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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, September 16, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

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Vuelta a España stage 21 reports

We posted the organizer's report with the race results.

Final winner Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team sent me this final report:

Primoz Roglic has won the Vuelta a España. The leading position of the Slovenian leader of Team Jumbo-Visma was not compromised at all in the final stage to Madrid. With that Roglic achieves something unique. He is not only the first Slovenian to win a Grand Tour, it is also the first overall victory in the existence of Team Jumbo-Visma.

PRimoz Roglic

Final Vuelta a España winner Primoz Roglic. Sirotti photo

This continues the success of Team Jumbo-Visma. The team of CEO Richard Plugge also won two stages in the Vuelta, with Roglic and Sepp Kuss. For Roglic it is an 11th victory of the season and the 47th for Team Jumbo-Visma.

Earlier this year Roglic won the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie. He finished third in the Giro d’Italia. Therefore Roglic has finished on the overall podium in every stage race in which he started this season. Team Jumbo-Visma also finished on the podium in every Grand Tour this year. One and a half months ago Steven Kruijswijk grabbed third place in the Tour de France.

"I am very happy. I have no words for this", Roglic said. “It gives an indescribable feeling. This victory is not only my most beautiful win, but it is also the biggest win for cycling in Slovenia. It has been three difficult and tough weeks with many ups and downs. The many crashes and setbacks especially made it mentally difficult. There were several important moments as there was a lot happening every day. We had to be riding attentively and focused every day. As a team, we have shown resilience. I am proud of the team, the way we have fought the past three weeks. Everyone has given 110 percent, and that also gave me extra motivation to fully go for it. I am relieved that we have been able to bring this to an close successfully. Now we are going to enjoy it, and then we will focus on our next goals."

CEO Plugge mentions this as the best result his team has ever achieved. “A victory in a grand tour is the highest achievement. The Tour is of course the biggest race, but this is a big and beautiful step in that direction. This is the best victory in the team's existence so far. At the end of last year we started the process of structurally joining the top echelon of cycling. Both in the classics and in the Grand Tours. This year we have shown that we are going into the right direction by making it onto the overall podium in every Grand Tour. One of the steps was to make the team stronger, especially the second tier. And to find a mix of young talents and experienced guys. Steven and Primoz have already shown that they can compete for the podiums in Grand Tours and, with Tom Dumoulin joining the team, that perspective only gets bigger.”

Roglic is in his fourth season with Team Jumbo-Visma and has grown steadily in his development. "We started carefully with Roglic," Plugge continues. “We first had to see if he was able to do a bike race. It soon became apparent that he could do that. We have been following his progress step by step. First in the one week races and last year also in a Grand Tour when he finished fourth in the Tour de France. This year's Giro was a lesson for him and the team. The biggest lesson was to stay sharp and focused for three weeks. We did that in this Vuelta. The team was very strong and Primoz got the best out of everyone. That is why we always emphasise 'samen winnen', winning together.”

Here's the report from stage winner Fabio Jakobsen's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

For the fourth consecutive year, Deceuninck – Quick-Step came out of the Vuelta a España as the most successful team. After four stage wins in 2016, six in 2017 and four again last season, the Wolfpack ended up winning five this time, including a masterpiece which from now on should have a prominent place in cycling manuals whenever ripping the peloton apart in the crosswinds is taught.

The icing on the cake was put by Fabio Jakobsen in the Spanish capital, after a textbook lead-out of his teammates, who controlled the last kilometers with the likes of Eros Capecchi, Tim Declercq, Philippe Gilbert, Rémi Cavagna, Zdenek Stybar and Maximiliano Richeze, the latter having the Dutch Champion tucked on his wheel. With 150 meters remaining, the 23-year-old Grand Tour debutant was in a perfect slot and launched the sprint down the middle of the road, emerging as the fastest from the bunch and sealing the deal on the line, half a bike length ahead of Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe), who came runner-up.

Fabio Jakobsen

Fabio Jakobsen just wins the Vuelta's final stage. Sirotti photo.

By taking the victory, his seventh of a season which he kicked off in February, 23-year-old Jakobsen became the first Dutch rider since 1998 to win multiple road stages at a single edition of the Spanish Grand Tour, where he confirmed that he is destined for great things in the future.

“This is the biggest moment of my career so far. To win here, in the Dutch Champion jersey, is very special, but it wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates, to whom I am extremely grateful not just for today, but also for helping me make it through these tough three weeks. This win gives me a lot of happiness, I really can’t put it into words. I’m over the moon knowing that I will leave this brutal race with two victories in the bag!”

