Kuurne Brussels Kuurne: Part II

After rolling out from Kuurne, the peloton allowed a break to accumulate about 8 minutes before they comfortably reeled the escapees back in. Riders tried again to breakaway, but no one could get a gap to stick. In the final 40km of the 200.7km course, 16 riders went clear. Below: the lead group passes under the finish line for the first of 2 circuits. Jasper Stuyven pulls.

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Greg Van Avermaet among the leaders.

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Less than a minute behind, Katusha and Cofidis worked to reel the dangerous break in.

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With 17km to go, Stuyven attacked the break. The 23 year old neo pro won a stage at the 2015 Vuelta a España with a broken scaphoid and just yesterday was attempting to bridge to the winning move in Omloop Het Niuewsblad when he slid out on a corner and had to settle for rejoining the chase group (he finished 9th overall).

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His legs bandaged from yesterday’s crash, Stuyven made himself as aero as possible to conserve energy against the winds.

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Tom Boonen, trying to catch his compatriot up the road.

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Antoine Duschene, in the chase group, rode with Stuyven under Axel Merckx at Bontrager (now Axeon Cycling).

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The peloton galloped after their competition.

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Stuyven’s gap held steady around 20 seconds as he time trialled in headwinds, crosswinds, and a tailwind. He’s been busy with more than just training recently as he opened a chocolate shop precisely 10 days ago, but it doesn’t seem to have affected his form. Barring a crash, the win was his with 2km to go and he let up in the finishing straight to sit up and savor the moment.

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Seventeen seconds later, the peloton fought it out for the bunch sprint. Repeating last year’s result, Kristoff came in second with Nacer Bouhanni finishing third.

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Kristoff and Bouhanni.

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Stuyven’s teammates celebrated his win.

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The peloton trickled in.

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Hugo Houle and Antoine Duschane ride for different teams but the Canadians are roommates during the season in France.

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A grimace from Luke Rowe as he finished nearly 2 minutes behind, yesterday’s effort having made a mark.

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After a disappointing Omloop Het Nieuwsblad which saw 4 crashes among the team, Orica had a better result today with sprint prodigy Caleb Ewan finishing 15th within the bunch sprint. Below: Luke Durbridge and Mitch Docker.

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Sergey Lagutin and Alexey Tsatevich.

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The Stuyven fan club proudly waved their flags and sang songs, much to the amusement of the victor.

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The podium.

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Among the most intriguing prizes in cycling is the stuffed donkey awarded to the winner. For a brief background on why the town of Kuurne is donkey mad, see the final paragraph in this race preview by INRNG.

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The Classics are just getting underway, but this weekend will do it for me for Belgium racing for the time being. To see 2 deserving Belgian riders at different points in their careers win Omloop and Kuurne has made it well worth the trip!

Categories: Belgium | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2016: Part I

I had every intention of asking for autographs this morning when I arrived at sign on. But then I remembered I was in Belgium and, despite the beautiful sunshine, the cold temperatures and fierce wind quickly changed my mind. My general rule is that if my fingers are too cold to remove and replace the cap to my marker, I don’t ask for signatures. It’s not fair to the riders! Nevertheless, it was a great sign on.

 

Crelan – Vastgoedserice.

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With everyone feeling the cold, it was no surprise that many teams opted to linger in their buses. Leaving the emcee to have to draw out interviews with the early teams to keep the audience entertained. The boys of One Pro Cycling dealt quite well with this, having a laugh as the emcee, upon learning that Yanto Barjer was Welsh, launched into a story by proclaiming, “Oh I had a girl from Wales once…” He went on to comment on the plethora of beards in the team, discussed homesickness, asked which riders were single and looking for a Belgian girlfriend. DSC08799

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I didn’t catch the details as to who this guy was (my Dutch being near nonexistent), but he had several caricatures to present to several riders.

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Canadian Ryan Anderson spent time in Belgium during his days with SpiderTech and clearly made an impression on the locals as he was one of the few riders to receive a caricature.

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Team 3M had the best strategy for dealing with the cold: wear real clothes. DSC08806

 

Fortuneo Vital Concept.

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Team leader Yauheni Hutarovich spent a moment checking his bike.

