Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Lotto Belisol: Preview Tour de Wallonie

From Saturday 26th of July until Wednesday 30th of July the Tour de Wallonie is scheduled. This stage race from the Europe Tour is contested by teams of seven riders. Jens Debusschere will ride his first race in the jersey of Belgian champion. He is accompanied by among other Maxime Monfort, who comes back after a crash in the Tour de Suisse.

The Tour de Wallonie consists of fifteen stages, there is no time trial. The first stage there are actually two big laps with three hills, among it the Kluisberg. This stage and the one on Sunday offer the best chances to the sprinters. In stage three escapees have a chance or there can be a sprint of a reduced peloton. On Tuesday there are eleven climbs on the course. The last one is the Mur d’Amay at 17.2 kilometers from the finish in Waremme. On the last day the riders get to do the final of Liège-Bastogne-Liège with the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, the Côte de Saint-Nicolas and finish at Côte d’Ans.

Bart Leysen, sports director: “Apart from Jelle Vanendert, who rode the Tour of Austria, everyone comes back in competition after a period of rest. For Jens Debusschere it will be a stimulus all year long to be able to wear that Belgian jersey. He’s our man for the sprint, together with Kris Boeckmans. Tosh Van der Sande can survive the short climbs and is definitely fast when a small group gets to the finish. The first two stages can definitely end with a bunch sprint. The third stage it’s uncertain.”

“The team is put together so that we have a man for each type of stage. We want to race offensively. Jelle Vanendert and Maxime Monfort are our GC contenders. Although I expect Tosh should be able to set a good result as well. Pim Ligthart and Tim Wellens can join breakaways and can finish the job. Tim became eighth in the overall classification last year, so he can aim for a good GC as well. The last day is the toughest. At the end it’s almost identical to the final of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Before that there are six other hills. It will be difficult to control with teams of seven riders. Wednesday will be decisive.”

Selection Lotto Belisol: Kris Boeckmans, Jens Debusschere, Pim Ligthart, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Jean-Pierre Heynderickx and Bart Leysen.

Stages

Stage 1: Saturday 26th of July: Frasnes-lez-Anvaing – Tournai (147.9 km)

Stage 2: Sunday 27th of July: Peronnes-lez-Antoing –Perwez (193.1 km)

Stage 3: Monday 28th of July: Somme-Leuze – Neuchâteau (174.1 km)

Stage 4: Tuesday 29th of July: Herve – Waremme (174.9 km)

Stage 5: Wednesday 30th of July: Malmedy – Ans (180.6 km)

Tour de France, Stage 18: Van Garderen Fifth

BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen finished fifth on the final day in the mountains Thursday at the Tour de France as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) widened his lead and the fight for the podium positions tightened.

Remains Sixth Overall
Van Garderen reached the summit finish of the 145.5-kilometer race 75 seconds after solo stage winner Nibali to remain sixth overall, 11:34 off the lead. He rode the final kilometers with mountains classification leader and double stage winner Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and best young rider Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) – with the latter two climbing over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) into second and third place overall. "It went well today," van Garderen said. "I just had it in my mind that 'this is the last mountain before the end of the Tour, so if you're going to do something you have to do it today.' " While Valverde was dropped and fell from second to fourth overall, shaking the others proved more difficult, van Garderen said. "When I was setting a hard tempo, I would look back and Pinot always looked pretty easy on my wheel," he said. "He has shown many times this tour that he is more explosive than me. So I couldn't really get a gap and couldn't really grind him off my wheel with a tempo because he is so strong."

Help From Teammates
Van Garderen received support from several teammates to make up time on Valverde and the rider in fifth overall, Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale). BMC Racing Team's Daniel Oss, who was part of a 20-rider breakaway, led that escape group onto the day's third categorized climb, the Col du Tourmalet. Teammate Peter Stetina recovered from being bumped off the road by another rider to help pace van Garderen on the final climb. "Tejay did what he is capable of doing – he has been doing it all week," Stetina said. "He is consistent, he is steady, and I think he can have a good time trial in two days." BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said it was good to see van Garderen take 38 seconds out of Bardet, who is now 2:07 ahead of him. "We had three riders with Tejay at the top of the Tourmalet and all the guys did a good job helping him," Ledanois said. "Tejay also did a very good job on the last climb, taking time from Bardet. It was good for his morale before the time trial."

Listen to complete comments from Ledanois and van Garderen on the BMC Racing Team's Tour de France Audio Line:
http://bit.ly/VhDrsx

Majka secures mountain jersey

It was the last chance for the climbers to make a difference in this year’s Tour de France when the peloton took on the 145 kilometer long 18th stage from Pau to the grueling uphill finish in Hautacam. Along the way, the pack was challenged with the ascent to Col du Tourmalet, a climb that has been a part of the Tour since 1910 where the organizers biggest concern was bear attacks in the wild landscape of the Pyreness. Today, most riders probably feared and expected an attack from the “shark”, Vincenzo Nibali. Hautacam has been a part of the Tour since 1994 where Luc leBlanc outsprinted Miguel Indurain. Bjarne Riis secured his Tour de France win by winning here in 1996 wearing the yellow jersey.

