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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, August 4, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven't time, and to see takes time - like to have a friend takes time. - Georgia O'Keeffe

Current racing:

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Clásica de San Sebastián team reports

We posted the report from winner Remco Evenepoel's Deceuninck-Quick step team with the results.

Second-place Greg van Avermaet's CCC team sent me this:

3 August 2019, San Sebastián (ESP): Greg Van Avermaet proved that he came out of the Tour de France in good shape and showed his consistently strong form at Clásica de San Sebastián, sprinting to second place for the second time in his career and taking his tally of top ten finishes up to six.

Remco Evenepoel

Remco Evenepoel take the solo win in San Sebastián.

Earlier in the day, Josey Černý flew the flag for CCC Team in the day's breakaway after going clear alongside seven other riders and opening up a gap of more than four minutes after 60 kilometers of racing.

By the time the now nine-rider front group reached the summit of the iconic category one Jaizkibel climb, the peloton had shaved around two minutes off the leaders' advantage, which only continued to shrink on the Erlaitz, a new category one climb for this year's edition of the race.

The breakaway soon started to split with Černý digging deep for as long as possible before losing contact with the front of the race as one of the early leaders attacked to go over the top around one minute ahead of a reduced main bunch.

With Černý swept up by the chasing peloton, CCC Team remained well-represented behind the lone leader, who was eventually caught with just over 50 kilometers to go as the attacks started to fly off the front of the main field.

Joey Rosskopf, who also came into the race from the Tour de France, had Van Avermaet in his wheel on the slopes of the penultimate climb, which was where the peloton reduced in size further with Van Avermaet still in contention with 25 kilometers remaining.

The summit of the final climb, which had pitches of 19 percent in places, came with eight kilometers to go and it was here that the eventual winner Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) made his successful move from a late two-rider attack.

A determined Van Avermaet continued to chase hard as part of the second group on the road before going on to launch a powerful sprint on the finishing straight which saw him secure second place on the line and prove his consistently strong form at the Spanish UCI WorldTour one-day race.

Greg Van Avermaet:
"I am happy with how the race went today. I think I did the race that I had to do which was to try to survive on the climbs and then do a good sprint at the end of the day so, I think that worked out pretty well. The new steep climb was hard but I was able to survive it and I managed the race well, I was always in a good position and finished it off with second place which is a really good result at San Sebastián. Of course, winning is always better but, I think to take something out of the race in these circumstances and to be on the podium of a WorldTour race is always good."

"Sprinting after a long and hard race has always been one of my strong points. It's not come out as many times as I would have liked so far this year but, I still believe in it and I think that is also one of my strengths as a rider. Today, I was really counting on my sprint and we saw that I was able to have a good one at the end. While my sprint today wasn't for first, it is important to always race for the best result possible."

Josey Černý:
"I am really happy and a little bit surprised with my performance today. After the Tour of Austria, I went to an altitude camp so I wasn't sure how my body would react today. I felt really good though and, as a team, we were trying right from the beginning to have someone in the breakaway. It took around 30 kilometers for the group to go clear and, at first, I was thinking a lot about trying to save energy for the last climbs so I could do as much as possible to help Greg and the team. This is a really hard race and the terrain is super tough so, I was pleased with how I was able to push myself here."

Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:
"If at the start of the day I knew that Greg would finish on the podium, I would have been happy so, for me, this is an excellent result. Of course, with the way Greg won the sprint at the finish, there is a little bit of disappointment as today, we really had a great Greg out on the road. It was a really hard race and we were a little bit afraid about the new parcours but, in the end, Greg showed that he is still in amazing condition. Of course, I have to say chapeau to the young kid, Evenepoel, who won after a super strong move."

"We discussed at the start that we wanted to have someone in the breakaway and so for us, it was good to have Josef in there and he did a good job. It was not easy and he went over the hard climbs in a good position and after he was caught, he was able to give everything he had left for the team."

"Everything went well though and everybody did a good job for the team, especially Joey, who was also coming out of the Tour. For the situation to be perfect, we should have had one guy with Greg at the end but, even though he was alone, he did a fantastic job and was really focused."

Sixth-place Patrick Konrad's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

Already on the first Saturday after the Tour, the peloton traditionally meets again in San Sebastian for the Klasikoa. The tough 227.3 kilometer-long parcours around San Sebastian favors the climbers in the bunch, with its seven categorized ascents.

It took a while until a break of nine riders established a proper lead over the peloton. Among the leaders who enjoyed a four-minute advantage after 45 km was Felix Großschartner for BORA – hansgrohe. However, this group was gradually reeled back in, and with approximately 75 km still remaining, there was only one rider left out in front.

