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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 29, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger. - Harriet Tubman

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:


Tour de France final reports

We'll start with Tour winner Egan Bernal's Team INEOS:

Egan Bernal crossed the line on the famous Champs-Elysees to seal a momentous Tour de France victory. At just 22 years old, Bernal is the youngest ever winner of the yellow jersey, and the youngest rider to win the Tour in over 100 years.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal just after the final stage. Sirotti photo

Victory marks the team’s seventh overall success at the world’s biggest bike race and fifth in a row. It also represents the first Grand Tour victory in the colours of INEOS – now the first trade team to win the race with four different riders.

2018 victor Geraint Thomas finished alongside the maillot jaune to secure an emphatic 1-2 finish, with an eventual winning margin for Bernal of one minute and 11 seconds.

Bernal becomes Colombia’s first-ever Tour de France winner and was roared home by a sea of yellow in Paris – now firmly established as a household name in his homeland. In addition to yellow, he also took home the white young rider's jersey by a commanding margin of almost 24 minutes.

Bernal and Thomas went into the race as co-leaders and received exceptional support from their Team INEOS team-mates across the three weeks. Jonathan Castroviejo, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Wout Poels, Luke Rowe and Dylan van Baarle all gave everything to help write another page in the team’s history.

Reactions:

Geraint Thomas:
“Two years ago I was here with my arm in a sling, with a broken collarbone and devastated I wasn’t able to ride my bike and two years on, I’m disappointed not to have won a second Tour!

“I’m proud of how I managed to get myself into good shape. It hasn’t been a smooth run into the Tour or during it really, but this team is incredible and it was a pleasure to be a part of Egan’s first of many [victories] and to be stood on the podium in second is still a big achievement.

“I’m glad to be going home and closing the front door and switching off. Emotionally, mentally and physically it’s been draining and it’s still enjoyable - it’s the pinnacle of the sport and what you dream of when you were a kid, but at the same time it’s been hard work and I’m looking forward to switching off.”

Sir Dave Brailsford:
“I’ve been over to Colombia a couple of times in the last few years and the Colombians themselves, and where cycling sits in their culture, is unbelievable.

“To be able to deliver their first ever Tour de France champion is something we’ve spoken about previously. I feel very proud. It’s a privilege to get to work with all these people – fantastic staff, fantastic new owners.

“Riders who have won this – the calibre of Geraint or of Chris Froome – when those guys realise it’s the moment to support, they do. You don’t have to talk to them. They really understand the sport and they’ve got respect for each other have our guys – we’re a team. And they know that the team needs to win and they’ll put the team in front of themselves. Geraint’s demonstrated that once again like the great champion he is.

Nicolas Portal:
“It’s incredible. [Egan] was a junior a few years ago and he’s won the Tour de France. I think it’s great for cycling, this year has been a super Tour de France.

“It’s been a big battle for all the teams. A few people commented that in the last 20-30 years it was the most exciting Tour. For a few days there was a small bunch with a few guys and really small gaps. We’re happy to win this one and to have first and second is incredible.”

Third-place Steven Kruijswijk's Jumbo-Visma team posted this report:

Team Jumbo-Visma has concluded a very successful Tour de France with four stage wins and the third place overall for Steven Kruijswijk. In the final stage to the Champs Elysees in Paris, Kruijswijk’s third place was never in danger. Dylan Groenewegen couldn’t put the icing on the cake. In the sprint he got narrowly beaten by Caleb Ewan in an exciting sprint.

Steven kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk (right) on the final podium with Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal. Sirotti photo.

Kruijswijk is the ninth Dutchman in history who finished on the overall podium in Paris. After many top five places, it also the first podium place in a grand tour for the Dutchman. “This is very special. This was my goal and when you finally succeed, you are very happy. For me, this was the best I could do. In today’s stage, it was a matter of paying attention and making it safely across the finish. When I crossed the line, I finally had that feeling of finishing third. It is an amazing feeling. So far, this is my career’s crowning achievement, but I am hungry for more in the coming years. I am very grateful to the team for the past three weeks. Everyone played an important role. Moreover, with four stage wins, it was a more than great Tour.”

