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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, March 4, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life. - Frank Zappa

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Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne team reports

We posted the report from winner Bob Jungel's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Second-place Owain Doull's Team Sky had this to say about the race:

Owain Doull’s brave late attack paid off handsomely at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne with the young Welshman finishing a superb second. With solo leader Bob Jungels up the road, Doull launched a last-gasp move with around two kilometres to go, drawing out a number of riders on the final run-in.

Yet on the finishing straight in Kuurne it was only the Team Sky rider who remained, digging deep to finish narrowly ahead of the peloton, and with it secure the biggest result of his road career to date.

Owain Doull

Owain Doull captures second place. Sirotti photo

“With these races you believe you can do it, but until you actually do it you don’t know if you can. It’s a bit of a shock to be honest.

“I felt pretty good all day. The legs felt good and I was able to make that front split up the Kwaremont. Obviously that move came back and then the race was full gas chasing the front five. It was always looking like we were never going to bring Jungels back, and with about 3km to go I saw the lead-outs trains and the chase really started to die and it almost stalled. So I thought right, I’m going to go full gas now. I managed to jump away with Lampaert, Terpstra and a guy from Lotto Soudal came with me. We kept pushing and the gap looked good. I knew it was going to be tight, so I knew I had to go with 350m to go and I managed to hold on.

“I’m super happy. I’ve changed a lot of stuff over this winter and I’ve re-focussed a few things and it’s all really starting to pay off now. It’s just nice to get that confirmation that all the hard work you’ve done over the winter building up to this has paid off.”

“I think it's really good to see Yogi (Stannard) back at the level he was a few years ago. It's even nicer to see a young guy like Owain who has really stepped up this year. We all knew he had the potential but his Classics showings didn't work out like we all hoped in the first two years. But he's making the next step now, or maybe five steps at once! Finishing second in this race and riding that final like he did is pretty impressive.”

The team had begun the day with just five riders following Dylan van Baarle’s hand injury sustained on Saturday. Despite that when a strong break went ahead of the Oude-Kwaremont the team were able to place Ian Stannard, Chris Lawless and Doull in the group.

Stannard and Doull were part of an elite seven-man move which broke clear on the cobbled stretch, but the race would ultimately reform. Five riders, including Jungels (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) went clear on the Varent sector, and opened out a gap to the chasing pack.

Team Sky had numbers in the peloton, but there was no stopping Jungels, who accelerated clear of his fellow escapees with 16km to go. Doull made sure of a podium finish late on with a powerful surge, capping off a strong showing on Opening Weekend.

Fourth-place Dylan Groenewegen's Jumbo-Visma posted this race report:

Dylan Groenewegen has not been able to repeat his victory of last year in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The sprinter of Team Jumbo-Visma did win the bunch sprint, but ‘only’ clinched the fourth place behind the strong solo winner Bob Jungels.

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen zipping up before starting the race. Sirotti photo.

Operating as a tight collective, Team Jumbo-Visma rode a very strong race. Initially, Danny van Poppel was part of the first group after the Oude Kwaremont. Team Jumbo-Visma tried to catch it for a bunch sprint with Van der Hoorn, Wynants, Jansen and Van Poppel, but came short in the final.

Timo Roosen crashed badly in the run-up to the Oude Kwaremont and had to abandon the race and was taken to the hospital. A large wound on his right knee had to be stitched under anesthesia. Therefore Roosen will spend the night in hospital.

“It was a tough race, but a nice fight. The boys gave it their best, but Jungels was simply the strongest”, Groenewegen said. “It was a hectic final. Jungels is a good time trialist, so you know that it is going to be difficult to close the gap. In the end, there were a few more who attacked and you also have to gamble a bit. We rode a very strong race, but we had come here to win. That did not work out. The legs felt good and the feeling in the sprint was good too. That gives confidence for the coming weeks.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann concurred with his team leader. “The boys are not to be blamed for anything. They gave their maximum. After the hill zone, it did not look that good with only Danny in the leading group, but that situation was quickly corrected. With several teams we tried to close the gap to Jungels, but he was just too strong.”

