Team LottoNL-Jumbo

Yello-No! – Team LottoNL-Jumbo Costume Change

Despite having only conducted their debut team presentation a little over a week ago, Team LottoNL-Jumbo have already encountered the wrong side of cycling’s governing body – the UCI. Team Belkin’s transformation into the new Dutch lottery funded team had also included a transition from the previous green and black jerseys (clashing pleasingly with Bianchi’s celeste frames) to a yellow and black ensemble. Despite being festooned with the usual array of garish cycling sponsors, the UCI deemed this was not enough to prevent the team being confused with the yellow leader’s jersey of several high profile races including the Tour de France and Paris Nice.

Belkin-Bianchi

Could this colour clash be bettered next year?

S0 back to the drawing board it is for Team LottoNL-Jumbo, but whether or not they will chose a radically different design is yet to be seen. Famously ONCE had to alter their Tour de France clashing jersey’s to a Giro pink exclusively for the three week race; on this occasion the UCI have not even allowed the team such a compromise. Britain’s Team HARIBO-Beacon had a similar colour palette to that of Belkin’s new incarnation last season, but using a greater amount of black; something it is said the UCI is eager to quell in regards to the surge of black kits amongst the peloton as of late. Suffice to say Team LottoNL-Jumbo have a headache before a single wheel has been turned in anger.

Team-Haribo-Beacon

No need to worry about confusion in Le Tour de France here.

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Smooth Running – La Vuelta a España Stage 8 Preview

Today will feel like a 207km flat ride from Baeza to Albacete for the peloton, a simple stroll compared to the last couple of days at the Vuelta. This means the sprint teams will be working hard on the front to ensure a breakaway is unsuccessful, as this is a major target for the sprinters with so few opportunities at this year’s edition of the race. 

Rolling to the finish.

Rolling to the finish.

Course:

As the profile shows, the ride to Albacete is rolling throughout the majority of the day, though not hard enough to encourage serious breakaways. The lead-out trains will have prepared especially for today as the final run into the finish is one of the most simple this year, though roundabouts are plentiful once again, the win will be contested along the 900m finishing straight. One aspect which will play a role in the day’s outcome is the possible wind as the riders edge close to the coast once again, making a headwind on the finishing straight a likelihood. 

Contenders:

With such favourable stages for sprinters a luxury at the Vuelta, it is likely that a lot of teams shall have earmarked this as a serious target. However, the conclusion is likely to be a predominantly two horsed affair as Giant-Shimano and FDJ do their best to deliver John Degenkolb and Nacer Bouhanni into prime positions late on. Finishing in Albacete looks best suited to a power sprinter such as Degenkolb who can sustain his output over such a long distance, in order to maintain a gap over the chasers. Though Degenkolb crashed yesterday, it does not appear to be anything serious and with the day being such a target for Giant-Shimano, he is the favourite to win if in convincing condition. Nacer Bouhanni has been incredibly impressive when accelerating so far and, should he leave it late before putting his nose into the wind, he may just be able to produce a jump to overcome a flagging Degenkolb. Others such as Moreno Hofland, Andrea Guardini, Tom Boonen and Roberto Ferrari will also be eager to make their presence felt today, as it will be a long wait before they are afforded such golden opportunities once again.

Outcome:

1st Degenkolb 2nd Bouhanni 3rd Ferrari 

Double or Trouble? – Vuelta a España Stage 5 Preview

This year’s Vuelta organisers will be making few friends amongst the sprinters as another relatively ‘fast man friendly’ stage is put into doubt by a late bump in the profile.  Rolling across the scorched earth from Priego de Cordoba to Ronda, the route does edge closer to the coast once more, but a cooling sea breeze will not be enough to keep the temperature below 38 degrees at times. With the day in the saddle being relatively rolling for the peloton, the pace might be a little slower under the sun again as they save their efforts for the sole Category 3 climb.

Course:

Only one thing stands out to the sprinters here.

Only one thing stands out to the sprinters here.

