Contador Wins Vuelta 2014

contador_vuelta_2014Alberto Contador has claimed victory at the Vuelta a Espana for the third time after previous wins in 2008 and 2012. The Spaniard had all but secured the win after Saturday’s penultimate stage when the Tinkoff-Saxo rider left nearest rival Chris Froome considerably adrift. Contador concluded the 2014 Vuelta in a time of 81hr 25’ 05”, with Froome on +1:10″ and third-placed Alejandro Valverde of Movistar on +1:50″. The win marks Contador’s sixth Grand Tour win.


An unusually modest Contador commented: ‘It’s a dream for me to win three Vueltas, I really was not expecting it.’ Tinkoff-Saxo’s DS, Steven De Jongh, added more expansively: ‘It’s simply as astonishing achievement by Alberto. Coming back from an injury like that after declaring himself out a couple of weeks before the Vuelta and not only rides well but takes the win, is just amazing. We entered the race hoping that we could get a stage win in the last week of the race but as the race progressed and Alberto felt stronger by the day, we had to change strategy and go for the overall classification.’


Tinkoff-Saxo Sign Beer Partner

32 Via dei BirraiAs unlikely as it sounds Tinkoff-Saxo have signed a sponsorship deal with Italian gourmet brewery 32 Via dei Birrai, which the team are quick to point out is just as much for the hard working staff as it is for the riders who they otherwise describe as ‘the monks of the sporting world’. Loreno Michielin, Manager at the brewery – the first Italian artisan microbrewery – commented: ‘There has to be room for pleasure once in a while, also on a WorldTour team. That’s why we wanted to support Tinkoff-Saxo. Our brewery is situated in the heart of Italian cycling-country and we follow the sport closely…’


Given the gruelling schedule for both riders and support staff alike, perhaps we shouldn’t begrudge them the odd drink (the early Grand Tours were renowned for their vino filled bidons after all.) Tinkoff-Saxo’s Team Chef Hannah Grant certainly seems to appreciate to: ‘You recognize good quality when you taste it. Italy is known for its wine, but 32 Via dei Birrai definitely puts Italy on the beer-map. During the Giro and Dauphiné we’ve found out that sharing a bottle of 32 Via dei Birrai became some kind of a rallying point for the staff in the late hours after finishing the preparations ahead of the next day’s stage.’


More on Tinkoff-Saxo at


Perhaps more importantly more on 32 Via dei Birrai at



Christopher Juul-Jensen Eyes the Giro

It’s probably no surprise that having been born and raised in Ireland Saxo Tinkoff’s Danish rider Christopher Juul-JensenChristopher Juul-Jensen says that a highlight of the coming 2014 season for him will be the Giro d’Italia’s start in Belfast (May 9). It will be doubly-sweet for him given the disappointment of having been effectively ‘de-selected’ for the 2013 just a couple of weeks ahead of the start – as he comments: ‘I had been looking forward to starting my first Grand Tour, so that was quite a disappointment. But now I’m only extra motivated to start my first Grand Tour on my ‘semi’ home ground, Ireland!’


Having joined Saxo Tinkoff in 2012 (initially on a two year contract) the Dane has been in reflective mood, saying, ‘the best experience this year was definitely doing the cobble classics! I’ve been fascinated by these races since I got into cycling. I think I saw the famous Joergen Leth documentary A Sunday in Hell 10 times the day before Roubaix just to put everything into perspective. The whole Flemish/Northern French vibe throughout the classics campaign was incredible and made me really appreciate having it made it this far!’


You can follow Christopher Juul-Jensen on Twitter @JensenJuul and the team @offtinkoffsaxo



Team Saxo-Tinkoff Sign Jesper Hansen

riis_cyclingTeam Saxo-Tinkoff continue to strengthen their team ahead of the 2014 season, signing Danish talent Jesper Hansen as a neopro. The 23 year old climber has agreed to a contract for the coming two seasons after a successful stint as stagiaire during the autumn of 2013. Hansen was part of Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s line-up for the USA Pro Challenge, and finished sixth in the young rider classifications and 26th overall. Earlier in the season as a rider for continental outfit Team Cult Energy he finished in seventh place in the GC in Glava Tour of Norway.


Hansen commented on his signing, ‘It has been a both fantastic and educational autumn for me being part of the team. First and foremost, the level of professionalism both on and off the road has been an experience for me, and especially being part of the team’s lineup for the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado stands out for me as something to remember. Now, I look very much forward to continue my development in this team and get the new season started…’ Team owner Bjarne Riis added, ‘I see a huge potential in him. He is an exceptional climber, and I believe he can grow into a fantastic stage racer in the future.’



