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The team looks forward to next year's edition and hopes organizers will continue on the right path to make the race even closer, more exciting, but also safer and more enjoyable for the riders, the teams and spectators

Photo: Sirotti






18.09.2015 @ 16:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After Peter Sagan and Sergio Paulinho were taken out by race motorbikes, Tinkoff-Saxo had a meeting with the Vuelta a Espana organizers. In the following statement from the team, they declare themselves pleased with the measures taken.


Despite the two serious accidents in which Peter Sagan and Sergio Paulinho were hit by reckless motorbike drivers and subsequently withdrew, Tinkoff-Saxo finished the 2015 Vuelta a España on a high note. The team believes that the organization provided an exciting and unpredictable parcours with the winner and podium only decided on the final stage to Madrid. In addition, concrete measures were taken towards ensuring the safety of the riders and the teams after the Vuelta organization had swiftly and in a serious manner entered into dialogue with Tinkoff-Saxo.
The 2015 edition of the Vuelta a España was marked by a number of ups and downs, both for Tinkoff-Saxo as well the race itself. The squad, led by Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan, went to Spain with the goal of a top-five position for Majka as well as stage wins.
Despite initial criticism of the opening TTT, the Vuelta organizers, Unipublic, provided a parcours that, undoubtedly, delivered an exciting and unpredictable race. With eight summit finishes that had never featured in the past and a mountain stage in Andorra dubbed by many as “the hardest ever in the Vuelta”, the peloton and the favorites were kept on their toes.
In fact, the red leader’s jersey swapped hands no less than eight times and the race winner and podium wasn’t decided before the penultimate stage after a thrilling fight. Tinkoff-Saxo's leader Rafal Majka was able to secure his podium spot on the final climb and missed second place by just 12 seconds, another proof of the close and tight racing.  
The opening team time-trial finished with bittersweet feelings as a very strong performance was not enough and the squad saw victory slip away by less than a second. Two days later, Peter Sagan delivered in the final sprint of the 158km stage to Malaga and bagged his first Grand Tour victory after a long period. Unfortunately, disaster struck Tinkoff-Saxo's Slovak champion on stage 8, when the reckless driver of a neutral assistance motorbike crashed into him, causing major injuries and burns. Despite his tenacity and determination, Sagan would withdraw the following morning as team doctors and sport directors deemed it unsafe for him to continue.

Despite this initial major setback, Tinkoff-Saxo's remaining eight riders showed their strength at the mother of all stages in Andorra, which would be the first real test for the GC contenders. Unfortunately, Tinkoff-Saxo was victim of another reckless driver and Sergio Paulinho was forced to abandon after a collision with a TV motorbike caused a deep cut and strong bleeding on his left leg. Rafal Majka's strong performance was, effectively, overshadowed by the second race collision and Tinkoff-Saxo demanded guarantees that would safeguard the safety of all riders in order to continue in the race.
Following a meeting with race and UCI officials, a number of concrete measures were implemented. The team's management believed that these initial measures were a sign of attention to riders’ safety and agreed to continue as long as safety was guaranteed.
The second major blow to the team wasn't enough to deter its determination and the squad rallied behind Rafal Majka, who found his form as the race progressed but also managed to stay focused and calm after a fairly disappointing individual time-trial on stage 17. Majka, spurred on by a persistent effort from his teammates, put in a superb performance on the remaining three decisive stages and clinched third overall on his birthday, one day before the grand finale in Madrid. The Polish rider came of age in this year's Vuelta, stepping on a Grand Tour podium for the first time in his career.
It was an, overall, positive Vuelta for Tinkoff-Saxo, as its goals were achieved and that despite two major setbacks. The team looks forward to next year's edition and hopes organizers will continue on the right path to make the race even closer, more exciting, but also safer and more enjoyable for the riders, the teams and spectators.



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