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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 19, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

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Binckbank Tour final reports

We posted the organizer's stage-five report with the results

Here's the report from overall winner Laurens De Plus' Jumbo-Visma team:

Laurens De Plus has claimed the overall victory in the final stage of the BinckBank Tour. The Belgian leader of Team Jumbo-Visma attacked early and had a big enough lead at the finish to pass Tim Wellens in the overall standings. De Plus finished third in the stage.

Laurens de Plus

Laurens De Plus is the winner of the 2019 BinckBank Tour. Sirotti photo

For De Plus, it is his first individual victory after he turned professional in 2016. For Team Jumbo-Visma it is the 41st victory of 2019 and the fourth overall victory in a WorldTour stage race. Earlier this year, Primoz Roglic won the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie for Team Jumbo-Visma.

After a leading group of fifteen riders was reeled in in the final of the final stage of the Belgian-Dutch stage race, De Plus attacked just before the golden kilometre. He was then joined by Oliver Naesen and Greg Van Avermaet. The three worked well together and held their lead until the finish. De Plus could no longer sprint for the stage win, but his advantage over his closest competitors in the battle for the overall victory was big enough.

“This is hard to believe. It’s just incredible”, De Plus said. “I never thought it would actually happen. Tim was so strong in the Ardennes that I thought it was impossible to do it. Before the start of the stage I was aiming for a podium place. But I felt really good and with an eye on the time bonuses in the golden kilometre I decided to attack in order to secure my podium. To my surprise, I actually got away with Oliver and Greg after the Bosberg. Those guys are real cobblestone specialists, so for me it was a matter of trying to stay with them.

“I was close a couple of times, but I was so looking to finally take a win”, De Plus continued. “I am really happy that it worked out: my first victory as a professional cyclist. I live near Geraardsbergen. The fact that I win here in front of my family, friends and fans is extra special. I dedicate this victory to my good friend Bjorg Lambrecht and to the team. The support and confidence I received this week was great.”

Tim Wellens' Lotto-Soudal team sent me this report:

The closing stage of the BinckBank Tour still shook up the general classification today. Tim Wellens - who started in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw in the leader’s jersey - eventually had to settle with third place in the overall standings, De Plus still managed to take the overall victory following a coup in the final local lap.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens in the leader's jersey that he had to give up after the final stage. Sirotti photo.

With a stage in and around Geraardsbergen, the riders had to overcome a tough final test. It was just before the final ascent of the Bosberg, that this year’s BinckBank Tour was decided. Then, just as the Golden Kilometre was about to start, De Plus went on the attack together with Naesen and Van Avermaet. The trio worked together really well and would eventually battle for the stage victory on the Vesten. Naesen sprinted to the win, De Plus was - thanks to his tactical move - crowned to the winner of the BinckBank Tour. Tim Wellens crossed the line some forty seconds after the stage winner, just enough to complete the overall podium with De Plus and Naesen.

Tim Wellens: “The entire week went according to plan, but with three riders still within twelve seconds, it would be a difficult mission today. It looked pretty good until the Golden Kilometre, where I made a bad judgement call by focusing maybe too much on Hirschi. I was happy that the bonification seconds were gone. I knew that De Plus would go full gas together with Naesen and Van Avermaet. I tried to close the gap, but it was already too big and I didn’t succeed in bridging to the three riders at the front. To be honest, I didn’t have the best feeling anymore in the final lap. I also felt a little less good compared to the previous days.”

“It is true that I did not have any teammates by my side in the finale, but the guys had already spent a lot of energy in the early parts of the race, in which there were a lot of attacks. Eventually, it came down to a battle man to man. I wasn’t there when De Plus attacked, which has cost me the overall victory. I can still be proud on my performance, which I delivered together with the team this week, but at the moment, it is a major disappointment to miss out on the BinckBank Tour victory. But De Plus of course deserved to win the race. You can’t say he stole the victory after the things he showed today and last Thursday, but for me it is a bitter pill to swallow at the moment.”

Points classification winner Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this final report:

Today’s final hilly stage of the BinckBank Tour, the route of which somewhat resembled the Tour of Flanders, took the peloton from Sint-Pieters-Lew, located southwest of Brussels, over a distance of 178.1 km to Geraardsbergen in the Flemish Ardennes.

