Friday, April 28, 2017

De Gendt wears the KOM jersey Down Under

Thomas De Gendt showed himself and the Lotto Soudal colours during the second stage of the Tour Down Under, from Unley to Stirling. The Belgian rider was part of a three-man breakaway, but the peloton didn’t let them take the win. Still, De Gendt has some souvenirs. After the stage he received the KOM jersey and the jersey of most competitive rider.

KOM
After twelve kilometres the breakaway was formed. Thomas De Gendt had the company of Cameron Meyer and Campbell Flakemore. Their maximal advantage was 3’55” after 62 kilometres. IAM, Sky and UniSA, the team of leader Jack Bobridge, set the pace in the bunch. Thomas De Gendt won the two intermediate sprints and took the maximal points at the KOM. De Gendt has ten points, just as many as Bobridge.

More than 100 kilometres in front
The three wouldn’t battle for the stage win, with about 25 kilometres to go de Gendt, Meyer and Flakemore were reeled in by the peloton. A group of about fifty riders headed to the uphill finish in Stirling. Juan José Lobato was the fastest man of the pack. Daryl Impey was second and Gorka Izagirre third. In the GC Adam Hansen stands on the seventeenth place at thirteen seconds of Jack Bobridge.

Make the race hard
Thomas De Gendt: “We definitely wanted to have someone of our team in the break, because it was possible that it would survive. I tried three times and then I was part of the breakaway. I did think we could make it, but the peloton soon started the chase. The three of us tried to make a hard race of it. Eventually the peloton caught us quite early. At the start of the first local lap of 20 kilometres we had about 2’20” advantage and I still believed in it. Then Flakemore didn’t help anymore, probably for his leader Cadel Evans. Then the peloton got closer really fast and at the end I didn’t push anymore.”

Win the KOM jersey 
“Tomorrow I’ll start in the KOM jersey. At 500 metres of the finish there are sixteen points to gain. If I ride top five, I can keep my jersey. After today that won’t be easy. In the other stages there are definitely other opportunities. In the fourth stage I’ll have to be in the break and probably best in the fifth one as well. It will be difficult to win the KOM jersey, but it’s possible. I will do everything I can.”

Etixx - Quick-Step velodrome showcase live on team website

Etixx – Quick-Step always has a strong bond with their fans, and has made engagement with supporters a main focus of the team. Etixx – Quick-Step proudly announces that they are taking this dedication to the fans a step further, by live streaming the 2015 Official Team Presentation!

The Etixx – Quick-Step “Velodrome Showcase” live stream will begin at 8 pm January 14th, and the event will be held at the track named after Belgian Cycling Legend Eddy Merckx at the Vlaams Wielercentrum in Gent (Belgium). This year the live stream will be opened by a speech from CEO Patrick Lefevere and will last approximately one hour. The live stream will feature the 2015 Etixx - Quick-Step riders being presented on the track one-by-one. The live stream will be closed by the first Elimination race.

“For our fans who bought venue tickets of course the show will be longer by a couple of hours," Lefevere said. "The fans who have tickets for the Tribune will have a great time, as they have in the first years. But for us it was also important to give our fans that are not based in Belgium the possibility to follow at least their favorite riders for the first hour online. We’d like to give our international supporters the feeling they are there with us as we introduce our team for the upcoming season.”

However, fans all around the world can also follow the team presentation live on the team social channels, such as Twitter, and will also find a short recap with pictures at the end of the show on team website. Stay tuned tomorrow at 8 pm CET and enjoy this evening with all of us at Etixx – Quick-Step.

Andy Schleck Announces Retirement

After nine years at the top of the sport, Trek Factory Racing standout Andy Schleck announced this morning that he will retire from professional cycling. The young Luxembourger’s career was forced to an untimely end by the knee injury he sustained in a Tour de France crash earlier this year.

“I’m obviously disappointed to end my career like this,” said Schleck. “I would have liked to keep on fighting but my knee just doesn’t allow it. Since my crash in the UK there has hardly been any progress. While the ligaments have healed, the damaged cartilage is another story. I have been working hard on rehabbing the knee but came to the hard realization that at the risk of irreversibly injuring it, this is the best course of action.”

In his storied career, Schleck rode to victory on some of cycling’s biggest stages, stepping four times onto Grand Tour podiums. Among his many notable accomplishments, Schleck won the 2010 Tour de France and triumphed in the 2009 Liège-Bastogne-Liège after a courageous solo breakaway. Schleck highlights his win on the Galibier stage of the 2011 Tour de France as one of his most memorable achievements.

Though only 29 years old, Schleck has made a lasting impact on the sport, and his presence in the pro peloton will surely be missed. Well-loved by fans and teammates alike, Schleck’s legacy will be his good nature, strength of character, and sportsmanship. In his years at the highest level of the sport, Schleck distinguished himself as a humble, hard-working and earnest competitor.

“Andy was an instant and natural fit for the Trek family when we first met him with LEOPARD-TREK," said Trek VP Joe Vadeboncoeur. "It has always been more about family than anything else at Trek, and so it is with Andy. On top of that, Andy is one of the most talented cyclists of all time. Many of my best days as a cycling fan have been while watching Andy race. We have celebrated the great days and endured the difficult ones alongside him. I know great things are ahead for Andy. He will always have friends and a family at Trek.”

At the unfortunate end of a career of limitless potential, Schleck is quick to keep things in perspective. “Cycling has been my life for many years and I will need time to figure out what I’d like to do. Luckily I can count on my family, friends, and Trek who have always supported me,” he said. "I am very happy to have trained and raced alongside my brother and to have made some of the best friends that I have. I have always said that cycling is not the beginning and the end of my life. I have a wonderful girlfriend and a wonderful son. I’m excited to find out what lies ahead.”

