The Vuelta's eighth stage took the peloton through the open country of southeastern Spain en route to Murcia. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
After 20km of racing, a six-man breakaway formed: Iljo Keisse, Alex Howes, Jimmy Engoulvent, Tom Van Asbroeck, Matteo Cattaneo, and Ángel Madrazo made the move. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Although the first 110km of stage 8 angled gently downhill, the lumpier terrain of the finale loomed in the distance. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The day started out calmly for Tejay van Garderen, but things turned chaotic when a crash with 50km to go left him with a broken shoulder. He was forced to abandon the race, along with Dan Martin, Kris Boeckmans, and Nacer Bouhanni, each nursing injuries sustained in the pileup. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Race leader Esteban Chaves hit the deck in the big crash as well, but he quickly caught back up to the peloton with the help of his team. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The breakaway riders worked well together, but a determined peloton kept the move on a tight leash. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Movistar ramped up the pace as the pack approached the two categorized climbs of the stage. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
As the pack closed down on the escapees, Alex Howes left his breakaway companions behind hoping to stay out front alone. His attempt at stage 8 glory came to an abrupt end when he crashed into a barrier on a descent, only remounting after the gap was nearly closed. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
José Joaquín Rojas also found himself in trouble on the same descent. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Gianluca Brambilla made several unsuccessful attempts to get clear of the peloton on the Cresta del Gallo. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The peloton managed to reel in a flurry of late attacks before Adam Hansen launched one escape attempt as the finish line neared. He was ultimately swept up by the chasing peloton. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Jasper Stuyven proved strongest in the reduced sprint for the stage 8 win. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Stuyven, who had hit the deck in the big pileup earlier in the stage, was elated as he crossed the line to take his first professional win. Only after the stage did he discover a broken left scaphoid bone sustained in the crash. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
A collision with a neutral service motorcycle denied Peter Sagan a chance at contending for the stage win. Showing a few scrapes and bruises, he crossed the line over five minutes after stage winner. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Having secured another day in the race leader's red jersey, Esteban Chaves was all smiles after the stage. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (file)
Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) crashed out of the Vuelta a España Saturday, leaving the race with multiple injuries after a major pileup that occurred about 50km from the stage 8 finish line. Boeckmans lost consciousness for a few moments after hitting the deck, and then was taken to the hospital. According to a team press release, further evaluation revealed extensive injuries.
Boeckmans suffered severe facial trauma with several fractures, a concussion, and three broken ribs, as well as bleeding in his lung. The team reports that he may need surgery, and that he has been put into a medically-induced coma for the next few days.
“Of course we are all thinking of Kris tonight,” teammate Tosh Van der Sande said. “I was riding just behind him when it happened. He was drinking when he rode over a hole, tumbled over his handlebar, and hit the ground very hard.”
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Lizzie Armitstead took the win in Plouay ahead of Emma Johansson and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The 2015 Women’s Road World Cup finished in dramatic style Saturday. British rider Elizabeth Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) took the overall World Cup title by winning the GP de Plouay-Bretagne in France. The 26-year-old won the final sprint from a select group to seal her second consecutive World Cup series victory.
The first half of the French race was cagey, with the big teams mostly watching each other instead of initiating any major hostilities. However, in the final 50 kilometers of the 121km event, repeated attacks caused the race to break up. On the final climb, Armitstead attacked, taking an elite group away with her. That group contained reigning road world champ Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and World Cup contender Anna van der Breggen, both of the Rabo-Liv team. Despite the impressive company along for the ride, Armitstead took control in the group, and then took the win ahead of Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Ferrand-Prevot. With her victory, Armitstead nabbed enough points to seal the overall World Cup title ahead of van der Breggen, who finished sixth in Plouay.
“I really put in the winning move on the last climb and a sprint was the last thing I wanted,” she said. “I couldn’t have won it without a fantastic team though. Evelyn [Stevens] and Megan [Guarnier] are in the shape to win these races themselves and without their commitment today I couldn’t have won it.”
This year’s World Cup has been one of the most exciting in recent memory, the winner not being decided until the final lap of the final race. Armitstead won the title in 2014, having led from start to finish, succeeding several seasons of dominance by Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv), who had won four titles in five years. This year, however, three different women have worn the leader’s jersey, which has changed hands six times in total throughout the series.
“Today was an exciting race,” Wiggle-Honda team manger Rochelle Gilmore told VeloNews. “As for the World Cup series as a whole, we couldn’t have asked for anything more exciting, it’s really unpredictable and the World Cup series is not decided until the final race.”
Armitstead consistent success — Plouay was her third World Cup win of 2015 after the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Philadelphia Cycling Classic — put her over the top in the season-long competition.
“The idea of the World Cup series is to find the most talented female cyclist across all different terrains and the most consistent throughout the season,” Gilmore said. “I think Lizzie Armitstead is a fraction above the others over the last couple of years in terms of dominance and consistency.”
Gilmore’s British registered Wiggle-Honda squad won four of the ten 2015 World Cup races, with three different women. The team classification, though, was won by van der Breggen’s Rabo-Liv team, which has monopolized the classification in recent years.
At the start of the day, Armitstead was third in the World Cup standings behind Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle-Honda) and van der Breggen. D’hoore did not race in Plouay, but Armitstead trailed van der Breggen by 21 points, meaning that not even a win would guarantee her the overall. With van der Breggen only managing a sixth-place finish on the day, however, Armitstead came away from Plouay the overall World Cup winner for the second straight season.
