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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. - Calvin Coolidge

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Vuelta a España stage sixteen reports

We posted the organizer's stage summary with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Jakob Fuglsang's Team Astana:

Jakob Fuglsang took his maiden Grand tour stage victory winning today the 16th stage of the Vuelta a España atop Alto de la Cubilla.

Jakob Fuglsang

Jakob Fuglsang takes a brilliant win. Sirotti photo

Fuglsang and Luis Leon Sanchez both made part of a daily breakaway, which was able to stay clear away until the finish line. Together, Jakob and Luis Leon played a perfect team’s tactic: Sanchez did a strong attack to reduce the leading group, while Fuglsang made his decisive move with 5 km to go. Finally, Jakob Fuglsang won, and Luis Leon Sanchez finished third.

- I am super happy with my win! Finally, I’ve got a Grand tour stage victory! It a great continuation of my best season so far. I am happy that after a disappointing Tour de France I’ve managed to get my form back here at the Vuelta. It was our plan to go in a breakaway together with Luis Leon. Actually, I tried also yesterday, but it did not work out. Now, everything was perfect. In the morning we were talking about two options for this stage – to try to go in a break for the stage, but if it wouldn’t work out, to stay in front and to help Miguel Angel on the final climb. I want to thank Luis Leon for a great help he provided me on the last climb. He made a super strong attack with about 9 km to go and after that we found ourselves in a small group of 5 riders. He continued pushing hard and on a steep sector I attacked and only Brambilla was able to follow me. A bit later, with maybe 5 km to go I tried again and this time I went away alone. I have a great feeling right now with this success, which confirms I am on the right way for the Worlds and the final part of the season. However, we still have the most important goal here – to help Miguel Angel Lopez to reach the podium and I am ready to help him with all my forces. We still have two difficult stages at the third week of the race, so we will keep on fighting, - said Jakob Fuglsang.

After a fast start in Pravia, a group of 17 riders went away together with Jakob Fuglsang and Luis Leon Sanchez. The leading group have opened a huge gap of 9 minutes and it looked enough to fight for the stage. Two Astana rider played out a perfect stage, ended with a victory and a stage podium place.

Behind the shoulders of the breakaway Astana Pro Team also spent a very nice day, moving up in front of the main group at the beginning of the last climb Alto de la Cubilla. Omar Fraile, Dario Cataldo and Ion Izagirre produced a big selection in the bunch and shortly after it was Miguel Angel Lopez, who attacked. He was caught back by the rivals but continued attacking again and again. In the end of the day, Lopez crossed the finish line together with Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic but was able to drop Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana.

In the end of the day Roglic moves into the second rest day of La Vuelta as the GC leader, Valverde is still second, 2.48 behind, Pogacar is third, +3.42 and Miguel Angel Lopez keeps his fourth position, +3.59.

The second rest day Astana Pro Team will spend in Burgos.

Here's the report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic will head into the second rest day as overall leader in the Vuelta a España. The Slovenian leader of Team Jumbo-Visma managed to parry the attacks of his closest rivals in the tough sixteenth stage to the Alto de la Cubilla. As a result, he strengthened his leading position in the overall standings. He now has a lead of almost three minutes on World Champion Alejandro Valverde.

Primoz Roglic

Can Primoz Roglic keep the red jersey until Sunday? Sirotti photo

In the last mountain stage through the Asturias, Roglic was attacked from the start. Team Jumbo-Visma managed to bring Roglic to the final climb in an ideal position. Lopez and Pogacar attacked several times, while Roglic kept on climbing at his own pace.

"It was a tough day and a long and difficult final climb," Roglic explained. “All in all it was a good day for us. The team did a good job and I kept the red jersey. We are in a good starting position for the final week, we have a lot of confidence and the team spirit is really great.”

“I expected that they would go flat out from the start. That is also what happened,” Roglic continues. “The attacks kept coming, but I was happy I could follow. They rode really fast today. Now it's time to enjoy the rest day and then we must above all ensure that we keep the focus until Madrid. It has been two tough weeks, and the third week will be very difficult as well in which anything can happen. We have a strong team and I am confident that we can achieve something beautiful together.

Here's the report from GC second-place Alejandro Valverde's Movistar team:

The Movistar Team protected themselves well from a difficult day for its team leader in the 2019 Vuelta a España, Alejandro Valverde, during the second and final big mountain stage in Asturias, from Pravia to the top of the Alto de la Cubilla (HC) over 144km with two other huge climbs, San Lorenzo (Cat-1) and La Cobertoria (Cat-1).

The action between the main contenders, as Jumbo-Visma kept the front of the bunch for the entire stage, did not unfold until the last 8km of the final climb, with Astana picking up the pace in the peloton; dropping several riders -including Nairo Quintana, who now sits in 6th overall after losing more than two minutes with the race favourites-; and anticipated a series of attacks by Miguel Ángel López and Tadej Pogacar (UAD), the second of which eventually made Valverde struggle.

