferred to be in the top 5.”

Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director, Tristan Hoffman states: “There was a lot of wind, sand and tension in the air on today’s second stage but the wind still wasn’t strong enough to split the field so the stage was decided in a bunch sprint where Nikolay managed to push his bike over the finish line in 7th position. Tomorrow, we’re facing a demanding finale and the boys will support Rory in order to make his way in to the top 10 overall.”

Dubai Tour Stage 2 Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 2:50:30
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
3. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC
4. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
6. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
8. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Skydive Dubai
9. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana
10. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp.

Dubai Tour Overall After Stage 2:
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC in 3:02:32
2. Steven Cummings (GBr) BMC at 0:15
3. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Garmin-Sharp at 0:17
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:23
5. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek at 0:26
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 0:30
7. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar at 0:33
8. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale at 0:36
9. Alexandr Porsev (Rus) Katusha
10. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano.

Stage 2:

With one day to go BMC Racing Team’s Taylor Phinney remains overall leader by 15 seconds over his teammate Steve Cummings.

Taylor Phinney remains in the leader’s jersey after finishing 11th in the penultimate Stage 3 of the Dubai Tour. For the second day in a row Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won the bunch sprint ahead of Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Movistar). After the longest stage (162 km) of the Dubai Tour, Phinney was very grateful to his team. “Today was a hard stage, the hardest stage of the race. My team did an amazing job of controlling it,” he said. “Klaas Lodewyck, Sebastian Lander, Rick Zabel they were in control the entire day.” At the end of the race Phinney said was feeling strong: “I did my best to follow the moves, to follow the guys that I needed to follow and I felt really strong. I’m very happy to cross the line safely and still having the jersey at the end of the day.”

In the overall standings, Phinney leads his teammate Stephen Cummings by 15 seconds, with Lasse Norman Hansen (Garmin-Sharp) in third 17 seconds behind. BMC Racing Team Sports Director Max Sciandri was happy with the way the team controlled the race after six riders (Evan Huffman, Ruslan Karimov, Diego Nunes, Valter Pereira, Alexandr Pliuschin and Willem Jakobus Smit) attacked earlier in the stage. The group of six enjoyed a lead of more than six minutes before being pulled back. “The guys did really well, they controlled it,” Sciandri said. “Especially the younger guys Rick (Zabel), Sebastian (Lander) and Klaas (Lodewyck), they worked really well. And Steve (Cummings) did a good job closing it down here at the end. Taylor was super on the climbs. Everybody did what they had to do.”

The overall leader Taylor Phinney commented at the press conference: “It was a beautiful stage today, the hardest of the race. I think on TV it must have been beautiful. Hatta is beautiful, the roads were very good, and the climbs were pretty steep and hard. My team did an amazing job: Lodewyck, Lander and Zabel held the 6 breakaway riders close enough to catch them before the climbs. Then, in the last 10 kms the best in the world were attacking, one after the other: Sagan, Tony Martin, Rui Costa. I was right up there and following wheels and keeping things together. I had Thor Hushovd taking care of me. Yannick Eijssen and Steve Cummings did a great job on the final climbs. It’s cool when you see Rui Costa, the World Champion, dangling off the front: you know it’s a big race. I’m very happy with that team today, and very happy to finish the stage and still be wearing the leader’ jersey.”

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow is pretty straightforward a town circuit around downtown Dubai. A shorter stage, we’ll try to take control. I know the sprinters teams will want to sprint, so I’ll just try to stay safe.”

“I knew from when this race came out that I would have a really good chance of winning. It’s only a 2.1 but with the amount of competition that’s here, if I’m able to pull this off tomorrow and if we do it as a team and take that trophy home, I’ll be very happy. There’s pretty much one jersey that I care about, which is the overall classification and the young rider’s jersey will come along naturally. We go into tomorrow knowing that nothing is given. It’s not over yet, but it’s looking good. Cycling’s very unpredictable and you never know what can happen in front of you, but something pretty drastic would have to happen tomorrow…”

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won his second consecutive stage at the Dubai Tour, winning the bunch sprint, having already won the previous day; the team executed another great job to continue the superb run of form over the past few days. The stage, labelled as the Queen stage, saw the riders tackle two climbs in the second half of the race, the latter falling in the final 10km with ramps of up to 11%. Despite a fast tempo, Kittel held strong to stay with the front group, showing how he has developed over the winter period.