That makes Armitstead the first ever British rider to win the Women’s Road World Cup in consecutive years. It also adds to the talk of Armitstead as a favorite for September’s world championship road race in Richmond, Virginia. Worlds is likely to be her next race, as she has chosen to concentrate on preparation rather than racing into form.
The World Cup will be replaced next year with a new Women’s World Tour, which will include stage races, and will be expanded from 10 to approximately 30 race days.
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Sagan crossed the finish line alone, over five minutes behind the stage winner, after a race vehicle brought him down in the final 10km of stage 8. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Just weeks after Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) was taken out by a moto in the Clásica San Sebastián, it happened again in Saturday’s eighth stage at the Vuelta a España.
This time it involved stage-favorite Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo). According to team staff, a neutral support motorcycle clipped Sagan’s wheel with about 6km to go, knocking him off his bike, and out of contention for the reduced-bunch sprint eventually won by Jesper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing).
“A motor was passing the group, and he was moving left, and the motorcycle took him out,” Tinkoff-Saxo sport director Patxi Vila told EuroSport. “Peter’s feeling bad. It’s a missed opportunity of winning a stage, after the work of the whole team for him. I am sure the motorbike didn’t do it on purpose, but this shouldn’t happen.”
Sagan was enraged after the incident, kicking his bike, yelling at the motorcycle driver, and storming around the roadway in anger.
Sagan, winner of stage 3, later crossed the line furious, with cuts and scrapes to his left side, and his jersey and shorts torn open.
The 25-year-old was poised for a chance at victory after surviving two passages over the third-category Cresta del Gallo, a short but steep climb that eliminated many other sprinters, such as arch-rival John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin). An earlier crash took out overall favorites Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) in what was a very nervous day of racing in Spain.
The incident once again raises the question about where and how motorcycles and cars should move around the peloton. It seems to be a growing problem. Earlier this spring, a neutral support car also took out riders during this year’s Tour of Flanders.
“Crashes are part of cycling, but it shouldn’t happen with cars or motorcycles in the race,” said Eurosport commentator Juan Antonio Flecha, a former pro who was involved in a similar incident in the 2011 Tour de France. “This is happening too many times, and I am very upset about what happened today.”
In a similar incident earlier this month at the one-day Clásica San Sebastián in Spain’s Basque Country, BMC’s Van Avermaet was knocked off his bike by a motorcycle while making a promising move on the final climb before the finish line. Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) later won the race.
“Unfortunately, it isn’t the first time such an incident happens,” Sagan said after the stage. “Even if motorbikes are forced to go through a group of riders, they should do it very carefully and not recklessly. In my opinion, motorbike drivers don’t take the safety of the riders in consideration seriously. Fortunately, my injuries aren’t very serious but can you imagine what would have happened if he had ran over me?
“If I had crashed alone or with another rider, I would have considered that to be part of the sport. However, being hit by a motorbike of the race organization shouldn’t be acceptable. The safety of the riders should be an absolute priority and all vehicle drivers involved in a race must be more attentive. I really hope this incident is the start of a series of necessary changes in the way races are organized.”
In a team press release, Tinkoff-Saxo raised the possibility of taking legal action in response to the incident.
Jasper Stuyven was the fastest man in a reduced peloton at the end of the Vuelta's crash-marred stage 8. Photo: JOSE JORDAN / AFP
Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing) sprinted to his first ever WorldTour win in the Vuelta’s eighth stage Saturday, at the end of a messy day that saw numerous big names hit the deck, including Stuyven himself. The 23-year-old Belgian managed to win the day despite suffering what was later revealed to be a broken left scaphoid bone. Though caught up in one of the day’s crashes, Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) finished in the pack, retaining his race lead.
The 182.5km stage from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia started off with relative calm. After 20km, the peloton allowed the escape of a six-man breakaway group, consisting of Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick-Step), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matteo Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida), and Ángel Madrazo (Team Colombia). Tinkoff-Saxo and Giant-Alpecin set the pace in the bunch, keeping the break on a short leash.
Then, the calm day turned chaotic as a huge pileup about 50km from the stage finish left several riders injured. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), and Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) were among the most seriously hurt in the crash, with all four abandoning the Vuelta after the incident. Stuyven and race leader Chaves hit the pavement as well, but both were able to catch back onto the peloton.
Not long after, lone morning breakaway survivor Howes crashed into a barrier on a descent, spelling the end of the early break. Movistar’s José Joaquín Rojas went down on the same descent the second time through. Then, in the final few minutes of the stage, as the peloton was closing down a flurry of late attacks, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) appeared to be taken out by a race vehicle just when he seemed poised to contend for the stage victory.
After a number of late moves were reeled in, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) launched one final attack inside the last 3km of the stage, but a charging pack closed down the attempt to set up a sprint from a reduced field. Stuyven proved fastest in the sprint, with Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural) taking second and Kevin Reza (FDJ) finishing in third.Top 10, stage 8
Top 10, GC
After taking the stage win, Stuyven received medical attention for a wrist injury sustained earlier on in the day in the big pileup. Trek Factory Racing revealed via Twitter that Stuyven had suffered a broken scaphoid, before releasing a statement announcing that Stuyven will not start Sunday’s stage 9.
“I didn’t stay clear of the crashes,” Stuven said. “I was in the big one which Chaves was also in before the first big climb. I hit my wrist pretty bad, but I jumped on the bike again and climbed back.
“I suffered a lot on the first climb and then the second time I knew I had to start at the front so I could drift a little bit back if it was going to be hard.
“In the sprint, I felt, ‘I’ll go at 300 [meters from the finish],’ and it was for me today.”
