PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : EuroTrash Thursday!

EuroTrash Thursday!
Will Team Alonso ever exist? we look at the recent history. Loads of other cycling news: Tour de Wallonie, Toscana, Belkin, OPQS, plus previews of San Sebastian, Pologne and Giro d’Italia ‘15. All the usual comments, results and video and you can see the ‘Slaying the Badger’ film. EuroTrash coffee time.

TOP STORY: Alonso Team?
Tomorrow is the 1st of August and the riders can sign contracts with new teams, if they are out of contract with their present teams. Because of this rule; nothing official has been said by the proposed Alonso Team or by any of the riders who have been linked to the team, so maybe now we will know if the team will exist in 2015 or not. In an interview with Spanish sports newspaper AS; Alonso’s manager, Luis Garcia Abad has said that “there are still people working on the team," those were about his only encouraging words.

If you can remember a year ago; the Alonso team was going to be the saviour of Euskaltel, Spanish cycling and the World peloton, but it all fell through and many things were leaked to the press at the time. The Euskaltel team didn’t say much, but did release this statement:

"The steady false information and interested leaks to the media about the reason for the breakdown of negotiations between representatives of Euskaltel and Fernando Alonso, Euskaltel wish to communicate the following:

FALSE: Euskaltel has requested any financial compensation of any kind for the transfer. Moreover, Euskaltel had agreed to put money in the deal, not receive it.
FALSE: Euskaltel has strained negotiations in search of any kind of profit.
FALSE: That the cause of the break is the location of the headquarters.
FALSE. That the causes of the rupture are disagreements about the various tax implications of contracts in each province.
FALSE: That the Audit has been no exception or irregularity on BCPT society accounts, and therefore FALSE that they are not transparent and have been the cause of the breakdown in negotiations.
FALSE: That the cause of the break is that Euskaltel imposed hiring people or the acquisition of any asset or property."

In short, Euskaltel did not impose a single condition required to justify or to excuse breaking the initial agreement of August 31, and therefore it is false that Euskaltel put a single obstacle in the way of the achievement of an agreement. On August 31 (2013) they were informed of the tentative agreement with the representatives of Fernando Alonso for the purchase of equipment. As we know it all fell through.

Will the team ever get off the ground? On past experience maybe not, let’s hope it does. As you can read below; it looks like the Belkin team will be sponsored by the Dutch lottery next year, so it can be done.

Who is on the Alonso shopping list?
Stage-2  of the Dubai Tour 2014

header-wallonieTour de Wallonie 2014
Juanjo Lobato claimed his first win in Movistar colours on Stage 3 of the Tour de Wallonie on Monday. The 174km parcours from Somme-Leuze to Neufchâteau was hardened by seven rated climbs, but above all, by cold and rain which only the most resistant riders could combat.

The Movistar team was one of the most active in their will to break control by the strongest sprinters' squads. There were many attacks during the stage, but when Czech Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) was caught in the final kilometre, a swerve seemed to take the Lobato out of position, but with a strong rush on a slightly uphill finish he left all his rivals, including race leader Gianni Meersman (OPQS) by several bike lengths behind.

The Spaniard is now 2nd overall, 11 seconds behind Meersman, before two demanding stages.

Stage winner Juanjo Lobato (Movistar): "It was an incredible finish. It might seem looking at the gap against my rivals that it was easy, but not at all - I was dead tired, and should any wheel come past into that sprint, I would have barely made it to the finish. It was really beautiful: we came into the last descent at more than 70 kph, with lots of attacks, but thanks to my team-mates, I could keep myself calm, come into good position and make my sprint. It had already been a pretty good season, with six second places, but already since the Tour of Austria I had felt really well, and I was coming into Wallonie with strength and will to do well. The two stages remaining are really more difficult for me - we will see day by day how many chances I have out on course, I don't really know how I'll cope with those climbs".

