Sam Bennett added a third win to his palmares in 2014 as he sprinted to victory on stage 5 of the Bayern-Rundfahrt and in doing so, also won the sprint jersey. Bennett's stage win capped off a successful week of racing for NettApp-Endura with two riders in the top-ten overall; Leopold König in fourth and Czech national road and time trial champion Jan Barta in sixth.
"The guys did a great job today," Bennet said "Bartosz [Huzarski] looked after me in the peloton during the stage. He made the day a lot easier. Everyone worked well together the whole day and also to help make it a bunch sprint. In the laps Michael [Schwarzmann] looked after me. He did an awesome job in the last kilometre putting me in a good position.
"It was a very fast and dangerous final. I got a little boxed in between 450-180m to go but the bunch pulled to the left and left the door open. It was really perfect."
For Enrico Poitschke, NetApp-Endura's sport director, it is a rarity for the German team to be racing on German roads and the team's success this week made it a race to remember.
"Today our strategy was focused entirely on Sam," Poitschke said. "The team executed everything...
I understand how riders suffered in the Giro, says team owner
It’s fair to say that Oleg Tinkov isn’t like most team owners. The self-made man spent the entire Giro d’Italia with his Tinkoff-Saxo team and apart from the first few days, when he played host to a number of bank friends – he rode nearly every stage of the corsa rosa.
It wasn’t every kilometre of every stage but the Russian team boss spent enough time in the saddle and in some of the brutal conditions his riders encountered to appreciate what his team and the peloton as a whole go through.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Tinkov talks about his own Giro d’Italia experiences and what his time on the road, and in the saddle, has taught him about racing.
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Danilo Hondo is going to call it quits after 18 years as a pro cyclist. The German, currently riding for Trek Factory Racing, said that he will retire at the end of this season.
It became clear to him during the Giro d’Italia, he said in his blog for Radsport-news.com that, “What was a rumour in the spring, became more and more clear to me during this Giro – namely, that with 40 years I can end my career at the end of this season with a good feeling.”
Hondo started on the track, winning the World title in team pursuit in 1994 as a 20-year-old. He turned pro in 1997 with the German team Agro-Adler Brandenburg and has ridden for Telekom, Gerolsteiner, Lamonta, Team Tinkoff Credit Systems, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, PSK Whirlpool-Author, Lampre, RadioShack Leopard and Trek.
Joaquim Rodríguez main goal for the season was the Giro d'Italia but after the Spaniard crashed out of the race he was forced to set himself new targets with the Tour de France and Vuelta both options.
After Rodríguez left to Giro, the Katusha team needed to change plans "We were sad to have lost 'Purito' at the beginning of the race, " Katusha team manager Viatcheslav Ekimov said. "For future races we realize we need to have a B plan in place."
The Russian told Eurosport Russia that Rodríguez' next goal will be the Vuelta."His main for the remainder of the season is the overall classification in the Vuelta."
Ridriguez came into the Giro with two broken ribs from his crash in the Amstel Gold Race. He broke an additional one and his thumb in the sixth stage to Montecassino. The 35-yearold had surgery on his thumb in the days after.
In December Ekimov stated that Rodríguez would not participate in the Tour de France but his crash in the Giro changes things. The Spaniard has not decided yet. "One month until the Tour. Today we do a more demanding training session. The next days will be key in taking decisions." he wrote on his Twitter page.
For Ekimov the Giro d'Italia showed that starting a race with a plan but not having a back-up plan, is something to be avoided in the future.
"We were sad to have lost 'Purito' at the beginning of the race but it was important to move past that right away. We saw the team was still active for the rest of the Giro and it’s very hard to do that – come with one plan in mind and then have to completely refocus on another plan. For future races we realize we need to have a B...
Rider agents busy negotiating during the Giro d'Italia
The Giro d'Italia is traditionally a key moment for the rider transfer market and future of major teams, as sponsors confirm or end their backing and rider agents and team managers negotiate to secure new contracts.
While the Giro d'Italia comes well before the official start of the UCI transfer window on August 1, when riders can officially sign new contracts, the most important deals are being thrashed out now.
However according to the news gathered by Cyclingnews from several different sources at the Giro d'Italia, the 2015 transfer market is being held back by one big obstacle: doubts about the creation of Team Alonso.
Formula One driver Fernando Alonso showed his face at the Giro d'Italia on stage 18 and assured the media that he was still keen to create a major team for 2015, with a estimated budget of close to 20 million Euro. However it seems the riders contacted and courted by Alonso's technical manager Paolo Bettini are currently sitting on the fence and blocking the market, as they wait for confirmation that the team will go ahead.
The riders in question, five of whom will have the vital and valuable ranking points that Team Alonso needs to secure a WorldTour place, are preferring not to sign new contracts with their current teams in the hope of being part of Team Alonso. Several team managers are also happy to wait for Alonso to make his move, knowing that they can sign the big-name riders for less if the Alonso team does not happen.