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Boris Vallee, the lone Belgian on the team, stopped for an interview.

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Topsport Vlaanderen.

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Southeast Venezuela.

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Cofidis.

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Among the transfers since last season, I’m really excited to see Chris Juul Jensen joining Orica. He’s a dependable rider and, based on quotes, podcasts, and a handful of interactions I’ve had with him, he’s hilarious. I imagine he’s fitting in well with the Aussie squad. So when the emcee started up with his slightly off key humor (maybe it’s a Belgian thing?), Juul Jensen went toe to toe with him, much to the crowd’s delight.

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IAM.

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Giant.

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Lotto Jumbo.

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Maarten Wynants multitasks.

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A well bundled Tom Devriendt of Wanty Groupe Gobert.

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Hugo Houle.

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BMC.

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Discussing Greg Van Avermaet’s win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad yesterday.

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With Andre Greipel out for the time being with broken ribs, Jens Debusschere was among the cards Lotto Soudal had to play today.

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Sprinter Niccolo Bonifazio and young Classics rider Jasper Stuyven.

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Alexander Kristoff, second in the 2015 edition of KBK, looking to improve this year.

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Sergey Lagutin doesn’t quite get the joke while a teammate laughs.

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Roompot Oranje.

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Elia Viviani was the protected rider for Sky today.

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Regardless of his results, Tom Boonen is always well received in Belgium.

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Tinkoff.

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Maciej Bodnar and Adam Blythe.

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The peloton queued up ahead of the start.

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The Jasper Stuyven fan club was out in full force.

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A marching band in wool jerseys? Only in Belgium.

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The peloton rolls out.

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Photos and recap of the final kilometers coming shortly in Part II!

 

 

Categories: Belgium | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2016: Men

Because the men’s race was broadcasted live on TV with 95 kilometers remaining and was thoroughly covered on twitter, when I ran out of the pub to the climb, it was undeniably more exciting.

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The early 12 man break had started to fall apart as fatigue began to set in. With just under 50km to go, 4 riders of no particular consequence had a slight advantage over a powerful foursome: Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, Tiesj Benoot, and Luke Rowe.

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Zak Dempster.

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Scott Thwaites and Sylvain Chavanel.

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The peloton, led by 4 of Etixx Quick Step’s strongest, was just over a minute in arrears.

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Daniel Oss and Antoine Duschene.

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Ryan Anderson and Manuel Quinziato.

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Hugo Houle followed teammate Gedaminas Bagdonas. DSC08770

 

Steele Von Hoff.

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Michel Kreder got a not-so-subtle free ride up the Wolvenberg.

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Mitch Docker and Jens Keukeleire. DSC08776

 

Michael Schär and Sam Bewley. DSC08778.

Elia Viviani, Michal Golas, and Josef Cerny.

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So with 11 of 13 climbs completed, how did the last 50km go?

 

Sagan’s group caught the leaders before long and the winning move formed, composed of Sagan, Van Avermaet, Benoot, Rowe, and Alexis Gougeard. The world champion took lots of long pulls while his fellow escapees were happy to take a rest. The quintet never had more than about 50 seconds but it was all they needed. Sagan eventually remembered he wasn’t supposed to deliver his competitors to the finish line fresh and everyone took their turns sitting in the wind, although Gougeard, whether he was tired or playing at tactics, routinely missed his pulls until Rowe told the 22 year old to get up there.

 

The kilometers ticked by and Etixx Quick Step sent their big engines, Tony Martin and Stijn Vandenbergh, to the front. At 6km to go, the peloton trailed by 50 seconds, and though they slashed the gap with each passing kilometer, it was too late. Gougeard was dropped. Tension seemed high among the remaining 4 in the final kilometer. Sagan and Van Avermaet both have a string of near misses while Benoot is an up-and-comer and Rowe was searching for his first Classics podium. Someone would miss the podium altogether.

 

In the closing meters, Van Avermaet had had enough and went for it. Sagan jumped but never caught the Belgian’s wheel. Van Avermaet continued his sprint, winning by over a length. Sagan came in second and Benoot rounded out the podium.