In a hectic finish to the stage, Kittel found himself on his own again but found the right gap and timed his move to perfection to take a well deserved win on the line. Just metres behind, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) also sprinted to a strong fifth place showing real strength in depth in the team. “What can I say! I felt great today and the guys did a really good job in helping me get to the climb in a good position,” said a very happy Kittel when back on the team bus. “It was tough to stay with the front group but having finished a Grand Tour and having a strong winter’s training in the legs had really helped me. I have to say thanks again to Giant as when I’m sprinting the bike feels amazing, so stiff. Knowing you have the perfect equipment gives you that extra confidence.”

The German sprinter added: “I’m very happy for this win. The team worked very well today. They gave me a big hand to get me to the finish, and I repaid them with a good win. Today was hard because we had to chase down the attackers on the climbs. I know this is one of my limits and I want to improve so that I can win races with climbs before a flat finish. I don’t think I can win Milano-Sanremo: it’s a completely different type of race, although I’ve never ridden it, so I don’t know. Maybe in the future, but with the change it’s almost impossible for the sprinters. 3 out of 3? “I hope that tomorrow is a good day for me. I’m confident and I hope I can win stage 3.”

Giant-Shimano Coach, Aike Visbeek said: “The plan for the stage was to gamble with both Marcel and Reinardt, and see if Marcel could make it over the climb in the front group. The teamwork from the guys was great, staying with Marcel and helping him before the climb. He then rode a great finish, staying calm and taking his second win. Another great day for the team.”

Lampre-Merida’s World champion, Rui Costa: “When I take part in a race, I always like to try to be a protagonist, so today I tried to exploit the characteristics of the course in order to perform an attack. In addition, I wanted to check my feelings, to evaluate the feedback of the race to the training I performed during winter. Today was my second day of racing, because the first stage of Dubai Tour was a short time trial: considering this, I can be quite satisfied, my legs supported me properly. Compliments to Kittel, who could come back to the head group after the demanding hills we covered in the final part of the course.”

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Tristan Hoffman said: “The breakaway was formed from the very start but as BMC were chasing and controlled the stage until the hilly finale with 20 kilometres to go, they were doomed to fail. In the demanding finale, Rory (Sutherland) launched an attack and he created a gap with a small group of riders but they were denied the opportunity. So about 40 riders were to sprint it out and our Nikolay Trusov finished 9th”, said Hoffman before sending his riders off to an extra training ride of 45 kilometres.

Dubai Tour Stage 3 Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 3:47:52
2. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
4. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
5. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Giant-Shimano
6. Wouter Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
7. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar
8. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
9. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
10. Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar.

Dubai Tour Overall After Stage 3:
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC in 6:50:24
2. Steven Cummings (GB) BMC at 0:15
3. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Garmin-Sharp at 0:17
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:23
5. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek at 0:26
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 0:29
7. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano at 0:33
8. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar
9. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale at 0:36
10. Peter Velits (Svk) BMC at 0:38.

Stage 3:

BMC Racing Team’s Taylor Phinney protected his lead on Saturday in the Final Stage 4 to win the inaugural Dubai Tour, while also earning best young rider honours, and teammate Steve Cummings finished second. Marcel Kittel showed his form by taking his third stage in a row and the point’s jersey.

Phinney won the Stage 1 individual time trial on Wednesday, added one second to his lead with third place on Stage 2 and finished the race with a 15-second cushion on Cummings and 17 seconds ahead of Lasse Norman Hansen (Garmin-Sharp), in third. The overall victory at a stage race is Phinney’s first in four years as a professional and marks the BMC Racing Team’s third win of the season. “This was an important victory for Taylor and the BMC Racing Team,” President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said. “Taylor has shown his maturity in leading the team throughout the week and the team is keeping pace with our expectations for 2014.” The BMC Racing Team also took home the team classification, helped along by newcomer Peter Velits, who finished ninth overall.

