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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, July 12, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

It's funny the way most people love the dead. Once you are dead, you are made for life. - Jimi Hendrix

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage six team reports

We'll start with stage winner Dylan Teuns' Team Bahrain-Merida:

La Planche des Belles Filles (France), July 11th– The biggest win of his career so far for Dylan Teuns and one of the biggest for Team BAHRAIN MERIDA. The Belgian rider wins atop La Planche des Belles Filles, the first summit finish of the race. A win from the breakaway and his debut victory at Le Tour de France. What a better way, also to celebrate the first ‘Grand Boucle’ victory of the team.

Dylan Teuns

Dylan Teuns drives for the finish line. Sirotti photo

Stage 6 – 160.5km running from Mulhouse to the famous ski resort in the Department of Haute-Saône and featuring seven categorized climbs – was one of the most awaited. But instead of a showdown of the GC riders, a breakaway could easily formed from the beginning and happily Dylan Teuns was part of it: “Today was a good opportunity for a break so I was looking for a good chance and finally a group of 14 riders formed. It was a nice group and we worked well together.Once we saw the gap was growing, everybody started to believe that we could make it to the finish”.

In fact, Dylan Teuns managed to stay away with the only Giulio Ciccone resisting until the final few hundred meters:“I know that Ciccone is a very strong rider, he won a stage at the last Giro and it seemed to me the same situation as last year at the Vuelta, when I lost the victory with Woods and I knew I couldn’t make the same mistake today. So I had to stay calm and just waiting for the right moment. I tried a couple of times in the last five hundred meters and finally the third time I succeeded. I saw that had a little gap and I just kept pushing to the finish line”.

Dylan Teuns – who this season won also a Critérium du Dauphiné stage, wearing the yellow jersey for two days – had never won a Grand Tour stage: “It’s unbelievable and winning here at the Tour de France is a dream come true”.

Here's the report from new yellow jersey Giulio Ciccone's Trek-Segafredo team:

It was as thrilling as it gets in the first mountain stage at the 2019 Tour de France, with the breakaway contesting the stage win and the GC rivals flexing their muscles in an early climbing test to see who has what it takes.

With Julien Bernard and Giulio Ciccone represented in the day’s large breakaway, and Bauke Mollema giving Richie Porte support amongst the GC contenders behind, Trek-Segafredo had all the angles covered, leaving an exhilarating ending up the brutal La Planche des Belles Filles climb.

One by one the breakaway riders fell off the pace on the brutal slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles, until just Ciccone and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Merida) remained.

Teuns led over the last few hundred meters with Ciccone glued to his wheel looking ready to pounce, but the last ridiculously steep pitch determined the outcome. Teuns held strong as Ciccone fell away, the piercing gradient too much for the young Italian.

But all was not over for Ciccone – who struggled to stay upright over the final 75 meters and cross the line for second place – the countdown to the yellow jersey had begun.

Giulio Ciccone

Giulio Ciccone on the tough final meters. Sirotti photo

From the GC rivals group behind, the yellow jersey-clad Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) attacked, knowing it would be close. Alaphilippe crossed the line in sixth place, and when Ciccone’s time bonuses were factored in, the Quick Step rider was six seconds shy of keeping yellow on his shoulders.

Ciccone had done it.

"Honestly, in the last climb, I was only thinking about the stage especially when I saw the time and we only had two minutes. That last 100 meters was super hard; I was disappointed to finish second, but now that I have the yellow jersey, it is better. I am very happy." – Giulio Ciccone

Most of the GC rivals crossed the line within seconds of each other, perhaps a few cracks were shown but no big damage to classification hopes with many more mountains to come. Richie Porte arrived in 11th place, successfully passing the first of many hard climbing tests.

Ciccone also leads the Best Young Rider competition but will wear the leader’s jersey in stage seven, and it will be Egan Bernal (Team Ineos), in second, who will sport the white jersey.  While in the breakaway, Ciccone also grabbed mountain points on offer and now sits in second place in that competition.

Stage seven will see the longest stage of this year’s race and is expected to end in a bunch finish.

Here's the report from Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

For the fourth time in the last eight Tour de France editions, La Planche des Belles Billes made an appearance on the race, but at this most recent visit, there was a catch: the climb was one kilometer longer than in the past and featured a gruelling dirt road sector boasting 20% gradients beyond the red kite.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step were prominent again, posting Kasper Asgreen, Yves Lampaert and Maximiliano Richeze at the front of the peloton once 14 men got away in the opening kilometers of the relatively short stage that was crammed with seven classified climbs: Le Markstein, Grand Ballon, Col du Hundsruck, Ballon d’Alsace (the stage’s high point), Col des Croix, Col des Chevrères and La Planche des Belles Filles.