As the peloton rode towards the finish, they were faced not only with cobbled sectors, but also 14 ascents, among them the infamous Muur van Geraardsbergen, a climb which has been a fixture of this stage race since 2012. The finish consisted of a 400m-long cobbled stretch with a gradient of around 5 per cent. During the course of the first hour of racing, the field swiftly thwarted all breakaway attempts and, as such, no escapees were able to successfully pull away.

Only after 70 km of racing could an 8-rider strong group manage to get away, and was subsequently joined shortly afterwards by seven chasers. But the peloton only allowed them a relatively small time gap, which was soon reduced to little more than 30 seconds. On the Muur van Geraardsbergen, the lead group split and Lukas Pöstlberger was able to catch up to the front group of six riders, who had a small advantage at that time, while the chasers were hard on their heels.

On the second climb of the Kapelmuur, the race came back together, while attacks came thick and fast, which Lukas was unable to follow. Eventually a trio escaped and distanced themselves with a small advantage from the chasers. With 20 km of racing left in this year’s race, Lukas managed to catch up to the chasing group, and the gap to the leaders began to dwindle.

On the Kapelmuur, however, the leading trio still had a small gap and were able to fight out the stage win amongst themselves, which was eventually taken by Oliver Naesen. BORA - hansgrohe concludes the BinckBank Tour with three stage wins from Sam Bennett, who also won the sprinters jersey by a convincing margin. 

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett winning stage three. Barely. Sirotti photo

From the finish line:
“I’m very happy about our performance at the BinckBank Tour. The guys rode very strong all week and supported me throughout the past seven days. I’m also very satisfied with my three stage wins, second place and the red sprint jersey. Today, I also felt really good and managed to keep up without extreme difficulty, and I honestly didn't expect this. Now I’ll take some time off to recover and be ready for the Vuelta. I’m really looking forward to it, and seeing what I’ll be able to achieve there.” - Sam Bennett

“We come out of the BinckBank Tour having taken three stage wins, a second place, as well as the points jersey with Sam Bennett, so all in all, it has been a very good race for us. Today’s stage had a Classics character to it, with cobbles and several climbs, which really took everything out of the riders. Lukas Pöstlberger put in a strong attack, and was able to bridge the gap to the leading group. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to mix it up in the finale with Van Avermaet, de Plus and Naesen, but despite this, it’s been a successful race for us.” - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

And Greg van Avermaet's CCC Team sent me this:

18 August 2019, Geraardsbergen (BEL): It was an explosive and dramatic finale to Binck Bank Tour stage seven with Greg Van Avermaet showing his consistently strong form and unwavering determination as he battled to second behind Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale).

Oliver Naesen

Oliver Naesen just beating Greg van Avermaet. Sirotti photo

The now traditional stage to Geraardsbergen saw the peloton tackle a total of 18 punchy climbs, and as a result, it was no surprise to see those riders able to best-handle the iconic Flemish Classics terrain racing for the day's honors.

Van Avermaet, who also finished second on this stage last year, showed his impressive strength on this style of course in the closing 20 kilometers of the day, powering away as part of a trio of riders that went on to fight for victory.

Due to the fast start, which did see small gaps open up on momentarily on the first cobbled sector, it took over 100 kilometers, of the 177.9-kilometer course, for a 15-rider breakaway, including CCC Team's Gijs Van Hoecke, to form but, unsurprisingly, the leaders were kept on a short leash.

At the start of the first ascent of the brutal Muur van Geraardsbergen, which at it’s steepest point has a gradient of 18 percent, the gap was less than 30 seconds and with an additional four climbs on each of the three laps of a 25.6km circuit, there was plenty of other opportunities for riders to launch attacks behind.

Van Avermaet and the rest of CCC Team were all sat in the reduced main bunch behind Van Hoecke before another increase in pace saw him drop back to his teammates after the breakaway split at the start of the second lap.

As the speed continued to rise, the attacks continued with Łukasz Wiśniowski covering one potentially dangerous move before, approaching the bell lap, just 15 seconds remained between the leaders at the rest of the field.

The race was all back together at the top of the final climb of the Muur and, after riding aggressively, Van Avermaet continued to dip deep to help the leading trio reach the bottom of the final steep kick up to the line with enough of an advantage ensure they raced for the win.

