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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 5, 2019

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. George Washington Carver

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

RideLondon-Surrey Classic reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's what winner Elia Viviani's Deceuninck-Quick Step team had to say about the race:

Elia Viviani improved on his runner-up place of last year and triumphed at the eighth edition of RideLondon-Surrey Classic, after benefiting from a masterful lead-out of Danish Champion Michael Mørkøv, who guided him in the hectic and crash-marred finale on The Mall.

Elia viviani

Elia Viviani wins in London.

“I have loved racing in London ever since the 2012 Olympics and today I was really motivated, as I knew the shape was good and the legs were strong coming out of Le Tour. Once again here, the finish was chaotic, but I had Michael by my side, who was instrumental and helped me make the difference. This is one of the five one-day races that I was really keen on winning in my career and having it now in my palmares feels really great”, Elia told the media after the 75th victory of his career.

An altered course, cut by 18 kilometers and featuring five laps of the Box Hill circuit, failed to dislodge the sprinters, as Deceuninck – Quick-Step took the matter into their own heads and controlled the three-man breakaway with Iljo Keisse and Davide Martinelli. The two worked tirelessly at the front and clawed back time while shutting down, together with Zdenek Stybar and Philippe Gilbert, the attacks that came on the last time up the Box Hill.

With just two kilometers remaining, a crash disrupted several lead-out trains, but Elia Viviani, who was on the right side of the road, escaped and remained glued to Mørkøv’s wheel, who expertly came through the final bend before upping the speed and deploying the Italian at 125 meters to go. Elia – a stage winner at all Grand Tours – unleashed his powerful sprint and held off the charge of Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) as he captured his 26th victory in the Deceuninck – Quick-Step jersey on a perfect day for our team, rounded out by Michael’s impressive third place.

“Not having any selection in the bunch on the Box Hill circuit meant that a sprint would be inevitable at the end of the race and I was really committed on finishing off my teammates’ superb work. Luckily, we avoided that late crash and I could do my sprint which brought this beautiful win. I am very grateful to the guys, first and third is really great and we couldn’t be any happier”, Viviani concluded after Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 54th UCI win of the year.

Second-place Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

The eighth edition of RideLondon-Surrey Classic, Britain's only men's WorldTour race, featured a slightly new route this year, which saw the peloton start from Bushy Park, close to Hampton Court Palace in South West London, before heading in the direction of Surrey. The 169km-long course featured no less than five ascents of the 3,2km long Box Hill, with its average gradient of four per cent, and a total of 1,700 metres of climbing.

Towards the completion of the race, the riders passed by Buckingham Palace, before heading into the final 500m along The Mall to the finish line to contest the hotly-awaited sprint. After several unsuccessful attempts, a three-rider breakaway was eventually established, but the peloton, led predominantly by BORA - hansgrohe and Deceuninck-Quickstep, kept the trio on a short leash and the advantage of the front group never grew over 3.5 minutes.

On the last ascent of Box Hill, BORA - hansgrohe riders ramped up the tempo and one of the escapees had to fall back into the main field. With 15km left to race, the last remaining escapee was caught and the team from Raubling moved to fore to place their sprinter, the Irish champion Sam Bennett, into an optimal position for the expected bunch sprint.

However, 2km ahead of the finish line, a traffic island in the middle of the road brought down a few riders, including Jempy Drucker. Sam found himself caught up somewhat ahead of the sprint, yet despite this, in the end, the Irish champion was able to take second place behind Elia Viviani.  

From the Finish Line:
“The crash was unfortunate but that is the nature of the course, it was dangerous as the roads weren't always good. We were all bunched up and you couldn’t see the bumps in the road. So it was a pretty bad crash but fortunately everyone is okay. I really wanted to win this race especially as it is the first time that I race in the champions jersey and we tried but we were just a bit unlucky.” - Sam Bennett  

“The race went as we had imagined it. We were aiming for the breakaway not to have too big a lead and Juraj has kept the escapees to about 3 minutes. Then in the finale we focused fully on Sam and that worked well too. Teamwork was perfect up to 1.5km from the finish, but then there was a crash in the field and we were naturally affected by that. Sam was then on his own and had to invest a lot of energy to get in the right position on the home stretch. Nevertheless, he still managed to sprint to a very strong second place and we can be satisfied with that result.” - André Schulze, Sports Director

Tour of Poland stage two reports

We posted the report from GC leader Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results

Here's the report from stage winner Luka Mezgec's Mitchelton-Scott team:

Slovenian Luka Mezgec upset the odds by beating some of the best sprinters in the world in a frantic finish to stage two of the Tour of Poland. The 30-year-old opened up the sprint on the fast, downhill run to the line and held off his rivals to take a famous victory in Katowice.

