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- The U.S. team will ride for continental titles in Mexico, May 8-12.
When Philippe Gilbert won Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl, 23-year-old American Larry Warbasse was among the BMC Racing teammates that Gilbert thanked for their hard efforts.
Earlier this year, VeloNews caught up with Warbasse at the Tour de San Luís, in Argentina, where he landed a fourth-place result in the stage 5 time trial.
At the time of the interview, the 6-foot, 147-pound Michigan native was not certain of his race calendar, but he has since tackled Tour Méditerranéen, helping his teammate Steve Cunmmings take the win, as well as Strade Bianche and Volta a Catalunya, where teammate Tejay van Garderen won a climbing stage.
Now immersed in his second year with BMC Racing, after several years splitting his time between the BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development Team (in the U.S.) and the USA Cycling under-23 national team (in Europe), Warbasse is hoping to become a more prominent face in the peloton, both by assisting the team through mountainous days in stage races, and securing some results for himself, as well.
After moving to Nice, France, for the 2014 season, Warbasse is hoping that 2014 will also bring a start at a grand tour.
VeloNews: So, this is your second year with BMC’s WorldTour squad. You’ll be 24 in June. Did you start with the team when you were 22?
Larry Warbasse: I was 23 when I started racing with BMC, so I thought it was a pretty logical progression after racing U23 to take the jump.
VN: You also have guys like Phil Gaimon whose first year at the WorldTour level is coming at 28. What do you think about that?
LW: To even be able to go WorldTour at that age is really hard. There are a lot of guys who are 25 or 26 and they’re really good, but they don’t even get looked at because they aren’t young.
VN: You were on the squad for BMC’s Tour of Qatar squad in 2013. That’s a hell of a way to start off your pro career.
LW: Yeah, it was awesome. It was kind of like a trial by fire with all the crosswinds. When I told everyone my first race was Qatar, they just laughed. But it was really good, we had a really good time — great squad, great group of guys. It helped with the cohesion.
VN: When did you first start racing?
LW: I started mountain bike racing when I was 13 and I switched to road when I was 15 or 16. I started racing with a national team when I was 17 and stayed with them until I was 22 — first with a junior national team, and then a U23 national team. Last year  was my first year in the WorldTour.
VN: What kind of racer do you see yourself as?
LW: I’m more of a GC kind of guy. Right now it’s more helping in the mountains, and I can ride a good time trial. Usually I can climb pretty well, but unfortunately that didn’t come out [in San Luís], but I hope to show that in the next split. In some of the races last year I was up there on the climbs. In Colorado [at the USA Pro Challenge], I was helping Tejay. I was also climbing pretty well at the Tour of Utah. I had a rough season last year — just adapting to life in Europe and everything like that. I lived in Italy, and I [moved] to Nice, Franceb this year with Joe Dombrowski. With Taylor Phinney there, too, I think it will be easy to build a younger American community, which is necessary.
VN: What race are you most hoping to do this year?
LW: Hopefully I’ll do my first grand tour. Whether it’s the Tour de France, or the Vuleta, I’m not sure. That’s the main goal. I think one of the options would be to come back to Tour of California after a few WorldTour races.
VN: Is there any race you did last year at the WorldTour level, or just any race that you thought you could do well in, that would suit your characteristics?
LW: A lot of the WorldTour stage races seem to fit my characteristics. I think one day I’ll be able to do well in them. Last year I struggled a bit, but it was a really good experience. I did Catalunya and the [Critérium du] Dauphiné, and I really, really suffered at Dauphiné. It was probably my worst time of the year — I was a bit over-trained and just struggled through every single day. I learned a lot there and it really helped me turn around the second half of the season. One day I’d love to do well at those races, and Paris-Nice. This year I’d like to be good at helping whoever our leaders are over multiple days in the mountains, and maybe have a good time trial for myself — or even an opportunity for a stage win. I just want to feel like I’m more part of the race this year. A lot of times last year I was barely in. In the second half of last year I started becoming part of the race and that really helps raise the confidence.
VN: You left school with two semesters left to chase the bike racing dream?
LW: I never planned on being a cyclist. My parents were pretty big into academics, so I wanted to be a doctor, and then go into business. Cycling was just kind of a hobby, I guess. I went to the University of Michigan, as it has a really good business program. I worked really hard, it’s a three-year program. I studied so hard, still tried to train, running myself into the ground every day. I only looked forward to going to sleep, because it was the only time I wasn’t stressed. When I went to race with the national team in Europe, I just realized I loved what I was doing. Every day I was looking forward to waking up, couldn’t wait to get on my bike. I just lived for the sport. And it hit me: Why would I do something I didn’t like at all, when I could do something I loved? So right then and there, I decided to become a pro cyclist.
