mercoledì 1 ottobre 2014

In Short: Frank Schleck about Andy's future

GP Camaiore: an exahusted Andy
There is an interview here:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/q-and-a-frank-schleck?ns_campaign=features&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=cyclingnews&ns_linkname=0&ns_fee=0&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=features

In Short:

1.Waiting On His Knee: "Andy needs to take care of his knee, most importantly. He spent some time in Mallorca training and he’s waiting on his knee getting better. We’re all waiting on that. That’s the first priority and then we’ll take it from there and that’s all I can say. I would love to say more, but we just have to wait on his knee and then he’ll base a decision on that."

2. Another step back: "He’s had a hard year, there’s no doubt. He fought hard to come back and I think he was getting better at the Tour de Suisse and even in the Tour he was fit and skinny. He wasn’t going to win the Tour but he was fit. Then he crashed and it’s another step back for him. It’s not easy for him and it’s sad for me because we always used to be together and now we just have to see what comes next.

3.The priority is the knee: "I don’t know [if he'll race again] We have to wait and see. It’s not going to help if we think or believe or even talk about it because we just don’t know. The priority is the knee. A cycling career lasts a certain number of years but if he ruins his knee long term then he has his whole life with that potential problem. We don’t want that and I think it’s fair to say he’s had a brilliant career and he’s done a lot but now it’s time to give him space. Once we know about the knee we’ll make plans for the future. Speculation counts for little."

My opinion
I texted Andy yesterday but he didn't answer, that normally isn't a good sign. Frank is right about the fact that the priority is Andy's health and, let me add, a realistic plann for his future, not necessarily out of cycling but stressing more the personal side: as I often said, he had a great career, a lot of bad luck, some personal faults - as everybody else - but a whole life ahead. It's time to move on and Andy has got all he needs to do great. Maybe not on bike: it doesn't matter. In some years it could even looks as a blessing!