Supported by a stellar Marc Soler, who drove a consistent, solid pace for the World Champion until the final 500 meters, Alejandro, who finished just next to early escapee Imanol Erviti, concede only 23″ against the attackers and race leader Primoz Roglic (TJV) to remain in 2nd overall, 2’48” behind the Slovenian and with a 1’11” gap to keep the podium. The race convoy will travel this evening to Burgos, whose province will hold the final rest day of La Vuelta on Tuesday.

Marc Soler

Marc Soler leads Alejandro Valverde. Sirotti photo

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“It was quite a decent result for me after all. It wasn’t my worst day here, and not the best either, you can say. I gained 40″ yesterday and lost 23″ today; one for the other! Considering the tough route on today’s stage, 23″ is basically nothing. All major podium contenders are pretty much equal in strength, or so I feel it like. Marc did a phenomenal job to help me. Initially, he chose to carry on after Pogacar and López’s attacks, so as to help me if I could attack and bridge back, but in the end, I was actually struggling a bit. Even Roglic showed some weakness today, but just like me, he set his pace and was even able to join them. Having Marc there really helped me a lot. The rest day will help us – just like everyone, of course. Still with a chance to win La Vuelta? Well’, there’s terrain to win it, to lose it and many other things in between…”

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

Before tomorrow’s well-deserved rest day, the riders had to face another grueling stage today at La Vuelta with the second consecutive summit finish. Stage 16 covered 144 demanding kilometers from Pravia up to the finish on Alto de la Cubilla. Today’s route offered two category one climbs, before the final 18-kilometer-long and 5% steep climb.

Alto de la Cibilla

The Alto de la Cubilla was the day's final ascent.

It was a nervous start to today’s stage as several riders tried to form the day’s break. After more than 30 kilometers of racing, a group of 21 riders finally had a small advantage, which increased after the first climb of the day to more than five minutes. BORA – hansgrohe remained in the pack, supporting their GC contender Rafał Majka, who at the start of the day sat sixth on the overall.

The situation stayed the same until the breakaway headed onto the last ascent of the day. The front group fell apart and the attacks were flying, while in the back, the group around the La Roja jersey came closer to the leaders at front. Rafał Majka stayed close to the other GC contenders and, like yesterday, he rode a good pace up the climb. At the 4km to go mark, he was able to put some distance between him and N. Quintana and went up the road with riders like A.Valverde, M. Soler and the race leader P. Roglic.

Coming into the final kilometers of the race, Jakob Fuglsang was already some seconds ahead of his former breakaway companions and took the stage win solo, while some kilometers down, Rafał fought for his position on the GC, crossing the line in 19th place, some minutes behind the stage winner to move up to 5th place overall.

From the Finish Line:
“First, I want to say thank you to my team. Once again, they did a great job, protecting me the whole day and staying with me until the final climb. I moved up to 5th overall before we start the final stages of the Vuelta. It is still a way until Madrid, things still can change but first, we take the rest day to relax and get ready for the last stages of this last Grand Tour.” – Rafał Majka

“Another tough stage is done and dusted, tomorrow we can take a small rest on the rest day and get mentally and physically ready for the final part of this year’s tough Vuelta. Our team spirit is still great, the boys work so good together and support each other in every situation. We go into this last rest day with Rafal 5th on GC and of course we want to arrive in Madrid with a great overall place but, we take it day by day, stage by stage.” – Patxi Vila, Sports Director

Dylan Groenewegen takes second stage win in the Tour of Britain

Groenewegen's Jumbo-Visma team sent me this report:

Dylan Groenewegen has majestically won the third stage in the Tour of Britain. The leader of Team Jumbo-Visma managed to out sprint Mathieu van der Poel by more than a bike length in the uphill finish in Newcastle.

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen wins Tour of Britain stage three.

For Groenewegen it’s a second stage win in this edition of the Tour of Britain. It is also his thirteenth victory of the season. This brings the number of victories for Team Jumbo-Visma to forty-five.

"This was a beautiful day," Groenewegen said. “It was a close call whether we could bring back the breakaway in time, but the boys timed that perfectly. It was a difficult finish, slightly uphill and ideal for me. At first I thought I had started the sprint too early, but I immediately created a gap and I luckily could keep that all the way. The team was very impressive today and the lead out very good. After a difficult period, I am more than happy to have claimed my second stage victory here today. That feels good."

"Everything just fell into place today," Jansen explained. “Koen, Jos and Pascal were very important in chasing down the breakaway. Jos then brought Dylan, Mike and me right up to the final kilometre. In the chaos it was not possible to stay in line, but in the end it all worked out well. This was again a great team performance.”

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