VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Tue, 22 Jul 2014 07:42:00 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Evelyn Stevens reflects on winning Thuringen Rundfahrt http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/road/evelyn-stevens-reflects-winning-thuringen-rundfahrt_337696 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/road/evelyn-stevens-reflects-winning-thuringen-rundfahrt_337696#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:40:09 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337696

Evelyn Stevens video.

Stevens talks about what it's like to race 17 days in a row, how to suffer with bad legs, and why women deserve a Tour of California

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Evelyn Stevens video.

Editor’s Note: This video interview is courtesy of WielerVideo. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.

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First look: Scott’s 2015 Solace gets disc brakes http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/bikes-and-tech/peek-scotts-2015-solace-disc-road-bike_337512 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/bikes-and-tech/peek-scotts-2015-solace-disc-road-bike_337512#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:21:05 +0000 Addie Levinsky http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337512

The smallest rotors that can be used are 140mm, and the biggest are 160mm. Scott has used Shimano's new Flat Mount standard, which improves the look and decreases weight. Photo: Addie Levinsky | VeloNews.com

Scott's new Solace Disc is another addition to the growing crop of endurance road bikes built specifically for disc brakes

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The smallest rotors that can be used are 140mm, and the biggest are 160mm. Scott has used Shimano's new Flat Mount standard, which improves the look and decreases weight. Photo: Addie Levinsky | VeloNews.com

There is no longer any question that the endurance road bike category is diving headlong into the realm of disc brakes. Category-defining models like the Specialized Roubaix and Trek Domane already have disc versions available, Giant has removed the rim-brake option from its high end bikes, and now Scott’s excellent endurance frame, the Solace, has a disc version as well.

Scott unveiled the new model, the Solace Disc, along with a women’s Contessa version at its annual media and dealer event in Park City, Utah last week.

Solace features

The Solace Disc frame is built around the same features of the Solace. Geometry is tweaked for comfort, with a slightly taller (1cm) head tube and shorter top tube (again, 1cm) relative to Scott’s race-oriented models, the Addict and Foil. Solace is offered in seven sizes, as well as five sizes in the women’s Contessa line.

In addition to a large selection of sizes, the Solace has size-specific carbon layups, a feature touted by Specialized in its introduction of the new Tarmac. So a small frame offers a softer ride relative to a large frame, presumably accounting for rider weight.

Disc specifications

The Solace Disc uses a traditional post disc mount on the fork and takes advantage of Shimano’s brand new Flat Mount standard on the rear chainstay. The new mount, which we expect to see adopted by quite a few bike brands in the next year or two, tightens up bolt spacing for a more compact, lighter, and less visually obtrusive package.

The rub, at least for now, is that Shimano hasn’t released a brake caliper that is designed to fit with its new mounting standard. Scott uses an adapter to attach Shimano’s current hydraulic road caliper, which is based on a XT mountain bike caliper, to the new mount. The Solace is compatible with both 140mm and 160mm rotors.

The Solace Disc features internal cable routing, making for a clean finish. While the stock build comes with mechanical Shimano Ultegra, the frame is fully compatible with electronic shift systems.

Axle/Hub specifications

The Solace Disc utilizes thru-axles. Major brands seem to be split on the thru-axle versus traditional quick release issue — there is no doubt that thru-axles provide accurate wheel positioning every time the wheel is put on, and are guaranteed to remain tight, and improve tracking under brake load, but with the rapidly changing disc landscape, many brands, like Giant and Specialized, are still taking a wait-and-see approach. They are likely hoping for a new, lighter, faster, and more road-friendly thru-axle system in the future.

Scott has decided to jump on a current mountain bike axle standard, using a 15mm thru-axle up front and a 12mm rear axle in the rear.

First impressions

With discs gaining popularity in the road, it’s good to see another bike join the line-up. The Solace is already an excellent choice for an endurance road bike, replacing Scott’s CR1. The Solace Disc frame weighs 1,380 grams, just 50 grams heavier than the standard frame+fork (including the mounting bracket for the rear brake), and while the stock build kit is mechanical Shimano Ultegra, it comes complete with everything needed for electronic shifting. The Solace is already something of a known quantity, and an excellent endurance frame. Add disc brakes and good gets even better.

Editor’s note: Scott covered travel expenses and accommodation for media attending the event in Park City.

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USA Pro Challenge confirms 16 teams to participate this August http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/usa-pro-challenge-confirms-16-teams-participate-august_337668 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/usa-pro-challenge-confirms-16-teams-participate-august_337668#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:37:16 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337668

The USA Pro Challenge returns to Colorado for its fourth year. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

BMC Racing Team, Cannondale Pro Cycling, Team Garmin-Sharp, Tinkoff-Saxo, and Trek Factory Racing will toe the line, August 18-24, 2014

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The USA Pro Challenge returns to Colorado for its fourth year. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

DENVER — The 2014 USA Pro Challenge will feature 16 of the world’s top professional cycling teams. Led by UCI ProTour teams BMC Racing, Cannondale, Garmin-Sharp, Tinkoff-Saxo, and Trek Factory Racing, the race will include some of the sport’s top talent.

The seven-day stage race will travel 550 miles from Aspen to Denver, August 18-24, 2014.

“We consistently get such an overwhelmingly positive response from the teams that participate in the Pro Challenge each year,” said Rick Schaden, owner of the USA Pro Challenge. “The race continues to build momentum year after year and we’ll look to build on that in 2014 by welcoming back some veteran teams and introducing some new ones to the challenging terrain and beautiful scenery of Colorado.”

Featuring teams hailing from six countries, the USA Pro Challenge will test riders by taking them to unprecedented elevations.

“We’ve had huge success in the Pro Challenge the past three years and we’re looking forward to returning for a fourth,” said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO, Slipstream Sports and Garmin-Sharp. “As a Colorado-based team, this is a race we look forward to all year and the riders always bring their A-game. Last year Lachlan Morton won the best young rider competition and Tom Danielson got third overall, so we have high goals for the race and we will give fans plenty of reasons to cheer.”

2014 USA Pro Challenge Team Roster:

UCI ProTour
BMC Racing (USA)
Cannondale (I)
Garmin-Sharp (USA)
Tinkoff-Saxo (Rus)
Trek Factory Racing (USA)

UCI Professional Continental Teams
Drapac (Aus)
NetApp–Endura (G) *
Novo Nordisk (USA)
UnitedHealthcare (USA)

UCI Continental Teams
Bissell Development Team (USA) *
Hincapie Sportswear Development Team (USA) *
Jamis-Hagens Berman (USA)
Jelly Belly (USA)
Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
Rapha-Condor (GB) *
SmartStop (USA) *

* First-time appearance for team at USA Pro Challenge

Full team rosters will be announced closer to the race.

“The USA Pro Challenge has featured some of the best teams in the world over the last three years and 2014 will be no different,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “We’re giving cycling fans in the United States the chance to see the teams they love up close and in person. Interest in the race continues to grow and this year’s diverse roster of teams is going to create seven intensely competitive days of racing in August.”

“We’re really looking forward to racing in the USA Pro Challenge again this year,” said Cannondale team director Alberto Volpi. “With tough, competitive racing and amazing crowds, this is the kind of race we love. Last year the team rode really well, and Peter Sagan took the sprint jersey. This year, we’re coming back to take stages and be again among the main contenders. We’ll certainly bring a strong team.”

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Ukrainian Grivko riding Tour for peace back home http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/ukrainian-grivko-riding-tour-peace-back-home_337652 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/ukrainian-grivko-riding-tour-peace-back-home_337652#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:55:05 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337652

Andriy Grivko says that, while he is riding in support of teammate Vincenzo Nibali, he also represents his troubled home country, Ukraine, at the Tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Andriy Grivko, the only Ukrainian rider in this year's Tour, says his presence is essential to convey a message of peace

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Andriy Grivko says that, while he is riding in support of teammate Vincenzo Nibali, he also represents his troubled home country, Ukraine, at the Tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

TALLARD, France (AFP) — Andriy Grivko, the only Ukrainian rider in this year’s Tour de France, says his presence is essential to convey a message of peace back to his homeland.

Grivko, speaking after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over the rebel-controlled east of Ukraine, insisted that fault for that “terrorist act” lies squarely with the Russian government, led by president Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine has been embroiled in a bitter civil war since Russian-backed separatists gained control of Crimea in late February.

A snap referendum on March 11 saw Crimean citizens vote for independence from Ukraine, although Grivko claims those who wanted to remain part of Ukraine were prevented from voting.

