PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : EuroTrash Double Kittel Monday!

EuroTrash Double Kittel Monday!
This must be the fullest EuroTrash bag ever with racing going on all over the place! The Giro d’Italia has had its three stages in Ireland. Plus: the Tour of California Kicks offf and 4 Jours de Dunkerque, Tour d’Azerbaïdjan and the The Women’s Tour all finished. As always we have all the results, comments, reports and video. A very big coffee today.

TOP STORY: The Irish Giro!
The ‘Top Story’ of the weekend has to be the success the Giro d’Italia made of its three Irish stages. The crowds came out in terrible conditions to watch the biggest bike race to ever visit Northern Ireland. Of course the Tour de France came to the South and started in Dublin in 1998, but that Tour start leaves a bad taste in the mouth (Festina). So apart from the early departure of ‘local’ hero Dan Martin it was an overall success. The Yorkshire stages of the Tour de France are looking to be just as good.

Lets hope we see more sprinting action like this:

Giro d’Italia 2014
Stage 1 of the 2014 Giro d’Italia was a great day for the city of Belfast with thousands of fans lining the wet streets. It was also a good day for Canada as birthday boy Svein Tuft took the first pink jersey due to the his Orica-GreenEDGE team pounding round the course in a time of 24:42 for the 21.7 kilometres, 5seconds faster than World TTT champions Omega Pharma – Quick-Step. It wasn’t such a good day for Garmin-Sharp as they crashed ruining the hopes of Dan Martin who ended his day in hospital.

After the stage, Svein Tuft spoke to the press: “We came into this stage with huge expectations. Our line-up is designed around the team time trial with Durbridge, Hepburn, Lancaster, Meyer, and so on. Our director sportif Matt White said that, if we’re on a good one, Svein goes across the line first. It’s a dream come true for a guy like me, a once in a lifetime experience, and I’m thankful to the team. The wind was never coming from one area. It was always blustering, so it made for a difficult time for a 9-man group on narrow roads. You could never be overlapping wheels. As we saw with Garmin, one little mistake and you really pay. We are well drilled for this kind of stage, but anyone who was on a good time today also had some luck.

As to the crowd in Belfast: It was truly impressive. I never expected to see that kind of crowd, 4 or 5 deep along the entire course, screaming and shouting. I’m never thought people would be so into it. Anytime you have crowds on a climb and you can feel that kind of energy, it’s really special. It pushes you to the next level. There are some difficult stages coming with the wind and the exposure on the coast. We have a super-fast man in Michael Matthews, so our objective is to look after him and continue the success of the past weeks.”

Orica-GreenEDGE DS Matt White: “I didn’t want to say anything about it before the race, but Svein was always our guy,” said White. “The ethos of this team is you get what you give. Svein has been part of all our great time trial results, and I think it’s only fitting that the guy who’s been the lynch pin of so many big moments gets the limelight for at least one day.”

The BMC Racing Team finished seven seconds off ORICA-GreenEDGE's winning time in the 21.7-kilometer race through damp streets of Northern Ireland for 3rd place. "We've started in a good way," Evans said. "I think we had the legs to do more. But in these conditions, we were a little bit unlucky with Brent Bookwalter's crash and Ben Hermans's puncture. It took a little bit of power away from us. But I think we rode well to get the results that we got. Compliments to the guys for that."

Evans and five of his teammates powered across the line in 24:49 for a 52 kph average. Omega Pharma-Quick Step, which started immediately after the BMC Racing Team, was two seconds quicker to take runner-up honours. "For the general classification, I think our result is quite promising," Evans said. "We have already made some time gains to some of the favourites and that is really favourable for the overall."

Bookwalter, who was runner-up in the Stage 1 individual time trial in his last Giro appearance in 2010, crashed during the team's pre-race reconnaissance ride. But he was not seriously hurt. "The rider in front of me shielded my vision from an orange construction cone and I just ran straight into it," Bookwalter said. "Fortunately, we were going pretty slowly and I had a lot of clothes on. So that absorbed most of the damage."

Tinkoff-Saxo finished 4th, road captain, Michael Rogers said: “We’re happy with our performance. Compared to the other GC riders, we made sure that Nico and Majka are now in a great GC position from the start of the race. The next few stages will be tricky and we have to stay alert as the wind conditions may have an influence on the finale. But we have had some time to get a close advance look at the stages and we’re well-prepared. On a personal note, I truly enjoy being back in the peloton. During the months away from racing I came to realize how blessed I am to be a professional rider and this is what I want to do. I haven’t missed a single day of training and I'm looking forward to supporting our captains here.”

And what of Garmin-Sharp and Dan Martin: Four Garmin-Sharp riders hit the ground: Andre Cardoso, Koldo Fernandez, Nathan Haas, and team co-leader Dan Martin all sustained injuries of varying degrees. Dan Martin was transported immediately from the site of the crash to a local hospital for evaluation where doctors confirmed a broken clavicle. He continues to be evaluated for additional injuries. Koldo Fernandez fought to the finish but was transported to a local hospital where doctors confirmed a broken clavicle. Andre Cardoso and Nathan Haas suffered contusions and abrasions.

Charly Wegelius, Director Sportif: “Today was a tough day and means a change in strategy for the team. We came in with two leaders, Dan and Ryder, and a strong team built to support them and give us options throughout the race. We still have a strong team and we have Ryder, who’s already won here. It’s heartbreak for Dan in particular, we all know how much this meant to him, but that gives us motivation. We’ll keep fighting forward. These guys are not just teammates, they are good friends and we’ll all use this as motivation for the next three weeks to shake up the race and create opportunities for ourselves. For the team to wait for Dan, for the whole team and the injured that were able to do so - to pick themselves up and press on - shows true courage and character and that’s what we will continue to do here.”

2012 Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp): “You never want to see something like this happen. Right now, I’m just concerned for my teammates, Koldo and Dan, and I’m especially sad for Dan. I know how much it meant to him to be racing here, and how much this race meant to him. But with that comes motivation for the rest of the guys here. We will regroup and refocus – we have a strong team here and we’re fighters. We will look for opportunities for the rest of the race and do everything we can to make Dan and Koldo proud. We may be down, but don’t count us out. These are moments that we will use as motivation to push us forward.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 1 Result:
1. Orica-GreenEDGE in 24:42
2. Omega Pharma - Quick-Step at 0:05
3. BMC at 0:07
4. Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:23
5. Sky at 0:35
6. Astana at 0:38
7. Cannondale at 0:53
8. Movistar at 0:55
9. Giant-Shimano at 0:56
10. Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:58
22. Garmin-Sharp at 3:26

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 1:
1. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEDGE in 25:42
2. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
3. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEDGE
4. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
6. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica-GreenEDGE
7. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step at 0:05
8. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
9. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
10. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step.