After a hard-fought finale, which saw Van Avermaet leave everything out on the road to sprint to second, the Belgian rider jumped up to fourth overall on the General Classification, 37 seconds behind Laurens De Plus (Team Jumbo Visma), to secure his sixth consecutive top ten overall finish at Binck Bank Tour.

Greg Van Avermaet:
“I think it was quite perfect to go away like that and I was happy to be there. I think it was a great move for the stage win and the GC. It’s too bad I ended up with nothing because I didn’t get the stage win and I didn’t get on the podium for the GC. I was feeling really strong and thinking I could win the stage. I think maybe I went a bit too early in the sprint but it’s easy to say afterward. I’m quite happy with my legs and how it went. It’s always a big pity to be second, especially today because I’ve been chasing a win already now for a few months. It’s always sad, but I was happy to have the legs and be up there with the best to do a good race."

"I’m always happy to have good legs at this point in the season because it depends on how you come out of the Tour de France. I was second in San Sebastian and second here today, and fourth in GC, which means I’m in really good shape. Of course, winning is the most important but if it’s not there you have to take confidence out of a few good top ten places.”

Mitchelton-Scott reports on final stage of the Czech Tour

The team sent me this:

23-year-old Australian Lucas Hamilton has won the final stage of the Czech Tour ahead of teammate Daryl Impey in Sternberk today.

The result secured Impey’s overall victory and gives Mitchelton-SCOTT two stage wins, following the team’s success on the opening team time trial, and first and second on the general classification at the four-day race.

It took over 40km and the assistance of the first climb for the breakaway to form on the final day. Five riders made the move but with little separating the general classification battle, they were limited to an advantage of two and a half minutes.

As the road went up, the front group reduced to four before an injection of pace once again from Mitchelton-SCOTT ended their day in front.

Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Hansgrohe) was the next rider to try to challenge but, anticipating an aggressive finale on the local finishing laps, Mitchelton-SCOTT had the firepower still remaining to close him down in the last lap.

Not content to just defend, Hamilton and Impey went on the attack on the final lap, with Michael Kukrle (Alkov-Author) and Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) for company, but the duo were too strong for their rivals in the end and claimed the top two positions.

Lucas Hamilton - Stage 4 winner:
“As always, the boys rode incredibly all day and kept the break at a very small advantage because we wanted the GC but also really wanted the stage.

“Bora attacked when we hit the circuits but we always had numbers so we were always in control and Haig did a really good job to keep it all together heading into the final lap.

“Daryl and I went over the top with two other riders and played it in the finale so I could try and win the stage and Daryl really helped me there to let me take the stage. The team was amazing all week. The boys were so strong starting with setting it all up in the TTT. The engine room drilled it all-day every day and then they were still there in the finale to help Daryl in sprints.”

Daryl Impey - Overall champion:
“We came here with big ambitions but they were also realistic with the team we chose. It was great to be around a motivated team and to feel so much support from the team and staff.

“The guys turned themselves inside out and made Lucas and I have easiest ride as possible. The results show that.

“I have enjoyed a great season but the underlying reason is the work the team puts into it behind the scenes. I am just fortunate to profit from the hard work I have put in and its great getting results along the way.

“Winning is never easy but with a team that is committed, anything is possible.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“It was more than 40km of attacking at the start so it was a very fast first hour of racing.

"The break went just on the first climb and then the ‘Engine Room’ had it under control for the next three hours. (Luke) Durbridge, (Michael) Hepburn and Chris (Juul-Jensen) had the breakaway sitting at two and a half minutes before they brought it back just as we hit the circuits with three climbs to go.

“Schillinger attacked in the circuit, but Jack Haig did a really really good job to bring it back with one to go and our two boys went off the front with two others to win the stage.

“Two stage wins, first and second overall, the points’ jersey and the team’s classification and it was a nice gesture by Daryl to help Lucas win the stage today.

“Look it’s not the biggest race we do on the calendar but the process you go through to win is just as important. It filled a nice gap for the guys coming off the Tour de France and is a good link for the next races they have coming up.

“As far as how they rode as a team, it was incredible. Everyone knew we were the favourites and so they looked to us on all three road stages. No other team rode a metre on the front except our boys these last three days.”

Czech Tour – Stage 4 Results:
1. Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:33:53
2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT ST
3. Michael Kukrle (Elkov-Author) ST

Czech Tour – FINAL General Classification:
1. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 13:22:59
2. Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:09
3. Michael Kukrle (Elkov-Author) +0:33

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