Silvan Dillier of BMC sprinted to third place for the second straight day to move into fourth overall and hold onto his lead in the best young rider classification: "It was not really nervous until the final," Dillier said. "On the last climbs, there were some attacks and it was a tactical race at the end. My teammates helped me well in the last kilometres. I would have liked to have won, but the last meters were hard and two other riders passed me." BMC Racing Team Sport Director Rik Verbrugghe said he liked what he saw from the squad as Dillier (fourth, at 16 seconds off the lead) and teammate Sebastian Lander (sixth, at 19 seconds) remained in the top 10 overall. "The team rode perfectly today," Verbrugghe said. "We took the responsibility when we needed to do it.”With 25 kilometres to go, Silvan attacked with a small group. Martin Kohler also attacked, too, and was countered by Zdenek Stybar. And then the team pulled the first group back to Stybar for the sprint."

Tour de Wallonie Stage 3 Result:
1. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar in 4:35:20
2. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Silvan Dillier (Sui) BMC
4. Anthony Roux (Fra)
5. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
6. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Belisol
7. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
8. Laurent Evrard (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles
9. Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
10. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Tour de Wallonie Overall After Stage 3:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quickstep in 13:05:49
2. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar at 0:11
3. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:15
4. Silvan Dillier (Sui) BMC at 0:16
5. Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:19
6. Sebastian Lander (Den) BMC
7. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:21
8. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:22
9. Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:23
10. Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Stage 3:

Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen- Baloise) got the better of overall leader Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and Viachevslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) in Stage 4 on Tuesday from Herve to Waremme over 174.9 kilometres. Meersman held onto the overall lead with one stage to go.

Silvan Dillier of the BMC Racing Team sprinted to fourth: "Omega Pharma - Quick-Step controlled the race today," Dillier said. "We concentrated on the sprint and watched the possible moves in the final kilometres." On the last climb of the Mur d'Amay, Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) attacked and was followed by Zdeněk Štybar (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and Dillier. "It was perfect that Dillier reacted on the attack," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said. "The rest of the team stayed in the group behind to help him for the sprint." Eventually the three were caught and the stage was decided for the fourth straight day in a massive sprint. "Martin (Kohler) and Thor (Hushovd) did another great lead out for me, but unfortunately I couldn't finish the good work from them," Dillier said. With one day to go, Dillier moves into third overall, 23 seconds off the lead. Piva is happy to see a good classification is still possible. "Tomorrow is the hardest stage with a final similar to Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Silvan is in a good shape and the team is supporting him, so we hope for a good result."

Tour de Wallonie Stage 4 Result:
1. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise in 4:38:41
2. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
3. Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha
4. Silvan Dillier (Sui) BMC
5. Nick Van Der Lijke (Ned) Belkin
6. Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
7. Anthony Roux (Fra)
8. Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar
9. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar
10. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Tour de Wallonie Overall After Stage 4:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quickstep in 17:44:21
2. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar at 0:20
3. Silvan Dillier (Sui) BMC at 0:23
4. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:24
6. Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:28
7. Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha at 0:30
8. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:31
10. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Belisol.

Stage 4:

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step held off an assault on the yellow jersey in Wednesday’s 180.6km Final Stage 5 with riders attacking constantly in the last 30 kilometres, and with some climbs in the final making it a challenge to maintain good position in the peloton. Gianni Meersman fought to keep himself in contention through the final climbs, as his teammates took to the front to control everything. Despite a dangerous attack by Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol), who went solo with about 21km to go and gained as much as almost 30 seconds on the field, every move was brought back and the team put Meersman in perfect position for the bunch sprint. Zdenek Stybar led out Meersman, and he went on to win the stage in the yellow jersey. Yves Lampaert (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) was 2nd, and Jasper Stuyven (Trek) was 3rd. Meersman had finished 2nd in the previous four stages, but extended his GC lead each day. Meersman also won the points jersey.

Overall winner Gianni Meersman (OPQS): “I am super happy about this victory. Not only for the GC, but also the stage win because after being four times in second place. For me, it’s important to be able to win this stage to finish off the great work of my teammates, and I did it, so I am thrilled. For me it’s the second stage race win of my career after 2011 when I won at Circuit des Ardennes. Of course Tour de Wallonie was special as the level of the competition was really good. So, this victory gives me even more satisfaction. I’m happy also for the team because before the race I felt really good. A few days before the race I called Sport Director Rik Van Slycke and I told him I would like to try for the GC. So, I did it, and we took the GC after two days. It’s a wonderful feeling to lead this team and have the team around me so we could win this race. My condition is good. This race opened up the second part of my season. My next race will be Clasica San Sebastian. I rode this race in 2012, when I earned a 3rd place finish in the overall. I raced only once there and was on the podium, so that gives me confidence. I like the parcours and I am really looking forward to this race on Saturday with this good condition.”

