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Archive for the month “iunie, 2015”

Eddy Merckx – a career in numbers

On the day the one they called “The Cannibal” turns 70, here’s a look back at his achievements.

– 11 Grand Tours: Giro d’Italia (1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974), Tour de France (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974), Vuelta a España (1973)

– 64 stage wins in the Grand Tours

– Other important stage races: Paris-Nice (1969, 1970, 1971), Tour de Romandie (1968), Volta a Catalunya (1968), Tour of Belgium (1970, 1971), Critérium du Dauphiné (1971), Tour de Suisse (1974)

– 19 Monuments: Milan-Sanremo (1966, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1976), Tour of Flanders (1969, 1975), Paris–Roubaix (1968, 1970, 1973), Liège–Bastogne–Liège (1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975), Giro di Lombardia (1971, 1972)

– Other important one-day races: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (1971, 1973), Gent-Wevelgem (1967, 1970, 1973), Scheldeprijs (1972), Brabantse Pijl (1972), Flèche Wallonne (1967, 1970, 1972), Amstel Gold Race (1973, 1975), Coppa Agostoni (1970), Paris-Bruxelles (1973), Giro del Piemonte (1972), Giro dell’Emilia (1972), National Championships (1970)

– 3 World Titles: 1967 (Herleen), 1971 (Mendrisio), 1974 (Montreal)

– 525 victories on the road and on the track, as an amateur and as a pro

– Only rider to have won the general, the points, the mountains and the combativity classification at one edition of the Tour de France (1969)

– He is the cyclist who has scored the most victories in a season: 54

– Holds the record for the most Grand Tour wins (11) and most wins in a Monument (Milan-Sanremo, 7)

– He was the first rider to win the Triple Crown – Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and World Championships – in one season (1974)

Conclusions after the Criterium du Dauphiné

Things are looking good for Chris Froome ahead of the Tour de France. The 30-year-old hasn’t had an easy season so far, with just two early wins to his name (a stage and the overall standings in the Ruta del Sol), followed by some health problems which hampered his Spring races. But things turned around in June, once Froome took an impressive victory in the Criterium du Dauphiné – the last event he rode before the Grande Boucle – where he was clearly the best rider. After his 9th career triumph in a stage race, the Brit will start the Tour de France as the main favorite for the yellow jersey, but more important, he’ll not have the same question marks that have shred his confidence before last year’s edition, following his crash and poor GC results in the Dauphiné.

BMC’s Tejay van Garderen was upset after Sunday’s finale because he missed the victory for just ten seconds, but the US cyclist has reason to stay confident he can reach his goal in the Tour de France, where he hopes to get on the podium. Although he did not enter the Dauphiné as a big favorite, Van Garderen slowly began to show he’s in great shape, so that mid-way through the race everyone could see he was one one of the strongest cyclists out there. A smart rider, who knows when to go to the attack and when to play it safe, the 26-year-old made some significant progress in the past months and he is now headint towards the right direction, which can land him his best ever result in a Grand Tour.

For many, Simon Yates was the revelation of the race, but he isn’t a surprise anymore and people shouldn’t forget that the young Brit underlined his huge potential since he rode as a U23 in 2013 and won two stages in the Tour de l’Avenir. Last year, because of an injury, he stayed in the shadow of his twin brother Adam, but this didn’t stop him get a couple of strong results, which continued this season in 2015 with top 10 placings in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphiné, where he also secured the white jersey after a gutsy ride in the last two mountain stages. Just 22-year-old, Simon Yates will race his second Tour de France next month and he’ll surely be one to watch out for in the mountains, where he’ll fight for a victory.

Nacer Bouhanni came home safe and wrapped up the points classification at the end of a perfect week. The French sprinter arrived here with the precise goal of notching just a stage win, but he was the fastest in the flat days and that helped him produce two great sprints, which led to as many victories, his first in the World Tour this year. After taking the green jersey, Cofidis’ star cyclist will hope to carry these success and form in the Tour de France, There, hiss fearless attitude and high speed will certainly add some extra incentive to the sprints, where he’ll fight with the likes of Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Marcel Kittel, André Greipel and his former teammate Arnaud Démare, the man he still considers to be at fault for missing many opportunities during his spell with FDJ.

Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali came 9th, respectively 12th at the end of the week-long stage race, minutes behind Chris Froome, but these results aren’t by all means worrisome, as it was obvious for everyone that neither hit top form for the Dauphiné, where they came just to tune up their shape before July. Actually, judging by the look of things, Valverde and Nibali took it easy in the mountains and played it smart, as they have just one goal in mind: the Tour de France, where they will start as two of the strongest riders in the pack, while also being somewhat of an unknown quantity for their rivals.