Phinney said his offseason preparation laid the groundwork for success. “I haven’t had a problem-free winter, injury or sickness-wise, ever,” he said. “This was my first solid winter. I had a great time in the U.S. with my friends in Boulder, Colorado, and a really solid month of training in San Diego. And always with my personal soigneur/personal massage therapist with me. I invested a lot into this year. I knew it was a very important year so I’m super happy starting the season this way.” The past U.S. national time trial champion also thanked his teammates. “Every day, I was relieved about having a great team around me,” he said. “They gave me a lot of confidence.” Joining Phinney, Cummings and Velits on the winning squad was Yannick Eijssen, Norwegian national road champion Thor Hushovd, Klaas Lodewyck, Sebastian Lander and Rick Zabel.

Like it did on Stages 2 and 3, the BMC Racing Team worked hard to preserve Phinney’s lead, chasing down a three-man breakaway near the end of Saturday’s 123-kilometer race. In the end, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) earned his third straight stage win by out-sprinting Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and Andrea Guardini (Astana). “We never really had problems,” Cummings said. “Taylor was outstanding, so it’s pretty good to finish second to him when he’s so strong in the time trial. I thought the whole team rode really well as a unit and gelled well.” Sport Director Max Sciandri said it might have looked easy, but preparing for the type of race he thought it would be was key. “You come here early in February and the competition is tough,” he said. “Just look at the field. I kind of knew that the time trial was going to determine the overall of this race – a bit like in China (the Tour of Beijing) the first year, when they had a time trial. So that was planned really well and executed to perfection by two of our guys.”

At the press conference Taylor Phinney (BMC) said: “I would consider this my first pro stage race victory. There were no WorldTour teams when I won Olympica’s Tour in 2010. So this is a big step for me, to step into the team leader’s jersey. It’s a role I feel comfortable in and I feel I can slip into it easily. I like being motivational with my team-mates. I love it when you see guys give everything for you. I’m really grateful to them because I’ve been that guy too: you do the work because it’s your job, but also to be recognised for it. Cycling is a team sport, even if I’m the one who is the face of winning this first Tour of Dubai. I couldn’t have done it without the team.”

“I’m super honoured. I’d like to see this race grow, and I’d like to be part of that growing process. It’s a cool feeling to win the first edition. It’s only four days, so it could grow in distance. RCS has done a great job, and the city of Dubai has done a great job too, shutting down all these roads. We owe an apology to the people of Dubai for some traffic jams, but I think the race was a well received. It was a multi-faceted race in that we had a time trial and a rolling stage. There was some wind to deal with, too. And you couldn’t draw a more high profile peloton, so on that side of things, they were spot on.”

“Over the past couple of years, I’ve realised I’m a bit more human that some of the other guys in the peloton. I kept growing during my first two years as a pro. It took me time to find a place where I’m comfortable and injury-free. I’m glad to be able to ride with the best guys on a stage like yesterday’s, with a couple of climbs. I’ve put a lot of work in over the past two years, The arrival at the team of Alan Peiper, who believes in me, and felt that he could do good things if he held my race program in his hands, has been an important factor. I’m grateful to the team and I’m happy to have been able to come here. Bigger goals lie ahead and we’ll see if I can tackle them in the way I’ve handled this Dubai Tour.”

Stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano): “I’m super happy to win again but it was all down to my team, they did another great job here today,” said Kittel following the finish.
“I lost the boys with just over two kilometres to go but Tom Veelers did an amazing job to bring me back to the front and from there they put me in a perfect position. It’s great to get the season off to such a good start. I had a really strong winter’s training with the team, profiting from the experts and coaches and that has set me up in great shape. I knew that I was going well but to win three stages here is more than I expected. It’s the best start to a season in my professional career.”

“I’m in very good shape already, I can’t complain about my legs. Yesterday was I think one of the tough tests for me personally, for my shape, and I made it. Today we had the fastest sight seeing tour ever. It was a really hard stage, and I think I can be confident now for the rest of the season.”

“For me as a sprinter, I have several goals during the year. It’s not only one race, like a GC rider. The Dubai Tour was my first goal, now I go home for easy training before thinking about my next goal. I’m very pleased with how it has gone here, and I don’t think my form is too good, too early. I prepared well for this race, I came straight here from Australia, and I rode the stage finishes so that I knew the stage finishes. That’s always an advantage. Yesterday I showed that I can, in the worst case, also do it by myself, when my legs are good. I guess that’s one of my strengths as a sprinter.”