Bora-hansgrohe, unhappy with its results, sent this report:

On the second day of the Belgium “opening weekend” the riders meet traditionally at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne. Again 13 climbs and several cobblestone sections waited for the peloton, but opposite to yesterday, the pace was incredibly high right from the get-go. The flying peloton covered more than 46 km in the first hours of racing and as a result none of the numerous attacks was successful.

Finally, after 50 kilometers, a group of seven riders formed the break of the day and opened a four-minute gap over the bunch. BORA – hansgrohe was active at the beginning, covering several attempts, and took it a little easier in the bunch when the break went away. Approaching the last 100 km, the speed of the peloton increased dramatically and the gap of the leading group came down quickly.

Right before the Oude Kwaremont some attempts were launched from the bunch, and after the climb a strong chasing group was formed. BORA – hansgrohe missed the split and started to pull hard in the second group for their sprinter Pascal Ackermann. The early break was caught with 80 kilometers to go, and the gaps between the two pelotons hovered around 40 seconds. Around 20 km later five riders attacked from the first bunch and little later the bunch regrouped behind. BORA – hansgrohe kept going in the bunch and when the race entered the final two loops around Kuurne, the gap to the escapees was down to 30 seconds.

On the final lap Bob Jungels attacked from the front group, while Jempy Drucker put in a huge effort to catch the other former breakaway riders. With two kilometers remaining, there were several attacks from the bunch, and there was a frantic chase for the podium spots. In the end Jungels managed to secure the victory, and Pascal Ackermann tried his best to finish off a strong BORA – hansgrohe effort but missed the top 10 today.

Jempy Drucker

Jempy Drucker (back to camera) congratulates winner Bob Jungels. Sirotti photo.

From the Finish Line:
"It was a brutal race today, incredibly fast from the beginning. The boys did an amazing job the entire day, and when we approached the last lap it looked promising for us. But the final was really nervous. I waited long, too long, and when I wanted to start my sprint there was no place to go. I think I could have done better, because I still had relatively good legs. But there are enough races ahead of us to prove that.” – Pascal Ackermann

"Today our plan was to fully concentrate on Pascal. In this race there is a long flat part after the climbs, and normally it’s pretty hard to stay in front with a group. When we missed the split after the Kwaremont, we stayed calm and stuck to our plan. Cesare and Rudi did a tremendous amount of work to keep us in the race. We had to dig deep for a long period and on the last lap Jempy showed his superior form, closing the gap to the four riders in between. Due to all those efforts, we had no one left to support Pascal in the sprint. He did his best, but after his crash yesterday he was definitely not at 100%. I think we still can be proud of how we represented the BORA – hansgrohe colors today.” – Steffen Radochla, Sport Director 

Austrian cyclist Stefan Denifl 'confesses to blood doping in police interview'

The Telegraph newspaper posted this:

Cycling has become the second sport to be caught up in the Nordic skiing scandal with Austrian rider Stefan Denifl reportedly confessing to blood doping in a police interview.

In a thoroughly depressing - although, sadly, far from surprising - development, it appears Denifl was questioned by Austrian police on Friday as part of their investigation into German sports doctor Mark Schmidt, which saw five athletes arrested at the Nordic Ski World Championships in Seefeld this week.

Schmidt was a team doctor at Gerolsteiner when Bernhard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher tested positive in 2008, and later moved to Milram.

Stefan Denifl

Stefan Denifl winning stage 17 of the 2017 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

If the reports are accurate, it would be a blow for cycling, with instances of blood doping becoming rarer in recent years following the introduction of the biological passport.

It might also raise questions of the biological passport itself, with CCC's general manager Jim Ochowiwicz telling cyclingnews.com on Sunday that their analysis of Denifl's bio passport showed "no red flags". Denifl, 31, rode for the now defunct Aqua Blue Sport team last year and was due to join CCC this season until his contract was mysteriously terminated on Christmas Eve.

That said, it is not clear from the Austrian reports when the alleged blood doping took place.

You can read the entire story here.

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