The third different Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider in as many years to win on the final day of La Vuelta, Jakobsen analysed stage 21 of the race, but also shared what the whole experience of completing a Grand Tour meant for him: “To be honest, I didn’t expect to arrive to Madrid. I suffered a lot in these three weeks, but kept going. The first victory brought a huge relief, because it took off the pressure just four days into the race, while today’s success was completely unexpected. The guys were again fantastic, controlling the break and bringing me to the front when it mattered. All I had to do was follow Max and launch my sprint at the right moment, and on the line, I even threw my bike just for good measure.”

But it wasn’t all about winning for Deceuninck – Quick-Step at the Vuelta a España, but also about showing grit, determination, character, resilience and self-sacrifice, all traits of the unique Wolfpack, who stuck together even when things weren’t playing into our favour and kept fighting. One of these countless examples came on Saturday, when the team shepherded James Knox – who was suffering from the effects of a crash on stage 19 – helping him make it to the finish. For the British youngster, the disappointment of dropping out of the top 10 overall was big, but at the end of the day, he can look back on what he achieved with pride and confidence to the future, which promises to hold many beautiful moments for him.

“I am very proud of the team, and everyone involved in this race can feel the same. The guys did a superb Vuelta, and taking five stage victories with three different riders – Rémi, Philippe and Fabio – doing a good GC with James, who everyone could see how much he has improved since joining us, and equally important, showing our Wolfpack spirit every single day, are our highlights from a race that once again confirmed that we have the same hunger for results and mentality which have transformed us over the years in one of the best squads in the history of cycling”, Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere added.

Second-place Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

The 74th Vuelta a España ended, as every year, in the capital of Spain, Madrid. The 21ststage started outside of Madrid in Fuenlabrada and took the riders over 106,6 kilometers into the city centre, where eight laps awaited the riders. It was the final chance for the fast wheels in the peloton to take a glorious victory on this historical place of Madrid.

As every day in the previous weeks, a battle for the breakaway started today after the riders celebrated with each other. A short ride together with the winners' teams having a glass of prosecco for the photographers before the race itself started.

Heading into the city of Madrid, several attacks were launched but every attempt failed. The sprinter teams started to increase the pace, working for their sprinters to see a final bunch sprint on today’s last stage.

On the final laps, BORA – hansgrohe showed a great teamwork. Weakened by losing three riders in this Grand Tour, Gregor Mühlberger, Davide Formolo and Jempy Drucker, the German team showed no doubt in working hard for their sprinter. It was a hard battle to the line as the sprinters fought for their position. The Irish Champion was once again the fastest but launched his sprint too late to overtake F. Jakobsen who took the win.

Teammate Rafal Majka crossed the finish line safely and ends this 74th edition of La Vuelta a España in sixth place overall. The team from Raubling scored two stage wins, five podium spots and showed a great teamwork over the last three weeks.

Sam BEnnett

Sam Bennett finishes stage 19. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
“I am really proud of the team. The whole team, riders and staff worked perfectly together and this for the whole three weeks. A Grand Tour is never easy, being away from home for such a long time, traveling every day, having hard stages and long transfers. But this team here did everything what they could to make it three great weeks. We achieved plenty of strong results. Of course, seeing Rafał on the podium was a goal of us, but that’s also part of this sport. And a sixth place is still an absolute remarkable result. Unfortunately, we lost three riders, which made a huge difference in fighting for results, but also these are things you can’t plan and you have to take it how it is. We finished this Vuelta a España off with another stunning result by Sam, who showed also his climbing skills here during the really tough mountain stages. I am proud what we have achieve, and we will keep working to achieve our goals still. But now, we enjoy a nice dinner together and celebrate.” - Patxi Vila, Sports Director

Szymon Sajnok's CCC Team sent me this Vuelta report:

15 September 2019, Madrid (ESP): The 2019 Vuelta a España, the third and final Grand Tour of the season, wrapped up with the traditional stage to Madrid, culminating in nine laps of a 5.8-kilometer city center circuit which came down a bunch sprint and saw Szymon Sajnok sprint to third behind Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck - Quick-Step).

After some strong teamwork on the final laps, CCC Team brought Sajnok into an almost perfect position, allowing him to contest the stage and show that he still has power in his legs after three long weeks of racing. Today’s strong third place now takes the Polish rider’s total of individual top ten finishes in Spain up to four after some strong performance throughout the three weeks of racing.