martedì 30 settembre 2014

An Easy Ride, (no) Lombardia and my opinion about Worlds

Easy Ride to Rosano (Florence)
After an awful (no) Summer punctual arrives a glorious Fall. I have been  busy so negletted my bike, but this morning my dad and I found the time for an easy ride
We rode along the river from the Via Gioberti area - where I live - per Lungarno Aldo Moro till Ponte di Varlungo - crazy traffic: not fun - crossed it, turned left in Via di Villamagna and rode a short stretch till the start of a nice narrow street - Via Maggiorelli - then left again in Via delle Lame and Via del Crocifisso del Lume. That was my way to work last year: quiet, beautiful, enclosed in ancient high walls hiding ancient villas and gardens. I love it.
But race bikes need wide straight roads... so we emerged in via Pian di Ripoli, boldly rode to Vallina - some climbs included - and only stopped in Rosano for a coffee break - me: dad guarding our bikes. And back.
I have been riding few lately but followed a lot of riding from the team car: my son started training on the road - no more that childish boring flat circuit in San Bartolo a Cintoia - and parents are allowed to watch. I'm not going to watch that often though, not really: few days ago son reached the team's meeting point on his own, cycling. You might think it's normal but he's 12 yo and so far I had to bring him and his bike by car from home - in Florence - to Ponte a Ema, a town some kms away. He's grown up (and proud).
I also watched a lot of pro-cycling on streaming as you know and I'm going to watch also Il Lombardia that way because my son is racing on Saturday and on Sunday morning there is no train getting to Como in time for the start. It was way better when the Giro di Lombardia's start was in Milano and the finish in Como: there are many trains to Milano of course and Como is quite close so you could go and come back in the same day. Not from Napoli ok, but from Roma or Torino surely. And from Florence of course. I'm very annoyed not only because I'm going to miss it but moreover because I don't see the point in changing a Classic: something is 'classic' just because it's always actual, don't need to change. The new route is good and hard but it isn't Il Lombardia anymore: create a new race if you like, don't touch the Classics! In add I think that accessibility to races' start and finish by train is important: people shouldn't be forced to use the car and an important race shouldn't see on the road only local people.
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Bradley Wiggins
I watched the Worlds and I don't like what I have seen. The route was absolutely boring, unable to make selection or to allow an attacking racing. Winners are all well deserved but we completely missed the show. Then Ponferrada was a weird location: far, few to see, few hotels too... Given that the route was poor I don't get why it has been selected to holst the Worlds.
I watched it all - YEP - and I must say that youths have been a bit better. I don't dare to commentate the Elite Women races because I'm incompetent - I promise I'll improve in the next season! - Still I know that Pauline Ferrand- Prevot had had a very consistent season. For more read here:
http://www.mariannevosofficial.com/blog/End-of-the-season
As far as Elite Men are concerned... Well... The TTT has been a surprise, not only because of BMC's success - without Taylor Phinney, sadly - but also because Team Sky failed to get a medal. OPQS was considered the main favourite but you must consider that the team wasn't the same as in Florence. ORICA-GE did great in my opinion, they just started slightly too slow, as well as TFR. But Team Sky missed a medal beacuse the lost two riders almost immediately: Thomas wasn't in perfect shape - he had crashed - but what about Puccio? I'm sorry for Wiggins, Kiryienka and Cataldo -the last one injuried - who had all on their shoulders... for nothing. Could a different squad have done better? Who know?! 
The ITT has been something. Surprising, thrilling, till the last uncertain. A huge duel between Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin. At their back... tons of underplots, some dramas, some happy ends... No Fabian Cancellara. And a disappointing Alex Dowsett.
The RR has been... boring to death! Italia did a lot of mess (or fuss), while all the favourites were wisely waiting. Sonny Colbrelli should have sprinted for better than 13th if supported by a decent team in the last part of the race. I still have to understand what happened to Ben Swift. Basicly all favourites waited a bit too long and Kwiatowski won. He said he had watched the U23 race... They all did I guess! 
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Fabian Cancellara
The big winner of these Worlds is Bradley Wiggins in my opinion: he's not dead - just like Punk! - he's alive and kicking, already setting new goals. I like that man every season more in spite - or beacuse - of his complex charcater. 
The big loser, no doubt, is Fabian Cancellara. Tony Martin lost twice - in the TTT and in the ITT - but had a super season and was maybe tired. Worlds' were instead Cancellara's solo goal, more than the pavé Classics where he won so many times. He retired in the Tour - without a victory - and skipped the Worlds ITT, then... cramps!! He said he doesn't know what went wrong. Fact is that he has never been a contender. In general I have got the impression that his time is over. I'm not sure he's going to try the hour record, while Bradley Wiggins will.
Finally, I have been busy wth my kitchen: not cooking but getting it painted. It's still a work in progress because I want to do some changes in fornitures and decorations but I'll post some pictures when it will be done. Stay tuned if you are curious!

Fenn, König, Nordhaug, Poels and Roche... go Sky

Embedded image permalinkSome fine signing here, not unespected but still nice: they are all riders I like and Team Sky - when avoiding pathological perfectionism syndrome - it's a great squad. See what they say: 

PRESS RELEASE

Team Sky has signed five new riders for the 2015 season – 
Announcing the new riders, Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: "We’ve signed five quality riders for next season and each one of them will help strengthen and enhance the squad.

"We’ve always set our standards high and been very ambitious with our goals. We want to win the biggest races and constantly improve as a team and these new riders have the proven experience and developing talent to perform now and in the future."

He concluded: "We have a strong nucleus of riders at Team Sky and these signings will be excellent additions to the squad. They all bring their own qualities and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to the team and seeing them in action next season."

The new Team Sky signings for 2015:

ANDREW FENN                                                                                                 GREAT BRITAIN – age 24
Andrew Fenn joins Team Sky after an assured first three years in the professional ranks. In 2012, his debut season as a pro, he won back-to-back victories at the Trofeo Palma and Trofeo Migjorn in Mallorca. Winner of the junior Paris-Roubaix in 2008, Fenn is a powerful rider with a fast finish and is well suited to the Classics. He will provide strong support to Team Sky’s ambitions in spring’s toughest one-day races.

On signing for Team Sky, Andrew Fenn said: "Team Sky has always been built around a strong British core so to be the team’s first Scottish rider is very special for me. I’m joining a team that has helped nurture and develop some of the best riders in the world so I’m really excited to see what the future holds. I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead and fulfilling my potential with Team Sky."

