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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, June 22, 2019

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Tour of Switzerland stage seven reports

Here's the report from the race organizer:

Race leader Egan Bernal (COL / INS) celebrated victory on the Gotthard Pass at the end of stage 7, extending his overall lead over Rohan Dennis (AUS / TBM) up to 33 seconds.

Egan bernal

Egan Bernal wins stage seven in style.

In the 13km long final climb over the old pass road via La Tremola, the Ineos-Express created the first selection in the peloton. Three teammates set a fierce pace for their leader. At 2.7km from the finish line Bernal took over the command, leaving all his rivals behind.

"I told my teammates to go full gas. They did their job perfectly. I dedicate this victory to them. Without their commitment, this win would not have been possible," said Bernal.

The winner of this year's Paris - Nice stage race is well aware that he will lose time over Rohan Dennis on Saturday in the 19.2 km long individual time trial in Obergoms. The question will rather be, how the two riders will have digested the 216.6 kilometres of this week's longest stage and its exhausting final climb.

After a blistering fast start of the stage, in which 51.9 km were covered in the first hour, a breakaway group of eight riders distanced the peloton. With Michael Albasini (MTS), Swiss Champion Steve Morabito (GFC), Gino Mäder (TDD) and Mathias Frank (ALM), four Swiss cyclists were among the breakaway riders. At the foot of La Tremola, Frank tried to make up for the defeat of the previous day in Flumserberg by accelerating away. Frank's dream of winning the stage came to and end 5km before the historical hospice ‘Ospizio San Gottardo’.

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

It was the Tour de Suisse’s longest day, and if the 216.6km distance wasn’t hard enough on its own, the race organisers had put three categorised climbs on the route, increasing in difficulty as the day went on. Starting with a second category climb, the riders progressed to the first category Lukmanierpass before ending on the race’s first Hors Catégorie climb – the Passo del San Gottardo. This summit finish wasn’t only tough because of its distance and steepness – 12.7km at an average gradient of 7.3% – but also because it’s paved with cobblestones, and just to top everything off, there was snow on the ground today as well.

The first 50km of the parcours was flat, and there were some desperate attempts to escape when the going was still relatively easy, but the peloton was going to make the breakaway work for it on such a pivotal stage. Almost at the foot of the first climb, a small group of five finally managed to get away, growing to eight as the day went on. Looking to help Patrick Konrad save energy for the final climb later in the day, the whole BORA-hansgrohe squad stayed around him to keep him safe and allow the other teams to keep the break in touch.

At the halfway point the escape had almost three minutes on the peloton, an advantage that would only grow as the day went on, hitting its peak of four minutes 50km from the finish. With 30km remaining, BORA-hansgrohe took to the front to chip away at this lead, with the gap down to two minutes with 20km still to go, and as the remnants of the break hit the foot of the final climb, it was here they started attacking each other. The peloton upped the pace once again to reduce the break’s advantage to less than a minute, which now consisted of a trio chasing another rider who had managed to escape, as their lead dropped to forty seconds once they reached the final 10km, the peloton picking off the break one by one.

With 5.5km to go, it was all over for the break and a select group of around fifteen riders started the fight for the GC. It was here, after one rider had already soloed off the front, that the race leader went on the attack himself, passing the solo rider and going it alone. The bunch was slow to respond to this move, the steep slopes and the cobbled road surface making it hard to react, but Patrick Konrad was one of those who tried to chase, the Austrian rider working with four other riders to try to bridge, but it just wasn’t possible, with two of this group pushing ahead and leaving Patrick to ride at his own pace. Crossing the line in fourth, he kept hold of his third spot in the GC ahead of the race’s second ITT tomorrow.