Scanning across the day’s profile, only one aspect will standout to the sprinter’s teams – the category 3 climb to Puerto del Sotillo. At a surprisingly long 12.5km, its average gradient of 3.3% might have a greater impact upon the selection of the riders come the end of the day. It will thin out the pack in regards to the lesser sprinters and bring back the puncheur/classic styled riders into the mix once more. It is worth keeping in mind however that the summit, which tops out around 15km from home, offers little in terms of a descent into the finish at Ronda. So should a small attack occur off the front of the peloton, the variety of sprint teams in Giant-Shimano, AG2R-La Mondiale, Astana, Belkin, FDJ and Orica-GreenEDGE should all be able to ensure a straight up sprint finish. Yesterday saw Nacer Bouhanni anonymous when it came to contesting the sprint, eventually rolling over the line 8mins 31secs down in 91st place. Now it is hard to say whether or not this was fatigue or if he is saving his energies for what may be perceived as a more suitable target today – think Degenkolb on Stage 3 compared to Stage 4.  Though the Frenchman would be more keen on another technical finish which secured him his win earlier in the week, today is literally straightforward for the sprint-trains as there are no obvious corners to worry about in the final few kilometres. Only the gentle drag of 1% – 2% and a roundabout before the final 500m will need to be factored into the plans of the teams.

Contenders:

Climbing the Puerto del Sotillo will be tough, but as long as the official tour book is not lying again, the powerful John Degenkolb should be capable of surviving it. Having such strength and depth apparent in his support from Giant-Shimano will be a huge boost to his chances compared to that of Nacer Bouhanni. The FDJ man prefers more challenging finishes which allow him to hijack lead-outs through tight corners, before unleashing incredible acceleration over a short finishing straight – today does not offer this. Michael Matthews is expected to be in the mix again, as today is more suitable than yesterday as he looks for a second win at this years Vuelta. Orica-GreenEDGE will certainly work hard for him, but they might be more careful than previous with their efforts to ensure nobody else benefits from their work rate. Ultimately, today seems akin to the previous stage, sightly different on appearances but the core factors should appeal to the potent Degenkolb once again. With an easy lead-out for himself and the train, it seems that his delivery is assured when it comes to contesting the long finishing straight – Stage 4 showed how his pure power dominates on such finishes. An outsider he has been showing himself in the previous days too has be AG2R’s Lloyd Mondory, with this finish looking more appealing to his talents, we might see him climbing ever higher today.

Outcome:

1st Degenkolb 2nd Matthews 3rd Mondory

 

Vuelta Roster Update

It is only a matter of days until the start of this year’s final grand tour the Vuelta a España and the majority of teams have confirmed their rosters for the three week tour of Spain. The following is a list of those teams which have announced their lineups, with the remaining few set to do the same by the eve of the race’s start. 

 

Ag2r La Mondiale

 

Carlos Betancur (Col)
Maxime Bouet (Fra)
Hubert Dupont (Fra)
Damien Gaudin (Fra)
Patrick Gretsch (Ger)
Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr)
Lloyd Mondory (Fra)
Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita)
Sébastien Turgot (Fra)

The French outfit have finally tracked down their elusive GC man Betancur, who will race for the first time since a disappointing showing at Vuelta a Burgos.

 

Astana

 

Fabio Aru (Ita)
Mikel Landa (Spa)
Tanel Kangert (Est)
Paolo Tiralongo (Ita)
Daniil Fominykh (Kaz)
Andrea Guardini (Ita)
Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita)
Andrey Zeits (Kaz)
Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz)

This year’s Giro third placed rider, Fabio Aru, will lead Astana in their final grand tour of the year. A big task for the 24 year old Sardinian with a questionable team for support.

 

Belkin

 

Stef Clement (Ned)
Laurens ten Dam (Ned)
Robert Gesink (Ned)
Moreno Hofland (Ned)
Martijn Keizer (Ned)
Wilco Kelderman (Ned)
Paul Martens (Ger)
Maarten Tjallingii (Ned)
Robert Wagner (Ger)

Belkin have decided upon a team which has an immense depth of talent and experience and it would be no surprise should they leave Spain with a stage win or two; though GC hopes could be a step beyond them.

 

BMC

 

Rohan Dennis (Aus)
Cadel Evans (Aus)
Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
Steve Morabito (Swi)
Dominik Nerz (Ger)
Manuel Quinziato (Ita)
Samuel Sánchez (Spa)
Larry Warbasse (USA)
Danilo Wyss (Swi)

Another strong squad; BMC have wasted no time in sending their latest acquisition from Garmin (Rohan Dennis) straight into the deep end amongst a team including Gilbert, Evans and Sánchez.

