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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, July 19, 2019

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. - Immanuel Kant

Current racing:

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Rohan Dennis abandons Tour de France, no one seems to know why

First, here's the short post from Dennis' Bahrain-Merida team:

"Rohan Dennis abandoned the Tour de France during stage 12.

"Our priority is the welfare of all our riders so will launch an immediate investigation but will not be commenting further until we have established what has happened.

"Meantime we continue to support our riders who are mid-race."

Later, the team posted this:

During today’s stage of the Tour de France, Team Bahrain Merida rider Rohan Dennis reluctantly withdrew from the race.

Dennis commented: "I am very disappointed to leave the race at this point. Obviously the individual time trial tomorrow had been a big goal for me and the team, but given my current feeling it was the right decision to withdraw earlier today.

"I wish my teammates the very best for the remainder of the race and would like to thank all the Tour de France fans who cheered for me, at home and on the roadside, since Brussels.

"I will hopefully be back competing in this great race again over the coming seasons."

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis is the current time trial world champion. Here he is on his winning ride.

Here's a longer story about Rohan Dennis's departure from news.com.au:

In 116 years of racing at the Tour de France, riders have done all sorts of bizarre things, from jumping on trains to fighting with fans at mountain stops.

But rarely have they just vanished in the middle of a stage like Australian rider Rohan Dennis did during the first Pyrenean stage on Thursday.

For a couple of hours on an otherwise uneventful day in the mountains, nobody was able to say where the time trial world champion had gone.

His Bahrain-Merida team even sent an alarming message out on social networks, saying all it cared about was “the welfare” of Dennis after Tour organisers announced he had pulled out of the race.

The Australian ultimately resurfaced at the finish line in Bagneres-de-Bigorre, where British rider Simon Yates, the reigning Spanish Vuelta champion, posted his first stage win after a long breakaway that did not shuffle the overall standings.

Dennis was spotted near the Bahrain-Merida team bus after the stage, but did not make any comment about his decision to pull out.

You can read the entire story here.

Tour de France stage twelve reports

We'll start with stage winner Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott's report:

Vuelta a España champion Simon Yates sprinted to his debut Tour de France victory on stage 12 to give Mitchelton-SCOTT their second win of the race.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates nails the stage. Sirotti photo.

The British rider made it into the break of the day before attacking over the top of the final climb in a leading trio and taking the win in a three-up sprint in Bagnères-de-Bigorre. Meanwhile twin brother Adam Yates rolled home in the peloton 9’35” later with no action amongst the general classification contenders.

The win means that Simon Yates has now won a stage in all three Grand Tours after his victories in the Giro d’Italia (2018) and the Vuelta a España (2016 and 2018).

Big Battle:
As expected there was a massive fight to get into the break at the start of the day, with the stage always looking likely to favour the group in front. Numerous attempts came and went in the opening 40-kilometres before a large group of 42-riders were eventually allowed down the road by the peloton.

Mitchelton-SCOTT had both Simon Yates and European Champion Matteo Trentin in the move as the group worked well together to stretch their advantage over the bunch, and the escapees enjoyed a five-minute buffer by the time they hit the foot of the Col de Peyresourde. But the numbers in the 42-man breakaway soon began to fall on the slopes of the climb as Lilian Calmejane (Team Total Direct Energie) attacked solo.

The Frenchman opened up a 40-second lead on the rest of the breakaway, but he was reeled back in over the top, with Simon Clarke (EF Education First) launching a counter move on the descent. The Australian raced into a one-minute lead ahead of the final climb, but as the Hourquette d'Ancizan approached, Trentin set off in pursuit while Simon Yates sat in the chase group behind.

With Trentin beginning to close in on Clarke at the head of the race, Simon Yates attacked the remains of the breakaway on the climb, with only Gregor Mühlberger (BORA – hansgrohe) able to react to the initial dig by the Mitchelton-SCOTT man. The chasers were eventually able to bridge back up to Yates, but as the pace stalled the 26-year-old attacked again, while out front Trentin caught Clarke.

Another attack from Yates was enough to distance the chasing pack, as again only Mühlberger could follow, and the duo raced past Trentin to lead the race over the summit. Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) gave chase on the ascent and the Spaniard was able to join the duo on the descent to make it a leading group of three.

The trio worked well together to extend their advantage over the chasers on the run towards the finish, and the gap stood at over a minute as they hit the outskirts of the city. Yates moved himself into prime position at the back of the group under the one-kilometre to go banner before launching his sprint into the final corner and holding off his rivals at the line to take the win.

Simon Yates:
“I’ve been saving energy all the way until we got here in the mountains and this is my first chance to try something. Normally I’ve been back in the peloton helping Adam, but today I had my own chance so I’ve grabbed it with both hands.”