Today, 20 riders formed the long-lasting breakaway and Tinkoff-Saxo had no riders in the front group. In the main pack, Astana controlled the pace and they never let the front group completely out of sight. Cresting the Tourmalet, two riders, Blel Kadri (AG2R) and Mikel Nieve (Sky) created a gap to the rest of the breakaway riders and no one up the road was danger for Rafal Majka in the king of the mountain classification as the nearest rival was Nibali. On the descent from Tourmalet, second overall Alejandro Valvede (Movistar) dived down the mountain and bridged the gap to two teammates, Jesus Herrada and Jon Izaguirre in the breakaway. But Valverde was brought back before entering the foot of Hautacam.

The front duo had a lead of only one and a half minutes entering the lower slopes of Hautacam where Astana picked up the pace causing clutches of riders to drop out the peloton’s backdoor. Soon Nieve was alone in the front but the quest for stage glory was doomed as Chris Horner launched an attack and immediately managed to create distance to the field – apart from Nibali who soon launched a fierce counter-attack and was now chasing and passing Nieve.

Then Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka turned on his turbo engine and flew up the road on the chase while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) cracked and was dropped by his nearest rivals, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) who were only 8 seconds apart overall. They dragged along Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and they bridged over to Majka. They were not able to catch Nibali who consolidated his overall lead by taking the stage but Rafal Majka secured the mountain jersey by finishing third while Peruad and Pinot pushed Valverde off the podium.

Rafal did another great stage today and he’s now only a few steps away from the podium in Paris but we still have to do three more stages before we can finally celebrate. He’s done a sensational Tour de France and is probably considered the surprise of the race but I’ve known his potential for quite a while and now it’s unfolding for everyone to see,” said DS, Bjarne Riis after the stage.

The race ends Sunday. 

Canty earns stagiaire ride with Drapac

Drapac Professional Cycling is pleased to announce that Brendan Canty will join the team as a stagiaire from August 1, 2014.

Making his debut for Drapac at next month’s Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the impressive young climber from Victoria, Australia, will be looking to make the most of the opportunity with the Professional Continental outfit.

Initially a cross-country runner, 22-year-old Canty came to the sport of cycling reasonably late, via triathlon. A sixth place in the Amy Gillett Foundation’s Gran Fondo last September led to Canty being convinced to enter his first road race, the Stratford to Dargo. Fast gaining a reputation as a true test for Australia’s best climbers with a final 10.7km peak, which averages at an 8% gradient but tops out at 17% in the final kilometre, Canty turned heads by winning solo. Having captured the attention of the Australian domestic cycling community, he signed on with the Health.com.au - Search2Retain team for the 2014 National Road Series season.

Drapac Director of Performance, Keith Flory, said that Canty would be primed for the next step in his development.

“Brendan will join up with the rest of the team prior to Utah for a specific training camp, which will be tailored according to the particular demands of the race,” he explained. “It’s a tough race, so we’re doing everything we can to ensure the guys go into it as prepared as possible. 

“On a number of occasions Brendan has shown some real glimpses of the talent we believe he possesses,” Flory continued. “He’s young and has lots of scope for development, so we’re very keen to put him in an environment that will allow us to work with him to continue his progression and allow him to hopefully shine.”

Canty said that he was fortunate to have been given the opportunity with Drapac.

“I am certain the next couple of months will provide an absolutely amazing experience,” he explained. “Besides the racing experience from Utah I hope to develop as much as I can while training and traveling with such a professional team. At the end of the day I’ve been given this opportunity to prove myself not only as a rider but also an individual and I am really hoping I’ll be able to achieve these objectives during my time as a stagiaire with Drapac.

“There’s no denying that the Tour of Utah is a massive step from Stratford to Dargo and it’s going to be tough but I’m really looking forward to the challenge!” he continued. “The quality of field in this race will offer exposure to some of the best riders in the world and it will give me an opportunity to experience what racing at this level is like.

“Above all, I’m looking forward to doing the best I can for the team,” Canty concluded. “It would be incredible if the team came away with a good result and if I were able to help contribute towards this, it would be very satisfying.”

2014 Tour de France Stage 19 Preview

Friday, the riders remaining in the 2014 Tour de France will travel a much flatter 208.5kms from Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour to Bergerac. 

Although this stage is lumpy, there is only one categorized climb—the Cat 4 Cote de Monbazillac at 195.5kms. Since Majka has the competition sewn up,  I don’t anticipate much fighting to get this point.

The intermediate sprint occurs earlier in Tonneins at 130.5kms.  Really, this should be a day for the sprinters. It may be hot, so everyone needs to hydrate well for the last few kilometres to blaze with action of the fastmen.  

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