 

Cannondale

 

Peter Sagan (Svk)
George Bennett (Nzl)
Maciej Bodnar (Pol)
Guillaume Boivin (Can)
Damiano Caruso (Ita)
Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)
Oscar Gatto (Ita)
Matthias Krizek (Aut)
Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita)

This will be the last grand tour we see Cannondale competing in their current guise before they merge with Garmin, if rumours are true. However, expect them to go out with a bang as Peter Sagan and the ever aggressive Alessandro De Marchi will be animating the racing for them.

FDJ.fr

Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
Kenny Elissonde (Fra)
Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra)
Johan Le Bon (Fra)
Laurent Mangel (Fra)
Cédric Pineau (Fra)
Thibaut Pinot (Fra)
Anthony Roux (Fra)
Geoffrey Soupe (Fra)

 

Garmin-Sharp

Daniel Martin (Ire)
Ryder Hesjedal (Can)
Andrew Talansky (USA)
Nate Brown (USA)
Andre Cardoso (Por)
Koldo Fernandez (Esp)
Nathan Haas (Aus)
David Millar (GBr)
Johan Vansummeren (Bel)

Since a disastrous start to the Giro in Ireland, Dan Martin shifted his season’s goals to the Vuelta and World Championships and it could well turn out great. The parcours suit Martin’s style more than a typical Tour de France route, so expect a stage win and a possible top 10 finish if he times his attacks right. Andrew Talansky was a broken man during Le Tour and it seems incredible that he has returned so quickly for more of the same, but getting back in the saddle to prove his form in Spain will be huge motivation. Ryder Hesjedal took over the reins from Martin at the Giro after his huge crash and did well to steady the ship and secure Garmin a placing in the top ten GC. David Millar’s last hurrah seems to have finally got off the ground as he supports the team at his least grand tour – no doubt he will sneak into a suicidal break too.

 

IAM Cycling

Marcel Aregger (Swi)
Jonathan Fumeaux (Swi)
Sébastien Hinault (Fra)
Dominic Klemme (Ger)
Pirmin Lang (Swi)
Matteo Pelucchi (Ita)
Vicente Reynes (Esp)
Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat)
Johann Tschopp (Swi)

 

Lampre-Merida

 

Valerio Conti (Ita)
Winner Anacona (Col)
Damiano Cunego (Ita)
Elia Favilli (Ita)
Roberto Ferrari (Ita)
Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol)
Filippo Pozzato (Ita)
Maximiliano Richeze (Arg)
Josè Serpa (Col)

Boasting the Vuelta’s reigning champion Chris Horner, attention was drawn to the 42 year old’s attempts to defend his title, but he has since withdrawn due to contravening MPCC regulations with low cortisol readings. His replacement Valerio Conti will wear the number one dossard vacated by Horner but will certainly not be geared towards the same role. The rest of the team look set to be present in some lumpy breakaway days in the mountains, while Przemyslaw Niemiec maybe their best bet for a solid general classification finish.

 

 

Lotto Belisol

Jurgen V/d Broeck (Bel)
Sander Armée (Bel)
Vegard Breen (Nor)
Bart de Clercq (Bel)
Jens Debusschere (Bel)
Adam Hansen (Aus)
Gregory Henderson (Aus)
Pim Ligthart (Nld)
Maxime Monfort (Bel)

 

Movistar

 

Nairo Quintana (Col)
Andrey Amador (Crc)
Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa)
Imanol Erviti (Spa)
José Herrada (Spa)
Gorka Izagirre (Spa)
Adriano Malori (Ita)
Javi Moreno (Spa)
Alejandro Valverde (Spa)

With Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde present amongst their ranks, Movistar seem set to try and win their national tour. A predominantly Spanish team with great depth, it will also be interesting to see how co-leadership functions between Quintana and Valverde.

 

OPQS

 

Tom Boonen (Bel)
Gianluca Brambilla (Ita)
Nikolas Maes (Bel)
Tony Martin (Ger)
Wout Poels (Ned)
Pieter Serry (Bel)
Rigoberto Uran (Col)
Martin Velits (Svk)
Carlos Verona (Spa)

It seems like a century since we last saw Tom Boonen contesting the sprint finish of a grand tour and it will be a happy sight to see him again at last. Tony Martin has been on imperious form recently and will be on the look out for more stage wins, while Rigoberto Uran leads their classification hopes after a second place at this year’s Giro.