Categories: Belgium | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2016: women

I kept myself up far too late last night, agonizing over where to watch OHN today. Intent on seeing both the women’s and men’s races, I poured over the race books, Google maps, and train schedules until I realized that there was just one climb that both races would tackle: the Wolvenberg. I’d never heard of this climb before but because it was walkable (by my very generous definition) from the Oudenaarde train station, it was a no brainer. As much as I love meeting riders at sign on or seeing the inevitable ear-to-ear grin on the winner’s face during the podium ceremony, nothing beats experiencing the peloton on a climb.DSC08694

 

Having arrived characteristically early, I walked a few kilometers along the course in the cold, crisp morning until the one and only pub I’d passed opened. I could only follow the women’s race on twitter as–typically, disappointingly–there was no live TV coverage whatsoever.

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With no idea as to whether the peloton would be all together or split open two thirds through the 123 kilometer stage, it was both exciting and frustrating to be totally in the dark.

 

Jessie Daams held a slim 30 second lead on the field.

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With teams like Orica AIS and Boels Dolmans leading the chase, solo Daams never stood a chance.

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Tiffany Cromwell.

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Lizzie Armitstead, debuting the rainbow stripes, was safely tucked behind her Boels Dolmans teammates.

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Despite the dry conditions, Coryn Rivera’s kit revealed the messy nature of racing.

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Climbing.

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Alice Barnes.

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Hayley Simmonds.

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Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin.

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I ran back to the pub to take advantage of their wifi and naively hoping the final kilometers–if not the finishing straight–would be televised. Twitter updates were sporadic but consistently described Armitstead as looking strong and constantly working her way to the front. When she did make a move, it stuck and the world champion took victory in her first race of the season.

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La Méditerranéenne stage 1 TTT

Today saw a miserably cold, wet afternoon as 16 teams rounded the usually scenic lake at Banyoles to complete a 5.5km team time trial in the opening stage of La Mediterraneenne. Having ridden the 20km from Girona to Banyoles, my fingers were sufficiently numb for much of the afternoon, so I hope you’ll excuse me for missing any decent photos of a couple of the teams–oops.

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The first team to take to the start ramp was Armee De Terre.

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Euskadi Basque Country.

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Team Vorarlberg.

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Veranclassic-AGO.

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Rally Cycling. The American squad finished the course in 8th place and on the same time as AG2R.

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Danny Pate.

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Roubaix Lille Metropole.

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HP BTP-Auber 93.

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Bardiani.

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Androni Gicattoli-Sidermec.

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Delko Marseille Provence KTM.

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Fortuneo-Vital Concept. Below: Pierrick Fedrigo warming up.

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Cofidis.

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Direct Energie would finish in third place overall.

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Antoine Duchesne.

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Astana. With just 6 riders, Astana set the fastest time of 6:00.

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FDJ, fielding a full squad of 8, beat Astana to take the stage by half a second, officially with the same time of 6:00. Below: Arnaud Démare.

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AG2R. Below: Jan Bakelants.

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It was a wonderful surprise to hear the familiar voice of Daniel Mangeas at the finish line. He’s retired from announcing the Tour de France but is still calling races.

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FDJ celebrated their team victory.

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Matthieu Ladagnous received the first yellow jersey of the 4 day race.

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Andrei Grivko in the green jersey.

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Marc Sarreau, the best young rider.

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From here, the race will cross France in 2 stages and finish up in Italy. I won’t be following it the rest of the way but I do expect to get to a couple more races this month!

Categories: Spain | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana stage 5

A million times during the off season, I meant to write a new post, but there was always something else to divert my attention. You can be sure now that the peloton is back to racing in Europe, they’ve got my full attention!

 

The fifth and final stage of the Valencia race was scheduled to start surprisingly early at 9:30, meaning sign on would begin at 8:30, not quite 30 minutes after sunrise.

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Things didn’t quite go according to schedule, with preparations for the start/finish area moving slowly and most teams not even arriving until 9am. No matter, the crowd waited patiently in the morning chill while JuanMa, Spain’s leading cycling emcee, entertained the crowd, until the riders began to trickle in.

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Nicholas Roche.

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Even though I was in prime position to ask for just about any autograph I think of, I’m always a bit overwhelmed at my first race of the year and today was no exception. I love watching the steady flow of the sport’s best athletes punching the clock on their way to work.

