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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 6, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance. - Confucius

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Vuelta a España stage twelve news

Here's the report from stage winner Philippe Gilbert's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Philippe Gilbert showed ten fingers as he crossed the line in Bilbao – which hosted a stage finish for the 43rd time in the history of the race – one for each of the ten Grand Tour stage wins he had captured in the past decade. One of the most accomplished riders in history, the 37-year-old rode flawlessly on Thursday, when a break formed after more than 100 kilometers from the start, benefitted from Tim Declercq’s selfless and amazing work, and dispatched the other riders in the move on the final climb, before flying down the descent and into the biggest city of the Basque Country, where he celebrated the 76th success of his career.

Philippe Glbert

The result of Gilbert's perfect race. Sirotti photo

Gilbert was part of the 19-man breakaway that got away after a hectic first two hours and in the blink of an eye they opened a five-minute gap over the bunch. The former world champion had teammate Tim Declercq for company, and “El Tractor” turned out to be instrumental in the final outcome, as he permanently chased down the attackers from the group and made sure it was all together at the start of the last climb, the leg-sapping Alto de Arraiz (2.2km, 12.2%), where the fans came in huge numbers and created an electric atmosphere.

Philippe led up the ascent, forcing a selection and reducing the group to just three men. Once they took on the double-digit gradients of Arraiz, the multiple Monument winner made his move, dropping the two Spaniards and opening a hefty gap by the time he hit the top and started the fast descent. Despite losing a few seconds here and there, Gilbert looked at all times in control as he went under the flamme rouge and onto the finishing straight, where he finally sat up and celebrated his ninth victory in the Deceuninck – Quick-Step jersey, which came with the combativity prize as bonus.

“There was a lot of headwind in the first part of the stage, but that didn’t stop us, and we attacked and joined many moves, but the bunch reacted each time. It was pretty chaotic, but we kept attacking and at one point, I went full gas on a descent. Tim came across, some other guys joined us, and together we opened a small gap which we kept increasing. Tim was so important, he did a brilliant job, especially before the last ascent, where he closed the gap on the two leaders, and I’m grateful to him for his help. From there, all I had to do was race smart and stick to my plan, which I did and now I’m satisfied it all paid off”, said the fourth Belgian rider in history to win a La Vuelta stage in at least four different years.

Philippe, who signed off Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 93rd Grand Tour stage victory, had praise not only for his teammate, but also for the fantastic supporters who made his day even more memorable: “On the last climb, the atmosphere was crazy! It was like in the classics, with all the flags and everything, and the fans gave me a lot of motivation. I am happy to score a tenth Grand Tour stage win – a nice number – and I’m happy that it came in the beautiful Basque Country, which in my opinion is very similar to Flanders, as they have a profound love for cycling also here.”

And here's the report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Team Jumbo-Visma has led leader Primoz Roglic safely to the finish of the twelfth stage of the Vuelta a España. Because of good work from the entire team, Roglic started the final climb in a good position. His red jersey was never in any danger.   

After 100km of racing, a breakaway of nineteen riders escaped. Their advantage over the peloton was never more than six minutes. It was clear that the escapees were going to battle for the stage win. Philippe Gilbert took the win with a brilliant solo finish.

Primoz roglic

Primoz Roglic safely tucked in between Jumbo-Visma teammates. Sirotti photo

Roglic was happy about the performance of his team. “It was a real fight to get into the day’s breakaway. The team delivered some very good work again. The speed was always at a high level because of our efforts. None of my competitors tried to escape. It was a big honour again to wear the red jersey. For that reason we took responsibility in the race. Tomorrow is going to be a hard day, the GC contenders are going to fight for the win."

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

The peloton traveled to the city of Los Arcos to start on the Navarra Circuit on today’s 12th stage of La Vuelta a España. After one lap on the famous circuit, the peloton covered 171 hilly kilometres until they reached the slightly uphill finish in Bilbao. Before that however, the riders had to face four category three climbs and one intermediate sprint, which was already in the city of Bilbao.