“I wasn’t very confident of beating either of them [in the sprint], I didn’t really know how fast they were, I just knew from the directors in the car, they told I needed to be in the front coming around the last corner, so I made sure to do that and luckily I held on to win.”

“Really my main priority here is to help Adam and today was just one of the chances to get up the road, so we’ll see how we go in the next few days. We’re having a fantastic Tour and long may it continue.”

Matt White (Sports Director):
“We expected a big group and a big group with the right combination was going to be very, very hard to get back, especially with so much flat terrain before we got to the mountains.”

“The boys rode well, we had exactly what we wanted, we had someone who could climb to finish off the stage and obviously someone for the flat, for an extra form of protection, because things can get out of control in a break that size. The boys worked well together in the final and we had both bases covered.”

"Nobody wants to take Matteo Trentin down a 30-kilometre descent sitting on and then try and beat him in the sprint. So it gave us options at the front end and in the second group.”

“Simon might be a little guy, but he’s got a turn of speed on him and the other guys, they’re no slouches, but at the end of the day we were pretty confident that when we got into that group of three that he could beat them.”

Third-place Gregor Mühlberger's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

From the halfway point of today’s 209.5km stage, things were going to get serious. For eleven days, the Tour de France had been edging closer to the mountains, and today, it hit the Pyrenees.

Setting off from Toulouse, riders would warm up on a category four ascent, but it would be a small mound compared to the first category climbs of the Col de Peyresourde and the Hourquette d’Ancizan, with slopes of 7% and 7.5% respectively. After this, it was all downhill to the finish in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, but it was unlikely the bunch would make it here all in one piece on such a difficult day. From the drop of the flag, the GC riders and those chasing points were on the front trying to shut down the breaks – a strong group with a GC rider in it could change the shape of the overall standings, while the intermediate sprint at 130.5km would be pivotal in the quest for the Maillot Vert.

Trying time and again to get out in front, after almost 50km of racing, Peter Sagan broke free of the peloton, bringing with him a huge group of forty-two riders. Knowing they couldn’t fight such a strong move, the peloton sat up and let them go; there was no stopping the holder of the green jersey when he knew there were points available, helping the escapees build a lead of a shade under five minutes. Approaching the intermediate sprint in Bagnères-de-Luchon, Daniel Oss was on lead-out duties for Peter, the Slovak rider taking first here to add twenty points to his total.

From this point, the remaining BORA-hansgrohe riders in the break – Gregor Mühlberger and Maximilian Schachmann – took over in the race to the finish. After a solo attacker went off the front, Gregor took up the challenge to bridge over, forming a small group of four that, try as they might, couldn’t shake the Austrian rider. Cresting the final climb, he was riding confidently as the group of four became three, and with the route turning downwards, he knew he was in with a shot at taking the win.

Approaching the finish, waiting to see who would go first, Gregor was on the front as the metres to the line disappeared under the trio’s wheels. On the hard left turn before the finish line, the sprint started and after his hard efforts throughout the stage, the other two were simply faster in the finale. While unable to take the win today, Gregor could take comfort in his lighting up the stage and never giving up no matter what his rivals threw his way.

Start of sprint

As the riders of the break close in on the line, Simon Yates has hit the front. Sirotti photo

After the excitement of the finish, the GC riders came across the line more than nine minutes later, but there were no changes in the overall standings with the top ten all finishing together and, in the points contest, Peter Sagan tightened his grip on the top spot and the Maillot Vert.

From the Finish Line:
"It was so close to being a perfect day. I'm proud I was able to stay on the wheel of Yates in the climb but I think this effort took its toll on me. It cost a lot of energy and maybe this is why I missed that small edge in the finishing metres of the sprint. I knew Yates was fast, given he's coming from track racing, but I was hoping I would have a chance if I saved enough energy. Unfortunately, he was just better today and I don't think I could have caught him in the sprint. Nevertheless, I'm happy with my performance and my result and I look forward to the next stages where I will again take a shot and, hopefully, succeed." – Gregor Mühlberger

"For me, in this first stage on the Pyrenees, it was extremely important to get the maximum amount of points I could in the intermediate sprint. The pace in the first part was frantic, with so many attacks and counter-attacks. I spent a lot of energy but together with Maximilian, Gregor and Daniel we made it to the big group. Daniel did a great job helping me in the intermediate sprint and it's very good I was first. After getting the maximum points and with difficult stages ahead, I tried to save as much energy as possible and finish the day in the gruppetto." – Peter Sagan