 

Orica-GreenEdge

 

Sam Bewley (Nzl)
Esteban Chaves (Col)
Simon Clarke (Aus)
Mitch Docker (Aus)
Brett Lancaster (Aus)
Michael Matthews (Aus)
Cameron Meyer (Aus)
Ivan Santaromita (Ita)
Adam Yates (Gbr)

Hard to gauge the ambitions of this squad, but the big news is the inclusion of Adam Yates for his grand tour debut. His wins at Tour of Turkey and GP Industria & Artigianato; while also finishing 6th in Critérium du Dauphiné show great promise for the Vuelta.

Europcar

 

Natnael Berhane (Eri)
Jérôme Cousin (Fra)
Dan Craven (Nam)
Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra)
Vincent Jérôme (Fra)
Yannick Martinez (Fra)
Maxime Mederel (Fra)
Bryan Nauleau (Fra)
Romain Sicard (Fra)

Another mixed bag of riders who are likely to spend a few hours out front in the breakaway for the most part. An interesting note being the confirmation of Namibia’s Dan Craven amongst the roster, expect more information on his fantastic story at SpokenForks in the coming days.

 

Giant-Shimano

 

Nikias Arndt (Ger)
Warren Barguil (Fra)
Lawson Craddock (USA)
John Degenkolb (Ger)
Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger)
Chad Haga (USA)
Koen De Kort (Ned)
Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe)
Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned)

Warren Barguil will offer viewers another chance to gauge his potential as France’s next big hope of having a Frenchman atop the podium in Paris sometime soon. Lawson Craddock is another youngster hotly tipped since making the jump to the WorldTour, so American fans will be eagerly watching his progress. No doubt John Degenkolb will do his best to steal a stage win from a selected bunch finished too.

 

Katusha

 

Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa)
Giampaolo Caruso (Ita)
Sergei Chernetckii (Rus)
Alexander Kolobnev (Rus)
Dmitriy Kozonchuk (Rus)
Alberto Losada (Spa)
Daniel Moreno (Spa)
Yuri Trofimov (Rus)
Eduard Vorganov (Rus)

Joaquim Rodriquez is certainly one of the most successful riders at the Vuelta who is competing this year, which means there is no doubt he shall be relishing the chance to add to his palmarès here.

 

Sky

 

Chris Froome (GBr)
Dario Cataldo (Ita)
Philip Deignan (Irl)
Peter Kennaugh (GBr)
Vasil Kiryienka (Blr)
Christian Knees (Ger)
Mikel Nieve (Spa)
Luke Rowe (GBr)
Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr)

Certainly a team which will attract a lot of attention from the press due to its immense strength built around leader Christopher Froome. Expect him to go for the overall win to compensate for a disastrous Tour de France, though it would be a surprise if all trepidation of crashing has left him since abandoning on the cobbles. Phillip Deignan, Peter Kennaugh and Luke Rowe could all cause a few upsets in terms of sneaking a win under their belts, but regardless of personal ambition; this may be the strongest team here.

 

Tinkoff-Saxo

 

Alberto Contador (Spa)
Daniele Bennati (Ita)
Jesus Hernandez (Spa)
Sergio Paulinho (Por)
Ivan Rovny (Rus)
Chris Anker Sørensen (Den)
Matteo Tosatto (Ita)
Michael Valgren (Den)
Oliver Zaugg (Swi)

The fact Alberto Contador is riding after breaking his leg is amazing, let alone the fact he has chosen the Vuelta to make his surprise return. It seems doubtful that he would be willing to rush recovering if he did not think that he has enough form right now to be competitive at his home tour. The real doubts appear when analysing the squad, which may leave Contador short on days when he needs protecting.

 

Trek Factory Racing

 

Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
Julián Arredondo (Col)
Haimar Zubeldia (Spa)
Kristof Vandewalle (Bel)
Bob Jungels (Lux)
Jasper Stuyven (Bel)
Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr)
Jesse Sergent (NZl)
Fabio Felline (Ita)

Another diverse mix of riders returning after a mid-season break (Fabian Cancellara), a top ten Tour de France finish (Haimar Zubeldia) and making a grand tour debut (Bob Jungels). Julián Arredondo might be their best man for a mountain top victory having won the Mountains Classification earlier this year at the Giro.