Peloton

The stage started n the Navarra Circuit. Sirotti photo

Right from the start the race had to face heavy crosswind and despite plenty of attacks, the race stayed together for many kilometres. BORA – hansgrohe was especially active at the front of the race and started many attempts.

With just 66 kilometres remaining, BORA – hansgrohe rider Felix Großschartner launched an attack and 18 other riders joined him after some seconds to make the day’s break. Immediately, the gap of the 19 escapees increased to five minutes and with 36 kilometres to go, Felix Großschartner and his breakaway companions led the race with 4:40 minutes.  

On the penultimate climb of the day with 30 kilometers to go, the Tour of Turkey overall winner was again on the move, and able to open up a gap of some seconds over his opponents. He showed a strong performance and led the race solo for some kilometres until another rider joined him. The young Austrian went deep on today’s stage, but on the final steep climb of the day Felix was unfortunately caught by his former breakaway companions.

It was P. Gilbert who attacked out of the group and managed to pull away. With a slight gap, the Belgium rider took the stage win while Felix crossed the line two minutes behind in 14th place. Teammate Rafał Majka finished the stage in a heavily reduced first group together with the leader’s jersey a couple of minutes later. Therefore, Rafał Majka was able to hold onto his seventh overall position.

From the Finish Line:
“It was already a big effort to even make it into the group, which did cost me a serious amount of energy. We decided together with the Sports Directors, to fight for a stage win, not for a second place. We knew that it would be hard to distance riders like Gilbert on the final climb, therefore I launched my attack earlier, but on the descent, I had a lot of headwind, which made it even harder. Of course, I was disappointed right after the finish line, but it is how it is. I took the chance and gave it a try.”– Felix Großschartner

“We can summarize today's stage with: If you never try, you will never know. Felix rode a really strong race. He was in a group where almost everyone had a teammate and he was alone, nevertheless he launched an attack and was able to be at the front alone for some kilometres. We knew it would be difficult on the steep climb, especially to distance riders like Gilbert and that the race would likely explode at this point. But I think our young Austrian can be more than satisfied with his performance today and how he represented the team.”– Patxi Vila, Sports Director

Team Lotto-Soudal previews Tour of Britain

The team sent me this update:

On Saturday 7 September, the Tour of Britain will start. The eight-day stage race will start in Scotland and will end in the UK. The race will be even more special this year, because in a few weeks Yorkshire will host the world championships. Like every year, there are both flat and hilly stages full of short, steep hills on the menu. The Tour of Britain will finish two times uphill; one time in Kendal and another time on the Burton Dassett Hills. Sports director Frederik Willems looks ahead.

Frederik Willems: “The Tour of Britain has always been a selective parcours, the roads are almost never flat. The first stages can definitely end in a sprint, but it will depend on which team will control the race. With Jasper De Buyst we have someone with the capacities to compete in a mass sprint."

“In my opinion stage four and stage seven are the most difficult ones and then of course there is also the individual time trial. In other words, the Tour of Britain has it all, which characterizes this race.”

“A stage win is our main goal, on the one hand with Jasper De Buyst in the sprints, on the other hand with Tiesj Benoot in the hilly stages. Our young guys will also get their chance, but they’ll have to show the right mentality. With teams of only six riders here in England, it’s always a surprise how it will turn out. Besides the goal to win a stage, we will also try to do well in the overall classification with Tiesj.”

Tiesj Benoot

Tiesj Benoot winning the first stage of this year's Tour of Denmark.

“In any case, Tiesj and Jasper are our protected riders. That’s the attitude our other four riders have to start with, but that does not mean that they can’t have a go themselves, for example by joining a breakaway. We want to race attentively from day one, so that we’re not being forced into the defensive.”

“Mathieu van der Poel is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Most teams will already think about the Worlds, so everyone who wants to be good in Yorkshire, will show themselves in Britain. Tiesj Benoot has a good chance to be selected for the World Championships, especially with the form he is in the last few weeks. Just think about his stage win in Denmark and his second place in the Bretagne Classic.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Frederik Frison, Rasmus Byriel Iversen, Rémy Mertz and Brent Van Moer.

Sports director: Frederik Willems.

Stages:

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