Meanwhile, back in the peloton, Movistar pushed the tempo in pursuit of the soloist, and on the descent of the Erlaitz, the ever-reducing main field of about 70 riders made it closer and closer to the lone leader. The catch was eventually made not long afterwards. The field then took on the penultimate climb of the race, with its punishing gradients of up to 19 per cent, and it was there that several splits occurred in the main group.

BORA - hansgrohe, however, was represented up the front with Gregor Mühlberger and Patrick Konrad as the pace remained high despite the tough climb. T. Skujins and R. Evenepoel attacked then in the last flat part of the race. The duo entered the final climb of the day with 45 seconds in hands, and Evenepoel took the opportunity to drop his breakaway fellow. Behind, Patrick Konrad was on the move in the steepest part of the climb, causing serious damage in the chasing group. Just few riders went together into the last downhill, but then, cooperation between them was missing.

Evenepoel took his chance to ride to a solo victory. Patrick Konrad was able to take a strong sixth place in a sprint from the chasing group.

From the Finish Line:
"It is really good to feel that I found my form again. After the Tour was not a lot time to recover from my crashed and problems I had there, but in the end I felt not too bad this week. Today was quite good from the beginning. Felix was in the break and I could save energy for the final. When Evenepoel went, I thought we catch him back on the climb, but he proved us wrong. I attacked to split the group, but the guys didn’t really pull in the downhill. When some riders came back on the last kilometers is was a quite big group to take on the sprint. I also started to cramp a little and couldn’t push to the limit, but I am really happy with my result today." – Patrick Konrad

"Considering the last few years we always really struggled after the Tour, this sixth place from Patrick feels like a win. The whole team did a great job, Felix was in the break, and the others worked to bring Gregor and Patrick to last laps. I think Gregor was paying a little in the end for his amazing efforts the last days in the Tour, but Patrick was ready when it mattered. He was strong on the last climb an attacked to split the group. Unfortunately, the guys did work well together in the downhill. Anyway, we are really happy today and congrats to Patrick." – Patxi Vila, Sports Director 

Lucy Kennedy wins inaugural edition of Women's Clásica San Sebastián

Kennedy's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Australian Lucy Kennedy has claimed an impressive victory in the inaugural edition of the women’s Clásica San Sebastián, overcoming an untimely puncture and fighting back into contention before taking a hard-earned solo win.

The 31-year-old showed her relentless determination, never giving up hope after leading the race solo, suddenly puncturing and then finding herself over one-minute behind the leaders.

After help from teammate Georgia Williams, Kennedy attacked across to the new solo leader, Janneke Ensing (WNT-Rotor), on the final steep climb before passing her and powering on ahead and to the race victory.

In the opening stages of the race, two-riders Lourdes Oyarbide (Movistar) and Anastasia Chursina (BTC-City) broke away from the peloton and headed out a three-minute advantage. On the following climbs a chase group of 14-riders formed with Williams and Kennedy there for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

On the approach to the penultimate climb, the Maddiola, the duo were caught and two new riders broke away from group and quickly extended their lead out to 40seconds.

With sections as steep as 16% on the climb, Kennedy picked her moment, attacked away from the group and opened up a gap before passing the duo and leading the race solo over the top of the climb with an advantage of 55seconds and 40kilometres to go.

There was a drastic change of events as Kennedy suddenly suffered a puncture on the descent of the climb, and after a slow change and subsequent second mechanical from a neutral service motorbike, it looked like Kennedy had lost her chance of victory.

Three-riders had broken away from the leading group and passed Kennedy as she stood hopelessly waiting for a wheel change. The Micthelton-SCOTT rider quickly found herself one-minute behind the front of the race.

After getting into the rhythm of things once again, Kennedy was back in the main chase group but thankfully had teammate Williams there for company. Williams made a huge effort to pace Kennedy back towards the new solo leader, bringing the gap down to 30seconds.

After Williams' hardwork, Kennedy took over as the final climb, the Murgil Tontorra started and giving it her all on the brutally steep slopes, she attacked away from the group on the hunt for Ensing.

Towards the top of the climb the Australian rider managed to make contact and pass Ensing before powering on ahead, holding a lead of just 20seconds on the flat final six-kilometre run into the finish.

It proved to be enough, as Kennedy crossed the line to take a much deserved solo victory in San Sebastián.

Lucy Kennedy:
“I’m still in a little bit of a shock really. I had a bit of bad luck on the descent with a flat and then another mechanical so I don’t want to say I thought it was over but it was looking unlikely, but I just kept on fighting and kept on fighting.

