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Archive for the month “septembrie, 2015”

Rider of the week

Italy has a new darling: Fabio Aru, the winner of the 70th Vuelta a España. Coming at the start of the race as one of Astana’s three leaders, alongside Mikel Landa and fellow countryman Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru emerged in just a couple of days as the team’s sole captain, once Nibali was expelled from the race and Landa lost important time before the race hit the big mountains. As a result, the expectations surrounding the young Sardinian grew, in his country, but also in his team, considering he was Astana’s best bet at winning a Grand Tour this season, after the Kazakh outfit missed on both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.

In the second week of the race, Aru took the leader’s jersey, but despite this, he wasn’t regarded as the main favourite at the overall victory, due to the fact that Tom Dumoulin was looking more and more impressive in the mountains, going at his own pace and limiting the losses, a tactic which made many find similarities between his style and the one of Miguel Indurain, the five-time Tour de France winner. On top of that, once the Vuelta left behind its last mountain top finish, Aru had 1:50 on his Dutch rival, a gap most considered too small before the 39 km-long individual time trial in Burgos.

There, people were expecting Dumoulin to smash his rivals and put minutes into them, and the scenario went according to plan with just an exception: Aru – who worked hard in the wind tunnel last winter – made the time trial of his life and at the end of it he was sitting just three seconds adrift of his Dutch rival. A couple of days later, in Avila, the Giant-Alpecin rider doubled his advantage and the Italian’s chances of turning the tables in his favour were looking slimmer and slimmer. But Aru didn’t gave up and decided to play all his cards on the penultimate stage, which had four hard climbs on the menu.

Supported by a very strong and motivated squad on the road, the 25-year-old played it smart since the beginning of the day, sending two teammates in the breakaway and then putting the hammer down on the third ascent, a move which turned out to be decisive, as Tom Dumoulin was dropped before the top of the Puerto de la Morcuera and without any teammate to help him, he ended up losing almost four minutes in Cercedilla.

By winning the Vuelta and becoming one of the youngest rider in the past decade to have a Grand Tour triumph under his belt, Fabio Aru made the Italians dreaming of a bright future in stage races once Vincenzo Nibali will be past his prime. After finishing second in the Giro d’Italia and winning the last Grand Tour of the season, a new challenge looms on the horizon for Fabio Aru: the Tour de France, where he’s very likely to make his debut next season – his fourth as a professional – when the pressure put on his shoulders will be bigger than anything he faced so far.

Edward Theuns: “I have big expectations for next year”

2015 saw many cyclists impress with their ride and results, and one of those who qualify for the “revelation of the season” title is Topsport Vlaanderen’s Edward Theuns. The 24-year-old from Ghent won the Ronde van Drenthe and a stage of the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque, placed in eigth occasions (including Dwars door Vlaanderen and Scheldeprijs) and finished 21 times in the top 10 of one-day and stage races, each time showing his big engine, stamina, sprint and versatility, qualities which recommend him for a bright future especially in the Classics, races he dreams of winning in the future.

The results he scored have carried Edward Theuns to the top of the Europe Tour standings this season – where he enjoys a comfortable lead – and sparked interest from many World Tour teams. Eventually, the Belgian decided to accept Trek Factory Racing’s offer, where he is going to race alongside Fabian Cancellara, a three-time winner of both Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. There, Edward will be an important addition to the team’s Classics roster, where he’ll try to prove what he’s worth, and also make a name for himself by landing a big result.

With just a few weeks left until the end of the season, Edward is focused on finishing the year on a high and has every chance of doing this judging by his recent form, which recently saw him finish 8th in the Grand Prix de Fourmies. But before embarking in his last races with Topsport Vlaanderen, the talented Belgian rider took some time to talk for Cafe Roubaix about his solid year and the goals he has for 2016, when he’ll race for Trek and

– Edward, how would you rate your 2015 season?

I think this is my best season so far. I expected last year to make a step to become stronger, but I didn’t expect this step to be so big. My results and style of racing gave me confidence that I can win nice races in the future.

– What improvements do you feel you’ve made?

I’ve become stronger in general, and this was obvious in the Classics, which suit me, because I’m explosive on the small Flemish hills. My sprint is something I really discovered, I knew I was fast, but not that I could get such good results in massive sprints. Now that I know what my strong points and strong races are, I can make a selection where I want to be good. Discovering myself in different types of races is coming to an end. I know I’m not a climber, so I’m not going to try and follow other riders on long climbs. Thatss something I would’ve tried in the past.

– Which of the results you got was the most important for you and why?

My second place in Dwars Door Vlaanderen is the most important for me. I had hoped to win a race like that in my career, but I thought that moment would be much further in the future, when I’ll be older and stronger. Now it seems that I can already win this kind of races this year. I didn’t expect this.

– At the other end, is there a race which has left you disappointed?

The Monuments I did this year were a little bit disappointing, I finished both of them (ed. – Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix), which is a good evolution compared to last year. But there were some expectations from the team and other people after my good results in previous Flemish races. I think I’m not strong enough yet to be in the front at the end of those races, but maybe next year I can get further than this year. I’m convinced that it is a matter of time.

– In what other races will you go until the end of the season?

I don’t know my program for the last part of season yet. But there are still some nice races, such as Paris-Tours. The other races are in Belgium, and I hope to do as good as possible in the last month of this season.

– Looking behind on the two years spent with Topsport Vlaanderen, how was that period?

I had a really good time with the team. The atmosphere is unique, because we’re all young Flemish guys. The team gave me the chances at the right moment and supported me, and I’m very thankful of that. I learned how to race and make better decisions in the important moments. In the past I’ve spent too much energy in stupid actions on wrong moments.

– You recently signed with Trek Factory Racing. What stood behind this decision?

There were some different teams who contacted me, so I took time to make the decision, because I think it’s a very important moment in my career. Trek Factory Racing is a team with some strong riders, they have Fabian Cancellara for the Classics, and I hope I can learn some tricks for the future. Furthermore, I think Trek is a team where I can get some chances gor myself to get some results in the Spring Classics, they have a good structure in the team and I think the bikes are top level.

– What means for you to join a World Tour team? How important do you think this step will be for your development?

I was hoping to make this step at the end of this season, so I’m very happy that I achieved that goal. I think this step will make me even stronger, because I can ride big races the whole season and maybe also do a Grand Tour. I’m really looking forward to it.

– What do you hope from your first season with the team?

I hope that we can win a big Classic with the team. I want to do my best to help my teammates to win, but I also hope I can go for my own chances to win races. Riding a Grand Tour is also something I hope to do next year.

– Besides the Classics, you showed good skills also for short stage races. In the future, are you thinking about targeting also these races?

I don’t know yet. First I want to try to do as good as possible in the Classics, because I really love them. I think to win stage races, I have to work more on my time trial. But the Classics and sprints are my priority at the moment.

– What are your biggest goals for the years to come?

Winning a Classic is one of my dreams, and Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are my favourites. Winning a stage in the Tour de France is also something I dream about, because it is the biggest race in the world, with the best riders participating there.

2015 World Championships – Road Race Startlist

Argentina: Daniel Diaz, Maximiliano Richeze.

Australia: Simon Clarke, Mitchell Docker, Luke Durbridge, Simon Gerrans, Adam Hansen, Heinrich Haussler, Mathew Hayman, Michael Matthews, Jay McCarthy.

Austria: Marco Haller, Georg Preidler, Lukas Pöstlberger.

Belarus: Yauheni Hutarovich, Vasil Kiryienka, Kanstantsin Siutsou.

Belgium: Tiesj Benoot, Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert, Iljo Keisse, Jens Keukeleire, Nikolas Maes, Greg Van Avermaet, Stijn Vandenbergh, Sep Vanmarcke.

Brazil: Antonio Garnero, Kleber Ramos.

Canada: Ryan Anderson, Guillaume Boivin, Antoine Duchesne, Hugo Houle, Ryan Roth, Michael Woods.

Chile: Gonzalo Garrido.

Colombia: Carlos Alzate, Winner Anacona, Edwin Avila, Alex Cano, Daniel Jaramillo, Miguel Angel Lopez, Jarlinson Pantano, Carlos Quintero, Rigoberto Uran.

Costa Rica: Andrey Amador, Juan Carlos Rojas, Cesar Rojas Villegas.

Croatia: Kristijan Durasek, Radoslav Rogina.

Czech Republic: Jan Barta, Karel Hnik, Roman Kreuziger, Jiri Polnicky, Zdenek Stybar, Peter Vakoč.

Denmark: Lars Ytting Bak, Matti Breschel, Rasmus Guldhammer, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Michael Mørkøv, Michael Valgren.

Ecuador: Byron Guama.

Eritrea: Mekseb Debesay.

Estonia: Tanel Kangert, Rein Taaramäe.

France: Julian Alaphilippe, Nacer Bouhanni, Mickael Delage, Arnaud Démare, Tony Gallopin, Cyril Lemoine, Sebastien Minard, Julien Simon, Florian Vachon.

Germany: John Degenkolb, Johannes Fröhlinger, Simon Geschke, André Greipel, Christian Knees, Paul Martens, Tony Martin, Marcel Sieberg, Paul Voss.

Great Britain: Steven Cummings, Alex Dowsett, Andrew Fenn, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Scott Thwaites, Adam Yates.

Greece: Polychronis Tzortzakis.

Guatemala: Manuel Rodas.

Italy: Daniele Bennati, Fabio Felline, Vincenzo Nibali, Giacomo Nizzolo, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato, Matteo Trentin, Diego Ulissi, Elia Viviani.

Ireland: Sam Bennett, Connor Dunne.

Japan: Yukiya Arashiro, Fumiyuki Beppu, Kohei Uchima.

Kazakhstan: Arman Kamyshev, Alexey Lutsenko, Ruslan, Tleubayev.

Latvia: Gatis Smukulis.

Lithuania: Gediminas Bagdonas, Ramunas Navardauskas, Evaldas Siskevicius.

Luxembourg: Laurent Didier, Jean-Pierre Drucker, Alex Kirsch.

Netherlands: Lars Boom, Tom Dumoulin, Sebastian Langeveld, Pim Ligthart Robert Gesink, Bauke Mollema, Niki Terpstra, Dylan van Baarle, Jos van Emden.

New Zeeland: Sam Bewley, Greg Henderson, Jesse Sergent.

Norway: Edvald Boasson Hagen, Vegard Breen, Sven Erik Bystrøm, Alexander Kristoff, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Vegard Stake Laengen.

Poland: Maciej Bodnar, Michal Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Rafal Majka, Tomasz Marczynski, Maciej Paterski.

Portugal: Rui Costa, Jose Gonçalves, Nelson Oliveira.

Romania: Serghei Tvetcov.

Russia: Pavel Brutt, Sergei Chernetskiy, Pavel Kochetkov, Sergey Lagutin, Alexey Tsatevich, Ilnur Zakarin.

Serbia: Ivan Stevic.

Slovakia: Michael Kolar, Juraj Sagan, Peter Velits.

Slovenia: Grega Bole, Borut Bozic, Kristijan Koren, Marko Kump, Luka Mezgec, Luka Pibernik.

South Africa: Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Daryl Impey.

South Korea: Sung Baek Park, Joon Yong Seo.

Spain: Imanol Erviti, Ion Izagirre, Juan Jose Lobato, Lluis Mas, Daniel Moreno, Ruben Plaza, Joaquim Rodriguez, Luis Leon Sanchez, Alejandro Valverde.

Switzerland: Michael Albasini, Silvan Dillier, Gregory Rast.

Ukraine: Vitaliy Buts, Andriy Grivko, Andriy Khripta, Mykhaylo Kononenko, Denys Kostyuk, Oleksandr Polivoda.

United States: Brent Bookwalter, Lawson Craddock, Tyler Farrar, Alex Howes, Ben King, Taylor Phinney.

2015 World Championships – ITT Startlist

Andorra: David Albos.

Argentina: Manuel Rodas.

Australia: Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn.

Austria: Matthias Brändle, Lukas Pöstlberger.

Belarus: Vasil Kiryienka, Kanstantsin Siutsou.

Belgium: Yves Lampaert, Jurgen Van Den Broeck.

Bulgaria: Nikolay Mihaylov.

Canada: Hugo Houle, Ryan Roth.

Colombia: Rigoberto Uran.

Czech Republic: Jan Barta, Peter Vakoč.

Denmark: Christopher Juul-Jensen, Rasmus Quaade.

Dominican Republic: Rafael Meran, Norlandy Taveras.

Ecuador: Segundo Navarrete, Carlos Eduardo Quishpe.

Eritrea: Mekseb Debesay.

Estonia: Tanel Kangert, Rein Taaramäe.

France: Jerome Coppel, Romain Sicard.

Germany: Nikias Arndt, Tony Martin.

Great Britain: Stephen Cummings, Alex Dowsett.

Greece: Polychronis Tzortzakis, Neofytos Sakellaridis.