Sir Dave Brailsford added: "Team Sky has a strong British influence at its heart so we’re very pleased to add Andrew Fenn to the team. Andrew’s a talented young rider who has come through the British Cycling system, so we know him and his abilities well. He has a bright future and we’re sure that he can develop into a key member of our team, and an integral part of our Classics squad."

LEOPOLD KÖNIG                                                                                             
CZECH REPUBLIC – age 26
One of the biggest up-and-coming talents in the sport, Leopold has been very impressive over the last few years, recently securing a magnificent seventh-place finish at this year’s Tour de France. His superb climbing and time trial abilities make König an elite all-rounder, with stage victories at the Vuelta a Espana, Tour of California and Tour of Britain just part of his growing palmares.

Speaking about signing for Team Sky, Leopold König said: "I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for Team Sky so to be joining them is a real honour for me. It fills me with huge excitement to know that I’ll be working with some of the best support staff in the world and riding alongside such a talented group of riders. Next season I want to focus on improving my stage racing abilities and pay back their trust in me by helping win races."

Brailsford said: "Leopold joins us from NetApp–Endura and is a very exciting talent. He’s ridden two Grand Tours in his career and has impressed in both. Leo’s a very gifted rider who has a great combination of climbing and time trialling ability, so he’ll be an excellent addition. We’re looking forward to working closely with him so that he can develop further."

LARS PETTER NORDHAUG                                                                        
NORWAY – age 30
Team Sky welcome Lars Petter back into the fold after two years away. A founding member of the team in 2010, the Norwegian is an accomplished climber and his attacking style invariably sees him battling it out for victory at the end of races. With notable wins at GP de Montreal and Trofeo Deia during his first stint with the team, Lars Petter will be looking to emulate his good form in 2012.

On returning to Team Sky, Lars Petter Nordhaug said: "I’m unbelievably proud, thankful and happy to re-join Team Sky for 2015.I started my professional career with Team Sky back in 2010 and had three fantastic years, so for me this feels like coming home. I learnt a huge amount with the team and it resulted in my best year as a cyclist so far, in 2012. I look forward to picking up where I left off and continuing to progress as a rider by reaching new levels with the team in the future."

Brailsford said: "Lars Petter spent three seasons with us and his improvement over that time was clear to see, proving himself as a particularly strong one day rider. He’s a model professional, a great teammate, always committed to the team and will fit back into the group perfectly. We’ve always had a big fan base in Norway so following Edvald’s departure it’s great to have another Norwegian rider in the team. We’re delighted to have him back."

WOUT POELS                                                                                                     HOLLAND – age 26
Set to be the first Dutchman to ride for Team Sky, Wout is another accomplished climber and will strengthen the squad significantly. With experience of all three Grand Tours, he has taken stage victories at high-calibre races such as the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the Tour of Britain and Tour de Luxembourg during his six-year pro career.

Dutch rider Wout Poels said: "I'm really proud to join the best GC team in the world. This team has a very clear goal for me over the coming years and I look forward to developing as a rider and getting the maximum out of my strengths and qualities. I feel my best years are ahead of me, so it was crucial to make the right choice on my future. I know I can achieve my goals racing with Team Sky."

Brailsford said: "We’ve followed Wout’s career for some time and have always admired his natural ability on a bike. He has huge potential and I’m sure we can help him improve and develop as a rider. Wout is particularly impressive on punchier climbs and he’ll be a great addition to the team."

NICOLAS ROCHE                                                                                              REPUBLIC OF IRELAND – age 30
With 13 Grand Tour appearances to him name Nicolas has experience in abundance and will significantly add to the team’s firepower on the climbs. Joining fellow Irishman Philip Deignan at Team Sky, Roche is an attacking rider capable of racing hard for a team-mate or as a GC contender in his own right. In 2013 he finished an impressive fifth place at the Vuelta a Espana. This year he claimed victory in the Route du Sud and claimed a fifth place finish in the 2014 Tour of Britain.

On signing a contract with Team Sky, Nicolas Roche said: "It’s a great honour to sign for Team Sky and I have the opportunity to ride with some of the best riders in the world. I feel that I’m still developing as a rider so now’s the perfect time to join Team Sky and to continue my upwards path. I’m confident that under the guidance of Sir Dave Brailsford and the team, I’ll continue to improve."

