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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, November 9, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.  – David Frost

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2020 Vuelta a España final reports

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

Here's the report from 2020 Vuelta winner Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic has won the Vuelta a España for the second consecutive year. The red leader’s jersey of the leader of Team Jumbo-Visma was not in danger in the final stage to Madrid.

Primoz Roglic and Jumbo Visma

Primoz Roglic and his Jumbo-Visma team have won the 2020 Vuelta a España

After Roglic had missed the final win in the Tour de France in extremis last September, he took the win in the Spanish stage race. Roglic won four stages during this Vuelta a España, including the individual time trial to Mirador de Ézaro. The points classification was also won by the Slovenian. Earlier this year, he won the Tour de l’Ain, a stage in the Tour de France and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Roglic is happy that he has won the Spanish stage race for the second time in his career. “Me and my teammates fought for it every day. We considered each stage as a one-day race. I am very proud of the performance that we all achieved. During the past three weeks I still felt in good shape. I am happy that I can end my season in this way. In the coming period I will take a break, but then I will make plans with the team for 2021. There are still a few goals I want to achieve in my career. That is an enormous motivation for me for the coming years.”

“The 2019 win was of course special, because I won my first grand tour then”, the Slovenian continued. “Nevertheless, I also rate this victory very highly, because it is part of the great season that I have had. We should be happy that, given the situation in the world, we were able to ride the Vuelta this year. For that I would like to thank the organisation of the Vuelta and all those involved. It was very well organised here.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann experienced the Vuelta a España as a special race. “The preparation was different than we were used to and perhaps not optimal, but that applies to the whole peloton. We didn’t quite know where we stood. Looking back, I think we can be very happy with the way we raced. With four stages and the overall victory, this race has of course been very successful for us. In Primoz, we had the top favourite for the win. He has fought back after the disappointment of the lost Tour de France. He needed a moment for that. At the World Championship he was not in top shape, but in Liège-Bastogne-Liège you saw again that he still had a lot of motivation. It has been a long season and he has been there from the beginning till the end. He is the number one in the world for the second year in a row. He can win races in several areas and he is always there for the team. That says enough. He is an absolute winner and a great guy to work with.”

The German sports director had seen his team do a good job in the Vuelta. “I think we showed that we were the best team. Guys like Paul, Lennard and Jonas rose above themselves. When Primoz was struggling, we always managed to support him. As a team we have taken a huge step. We can call ourselves one of the best teams in the world. I am very proud of what we have all achieved and what steps in our development we have taken in recent years. This victory is the crowning glory of a very strange year, but a top season.”

The Vuelta a España was the last race for Team Jumbo-Visma on Bianchi bikes. The bicycle brand has grown with Team Jumbo-Visma and its achievements over the past seven seasons and has helped ensure that the Dutch team has been able to reach the achievements of the past years. Roglic won the 2020 Vuelta a España by a gap of twenty-four seconds. In the world of top sport, details make the difference. Bianchi has contributed to this difference by working in an innovative way in the field of aerodynamics on both the Oltre XR4 road bike and the Aquila CV time trial bike. The special paint on the frames also resulted in gains in the weight of the bike. Team Jumbo-Visma thanks Bianchi for the many years of cooperation.

Stage winner Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

After the general classification was decided yesterday, the sprinters had one last chance to take a win on today's 139 km-long route. The stage commenced in the Hipódromo de la Zarzuela, on the outskirts of Madrid, and ended on a circuit in the city centre of the Spanish capital in a show-down of the fast men. After Primoz Roglic, the overall winner, celebrated his triumph on the first half of the stage, the race subsequently commenced in earnest.

A small group tried their luck in a breakaway, but their efforts remained ultimately unrewarded. Deceuninck - Quickstep first led the field over the last kilometres before BORA - hansgrohe took the lead and prepared the sprint for Pascal Ackermann with three remaining riders. When the German fast man launched his sprint, S. Bennett came from behind, but was unable to overtake him and so Pascal took his second stage victory at this year’s Vuelta.

