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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 20, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone's imagination. - Hunter S. Thompson

Plato's Apology

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage 13 team reports

We'll start with winner and GC leader Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Julian Alaphilippe retained his amazing power to astonish and notched up a monumental individual time trial victory in Pau, which hosted a stage against the clock for just the third time in the history of the Grande Boucle.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe heads for home. Sirotti photo

“It’s incredible, I can’t tell you how happy I am! I knew I could do a good ride on this course, but I didn’t think I could win. The first part suited me and so I rode full gas, but I surprised myself in the second part. I pushed my limits and with the help of the public I gave everything until the line. I can’t believe it”, an over the moon Julian told the media after celebrating his 12th victory of the season with the team and strengthening his grip on the race lead.

Last rider down the ramp in Pau, one of the most visited towns in Tour de France history, Alaphilippe enjoyed a flying start and sailed across the first hilly section of the stage, setting the fastest result at the Cériset checkpoint. A man on a mission, the yellow jersey continued to blitz the tough and technical course and have best the reference time at the next two splits, arriving at the finish in a superb time of 35 minutes, which ensured not just another win, but also a ninth day at the top of the standings.

His second stage victory at this year’s Tour de France helped Julian extend his buffer in the GC to nearly one minute and a half ahead of Saturday’s stage to Tourmalet, one of the most iconic climbs in cycling. Despite this, the 27-year-old Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider – first Frenchman in almost two decades to triumph in a time trial at the Grande Boucle – although nothing short of effusive, reiterated that the general classification isn’t a goal for him.

“I am happy that I am still in yellow! Every day is a bonus and to wear this legendary jersey on its 100th birthday is fantastic! I knew the course and was focused on myself and on what I had to do today, while being supported by this superb crowds. I came very motivated to the start, but I never imagined that I could win here”, Julian explained at the press conference. “Now the plan is to take it day after day and see how things go. On Saturday we have a very hard summit finish on the Tourmalet and I will give it my all to stay in the main group for as long as possible, but I want to stress out that our GC rider remains Enric, who did a great time trial today, for which I congratulate him.”

Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s perfect day in Pau was rounded out by Tour de France debutants Kasper Asgreen and Enric Mas, both top 10 finishers in the stage on the back of a truly impressive ride against the clock. In addition to that, 24-year-old Enric moved up to fourth overall and into the prestigious yellow jersey, becoming the first Spaniard since 2007 to lead the best young rider standings.

“This result makes me very happy! It’s special to have the white jersey, which I will try to defend for as long as possible, and be up there in the general classification, but my objective hasn’t changed: I want to be in the top 10 in Paris. It’s just beautiful to have both yellow and white on the team and we hope to continue enjoying many more spectacular moments”, Mas said after Friday’s stage.

Here's the report from second-place Geraint Thomas' Team INEOS:

Geraint Thomas put in a strong time trial performance at the Tour de France to finish second on stage 13.

The Welshman clocked a time of 35 minutes and 14 seconds in Pau, after a stage-long battle with the yellow jersey of Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). The gap between the pair sat at six seconds through the first two splits, with the Frenchman eventually extending his advantage out to 14 seconds at the line.

That result ensured the pair held station on the general classification, with Thomas now 1:26 back on yellow.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas was just 14 seconds slower than Julian Alaphilippe. Sirotti photo

Egan Bernal also put in a strong ride to remain firmly in the mix overall. The Colombian now sits fifth overall, 2:52 back, after clocking the 22nd best time on the day. Bernal narrowly slipped out of the white jersey, just eight seconds back on Enric Mas (Deceuninck-Quick-Step).

Dylan van Baarle was the next quickest Team INEOS rider on the stage, with the team's riders opting not to go deep ahead of the climbing stages to come.

Geraint Thomas:
“It wasn’t too bad it just felt like I was just overheating a bit so I was trying to deal with that. It’s not an excuse it’s the same for everyone. It was okay – just in that last bit I didn’t really feel it.

“It was controlled, but in the last 8km or so I felt like when I really wanted to step on it I didn’t quite have that last five percent. It’s still a decent ride but you always pick it apart a bit.

“[Alaphilippe] is obviously going really well. He’s certainly the favourite and the one to watch at the minute. There’s a long way to go and a lot of hard stages to come now.”

What's Next?
The GC battle is set to intensify further on Saturday with a brutal mountain test. At just 117.5km the test should provide fireworks, with the Col du Soulour to be climbed before the hors-categorie summit finish on the Col du Tourmalet.

Team Jumbo-Visma reports on Wout van Aert's crash:

Steven Kruijswijk has done a good job with regard to the overall classification in the Tour de France. The leader of Team Jumbo-Visma rode an excellent time trial in Pau and deservedly finished in sixth place at 45 seconds from stage winner and overall leader Julian Alaphilippe. In the overall standings, Kruijswijk moved up to third place at 2.12 of the Frenchman.