Brailsford added: "Nicolas joins us from Tinkoff-Saxo and becomes the second Irish rider in Team Sky. He brings a wealth of experience, having ridden 13 Grand Tours in his career, and that will be invaluable to the team. Nicolas has the perfect character and temperament for us and we expect him to play a key role next season."

lunedì 29 settembre 2014

Firenze Cycling MeetUp

Fed up of pro-cycling, still in love with my bike, I created a Meet Up:
To be honest I simply meant to join one but I found out that there was none in my area: not a single group of 'easy riders' like me. No 'cycling' MeetUp at all indead. It's weird considering that Florence hosted the Cycling World Championships last year... You can see how much it affected the daily life. 
Dont get me wrong, I'm not saying that people in Florence don't do cycling. Commuters are many - me included... when working - and you meet often cyclists on road race bikes. The point is that in Florence cycling is a solitary stuff and mostly a men's stuff. Cyclists you meet on the road are 99% men, usually aged. There are amateurs groups, usually linked to bike shops, and they are younger but all men and very competitive. Women are few and almost always riding with their men, or alone. Looking closer... they are often foreigners traveling Tuskany by bike.
Then there is Firenze in Bici, affiliated to FIAB, that organises bike trips and also supports cyclists' claims in a meritorious and frustrating debate with the public administration. They don't really like race bikes: they are more the city bikes type. They tend to be vaguely hostile toward race bikes and openly hostile toward pro-cycling, considered as a completely different thing than cycling style of life (commuting, family rides on Sunday, active holydays... you know... ).
Then there is the Critical Mass, that I contributed to found many years ago (in 2002 more or less): "We don't block the traffic: we ARE the traffic" is the motto. It's a kind of joyful bike guerrilla born together with Seattle-Davos-Porto Alegre movement. It culminated in the Florence Social Forum when tens of thousands people paralysed the city just riding their bikes. It was thrilling. And we went on for some years. But numbers decreased together with the sad agony of the anti-globalisation movement... so the 'mass' wasn't 'critical' anymore. The Florence Critical Mass is still alive though: they meet all Thursday in Piazza Santa Maria Annunziata at 6 pm. But it's a completely different thing: minority, aggressive, populated by students. It was born 'alternative' but not so extremely 'off': I still like it but I need a 'social cycling group' for my road race bike.
This morning I shared an Irfan quote: ""If opportunity doesnt knock,  build a door". Irfan is the mystic way of Shia Islam (the equivalent of Sufi in Sunni Islam) and I think it has got a point. So I created the group I was missing, I'm now waiting for 'easy riders' to join. 

Do you fancy and easy ride?

Team Belkin and Team BrandLoyalty Become TEAMLottoNL

PRESS RELEASE
The Belkin Pro Cycling Team and speed skating Team BrandLoyalty have signed an agreement with, Lotto, part of ‘De Lotto’, and BrandLoyalty. The teams will work together for the next two years under the name of TEAMLottoNL. Lotto will become the title sponsor of the speed skating team as of October 1st, 2014. The cycling team will have Lotto as its title sponsor as of January 1st, 2015. BrandLoyalty will become a sub sponsor. 

It is for the first time in the history of Dutch sports that speed skating and cycling are brought together this way, with the aim of building a new professional sport structure; sportively, financially and commercially. Cooperation, the sharing of knowledge and inspiring each other are the central themes. 

De Lotto
Arno de Jong, Marketing Director of ‘De Lotto’, is very pleased with the collaboration of Jac Orie’s speed skating team and Richard Plugge’s cycling team: “We are proud for ‘De Lotto’ to be the title sponsor and name giver of Holland’s first combined cycling and speed skating team, a ‘unique thing’ in the Dutch world of sports. Combining these two Dutch sports in one team fits us, ‘De Lotto’ connects sports and athletes.” The speed skaters will be seen in their Lotto suits for the first time at the National Championships at the end of October, 2014. The cyclists will follow after the 1st of January, 2015. 