The 30-year-old, a native of Crimea, rides for Astana, alongside race leader Vincenzo Nibali, and he hopes his presence at the front of the peloton marshaling the Italian can have a positive effect back in his homeland.

“I feel a bit alone to tell the truth, but it’s important that I’m here on the Tour to carry a message of peace,” he told Sunday’s edition of l’Equipe.

“Above and beyond my work for Vincenzo, I see my presence on the Tour as a mission.”

But Grivko cannot help but get down about the events back home.

His parents and sister still live in Simferopol, where he was born, in Crimea, and he is sad to see how they are suffering since the events of last March.

“It’s hard to concentrate on cycling when you know your family is still over there,” he said. “I’ve tried to speak to them regularly since the start of the Tour. I found out my sister was fighting to refuse the Russian passport they’re trying to impose on all inhabitants.

“The Russian dictatorship is being implanted in my country while I’m pedaling the roads of France.”

Grivko was eight years old when the old Soviet Union broke up and Ukraine became a separate and independent country.

But he says that was only on paper. “I remember that everyone thought that we would finally have freedom. But already back then they were lying to us.

“They made us think that we would no longer be associated with Moscow, but not much has changed in the last 20 years.”

This year is Grivko’s seventh Tour de France. He is also a five-time national time trial champion, and won Ukraine’s national road race championships in 2012.

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Van Garderen Q&A: podium dreams and the final TT http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/van-garderen-qa-podium-dreams-final-tt_337642 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/van-garderen-qa-podium-dreams-final-tt_337642#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:11:42 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337642

Tejay van Garderen remains calm and focused, looking ahead to the Tour's final stages, especially the time trial on the penultimate day. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Van Garderen: "This is my first grand tour that I’ve done where I’ve been the outright leader. And the guys have been incredible"

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Tejay van Garderen remains calm and focused, looking ahead to the Tour's final stages, especially the time trial on the penultimate day. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CARCASSONE, France (VN) — He’s been here before. It’s not new. It’s not easy, but it’s not new. Tejay van Garderen is composed in this 2014 Tour de France — if anything it seems an extension of the 2012 running, in which he finished fifth. He’s fifth now, heading into the Pyrénées and the looming final time trial.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is considerably up on everyone (by more than four minutes) but van Garderen and a passel of others are contesting every remaining kilometer. Just two minutes separate second (Alejandro Valverde) and the sixth of Jean-Cristophe Péraud (A2GR La Mondiale). Van Garderen sat down with reporters on the rest day; a year after a trying Tour (he finished 45th last year) he is poised for what he called the biggest week of his racing career.

Question: Are you enjoying the battle with the French guys? Valverde? Is it fun?

Tejay van Garderen: It definitely makes for interesting racing. If everyone was separated by two minutes then it wouldn’t be that much to watch anymore. Since [Nibali] already has a sold lead he looks almost untouchable … More battles going on make it exciting.

Q: All the quarreling behind Nibali, the marking of each other, could it come back to haunt you?

TVG: I mean, five minutes is a lot to make up. I don’t think we’ve been racing each other rather than racing him, necessarily. It’s just when he attacks, no one has the legs to follow. And then when we start to chase it kind of becomes tactical. Because some people want to pull and try to get it back. And other people are getting a free ride. So then it’s like we have to attack each other in order to whittle down the group so we’re not carrying any freeloaders. So it might look tactical, like we’re racing each other back there but really we’re just trying to unload any dead weight that we might not want to pull back up to Nibali to try to catch him.

Q: What would be a good result for you in the time trial?

TVG: I don’t know. I really, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Romain Bardet (A2GR La Mondiale), they’re very young. I haven’t seen them too many times in time trials. I don’t think they’re real specialists. I think they could go OK. Valverde and Jean-Christophe Péraud I know are really good time trialers. So I don’t know. You can never be satisfied with anything. It’s the Tour de France. You know? You never know how your legs are going to be after three weeks. I just have to get to it and ride as hard as I can.

Q: Can you go into the TT where you are now, or do you think you need to move up?

TVG: I’m just looking for consistency. Some of these climbers, they’re very explosive, and that’s less my style. If I can stay consistent maybe some of the other guys will weaken a little bit. But no, I’m not looking — obviously if one of my rivals has a bad day I might push the pace a little bit.

Q/strong>: You said earlier this season you were out to prove that fifth place in 2012 wasn’t a fluke. Do you feel like you’ve done that?

TVG: I mean that’s something that I’ve known all along. I think it’s something other people may have doubted. So it’s nice to silence some of the doubters. But no. I’m not going to be satisfied until we get to Paris and I’m in a good position.

Q: What about the long-term?

TVG: My goal is obviously to one year win this race. Yeah, that might be a bit lofty of an expectation for this year. But years down the road, I think it’s something I can do.

VN: Is this the most important week of your career?

TVG: Yes. Yes it is.

Q: Was it easy to assume the leadership role? It’s your first true leadership at a grand tour. What’s that like?

TVG: This is my first grand tour that I’ve done where I’ve been the outright leader. And the guys have been incredible. It’s a huge experience and I’m certainly enjoying it … I’ve kind of grown into it I think. I’ve led the team in many other races. But to do it in a grand tour is something different. It’s three weeks long. But I feel like the other races have given me enough practice.

Q: It wasn’t an ideal run-in for you. Were you confident heading into the Tour regardless of the misfortunes earlier this year?

TVG: What happens in the early season usually doesn’t have that big of an effect on how you come into July. It’s kind of broken up into two seasons. I showed I had really good form earlier this season … I showed that I did the work over the winter to have that base

Q: You’ve been there, the young guy with pressure in the Tour. How will the young French riders handle the pressure?

TVG: It all depends on where, or whether or not, you let that stuff get to you. They seem like solid guys, solid characters. I don’t think they’re going to have trouble with it. And if, at the end of the day, there is pressure and they disappoint, that shouldn’t be right. They shouldn’t be disappointed because they’re both having an incredible Tour.

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Despite Sky’s GC woes, Pate keeps pushing on http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/despite-skys-gc-woes-pate-keeps-pushing_337595 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/despite-skys-gc-woes-pate-keeps-pushing_337595#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:30:05 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337595

Danny Pate did what he could to support Chris Froome in his bid for a second Tour title. Now that his leader is out of the race, Pate and Sky will try to salvage a stage win in the race's final stages. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Danny Pate says Team Sky will go down swinging despite losing GC hopes with Chris Froome and Richie Porte

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Danny Pate did what he could to support Chris Froome in his bid for a second Tour title. Now that his leader is out of the race, Pate and Sky will try to salvage a stage win in the race's final stages. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CARCASONNE, France (VN) — The Tour de France’s second rest day comes at a good time for the race-weary peloton. Smashed by extreme weather swings — from cool rain and wind to searing heat — the peloton looks ahead with a mix of trepidation and relief at three days of climbing in the Pyrénées. The suffering will be relentless, but at least Paris is ever closer.

Team Sky is riding toward the Pyrénées with an equal mix of frustration and opportunity. The team’s GC options are shattered, but the team’s pride and spirit are fully intact. The ever-proud Sky wants to take something out of this Tour.

Danny Pate, the veteran American riding his first Tour with Sky since joining the team in 2012, promises to go down swinging.

“We’ve had some bad luck with Chris, and some of the guys are not feeling so well, but I think we still have a couple of opportunities in breakaways,” Pate told VeloNews. “We’ll keep trying. We’ll have some opportunities in the Pyrénées.”

Pate, 35, came to the Tour ready to work in the trenches for team captain Chris Froome. A strong rouleur and steady hand in the bunch, Pate earned Froome’s trust, and a spot on Sky’s Tour lineup.

That’s no easy feat on Sky, considering riders such as 2012 Tour winner Bradley Wiggins were overlooked for Tour selection.

“It was my main goal for the year,” Pate said of making the Tour team. “Things didn’t totally turn out to plan, but we’re going to keep racing all the way to Paris.”

Sky has been ravaged in its push for a third-straight yellow jersey. Froome hit the deck in stage 4, and then packed it in for good before reaching the feared cobbles in stage 5. Richie Porte was Sky’s “Plan B” right from the start, but he succumbed to a chest infection that’s making the rounds in the peloton. He dropped out of contention in the Alps.

“It was the same plan with Richie, but he was a little bit sick, and the other day he had a bad day,” Pate said. “Before that, it was all the same plan. Now we’d like to try to win a stage. We’ve had a few good tries.”

Pate, too, has a bit of a chest cold, but he vows to keep pushing on.

“It doesn’t really matter [with the rest day],” he said. “You just have to keep racing as hard as you can.”