Chaves finished safely in the bunch to hold onto his overall lead.
“It was truly difficult today,” Chaves said. “You’d think it was a transition stage, but it was very hard, fast, with a lot of crashes. I was caught up in the big crash, but it was a few cuts and scrapes, nothing serious, but I was able to chase back.
“The team carried me to the first climb, and then I was able to follow the rivals. I had some support on the first climb, on the second climb, I was trying to stay calm, and just follow the moves. The important thing was to maintain the lead.”
The Vuelta continues Sunday with a 168.3km stage 8 from Torrevieja to Benitatxell.Stage 8 results
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Tejay van Garderen was sitting in 16th place overall at the start of the Vuelta's eighth stage, but he has since abandoned the race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
A high-speed crash took several riders out of the Vuelta a España late in Saturday’s eighth stage.
More than two dozen riders crashed about 50km from the stage finish as the peloton powered into the outskirts of Murcia, nearing the first of two trips up the Cat. 3 Cresta del Gallo climb. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing), Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), and even eventual stage winner Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing) were among those hitting the pavement in the big pileup.
Boeckmans appeared the most seriously injured. According to a team press release, the crash left him with a concussion, severe facial trauma with several fractures, three broken ribs, and bleeding in his lung, forcing him out of the race.
“I was riding just behind him when it happened,” said Lotto-Soudal’s Tosh Van der Sande. “He was drinking when he rode over a hole, tumbled over his handlebar and hit the ground very hard.
Van Garderen suffered a broken shoulder in the the crash, and early reports suggested Dan Martin might have suffered a broken clavicle. Nacer Bouhanni, who had already hit the deck several times in previous stages, was also brought down hard in the pileup. All three riders abandoned the Vuelta.
“We were coming into Murcia. It was a typical crash, everyone’s lined up, we’re entering the city, there are nerves, someone touches wheels, and you fall in a funny way, and race is over,” van Garderen’s BMC Racing teammate Samuel Sánchez said of the incident.
“It was a terrible way to go out for Tejay. We’re suffering in the heat. We have to take it day to day, see if we can move up in the GC, and if not, try to win a stage, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy.”
After falling hard and hurting his wrist, Stuyven managed to catch back on to the peloton and ultimately took the stage win, before further examination revealed that he had suffered a broken scaphoid bone in the crash. Trek Factory Racing announced his withdrawal from the Vuelta following the victory and the subsequent discovery of the full extent of his injury.
Overnight leader Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) was among the many others to also hit the pavement in the pileup, though he quickly regained contact with the main bunch ahead of the two finishing climbs and finished safely within the bunch.
Many fans lined the roads of Jodar to see the start of stage 7. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
While going through the start village of Jodar, the peloton rode past the town church. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Temperatures were in the mid-90s again, making stage 7 a difficult day for the riders at the Vuelta a España. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The breakaway was established early on the 191-kilometer route from Jodar to La Alpujarra. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
After being in the break all day on stage 6, Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) rode in the peloton on stage 7. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Gediminas Bagdonasm (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) crossed wheels and hit the deck on stage 7. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The five-man breakaway worked well together to hold off the peloton, until the final climb when they started attacking each other to go for the win. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) took in some calories before the final catagory 1 climb to the finish. Rodriguez sits in sixth place, 56 seconds back on GC, after stage 7. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Whitewashed villages were dotted along the way to La Alpujarra and up the final climb of Alto de Capiliera, which is a climb that had never before been ridden in the Vuelta a España. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Near the end of the stage, Nairo Quintana put in a short-lived attack that did not amount to much. After stage 7, Quintana sits in seventh overall, 57 seconds back on GC. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Jerome Cousin (Europcar) was one of the aggressors on the final climb, but could not maintain the pace all the way to the line, coming across in fourth on the stage. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) lost ground on stage 7, fading late on the final climb when the attacks started coming. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Chris Froome (Sky) was dropped by the GC group in the final two kilometers of the stage. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) proved to be the smartest rider out of the breakaway, pacing himself up the final climb and having the strongest finish out of the group. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Fabio Aru (Astana) made the biggest gains of the day by attacking the GC group and finishing third on the stage. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) put in another strong effort in defense of the leader's jersey. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Bert-Jan Lindeman won the first grand tour stage of his career on stage 7 of the Vuelta a España. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Chaves leads the Vuelta a España by 10 seconds over Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
BMC Racing team owners Jim Ochowicz (left) and Andy Rihs at the 2015 USA Pro Challenge. Photo by Neal Rogers.
BMC Racing team owners Andy Rihs and Jim Ochowicz have addressed rumors that the team’s future is uncertain beyond 2016, saying that they are actively building towards 2017 and 2018.
Amid late-season transfer news and rumors, questions about BMC’s long-term future have arisen, due to the fact that several of the team’s biggest signings for 2016, including Richie Porte and Samuel Sanchez, are on one-year deals. Likewise, American Tejay van Garderen is on contract only through 2016.
In June, Ochowicz, the team’s general manager, downplayed reports of a possible merger with IAM Cycling in 2017, to form a Swiss-registered WorldTour team, though he acknowledged that he was seeking additional sponsorship.
At the USA Pro Challenge last week, Ochowicz would not comment on any rider contracts beyond 2016 but insisted that the team is “full speed ahead,” and that he is currently planning well beyond next season.
“Half of the stuff I read doesn’t even come close to the truth,” Ochowicz said. “People are speculating. We’re not uncertain about anything. We’re planning, and building, the team, for the future. I’ve got riders, and staff, we’re thinking far ahead in our planning. My job is to plan ahead. The strategy within the team is going that direction. I can’t predict when it’s going to stop, but we’re full steam ahead right now… my head is already in 2017, 2018.”