“For the first edition of the race, for me as a rider it was a very nice experience. The stages are good, if you can keep it like that. Perfect for me. May be the time trial could be a little bit shorter! But I’m really the wrong guy for that question, after taking 3 stage wins. I’d like to come back next year if it’s the same course.”

“As well as winning 3 stages, the fact that we worked well as a team here will give me and my team confidence, It’s always difficult at the start of the season, so we can be proud and confident for the coming races.”

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step picked up a 2nd place on the final stage with Mark Renshaw. “We were really motivated today, it was a nice sprint,” Mark Cavendish said. “We planned it really well. The team rode really good, it was a flat stage. Unfortunately, coming into the final, it’s what can happen. It’s a dangerous sport. I hit some bollard in the road and I’ve got a swollen hand and it ripped the chain out of my rear mech. I just count myself lucky because if it was a concrete or a metal one like in Europe I wouldn’t be here to talk about it right now. But, I was happy with the team. The team carried on and we have to be happy with Renshaw taking 2nd behind Marcel Kittel. The team did a good job and it showed that if things had gone a bit better we could have got the win.”

“The race went well up until the final kilometres,” Mark Renshaw said. “There was a little bit of a mix-up in the final. It was a shame because we set the stage up for him. The incident was only with a little more than a kilometre to go and we had to make a quick change of planning, so finishing 2nd is probably the maximum I could do.”

“The team did a perfect job, like we discussed this morning,” OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere said. “Everything went well. At about a kilometre and a half to go Cavendish hit a road object. Mark Renshaw was still 2nd, even without sprinting. The team was looking for Mark, but they lost him due to the accident, so we cannot blame anybody about not winning today.”

Movistar sprinter Juanjo Lobato: “I’m happy with this result, even though I didn’t win – I came close, with such good rivals like the ones I found here. My feelings on the bike were best on the first sprint on stage two; I don’t know if I could have won, but I think that a second place would have been at my reach. I got boxed in and couldn’t pedal for the final 50 meters. Friday’s was my closest call, but the pace into the final climbs was really fast and I had spent much energy before the sprint. Kittel was sensational this week. Today’s finish didn’t suit me really well and I didn’t feel strong either. Despite that, the teamwork was brilliant. This is the best team I have ever been part of; I have no words to thank them for their commitment. I’m only lacking a bit more experience, because I’m not used to have such strong team-mates to lead me out into sprints. This makes me confident for the next races; I’m feeling well and I have a great team at my side. Let’s hope the first win comes soon, but I’m not obsessed with that.”

Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida): “My sprint was good, I have no regrets except for the fact I missed the podium: Guardini overtook me on the line. As usual, the team supported me in the best way, especially in the final kilometres, when the race became frantic. I was just behind Renshaw when Kittel started his sprint: today he was even stronger than in the previous stage, so he really deserved the victory.”

Dubai Tour Overall Stage 4 Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 2:41:09
2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
4. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha
6. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale
7. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn) Vini Fantini-Nippo
9. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Skydive Dubai
10. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar.

Dubai Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC in 9:31:33
2. Stephen Cummings (GB) BMC at 0:15
3. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Garmin-Sharp at 0:17
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:23
5. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek at 0:30
6. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano
7. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar at 0:37
8. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale at 0:40
9. Peter Velits (Slo) BMC at 0:42
10. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin-Sharp.

stage 4:

Ladies Tour of Qatar 2014
Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano) has continued the winning streak at the Ladies Tour of Qatar by winning today’s Stage 3, making it three from three.

Wild and teammate Amy Pieters were present in the front group and controlled the race perfectly before she executed her powerful finishing sprint to take her second stage win and move back into the race lead.

The race once again split early in the crosswinds and Wild and Pieters were in front for the team. Wild set about picking up bonus seconds on offer at the intermediate sprints along the route. The selection was then whittled down to a small group of around 10 riders which, despite several attacks stayed together to sprint out the win.

Pieters rode a selfless race, marking moves despite being in the leader’s jersey in order to keep her teammate as fresh as possible for the finish. Despite covering several moves herself, Wild was once again too fast for the rest and maintained the team’s 100% record so far in this year’s race.