Groenewegen was a bit upset by his second place. “The last kilometre was quite hectic. We were not in a perfect position. I started the sprint on the left, but Ewan came around me on the right. That’s a pity, but he was simply the strongest today. For me, it was a strange Tour with the crash in Brussels. I am happy to have won a stage. Everything extra was a bonus. It was a great Tour for us with four stage wins and Steven on the podium.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann was full of praise for the performance of his team. “With four stage wins and a podium place in the Tour, we can be more than happy. Of course we are a bit disappointed that Dylan was narrowly beaten today. It is also a pity that we made it to Paris with only six instead of eight riders. The loss of Wout was a big blow for the team and the incident with Tony was unfortunate. Both are real team players whom we really could have used well in the last week. Overall, we are heading in the right direction with the team and we will try to build and continue like this in the coming years. Of course we have seen things that can be improved, but we will definitely work on them. I am proud of this team and proud of what we have achieved as a team. It is also the first Tour podium for the team. That’s just amazing.”

Manager Richard Plugge concurred. “It is the best Tour in the history of our team. I can only be proud and happy. Our Tour was more than successful, with many ups but also some downs. All the victories are dear to me, but the win in the team time trial stands out. The best thing is that it is not only a performance of the individual riders, but of the entire team. That is perhaps the best thing of all.”

Here's the final report from Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Another Tour de France is done and dusted, and Deceuninck – Quick-Step can look with pride on what our extraordinary riders and staff have achieved on the biggest race in the world: a hat-trick of stage wins (netted by Julian and Elia), two exceptional weeks in the famous maillot jaune which turned 100 this year and a plethora of dazzling moments that have found their place in the race’s history book.

For three amazing weeks, Julian Alaphilippe created his own myth, one that will reverberate over generations, after igniting a nation’s hopes and keeping them alive, while continuously surpassing everyone’s expectations. The new hero of the French public, Julian lit up the race and was one of the key factors in this edition being widely regarded as the best in decades, thanks to his constant attacking, brace of stage wins, superb spell in the yellow jersey – which he defended with pride and passion – and effervescent personality, all factors that have earned him legions of fans.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe won the combaitivity prize. Sirotti photo

“The race has been a marvelous experience, something truly unique. It was my dream to wear the maillot jaune, but to have it for 14 days was simply incredible. The team did a tremendous job riding for me and protecting me, while for my part I fought day after day to prolong this dream in yellow for as long as possible”, an elated Julian said on the Champs-Élysées, where he took to the podium to receive the Super Combatif award.

Fifth in the general classification – best result of a home rider at the 106th edition – Alaphilippe paid tribute also to the feverish crowds who didn’t miss any opportunity to show their love, coming at the team bus and the hotel before and after each stage and decking the roads and climbs of France after being sent into delirium and having their hearts captured by his fantastic exploits.

“The support of the public was superb, I don’t have enough words to tell you what it meant for me to have them chant my name, show their encouragement and support me and the team. I want to thank them for this! I have never imagined this, just as I have never imagined that I would one day finish fifth overall, a beautiful performance and a bonus which rounds out this unforgettable Tour de France”, said Julian, who brought three weeks of joy to his countrymen.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere had only words of praise for the Wolfpack as he expressed his immense happiness after one of the team’s best ever outings in a Grand Tour: “We were one of the top teams of the Tour de France and everybody – riders and staff alike – deserves huge congratulations for their work, passion and winning mentality that took us here! We were prominent every single day and all the guys – Julian, Elia, Max, Kasper, Michael, Dries, Enric and Yves – played an important role in these achievements that won’t be forgotten and rode as a real squad, which is one of the most valuable things that remain after this race.”

Points classification winner Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

128km, two categorised climbs and one intermediate sprint was all that separated the peloton from Paris. Rolling out from Rambouillet three weeks after the start of the race in Brussels, the number of points available today meant that there could be no change in the standings for the polka dot and green jerseys, and so the stage would be what has become a ceremonial ride into France’s capital for the race’s finale. Once the riders arrived on the Champs-Élysées though, it was a whole different story, with the sprinters pushing to take the glory after a little more than eight laps of the city circuit in front of the huge crowds on the Tour de France’s final day.

The flag dropped on the sunny afternoon, allowing the peloton to make its way north-east to Paris, the roadsides filled with fans to wave and cheer on the riders. Before the pace went up, it was a chance for everyone in the peloton to remember the past three weeks of racing – if the tan lines and the aching legs weren’t reminders enough.

