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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 26, 2021

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

I've been on a calendar, but I've never been on time. - Marilyn Monroe


Current racing:

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2021 Giro d'Italia Route announced

Here's our 2021 Giro d'Italia page.

Giro d'Italia

Simon Yates confirms his return to the Giro d’Italia and quest for pink

Team BikeExchange sent me this:

In light of the 2021 official Giro d’Italia route announcement yesterday, Team BikeExchange are pleased to confirm that Briton Simon Yates will return to the Italian Grand Tour for the fourth consecutive year, vying for the elusive overall victory.

With the 2021 edition accumulating to a total of 47,000 metres of climbing courtesy of six major mountain top finishes, seven significant hilly stages and just 38.4kilomtres of time trialling, Yates returns to the Italian race older, wiser and with unfinished business.

“The 2021 Giro route looks really nice, there’s a good mix of stages and there’s even some gravel roads thrown in for good measure.” Yates explained. “As always with the Giro, the final week looks hard and with only a small amount of time trial kilometres I think that is where the race will be decided.”

Yates holds a love/hate relationship with the event after numerous triumphs and tribulations in his quest for pink over the years. The 28-year-old, who finished eighth overall in 2019, had previously worn the Maglia Rosa for thirteen stages in 2018, claiming three stage wins along the way, before conceding time on stage 19 and ending his bid for overall victory agonisingly close to the finish.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates racing in stage 14 of the 2019 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

“The last two or three years haven’t gone as I would have hoped with a combination of bad luck and some mistakes along the way,” Yates admitted. “All I hope for is to have a clean run in 2021 without these things and that I can show myself in the best way possible.”

This year’s Giro d’Italia is no different to any other in terms of unpredictability, with the organisers adding an interesting stage to Montalcino in Tuscany which features 34km of gravel roads in the finale. With this, Yates will tailor his build-up and leave no stone unturned in his preperation ahead of the grand depart in Turin.

“I remember watching the gravel stage from the 2010 Giro d’Italia and I expect a similar battle for this year’s race,” continued Yates. “I will start my season at Strade Bianche, which will be the first time at that race for me, in order to gain experience of racing on the white roads and I hope that puts me in good stead for the Giro come May.

“Along with Tirreno Adriatico and the Tour of the Alps, I will have a full Italian programme in the lead up to the big dance and I can’t wait to get started.”

With the wide variety of stages, Team BikeExchange Head Sport Director Matt White believes the winner will need to be a ‘complete, all-round rider’.

"It’s a well-balanced Giro route,” White explained. “We have a real variety of stages with the epic white roads of Tuscany, some tricky hilltop finishes on dirt and of course the historic, brutal climbs of Northern Italy in the last week.

“The low time trial kilometres are certainly an advantage for the pure climbers, but the rider that wins the 2021 Giro d’Italia will have to be a complete all-round athlete.”

UAE Tour stage five reports

We posted the report from GC third-place Joao Almeida's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the report from stage five winner Jonas Vingegaard's Jumbo-Visma team:

Jonas Vingegaard has won the fifth stage in the UAE Tour. The 24-year-old climbing talent of Team Jumbo-Visma rushed past Alexey Lutsenko after a breakaway in the final phase and was the first to reach the top of the climb to Jebel Jais. Chris Harper retained his fourth place overall.

Jonas Vingegaard

Jonas Vingegaard wins stage five. Jumbo-Visma photo

The Danish rider took his second professional victory, after winning a stage in the Tour of Poland. This stage victory raises Team Jumbo-Visma’s tally to two victories in 2021.

A group of nine riders were released by the peloton in the 170 kilometre stage. What followed was a quiet run to the foot of the climb. The race only exploded at the last moment, with the all-decisive attack by Vingegaard at just over one kilometre from the finish. "The pace slowed down a bit in the peloton. I thought it would be a good time to try. Fortunately I was able to catch Lutsenko and beat him in the sprint", a delighted Vingegaard said. "I am very happy with this victory, my first victory of the season. It has been two years since my last win. It feels good to show that I have a good level. This is also very nice for the team. Hopefully this is the beginning of many victories."

Sports director Addy Engels was also delighted with his rider’s victory. "A wonderful day for us as a team. The plan was the same as during the first mountain stage of this UAE Tour. Our goal was to support Chris Harper for his general classification. If it was possible to get a good result for the day, we certainly wanted to seize that opportunity. For Jonas to finish in such a way is great."

Here's the update from GC leader Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

The fifth stage of the UAE Tour ended with Tadej Pogačar coming home in close second, behind Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma), on the mountainous finish of Jebel Jais.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar was carefully escorted by his team. Bettini photo

The twenty-two year old race leader was well protected and helped by the whole Emirati team during the 170 km of today’s stage, managing to be ready in the quick finish that saw the men in the standings fight until the last meters.

With this result Pogačar now holds the red jersey for the leader of the general classification, green jersey for the points classification as well as the white jersey for best young rider.

The team will now aim to defend the race lead heading into the last two stages dedicated to sprinters.

Pogačar: “The last few kilometers we had a lot of attacks to control. My aim was to stay focused and keep an eye on the other guys in the GC to defend the red jersey. The finish was very fast, so well done to Vingegaard on his win. I am happy for my second place today. There are still two important stages in which we must stay focused and aim to bring home the result”.