Stage 1 highlights:

At the end of Stage 2 Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) flew into Belfast for his first win in the Giro d’Italia to give him a stage win in all three Grand Tours. The day was wet and cold but the welcome from the people of Northern Ireland made up the less than perfect conditions. A break of four riders: Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin), Jeffry Johan Romero Corredor (Colombia), Sander Armee (Lotto Belisol) and Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) stayed away until 3 kilometres to go and shared out the mountains and sprint points. The complete bunch hit the last bend with 300 metres to go and had their sprinter Nacer Bouhanni on the front. This was no problem for Kittel as he passed the Frenchman and easily crossed the line in 1st place.

The new overall leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE): “We came here with a team for the TTT, a discipline we are very good at. The plan was always to give Svein the pink jersey for all the hard work he does, and then for me to try to get the pink jersey and keep it as long as possible. You never know - things can easily go wrong - but we performed well in the team time trial yesterday and put a big gap into the teams behind us, and we’ll definitely do everything we can to defend it. I think we can keep the Maglia Rosa for a week. I won the Under-23 World Champion’s jersey in Australia in front of my own crowd, and to wear this pink jersey now, in my first Giro d’Italia, is pretty incredible. It’s a dream come true. [Marcel Kittel] is definitely the fastest guy in the bunch. Whether it’s warm or cold, he’ll be there in the sprints. I’ll try to be around him, try and run 2nd or 3rd to him each time, and conserve energy for stages 5 and 6, which are the ones that best suit me. They are my real goals for the Giro this year.”

Stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano): “We saw today that Bouhanni and Viviani are strong, and will challenge me in the coming stages. If you start getting arrogant and thinking that they are easy to beat, you have a problem, because it’s not like that: its hard work and you have to keep focused. I’ve now won stages in all three Grand Tours, and I’m really proud of it. It has been a nice goal, and it’s great to achieve it. I’m especially proud to have team-mates around me who have accompanied me in winning stages in all three Grand Tours. That makes it even better. The first thing that comes to mind is rain. The second is the amazing atmosphere. Even with all the rain, there were people in shorts and t-shirts, cheering for us at the roadside. I don’t know how they do it, but it was wonderful. I felt really happy, even on the wet roads. Another win would be great, but I don’t know if I’ll get any presents! I’ll take the same approach as I did today, I’ll concentrate on the sprint, and we will see what happens.”

Belkin’s Tjallingii (Belkin) rode into the day's main breakaway, and then scored climber's points to secure the prestigious climber's jersey. "There are not many chances to be in breakaways in this Giro, so I wanted to try today. I felt I was in control of the group, and when I won the first points sprint, I wanted to go for the second one. I got the jersey, and I am satisfied because I think I got the most out of the day's effort," Tjallingii said. "Tomorrow there will be another chance for a breakaway, so maybe I can get in the group and defend the jersey."

5th was Lampre-Merida’s Roberto Ferrari: "My team supported me properly during the stage. In the last kilometres I succeeded to be in a good position, so I could approach the final bend in the head places,” Ferrari explained. “In that moment, I thought too much of the wet road, so I was not as fiercely resolute as was necessary. At the end of the bend, I tried to raise the speed, but I missed the chance to fight for a better result. My compliments to Kittel, today he was too strong."

Break away rider Sander Armée (Lotto Belisol): "This morning some riders were selected to join breakaways, I was one of them. Immediately after the start Kenny Dehaes had tried to escape, but that group didn't get any space. After three kilometres and at the second attempt it was successful. The gap soon increased up to five minutes, then it went over seven minutes, but the peloton kept control. Although I didn't think about that too much during the stage."

"Along the way points for the mountain jersey could be earned, but the climbs weren't really hard; Tjallingii turned out to be the strongest and the fastest. The cooperation went well, everyone did his part of the work and eventually we stayed ahead for a long while. Tjallingii jumped away with ten kilometres to go and survived the longest. Fedi and I got caught with five kilometres to go."

"I will try to attack again later in the Giro; in other stages I will ride for Maxime Monfort. Your body feels such a breakaway of 210 kilometres in such weather conditions, but because of the transfer to Italy we already have a rest day on Monday. The sports direction has challenged the riders to race offensively this Giro and that was the case today."

Cadel Evans (BMC) finished 56th and three seconds off the winning time, as there was a split in the peloton after 20th place. "It was quite a long stage to have in the rain and it was quite cold," Evans said. "The goal for us today was to stay safe. It takes good work by the team to stay out of trouble and arrive safely. We have a really good team here and the result in the time trial was the first sign of that."

Brent Bookwalter, who crashed Friday during reconnaissance of the team time trial course, said he struggled with pain in his right knee throughout the five-hour race. "It was really, really bad at the start – even putting light pressure on the pedals," he said. "So it was a little demoralizing having that much pain this early in the race. There is still so much racing ahead." A stage winner at the Tour of Qatar last year and silver medallist in the U.S. national time trial and road race, Bookwalter said Monday's rest day for the transfer to Italy should provide some respite. "It definitely gives me hope that my body can get on top of the pain and soreness and come back good in the rest of the first week," he said.

Giro d’Italia Stage 2 Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 5:13:12
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
4. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
7. Ben Swift (GB) Sky
8. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
9. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale
10. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 2:
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE in 5:37:54
2. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:03
3. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEDGE
4. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
5. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEDGE
6. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
7. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step at 0:08
8. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
9. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
10. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step.

Stage 2:

Five riders formed today’s breakaway in Giro d’Italia’s 187 kilometre long Stage 3 from Armagh to Dublin but everyone expected another bunch sprint decision. The stage was dominated by a fierce headwind and the escapees including Miguel Rubiano (Colombia), Giorgio Cecchinel (Neri Sottoli), Yonder Godoy (Androni), Gert Dockx (Lotto Belisol) and Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin) were only given a short leash.

With 15 kilometres to go, the gap was down to 30 seconds, but the race came back together in the final kilometres. In the fast, technical run in to the finish, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) lost his teammates and had to take the final kilometre on his own. Jumping out of about seventh wheel after the final corner, he came through in the closing metres to snatch victory from under the nose of the other sprinters; a perfect way to celebrate his 26th birthday.

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE): What does he think of Kittel?: “He’s pretty incredible on the flat stages. He’s shown that he’s the fastest man in the world. With form that he has, and the lead out that he has, yeah, he’s pretty unbeatable. I but I think when it starts to get a bit hilly, it’ll take some of his top-end power off him and someone like me might be able to have a go.”

