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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, August 17, 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

A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines. - Frank Lloyd Wright

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Italian racing great Felice Gimondi dies at 76

Italian cycling legend Felice Gimondi died on Friday at the age of 76. The 1973 world champion suffered a heart attack while swimming in the sea at Giardini Naxos, a village in Sicily.

Felice Gimondi

Gimondi racing in the world champion's rainbow jersey in 1973.

He was the finest Italian cyclists of the modern era, having won all three Grand Tours, three classics and the World Championships. He won his only Tour de France in 1965 with stunning ease. He was a complete rider, able to sprint, climb and time trial, and on any given day he could win any race.

We have a short biography of Gimondi as well as a photo gallery posted here.

We interviewed the cycling legend a few years ago. You can read it here.

Binckbank Tour stage five reports

We posted the organizer's stage-five report with the results

Here's the report from stage winner Alvaro Hodeg's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Alvaro Hodeg became the first ever Colombian rider to notch up a win at the BinckBank Tour, emerging as the fastest in Venray after a perfect lead-out of Florian Sénéchal and Zdenek Stybar, who guided him through the peloton in the hectic finale of stage 5.

Alvaro Hodeg

Alvaro Hodeg wins stage five. Sirotti photo

The longest day of the race was controlled by Deceuninck – Quick-Step as soon as the bunch exited the neutralised zone and a six-man breakaway formed on the flat roads that took the riders from Belgium to the Netherlands. Surprisingly, the sextet stayed at the front just 35 kilometers, before being pegged back by the group from where four riders quickly jumped and established a three-minute buffer.

Tim Declercq and Iljo Keisse continued to police the front of the peloton and cut back the deficit to the leaders, whose adventure came to an end inside five kilometers to go. Deceuninck – Quick-Step made themselves prominent under the flamme rouge, winding up the pace for Alvaro Hodeg, who was glued to their wheel. The young Colombian was dropped off in excellent position by 2013 BinckBank Tour overall winner Zdenek Stybar and kicked out within sight of the line, holding off Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) and scoring Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 17th stage victory at the race.

“It was the sprinters’ last opportunity here and the guys did again an amazing job the entire day, just as on the previous stages. They protected me from start to finish and gave me a really superb lead-out, and all I had to do was finish off their great work and bring another victory to the team. It feels nice to be the first Colombian to win at the BinckBank Tour and I’m very happy with what we achieved”, said Alvaro after capturing his sixth victory of the season.

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

The fifth and longest stage of the BinckBank Tour saw the fast men in action yet again as the peloton rode over 191.4 flat kilometres from Riemst in the Eastern part of Belgium to Venray in the Netherlands. This stage presented the sprinters with one final chance ahead of the decisive weekend of racing ahead.

The first 80 km were characterised by several attacks and changing breakaways until a quartet was finally able to escape the field. Their maximum advantage of 2:30, however, was slowly brought down by the peloton and with 45 km remaining, this lead had been halved. At this point, BORA-hansgrohehe and the other sprinter teams who were eying a podium place took up the chase behind the front group in all earnest and the advantage began to dwindle even further.

With 4 km to the finish line in Venray, it was all over for the four riders who were in the lead for more than 100 km. At this point, the squad from Raubling had become concentrated on bringing Sam Bennett, on whose shoulders the red jersey still rested, securely to the front of the field. 1000 metres before the finish line, the tempo increased dramatically and a fast and hectic mass sprint ensued.

On the home stretch, Sam had to come from behind and when A. Hodeg launched his sprint, the Irish champion was not able to pull ahead of the Columbian rider. However, he still managed to take a solid second place on the stage and successfully defended his sprint jersey as we head into the final two days of racing this weekend. 

From the finish line:
“The guys did an amazing job to bring the stage to a bunch sprint, and they looked after me very well in the finale as well. At the 1 km mark, I decided to go it alone. I saw that Deceuninck-Quickstep was very well organised, so I tried to follow them. However, I didn’t want to take any risks along the barriers, so I couldn’t get out from behind with enough time to go. I only managed to do so in the last 50 to 100 metres. However, second place is still a very decent result, and I’ve got to be happy with that.” – Sam Bennett

“Today’s stage was a particularly nervous one due to the strong winds, but we were able to position ourselves well over the final 4km and support Sam well. Our plan was to bring him into a good position ahead of the sprint, but we weren’t completely successful with this, as we were slightly too far back and he had to launch his sprint slightly too late. But despite this, he was able to net a strong second place. Overall, the guys did a good job and we can be very satisfied with their performance this week.” – André Schulze, sportlicher Leiter 

UAE Team Emirates reports on Vuelta a Burgos stage four

The team sent me this:

The Emirati squad put in a strong performance with Riabushenko claiming second and Rui Costa rounding out the podium in third.

