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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. - e. e. cummings

Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Vuelta a España stage four team reports

We'll start with stage winner Fabio Jakobsen's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Fabio Jakobsen made himself a beautiful and memorable early birthday present, four days before turning 23, taking the victory in El Puig by the narrowest of margins, on what was the sprinters’ final opportunity on this opening week of the race. Put in a perfect position by his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates on the straight run to the line, Fabio kicked out with 200 meters to go, and despite a late surge of his opponents, he held on for his sixth victory of the season.

Fabio Jakobsen

Fabio Jakobsen wins the fourth stage. Sirotti photo

“It was a really tight finish and I just threw my bike to the line and closed my eyes. I found out that I had won only when I saw the guys from the team cheering. I am very happy, I really can’t put it into words. I came here to discover and learn, but I was confident I could pull it off and now I’m just savouring this victory”, Fabio said, beaming with happiness.

Just two riders decided to go in the break on stage 4, and despite a five-minute maximum advantage, they were an easy prey for the peloton, where several riders – including Tim “El Tractor” Declercq – worked together to keep the gap in check and bring the duo back inside the final 20 kilometers. It all pointed to a classic bunch sprint, but Rémi Cavagna had other plans and the Frenchman launched an attack six kilometers from the finish, putting the pressure on the other teams, helped also by the numerous roundabouts sprinkled along the route.


Cavagna came 1200 meters short of the biggest victory of his career, but his effort still paid dividends, the other teams’ sprint trains being derailed by the frantic chase. This worked in favour of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, who took command of the race under the flamme rouge with Zdenek Stybar. The Czech’s effort stretched out the field before Max Richeze emerged with 600 meters remaining – with Fabio Jakobsen tucked on his wheel – and gave another sensational lead-out to the young Dutchman, who dashed to victory ahead of Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) and netted Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 27th stage win at the Vuelta a España.

“On Monday we hesitated a bit and at the end we were disappointed, but today we took the initiative and dominated the finale. Tim controlled the breakaway, Rémi showed again how strong he is, then Styby and Max provided a superb lead-out and proved again why they are some of the best in the business. I want to thank the entire Wolfpack, because without them this great victory wouldn’t have been possible.”

The fourth Dutch Champion in history to claim a stage at the Spanish Grand Tour, Fabio explained also the significance of this victory, which came just four days into his maiden Grand Tour: “It’s a sprinter’s dream to win in a Grand Tour, and for me, to take a stage while wearing the Dutch Champion jersey, is something unforgettable. I worked hard the entire year for this and today’s result gives me a lot of satisfaction. I am still young, have the entire future ahead of me, and I hope this victory will be the first in a long line of successes.”

And here's the report from second-place Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Today the race headed from Cullera to El Puig over 175,5km today, for what looked likely to be another bunch sprint. The day’s only climb was the Puerto del Ornet, a 5,8km climb at 4,5% average, which topped out 45km ahead of the finish.

After yesterday’s outstanding stage win by Sam Bennett and a tremendous teamwork of the whole team, BORA – hansgrohe was highly motivated to repeat such a great result in today’s stage and, therefore, stayed together in the main bunch.

Today’s breakaway saw only two riders out at the front with more than 10 minutes gap over the pack. With 55km to go the gap came down to only one minute and it was again Pawel Poljanski who set the pace at the front of the peloton.

As the duo was caught shortly before the finale, the BORA – hansgrohe train formed their lead – out for yesterday’s stage winner.

The finale was earmarked by many roundabouts and corners, but the BORA – hansgrohe riders stayed together delivering their sprinter. In a hectic bunch sprint, it came down to a battle on the line between Sam Bennett and Fabio Jakobsen, who took the win at the end. However, the Irish rider's second place was enough for the BORA – hansgrohe sprinter to now lead the points classification at the Vuelta a España.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett after winning stage three. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
“Disappointed to take second place but genuinely delighted for Fabio on his first Grand Tour stage win. Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong went wrong in the final. I lost maybe 5 positions when I went the long way around the roundabout and had to really fight to get back up to the leading positions. Our riders had already made a huge effort working to pull the race back so my thanks to them for that, it simply meant I was fighting for myself to get on the right wheel and I simply ran out of metres. The legs were great so we'll fight again!” – Sam Bennett

“Well, sometimes you win, sometimes you loose. We will sit together and analyse today's stage but anyway, a second place in a Grand Tour is still good and with this second place Sam got the points jersey. The boys were strong again, Pawel led the race for so many kilometers and fought hard to bring the race back together. In the finale, we just made some mistakes, it can happen, we will learn from it and we will fight back.”– Patxi Vila, Sports Director

Lotto-Soudal suspends performance manager

I got this short note from the team. I'm sure we'll learn more later:

Following an incident at the eve of La Vuelta and after an earlier warning, the management of the Lotto Soudal cycling team has decided to temporarily suspend its Performance Manager, Kevin De Weert, with immediate effect, for the remainder of the duration of the race.

The team management will not make any further comments until a conversation between General Manager John Lelangue and Kevin De Weert takes place, after his return in Belgium.

Frederik Frison extends for two years with Lotto Soudal

Lotto-Soudal sent me this release:

Lotto Soudal has extended the contract of super domestique Frederik Frison with two years, which sees the 27-year-old Belgian stay at the team until the end of 2021. Frison turned pro at Lotto Soudal in 2016 after he made the step from the U23 team.