Wearing the Maglia Rosa today: “It was incredible. I was thankful that the weather was pretty much OK at the start, and I could wear my long sleeve jersey and show off my pink jersey and pink bike. Everyone was shouting for me. I still can’t believe it after wearing it all day and I’ll be so happy to wear it in Italy the day after tomorrow. Winning stage one as a team, as opposed to an individual stage, brought the whole team spirit up. Then for Svein [Tuft] to wear the jersey yesterday and for me to wear it today, we showed that we’re keen to ride at the front and show ourselves. Some of the guys don’t really realise it’s really happening, as if this doesn’t happen to teams like ours. But it is happening, and we’re really living the dream at the moment.”

Career development: “My career [as a professional cyclist] started really well after winning the World Championships in Melbourne in 2010. I won my first stage in my first Pro Tour race, then I won 2 or 3 races in Europe, then I lost my way a little bit, because I was forgetting to focus on the small things, sleeping and eating right and doing everything down to the wire. In pro cycling, everyone’s at about the same level, so those 1 or 2 per cent extra are the difference between winning and losing. I’m doing those things now, and I’m getting the results.”

Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano): “We tried to do our sprint preparation pretty early today, which wasn’t a mistake because 2 km before the finish the road narrowed and we wanted to be in front. But just before one of the turns I lost Tom Veelers’ wheel, and afterwards it was one big line and I must have been about 30 riders from the back. I thought, ‘I cannot give up now.’ Fortunately, I was on the wheel of Bouhanni, who was probably thinking the same thing. I was still not in a good position at 3-400m, but I sprinted as hard as I could for much longer than I would normally do. It was almost an attack, not a sprint, and it took a lot of energy. That’s why I was on the ground after the stage, recovering.”

Still improving: “It’s always important for me in my development as a rider to see improvements. Sometimes it’s in finding a better position than the year before; sometimes it’s about improving the team, or taking another mental approach to handling the pressure and distress. There are plenty of things I can still improve, not only legs-wise. When you win, it doesn’t make the races that come afterwards any easier, because expectations grow and you have to find a way to deal with it. Last year, we learned a lot. We saw a lot of things that we did wrong. I think we are now on the right road. Our victories in recent weeks confirm that.”

German media: “I don’t think it’s true that Germany isn’t interested in cycling any more. The TV channels that broadcast the races in Hamburg and Frankfurt have very good audience figures, so it’s really not true that there is no interest. But it’s not really my job to make them come back. All I can do is win races and keep on telling them how we do it, and how we want transparency in cycling.”

Break away rider Gert Dockx (Lotto Belisol): "The team asked me to try to join a breakaway. With such a special start it's always nice to be in front. That way the team sat relatively relaxed in the back and I didn't have to be in the nervous peloton. I had a good feeling today. It was only my tenth day of competition since my crash in Dwars door Drenthe. With the next stages in mind it wasn't bad to get some race rhythm. It can only make me stronger. My task for the next weeks? I mainly have the task to support our leader Maxime Monfort and to get him to the crucial points in a comfortable way. Apart from that I definitely want to try to join another break. If I can be part of a front group you never know where it may end."

Cadel Evans (BMC) finished 53rd, 11 seconds back of the winning time, as a split in the peloton occurred after the 32nd rider. With the first of three rest days ahead on Monday, Evans sits 14th overall, 21 seconds off the lead. "Overall, I am happy to get through Ireland without any big problems," Evans said. "We lost a couple seconds in the final in the past two days, which is a little bit unusual. But the way the finishes were, made it a little bit difficult to be safe and be in front. But that's the way it goes."

Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) had to change his pace and this caused him to give up fighting for the first places: "I was satisfied because thanks to my team mates I had saved energies during the stage and I was approaching the sprint in a proper way, pedalling just behind Kittel,” Ferrari explained. “When Kittel raised his speed, I was ready to follow him, but Bouhanni touched me twice, so I could not be just behind the German rider. These things sometimes happen when you're fighting for such an important goal as a Giro d'Italia stage; next time I'll try to find the best solution to avoid that this will happen to me again."

Giro d’Italia Stage 3 Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 4:28:43
2. Ben Swift (GB) Sky
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
4. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
7. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Edwin Alcibiades Avila Vanegas (Col) Colombia
9. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
10. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 3:
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE in 10:06:37
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step at 0:08
3. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC at 0:10
4. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:14
5. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica-GreenEDGE
6. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEDGE
7. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEDGE
8. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step at 0:19
9. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
10. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step.

Stage 3, Kittel No.2:

Amgen Tour of California 2014
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team tried their luck in the crosswinds, but the 193.3km 1st Stage of Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 was destined for a group arrival as the wind changed on Sunday with too many kilometres remaining. OPQS switched back to preparation for the bunch sprint, and Mark Cavendish was able to beat John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) by mere centimetres for the victory after the team took control of the front at the right time late in the race.

OPQS rider Tom Boonen became the Manx Missile's final lead-out man when Mark Renshaw suffered a mechanical with 11km remaining. Thanks to OPQS keeping the pace high in the final kilometres, Cavendish was in the top 6 or 7 positions going into the final stretch.

The British Champion launched off the wheel of Peter Sagan (Cannondale), and was able to catch up to Degenkolb, who launched from the front of the group. Moreno Hofland (Belkin) was 3rd.

Belgian based OPQS looked right at home in the California crosswinds. Boonen, Cavendish, Matteo Trentin, and Mark Renshaw helped split the field with a breakaway already up the road and less than 60 kilometres to go, which formed an approximate 18-rider echelon. The group was down to 15 and eventually caught with 22km to go. Boonen and Taylor Phinney (BMC) stayed off the front a bit longer, but decided to focus instead on the bunch sprint finale.

This is the 30th victory for OPQS, in three disciplines, in 2014. Cavendish continues his momentum from Presidential Tour of Turkey — his previous race about a week ago — where he won four stages.

"To be fair, I won Milano - Sanremo by 10 centimetres before," Cavendish said. "I've lost a sprint in the Giro d'Italia by three centimetres. Both of those, I knew the outcome. This is the first time in my career I really had no idea. I had to wait a little bit until they confirmed. So, I'm super happy. It was hard, that line was coming up too fast, and John was strong today. But my Omega Pharma - Quick-Step teammates did a perfect job to keep me up there. There were a lot of trains vying for position. We knew it was going to be windy, but to be honest the wind changed direction on the way back. We thought it was going to be a crosswind in the last 20 miles on the main road on the way to Sacramento. We sensed the move that split the group. Omega Pharma - Quick-Step is a Belgian team. We felt the crosswinds, knew the split was going to happen, and we just went straight to the front. It split and we were there. We were well represented with four guys. But then we turned right and it was a headwind. That's when we thought it was going to be a crosswind. If you've got a small group, that much distance, and a headwind, you're never going to stay away. We sat up and didn't deplete our energy any further. I could feel the work we did earlier in my sprint and I could see it in the guys setting up for the sprint. But they still kept me up there and led me out perfectly. We gave a good show for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step and we got the best result from our effort. I'm really proud of what we did today."