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Fabio Aru, usually tense and focused later in the season, was relaxed as could be this morning.

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Everyone wanted a moment of Joaquim Purito Rodriguez’s time.

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Waiting for the day to start.

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Ion Izagirre, Dayer Quintana, and Jesús Herrada.

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A collection of wounds for Izagirre.

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Winner of stage 4 and race leader Wout Poels chatted with Tom Boonen.

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Long time staples of the peloton, Matti Breschel and Boonen.

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The peloton rolled out and to do 4 laps on the finishing circuit as part of the stage’s neutral start.

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As it was early yet and the day was expected to end in a sprint, most of the riders took it easy and talked with their compatriots on other teams. By the final neutral lap, Sky had gotten organized, placing a few riders around Wout Poels just to keep him safe for as long as possible.

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The race thus far went as expected. A small break went free but the peloton never gave them much more than a minute’s advantage. Katusha rode at the front for much of the 120 kilometer course as the peloton fought against windy conditions.

 

I followed the events on the big screen, under which bored soigneurs lingered until it was time to be useful.

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The bunch easily caught the escapees before entering Valencia for the first of 6 circuits. Luis Leon Sanchez, borrowing the green jersey from Wout Poels, led the peloton along with Sky and Etixx Quick Step riders.

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When Italy’s Mirco Maestri jumped, Stijn Vandenbergh was the only rider to follow. The duo soon opened up 30 seconds.

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Bardiani and Cofidis both moved to the front with opposing intentions. The French squad wanted to catch the escapees and set up Nacer Bouhanni for the sprint while Bardiani aimed to slow down the bunch to help their teammate up the road.

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Kristoffer Skjerping and Breschel.

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Alexy Vermuelen.

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Joe Dombrowski.

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One lap closer to the finish, Vandenbergh and Maestri continued to trade off turns at the front.

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Cofidis was getting serious.

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The urban circuit featured about half a dozen turns and roundabouts in only 2 kilometers.

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Three laps to go with the break’s advantage dwindling down to under 20 seconds.

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Skjerping and Breschel still together.

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A loyal domestique, Vandenbergh doesn’t get many opportunities to go for the win himself. Knowing this was a rare chance for him, he attacked the Italian with 2 laps to go.

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Unsure of how much distance he’d gained, the big Belgian risked a glance over his shoulder.

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The ever approaching peloton.

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Cofidis feeling the pressure to chase down Vandenbergh.

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Niki Terpstra and Alex Peters.

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Coming through the finish, the clang of the bell signaled last lap.

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Jorge Arcas and Dayer Quintana, winner of last month’s Tour de San Luís.

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Will they catch him or won’t they? The peloton chased hard to catch Vandenbergh and were quickly taking back open road from the Belgian—but the peloton had left it too late. The bunch was still 25 meters behind when Etixx Quick Step earned their second stage win of the 67th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

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With an emphatic fist in the air, Stijn Vandenbergh took his first win since the Tour of Ireland in 2007.

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Dylan Groenewegen won the bunch sprint for second place, with Raymond Kreder in third, and Bouhanni, widely considered the day’s favorite, in fourth. Jonas Van Genechten rounded out the top 5.

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Tom Boonen smiled at his teammate’s victory.

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The peloton.

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Terpstra and Carlos Verona.

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Poels raised his arms to celebrate and then let out a deep breath, happy to have secured the overall win.

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Beñat Intxausti.

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After crossing the finish line, riders rolled up the road to grab a drink from their soigneurs before turning around to reach the team buses. Below: time trial world champion, Vasil Kiryienka.

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Even after watching for him all day, it was only as he headed to the bus that I finally spotted Pierre Rolland. I’m not quite used to seeing the Frenchman in bright green argyle yet!

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Aru and Diego Rosa.

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An irritated Bouhanni.

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He’s not called Big Stijn for nothing. Vandenbergh claimed his trophy as the winner of the stage.

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Poels received the leader’s jersey for the final time.

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The fastest way to clear out a pack of photographers?

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Champagne.

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Final podium:

1st Wout Poels

2nd Luis Leon Sanchez

3rd Beñat Intxausti

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The podium ceremony was the Wout Poels shows. Not only did he win the overall GC, he also took the combined jersey, the KOM jersey, and the points jersey.

