Peron & Lozano roll hard on the climbs to finish with the leaders at Hellas Tour

A hot and hilly opening stage of the International Hellas Tour traversed the ancient Island of Crete from the capital Heraklion to the picturesque port of Chania where a technical finish awaited on the seafront.

Italian sprinter Andrea Peron and Spanish climber David Lozano produced a good showing for Team Novo Nordisk, forming part of an elite reduced group that formed over the climbs and tried in vain to chase down the remnants of the breakaway.

David Lozano:

“I felt a lot better today than in Turkey that’s for sure. It was hot, straight onto a climb and the pace was high from the start, but we did a good job today. The guys supported me and Andrea really well and to be honest everyone in our group thought the breakaway was already caught.”

“We hit 2,900m elevation in 179km and the group of four guys were really moving out front. Andrea and I were in the reduced favorites group and we collaborated well together. When we hit the descent to the finish, it was technical and we thought we would be fighting for the stage result, so to find out at the finish that one guy remained and he won…was a bit deflating. But we’re in good shape and we go again tomorrow.”

Sports Director Gennady Mikhaylov:

“That was a good start from us today. The guys followed instructions and worked hard with both Andrea and David right up there with the favorites group.

“The race was split very early because we were straight onto the climbs and I was surprised that one guy from the break managed to stay out front, but that’s the race today and we showed good signs. So that’s what we will carry forward into tomorrow’s stage two.”

— Tim Lindley to www.teamnovonordisk.com

Late climbs and late attacks wrap up stage seven in Turkey

The penultimate stage of this year’s Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey rolled out from historic Gallipoli and inland towards Istanbul and onto a pair of second category climbs before climaxing in late attacks form the GC contenders with a reduced group going all the way to the line.

Experienced former Hungarian road champion Peter Kusztor tried a courageous move to bridge across to the early breakaway, but the rolling roads went against him and despite his best efforts Kusztor didn’t quite make it and was caught by the peloton.

Peter Kusztor (HUN):

“I really tried hard to make it across and at one point came within 30seconds, but the undulating roads and high speed were slightly too much. I kept a good pace and tried to focus on a concentrated effort, like a TT but lost it on the climb.”

“It would have been great for us to get up there again to show our jersey and my kids are watching on the TV at home and I wanted to them to be able to say ‘look, there’s Daddy!’ but it wasn’t to be today. We’ve got one more stage to go to try something.”

General manager Vassili Davidenko (RUS):

“We wanted to get more out of today and Peter put in a good effort to try and make it across to the break, but it didn’t happen, and it was our objective to be in there. We needed to be more alive to the early attacks because with today’s profile it was always going to be tough to do something in the final and it wasn’t a surprise when it was a reduced group that contested the stage.”

“One more stage to come and it will be hard and fast on the circuits in Istanbul. It would be great to get something out of tomorrow, one more top ten stage result would be ideal.”

— Tim Lindley to www.teamnovonordisk.com

Santesteban climbs to 4th to catapult herself up to 2nd on the general classification in Ardeche – Team BikeExchange

Spanish climber Ane Santesteban has once again shown her continuously building form, by climbing to a strong fourth place on today’s summit finish stage at Cycliste Féminin de l’Ardeche. The strong performance on the tough 119.6km stage sees the 30-year-old climb the overall classification into second position.

Santesteban had teammate Lucy Kennedy by her side towards the final, on the penultimate climb, before Ruth Winder attacked away from the group and was able to hold off the chasers to take a solo victory.

Santesteban dug deep up the final first category ascent and was able to finish in fourth place, on the same time as race leader Leah Thomas who finished second place and third place Mavi Garcia

The Team BikeExchange rider will start tomorrow’s fifth stage in second place overall just nine seconds down on Thomas and on the same time as Garcia, who currently sits in third place.

Ane Santesteban – 4th place
“The team was awesome again today. They keep me out of trouble and out of the wind all day and the last two climbs were hard. There were some moves from the main general classification riders, and we had to control them

Today we actually had the plan to try to go for the stage win with Lucy Kennedy. The girls perfectly executed the plan, and she was able to get away. In the end, she missed some good legs but I’m sure she will find again her moment here and finish her career in the best way. This is the same place where everything started for her as a professional cyclist.

I am really motivated and feeling confidence for the next three stages. It’s so nice to see how strong we are as a team. That really helps me. Fourth place in the end today and now up to second place overall, so it is exciting.”

2021 Cycliste Féminin de l’Ardeche – Stage 4 results:
1. Ruth Winder 3:28:23
2. Leah Thomas +2:18
3. Mavi Garcia +2:18
4. Ane Santesteban (Team BikeExchange) +2:18

General Classification after stage 4:
1. Leah Thomas 13:44:39
2. Ane Santesteban (Team BikeExchange) +0:09
3. Mavi Garcia +0:09

Photo courtesy of Getty Images 

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com

Clarke climbs to 8th on explosive Tour of Britain stage 4

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) powered to the Tour of Britain stage 4 victory, beating Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) into 2nd place with Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up) rounding out the podium.

Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain was the longest of the race, covering 210km from Aberaeron to Llandudno. There was also a fair amount of climbing in the final half of the stage, with two short sharp climbs placed in the final 7km.

The tough nature of the course meant it would be an important stage for the GC men and the punchy climber specialists in the bunch. For Team Qhubeka NextHash, this meant Simon Clarke would be the go-to-guy for the day.

An early break did animate the beginning of the stage, and a few opportunists did also try their luck by jumping across the lead group with around 60km to go, but the up and down finale ensured the likes of Jumbo-Visma, Ineos and Deceuninck-Quickstep kept the pressure on at the front of the race.

Team Qhubeka NextHash played its first card with 35km to go, as Mauro Schmid attacked on one of the hills outside of Llandudno. He was joined by two others, but they never got more than 25 seconds before being caught with 19km remaining.

The peloton stayed together until the penultimate climb but the battle to reach the foot of the hill was intense. Team Qhubeka NextHash did a fine job though, looking after Clarke into the climb, Giacomo Nizzolo and Carlos Barbero in particular doing some fantastic work to keep their teammate in the top 10 places.

An acceleration over the top of the climb by Movistar was again shut down, just before the final 2km climb to the line began. Riders were greeted with an explosive gradient of 18% and it was here where the favourites made their moves.

Van Aert was matched by Alaphilppe and Woods right up to the line, the Belgian champion just having enough to edge the World Champion into 2nd. Clarke fought valiantly and brought home a credible 8th place finish on the stage, 16 seconds behind Van Aert.

It was a pretty good day. The team was pretty keen to bounce back after an unfortunate day yesterday, with the crash in the TTT. The plan was to look after me all day and I would do what I can in the final. I had the full support from the team and I have to say it was super teamwork. I really appreciated everyone’s help, they all did their job and each person made a difference. I had great help in the lead out to the climb which was crucial with the final climb being so steep. Every meter you were behind the front was a disadvantage so I got dropped off in the perfect position without having to use much energy at all, which was really good. I did my best, getting up the wall as best as possible. 8th place, happy with that and happy to get a top 10 for the team and hopefully we can keep building upon the positivity.

Simon Clarke

— Damian to teamqhubeka.com

Woods climbs into the KOM jersey on stage 14 of the Tour

Israel Start-Up Nation has taken the iconic polka dot KOM jersey with Michael Woods after a courageous effort by the Canadian climber on stage 14 of the Tour de France. This is the first ever leader’s jersey for ISN in the the Tour!

With its undulating profile, today’s stage had breakaway written all over it. Therefore, it was no surprise to see a furious fight to make it into the right group at the start of the day. After nearly 100 km of fighting, a group finally managed to get away. Having been attentive near the front the whole time, waiting for the optimal moment, Woods was quick to get up the road and join the leading riders.

“From that moment on, I was trying to play my cards right,” Woods explained afterward. “I didn’t want to spend too much energy fighting Poels for the KOM points, but I also had to take more points than him, which was a difficult task because he’s so strong.”

On the following three categorized climbs, Woods picked up nine KOM points which put him in the virtual lead of the competition.

Unfortunately, on the penultimate descent, Woods suffered a minor crash, which meant he had to expend significant energy chasing back to the front group. Shortly after he made it back, Bauke Mollema [Trek-Segafredo] attacked and soloed away.

At the top of the last climb, Woods put in another strong effort, crossing the line in second place, sealing his move to the top of the ranking in the KOM competition.

“It was a nice feeling, knowing I had taken the jersey, but I was also cursing myself for crashing. I was so disappointed in myself. Still, I knew I was on a really good day and I’m really proud to be riding in the polka dot jersey tomorrow. Especially on familiar roads in Andorra,” Woods said.

In the end, Woods finished fifth on the stage, his second top-5 place in this year’s Tour de France after taking third on stage 8. An impressive result, but – to Woods – only one thing mattered today.

“Growing up, I didn’t know anything about cycling, but I always watched the Tour and I found that the KOM jersey was the coolest jersey of them all. It’s truly a dream come true to be in that jersey now. I hope I can get a good night’s sleep so my body can recover, and I will be able to enjoy it tomorrow.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

In Switzerland, Woodsy climbs to third and to seventh in GC

It was a good day for Michael Woods in the Tour de Suisse. Even though two riders went up the road in stage 5, Woods managed to claim a spot on the podium and moved up 14 places in the general classification.

“This is promising for the next few days,” Woods said after the finish.

Tour de Suisse 2021 – 85th Edition – 5th stage Gstaad – Leukerbad 175,2 km – 10/06/2021 – Michael Woods (NZL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Peter De Voecht/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

ISN’s climber was brought in perfect position by his helpers, including a strong James Piccoli and an impressive Guillaume Boivin. On the penultimate climb, Woods showed he was one of the strongest riders in the group of favorites.

He proved it again on the final climb, on which he did a big part of the chasing of the two stronger riders who broke away. Then he sprinted to third place, relatively easily, in the last few hundred meters of the race.