"This stage was nearly impeccable for BORA-hansgrohe. Our plan was for Peter to get as many points as possible. He took the intermediate sprint and full points, something important for the green jersey. In addition, in the large breakaway group, we had Gregor and Maximilian, the right riders that could aim at the stage win. Both had a strong race and in the final climb, Gregor was able to stay on the wheel of Yates. Maximilian was in the chasing group behind them and that gave us some tactical options if the three leading riders hadn't worked together. They did cooperate, so it was clear they would be the ones to fight for a stage victory. In the end, it all came down to a sprint where Yates was the best of the three.  Tomorrow, we have an ITT and I'm confident about Emu's chances. He showed at the Dauphiné that the TT preparation had paid off. Still, it won't be the day to give 100% as we have two hard stages after that." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

And here's the report from GC leader Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Julian Alaphilippe passed without any difficulties the second mountain test of the Tour de France, which took the peloton into the Pyrenees for a 206.9km stage between Toulouse and Bagnères-de-Bigorre, featuring two first-category climbs: Col de Peyresourde (13.2, 7%) and Horquette d’Ancizan (9.9km, 7.5%).

A rapid start to proceedings had the bunch travel at 50.6km/h in the first hour before a breakaway finally established. Deceuninck – Quick-Step took up the pace-setting duties, working tirelessly behind the 42 men in the front for Alaphilippe. Elia Viviani – who repaid the favour after the yellow jersey contributed to his lead-out train on stage 4 to Nancy – Yves Lampaert and Maximiliano Richeze were the ones maintaining a steady pace in the bunch on the flat first part of the day, which took the race to the foot of the Peyresourde.

Featuring for the 66th time on the route, the climb first used in 1910 split the huge group up the road, leaving around 15 riders in the lead. Part of the original breakaway, Michael Mørkøv was dropped when the big attacks came close to the summit, but still had enough to take over from countryman Kasper Asgreen and relay in the valley after being caught.

Things remained calm also on Horquette d’Ancizan, which the field topped with 30 kilometers remaining, before starting a long descent to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, where they arrived around nine minutes behind winner Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who outsprinted his breakaway companions.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe is still the GC leader. Sirotti photo

By keeping the overall lead after the race’s first foray into the Pyrenees, UCI World Individual Classification leader Julian Alaphilippe wrote a remarkable page of history at the Tour de France, as he’ll now get to wear the yellow jersey during the stage 13 individual time trial around Pau, on the day the race celebrates 100 years since the prized garment was introduced, ahead of a road stage starting from Grenoble.

“It’s historic to wear the yellow jersey on its 100ath anniversary and on Friday it will be a very special moment for me. As a Frenchman, to sport the maillot jaune in an individual time trial will be one of the most beautiful moments of my entire career. Having the yellow jersey tomorrow motivates me to hurt myself even more than usual and you can be sure that I will push my limits while enjoying every single minute of it”, an emotional Julian said after receiving his eighth maillot jaune since the start of the race.

Graphene-Lithium technology revolutionizing E-bike batteries

Bike Europe sent me this great news:

DOETINCHEM, the Netherlands – It’s finally coming; the highly needed technology which is to revolutionize batteries including the ones for e-bikes. It’s coming with Graphene-Lithium. The addition of Graphene nano-technology to Lithium batteries brings unprecedented properties as the carbon atoms in Graphene are superconductive.

One of the experts in the field of e-bike batteries that Bike Europe regularly consults, informs that a breakthrough in battery technology – “which we all have been waiting for” – is now coming. He says “Over the years I have been writing articles on what to expect in the near future for groundbreaking developments. The conclusion was that everything seems possible at lab level, but that this usually does not lead to any production result. That’s now different.”

The difference is that there are now working prototypes of the batteries with Graphene-Lithium nano technology. The Bike Europe expert, who for now wants to remain anonymous, informs that there’s now “One manufacturer that is a lot further with the Graphene-Lithium nano technology. Samples are already available for individual testing.”

The Graphene-Lithium nano technology in e-bike batteries brings primarily a much-improved energy density. Even 2.5 times better! “The energy density at the 18650 cells of this manufacturers is approximately 2.5 x better, compared to a 3.5Ah 18650. The price per kWh will initially be at least the same but will decrease as time goes on and production numbers grow. My estimate is that from the beginning of 2021 these batteries will gradually become up to 40% cheaper compared to li-ion batteries”, says the battery expert.

At the upcoming Eurobike show, taking place September 4 – 7, 2019 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, a working prototype will be available. At least that’s currently in the planning. Whether this will actually be the case will be clarified during the upcoming Taipei Cycle Show; taking place at the end of this month; from March  27 – 30, 2019 in Taiwan.

You can read the entire story here.

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary