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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 14, 2019

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Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. - Bertrand Russell

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Vuelta a España stage 19 reports

We posted the organizer's report with the race results.

Here's the report from stage winner Remi Cavagna's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

At the end of an eventful 165.2km-long day, the “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand” reached Toledo ahead of schedule, and an entire peloton for that matter, claiming his first Grand Tour stage victory and the team’s fourth in three weeks at the Spanish race, thus prolonging Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s fiesta.

Remi Cavagna

Remi Cavagna claims his first Grand Tour stage win. Sirotti photo

Triskaidekaphobia? Not for Rémi Cavagna, who was the first to attack on Friday 13, drawing a response from ten other riders, together with whom he built a three-minute maximum gap which the teams tempted by a potential stage victory in the town of Federico Bahamontes – the first ever Spaniard to triumph at the Tour de France – controlled and pulled back to a mere 1:30 with 70 kilometers remaining, when the race exploded.

A massive crash took down several riders – including Maximiliano Richeze and James Knox – splintering the bunch, and forcing a wild chase for half an hour, before the race settled. Once this was out of the way, the field focused on bringing back the escapees, who looked to be an easy prey for the chasers, going into the last 25 kilometers of stage 19.

That was when Rémi decided to make his move, jumping clear of the others and instantly putting some daylight between himself and his breakaway companions. Not only that he maintained a handsome lead over the red jersey group, but he also increased it to nearly two minutes as the kilometers ticked down and he got closer to Toledo, a stage finish for the first time in nine years.

Dosing his effort carefully over the up and down roads, the 24-year-old Frenchman kept the advantage, despite the nagging headwind, over the 30-second mark until going under the red kite, where an uphill final kilometer spiced up by cobblestones and technical corners threatened to play into the peloton’s advantage, who was making up ground at a frantic speed.

Amazing willpower and determination kept Cavagna pushing on the 8% gradients, fending off the efforts of the chasers in Friday’s gripping finale and taking a well-deserved win, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 95th in Grand Tours. To achieve the biggest victory of his career, Rémi rode his Specialized S-Works Venge, Evade helmet, and Roval CLX 50 wheels. Zdenek Stybar and Philippe Gilbert followed him home in third and fourth, both riding S-Works Tarmac Disc, Evade helmets and CLX 50 wheels.

“I always try and give everything, and today wasn’t any different. I am so, so happy, because this is my first stage victory in a Grand Tour and it feels great! We’ve had a lot of beautiful moments here in the past weeks and today’s result comes as a really nice reward, another one, for the Wolfpack, who has worked a lot and showed their dedication every single time.”

“We’ve had so much success with Specialized at this Vuelta. I’m so happy to be a part of it! My Venge felt amazing today, it was so fast, even on the steep cobblestone climb in Toledo! It wasn’t easy in the final, I suffered with the headwind and the road that continued to rise, but I believed in myself and kept going on my bike which allowed me to go full gas until the line”, concluded Cavagna – who was congratulated for his superb feat by none other than the legendary Bahamontes – after netting Deceunink – Quick-Step’s 61st UCI win of the season.

Second-place Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

Friday 13th was the start of the final stretch of this year La Vuelta, which kicked off with an uphill start in Avila. After a category three climb, the peloton faced 165 demanding kilometers and one intermediate sprint before the stage ended in Toledo.

As expected an early breakaway including eleven riders launched an attack on the first climb. Shane Archbold represented the BORA – hansgrohe squad in the front group, which had more than three minutes gap over the main bunch. After some kilometers, Shane Archbold dropped from the front group and waited for his teammates in the pack.

The race headed through a city as a huge crash catered for stress in the peloton with many riders going down. Also, the leader’s jersey and Jempy Drucker were involved in the crash. The BORA – hansgrohe rider was able to get up on the bike and continued the stage, but he was taken to hospital after the stage for further investigations, which revealed a deep laceration on his right elbow. Therefore, Jempy will not start tomorrow’s stage.

Meanwhile at the race, with 39km to go, the gap of the front group was hovering around one minute and the several groups came back together in the back. Again, echelons were formed but BORA – hansgrohe stayed together at the front of the first big group. The race went on fire as teams like BORA - hansgrohe caused some more splits in the peloton, while at the front R. Cavagna attacked out of the breakaway and managed to open a small gap.

BORA - hansgrohe stayed at the front trying to close the gap to the soloist and on the final climb up to the finish in Toledo the stage had its showdown as several attacks were launched. But the Soloist stayed away until the line and was announced as the stage winner, while 5 seconds behind him a brave Sam Bennett crossed the line in second place. The Irish Champ fought hard on the steep way up to the finish and again collected some points in the battle for the points classification. There was no change on the overall classification, Rafal Majka still sits on sixth place.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett finishes second. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line
"First and most important I hope everyone, who was involved in the crash is quite okay. Unfortunately, my teammate Jempy was involved too and suffered an injury on his elbow. Well, the stage was once again just fast and everyone fought for position. Remi launched his attack in the right moment, I gave it my all today but it was not enough at the end of the win.” – Sam Bennett 