Bart Leysen Lotto Belisol sports director: “Today we played all or nothing for GC and if it was possible we would obviously go for the stage win as well. The riders did what was asked of them and started La Roche aux Faucons at the front of the bunch. It was the intention to take off with a small group. That didn’t work out. Tim Wellens attacked again, it was a strong effort. On the Côte d’Ans, the last climb of the day, there was headwind. That was too much for him. Because Tim was out alone, the other guys weren’t free to move. In the sprint we wanted to go for Tosh Van der Sande, but he got caught in a crash. Apart from abrasions he’s fine.”

“Tim has proven his condition is more than fine after a period of rest. He made a strong impression uphill. Jelle Vanendert is growing towards his level of the classics. Maxime Monfort, who is back after an injury, got better each day. The whole team performed well, that’s positive with what has to come in the next months. We won the opening stage with Jens Debusschere. Unfortunately there was a lack of teams that made the race hard like us.”

BMC Racing Team's Silvan Dillier finished third overall and took the best young rider classification: "Tactically, we rode a good race and I am proud of what we did with just six riders," Dillier said. "I tried everything to win the overall on the last climb. But Quick Step was really strong for the whole week." In his first professional season, Dillier has notched nine top-five results – including third, third and fourth at Wallonie on Stages 2, 3 and 4, respectively. His third-place finish is also his best in a stage race.

Tour de Wallonie Stage 5 Result:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 4:33:00
2. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
3. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek
4. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
6. Silvan Dillier (Sui) BMC
7. Anthony Roux (Fra)
8. Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar
9. Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha
10. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step.

Tour de Wallonie Final Overall Result:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 22:17:11
2. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar at 0:30
3. Silvan Dillier (Sui) BMC at 0:33
4. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:34
6. Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:38
7. Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha at 0:40
8. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:41
9. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Belisol
10. Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha at 0:42.

The final stage 5:

header-Giro-della-Toscana1Giro della Toscana 2014
Pieter Weening has become the first Dutchman to win the Giro della Toscana, taking out the one-day race with a solo victory on Sunday afternoon. The win completes the Italian double for Orica-GreenEDGE at the weekend following British neo-pro Adam Yates’ success at the GP Industria and Artigianato on Saturday.

“Today it went perfect for us,” Weening said. “Adam and I ended up in the first group. Adam attacked just before the last climb so the other guys had to chase it down and that was the perfect position. Then I was able to come from behind at full speed and surprise the other guys with only 3km to go and that’s how we won, it was teamwork. Adam and I had a good training camp beforehand so we were in good shape and today this was a hard course so we could use it. If it’s a hard course and you have good shape, you are of course going to have more profit out of it.”

The team was on the front foot all day with Cameron Meyer and Sam Bewley amongst the day’s main 17-man breakaway. As the only team not represented in the break, the Italian National Team took ownership of the chase reducing it to just one minute on the first lap of the final circuit.

“It was a great situation for us with Sam and Cam (Meyer) there, because it would have suited Cam if it had gone all the way to the finish,” sport director David McPartland said. But realistically we knew it was more than likely going to come back so when it did we had all of our guys ready. Cameron was one of the last guys in the break to get caught and he basically then set the race up with three or four laps to go for Adam and Pieter.”

Weening and Yates traded blows to the surviving group, each working off the front at various times. “It really could have gone either way, but it was Pieter who got away with about 3km to go,” McPartland said. “When he saw no one was on his wheel he committed full gas. They boys have done a great job this weekend, we are really happy with the whole team to back it up again today.”

RusVelo rider Roman Maikin came in third: “Between the start and the entrance to the final laps the race went at a steady tempo, there was an escape that stabilized the situation. But as soon as we got to Arezzo, everything just exploded, there were endless attacks destroying the bunch. It was extremely important to stay ahead at that moment; my RusVelo teammates Sergey Lagutin and Ilnur Zakarin were of great help. Some three laps to go I made it to a small group of six which formed on the steep climb, which was never caught. I’m happy with my third step of the podium, especially keeping in mind that we are just back from a high-altitude training camp, and the legs are still heavy for a sprint. Moreover, it was my first race after the Russian nationals, so I need to get some speed back.”