Frederik Frison: “It was quite an easy decision to stay at Lotto Soudal. I feel good within the team and I also know exactly what my role within the team entails and what they expect of me. Also the team is satisfied with my performances and then you don’t need to hesitate for too long. Lotto Soudal really is a group of friends, there’s a family atmosphere and you can be yourself. Of course, it remains your job and you need to perform, but how the team treats their riders, is in my opinion not something you’ll find just anywhere.”

“I am the type of rider that can ride really hard and I’m also a time trialist, so riding at the front of the bunch for our leaders suits me perfectly. When they perform well, or if for example Caleb Ewan finishes the job, it gives me great satisfaction, of course. That way, the motivation and the morale remain high. The coming two years, my role will be more or less the same, but  I want to take another step forward, especially during the Classics. My personal ambition is to support our leaders a little further in the finale. A second Grand Tour participation would be nice. That is always good to lay the foundations towards the future and if there would be a Grand Tour on my schedule next year, I would be really looking forward to that.”

“Unfortunately, I had to miss the Cyclassics Hamburg due to illness but I hope to have - after some training sessions - the good feeling again during the Tour of Germany. Afterwards, I will be at the start of the Tour of Britain and some Belgian one-day races. My race schedule for the end of the year is not yet 100 percent clear, both Paris-Tours or the races in China are an option.”

Jan Hirt Set to Race for CCC Team from 2020

CCC Team sent me this:

27 August 2019: CCC Team continues to strengthen its 2020 roster with the addition of Czech rider Jan Hirt who will join the team on a two-year contract.

Hirt, 28, will provide another strong option for the General Classification at stage races and Grand Tours, General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

“We have been busy recruiting riders who are solid climbers and can really strengthen our ability to go for the General Classification from 2020 onwards, which is something we have lacked this season, so we are looking forward to welcoming Jan Hirt to the team. Jan is often one of those riders who fly under the radar but is consistently up there with the best on the General Classification and his results this year, with fifth at the Tour de Suisse and seventh at Tour of the Alps, are a testament to his ability as a stage race rider,” Ochowicz explained.

“Given Jan raced with CCC Sprandi Polkowice until 2017, he is very familiar with many of the staff and riders who are now part of CCC Team so we have no doubt he will fit in well with the team. Jan already has a lot of experience as a professional rider but we believe his best is yet to come and we are excited to see how Jan continues to develop over the next two seasons while working with our performance team. Jan will join fellow climbers Ilnur Zackarin, Fausto Masnada, and our neo-pro Georg Zimmermann, in 2020 and with these four riders, I expect to see CCC Team very competitive in the mountains next year.”

Jan Hirt

Jan Hirt on his way to winning stage four of the 2016 Tour of Austria.

Hirt, who won a stage and the General Classification at Int. Österreich-Rundfahrt-Tour of Austria in 2016, is relishing the opportunity to return to the CCC family, this time in the WorldTour environment.

“I was looking for a new team where I could have some more opportunities to go for my own results and at CCC Team, I think I have found that. We will have a strong team of climbers next year so we can support each other well and work together to achieve good results for the team. Although CCC Team and CCC Sprandi Polkowice are different teams, I have a lot of friends there and I will feel like I am coming back to a family so, this is was a big part of my decision to sign,” Hirt said.

“Without knowing my race program for next year I do not have a specific race in mind as a goal but I would like to have the opportunity to ride for a result in the General Classification and take a first stage win at a Grand Tour. With such a strong climbing team, I will be proud to try and help my teammates go for a result as well and like this, I think we can achieve some good results for CCC Team. I enjoyed two great years at Astana Pro Team and now, I am looking forward to a new challenge with CCC Team.”

Bardiani-CSF signs Matteo Pelucchi

Here's the team's press release:

New and important signing for the 2020 Bardiani-CSF. Matteo Pelucchi, sprinter with sixteen victories among the professionals, will wear the jersey of the #GreenTeam in the upcoming season.

"We are very satisfied to to add a strong sprinter such as Pelucchi to the roster of the new Bardiani-CSF" says team manager Roberto Reverberi. "When we met, we found a rider with a great desire to return to stand out, as he has already done in his career. With his signing we have added a very important rider to the future #GreenTeam".

Rider born in 1989, Pelucchi became pro-rider in 2011 with Geox-TMC. After an experience in France with Europcar, he landed in the World Tour circuit with IAM Cycling and Bora-Hansgrohe. In the current season he is wearing the jersey of Androni-Sidermec.

Matteo Pelucchi

Matteo Pelucchi winning stage two of the 2015 Tour of Poland. Sirotti photo

In his palmares shine one stage at Tirreno-Adriatico (2014), two stages at Tour de Pologne (2015) and Clasica de Almeria (2011). Apart from successes, Pelucchi has gained experience and collected prestigious results facing an important calendar all over the world, with four participations to the big laps (three Giro d'Italia and one Vuelta a Espana).

"I am very happy for the agreement reached with Bardiani-CSF," says Pelucchi. “Since the first meeting I understand there was unity of purpose. We both want to live an important season, full of satisfactions. It's a great opportunity for me. The goal is to find continuity in results and in performances. For different reasons, in the last seasons, despite being competitive, constancy has been lacking. However, I am convinced that I can return to the highest levels and Bardiani-CSF is the perfect team to succeed”.

"I thank Bruno and Roberto Reverberi for welcoming me in the #GreenTeam family. I'm also happy to meet again Mirco Rossato, who was already my director at the U23 time with Trevigiani, thanks to whom I have collected so many good results. Let's hope it's a good omen".

Pelucchi is the fifth new face of Bardiani-CSF for 2020 after Giovanni Lonardi, Filippo Zaccanti and the neo-professionals Alessandro Monaco and Filippo Fiorelli.

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