Pascal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann (on left) takes the final stage: Photo: Gomez Sport

In addition to the victories on the ninth and then final stage by Pascal Ackermann, Felix Großschartner also put in an impressive performance, finishing among the top ten in the overall standings for the first time in a Grand Tour. The Austrian climber also netted five top 10 finishes on the mountain stages, results that show his strong skills during a three-week tour.

"I am so happy that I was able to take the win today. But this result was only possible thanks to the support of my teammates, who did an extraordinary job, particularly over the last 3 km. We never had an easy stage here at the Vuelta. There was always a hard fight for the breakaway group and then on stages like yesterday, the sprinters had to suffer quite a lot. It was just important to save as much energy as possible and I'm glad that I was able to do that, and today it paid off. At first, we held back a bit in the decisive phase, because we knew that we had a strong sprint train. Then over the last 10 km we went full throttle and were able to take the victory. Many thanks to the whole team!" - Pascal Ackermann

"I am very happy that I finished my first Grand Tour as captain within the top 10 overall. It's a great result, and the most important thing is that I was able to prove my skills and that I can also build on this achievement in the future. So this result is a good one for my self-confidence. I think my performance also shows my strength on a different level. Many thanks to the whole team and to the staff as well. Now I can look forward to the off-season break." - Felix Großschartner

"A ninth place in the general classification for Felix and his strong results on all stages is a very commendable performance. In the run-up to the race, we concentrated on him riding for the overall classification. But we went into the race without any pressure and wanted to see how well he'd be able to keep up with the best for the three weeks. At the end of the Vuelta, it's evident that he rode very well. He lost very little time to the best riders on the difficult mountain stages and he never really had a bad day. He concentrated on the task at hand for the whole three weeks and certainly didn't lose his seventh place overall yesterday due to a lack of strength. Rather, two riders simply rode more offensively. At the beginning of the stage, we tried to bring back the breakaway, but that didn't work out. Felix lost two places overall, but we ultimately have to accept that. Of course, it's not particularly nice to have that happen, but we're still very happy with the result and will again give Felix the opportunity to confirm or even improve on this performance in one or the other Grand Tours in the future" - Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

"Pascal's win is a great finish for us, for the Vuelta and for the whole 2020 season, and we're going home with immense pride, having won two stages and also placing Felix in the top ten in the GC, his first top 10 result in a Grand Tour. This was our first attempt to have him ride for the overall classification and he did it with flying colours. As for the sprints, we won the first sprint after Sam Bennett was relegated. But today in the man to man duel, Pascal was the strongest, which makes us very happy, and so we can now head into the winter break very satisfied with our achievements." - Ralph Denk, Team Manager

Here's the report from GC second place Richard Carapaz's INEOS Grenadiers:

Richard Carapaz crossed the line in Madrid to seal an impressive second place overall at the Vuelta a Espana.

Finishing just 24 seconds back on victor Primoz Roglic, Carapaz becomes the first Ecuadorian rider to finish on the podium of the Spanish Grand Tour.

Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz going deep in stage 17 in a last attempt to take the GC lead. Sirotti photo.

Never outside the podium positions across the 18 stages, the 27 year old rode an aggressive race, spending five days in the red leader’s jersey and taking six top-five stage finishes.

A spirited ride in the stage 13 time trial gave Carapaz hope, keeping him in the battle and entering the final pair of GC tests 39 seconds back. Saturday’s finale on the Alto da La Covatilla saw the Grenadiers rider cut back some key seconds, but Roglic proved a worthy winner.

Carapaz made it six Vuelta podium finishes for the team, on a day that saw Chris Froome honoured for his 2011 race victory. The Brit was presented with the trophy ahead of the stage, which brought to close an incredible 11 seasons riding with the team.

Froome was joined in Madrid by Andrey Amador, Dylan van Baarle, Ivan Sosa and Cameron Wurf, after both Michal Golas and Brandon Rivera were forced to leave the race early.

Richard Carapaz:
"For me it's really special to be on the podium in Madrid. Especially after this year with the COVID situation and all we had to live with at home. I had a different approach to this race but it's amazing to finish second at this Vuelta. I know I have a big potential and we will keep working with the team to seek another victory.

"I came to the Vuelta with the goal to do a great race and I think we have achieved it. I had the support and the aim to fight until the end. This podium means a lot to me, after 2019 Giro d'Italia I had to prove that my victory there wasn't a coincidence and I think I did it. I'm here to fight for more Grand Tours."

Chris Froome on receiving his 2011 victory trophy:
“It’s a really special victory. I have really special memories obviously looking back to this period, but also the way I was told about this victory, when I woke up the day after my big accident last year. I was in ICU still when I was told: ‘Congratulations, you’ve won La Vuelta.’ That was a really strange feeling. It was such a special race to me. It’s where I first discovered myself as a Grand Tour rider and a GC contender. It gave me confidence to then go on to the Tour de France, to keep targeting Grand Tours. I certainly hope next season I’ll be here in a different capacity.

“It's been an emotional day on my last day with the team. It’s been 11 years. I’m excited about what lies ahead but it’s also time for me to reflect on all the highs and lows of the last 11 years.

“At the end of the day it was mano e mano a few times – Richard versus the other GC guys. On stages like Angliru and yesterday there are such small margins in it. Richard is happy – he feels like he gave everything, and the team should be really chuffed with that result, even though it wasn’t a victory."

Here's the report Mitchelton-Scott sent me:

Mitchelton-SCOTT wrapped up La Vuelta a España in Madrid today with a third top-10 stage finish for Australian youngster Rob Stannard and a 13th place overall for Basque climber Mikel Nieve.

The squad leaves Spain with a third-place stage finish for New Zealander Dion Smith, his best Grand Tour stage finish, and impressive performances for the team’s youth with Callum Scotson and Stannard active in five strong breakaways in their debut appearances.

Aggressive Start
It was a brutal start to the third Grand Tour of the season as La Vuelta kicked-off with three back-to-back mountain stages. Colombian Esteban Chaves was in the mix from day one, climbing with the general classification contenders on his way to a strong fourth place on the opening day of action.

The 30-year-old again finished with the best climbers in the peloton on stage two before an untimely mechanical in the finale of stage three cost him time. However, the former La Vuelta podium finisher battled on over the course of the first week and held seventh overall until eventually falling away on stage 11.

Young Guns
Grand Tour debutants Stannard and Scotson impressed throughout the 18 days of racing, with the former making it into four breakaways and taking three top-10 finishes. The 22-year-old grabbed his first top-10 of the race in the sprint finish to stage nine before backing up his performance with an impressive fifth place the next day.

While he wasn’t in contention for stage honours, Scotson proved his worth with a number of strong rides as he guided his teammates around the peloton and into position stage after stage.

Up The Road
27-year-old Smith and Australian Nick Schultz also had stand out rides as they infiltrated several breakaways. Smith capitalised on the form that saw him win the Coppa Sabatini in September as he sprinted to third place in the reduced kick for the line on a punishing stage 16.

Schultz made it up the road on numerous occasions, including the large escape group on the penultimate stage of the race.

Experience Counts
Veteran Nieve was taking part in the 20th Grand Tour of his career and the 36-year-old proved his worth once again as he climbed into the top-10 overall on stage 11 before dropping to 13th after the stage 13 time trial.

Mikel Nieve

Mikel Nieve. Sirotti photo

That’s where the Basque rider remained for the rest of the race as he completed his 19th Grand Tour, taking his 16th top-20 finish in the process.

Rob Stannard (9th, Stage 18):
"We came late with a lot of power, it was Callum, Edmo and Schultzie they gave me a really good lead out into the last corner and we were probably top-10 going around that last corner. Then I had Edmo with me after that, he did an amazing lead out.

"I just lost a few positions going through the chicane and I sprinted a bit late, I think. But it was really good practice for me, I guess. I don’t really consider myself as a pure bunch sprinter, so to be able to contest that sort of finish is really good for me.

"Every time I do a sprint like that against those guys I’m learning and taking stuff away that I can use to get better for next time. So, I’m happy and I’m happy to have finished the Vuelta and my first Grand Tour."

Mikel Nieve:
"I feel a bit mixed. I came from the Tour with injury and I started with some doubts, but I started better than expected. But in the last days I was not as a I wanted, so it’s been difficult. But I think the important thing is that I’ve been consistent again, I’ve been close with the best.

"The younger riders were really good, Rob and Callum, they impressed me. For their first Grand Tour, already they were fighting for stages or taking control of the race. It’s been really good to see how they worked.

"Maybe we don’t have the result that we hoped for, but I think that the way that we worked and everything has been the way you need to be to win."

Julian Dean (Sports Director):
"It’s been a really good Vuelta, we came here with objectives of trying to win a stage and finish top-10 overall. We’ve come shy of both those targets by a little bit, but I think for me, the shining light has been has been some of the young guys and what we’ve seen and how they’ve ridden this Vuelta, particularly Rob Stannard and Callum Scotson.

"They’re very exciting prospects for the future, in the last week they’ve both been super strong. Callum had fantastic ride today. So I think we can be confident going forward that we can place those two guys in any of the Grand Tours and they’ll be able to compete. They're only going to get stronger from here."

Here's the report from Remi Cavagna's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Since 2012, Deceuninck – Quick-Step has finished each year as the most victorious team in the world, and not even a complicated and truncated season like the one that just ended could stop the Wolfpack from repeating this remarkable performance. First at the top of the victory classification before the lockdown, our squad picked up where it left off at the end of July and continued to rack up wins in one-day races, stage races and Grand Tours alike, remaining in the driving seat until the curtain came down, on November 8, in Madrid.

Fifteen different riders scored 39 victories in 12 countries across three continents, taking Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s all-time tally close to an astonishing 800 wins. The icing on the cake was put by Julian Alaphilippe, in Imola, where the Frenchman soloed to the biggest victory of his career, the World Championships, which will see him sport the iconic rainbow jersey for a whole year.

“We have a saying: The Wolfpack Never Gives Up! We showed that again this year, maybe the most trying since the team’s inception. We faced many hurdles, from the pandemic that turned everything upside down to the numerous injuries that plagued our team, but we kept fighting, believing and making the most out of every situation. That’s why I want to congratulate everybody – riders, staff, and sponsors – who worked hard so we could stay at the top. This superb achievement is a testament to the team’s unique mentality and DNA”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere.

Remi Cavagna

Rémi Cavagna in 2019. Sirotti photo

Another Frenchman, Rémi Cavagna, picked up a trophy for Deceuninck – Quick-Step on the very last day of the season, minutes after Sam Bennett finished runner-up in Madrid, taking to the podium in the Spanish capital, where he was rewarded for his numerous attacks and breakaways at the Vuelta a España, one of which brought him close to a second Grand Tour stage victory. Six weeks after concluding the Tour de France, the “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand” didn’t show any signs of slowing down and this didn’t go unnoticed, as he became the first Frenchman in history to be named most combative rider of La Vuelta.

“This award is very special and makes me extremely proud. I didn’t win a stage, but I was six times in a breakaway, always trying to make the race more spectacular. I like being in a breakaway and I was happy every time I found myself at the front in the past couple of weeks. It’s not a question of planning, more a question of feeling, I just like to attack and improvise once I am in the lead. I know I can’t win sprints, so I always try to do something crazy, something that people will remember, like I did in Ardèche, in the beginning of the year. That is why being on the podium here and getting this trophy is so special”, a delighted Rémi said.

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