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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, November 6, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm. - Calvin Coolidge

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Vuelta a España stage 15 reports

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

Here's the short report from stage winner Jasper Philipsen's UAE-Team Emirates

Jasper Philipsen earned his biggest career win on the 15th stage of the Vuelta a España ahead of Pascal Ackermann (Bora – Hansgrohe) and Jannik Steimle (Deceuninck – Quick Step).

Jasper philipsen

Jasper Philipsen takes stage 15. Gomez Sport photo

The longest stage of this Vuelta, 230.8 km from Mos to Puebla de Sanabria, saw UAE Team Emirates up in the action from the outset. Rui Costa fought his way into the group of riders who animated the day.

In the final, the UAE squad pushed to bring back the lone leader and allow Philipsen to compete for the stage and take his first victory in a Grand Tour.

Philipsen: “It’s an incredible emotion that I can’t describe. This victory is very important to me, I have been waiting for the right moment throughout the Vuelta, and it has finally arrived. At the beginning of the stage I didn’t think it could be my day but in the end I was ready for a final that turned out to be ideal for me. “

The Belgian’s victory marks the first success of UAE Team Emirates in this Vuelta a Espana and tops off the excellent season by the team who have been victorious in all three Grand Tours.

The 16th stage tomorrow goes from Salamanca to Ciudad Rodrigo (162km).

Here's the report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic has come through the longest stage of the Vuelta a España without any problems. The cold and wet fifteenth stage finished in a bunch sprint. Roglic crossed the finish line among his teammates. He retained the red leader's jersey.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic remains the GC leader. Jumbo-Visma photo

After another fast start to the stage with many breakaway attempts, a leading group of thirteen riders finally got established. In the end, everything came back together in the last five kilometres of the stage. Roglic was well surrounded by his teammates and never faced any difficulties.

“It was a very long day”, Roglic said. “It was a very fast stage again and there was a lot of wind. The bad weather at the end also made this a very tough day. I am glad that it is over and that we can look forward to the final stages. All in all it was a good day for us. It was a good decision to stop the timing at the three kilometre mark. That way we didn’t have to take more risks than necessary.”

And here's the report from stage second-place Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

With 230.8 kilometres on the road from Mos to Puebla de Sanabria, the riders took on the longest stage of this year's Vuelta today. There were only a few flat stretches, as the route along the Portuguese border featured no less than five categorized climbs. The terrain provided a chance for a group of escapees to secure a victory, and so the first hour and a half of the race was marked by a fierce battle to make the break.

Ultimately, 13 riders managed to distance themselves from the field, but the peloton was not willing to let them make it too far ahead up the road. On the fourth climb of the day, BORA - hansgrohe was again to be seen setting the pace at the front of the peloton, and with 30 km to the finish, the gap had been reduced to around one minute. Shortly afterwards, M. Catteneo attacked out of the leading group, with the Italian quickly managing to pedal out a small gap. Yet with 3.5 km remaining, he was reeled in, and the stage was decided in a sprint. J. Philipsen was the first to kick off his sprint on the slightly uphill finishing straight, and crossed the line first just ahead of Pascal Ackermann. Felix Großschartner remains unchanged in the general classification, still sitting in seventh place.

"After all the escapees were caught, there was a sprint final to decide the finish. We were of course looking to win a second stage here, but unfortunately that didn't happen. I'm a bit disappointed, because there haven’t been many chances for sprinters at the Vuelta. The team did a great job to bring Cattaneo back in time and prepare for the sprint. On the finishing straight with its slight incline, I tried to overtake Philipsen after the last corner, but it just wasn't possible. However, sometimes despite putting in all the required effort, things don’t always go according to plan." - Pascal Ackermann

"We really wanted the stage to come down to a sprint today. It took quite a long time for the day’s breakaway to form, and on the climb, a very strong group was eventually able to break free. We then tried to make sure that the gap would be reduced in sufficient time ahead of the finale. We invested quite a lot in the chase in the end, and we were ultimately able to reel back all the escapees. The day came down to a sprint finish, in which we took second. It's not exactly what we set out to achieve, but the entire team put in a very good performance.” - Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

INEOS' Ian Stannard forced to retire early

Stannard's INEOS Grenadiers team sent me this:

After a hugely successful career, British rider Ian Stannard has been forced to retire from professional racing due to rheumatoid arthritis.

Stannard has been with the Team since its launch in 2010 and has played a huge part in its success for over a decade. Former national champion Stannard ends his racing career with seven wins, including two at the Tour of Britain, and as a key member of five Grand Tour winning lineups.  But he will be most fondly remembered for his efforts in the Classics, winning back-to-back editions of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2014 and 2015, before riding to third at Paris-Roubaix in 2016.

Ian Stannard

Ian Stannard wins 2015 Omloop Het Nieuwsbald

Stannard said: “It’s disappointing to have to stop like this but it is clearly the right decision for my health and my family.

“We have explored all of the options this year to deal with my condition, and the team has been there with me every step of the way. I started to hope that I could manage the problem during lockdown, but as soon as I returned to racing I knew that my body wouldn’t be able to perform at any level anymore.”

INEOS Grenadiers Doctor Richard Usher said: “Ian was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 12 months ago. It has caused him severe inflammation in the joints, and Ian has had pain in his wrists, knees and ankles. We have tried various treatments but ultimately Ian has taken the best decision for his long term health.”

Stannard became a pro as part of Britain’s golden generation of cyclists, graduating from the British Cycling academy alongside the likes of Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift and Mark Cavendish. He stagiaired with T-Mobile and cut his teeth in the pro ranks at Belgian team Landbouwkrediet, before joining Team Sky at the start of the 2010 season.

INEOS Grenadiers principal Dave Brailsford said: “Ian is a rider who gives so much to the race and his team mates and we all know that he always leaves it all out there on the road. He is one of the hardest, grittiest riders there is, whether racing hard on the cobbles of Belgium or pulling on the front at the Tour de France. He has been a core part of our team since day one and we will miss him, but he can look back proudly on a career that’s captured the true spirit of our sport and thrilled so many British cycling fans.”

Stannard continued: “Growing up, the Classics captured my imagination. I always wanted to go over and race on the cobbles. Back in the first year of the Team, I finished third at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in the worst conditions I’ve still ever raced in. Even now, our DS Servais Knaven still asks if I have dried out! I think there were only 26 finishers, and I’ve always thrived in those conditions.

“My favourite win was undoubtedly the second Omloop victory. I’d broken my back the year before, and the recovery process was the hardest I had to endure in my career. Then to beat three Quick-Step riders, in Belgium… It doesn’t get much better really. People still ask me about that win all the time.

“I wanted to keep racing and that competitive fire still burns within me. But I am proud of what I have achieved in the sport and look back at my career with great pride, especially racing for this team. It’s been a dream come true.”

Lucas Hamilton is Mitchelton-SCOTT’s next GC leader

The team sent me this release:

Australian Lucas Hamilton has scrapped his existing contract for a new and extended version for the second consecutive year as Mitchelton-SCOTT continue to advance him as their next general classification leader.

The new deal, which will see the 24-year-old continue with the Australian squad until the end of 2022, follows the guarantee by team owner Gerry Ryan to an additional two years of commitment after the COVID-19 difficulties earlier in the season.

Hamilton took his first WorldTour victory on stage four of Tirreno-Adriatico this year before going on to help teammate Simon Yates secure the overall title. Whilst his second Grand Tour, the 2020 Giro d’Italia, was cut short, Hamilton’s consistency on three-week debut in 2019 holds him in good stead for the near future.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates wins the fourth stage of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico. Sirotti photo

With the departure of current leader Adam Yates and the emergence of younger general classification leaders, highlighted by both the 2020 Tour de France and Giro d’Italia champions being 25 years or younger, Hamilton will step up to be one of Mitchelton-SCOTT’s main leaders over the next two seasons.

Lucas Hamilton:
“I'm really happy to be extending with this team, it really instils a lot of confidence in me that I can extend before my contract is up and means I can just focus on the job at hand.

“I always really enjoyed racing with Adam and learnt a lot from the way he races. It’s sad to see him go but I think it does open some doors for me to take on more leadership roles and really try for bigger results in bigger races.

“I think the sport this year has shown that guys around my age and younger are starting to be the winners more often than not and it does give me a lot of motivation. I know a lot of the guys and have raced them for a long time so I look forward to trying to reach the level some of them have already reached.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“We’ve seen a really steady progression in Lucas’ development and we see a big future with Lucas as a leader in this team.

“From the limited Grand Tour experiences he has, the 2020 Giro start was just his second Grand Tour, he is definitely a guy that has the potential and is going to lead us in three-week race and with Adam (Yates) leaving the team there is going to be even more opportunities for him.

“To be able to extend his contract is a big benefit to us an organisation going forward and a sign of the confidence we have in Lucas leading our team into the future.”

Lucas Hamilton:
Date of birth: 12 February 1996 (24)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2018
New Contract: 2021 – 2022 (former contract 2020-2021)

Top results:
- 1st 2020 Tirreno-Adriatico – Stage 4
- 1st 2019 Coppi e Bartali – General Classification
- 2nd 2020 National Championships Australia – Road Race

Hanna Nilsson to sign with Lotto Soudal Ladies

Lotto-Soudal sent me this update:

We welcome the Swedish rider Hanna Nilsson (28) to the Lotto Soudal Ladies Team next year. Hanna is one of the four newcomers who will ride at the side of six women who were already part of the team this season.

Hanna Nilsson has several reasons to choose for our team: “Lotto Soudal is a solid name in the peloton. I am happy I can be part of the team next season. As a Swede I feel comfortable with the Belgian mentality. Our ways of thinking and acting are very similar. It feels like I will exactly be where I belong. And I can’t wait to work with Annelies Dom as a sports director. In 2016 (at Lensworld – Zannta) she was my teammate for one season. She knows the ins and outs of the peloton and its riders. She will be a huge advantage to the team. I am convinced Annelies can push us to reach our goals.”

Past season Hanna Nilsson rode for Parkhotel Valkenburg and during the season she stayed in the Dutch province of Limburg, close to her preferred type of course. Hanna loves the Ardennes Classics. Stage races may be tough and long. She already conquered several top ten places at Tour de l’Ardèche where she became second on GC in 2017. The same year she got tenth at La Course, with finish on the Izoard. Last year she was ninth in the first edition of Donostia San Sebastián Klasikoa.

To achieve her ambitions Hanna Nilsson prefers an aggressive racing style: “I love to be in the mix, where the race is. I love the fighting for position. I don’t like sitting in the back of the bunch and just wait. I love to read the players. I love racing offensively and rather try and fail than finish anonymously. I don’t want to have any regrets afterwards. I love racing uphill, but I equally love the downhills. And yes, I am stubborn. I never give up. If I have a wheel I won’t let go easily, even if I’m on my limit!”​​​​​​​

“Next year I’ll be aiming for the GC podium in stage races and a top 10 in the Ardennes Classics. I am convinced we can show nice things as a team in 2021. I will also be happy to help my teammates, because performing well as a team is rewarding too.”

As announced last week, Polish rider Anna Plichta will be one of the teammates of Hanna Nilsson next year. The two other newcomers are Belgian rider Elise Vander Sande (almost 23) and Dutch rider Silke Smulders (19). The following six riders will remain in the Lotto Soudal Ladies Team: Danique Braam, Alana Castrique, Lone Meertens, Abby-Mae Parkinson, Christina Siggaard and Jesse Vandenbulcke.

NTT Team principal Douglas Ryder remains confident in fight for the future

The team sent me this release:

It was announced in early October that current title partner NTT Ltd. would not renew their sponsorship of the team

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 5, 2020: Team principal Douglas Ryder remains confident that the team will be able to secure a solution to keep the team “on the road” in 2021.

Speaking at a special virtual event for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, of which the team are ambassadors, Ryder was reflecting on the team’s overall journey, performances in 2020 as well as what the future may hold for Africa’s only UCI-registered WorldTour outfit.

It was announced in early October that current title partner NTT Ltd. would not renew their sponsorship of the team; seeing Ryder in a race against time to secure the necessary funding to ensure the survival of the team.

NTT Pro Cycling

NTT Pro Cycling is presented before the start of the 2020 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Following the team’s best-ever performance at the Giro d’Italia, in which Ben O’Connor won a stage and Domenico Pozzovivo impressed hugely in his 14th appearance at the event, Ryder reflected: “It has been a good year on the bike. Sadly, it has not been so good from a sponsorship point of view in terms of our future, but we are piecing that puzzle together.

“When we announced that we needed a new partner, the response has been unbelievable from all over the world. Our social media presence has been incredible in terms of people just trying to support us,” Ryder went on to say. “We have people from America to Australia and everything in between loving this team and wanting to get involved, trying to make a difference, and trying to connect with us. It is tough in the world today economically, and some businesses are really struggling, and some aren’t. But we are very close to being on the road next year."

Today (Thursday 5 November) will see the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirm the teams that have already submitted confirmed documentation for 2021, and Ryder says that right now time is of the essence: “This Thursday is an announcement of the teams which have submitted their documentation, and we will not be on that list. In the next couple of days, I think we should be able to say that we will have a plan to move forwards into 2021."

The virtual event also saw opportunity to highlight the building of mountain bike trails, to add to their already impressive sporting facilities, at LIV Village in Kwa-Zulu Natal - one of 30 programmes supported by Laureus in South Africa. While NTT Pro Cycling rider Nicholas Dlamini, mountain biker and Laureus YES Graduate William Mokgopo as well as acclaimed chef David Higgs all added their unique insights on the evening.

Ultimately for Ryder the dream to continue to make an impact through the distribution of bicycles with the Qhubeka Charity in rural areas remains a driving force in ensuring the team’s existence: “If there are many more people that can be moved by bicycles and can use the bicycle as tool to be free, have hope, be independent and use it as a transport tool, then it shows that our team has been successful.

“If we have raced around the world, been successful and we can raise funds and awareness for the Qhubeka Charity, which gets more kids on bicycles, then it is self-fulfilling and shows that we have done a great job on all fronts.

“The next part of our dream as a team is that a child who starts on a Qhubeka bicycle ends up as a Nic or William, to try and get to the highest level and have the opportunities to race internationally. That would be a dream come true, that is what gets us up every day and that is what makes me work so hard now in this tough time to try and keep this team on the road."

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