VN: What was your best result as a U23 rider?
LW: I was very consistent. I had a couple of podiums, third in a stage in Nation’s Cup in Tuscany, fifth in the U23 Liége. And then seventh in some big stage races, fifth in the Tour of Berlin. I started talking to BMC and they decided I should do another year as a U23, so I went back to school in fall of 2011, and then went to Europe, raced, and signed with BMC. And that was that.
VN: You said your parents were very into academia. Did they support your becoming a pro cyclist?
LW: My junior year of college I took a semester off to see if I could do the cycling thing, and my parents flipped out. I told them I’m not asking for their permission, but for their support. They said they would support emotionally, but not financially. I ended up moving to Greenville [South Carolina] to train with George Hincapie in the winter of 2010-2011. I went over with the national team in March, and had quite a few good results. … I’ve been under the radar a bit, just because I’ve mostly raced in Europe; I’ve never done any [National Racing Calendar] stuff. So I’ve taken a different path than the other guys. Now my parents think it’s cool, they came over to Europe [in 2012] to see me, and see Catalunya, so they came to the last stage in the heart of Barcelona. I was in the breakaway and I saw them and said, “Guys!” and waved. They thought it was awesome. It was pretty cool they saw me race, and where I lived, and how I was doing everything. They thought it was cool.
Addie Levinsky contributed to this story.
The post Q&A: BMC’s Larry Warbasse eyeing a grand tour in 2014 appeared first on VeloNews.com.
- 1. Philippe GILBERT, BMC Racing, in 4:54:26
- 2. Michael MATTHEWS, Orica-GreenEdge, at :00
- 3. Tony GALLOPIN, Lotto-Belisol, at :00
- 4. Simon GESCHKE, Giant-Shimano, at :00
- 5. Björn LEUKEMANS, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at :00
- 6. Nathan HAAS, Garmin-Sharp, at :00
- 7. Davide REBELLIN, CCC Polsat Polkowice, at :00
- 8. Julien VERMOTE, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :00
- 9. Sébastien REICHENBACH, IAM Cycling, at :00
- 10. Aleksei TCATEVICH, Katusha, at :00
- 11. Dries DEVENYNS, Giant-Shimano, at :00
- 12. Yukiya ARASHIRO, Europcar, at :00
- 13. Jeffry Johan ROMERO CORREDOR, Colombia, at :00
- 14. Julian ALAPHILIPPE, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :04
- 15. Wouter POELS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :04
- 16. Pieter SERRY, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :04
- 17. Luis Angel MATE MARDONES, Cofidis, at :04
- 18. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at :04
- 19. Davide MALACARNE, Europcar, at :04
- 20. Kristian SBARAGLI, MTN-Qhubeka, at :10
- 21. Fabio Andres DUARTE AREVALO, Colombia, at :10
- 22. Romain ZINGLE, Cofidis, at :10
- 23. Alexander RYBAKOV, Katusha, at :10
- 24. Sander ARMEE, Lotto-Belisol, at :10
- 25. Franco PELLIZOTTI, Androni Giocattoli, at :10
- 26. Fabio FELLINE, Trek Factory Racing, at :10
- 27. Nathan BROWN, Garmin-Sharp, at :12
- 28. Thomas SPRENGERS, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, at :16
- 29. Pieter JACOBS, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, at :16
- 30. Thomas DEGAND, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at :16
- 31. Cesare BENEDETTI, NetApp-Endura, at :16
- 32. Guillaume LEVARLET, Cofidis, at :22
- 33. Mauro FINETTO, NRI, at :22
- 34. Petr VAKOC, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :22
- 35. Enrico BARBIN, Bardiani-CSF, at :22
- 36. Kiryll POZDNYAKOV, RusVelo, at :22
- 37. Fumiyuki BEPPU, Trek Factory Racing, at :22
- 38. Martin VELITS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :25
- 39. Gustav LARSSON, IAM Cycling, at :25
- 40. Bartosz HUZARSKI, NetApp-Endura, at :25
- 41. Patrick SCHELLING, IAM Cycling, at :25
- 42. Alex HOWES, Garmin-Sharp, at :28
- 43. Preben VAN HECKE, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, at :33
- 44. Johnny HOOGERLAND, Androni Giocattoli, at :34