BrandLoyalty
Marco van Bilsen, Marketing Director BrandLoyalty: “ After having been title sponsor of Team Brandloyalty for two seasons, and having contributed to the successes of the speed skaters at the 2014 Olympics, we hope to guarantee the speed skaters their continuity for the upcoming years. We also hope to help obtain new successes for the speed skaters as well as the cyclists of TEAMLottoNL.” 

Jac Orie and Richard Plugge
Orie and Plugge are also pleased that the collaboration is now a fact. Orie: “I’m looking forward to working together with ‘De Lotto’, Brandloyalty and the cycling team on this amazing concept for the next two years. Hopefully we can give this project a great start at the National Speed Skating Championships, at the end of October.’’ Plugge: “Thanks to the initial support of ‘De Lotto’ and BrandLoyalty we can keep developing our vision, which is to build a new future for cycling under the motto #RideTheFuture. The cooperation with Jac Orie’s speed skating team ensures that we have one team, with talents who will make their presence felt throughout the year. Right now we are still looking for a second title sponsor.”

Press Presentation
We will hold a press conference end of October, 2014. During this conference, the team will be presented and the sponsors, athletes and management will be available for questions and interviews.

domenica 28 settembre 2014

Tour du Gevaudan: First Pro Win for Alexis Vuillermoz

BRAVO!!

Alexis Vuillermoz:
"The stage was difficult in particular because there was a strong wind on the first part of race. My teammates have supported me and placed me well. I was able to keep my forces throughout the day, especially because we have not needed to ride in front of the pack thanks to the presence of Guillaume (Bonnafond) in the daily breakaway. In the final part, we were still three riders of the team AG2R LA MONDIALE present in a group of eleven riders with Mikael (Cherel) and Hubert (Dupont). They did a great job to permit me to manage my efforts and arrive in the best conditions to sprint. It is my first professional win and obviously for me it’s a great one! That is the result that was missing to my season, now it’s done.”

Amets Txurruka won the overall standings and Alexis Vuillermoz finished 3rd.

Ponferrada: Elite Men RR - Planned Work beats Calculated Chaos

Embedded image permalinkItalia had promised a calculated chaos and it did it. But they spent a lot and De Marchi couldn't follow the decisive move.
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Poland opted for a different strategy: a well planned work, a solid chase in the first part of the race, a smart racing in the group and a solo attack by Kwiatowski in the finale.
Italia was entertaining, Poland was effective. Poland wins, Italia fails.
Weather was crazy, not definitely bad: rain, then the sun, then rain, then sun. Wet roads. Nibali fell, involved in big crash. Back on bike but he had already crashed at Tre Valli Varesine... Race over, basicly.

After three laps - 1h22' of racing at an average speed of 39,65kph - there was a four men break-away including Quintero (COL), Savickas (LTU), Polivoda (UKR) and Kvasina (CRO). Poland pulling. Cancellara often in trouble, again and again in the cars and back...
After nine laps: the gap was slowly decreasing. Poland still chasing. Average speed 38,53kph after 4h15' racing. 
Boring so far.
But 78 km to go Italia goes in front and the peloton split. The break-away is quickly caught - Quintero is the last one solo on the road. Race on.
Embedded image permalinkItalians Aru and Visconti, attack with Briton Kennough, Wellens, Albasini and Dane Juul Jensen.
The peloton explodes. Riders try to bridge. Fluid situation but 12 riders get a gap: Visconti, Albasini, Wellens, Kennaugh, Tony Martin, Giampaolo Caruso, Vanmarcke, Dani Navarro. Trofimov, Valverde, Boasson Hagen and Getsche.
Australia has been left behind and is pulling the peloton.

Embedded image permalinkTony Martin attacks in the descent but can't stay away. The front group is back together. Few meters and Visconti goes solo. 33 km to the finish: it's a lot. Kennaugh is chasing solo, Visconti waits for the briton and they go together. Behind the peloton has caught the rest of break-away. It's pure chaos. Frenchman Gauthier emerges and Italian De Marchi follows. Dan Andersen joins. Finally Spain starts working. A wonderful Kiryienka gets off the peloton and jumps ahead. It's four riders in front: De Marchi, Gauthier, Kirienka and Andersen. Kiryienka is dragging everybody. Moreno, Castroviejo, Chaves, Vanmarcke, Clarkand Albasini are chasing. Then the peloton with all the favourites: Gilbert, Valverde, Degenkolb, Bouhanni, Nibali, Rui Costa, Cancellara,  Boonen, Kwiatkowski...
Embedded image permalinkAnd it's exactly Kwiatowski who sets the decisive move: he attacks from the peloton on the last descent, bridges to the break, drops the company and wins solo. At his back Gerrans sprints to second. And Valverde is a regretful 3rd.
Best Italian, Sonny Colbrelli: only 13th.