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Just for fun, compare Poel’s leg to those of the podium hostess.

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Poels returned to the podium a fifth time, this time accompanied by his Sky teammates to collect the prize for best team.

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Today’s 20 autographs came from

15 Ion Izagirre

16 Dayer Quintana

23 Vasil Kiryienka

24 Leopold König

26 David Lopez

28 Nicholas Roche

31 Tom Boonen

33 Carlos Verona

35 Dan Martin

37 Niki Terpstra

44 Luis Leon Sanchez

56 Paul Martens

57 Alexy Vermuelen

62 Matti Breschel

63 Joe Dombrowski

66 Kristopher Skjerping

81 Nacer Bouhanni

85 Cyril Lemoine

86 Daniel Navaro

88 Geoffrey Soupe

 

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Judging by how many people had come out to watch the race early on a chilly Sunday, I’ve got my fingers crossed that the organizers and sponsors consider the race a success. The race dates back to 1929 but was cancelled after 2008 due to finances. Let’s hope the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana becomes an annual race once again.

Categories: Spain | Tags: , | 6 Comments

2015 Worlds: Charismatic Sagan Wins in Style

Representing 44 nations, 192 riders lined up at the University of Richmond in Sunday’s elite men’s road race for a short neutral roll out before beginning the 261.4km course that included 16 laps of 16km through Richmond, Virginia. The course, with just 3 climbs; 2 of them cobbled, the longest within the final kilometer, and a false flat dragging into the finish, left the experts with a lengthy grocery list of possible winners. Peter Sagan, Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb, Michael Matthews, Niki Terpstra, Greg Van Avermaet, Alejandro Valverde were among the favorites and, if the rain clouds were to downpour as forecasted, another handful of names had to be added to the contenders.

 

In a part of the country where pro cycling does not have a strong foothold, the winding climb up Libby Hill and punchy 23rd Street were packed with fans well before the race got underway.

 

The Dutch led by Jos van Emden.

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Belgians Nikolas Maes, Philippe Gilbert, and Tom Boonen.

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The field completed an early lap.

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Greg Henderson and defending world champion Michal Kwiatkowski.

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Though only a 6 man team, the Americans rode a strong race, eventually placing both Ben King and Taylor Phinney in the break and launching a late attack from Tyler Farrar. Below: Lawson Craddock, Farrar, and Brent Bookwalter.

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Great Britain’s Alex Dowsett in the bunch.

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Luka Mezgec, Bookwalter, and Danielle Bennati.

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With just 2 teammates, Peter Sagan hid himself for most of the race.

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A mechanical saw Phinney spend time at the neutral Shimano service vehicle and the American car before he eventually swapped bikes.

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Ben King.

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Racing his 11th world championships on Sunday, Alejandro Valverde has earned 2 silver and 4 bronze medals, finishing outside the top ten only twice, but never the gold.

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Phinney.

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A quick wheel change for a Ukrainian.

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Gilbert, participating in his 16th consecutive world championships, with Simon Geschke and Tony Martin of Germany.

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Luke Durbridge, Rui Costa, and Sam Bewley.

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Costa Rican Andrey Amador.

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Kiwi Jesse Sergent, taking a pull, was in the early break which included Colombian Carlos Alzate, Serbian Ivan Stevic, Irish Conor Dunne, Ukrainian Andriy Khripta, Romania’s Serghei Tsvetkov, South Korea’s Sung Park, and American Ben King.

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The peloton let the break hover around 3 to 4 minutes, occasionally pulling back to under 2 minutes before sitting up and letting it stretch out once more.

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Richmond-born King was greeting with massive cheers every lap of the course.

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Maciej Bodnar, who played an important role in Kwiatkowski’s 2014 world championship, again served his national teammate and friend.

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Alexander Kristoff.

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A relaxed peloton finished the last of 3 climbs in quick succession, knowing they had 12 flat kilometers to recover before repeating the climbs.

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Kwiatkowski, Christian Knees, Matt Hayman, and John Degenkolb.

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Tom Dumoulin.

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The original break shed a few riders over the laps.

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Dropped from the break and riding in no man’s land, Serbia’s Ivan Stevic gave the crowd an enthusiastic thumbs up for their support.