Pate is one of the survivors in the peloton. After becoming the only American to win the U23 world time trial championships in 2001, Pate struggled to find his place in the EPO-charged peloton. After racing domestically, he landed with Slipstream and then linked up with Bob Stapleton’s High Road program, teams that allowed him to race at the highest level in Europe.

That same perseverance has helped him to keep pushing through what everyone agrees has been a brutal Tour this year.

“The weather has been rough. The first week is always hectic, then we had the Roubaix day, first-week nerves, rainy weather — it hasn’t let up,” Pate said. “We haven’t had one ‘nice stage.’ It’s been a challenging Tour, and it’s pushing every one.”

With Sky’s GC hopes in the trash bin, the team will be looking to ride into breakaways. Paris is the ultimate goal, surviving and pushing through to the end of what’s been a trying Tour for Sky.

Pate said he wasn’t sure of what the rest of 2014 will bring, but he’s already set for next season, with one more year remaining on his contract with Team Sky.

“I am no Chris Horner,” he said with a laugh, referring to his 42-year-old compatriot. “I still have fun racing.”

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Race recap: USA Cycling mountain bike national championships http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/race-recap-mountain-bike-nationals_337566 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/race-recap-mountain-bike-nationals_337566#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:07:32 +0000 Spencer Powlison http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337566

Despite a hip injury that complicated her early-season training, Lea Davison claimed the 2014 cross-country national championship title. Photo: USA Cycling | Leister Images

Top mountain bikers from around the U.S. gathered at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania to vie for stars-and-stripes jerseys

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Despite a hip injury that complicated her early-season training, Lea Davison claimed the 2014 cross-country national championship title. Photo: USA Cycling | Leister Images

Top American mountain bikers from around the country gathered at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania to vie for stars-and-stripes jerseys, and some familiar faces found their way onto the podium.

Cross-Country

Todd Wells (Specialized) and Lea Davison (Specialized) won their respective pro cross-country races on Saturday.

From the beginning of the men’s pro race, Wells rode at the front of the pack and never looked back.

“I really target these events,” Wells said. “I’ve probably been to about 20 cross-country national championships and this is the third one I’ve won, so it seems like once every six or seven years I win one of these things. This is the one I really target.”

Kerry Werner (BMC) and Jeremiah Bishop (Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition) rode to second and third, respectively, avoiding the course’s hazardously sharp rocks that gave Stephen Ettinger (BMC) two flat tires, ruining his bid to defend the title. Russell Finsterwald (SRAM) and Mitchell Hoke (Team OPT) also suffered flats that took them out of the lead group.

Asked about the delicate balance between lightweight and durability in tires, Hoke said: “It’s the risk versus reward. For me I don’t have the fitness of Todd [Wells] and Stephen [Ettinger] so I need to take every advantage I can get in hopes of making it through. I know Todd rode sturdier tires than he normally does. Kerry Werner rode the same tires I did and he finished second.”

In the women’s race, Davison battled Georgia Gould (Luna) for more than four of the five laps to eventually win. Davison attacked on a switchback climb in the final kilometers to defend her 2013 crown.

“I’m happy and in a little bit of shock. I was kind of a wild card coming into this year because this is my second national race of the season,” Davison said. “I spent the beginning part of the season rehabbing — I had hip surgery at the end of January, so I am so incredibly happy to be back racing, and then to be able to win a title is just icing on the cake.”

Evelyn Dong finished third behind Gould to round out the podium.

Short Track

Ettinger and Gould got their revenge on Sunday with wins in the pro short track events.

Ettinger went off the front early in the men’s pro short track race, joined by Wells, Finsterwald, and Keegan Swenson (Cannondale). Ettinger and Wells were able to create separation, making it a two-man race.

Ettinger would not be denied this time, making his move midway through the final lap, besting Wells by about four seconds; Finsterwald took third, about 40 seconds behind the winner.

“Today there’s just not the opportunity to have the technical problems like out on the cross-country yesterday, so today was just a tactical battle,” Ettinger said. “Seeing who had more left in the tank after a long day yesterday in the heat, I was pretty happy to come out on the top.”

Gould was also satisfied to wrap up her championship weekend on the top step of the podium. “I was definitely looking for a little bit of redemption from yesterday when it was such a small margin that I lost by,” Gould said. “I knew that I had two more opportunities to give it a go today, and racing for a national championship is always a big deal. It’s been a good day.”

Gould rode at the front of the pack, working with Chloe Woodruff, Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes) and Davison. Gould made her move with two laps remaining. She and Woodruff quickly got a gap on the lead group, finishing about eight seconds apart, with Davison in third, about 20 seconds adrift.

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Does Nibali risk running out of fuel before Tour pulls into Paris? http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/nibali-risks-running-fuel-tour-pulls-paris_337599 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/nibali-risks-running-fuel-tour-pulls-paris_337599#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:42:56 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337599

Vincenzo Nibali is in the driver's seat as the Tour enters its third week. Astana team staff is closely monitoring his performance to ensure he can hold his advantage through the final stages in the Pyrénées. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Astana trainer, Paolo Slongo, keeps a close eye on Nibali's numbers as the race heads through the Pyrénées and on to Paris

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Vincenzo Nibali is in the driver's seat as the Tour enters its third week. Astana team staff is closely monitoring his performance to ensure he can hold his advantage through the final stages in the Pyrénées. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CARCASSONNE, France (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is in charge of the Tour de France as it enjoys its second day off, but he could be at risk of running out of fuel before the race ends Sunday in Paris.

In the Tour, 4:37 over nearest rival Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) may appear to be a lot, but as Richie Porte (Sky) realized Friday, the GC can crumble in a flash. For this reason, Astana’s trainer, Paolo Slongo, keeps a close eye on Nibali’s numbers as the race prepares for its final stages through the Pyrénées and on to Paris.

Slongo unclips the yellow SRM computer, cycling’s equivalent to a flight data recorder, from Nibali’s handlebars after every stage to analyze his power output. Too much energy spent in one stage could mean his star rider won’t have enough for the next important day.

“I’ve seen it happen before to others, but for unknown reasons, maybe messed up their diet or they are sick,” Slongo told VeloNews. “Chris Froome on Alpe d’Huez last year looked to be in trouble at one point, but lucky he only slipped back when it was five to six kilometers to go, because if that happens on the penultimate climb, 50 kilometers from the finish …

“In Nibali’s case, that four or so minutes wouldn’t be enough. You can lose six to 10 minutes like that.”

Porte lost 8:48 and slipped from what seemed like a firm second spot in the GC to 16th place Friday when the race climbed to Chamrousse. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) dropped from 11th to 16th the next day, on a vicious alpine stage to Risoul.

Nibali is going well, so well that he even catches Slongo by surprise. Saturday, the idea was that he would attack closer to the line, instead he went solo 6.6 kilometers out. He gained time, but used a lot of energy doing so.

“He was behind Valverde and Pinot, and technically he’s saving 20 watts doing so. He can understand himself better, though. It’s another thing sitting in the team car, you need to make the call yourself,” Slongo said.

“Our concern is that he remains protected, like he has been, and that he takes advantage of all the situations. He shouldn’t give help to Valverde, Pinot, Bardet … He has to take advantage of everything.”

Some critics look to last year’s Vuelta a España and raise an eyebrow. Nibali looked like he had a second title secured but lost it in the closing days to Chris Horner, who became the oldest grand tour winner in history at 41 — 13 years older than Nibali.

Slongo explained that after Nibali won the 2013 Giro d’Italia in May, he had two weeks off and had to go to Kazakhstan to meet sponsors. In total, he spent nearly a month off the bike, suffered when he returned in the Tour of Poland, and had no base for the Vuelta.

With a slow build up since the Tour de Romandie in May, Slongo said that the 2014 Tour its different.

“He was within his limits in the Alps, so he should be able to maintain this to Paris,” continued Slongo.

“The risk? Maybe he’ll have a crisis, an off day, like Porte. If it is a flat day, then you’re lucky, but if you’re in the mountains then you have to fake it and hope that you’re rivals don’t figure you out.”

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Gallery: 2014 Cascade Cycling Classic, stage 5 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/gallery/gallery-2014-cascade-cycling-classic-stage-5_337552 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/gallery/gallery-2014-cascade-cycling-classic-stage-5_337552#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:49:38 +0000 Casey B. Gibson http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337552

Photos from the fifth and final stage of action at the annual race in Oregon

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Report: Dutch national lottery to sponsor Belkin for 2015 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/report-dutch-national-lottery-sponsor-belkin-2015_337546 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/report-dutch-national-lottery-sponsor-belkin-2015_337546#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:08:35 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337546 The squad formerly known as Rabobank picked up Belkin as its main sponsor in the middle of the 2013 season

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Belkin, the Dutch-based team that will lose its main sponsor at the end of this season, will reportedly have the backing of the national lottery for 2015.

