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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, February 23, 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.

There is no greater harm than that of time wasted. - Michelangelo

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UAE Tour stage two reports

We posted the report from new GC leader Tadej Pogacar's UAE-Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the race organizer's stage two report:

Stage winner Filippo Ganna said in the press conference: “I am really happy with this result, achieved in this amazing Rainbow Jersey. Every ITT is a different race, it is never easy. Some people think that because I am the World Champion, ITTs are easy for me, but it’s not like this, every new race is a new test. Today I did a good performance, the next time I’ll be doing one will be at Tirreno-Adriatico. Yesterday we had to stop for ‘physiologic needs’ and then the echelons started. Luckily we had Adam [Yates] in the front, we hope he can claim back the Red Jersey that he won last year. The wind will still play an important role in this race, many things can still change. My focus now is to help Adam [Yates], especially before the climbs begin.”

Filippo Ganna

Stage winner Filippo Ganna just after the stage.

The Red Jersey Tadej Pogačar said: “I knew before the time trial that my shape is good at the moment and in the end, I did a really good time trial and I’m super happy with the result. Having the leader’s jersey is very good for us. We can go into the upcoming stages with confidence. It was pan-flat today but I actually like that a lot. I train on the flat just as much as on the mountains. Sometimes I prefer the mountains but sometimes I also enjoy riding on the flat, especially in time trials, which is a very nice discipline. I really like to race on the TT bike.
Today, I was more focusing on myself and doing the best time I could than focusing on Joao Almeida’s abilities. It did matter to me though before the start how good he’d do. I knew he’d be good. As for me, I actually didn’t expect anything. I was just riding for myself. I think I’ve just done my best TT – for this short length. It was a really good performance from my perspective.
Five seconds lead over Almeida is not a lot but it is an advantage. I’m in the defending position and he needs to attack. It’s easier to control than to have to make up time. But there are still five stages left and many things can happen. Tomorrow it’s the hardest mountain-top finish. I hope for the best legs I can have.

"It is a bit of an advantage to know Jebel Hafeet well from last year and from our training camps over here but up the hill, it’s a matter of power more than knowledge of every meter of the climb. At the top, the best rider wins. I just want to be first at the top.

"I’m pretty familiar with this country. I always get a warm welcome in the UAE. It’s so nice to come back here. Every time I feel more comfortable. For sure, I will come back here often.”

The Green Jersey João Almeida said: “I think I did a good effort today. I can be happy with this. It was short but really hard. I didn’t know what to expect. In the end, it’s about the time gap as well and it is a pretty small gap between me and Tadej Pogacar. We’re still very close to each other. I think I’m in a great position before the queen stage although I’ve never climbed Jebel Hafeet before. I actually don’t know these roads. It’s a bit of a disadvantage but I don’t think it’ll make a big difference. It’s not going to be easy for sure. We have a long day’s riding before we reach the climb as well. Let’s hope for the best”.

Here's the report from stage winner Filippo Ganna's INEOS Grenadiers team:

Filippo Ganna continued his time trial momentum with an impressive victory on day two of the UAE Tour. The Italian was the only rider to dip under 14 minutes across the 13-kilometre test, taking stage victory by 14 seconds and racking up his eighth time trial win in a row.

The run, dating back to the Italian time trial nationals last August, has seen Ganna go on to become the most dominant time trial specialist in the sport. The Grenadier also completed the stage at a rapid pace of 55.9km/h.

Elsewhere it was an encouraging day for the team, with both Adam Yates and Daniel Martinez impressing on their team debuts. Yates furthered his GC hopes by moving up to fifth place overall on the day, while Martinez showed a great turn of speed, claiming ninth on the stage.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates racing across the desert. INEOS photo.

Filippo Ganna:
"Every race is hard and to arrive with focus and good legs is not easy. Luckily my body was ready today and I was able to take this fantastic result for me and the team.

"It’s strange in the middle of the desert but it’s really nice. It’s my first time at Abu Dhabi Tour. I’m really happy and I hope to continue like this in future races, including at Tirreno next month.

"Every TT is a test for me. I try to arrive better and better. It was a really high-speed stage, almost 56km/h. It’s really hard but I’m happy to be sitting here today."