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The Netherlands and Poland were among the countries that most often sat on the front of the peloton.

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Dylan van Baarle.

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Ben Swift and Kristijan Koren.

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Kristoff and Sagan, 2 Classics sprinters expected to perform well on the Richmond course.

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A powerful domestique with an aptitude for the Classics and bunch sprints, Lithuania’s Ramunas Navardauskas was considered a dark horse among dark horses.

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Van Emden spent an enormous amount of time on the front.

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Boonen won the world championships a decade ago.

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Hugo Houle.

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Done in the break, Sergent and Carlos Alzate soaked in the crowd.

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The next break to go was the trio of Kanstantsin Siutsou, Guillaume Boivin, and Phinney.

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Robert Gesink took a flyer off the peloton.

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Durbridge.

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Fresh off his first grand tour, Canadian Antoine Duchesne participated in his first elite road race at the world championships.

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Mezgec and Kwiatkowski.

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Ryan Roth.

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National and trade teammates, Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews both aimed for a strong person result in Richmond.

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Michael Woods, riding his second world championships, will move up from Optum to Cannondale Garmin in 2016.

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Winner Anacona.

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Boivin and Phinney.

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Paul Martens, Sagan, and Duchesne.

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Michael Woods and Ryan Anderson.

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King.

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Johannes Frohlinger.

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With just a couple of laps to go and their work done for the day, a large group sat up. Chris Juul-Jensen waved to Danish fans on the corner while Daryl Impey and Jay McCarthy enjoyed a chin wag.

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The group rolled on.

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Juraj Sagan and Michael Kolar of Slovakia both did not finish the race but knew their remaining teammate, Peter Sagan, was more than capable of finishing without them.

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Kwiatkowski and Matteo Trentin.

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Degenkolb.

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Zdenek Stybar would have benefitted had the predicted rain fallen but the course stayed dry all day.

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Gesink and Daniel Moreno.

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In an all hand on deck approach, sprinter Andre Greipel took a huge pull on the front of the peloton to help reel in the break before sitting up.

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Hitting the 23rd Street hill for the final time, Sagan emerged from hiding to surge ahead, gaining a small advantage on the following decent. The handful of seconds he had on his chasers gave him a little wiggle room on the Governor Street climb.

 

Cameras at the ready as the crowd anticipated seeing a solo Sagan fly around the corner in the final kilometer of the race.

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Sagan had a few seconds on the peloton.

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Turning the final corner, Sagan could see the finish line 700 meters up the road.

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A group of nearly 2 dozen riders stormed up the Governor Street climb in desperate pursuit of the dangerous Slovakian.

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Rigoberto Uran led the charge with Kristoff, Greg Van Avermaet, and Tom Dumoulin riding for their lives.

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Van Avermaet.

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Viacheslav Kuznetsov.

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Michael Matthews and Rein Taaramae.

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Kwiatkowski following Matthews’ wheel.

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Silvian Dillier and Bookwalter.

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Luis Leon Sanchez.

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With the chasers barreling down upon him, Sagan crossed the finish line alone, 3 seconds ahead of the followers, with his arms open in an gesture of celebration.

 

Navardauskas was the first Lithuanian to ever stand on the podium at the elite men’s road race.

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A sorely disappointed Matthews won the bunch sprint to earn his first elite medal at the world championships.

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In what was probably the most entertaining podium ceremony the world championships has ever witnessed, the Slovakian leapt off the podium, kicking his heels together, and hugged his support crew off stage. Eschewing the stairs, the charismatic Sagan jumped back on the podium with a Slovakian flag. He also pounded his chest with a tight fist, as he did when finishing second to Ruben Plaza on stage 16 at this year’s Tour de France, a salute to Matthew McConaughey’s character in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” when he told the press he had, “big balls.” He was now ready to receive his gold medal and the rainbow jersey from UCI president Brian Cookson.

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1st Peter Sagan

2nd Michael Matthews

3rd Ramunas Navardauskas

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2015 Worlds: Austria takes Gold in Jr Men’s Road Race

Austria came away from the junior men’s road race with their first medal of the 2015 World Championships in Richmond, Virginia after Felix Gall held off France’s Clement Betouigt-Suire who opted to bunny hop, rather than throw, his bike at the finish line.