 

Caja Rural – Seguros RGA


Luis León Sánchez (Esp)
Javier Aramendia (Esp)
David Arroyo (Esp)
Pello Bilbao (Esp)
Karol Domagalski (Pol)
Francesco Lasca (Ita)
Guillermo Lluís Mas (Esp)
Antonio Piedra (Esp)
Amets Txurruka (Esp)

 

Cofidis

 

Yoann Bagot (Fra)
Jérôme Coppel (Fra)
Romain Hardy (Fra)
Gert Jõeäär (Est)
Christophe Le Mevel (Fra)
Guillaume Levarlet (Fra)
Luis Ángel Maté (Spa)
Daniel Navarro (Spa)
Romain Zingle (Bel)

Daniel Navarro will be looking to impress at his home nation’s tour, while the likes of Christophe Le Mevel and Jérôme Coppel will be wanting to impress ahead of the impending shake up at Cofidis.

 

MTN-Qhubeka

 

Gerald Ciolek (Ger)
Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA)
Merhawi Kudus (Eri)
Louis Meintjes (RSA)
Sergio Pardilla (Spa)
Kristian Sbaraglia (Ita)
Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri)
Jay Thomson (RSA)
Jaco Venter (RSA)

The first African team to ride a grand tour since Barloworld folded, MTN-Qhubeka will be relying on Gerald Ciolek, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Daniel Teklehaimanot to justify their wild card inclusion.

 

Mollema Makes His Move & More

In a quite unexpected announcement, Bauke Mollema has turned his back on the previous seven years with Dutch outfit Belkin/Rabobank and has signed a two year deal with Trek Factory Racing as of 2015.

A move which may put a smile on his face.

A move which may put a smile on his face.

Such a signing would indicate that Trek are finally willing to ditch their backing of Frank and Andy Schleck and instead turn to the Dutch mountain man, with a taste for the classics, as their GC hope. Frank Schleck was of course suspended for the use of a possible masking agent, while his brother’s misfortune has left Andy thinking of dropping back to ProContinental racing in an attempt to recover from a range of career sapping injuries.

The signing of Mollema will also lead to increased activity from Trek Factory Racing, in order to bolster their support ranks if they wish to build a team to put the Dutchman closer to the podium than this year’s 21mins+ deficeit to Vincenzo Nibali.

Sagan Signed?

The worst kept secret of this year’s transfer window has to be Oleg Tinkov’s ambitions to sign Peter Sagan from Cannondale. The general consensus is that this deal has been completed for some time now, primarily due to the Cannondale/Garmin merger which probably help swing Sagan’s mind and we are just waiting on confirmation. Expect an announcement to come over the course of this weeks Tour de Pologne if this is the case, but the real questions are; Can Saxo-Tinkoff operate with Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador in the same race? And is Fernando Alonso’s mysterious team still lurking in the shadows for Peter Sagan?

Speaking of Cannondale, their most combative and swashbuckling rider of this year’s Tour de France, Alessandro De Marchi has now left them to join BMC along with Garmin’s Rohan Dennis. With Cadel Evans on the cusp of retirement (please somebody make him!) and Tejay Van Garderen falling short of his potential currently, BMC certainly seem to be making some sound investments for future Grand Tours.

Transfer Season Opens With A Boom

Friday the 1st of August marks the official opening of the cycling transfer window, even if deals for riders have been in the works for many months already. The usual flurry of announcements are expected over the course of the coming weeks, plus the addition of Oleg Tinkov’s transfer policy of tweeting his followers concerning his dealings

Astana manager Alexander Vinokourov had been vocal of his transfer ambitions at this year’s tour, stating his intentions for Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot. However his first major signing is familiar with another kind of red, white and blue tricolour; ex-Dutch champion Lars Boom has signed a 2 year deal with Astana to bolster their classics ambitions’. Luis Leon Sanchez was a more unexpected signing and has been handed a lifeline back to the WorldTour from Caja Rural.

As mentioned here earlier in the week, Cofidis are looking to shake the team up massively this year beyond just changing bike manufacturer. Announcing what may be their marquee signing of the window, Nacer Bouhanni joins from fellow French outfit FDJ. Cofidis will now be looking to build a strong lead out train for the French champion sprinter and look to be offloading lacklustre GC man Rein Taaramäe and Jérôme Coppel to make room.