“It was a really hard finish today, actually the whole final 10km was hard,” said Wild before heading off to podium duties. “We controlled the front group perfectly after the race split in the winds and made sure that Amy or I were always at the front.
“I’m really happy to take the win and continue our success here, but it’s never nice to take the jersey away from a teammate, especially after all the hard work Amy put in today. But the plan was to keep the jersey in the team either way and see how the finish panned out so it’s worked out.”

Team Giant-Shimano coach, Ruud Verhagen said: “We knew it was going to be a tough day today but it worked out perfectly once again. “The girls were really strong again and when Amy and Kirsten were in the front group of 12 the situation was perfect. They never lost control and even after working hard, Kirsten was still the fastest to the line.”

Pieters continues to lead the young rider’s competition, and sits in second place overall nine seconds behind, while Wild also leads the sprints competition.

Ladies Tour of Qatar Stage 3 Result:
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Giant-Shimano in 2:27:34
2. Elizabeth Armitstead (GB) Boels Dolmans
3. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec Products
4. Shelley Olds (USA) Ale Cipollini
5. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
6. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Ale Cipollini
7. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon
8. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Italy
9. Amy Pieters (Ned) Giant-Shimano
10. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Orica-AIS at 0:05.

Ladies Tour of Qatar Overall After Stage 3:
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Giant-Shimano in 7:30:53
2. Amy Pieters (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 0:09
3. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec Products at 0:21
4. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS at 0:35
5. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon at 0:47
6. Melissa Hoskins (Aus) Orica-AIS at 0:55
7. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) Lotto Belisol at 1:29
8. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Italy at 1:40
9. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Specialized-lululemon at 1:48
10. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabo Liv at 2:05.

Stage 3:

Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano) has won the Final Stage 4 of the Ladies Tour of Qatar and with it takes her fourth overall title, and her second in two years. The win completes an amazing Tour for the team where they won all four stages, took first and second in the overall general classification, won the point’s jersey and also the young rider’s jersey.

The final stage of the race didn’t splinter in the wind as the previous three have done, and coming into the final kilometres the bunch was together and attacks were flying as other teams tried to avoid a bunch sprint. The Team Giant-Shimano riders were taking it in turns to cover the moves, with Julia Soek especially active in policing moves before taking control of the front of the bunch to set Wild up in a perfect position to unleash her powerful finish. White jersey wearer, Amy Pieters opened up the sprint and once Wild went no one could match her pace. This final stage win completes an amazing Tour for the team where they won all four stages, took first and second in the overall general classification, won the point’s jersey and also the young rider’s jersey. A very happy Wild said after the finish: “That was awesome, what a way to dominate a race. The whole team have been great out here all week, and the overall win is thanks to them.

“It was great for Amy to get a stage too, showing that each of us is strong enough to win stages. I really like this race, as you can see and it is a great way to start the season, giving us confidence going forward, and to thank our sponsors.”
Giant-Shimano Coach, Ruud Verhagen said: “There’s not a lot more for me to say now apart from praising the team on the amazing job they have done out here this week. They have worked superbly on every stage, and today was no different controlling the race and staying alert in the closing stages when attacks were going off the front. At the end Amy launched the sprint for Kirsten who was untouchable once again. All four stages, top two overall and two other jerseys in just incredible.”
Thanks to Giant-Shimano for race reports.

Ladies Tour of Qatar Stage 4 Result:
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Giant-Shimano in 2:06:23
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda
3. Melissa Hoskins (Aus) Orica-AIS
4. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon
5. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) Lotto Belisol
6. Shelley Olds (USA) Ale Cipollini
7. Pascale Jeuland (Fra) France
8. Roxane Fournier (Fra) France
9. Elizabeth Armitstead (GB) Boels Dolmans
10. Xiaoling Luo (Chn) China Chongming-Giant.

Ladies Tour of Qatar Final Overall Result:
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Giant-Shimano in 9:37:01
2. Amy Pieters (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 0:22
3. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec Products at 0:36
4. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS at 0:50
5. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon at 1:02
6. Melissa Hoskins (Aus) Orica-AIS at 1:06
7. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) Lotto Belisol at 1:44
8. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Italy at 1:55
9. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Specialized-lululemon at 2:03
10. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabo Liv at 2:31.

