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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, September 8, 2019

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts. - Charles Dickens

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:


Vuelta a España stage fourteen news

Here's the report from stage winner Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The last few stages were for the climbers and GC contenders in the peloton but not today’s stage. Stage 14 of La Vuelta took the race from San Vicente de la Barquera over 188 flat kilometers to Oviedo, where a bunch sprint was expected. Shortly before the finish, the riders had to cover one category three climb followed by one intermediate sprint.

As soon as the flag dropped, six riders pulled away and, after some kilometers of racing, they had almost three minutes gap. The team from Raubling took control of the peloton and worked for their sprinter Sam Bennett. The six escapees were able to stay away for many kilometers but the gap came down to 1:35 minutes as the peloton, with the sprinter teams like BORA – hansgrohe, held the front group on a tight leash.

The race situation changed as the race headed towards Oviedo for the upcoming bunch sprint as the breakaway was caught and the sprinter teams, including BORA - hansgrohe formed their lead-outs. The German team started to form their train for the Irish Champion Sam Bennett and coming into the final stretch of the stage, the pace was high and many teams wanted to stay at the front. Bennett’s wheel was one of the most wanted on the final stretch but, the BORA – hansgrohe sprinter showed confidence as Jempy Drucker and his final lead out man, Shane Archbold did a stellar job and led their captain perfectly into the final kilometer.

Fortunately, the Irish sprinter avoided a big crash in the bunch just after the flamme rouge and finished his teammates’ work off with an incredibly strong sprint, powering to his second stage win at La Vuelta on the slightly uphill finish. His second stage win marks his 13th win of the season and his 11th WorldTour win in a stage race.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett get his thirteenth win this season. Sirotti Photo

The rest of BORA-hansgrohe all crossed the line safely and the team’s Polish GC contender, Rafal Majka, remains sixth overall on the GC behind P. Roglič.

From the Finish Line:
“First and foremost, I really hope the guys that came down in that crash are okay. Today was the first time in a while on this race that the sprinters had an opportunity for a fast finish. The win means so much to me. Win number 13: my lucky number. I want to say a huge thank you to the guys for working so hard for me. They controlled the race all day and made sure the break didn't make it to the line again on this race. Let's hope win number 13 brings even more luck our way. Morale is super high in the team and I'm grateful to everyone for making today's win possible.” – Sam Bennett

“What should we say except, the boys did such an amazing job and Sam finished it off with an incredible win. We all hope that the guys who were involved in the crash are okay. Finales like this are always high speed and we were lucky today to stay out of the crash and cross the line first! Sam is a great sprinter and the team works perfectly together here at La Vuelta. This win also gives us confidence for the next tough challenges in the mountains but for now we enjoy the stage win.” – Patxi Vila, Sports Director 

Here's the report from Alejandro Valverde's Team Movistar:

At stage 14 of the Spanish Grand Tour -188km along the Asturian coast, from San Vicente de la Barquera to Oviedo-, the peloton did not miss its chance to seek for a sprint finish they won’t enjoy many like before Madrid. However, a crash inside the final kilometer, with the sprinters nearly fighting for victory, split the peloton as Sam Bennett (BOH) claimed the day’s honours, with Marc Soler in 6th place.

José Joaquín Rojas, Imanol Erviti and Alejandro Valverde were the main riders involved in a crash which didn’t cause, though, any major injuries to the Blues. Valverde stays in 2nd place overall behind Primoz Roglic (TJV) as Nairo Quintana sits in 5th spot, before two crucial mountain stages in the Principality which could even define the GC podium. Sunday’s stage 15 features four big climbs, including the two ascents to the Santuario del Acebo (Cat-1), another mountain-top finish.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde climbing in stage thirteen. Sirotti photo

Alejandro Valverde: “I was almost still as I crashed. I don’t think it’s going to affect me; the wrist hurts just a little bit, I don’t think it’s too serious, just the blow. Actually, I felt near the finish like a crash was going to happen. It was an uphill finish, there could be some splits, and everyone wanted to stay near the front. Fast speeds, lots of nerves, two riders touched wheels, and everyone went down. I think I’m OK – I just want to get to the hotel and recover. Other than that crash, the day went pretty well for us, even if it wasn’t easy: 2300m of vertical gain, and a huge pace over the final climb. Two big mountains days coming up – let’s make the most of them.”

Jumbo-Visma reports on the first stage of the Tour of Britain

The team sent me this:

Dylan Groenewegen has won the first stage of the Tour of Britain. The sprinter of Team Jumbo-Visma completed the team's work excellently in Glasgow. He is also the first leader in the British stage race.

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen takes the first stage.

Groenewegen was perfectly positioned by his teammates in the final. The Amsterdammer has now sprinted to his twelfth season win. The 26-year-old Groenewegen's victory marks the 43rd victory of the season for the Dutch team.

"The legs are good again", the winner said. “Things were a little less good after the Tour. I was a bit tired and unhappy in the races afterwards. Fortunately I could win again today. The team did a great job for me. We controlled the race all day with Koen Bouwman and Pascal Eenkhoorn. It was a hectic final, with a short climb at the end. We got over it well. Then we rode fast to the finish. I could finish it off there.”

Brussels Cycling Classic team reports

We posted Lotto-Soudal's report with the results.