From the Finish Line:
"We knew the stage would be decided in the finale to San Gottardo. I was well protected, I managed to save energy all day and I was really fresh and ready at the bottom of the final climb. It was a very, very hard ascent and I gave it my all! We'll see tomorrow with the ITT how the race plays out." – Patrick Konrad

"Obviously, in a stage like today, our main task was to help, protect and work for Patrick Konrad. We tried to have Marcus Burghardt in the breakaway but the stage got off to a very fast start, all attacks were immediately shut down by the peloton and it took 50km to have a break. Patrick was always well protected and was in the select group of 10-15 riders in the first part of the climb to San Gottardo. He gave his best and is still third overall, so we can be satisfied with today's result." – Jan Valach, Sports Director 

Here's the report from Rohan Dennis' & Domeninco Pozzovivo's Bahrain-Merida team:

ST. Gotthard, 21st June 2019 – “Rohan and Domenico did a fantastic performance – comments SD Tristan Hoffman – and they made a super high level race today. We are very excited for the tomorrow’s time trial and we will see what will happen”.

“All the boys made a great job working together since the first climb and after controlling the break together with Eneos team. We calculated the time and so the situation has been always under control waiting for the last climb”.

Going up to Gotthard Pass there were several attacks, the most important being that of race leader Egan Bernal who won the 7th stage and so extend his GC lead. Behind him, Domenico and Rohan arrived respectively 2nd and 3rd with a 23” gap from the stage winner. Thanks to this good result, the Australian rider is always second overall at 41” while Pozzovivo climbed back to fourth position with 1 minute and 17″ from the Colombian rider.

Domenico Pozzovivo

Domenico Pozzovivo leads Rohan Dennis across the finish line. Bettini photo.

“It has been a very hard race – says Rohan Dennis – and the team was really very good to put me and Domenico in the the best position before Gotthard Pass. I was not feeling great but I wanted to repay my teammates for the trust they placed in me and the only way was to do my best. I haven’t lost much from Bernal and tomorrow I’ll try to get the jersey back”.

“Me and Rohan did our best and we have recovered precious time on the other GC rivals – explains Domenico Pozzovivo – the last climb was not too steep but difficult because of the cobbles in the finale. I am even more optimistic about my chances in this Tour de Suisse and I hope to do a good time trial tomorrow and after give everything in the Queen Stage on Sunday”.

Tomorrow the penultimate stage will be a 19.2 kilometres ITT in Goms. Although the race is played at an altitude of more than 1,300 metres, the route is almost completely flat with an altitude gain of 98 metres.

Team INEOS reports on stage two of the Route d'Occitanie

Chris Lawless sprinted to second place on day two at La Route d’Occitanie as Eddie Dunbar retained second overall.

The Brit was moved into position ahead of a technical sprint and opened up early in Martres-Tolosane. Despite latching onto the wheel of Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) Lawless was just unable to overhaul his rival.

Arnaud Demare

Arnaud Demare beats Chris Lawless to win stage two.

The bunch sprint ensured that Dunbar and the peloton finished on the same time, with the Irishman sitting just four seconds back on leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), retaining the young rider jersey in the process.

Ivan Sosa remains well placed on the GC in fifth as the race prepares to enter the mountains at the weekend.

Alexander Kristoff and Sven Erik Bystrøm extend with UAE-Team Emirates

The team sent me this release:

Alexander Kristoff and Sven Erik Bystrøm have both put pen to paper to extend with UAE Team Emirates until the end of 2021.

“I’m happy to have renewed for two years,” says Kristoff, “I feel at home here and the atmosphere in the team is great. I hope that the next two years will bring good things both for me and for the team “.

“In this team, I feel like I am at home” echoes Bystrøm “and therefore I am particularly happy to be able to continue racing with UAE Team Emirates”.

Bystrom

Sven Erik Bystrøm is a talented racer. Here he is winning the Under 23 world championship road race in 2014. Sirotti photo.

Satisfaction also from the management of the Team: “We are setting out an important growth path for the team” underlines the CEO Mauro Gianetti “but big projects need strong roots and for this reason we strongly wanted the renew both Kristoff and Bystrøm. Alexander, besides being a very good person, has achieved very important results and has plenty more ahead of him we believe. Sven, a proven under-23 world champion, is a great future prospect and like Alex, he is a guy who knows how to work as part of a team unit both on and off the bike – principles that are fundamental for this team ”.

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