Stage 4:

Etoile de Bessèges 2014
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) got the better of John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and 136 of the remaining riders in the peloton at the end of Stage 2. Sander Helven (Topsport Vlaaneren-Baloise) held on to the overall lead with a five second advantage over Laurens De Vreese (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Benoît Jarrier (Bretagne-Séché Environnement). The day’s break managed to escape with 120 kilometres to go to the finish in Saint-Ambroix, it included: Julien Fouchard (Cofidis), Axel Domont (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Clément Koretzky (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Dimitri Le Boulch (BigMat-Auber 93) and Thomas Rostollan (La Pomme Marseille 13) and had a maximum lead of 4 minutes, but the Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise team kept them within reach. Europcar, FDJ.fr and Giant-Shimano chased the five down and the race was all together with the last 7.3 kilometre lap to go and Bouhanni was the best at the line.

Etoile de Bessèges Stage 2 Result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr in 3:32:55
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano
3. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale
4. Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
6. Jelle Mannaerts (Bel) Verandas Willems
7. Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13
8. Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
9. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10. Erwan Corbel (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement

Etoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 2:
1. Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise in 6:59:45
2. Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:05
3. Benoît Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement
4. Boris Dron (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles at 0:12
5. Marcus Christie (Irl) An Post-Chain Reaction at 0:16
6. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:24
7. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:28
8. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:30
9. Clément Koretzky (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement at 0:32
10. Axel Domont (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:33.

Stage 2:

Europcar’s Bryan Coquard was victor of Stage 3 into Bessèges at the end of the 152 kilometre stage. Again the day ended in a bunch sprint and the close decision went to Coquard over the previous day’s winner Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ.fr. Sander Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) held the overall lead with Benoît Jarrier (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) in second at five seconds and Boris Dron (Wallonie-Bruxelles) in third at twelve seconds. The break of the day was started by Arthur Vichot (FDJ.fr) on the first climb and was soon joined by: Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) and Rémy Di Grégorio (Team La Pomme Marseille 13) to maintain a lead of 4 minutes until Giant-Shimano, Lotto Belisol and Topsport Vlaanderen-Balois chased them down. The leaders were eventually caught on the last 6.8 kilometre circuit and Giant-Shimano took control of the peloton for John Degenkolb, but Coquard and Bouhanni got the better of him at the finish line.

Etoile de Bessèges Stage 3 Result:
1. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar in 3:46:11
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr
3. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano
4. Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13
5. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
7. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Roubaix Lille Métropole
8. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Tosh Van Der Sande (Ned) Lotto Belisol
10. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Etoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 3:
1. Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise in 10:45:56
2. Benoît Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:05
3. Boris Dron (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles at 0:12
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:18
5. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:24
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
7. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:26
8. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:30
9. Rémi Di Gregorio (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13 at 0:31
10. Clément Koretzky (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement at 0:32.

Stage 3:

Bryan Coquard took his second stage win at the Etoile de Bessèges with a strong effort from his Europcar team to chase down the early break before the end of Stage 4. Six riders went up the road in the opening kilometres, they were: Branislau Samoilau (CCC Polsat), Sean De Bie (Lotto Belisol), Romain Sicard (Europcar), Yauheni Hutarovitch (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Clément Koretzky (Bretagne- Séché Environnement) and Thomas Rostollan (La Pomme Marseille 13). The escape started to fall apart with 15 kilometres to the finish in Laudun with Sicard, Rostollan and the Hutarovich being dropped. With all the sprinters team’s and Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise chasing for the overall leader Sander Helven the remaining three (Samoilau, De Bie and Koretzky) were caught on the last climb of the Mur de Laudun and Coquard took the honours. The last stage is a 10.7 kilometre time trial to Alés.

Escapee Sean De Bie (Lotto Belisol): “Immediately after the stage had started, we took off with eight. At first I thought the group was too big. After about five kilometres there was already a climb and the peloton set a fast pace. We had to ride one hour before we got some freedom, this was after two riders had been dropped. Then it was a calm period, which was necessary after the fast start. The peloton didn’t let us go far however.”