Chris Harper's Jumbo-Visma team posted this report:

Chris Harper has climbed to fourth place in the general classification of the UAE Tour. The Australian finished 24th in the individual time trial, 52 seconds behind winner Filippo Ganna. Jonas Vingegaard was the fastest rider of Team Jumbo-Visma and finished thirteenth.

DAvid Dekker

Because overnight race leader Mathieu van der Poel's Alpecin-Fenix team had to withdraw from the race due to a team staffer being Covid-positive, David Dekker rode the stage in the leader's red jersey. Jumbo-Visma photo

The short 13-kilometre time trial started and ended on the island of Al Hudayriyat. Shortly before the start of the stage, it was announced that David Dekker would start in the red leader’s jersey. The actual leader Mathieu van der Poel and his team left the tour after a positive corona test by a staff member. Dekker was unable to hold on to the leader’s jersey and handed it to Tadej Pogacar at the end of the day. The young Dutchman is still in the top ten of the general classification.

Harper looked back on a good time trial: “I would have liked to be a little faster out there today. I gave everything I had.” He lost half a minute on Pogacar and thus keeps the prospect of a good final classification. “Tomorrow is a tough stage with a hilltop finish. I will try to recover well and give it my all tomorrow again.”

Sports director Addy Engels is positive about Harper and his position in the current general classification. “Chris is our GC rider after yesterday and today. He has held up well and has the prospect of a good final classification. In addition to that, Jonas rode a very strong time trial today.” Jos van Emden finished in fifteenth place, six seconds behind Vingegaard. “Jos started very well, but unfortunately he was unable to continue his pace for the second part of the race”, Engels said.

João Almeida's Deceuninck-Quick Step team posted this:

One day after helping the Wolfpack blow the race to pieces in the crosswinds, João Almeida rose up again to the challenge and put in a strong individual time trial on the 13km course that took place on the flat roads of the Hudayriyat island.


Joao Almeida. Photo: TDW Sport

Penultimate Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider down the ramp, the 22-year-old Portuguese put in a solid effort despite the course not being completely to his liking, and after setting the ninth fastest time at the checkpoint, he upped the tempo and concluded the race’s sole stage against the clock in 14:26. An average speed a shy over 54km/h helped João slot into the top 10 at the finish, a result that propelled him to second overall, just a handful of seconds behind the new leader of the UAE Tour.

“Today was very windy, but I gave everything out there and I am really happy with my effort. It’s my first race of the season and it’s a nice feeling to know I’m on the podium after two hard stages. We are in a good position for the first summit finish and we’ll continue like this, taking it day by day and seeing where that leads us”, said Almeida, the new holder of the points jersey, after his sixth place on Monday’s stage.

Mattia Cattaneo was another rider to produce a great time trial which saw the experienced Italian move up several places on the general classification. Cattaneo is now fourth, making him one of the three Deceuninck – Quick-Step delegates in the top 10 overall, with Michael Mørkøv rounding out the list in ninth position.

Here's the report from Emanuel Buchmann's Bora-hansgrohe squad:

Today’s second stage of the UAE Tour took the riders around Al Hudayriat on a 13-kilometer-long ITT course. It was a race against the clock for pure specialists as the parkours was totally flat. For BORA – hansgrohe both, Emanuel Buchmann and Patrick Konrad, tried to improve their GC ranks after the missed echelon in crosswinds yesterday. Stefan Bissegger was the one to set a first benchmark of the day with a time of 14:10. Buchmann and Konrad both showed solid performances and clocked at 14:49 and 14:53. In the end Buchmann took 26th place and Konrad 29th, while F. Ganna took another impressive TT win.

