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Saturday, September 16, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

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Vuelta a España stage 19 team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Alberto Dainese's Team dsm-firmenich:

Always going to be a day for the fast-men of the bunch, Team dsm-firmenich positioned their finisher Alberto Dainese perfectly, who powered to the stage win in Íscar.

Alberto Dainese wins the stage. Sirotti photo

A controlled stage, the peloton always had the four rider breakaway under control and Team dsm-firmenich kept their proverbial powder dry for the final. Navigating some nervousness in the bunch, the team moved up well as a group, bringing fast finisher Dainese to the fore. Making sure they were in position around the last corner before the long final straight, the lead-out dropped off Dainese at the front. Opening up the afterburners, Dainese kicked hard and surged to the stage win in the sprint finale. Sitting up to celebrate as he crossed the line, it was a fine reward for Team dsm-firmenich after some great teamwork throughout the day.

“We did a super job,” explained an elated Dainese. “We looked back at the sprints that we did in the first few weeks, where we went wrong and what we can then do today, and we executed the plan perfectly. It was really unlucky to lose Sean and Max in the crash, but until that point they kept me in the perfect position and where we wanted to be. We knew it was a headwind in the finish so I let Ganna and a few of the other guys open it up early and then waited for my moment. I’m super happy to finish it off today. I really wanted to end the season and my time with the team in a good way; this feels really special because of that. I put a lot of pressure on it because it is one of the last sprints I’ll do, but it was great to take the win. I want to say thanks to the whole team; they did a great job today and this is for them.”

Team dsm-firmenich coach Phil West added: “Super nice to get the win today. The important thing was that we made the right steps and improvements from the previous sprint stages. The boys were super motivated as a group today to do that. Credit where credit is due, today they rode an almost perfect final. They were in the exactly right spots where they needed to be, made all the moves at the right moments and the communication was on a high level. Unfortunately, a crash in the final took out Max and Sean from the lead-out, but because of the work these guys had done then Alberto was still able to continue in a good position and go for the win. I think as a team we can be really happy with that one and we’ll continue in the last days here. Also happy to see that although they lost some skin and required stitches, the first medical checks at the finish would suggest there are no further injuries for Max and Sean.”

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Here's the Vuelta report from second-place Filippo Ganna's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Filippo Ganna sprinted to a second place finish after strong teamwork navigated a speedy finale in Iscar on stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana.

The 177 kilometre stage was mostly uneventful for the Grenadiers, who, with under 10 kilometres remaining, began their leadout.

Egan Bernal set the initial pace, before Jonathan Castroviejo set a furious tempo on the run-in, before swinging off to allow Geraint Thomas to the front.

Thomas would do a monster turn, keeping the Grenadiers safe in the crash marred finale.

Geraint Thomas before the stage start. Sirotti photo

Ganna was able to move up to sprint thanks to a leadout from Omar Fraile and Kim Heiduk, who positioned the Italian for the final sprint won by Alberto Dianese (Team dsm - firmenich).

Geraint Thomas:
“I thought let’s just get stuck in. Castro was really strong. I tried to dig in and go as deep and as long as possible."

“It was an easy day compared to what we’ve done in this race, but there were a lot of tired guys. It was just about committing. It’s easy to go early and it’s hard to wait. We did go a bit early, but the commitment was there. Unfortunately Pippo didn’t quite finish it off, but it’s more down to us I think.”

Filippo Ganna:
“Today the guys have been fantastic. They took the head of the bunch immediately. We did a perfect job – it’s unlucky I’m not a sprinter!"

"When I saw the bunch coming back I asked Kim to go a little bit early, and at 300 metres to go I needed to start, as the speed was starting to die down. I lost another sprint by a little bit, I don’t know how much, but I don’t think it’s a lot.”

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Here's the Vuelta report from GC leader Sepp Kuss' Team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma in good spirits for final weekend of Vuelta

The 19th stage of the Vuelta a España has ended with the expected bunch sprint. Team Jumbo-Visma stayed out of trouble throughout the day and are in an excellent position to prepare for the final two stages of the Spanish cycling race. Italian sprinter Alberto Dainese won the stage to Isca.

"Getting here safely was the most important thing today”, sports director Marc Reef said. "We wanted to stay out of trouble and ride towards the safety zone at the front of the peloton. Accidents happen", he said, referring to a crash in the peloton in the final kilometres. "It's important to stay sharp and alert on stages like this. We got through today's stage with a good feeling. We are one day closer to our big goal. On to tomorrow's stage.”