According to De Telegraaf, the Lotto will join forces with Brand Loyalty, which sponsors a speed skating team whose founders include the Netherlands’ three-time Olympic speed skating champion Sven Kramer.

De Telegraaf reports the deal is nearly done, with the contracts in the mail and waiting to be signed.

Brand Loyalty CEO Robert van der Wallen confirmed to De Telegraaf the existence of the duel cycling and speed skating team.

Belkin has had several names over the years since it was founded in 1984, most notably Rabobank. But the Dutch bank, which backed the squad from 1996-2012, pulled its sponsorship in the wake of several high-profile doping cases in the sport.

Suddenly without a sponsor, the team raced as Blanco for the first half of 2013 before Belkin, an American consumer electronics company, stepped in. But it will end its sponsorship at the end of the 2014 season as it switches its marketing strategy to a more international focus.

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Preview: Tour de France, stage 16 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/preview-tour-de-france-stage-15-2_337543 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/preview-tour-de-france-stage-15-2_337543#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:32:29 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337543

Stage 16 of the 2014 Tour de France.

The peloton tackles the longest stage of this year's Tour, one which includes an HC climb in the final 30km

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Stage 16 of the 2014 Tour de France.

The peloton tackles the longest stage of this year's Tour, one which includes an HC climb in the final 30km

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Cavendish eager to return to racing after Tour de France crash http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/cavendish-eager-to-return-to-racing-after-tour-de-france-crash_337536 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/cavendish-eager-to-return-to-racing-after-tour-de-france-crash_337536#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:24:10 +0000 Barnaby Chesterman http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337536

Mark Cavendish said his Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad has given him full support as he recovers from a separated shoulder. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The British sprinter separated his shoulder in stage 1 and exited the race

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Mark Cavendish said his Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad has given him full support as he recovers from a separated shoulder. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CARCASSONNE, France (AFP) — Sprint ace Mark Cavendish vowed Monday to return to action before the end of the season to repay the faith his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team has shown in him.

The 29-year-old crashed out of the opening stage of the Tour de France two weeks ago in his mother’s hometown of Harrogate in northern England, suffering a separated shoulder.

He has since undergone an operation and having climbed back on his bike for the first time on Sunday, said he was hopeful to be back racing before the season is over.

“I did my first ride on the road yesterday, I wasn’t pain-free but I was OK,” he said from a press event in Carcassonne on the Tour’s second rest day.

“I’m just a bit weak on my right arm. My surgeon Len Fong has done an incredible job and after a few days, then I’ve been working with my physio Phil Jones on the Isle of Man.

“I’ve been in the hyperbaric (oxygen therapy) chamber in the Isle of Man, it seems to speed up recovery more than I hoped so I think I can start to train, but the problem is if I crash it would damage [the shoulder].

“I had a grade four ligament tear, which was worse than we expected in the first few days, but I’ve had great people around me with my rehab and we’ll be talking with the team in the next few days to see what my program is.”

The “Manx Missile” wouldn’t commit to an exact return date, refusing to speculate whether or not he will compete in September’s UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to be before I start racing, I just got back on the road on my bike yesterday,” he said. “Obviously I can’t be competing seriously until I can be guaranteed there’s no more shoulder damage.”

The former world champion said his team had been very supportive and he wanted to get back racing quickly to start repaying them.

“I’m in a great situation with the support I’ve had from my team and I’ve had an easyish year so far,” he said.

“I have to finish the season strong to honor my team and honor the faith they’ve had in me.

“I want to do that properly, I don’t want to be just riding around, and worse I don’t want to crash and damage my shoulder even further.”

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Konig paces Netapp’s strong Tour de France debut http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/konig-paces-netapps-strong-tour-de-france-debut_337529 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/konig-paces-netapps-strong-tour-de-france-debut_337529#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:47:54 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337529

Leopold Konig is on pace for a top-10 result in Netapp-Endura's Tour de France debut. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The German team is getting a boost thanks to Konig's top-10 placing entering the final week

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Leopold Konig is on pace for a top-10 result in Netapp-Endura's Tour de France debut. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

NIMES, France (VN) — Eighth in the Tour de France? That’s something even a first division team would be proud of, let alone a second division team. With one week to race, German team NetApp-Endura is sitting in good position with Leopold Konig 9:32 behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

Sport director Enrico Poitschke told VeloNews, “Normally, the bigger teams are in a better place to do well, but we are doing a good job.”

He leaned against the team’s blue and white team car Sunday morning in Tallard. Ahead, the team camper bus sat in the shadow of the first division teams’ mega-buses as Czech cyclist Konig prepared inside. The atmosphere was tense, said team manager Ralph Denk, because wind and rain in southern France had the potential to blow apart the 15th stage to Nimes and destroy Konig’s hopes.

Konig survived with the top teams to Nimes and placed among the best classification riders outside the Roman arena to maintain his eighth spot. It is an honor, given the team was selected to race under the Tour’s wildcard invitation system.

NetApp is one of 22 teams in the race and one of only four second division teams invited to race by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). Konig is the only second division rider in the top 15. You have to go to 19th spot to find another second division rider, Brice Feillu from France’s Bretagne-Séché Environnement squad.

“We were hoping to be in this place,” Denk added. “We’re happy to be in this spot after the Alpine stages, but we still have tough days ahead of us and we are going to have to defend it. If we take it to Paris, then we are truly happy.”

The 26-year-old Konig placed third Friday behind Nibali up the summit finish to Chamrousse. On Saturday, he rode to ninth on the Risoul climb. It was not a complete surprise as he won a stage at the 2013 Vuelta a España ahead of Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo).

“We knew that Leo has a big potential,” Denk added. “He sometimes has health problems and isn’t always steady, but now everything is going smoothly. He had a crash with Andrew Talansky [in the La Mauselaine stage], he lost three minutes, so without that, he could potentially be in the top five.”

The potential placing that NetApp could have in Paris means a great deal for the team’s future. It already rode the 2012 Giro d’Italia and the 2013 Vuelta a España, but this year it debuted in the Tour and needed to impress ASO for future invitations.

If the placing is not enough, the team has a new title sponsor — Bora — for the next five years. It could help revitalize German cycling, which has not had a top team since Milram and suffered from the Jan Ullrich and T-Mobile doping scandals.

“I have to thank ASO for its trust. We now want to come again to the Tour with our new sponsor Bora,” Denk said.

“Other organizers can see our result here. In the Giro d’Italia two years ago, we were twice second, we won a stage in the Vuelta last year and this year, we are going well in the Tour — they can trust us.”

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Five battle for two podium spots in Tour’s final week http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/five-battle-for-two-podium-spots-in-tours-final-week_337523 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/five-battle-for-two-podium-spots-in-tours-final-week_337523#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:18:22 +0000 Neal Rogers and Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337523

Tejay van Garderen and Romain Bardet (rear) are in the hunt for second and third place at the Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

American Tejay van Garderen is among five men vying for spots on the Tour de France podium in the race’s final week

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Tejay van Garderen and Romain Bardet (rear) are in the hunt for second and third place at the Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The 2014 Tour de France pedals toward its final battleground. The Pyrénées loom, its snowy summits shrouded in clouds and mist, but the weight of the pending suffering weighs heavily over a race-weary peloton.

The battle for the maillot jaune has all but been decided in the Vosges and Alps, with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) tightening his stranglehold on the GC that he captured with steely panache in the cobblestones of stage 5. Nibali holds a commanding 4:37 lead to second-place Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). By all accounts, Nibali, who has been rock solid across all terrain, has to succumb to disaster to lose this Tour.

Behind Nibali’s ruthless reign, there remains the interesting battle for the final two podium spots. With pre-race favorites Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) both crashing out before the Alps, many riders lower down on the power rankings sense a chance of a lifetime to reach the Paris podium.

After Monday’s rest day, the peloton will tackle three climbing stages that will prove decisive for the general classification prior to Saturday’s pivotal 54-kilometer time trial.

“This Tour is a war of attrition,” said BMC Racing’s sporting manager Allan Peiper. “And the last three days of the Pyrénées, we’ll see who is worthy of the podium.”

The Pyrénées are, without a doubt, absolutely brutal this year. After a Tour already marked by intense racing, extreme weather, and harrowing roads, including cobblestones, the peloton is bracing for three days of suffering — and opportunity.