For BORA - hansgrohe, it had been an exceptional race, both individually and as a team. On every single road stage, the BORA - hansgrohe ‘Band of Brothers’ had worked together to protect their GC leader, Emanuel Buchmann, and to get Peter Sagan into position for the sprint finishes, in which he took one on stage 5. Marcus Burghardt was consistently on the front of the peloton to drive the pace on almost every stage, while the team also took the opportunity to jump in the break, with Patrick Konrad, Daniel Oss, Maximilian Schachmann and Lukas Pöstlberger each making an impact in the escape, with Gregor Mühlberger coming close to taking the victory on stage 12. For Emanuel, this was one of the best ever GC performances in the Tour de France for a German rider, and having steadily improved year by year, his fourth position this year was the 26-year-old’s career-best Grand Tour finish.

Not content with exceeding his own record for the most days in any classifications jersey and equalling the record for the number of green jerseys won last year, Peter Sagan took a record-breaking seventh Maillot Vert – beating the record of Erik Zabel that had stood for eighteen years.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan in green again. Sirotti photo

Setting a lazy pace over the first 40km, the photographers and TV crews had plenty of time to get shots of the jersey winners and their bikes – including Peter Sagan’s special edition Specialized Venge – but while a rider would occasionally push away off the front, the peloton was always together. As the day went on and the sun started dipping lower on the horizon, the country roads gave way to city streets as the race hit Paris.

Celebrating one of Paris’ most famous landmarks by passing through the Cour Carrée, Cour Napoléon and by the Louvre Museum, the riders were given a close-up view of the Pyramide du Louvre, before hitting the Place de la Concorde. Here, on familiar territory, the race was on as the eight laps circling the Arc de Triomphe began.

Several attempts to break away came as the crowds cheered the racers on, but with the average speed in the bunch 60kmh, this was tough. Finally, a group of four managed to ride off the front, their advantage topping out at thirty seconds, but with so little time to build a lead and the peloton’s pace so high, it was going to be hard to make it last. The escape brought back just before the bell rang to signal the start of the final lap, it was full speed ahead for the finish.

The green jersey of Peter Sagan was staying safe in the bunch as they rounded the Arc de Triomphe for the final time and the high speeds stretched out the peloton to the point it was barely together. Coming across the finish line in 10th position on the Champs-Élysées, Peter had already taken the victory today with his record breaking seventh green jersey, while Emanuel Buchmann made it official – crossing the line with the sprinters to confirm BORA - hansgrohe’s best ever Grand Tour GC position.

From the Finish Line:
"I need one or two weeks to realise what has happened over the last three weeks. To be one of the top 5 in the Tour de France is unbelievable. I always thought that something like this could be possible but, at the Tour de France, mistakes are not allowed. Thankfully, I made it, even when I was on the limit at the end. This fourth place overall was the optimum; Bernal, Thomas and Kruijswijk were too strong. I need to calm down now to enjoy all these moments. I would be happy if this success motivates young adults and kids to start cycling too and join a club. Furthermore, I want to say thank you to Ralph Denk and BORA-hansgrohe. Together we worked so hard in the last couple of years. Today we can celebrate this hard work." – Emanuel Buchmann

"To wear the green jersey on the podium of the Champs-Elysées is a privilege and an honour, even more so when it is for a record-breaking seventh time. I'd like to thank everybody in the team, our management, the staff, the sports directors, the riders, we all worked hard to achieve this. We had a very good Tour de France and we showed that each year we progress as a team, we get stronger. However, nothing of this would have been possible without the support of our sponsors that believe in us and have been by our side in the most difficult moments and now in this moment of happiness and glory. I will now take a few days off and then continue to work for the upcoming goals of the final part of the season." – Peter Sagan

"It was a perfect Tour de France for us. We achieved all our goals, a stage win, the green jersey and we even exceeded them with Emanuel’s fourth place on the GC, as we came into the race looking to have a rider in the top ten. I am so proud for two reasons; Peter has won his seventh Maillot Vert, a record which we helped set up, and Emanuel’s fourth place. He is a rider who grew up in our team and who gently developed together with us. We were already top in the sprints and Classic races and this season we showed that we have also improved in the stage races. This Tour was the perfect proof of that. We will enjoy this success but we won’t rest because we still have a lot of goals and we will do everything to improve. I hope after this success cycling will see a resurgence in popularity in Germany. Cycling would deserve it." – Ralph Denk, Team Manager

And Mitchelton-Scott sent this final report:

Mitchelton-Scott has wrapped up the most successful Tour de France in its eight year history today, claiming four emphatic stage victories on the road to Paris.

