Degenkolb outpaces depleted main bunch to win stage four of Vuelta, Matthews holds red

Germany’s John Degenkolb notched up his first Grand Tour victory of the 2014 season, finishing well clear into Córdoba at the end of stage four of the Vuelta a España. The Giant-Shimano rider was by far the best out of a select group of riders thinned out by the day’s climbs, easily beating Vincente Reynes (IAM Cycling), Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge), Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) and Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp).

Tour of Spain 2014 stage - 4

Matthews and Martin were first and second on the preceding stage and once again were prominent, with the former retaining his red jersey of race leader. The bonus he picked up for third saw him move eight seconds clear of Nairo Quintana and 15 up on Alejandro Valverde (both Movistar).

Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) remain fourth and fifth.

Degenkolb was understandably elated after his victory. “I love the Vuelta and also the country. I am always happy to be here, enjoying the lifestyle and the food. It is great in Spain,” he enthused.

He is one of the best climbers out of those considered sprinters and proved that on the stage, making it over the two categorised climbs and having plenty left at the finish. He said that it made up for his disappointing showing on Monday when he was only 74th, one minute and three seconds back.

“Yesterday was quite a disappointment to not hang on as it was just too hard and too explosive,” he said. “Today I felt a little bit better. To handle the heat I need one or two days to adapt. I guess today it worked out.

“My team also did a great effort to hold me there and to motivate me. It is great to win another stage of the Vuelta.”

Stage 4: Mairena del Alcor (Sevilla) > Córdoba - Stage Result

Tuesday 26th August 2014

1. de
DEGENKOLB John
Team Giant-Shimano
04:02:55
2. es
REYNES MIMO Vicente
IAM Cycling
-
3. au
MATTHEWS Michael
Orica GreenEDGE
-

Click here to read the full report on CyclingTips.

McLay wins stage three of Tour de l’Avenir as Ewan crashes

British rider Daniel McLay triumphed on Tuesday’s third stage of the Tour de l’Avenir, proving quickest in the big bunch sprint that decided the 150.7 kilometre race from Montrond-les-Bains to Paray-le-Monial.

The 22 year old rider beat Magnus Cort Nielsen (Denmark), Fernando Gaviria (Colombia) and 95 others to the line. Stage two winner Caleb Ewan was expected to be in the thick of things at the end, but the Australian was one of several riders who crashed in the run-in to the line. Italian sprinter Davide Martinelli also came down.

Ewan eventually limped across the finish in 113th place, 3 minutes 51 seconds behind.

The stage was marked by a long distance move by Stefan Kung (Switzerland) and Piotr Brozyna (Poland). As a double European time trial champion, Kung was seen as having the horsepower to help the break go all the way to the line and so the British and Australian teams chased hard to prevent the gap going above two and a half minutes.

They were eventually reeled in four kilometres from the line, leading to the big bunch sprint and McLay’s win.


The overall lead remains with the Danish rider Asbjorn Kragh Andersen, who took over at the top after netting third on the first road stage.

He maintains his 16 second lead over the Norwegian rider Kristoffer Skjerping and is one minute 34 seconds up on the Dutchman Sjoert Van Ginneken.

Ewan had been fifth at the start of the stage but with his crash taking place outside the final three kilometres, he dropped to a distant 91st overall, 6 minutes and 3 seconds back.

The race becomes hillier from this point, guaranteeing a shakeup of the general classification.

Stage 3: Montrond-les-Bains > Paray-le-Monial - Stage Result

Tuesday 26th August 2014

1. gb
MCLAY Daniel
03:31:32
2. dk
CORT NIELSEN Magnus
Cult Energy Vital Water
-
3. co
GAVIRIA Fernando
-

Cavendish returns to winning ways in Tour du Poitou-Charentes

Mark Cavendish clocked up his first win since crashing out on day one of the Tour de France, proving quickest in the bunch gallop which decided the opening stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes in France.


The Omega Pharma Quick Step rider beat Maxime Daniel (AG2R La Mondiale), Roy Jans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Rudy Barbier (Roubaix Lille Metropole) and David Menut (BigMat – Auber 93) to the line after a good lead out inside the final ten kilometres by his fellow riders.

Team-mate Mark Renshaw was ninth while another Australian, Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge), was tenth.

While the riders immediately behind him aren’t as quick as those he normally sprints against, the victory is an important one for Cavendish as it shows the shoulder he separated in the Tour is working normally. It also gives him a chance to rebuild his confidence after what was the worst injury of his career.

“The team was incredible today,” said Cavendish said. “We rode well, we protected ourselves from the wind but also sped up a bit to try and split the group. But the wind changed direction and it was impossible. The guys controlled perfectly regardless.