Tuesday’s stage 16 features five categorized climbs, finishing with the hors categorie ascent of Port de Balès, with a long descent to the finish line. Stage 17 features three Cat. 1 climbs before a summit finish on the hors categorie Pla d’Adet. Stage 18 tackles the infamous Col du Tourmalet before a summit finish atop the Hautacam, the final summit finish of this Tour. Friday’s stage 19 is a transition stage before the time trial from Bergerac to Périgueux.

Taking Nibali out of the equation, here’s how the GC shakes out between the five riders fighting for the remaining podium spots:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
2. Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), at 0:13
3. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), at 0:29
4. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing), at 1:12
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-LaMondiale), at 1:31

Adding to the drama, Bardet and Pinot are also dueling for the best young rider’s competition, while Bardet, Pinot, and Peraud are battling for the honor of top French rider — and, potentially, the highest-placed French rider since Thomas Voeckler’s fourth-place finish in 2011. It would also be France’s first podium since scandal-tainted Richard Virenque was second to Jan Ullrich in 1997.

(Also noteworthy: While Bardet is 23, and Pinot is 24, Peraud turned 37 in May.)

Based on previous TT performances, van Garderen, Valverde, and Peraud are likely to take significant time over Bardet and Pinot.

Van Garderen, who turns 26 in August, is the strongest TT rider in the podium contenders, though the question of who has the legs late in a grand tour is often a more decisive factor than TT technique in a late-race time trial. The American has finished in the top five of time trials at the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de Suisse. He was seventh in the stage 19 time trial of the 2012 Tour de France, and he also took fourth at the 2012 world time trial championship.

It’s important to remember that Valverde is the current Spanish national TT champion, while Peraud, a silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic mountain bike race, was the French national TT champion in 2009.

And though he’s in the later years of his career, Peraud is enjoying his best road season since switching over from the mountain bike. He won Criterium International in March (placing fourth in the short 7km time trial), placed third overall at the extremely difficult Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country), and finished fourth overall at Tirreno-Adriatico. During the final time trial of the 2013 Tour de France, Peraud famously crashed, on a collarbone that he’d fractured that morning in TT reconnaissance, while sitting ninth overall.

Saturday’s 54km course is hilly — there are four significant climbs on the course profile. All five men have proven to be on similar levels in the high mountains, but the all-important ability to pace those climbs will prove critical.


And then there is the question of fatigue. Valverde suffered on the Cat.1 climb to Risoul on Saturday and lost at least 30 seconds to all his rivals, though he cited a mechanical error with his derailleur as the culprit.

Of the five riders, based on previous performances, Bardet will likely struggle the most against the clock — not just against Pinot in the white jersey contest, but against all of his podium rivals.

“It’s a bit annoying that everyone is focusing on Pinot and me, because there’s also Valverde and van Garderen,” Bardet said. “I’m lucky because I have Jean-Christophe but there are three big Pyrenean stages to come, so we’ll see how that goes.”

However, because Bardet has a 1:18 advantage over Peraud, Ag2r has tactical cards to play.

“Bardet has the advantage of having another teammate on GC, so if [Peraud] gets up the road, [Bardet] can sit on and they can play off each other like that a little bit,” van Garderen said. “But my trump card is definitely going to be that time trial. If I can just stay close enough to them, I’m pretty confident I can move ahead. I would say if I’m within a minute of them then I have a chance.”

Pinot, who has a flare up of knee pain that’s pestered him all season, and Bardet are both very young compared to the more experienced Peraud. Both Pinot and Bardet know they need a big advantage going into the final time trial, so they might actually benefit from working together to try to gap their podium rivals before inevitably racing against one another.

Valverde and Peraud are the most experienced, but van Garderen, already racing in his fourth Tour, is certainly no neophyte. Van Garderen has shaken off four crashes and a chest infection to arrive to the final week with rising confidence and improving health. Valverde, meanwhile, knows this could be his last real shot at the podium, especially with teammate Nairo Quintana set to race the Tour next year.

Without attempting to predict time gaps, here is the likely finishing order of Saturday’s time trial between these five riders:

1. Tejay van Garderen (USA), BMC Racing
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spain), Movistar
3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (France), Ag2r-La Mondiale
4. Thibaut Pinot (France), FDJ.fr
5. Romain Bardet (France), Ag2r-La Mondiale

Although it’s impossible to know what will happen in the Pyrenees, it’s likely that the battle for the podium will be between Valverde, van Garderen, and Peraud, while Pinot and Bardet will fight until the last possible moment for the best young rider’s jersey.

However, as this year’s race has reminded us, anything can happen, on any given day.

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And the band played on: Jack Bauer nearly wins stage 15 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/band-played-jack-bauer-nearly-wins-stage-15_337503 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/band-played-jack-bauer-nearly-wins-stage-15_337503#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 23:06:57 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337503

Bauer was heartbroken at being overtaken just short of victory. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

For a rider like Bauer, there are limited chances to be perfect on the grandest of stages. He came very close on Sunday

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Bauer was heartbroken at being overtaken just short of victory. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

NIMES, France (VN) — The band didn’t miss a beat.

The brass pitches rattled off the back of the team buses and into the beers of those on the street corner. The air was light and clean after the rain, and the town of Nimes was in merriment. A race, a winner, drinks, soft light.

Twenty feet away, the Norwegians were yelling and chanting at the Katusha bus for Alexander Kristoff. Their man had won his second stage at the Tour. They overlaid their cheers with the band on the corner in spikes of a misshapen sound.

Just beyond all that, the halo of reporters muffled Jack Bauer’s New Zealand accent as he explained what it was like to almost win a Tour de France stage. What it was like to be caught just meters short of the finish in Nimes.

Almost. After riding a two-man breakaway with IAM Cycling’s Martin Elmiger through the wind and the rain and the slick roundabouts that made chasing them down hard.

“It’s one big black cloud. I had a bit of a moment there on the finish line. And the final meters of a stage like that after such a big effort over the day, over so many ups and downs,” he said. “And last K, I knew I believed … And I thought I’d won the stage, yeah … When I realized that I didn’t, my world came crashing down for a minute. But that’s bike racing.”

There are about 170 riders riding thousands of kilometers over 21 stages in July. Thousands of bottles, hours of radio-relayed numbers and commands from directors. It’s full-gas all day. There is one winner. For a rider like Bauer, there are limited chances to be perfect on the grandest of stages; a helix of factors twisted together on Sunday to give him this very shot.

It didn’t end with his arms up, it ended with him in tears, as it often does in bike racing, a cruel sport with harsh margins and ample what-ifs. The deer of the breakaway were slashed in the haunches again by the wolves of the peloton.

“It’s a childhood dream to win a stage at the Tour. And for a person like myself, I’m normally a domestique. It was my first chance to actually be up the road,” he said. “I really gave it absolutely everything. As you could see from my meltdown at the finish line I was pretty disappointed to come away empty-handed.”

This is a sport of narrow margins now more than ever; tissue-thin planes separate winners from losers. It’s harder to win every day now, every year now. Just ask the man who finished second.

“Times are changing. Every year there’s two or three teams less. Don’t understand me wrong, but there’s no shit cyclists anymore,” IAM’s Heinrich Haussler said at the bus. “The riders are going to be more versatile these days. It’s not like five or six years ago where a climber was just a climber. Or a sprinter was just a sprinter. I mean you look at some of the other stages, 30, 40 guys making it to the finish and it’s, you know, there’s still three or four sprinters there. You’ve got to be able to do everything these days. It’s just really hard.”

The Tour is the sport’s overall apex, and there are so many men with so many chances to take a stage win. Win here and it’s something that goes next to a rider’s name for all time, in France and beyond. Those opportunities are fought for before the TV cameras click on. So Sunday into Nimes, Bauer knew exactly what he had on the line. After 200 kilometers away, he dug deep. Deep in those last 400 meters, his last-ditch moment. It was enough. It had to be enough.

“I really made sure that I knew in my head that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and not to muck it up, you know? Lay it all on the line. And I did that. It didn’t really work out, but that happens so much in sport,” he said. “There can be only one winner. It’s a little bit harder in cycling when you have, say, 200 people in the peloton. But I’m not going to say that’s going to be my only opportunity, but it’s definitely one of few.”

Bauer’s director Charly Wegelius appeared hollowed out but by the near-miss. A former racer himself, Wegelius knew what was on the line, too. Asked why bike racing was so cruel, he was to the point. It seemed he had no choice.

“It’s terrible. Heartbreaking,” Wegelius said. “I don’t know. Yeah. I don’t know. They could have just put the finish line 20 meters earlier and it would have been fine.”