Giro della Toscana Result:
1. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEDGE in 4:41:18
2. Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:06
3. Roman Maikin (Rus) RusVelo
4. Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
5. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE
6. Sergey Firsanov (Rus) RusVelo at 0:56
7. Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Team Trefor-Blue Water at 1:08
8. Sergey Lagutin (Rus) RusVelo
9. Luca Chirico (Ita) MG Kvis-Trevigiani
10. Gianfranco Zilioli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli.

Giro della Toscana Podium:

header_belkinGood News for Team Belkin
Team Belkin and Team BrandLoyalty sign declaration of intent with Lotto and BrandLoyalty - Unique combined cycling - speed skating team.

The Belkin Pro Cycling team and speed skating team BrandLoyalty have signed a formal declaration of intent with Lotto, part of De Lotto, and BrandLoyalty today. With this, the Dutch Lottery and the company that creates and develops loyalty programs publicly declare their ambition to become the title sponsor and sub sponsor, of the cycling team, as well as the speed skating team.

According to Arno de Jong, Marketing Director of De Lotto, the collaboration with speed skating coach Jac Orie’s team and Richard Plugge’s cycling team is a unique thing in the Dutch sports world. “We aspire a collaboration of two years, with the option to add another two years. This would make Lotto the name giver of the first combined cycling – speed skating team. We are currently working on the details. Everything is focused on Lotto and BrandLoyalty joining forces to make sure the first professional speed skating- cycling team will start next season.”

Marco van Bilsen, Marketing Director BrandLoyalty: “BrandLoyalty has always declared its intention to support Jac Orie’s speed skating team for a longer period of time. Next to this, it was a common goal to create a model that would provide more security and continuity. This was a reason for BrandLoyalty to make room for this unique construction.” The teams will remain separated when it comes to the sportive aspects. Speed skating coach Jac Orie will maintain his staff and the same goes for General Manager Richard Plugge of the Belkin Pro Cycling team. De Jong: “With this construction, the teams can collaborate organizationally as well as commercially and the collaboration can lead to the transmission of knowledge between the teams, which will ultimately lead to an optimal facilitation of the athletes.”

At this moment, Lotto and BrandLoyalty will not make any statements on the name of the new team, the colours, which riders will join the team and the budget that will be available. Arno de Jong of De Lotto: “Starting today, we will work out the last details. Once everything is settled, we will organize a press moment together.”

Lars Boom's Tour stage win did the team a favour:
France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Lars Boom

Logo_sansebastianClasica Ciclista San Sebastian 2014
The No.1 Spanish one day Classic is held in the North of the Basque Country and goes right up to the French border at one point. Starts and finishes in the seaside town of San Sebastian and takes in the tough hilly country-side over 220 kilometres on Saturday.

Check-out the full race preview on PEZ.

Race website:


Giant-Shimano team for San Sebastian
The first race for Team Giant-Shimano after the whirlwind that was the Tour de France is the one-day classic, Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian. For most riders it will be a return to racing after a short break followed by a long block of training, with Lawson Craddock (USA), Chad Haga (USA), Reinardt Janse van Rensberg (RSA) and Daan Olivier (NED) who come to the race from a high altitude training camp in France. They are joined by Brian Bulgac (NED), Thomas Damuseau (FRA), Simon Geschke (GER) and Tom Stamsnijder (NED).

This 219.2km race favours the puncheurs and in Geschke the team carries a rider well suited to this type of parcours. "San Sebastian is a tough race but we will concentrate our efforts around two guys here in Simon and Lawson," said Team Giant-Shimano coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA). "All the guys have been training well, with some guys coming here from altitude. We initially had Dries [Devenyns] focusing on this race too but unfortunately he will miss this due to his fall at the Tour. The team will be focused for this race after some time off racing, and if we ride well as a team and make a good plan on supporting Simon and Lawson before the final we can go for a nice result."

Giant-Shimano Line-up:
Brian Bulgac (NED), Lawson Craddock (USA), Thomas Damuseau (FRA), Simon Geschke (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Reinardt Janse van Rensberg (RSA), Daan Olivier (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED).
Coach: Christian Guiberteau (FRA).