L:uka Mezgec

Luka Mezgec take a surprise win in Poland.

It was a steady start to the second day of racing as two riders attacked from the gun to form the breakaway, with nobody else willing to join them on what was set to be another stage for the sprinters.

The sprint teams were more than happy to see just two riders clear of the bunch and they allowed the pair to gain a maximum advantage of more than six-minutes before pegging it back to around the three-minute mark for most of the stage.

As the bunch passed through the finish line for the first time the gap had fallen to just over one-minute, but the peloton were eager not to reel the break back too early and allowed the pair to move back out to two-minutes.

As the race reached two laps to go the gap was back down to 1’30” as the sprint teams looked to measure their efforts with the duo coming into sight heading onto the final lap. They were caught soon after and Mitchelton-SCOTT moved to the fore to keep Mezgec safe on the run back into town.

The fight for position was on as the peloton raced through the technical closing kilometres, with cobbles and road furniture to negotiate. Mezgec was marshalled into position by his teammates with Australian Alex Edmondson tasked with dropping the Slovenian off at the head of the bunch as they raced around a roundabout inside the final kilometre.

The downhill run for the line made for a frantic finale and as riders hesitated Mezgec dived for a gap and opened up the sprint. The move forced a reaction for the sprinters, but it was too late and Mezgec stormed across the line to take a famous win by more than a bike length.

Luka Mezgec:
"It feels good. I’ve been trying for a while to win again in a WorldTour race, I haven’t had many chances with all the sprinters we have in the team. But in Poland, many times I was second, third, fourth, top-five and this time it came all together. Everything came together, I was totally on the left then I started sprinting moving towards the right and then I saw Gaviria, he actually gave me a bit of a slingshot."

"This sprint is really specific because it’s such a high speed and actually the last kilometre is straightforward, so you need a bit of luck, you need good timing, you need big gears also because the speeds are over 80-kilometres per hour."

"I don’t watch the big names anymore because every sprint is a new game, a new lottery. I knew when I had to start that I had to come from behind because in a sprint like this when you are second wheel you don’t do much, but once you are in the wind you do a lot more work."

Gene Bates (Sports Director):
“It was a very impressive win. The fact that he executed the sprint the way he did is impressive itself, let alone the victory. The guys did a good job of pulling him into position in the last couple of kilometres and we knew that would be critical because if we left it any later we wouldn’t be able to move him up.”

“Luka came out of the last roundabout in a really good position and with such a fast downhill run to the finish you don’t want to be too close to the front. Then he got a beautiful run right down the centre and carried a lot of momentum and won by two or three lengths in the end.”

“We looked at the finish last night and looked at last year’s video footage where he ran fourth, so we had a really good idea of how to approach it and what he needed to do. Full credit to him, he knew exactly where he needed to be at the right time and he executed it to perfection.”

Tour of Poland GC second-place Fernando Gaviria's UAE-Team Emirates sent me this:

As expected, stage two of this edition of the Tour of Poland was decided between the fastmen in a high speed dash to the line.

Victory went to Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) who outsprinted UAE Team Emirates rider Fernando Gaviria, taking second place again. Third place went to GC leader Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Gaviria commented on the sprint: “I’m disappointed because I wanted to win, as always. It was a complicated sprint with a roundabout about 1 kilometere from the finish where I lost my position. Then, thanks to Consonni, I managed to recover my place in the bunch. I can’t say anything about the sprint, Mezgec was simply stronger – he had better legs.

"We will continue to work with the goal in mind to take a victory that we’ve been missing for a while. I don’t know if it will come here in Poland or at the Vuelta a España, but we will certainly continue to try “.

Tomorrow is the third stage and another opportunity for the sprinters. Start from Stadion Śląski Chorzów and finish in Zabrze after 150.5 Km.

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