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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, February 21, 2021

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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.

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Tour de Alpes Maritimes et du Var stage two team reports

We posted the report from second-place Bauke Mollema's Trek-Segafredo team with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Michael Woods' Israel Start-Up Nation team:

There were a few reasons for Mike Woods to feel the pressure before the start of today’s second stage of the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var.

“I was brought to this team by Sylvan Adams and Paulo Saldanha to win,” he said, referring to the team’s owner, who backed him financially, and his coach, who believed in him when he was an unknown aspiring talent years ago. And more than that, he was about to start a stage where everyone viewed him as a clear favourite to win, with that steep climb to the finish perfectly suiting his riding style.

But there he was, standing before the start, taking it all in calmly. When we asked him how he blocks the pressure he turned on his smile and said, “Look, I just try to enjoy it. This is one of the reasons why you race bikes. That’s why kids watch sports. When you are young you choose your favourite guy. That’s what makes it fun. You know the cameras are on you so, instead of using it as a source of pressure, I try to enjoy it.”

Four hours later he proved that his formula for success was effective, securing his and the team’s first victory of the season with such an overpowering force and calm in the last few hundred meters, despite the 10-15 percent gradient climb to the finish line. “He has a big heart,” marveled our French Sports Director Lionel Marie. “Of course, he had the power that nobody could match, but everybody was watching him. So, in the money time, he just showed he is a rock.”

Michael Woods

Michael Woods wins the stage. Sirotti photo

Of course, it wasn’t a solo show, and the Canadian was the first to give credit to his teammates who protected him all day and enabled him “to relax and breathe and not waste too much energy.” His new teammate, Sep Vanmarcke, was the catalyst – positioning him in the lead on the foot of the climb; from there it was all Woods. “I was able to execute the plan, kept the lead and accelerate with 300 meters to go.” Nobody could touch him, and he was able to take two seconds on his closest rival, Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo. Woods secured the yellow jersey – taking it from the Dutch rider – with one second to spare.

Now what?

The third stage, which awaits the riders tomorrow, is a 134 km mountain stage with three Cat. 1 climbs. We anticipate a fierce battle on the final climb, the Col de la Madone, where Woods’ rivals will attempt to distance themselves from him and escape on the 15 km descent to the finish.

Once again Woods calls for calm, saying, “We have a strong team. I have real faith in the guys. I have to keep a cool head, be smart, descend well, and make sure that I can follow Mollema. The rest is out of my hands, right?”

Michael Storer's Team DSM posted this report:

After yesterday’s opening hill-top finish today the peloton were faced with yet another uphill finale, albeit stage two’s final climb would turn out to be a lot punchier and feature leg-sapping gradients.

With the slight chance a break could succeed on today’s course if the right group and teams got away, a ferocious pace was set over the rolling terrain in the opening hour, with plentiful attacks. Like yesterday, the team were very active in trying to make the move and featured in some failed attempts before a group of seven riders managed to get clear with all Team DSM riders in the bunch.

The break fought hard and held onto their advantage well which resulted in a fast final hour of racing around the finish lap. Over the testing terrain the team did well to protect Michael Storer and tried their best to position him for the almost ten percent average gradient final climb, known locally as the Mur de Fayence. Storer dug deep on the stinging gradients, just losing contact with the tail end of the front group in the final few hundred metres, after a good effort.

Michael Storer

Michael Storer was 35th today. Team DSM photo

Tomorrow sees the peloton take on an incredibly tough final stage with over 3500 metres of climbing squeezed into only 130 kilometres – we should see some exciting racing!

“Today was another hard stage with a steep finishing climb,” explained Storer after the finish. “The course became selective under the pressure put on by a strong breakaway forcing the peloton to race faster. We focussed on improving on our team work from the first stage and we look forward to trying again tomorrow.”
Team DSM coach Michiel Elijzen added: “Again it was a hard day on the bike, with a lot of climbing. We tried to make the breakaway but missed the seven rider move that went clear. At the end it was a pretty tough pace that the GC teams and those going for the stage put on the peloton. We couldn’t really deliver Michael into the best position for the final climb because of that. We’re just missing that few percent, which on a finish like this makes all the difference in the end.”

Here's the stage two report from team Total Direct Energie:

Team Total Direct Energie was on the offensive today with a long breakaway and a top 5 at the Mur de Fayence. Back on this second stage of the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var.

It's the second day in the south of France and the Team's riders have ants in their legs! From the start of the stage, Mathieu Burgaudeau tried to take the breakaway, without success. The battle therefore continued and it was finally a group of seven riders who managed to get out of the peloton with Victor de la Parte. The race is on.

The Col de Mons and the first two crossings on the line at Fayence hurt the fugitives who left precious strength to finish the work started. Despite very good resistance, the last survivors of the day's breakaway were picked up 4 kilometers from the finish, thus opening the door to an explanation in the Mur de Fayence.

Alexis Vuillermoz is a specialist in arrivals with panache. Even today, our puncher has shown that he can compete with the biggest on ramps like the Mur de Fayence. After a very good climb, he finished in 5th place.

“I was pretty confident about my form. I preferred to be offensive today. I was very well supported by my teammates throughout the day and in the end. I really wanted to try my luck by anticipating early enough. Tonight, I am not disappointed. I was still in the game. It was important to show that we were there to play for the win by being offensive, ” Said Vuillermoz.

Alexis Vuillermoz

Alexis Vuillermoz finishing fifth. Total Direct Energie photo.

Unfortunately, there was not all good news today for Total Direct Energie. Indeed, Cristian Rodriguez was ill this morning. He had to give up from the first kilometers.

Pierre Latour suffered a fall which forced him to throw in the towel. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Jip van den Bos skips spring season

Van den Bos's Jumbo-Visma team posted this sad news:

Jip van den Bos will miss the first part of the upcoming season. The 24-year-old rider from Alkmaar had an unfortunate crash in the GP Plouay at the end of August and suffered a concussion as a result. The rider of Team Jumbo-Visma is forced to take extra time in the build-up to the new season.

In France, Van den Bos crashed during an attack. Apart from a slight headache, nothing seemed wrong at first. However, the impact of the fall turned out to be more severe than expected and the rider had to skip the remaining season. “I started very well in the first races last year. Then I also got through the period without races without any problems. I really enjoyed the training and I noticed that I was making progress. I started the second part of the season with confidence again. Unfortunately, I crashed in one of the first races. It wasn’t even hard, but it was an unfortunate crash which resulted in a concussion.”

After a long period of recovery, she is now busy building up her activities again. “Of course, I was still riding for my old team at the time, but the contact with Team Jumbo-Visma was already so good that they supported me from the start. It has been a very long and difficult time, but fortunately things are now moving in the right direction.”

By not competing in any races in the first part of the season, Van den Bos hopes to appear at the start of the second part of the season fully recovered. “In my situation, it is most important not to set a deadline. You have no influence on how long it takes. Of course, I hope I can return to racing as soon as possible, but at the moment I am already happy to be able to build up my strength again in the training sessions.”

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