- 45. Zico WAEYTENS, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, at :39
- 46. Simon GERRANS, Orica-GreenEdge, at :39
- 47. Daryl IMPEY, Orica-GreenEdge, at :39
- 48. Kristof VANDEWALLE, Trek Factory Racing, at :50
- 49. Andrei SOLOMENNIKOV, RusVelo, at 1:16
- 50. Kevin ISTA, IAM Cycling, at 1:57
- 51. Nick NUYENS, Garmin-Sharp, at 1:57
- 52. Peter STETINA, BMC Racing, at 1:57
- 53. Amaël MOINARD, BMC Racing, at 1:57
- 54. Thomas DEKKER, Garmin-Sharp, at 1:57
- 55. Yannick EIJSSEN, BMC Racing, at 1:57
- 56. Daniel MARTIN, Garmin-Sharp, at 1:57
- 57. Jan BAKELANTS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at 1:57
- 58. Nico SIJMENS, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at 1:57
- 59. Kévin REZA, Europcar, at 2:43
- 60. Michel KREDER, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at 3:30
- 61. Matthias BRANDLE, IAM Cycling, at 3:30
- 62. Marc DEMAAR, UnitedHealthcare, at 3:30
- 63. Kiel REIJNEN, UnitedHealthcare, at 3:30
- 64. Adrian HONKISZ, CCC Polsat Polkowice, at 3:30
- 65. Johannes FRÖHLINGER, Giant-Shimano, at 3:30
- 66. Bartlomiej MATYSIAK, CCC Polsat Polkowice, at 3:30
- 67. Boy VAN POPPEL, Trek Factory Racing, at 3:30
- 68. Maciej PATERSKI, CCC Polsat Polkowice, at 3:30
- 69. Eliot LIETAER, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, at 3:30
- 70. Kevin DE WEERT, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at 3:30
- 71. Pieter WEENING, Orica-GreenEdge, at 3:30
- 72. Edwin Alcibiades AVILA VANEGAS, Colombia, at 3:30
- 73. Pim LIGTHART, Lotto-Belisol, at 3:30
- 74. Thomas DAMUSEAU, Giant-Shimano, at 3:30
- 75. Jérôme BAUGNIES, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at 4:28
- 76. Martin KOHLER, BMC Racing, at 5:19
- 77. Lawrence WARBASSE, BMC Racing, at 5:19
- 78. Frantisek PADOUR, NetApp-Endura, at 5:19
- 79. Dennis VANENDERT, Lotto-Belisol, at 5:19
- 80. Marco CANOLA, Bardiani-CSF, at 5:19
- 81. Antonio PARRINELLO, Androni Giocattoli, at 5:19
- 82. Stephen CUMMINGS, BMC Racing, at 5:19
- 83. Jan GHYSELINCK, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at 5:19
- 84. Andrea ZORDAN, Androni Giocattoli, at 5:19
- 85. Artem OVECHKIN, RusVelo, at 5:19
- 86. Francis DE GREEF, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at 5:19
- 87. Daniele COLLI, NRI, at 5:19
- 88. Angelo PAGANI, Bardiani-CSF, at 5:19
- 89. Javier MEGIAS LEAL, Novo Nordisk, at 5:19
- 90. Lukasz OWSIAN, CCC Polsat Polkowice, at 7:33
- 91. Adrian KUREK, CCC Polsat Polkowice, at 7:33
- 92. Dennis VAN NIEKERK, MTN-Qhubeka, at 7:33
- 93. Roman MAIKIN, RusVelo, at 7:33
- 94. Juan Esteban ARANGO CARVAJAL, Colombia, at 7:33
- 95. Frederik VEUCHELEN, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at 7:33
- 96. Pirmin LANG, IAM Cycling, at 7:33
- 97. Tosh VAN DER SANDE, Lotto-Belisol, at 9:38
- 98. Thierry HUPOND, Giant-Shimano, at 9:38
- 99. Sean DE BIE, Lotto-Belisol, at 9:38
- 100. Petr IGNATENKO, Katusha, at 9:38
- 101. Alessandro BAZZANA, UnitedHealthcare, at 9:38
- 102. Pieter VANSPEYBROUCK, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, at 9:38
- . Roy CURVERS, Giant-Shimano
- DNF Yohann GENE, Europcar
- DNF Morgan LAMOISSON, Europcar
- DNF Perrig QUEMENEUR, Europcar
- DNF Michael SCHÄR, BMC Racing
- DNF Caleb FAIRLY, Garmin-Sharp
- DNF Benjamin KING, Garmin-Sharp
- DNF Kris BOECKMANS, Lotto-Belisol
- DNF Damien HOWSON, Orica-GreenEdge
- DNF Cameron MEYER, Orica-GreenEdge
- DNF Adam YATES, Orica-GreenEdge
- DNF Simon YATES, Orica-GreenEdge
- DNF Cheng JI, Giant-Shimano
- DNF Sea Keong LOH, Giant-Shimano
- DNF Marco HALLER, Katusha
- DNF Mikhail IGNATYEV, Katusha
- DNF Alexander PORSEV, Katusha
- DNF Rudiger SELIG, Katusha
- DNF Jasper STUYVEN, Trek Factory Racing
- DNF Fabio SILVESTRE, Trek Factory Racing
- DNF Danny VAN POPPEL, Trek Factory Racing
- DNF Marco BANDIERA, Androni Giocattoli
- DNF Manuel BELLETTI, Androni Giocattoli
- DNF Marco FRAPPORTI, Androni Giocattoli
- DNF Emanuele SELLA, Androni Giocattoli
- DNF Sonny COLBRELLI, Bardiani-CSF
- DNF Nicola BOEM, Bardiani-CSF
