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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 21, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. - Mahatma Gandhi

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Tom Dumoulin won't ride the Tour de France

Dumoulin's Team Sunweb sent me this news:

Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin is to miss the Tour de France after a physically challenging run up to the race means that he is unable to be in the best possible shape to tackle three hard weeks of racing in France.

Throughout various ups and downs, hope prevailed, but the decision is now made to give the 28-year-old the time he needs to recover from what’s been a very difficult period.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin after crashing in stage four of the 2019 Giro. Sirotti photo

Tom said: “The last month has been extremely difficult overall, and with the setbacks in the knee recovery. After what happened at the Giro I really wanted to go for it in the Tour, but this week I realised it’s just not realistic for my level to be there in time. I’ve tried so hard to get there but I really have to listen to my body and release myself from chasing an unrealistic goal.”

Team Sunweb physician Anko Boelens explained: “Tom was really eager to be ready in time for the Tour and he tried all he could, but now the conclusion is that it’s simply not possible. We trusted in the process of rest, recuperation and a gradual return to racing but like in any recovery, there have been setbacks. Time isn’t on our side anymore to cater for setbacks so to give Tom the time he needs to get back to complete fitness can only be the right decision. Despite his strong will and ambition to race the TDF it’s better to let this goal go this year in favor of optimum recovery.”

Tour of Switzerland stage six team reports

Here's the report from stage winner Antwan Tolhoek's Jumbo-Visma team:

Antwan Tolhoek has won the sixth stage in the Tour de Suisse. The 25-year-old Dutchman attacked out of a large leading group on the Flumserberg and climbed to his first victory as a professional cyclist. For Team Jumbo-Visma it is already the twenty-eighth victory of the season. Earlier today, Dylan Groenewegen won the first stage in the ZLM Tour.

Antwan Tolhoek

Antwan Tolhoek wins stage six. Sirotti photo

The stage with start in Einsiedeln was the first real mountain stage in the Swiss WorldTour stage race. After 25 kilometres, the decisive breakaway comprising 24 riders got established, including Team Jumbo-Visma’s Tolhoek and Bert-Jan Lindeman. The latter also rode a very strong race. He ensured that the leading group stayed together until the Flumserberg. Tolhoek attacked a few times, but the decisive attack came in the last three kilometres. The Dutch climber held off a charge by Egan Bernal.

“This is a very special feeling”, Tolhoek said. “Three years ago I won the mountain jersey in this race and now I have won my first professional race at WorldTour level here: an indescribable feeling. Also my compliments to the team and the way we raced. We are with only five riders, but we continue to fight every day. Bert-Jan was very strong today and he proved to be invaluable for me by constantly pulling in front of the group. I heard on the radio that Bernal was coming. Last year, I got beaten by him in California. I didn’t want that to happen again.”

New GC leader Egan Bernal's Team INEOS posted this report:

Egan Bernal unleashed a powerful attack to ride into the overall race lead at the Tour de Suisse.

The Colombian jumped clear of his general classification rivals on the steep Flumserberg summit, setting off in pursuit of lone leader Antwan Tolhoek (Jumbo-Visma). Crossing the line just 17 seconds behind the Dutchman after eating into his advantage, Bernal elevated himself into a 12-second lead at the top of the standings.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal finishes the stage and becomes the GC leader. Sirotti photo

Jumping up 11 places on GC, Bernal also now holds the young rider's jersey heading into the final three days of the race.

Team INEOS put in a great performance on the day, with Bernal well protected before Ben Swift and Jonathan Castroviejo upped the tempo on the final climb, providing a perfect launchpad for Bernal.

Egan Bernal's Reaction:
"I went full gas in the final and I think that’s a really good result for us. The plan this morning was to try to take yellow. We did it. The final was really, really good for me.

"I have a really good team around me and they were going really fast. So for me it was better to wait and just do one really strong attack. I'm happy with this. We knew that with this big breakaway it would be really hard to win the stage but the most important thing was to take the yellow jersey. It means a lot to me. My last race was back in March, at Catalunya. To come back and race somewhere like this, a WorldTour race, is really important. It gives me a lot of confidence for the future.

