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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, April 26, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. - William James

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Tour of the Alps stage four reports

We posted the organizer's report with the race results.

Here's the report from stage winner Tao Geoghegan Hart's Team Sky:

Tao Geoghegan Hart outsprinted fellow GC contenders Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) and Rafal Majka (Bora Hansgrohe) after a superb lead out by race leader Pavel Sivakov after a punishing climbing test.

Tao Geoghegan Hart

Tao Geoghegan Hart takes the fourth stage ahead of Vincenzo Nibali.

The Londoner now moves to second overall, 27 seconds behind Sivakov, with one stage remaining and he hailed the impact of both Sivakov and Chris Froome who was crucial in repelling the attacks of Nibali and Majka earlier in the stage.

He told TeamSky.com: "The sprint was great. I felt really good all day and comfortable on the climbs. So the finish was always in my mind. With the plan being a defensive one and simply consolidating Pavel’s lead then I knew we’d arrive in a group, so I was obviously thinking about that for most of the stage.

"Pavel knew what he had to do once we got to 500 to go. And he did it perfectly. So I’m really grateful to him. I think we worked really well together the whole final, with myself covering the moves between the two last climbs and marshalling the downhill, and then using our resources perfectly in the final kilometres to manage the situation and keep it under control, avoiding a situation with lots of jumping around."

Geoghegan Hart was also upbeat about his form ahead of the final stage and hailed the impact of Froome, who has been crucial in helping him and Sivakov establish their overall positions. He added: "This stage has give me lots of confidence, I felt great on the climbs and very comfortable so that’s nice. Both the guys with us tried pretty hard to do some damage but I felt completely in control so that’s a great feeling to be honest.

"Froomey has been great. I can see him improving every day, and it’s a huge honour to have him helping. It’s a big opportunity for myself, to do my first race with him and learn from him, so I’m really grateful for that."

Third-place Rafal Majka's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

The penultimate stage of the five-day race, Tour of the Alps, saw another battle in the mountains. Stage 4 took the riders from yesterday’s finish town of Baselga di Piné over 134km, on a demanding course with two categorized climbs and an elevation of 3.000 meters, to Cles.

It took a while until the day’s break of eight riders was able to establish an advantage of three minutes, while the BORA – hansgrohe riders remained in the main bunch. Approaching the final climb of the day, the gap of the eight escapees came down to 53 seconds. BORA – hansgrohe climber Rafał Majka, currently fourth in the overall classification, stayed in a good position in the reduced peloton, and was surrounded by teammate Pawel Poljanski. 

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka racing in the 2018 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

The breakaway fell apart on the final climb of the day and the favorites for today’s stage win subsequently launched several attacks. BORA – hansgrohe climber Rafał Majka showed his great form once again, and followed every attack, leading the new breakaway as the race reached the top of the last ascent, and taking the final KOM. On the descent, the Polish rider put in a great effort, riding a strong and smart race.

As the leading quartet headed into the last 10km of today’s stage, their gap hovered at 36 seconds. With 4km remaining, Rafał Majka attacked and was able to distance himself from his opponents. He gave everything and fought until the line, but was caught just 300m before the finish. In a sprint, the BORA – hansgrohe climber crossed the line in third place, which moves him up to third in the general classification, 31 seconds behind the leader.

From the Finish Line:
“It worked as we had planned. The other teams attacked each other and we benefited from it. Rafał was one of the strongest riders today, and in the finale, we planned that he should try to distance himself, taking advantage of the tailwind. Unfortunately, he was caught with 300m to go but nevertheless it was a strong ride from him and I am super happy that he was once again one of the strongest riders on the ascent. Huge respect for his ride and compliments to the whole team and Rafał for today’s result.” – Christian Pömer, Sports Director

“Well, I am a little bit disappointed with third place after being at the front solo but I gave it a try. My shape is good and I felt I should give it a go today, therefore I went on the attack on the final climb of the day. Once again, huge thanks to Pawel for helping me. I moved up to third in the overall, I think all in all it is a good sign ahead of the upcoming Giro d’Italia.”- Rafał Majka

Sprinter Marcel Kittel to ride Tour de Yorkshire

The Yorkshire Tour organizer's sent me this news:

Marcel Kittel is the latest star rider to confirm his attendance at the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire and will be joined by Katusha Alpecin team-mates Harry Tanfield and Nathan Haas.

Marcel kittel

Marcel Kittel at the 2018 Paris-Roubaix rider presentation. Sirotti photo

Kittel is regarded as one of the finest sprinters in the world and has not raced in Yorkshire since 2015. The year before that the German romped to victory on the opening stage of the Tour de France into Harrogate and had the honour of wearing the iconic yellow jersey on the second stage between York and Sheffield.

The 30 year old has already claimed a victory this season at the Trofeo Palma and will no-doubt be on the hunt for more successes in Yorkshire.

Speaking about his appearance in Yorkshire, Kittel said: “It’s going to be nice to be back in Yorkshire because of all the memories I have from 2014. It's a great experience to race there in front of all those spectators and I'm looking forward to it.”

Katusha Alpecin have also revealed that home favourite Harry Tanfield will also be in action between 2-5 May. Tanfield, who hails from Great Ayton, pulled off one of the most memorable wins in the race’s history last year when he achieved a stunning solo success in Doncaster. That result earned him a spell in the blue leader’s jersey and he also enjoyed stints in both the best sprinter and most active rider jerseys before the race was out. 

He said: “Last year’s win was the best result I’ve ever had and the Tour de Yorkshire is so well known. After stage one I was wearing a jersey every day. I couldn't believe it. It's one of those things that you think will never happen. Just being able to keep a jersey on my back the whole time was pretty cool and I can’t wait to ride it again in Katusha Alpecin colours.”

The only jersey Tanfield didn’t wear in 2018 was the best climber’s jersey, and the winner of that prize in 2016 – Australia’s Nathan Haas – has confirmed he will also be back.

Haas is currently riding the Ardennes Classics but will jet into Yorkshire early next week to ensure he is good to go on Thursday 2nd May. He said: “The Tour de Yorkshire is brilliant. It's a growing event and ever since I last raced there in 2016, I’ve been wanting to come back. The fans are some of the wildest and most committed I’ve ever known. In 2016 the final stage was seriously cold but the hills were lined out with fans making a noise like I couldn’t believe. Safe to say, I'm excited to be coming back.”

The Katusha Alpecin trio join four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome in announcing their intentions to ride, while Yorkshire star Lizzie Deignan will also be competing in the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race which takes place between 3-4 May. More big-names are expected to be revealed in the coming days.

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