- DNF Filippo FORTIN, Bardiani-CSF
- DNF Mateusz TACIAK, CCC Polsat Polkowice
- DNF Jérémy BESCOND, Cofidis
- DNF Edwig CAMMAERTS, Cofidis
- DNF Julien FOUCHARD, Cofidis
- DNF Stéphane POULHIES, Cofidis
- DNF Clément VENTURINI, Cofidis
- DNF Rodolfo Andres TORRES AGUDELO, Colombia
- DNF Duber Armando QUINTERO ARTUNDUAGA, Colombia
- DNF Edward Fabian DIAZ CARDENAS, Colombia
- DNF Stefan DENIFL, IAM Cycling
- DNF Jonathan FUMEAUX, IAM Cycling
- DNF Ferekalsi DEBESAY ABRHA, MTN-Qhubeka
- DNF Linus GERDEMANN, MTN-Qhubeka
- DNF Martin REIMER, MTN-Qhubeka
- DNF Jay Robert THOMSON, MTN-Qhubeka
- DNF Jaco VENTER, MTN-Qhubeka
- DNF Francesco CHICCHI, NRI
- DNF Giorgio CECCHINEL, NRI
- DNF Samuele CONTI, NRI
- DNF Luigi MILETTA, NRI
- DNF Mattia POZZO, NRI
- DNF Mirko TEDESCHI, NRI
- DNF Ivan BALYKIN, RusVelo
- DNF Leonid KRASNOV, RusVelo
- DNF Timofey KRITSKIY, RusVelo
- DNF Alexander SEROV, RusVelo
- DNS Martin WESEMANN, MTN-Qhubeka
- DNF Iker CAMANO ORTUZAR, NetApp-Endura
- DNF Jonathan MCEVOY, NetApp-Endura
- DNF Erick ROWSELL, NetApp-Endura
- DNF David LOZANO RIBA, Novo Nordisk
- DNF Kevin DE MESMAEKER, Novo Nordisk
- DNF Joonas HENTTALA, Novo Nordisk
- DNF Thomas RAEYMAEKERS, Novo Nordisk
- DNF Martijn VERSCHOOR, Novo Nordisk
- DNF Christopher WILLIAMS, Novo Nordisk
- DNF Arthur VAN OVERBERGHE, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
- DNF Jonathan CLARKE, UnitedHealthcare
- DNF Davide FRATTINI, UnitedHealthcare
- DNF Ken HANSON, UnitedHealthcare
- DNF Christopher JONES, UnitedHealthcare
- DNF Martijn MAASKANT, UnitedHealthcare
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Checcinel
Giorgio Checcinel was among the early escapes Wednesday at the 203-kilometer Brabantse Pijl. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Martin
Reigning Liège–Bastogne–Liège champion Daniel Martin is 11 days from his title defense and was on bottle duty Sunday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Williams
Christopher Williams carried the Novo Nordisk colors in the breakaway Wednesday. American Kiel Reijnen (pictured behind Williams) was the final survivor from the escape. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Leukemans
Björn Leukemans went on the attack late Wednesday, but ultimately came up short at Brabantse Pijl. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Bakelants
Jan Bakelants led a late escape, but the group couldn't cut loose of the peloton. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Gerrans
Australian champion Simon Gerrans worked for recent Vuelta al País Vasco stage winner Michael Matthews. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Vermote
Julien Vermote split the front of the field on the final, 700-meter ramp with a steady, high pace, but the gap only lasted a handful of seconds. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Gilbert wins
Philippe Gilbert opened the sprint out of the final, left-hand corner onto the finish straight and held off Michael Matthews at the line. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Gilbert celebrates
The victory was Philippe Gilbert's second in the midweek Ardennes tuneup. The previous came in 2011 and opened two-month run that saw him sweep the hilly classics, win the Belgian road title, and pull on the maillot jaune after winning stage 1 of the Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Green room
Philippe Gilbert was all smiles when he returned to the familiar confines of the podium finishers' green room. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
2014 Brabantse Pijl: Podium
Tony Gallopin (right) said he was satisfied with third after chasing back from a flat tire and rejoining the front group at the base of the finish climb. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
OVERIJSE, Belgium (VN) — Philippe Gilbert timed it to perfection. Not only did he launch an early sprint to hold off Michael Matthews and win Brabantse Pijl Wednesday, but he did so on the eve of the Ardennes classics.