Europcar team for San Sebastian
Yukiya Arashiro, Gyril Gautier, Fabrice Jeandesboz, Alexandre Pichot, Perrig Quemeneur, Pierre Rolland, Romain Sicard and Thomas Voeckler.
Directeur Sportif: Ismaël Mottier.

BMC Racing Team Roster For Clasica San Sebastian
Past winner Philippe Gilbert and recent Tour de France fifth-place finisher Tejay van Garderen will be part of the BMC Racing Team's roster for Saturday's edition of Clasica San Sebastian.

Two Past Podium Placers
Gilbert won the race in 2011, the same year current teammate Greg Van Avermaet finished third. The two will be joined by van Garderen, who matched his best finish at the Tour de France Sunday, and five others for the 232-kilometer Spanish race.

Silvan Dillier (SUI), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Martin Kohler (SUI), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Peter Stetina (USA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA).
Sport Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA).

OPQS to the Clasica San Sebastian
Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian is a 219.2km one-day race on Saturday, August 2nd. There are six climbs the peloton will pass along the parcours.

“We have a good team going there, where only Carlos Verona and Julien Vermote came out from a long break," Sport Director Brian Holm said. "The rest of the guys are the ones who were busy with Tour de Wallonie or even the Tour de France, such as Jan Bakelants and Michal Golas. We will also have Gianni Meersman who can do well on this kind of parcours if it comes down to a sprint out of a small group.The race profile should suit almost all of our guys who will be there, so we have good representation and will do our best for a good result."

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Jan Bakelants (BEL), Michal Golas (POL), Gianni Meersman (BEL), Pieter Serry (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Julien Vermote (BEL), Carlos Verona (ESP).
Sports Director: Brian Holm (DEN).

Lampre-Merida for San Sebastian
In the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian; Lampre-Merida will rely on Davide Cimolai, Kristijan Durasek, Elia Favilli, Nelson Oliveira, Jan Polanc, Filippo Pozzato, Josè Serpa, Rafael Valls. The team will be directed by Matxin, who will be helped by mechanic Bortoluzzo, masseurs Capelli, Leboso, Redaelli and by doctor Ronchi.

The Basque race could offer to Cimolai, Durasek, Oliveira and Serpa the chance to exploit their condition after the end of Tour de France, relying also on the fighting spirit they showed in the last week of the Grande Boucle. The course of the race could be suitable for the four riders, but also for Favilli and Polanc. Valls will race in order to check his health after the injuries that forced him to quit the Tour de France.

Belkin aims to continue Tour momentum in San Sebastian
The Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM will take a mix of riders from its Tour de France teams and Tour de Wallonie rosters to the Clasica San Sebastian this Saturday. The plan, said Sports Director Jan Boven, is a good result.

Bauke Mollema knows he can handle the course and that also goes for Laurens ten Dam, although maybe it’s a bit too explosive for him,” Boven explained. “Steven Kruijswijk ended the Tour in a good shape and proved many times that he can still race strongly after a grand tour. The Tour boys will be riding some criteriums this week. With a little rest and an occasional one-hour spin, that isn’t a bad preparation.”

Steven Kruijswijk is looking forward to hop on his Bianchi for another big race after his strong performance in the Tour de France. “Finishing in the top 15 wasn’t a goal when I started the race, I had to help Bauke and Laurens as long as possible. It’s nice that I still ended up 15th.”

He explained that he feels ready for the Clasica San Sebastian. “At the end of the Tour, I was still pretty fresh. I’ll be riding criteriums in Chaam and Wateringen this week and I hope to reach my top form one more time on Saturday to bag a result. Hopefully, we can get several men in the final. A top ten spot is a fine goal for me.”

TEAM line-up:
Lars Boom, Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Jos van Emden, Jonathan Hivert, Steven Kruijswijk, Nick van der Lijke and Bauke Mollema.
Sports Director: Jan Boven.

Team Katusha for San Sebastián
The Clásica Ciclista San Sebastián will be held in Spain on Saturday, August 2nd. The team’s roster will be represented by Vladimir Gusev, Alexander Kolobnev, Dmitriy Kozonchuk, Aliaksandr Kuchynski, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Joaquim Rodriguez and Iurii Trofimov, all directed by José Azevedo.

