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Saturday, September 10, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Vuetla a España stage nineteen reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Mads Pedersen's Team Trek-Segafredo:

Stage 19.

Trek-Segafredo had red-circled this day for some time and came in with high ambitions and a big plan: all hands – or legs in this case – on deck for one goal: a third win.

Mads had already promised his teammates, twice, that if they carry out their job, he will win. And Friday, for an incredible third time, he delivered on it again.

Mads Pedersen takes his third stage this Vuelta. Sirotti photo

“After a team effort like today it’s really, really nice to give the boys a victory. I think this was, by far, the hardest victory for the whole team, so it’s a good feeling,” said Pedersen. “I am really thankful for the boys today because without them there was no chance I could sprint at the end.”

The 138-kilometer medium mountain stage included two ascents of the category two rated Puerto del Piélago, and a breakaway of three strong climbers escaped on the first.

A manageable trio, but 19 races into a Grand Tour there is no easy. The gap went to four minutes by the top and Trek-Segafredo immediately came to the front and started to ride.

“Our plan was to let a small break go and control it from the beginning. But it was a pretty strong break and it was not easy to control so the whole team had to be used in the right moments,” explained Mads.

“It was definitely hard to control but man the team was so, so impressive,” he continued. “Everyone was so dedicated and working really hard. When the three guys went and one was McNulty it’s not an easy break, so we worked to close them as fast as possible.”

In the valley ahead of the second ascent of the nine-kilometer climb, the USA WorldTour Team carved into the leaders’ gap, knocking it down to one minute at the start of the second ascent.

Three days from the end of the three-week race and the fatigue was evident. It raised more questions than answers as the climb started: Does Mads still have his good legs to get over the category two climb for a second time? Would, and could, others attack?  Were the trio out front too strong?

The climb started. After two kilometers the three escapees were caught. Team Bahrain Victorious then took the reins from Trek-Segafredo and set a grueling pace.  It shed a lot of weight from the bunch and thwarted attacks but did not get rid of Mads.

By the top, Mads’ had issued his response.

“The strategy was to close the gap on the last climb and then hopefully it would be a small peloton. Luckily the boys were able to do that, and then Bahrain did a really good pace on the climb for Fred Wright, and from there on, it was about staying focused all the way to the finish,” said Mads.

Forty kilometers remained. A long, fast downhill followed by a flat run-in.  Three of the Team’s lightweights – Kenny Elissonde, Antonio Tiberi and Julien Bernard – policed the front, keeping the accelerator pressed to maintain a high speed. The kilometers ticked away.

Mads’ Lieutenant, Alex Kirsch, was gone, his effort earlier taking him away from his prime role in the lead out, but the peloton was small. Mostly climbers.

“I had Kenny pulling alone for really long, and Julien and Antonio did a such a good lead-out when you take into account they never do lead-outs. Really, really impressive; they did super in the last kilometer,” praised Mads.

Even a late flyer by Miles Scotson was batted aside. Trek-Segafredo was not going to let all their work be wasted in the last 500 meters.

“It’s never easy in a finale like this because there are a lot of strong guys in the bunch, and if one of them attacks in the roundabout I would be the one to close it, and then it would be hard to sprint so I was really happy for the speed the boys could keep in the end,” said Mads.

He continued:“When Miles Scotson attacked I still had Antonio Tiberi in front of me. Antonio looks skinny but he’s a powerful little guy so I was pretty sure that he could keep him within a distance  that I could still pass Miles in the sprint.

It was a team effort from the drop of the flag to the white line and it gave Trek-Segafredo a hat trick of wins with still one more chance on Sunday before La Vuelta comes to a close.

“Three wins is more than we came here for so that of course is super super nice,” said Mads.  “Tomorrow we just have to finish the day and then see in Madrid how it goes, but no matter what I think we can be happy with these three weeks in Spain.”

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Here's the report from GC leader Remco Evenepoel's Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

One day after conquering the summit finish of Alto del Piornal, Remco Evenepoel navigated a rather quiet stage surrounded by his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl teammates and will go into the final weekend of the race with the red jersey on his shoulders.

Remco Evenepoel has two more stages to go. Sirotti photo

Starting and finishing in Talavera de la Reina, a city tracing its history back to the days of the Celts, stage 19 consisted of a circuit featuring the Puerto del Pielago climb, which the peloton tackled twice. As the second of these ascents came more than 42 kilometers from the finish, there weren’t any attacks from the GC riders, with the teams focusing instead on keeping things together for a reduced bunch sprint.

The victory went to Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), while the overall leader of the competition came home safely in the bunch and went to the podium to receive his 14th consecutive red jersey: “The start was fast, but things calmed down once a breakaway formed and then the second lap was quite relaxed. I expect things to be quite different on Saturday, we have a hard stage scheduled and there’s a possibility to see many attacks launched by my opponents from the start. We remain confident and hope to do a good stage.”

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Here the Vuelta report from second-place Fred Wright's Bahrain Victorious team and the team'a response to a post From Jumbo-Visma about Primoz Roglic's crash:

On a blisteringly hot day in Castile-La-Mancha, Fred Wright was narrowly outsprinted by triple stage-winner Mads Pedersen at the finish line of stage 19 in Talavera de la Reina, adding a 2nd place to the two 3rds & two 4ths he has already achieved at La Vuelta.