Second place Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

The 99th edition of the Brussels Cycling Classic led the riders over 189 km around the Belgian capital. After taking off from Jubelpark, the peloton headed south, crossing 12 short and not particularly challenging hellingen on the way, before travelling north towards the finish line located in the King Baudouin Stadium.

With the last ascent coming already 40 km ahead of the finish, the parcours was widely deemed to be favourable for the sprinters and one which would in all likelihood, as in previous years, culminate in a bunch sprint. The race was opened by a series of attacks, as various riders attempted to make the cut into the break of the day. Eventually, seven riders were able to go clear of the peloton and ride out a maximum advantage of 3 minutes. However, as the second half of the race approached, the BORA - hansgrohe riders made their way towards the front end of the field and the deficit to the leaders gradually began to reduce. With 65 km of road left, a small chase group set out in pursuit of the leaders, and was able to bridge the gap to the leaders.

BORA - hansgrohe, with the defending champion Pascal Ackermann among its ranks, rode in full force at the front of the main field, as the team from Raubling increasingly took over the pace setting duties in the peloton. The rain began to bucket down on the riders as they hit the final 20 km to go, and under the increased pace that was being meted out by the BORA - hansgrohe squad, the field became strung out and eventually split. 10 km later, the break was eventually reeled in, and the other sprinters’ teams also came to the fore.

BORA – hansgrohe’s sprint train then attempted to manoeuvre Pascal into position, and although the German sprinter was ahead in the approach to the finish line, Caleb Ewan was able to pull past him at the last minute to take a close win ahead of our fast man, who finished in second place.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan (left) just beats Pascal Ackermann.

“With 191km, the Brussels Cycling Classic was quite a long race. The parcours was also undulating, on narrow roads. We tried to control the race, and the team did that well. The guys rode consistently at the front, but the inclement rainy conditions made the race somewhat more difficult. Our sprint train organised itself according to plan, and the whole team worked together well, with everyone giving 100 percent to bring Pascal into a good position. However, in the end, he launched his sprint slightly too early and so just missed out on the victory. One can’t do much about these things, that’s how cycling goes sometimes. Despite that, I can say that the entire team rode a strong race today.” – André Schulze, Sports Director

Third-place Jasper Philipsen's UAE Team Emirates sent this:

The young Belgian, Jasper Philipsen, from UAE Team Emirates took third place in the final sprint which decided the Brussels Classic. Top Ten also for the Norwegian Alexander Kristoff who finished in seventh place in the sprint won by Australian Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal.

Second place went to Pascal Ackermann (Bora Hansgrohe).

“Today I had good legs and with the team we raced really well, always in the front and ready for any moves happening in the race” says Jasper Philipsen “The goal here was to try to win with me or with Alex and we went very close, it only came down to a matter of a few centimeters. We hope that next time luck will be on our side”.

Franziska Koch wins stage four of Boels Ladies Tour

Koch's Team Sunweb sent me this report:

Stage four of racing at the Boels Ladies Tour saw the peloton take on a grippy parcours, with 135 kilometres from Arnhem to Nijmegen on the menu. Strong winds and rain made for an even harder day in the saddle and due to the wind, it was a nervous day for the bunch.

No breakaway was able to escape in the opening half of the stage. Instead, the bunch split several times in the strong crosswinds due to the pressure from the team, before it regrouped once the route moved to a more sheltered area. This happened several times throughout the stage until at 40 kilometres to go, Franziska Koch and two other riders managed to attack and break clear. They were soon joined by a fourth rider and the quartet worked very well together, increasing their advantage over the peloton, reaching almost a two minute lead.

Heading towards in finish in Nijmegen the rain started to fall heavily again, amplifying the difficulty of the short but sharp climbs in the finale. The climb of Oude Holleweg reduced Koch’s breakaway down to three riders and with five kilometres to go, they still held onto a lead of 40 seconds over the chasing group behind. In the final two kilometres there were a few attacks but the trio remained together as they made their way around a sweeping section of turns with only a few hundred metres to go. Koch was well positioned in second wheel coming onto the home straight, with the young German rider producing a really strong sprint and winning the stage on the bike throw to the line.

In the group behind Floortje Mackaij also secured a second top ten for the team, sprinting to tenth place on the stage and with only one stage to go tomorrow, Lucinda Brand sits in fifth place on GC.

“I can’t believe it, I didn’t expect anything like this; it’s really amazing. I have no words for it at the moment,” beamed Koch at the finish. “Majerus was the rider in the front group closest on GC, so my job was to stay calm in the finale and play the cards of our riders behind. When Markus attacked in the final few kilometres I stayed calm before I then closed the gap. I knew that in the final 250 metres there was a tricky left-right combination, so I wanted to be in second wheel there and go full gas to the finish. It’s a good start to my career and with the team, I hope to be able to continue like this in the future.”

Team Sunweb coach Nicolas Marche added: “What a day, it really is a team victory! We were always at the head of the race and we took initiative trying to split the peloton in the crosswinds. We managed to catch a few of the GC contenders by surprise and it led to a big 30 kilometre battle before things regrouped. From that point we were always at the head of the peloton and attentive, before Franziska made it into a really good breakaway with a strong attack. We knew Majerus was dangerous on GC so Franziska was able to play that card and force her to take a few more turns. Behind, the girls did really well to follow any more attacks and did a good job at slowing any chase. Franziska then managed the finish really well which was very impressive for such a young rider, taking a great win for the team.”

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