Rider of the week

Chris Froome rode solo towards the stage win and overall victory on Sunday, in the 67th Criterium du Dauphiné, with a display reminiscent of the ones he had on the mountains in the 2013 Tour de France. Still, the race wasn’t a walk in the park for the 30-year-old Brit, who has lost precious time in two important stages, the TTT between Rouanne and Montagny and on Pra-Loup, where everyone was expecting a one-man show, but eventually got to see a Froome which showed some uncharacteristical weaknesess.

During the week-end, the leader of Sky was at a completely different level and not only he scored two back-to-back stage wins on Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc and Modane Valfréjus, but by doing so, he rode everyone else off his back and took the overall classification for the second time, after the 2013 edition. On each of the two hard mountain stages, Froome sent his team at the front to prepair his attack and once the job was done by the likes of Ian Boswell and Wout Poels, he unleashed a fierce acceleration which couldn’t be matched by any of his opponents.

Looking behind just to make sure yellow jersey wearer Tejay van Garderen lost contact for good, Chris Froome flew on the slopes of the climbs and forged clear to win the GC of the Criterium du Dauphiné, a race in which he made a point from demonstrating that he’s very close of reaching top form just three weeks before the start of the Tour de France. On top of that, his victory in the week-long stage race will serve as an excellent and much needed psychological boost ahead of July’s top objective.

Tour de Suisse Stats

Historical stats

– Italy’s Pasquale Fornara has the most GC wins – 4 – scored between 1952 and 1958

– Fornara is also the rider with the most days in the leader’s jersey – 18

– The nation standings is led by Switzerland, which has 23 wins so far

– Only four cyclists from outside of Europe have won the race: Phil Anderson (Australia), Andy Hampsten (U.S.A.), Levi Leipheimer (U.S.A.) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazahstan)

– Pasquale Fornara has the most days in the leader’s jersey: 17

– In 1987, seven cyclists succeeded one another at the top of the general classification

– Of the cyclists who have never won the race, Wladimir Belli has the most podiums: 3

– Last rider to triumph here while wearing the rainbow jersey was Rui Costa in 2014

– Same Rui Costa is the only cyclist to have won the event three consecutive times

– With 11 stage victories, Hugo Kobler and Ferdi Kübler are the most successful rider in the history of the race

– Ferdi Kübler won the mountains classification four times, a record for the event; in the points standings, Sean Kelly and Peter Sagan share the record, with four jerseys

– Zurich is the city that has hosted the most starts (34) and finishes (45) throughout the years

– Italy and Switzerland are the only countries to place three riders on the podium at one edition

– Belgium’s Daniel Willems holds the record for the most stages won at a single edition: six, in 1980

– The first individual time trial took place in 1947 (60,6 kilometers) and was won by Fausto Coppi

– Gotthard is the climb that featured the most times – 37 – while Nufenen is the highest ever point of the race, 2478 meters

– Roman Kreuziger is the youngest stage winner (22 years in 2008); Levi Leipheimer is the oldest one (37 years in 2011)

– Albert Zweifel is the cyclist with the most participations: 16

– In 1941, Josef Wagner and Werner Buchwalder finished with the same overall time, with Wagner being the winner after a two-man sprint on the Oerlikon Velodrome

– Largest winning margin between first and second was recorded in 1947, when 21:16 have separated Gino Bartali and Giulio Bresci

– The longest ever edition took place in 1991 – 1921 kilometers; shortest one had 606 kilometers, in 1941

– 2001 saw the highest average speed – 41,781 km/h; lowest average speed was 30,9 km/h in 1935

2015 stats

– 19 teams (17 World Tour, 2 Pro Continental) will race the 79th running of the event

– Of these, six haven’t scored a World Tour victory in 2015: IAM Cycling, LottoNL-Jumbo and Wanty-Groupe Gobert

– The course includes 43,5 kilometers of ITT and a summit finish, on Rettenbachgietscher

– Two former winners will be at the start: Fabian Cancellara and Frank Schleck

– The cyclists in the 2015 race have won a combined total of 18 Monuments, 7 world titles and more than 110 Grand Tour stages

– Youngest rider in this years’ race is Matej Mohoric, 20 years; oldest one is Italy’s Davide Rebellin, 43 years

– 27 countries will have at least one cyclist in the race, with Belgium and France topping the list (20)

Laurens De Plus: “Tour de l’Avenir is my big goal”

Laurens De Plus

He started cycling as a 15-year-old, in Flanders, but soon he discovered the Ardennes and decided to focus on the climbs, as he realized that his future lies in the hilly Classics, as well as in the stage races with arduous climbs. In 2013, he caught everyone’s attention with top 10 placings in the Tour du Valromey and Giro della Lunigiana, and eventually signed a contract with the U23 Lotto-Belisol team, where he showed glimpses of his potential, inspite of the fact he had to work for the likes of Tiejs Benoot and Louis Vervaeke.

