Tag Archives: Jens Keukeleire

BELGIUM CYCLING DWARS DOOR VLAANDEREN 2014

ORICA-GreenEDGE names squad for Tour of Flanders

ORICA-Greenedge is ready for the Tour of Flanders with a squad of five protected riders that can go the distance in the tough classics race.

Milan-Sanremo is the longest of the five monuments. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the oldest. Paris-Roubaix is considered the Queen of the Classics. The Tour of Flanders is without a doubt the toughest. The combination of steep bergs, cobbles and narrow roads creates a battle zone for the riders that requires as much mental aptitude as physical prowess to survive.

“Flanders is basically all the previous Flemish races rolled into one,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “It’s basically every sector of pave and every famous climb all put into one race. It’s the biggest sporting day of the year in Belgium, and you feel that on the roads. The atmosphere along the race course adds energy to the bunch but it also adds a lot of stress.”

Race organisers, Flanders Classics, have made slight modifications to this year’s route that will certainly dismantle the peloton more so than last year. Most of the race action will unfold in the two finishing circuits that are now void of long, flat sections. Instead the final two circuits will draw out the favourites as the punishing climbs come in quick succession, particularly in the final 50 kilometres.

“It’s an epic day”, said Svein Tuft. “It’s one of the most brutal races of the year as we ride 45-50 kilometres per hour shoulder to shoulder on narrow roads, fighting for a little spot of road through every turn and over every hill.”

The 17 ‘hellingens’, small roads, high speeds, rain, wind, crashes, mechanicals and other misfortunes wreak havoc on the peloton. By the end of 259 kilometres, only the strongest, the smartest and the most fortunate will have survived.

“It’s amazing to watch the attrition in this race,” noted Tuft. “The race just blows apart naturally. There are no real attacks. The pace keeps elevating throughout the day. As the climbs come, it just keeps getting harder and harder until the pack dwindles down to the real players for the finale.”

From the ‘real players’, the winner will emerge. His name will forever be recognized for achieving one of the greatest wins in the sport of cycling.

“On that day, a legend will be born,” said Mathew Hayman. “It doesn’t matter who it is, the winner’s name will go down in cycling history.”

Whilst ORICA-GreenEDGE hasn’t had an ideal build-up heading into Flanders, after a good result at De Panne, things are looking up for the team. Placing a rider in the top ten would be a fantastic result for the Australian outfit. Although the team will not line up with a clear standout leader, there are five riders amongst the team’s eight starters who can go the distance.

“Durbridge, Impey, Keukeleire, Hayman and Docker are our five protected riders,” said Wilson. “Keukeleire is going well at the moment and has proven he can be around the mark. Hayman and Mitch are both riding strong. Durbo has shown his from this last week, and Impey has the skills required to produce a result here. We want these five guys to get to the final as fresh as possible.”

In a race as chaotic and dangerous as Flanders, the support riders will play in important role in chaperoning the team leaders to the finish. To say their role is important is an understatement – it is vital.

“Heppy [Michael Hepburn], Tuft and Mouris are there to support the other five,” added Wilson. “They will need to ride near the other guys to give them wheels when they need it, help them regain contact if they’re involved in a crash and get them bottles. Most importantly, they have to be able to get them into position on the most decisive moments. These races are all about position – stay at the front, out of the wind and protected.”

For Tuft, it comes as no surprise that being the consummate teammate is what will keep him satisfied at the end of the day.

“I think both Hayman and Durbo have the legs to go to the finale,” said Tuft. “If I can go as far as I can helping those guys hold good position so they don’t have to do too much work in the final bits, I will be super satisfied with that. For the team, I want us up there in the top ten.”

Hayman is known as an experienced and respected domestique over most terrain, but the Classics are where he gets his best personal results. To finish Flanders content, Hayman says he needs to have the best possible race he can produce.

“I want to leave it all out there,” said Hayman.

Flanders – it’s the pinnacle of cycling.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Ronde van Vlaanderen:

Daryl Impey
Jens Keukeleire
Jens Mouris
Luke Durbridge
Mathew Hayman
Michael Hepburn
Mitch Docker
Svein Tuft

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Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews highlight ORICA-GreenEDGE squad for Milan – Sanremo

In two days time, the adrenalized and much anticipated start to the spring Classics will kick off in Italy. On Sunday ORICA-GreenEDGE will line up in Milan to start the 298 kilometre journey to Sanremo. Milan-Sanremo, also known in Italy as La Primavera, is one of the five Monuments of cycling alongside the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombarida. These pillars of cycling are the oldest and most prestigious of the one-day races.

