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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, December 27, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

The prevailing - and foolish - attitude is that a good manager can be a good manager anywhere, with no special knowledge of the production process he's managing. A man with a financial background may know nothing about manufacturing shoes or cars, but he's put in charge anyway. - W. Edwards Deming. This quote brings Boeing to mind.

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João Almeida wins the Challenge of the Stars virtual road race

Here’s the report from Almeida’s Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

João Almeida has had an unforgettable World Tour debut season. After impressing on the road in a number of races – the cherry on the cake being his stunning ride at the Giro d’Italia, where he finished fourth overall and wore the maglia rosa for 15 consecutive days – the young Portuguese all-rounder impressed also in the virtual world, winning the Challenge of the Stars.

Joao Almeida

João Almeida finishing 2020 Giro d'Italia stage 16 in pink. Sirotti photo

The virtual tournament organised by RCS Sport saw eight riders face off in a head-to-head knock-out format, and João finished first after three very challenging rounds, which consisted of a 2.9km uphill section on the Stelvio, featuring a 12.75% maximum gradient.

“It was very hard, a short course but intense right from the start. In the first round I had a good rhythm from the beginning, which I could keep it until the end, while in the second one, the match-up ended earlier than expected, when Ciccone had a problem during the race at a moment when I was ahead. Then, the final was the toughest of them all, as my opponent started very fast. I had some difficulties in keeping up and at one point I was around five seconds behind, but then I went full gas, came back and won for a couple of seconds. I am very happy with this win, it’s nice to round out what’s been a great season with this success”, João said after winning the Climbers’ Challenge of the Stars.

Here's the Challenge of the Stars race report from second-place Ben Zweihoff's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The second edition of the Challenge of Stars pitted 16 world-class professionals – eight climbers and sprinters in each category - against each other. The sprinter’s course consisted of 1.2 flat kilometres, while the climbers took on a 2.7km ascent. Ben Zwiehoff and Pascal Ackermann were the two riders to take up the challenge for BORA - hansgrohe. The German sprinter had to concede defeat in the first round, while Ben, who rode his first race for the team today, finished a very close second behind João Almeida. In the sprinters’ classification, it was B. Swift who took out the race.

From the Finish Line:
"I was up against Roglic in the quarter-finals and so I was prepared for a fast and challenging race. I wanted to put him under a bit of pressure right from the start and I think that eventually worked out well. He tried to keep up but then he realised relatively quickly that it wasn’t going to be enough. After winning the first race, I was of course very motivated for the next round. The semi-final against Tejada went largely the same and I was even able to save some energy for the final. That’s where I raced against Almeida, which was very tough. We were both motivated and started off quite fast. I had a few metres of advantage in between but in the end he managed to come back and passed me only slightly at the finish. It was really only one second that made the difference in the end. We actually went faster than the winner of this Challenge in May, which shows the level that we’re both at now. I have to say it made me proud to be able to race against big names in the peloton in my first performance, albeit a virtual one, for the team, and also to net a good result. Now I'm looking forward to the upcoming season with my new teammates." - Ben Zwiehoff

Taco Van der Horn joins Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux for 2021

Here’s the team’s release:

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux can rely on a new asset for 2021, thanks to the arrival of Taco Van der Hoorn. The winner of the Schaal Sels (2017), the Primus Classic and a stage at the BinckBank Tour (2018) reinforces the squad for the classics and one day races. After this long series of victories and places of honor in his orange kit of Roompot, the Dutch rider stepped up to the World Tour with Jumbo-Visma. During two seasons, the 27 year old rode at the services of leaders like Van Aert and Teunissen. The resident of Wageningen brings his World Tour experience in the classics to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, but he will also receive his own opportunities in certain races.

Taco Van der Hoorn

Taco Van der Hoorn wins stage three of the 2018 BinckBank Tour. Sirotti photo

Taco Van der Hoorn:
“I'm very happy to be able to defend the colors of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux next season. My goals and capabilities will come into their own perfectly in the team. Riding at the services of others really suits me, but racing for the victory also intrigues me. Within Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, I will discover a perfect balance between the role of a helper and my own opportunities. It's a very nice challenge! I'm also looking forward to ride a Grand Tour, in which I want to shine in the typical offensive race style of  Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux!”

Aike Visbeek:
“After his revelation in 2018, Taco gained World Tour experience. This intelligent and self-conscious rider  is preparing next season full motivation. After two years at the service of others, we want to offer him again some more freedom. Combining this with good mentoring and coaching, a World Tour programme and a first Grand Tour participation, we're convinced that he can take a next step in his career. The profile of the 27 year old with a margin for growth matches perfectly with the strategy of our team in full development.”

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