The gap between the bunch and the escapees was shrunk on the penultimate ascent, as the yellow jersey group began spatting riders out the back, but the remnants of the break continue to hold a solid buffer and ended up playing out the victory between them, with Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) outpowering Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo).

On the ridiculously steep ramp to the finish line, Alaphilippe launched a valiant last-ditch explosive attack, getting out of the saddle and immediately dropping all the other riders as he tried to keep the yellow jersey on his shoulders. Julian’s never-say-die-attitude was on display until the final meters of this punishing climb, but not even the double-digit gradients could prevent him from honouring the maillot jaune and showing his amazing class.


Julian Alaphilippe going deep, trying to save the yellow jersey.

Despite throwing in everything he had and racing with inimitable panache in that never-ending last kilometer, the GC leader was forced to concede the prestigious garment to Ciccone, who picked up bonifications during and at the finish of the stage, and now finds himself six seconds down after three glittering days in the maillot jaune.

Emanuel Buchmann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

After the relatively gentle opening stages, today was going to be a brutal eye-opener for the peloton. There was no gentle, flat start to the day – it was straight into the climbing. The profile looking like a set of sharp, pointy teeth, with no fewer than seven categorised climbs to contend with, as well as a first category summit finish on the famous La Planche des Belles Filles – the first of the race. The upper slopes of this 7km ascent were an eye-watering 24%, and with six climbs and 160.5km under their wheels at this point, only the strongest were going to survive to contest the finish.

A large break made the jump early on, making good use of its fourteen-strong size and the cooler conditions to build a lead over the peloton. After a little more than 30km of racing, the advantage was sitting at seven minutes and with a lot of riding – and climbing – still to come, the peloton was happy to let them stay out. After ascending and descending two of the day’s climbs, the advantage hit its peak, and it was here that the peloton started reeling them back in, with Patrick Konrad, Gregor Mühlberger and Emanuel Buchmann driving the pace here and the break’s lead dropping by minutes.

Emanuel Bichmann

Emanuel Bchmann earlier this year at the Tour of the Basque Country.

However, with 10km to go the lead was still at four minutes as the slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles came into view, but with the remnants of the break now strung out along the road, rather than a cohesive group, there were only four riders on the front at this time. Patrick and Emanuel were holding their own in the select group of riders further back, but knowing what was ahead of them, this GC group was nervously waiting to see who would make their move first.

Keeping pace in the GC group, Emanuel kept his cool as the yellow jersey went on the attack, knowing that the very steepest slopes came just before the finish. The last few members of the break across the line, the German rider pushed on confidently with the GC riders to come in eighth position, with Patrick coming in just over a minute later in twenty-sixth. Emanuel’s cool head in the finale saw him rise to twelfth in the GC – just seconds from his rivals in the overall standings.

From the Finish Line:
"I felt really good throughout the stage and my legs were reacting the way I was expecting. In the final climb to the finish, I was also confident and could stay in the select front group. I encountered a bit of trouble in the first, steep part, up to the finish line of the previous years. Then, I decided to put in a measured effort in the gravel road, so I didn't go to my limit in its beginning and managed to finish really strong. I am now in the group of the main race favourites, I feel confident about my chances and I look forward to the next mountain stages." – Emanuel Buchmann

"Overall, it was a good day for BORA-hansgrohe, everybody did a good job. We were expecting the breakaway to go free a bit later in the stage and it was surprising to see it. However, we focused on Emanuel and Patrick, to keep them protected and support them. They did well, especially Emanuel rode very strong if you judge by the gaps to Thomas or Quintana. He's there with the race favorites and this is something very good. Patrick had a good performance as well, he did lose a bit of time but this isn't worrying right now, it's one minute and this is the beginning of the Tour. There are big stages later on that could even create some chances for us in terms of our strategy in the first, important mountain stages." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

Patrick Bevin forced to withdraw from Tour de France with fractured ribs 

Bevin's CCC Team sent this bad news:

Patrick Bevin will not start stage six of the Tour de France after X-rays confirmed two fractured ribs sustained in a crash on stage four.

Patrick Bevin

Patrick Bevin at the 2019 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

Bevin crashed with around 100 kilometers remaining on stage four but was able to finish the stage and line up on stage five, however, his pain increased during yesterday’s stage.

CCC Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said it would be detrimental to Bevin’s health to continue racing.

“Patrick Bevin crashed on stage four of the Tour de France. An initial observation following the stage indicated he had some rib pain and other contusions, but he would be able to line up on stage five. However, Patrick experienced severe pain during yesterday’s stage and was immediately taken for X-rays at the finish line. The X-rays revealed two fractures on both the seventh and eighth ribs on his left side. As is often the case with rib fractures, the pain increases in the second and third day following the crash and, although Patrick wanted to try and race on stage six, this morning we collectively made the decision that he should stop racing in order to recover well and focus on his goals in the second part of the season,” Dr. Testa explained.