This is the 1994 Clasica San Sebastian, Mexican Raúl Alcala (PDM) got a good gap and the chasers couldn't bring him back. This was Lance Armstrong's firt Pro race, he finished last:

TdP_2014_mapa_nologoTour de Pologne 2014
There are 7 stages scheduled for a total of more than 1200 km. The first part is suited to sprinters, at least on paper, with four flat stages: the 1st stage Gdansk-Bydgoszcz (226 km), the 2nd Torun-Warszawa (226 km), the 3rd stage Kielce-Rzeszów (174 km) and the 4th Tarnów Gemini Park-Katowice (236 km). The 5th stage is 180 km and starts from Zakopane, for the first time ever the Tour de Pologne will cross the border into Slovakia for an uphill finish in Strbské Pleso. The 6th stage will be the crowning stage with lots of climbs on the usual circuit in Bukowina Tatrzanska for a total of 175 km. The Grand Finalé will be in Krakow on Saturday, August 9th, with stage 7’s 25 km individual time trial stage. All the WorldTour teams are riding plus RusVelo and the Polish teams CCC Polkowice and Reprezentacja Polski.

Stage details:
Stage 1: Gdańsk - Bydgoszcz 226km.
Stage 2: Toruń - Warszawa 234km.
Stage 3: Kielce - Rzeszów 174km.
Stage 4: Tarnów Gemini Park - Katowice 236km.
Stage 5: Zakopane - Strbskie Pleso (SK) 191km.
Stage 6: Bukovina Terma Hotel Spa - Bukowina Tatrzańska 174km.
Stage 7: Kraków - Kraków (ITT) 25km.
Total Distance 1260 km.

Race website:


Lampre-Merida to Pologne
The Italian team will line-up with: Niccolò Bonifazio, Matteo Bono, Mattia Cattaneo, Damiano Cunego, Roberto Ferrari, Sacha Modolo, Manuele Mori and Przemyslaw Niemiec. Sport director Maini and Marzano will direct the team, receiving the support by masseurs Chiodini, Napolitano and Santerini, by mechanics Possoni, San Emeterio and Viganò and by doctor De Grandi.

Niemiec, Cunego and Cattaneo will be protagonist in the toughest stages, also taking care of the overall classification. Bonifazio, Ferrari and Modolo will fight in the sprints; Bono and Mori will use their experience to coordinate the team during the race.

Katusha team to Pologne
The Tour de Pologne will be held from August 3rd until 9th. The team’s line-up is: Maxim Belkov, Giampaolo Caruso, Sergei Chernetckii, Marco Haller, Petr Ignatenko, Alexander Rybakov, Eduard Vorganov and Anton Vorobyev.
Sports directors are Claudio Cozzi and Gennady Mikhaylov.

OPQS to the Tour de Pologne
Tour de Pologne is a seven-day stage race, from August 3rd until August 9th. There is a 25km individual time trial on the final day of racing.

“Tour of Pologne opens the second part of the season for a few riders," Sport Director Rik Van Slycke said. "Including those who did well during the Giro d'Italia, like Gianluca Brambilla, Thomas De Gendt, Serge Pauwels, Martin Velits, and Wout Poels. Those guys worked hard in training camp to be ready for this race. Tour de Pologne presents as usual a few difficult stages, where it’s hard to make a big difference on the climbs. The time trial will probably decide the general classification. Guys like Poels — who was brilliant at the Giro — can maybe play a role in the overall and also try to go for the stage victory. Young guys can maybe even try their luck on a parcours that suit their strengths. It’s a team that can be competitive everywhere, even in the sprints. We are ready to be protagonists no matter the situation."

Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Thomas De Gendt (BEL), Kevin De Weert (BEL), Nikolas Maes (BEL), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Wout Poels (NED), Petr Vakoc (CZE), Martin Velits (SVK).
Sports Director: Jan Schaffrath (GER) & Rik van Slycke (BEL).

The Europcar team for Pologne
Riders: Giovanni Bernaudeau, Jérome Cousin, Jimmy Engoulvent, Christophe Kern, Davide Malacarne, Maxime Mederel, Bjorn Thurau & Tomasz Streich.
Directeur Sportifs: Léonard Cosnier & Benoit Genauzeau.

