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“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to the Vuelta with some ambition. I’m going into it with goals, not just to survive.”

Photo: Sirotti


06.08.2016 @ 04:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a race of near-misses and disappointments, Kiel Reijnen finally took his first win for Trek when he came out on top in the sprint at the end of a very hard fifth stage of the Tour of Utah. Having made it into a small group that arrived together at the finish, he was in a class of his own in the final dash to the line, easily distancing Tao Geoghegan-Hart (Axeon) and Alex Howes (Cannondale) to take a stage win in the race for the second year in a row. Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly) finished safely in the front group and retained the lead on the eve of the queen stage.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Kiel Reijnen sets sights on Vuelta debut after victory in Utah

If yesterday's race wasn't earmarked by Kiel Reijnen, Friday's 186-kilometer stage five, he circled in bright yellow. When Reijnen crested the second ascent of the brutal Bountiful Bench climb with a small select group, surrounded by two teammates, he made good on his goal for the Tour of Utah and sprinted to the win by over a bike length.


"Today was an emotional win for me because I did not really believe in myself for the first 150 kilometers, but the team did," said Reijnen. "I felt after the first time up the hard climb that I had the legs for the win, but I wanted to stay calm because we knew there would be attacks. Laurent (Didier) and Peter (Stetina) were there to help close everything together, and of course, Julien (Bernard) was up the road, so we did not need to do any pulling.


"I knew if we kept everything together to the line that I could win the sprint, so I just waited. In the sprint, BMC made a big push and came on the inside of the turn. I was nervous because of the crosswind and I couldn't get into the sprint line. In the end, I just decided to start sprinting, and it was thankfully the right decision."


Once again it was a unified and spirited Trek-Segafredo team, and today all the hard effort was rewarded. Julien Bernard joined an early 11-man escape and made a solo move until he was caught on the final climb, while Didier and Stetina pulled Reijnen over the Bountiful Bench, closed the gap to late attacks, and led him to the line.


Bernard, who looked strong in the breakaway all day, was awarded the most aggressive rider for the stage and joined Reijnen on the podium, capping off a stellar day for Trek-Segafredo.


"It's my first big breakaway," explained Bernard. "I have had breakaways before but not as long as this. I knew that we did not have a big gap at the start of the circuit so I tried to attack. It did not work out, but it didn't matter because in the end it was a very good day for the team. I needed this for me, for my head, and for the team. The feeling today was good; I am very happy, and also happy for Kiel. It was perfect because the team did not have to pull behind, and this helped."


"Today was a really big team effort, every guy played his role and helped out," agreed Reijnen. "Our plan today was to try and save the team energy by putting a guy in the break so we didn't have to pull, and Julien did a brilliant job of that. When the break was looking strong, that was okay with us too, as we were confident in Julien to try for a stage win.


"Off the descent, I needed a lot of help from Peter and Laurent to contain the attacks and they did a really big, super effort to keep everything together. This victory for me is for the team, for the guys, and they had deserved it already this week. It took us a little while to get it, but we stood on the top step of the podium today and it was really nice. I have to give a big thanks to the team for believing in me.


“I knew this was super technical circuit. If you make it over the climb, you can catch a breather.  I did not want to take any risks and went straight to the front on the descent to make sure I wasn’t behind anyone. It does make it exciting for the fans.


“I’ve been working on long, steady climbing. This year I feel less drained from the hard efforts. I hope it pays off at the Vuelta.


“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to the Vuelta with some ambition. I’m going into it with goals, not just to survive.”


Tao Geoghegan Hart delivers another top result for Axeon in Utah

Tao Geoghegan Hart scored the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team's third runner-up finish in five stages Friday at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah while teammate Adrien Costa conceded 27 seconds to his nearest competitors and slipped from second to third overall.


Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo) won the bunch sprint at the end of the 182.6-kilometer race from Antelope Island State Park to Bountiful. Geoghegan Hart used a bike toss of his Specialized S-Works Tarmac to narrowly beat out three others for runner-up. Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling riders Alex Howes and Andrew Talansky were third and fourth, respectively, while Daniel Jaramillo (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) was fourth.

Geoghegan Hart's result was his fourth runner-up finish on the year to go along with three victories. It also matched a second-place finish by teammate Colin Joyce on Stage 1 Monday and Costa's runner-up result on Wednesday's Stage 3.