On the 1km rise to the finish line of the 4th stage, from Atapuerca-Ciudad Romana de Clunia, the duo of Riabushenko and Rui Costa fought strongly with only Alex Aranburu (Caja Rural- Seguros RGA) fairing better.

Alex Aranburu

Alex Aranburu winning the stage.

The UAE Team Emirates moved well in the final part of the race, taking the final ascent occupying the leading positions of the group and allowing Rui Costa and Riabushenko to battle it out for the win. Their chances were only foiled by Alex Aranburu who surged ahead with 200m to go.

Riabushenko commented: “All day long I felt great and approached the final climb with determination, knowing that as a team we could also count on Rui Costa.
When the road started to climb, I moved to the front of the bunch, waiting for the best time to jump, but at 300 meters I found myself a little boxed in and I had to brake to come around again, losing the right moment to try to follow Aranburu “.

On the other hand, Ravasi’s day was not so positive – the Italian climber was forced to retire from the race following a fall in which he suffered a fractured neck of the femur.

With Ivan Sosa (Team Ineos) leading the race, the Vuelta a Burgos will head into the final day with a 146 km stage from Santo Domingo de Silos to the climb of Lagunas de Neila (5.1 km of ascent with average slope of the 6.1%).

Czech Cycling Tour reports

This is not a race we cover, but when the teams send us updates, we do pst them:

Here's the report from GC leader Daryl Impey's Mitchelton-Scott team:

Tour de France stage winner Daryl Impey finished second in an uphill sprint finish on stage two at the Czech Tour to move into the race lead.

Despite being initially deemed the winner, video review showed the victory was actually that of Shane Archbold (Bora-Hansgrohe) in a reduced bunch sprint following a hard but successful day of controlling by Mitchelton-SCOTT.

As one of just two WorldTour teams and with the yellow leader’s jersey on the shoulders of Luke Dubridge following yesterday’s team time trial victory, the onus was on Mitchelton-SCOTT to control the difficult second stage.

Four riders formed the breakaway of the day and rode out to an advantage of four minutes ahead of the day’s hardest climb.  The quartet lost momentum as the challenging parcours kept coming, and by the penultimate climb, they had split and their advantage was back under one minute largely thanks to the work of Chris Juul-Jensen.

Back together heading into the final 15km, the intensity was enough to put some of the bunch under pressure and the stage finished in a slightly reduced bunch sprint into Frydek-Mistek.

Having found himself boxed in during the final sprint, Impey was unable to recover and Archbold took the victory by a bike length as the South African settled for second place.

Daryl Impey:
“Chris did the brunt of the work load and did a fantastic job but everyone rode today. Our climbing group pushed the pace on the climb and split the group and gave me a great run into the finish.

“Durbo, Lucas (Hamilton) and Heppy (Michael Hepburn) looked after me in the final and put me where I needed to be. At 200m to go I was coming on the right and Archibald closed the door and I had to stop pedalling and then I never got passed him in the final metres.

“It was a good finish for me and I am disappointed not to have profited from the great team work. I may have the yellow jersey but it’s because of the great work the team has done.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“The boys did a good job of making sure the break was small, four at the start and it whittled down to three, but they had a pretty heavy day.

“It was a tough day, 3300m of climbing, and the boys shared the workload, but the majority was Chris, Heppy, Brent and Jack. Everyone played their role today, it was a tough day out but tomorrow should be a more simple day before a big final day.

“Tomorrow is a lot flatter. We will control it, but just for the GC. There’s a few sprinters here and tomorrow’s their only chance at a stage win. We know we’ll get everything thrown at us Sunday, so we need to be wary of that too.”

Czech Tour – Stage 2 Results:
1. Shane Archbold (Bora-Hansgrohe) 4:29:50
2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
3. Erik Baska (Bora-Hangrohe) ST

Czech Tour – General Classification after Stage 2:
1. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT)

Stage two winner Shane Archbold's Bora-hansgrohe team sent this:

The second stage of the Czech Tour took the riders from Olomouc to Frydek-Mistek over 187 demanding kilometers. The course featured four climbs and three sprints, the last one on the final circuit.

The peloton remained as one until, after around 40 kilometers of racing, a group of four riders broke off the front of the main bunch. BORA – hansgrohe stayed in the peloton and took control over the pace. After the last climb of the day, with the gap dropping steadily it was all back together with 25 kilometers to go.

Heading onto the final lap, BORA – hansgrohe started their lead-out for Shane Archbold, who normally leads Sam Bennett to victories. The New Zealander showed a great performance and was being brought into position perfectly by his teammates. Also, Erik Baska was right up there sprinting for a good result. On the final stretch, Shane Archbold increased the pace and flew to his first professional victory, teammate Erik Baska completed a perfect teamwork with a third place. Following Shane’s victory, he now leads the points classification and will wear the green points jersey tomorrow.