Rihs and Ochowicz are co-owners of Continuum Sports, which holds the UCI license for the WorldTour team based in Santa Rosa, California. Rihs is also the owner of BMC Switzerland, the team’s bike partner and long-term title sponsor.
Rihs, who is Swiss, made his money with Phonak Hearing Systems and sponsored a team under the Phonak brand from 2000 through 2006. He ended that association after Phonak rider Floyd Landis won the Tour de France but was stripped of the title. The following year the BMC program began in California as a Continental team managed by Gavin Chilcott. The team made the jump to Pro Continental in 2009 and to the ProTeam level in 2011. The team won that year’s Tour de France with Cadel Evans.
At the USA Pro Challenge, Rihs confirmed that the team is looking for additional sponsors but that BMC will “always come first. It’s not a question of the team, it’s a question of sponsorship only,” Rihs said. “The team will probably continue as long as BMC exists, but we are looking for additional sponsors. But BMC will always be first. Then, if Apple wants to come on, okay, we’ll be BMC-Apple. We can live with that.”
F0r his part, Ochowicz says he is open to all options, including that of the title sponsor position.
“We live on sponsorship dollars,” he said. “We don’t have a ticket gate to sell, and we don’t have TV rights to share. The only money we get is sponsorship dollars. So, of course we’re always looking for more money. I can’t predict whether BMC will always be the title sponsor, we may find someone that wants to take over the team — maybe, maybe not — but BMC will always be a bike partner, for sure.”
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Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling) has found ways to keep himself occupied in the quiet early stages of the Vuelta. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Twenty-one days is a pretty long time. Doing anything for 21 days can be tedious — even vacation! So as you can imagine, racing a bike for that amount of time leaves us with quite a bit of downtime. Not every day has the action/excitement/carnage of stage 2, thankfully, so we often have to find ways to pass time both in the race and out.
One of my favorite parts of the Vuelta is the start village or Puenta de Encuentro as it is called here at the race. While much less grandiose than the ones at the Tour, it is an area for the riders and VIPs to mingle, have a drink, eat some food, or in my case, have a coffee. Each day I roll in and find my compatriots, Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Ian Boswell (Sky), and we have a few moments to chill and chat before the start. Tejay always finds a spot tucked away in some corner that makes him difficult for people to find … and difficult for me!
When you spend between four and six hours on your bike for so many days in a row, there is plenty of downtime in the peloton. We fill the time with conversation, stories, trading of nutrition, and gossip. It may sound funny, but eating the same energy bars for the entire season and three weeks straight can get pretty monotonous. So we end up having a little bit of a black-market barter system in the peloton … A MuleBar for a PowerBar, my gel for yours, rice cakes for gummies, and a melange of other swaps. We are particularly lucky with IAM, as we have a special type of gel called WinForce — a gel based on MCT fat, and it is unlike anything the other teams have, making it great currency for trades. Sometimes if I’m feeling generous, I just grab a few extra and just give them away without asking for anything in return … because you never know when you might be in need of a gel!
It seems that whenever a relatively small group of people spend enough time together, there will always be gossip. And it is no different in the professional peloton than in a group of tweens. But instead of talking about what boy is with what girl, the most common topic is who is going to what team for next year. As the Vuelta is near the end of the season, there is a ton of transfer news circulating in the peloton. I have heard a few rumors, and so far they have all turned out to be true. I can’t say the others that I’ve heard, but it is always an interesting time of year.
Another popular subject of discussion was Vincenzo Nibali’s disqualification from the race. Things like that happen in many races, but usually they’re a bit less blatant (ex., the mechanic hangs out the window, pretends to adjust the saddle, while the director drives an obscenely fast speed to return to the peloton). Clearly ol’ Vincenzo did not expect the heli-cam to be locked on him like an eagle on its prey. While most riders get away with this sort of thing, I have to say I agree with the punishment.
I don’t always disagree with hanging onto a car though. At the end of stage 4, with the super-steep finishing climb to the town of Vejer de la Frontera, our IAM team, along with many others, descended to the bottom of the hill to our bus. Yet much to our dismay, after a small miscommunication, we learned that our bus — along with a few others — was actually parked at the top. At the end of the longest stage of this year’s Vuelta, we were a little bit pissed. We tried calling our directors, but they had no reception at the top. Riding back up the 20-percent grades was not an option. While trying to find a solution, I ended up losing my teammates, but there was a less-steep route back to the town. I decided to buck up and climb the hill. My legs were absolutely dead, so when I saw a taxi coming up behind, I blocked the road, and in the few words of Spanish I know, convinced him (forced him) to give me a tow. As I flew up the mountain hanging on to the side of this Spanish taxi driver’s car, all of the teams who did not lose their buses were driving in the opposite direction. It elicited more than a few laughs. I was just happy I didn’t have to pedal any longer.
As we enter the mountains in the next days, the stages will be much less monotonous, there will be many fewer conversations, but a lot more suffering. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can count on any more tows from the cabbies.
Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) got in the break on stage 7 and it paid off in spades. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Bert-Jan Lindeman has been a fixture in the Vuelta a España breakaways, and in his third day off the front, he delivered a huge stage win for LottoNL-Jumbo on Friday. The Dutchman attacked within the final kilometer of stage 7, on the steep Alto de Capeliera climb. His final remaining breakaway companion, Ilia Koshevoy (Lampre-Merida) could not respond. It was LottoNL’s first grand tour stage win of the season.