Rather than talk about his own performance at the post-race press conference, Geoghegan Hart turned his attention to teammate Logan Owen, who won this same stage a year ago in a similar bunch sprint. This time, Owen was part of an 11-man breakaway that posed little threat to race leader Lachlan Morton. Despite that, Morton's Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis teammates did not let the gap go out too much.


"Personally, I can't say I always understand the tactics," Geoghegan Hart said. "They have another two big days to ride and they have a rider who can win this race (Morton) and they are chasing down breakaways as if they are going to go and try to win the sprint.


"I was a little bit frustrated today because we had someone up there and they didn't need to keep it as close as they did. If it was our team (in the lead), we would have had some other teams contribute more. The closest guy in the breakaway was Logan and Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), who were both at six minutes.”


“Our team has been very attentive- We have been in the breaks we needed to be in. We covered moves. Unfortunately, it did not go our way today.”


Owen said at first he was "50-50" on whether it was a good idea to go in the breakaway. 


"I was looking to the breaks because I knew it had a chance to go the distance today," the winner of the Under 23 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège said. "Everyone was tired and a lot of the main teams that had riders for the finish were trying to get in the break so they didn't have to ride. I just followed one move and ended up in the breakaway. After awhile, I realized it was a good scenario because we had guys behind me on our team who could win. And Tao nearly proved that by being second."


As the breakaway was brought back on a hilly local circuit in Bountiful, it was Axeon Hagens Berman's Irish national time trial champion, Eddie Dunbar, who was responding to attacks and countering with a move of his own. Geoghegan Hart, the British Under 23 national road champion and winner of Trofeo Piva and Stage 5 of the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc, eventually joined his teammate and two others. The 21-year-old from Great Britain also put in an attack of his own before being brought back.


Eventually, 29 riders came to the line to contest the downhill sprint. A group of 11 - which included Costa and teammate Neilson Powless - arrived 27 seconds later. The lost time by Costa helped Talansky slot into second overall. With two mountainous stages to go this weekend, the race's "best young rider" is 34 seconds back of Morton and 25 seconds behind Talansky. Geoghegan Hart is Axeon Hagens Berman's next-best placed rider in 10th, 4:01 back.

General Manager Axel Merckx said the team did everything perfectly despite the time loss.


"We are here to learn and to do the best we can," he said. "Adrien had a little bit of a harder time today. But it's not unexpected at 18 years old. The only thing to do now is stay calm and try to recover. He has had a great week and tomorrow is another day. We will re-focus on tomorrow and try again."


Joe Dombrowski: I think we controlled it pretty well

Cannondale put two riders on the podium on stage five Tour of Utah. Alex Howes scored a third place on the stage from a reduced bunch sprint, and Joe Dombrowski earned himself the Tour of Utah Legends fan favorite jersey. He  is the third Green Argyle rider to win the fan favorite vote this week.


Dombrowski had this to say about the team's effort on the day:


"Overall it was pretty uneventful. It was a pretty straightforward stage other than the finishing circuit, which was technical and had a tough climb. The top is conducive to attacks. Things got a little stressful on the climb because it was a reduced group and everyone was kind of on the limit. It was easy for GC guys to start throwing punches. Luckily everything went fine but there definitely was the potential for something to happen. I think we controlled the situation really well."


Aggressive BMC team with strength in numbers in Utah

BMC Racing Team continued to show their strength and depth, launching attack after attack on Stage 5 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah before Joey Rosskopf and Dylan Teuns sprinted to the line for sixth and seventh place respectively


Tom Bohli was part of an early breakaway of ten riders that was able to establish a lead over the peloton after only ten kilometers of racing and gained a maximum advantage of over five minutes.


The large group were working well together over most of the day but as soon as they reached the first ascent of Bountiful Bench, attacks came from inside the breakaway and the group was quickly spread out along the road.


The race quickly came back together but the status quo didn’t last long with lots of attacks from the reduced peloton over the final finishing circuits into Bountiful.


Taylor Eisenhart and Tom Bohli were the first riders to make a move off the front of the main GC group followed by further explosive attacks from Dylan Teuns, Darwin Atapuma and Joey Rosskopf.


Eventually the main bunch headed into the final five kilometers together and BMC Racing Team remained active at the front of the race with Rosskopf launching an early sprint before Kiel Reijnen (Trek - Segafredo) took victory on the line.


Heading into tomorrow’s queen stage, Rosskopf, Atapuma and Eisenhart remain in the top ten on the General Classification while, BMC Racing Team lead the Team Classification by over four minutes.