Last year the peloton faced heinous weather conditions that included snow and freezing temperatures, bringing several riders to tears alongside the road. Although Mother Natures isn’t predicted to be as cruel this year, RCS Sport has already been dealt one weather-related blow prior to the start. One month ago the race organisation had to make the disappointing call to remove the ascent to Pompeiana due to irreparable road damage caused by poor weather conditions. With the exclusion of the Pompeiana climb, all fingers point to a bunch kick in Sanremo.

“We’re going back to the old course from 2007,” said Sport Director Matt White. “History proves in the last 15-20 years up until 2008 that this is a race for the sprinters. Only twice has a breakaway succeeded – when Bettini won in 2003 and Colombo in 1996. Predominantly, it’s a bunch sprint on this course, and even more so if it’s raining.”

Organisers are facing another potential course change in the eleventh hour. Possible landslides around Sportorno have forced RCS to consider an alternative route for rider safety.

“In comparison to the removal of Pompeiana, this would be a minor change,” said White. “Whatever the change is exactly, it’s not going to impact the race so much as the removal of Pompeiana. The new climb will be small, not very long and a fair way from the finish.”

For ORICA-GreenEDGE, Milan-Sanremo is a very special race. Simon Gerrans captured a glorious and ‘monumental’ win for the Australian outfit in its inaugural year.

“Our objective is to put someone on the podium,” said White. “We’re bringing a team that is going to be very competitive. Simon is moving along well, and we’ll be leaving him for the Poggio in case there are moves similar to when he won two years ago. The rest of the guys will be supporting Michael Matthews throughout the day.”

The combination of wind and rain will be the biggest factors influencing the outcome in Sanremo. Headwinds will make it harder for a break to get away. Tailwinds mean a faster race and a better chance for riders to get away.

Wet roads, particularly on the descents of the Cipressa and Poggio, could cause splits in the bunch as the more courageous riders test the mettle of the peloton down the twisty roads. It will be difficult for any team to organise a chase as the fury is unleashed in the closing kilometres.

“The prediction on race day is rain,” noted White. “Rain at the start and possible rain at the final. It could be a wet Milan-Sanremo but it’s going to be a lot warmer than last year – 10°C at the start and 13-14° along the coast.”

“A wet Milan-Sanremo won’t impact the race too much at the start, but if it’s wet when they get down to the coast, it will have a big effect on how the race unfolds,” continued White. “It will slow the race down a lot. The riders can only go so fast along the coast as they whiz through those small towns before there are crashes. Rain will bring a lot of guys back in the race as the race will be a lot slower.”

On paper, Sanremo looks like it is the easiest race to win. In actuality, it is the hardest race to win and the easiest to lose. To win this race, a team must keep things under control from the start. Then in the final 100 kilometres, riders must be completely focused. As the race heats up on Turchino Pass, riders must be at the front not to win the race, but to ensure they don’t lose it.

“San Remo is a beautiful race where almost anything is possible,” says White. “With the race coming in at 300km, it’s all about conservation of energy as an individual and working together as a team. And about being in the right place at the right time.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Milan-Sanremo:

  • Daryl Impey
  • Jens Keukeleire
  • Luke Durbridge
  • Mathew Hayman
  • Michael Matthews
  • Simon Clarke
  • Simon Gerrans
  • Svein Tuft

Australian readers: Ride with Orica-Greenedge at Mitchelton Wineries

Join ORICA-GreenEDGE/ORICA-AIS on December 1 at The Mitchelton Winery for a memorable ride alongside the team. No other WorldTour team offers you an opportunity to ride and mingle with its stars in a setting quite like this.

The Mitchelton Winery is the perfect setting for a day with the family. We offer ride options for everyone through the beautiful Nagambie winery region. Choose from a 24km, 48km or 138km route. Kids can take part, too. We have an 8km course just for them. After you ride, enjoy activities, food and live music alongside the ORICA-GreenEDGE and ORICA-AIS riders.

Simon Gerrans, like many of his teammates, considers the event to be an opportunity for him to share his appreciation for the outpouring of support he has received from our home country fans.

“The entire ORICA-GreenEDGE team and I had such a great seaon this year with the crown on top being the Tour de France,” said Gerrans. “We received fantastic support from our fans in Australia, so I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to join the fans and personally thank them. The whole team is encouraging everyone to come to Michelton and join us on River & Ranges Winery Ride. It’ll be a great day.”

The day also offers an opportunity for team supporters to welcome our newest recruits into the GreenEDGE family. Let’s show Adam Yates, Caleb Ewab, Carlee Taylor, Damien Howson, Esteban Chaves, Ivan Santaromita, Mat Hayman, Simon Yates and Valentina Scandolara that our fans are the best in the business.