“It’s a surprise because it’s uphill, with the GC guys, and [Amets] Txurruka looked strong,” said Lindeman. “The team had bad luck this spring, but every race is important, and now we have the win. It’s a big win for me.”Top 10, stage 7
Koshevoy, Lindeman, and Jérôme Cousin (Europcar) were the last of the five breakaway riders. They made it to the final few kilometers with enough daylight to keep the peloton away, a first for this year’s Vuelta.
Behind, GC favorite and Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Sky) was dropped inside of two kilometers to go.
Fabio Aru (Astana) attacked as soon as he could tell Froome was on the ropes and quickly got a gap, just before the final kilometer of racing. However, it was too late for him to vie for the stage win.
Cousin was dropped with 500 meters to go as the narrow road kicked up. Koshevoy led out the final pitch of climbing. Lindeman jumped with 300 meters left and went clear, winning convincingly ahead of Koshevoy.
Aru came home third, best of the GC riders at the end of the 191.1km day. Froome lost considerable time on the final climb, leading home a small group, which was nearly 30 seconds adrift of the main GC group, which included Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), and race leader Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge).
On Saturday, a 182.5km stage from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia could favor the opportunists, with two category 3 climbs in the final 40 kilometers and a flat finish.Stage 7 results
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and most of the other GC favorites are still in the hunt at the Vuelta. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
What a difference a month makes. Rewind to the first mountain stage of the 2015 Tour de France, and Chris Froome (Sky) blew the wheels off everyone to take control of the yellow jersey in the Pyrénées.
Some expected that story to repeat itself in Friday’s seventh stage, a week into the Vuelta a España, but this time, it was Froome who taking the lumps, crossing the line 17th at 1:03 behind breakaway winner Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), some 27 seconds behind the main GC favorites.
A week into the Vuelta, and it’s obvious that it’s very open. No singular rider or team has had the chance to dominate the race so far. With another mountaintop finish in store Sunday, that could quickly change if someone in the still tightly packed top-10 surges clear. Up to now, however, the Vuelta remains anyone’s race.
Friday’s uphill finale deep in the heart of the sun-baked Sierra Nevada served to reconfirm that the Vuelta is very hard to predict. Here are five things we’ve learned up the grinding climb to Capiliera in stage 8:
1. Froome is human
Froome proved he’s human during the first week of the Spanish grand tour, unable to repeat the searing performances that delivered his second yellow jersey in July.
One of the scrappiest riders in the bunch, Froome finally came unglued with about 2km to go when Fabio Aru (Astana) pounced after solid work from Astana and Movistar to soften up the bunch on the grinding, 18km climb.
Froome countered in the final kilometer to limit his losses to 27 seconds to his main rivals, but it’s clear he’s not the same rider he was in July.
“I didn’t see if Froome was going well or not, because I didn’t see him once during the entire climb. We were always at the front,” Valverde said. “It’s good to take those seconds, but there is still a lot ahead of us in this Vuelta.”
If this were the highly controlled Tour, it might be game over for a rider losing that much time. But this is the Vuelta, and anything is possible.
Last year, Froome never threw in the towel, and took Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) all the way to the final mountain stage to finish second overall. The long time trial in stage 17 is also in Froome’s corner, but it wasn’t lost on anyone that Sky allowed Nicolas Roche to defend his GC position when Froome was struggling at the back.
Froome’s quest to become the first rider to win the Tour and Vuelta in succession took a blow Friday, but there is still a lot of racing ahead. Froome will go down swinging no matter what happens.
2. Chaves standing tall
More than a few expected Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) to melt under the pressure from the big teams. Though he was isolated for most of the climb, the plucky Colombian safely finished with the favorites to defend the red leader’s jersey.
“Every day in the leader’s jersey is an honor,” Chaves said. “The legs felt good in the 40- to 45-minute climb. I will just take it day to day, and work to keep the jersey as long as I can.”
Chaves is 10 seconds ahead of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), another rider who continues to surprise on the climbs, but has even more time on other important rivals. Already a winner of two stages, Chaves’ consistency so far hasn’t been lost on his rivals.
“Chaves is a serious rival,” Valverde said. “He’s clearly the strongest rider in the first week. We’ll have to keep an eye on him, and not let him take more time, because it can be complicated to take it back.”
3. Aru makes his intentions clear
Astana’s first week was undercut by the controversial expulsion of Vincenzo Nibali, who took an illegal tow on a team car in stage 2.
Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa came as additional cards to play, but it’s quickly becoming obvious that Aru is the man for the Kazakh crew.
After a sluggish start, faltering in explosive finales in stage 2 and stage 6, Aru came to life Friday, and darted away with just under 2km to go. Aru took back some valuable seconds on his rivals, punched into ninth at 57 seconds back, and put everyone on alert that he’s racing to win.
“After what he did at the Giro, it’s obvious he’s the leader,” Landa said. “My legs were complaining today. It was hard with the heat and the tempo the team was setting, and in the end, Aru could take some seconds. With Aru today, we took one step forward.”
4. Tour riders looking weary
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the punchiest riders so far didn’t race the Tour. Chaves and Aru both raced the Giro d’Italia, while Dumoulin crashed out after three stages, giving them fresher legs against the wearier pack pedaling out of the Tour.
Third place through seventh, from Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) at 33 seconds back, to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at 57 seconds back, are knotted up within 25 seconds, and all raced the Tour. Though Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) did manage to win stage 4, none of them have looked particularly sparkling.
Quintana admitted he hasn’t been at his best in the opening week.