Gesink wants to improve during Tour de Pologne
Robert Gesink hopes to progress towards the Vuelta a España in the Tour de Pologne, August 3 to 9. After a long period of training, the Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM rider is aiming to compete with the best in the stage race.

“I went to the United States with my family and trained hard, and also had some time to hang out with my wife and daughter,” said Gesink. “I rode in Colorado and trained at altitude. I rode through several national parks. It was a magnificent trip. “During my last week in the States, I went to Park City to team up with the boys who will ride the Tour of Utah. They are ready for the second part of the season and I think I’m fine myself, as well.”

Second behind Vansummeren
The Tour of Poland will be Gesink’s first race since the Dutch national road race in Ootmarsum, June 29. “It will be exciting to see what my level is, but I’ve been a pro for a long time now and I know what to do to get my body ready for a race.

“I hope that towards the end of the race that I will be able to fight with the best. That’s why I returned from altitude shortly before the start of the race. “I rode the Tour of Poland once before and ended up second behind Johan Vansummeren. In Poland, I hope to improve for the Vuelta.”

Michiel Elijzen
The last days of the Tour of Poland include two heavy mountain stages and a time trial. “In these stages, the GC will be decided,” said Sports Director Michiel Elijzen. “I’m hopeful that Robert will significantly improve during the week and that he will be good enough to get in the mix in the mountains.

“The first three stages are suitable for sprinters. So there we have some opportunities with Theo Bos, although we also have Paul Martens, who shouldn’t be overlooked for those kind of stages.”

TEAM line-up:
Jack Bobridge, Theo Bos, Graeme Brown, Rick Flens, Robert Gesink, Paul Martens, Lars Petter Nordhaug and David Tanner.
Sports Director:Michiel Elijzen.

BMC Racing Team Reveals Tour de Pologne Roster
Past stage winner and former world road champion Thor Hushovd headlines the BMC Racing Team's roster for the Tour de Pologne.

Race Begins Sunday
Hushovd, who has announced this season will be his last, won two stages at the Tour de Pologne last year. This year's race comprises seven stages and begins Sunday.

Stephen Cummings (GBR), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Sebastian Lander (DEN), Steve Morabito (SUI), Dominik Nerz (GER), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Peter Velits (SVK), Larry Warbasse (USA).
Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA) & Max Sciandri (ITA).

Giant-Shimano Line-Up for Pologne
The WorldTour stage racing continues this weekend with the seven stage Tour de Pologne.
Team Giant-Shimano head into this race with a strong, young team capable of challenging across many of the different opportunities that the various stages present.

Last year Warren Barguil (FRA) finished 17th overall and he returns this year following a period of training at high altitude with the team. Also coming to this race from altitude is Nikias Arndt (GER), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE) and Georg Preidler (AUT), the last of whom will be hoping for a strong result on GC over a race that suits his capabilities well.

The team is then completed by road captain Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Luka Mezgec (SLO) and Ramon Sinkeldam (NED).

"Poland is a nice race to go with a young line-up and get them working well together as a team," said coach Addy Engels (NED).

"We will focus on the sprints in the first half of the week with Luka and then alongside that we will look to ride for a strong GC with one of the guys who can handle the climbs well like Georg.

"The guys are returning from a long period of training without racing, but they have probably four stages to get back into the rhythm before the first real GC test, so there's time to get back up to race speed before this."

Giant-Shimano line-up:
Nikias Arndt (GER), Warren Barguil (FRA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Georg Preidler (AUT), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED).
Coach: Addy Engels (NED).

Tour de Pologne promo:

header-giroGiro d’Italia 2015 to Start from Liguria
Three stages from Liguria, with an opening team time trial on picturesque Riviera dei Fiori cycle path and two in line stages crossing Genoa and the Cinque Terre.

The 2015 Giro d’Italia will kick off on the 9th of May, with an 18km team time trial along the coast between San Lorenzo al Mare to San Remo. The 98th edition of the Corsa Rosa will run over 21 stages to the 31st of May and the organisers, RCS Sport/La Gazzetta dello Sport, have announced all three opening stages will take place in the picturesque region of Liguria, which sits on the Italian Riviera.