 

The win came after 129.6km of racing on slick roads with the Americans constantly posing threat, but ultimately unable to put Adrien Costa on the podium. The opening kilometers saw a number of riders go down, most of whom would eventually abandon. Breaks formed and got reabsorbed throughout the race and it was only on the last lap that the winning group escaped. A trio of riders surged for the line, but Gall held off Betouigt-Suire and Denmark’s Rasmus Lund Pedersen to earn the rainbow jersey.

 

France’s riders taped cheat sheets to their stems to remember which countries and which specific riders to pay attention to.

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Under a gloomy sky on a chilly morning, Colombia’s Julian Cardona quietly objected to the weather.

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Belgium.

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USA.

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The peloton awaited the start gun.

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Riding 23rd Street for the first of 8 times.

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Jack Maddux and Julian Cardona grabbed a small advantage ahead of the second time up Libby Hill.

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One lap later, Maddux was dropped and Belgium chased the Colombian.

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Mongolia hung in for several laps despite an early crash and then suffering mechanical in the middle of climbing 23rd Street.

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The peloton hit the bottom of Libby Hill.

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The expected rain never amounted to more than a slight drizzle, but it was enough to leave the cobbles slick. A rider or 2 on just about every lap fishtailed at the bottom of Libby Hill, where the course dictated a tight right hand turn while hitting the cobbles.

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Fishtailing and crashing weren’t problems on 23rd Street, though plenty of riders struggled to keep their momentum going.

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Leo Appelt, winner of the junior men’s time trial, had a bike change and hustled to chase back to the main group.

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Uzbekistan’s Dmitry Ponkratov.

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Adrien Costa stayed well positioned but was forced to lead a chase when a break got a little too far up the road.

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Over a dozen riders flew through the finish together to the sound of the bell.

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Twenty some minutes later, Gall and Betouigt-Suire sprinted to the line with the Austrian narrowly coming out ahead.

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Gall was overjoyed to climb onto the podium.

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1st Felix Gall

2nd Clement Betouigt-Suire

3rd Rasmus Lund PedersenDSC07515

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2015 Worlds: Perfect Race Nets Armitstead Rainbow Jersey

When you’ve won nearly a third of the races you’ve started all season, including your national championships, and placed in the top ten for almost another third, odds are the peloton will be watching you closely during the world championship road race. Despite her name being at the top of the list of dangerous riders, Lizzie Armitstead still managed to pull off the perfect race.

 

Sitting quietly among the first 6 or 7 riders for the bulk of the race, the cunning Brit bided her time and kept her cool. When a 9 rider break gained a minute up the road and had none of her teammates in it with under 30km to go, Armitstead continued to sit near the front of the bunch, all the while looking comfortable. The break was reeled in before climbing 23rd Street for the last time. Armitstead moved to the front and escaped with a small group of talented riders. Not wanting to be the first to attack, everyone looked at each other, waiting for someone else to make a move. Armitstead was patient and timed her move to perfection. It came down to a sprint in the final few hundred meters and, despite Anna van der Breggen giving fierce competition, no one could catch Armitstead. The Dutch rider took silver and Megan Guarnier claimed bronze as well as a spot on the American team for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

 

The American women were ready to go even during sign on.

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Pauline Ferrand-Prevot wore number 1 as the defending champion.

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Minutes ahead of the gun.

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Roll out.

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Hitting the cobbles of 23rd Street for the first of 8 times.

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Megan Guarnier and teammate Shelley Olds.

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Lizzie Armitstead.

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Canada’s Karol-Ann Canuel ran her bike up the hill.

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A full house at Libby Hill.

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Evelyn Stevens 4th wheel and Lizzie Armitstead 7th.

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Linda Villumsen.

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It was the same scene on the following lap with the Netherlands on the front.

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Denise Ramsden.

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Kathryn Bertine.

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Tiffany Cromwell.

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Tayler Wiles.

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The next lap, Evelyn Stevens shot up Libby Hill with Armitstead back at 5th wheel.

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Trixi Worrack.

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With no definitive break away formed, Stevens, still working for Megan Guarnier, attacked as the bunch at the top of the Governor Street climb.