“I know this race is not the same as the Ardennes classics, but a win is good for my confidence,” BMC Racing’s former world champion said. “I was second here last year, this year first. A win makes the difference and is unique.”
The win on the outskirts of Brussels marked Gilbert’s first for 2014. It came much earlier than last year, as well.
As world champion, he had to wait until the Vuelta a España in September to flash his rainbow jersey in a victory salute. With today’s win, Gilbert showed off his red and black team colors, just four days before the Amstel Gold Race, the first of the three Ardennes classics.
“Getting that first one each year is hard for him. He’s always up there, but sometimes he just misses the right moment or anticipates it a little bit,” team director Max Sciandri told VeloNews. “Getting a win will help for the Ardennes classics. It gives you that extra confidence when you got a win under your belt.”
Gilbert last scored in Overijse in 2011. That win was part of his magical season that included the Ardennes treble. After Davide Rebellin in 2004, he was only the second cyclist to win all three Ardennes classics. Gilbert stormed through the rest of the season, scoring 18 times, earning Tour de France yellow for a day, and winning the UCI WorldTour overall.
That winter, ahead of the 2012 season, he left Lotto for BMC. Other than his three Vuelta stage wins and his 2012 world title, he has struggled since (those four wins would make a career for many riders, of course). In fact, Gilbert has won only five times since that 18-race haul in 2011.
“This is a good test ahead of the Ardennes classics, but this is also a great race in its own right,” Gilbert said. “The best riders in the world, though, will be at Amstel, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. On Sunday in Amstel, it’s going to be a different race.”
Gilbert could have lost Wednesday’s race with a late gamble to catch a group containing Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge). The Belgian attacked and bridged solo to Gerrans’ group, but the escape did not survive, leaving just 11.4 kilometers to recover ahead of the finish.
“It’s real impressive because we were chasing. He got antsy and attacked on his own. We were thinking, ‘what are you doing? No,’” teammate Peter Stetina told VeloNews. “I was scared at first, then once the field came back up to him, and he said, ‘I’m still ready to play,’ we just committed again. He had me ride him into the base of the second-to-last climb with three kilometers to go, into the wheels, then it’s all power from there.
“He’s finally got everything flowing and motivated for the week to come.”
Gilbert refused to blow the midweek Brabantse Pijl out of proportion. As he said, several of the big favorites that will be in Maastricht for the start of the Amstel Gold Race were not in Overijse.
“We are going to have to wait until after Liège-Bastogne-Liège finishes to draw conclusions,” Gilbert said. “I’m motivated by today’s result, but that doesn’t’ mean that we are going to work overtime in the Ardennes. We are only going to sacrifice one BMC rider at the front to control the race, not one more. I’m ready to lose upcoming races, but not ready to lead the races for my rivals.”
The rivals are many, from Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) to Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp). As Sciandri explained, though, an early win gives Gilbert confidence for the coming week.
The post Brabantse Pijl victory a needed Ardennes confidence boost for Gilbert appeared first on VeloNews.com.
SITTARD, THE NETHERLANDS — Workers bustled about at the finish line of the Amstel Gold Race Wednesday, unloading pallets of beer, putting the finishing touches on VIP tents and decks. Red Amstel flags billowed in the ever-present wind, and a few cyclists took to the finale of the Amstel Gold Race.
