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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, February 9, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. - Henry David Thoreau

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Etoile de Bessèges stage four team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Ben O'Connor's NTT Pro Cycling team with the results.

GC leader Benoit Cosnefroy's Ag2r team sent me this update:

"In the final climb, I had to manage my effort as much as possible. I had never made a fifteen minute effort like that in racing. Aurélien (Paret Peintre) rode the whole climb with me. We know each other very well and it was really perfect. We wanted to influence the race and my teammates did a great job. I sincerely thank them! We were aiming for the stage victory today, but the main thing now is that we have the leader’s jersey. Now it's my turn to play tomorrow. My teammates have managed the race all week, now it's my turn tomorrow. Perhaps the hardest part is yet to come, but I am focused and I will not give up. I’m calmly looking forward to the time trial." – Benoit Cosnefroy

Benoit Cosnefroy

Benoit Cosnefroy winning the 2020 GP Marseille. Sirotti photo

THE NUMBER: 7
"Ninth in the stage, Aurélien Paret-Peintre is now 7th in the general classification at 1’25 ’’ behind Benoît Cosnefroy: "I am very familiar with the type of efforts climbers have to make, this is my specialty. I had to smooth out my efforts for Benoît. The day’s outcome is very good, and we’ve got the jersey ahead of the last stage. Personally, I shouldn’t be at the race, so it makes a good test for the Tour de la Provence next week"

THE NEWS: Tony Gallopin operated on.
Following his fracture of the left scaphoid after crashing on Thursday at the Volta a Communitat Valencianna, Tony Gallopin was operated on Friday afternoon in the Paris region. He will be unavailable for six to eight weeks, Doctor Bouvat, head doctor for the AG2R La Mondiale team, explained.

Volta a Valenciana stage four team reports

Here's the Team Astana Valenciana report:

The queen stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana with the finish atop a super steep climb Sierra de Bernia in Altea (5 km, 13.3% average) has been held today. Two Astana Pro Team riders, Ion Izagirre and Oscar Rodriguez finished in the Top-10 of the stage: Ion took 7th place, while Oscar did 9th.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar wins the fourth stage.

- A tough day on the road and today I did my best on the final climb. In the final part of the stage our team went at the front to chase the breakaway, while on the climb I just gave my all to be as high as possible. In general, I can be happy with my performance in my first race of the season. Yeah, Pogačar was too strong today, but I am satisfied with the progress of my form and I hope I can do more in my next race in Andalucia, - said Ion Izagirre.

- I think we can be satisfied with the result. The team did a very good stage, the guys worked really well together, and we are happy with the way we spent this day on the road. It is true that the final climb was super steep for February with some slopes over 21-22%. Today a few riders like Tadej Pogačar or Wout Poels were just stronger, but it is really nice result to have two riders in the Top-10 on a climb like this one. So, it was a good day for Astana Pro Team, which gives us some additional confidence ahead of the next races in this early stage of the season, - said Bruno Cenghialta.

A strong breakaway group went away shortly after the start of the stage in Calp, quickly taking a good gap. But the peloton never gave the escapers too much space and at the bottom of the final climb the break has been caught back.

The Slovenian Tadej Pogačar launched a strong solo attack with around 2 km to go to win this stage and to take the lead in the general classification of the race. Both Astana riders, Ion Izagirre and Oscar Rodgiruez were up there among the leaders, fighting for a good result and, finally, finishing 7th and 9th, respectively.

With only one stage to go Ion Izagirre is sitting of 7th place, while Oscar Rodriguez is 9th in the overall.

The last stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana will be held tomorrow: 97.7 km from Paterna to Valencia.

Tao Geoghegan Hart's Team INEOS had this to say about the stage:

Tao Geoghegan Hart put in a strong ride on the punishing slopes of the Sierra de Bernia, taking third place on stage four in Spain.

The Brit found himself in a select group of contenders on the steep final climb. With Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) launching his stage-winning move early with three kilometres to go, Geoghegan Hart battled the gradients before finishing strongly on the wheel of Wout Poels (Bahrain McLaren).

With no time bonuses, the pair finished six seconds back on new leader Pogacar, with Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and the yellow jersey of Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) also finishing with the same time.

That ensured that Geoghegan Hart elevated himself to third place overall, level on time with second-placed Haig, and six seconds off the lead with one day to go.

Tao was well supported by his teammates on the day, with Ben Swift setting an impressive pace on the early slopes of the climb, with Michal Kwiatkowski also present before the attacks launched. Gianni Moscon dug deep for a strong 14th position on the stage.

Nicolas Portal:
"It's a huge result when you consider the parcours, with almost 4000 metres of climbing, then you finish on this crazy monster of a climb. It's really, really hard and steep in the last 3km. Also you have some top names in this race and it's a really good result for Tao. It's going to be a big boost to him. He's quite far from his best condition, as this race wasn't a specific objective for him. But that just confirms that he's had a really good winter. He's relaxed and the team really supported him.

"It's likely to be a bunch sprint tomorrow. Today we saw Jumbo-Visma were waiting for their leaders. We'd expect them to go for it tomorrow, control the race and try to win it. That suits us. Tao is on the same time as Jack Haig. In terms of placings Haig is a little bit ahead - so it will be tough to improve - but a second or third place would be a really nice way to start the season. There's no time bonuses so we're hoping for a nice safe finish."

Wout van Aert takes emotional first victory since 2019 Tour de France injury

Van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team sent me this:

Wout van Aert has won the Krawatencross in Lille in an impressive way. For the Belgian all-rounder of Team Jumbo-Visma it is his first victory since his nasty crash in the time trial of last year’s Tour de France.

Wout Van Aert

Wout van Aert having a good moment at the 2019 Tour de France before his crash. Sirotti photo

Van Aert, who started from the third row, moved up lap by lap. After three laps he joined the front of the race and not much later he was able to leave his rivals behind. Van Aert kept his pace and was able to keep the first chaser Quinten Hermans at twenty seconds and soloed to the win after an hour of racing.

“When I crossed the line, a lot went through my mind. This is the confirmation that I'm still able to do it”, an emotional Van Aert said. “It might not be my biggest victory, but it certainly feels like it. Especially in front of my home crowd. It went through my mind all week: this race and the dream to win here. It is a nice reward after all I have been through in the past months. This is quite emotional.”

Van Aert felt very good from the start. “I have quietly taken my time to move up. Due to some mistakes by others, I found myself in the lead with Hermans. I then continued to pull and tried to make the difference.”

Van Aert concludes his cyclocross season in Merksplas on Sunday. After his rehabilitation and his comeback in cyclocross, the next chapter will begin. The triple cyclocross world champion hopes to return to the highest level on the road as well.

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