Stage victories and the support of Tinkoff-Saxo team leader Rafa Majka are all that remain for Roche in Italy. He hopes to do so on his Specialized S-Works Tarmac and in this exclusive video Tinkoff-Saxo's chief mechanic Christophe Desimpelaere shows the bike Roche uses.
It's a 2014 S-Works Tarmac model fitted with carbon Zipp wheels, a 12 centimetre Zipp stem, 42 centimetres Zipp handlebars and Zipp seat post in carbon. Italian brand Prologo supplies the saddles to the now Russian team and they are produced in the Tinkoff-Sax colour scheme.
Tinkoff-Saxo uses SRAM group sets. Roche's Tarmac is fitted with a SRAM red 11-speed and drive train depending on the stage the peloton is facing in the Giro d'Italia.
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Lotto-Belisol have been active throughout the nine stages of this year's Giro d'Italia but are still chasing a stage win having gone close with Tim Wellens who finished second on stage six. Maxime Monfort currently occupies 14th place on the overall classification, 3:41 minutes down on Cadel Evans (BMC) but is looking to move into the top-ten after enjoying the second rest day of the race.
"The morale is very good in the team and the guys are very close," sports director Marc Wauters said. "Everybody is very pugnacious. In yesterday's stage it was full gas the first hour, eventually Tosh Van der Sande got in a breakaway. Unfortunately the finish didn't really suit him. There are always many attempts before a front group is formed. Lars Bak, Adam Hansen and Dennis Vanendert have tried several times, but they haven't been in the right break yet."
The team has made it into the break on four out of the nine stages races so far — and taking into consideration that stage one was a team time trial — Lotto's success rate so far is 50%.
Lotto were 20th on the opening stage of the Giro, 1:34 minutes down on stage winner Orica-GreenEdge which for Wauters, has been the low point of the Grand Tour despite the bad weather.
"The team time trial in Belfast on day one wasn't a success. Of all teams we had to ride in the worst weather, in the rain. We lost many seconds in the corners. Not everybody was as strong. The bad result was a combination of those two factors. In the meantime the...
"We are not going there to watch the others. We are going there to get results. We need to gain confidence in Norway," said Bertogliati, who will share DS duties with Kjell Carlström.
"After doing the Tour of Romandie and before we tackle stage races like the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de Suisse, this race gives us the chance to get back into the rhythm with some beautiful stages. There is as much for the sprinters to do as the climbers."
With a busy racing schedule in May across Europe, it is an ideal time to get extra kilometres in the rider legs before they tackle the 3,656km the Tour has on offer in 2014.
"During the month of May, we have events like the Tour of Norway, World Ports Classic, Tour of Bavaria and the Tour of Belgium. These races help us to prepare for upcoming events like the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse, not to mention the Tour de France. The upcoming races in May are important to accumulate the kilometers in view of our big objectives.
In 2013 IAM Cycling won the team classification at the race and Johann Tschopp was ninth on GC behind overall winner
Formula 1 driver unhappy about licence application process
Team Alonso is not dead. At least not yet. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, a decision by the UCI in the next two weeks is expected to influence if the team is created for the 2015 season, delayed a year or if plans are scrapped all together.
Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso is still keen to create his own team but has apparently asked the UCI for special guarantees and concessions that go above and beyond the rules that apply to all the other teams that apply for a UCI WorldTour licence.
The Dubai government has reportedly signed a pre-contractual agreement to sponsor the team for 20 million Euro a year for five years and technical manager Paolo Bettini has established contacts with the five big-name riders that would be needed to secure the points to gain a WorldTour licence. However, Dubai and Alonso's people are not happy with the laborious application process the UCI has in place for WorldTour places. They feel it is wrong that a team has to guarantee its sponsorship and leading riders in August and then suffer months of uncertainty until the UCI confirms the WorldTour places in November.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad was in Aigle to meet the UCI on Monday to try to negotiate some kind of special treatment for Team Alonso. The meeting followed on from a conference call a month ago that was also attended by UCI President Brian Cookson.
The UCI initially refused to speak to Cyclingnews regarding Team Alonso, but later said that "we have been and are in touch with people involved in this project, welcome the interest and will of course work with them and others who wish to invest in cycling through our entry and approval processes."