“Overall, I’ve been content with the opening days. They were not stages ideal for me, but I’ve defended well,” Quintana said. “I hope to keep at my level going forward.”
Valverde expressed relief to have survived the heat and first major mountaintop with GC options fully intact.
“The first major climb is always hard, and on top of that, it was very hot as well,” Valverde said. “Luckily, we responded well, and we’re still in good position. Both Nairo and I are in good position, and we’ll try to take advantage in the next occasions.”
5. Heat taking its toll
“The heat is horrible,” grumbled Joaquin Rodríguez (Katusha).
Temperatures have been pushing into the high 90s and low 100s all week, and they’re leaving the peloton feeling sluggish at best.
“I don’t like this heat,” said Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), who won stage 3. “It’s ridiculous to race in these temperatures.”
“The heat is taking its toll,” Landa said. “Where I live, we have 15C, and then you come down here, and it’s suddenly 35C-40C. It takes it out of you.”
Teams are burning through water bottles, up to 100 a day, and more heat is in store for Saturday’s stage in Murcia, one of Spain’s hottest regions.
Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) won his third national cyclocross championship last winter in Austin, Texas. Photo: Wil Matthews | www. wilmatthewsphoto.com
BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — You sense him before you see him. The energy oozes from his pores, he walks with the confidence of a three-time national champion in the heart of his prime and performing at an extremely high level. He is meticulous at every turn, down to the decaffeinated almond milk cappuccino he orders.
As the 2015-16 season gets underway, reigning national cyclocross champion Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) is at a crossroads and attempting to find a happy medium.
Roughly a decade ago, Powers went all-in on pursuing the dream of becoming a professional racer. In 2004-05, he lived and raced in Belgium full-time, both road and cyclocross, building his experience and the mental strength that comes with racing in cycling’s heartland.
“I got my head blown in,” Powers recalls. The grind of living in Europe got to him, and he almost didn’t make it. A brief return home for cyclocross nationals nearly became permanent.
“My mom had to bring me to the airport and literally put my ass on the plane. But I made it back over there and finished the world championships.” That trip has led him to where he is today.
Powers enters this cyclocross season having won just about everything there is to win in the U.S. ‘cross scene. At 32, he is in the prime of his career, and the clock is ticking on his goal of claiming a top-five finish in a World Cup.
Is another full-time European stint in the cards for him? Most likely not.Happy Medium
“I don’t think so,” Powers said about living in Europe again. “I have said it a couple of times, but I never say never.”
The sacrifices needed to live in Europe full-time are extreme, and while Powers is making certain sacrifices this year, he is not going to relocate. A more-intense European racing schedule will see him doing more than just the World Cups this season, but it translates to a potential three trips across the pond during the condensed six-month cyclocross season, a task not for the faint of heart.
“I think that I will race potentially all of February in Europe if I feel good mentally again ,” Powers said. “And potentially, there could be some more time during the Christmas block if I feel I have good form.”
Despite the complexity of his schedule, the extra European races revolve around the World Cups, and this puts Powers at ease. He doesn’t have to commit and can race when he wants to by listening to the signs his body gives him.
An increased European schedule allows him to compete against the top riders, but on his terms, not having to deal with the culture struggles that come with living in Europe full-time. Ultimately, another year in Europe seems unlikely, but Powers was not definitive, “Things change all the time. In a year I could look at this and be like, ‘I was in a different headspace,’ but right now that is how I go.”Changing the script
While Powers contemplates the European racing scene, there is an outlier in the upcoming season, CrossVegas. The race under the lights in the Entertainment Capital of the World, will turn the tables, and for only the second time in Powers’ career, give him the home course advantage. The Europeans will deal with the struggles of competing in a foreign place — aside from those who were at Louisville worlds in 2013, many have never raced in America, unlike Powers who is in Europe year-in, year-out.
Despite the confidence that comes with a World Cup on home soil and the flexibility in his schedule, Powers comes into the season unsure of how he will perform, having completely reworked his off-season regimen.
Powers brought in Robby Ketchell, sports scientist and data analytics expert currently working with Team Sky, and together they mapped out a revamped offseason. “I would say I changed things more than 50 percent, so that’s a lot,” Powers said.
“I did a lot more core and strength work, and I feel that has definitely paid off. Between that and the diet changes I have made, I feel I am in such a better mental place than I had been in the past.” The New England native will come into this year the heaviest he has been in a while, but not due to too many desserts in the off-season. His summer plan included increased gym work resulting in three new pounds of pure muscle.
“I would say if you are not changing things up then you are staying the same,” Powers said. “I could totally lose every single race, and I might not win a single race this year.
“My point is that if I didn’t change things up, then I would never know, and it’s kind of my little journey here to keep pushing myself.”
Powers heads into the unknown this year, having reshaped his body and training plan, and tackling a tougher European schedule. The sacrifices have been made and will be made, but Powers won’t know the pay-off until the light turns green in Las Vegas.
Dan Martin will hop over to the Etixx-Quick-Step squad for next season. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Dan Martin has signed a two-year contract with Etixx-Quick-Step that will begin next season, it was announced Friday.
Martin, who has ridden professionally for the Slipstream franchise since he began his career in 2008, specializes in both one-day and stage races.
The 29-year-old’s Martin’s best grand tour result is a seventh place in the 2014 Vuelta a Espana. As of Friday morning, Martin was third in the current Vuelta.