Emanuel Buchmann

I believe this is Patrick Konrad. Bettini photo

"I can be happy with my result today. The course was totally flat and for pure specialists, that’s nothing I like. Still, I think my performance was quite good. I only lost 53 seconds to Ganna and also gained some seconds against some GC riders. Tomorrow we hit the mountains, that will suit me a lot better and I can be confident as my legs feel quite good." – Emanuel Buchmann

"We are happy today. Patrick started a little too fast maybe, therefore he lost some seconds on the second part. Emu managed his pace very well and achieved the optimum, I think. To lose only 53 seconds on 13 km to the best time trialist at the moment is really good for a climber. He also gained some seconds to guys like Yates, Poels or Nibali. So, the performance today makes me look confident into tomorrow’s stage. Then we have the first summit finish, and we’ll see where we really are at the moment." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Team DSM's upcoming racing

The team sent me this update:

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite, FEB 27

Marc Reef - Team DSM coach:
"After a long period of good preparation with some of the guys just back from a solid team altitude block, we're looking forward to opening weekend and the the first cobbled race of the year at Omloop. Romain makes his race debut for the team and for most it’s also their season opener. Our main goal is to race aggressively and as a block, like we showed in races last year, in search of a good result. It depends on the weather and the direction of the wind, but after every corner a new chance to make a move is there, and we have to ride aggressively to take those chances and opportunities. We have multiple riders that are able to get a good result in the race, but the most important thing is that we do it together and as a block, playing it out tactically so that we can bounce off of each other and use strength in numbers to our advantage."

Romain Bardet

Romain Badet (shown finishing stage 8 of the 2020 Tour de France after crashing) will be on the startline for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Sirotti photo

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Romain Bardet (FRA)
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Jasha Sütterlin (GER)

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad-Women elite, FEB 27

Hans Timmermans - Team DSM coach:
"With two solid team camps behind us we've had a really good preparation period and we're ready to start our season at Omloop with a strong team and group of riders. Floortje finished in third place here for us last year and alongside Liane, we'll work to bring them deep into the tough finale in a good position. The 2018 edition of the race ended in a reduced sprint so Lorena gives us a good option for that if she is able to survive the tests of the cobbles. Juliette, Pfeiffer and Susanne are all riders whose qualities suit this type of race and with that we're aiming to ride aggressively in the front group and be present in any dangerous moves; giving ourselves the best chance of a nice result."

Susanne Andersen (NOR)
Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Lorena Wiebes (NED)

Kuurne - Bruxelles - Kuurne, FEB 28

Marc Reef - Team DSM coach:
"We head to Kuurne with a strong team that combines youth and experience; the younger guys in a perfect position to gain some experience with the older ones on what is a testing parcours. The parcours itself is more or less the same as last year so we should expect an attacking race that could be decided from a reduced sprint or a breakaway group. Casper, Nils, Søren and Tiesj showed last year that they can ride for a good result on a parcours like we have at Kuurne. We want to work well as a team to get the four of them into the finale so that we can race aggressively and have multiple options to play, in search of a good team result."

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Marco Brenner (GER)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Max Kanter (GER)
Andreas Leknessund (NOR)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)

Le Samyn, MAR 2

Bennie Lambregts - Team DSM coach:
"After two nice team camps with lots of training kilometres in the legs, we're excited to head to our first race of the year with the Development program. Le Samyn takes place on a tricky course and usually sees a hard race, with lots of strong opposition, but we bring a nice group of riders. Our main goal is to reach the finale with strength in numbers, after riding well collectively over the selective course. If the race comes down to a small sprint, then we'll look to set up Marius or Casper for the finish. However, our main goal is to be there as a group so we can take advantage with good collective racing."

Gianmarco Garofoli (ITA)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Enzo Leijnse (NED)
Marius Mayrhofer (GER)
Tim Naberman (NED)
Casper van Uden (NED)
Hannes Wilksch (GER)

Le Samyn des Dames, MAR 2

Hans Timmermans - Team DSM coach:
"Le Samyn is an unpredictable race with a lot of cobbles and false flats, where the weather plays a large part in the outcome of the day. The narrow, twisting roads and cobbles offer the perfect opportunity for a group to go clear, and if there is a lot of wind then the riders often come in one-by-one but if it is calmer then there is a chance that it could be controlled. We have options for different scenarios with Lorena as our sprinter, while Susanne, Pfeiffer, Leah and Franziska should give us multiple cards to play in the finale. We want to be aggressive and put riders in the important breakaways so that we're able to dictate the race and depending on how the race unfolds, we'll ride for a result from the breakaway or look to set up a sprint."

Susanne Andersen (NOR)
Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Franziska Koch (GER)
Esmée Peperkamp (NED)
Julia Soek (NED)
Lorena Wiebes (NED)

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