The Australian outfit, that had previously won three stages across the last seven years, won each of its four stage victories from breakaways, with 2018 Vuelta a Espana champion Simon Yates winning two stages and South African Daryl Impey and Italian Matteo Trentin each taking one apiece.

Despite starting the three-week race with general classification ambitions, the eight-man squad regrouped immediately after leader Adam Yates conceded time, before concluding the race with seventh place in the final sprint on the Champs Élysées.

Stage success:

Daryl Impey (Stage 9)
Having contributed to each of Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Tour de France successes – part of the team time trial win in 2013 and leading out Simon Gerrans (2013) and Michael Matthews (2016) – Impey’s stage nine victory was one of the most well-earned in the team’s history.

The South African played his cards in the breakaway to perfection, bridging across to solo leader Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) on the final climb before outsprinting the Belgian to the line.

Daryl Impey

Daryl Impey wins stage nine.

Simon Yates (Stage 12)
Having arrived in France to assist his brother Adam and potentially hunt for a stage win, Simon Yates struck gold mid-race with a successful breakaway attempt on stage 12.

The 27-year-old outsprinted Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) and Gregor Mühlberger (BORA – hansgrohe) to complete his Grand Tour stage trifecta following his success at the Giro d’Italia (2018) and Vuelta a Espana (2016 & 2018).

Simon Yates (Stage 15)
Simon Yates took his second stage win in four days in Foix, attacking the breakaway on the bottom of the final climb and holding off a fast-closing general classification group.

Matteo Trentin (Stage 17)
After seven top-10 places, Trentin finally claimed a long-await stage victory, his third at the Tour de France.  Despite being widely considered as the faster rider in the breakaway, Trentin attacked solo ahead of the final climb, removing any risk and soloing downhill to the finish line.

Final day:
After the steady annual procession at start of the final stage, the real action began once the riders entered the Champs Élysées as four-riders immediately attacked away from the peloton.

The leaders fought on ahead of the fast chasing peloton lap after lap, just managing to hold on to a small gap of around 20seconds, until they were all finally caught with just under two-laps to go.

The pace picked up ready for the final sprint with the peloton strung out in one long line before Mitchelton-SCOTT headed to the front with 3.5kilometres to go to keep Trentin in a good position into the tunnel.

The stage 17 winner surfed the wheels in the last kilometres before sprinting to another top-10 finish with seventh place behind the stage winner Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal).

Matteo Trentin – Seventh on final stage:
“We said this morning we would try to surprise the other teams with a proper lead-out train today, as the last day we could put all the horse power on the ground and I think the boys did really good.

“It was crucial to be in the tunnel at the front and that is what the guys did, we came in a good position on the last lap and we just went full gas into the tunnel. I surfed the wheels a little bit but then Caleb came really far from the back like a bullet.

“It would have been good to be a few places better but I think for the victory it would have been hard. It is nice to be here in Paris and after the magnificent Tour we did and I think it was another chance today and we tried to grab it and that was the most important thing.

“It was a fantastic three-weeks. When you come here with a GC hope and the GC hope finishes, it is unfortunate but can happen, it is sport, but straight away we went again on any single day that we could win. We were always there, always trying and four stages is not something you have everyday."

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“A win is a win and it’s been our most successful Tour – four stages at the Tour de France is very impressive.

“The way we’ve going about it has been pleasing as well, from breakaways. Of the six breakaways we were in, we took four stage wins and another one was cancelled so it’s not too bad of a strike rate.

“The most pleasing thing was the way the boys went about their business. Obviously the number one objective when we came in was to support Adam on the general classification. We already had two stage wins when we had to change our tack, but not only did we change tack, we changed tack very successfully and bagged another two wins as well.

“It’s pretty gratifying. Every year, everyone works just as hard. Some years you have good luck and others bad luck. We’ve been on the tail of some bad luck the last couple of years, but this year we’ve had some good luck, but you make your own luck at the same time.”

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