“With eight kilometers to go, with a crosswind, we started our leadout and it was perfect. I’m so proud of the guys, this was a real team victory today. Personally it’s a nice feeling to win again, especially after such a well-executed sprint. In the next few days we’ll see if we can try again and continue this winning mood.”

The success was Cavendish’s tenth win of the season, and also the 56th road success for his Omega Pharma Quick Step team in 2014.

Cavendish will wear the leader’s jersey on the 183.6 kilometre second stage from Marans to Noirt.

Stage 1: Jarnac > La Ronde - Stage Result

Tuesday 26th August 2014

1. gb
CAVENDISH Mark
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
04:47:06
2. fr
DANIEL Maxime
AG2R La Mondiale
-
3. be
JANS Roy
Wanty - Groupe Gobert
-

Report: two year deal for Boasson Hagen, team identity to be revealed Wednesday

Edvald Boasson Hagen will announce Wednesday where he will next compete as a pro rider, but according to VG.no it will not be an anticipated move to Tinkoff Saxo.

The 27 year old rider has been with Team Sky for the past five seasons. He is generally regarded as having stagnated there, with his rapid early progression stalling. In recent weeks he made clear that he would leave the team, and speculation mounted that he would sign with a squad with strong Scandinavian links, Tinkoff Saxo.

The possibility of that appeared to flounder when Oleg Tinkov, the Russian team owner, seemed to be critical of the rider in a series of tweets. “Although I adore Norwegian music, I don’t like some of the Norwegian “pro”-cyclists – they are messy and behave like girls. Shame,” he stated.

“Not sure if ahilles [sic] inflammation, luck of professionalism or bio passport data, what cause the person behave such unprofessional, image gone.”

Boasson Hagen has suffered from Achilles tendon problems during his time with Sky, and so the rant appeared to be directed at him.

Asked directly by one Twitter user if he was referring to Boasson Hagen, Tinkov’s answer confirmed that he was.

However, despite that, media reports stated that the team was still interested in the rider and hoped to finalise a deal.

That possibility seems to have come to an end, though, with Norwegian media reports saying that he will not be part of Tinkoff Saxo in 2015.

Click here to read the full story on CyclingTips.

Kreuziger case to be heard on September 11, verdict due September 22

The biological passport case involving Roman Kreuziger will go before a panel in just over two weeks’ time, with the Czech Cycling Federation confirming today that a date has been set for September 11 and that a ruling will follow.

Kreuziger

The Tinkoff Saxo rider is facing a possible lengthy ban due to irregularities in his biological passport; if he is deemed guilty of blood doping, the 2013 Amstel Gold Race winner would face a suspension of at least two years.

On June 28 Kreuziger and his Tinkoff Saxo team revealed that he was under investigation. He was not selected for the Tour de France, with the team stating then that his presence would be a distraction and would add to the pressure facing the riders.

However at the end of July the team said that in the absence of any movement on the part of the UCI, that it intended allowing him to ride the Tour of Poland and then the Vuelta a España.

The UCI followed up the team’s declaration by saying that it was handing the rider a provisional sanction. This action blocked his return in the Tour of Poland, and made his planned participation in the Vuelta a España unlikely.

Kreuziger appealed this decision to CAS, claiming he had done nothing wrong.

“I am deeply frustrated by this current situation, which makes it impossible for me to do my job and ride my bike,” he stated on August 4. “I’m not a cheat, and I have not committed any doping offence. Experts confirm that there is no evidence of any alleged anti-doping rule violation in my case.”

However last Wednesday the court ruled that the UCI’s provisional suspension was within the rules.

The Czech Cycling Federation today announced that the Arbitration Commission of the Czech Olympic Committee will discuss the case on September 11 and will announce its verdict 11 days later on September 22.

Click here to read the full story on CyclingTips.

Contador on leg recovery: ‘Motivated but cautious’

Riding his first race since fracturing his tibia during the Tour de France, Alberto Contador is cautiously optimistic about his sensations but also suggests that things could go either way with his injured leg.

Alberto Contador is back racing after breaking his leg at the Tour de France ...

Alberto Contador is back racing after breaking his leg at the Tour de France …

The Tinkoff Saxo rider has been performing solidly in the race and sits ninth overall, 27 seconds behind the race leader Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge).

“We’re going day by day,” he said after Tuesday’s stage four finish, talking about his approach. “I have some discomfort, but it doesn’t go further than that. I’m passing each day and that motivates me, but also keep me cautious.”