Kruijswijk’s performance was overshadowed by a big crash of teammate and Belgian time trial champion Wout van Aert. Van Aert was riding an excellent time trial and seemed on his way to a fast time, but in the final kilometres he crashed hard in a corner after having hit a barrier. He was taken to hospital by ambulance, as he was suffering from a deep flesh wound on his right upper leg.

Wput van Aert

Wout van Aert winning stage 10 a few days ago.

“After Wout’s crash I had to quickly change my focus. It is unfortunate that it happened. You don’t want it to happen to anyone”, Kruijswijk said. “I think I did a great time trial myself. The course was ideal for me and the feeling was pretty good. I knew that the first part suited me best with all those short, tough climbs. The last part was a lot less steep. It went very well until the second intermediate point. I expected to give in some time at the end. The time differences are still very small and I expect that the remainder of the Tour will be exciting. For now, I am third overall and doing well.”

And here's the report from Bora-hansgrohe about Max Schachmann's crash:

For the GC contenders, today’s Individual Time Trial posed a difficult question: do the go all out today on the rolling 27.2km parcours and risk exhausting themselves ahead of the mountains tomorrow, or do they ride conservatively and try to minimise their losses and make up time later in the race? It wasn’t a day for the out and out time trial specialists, with its undulating terrain, but riders could expect to post faster times on the way back into Pau with the flatter and straighter roads.

With the early times coming in, the time to beat was around the thirty-five minute mark, and while it would be tempting to go all out on the road, the first BORA-hansgrohe riders out of the gate were riding within themselves in order to remain competitive in the mountains – with Peter Sagan pulling a one-handed wheelie on the last steep climb before posting his finishing time of 38:33 – not an easy thing to do on a time trial bike.

As the higher-placed GC riders started going out on the course, there was a tense feeling in the air at the start, as riders knew how important the day could turn out to be, while the combination of fast sections mixed with slow ones saw some serious crashes. Maximilian Schachmann was riding well, and had posted the fifth best time at the third checkpoint, but a crash in the closing kilometres saw the German rider cross the finish line clearly in some discomfort, receiving medical support shortly afterwards.

For Patrick Konrad and Emanuel Buchmann, it was all about protecting their positions in the overall standings. First to start, Patrick came to the finish in a time of 36:48, while Emanuel posted the fastest time of the BORA-hansgrohe squad to finish in fifteenth position with a time of 36:19. While both Emanuel and Patrick lost time today to the stronger ITT riders, it was better to stay safe and lose some time than risk pushing too hard, and the duo were looking ahead to regain time in the mountains to come.

Regrettably, after medical checks, it was found that Maximilian had suffered fractures of the 3rd, 4th and 5th metacarpals of his left hand. He will be immediately transferred to Germany for surgical treatment. While the German National Road Champion pushed through the pain to finish the stage, his injury meant he had no option but to abandon the race today.

Max Schachmann

Better days for Max Schachmann. Here he wins a stage in this year's Tour of the Basque Country.

"I feel really sorry I let my teammates and the rest of the team down. We all have put in such a strong effort in these 12 stages and I know I was to play an important role in the mountain stages, helping Patrick and Emu. I'm sorry they won't be able to count on my support to reach their goals. I wanted to try to get the best result I could today. I felt good, I had a good pace and I was even able to push harder in the last part of the parcours. I pushed to my limit and I took a right corner too fast. It was a misjudgment on my part, I thought I could take it tightly because it was opening up. Unfortunately, it did open up but later than I thought. I was already sliding and there wasn't much I could do. The road was slippery there, my front wheel was sliding and I hit the ground." – Maximilian Schachmann

"I gave it my all in the first part of the course, I had a good rhythm and strong legs but following Maximilian's crash, I restrained from taking any risk in the downhill which resulted in some lost seconds. I think it's better to lose ten seconds rather than risk a crash. In the final part, I wasn't able to push a big gear and stay within the top ten but I'm happy with my overall performance and I look forward to the two hard mountain stages this weekend." – Emanuel Buchmann

"It's a pity Maximilian crashed. He was in good shape, got off well and had a strong tempo. He was even able to increase his pace but in the downhill, he did a costly mistake, not just for him but for the entire team. With the tough mountain stages coming up, we would have needed him. Still, that's part of the sport, when you are a young rider you aren't faultless. We wish him all the best and speedy recovery and we are sure he will come back stronger. In what regards our GC riders, Patrick and Emu, they both rode a strong TT. Emu was strong in the climbs but due to his weight, it was clear he would lose seconds in the last part of the course, which was the case. I think we can be quite happy with his performance, it was within the expected range today, Patrick was also strong in the first part, he was able to push big gears over the climbs. He did lose a bit of time in the flatter part but in my view, we are on the right track. The big GC battle starts tomorrow!" – Enrico Poitschke, Sport Director 

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