The penultimate stage scheduled for tomorrow will start and finish in Dubai: 168 km flat with a final sprint at Palm Jumeirah Island.

Here's the report from GC second place Adam Yates' INEOS Granadiers:

Adam Yates finished third on stage five's summit finish at Jebel Jais to consolidate second place overall at UAE Tour.

Yates finished behind race leader Tadej Pogacar and stage winner Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo Visma) following strong work from his teammates to bring back an early break that threatened to take the stage away from the GC contenders.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates (on right) with Tadej Pogacar finishing the stage. Bettini photo

Luke Rowe, Filippo Ganna and Andrey Amador pushed the pace of the peloton in the early going to keep the nine man break in a tight leash, before Ivan Sosa and a star turn from Brandon Rivera ensured the gap dwindled on Jebel Jais.

At this point just Alexey Lutsnenko (Astana) remained in the lead and Dani Martinez's explosive pace dramatically reduced the Kazakh's advantage.

With Lutsenko in sight, the attacks reigned in from a select lead group, with Vingegaard's acceleration proving decision, as Yates and Pogacar sprinted for second place' crucial bonus seconds.

The result see Yates remain second overall with two flat stages better suited to the sprinters remaining at the UAE Tour.

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

With the ascent up the Jebel Jais, the second summit finish of the UAE Tour awaited the riders today after 168 kilometers of racing. Leaving the start in Fujairah, the parkour was quite undulated but still the decisive moves were expected to be launched on the final climb. Right after the gun M. Frank distanced himself from the bunch successfully and opened up a gap of about three minutes before he was joined by another eight riders.

It was a hard fight to chase the leading group down and with 10 kilometers remaining, A. Lutsenko was solo at the front, around two minutes ahead of the main field. Ineos Genadier was setting a hard pace and BORA – hansgrohe had still Buchmann, Konrad and Zwiehoff in the select group of favorites. But when the hunt for the stage win started, also Buchmann and Konrad lost contact on the final kilometer today. J. Vingegaard finally managed to overtake Lutsenko on the last 300m and took the stage win.

Bora-hansgrohe

From the Finish Line:
"On Tuesday my legs have been better. But also the climb suited me better than this long drag up the finish today. The pace was constantly high, and I felt quite good for a long time but when the attacks started, I couldn’t respond. At the moment I am not able to match the peak power of the other guys, but I think that’s normal after a 5 month break from racing." – Emanuel Buchmann

"I think we can say that we are on a good level and had three guys in the main group on the last five kilometers. But it is also obvious that we miss something to fight for a win in the end. That’s where we are and there is some work ahead of us to be really competitive in the finals. But the potential is for sure there, that’s the good news for the moment." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Team BikeExchange women to make their debut in Europe at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

The team sent me this:

Team BikeExchange women’s team will make their first racing appearance in Europe this weekend at the one-day Belgium Classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Brabantsje-Pijl winner Grace Brown and newly crowned Australian champion Sarah Roy will line-up as leaders with support from new signings Teniel Campbell and Arianna Fidanza, in their debut race for the team.

Grace Brown

Grace Brown having a good day at the 2018 Tour Down Under.

Australian’s Jess Allen and Amanda Spratt round out the six-rider team looking for a strong start to the Classics campaign.

The 124km race includes 10 steep and challenging climbs such as the Tenbosse, Kapelmuur and finally the Bosberg, which comes less than 15km from the finish line in Ninove.

Team BikeExchange at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:
Jessica Allen (AUS)
Grace Brown (AUS)
Teniel Campbell (TOB)
Arianna Fidanza (ITA)
Sarah Roy (AUS)
Amanda Spratt (AUS)

Sarah Roy:
“I’m feeling pretty pumped to kick-off the classics season this weekend. You always want to perform really, really well in your favourite bunch of races, but realistically I need to use this race as a feeler for where things are at and to get back in the swing of everything again.

“The less expectation the better initially, but I can imagine the racing won’t be a gentle reintroduction. The field will be very strong, and the racing will be tough, but I’m looking forward to it”.

Grace Brown:
“I’m looking forward to hitting the cobbles at Het Nieuwsblad this weekend. I’m glad to have some Australian races in my legs already and I am feeling confident, but there are always many unknowns heading into the Opening Weekend of the Classics.

“This race is always hard and exciting like a typical cobbled classic. I expect that it will split up a lot in the final 50km and be raced aggressively. We have a strong team line-up with a mix of experience and new talent, and I hope we will be fighting at the pointy end of the race to get our first European result for the season”

Martin Vestby – Women’s Head Sport Director:
“We will be at the start with a strong and well-prepared team. Coming into the new season, I think we have more cards to play and we have very good riders, so I expect us to be in the fight for the podium and also for the win.

“It will be the first race with a couple of new riders in the team, Teniel Campbell and Arianna Fidanza, who will have a support role for our leaders Sarah Roy and Grace Brown.

“It’s going to be a hard race for sure. There were some little course changes and maybe it will be a little bit easier than last year. The second half of the race, with the combination of cobbles sections and climbs will be the real kick-off of the competition and, of course, will be important to get there as fresh as you we can before the tough finale”.

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