Moreno Hofland (Belkin) sprinted with the best on Sunday, taking third place in a photo finish on the first stage. Hofland was very active in the final kilometres of the stage. Lars Boom and the rest of the Belkin squad rode valiantly, keeping the 22-year-old Dutchman in contention for the final dash. Other teams working for their sprinters, Degenkolb, Cavendish and Peter Sagan, but Hofland kept his cool, keenly coming off Sagan's wheel in the frenetic final meters, relegating the Slovakian to fourth place.

"It was a war zone from the start. Everybody was nervous, but I felt really good today and, when Team Sky and Omega Pharma - Quick-Step attacked in the crosswinds, I was at the front," Hofland said. "But I didn’t spend too much energy there. In the final, Lars helped me and set me off at the front. I’m very happy with my third place today. It’s a nice present for our sponsor Belkin."

Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step in 4:44:17
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano
3. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
5. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek
6. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Cannondale
7. Eric Young (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
8. Matthew Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEDGE
9. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC
10. John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare.

Amgen Tour of California Overall After Stage 1:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step in 4:44:07
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:04
3. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin at 0:06
4. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Bissell Development
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 0:10
6. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek
7. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Cannondale
8. Eric Young (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
9. Matthew Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
10. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC.

Stage 1 in California:

4 Jours de Dunkerque/Tour du Nord-pas-de-Calais 2014
Thursday’s 166 kilometre long Stage 2 of the 4 days of Dunkerque from Hazebrouck to Orchies offered another stretch of brutal cross and headwind sections mixed with occasional cobbles and daylong rain, which combined constantly stirred up the peloton and broke it to pieces.

Tinkoff-Saxo Italian rider, Manuele Boaro has a thing for these kinds of circumstances and he launched an attack and participated in today’s big breakaway chasing a front trio along with race leader, Arnaud Demare ( Entering the final 30 kilometres of the stage, a bigger group bridged the gap from behind while two riders tried to squeeze the last bit of energy by prolonging the break with a few kilometres. But had the situation under control until the group thundered in on the final cobblestone section.

Here, Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) leapt up the road in a dedicated move and bridged the gap to the front duo but soon after, closed it down again and the lead group was back together. Behind, another chase group was fighting intensely to catch up and going under the red kite, it all back together. In a furious bunch sprint, Arnaud Demare ( opened early with 300 meters to go and won superbly by several bike lengths.

Tinkoff-Saxo DS Tristan Hoffman: "It was really Flandrian today with cobbles, rain and immense cross winds. There were piles of crashes on the road throughout the entire day and if you're not in the front of the race, it's simply hell. But if you have good legs and manage to stay in front of the pack, you can really make a huge difference and I'm happy to see that Michael (Valgren) was showing excellent condition today and is now among the ten best in the pack. That means we have a good chance of doing a good GC if he can keep it up."

4 Jours de Dunkerque Stage 2 Result:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) in 4:01:09
2. Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Giant-Shimano
3. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Sascha Weber (Ger) Veranclassic-Doltcini
5. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:03
7. Alo Jakin (Est) BigMat-Auber 93
8. Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles
9. Steven Tronet (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93
10. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo.

4Jours de Dunkerque Overall After Stage 2:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) in 7:50:21
2. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:16
3. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:17
4. Yannick Martinez (Fra) Europcar at 0:21
5. Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles
6. Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:23
7. Steven Tronet (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93
8. Alo Jakin (Est) BigMat-Auber 93
9. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
10. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo.

Stage 2:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Danish national champion, Michael Mørkøv was very active during the 197 kilometre long Stage 3 of the 4 Days at Dunkerque where he first participated in the long-lasting breakaway with 9 other riders. The windy and slightly hilly course secured drama and suspense with two Tinkoff-Saxo riders as the main characters.

That meant, Arnaud Démare’s were forced to work hard in front of the pack in order to narrow the time gap while Tinkoff-Saxo Dane, Michael Valgren could sit patiently on the wheel of Démare. But with 30 kilometres to go, the gap was shaved down to only one minute and it looked like another textbook bunch sprint in the hands of Démare. On the penultimate climb, the front group split up but the speeding pack had the situation under control and waited to sweep up the last standing escapees as a final climb obviously required some extra power in the legs.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Valgren rode like a motor bike on the final climb where he jumped away with Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) with 13 kilometres to go and the gap opened significantly behind them as Démare was suffering. But from the top of the climb, it was all head wind towards the finish line and Démare was on his way back up to the front duo in a small chase group.

The tandem made it to the finish line where the experienced Chavanel took the stage win but Michael Valgren demonstrated his immense talent finishing second a few centimetres behind the Frenchman.

"Being a neo-pro, Michael (Valgren) showed class out there today. He didn't get in this position by being lucky. He created the situation by himself and was followed by one of the absolute strongest riders in the peloton and he was even just centimetres away from taking the stage as well. Now, he's third overall behind Démare and Chavanel, which means that their two teams have to take responsibility in the front of the pack while we can wait for the right moment to launch an attack," said a satisfied Tinkoff-Saxo DS.

4 Jours de Dunkerque Stage 3 Result:
1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling in 4:58:18
2. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
3. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:12
4. Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis
5. Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles
6. Arnaud Gérard (Fra) Bretagne Séché Environnement
7. Arnaud Demare (Fra)
8. Pierrick Fédrigo (Fra) at 0:14
9. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:40
10. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis.

4 Jours de Dunkerque Overall After Stage 3:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) in 12:48:51
2. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 0:02
3. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:05
4. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:21
5. Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles
6. Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis at 0:25
7. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:45
8. Yannick Martinez (Fra) Europcar at 0:49
9. Steven Tronet (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93 at 0:51
10. Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Stage 3:

The 188 kilometre long Stage 4 of the 4 Days of Dunkerque between Ardres and Licques was dominated by a breakaway of nine riders who had a gap of 9 minutes with 60 kilometres to go, the escapees were given a perfect opportunity of making it last.

Entering the final 30 kilometres, second overall, Silvain Chavanel ( took off in a surprise attack taking on the entire peloton while chasing the escapees 3 minutes up the road. Démare was forced to let his teammates work hard on the chase as merely a few seconds separated the two riders overall and Chavanel was brought back a few kilometres later.

From then on, it was an entertainingly messy finale with constant attacks from the front group and from the chasing bunch. Going solo from the front group was Thierry Hupond (Giant-Shimano) who won the stage. Only 20 seconds later, the group of favourites powered up the uphill finish and Arnaud Démare retained the overall lead before tomorrow’s final stage of the race.