“I gathered some bonification seconds with tomorrow’s time trial in mind. You never know where you might end up in GC or youth classification. I feel fine after my first races as neo-pro. It gives me confidence for the following weeks and months that I was in a break in this fourth stage and felt good after the relatively hard stage of yesterday. Tomorrow I will go full in the time trial.”

Etoile de Bessèges Stage 4 Result:
1. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar in 3:41:28
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano
3. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol
4. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
5. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr
6. Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
7. Carlos-Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia
8. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9. Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Giant-Shimano.

Etoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 4:
1. Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise in 14:27:24
2. Benoît Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement at 0:05
3. Boris Dron (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles at 0:12
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar at 0:14
5. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:18
6. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr
7. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:26
8. Clément Koretzky (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
9. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:28
10. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol at 0:30.

Stage 4:

Giant-Shimano’s Swedish rider Tobias Ludvigsson won the final 10.7 kilometre time trial Stage 5 to also take the overall prize. Jérôme Coppel (Cofidis) put it the second fastest time in the TT for second overall and Ludvigsson’s team mate John Degenkolb did well enough for third on GC. The course for the time trial had a nice little climb at the end up the Site de l’Ermitage which suited Ludvigsson perfectly to move him up from 10th to 1st and previous leader; Sander Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) dropped from 1st to 10th.

Giant-Shimano Coach, Christian Guiberteau said: “We were expecting a good result but to win the stage and take the overall is just great. It’s nice for the team after working hard all week but not quite getting the win, and it’s great that Tobias can confirm the progress he has made and to know that he can win stage races. We knew that he was going well and his time trialling has further improved with specific training and testing over the winter, including some track testing last week with the team coaches and experts. So we held him back all week to save his legs for the final TT. Not only did Tobias win, but John took the points jersey and the guys won the team classification too. A great way to round out the week.”

“I’m really proud of this great start and I want to thank the support of the team, the staff and the sponsors for this,” said Ludvigsson. “The team was strong and protected me really well this week and I’m happy to be able to show myself in the first time trial of the year. We made a plan this winter to further improve my time trialing, including the aero testing last week on the track, to optimise each and every detail on the bike and it is great to see that these efforts are rewarded. Together with the Giant Trinity bike, it feels like a perfect fit to get the maximum out of me.”

PEZ columnist Clément Koretzky (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) finished in 41st place at 1:19 and took the climber’s jersey home after a very aggressive race – stay tuned to read his take on the race soon here on PEZ.

Etoile de Bessèges Stage 5 Result:
1. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Giant-Shimano in 15:38
2. Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:04
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 0:11
4. Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:14
5. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:15
6. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:20
7. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol at 0:26
8. Mateusz Taciak (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice at 0:27
9. Brice Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:31
10. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar at 0:32.

Etoile de Bessèges Final Overall Result:
1. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Giant-Shimano in 14:43:35
2. Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:04
3. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:05
4. Benoît Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement at 0:07
5. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr
6. Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:14
7. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol at 0:23
8. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at 0:33
9. Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty – Groupe Gobert at 0:36
10. Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Roubaix Cobbles in the 2014 Tour de France
This year’s Paris-Roubaix will cover some of the same cobbled sections that the Tour de France will use in stage 5. The 2014 Paris-Roubaix is on April the 13th and feature 51 kilometres of cobbles during its total of 257 kilometres. Some sections have not been used for some time, two sections; Haussy (800m) and Saulzoir (1,200m) have not been in the race for 10 years and the Famars (1,200m) has been missing for two years. Most of the sections will be ridden in the opposite direction in the Tour de France except at Mons-en-Pévèle where they will ride the same direction as the Classic, but for only 1,000 metres.

Cobbled sections featured in Paris-Roubaix and Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France:
Gruson – Carrefour de l’arbre (1,100m)
Ennevelin – Pont-Thibaut (1,400m)
Mons-en-Pévèle (3,000m in Paris-Roubaix / 1000m in Tour de France)
Bersée (2,600m in Paris-Roubaix / 1,400m in the Tour de France)
Orchies – Beuvry (1,400m)
Sars-et-Rosières – Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes (2,400m)
Brillon – Warlaing (2,400m in Paris-Roubaix / 1,400m in the Tour de France)
Wandignies-Hamage – Hornaing (3,700m)
Hélesmes – Wallers (1,600m).