Italy: Adriano Malori, Moreno Moser.

Kazakhstan: Daniil Fominykh, Alexey Lutsenko.

Latvia: Aleksejs Saramotins, Gatis Smukulis.

Lithuania: Gediminas Bagdonas, Ramunas Navardauskas.

Macedonia: Georgi Popstefanov.

Moldova: Alexandr Pliuschin.

Mongolia: Tuulkhangai Tuguldur.

Netherlands: Tom Dumoulin, Wilco Kelderman.

New Zealand: Sam Bewley, Jesse Sergent.

Norway: Vegard Stake Laengen, Andreas Vangstad.

Poland: Marcin Bialoblocki, Maciej Bodnar.

Portugal: Nelson Oliveira.

Qatar: Ahmed Albourdainy.

Romania: Serghei Tvetcov.

Russia: Artem Ovechkin, Ilnur Zakarin.

Rwanda: Adrien Niyonshuti.

Spain: Jonathan Castroviejo, Luis Leon Sanchez.

Sweden: Gustav Larsson, Tobias Ludvigsson.

Switzerland: Silvan Dillier, Stefan Küng.

Ukraine: Andriy Grivko.

United States: Lawson Craddock, Taylor Phinney.

Uzbekistan: Muradjan Halmuratov.

2015 Vuelta a España – Second week stats

– Fabio Aru became the 20th Italian rider to wear the leader’s jersey

– Thanks to him, Italy strengthened its top position as the country with the most days spent in the leader’s jersey in all three Grand Tours

– For the first time since 1997, no Spanish rider got to lead the general classification in the first two weeks

– Nelson Oliveira, Kristian Sbaragli and Danny van Poppel claimed their maiden Grand Tour stage win

– Following Kristian Sbaragli’s success in Castellon, MTN-Qhubeka is now the Pro Continental team with the most Grand Tour victories this season, two

– Mikel Landa became the 50th Basque rider to nail a win since the inception of the event

– Victorious on Sotres, Joaquim Rodriguez is now the active Spanish cyclist with the most Grand Tour stage wins, 14

– There are ten teams who have scored a victory: Astana, BMC, Giant-Alpecin, Katusha, Lampre-Merida, LottoNL-Jumbo, Movistar, Orica-GreenEdge, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing

– 15 riders have retired during the second week of the race

– For the first time in 18 years, three Dutch cyclists won a stage of the Vuelta a España

– Caja Rural is the team with the most combativity awards so far – 5

– Average speed of the race during these two weeks was of 40,08 km/h

Rider of the week

Asked a couple of years ago what races he dreams of winning, Joaquim Rodriguez replied almost in the blink of an eye: the World Championships, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and a Grand Tour. Up until now, he came close of scoring a memorable win in each and everyone of these: in 2013, he was 500 meters short of taking the rainbow jersey, after being caught by Rui Costa on the finishing straight in Florence. It was a remake of the scenario seen earlier in the season at “La Doyenne”, where he came agonizingly close of landing the victory, before being surpassed by Daniel Martin. As these defeats weren’t enough, one year earlier, “Purito” also lost both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España during his prime, after wearing the leader’s jersey and being the overwhelming favourite with just a couple of stages left to go.

It’s true, in the same period of time, the Katusha rider has built himself a nice palmares, winning Grand Tour stages, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Volta a Catalunya, finishing first in the 2012 Flèche Wallonne, as well as taking back-to-back triumphs in the Giro di Lombardia (one of cycling’s Monuments), but the general impression was that once he came short of greatness on a regular basis, another big opportunity will never return, especially as he was getting older.

Lining-up for the 70th running of the Vuelta as one of the second-tier contenders, Joaquim Rodriguez has had a slow start and missed some important chances of making amends, two of these being Cumbre del Sol and Cortals d’Encamp, the latter being a stage he designed last year, at the organisers’ request. As a result, many were beginning to think the race will go down as another one in which the Catalan cyclist will disappoint and end up outside the podium.

Surprisingly, this time, there was more than meets the eye regarding “Purito”, who preferred to have a slow start and build up his condition in the second half of the race, instead of going all in from the first mountain stages. As a result, he steadily climbed in the overall classification, up until the point that the final week of the race finds him second in the general rankings – with a spectacular stage victory in the bag – and very confident that he can finally win a Grand Tour and fulfill one of his biggest dreams.

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