ORICA-GreenEDGE Confirmed Riders:

Adam Yates, Aidis Kruopis, Brett Lancaster, Caleb Ewan, Cam Meyer, Christian Meyer, Damien Howson, Daryl Impey, Esteban Chaves, Ivan Santaromita, Jens Keukeleire, Jens Mouris, Leigh Howard, Luke Durbridge, Mat Hayman, Matt Goss, Michael Albasini, Michael Hepburn, Michael Matthews, Mitch Docker, Pieter Weening, Sam Bewley, Simon Clarke, Simon Gerrans, Simon Yates and Svein Tuft

ORICA-AIS Confirmed Riders:

Carlee Taylor, Gracie Elvin, Jessie MaLean, Loes Gunnewijk, Shara Gillow and Valentina Scandolara

To learn more or register visit: http://www.wineryride.com.au/

André Greipel second in Vattenfall Cyclassics

For the second year in a row André Greipel has become second in the Vattenfall Cyclassics. The victory was for his fellow countryman John Degenkolb. Immediately after the start four riders took off. They got a lead of maximum eight minutes. In the peloton FDJ and Lotto Belisol were leading the chase. Gert Dockx was riding at the head of the bunch for the team. On the 246 kilometers long course the Waseberg had to be climbed four times. At the first passage, 110 km before the end, the gap was down to 3’30”.

Just after the second ascent, with 63 kilometers to go, we got 14 leaders after a few riders had made the jump to the front. Among them Jens Keukeleire, Michal Kwiatkowski, Marco Marcato and Yoann Offredo. 50 kilometers from the end this break was caught. After an intermezzo by Boaro and Flens Sep Vanmarcke attacked on the third ascent of the Waseberg. Together with Mol, Stannard and Terpstra he formed the new front group. 5 chasers could join them, Lotto Belisol rider Tim Wellens was one of them. Niki Tersptra started a solo on the last climb of the Waseberg with 15 km to go. At less than 8 km, he was reeled in by the chasing peloton. John Degenkolb won the bunch sprint before German national champion André Greipel and Alexander Kristoff.

André Greipel: “We took the responsibility from kilometer zero and Gert Dockx was riding until about 200 kilometers. A lot of teams tried to get along in breakaways, so he did a good job there to keep us in the race. Then it was important on the penultimate and last climb of the Waseberg to be in a good position. The whole team helped Sibi and me with that. When Tim Wellens was part of the break, we could save our energy and we didn’t need to pull in the peloton. Jürgen Roelandts had stomach problems, so he couldn’t help in the sprint. But Jens Debusschere, Lars Bak and Marcel Sieberg brought me in a good position, but I didn’t have the legs to pass John Degenkolb.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE names line-up for 2013 Vuelta a Espana

ORICA-GreenEDGE is pleased to announce its nine man Vuelta a España team. The line-up includes two Tour of Spain stage winners alongside two riders making their Grand Tour debut.

“We’ve put together a dynamic team that will target stage wins in Spain,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “Our objectives are very much like last year. Many of the stages suit our style of racing, and we’re capable of doing very well here.”

“In addition to our stage win goals, we have a couple of Australia’s strongest riders racing with us in preparation for the World Championships in Florence,” Stephens continued. “The World Championships circuit is a very difficult one, and we tend to think the preparation for Worlds will come out of the Vuelta. The riders have spoken to the national team selectors, and they’ve put their hand up to race with us in Spain to help them get ready for Worlds.”

The nine riders who will zip up their skinsuits and pull on their time trial helmets in Vilanova de Arousa to kick-start their three week Tour of Spain include: Simon Gerrans, Simon Clarke, Michael Matthews, Leigh Howard, Mitch Docker, Baden Cooke, Christian Meier and Sam Bewley

“This is a group that is capable of pulling off a stage win on a number of different days,” noted Stephens. “We have guys for the sprints, guys for the punchy little uphill finishes, guys that can win from a break and guys eager to help out all three groups. We won one stage and the mountain classification jersey last year with Simon Clarke. We hope to leave our mark on the race again this year.”

Fresh off two wins and two days in yellow at the Tour de France, Simon Gerrans is eager to stage hunt in Spain as part of his final preparations for the World Championships in late September. The Victorian is the second Australian to win stages of all three Grand Tours and has five Grand Tour stage wins to his name. Gerrans earmarks stages that suit his ability to survive lumpy days with hard finishes contested by a reduced bunch.

“Simon is a stand-out rider who has had two fantastic years with the team,” said Stephens. “He finished off the Tour in great shape and is now doing a block of training at altitude in preparation for his final goals of the season, which include the Vuelta and the World Championships. I see several stages that suit Simon, and he will certainly look to win one of them.”