Thierry Hupond (Giant-Shimano) soloed to victory: “It feels great to finally get a win for the team but it wasn’t expected in what was a strange race to be honest,” said Thierry after the stage. “When the big break had over 10-minutes it looked as if they might stay away and behind everyone was looking at each other but then the gap started to fall and the race started coming back together. I’ve been feeling good here in Dunkerque over the past few days and was still there with Nikias when the gap was dropping fast, while many of the GC riders were isolated. We took our chance and attacked together, bridging over to the front of the race. It is not only great to get my first win but also to get a one-two on a tough day like this. We timed it perfectly and it is a great feeling. Tomorrow is another day and another chance for the team so we will see how the race pans out and look to take our chances once again.”

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Valgren was in the mix with Chavanel and Démare and is still third overall- 6 seconds behind Démare: “The whole team worked impressively hard today and I’m really happy to see that Michael (Valgren) maintained his spot on the podium. In addition, we’ve been voted the most aggressive team in the race. It was a kind of a messy start as no one took responsibility in the beginning of the stage so we decided to move to the front and brought the gap down to 5.30 minutes. There was a lot of wind, which slowly wore down both the escapees and our guys in the front but Valgren rode another significantly wise stage and stayed with Démare. Tomorrow’s final stage is a tricky one and if it’s as windy as today, I expect attacks and our aim is to bring Valgren to the podium,” says DS, Tristan Hoffman.

4 Jours de Dunkerque Stage 4 Result:
1. Thierry Hupond (Fra) Giant-Shimano in 5:12:24
2. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:09
3. Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Europcar at 0:11
4. Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
5. Hugo Houle (Can) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:12
6. Rudy Kowalski (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole at 0:18
7. Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93 at 0:22
8. Arnaud Demare (Fra) at 0:31
9. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:32
10. Steven Tronet (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93.

4 Jours de Dunkerque Overall After Stage 4:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) in 18:01:46
2. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 0:06
3. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
4. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:22
5. Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles
6. Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis at 0:29
7. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:46
8. Yannick Martinez (Fra) Europcar at 0:50
9. Steven Tronet (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93 at 0:52
10. Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Stage 4:

Sunday’s 177 kilometre long Final Stage 5 of 4 Days at Dunkerque from Saint Pol sur Mer to Dunkerque was dominated by a long-lasting break, but the sprinter teams kept the time gap down and another raging sprint gallop seemed inevitable.

IAM Cycling and Giant-Shimano were looking for a stage win, so they joined forces at the front of the pack to reel in the escapees. But the front group riders were working tenaciously hard to make it last and it was a nerve-wrecking game of cat and mouse until the final kilometre. From the front group, Jimmy Engoulvement (Europcar) suddenly jumped away and soloed his way to the finish line and took the stage win.

Arnaud Démare ( held onto his overall lead of 30 seconds over IAM Cycling’s Sylvain Chavanel and Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Valgren finished in the bunch to celebrate third overall in his pro rookie season.

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Tristan Hoffman says: "We came here for a good GC result and I'm very happy about the outcome. Michael has really impressed everyone here with his strong riding and dedicated determination while the boys have done a fantastic job protecting him throughout the race. It wasn't easy with another long day of rain, wind and narrow roads but we made it and I'm sure Valgren can be very proud about this result in his first pro season."

4 Jours de Dunkerque Stage 5 Result:
1. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Europcar in 4:12:27
2. Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis at 0:07
3. Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:09
4. Wouter Mol (Ned) Veranclassic-Doltcini
5. Arnaud Demare (Fra) at 0:12
6. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling
7. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Giant-Shimano
8. Ralf Matzka (Ger) NetApp-Endura
9. Andreas Stauff (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
10. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Roubaix Lille Metropole.

4 Jours de Dunkerque Final Overall Result:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) in 22:14:25
2. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 0:06
3. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
4. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:22
5. Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles
6. Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis at 0:29
7. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:46
8. Yannick Martinez (Fra) Europcar at 0:50
9. Steven Tronet (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93 at 0:52
10. Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

The final stage 5:

Tour d’Azerbaïdjan 2014
Drapac Professional Cycling’s Will Clarke is the new leader of the Tour d’Azerbaïdjan following Stage 2 on Thursday where he finished runner up to Primoz Roglic (Adria Mobil).

Clarke had finished in 25th place on Stage 1, but on the same time as the winner, Kenny van Hummel (Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela). Today, Roglic and Clarke maintained their advantage as the remnants of the breakaway which punctuated the 187km stage, finishing nine seconds ahead of Rafael Andriato (Neri Sottoli) and 25 other chasers. The 29-year-old Australian now wears the blue leader’s jersey and takes a nine-second advantage into Friday’s third stage.

Strong 60km/h winds again played havoc with the peloton, with six echolons forming at the 40km mark. Only Clarke made the first split with Jack Anderson, Darren Lapthorne and Ben Johnson in the second group on the road. With 100km down, Anderson, Clarke and Lapthorne were among 43 riders were at the front of the race ahead of the second cat. 2 climb of the day. Clarke followed the move of Roglic, eventually joining forces to hold a lead of just over two minutes on the chase group. “With several climbs to do and a head wind it was a bit ambitious, but knowing Will that’s what he does best,” said Drapac Directeur Sportif, Agostino Giramondo.

Clarke said that it was a matter of the pair putting their head down. “We got a bit of a gap, gave full gas on the descent and then opened a bigger gap,” he explained. “We worked well together.”

The pair held on, with the peloton rounding the final bend just as Roglic and Clarke were about to cross the finish line in Ismayilli.

Friday sees a lumpy 180km stage from Qabala to Oguz and Sheki before returning to Oguz with Giramondo believing the team is well-placed to defend Clarke’s overall lead. “Darren Lapthorne is only a handful of seconds down so is also in with a chance tomorrow,” he said.

Lapthorne eventually finished in 14th place across the line, 13 seconds down on Roglic and Clarke. He is the next-best Drapac rider on GC in 11th place, 12 seconds in arrears of Clarke. “It’s going to be a hard day with a few climbs and given that Will has had a hard day today, he’s certainly going to feel it,” continued Giramondo. “We will do everything to try and hold the jersey tomorrow before we get to Saturday’s queen stage which finishes up a 22km climb.”

Clarke said he was looking forward to the challenge of defending his overall lead. “I’d like to hold on to the leader’s jersey as long as possible; hopefully I can recover well tonight so I have a lot of energy tomorrow to defend the jersey,” he explained.