The team time trial will be followed by two in line stages. Stage two, from Albenga to Genoa, has been designed to deliver a great sprint finish. Stage three, from Chiavari to La Spezia, is the first hill stage in the Giro d’Italia and will identify the potential Maglia Rosa contenders

The Fifth Ligurian start
This is the first time the opening stage has been held in San Lorenzo de Mare and the fifth time in Liguria, with Genoa hosting it in 1980, 1992 and 2004 and San Remo in 1987.

Stage details:
Saturday 9 May – TTT Riviera dei Fiori 18km approx.

The opening stage will be the first Grand Tour stage to take place solely on cycle paths. Teams will race along the Riviera dei Fiori cycle path, which is built on a former coastal rail route, and gives panoramic views of the Mediterranean coast. Its rolling hills will create a fast race.
Both ends of the course will be familiar to many riders; the annual Cipressa climb begins each March from San Lorenzo al Mare; and the stage’s finish line is also used by the Milan-San Remo spring classic route, which also begins in March.

Sunday 10 May – Albenga – Genoa 150km approx. – sprinters’ stage.
This is the first in line stage and has been created to deliver an exciting sprint finish in Genoa, Liguria’s capital city. The course will run for 120km alongside the Riviera di Ponente before entering the historic, UNESCO World Heritage city, where riders will race four loops of a 7.5km circuit.
The race will be held on the Aurelia road and in the valleys of the Savona and Genoa provinces. The organisers have also added a climb to Stella, birthplace of Sandro Pertini, one of Italy’s most beloved presidents and first recipient of the UN’s Otto Hahn Peace Medal.
Major areas crossed: Albenga, Finale Ligure, Savona, Stella, Varazze, Voltri, Genoa

Monday 11 May – Chiavari – La Spezia 185km approx. – GC contenders stage.
Stage three will be the first to test the riders and identify the GC contenders. Riders will face a series of hills between the coast and the inland areas of Levante Ligure.
The race will be held on the Cinque Terre road, which was hit hard by torrential storms in 2012. The route has been designed as a relatively gentle introduction to the mountain stages, with a continuous series of climbs and descents to La Spezia. There a short city circuit will be raced before the reaching its climax on the top of the Biassa climb. Riders expected to begin their attack 10km before the finish line.

Major areas crossed: Chiavari, Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure, Sestri Levante, Carro, Levanto, the Cinque Terre, La Spezia.


header_OPQS_PRTwo more years for Meersman
OPQS is also happy to announce that they reached an agreement with Gianni Meersman on a contract extension of two years (2015 & 2016).

“Gianni is one of the team’s snipers, a serious athlete who is always ready when the time comes, a guarantee for the team,” OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere said. “This year an accident at the Paris-Nice influenced the first part of his season. However, as you can see by his double win at Tour de Wallonie today, we are sure Gianni will be among the major players in the second part of the year, taking advantage of his intelligence in the race and his speed and sense of position in tight bunch sprints.”

“Right from my first training with the team in winter of 2012 I immediately felt at ease, I felt really good in the group” Meersman said. “We have different nationalities but one common goal: To grow as a team. This is a real group where everyone looks out for the next guy. In my opinion this is really one of the team’s strongest points. For the next two seasons I seek further personal growth both in terms of numbers and in quality of results. First, though, there is the second part of this season to face and I am off to a good start. After the accident in the Paris-Nice it wasn’t easy to get back to my levels, even from a mental perspective. Now I have completely recovered and am in good condition after important training in Calpe, Spain, before this race. In the next few months the team and I have agreed that I will concentrate especially on the one day races, on the end of season classics. I will not be riding in the Vuelta, but I plan on being ready even for a possible participation in a World Championship that seems to be suited to my skills.”

Gianni Meersman in the 2013 Dauphine:
Dauphine Libere 2013 stage-4

stb_headerSlaying the Badger
If you’ve read the book (or not) and not managed to see the film of the battle between Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault, you can see it here on YouTube thanks to Frank Opstaele. The film stray’s from just that Tour de France and also looks at Lemond’s fight with Laurent Fignon in the 1989 Tour and with Lance Armstrong over other things. Well worth a watch.

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