CCC Team started stage 21 with six riders after Víctor de la Parte was forced to abandon the race following a crash on stage six and Patrick Bevin left the race after stage 14 to focus on the World Championships following a strong ride to help the team secure sixth on the opening team time trial as well as a display of skill, power and speed on the stage 10 time trial to take second place.

By crossing the finish line in Madrid, five of CCC Team’s remaining riders, Will Barta, Paweł Bernas, Jonas Koch, Sajnok and Nathan Van Hooydonck, have now completed their maiden Grand Tour after being guided round Spain by experienced road captain, Francisco Ventoso, who now has 17 Grand Tour to his name.

Alongside Sajnok and the New Zealand national time trial champion, CCC Team heads home with another three individual top ten finishes courtesy of Koch.

Quotes From the Finish Line

Szymon Sajnok:
“It’s a pity that I just missed out on a win since I felt very good today. Maybe I could have done something different in the sprint but to finish the Grand Tour with a third place is something I can be happy about. I didn’t know what to expect before the race because I knew there were some hard mountain stages ahead but I knew I was well prepared and I have been slowly getting closer to the top guys. I’ve drawn many conclusions from the previous sprints and this time I didn’t wait until the final 500 meters but I decided to move up to the front with 1km to go and that paid off. I’m happy that I could learn from my previous mistakes.”

"I am really happy that the team gave me the chance to start here. I think it is, for me, a big learning curve and I gained a lot of experience. I leave with a couple of top ten finishes and that motivates me to continue working hard in order to come back to the start line of a Grand Tour ready to keep challenging for results. It feels super nice to reach Madrid."

Will Barta:
"I feel tired but I feel super happy to finish my first Grand Tour. I've really enjoyed the last three weeks of racing and I have definitely learned a lot. Everyone was super excited to me here and even though we were a young team, we wanted to try to make the most of it. We had Fran with us and he helped us a lot. We learned a lot from him and we took it day by day. He's such a great guy and the experience was made better with him guiding us."

Paweł Bernas:
"I am very happy that I made it to the finish line in Madrid. It was really tough for me and at first, my body wasn't responding well but I’m glad that I could overcome this and make it here. It gives me a lot of confidence that even if I am not feeling well, I can still race at this level. I think this Vuelta was one of the toughest Grand Tours in recent years with really no 'easy day' and I have gained a lot of experience from it. I think from here I can grow as a rider and be ready to focus on a more satisfying goal."

Jonas Koch:
"I must say that I am really satisfied at the end of this Vuelta a España. This was my first big tour and I had no problems with the length of the race. It was actually maybe even the opposite, I felt better from week to week and I managed to be in the top ten a few times which was really nice for me and also my goal so I think I can say I achieved what I wanted to here."

Nathan Van Hooydonck:
"I am pretty tired but I have enjoyed it. We've had a good group of riders and it was unfortunate the Víctor crashed out. That wasn't nice. But, Jonas and Szymon have managed to sprint into the top ten a couple of times and I think we did a pretty good Vuelta all things considered. I've learned a lot here especially with a guy like Francisco Ventoso on our team. That really helped as he could pass on all his knowledge to the me and the rest of the team really as we were a young group here."

Francisco Ventoso:
“I’m happy to be reaching the final finish line of this Vuelta a España in Madrid. I think this has maybe been one of the hardest Grand Tours of my life and overall we have made the most of it. Not just the racing and parcours have been hard but all the transfers as well and I think everyone has really been on the limit. We had a young team here and I was happy to be able to help guide them around my home country. It was a pity we lost Víctor in that crash as that would have given us another card to play."

Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
"I think we came into this race with a few goals and I think we met most of them. One of our biggest goals was to take our five riders who had never raced a Grand Tour through to the finish and we are happy to say that we achieved that and I think they will all grow from this experience. The time trial was one of our next main goal and I think, in my opinion, we can say that was achieved with Paddy really close there for the win."

"We wanted to win a stage and try something on the GC with Víctor and I think that's where the bad luck came. We lost him to the crash and without that happening we would have tried for the GC and if that wasn't happening, he could have had some freedom for a stage. That's unfortunately the one piece of the puzzle that didn't come together."

"However, overall, we can leave happy. We had quite a lot of top tens, and one really good third with Szymon today, and with this young group we can be happy with what we did really."

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