Tour d’Azerbaïdjan Stage 2 Result:
1. Primož Roglic (Slo) Adria Mobil in 4:55:02
2. William Clarke (Aus) Dapac
3. Rafael Andriato (Bra) Neri Sottoli at 0:10
4. Matej Mugerli (Slo) Adria Mobil
5. Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss
6. Radoslav Rogina (Cro) Adria Mobil at 0:11
7. Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Giant-Shimano Dev
8. Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros Rga at 0:12
9. Klemen Stimulak (Slo) Adria Movil
10. Joel Zangerle (Lux) Leopard Development.

Tour d’Azerbaïdjan Overall After Stage 2:
1. William Clarke (Aus) Drapac in 8:41:41
2. Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss at 0:09
3. Matej Mugerli (Slo) Adria Movil
4. Radoslav Rogina (Cro) Adria Movil
5. Peio Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:11
6. Klemen Stimulak (Slo) Adria Movil
7. Joel Zangerle (Lux) Leopard Development
8. Ilnur Zakarin Rus) RusVelo
9. Andriy Vasylyuk (Ukr) Kolss
10. Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) La Pomme Marseille 13 at 0:12.

Stage 2:

Youcef Reguigui from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung made history on Friday when he won Stage 3 of the Tour d' Azerbaidjan. While this was Youcef Reguigui's first professional win personally, it is also the first ever professional win by an Algerian cyclist. Reguigui was able to out sprint Matej Mugerli (Adria Mobil) and Kristian Haugaard (Giant-Shimano Development) to take the victory today.

The early racing saw three riders escape at around the 30km mark. Adrian Honkisz (CCC Polsat), Ivan Stevic (Tusnad) and Thomas Vaubourziek (La Pomme Marseille) were the 3 riders that were able to open up 5'30" lead over the peloton. With 50km to go, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung along with a few other teams took up the chase. The break was reeled in with less than 10km to go after some sterling pacing by Johann van Zyl. It was then left to Linus Gerdemann to lead out Reguigui and the German did his job to perfection. Reguigui opened his sprint from 300m out and was able to win by 2 bike lengths in the end.

The win for Reguigui comes after the Algerian has had an extremely busy start to the season. Currently Reguigui has the most race days, 48, out of the entire professional cyclist's for the 2014 season. Before coming to Azerbaidjan, Reguigui was on duty in the Tour of Turkey where he led out team mate Kristian Sbaragli to no less than 5 top 10 placing’s. Today it was Reguigui's time to shine and despite the accumulative fatigue, the Algerian was still the fastest on the uphill sprint.

Stage winner Youcef Reguigui (MTN-Qhubeka): Today was hard because it was always up and down but my team was very good all day. They supported me well all stage and in the final the guys rode hard to bring back the break. Linus was very strong and he did a great job to lead me out in the last kilometre. I started my sprint a bit early but I knew the finish so I was able to win. This victory is very important to me because it is my first professional win so it is a good day for me but also for the team. It is also a good day for Algeria though because this is the first professional win for our country and I must thank Team MTN-Qhubeka on behalf of Algeria for giving us this opportunity. I think the people in Algeria will be happy with this win and I hope in some way this can open some doors or opportunities for the young cyclists in Algeria.

Overall leader William Clarke (Drapac) was just one of many relieved riders on Friday with the gale-force winds of the previous two days easing. “Today was relatively easy compared to the last few days,” said the 29-year-old Australian. “The team did a great job of looking after me and keeping me in the lead.” Saturday’s queen stage will no doubt be decisive in terms of the general classification with Clarke well aware he and his teammates will have a battle on their hands. “Tomorrow will be tough but I’m looking forward to it,” he explained. “I will be giving it everything to hang on.”

Tour d’Azerbaïdjan Stage 3 Result:
1. Youcef (Alg) MTN-Qhubeka in 4:14:20
2. Matej Mugerli Matoj (Slo) Adria Mobil
3. Kristian Haugaard (Den) Giant-Shimano Development
4. Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss
5. Shane Archbold (Nzl) An Post-Chain Reaction at 0:03
6. Luis Mas (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
8. Alex Kirsch (Lux) Leopard Development
9. Rafael Andriato (Bra) Neri Sottoli
10. Nicola Testi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli.

Tour d’Azerbaïdjan Overall After Stage 3:
1. William Clarke (Aus) Drapac in 12:56:03
2. Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss at 0:06
3. Matej Mugerli (Slo) Adria Movil
4. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:09
5. Radoslav Rogina (Cro) Adria Movil
6. Joel Zangerle (Lux) Leopard Development
7. Fredri Ludvigsson (Swe) Giant-Shimano Development at 0:10
8. Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) La Pomme Marseille 13
9. Lule Mas (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Esp) Torku Sekerspor.

Stage 3:

Linus Gerdemann (MTN-Qhubeka) topped his successful comeback to racing by winning Stage 4 of the Tour d'Azerbaidjan. The German won a two-man sprint against RusVelo's Ilnur Zakarin, with third place going to Vitaly Buts of Kolss. Gerdemann was able to come back from a late mechanical to win the stage. This is the 2nd win in as many days for the African Pro Continental team in Azerbaidjan after Youcef Reguigui won yesterdays stage 3. Gerdemann was able to out sprint Ilnur Zakarin (Rusvelo) at the top of the 22km HC finishing climb in Pirqulu to take an emphatic victory.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung showed real intent from early on in the stage when Jacques Janse van Rensburg was part of the first break that went away after just 5km of racing. Janse van Rensburg and his 5 break away companions would soon be joined by 10 other riders, including Reguigui and Gerdemann. The 16 riders formed a formidable lead group and quickly opened up a gap. Reguigui would soon drop to the peloton under team orders. As the climbing started this was the queue for Janse van Rensburg and Gerdemann to attack.

At the 55km point, the 2 MTN-Qhubeka riders jumped clear of the lead group taking 2 other riders with them. Gerdemann would attack again just before the top of the first of the three climbs that awaited them during the stage. The German rider had 20″ at the summit and decided to push on alone while Janse van Rensburg would start covering moves from behind.
Gerdemann lead the race solo over the penultimate climb and was only caught by Zakarin and Luis Mas (Caja Rural) just after the start of the final 22km climb. Mas would not be able to follow the pace for all that long up the climb and so it was down to just the 2 riders to contest the stage as the chasers, including Janse van Rensburg, were still 2 minutes back with the peloton a further 4 minutes behind.

With 5km to go we thought it was all over for Gerdemann as he had to stop with a broken spoke. Thankfully a quick wheel change and some amazing sportsmanship from Zakarin allowed Gerdemann to come back to the front of the race. The 2 leaders duelled it out to the line with Gerdemann marking his return to professional cycling by winning the 2 man sprint. Janse van Rensburg was able to hold on for 6th.

Stage winner Linus Gerdemann (MTN-Qhubeka): Today was quite a hard day. I may have gone on the attack a bit early in the stage but in the end it worked out well. Zakarin was very strong today and he showed good sportsmanship to wait for me after my mechanical. He really deserves to take the race lead. I’m really happy with my victory and also want to thank my team for all the support they gave me.

Overall leader Ilnur Zakarin (RusVelo): “Long before the race start we marked this stage as a decider: short and mountain-studded, it fully suited my characteristics. I had a good feeling all week, I even contested stage wins two times; yet the general standings remained top of the list of our priorities. The team protected me well and I came to this stage feeling reasonably fresh. Today everything went almost 100 per cent according to our plan. We have every reason to be happy with our performance, but final celebrations are still far off - there’s still a tricky stage to ride along the windy capital premises, then a couple of laps with a cobblestone ascent and a dangerous descent. As to the Tour of Azerbaijan which I ride for the first time – well, I never expected I’d have to fight with such a gale on a bike; but I like the organization and the level of competition, the roads are superb here too.”

Tour d’Azerbaïdjan Stage 4 Result:
1. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka in 2:59:04
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) RusVelo
3. Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss at 1:55
4. Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5. Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac at 1:57
6. Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 2:05
7. Sergiy Lagkuti (Ukr) Kolss at 2:08
8. Radoslav Rogina (Cro) Adria Mobil
9. Zhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Continental Team Astana
10. Alessio Taliani (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela at 2:11.

Tour d’Azerbaïdjan Overall After Stage 4:
1. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) RusVelo in 15:55:17
2. Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss at 1:52
3. Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:55
4. Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac at 1:57
5. Radoslav Rogina (Cro) Adria Mobil at 2:08
6. Sergiy Lagkuti (Ukr) Kolss
7. Robert Power (Aus) National Australian Team at 3:20
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Rad-Net Rose Team at 3:27
9. Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13 at 3:33
10. Matej Mugerli (Slo) Adria Mobil at 3:41.

Stage 4:

Justin Jules (La Pomme Marseille) won the Final Stage 5 of the Tour d'Azerbaidjan, while Ilnur Zakarin (RusVelo) won the overall title. Jules won the bunch sprint on Baku's Freedom Square ahead of Youcef Reguigui (MTN-Qhubeka) and Adrian Honkisz (CCC Polsat).

Zakarin successfully defended the leader's jersey he won on the previous day's Queen Stage. Vitaliy Buts (Kolss) and Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) rounded out the final podium.

It was the first win of the year for the 28-year-old Frenchman, who had placed 12th on the race's third stage. “The climbing on the laps was very difficult,” he said. “The selection today was done by the back of the race and not by the front.”

The King of the Mountains jersey went to Linus Gerdemann (MTN-Qhubeka), best young rider was Robert Power (National Team Australia), the sprint jersey was awarded to Vitaly Buts (Kolss), and MTN-Qhubeka was the best team overall. Samir Jabrayilov (Synergy Baku) was named the best Azeri rider.

“It was a very tough day and a hard circuit,” Zakarin said. “The team protected me in the stage and throughout the whole race. My first thanks go to my teammates who earned the victory.” He looked at this win as a portent of things to come. “If I can win here, then it means that I can win at the top international level.”

“The race was very well controlled by the RusVelo team,” Jules noted. “The climbing on the laps was very difficult. The selection today was done by the back of the race and not by the front of the race. My team protected me well. In a group like today with 20-40 people, I can expect to win.”

Gerdemann was pleased with the MTN-Qhubeka performance. “I think as a team we did a great race, we won 2 stages and were second today. We can be very happy with this race. I had not expected today's stage to be so hard.”

The German not only was part of the race's best team, but also took home the King of the Mountains title. “We prepared very well and came here in good form. The team took the race very seriously. I see this as a reward for the entire team as well for my own efforts.”

Power celebrated his 19th birthday by winning the best young rider title. “It means a lot to me because the team worked really hard this week. We hoped to get this jersey. It gives a bit back to my teammates who worked so hard. It's a good feeling.”

For a change, there was no wind at the start of the last stage in Baku. The riders gathered early for the 9 am start on what promised to be a very hot day. One team was no longer in the race: The China Huasen Cycling Team had been losing riders steadily, and had only one rider in Saturday's stage. He did not appear at the start for the finale.

This closing stage consisted of a 120 lap starting and ending at Freedom Square in Baku, and then six laps of a difficult circuit course through downtown Baku, including cobblestones and a category three climb – a short but steep climb up the cobbles of Old Town Baku.

The group stayed together for a long time, putting down a blazing pace of 55 km/h. Lots of riders tried to get away, but were unable to. A big crash at km 34 took Adria Mobil's Primoz Roglic.

But by the 40 km marker, three riders had managed to put 40 seconds on the field. David de la Fuente (Torku), Samir Jabrayilov (Synergy Baku) and Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme Marseille) were finally successful in establishing a break. Their gap climbed steadily up to 6 minutes, before dropping after they hit the turning point on their way back to the closing circuits in Baku.

De la Fuente won both intermediate sprints along the way. The gap narrowed, but stayed at 4:15 at the feeding zone (km 103).

The field circled back to Baku and the start/finish line, crossing it and setting out on the first of the city circuit laps with a 4:05 gap. Vaubourzeix led the head group across to win the third sprint of the day.

The peloton was strung out in single file, flying along. The pace was high enough that the first riders were dropped, and the gap dipped to under four minutes. In fact, it had fallen to 2:40 by the next time over the finish line.

Caja Rural led the chase, and a group of 12 tried to break out as the gap dropped to 1:30, and it stayed at 1:35 at the next crossing of the start/finish line. With four laps to go, Jabrayilov was dropped from the lead group, and a number of riders broke out to get to the front. The field was unwilling to let anyone else get away and the gap to the two leaders fell to around a minute.

About 45 riders were still in the field as they set out on the fourth lap, with the gap ranging from 50 seconds to 1:10. This time through the Old Town proved costly, as numerous riders punctured and Turku's Bekir Baki Akirsan crashed.

With two laps to go, Gianfranco Zilioli (Androni Giacattoli) and Klemen Stimulak (Adria Mobil) gave chase, and the gap from the two leaders back to the reduced field narrowed even more. They caught de la Fuente and Vaubourzeix with 26 km to go, and a gap of 40 seconds over the chasing field.

But Vaubourzeix was soon dropped, and the gap dropped, too. Zilioli too was dropped, with Luis Mas (Caja Rural) taking his place. The field continued to give vigorous chase, with Synergy Baku, Torku and CCC Polsat at the head of things.

With 18 km to go everyone had come together, with about a 40 man strong peloton heading out together on the bell lap. There were more attacks along the way, which were pulled back, with the field determined on the anticipated bunch sprint.