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Jeanne D’arc Girubuntu.

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Poland’s Malgorzata Jasinka gained an advantage after attacking up Governor Street with just over a lap to go.

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American sprinter Coryn Rivera took massive pulls on the front of the chase group, ultimately pulling the Polish rider back.

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In the last lap, a break of about 8 had gone clear and someone was on her way to the rainbow jersey. Armitstead was at the front as they approached the false flat finishing straight and claimed gold just a few hundred meters later.

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Settling for bronze, American champion Guarnier achieved one of her goals by securing a ticket to Rio.

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Anna van der Breggen picked up her second silver medal after Tuesday’s time trial.

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On the podium, the new champion could hardly contain her smile.

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1st Lizzie Armitstead

2nd Anna van der Breggen

3rd Megan Guarnier

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Armitstead’s emotional teammates joined on the podium for photos after the ceremony.

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Categories: USA | Tags: , | 4 Comments

2015 Worlds: Double Medals for France at U23 Men’s Road Race

With 171 riders and no defending champion taking to the U23 Men’s road race World Championship, it was a massive question mark as to who would pull on the rainbow jersey after 10 laps of the 16km course.

 

Algeria relaxing ahead of the race.

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Warm up for El Salvador.

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Queueing for sign on.

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Kazakstan and Russia.

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New Zealand.

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Belgium.

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On the start line.

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The race is full gas from the gun because there is no designated neutral roll out at the World Championships.

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France’s Kevin Ledanois.

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The course features 3 significant climbs and a few descents. Here the peloton descends down Broad Street.

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The peloton arrives at the top of Libby Hill, the first of the trio of climbs that hit the riders in quick succession.

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Hayden McCormick.

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Jakob Kaczmarek.

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Eddie Dunbar pulls a group up the climb.

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Greg Daniel.

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Alex Cataford.

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Gabriel Cullaigh.

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Lennard Kamna.

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A mechanical for Mongolia.

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The break.DSC06903

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Eddie Dunbar.

 

 

 

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The peloton approaches.

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Out of the saddle on Libby Hill.

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Tao Gaogheghan Hart.

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Cobbled climbing.

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The photographers hug the fences as the riders take up every bit of dirt they can so as to lessen the agony of the cobbles.

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Greg Daniel.

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Eddie Dunbar puts in tremendous work at the front of the break away.

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Silver medalist at Monday’s time trial, Max Schachmann chases solo.

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The bunch.

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Tao Gaoghegan Hart.

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Tyler Williams.

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The break, grown to include Max Shachmann, hits the bottom of the 23rd Street climb.

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A strung out peloton arrives. On at least one previous lap, a few riders were spotted running up the hill carrying their bikes.

 

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The leaders face a long descent almost immediately after reaching the top of 23rd street.

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The break.

 

 

 

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Daniel Eaton looks over his should to find a Russian and a quickly approaching peloton.

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The peloton chases.

 

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The peloton descends.

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Soren Andersen briefly escaped the pack but was reeled in before too long.

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By the last lap, a gentle rain began to fall. It was nothing too substantial, but it was certainly enough to slick the roads. On a wide U turn, a few riders go down. Shortly thereafter, with under 5km to the finish line, the peloton nears the top of Libby Hill when Nathan Van Hooydonck, in second position, loses his rear wheel and crashes, clogging up the cobbled road. A few opportunists benefit and Kevin Ledanois of France is eventually able to jump away.

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His lead is never more than a handful of seconds, but he keeps turning the pedals.

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Under 1km to the finish line.

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Italy’s Simone Consonni and a teammate give chase while France’s Anthony Turgis hangs in.
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The peloton is mere seconds behind.

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Ledanois clearly tires but, with the finish line within spitting distance, pushes out a few last pedal strokes and nabs the rainbow jersey. Teammate Hugo Hofstetter, rounding the corner and seeing the replay on the big screen behind the crowd, pumps his fist in the air in celebration.

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Bronze for Anthony Turgis.

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Silver for Simone Consonni.DSC07152

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ledanois.
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The French pair belt out the Marseillaise.

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1st Kevin Ledanois

2nd Simoni Consonni

3rd Anthony TurgisDSC07168

 

Celebrating a team effort.

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