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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, July 14, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage eight team reports

First, stage winner Thomas De Gendt's Lotto Soudal team sent me this:

One of the best escapees of the peloton took the win in the eighth stage of the Tour de France today. After riding a whole day in the breakaway, Thomas De Gendt accelerated at 70 kilometres from the finish line and left his fellow escapee Alessandro De Marchi behind.  Alaphilippe and Pinot came very close, but De Gendt managed to keep the two behind him.

Thomas de Gednt

Thomas De Gendt take stage eight.

Thomas De Gendt: “We really wanted to have someone in the breakaway today. The first attack in the peloton was the right one to form the break of the day and it was pretty easy to be part of it. Strange, because I was expecting a lot more fighting. Together with three other riders, I escaped, but the peloton never gave us much space. As for me, you don’t need a lot of advantage on this parcours; you just need to ride smart.”

“After a while, I only had De Marchi by my side, so we had to give it our all to compete for the victory and we did. At 70 kilometres of the finish line, I decided to go solo, but as we got closer to the end, I was told that Alaphilippe and Pinot were in the chase. I know that especially Alaphilippe is a great descender, so I had to give everything I got. Because I was using almost the last energy I had left, I almost had to throw up, but luckily I didn’t break!”

“Of course, I was hoping they wouldn’t come back, but even if that would have happened, I think I still would have had a chance. Possibly Pinot and Alaphilippe would just look at each other for the general classification and if so, I could take advantage of it.”

“I think this is my best performance ever. I prefer this victory even more than the one on the Mont Ventoux. I had a real great day and almost miraculous legs. If I need a massage later on? No, that’s not really my cup of tea.”

Third-place in the stage and new GC leader Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team posted this report:

Julian Alaphilippe enhanced his burgeoning reputation as one of the peloton’s most spectacular riders with a display of strength and class on the tough stage 8 of the Grande Boucle (Mâcon – Saint-Étienne, 200 kilometers), which took in seven classified climbs and some 3800 vertical meters as the peloton travelled south for the first leg of a double whammy in the Massif Central.

“I had nothing to lose, I felt good and I attacked. The goal was to take back the yellow jersey and having achieved that gives me a huge satisfaction. Wearing the maillot jaune for three days was incredible, but having it on my shoulders on our National Day will be really special and pretty amazing”, said Alaphilippe, who became just the third French rider this century to wear the maillot jaune on July 14.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe is back in yellow. Sirotti photo

Second in the overall standings at the start of the day, just six seconds off the lead, Julian pounced on the 14% gradients of Côte de La Jaillère, dropping everyone bar Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and collecting five bonus seconds. The duo opened in an instant a ten-second gap over the peloton and set off in pursuit of lone leader Thomas De Gendt (Soudal-Lotto), the last survivor of the breakaway. Several teams led the chase behind, but Alaphilippe and Pinot worked well together, leaving everything out there on the roads to Saint-Étienne, a stage finish for the 26th time in history.

Julian used a small unclassified ascent near the finish to produce another enormous acceleration and further increase the advantage together with his countryman, before concluding third for the team’s fourth podium on the race’s opening week. The new hero of the French public, Julian gained enough of a buffer over the thinned-out bunch to move back to the top of the general classification and ensure a fourth day in the coveted yellow jersey, a performance not seen from a home rider in the last eight years.

Alaphilippe’s perfectly-timed move and his performance oozed panache and earned him plaudits at the end of the day as he took to the podium to receive the prized maillot jaune in the applause of the fans gathered at the finish in Saint-Étienne: “It was a truly magnificent finale! I was focused all day and stayed near the front of the bunch, and when I felt it was the moment to go, I attacked. Thibaut bridged across and it was good to have him there, as we both had something to gain from this. We didn’t ask any questions, just kept on pushing and riding full gas. I’m sure the French public appreciated this action. Now I look forward to sporting the jersey on Sunday and honouring it again!”

Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe squad sent me this:

After more than 1,000km of racing, the peloton had covered a third of the Tour de France, but there were no signs of letting up – both from the riders themselves and the stage profiles. Today, dotted across the parcours, were seven categorised climbs and while on the other stages, most of the climbing had been grouped together, it was undulating throughout the whole of the 200km day, with 3,800m of ascending over the route. The second and third category ascents didn’t seem to faze the break, who made their way up the road as soon as they could, with what started as a trio becoming a quartet when the dust had settled after the frenetic start.

Quickly building up a lead of more than four minutes, the peloton was well aware that there would still be points available in the early intermediate sprint after the escapees had passed through, and Peter Sagan added some points to his total here, taking second from the bunch. From here, Marcus Burghardt took over on the front to keep pace with the break, although the constant ascending and descending meant the gap rose and fell, making it difficult to get an idea of how hard the peloton would have to work to make the catch.