The stage to Córdoba was marked by an attack by Alejandro Valverde, the co-leader of the Movistar team and the rider who had started the day in third overall. It caused some brief concern, but the long distance from the top of the final climb to the finish gave ample time for the group to be hauled back and for any potential time gains to be averted.

Contador said that he anticipated such a move, but also worked out that it was unlikely to succeed.

“An attack of Alejandro there is not surprising at all,” he said, assessing the stage. “It’s true I thought that maybe he will attack before, but also knew it was a little crazy because was very windy and for sure you had to spend a lot of energies, since at the end we have caught them.”

A bigger test will come at the end of Thursday’s sixth stage, which will be the first real summit finish in the race. Contador will face the biggest examination of his fitness then; until that point, the unrelenting heat also poses a challenge.

“On the bike we had temperatures of 46 and 47 degrees,” he said. “That takes its toll and made a demanding stage, but hey, we have passed it, the team has been very good and now it’s time to rest and take a cold shower.”

Belkin riders continue to inch upwards in Vuelta a España

The upwards trend of Belkin’s general classification riders continued at the Vuelta a España on Tuesday, with Wilco Kelderman and Robert Gesink both making progress. Their GC movement was thanks to the two categorised climbs which thinned the peloton down to 59 riders by the finish in Córdoba.

The Dutch team was eight in the opening time trial, putting Gesink and his team-mate 49th and 50th. Stage two jumped them up into the mid-thirties, then the uphill finish on Monday’s third stage resulted in a fourth place finish for Keldermann.

He improved to 11th with Gesink 13th; Tuesday’s stage put them tenth and 11th overall, and ensured the squad moved to the top of the general classification for teams.

“Temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius made it tough, but nevertheless I was able to keep myself at the front,” said Kelderman after the stage.

“The stage started quietly. A break took off, but it never took a big lead, which allowed the peloton to take it easy. From the first climbs, the pace went up considerably, however. I wasn’t able to sprint for the win, but at least I was up there.”

Directeur sportif Nico Verhoeven was pleased with what he saw from the duo, describing it as a perfect day. “Our three leaders, Laurens as well, all finished in the first group and moved up in the overall. We hoped that Paul Martens could get in the mix in the sprint, but it was too steep and hot for him.

“Tomorrow is definitely a stage for Moreno Hofland. He saved energy today and hopefully he can go head-to-head with Degenkolb and Michael Matthews.”

Gesink’s performance in the race will be followed with interest by many. He underwent heart surgery in May of year to correct a cardiac arrhythmia and believes the procedure has returned him to full health.

Reynes says runner-up slot behind Degenkolb is akin to a victory

He may have finished second to John Degenkolb on stage four of the Vuelta a España but Vicente Reynes was nevertheless very satisfied with his performance on Tuesday in Córdoba. The Spaniard is competing for the IAM Cycling team and knows that the showing is important in justifying its wildcard invitation to the race.

He’s also fought back from health issues, suffering chronic prostatitis earlier in the season, and relishes feeling good once again.

“This 2nd place is like a win,” he said after the stage. “I had a good day despite the heat. On the climbs, I’ve never felt so good…I guess the training camp in Bernina is really paying off. I would like to dedicate this result to the whole team and especially my coach Marcello Albasini, as well as the whole medical corps that worked so hard to get me well.

“Today, I stayed calm in the middle of the pack. And in the end, I found Degenkolb’s wheel and just followed that. When Tony Martin attacked, I chose to follow him since my only chance was to catch everyone by surprise, since the sprinters were going very fast. That’s why I launched my sprint as far back as 300 meters. I have no regrets; in any case, the best won today.”

Albasini said that he knew the riders was in decent condition, but admitted that he was surprised that he made it over the day’s two climbs with the ever-dwindling main bunch.

“I’ve always believed in Vicente’s quality,” he said, “[but] I had no idea that he would be able to match the bunch over the climbs. He did it on his own and this second place is his great result.

“During our training in the Grison Alps, he was already in good shape, and there he was able to bring his level up another significant notch. By sprinting for the win, he has also reassured us all that he is no longer in pain, which is now nothing but a bad memory. With this form, I think he has a chance to surprise us more than once.”

Is Caja Rural’s future threatened by bike supplier Vivelo’s legal claim?

The Pro Continental licence of the Caja Rural team is reportedly under threat due to a legal battle which has broken out between the Spanish squad and the Bulgarian bike company which provides its Vivelo machines to the team to use.

Javier Aramendia takes a breather after a warm second stage.

Javier Aramendia takes a breather after a warm second stage.

