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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Anything invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things. – Douglas Adams

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UAE Tour stage three team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Todej Pogacar's UAE-Team Emirates:

Tadej Pogačar had his first test on the climbs on stage 3 of the UAE Tour from Al Qudra Cycle Track to Jebel Hafeet (184k), placing 2nd on the uphill finish to Jebel Hafeet behind winner Adam Yates (Mitchelton Scott).

Adam Yates

Adam Yates takes a solo win.

Yates attacked the favourites group with less than 5km to go with Pogačar giving chase but unable to claw the English rider back before the line. Diego Ulissi and Davide Formolo kept close guard in the group of favourites behind for the Emirati squad, to finish 6th and 12th respectively.

Pogačar now moves up to second overall and wears the white jersey as the leader of the young rider classification.

Stage 4 tomorrow will see the race return to the flatlands as the riders go from Zabeel Park to Dubai City Walk (173k) which could see the chance of crosswinds.

Pogačar: “It was extremely hot today, so for me on a climb like that in those temperatures it was a really good ride and I’m pleased. There is still three stages with another big mountain stage and the chance of crosswinds tomorrow so it’s not over yet. We have a strong team here so we will try something for sure.”

Team Bora Hansgrohe sent me this:

The 3rd day of this year’s UAE Tour was the first real test for the general classification contenders. Over a distance of 184 km, the stage started with a long, flat stretch through the desert before the riders had to contend with the Jebel Hafeet climb, an ascent of almost 11 km, with an average gradient of 6 percent. Four escapees led the race for much of the day while the peloton took it a bit easier until the beginning of the final ascent.

Unfortunately, Emanuel Buchmann was caught in a crash after 63 km. Emanuel suffered bruises and abrasions but could continue the race. However, due to his injuries, BORA-hansgrohe had to switch the team’s tactics and focus on Rafal Majka and Patrick Konrad as the two main riders for the general classification. They both performed well and stayed in a good position together with most of the other GC favourites throughout most of the climb.

While Adam Yates dominated the finale of an extremely testing stage with a solo attack, Rafal crossed the line in 5th position, 1:30 minutes behind Yates, after attacking the first chasing group in the last kilometres. Patrick secured a good 7th place, 1:56 minutes behind.

From the Finish Line:
"This was the first real test on an uphill finish for me this season and I think I rode a very strong race. Especially in the upper part of the final climb I felt good and I could even attack the group I was riding in. I would like to thank the team for their support, the time gaps are still very small and we will now do everything we can to reach the podium." – Rafal Majka

"My legs felt very good throughout the whole day. When Rafal launched his attack in the final kilometres, I stayed behind to control the chasing group which worked pretty well. I’m happy with my 7th place, it’s just sad that Emanuel could not show his good form because of his crash. Otherwise, we probably would have three riders now who could fight for the podium in the general classification." – Patrick Konrad

"We achieved a very strong result for the team today even though Emanuel’s crash dampened an otherwise successful race. We still tried our best to bring our riders into a good position for the final climb. Rafal and Patrick both performed very well, Adam Yates and Tadej Pogačar were just too strong today. Regarding Emanuel, we will now carry out further medical checks and decide tomorrow how to continue, depending on how he feels." – Enrico Poitschke, Head Sports Director

Coronavirus may cause cancellation of early-season Italian races

VeloNews' Jim Cotton did a great job of summing up the sitaution as of Tuesday:

“The problem is we just don’t know anything at the moment.”

When asked what happens if Coronavirus leading to the cancellation of several key early-season races, Mitchelton-Scott DS Julian Dean’s statement speaks for many.

Days after RCS Sport revealed races including Milano-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico could be canceled due to an outbreak of Coronavirus in the Italian region of Lombardy, teams are holding firm, and hoping for the best.

“The Italian races, we just don’t know anything right now,” Jumbo-Visma director Grischa Niermann told VeloNews, Tuesday. “We have to think about alternative plan-Bs, but we’re not going to start making alternative race schedules or anything just yet. We still need confirmation.”

Milano-Sanremo marks the first major benchmark in the cycling calendar, with the first of cycling’s monument races forming a major part of many riders’ ambitions for the year. Likewise, Tirreno-Adriatico is seen as an essential form-building race for grand tour riders. Grand tour general classification hopefuls traditionally have used the Italian race, or Paris-Nice, as stepping-stones in the spring, to gain summer form.

And in the next week, riders’ schedules may have to be scrapped and goals re-assessed if RCS Sport, organizers of several Italian races including Strade Bianche, Tirenno-Adriatico, and Milano-Sanremo, are forced to cancel their early-season events.

You can read the entire article here.

Ag2r-La Mondiale looks to the weekend's Belgian racing

The team sent me this short note:

Sport director Julien Jurdie:
“The first Belgian classics arrive with the Omloop Heet Nieuwsblad in the UCI WorldTour and then the next day with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. We are coming to a course that we know by heart, and with high ambitions focused on Oliver Naesen, and indeed the entire AG2R LA MONDIALE team. This opening weekend is hotly awaited by our Flanderian experts. If the forecast stays the same, we will certainly be expecting difficult conditions on the cobblestones. But we are ready for everything, and we hope that this will be the start of a beautiful 2020 campaign that will culminate with Paris-Roubaix.”

THE NUMBER: 3

Three of our riders who are racing on Saturday have already finished in the top ten of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Stijn Vandeenbergh took 2nd in 2013 and 4th in 2016, Alexis Gougeard was 5th in 2016, and Oliver Naesen finished 7th in 2017 and 10th in 2019.

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