“The arrival of Dan Martin is an important moment for the team,” Etixx-Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere said. “He’s a guy who was able in the past to win one-day races, but also stage races. He has also been a GC contender at grand tours during his career. He is now 29 years old, so he is at the peak of his career. He had an unlucky 2015 early season, but it is clear in his most recent performances, even at La Vuelta, that he has a lot of spirit.
“For the team this is also a key addition because Martin can be a presence in the Ardennes Classics, alongside young French rider Julian Alaphilippe. His contributions can be two-fold for Julian. Julian can learn a lot from a seasoned veteran like him. At the same time, Martin is a guy who has proven he can win at the Ardennes. So the peloton respects his presence as a contender, and this alleviates some pressure for Julian. This can be a bit of an Ardennes ‘dynamic duo.’ Martin is a complete rider who is able to perform well in stage races, one-day-races, and grand tours, and we are excited to see what he can do with an Etixx – Quick-Step jersey on his back for the next two years.”
Martin, who won the 2013 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the 2014 Giro di Lombardia, said he’d like to take his career to the “next step.”
“I’m really excited to join the team, which has been a point of reference in cycling for years,” Martin said. “I hope to be able to take the next step in my career with Etixx-Quick-Step. I would like to improve even more and establish consistency with my performances. I think I am entering an important moment of my career at my age. I feel I am stronger than ever, mentally and physically. Of course my season will be built around the Ardennes Classics, where I can join forces with Alaphilippe. I hope to teach him some things and help him to evolve as a rider, while playing protagonist when I have the opportunity.
“I also would like to do well in the stage races, and maybe try again once in a grand tour for a good classification. I think I have potential to be a factor in the grand tours, whether it be stage hunting or in the overall classification. I am motivated to add to my top career performances, while proudly wearing the team colors of Etixx-Quick-Step for the next two years.”
Dan Martin was 33 seconds out of first place entering Friday's Vuelta stage 7. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
SEVILLE, Spain (VN) — Dan Martin warmed down outside the Cannondale-Garmin bus following the fifth stage of the Vuelta a España not knowing what is next. The overall or stage wins, or both?
Martin already finished seventh overall in the Vuelta a España last year and won a stage in 2011. He also won a stage in the 2013 Tour de France. Riding among the top 3, though, remains unchartered territory.
“What am I doing here? I’m on holiday!” Martin said with a laugh, sweat rolling down his face after the stage in 100-degree heat.
“I don’t really know right now. My form’s excellent, I feel good on my bike, but this late in the season after the Tour … There’s always a risk the wheels are going to fall off, especially how hard the second week is in the Vuelta.”
Martin finished stage 5 in fourth place at 25 seconds behind leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). On Thursday, he lost eight seconds but ended the day third overall, 33 ticks behind leader Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge).
The Vuelta has its first high-mountain finish Friday, with La Alpujarra at 1,565 meters above sea level. The second week features more of the same. The third week, before the race closes in Madrid on September 13, includes a 40-kilometer time trial in Burgos.
“All we need is one bad day here and we can lose 10 minutes,” Martin said while still spinning. “We are going to give it everything every day and see how long we can hold on to the top five.”
The green and black Cannondale team also began the Vuelta with Andrew Talansky as co-leader, but he lost a significant amount of time this week and was 16:25 back entering stage 7.
The Irishman born in England believes Talansky is “struggling a bit,” but that he could return strongly. If he does not, Martin explained that Talansky will help him for the overall.
“We didn’t race since the Tour [de France] so these first few days are hard, getting the speed in my legs again,” added Martin. “It was a shock, but every day is getting better.”
Martin, however, has yet to clarify his goals.
“I just need to get through a grand tour without a setback. I seem to have a way of compromising myself at some point,” he said.
“I never got through a whole grand tour without one setback. Even last year, I crashed and badly hurt my leg, and was on mega-strong antibiotics to prevent a bone infection. That’s why my performance went down.
“At the Tour, I seem to get sick every year in July. I’d love to get through a grand tour in good form. Maybe this is my year. I’ve always been knocking on the door.”
Martin has a better one-day record, with two monument wins in Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2013) and the Giro di Lombardia (2014). It was announced Friday that he’ll ride for Etixx-Quick-Step starting next season, with a focus on everything from the Ardennes classics to stage races and grand tours.
For now, Martin has to focus on the Vuelta. With a laugh, he said, “You made me warm down for more than I wanted!”
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Peter Stetina (BMC) surprised even himself by finishing a very tough Tour of Utah, exceeding expectations of possibly lasting four stages. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
After a long recover from a traumatic injury this spring, Peter Stetina is on the mend, and he’s capped off two successful weeks of racing in Utah and Colorado by signing with Trek Factory Racing for 2016.
The 28-year-old American joins the team to support the squad’s stage race leaders, such as newly signed Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who he raced with during his stint on the Garmin team. Stetina will also focus on the week-long races in North America, such as the Amgen Tour of California.
“I’m stoked about this,” said Stetina. “It’s a good move for me, I think. Because of my injury, my position on the transfer market was a bit different. Teams don’t want ‘damaged goods,’ you know. But Luca [Guercilena] has been in close contact with me all along the recovery. He was very supportive.”
Stetina fractured his right tibia, patella, and five ribs in a crash at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in April. He made one of the fastest recoveries on record to come back at the Tour of Utah and went on to support his BMC team’s overall success at the USA Pro Challenge last week.
“Peter has been through a rough time these past months,” Guercilena said. “We want to give him the opportunity to come back to the highest level of racing and show his capacity. We want to support him to reach his best possible level.”