Saxo-Tinkoff Extend Contracts

Christopher Juul-JensenTeam Saxo-Tinkoff have announced that they and 24-year-old Danish rider Christopher Juul-Jensen are to extend contracts through to 2016. A strong all-rounder, Juul-Jensen joined the team two years ago as a neo pro and has since proved his worth with the Danish-based World Tour-team; something which makes the extension an obvious decision says team owner Bjarne Riis – ‘To agree on a new deal with Christopher was an easy choice for us. Christopher fits perfectly in the team, he is very well liked by everyone in the organisation, he has a great spirit, he is a true worker on the road and already an integral part of our Spring Classic campaign…’


For his part Juul-Jensen added, ‘In a very tough market I see this deal as a great pat on the shoulder and a confirmation of the team’s trust and belief in me, and this surely makes me very proud. Personally I also feel I have taken some big steps in my development, especially when it comes to gaining both the physical and mental toughness needed at this level, and I look forward to continue this process. I know that with hard and dedicated work I can be a great helper to my teammates, but also getting some results myself in the years to come. At the same time I really feel at home at this team and I like the setup around the riders. So to be able to continue here simply makes me very happy.’



Team Saxo-Tinkoff: Secret Weapon

Matteo Tosatto Team Saxo-TinkoffThere’s no doubting that Team Saxo-Tinkoff are fielding a strong team for the 100th edition of the Tour de France; a solid base balance for speed, mountain and TTT that will be aiming to deliver Alberto Contador safely to the Champs-Élysées. Amongst them though is a rider that could be their deadliest; Italy’s Matteo Tosatto has been a pro since 1997 and ‘experienced’ doesn’t even begin to describe him. An undeniably tough rider, he has no fewer than 25 Grand Tours already under his pedals – seven appearances at the Vuelta a Espana, eight at the Tour de France and 10 at the Giro d’Italia.


Approaching his ninth TdF, Tosatto describes his job in the squad as: ‘…to protect Alberto on the flat sections and in the hilly terrain where it’s important to position ourselves correctly in the field to avoid being caught behind and to prevent being involved in crashes. And there will be crashes…’ And who does he consider the ones to watch at this year’s Tour? ‘In my opinion, Chris Froome and Joaquim Rodriguz are the most dangerous opponents in this year’s mountainous Tour. But like Sky, we have a strong team for both the flat stages and in the mountains and I think it will be a close contest.’


Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s TdF squad will comprise Spaniards Alberto Contador, Jesus Hernandez and Benjamin Noval, Italy’s Matteo Tosatto and Daniele Bennati, Nicolas Roche (Ireland), Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic) and Michael Rogers of Australia.



Roman Kreuziger Takes Amstel Gold

Roman Kreuziger Takes Amstel GoldWith the spring classic series moving from the French/Belgian cobblestones to the undulating terrain of Belgium and southern Holland, Saxo-Tinkoff’s Roman Kreuziger took victory yesterday at the Amstel Gold – the first of this week’s three Ardennes Classics. Holding off fierce competition from double race-winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and Canondale’s Peter Sagan, Kreuziger won the 251km race from Maastricht to Valkenburg in 6h 35’21”, 22 seconds ahead of second-placed Alejandro Valverde and third-placed Simon Gerans          .


A jubilant Kreuziger said, ‘…we were in a good position to achieve our goal. The whole team did an excellent job out there and I was fully prepared for the finale and I was feeling strong all the way. On the final climb of Cauberg, I just looked down and pedalled without thinking so much. I’m really happy about this win and it goes to the whole team for a job well done.’ Philippe Mauduit, Team Saxo-Tinkoff DS, Philippe Mauduit added, ‘It’s one of those days where everything just come together perfectly. The rider has each been given an assignment and every one them does his job.’


The invariably hilly action continues this week with the Flèche Wallonne (The Wallonne Arrow) on Wednesday, April 17, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège – one of cycling’s oldest events, dating back to 1892 – concluding things on Sunday, April 21. Although nothing officially connects the three races of the Ardennes Classics, they are often considered collectively – only two riders have ever won all three in a single year to claim ‘the triple’: Davide Rebellin in 2004 and Philippe Gilbert in 2011.