According to Cycle 21, the company is claiming breach of contract for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The company is still backer of the team this year but as the season has not yet ended, the suit only relates to the two fully-elapsed seasons.

Vivelo is claiming that the team did not return the team bikes to the company after the end of the two seasons and, according to Cycle 21, the penalty clause in place would require the team to pay 1,329,800 euros.

The company also has other complaints, including repeatedly-ignored requests to decrease the size of the Look logos on the team cars relative to that of Vivelo.

It is also disgruntled by what it says were the usage by Luis Leon Sanchez of time trial bikes by Pinarello and BMC rather than Vivelo. Although these bikes were camouflaged by a sticker of the official bike sponsor, the company argues that the frames were recognisable as being made by a competitor and were therefore of significant damage to its brand prestige.

According to Cycle 21, the company is set to take its complaint to the UCI. It suggests that if the Caja Rural team cannot clear its debts, that the UCI Licencing Commission could deny it a Pro Continental licence for 2015.

Read more here (Dutch)

Australia announces long list for Road World Championships

Cycling Australia announced the elite and under 23 men’s long team selections for the 2014 UCI Road World Championships which will be held in Ponferrada, Spain, from 21-28 September 2014 (official website here). The women’s long team will be announced by the end of August. The final teams will be announced in September.

Elite Men

Simon Clarke (Selby, VIC / Orica-GreenEDGE)
Zakkari Dempster (Bendigo, VIC / NetApp-Endura)
Rohan Dennis (Vale Park, SA / BMC)
Luke Durbridge (Bassendean, WA / Orica-GreenEDGE)
Nathan Earle (Hobart, TAS / Sky)
Cadel Evans (Barwon Heads, VIC / BMC)
Simon Gerrans (Jamieson, VIC / Orica-GreenEDGE)
Nathan Haas (Weston, ACT / Garmin-Sharp)
Adam Hansen (Edmonton, QLD / Lotto-Belisol)
Heinrich Haussler (Inverell, NSW / IAM Cycling)
Matt Hayman (Araluen, NSW / Orica-GreenEDGE)
Michael Hepburn (Brookfield, QLD / Orica-GreenEDGE)
Michael Matthews (Farrer, ACT / Orica-GreenEDGE)
Jay McCarthy (Fraser Coast, QLD / Tinkoff Bank Saxo-Bank)
Cameron Meyer (Helena Valley, WA / Orica-GreenEDGE)
Richie Porte (Hadspen, TAS / SKY)
Rory Sutherland (Canberra, ACT / Tinkoff Bank Saxo-Bank)
David Tanner (Williamstown, VIC / Belkin)

Under 23 Men

Harry Carpenter (Norwood, SA / Jayco-AIS)
Alexander Clements (Launceston, TAS / Jayco-AIS)
Caleb Ewan (Moss Vale, NSW / Jayco-AIS)
Campbell Flakemore (Howrah, TAS / Jayco-AIS / Avanti Racing)
Jack Haig (Bendigo, VIC / Jayco-AIS / Avanti Racing)
Jordan Kerby (Mango Hill, QLD / Drapac Pro Cycling)
Robert-Jon McCarthy (Glenelg, SA / An Post)
Robert Power (Midland, WA / Jayco-AIS)
Nicholas Schultz (Sunshine Coast, QLD / RC Roanne)
Samuel Spokes (Tamworth, NSW / Etixx Sports Nutrition)

Ice bucket challenge sweeps through pro peloton

It’s all over social media and, unsurprising, has reached into the pro peloton as well. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has had several high profile riders and personalities taking part in recent days, including two former Tour de France winners.

icebucket2

Chris Froome got the ball rolling when he, Pete Kennaugh and Team Sky’s coach Tim Kerrison got doused at the end of a Vuelta stage. Froome nominated GC rival Alberto Contador, who accepted and had his own dunking, as well as the Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme. The Frenchman obliged in front of several laughing ASO colleagues.

The Tour’s green jersey Peter Sagan also got in on the act, putting two bags of ice into the water prior to upending the whole lot over his head. He seemed a very willing participant; not surprising, really, when you consider the sweltering temperatures at the Vuelta a España.

Meanwhile Jens Voigt joined in at the USA Pro Challenge, giving himself an impromptu shower at a stage end.

You can see all the Ice Bucket Challenge videos in the pro peloton here.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed at CyclingTips:

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The feature photo was taken by Jered Gruber at Rocket Espresso’s factory in Milan where they make some of the best coffee machines on the planet. Rocket Espresso is a business owned by New Zealander Andrew Meo and Italian Daniele Berenbruch. You can see more of their lovely work and read their story at their website.