“Patrick will require two weeks of rest before he can start easing back into training. I expect a full recovery in four weeks which will give him time to get his fitness back and focus on his upcoming goals in the last half of the season.”

Bevin is understandably devastated to withdraw from the Tour de France, one of his biggest goals of the season. “I fell on my left side and caught a wheel to the chest. I thought I had got away with it at the time and I didn’t have any trouble when I got back into the race, no skin off or anything like that. I thought it wasn’t too bad but as the stage wore on, it got worse. We did everything we could to minimize the pain but in yesterday’s stage it was getting even worse so we went straight to get X-rays after the stage, which confirmed the rib fractures.”

“We gave it a night to see how it was but you take the advice of the medical team and that advice was to stop racing. I came out of the Tour de Suisse in great form and felt like I had done everything right. But, you have to take the emotion out of it, the fact that it is the Tour de France, and make a rational decision. Two fractured ribs are not going to get better overnight.”

CCC Team will continue to provide updates on Bevin’s recovery.

Annemiek van Vleuten fourth as Mitchelton-SCOTT protect the Maglia Rosa through stage seven of the Giro-Rosa

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

Today’s seventh stage saw no major changes to the general classification with race leader Annemiek van Vleuten finishing the day safely in fourth place, after trying to help teammate Amanda Spratt to the stage win in the final kilometre.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Van Vleuten time-trialing in yesterday's stage.

In the end it was Marianna Vos (CCC-Liv) who sprinted to victory on an uphill drag, with Van Vleuten holding on for fourth and maintaining her race lead, and Spratt finishing in 10th place after losing some ground in the closing metres.

It was a hectic start to the day with multiple roundabouts, twists and turns and many riders trying to breakaway.

Despite constant attempts, no riders were given much freedom and the peloton remained together at a high pace as they began the climb through the finish line for the first time after 87kilometres.

After the climb, Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) launched away from the group and successfully opened up a gap reaching 55seconds.

Second place finisher on stage two, Lucy Kennedy, sat at the head of the peloton patrolling the solo breakaway rider for Mitchelton-SCOTT, until she was caught with 10kilometres to go ahead of a narrow steep cobble climb.

Knowing the climb well, Kennedy and Spratt helped Van Vleuten into a good position at the bottom which proved to be crucial, as the race split and a small group of six-riders broke away.

Relaxed entering the final three-kilometres with the overall classificaiton safe, Van Vleuten got into position to pace Spratt up the final drag but as the race leader accelerated, Spratt lost Van Vleuten's wheel slightly, which forced her to slow with Vos taking full advantage to sprint ahead and to the stage win.

Van Vleuten heads into tomorrow's eighth stage with a four-minute eight-second lead over second place.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“I knew today was just about getting safely to the finish. I tried to set it up for my teammate Amanda Spratt in the last kilometre, she’s being doing a great job for me this week.

“Spratty lost my wheel a little bit in the final and then Marianna Vos showed how strong she was, but it was really nice to try something in the final to try and help her after all her work for me.

“Lucy and Spratty did a recon of the cobble climb so they really helped to position me well into that which was very important today.

“It was a good day for us, I was never in trouble, never in the front in the wind and never spending too much energy, but you have to stay focussed until the finish line and that’s what I really did with the team today."

Giro Rosa - Stage 7 Results:
1. Marianna Vos (CCC-Liv) 3:19:33
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) ST
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) +0:03
4. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:03

General Classification after Stage 7:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 15:01:51
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +04:08
3. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) +4:23

Amer Sports completes divestment of Mavic

Bike Europe sent me this news:

ANNECY, France – Amer Sports has completed its divestment of Mavic SAS. The Finnish sporting goods manufacturer has finalized the sale of its French bike subsidiary to private equity firm Regent LP. This prompted Mavic President Gary Bryant to issue a statement in which he says “Regent LP has confirmed its support to the existing Mavic business strategy around developing a premium full cycling brand globally.”

Amer Sports announced beginning this year that it intended to sell Mavic as well as its other cycling business ENVE, based in the US. It is part of the parent company’s “Comprehensive strategic review on the cycling business,” announced in September 2018. The Finnish sporting goods giant already reported its cycling business as “discontinued operations” for full year 2018.

The Mavic divestment has been prompted by dropped 2018 sales that came after an already disappointing 2017. For the first quarter of 2018 Mavic and ENVE posted total sales of 32.1 million euro. It accounted for a big 12 percent drop. The reason behind this big sales decline was according to Amer Sport that both companies had to deal with lower OEM orders compared to the previous year.

You can read the entire story here.

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