As the team buses undocked, the band on the corner played on. It always plays on. Different men dance their turns with it every July. And no matter whose turn it may be, the music always remains.

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BMC Racing’s director on Tejay van Garderen: ‘He’s in the flow’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/peiper-van-garderen-hes-flow_337440 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/peiper-van-garderen-hes-flow_337440#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:55:17 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337440

Tejay van Garderen has grown in Allan Peiper's estimation during this year's Tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

BMC sporting manager Allan Peiper says that Tejay van Garderen is 'in the flow' as he hunts a possible podium finish at the Tour de France

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Tejay van Garderen has grown in Allan Peiper's estimation during this year's Tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

NIMES, France (VN) — Tejay van Garderen “is in the flow,” a magical, elusive place where things start to click in a bike race. When the luck starts falling your way, when the legs feel light in the pedals, and the confidence grows by the kilometer.

That’s the assessment of BMC Racing sporting manager Allan Peiper as van Garderen pedals into the final decisive week of the Tour.

“He’s confident in himself, he’s balanced, he’s focused … he’s in the flow,” Peiper told VeloNews after Sunday’s wild ride into Nimes. “You can’t order that. It comes by different circumstances.

“‘Being in the flow’ is a different place … after four crashes and losing a bit of time, GC-wise, he might have taken a mental blow, but he’s come through that even stronger. He got some inner strength out of it, and he’s moved on.”

Indeed, after a rough-and-tumble start to the Tour, van Garderen’s confidence is on the rise. After surviving two harrowing weeks of racing and battling through a minor bout of bronchitis, the BMC captain enters the final mountain stages with his podium dreams fully intact.

Van Garderen is fifth overall, 5;49 behind an untouchable Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). But he’s only 59 seconds from third-place Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), and 1:12 from second-place Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Peiper said BMC is refusing to fall into the trap of assuming that a podium place is assured. Facing three tough climbing stages over the Pyrénées, the team realizes anything can happen before arriving to the long time trial in Bergerac, which should play into van Garderen’s favor.

“It’s a war of attrition, and the last three days in the Pyrénées, we’ll see who is worthy of the podium,” Peiper said. “We’re not thinking about the time trial yet. We’ve got three hard stages ahead of us in the Pyrénées, and the most important thing is to take it day by day, and taking nothing for granted.”

BMC rallied around van Garderen in the final hour of racing in Sunday’s windy, potentially explosive stage across the Rhone Valley to carry his fifth-place GC position into the final rest day Monday.

“It was looking like today was going to be a sprinters’ day, but the wind and the rain made it a day when you had to be mentally switched on,” van Garderen said. “I am glad the rest day is tomorrow. I just want to mentally recover — do a little face time with the family. Today was no mental recovery. So it is all about taking advantage of tomorrow.”

Watching van Garderen’s performance with growing satisfaction is Peiper, who took over the team’s sport director staff last year following the departure of longtime director John Lelangue.

So far through this Tour, Peiper has been hanging in the background, letting his lead sport director staff of Yvon Ledanois, Max Sciandri, and Valerio Piva handle the day-to-day strategy, decision-making, and race-day tactical calls.

But Peiper was instrumental in making the decision to fully back van Garderen’s candidacy to lead BMC for the Tour, and redirect 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans toward a push for the Giro.

So far, that decision is paying dividends. Van Garderen has stepped up as team captain, and is posting strong performances that only fuel the team’s confidence going into the final week.

“There is no question about him leading the team. It’s been a natural progression over the last couple of years; winning California and Colorado last year, he was fifth in the Tour a few years ago, he’s done all the pieces, it’s getting the jigsaw together,” Peiper said. “Maybe the jigsaw isn’t right this year with some of the crashes, but there will be a time when we get the pieces 100 percent right.”

As Peiper mentioned, the team is trying to stay focused on the day-to-day rigors of racing, and not look too far ahead. But it’s clear that if van Garderen can stay where he is on GC, he has a very good chance of finishing on the final podium.

Van Garderen estimated he could take at least one minute on French climbers Bardet and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), fourth at 43 seconds ahead of van Garderen. It’s not unreasonable to think that van Garderen could also catapult ahead of Valverde to finish second overall.

“He’s in a good place, the team’s excited. We’ve brought him to the place that he needed to be, and the sport directors have done well with their directions. Now we can race the rest of the Tour,” Peiper said. “At the moment it’s all moving in the right direction.”

A turning point came in the Vosges. Van Garderen had crashed four times; once in the UK, twice in the stage across the cobblestones, and a fourth, yet more brutal impact on the road to Nancy in stage 7.

The next day, van Garderen stayed with the final surges from Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nibali at Gérardmer. Two days later, at Belles Filles, he battled to sixth in the stage, just 22 seconds behind Nibali. That’s when van Garderen proved to himself and the team he could stay with the best.

“One big surprise was after his fourth crash [in Nancy],” said Peiper. “From what I know of Tejay, maybe he was a bit nervous about where he was, but after the first mountain stage, he proved he was there, and since then, I’ve seen him grow. His confidence and mental state and stature … I’ve known Tejay quite a while, and I’ve never seen him like this. And the boys pick it up as well, and that’s a good sign for the coming big days.”

The building blocks have been in place for a long time, and now that van Garderen is “in the flow,” Peiper and the rest of the team believe that anything is possible.

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Gallery: 2014 Tour de France, stage 15 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/gallery-2014-tour-de-france-stage-15_337375 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/gallery-2014-tour-de-france-stage-15_337375#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:31:42 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337375

The sprint swallows up the two breakaways just 200 meters from the line. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Stage 15 ended with a mad dash to the line that swallowed up Jack Bauer and Martin Elmiger in the final 200 meters

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The sprint swallows up the two breakaways just 200 meters from the line. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

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The bandaged lieutenant: Astana’s Fuglsang soldiers on http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/bandaged-lieutenant-astanas-fuglsang-soldiers_337432 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/bandaged-lieutenant-astanas-fuglsang-soldiers_337432#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 18:29:07 +0000 Neal Rogers http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337432

One of Vincenzo Nibali's key domestiques, Jakob Fuglsang has been struggling since a heavy crash while descending the Col de Palaquit on stage 13. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com.

Outside of the Astana team bus Sunday morning, Jakob Fuglsang needed to be helped on to his bike to roll to the start line

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One of Vincenzo Nibali's key domestiques, Jakob Fuglsang has been struggling since a heavy crash while descending the Col de Palaquit on stage 13. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com.

TALLARD, France (VN) — Few riders in the Tour de France peloton are looking forward to Monday’s rest day as much as Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang.

On Friday the Danish rider crashed heavily while the peloton descended the Col de Palaquit when a water bottle, belonging to Jurgen Van den Broeck, bounced out of its cage and took out Fuglsang’s front wheel in a sweeping left-hand turn.

Fuglsang was able to quickly remount and finish stage 13, shredded and bloodied, 30 minutes down on Nibali, who won atop Chamrousse. Fuglsang suffered contusions, abrasions, and soreness all over his body; the worst of his injuries includes several bruised ribs on his left side. He spent the weekend recovering as best he could, covered in gauze.

On Saturday Fuglsang finished the mountainous stage 14, with its summit finish at Risoul, 13 minutes off the winning time. Outside of the Astana team bus Sunday morning, he needed to be helped on to his bike to roll over to the start line. He finished the stage in a group, 4:26 behind winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

Acknowledging that it’s often the second day after a crash that hurts the most, Fuglsang said that he’s suffering as much off the bike as he is on the bike.

“Today I’m more stiff than I was yesterday,” Fuglsang said. “Last night was, again, terrible. [Monday] is a rest day, and that’s very welcome.”

Prior to that incident, Fuglsang had arguably been the most valuable domestique of this Tour, particularly on stage 5, when the former under-23 world mountain-bike champion guided Vincenzo Nibali across wet and slippery cobblestones. Fuglsang finished second on that stage, 19 seconds behind Lars Boom, while Nibali took 2:09 from his closest rival, Alejandro Valverde.

Nibali now leads Valverde by 4:37, and with six stages remaining, the Italian is poised to stand on the podium in Paris next Sunday. The bulk of that GC lead came from stage 5, where Fuglsang was invaluable; he had been expected to be a key climbing domestique in the Alps and Pyrenees as well. With Fuglsang injured, Nibali has also looked to Tanel Kangert, Michele Scarponi, and Andrei Grivko as the roads turn upward.

At the start line in Tallard on Sunday, Fuglsang admitted that if he weren’t riding in support of the maillot jaune, his Tour de France might have ended on the Col de Palaquit.