A possible solution, which the UCI would be happy to accept, would be for Team Alonso to take over the WorldTour licence of one of several teams struggling to find sufficient sponsorship to guarantee their place in the WorldTour....
Directeur sportif pleased with progress in the first week
Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is in an enviable position as the Giro d’Italia rolls into it’s second week. Urán is in the place most riders would like to be at this point, second. The Colombian doesn’t have the pressure of the maglia rosa, but remains within striking distance when the big mountains finally arrive.
Needless to say, the team are pleased with his progress thus far. “I think if you saw how Uran started this year, he didn't have the easiest approach. But he's getting better and better. He must be feeling good. I think, after a rest day and flat stage, he can get even better than what we've seen so far,” Omega Pharma-QuickStep directeur sportif Tom Steels said in his blog on the team’s website.
This year’s Giro d’Italia marks the first time in a long time that the Belgian team have been able to put forward an outright contender for a Grand Tour general classification. That is changing gradually with the growth of Michal Kwiatkowski, but Urán’s arrival has given them a huge boost in that department. For a team that is more used to taking on the cobbles of Flanders and Roubaix, than charging up the Monte Zoncolan on the front of the peloton, it has been a steep learning curve.
“I think we can be very happy with how the team is functioning right now as well. We came together quickly. For most of them this is the first time they've had to go for a GC,” said Steels. “With the way they worked together for one rider, it shows a great team spirit. So, there is plenty we can do to improve our situation. But if you see it as a team, how they've grown and unified, it's really impressive.”
FDJ.fr sprinter wants to prove critics wrong and reach Trieste
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) goes into today’s 10th stage of the Giro d'Italia with his sights set on securing a third stage victory and cementing his push to become the first Frenchman to win the race’s points title since Laurent Jalabert in 1999. Although critics and even his FDJ.fr directeur sportif say that the 23-year-old sprinter is likely to struggle to get through the mountains in the Giro’s final week, Bouhanni says he draws motivation from these comments and insists he will be wearing the red points jersey in Trieste on 1 June.
"I've got the red jersey and I'm not going to let go of it," Bouhanni says in a rest day interview with L'Équipe. The feisty Frenchman, who watches former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson's fights in the evenings to psych himself up, says he has no fears about his prospects in the high mountains, although he admits he won't be disappointed if the Stelvio and Gavia passes are cut from the route.
"I'm not really worried about those stages. In the sprints you experience one sort of tension, and in the mountains I'm going to face another kind of stress, one that's new to me and is tied in to the fear of finishing outside the time limit," Bouhanni explains. "But I feel confident. And also Chavanel, Pichon, Courteille, Le Bon and Fischer will be there to deal with the time limits."
FDJ.fr DS Martial Gayant is not so confident, though, and reveals he is concerned about his rider's lack of experience on such big climbs. "He's climbed Alpe d'Huez once at the Dauphiné. But there's a big gulf between climbs of 1800m and those of 2600m," says Gayant.
During this year’s Giro d’Italia, the riders enjoy an unprecedented (in the modern era) three rest days. The first came only four days into the race to accommodate the transfer from the Grande Partenza in Ireland to it’s next stop, Bari.
The operation was a monster one with most teams sending a second set of vehicles and staff to Italy. An unlucky few had to set off from Dublin on the Sunday night, only to make it to Bari late on the Tuesday.
For the riders it was somewhat easier. The 196 members of the peloton - minus the injured Dan Martin and Koldo Fernandez – took two chartered planes to the south of Italy and were picked up on the other side by the awaiting team members.
It was an operation of mammoth proportions. Follow the Lotto-Belisol team and their Grand Tour stalwart Adam Hansen in this exclusive video and see how he copes with the stresses of a long transfer.
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After two mountaintop finishes and two rest days, the sprinters will return to the fore in Salsomaggiore Terme. They’ll have to make the most of it, as there are only a couple of more sprint opportunities after today.
So far, the sprints have been dominated by Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr), with two victories apiece. With Kittel out of the race since stage four, Bouhanni has the chance to take the lead in the sprint victory stakes.