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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, June 2, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. - Plato

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Giro d'Italia stage 20 team reports

We posted the reports from the race organizer and GC leader Richard Carapaz's Movistar team with the results.

Here's the report stage winner Pello Bilbao's Team Astana:

Pello Bilbao became the winner of stage 20 with 5 categorized climbs, in a powerful uphill sprint from the pink jersey group outsprinting Mikel Landa. Together with Dario Cataldo, Pello Bilbao made part of the daily breakaway. Working hard in the leading group during the whole day, Bilbao was able to stay in front even in a moment, when the escapees have been caught by the pink jersey group on the final climb of the day Monte Avena. Despite a few attacks, everything ended with a sprint, where the Astana rider was the strongest.

Pello Bilbao

Pello Bilbao wins stage 20. Sirotti photo.

- I am so happy with my second win! The first victory was a special moment for me, but now this is something huge! It’s incredible! We had a plan to go in a break to help Miguel Angel in case he attacks from the peloton. I was ready to support him. The whole day I was working hard in front, but when the GC riders caught us, I was a bit on the limit. Anyway I was ready to provide my help to Miguel Angel. When he crashed, my sports director told me he is ok and he is trying to come back, so he advised me to stay in the group and to try to fight for the stage. I knew I have to follow Mikel Landa in the sprint and to try to do my best inside the last 200 meters. Everything worked out perfectly and I won this stage! It was a tough Giro for me, something different from the last year, but, anyway, I am super happy with these two victories I was able to bring to the team and to our sponsors, to our main partner Samruk Kazyna, - said Pello Bilbao.

Miguel Angel Lopez was very active during the whole stage, attacking for several times in the first part of the distance on the slopes of Passo Manghen and later in the final. He was among the favorites with 5 km to go when a man, running alongside the road touched him causing a bad crash. Unfortunately, the Astana leader reacted emotionally to this crash.

- I am sorry for my emotions, but in the rush of the race, especially, in the final of the queen stage it is hard to control it. It was a bad situation, but, anyway, I am very sad because of the bad security level of the riders during the race. It is a pity I lost my chances today because this incident happened, but, unfortunately, this kind of situations happen regular and this is not good. I’d like to see more respect to the riders, who are doing their best during a cycling race. Today we had a plan to fight for the stage and to improve my position in the general classification. I am happy with Pello Bilbao, who did a great race, winning another stage for our team. I was good as well today, I was trying for several times and in the final I still was there with the best riders. I hoped for more today, but in the end of the day I am happy I could keep the white jersey, - said Miguel Angel Lopez.

After the crash with the help of Jan Hirt, Miguel Angel Lopez tried to come back in the race as fast as possible. He did his best chasing the group of GC favorites, but, in the end he lost 1 minute 49 seconds to the first riders. With only one stage to go the Astana leader is 6th in the general classification of the Giro d’Italia, having a deficit of 7 minutes 18 seconds to Richard Carapaz, who successfully protected his overall lead and the pink jersey. Despite a crash, Lopez was able to keep the while jersey of the best young rider, still having 1 minute 53 seconds on Pavel Sivakov, second in the classification.

The final stage of the Giro d’Italia 2019 will be held tomorrow in Verona: the riders will do an individual time trial of 17 km.

Here's the update from Vincenzo Nibali's Bahrain-Merida team:

“It was not easy to make the difference – explains Vincenzo Nibali – because the pink jersey and his team kept the race always controlled, imposing an important rhythm in the first two climbs”.

“In the end, I tried several times to attack but Carapaz showed he deserved first place. I have no regrets in this Giro, every day I tried to interpret the race better and tomorrow I hope to make a good ITT and to confirm my second place”.

“They just told me what happened to Miguel Angel Lopez – always Nibali – and once again I want to invite the fans to respect the riders. It is right to incite the runners but remaining on the sides of the road and not touching them or pushing them so that such serious events do not happen again”.

Spaniard Pello Bilbao won the last mountain stage, while Ecuadorian Carapaz retained the pink jersey with a 1:54 lead on the eve of the last ITT 17km stage in Verona.

Vincenzo Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali signs in to stage 20. Sirotti photo.

“It was a very tough stage as expected – says SD Alberto Volpi – the race immediately started on the first ascent and we were with the first, Vincenzo managed better, he was with the other favorites until he tried on the penultimate climbs gaining importantseconds over Primo Roglic. Overall, Vincenzo has again demonstrated that he is still a great champion and I must also thank his teammates for the great work they have done”.