Paris-Roubaix teaser by 618PRODUCTIONS1:

Nîmes start for the 2017 Vuelta a España
For the first time in its history, the Vuelta a España might kick off in France. It would be in 2017 and from Nîmes, capital of the Gard department. The Director General of La Vuelta, which now belongs to Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), Javier Guillén, commented in the French newspaper Le Figaro.

“It’s a desire on our part, the ball is in the court of the city, we are very motivated for Nîmes to be the depart city,” said Javier Guillén when he visited the city on Thursdays and as the mayor agrees, “there should be no problem,” said Senator-Mayor Jean-Paul Fournier Nimes (UMP).

“What we want is to tell a story. In my opinion, Nîmes is the nearest city culturally to Spain. There is an old bullring, bullfighting and flamenco culture relate to the Vuelta,” said Javier Guillen. What is being discussed is that Nimes will host the team time trial and the first stage of Vuelta’17.

An Extra Day for the Dubai Tour in 2015
The Dubai Tour organisers have said they hope to add a day to the stage race to take it up to 5 days in the future. They have also said they are ready to host the start of the Giro d’Italia, chairman of the organising committee; Saeed Hareb commented: “If the Giro d’Italia wants to start from here, we’re ready. It’s up to RCS Sport.” On the part of the Giro organisers, Lorenzo Giorgetti, sales director of RCS Sport said: “We’re ready too, we’d need a lot of ingredients to make it possible: the support of the UCI for sure, the organisation from a logistical point of view is very complicated, the involvement of the teams is also important because we can’t forget there’s a six hour flight and a three-hour time difference. We have to respect the spirit of cycling but have to do it only when all the conditions are in place. We considered it at the very beginning but we now think that it’s more important to establish the Dubai Tour. If the Giro d’Italia happens, it will happen but the Dubai Tour is the priority.”

Europcar to the Tour Méditerranéen
The Tour Méditerréen runs between the 13th and the 16th of February with four stages mostly based around Marseille.

Europcar Roster:
Giovanni Bernaudeau, Cyril Gautier, Christophe Kern, Davide Malacarne, Yannick Martinez, Pierre Rolland, Romain Sicard, Thomas Voeckler.
DS: Ismaël Mottier.

Volta a Catalunya ‘Wild Card’ Teams
Caja Rural-RGA, CCC Polsat-Polkowice and Cofidis are the three teams who are invited by the Volta a Catalunya and contest the 94th edition along with the 18 WorldTour ProTeams. The race will be held between the 24th and 30th of March. The Volta made its route official with seven stages, including two summit finishes; La Molina and Vallter 2000 with a total of 25 climbs.

Last year Daniel Martin won ahead of Joaquim Rodríguez, Michele Scarponi, Nairo Quintana and Bradley Wiggins, Michale Albasini won in 2012, Scarponi in 2011, Joaquim Rodriguez in 2010 and Alejandro Valverde in 2009.

The 2014 Volta a Catalunya stages:
Stage 1: Calella – Calella, 165,7 kilometres
Stage 2: Mataró – Girona, 171,2 kilometres
Stage 3: Banyoles – La Molina (Alp), 162,9 kilometres
Stage 4: Alp – Vallter 2000-Setcases, 166,4 kilometres
Stage 5: Vall de-Llanars camprodon – Valls, 222,2 kilometres
Stage 6: El Vendrell – Vilanova, 163,9 kilometres
Stage 7: Barcelona (Montjuïc) Barcelona (Montjuïc), 120,7 kilometres.

Vento, The Movie
VENTO is the italian word for “wind”, but it is also the project of a cycling path that would tie in with Milan Expo and link Venice and Turin along the Po river.

For the past three-and-a-half years, activists in Italy have been lobbying for the construction of a 422 mile (679km) cycle path, known as VenTo, that would link the major cities of the north as well as a host of lesser-known treasures along the banks of the river Po.

“Vento. Italy by bike along the river Po” is a feature lenght documentary movie by Stuffilm and Bodà (producers of sport films The Last Kilometer and The Runner), a cycling film depicting the project of VenTo in the form of an inspiring road-movie. For info www.filmvento.wordpress.com. Here is the trailer:


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