“[The crash] could have gone much worse than it actually did,” Fuglsang said. “But I trained so hard for this Tour, and the team is doing really well, and they still need me, so I’m trying to [clench] my teeth and get through these first days, which are for sure the hardest… If we were a team that had already sent a few guys home, and nothing was working out for us, of course it would be more difficult [to continue].”

No stranger to riding for the classification at the Tour — Fuglsang finished seventh overall last year— the Danish rider signed with Astana for the 2013 season knowing that he would ultimately ride in support of Nibali.

In his build up to the Tour, Fuglsang placed in the top 10 at several stage races this season, including fifth overall at Paris-Nice, seventh overall at the Tour de Romandie, and 10th overall at Critérium du Dauphiné.

“My shape [condition] has been really, really good before [the crash], and that’s also why I still can be decent, even with the injuries,” Fuglsang said.

Fuglsang was sitting 10th overall when he crashed, and may have been able to maintain a top 10 GC finish while riding in support of Nibali. Instead, an errant water bottle wiped that away in an instant, putting the rest of his Tour in jeopardy and his body in agonizing pain.

The random twist of fate, which sent Fuglsang sliding across the pavement, is something he admits is difficult to reconcile.

“As they say, anything can happen up until the Tour finishes in Paris,” he said. “It was a water bottle on the road, and I saw it, and I thought, ‘I hope I miss it,’ because it was too late for me to react, and the next second I was on the road. It was just bad luck.”

After Monday’s rest day, Fuglsang will face his next big test on Tuesday’s stage 16, which features five categorized climbs, finishing with the hors categorie ascent of Port de Balès.

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Results: 2014 Tour de France, stage 15 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/results-2014-tour-de-france-stage-15_337360 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/results-2014-tour-de-france-stage-15_337360#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 15:49:15 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337360

The bunch swallows up Jack Bauer and Martin Elmiger just 200 meters short of the line in stage 15. Photo: AFP

Results from stage 15 of the 2014 Tour de France

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The bunch swallows up Jack Bauer and Martin Elmiger just 200 meters short of the line in stage 15. Photo: AFP

  • 1. Alexander KRISTOFF, Katusha, in 4:56:43
  • 2. Heinrich HAUSSLER, IAM Cycling, at :00
  • 3. Peter SAGAN, Cannondale, at :00
  • 4. André GREIPEL, Lotto-Belisol, at :00
  • 5. Mark RENSHAW, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :00
  • 6. Bryan COQUARD, Europcar, at :00
  • 7. Ramunas NAVARDAUSKAS, Garmin-Sharp, at :00
  • 8. Romain FEILLU, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :00
  • 9. Michael ALBASINI, Orica-GreenEdge, at :00
  • 10. Jack BAUER, Garmin-Sharp, at :00
  • 11. Marcel KITTEL, Giant-Shimano, at :00
  • 12. Bernhard EISEL, Sky, at :00
  • 13. Samuel DUMOULIN, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :00
  • 14. Jose Joaquin ROJAS GIL, Movistar, at :00
  • 15. Niki TERPSTRA, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :00
  • 16. Martin ELMIGER, IAM Cycling, at :00
  • 17. Jurgen ROELANDTS, Lotto-Belisol, at :00
  • 18. Nelson Filipe SANTOS SIMOES OLIVEIRA, Lampre-Merida, at :00
  • 19. Cyril LEMOINE, Cofidis, at :00
  • 20. Greg VAN AVERMAET, BMC Racing, at :00
  • 21. Geraint THOMAS, Sky, at :00
  • 22. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, Movistar, at :00
  • 23. Bauke MOLLEMA, Belkin, at :00
  • 24. Romain BARDET, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :00
  • 25. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, Lampre-Merida, at :00
  • 26. Mickael DELAGE, FDJ.fr, at :00
  • 27. Alessandro PETACCHI, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :00
  • 28. Michele SCARPONI, Astana, at :00
  • 29. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ.fr, at :00
  • 30. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :00
  • 31. Vincenzo NIBALI, Astana, at :00
  • 32. Michael SCHÄR, BMC Racing, at :00
  • 33. Michael MORKOV, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :00
  • 34. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at :00
  • 35. Jean-Christophe PERAUD, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :00
  • 36. Peter VELITS, BMC Racing, at :00
  • 37. Jesus HERRADA LOPEZ, Movistar, at :00
  • 38. Leopold KONIG, NetApp-Endura, at :00
  • 39. Jan BAKELANTS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :00
  • 40. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at :00
  • 41. Laurens TEN DAM, Belkin, at :00
  • 42. Andriy GRIVKO, Astana, at :00
  • 43. Tanel KANGERT, Astana, at :00
  • 44. Yukiya ARASHIRO, Europcar, at :00
  • 45. Reto HOLLENSTEIN, IAM Cycling, at :00
  • 46. Matthieu LADAGNOUS, FDJ.fr, at :00
  • 47. Bram TANKINK, Belkin, at :00
  • 48. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, Belkin, at :00
  • 49. Marcel WYSS, IAM Cycling, at :00
  • 50. Kévin REZA, Europcar, at :00
  • 51. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, Trek Factory Racing, at :00
  • 52. Jens VOIGT, Trek Factory Racing, at :00
  • 53. Mikael CHEREL, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :00
  • 54. Frank SCHLECK, Trek Factory Racing, at :00
  • 55. Luis Angel MATE MARDONES, Cofidis, at :00
  • 56. Cyril GAUTIER, Europcar, at :00
  • 57. Markel IRIZAR ARANBURU, Trek Factory Racing, at :00
  • 58. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at :00
  • 59. Kristijan DURASEK, Lampre-Merida, at :00
  • 60. Paul VOSS, NetApp-Endura, at :00
  • 61. Johan VAN SUMMEREN, Garmin-Sharp, at :00
  • 62. Matteo MONTAGUTI, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :00
  • 63. Anthony DELAPLACE, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :00
  • 64. Brice FEILLU, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :00
  • 65. Maxim IGLINSKY, Astana, at :00
  • 66. Alex HOWES, Garmin-Sharp, at :00
  • 67. Ben GASTAUER, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :00
  • 68. Jérôme PINEAU, IAM Cycling, at :00
  • 69. Jens KEUKELEIRE, Orica-GreenEdge, at :00
  • 70. Richie PORTE, Sky, at :16
  • 71. Sylvain CHAVANEL, IAM Cycling, at :18
  • 72. Bartosz HUZARSKI, NetApp-Endura, at :18
  • 73. Yury TROFIMOV, Katusha, at :18
  • 74. Matteo TRENTIN, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :18
  • 75. Benoit JARRIER, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :18
  • 76. Jérémy ROY, FDJ.fr, at :18
  • 77. José Joao PIMENTA COSTA MENDES, NetApp-Endura, at :18
  • 78. Tiago MACHADO, NetApp-Endura, at :18
  • 79. Imanol ERVITI, Movistar, at :18
  • 80. Kristijan KOREN, Cannondale, at :18
  • 81. Daniel OSS, BMC Racing, at :18
  • 82. Tony MARTIN, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :18
  • 83. Roy CURVERS, Giant-Shimano, at :18
  • 84. Michael ROGERS, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :18
  • 85. Sébastien MINARD, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :18
  • 86. John GADRET, Movistar, at :18
  • 87. Adam HANSEN, Lotto-Belisol, at :24
  • 88. Marcel SIEBERG, Lotto-Belisol, at :24
  • 89. Maarten WYNANTS, Belkin, at :24
  • 90. Lars BOOM, Belkin, at :24
  • 91. Alessandro VANOTTI, Astana, at :28
  • 92. Tom DUMOULIN, Giant-Shimano, at :28
  • 93. Koen DE KORT, Giant-Shimano, at :34
  • 94. Grégory RAST, Trek Factory Racing, at :34
  • 95. Lars Ytting BAK, Lotto-Belisol, at :37
  • 96. Yohann GENE, Europcar, at :39
  • 97. Jon IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, Movistar, at :49
  • 98. Maciej BODNAR, Cannondale, at :49
  • 99. William BONNET, FDJ.fr, at 1:03
  • 100. Tom VEELERS, Giant-Shimano, at 1:14
  • 101. Roger KLUGE, IAM Cycling, at 1:21
  • 102. Gatis SMUKULIS, Katusha, at 1:26
  • 103. Marco MARCATO, Cannondale, at 1:34
  • 104. Sep VANMARCKE, Belkin, at 1:55
  • 105. Tony GALLOPIN, Lotto-Belisol, at 1:55
  • 106. Rudy MOLARD, Cofidis, at 1:55
  • 107. Ruben PLAZA MOLINA, Movistar, at 1:55
  • 108. Jean-Marc BIDEAU, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at 1:55
  • 109. Fabio SABATINI, Cannondale, at 1:55
  • 110. Simon GERRANS, Orica-GreenEdge, at 2:05
  • 111. Luke DURBRIDGE, Orica-GreenEdge, at 2:05
  • 112. Peter STETINA, BMC Racing, at 2:05
  • 113. Matthew BUSCHE, Trek Factory Racing, at 2:05
  • 114. Vasil KIRYIENKA, Sky, at 2:05
  • 115. Matteo TOSATTO, Tinkoff-Saxo, at 2:05
  • 116. Benjamin KING, Garmin-Sharp, at 2:05
  • 117. John DEGENKOLB, Giant-Shimano, at 2:05
  • 118. Amaël MOINARD, BMC Racing, at 2:05
  • 119. Mikel NIEVE ITURALDE, Sky, at 2:05
  • 120. Alexandre PICHOT, Europcar, at 2:05
  • 121. Lieuwe WESTRA, Astana, at 2:05
  • 122. Simon YATES, Orica-GreenEdge, at 2:05
  • 123. Christian MEIER, Orica-GreenEdge, at 2:05
  • 124. Jose Rodolfo SERPA PEREZ, Lampre-Merida, at 2:05
  • 125. Jan BARTA, NetApp-Endura, at 2:05
  • 126. Svein TUFT, Orica-GreenEdge, at 2:05
  • 127. Luca PAOLINI, Katusha, at 2:15
  • 128. Danny PATE, Sky, at 2:19
  • 129. Christopher HORNER, Lampre-Merida, at 2:19
  • 130. Arnold JEANNESSON, FDJ.fr, at 2:25
  • 131. Cédric PINEAU, FDJ.fr, at 2:25
  • 132. Arnaud GERARD, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at 2:31
  • 133. Giovanni VISCONTI, Movistar, at 2:31
  • 134. Florian VACHON, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at 2:31
  • 135. Daniele BENNATI, Tinkoff-Saxo, at 2:31
  • 136. Tom Jelte SLAGTER, Garmin-Sharp, at 2:33
  • 137. Rafal MAJKA, Tinkoff-Saxo, at 2:33
  • 138. Simon CLARKE, Orica-GreenEdge, at 2:45
  • 139. Marcus BURGHARDT, BMC Racing, at 3:35
  • 140. Nicolas ROCHE, Tinkoff-Saxo, at 3:37
  • 141. Thomas LEEZER, Belkin, at 3:39
  • 142. Jakob FUGLSANG, Astana, at 4:26
  • 143. Dmitriy GRUZDEV, Astana, at 4:26
  • 144. Zakkari DEMPSTER, NetApp-Endura, at 4:26
  • 145. Andreas SCHILLINGER, NetApp-Endura, at 4:26
  • 146. Adrien PETIT, Cofidis, at 4:26
  • 147. Albert TIMMER, Giant-Shimano, at 4:50
  • 148. Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ.fr, at 5:19
  • 149. Armindo FONSECA, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at 5:22
  • 150. Biel KADRI, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 5:22
  • 151. Elia VIVIANI, Cannondale, at 5:22
  • 152. Jean Marc MARINO, Cannondale, at 5:22
  • 153. Florian GUILLOU, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at 5:22
  • 154. Christophe RIBLON, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 5:22
  • 155. Nicolas EDET, Cofidis, at 12:20
  • 156. Vladimir ISAICHEV, Katusha, at 12:20
  • 157. Michal GOLAS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at 12:20
  • 158. Perrig QUEMENEUR, Europcar, at 12:20
  • 159. Sergio Miguel MOREIRA PAULINHO, Tinkoff-Saxo, at 12:20
  • 160. Simon SPILAK, Katusha, at 12:20
  • 161. Thomas VOECKLER, Europcar, at 12:20
  • 162. Sébastien REICHENBACH, IAM Cycling, at 12:20
  • 163. Benat INTXAUSTI ELORRIAGA, Movistar, at 12:20
  • 164. Julien SIMON, Cofidis, at 12:20
  • 165. Rein TAARAMAE, Cofidis, at 12:20
  • 166. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Katusha, at 12:20
  • 167. Davide CIMOLAI, Lampre-Merida, at 12:20
  • 168. David LOPEZ GARCIA, Sky, at 12:20
  • 169. Alessandro DE MARCHI, Cannondale, at 12:20
  • 170. Sebastian LANGEVELD, Garmin-Sharp, at 12:20
  • 171. Cheng JI, Giant-Shimano, at 12:20