From the Finish Line:
“I am super happy, it is my first professional win. Thankfully, we did not have to pull the whole day, due to Mitchelton-Scott leading the peloton. The course was tough, a lot of climbing and cold due to the rain but at the end it was a good day for us with Erik sprinting to third and after the team brought me into position perfectly I was able to celebrate on the top of the podium and take the sprint jersey. I am very grateful and happy about the team’s performance.” – Shane Archbold

“The race was not easy with all the climbs and the finale was very hectic. But the team did a great job and set the pace. I was a little bit in the back first but managed to sprint onto the podium and with Shane winning it was a super nice day.” – Erik Baska 

Romain Bardet ends his season

Bardet's Ag2r La Mondiale team sent me this news:

Romain Bardet, in agreement with the general management of the AG2R La Mondiale team, decided to put an end to his 2019 season.

Romain Bardet: "Need to recharge myself"
"Despite the joy of winning the polka-dot jersey as the best climber of the Tour de France, the 2019 season did not reach the goals I set for myself. After a few days of personal reflection and discussions with the management of the AG2R La Mondiale team, it became clear to me that I needed to recharge myself physically and mentally to come back stronger next season. The level of competitiveness that I want to reach requires freshness in all areas.I will take advantage of the next few weeks to rest, while continuing to remain physically active, and define the contours of a 2020 season that looks already very exciting. I thank the team, staff, team partners, and the fans for their trust in me and support throughout the season."

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet ended up in polka-dots at the end of the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Vincent Lavenu : "A thoughtful and constructive decision"
"Romain Bardet has been the cornerstone of the team for several seasons. He commits to his profession an indisputable energy and determination. The polka dot jersey, won with conviction and with the support of the team in a sometimes difficult sporting context, once again underlines all his qualities as a sportsman and a man. He has thus fully assumed his role as leader.

"After conscientiously analyzing his season with the sports and medical staff, it appeared that it was necessary for Romain to put an end to his racing in 2019. It is a thoughtful and well-considered decision that will allow us to define with him the profile of the 2020 season and its goals, which will be high as always.”

Lotto-Soudal announces its Vuelta a España team

Here's the release the team sent me:

On Saturday 24 August, the 74th Vuelta a España will be kicked off with a team time trial in Torrevieja. Lotto Soudal will be at the start with these eight riders: Sander Armée (33), Thomas De Gendt (32), Carl Fredrik Hagen (27), Tomasz Marczyński (35), Tosh Van der Sande (28), Brian van Goethem (28), Harm Vanhoucke (22) and Jelle Wallays (30). This team of attackers will hunt for stage success in Spain. In the past, Armée, De Gendt, Marczyński and Wallays have been able to win one or multiple stages in La Vuelta. Hagen, van Goethem and Vanhoucke will make their Grand Tour debut.

Sander Armée will ride the Vuelta for the fifth time in his career. During the 2017 edition, the 33-year-old super domestique captured his first and at the moment only professional victory by completing an early breakaway and finishing solo in Santo Toribio de Liébana. Armée will undoubtedly want to show his aggressive style of racing and climbing abilities once again this year.

Sander Armee

Sander Armée winning stage 17 of the 2017 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

After the Giro and Tour, Thomas De Gendt will be at the start of his third Grand Tour of the season. Last year, his never-ending urge to attack was rewarded with the mountains jersey; that way, he became the eighth Belgian to take home this jersey after a Grand Tour. Following a first stage victory at the Vuelta in 2017, the breakaway king will for sure target new successes.

Carl Fredrik Hagen sees a strong first season at Lotto Soudal rewarded with a Vuelta selection. The 27-year-old Norwegian will ride his first ever Grand Tour and will find the ideal terrain to show his climbing qualities. Also youngster Harm Vanhoucke makes his Grand Tour debut at La Vuelta and will be able to gather experience on his favourite mountainous terrain. Just like Hagen and Vanhoucke, Brian van Goethem will for the first time get a taste of what it’s like to be racing for three consecutive weeks.

Jelle Wallays will head towards La Vuelta for the fourth time, a race in which he took a sensational win last year. During stage eighteen - on the way to Lleida - the 30-year-old Belgian defended together with his two breakaway companions a small advantage all day long, but a strong and smart Wallays played it cool, resisted to the chasing peloton and triumphed. Tomasz Marczyński will be at the start of La Vuelta for the fourth time. The Polish climber could celebrate twice in the 2017 edition; Tomasz won both the sixth and twelfth stage. This year’s Vuelta will be the fifth participation for Tosh Van der Sande. The 28-year-old Belgian can rely on his strong sprint at the end of a hard day, which already resulted in various top ten results in the final Grand Tour of the season. Tosh already proved to be in excellent shape with his recent stage victory in the Tour de Wallonie.

Line-up La Vuelta Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Thomas De Gendt, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Tomasz Marczyński, Tosh Van der Sande, Brian van Goethem, Harm Vanhoucke and Jelle Wallays.

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