Lotto Soudal: Presentation Vuelta 2015

Saturday the route of the 70th edition of the Vuelta was announced in Torremolinos. The race starts on Saturday 22nd August in Puerto Banús and finishes on Sunday 13th September in the Spanish capital Madrid. During these three weeks there are nine summit finishes and two time trials.

Team time trial to start
Just like the previous editions the Vuelta starts with a team time trial. This time it’s over a distance of 7.4 kilometres and it takes the riders from Puerto Banús to Marbella. The next day the stage ends on a third category climb. Also the fourth stage finishes uphill, but not on a climb that yields points for the KOM classification. Thursday and Friday there are two more summit finishes, each time on a climb of second category. The stage on Sunday 30th August takes the riders to the first climb of first category, the finish line is drawn there. Tuesday 1st September the riders can enjoy a rest day.

Queen stage in Andorra
Then the riders have a tough week ahead of them. The eleventh stage, in Andorra, is the queen stage. Later that week there are two more finishes on a climb of first category. Just before the second rest day there is a summit finish on a climb hors catégorie. In the final week there is an individual time trial of 39 kilometres. The nineteenth stage finishes in Ávila. In the penultimate stage the peloton has to get over four climbs of first category, the finish lies after the final descent. The final stage, to Madrid, is 93.7 kilometres long. This is one of the few opportunities for sprinters.

For climbers and punchers
Mario Aerts sports director Lotto Soudal: “The organisation chose the same recipe as previous years. I expect nervous finals the first ten days. After the first rest day the queen stage is scheduled. There are six climbs over a distance of only 138 kilometres and about 5000 altitude metres. The hardest part will be the stages between the two rest days. The stages after the second rest day are possibly not tough enough to change the top of GC. There are two definite chances for the sprinters and two other stages that might end with a sprint as well. It’s a Vuelta for climbers and punchers.”

Opportunities for the team
“I see several opportunities for Adam Hansen. He’s someone who can jump away a few kilometres from the end and take the win. An early breakaway could make it on different occasions as well, Adam could be present in one of those. The Vuelta is part of the race programme of Jurgen Van den Broeck this year. After the first rest day he gets on a terrain that suits him, longer climbs and more climbs on one day. Also the time trial in the final week is not bad for him. The Vuelta is still far away, but there will definitely be opportunities for us.”

 

Stages

Stage 1: Saturday 22nd August: Puerto Banús – Marbella (7,4 km) (TTT)
Stage 2: Sunday 23rd August: Alhaurín de la Torre – Caminito del Rey (165 km)
Stage 3: Monday 24th August: Mijas – Málaga (164,6 km)
Stage 4: Tuesday 25th August: Estepona – Vejer de la Frontera (203 km)
Stage 5: Wednesday 26th August: Rota – Alcalá de Guadaira (182 km)
Stage 6: Thursday 27th August: Córdoba – Sierra de Cazorla (204 km)
Stage 7: Friday 28th August: Jódar – La Alpujarra (188,3 km)
Stage 8: Saturday 29th August: Puebla de Don Fadrique – Murcia (188,6 km)
Stage 9: Sunday 30th August: Torrevieja – Cumbre del Sol. Benitachell (168,3 km)
Stage 10: Monday 31st August: Valencia – Castellón (152 km)
Rest day 1: Tuesday 1st September
Stage 11: Wednesday 2nd September: Andorra La Vella – Cortals d’Encamp (138 km)
Stage 12: Thursday 3rd September: Escaldes – Engordany. Andorra-Lleida (172,5km)
Stage 13: Friday 4th September: Calatayud – Tarazona (168 km)
Stage 14: Saturday 5th September: Vitoria – Alto Campoo. Fuente del Chivo (213 km)
Stage 15: Sunday 6th September: Comillas – Sotres. Cabrales (175 km)
Stage 16: Monday 7th September: Luarca – Ermita de Alba. Quiros (184 km)
Rest day 2: Tuesday 8th September
Stage 17: Wednesday 9th September: Burgos – Burgos (39 km) (ITT)
Stage 18: Thursday 10th September: Roa – Riaza (204 km)
Stage 19: Friday 11th September: Medina del Campo – Ávila (185 km)
Stage 20: Saturday 12th September: San Lorenzo de El Escorial -  Cercedilla (181 km)
Stage 21: Sunday 13th September: Alcalá de Henares – Madrid (93,7 km)

Alberto Contador: “I withdraw from Beijing to focus on 2015”

Alberto Contador had to make the decision to end the 2014 season a bit earlier than expected because of a new injury to the right knee, which he suffered during Sunday’s Giro di Lombardia. The leader of Tinkoff-Saxo is not happy to see the final part of the season come to an abrupt end but he sees it as a necessary decision in order to recover as fast as possible.

“Ending the year like this is something I don’t like, because I had a schedule and now I have to interrupt it again," commented Contador.

“The Tour of Beijing is not among the most important races on the calendar, but I have to focus on my knee. As a result, I want to stop and make sure that it’s in good condition before I begin preparing for 2015," added Alberto Contador.

 

Despite this new setback, Alberto Contador explains that he’s ending the season with a good feeling about his overall performance.

“The assessment of the season has been really good, except for the Tour de France, which didn’t finish as I would have preferred. The rest of the season has been very satisfying with good results throughout the year, so I'm happy, and I have to say that it has been possible because of a lot of hard work. This has been one of the toughest seasons of my career, but it paid off with some great results”. 


In the coming days, Alberto Contador will undergo various medical tests to study in detail the condition of his right knee. He will wait for the test results before he begins to plan the 2015 season, where the Giro d’Italia remains the first major goal.

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