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Alexander Kristoff crushes break as Vincenzo Nibali defends yellow http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/alexander-kristoff-crushes-break-vincenzo-nibali-defends-yellow_337352 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/alexander-kristoff-crushes-break-vincenzo-nibali-defends-yellow_337352#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 15:26:33 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337352

Alexander Kristoff proved fastest of the bunch as it swallowed a break with just 200 meters to go in stage 15. Photo: AFP

Jack Bauer and Martin Elmiger nearly took their long, rain-soaked break to the stage win on Sunday ... until Alexander Kristoff came along

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Alexander Kristoff proved fastest of the bunch as it swallowed a break with just 200 meters to go in stage 15. Photo: AFP

Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff crushed a breakaway’s dreams in the finale to stage 15 of the Tour de France on Sunday.

Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) had escaped early on and stayed out front as both hares and hounds negotiated a long rainy stretch going into the final 60km of the 222km stage from Tallard to Nimes.

It was a long, flat ride, billed as one for the sprinters, heading into the Tour’s second and final rest day.

But when the rain began to fall, Bauer and Elmiger started to look like less of a doomed escape and more like a sure thing.

The rain persisted, growing heavy at times, as the gap dipped toward 90 seconds with 25km to race.

With half that remaining the gap was down to less than a minute. Lotto-Belisol and Giant-Shimano pushed the pace on the still-wet roads, laced with roundabouts, while Katusha and Belkin kept a watchful eye on affairs, but the bunch couldn’t negotiate the traffic furniture in the rain as smoothly as the break.

The wet and the roundabouts helped keep the break on life support, and in the final kilometer it seemed that Bauer and Elmiger would fight a two-up duel for the stage win.

Kristoff, who also won Thursday’s 12th stage in Saint-Etienne, said he thought the peloton had left it too late.

“I was scared of course that they would keep ahead but there were some strong pulls at the end by Giant-Shimano to pull them back,” he said.

Some 400 meters from the finish Bauer swept around Elmiger and drove for the line — only to see the sprinters swamp him with 200 meters to go. And it was the 27-year-old Kristoff who took the stage ahead of Heinrich Haussler (IAM) with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) third.

“Normally I’m not the fastest sprinter on the flat against André Greipel and Marcel Kittel but I’m lighter than them. Possibly that turned to my advantage today,” said Kristoff.

“At the end I had the best lane but I wasn’t sure I’d win until 100 meters to the finish.”

Bauer, who wound up 10th, said it was a “bitter, bitter disappointment.”

“”It’s a childhood dream to win a stage of the Tour and for a domestique, like myself, I’m normally working for others. This was my first chance to be up the road and with the chance in the wind and the weather, me and Martin realized we had a chance for the win,” he said.

“I faked to be tired but felt I had more punch left. I left it until 400 meters to go. I thought I had it but then I realized in the last 50 meters that I had nothing. A lot of people wanted a sprint finish but for us it was important. After losing (Andrew) Talansky and not really having many stages in the last week that suit, today was a day we had to gamble that a break would stay away. It was so close but so far.”

His companion for the day said the catch came “very quickly,” and added that having teammate Haussler finish second took a little of the sting out of being swept up at the line.

“After a day like that, we’re happy … but not entirely,” said Elmiger.

On the overall, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) retained the overall lead. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains second at 4:37, with Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) third at 4:50.

The race leader had a bit of a fright when Tejay van Garderen’s BMC squad began setting a brisk pace in an area where there was a risk of crosswinds that could break the bunch into echelons.

Realizing the danger, Nibali accelerated, easily zipping up to the front and tucking in behind the BMC train.

“There was a lot of wind coming from the side at that time and I saw BMC all massing at the front,” said Nibali. “I didn’t want to lose the right moment to get up front because when there’s wind, you have to be at the front.”


EN – Summary – Stage 15 (Tallard > Nîmes) by tourdefrance

The post Alexander Kristoff crushes break as Vincenzo Nibali defends yellow appeared first on VeloNews.com.

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