"I think we did really well and now we need to control the race tomorrow. We will play our cards. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the race. Rohan Dennis, second on GC, is a really strong rider. I will lose time to him in the time trial and he is climbing really well. We will try our best.

"It’s really good training for the Tour and all I’m doing now is working towards that. We are enjoying the race."

What's Next?
The climbing continues on Friday with a second tough summit finish. The Gotthardpass measures 12.5km at 7.2% and features a cobbled stretch to the finish. The climb should see further gaps and movement in the general classification battle.

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

Even without turning a pedal, the riders knew that today’s stage of the Tour de Suisse was going to be tough. While it was to be the shortest road stage of this year’s edition of the race, at 120.2km, today featured the race’s first summit finish and the first first category climb. Undulating for the first 80km, riders would then have 30km of flat terrain on which to contemplate the finish. Undeterred by this, riders attempted to break away as soon as they left the neutralised zone, but it wasn’t until after 20km of racing that a group managed to escape – and today it was a big one. Twenty-five riders made their move, with Daniel Oss getting himself in the mix for BORA-hansgrohe – a driving force behind this group quickly building a lead of four minutes.

With the shorter day, some of the escapees decided to go on the attack and try for the win, and this was a key factor in the remnants of the break falling apart. At the foot of the final climb, with its average gradient of 9%, several small groups formed on the front, with the lead group of five maintaining a healthy lead on the first half of the ascent to Flumserberg.

While the peloton was riding for the GC riders now, the gap wasn’t going down, and with less than 5km to go, it was still at more than a minute and a solo rider had the finish line in sight. Further back the climb, the race for the overall lead was starting to take shape, Peter Sagan having dropped back on this hard climb, but it was tough here even for the climbers.

While Patrick Konrad wasn't able to follow the late attacks, the Austrian rider stayed in control and didn’t panic, riding at his own pace to finish less than a minute after the stage winner. His top ten finish saw him jump to a podium position in the GC race, while Peter Sagan kept hold of the black points jersey and will wear it on tomorrow’s stage.

From the Finish Line:
"First mountain stage at the Tour de Suisse today but also first serious test for my form and my legs after a long training period. Although the stage was short, the pace was intense from the start. I felt good and my legs were responding very well until the final kilometre. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to follow Bernal's late attack but I held on to my rhythm and finished ahead of the other GC contenders. I look forward to tomorrow!" – Patrick Konrad

"Short stage with an initial downhill section meant it was a fast one. We had Daniel Oss in the big breakaway group while Patrick Konrad stayed with the favourites. He was well-positioned at the bottom of the final ascent and climbed well. He moved to third in the GC, less than half a minute down, with another mountain stage tomorrow. Peter also kept his points jersey, so I think we can be satisfied with our day." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

Ag2r announces seven members of its eight-rider Tour de France team

The squad sent me this:

During a press briefing this Thursday morning at the AG2R LA MONDIALE headquarters, Vincent Lavenu, General Manager of the AG2R LA MONDIALE cycling team, announced the names of the first seven riders who have been selected to take part in the 2019 Tour de France wearing the colors of the Group:

Romain Bardet
Mikaël Cherel
Benoit Cosnefroy
Mathias Frank
Tony Gallopin
Pierre Latour
Oliver Naesen

The eighth rider will be named after the National Championships on June 30th.

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet (shown climbing in stage 20 of the 2016 Tour de France) will be on the start line for the 2019 Tour. Sirotti photo

VINCENT LAVENU:
"We must live up to the expectations of the public, the media, and partners who like to see the French teams shine. In the recent past, we have been able to demonstrate our ability to play a leading role at the Grande Boucle with 3 podiums, a victory in the team standings, a white jersey, multiple stage wins and many exciting attacks. We have built a strong, motivated and dynamic team around our leader, Romain Bardet. We will approach the Tour de France with humility in view of the scope of the event, but also with ambition, and the seriousness to be able to influence the race at all times. We hope to have more success than in 2018. Last year, after only a few days, we lost 3 riders who were forced to abandon due to injuries."

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