But it was oddly quiet here. Maybe the Dutch are just getting ready for the party on Sunday. It’s the biggest race held in The Netherlands, and this is a country that loves cycling fiercely. Cyclists jump on wheels when passed, and attack at the bottom of the Cauberg, the climb that will certainly shape Sunday’s podium.
The home nation will have much to cheer for when the starter’s pistol sounds Sunday morning in Maastricht. Home team Belkin brings an effective unit to battle, and Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was the first Dutchmen to win Paris-Roubaix since Servais Knaven in 2001, surely adding a bit more passion to the local scene. The last Dutchman to win Amstel was Erik Decker, in 2001. Jan Raas, also of the Netherlands, has the most wins at AGR, with five.
It’s an important race on the calendar for many a rider, but perhaps none more than a Dutchman.
“The Amstel is perhaps the best race of the year for a Dutchman. The fans show up in large numbers and they are very enthusiastic,” said one of Belkin’s danger men, Bauke Mollema. “After Niki Terpstra’s victory in Paris-Roubaix, I think things will be extra special. After our success in last year’s Tour de France, people will be excited to see us race as well. It could become a wonderful edition. As a team, we hope to provide the people with a good result.”
Belkin brings Laurens ten Dam, Jos van Emden, Jonathan Hivert, Paul Martens, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Bram Tankink and David Tanner to Amstel, with high hopes for Mollema, who finished sixth in last year’s Tour de France.
Mollema tuned for Amstel at Pais Vasco, picking up steam toward the end of the week after a tough start. “During the final stages, I gained a lot of confidence. I finished fifth in a mountain stage with an uphill finish and one day later, I was in a break until very late in a tough stage,” he said in a team release. “It proves that my condition is fine and that I’m at my level. I’m really looking forward to Sunday.”
In the last two editions, Mollema has finished tenth. That wouldn’t be enough this time around. “If I finish tenth again, I won’t be in a jubilant mood. Last year, I often finished between the fifth and tenth place in the Walloon classics. It would be nice to get a top five this year,” he said. “I like the new finish, it makes the race more open because now you can also attack after the Cauberg. Last year it wasn’t in my favor, as I arrived at the top of the Cauberg in fifth position, while I ended up tenth at the line. Next time, it could well be the other way round, though.”
Even Belkin’s director Frans Maassen comes from this region and — of course — won the race in 1991. “We haven’t won the Amstel for a long time and we won’t be the biggest favorite on Sunday, but we are 100 percent motivated and will do whatever we can,” Maassen said. “Bauke is our captain. Paul Martens and Lars Petter Nordhaug also have a free role. We have guys with knowledge of the course and experience and we really want to show ourselves. We want to compete for the win.”
Kona is no stranger to titanium, having made titanium hardtail mountain bikes starting in the ’90s, so with the ti market for ’cross and gravel—think bombproof bikes that can withstand almost anything—growing, the company decided it was time to get utilize the super metal to create a new gravel bike in the form of the titanium Rove.
The Rove isn’t new to the lineup, as Kona launched the model back in 2013 with a steel frame and fork. Designed for ride-anywhere cyclists and gravel racers, not necessarily cyclocross purists, the geometry is similar to Kona’s Jake series cyclocross geometry, but with a 5mm lower bottom bracket and 5mm longer chainstays.
Of course, Kona isn’t a stranger to cyclocross, and the high-end carbon Super Jake was just reviewed as one of our favorite bikes in Issue 24—it also won one of the Editors’ Choice Awards for high-end race bike in the same issue. The one complaint we had on the Super Jake was that the bottom bracket was a bit high, so for those in agreement with our tester, the Rove might be a better option with its 6.5cm drop that hits the sweet spot.
The titanium version of the Rove will be available as frame only for $2000, and those of you familiar with titanium will know the name of the company tasked with making the frames: the Rove will be made in Tennessee by Lynskey. The full carbon disc fork from Kona will also be available at only $200, which is a relative bargain in this day and age of $500 forks.
We’re hoping to put this update of the Rove through the cyclocross (and gravel) paces soon. With the line between cyclocross and gravel racing bikes being blurry if not invisible, finding a bike that can do both well is a fun goal for the or cyclist who tackles both.
Check out the slideshow below for more details on the 2015 titanium Kona Rove.
Kona 2015 Titanium Rove Gravel / Cyclocross Bike Photo Gallery:
Check out all of our tech goodies from Sea Otter 2014, and keep checking as we start to get rolling into the long weekend.