Simon Clarke made his Grand Tour debut with ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Vuelta a España last year. Where other riders merely survive their first Grand Tour, Clarke thrived, earning a stage win and the polka dot jersey. It was a transforming experience for Clarke who has emerged as a leader within the Australian outfit. His improvement earned him a Tour de France debut this year.

“Simon came a long way in terms of development last year,” said Stephens. “He furthered his progression at the Tour in July. Having won a stage and the mountain classification here last year, Simon obviously has some really good memories from his first Vuelta. Like Gerro, Clarkey is going for stage wins as he continues to mature into a leadership role within the team.”

Beyond the opportunists, there is a core group of sprinters looking to leave their mark in the fast finishes. Leigh Howard and Michael Matthews have both won bunch kicks this year, and they’ve done so with crucial support from key lead-out men Mitch Docker and Baden Cooke.

Howard took early season wins at the Challenge Mallorca and recorded two additional podiums in the first half of the season. Forced to rethink his race schedule after crashing out of the Giro d’Italia in early May, Howard returned to racing in Poland last month and has enjoyed a steady return of form and speed in his build-up to the Spanish Grand Tour.

“Leigh was a major part of both of Jens Keukeleire’s wins at Burgos last week,” noted Stephens. “He’s used both Poland and Burgos as a bit of a strength block and an opportunity to fine-tune his sprint. With Matthews, Leigh is part of our two-pronged approach to the sprints.”

Matthews recently scored two stunning wins at the Tour of Utah, along with the points jersey. His victories came on the heels of five second place finishes sprinkled throughout the first seven months of the season. The Vuelta a España will be Matthews’s first Grand Tour.

“Michael has been a very exciting young rider to work with this year,” said Stephens. “He’s shone throughout this season, and the wins in Utah should give him a big confidence boost. The way he was able to handle some of the hillier terrain opens up additional possibilities for him at the Vuelta.”

“Michael and Leigh approach the sprints differently, so it’s great that we’re bringing riders that can cover all sorts of sprint scenarios,” added Stephens. “We have a team to support them both.”

No stranger to achieving personal results, Cooke won the green jersey at the Tour de France in 2003, claiming a stage win along the way. He now relishes his role as lead-out man, supporting his younger, less-experienced teammates in their dash to the line.

“Cookie is the veteran amongst this group,” said Stephens. “He is older, stronger and very experienced. He’s become adept at piloting his teammates into position in the finish. I expect him to play a major leadership role in Spain.”

Docker will take on a similar role as Cooke. Integral to several key wins the team has secured this year, Docker has an uncanny knack for positioning and has been well-praised for taking lengthy pulls ahead of his sprinter.

“Mitch is an upcoming lead-out guy, and we’ve seen him become even stronger in that role this year,” said Stephens. “He did a great job at the Vuelta last year, and he’s played an important role in a lot of the team’s wins this year. I’m hoping there’s a bit of an opportunity for Mitch to go for a personal result. If not, he thrives on his work for the team.”

Wesley Sulzberger has honed some of the best form of his life this season, and although he has yet to secure the result to show for his improved form, he’s been knocking on the door for months.

“Wes is in fantastic shape,” said Stephens. “It’s clear he really trained well throughout July. He’s a great helper in nearly every race situation, and I expect he’ll be especially important in the harder stages that suit Gerro and Clarkey. Wes also has the ability to finish off a stage from a breakaway, and we’d love to see him get the result he’s gone after all season.”

Sam Bewley is the second Grand Tour debutant amongst the nine-rider squad. Like Howard, Bewley’s season was disrupted by a broken collarbone, and his race program has been lighter than anticipated. He proved he used his training time well, coming off a mid-summer break with a strong performance at Tour of Utah where he supported Matthews to two wins and had some of the best climbing legs of his career.

“Sam is a very important element in our team time trial squad for the World Championships,” said Stephens. “At this stage, we plan to race Sam for the first two weeks where he will do some essential support work for the team. We hope the racing gives him that final edge for the TTT in mid-September.”

Mr. Dependable rounds out the roster. Racing his second Grand Tour of the season, Christian Meier will fall into a familiar role in Spain as he gets into breakaways, fetches bottles, shields his teammates from the wind and takes long turns on the front.

“Many of the races we’ve won are thanks to guys like Christian,” said Stephens. “If we’re lucky enough to pull off a stage win in Spain, we know that Christian will have put his heart into that result. He’s the kind of guy that we can always count on to do his work. I have told him that we’d really like to find a way to pay him back for the support he provides. We’d like to give him a little help to chase a result. He tells us not to worry about it. He loves for riding for the team.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Vuelta a España:

Baden Cooke
Christian Meier
Leigh Howard
Michael Matthews
Mitch Docker
Sam Bewley
Simon Clarke
Simon Gerrans
Wesley Sulzberger