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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, July 11, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage five team reports

We'll start with stage winner Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team:

From the flat early stages, the terrain of the Tour de France has become progressively harder as the week has gone on. Today, moving into the Vosges mountains of north-east France, the undulating 175.5km parcours saw four categorised climbs over its distance. Starting with the relatively easy Côte de Grendelbruch, with its 4.9% average gradient, the climbs got longer and steeper as the day went on, with the Côte des Trois-Épis the day’s hardest, with average gradients of 6.7% over its 5km distance. The finale was pan flat, but the grouping of climbs so close to the finish would exclude the pure sprinters from challenging for the stage win.

Knowing they’d be unlikely to have the sprinters chasing them down today, the break went off with a spring in their step – albeit after a few false starts. This strong quartet immediately set about building their lead, but with BORA-hansgrohe driving the pace hard in the hope of contesting the finish, the lead couldn’t even reach two minutes, falling to a little more than a minute before the team peeled off the front and the gap started to rise again – testament to the sheer power and pace of the BORA-hansgrohe riders.

After the break made their way through the intermediate sprint after 71km, Peter Sagan took second from the bunch, adding some more points to his tally. Entering the bigger climbs, Marcus Burghardt and then Lukas Pöstlberger took to the front again, reducing the gap, as the pure sprinters began to be dropped off the back of the peloton, and at the same time the break started showing signs of splintering, with one of their number attacking solo, and another being dropped on the Côte des Trois-Épis. It was all back together with 22km remaining, and it was going to be tense with plenty of opportunities to attack on the day’s final climb.

The incredibly hard pace set from the peloton, as well as headwinds, meant it was almost impossible to attack in the run-in to the finish. The strung-out, reduced bunch knew a sprint was the likely outcome as the race dipped into the final 10km and in spite of a late attack, Gregor Mühlberger took to the front to reel them back, with the German National Champion, Maximilian Schachmann riding to protect Peter Sagan.

In the twisting lead-in to the finish, Peter read the road perfectly, surfing wheels and staying in the slipstream of the other sprinters. Exploding with a few hundred metres to go, there was absolutely no doubt who was going to take the win, the Slovak rider leaving his rivals in the dust and extending his lead in the points contest.

Peter sagan

Peter Sagan wins stage five. Sirotti photo

"As I said in the first four stages, you have to be patient and victory will come. A stage win in the Tour de France requires strong form, good tactics but also other things that have to come together. It isn't that simple. I'd like to really thank my teammates today for their fantastic job. They were brilliant and controlled the race throughout the day. We controlled the flat parts, the climbs, all the way to finish. This victory is the result of great teamwork!" – Peter Sagan

"We have been trying since the first stage to take a win but luck wasn't always on our side, especially on the first day where Peter was so close. Today, our plan for the stage was clear but we had to invest a lot towards it. It required really hard work but every single rider of BORA-hansgrohe did an amazing job.  Peter climbed perfectly today, he had no problems and was well-protected in the final ascent. I think he was fresher than the other sprinters in the final stretch and was able to top off the great teamwork with a convincing victory." – Enrico Poitschke, Sport Director 

Here's the report from second-place Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team:

Wout van Aert has sprinted to second place in the fifth stage of the Tour de France. In Colmar, The Belgian met his match in Peter Sagan. Van Aert retained the white jersey for best young rider. Little changed at the top of the overall standings. Van Aert retained his second place, followed by Steven Kruijswijk and George Bennett.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert currently has the white jersey for the best young rider. Sirotti photo

The hilly stage through the Alsace was completed at a high pace. A breakaway of four riders were given a maximum lead of two minutes and were reeled in just before the last twenty kilometres by a reduced peloton including Kruijswijk, Van Aert, Bennett and Laurens De Plus for Team Jumbo-Visma. In the sprint, Van Aert was unable to match Sagan.

“I started my sprint a little too late, so the gap to Sagan was a bit too big already”, Van Aert said. “He sprinted really strongly and losing from Sagan is no shame. I was in a good position, but perhaps it would have been better to be a few places closer. I probably should be satisfied with this, although I still have to learn a lot and gain more experience. I feel good, my shape is good and there are still opportunities to come.”

The Belgian does not expect that to be the case tomorrow. “I know the area really well. It’s going to be too heavy for me, so I’ll probably lose the white jersey. But we have had a fantastic first few days of this Tour as a team.”

Annemiek van Vleuten gains TT victory to extend her overall lead at the Giro-Rosa

Van Veleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

World time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten showed her pure class once again today to take a consecutive stage victory on day six, an individual time trial at the Giro-Rosa.

Wearing the Maglia Rosa and starting the stage with a two-minute 16second advantage overall, the Dutch time trial champion stormed through the 12.1kilometre stage to finish with a time of 24minutes 31seconds, 52seconds fastest than her nearest rival.

Van Vleuten now heads into the seventh stage with a large margin of four-minutes and 17seconds ahead of second place Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans).

Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten going faster than anyone else at the Giro Rosa.

The day was one for the climbers and time trial specialists with 12.1kilometres of gradual uphill roads to contend with.

Silvia Valsecchi (Team BePink) set the first tough time to beat with a time of 27minutes 28seconds before Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) came past with a time 17seconds faster and from then on the best time continued to be beaten.

As Van Vleuten drew closer to the finish line the time to beat was 25minutes 24seconds set by Van der Breggen.  Passing her one-minute woman, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) on the line, it was clear that Van Vleuten had a strong ride.

Displaying her dominance in the discipline, she eventually beat the world road race champion Van der Breggen's time by 53seconds in the 12.1kilometre event.

Mitchelton-SCOTT now head into the final four-stages taking confidence with a nice buffer of over four-minutes but with some very challenging stages still to come.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“I’ve worked so hard for this, I’ve been training with the guys, training at altitude and I’m super prepared with my team.

“It wasn’t as long or as brutal as last year so I knew I couldn’t take as much time today but to almost take one-minute in 12.1kilometres it is quite a lot.

“Every year I target the Giro, since 2017, I learn new things and I try to take it into the next year and so after two-years of targeting I have become an ‘alien’ as they now say.

“We will take it day by day and I will need to stay super focussed until Sunday. I did a recon of the stages so I know what is coming up and it’s not easy, especially the next three-days but my teammates are very strong.

“Amanda Spratt and Lucy Kennedy are really strong uphill and I also have three engines for the flat so I am confident we can do this.”

Giro-Rosa Stage 6 Results:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 24:31
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +0:52
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) +1:48

General Classification results after stage 6:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 11:42:15
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +4:17
3. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) +4:17

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