“It’s my second win around here after Emakumeen Saria so I really like this area. I really like the courses they set, really tough courses and the fans are incredible. On that last climb, that was what kept me going the fans screaming.

"It’s really special. I have to thank all of my teammates, but particularly Georgia Williams, she absolutely destroyed herself leading into the final climb, so she deserves this as much as I do.”

Clásica San Sebastián Women’s Results:
1. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:38:04
2. Janneke Ensing (WNT Rotor) +0:23
3. Pauliena Rooijakkers (CCC-Liv) +1:04

Tour of Poland stage one team reports

We posted the report from winner Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results

Second-place Fernando Gaviria's UAE Team Emirates sent this:

On the traditional stage finish in Krakow, which opened the Tour of Poland 2019, a thrilling head to head between Fernando Gaviria and Pascal Ackermann, went the way of the German. The Colombian from UAE Team Emirates opened up his sprint from a long way out but was passed by Ackermann just shy of 30m from the line.

Pascal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann takes the first stage ahead of Fernando Gaviria. Sirotti photo

Gaviria, who is on his way back from a knee injury, was glad to be back in action:“It has been a couple of months since I last raced so that sensation of being on the limit on the run-in to the line was a bit new for me again. But I’m really happy to be back racing and to finish second to a rider like Ackermann isn’t so bad, so well done to him. I’m definitely missing a bit of pace but I’ll improve and hopefully have more chances this week.”

Tomorrow, stage 2, will see the riders go from Tarnowskie Góry to Katowice over 153 Km, on a terrain which will again suit the sprinters.

Here's the report from Mark Cavendish's Dimension Data team:

It was just a short 132km stage to get the Tour de Pologne underway today and the flat nature of the route made it a perfect stage for the sprinters. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was hoping Mark Cavendish would be able to be in the mix for the expected sprint finale in Krakow.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish heads to the sign-in. Sirotti photo

As the peloton entered the local laps in Krakow, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka came to front of the main field to help position our Manx sprinter. With the finish line approaching, the teams with greater depth in the sprint leadouts took over, as Cavendish looked for the best wheels to follow.

Unfortunately though, right at the start of the final 4km lap, Cavendish was caught up in a crash in a slow but very sharp and tight left hand corner, Jaco Venter also being caught up in the same incident. This took Cavendish out of contention for the final sprint.

Ackermann took the victory with a strong sprint, while all our other riders finished safely in the main bunch, Cavendish and Venter coming in just a few minutes later.

“Unfortunately luck was not on our side today. Cav was our card for the final but he couldn’t contest the sprint after being caught up in that tricky corner. It was more than a ninety degree corner and quite narrow, with everyone fighting for position, there wasn’t a lot of space. We will go again tomorrow.” – Alex Sans Vega

Lotto-Soudal previews RideLondon-Surrey Classic

The team sent me this:

On Sunday 4 August, Lotto Soudal will be in the British capital to take part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic. The WorldTour race, first organised in 2011 as a test event for the Olympic Games of London 2012 will take place for the eighth time. A lot of fast guys, among which Lotto Soudal sprinter Caleb Ewan, will head to London. Sports director Bart Leysen looks ahead.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan (shown winning stage 21 of this year's Tour de France) is in London. Sirotti photo

Bart Leysen: “It is a fairly flat course and the riders will leave London entirely and head into the hills, where they will face ‘Box Hill’  - made famous by the Olympic Games - five times. That is one more ascent compared to previous years. It is nothing like an Ardennes Classic, because the final 50 kilometres are virtually flat. Moreover, the Prudential RideLondon is only 167 kilometres long, while an Ardennes Classic easily goes beyond the 200-kilometre mark.”

“It is all about efforts which follow at short intervals but the fast guys should certainly be able to survive, especially those who rode the Tour. In London, there are always some of the best sprinters at the start, but we will be there with the current best sprinter.”

“If a big group should escape in the first part of the race, we will certainly send a rider up the road. Otherwise, we will control the race, together with the other sprint teams. I don’t think an escapee will win because there are quite some sprinters at the start. Of course, it depends on how the teams without a sprinter want to race.”

“Jasper De Buyst will be the final guy to get Caleb Ewan into a good position. Frederik Frison and Brian van Goethem will have to work to catch the escapees. Stan Dewulf can, if necessary, join an attack. Nikolas Maes will look after Caleb during the race and try the position him in order to start every hill in the best possible way. It is only the second pro race for Gerben Thijssen, so for him it will all be about gaining experience.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, Stan Dewulf, Caleb Ewan, Frederik Frison, Nikolas Maes, Gerben Thijssen and Brian van Goethem.

Sports director: Bart Leysen.

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