Though Stetina didn’t light up the Tour of Utah or the USA Pro Challenge, he exceeded expectations in the two climbing-heavy American stage races. “I started the Tour of Utah on just three weeks of training,” he said. “The suffering on the bike didn’t hurt so much, and I finished with some really good sensations. A lot of people are asking me if I think I can come back to my old level. I believe I can, and TFR is the right program to make the next step towards a full recovery.”
Vincenzo Nibali has to stay on the sidelines until the Vuelta ends. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
The Vuelta a España might be over for Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), but the troubled Italian won’t be able to race again until the race is over.
UCI officials confirmed that Nibali, who was ejected from the Vuelta for taking an illegal tow after crashing in stage 2, will not be able to resume racing until the conclusion of the Spanish grand tour on September 13.
“Pursuant to article 12.1.023 of the UCI Regulations, Vincenzo Nibali is not allowed to return to racing during the Vuelta a España,” the UCI wrote in an e-mail. “However, he can return anytime after the event.”
The rule states that any rider eliminated from a stage race cannot compete “in any other competition for the duration of the race for which he was penalized.” If a rider does race, he faces an additional 15-day ban and fines up to 1,000 Swiss francs.
That rule means Nibali will remain on the sidelines into mid-September, dashing his hopes of putting some more racing miles into his legs before late-season goals at the Giro di Lombardia or the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia, set for September 20-27.
Nibali had considered competing in such races as GP Fourmies on September 6 and the pair of one-day UCI WorldTour events in Canada on September 11 and 13. Nibali would be free to race in the world championships, but that is up to Italian national coach Davide Cassani.
In light of the rules, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Nibali will return to competition for Coppa Agostoni on September 16 and Coppa Bernocchi on September 17.
Riders have been known to pull out of stage races before it’s over and start another event, but that is done with the mutual agreement between race organizers and the UCI. Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step), for example, exited the Giro d’Italia after two weeks and raced the Baloise Belgium Tour in late May.
Markel Irizar (Trek Factory Racing) rode a bike with Shimano disc brakes during Vuelta stage 6. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Markel Irizar (Trek Factory Racing) served as a test pilot Thursday at the Vuelta a España when he rode Shimano’s prototype disc-brake system through the heat and hills of southern Spain.
The veteran Spanish rider said he was impressed with the braking consistency, but echoed concerns among many top pros that the exposed disc plate could present a danger in the peloton’s inevitable high-speed crashes.
“The fear is that they will be like knives, and no one wants knives in the peloton,” Irizar told TVE after stage 6. “If we can cover the disc, and avoid this worry of cuts and burns when the brake heats up, I think people will really like it.”
Earlier this year, the UCI green-lit plans to test disc brakes during competition in August and September, with testing continuing through next season, with the idea that they could be introduced into the elite peloton by 2017. Shimano road-tested the brakes at the Eneco Tour earlier this month, but Thursday marked the first time they were used in a grand tour.
Disc brakes are commonplace in mountain biking and cyclocross, but the road scene has been slower to adapt them for several reasons, including weight (they can be up to 400 grams heavier) and speed of wheel change.
Irizar said the brakes would be ideal for the spring classics, when mud and rain often clog the roadways across France and Belgium.
“It will really help on rainy days,” Irizar said. “Maybe they’re not ideal for every stage, but in the classics, when there is a lot of mud and rain, and when braking is very important, but maybe not on a stage in the Tour de France, when weight really matters.”
Among the pros, however, their biggest concern seems to be that the metal braking plates could prove dangerous, causing burns or even cuts in crashes and pileups. Former world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) echoed those concerns earlier this season.
“If you land on a disc brake, it’s warm, it can open you up. If you get it on a vein … boof,” Gilbert said. “I am worried about the security. It’s not the same as a chainring. I would be more scared about a disc brake.”
Some argue that danger is exaggerated, and that chainrings present an equal or perhaps larger risk than disc brakes would in crashes.
Another worry Gilbert raised is braking distance between disc brakes and existing brakes, and that two braking systems within the bunch could be a recipe for disaster as the peloton winds through narrow roads at 55kph.
“You need to have everyone ready at the same time, because you could not have some on disc brakes and others not,” Gilbert said during a team camp ahead of the 2015 season. “The braking distance on a disc brake might be 10 meters, and on other brakes, 20 meters. With 17 WorldTour teams, and the Professional Continental teams, do you think everyone could be ready at the same time?”
Shimano has been testing its road disc braking system since August, but Thursday marked the first time they were tested in a grand tour. Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) also rode the disc brake during Thursday’s stage, and they will be tested again in Saturday’s hilly eighth stage into Murcia.
Irizar seemed impressed, and believes disc brakes will be the preferred system within the peloton.
“It’s the same thing when the electronic shifting came out. There were a lot of detractors, but now everyone loves it,” he said. “I think after solving these little details, disc brakes will be the future.
“I already tried it in the Eneco Tour, but with cooler temperatures on a flat stage, and Shimano wanted to test it during a hot day, with a stage with some descents,” he explained. “The truth is the braking is a lot better. You can brake all the way. The worry was that it would freeze up, but it’s very progressive. With the data we have from [Thursday] and from the next stage, we’ll start working on it for the future. The idea is that Trek will build a bike especially for the disc brake.”
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Bont Vaypor lace-up shoes. Photo: Caley Fretz |VeloNews.com
VeloNews editor in chief John Bradley and associate editor Caley Fretz are back for the final day of Eurobike, the world’s largest cycling tradeshow. With flights booked for Friday evening, they’re scurrying to grab a final batch tech from the show floor. This page will be updated throughout the day with the gear, gossip, and scenes from the show floor they dig up, so check back often.