Image © Tim De Waele


Featured Features

Nicholas Roche Interview

Nicholas Roche Team Saxo-Tinkoff interview

French-born Nicholas Roche has been a pro rider since late 2004 when he signed with Team Cofidis as one of their youngest squad members. A talented all-rounder, his many successes encompass the 2007 National Time Trial Champion title, the 2009 National Road Race Champion title and strong stage wins including Tour de l’Avenir, Tour de Limousin and the 2011 Tour of Beijing. The 2013 season sees him joining Danish squad Team Saxo-Tinkoff, supporting Alberto Contador and tackling his first race in the new team jersey at the five-day French stage race Tour Mediterraneen, which runs February 6 – 10. Ahead of the race and season in general, Cyclo thought we (and you) should get to know this rising star better…


On childhood sports


I was a hyperactive kid so the way to keep me quit was putting me in sports so from the age of four or five I was already running in a club. First it was cross-country and later I took on 800meters, which is a tough distance as it’s a really long sprint. But I loved it. Turning 10 or 11, I picked up soccer because it was more sociable. All my friends were doing soccer so I tried one time and liked it right away.


Later, I took on cycling and rugby for a few years until we moved back to France where I tore my ligaments so I couldn’t play soccer or rugby anymore. To keep me going I continued cycling until me knee felt better and thought I was going back to soccer or rugby but I was good at racing so I stayed in the saddle from the age of 15. Actually, I had a pretty hard program before I tore my ligament with rugby training on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and cycling Wednesdays and rugby match Saturday and cycling race on Sundays. That was my childhood in sports.


On his proudest cycling result


Probably when I was 6th in the Vuelta in 2010. I was proud, but at the same time pissed at myself. I had a great opportunity, as I was fourth in the final week of the race. I put so much pressure on myself in the final time trial because I was aiming to get third. Having Fränk Scheck just in front of me I was hoping to pass him during the race but I ended up losing a lot of time on that stage. we were about seven riders within 1 minute and 30 seconds and dropping from hopefully third overall to seventh three days before the final stage was just so frustrating. It was a life time opportunity, I was in the best shape of my life but I ruined my big chance with stress so of course, I was mad at myself.


However, my win in Beijing in 2011 meant a lot to me as well. In the morning before the race I said to my teammates that I wanted to attack as there was only a few seconds from my 15th place to 8th. On the climb, I told them to ride full gas but I knew we weren’t strong enough to make it to the top so I was hoping that another team would join us up there. Thankfully, Sky went to the front as well and put a huge pressure on the peloton and in the final I went alone. Tour of Beijing might not be as prestigious as the other World Tour races but I’m proud of the way I won.


On choosing Team Saxo-Tinkoff


It’s something that I have had in the back of my head for years and actually since I started cycling where Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O’Grady were a huge inspiration and I’ve always hoped that sooner or later I would have the opportunity to come to the team. Now, I’ve matured and Bjarne has showed over the years that he’s a great tactician and he has helped a lot of riders to move on and progress and they’re just a great fit for me at this point of my career.


On 2013 ambitions


Hopefully, I can be a part of the Tour de France line-up and help Alberto making it to the top and I hope that I’ll have a chance or two throughout the year to make it on my own. Usually at this time of the year, I’d panic if I didn’t know my schedule but I have confidence in Bjarne and the sports directors and I’ll let them surprise me. I’ll be happy with whatever they come up with.


On rituals


I remember when I was playing soccer, I’d sit and watch videos of David Girona’s best goals to inspire me how to shoot but I have no rituals like that anymore besides putting on my numbers in the evening before the race or in the bus on the morning rather than in my room. I also use music on the way to races to start thinking about the tactics and imagine my own scenarios.


On alternative employment


I was studying to go into hotel management because my dad had a hotel. So my plan was to study management and to go into hotel management and later on get a job in the hotel business. Actually, I dropped my education just before going to university as I wanted to become a professional rider so as an amateur rider I had a job at my dad’s hotel and we made a deal that if I weren’t a pro within two years I were to go back to studying. At the end of the first year, I turned professional.


On spare time


In the off-season, I like to just spend time at home, watching DVD’s, checking my email and thinking about new projects. For the last two years I’ve been writing a book and this year I decided to organize a few events in Ireland as I have started up my own junior team. Sometimes I just sit down with a piece of paper and launch new ideas.


My typical day during the season is going training early at nine and I’ll be back home at three at the latest, have my lunch, watching a DVD to guarantee myself two hours rest, then I’ll go a walk, get a cup of coffee, read the paper and get home to dinner at eight. The day goes by fast. As my knee will be sore from most other activities, I like to go trekking on my own in the off-season. I’ll get my backpack and just walk for up to five hours in the mountains of Italy and Switzerland. The more snow and the harder it gets, the more I enjoy it.


©Team Saxo-Tinkoff. With thanks to Team Saxo-Tinkoff and Nicholas Roche. More on the team at and on Nicholas at