Starting this season as one of the team’s leaders, the 19-year-old Belgian confirmed his huge talent, first in Flèche Ardennaise, where he came 5th, and then, more important, in the prestigious Ronde de l’Isard. In the four-day French race, Laurens De Plus put on a great ride, coming twice on the podium, before finishing second in the GC and first in both the points and young classification. Soon afterwards, he racked up other strong results, this time in the Course de la Paix, just 12 seconds behind the winner.

This impressive series proved once again that Laurens De Plus is absolutely flying in 2015 and that the best things could be yet to come, as the next months will bring some important races in his calendar. But before tackling his future goals, the young Belgian rider – who dreams of winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège as a pro – made some time to talk for the following interview with Cafe Roubaix.

– Laurens, what were your goals at the start of Ronde de l’Isard?

I wanted to do a good GC, because last year our team won the race with Louis Vervaeke so we had a good reputation in this event. Another reason was because I like this race and it really suits me.

– How was the race?

Good. The first day I ended up second on Goulier Neige. The second day I felt great before Plateau De Beille, so I put my teammates in front to go for the victory and the yellow jersey. But unluckily I had a puncture just before the climb and lost a minute. I got a wheel from my teammate Dries Van Gestel and did the climb of my life. I still ended up second. I felt great that day, so I was really disappointed. The last stage I expected a big war between me and Simone Petilli, but the wind was not my friend that day. The whole stage we had the wind in front. I ended Isard with just 10 seconds off the victory, so that was unfortunate.

– What feelings did you have at the end of it?

I was not happy with my second place, I think the victory was possible. But that is cycling, and Petilli was also very, very strong. It is a cliché, but without a good team you can’t do anything. I really have to thank my teammates/friends. I also learned that having bad luck is part of cycling. Wearing the real leadership of the team was also a bit new for me.

– Do you think that a major step in your development was the fact that you have now become the leader of the team?

Yeah, true. Last year Louis Vervaeke and Tiesj Benoot were the leaders of the team and they felt the pressure. It was fun to work for the guys, but now I’m one year older and stronger, so it is the moment to do good results, and to take the leadership. That is indeed a step you need to take in your development of U23.

– After finishing four times on the podium in the Ronde de l’Isard and the Course de la Paix, do you feel that a win is much closer?

Yeah, after my second place in Course de la Paix I was like: “not again”. I really wanted to win that stage, so I was too enthusiastic, and didn’t have the punch for the sprint. But to win you also need some luck and I hope I will have some in the next upcoming races.

– In what other races will you go in the following weeks?

In the second part of the season I want to focus on the Tour de l’Avenir, of course, but I also want to be good in Giro della Valle d’Aosta and Tour Alsace. With pain in my heart I can’t ride Tour des Pays de Savoie, but I have to skip it because otherwise I’d be racing too much.

– And what goals do you have?

I want to continue what I did the last months. Have good results and a lot of fun with my teammates in the nice races like Aosta, Alsace and Avenir. But Avenir will be my big goal, because it is a really huge challenge for me to do a good result in this race. I think it’s the highest level you can have in the U23 category. I saw the stages and they look very nice.

– In September you’ll turn 20. Did you give a thought about what would you like to do next season?

I want to continue what I’m doing this year and learn even more of course. I’m still studying (ed. – Accountancy at the Ghent University) and for me that is also important to get a diploma.

 

Rider of the week

Bradley Wiggins put on an insane 59×14 gear and a blistering ride in order to become the newest member of the Hour Record club, stopping the clock after 54,526 kilometers, even though the 1036mb air pressure was a huge obstacle in his path and slowed him down throughout the event. By setting a new mark on the Lee Valley Velodrome in London – where he was in the attendance at the 2012 Olympics – the 35-year-old became the sixth ever Tour de France winner to break the Hour Record, following in the footsteps of Lucien Petit-Breton, Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain.

If not for the high air pressure conditions in the UK capital, The Brit surely would have reached his target of 55 kilometers, that would have undoubtly put the Hour Record to bed for a couple of years. Still, his performance – which eclipsed the one of his fellow countryman Alex Dowsett (52,937 kilometers) – remains an impressive one and it will take an incredible ride from the future contenders to surpass this mark which helped Wiggins crown an outstanding career that will continue until the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The Brit isn’t the most spectacular cyclist out there (and he never pretented to be), but for sure is the most versatile one, and his results speak on behalf of himself: Tour de France, Paris-Nice, Criterium du Dauphiné, Tour de Romandie, Tour of California, Tour of Britain, World and Olympic individual time trial champion, multiple World and Olympic track champion and now Hour Record holder, he has them all in his palmares, one of the best a rider has seen in the past decades, although many are still reluctant to asses his achievements. This matters less, so in the end, love him or hate him, Bradley Wiggins will go down in history as a real legend of the sport.