Woods: “My ride was really good today, and I felt really strong. I am a bit disappointed that I was not able to cover the attacks of Carapaz and Fuglsang. I was not strong enough mentally for that, but I am happy with how my legs are and I am looking forward to the next few stages.”

The Canadian moved up into the top-10 in GC of the Tour de Suisse after his terrific efforts in stage 5. The next few days in Switzerland are all about climbing skills which are, as you can imagine, completely to Woodsy’s liking.

#TourDeSuisse #YallaISN

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Spectacle on ice-cold Monte Zoncolan: Martin climbs among the best

“Fighting is my nature,” says Dan Martin.

Martin moved up four places in the general classification after stage 14 in the Giro d’Italia.

The Irishman is the new number thirteen in GC, after he climbed up the super-steep Monte Zoncolan among the best climbers in the race.

“I was surprised the gaps between the GC-guys weren’t bigger,” Martin said after the finish.

Members of the original breakaway made it to the finish line, so battling for the stage win wasn’t part of the day.

A top-10 in GC is a goal for Martin in this Giro. That was a reason for him to fight like no other. The Irish climber, known for his ability to suffer endlessly, dug deep for the twelfth-place finish on the stage.

“I am happy with my performance today and I am happy with how I am feeling,” said the Irishman.

Guy Niv looked comfortable on the final climb of the day. The Israeli climber, who will be looking for more breakaway opportunities in the next climbing stages, said he nearly ended up in the break-away of the day.

“Unfortunately, the peloton did not let us go, and chased us down. Therefore, I stayed with Dan, took care of bottles, and rain jackets for my teammates wherever needed.”

Niv passed the first climb of the day and helped position Martin for the Zoncolan.

Martin: “Our small team rode really well. The guys really looked after me.”

He concluded by saying, “In the end, I felt pretty good. I am in a good place mentally and physically and I will keep fighting. Fighting is my nature.”

#Giro #YallaISN

Pics: Bettini & Noa Arnon

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Dan Martin climbs to third place on stage 6 of Giro d’Italia

The Israel Start-Up Nation team leader, Dan Martin, put on an impressive performance during the mountainous stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia, finishing in third place. Unfortunately, Alessandro De Marchi lost the pink jersey.

The first mountaintop finish of the Giro turned out to be just as challenging as expected – or even more so, with countless attacks in the opening kilometers and horrible weather conditions throughout the day.

After several breakaway attempts, eight riders managed to distance the peloton. The group quickly opened up a gap of over five minutes with the ISN guys setting the pace in the pack for De Marchi.

Unfortunately, in a crosswind section between two climbs, the peloton split up and De Marchi got caught out in the second group, ultimately losing the pink jersey.

Team leader Martin, on the other hand, was on a very good day, following the attacks from the top GC contenders with ease on the final climb. In the end, Martin crossed the line in third place, as the last remaining rider from the breakaway, Gino Mäder (Bahrain) took the win.

Martin is now ninth in the general classification, 47 seconds down on the new leader, Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ).

Dan Martin: “With the cold, the rain, and the wind, this turned out to be a big test. The last 65-70 km were really difficult. On the descent, I was so cold I could barely control my bike. It was a big help for me that the guys did such a good job for me, always keeping me in a good position. Just before we started the final climb, one of the BORA riders crashed right in front me and I couldn’t avoid going down as well. However, I got up quickly, and Paddy [Bevin] did a great job to bring me back to a good position near the front of the group.

“I didn’t really plan to do anything today, I just wanted to stay in the wheels and watch the other guys and that’s basically what I did. I felt pretty good though. Usually, these are not really conditions that suit me, so when I have good legs in these conditions, it also shows how good my shape is. This gives me a lot of comfort going forward; and now, we just want to continue this amazing start to the Giro we have had.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

Berwick climbs to 19th and moves up in GC of the Tour of Turkey

A serious mountain stage in the Tour of Turkey totally shook up the general classification in stage 5. Israel Start-Up Nation’s climber, Sebastian Berwick, was in the mix.

Over the last few days, Seb Berwick worked hard to get the sprint train into position. He was the first man chasing breakaways and closing gaps. In stage 5, the team roles were reversed.

First things first. Matthias Brändle decided early in the stage to spend most of his time in the breakaway of the day. After a group of riders went, the Austrian closed the gap and showed his strength in front of the race.

On the second categorized climb of the day, the gap decreased a little, but there was still a significant distance between the front group and the bunch before the final ascent to the finish started.

Brändle said he had great legs today. “We worked well together and grew our lead after the second climb to four minutes. The headwind in the last twenty kilometers was a game changer though. I attacked a few times on the final climb and enjoyed my time in the break today.”

The team protected Berwick sublimely in the beginning for the final climb, and after that it was up to the 21-year-old himself to put up a show.

Till three kilometers to go, the Australian was in the first group. When competitors started attacking, he chose to keep climbing at his own pace, finishing 19th.

“I gave everything I had”, he would say right after the finish. “I hoped for a top-10, but that was just out of reach today.”

Berwick moved up 130 positions in the general classification and is now sitting in 19th.

Pics: VeloImages, Bettini Photos and Sjors Beukeboom.

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com