Riders linked to the Alonso team, who are out of contract at the end of 2014, include Tony Martin, world champion Rui Costa, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Nacer Bouhanni.
Bike sponsorship at Team Alonso also remains unclear and could spark a ripple effect amongst leading bike brands and their current teams.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Team Alonso wants an exclusive deal with a bike brand...
Nairo Quintana and his Movistar team managers thought long and hard before deciding to target the Giro d'Italia in 2014 rather than return to the Tour de France.
As they savour their victory, the decision has proven to be the right one. Quintana confirmed his huge potential and made history as the first Colombian to win the Giro d'Italia. He has matured massively in the last three weeks and learnt a lot about Grand Tour racing and team leadership.
Quintana has already made it clear that he will ride the Tour de France in 2015 and he will now be a natural favourite. Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali must already be having nightmares about trying to stay on Quintana's back wheel when he goes on the attack in the mountains.
2. A Giro of generational change
It would be unwise to describe this year's Giro d'Italia as a race of renewal or as a clean start after the doping scandals of the past, but the race marked a major generational change.
Quintana is just 24, Fabio Aru is 23 and Rigoberto is 27, making an average age of just 25 years and two months, apparently the youngest Giro d'Italia podium since 1940, when Fausto Coppi won his first of five Giro d'Italia at just 21.
Older riders like Michele Scarponi, Ivan Basso, Cadel Evans, Franco Pellizotti and Damiano Cunego have been eclipsed by Quintana, Aru, Rafal Majka, Wilco Kelderman and Robert Kiserlovski.
3. Aru versus Nibali: the next great Italian rivalry...
It's just over a month until the start of the 2014 Tour de France and teams are busily putting their final touches to their preparation. While Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali train at altitude Team Sky's Chris Froome and Omega Pharma QuickStep's Mark Cavendish have camped out in North Europe as they ride reconnaissance over the cobbles that will feature in this year's Tour.
There are nine sectors of cobbles, all of which feature in Paris-Roubaix, that have been crambed into stage 5 of this year's Tour and the stage could be as crucial as any of the mountain stages in this year's race.
Both Team Sky and Omega Pharma QuickStep enjoyed fine weather as they trained. Omega took nine riders on recon, including Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terptra, Cavendish and their GC hope for the Tour, Michal Kwiatkowski.
"I think Kwiatkowski is, out of the GC contenders, one of the most capable of riding on the cobbles," Rolf Aldag said on the team's website.
"He did it last year with a spectacular Tour of Flanders, and races like E3 Harelbeke, and so on. I think he's used to it, so it won't be shocking. It's more about the tactical situation for him at the Tour de France rather than getting used to the feel."
"The thing during the Tour is you have different interests. You have a limited number of riders who go for the stage wins, because they still have captains for the GC they have to protect. So, it's going to be a slightly different race that isn't as clear as a Paris-Roubaix where you have a Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara, or Sep Vanmarcke and all the teams will support their guys to clearly win that one-day race. At the Tour it's a little more complicated. You may see teams that maybe will chase, not because they want a stage win, but maybe in that group there may be a GC contender who will try to get away before the cobbles."
Race director hints that the 2015 race will be an all Italian affair
Mauro Vegni, the head of cycling at RCS Sport and so the de facto race director of the Giro d'Italia shook Nairo Quintana's hand on the final podium on Sunday, clearly happy that this year's race had ended on a high in Trieste.
The Giro d'Italia is always a three-week long soap opera, with moments of drama, emotion and beauty mixed with arguments polemics and heated discussion. It reflects Italian life near perfectly.
Vegni was born in Tuscany, grew up in Rome and has lived in Milan for nearly two decades. He is a true Italian and can often be seen locked in animated discussion with his loyal staff and the riders but is deeply proud of being in charge of the Giro d'Italia.
During the winter, Vegni was disappointed and felt almost offended that Vincenzo Nibali had decided not to defend his 2013 victory and focus instead on the Tour de France. But he wisely shifted his position at the start in Belfast, describing this year's race and the many young riders on the start list, as a Giro of renewal. The three weeks of racing proved that he was right, with the confirmation of Quintana's talents, the success of the Colombian riders and the emergence of Fabio Aru - Sardinia's first ever Grand Tour contender.
"I think the generation of riders who will fight for the yellow jersey at this year's Tour de France are close to the end of their best years, while the riders at the Giro d'Italia showed that they're the future of the sport," Vegni told Cyclingnews with pride.
"Someone said the race lacked as big-name star rider but I always said that was a Giro d'Italia for the future stars, for the talented young riders in the sport. The close racing, the changes in the classification and also the confirmation of an new Italian talent in Fabio Aru and other young Italian riders created a special atmosphere at the race and produced what I think was a great race."