As the race dipped below the 100km to go point, the break was a little over three minutes ahead, but as the climbs became harder, the stronger sprinters, who might have been interested in going for the stage win, began to lose contact, making those teams with an interest in the finale drop the pace to allow them to latch back on. Emanuel Buchmann, Patrick Konrad, Gregor Mühlberger and Maximilian Schachmann were in the lead group, to protect Emanuel’s GC ride, while Daniel Oss and Lukas Pöstlberger were working to pace Peter over the climbs.

The hard terrain was really taking its toll, with two of the break being swept up by the bunch, while some of the GC favourites found themselves off the back on the steeper climbs. At the foot of the final climb, another member of the break was dropped, leaving one to go on, but with just seconds separating them and the peloton it was here the attacks came, a GC duo going off the front. In the chasing bunch, Peter, Patrick and Emanuel were keeping pace as the overall riders tried to create opportunities to take some time.

With the Yellow Jersey changing hands once again, the Maillot Vert stayed where it belonged – on the shoulders of Peter Sagan, who took fifth, adding more points in both the intermediate sprint and the finale today, while Emanuel made his way into the GC top ten after finishing with the bunch.

Emanuel Buchmann

Emanuel Buchmann is now 10th in the GC, 1min 45sec behind Julian Alaphilippe

From the Finish Line:
"I felt really well throughout the day and never found myself in trouble. My teammates provided perfect support, especially Gregor who was amazing in the final climb. I'm happy with my top ten spot in the GC but the Tour de France will be decided in the last week, so there is nothing to be taken for granted right now." – Emanuel Buchmann

"It was a really hard stage, I suffered a lot to stay with the first group in the final climbs but I gritted my teeth, I gave it my all and managed to finish fifth, in the reduced group behind the leaders. This means I keep my lead in the green jersey but Paris is still far away. We have to take it day by day." – Peter Sagan

"The stage was as hard as we had expected! We knew it could go both ways, either a finale with a battle between the GC favourites or a sprint that Peter could contend. We tried to go for a result with Peter and started working in the beginning but we decided to stop when we saw it was getting harder and harder and Peter started suffering. Nevertheless, he did a great job, stayed in the leading group and finished fifth. In addition, Emu and Patrick were there in the finale, which was very important as some of the GC contenders lost time today. We are satisfied with this day, everybody did an excellent job." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

Annemiek van Vleuten retains lead after Giro Rosa's penultimate stage

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

Today’s penultimate stage of the Giro-Rosa saw race leader Annemiek van Vleuten climb to second place on a hard summit finish in Malga Montasio, after attacking early on, in an attempt to help teammate Amanda Spratt move up in the overall standings.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten on the attack. Photo: Getty Images

Van Vleuten’s move forced some of the general classification contenders to drop off the pace which allowed Spratt to climb to fourth place on the stage, and move up to third in the overall standings with just one stage to go tomorrow.

In the final kilometres, as the road ramped up reaching 19% gradients at times, it was another great battle between Van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) for the stage victory.

The world time trial champion led the race solo after attacking again with four-kilometres to go, but Van der Breggen clawed her way back and passed the Mitchelton-SCOTT rider inside the final kilometre to steal the stage win.
In the opening kilometres seven-riders took their opportunity and broke away from the main bunch, quickly opening up a lead of over one and a half minutes.

With a flat start in the valley, Mitchelton-SCOTT were happy to see the group go and remained in the main bunch protecting race leader Van Vleuten.
As soon as the road really began to kick up, Van Vleuten made her move, putting pressure on the rest of the peloton.

Naturally the bunch split with the climbers coming forward and only Van der Breggen and Spratt initially able to follow the acceleration.

Van Vleuten now heads into tomorrow’s final stage of the Giro-Rosa with an overall lead of three-minutes and 50seconds over her nearest rival, with teammate Spratt in third place.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“I attacked early because I wanted to try and help my teammate Amanda Spratt to get on the podium overall. I wanted to make it hard to try and drop Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb), so I'm happy to that worked and we achieved that.

“It was a beautiful and hard climb and a great fight for the stage win. I gave everything I had, I died completely in the last kilometre, I went completely to the maximum today. I’m still in pink and that’s the most important thing.

“Of course we would have liked the stage win but Anna van der Breggen showed she was stronger, but for the stage win I should have attacked later. I attacked already with 11kilometres to go and it was a headwind so they had it a bit more easier on my wheel but to hear Spratt moved herself up to the podium took away any disappointment of getting second.

“Amanda has been so supportive everyday so it’s great that she’s got herself onto the podium after today's stage.”

Giro-Rosa Stage 9 Results:
1. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) 3:26:27
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:17
3. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv) +1:38

General Classification after stage 9:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 22:09:39
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +3:50
3. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +7:00 

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