"It's never as easy as it seems”, general classification leader Sepp Kuss added. "Luckily, we all escaped trouble and made it to the finish in one piece. This brings us another day closer to our goal. Tomorrow's stage is a bit like a classic. It will be a tough day with a high pace all day. We have to be on our guard again tomorrow.”

Sepp Kuss heads to the start of stage 19. Sirotti photo

The penultimate stage of the Vuelta contains a fair amount of climbing.

Reef: "It's the stage with the most metres of climbing in this Vuelta. It won't be easy to control this stage. It goes up and down all day long. There are no very steep climbs. So the pace will be high. A lot of teams will be going for all or nothing. We are all healthy and ready for the final battle of this intense Vuelta.”

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And here's the Vuelta report from team Groupama-FDJ:

After having momentarily taken the lead of the race on stage 14, helping Michael Storer to enter the right move, Clément Davy experienced a proper breakaway on Friday during stage 19 of the Vuelta. Towards Íscar, the 25-year-old Frenchman couldn’t avoid the anticipated bunch sprint, but he was the last attacker to be caught, just twenty kilometres from the line. After a chaotic sprint, Lewis Askey obtained his third top-10 on the race (7th) while Alberto Dainese took the win.

Following three consecutive summit finishes, the Vuelta returned to easier terrain on Friday, with stage 19 heading towards Íscar, in Castile and Leon. The day included 177 kilometres but no climb at all. “It was a flat stage so we could expect that it would finish in a sprint, but we also know that the peloton sometimes struggles to catch breakaways in the third week,” explained Benoît Vaugrenard. “Clément was motivated for today.”

The peloton had a nice day for racing. Sirotti photo

The former French junior time trial champion therefore went for it, and after a handful of minutes, joined a breakaway of four riders including Paul Lapeira, Mathis Le Berre and Michal Schlegel. “After spending many years alongside Arnaud controlling the peloton and the breakaways, I have always been keen to do the opposite, knowing that this effort suits me well,” said the rider from Mayenne. “So I really wanted to be in the breakaway today. For me, it wasn’t just a last stand. In the third week of a Grand Tour, anything is possible with fatigue, knowing that the sprinters’ teams were also weakened after some abandons and all the kilometres done. And then: nothing ventured, nothing gained.” The four riders’ lead almost reached three minutes after fifteen kilometres of racing, but it was then immediately maintained around two minutes. “Unfortunately, we quickly understood that Alpecin-Deceuninck did not want to give them space,” confessed Benoît.

From then on, the kilometres followed one another without the attackers being able to really get any hopes of success. The peloton even came back to less than a minute with more than fifty kilometres to go. “I think we managed our day really well,” claimed Clément. “If they gave us so little time, maybe that’s because we also scared them a bit. We put on a good fight, and we can’t have any regrets in how we handled it. I wasn’t feeling super, but it came back as the kilometres passed by. Then, the peloton always decides, especially on this kind of profile and with a front wind all day. There wasn’t much to do, and we surely started with a disadvantage. The intermediate sprint didn’t help either. As it was located so close to the finish, the peloton wanted to contest it”.

Approaching the last twenty kilometres, the pack came back really close from the break, but Clément Davy kept pushing, found himself alone, and was able to take first position at the intermediate sprint before being caught. “I didn’t want to have any regrets tonight, and I don’t,” he concluded. “I got my breakaway, on a flat stage but which suited me. I had to believe in it. I’m happy with my day anyway, as it was a good and fast ride. I am also happy to have been part of this breakaway with two other French guys who I was fighting with a few years ago in the amateur bunch.”

Once all together, the bunch headed towards the expected sprint, but a significant crash in the last two kilometres especially brought the day’s favourite Kaden Groves to the ground. The Groupama-FDJ’s riders managed to get through it. “We wanted to sprint with Sam,” Benoît added. “Lewis was supposed to lead him out but there was a small mix-up following the crash, which disorganized the peloton. Lewis didn’t know where Sam was”. “My legs were sore after yesterday’s stage, but I felt better at the end,” said Lewis. “I avoided the crash, but I looked behind and I only saw a guy from Cofidis in my wheel. I figured Sam had crashed because I didn’t hear from him. Afterwards, I didn’t really know what to do and I remained in the middle. When Alberto Dainese overtook me, I hesitated too much and found myself in the wind with no speed. I still managed a strong sprint today, but I didn’t make the right decisions in the end.”

Eventually the team’s first man on the line, Lewis Askey took seventh place while Sam Watson finished sixteenth. On Saturday, the penultimate stage of the Vuelta will look like a roller coaster with ten climbs and no flat metres. It will also be the ultimate opportunity for the climbers and punchers.

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