Rafal Majka's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

The last mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia, starting in Feltre and finishing in Croce d’Aune led the peloton over 193 km through the Dolomites. On the way the riders had to contend with five consecutive, difficult climbs and a total of 5000 vertical meters. The second-category Cima Campo right at the beginning was followed by the ascent to the Passo Manghen, the designated Cima Coppi of this year's Giro, before the Passo Rollo had to be conquered. After a 40km descent the course led over the 11km long and 5 per cent steep Passo Corce d'Aune. A short but technical descent followed before a final haul up to the last climb of the Croce d'Aune and Monte Avena. The route descended for 4km before it bounced back to sharp uphill gradients over the last few kilometres.

A breakaway got underway a little into the race and by the time the group approached the Passo Manghen, the leaders had 4 minutes on the field. Movistar and BORA-hansgrohe set the pace back in a very reduced peloton. At this point, Davide Formolo did not have the legs and dropped back to the main field. Just before cresting the Passo Manghen, Astana increased the tempo and the group of favourites dwindled in numbers, but on the descent of the Passo Manghen, Rafal Majka was able to catch up to the group which also contained V. Nibali.

On a flatter passage following the descent, several riders attacked from of the group of GC contenders and tried to close the gap to the front group. At the halfway mark, there were 5 riders in the lead, 3 chasers and, 2:30 minutes behind, a group surrounding the Maglia Rosa which also contained Rafal Majka. On the last part of the ascent to the Passo Rollo, two more riders caught up with the five leaders while the distance to the Maglia Rosa group stretched to more than 3:30 minutes. Back in the group of favourites, several riders then attacked and moved to the front of affairs.

In the technical descent of the Croce, Rafal overcooked a curve but was able to quickly get back up on his bike, taking on the final climb in the Roglic group. With 500 metres to the line, M. Landa was out in front but in the final sprint he was pipped to the line by P. Bilbao, who ended up taking the victory. Rafal crossed the finish line in 9th place, 44 seconds in arrears of the stage winner. The Polish BORA-hansgrohe rider gave his all today to maintain a good placing in the general classification and he was ultimately able to keep his seventh position.

Rafal majka

Rafal Majka heads to the start of stage 20. Sirotti photo

From the finish line:
“Everyone expected this to be a tough stage, and it lived up to the expectations. I unfortunately crashed in a corner in the final 10km. It was a shame, because before I crashedm I was in a good position with Nibali, Roglic and Carapaz at the top of the climb. Then I had to catch up but surprisingly it was not too difficult, and it only took about half a minute to bridge the gap, but of course this cost energy. I finished in the top ten of the stage, and we were able to defend my seventh position overall. Thanks must go to my teammates for supporting me for as long as they could. We’ve now coming closer to achieving our aims to place a rider in the Top 10, and we just have the time trial to come now.” - Rafal Majka

“We went into the race with a dual-pronged strategy, and two important goals. The first and most important was to ensure that Pascal was brought safely to the finish, and half of the team was put to that purpose. A special mention is in order for our fast men, who pulled this off perfectly. With 5,500 metres of elevation gain this was no easy feat. Of course we also wanted to support Davide and Rafal and that worked out very well. In this respect, not only the sprinters supporting Pascal are deserving of mention, but also riders like Jay McCarthy, who worked very hard and supported Rafal very well. In the end, our plan to push forward in the general classification didn’t quite work out. However, with his strong ninth place on the stage, Rafal sits in seventh in the overall standings. And tomorrow we might even try to move up one place in the general classification. However, after three stage wins, the Maglia Ciclamino and Rafal’s top 10, we are more than satisfied and now we just want to ensure, that we can proceed to bring all of these to the finish line tomorrow." - Christian Poemer, Sports Director

Alexander Kristoff wins Tour of Norway stage five

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report Kristoff's UAE-Team Emirates sent me:

In what was a dominant sprint display, Kristoff powered home to claim UAE Team Emirates 15th win of the season at the Tour of Norway

Stage 5 took the riders from Skien to Drammen over 159.7 km, which Kristoff led home ahead of Alvaro Hodeg (Deceunick-Quick Step) and Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Ineos).

Today’s success has propelled Kristoff to the top of the overall race standings, with an advantage of one second over Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and two seconds over Edoardo Affini (Mitchelton-Scott).

Alexander Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff wins Tour of Norway stage five

Tomorrow’s stage will be the climax of the race and the overall victor will be crowned, with the riders making their way from Gran to Hønefoss over 175.1 km that includes a 1st category climb (4.3 km to 4.3%) just 11.5 km from the finish line.

The sprint was dominated by the UAE Team Emirates rider, who timed his sprint perfectly.

Kristoff : "At 20 km to the finish line, there was a split in the group but the team brought me back, just in time to get the lead-out formation right for the sprint. I started the sprint in the leading positions, and the legs felt good:I’m really happy with the win and to get the yellow jersey is an added bonus.

"Tomorrow we will try to defend the jersey, it won’t be easy, but we will give it our best shot. I’d like to thank my teammates because they have been fantastic, especially on the climbs and getting me through some of the sketchy moments in the bunch".

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