Sep 4, 2015

Friday File: The feelings I had today are something I can't describe, Rollin in La Vuelta & Alberta bound

A TT victory.

Nelson Oliveira rode the last 27 kms exactly like the three-time time trailing champion he is and duly won stage 13 Calatayud-Tarazona. A genius move that resulted in his first Grand Tour stage win of his career. 

“This is the most beautiful victory in my career. I had won the Portuguese championship, such emotional successes for me, but the feelings I had today are something I can’t describe.
“It’s so good to share this joy with my team, from which I have always received a full support, not only today with the perfect help by Valerio and Rubén, but during the whole Vuelta and the whole season.”
- Nelson Oliveira

I've been following Dominique Rollin since his first stage win in the 2008 Tour of California. After his FDJ contract expired he was without a team for a year until Cofidis signed him to help Nacer Bouhanni. It's good to see him back and here's the revealing interview from Pedalmag at the first rest day in La Vuelta...

This is the first mountain stage in the Tour of Alberta: Grande Cache-Japser National Park, final kms,

Sep 3, 2015

Froome goes, Meintjes signs for Lampre-Merida & Bringing the Bling back

Chris Froome's goal to become the third rider to ever win the Tour/Vuelta double is over. On stage 11 he hit a barrier in the Pyrenees and limped in nine minutes behind winner Mikel Landa. The injured riders list seems to be growing. Could this mean his 2015 season is effectively over?

In a surprise move, Louis Meintjes has signed for Lampre Merida. I always thought he would extend with MTN Qhubeka.

“I think it will bring with it lots of new opportunities and the possibility to learn from a very experienced team. One of the reasons I decided on going to an Italian based team is because Italy has become my home away from home.”

Backstage Pass Stage 12...

Danny Van Poppel's first World Tour win.

“I actually thought I had it and then when (Van Poppel) passed me in the last 30-40metres I was heartbroken. There was nothing I could have done; he was coming faster than me."

- Daryl Impey

For ever reason, there's no live feed of the Tour of Alberta. So, I'm just following this race with tape delayed post coverage...

Orica GreenEDGE lost the TTT  to Trek Factory Racing by .74secs. They made up on todays wet stage 2...

Bringing the 'bling' back.

GC: M. Matthews 4:33:06 2. M.  Coldeman (:10) 3. C. Meier (st) 4. A. Yates (st) 5. J. Sergent (st) 
6. S. Tuft (st)

Sep 2, 2015

Double Trouble

Bettini Photo

I can't believe it's happened again. Four days since Peter Sagan was hit by a neutral assistance motorcycle, Sergio Paulinho was hit by a TV motorbike and forced to abandon stage 11. I watched today's stage and saw the above image on Twitter and first winced and fell into disbelief that another reckless motorcycle incident has reared it's ugly head. A shame that Paulinho and Sagan are gone and race organizers are now committed to positively react before some rider really gets hurt.

Tinkoff-Saxo post.

This casts a troubling shadow onto an exciting stage 11- the hardest stage of the race...

"The hardest day of my life."

- Esteban Chaves

Sep 1, 2015

Tour of Alberta: Canadian Pave and Mountains

Time to turn it on!

Six stage, third edition of the Tour of Alberta starts tomorrow in Grand Prairie with the 19 km TTT. As this Canadian 2.1 race takes shape the mountains will be finally featured and a satisfying challenge for the likes of Ryder Hesjedal. I'm especially looking forward to stage 3, 206.2 km Edson to Spruce Grove - including 56 km of Canadian pave or dirt roads.

Key mountain stages will be Friday and Saturday in Jasper National Park - first from Grande Cache to Miette Hot Springs, the second from Jasper to Marmot Basin ski area.

“I enjoy it any time the pavement disappears and it turns into a dirt road. I grew up on it, I ride gravel all the time. I did a three-hour ride (last Friday) on a gravel trail. If you’re a rider and you’ve only ever ridden on pavement and you’ve never ridden through gravel, then it gets a bit complicated on a road bike. For sure, this course is more suited to my strengths than (previous years) with some selected stages, obviously, in Jasper. But you know, you’ve got to get through the first day. The team time trial is complicated, for sure. Already, from the first day, there can be time differences.”

- Ryder Hesjedal

Sadly, I won't be able to make it back to my home province to see it but I'll be watching eagerly and cheering on Ryder and the rest of the Canadian riders!

2015 Tour of Alberta: 
Stage 1: Grande Prairie - 19.6km (Team Time Trial)
Stage 2: County of Grande Prairie - 171.6km
Stage 3: Grande Cache to Jasper National Park - 181.8km
Stage 4: Jasper to Marmot Basin - 162.1km
Stage 5: Edson to Spruce Grove - 206.2km
Stage 6: Edmonton circuit race- 124.1km

Rest day in La Vuelta. Calm before the storm...

Team Lotto NL Jumbo

Stage 11...

No calm here.

Aug 31, 2015

MTN-Qhubeka: It's a great moment for us as a team

Stage 10's finish was tailor made for John Degenkolb but for all the fantastic positioning from his team he ran out of room. Kristian Sbaragli stormed to the line first giving MTN-Qhubeka their second grand Tour stage win. MTN is pulling sponsorship at the end of the season and quite an amazing success story they've become - here's hoping a new sponsor will step in and take this talented team into next season.

I was feeling really well on the climb and just didn’t want to miss out again. I came so close a few times already in this La Vuelta, so I decided to wait until 200 meters to go before leaving it all out there. It’s sensational, something I never tasted before. This win is good for our team, but especially for Qhubeka and our 5.000 bikes campaign.

- Kristian Sbaragli, winner of stage 10

It’s unbelievable, a milestone performance for Kristian. He rode really well in the first couple of days, but felt disappointed after his near misses. Today he did everything right and managed to get the team’s second Grand-Tour stage win this year. It’s a great moment for us as a team.

- Jens Zemke, MTN-Qhubeka Sports Director

Sergio Henao avoided falling over a cliff but this funny image showed him checking to see where his Pinarello landed...

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