Michal Kwiatkowski:
“I was feeling great on the last lap and I’m really grateful of my teammates and all their work. I was just going to for the win I was trying to take risks because some were calculating and waiting the final climb. Two days ago I watched the U23 race and I knew it was possible to do this type of win, especially in the race. I just did my effort and had a little bit of gap. This is just incredible.”


Simon Gerrans:
“Happy with the result, but at the same time just slightly disappointed. I raced a good race, I had fantastic support from Aussie team mates as usual. I can’t thank them enough.
When Michal (Kwiatkowski) went over the top with the advantage he did, we knew it would be difficult to catch him.  And then with a kilometre to go, we knew we were chasing for the minor placings.
Embedded image permalink2014 has been one heck of a season for me. It started with victories at the very beginning of the season and continued through, and it’s great to at least cap it off with silver here.”

Simon Geschke:
"The germans and also me personally are satisfied with these worlds. We did a good race tactically. Time for some cold beers now."

Bauke Mollema:
“It was a tough race. The pace was high and the weather made ​​it extra hard. Then it rained, then it was dry. A few laps from the end, I realised that it wouldn’t be enough to create big differences. I set my sights on the final climb, but unfortunately, I was distanced on the way to the top by a small first group. That was too bad because otherwise I could have sprinted for a top ten spot. This is disappointing, I had hoped for more. The guys worked hard for me and Tom Dumoulin. They did everything to keep us in the front. Stef did important work in the beginning of the race and Wilco gave me his wheel when I flatted. That flat tyre came at a bad time. As a result, we lost Wilco and Wout Poels. Wout waited for me, but couldn’t follow on the downhill. Because of that flat tyre, we actually lost two men.” 

Ben Swift:
“Kwiatkowski is such a class act. He’s had his team on the front all day and he definitely deserved that win. Chapeau to him. I gave it my best shot. It was just that last steep climb that really, really hurt. I got myself into a good little position. It was just a hard day.
“Pete was fantastic today. That was brilliant. He went with that move. It was a bit of a strange race to be honest. I expected it to be more attacking.”
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Peter Kennaugh
"It was my first professional world championships so I'm pretty happy with how I rode. Just to be in there in the mix in the final is hard enough in these kind of races. As a team we did a really good ride today. Twelfth for Swifty is a good result. It's the world championships. I tried my luck a bit earlier, which was sort of the game plan - to follow any of the bigger nations. I could have held back in that move and saved something for the end. I just thought, 'This is it, I've committed'. I just gave it my best shot and then once I got caught by the group I just tried to do what I could for Swift."

Tony Gallopin: 
"I'm not completely satisfied with my sixth place, I'm rather disappointed. Being on the podium was maybe possible. Everyone's legs certainly were hurting but I just had to wait for the right moment. Everybody knew that the last lap would be decisive. I could follow the bests on the last climb, so I'm content with my performance. But my result should have been better. A medal was possible."

Embedded image permalinkRESULTS
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) 6:29:07 2 Simon Gerrans (Australia) 0:00:01 3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain) 4 Matti Breschel (Denmark) 5 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) 6 Tony Gallopin (France) 7 Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) 0:00:04 8 Alexander Kristoff (Norway) 0:00:07 9 John Degenkolb (Germany) 10 Nacer Bouhanni (France) 11 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) 12 Ben Swift (Great Britain) 13 Sonny Colbrelli (Italy) 14 Michael Matthews (Australia) 15 Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania) 16 Daryl Impey (South Africa) 17 Maciej Paterski (Poland) 18 Bauke Mollema (Netherlands) 19 Warren Barguil (France) 20 Michael Valgren Andersen (Denmark)
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