Fred Wright is next to Mads Pedersen in the drag race to the finish. Sirotti photo

Having played his cards perfectly in the final kilometre, Fred was on the ex World Champion’s wheel coming into the last 50 metres, when he launched his sprint and came around Pedersen on the right, only to be beaten by the Dane’s bike throw on the line.

The winning margin was a matter of centimetres, and to be so close to a sprinter with the pedigree & palmares of the Trek rider, on a pan flat finish, shows again the incredible late-season form of the 23-year old Briton. His 5 teammates had worked brilliantly to position Wright in the fight for victory, throughout the 138km stage.

Despite yet another impressive performance at this last grand tour of the season, Fred was – of course – disappointed not to stand on the top step of the podium today.

“I was so close again to that stage win but Mads was just too quick. The team were amazing in supporting me today. I owe this result to all of them”

Just before the stage finished, and while the riders were all still on the road, Team Jumbo Visma released a statement on their website regarding the crash in the finishing straight on stage 16 which led to Primoz Roglic’s withdrawal from the race.

In it, the triple Vuelta winner and the team’s managing director insinuate heavily that our rider, Fred Wright, was to blame for the incident, and for the Slovenian’s injuries.

Team Bahrain Victorious stand by Fred. It is our belief that this was a racing incident. Unfortunately crashes are a part of our sport and this isn’t the first, nor will it be the last, even though riders do their best to avoid them.The race footage supports this: our rider does not deviate from his racing line before the incident.

We also believe that if a team has certain feelings about an incident on the road, the place to take those up is with the commissaires after the stage rather than a statement online some days later.

It is predictable that releasing a statement such as this leads to vitriol and hate being expressed towards a fellow member of the peloton, which we find most disappointing. We sincerely hope that actions encouraging such behaviour online will cease to happen. Fred is kind, generous, and incredibly talented. He does not deserve the comments or sentiments that have been directed towards him in recent days.

Wright also feels that the accusations are unmerited:

“I don’t think the statement is fair to be honest, as the footage shows it was a simple racing incident, but I also appreciate that Primoz was challenging for the red jersey here at La Vuelta. And of course I did send him a private message after the stage to see if he was ok.”

All of us at Team Bahrain Victorious wish Primoz a speedy recovery and return to racing.

Before Sunday’s final stage in the Spanish capital of Madrid, Saturday will see the riders tackle one last mountain test: 181km between Moralzarzal and Puerto de Navacerrada.

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Here's the post from Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team on his stage 16 crash:

At home with his wife and child, Primoz Roglic is fighting off the pain. Physically, because the Slovenian smashed into the asphalt while sprinting in stage 16 of the Vuelta a España. Mentally, because Roglic had to withdraw from a major stage race with bruised and bloodied limbs once more. It meant an abrupt end to his ambition of becoming the first rider to win the Vuelta four times in a row. But even more than that, it was how the Olympic time trial champion suffered that hurt.

Primoz Roglic just after his stage 16 crash. Sirotti photo

"This was not okay", the rider of Team Jumbo-Visma refers to the collision with Fred Wright, who finished fourth. "This shouldn't happen. People move on swiftly as if nothing happened. For me, that doesn't apply. This is not the way I want the sport to continue and I want to make that clear."

The three-time Vuelta a España winner reported feeling 'slightly better' this morning. He refrained from commenting on whether he will be able to continue the season. "I can walk a little bit. I am happy with that for the moment. After the crash, it took me time to straighten things out. I asked myself: how can this be? My conclusion is that the way this crash happened is unacceptable. Not everyone saw it correctly. The crash was not caused by a bad road or a lack of safety but by a rider's behaviour. I don't have eyes on my back. Otherwise, I would have run wide. Wright came from behind and rode the handlebars out of my hands before I knew it."

Roglic's account is relevant in a broader context: the issue of safety. Richard Plugge, CEO of Jumbo-Visma and currently also president of the AIGCP (the association representing the team's interests), visited the UCI in Aigle this past week. The topic was a top priority there. Plugge co-founded the 'safety working group', which was established after the terrible incident in Poland involving Fabio Jakobsen and Dylan Groenewegen. The working group is making progress in favour of safer racing conditions.

To organise the safety management of - initially - the WorldTour, one or more professional experts must be appointed by 2023, according to the UCI and the other stakeholders. Race behaviour is one of the facets they have to work with.

Plugge: "Research has been done into numerous racing incidents. They have been mapped out in a database. The causes were categorised. Obstacles, for example. As well as 'rider's own fault' or 'other rider's fault'. We are right to talk about unsafe spots in a course, such as the threshold in Burgos. However, research shows that the riders' cycling behaviour is to blame for a crash in about half the cases. Not braking, but pushing through, for example. It doesn't surprise me because every rider has the will to win. I would like to say: brake and use your brains. It requires a change of behaviour, driven by awareness and consistent judging. Shortly after the incident in Poland, it almost went wrong in Milano-Sanremo for the 3rd and the 4th place. Fortunately, that ended well, but the behaviour remained unpunished. We have to deal with that properly."

Plugge notes a remarkable phenomenon. "Ten years ago, the older riders were sounding the alarm because the younger ones showed less respect, took irresponsible risks, and pushed their way through everything. The younger ones of yesteryear are the older riders of today. But you still hear the same discussion, even though we are a generation ahead. So that has to change. I'm glad that Primoz is speaking out, looking in the mirror and naming the behaviour of riders as well."

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