Bradley Wiggins – new Hour Record: 54,526 km/h

Bradley Wiggins Hour Record

Criterium du Dauphiné Stats

Criterium du Dauphiné 2015

Historical stats

– Bernard Hinault, Nello Lauredi, Charly Mottet and Luis Ocaña share the record for the most wins, 3

– France leads in an all-time nation standings, with 30 victories

– Australia (Phil Anderson), Colombia (Martin Ramirez, Luis Herrera), Kazahstan (Alexander Vinokourov) and U.S.A. (Tyler Hamilton, Greg LeMond, Andrew Talansky) are the countries from outside of Europe that have won the race

– 13 countries have had a champion in the Dauphiné; surprinsingly, Italy isn’t on the list

– Thierry Claveyrolat holds the record for the most points jersey (3) and mountains jersey (5)

– When it comes to stage wins, Bernard Hinault has the most victories – 10 – as well as the most days in the yellow jersey, 19

– The longest edition had 1935 kilometers and took place in 1956, when Belgium’s Alex Close finished first

– Grenoble is the city which featured the most times in the race

–Jacques Anquetil, Louison Bobet, Chris Froome, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain, Eddy Merckx, Luis Ocaña, Bernard Thévenet, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome have all won the Criterium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France in the same season

– Cadel Evans has the most podiums – 5 – without winning the general classification

– In 2001, Christophe Moreau defeated Pavel Tonkov for just one second, smallest ever gap

– Biggest winning margin was recorded in 1981, when Bernard Hinault put 12:07 to Portugal’s Joaquim Agostinho

– Greg LeMond is the youngest ever winner (21 years in 1983), while Christophe Moreau is the oldest one (36 years in 2007)

2015 stats

– 21 teams (17 World Tour, 4 Pro Continental) will race the 67th running of the event

– Of these, six haven’t scored a World Tour victory in 2015: Bora-Argon 18, Cofidis, Europcar, IAM Cycling, LottoNL-Jumbo and MTN-Qhubeka

– The course includes a team time trial and three summit finishes: Villard-de-Lans, Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc and Modane Valfréjus

– Three former winners will be at the start: Chris Froome, Andrew Talansky and Alejandro Valverde

– The cyclists in the 2015 race have won a combined total of 5 Grand Tours, 9 Monuments, 3 world titles, and more than 100 Grand Tour stages

– Youngest rider in this year’s race is Tiesj Benoot, 21 years; oldest one is Spain’s Haimar Zubeldia, 38 years

– 35 countries will have at least one cyclist in the race, with France topping the list (31)

June on Cafe Roubaix

The Giro d’Italia is done and dusted, and although people are now waiting for the Tour de France, with the excitement and hype growing day by day, they shouldn’t forget that the Criterium du Dauphiné and the Tour de Suisse are still to take place, races in which we’ll see the Grande Boucle favorites test their form ahead of their July goal. Due to some personal reasons, you won’t find a preview of these events here, as well as other cycling news, but this doesn’t mean you can’t come here from time to time, as there will be plenty of things to read about.

As it goes, in the following weeks I will publish some interesting stats on the Dauphiné and Suisse and a couple of interviews with some of the most talented young riders of the moment, cyclists like Pascal Eenkhoorn, Laurens De Plus or Keegan Swirbul, who are all poised to have a great future once they’ll turn pro. As was the case in the past years, later in the month you’ll find the list of the national champions and the startlist (as well as other info) of the Tour de France. Of course, you can check also the 2015 Results piece, which will be updated every time a race takes place.

World Tour standings after the Giro d’Italia

Individual

1 – Alejandro Valverde – 338 points

2 – Alberto Contador – 307 points

3 – Richie Porte – 304 points

4 – Alexander Kristoff – 237 points

5 – John Degenkolb – 234 points

6 – Joaquim Rodriguez – 230 points

7 – Fabio Aru – 212 points

8 – Rigoberto Uran – 209 points

9 – Rui Costa – 196 points

10 – Michal Kwiatkowski – 195 points

Teams

1 – Etixx-Quick Step – 861 points

2 – Katusha – 844 points

3 – Sky – 758 points

4 – Movistar – 743 points

5 – Astana – 553 points

6 – Tinkoff-Saxo – 550 points

7 – BMC – 463 points

8 – Orica-GreenEdge – 394 points

9 – Lampre-Merida – 354 points

10 – Giant-Alpecin – 314 points

Nations

1 – Spain – 1096 points

2 – Australia – 660 points

3 – Colombia – 583 points

4 – Italy – 553 points

5 – Netherlands – 479 points

6 – France – 473 points

7 – Belgium – 376 points

8 – Great Britain – 376 points

9 – Germany – 278 points

10 – Czech Republic – 276 points

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