Sports Director Jackson Stewart said:


“We thought it would be a good day for the breakaway and we didin’t expect Jelly Belly to chase as hard as they did which was unfortunate a Bohli was looking strong today and had done a lot of working pulling at the front of the breakaway. When the bunch came back together, there were lots of GC attacks and we also started to attack and were really active in the final. TJ [Taylor] and Dylan both put in strong efforts and both Joey and Darwin were in dangerous moves. Joey then tried to light it up in the sprint but unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted.


“We’ve come here with a great group of guys in strong form and while they might not be the biggest names they are extremely good riders and have spent time acclimating and put a lot of effort in. They're hungry and want to race, which is good to see, but we obviously also want to get the results to back that up.”

Joey Rosskopf added:


“It was great for us to have Tom in the break today. It meant that when we got to the hard finishing circuit TJ could bridge the gap and having a rider like Tom up there to help drive the race was really valuable and he was able to put a lot of pressure on the other GC teams. When the race came back together we were super active and we definitely showed that we are one of the deepest teams in the race.


“I didn’t time the sprint well today as I was too far forward too early. It was another hectic finish. It’s been like that all week really as no team has a full squad of guys to control but it does allow for good opportunistic racing and gives us lots of chances to attack. Everyone has been doing really well this week especially Tom and Fabian who haven't been at altitude for too long. I definitely couldn’t have been riding as well as I have been here without a few weeks training to adapt to the altitude. They are getting better every day though and it is encouraging for us all as they have been a huge support. The biggest GC days are coming up this weekend so we will see what happens when we get there.”


First top 10 for Novo Nordisk in Utah

Team Novo Nordisk’s Javier Megias scored the team’s first top 10 at this year’s Tour of Utah when he finished eighth on Stage 5.


Several riders attacked but by the final lap, the race came together with an elite front group of 30 riders that included Megias. Various riders attacked throughout the fast and technical descent into Bountiful but by the finishing stretch, Megias was in second position. Several riders were able to overtake him in the final meters with Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo) taking the win.


“I made it up to the first group and it all came together for the finish. I was second with 50 meters to go,” Team Novo Nordisk’s Javier Megias said. “I finished top 10 but I obviously would like to do better. I was completely empty by the time I reached the line. I am still feeling good so my focus is on stages this weekend.”


Lachlan Morton: I have confidence in my team

Race leader Lachlan Morton had a go and he dropped Adrien Costa (Axeon Hagens Berman), who was sitting in second on GC.


“On the last lap I could see that Costa was suffering, so I put in a move to try and split the group,” he told Velonews.


“I’m not worried about my team. I know my guys are up to the challenge — the question is how long my legs will stay this good.


“We held the gap at four minutes. We only used three guys.”


Difficult day for ONE in Utah

In a decisive move Team Jelly Belly took control at front of the peloton to defend the yellow jersey, chasing down any attacks out of the field, happy with the composition of the break. Having missed the break, ONE Pro Cycling sent James Oram to ride on the front and help control the tempo and police the lead groups advantage making sure the breakaway would always be in striking distance on reaching the finishing circuits.


As the race made its way to Bountiful, it wound its way through lots of small towns where plenty of avid cycling fans and spectators could be seen shouting words of encouragement from their doorstep.  With 109km to go, the break had been brought back to around 4 minutes but the peloton reduced their pace as they approached North Ogden Divide, a demanding Category 2 KOM with 6,170ft of elevation and an average gradient of 12%.


Over the top of the KOM ONE Pro Cycling put both Richard Handley and James Oram on the front of the peloton along with riders of the Holowesko/Citadel team who worked very well together, considerably reducing the gap to the leaders to 2 minutes and 20 seconds.


As the peloton crested the top of the Bountiful climb for the first time Hayden McCormick attacked out of the peloton in pursuit of the four leaders whose advantage hovered at around one minute. McCormick set up a chase group of seven riders who over the course of the lap bridged across to the four leaders to create a leading group of  eleven.


On the second and final climb up Bountiful Bench the peloton were 20 seconds behind the 11 leaders and with the climb taking its toll on the lead group they were reeled in. Over the top of the climb the peloton split with 30 riders going clear and attacking each other all the way down to the finish line. Having given his all in the breakaway Hayden McCormick found himself in the second group down the final decent to the finishing line rolling in 20 seconds down on stage winner Kiel Reijnen (Trek Segafredo).



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