Finally the greatly reduced group of about 30 came around the final corner and dashed in to the finish, with Justin Jules of La Pomme Marseille taking the win.

Tour d’Azerbaïdjan Stage 5 Result:
1. Justin Jules (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13 in 4:41:07
2. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN-Qhubeka
3. Adrian Honkisz (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
4. Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss
5. Rafael Andriato (Bra) Neri Sottoli
6. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. Kristian Haugaard (Den) Giant-Shimano Development
8. Sergiy Lagkuti (Ukr) Kolss
9. Nicola Testi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
10. Shane Archbold (Nzl) AN Post-Chain Reaction.

Tour d’Azerbaïdjan Final Overall Result:
1. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) RusVelo in 20:36:24
2. Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Kolss at 1:52
3. Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac at 1:57
4. Radoslav Rogina (Cro) Adria Mobil at 2:08
5. Sergiy Lagkuti (Ukr) Kolss
6. Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 2:15
7. Robert Power (Aus) National Australian Team at 3:24
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Rad-Net Rose Team at 3:27
9. Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13 at 3:33
10. Matej Mugerli (Slo) Adria Mobil at 3:41.

The final stage 5:

The Women’s Tour 2014
Rossella Ratto (Estado de Mexico-Faren) won Stage 2 and took the overall lead on the longest stage of the race (118.5 kms) from Hinckley to Bedford. Ratto attacked on the first climb and was joined by Susanna Zorzi (Astana BePink) and the two worked hard to hold off the chase group behind. The chasers were brought home by Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) 6 seconds later. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) finished in the same group as Vos, but this was not good enough to hold on to the lead.

The Women’s Tour Stage 2 Result:
1. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren in 3:02:02
2. Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana Bepink
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Liv at 0:06
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) Netherlands
5. Lucy Garner (GB) Great Britain
6. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle Honda
7. Lizzie Armitstead (GB) Boels Dolmans
8. Aurore Verhoeven (Fra) Lointek
9. Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek
10. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec products.

The Women’s Tour Overall After Stage 2:
1. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren in 5:30:18
2. Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana Bepink at 0:05
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Liv at 0:06
4. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS at 0:07
5. Lizzie Armitstead (GB) Boels Dolmans at 0:14
6. Hannah Barnes (GB) UnitedHealthcare at 0:15
7. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans at 0:16
8. Elise Delzenne (Fra) Specialized Lululemon
9. Silvia Valsecchi (Ita) Astana Bepink
10. Lucy Garner (GB) Great Britain at 0:19.

Stage 2:

Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) came out on top in the sprint at the end of Stage 3 taking the win and overall. The World champion got the better of Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) who are normally better in the sprint. The short, but testing 87 kilometre stage from Felixstowe to Clacton-on-Sea was fast with numerous attacks due to the closeness of the top riders in the overall, during the stage the battle was on for the intermediate sprints for any bonus seconds available. All the attacks were neutralised by either Boels-Dolmans for GB national champ Lizzie Armistead or Rabo Liv for Vos. In the end Vos was the strongest.

The Women’s Tour Stage 3 Result:
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Liv in 2:11:05
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
3. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda
4. Lizzie Armitstead (GB) Boels-Dolmans
5. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren
6. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
7. Amy Pieters (Ned) Netherlands
8. Lucy Garner (GB) Great Britain
9. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels-Dolmans
10. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec products.

The Women’s Tour Stage 3 Result:
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Liv in 7:41:14
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS at 0:08
3. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren at 0:09
4. Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana Bepink at 0:14
5. Lizzie Armitstead (GB) Boels-Dolmans at 0:18
6. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda at 0:24
7. Hannah Barnes (GB) UnitedHealthcare
8. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 0:25
9. Elise Delzenne (Fra) Specialized Lululemon
10. Lucy Garner (GB) Great Britain at 0:28.

Stage 3:

Stage 4 saw Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv) win her second stage in a row at the end of the 87.8 kilometres between Cheshunt and Welwyn Garden City. The World champion also extended her lead over Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) to 19 seconds. After an early solo break by Ciara Horne (Great Britain) was brought back, Emma Pooley (Lotto Belisol) made a strong attack and was joined by Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabobank Liv), Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS), Chantal Blaak (Specialized-lululemon), Janel Holcomb (Optum) and Kasia Pawlowska (Boels-Dolmans) and they gained over a minute. Astana and Wiggle-Honda chased them down to catch them 8 kilometres out for Rabobank Liv to take over the bunch for Vos to outsprint Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) and Lucy Garner (Great Britain). Lizzie Armistead (Boels-Dolmans) unluckily punctured on the run in; she managed to regain the lead group, but couldn’t contest the sprint.

The Women’s Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank Liv in 2:13:09
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda
3. Lucy Garner (GB) Great Britain
4. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
5. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren
6. Lauren Hall (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
7. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
8. Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek
9. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-Lululemon
10. Lizzie Armitstead (GB) Boels-Dolmans.

The Women’s Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank Liv in 9:54:10
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS at 0:19
3. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren at 0:22
4. Lizzie Armitstead (GB) Boels-Dolmans at 0:30
5. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda at 0:31
6. Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana Bepink
7. Lucy Garner (GB) Great Britain at 0:37
8. Hannah Barnes (GB) UnitedHealthcare
9. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren at 0:41
10. Amy Pieters (Ned) Netherlands.

Stage 4:

Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv) won the Final Stage 5 and tied up the overall prize on Sunday on the 108 kilometres from Harwich and Bury St. Edmunds. The stage came down to a bunch sprint and just like the previous day Vos got the better of Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda). She also managed to lengthen her overall advantage on Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) to 30 seconds. Vos was also point’s winner, Sharon Laws (UnitedHealthcare) won the mountains jersey and 19 year old Lucy Garner (Great Britain) was best British rider.

The Woman’s Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank Liv in 2:48:10
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda
3. Amy Pieters (Ned) Netherlands
4. Hannah Barnes (GB) UnitedHealthcare
5. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
6. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren
7. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec products
8. Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek
9. Elise Delzenne (Fra) Specialized-Lululemon
10. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies.

The Woman’s Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank Liv in 12:42:07
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS at 0:30
3. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren at 0:35
4. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda at 0:38
5. Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana Bepink at 0:44
6. Amy Pieters (Ned) Netherlands at 0:50
7. Lucy Garner (GB) Great Britain
8. Hannah Barnes (GB) UnitedHealthcare
9. Lauren Hall (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 0:52
10. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren at 0:54.

Stage 5:

The Garmin-Sharp Crash!
The team time trial can be tricky, but for a team to lose half its riders and one of its co-leaders on the first stage is a hard fall to take. If you missed it here is how Dan Martin’s 2014 Giro hopes ended:


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