“First of all, we hope all who crashed today are okay and will be back racing soon. Even one of our riders went down, it is just a pity, Jempy fought so hard for his comeback and was a huge help for us in this Vuelta. But his injury doesn’t allow any start tomorrow, we wish him a speedy recovery. Sam took another massive result here at La Vuelta. The finish up to Toledo was not really a finish for a bunch sprint but Sam is good in such short steep climbs and did his best. Tomorrow will be one of the toughest stages in this year’s Vuelta, and we will ride as what we are, a Band of Brothers.” - Patxi Vila, Sports Director

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

A heavy crash at sixty-five kilometres from the finish caused a lot of disruption in the nineteenth stage of the Vuelta a España. General classification leader Primoz Roglic was delayed with the whole team, but came back and managed to keep his red jersey.

In the finish town of Toledo, the Slovenian crossed the line together with his main competitors. Roglic was naturally relieved that he had not suffered any serious injuries.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic at the day's presentation ceremonies with the great Federico Bahamontes. Sirotti photo

"The boys crashed in front of me. I was unable to dodge the crash and hit a wall. We were forced to chase. The battle is still in full swing. Fortunately, I have kept little in the bank and I look forward to tomorrow's stage."

Because of the crash, Tony Martin was forced to leave the race. In the hospital, he had stitches in a wound on his face. The German road captain of Team Jumbo-Visma seems to be dealing with the situation reasonably well.

GP de Québec reports

We posted the report from second-place Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results.

Third-place Greg van Avermaet's CCC Team sent me this report:

13 September 2019, Quebec (CAD): Greg van Avermaet returned to the podium at Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec for the sixth time in his career, sprinting to third place after a late attack in what was a tough edition of the race, won by Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb).

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews gets his second GP de Québec win in a row.

The top step of the podium continues to elude Van Avermaet, who has finished in the top ten in all eight participations, four times in second place, and today, his second time finishing in third place.

The peloton allowed six riders to go clear towards the end of the first of 16 laps of the 12.6-kilometer course and with the bunch sitting up, the advantage quickly increased to almost eight minutes.

CCC Team was one of a handful of teams to start chasing with Josef Černy hitting the front of the bunch after four laps, while the rest of the team surrounded Van Avermaet just behind.

Over the course of the next 100 kilometers, the peloton slowly brought the breakaway back and with the breakaway’s advantage down to three minutes with 60 kilometers remaining, riders started to attack from the peloton.

Van Avermaet remained well-positioned by his teammates approaching the finale and with the last of the breakaway riders caught approaching the final two laps, the race was well and truly on.

Łukasz Wiśniowski and Michael Schär led Van Avermaet at the front of the bunch inside the last 20 kilometers in a strong display of teamwork to position the Belgian to follow an attack by Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) on the final climb of the day with a little over two kilometers to go.

Peter Sagan (Bora hansgrohe) joined Van Avermaet and Alaphilippe in what was a dangerous move but ultimately, the bunch made the catch with 500 meters to go, which allowed Matthews to launch his sprint and edge Sagan and Van Avermaet out of the win.

Van Avermaet’s third place in Quebec is another confirmation of his strong late-season form, following on from second place at Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian.

Greg Van Avermaet:
“I feel satisfaction after today’s race. This has always been a hard race and I was quite happy with how it went. We had to go deep with the attacks from Alaphilippe and after that, I was a bit worried for my sprint because if you go deep a few times that far from the finish, you lose a little bit of strength for the sprint. I had to go when Alaphilippe went so I think I made good decisions today and although it’s not a win, it’s always good to finish on the podium. I think my condition is there and to follow those guys on a parcours like this is almost the most important.”

“I think in the finish, the last four kilometers, of this race there is no time for recovery anymore and from the little left up, it’s really hard all the way to the finish and this is something that I can do really well. It’s a super nice finish for me and I think that’s why it is always the same guys up there and it is almost always the same podium because the top riders can do well in a finish like this. I think it is a really honest finish.”

“I like Montreal maybe a little bit more than here. I think it is super hard and I am happy they added some laps. Thinking about the Worlds and now with more altitude meters, it is a really good test. I am happy with the result from today but I think Sunday can be a really nice training to prepare for the Worlds.”

“The team was committed to helping bring the breakaway back and as I had finished on the podium here five times before the start, I wanted to take my responsibility at a race like this. We always take some guys to do the work at the beginning of the race and it is also our job to represent CCC on the front of the peloton. We can do a good job at that and make a good result like we did today.”

Steve Bauer, Sports Director:
“The team did a great job, I think everyone raced really well. Greg did a spectacular final, he matched the men he needed to match and did a great sprint. He didn’t really make any mistakes but Matthews had a bit of a surge coming from behind with the wind. Overall, it was a very position race for us. We put Josef Černy on the front to help reduce the gap and keep our guys in the race. Greg did his thing in the finale and everyone did a good job to put him there so I think it was positive. Of course, it’s not a win but a podium result is always a good result and it was a job well done from Greg.”

Coryn Rivera takes second win in two days at Lotto Belgium Tour

Rivera's Team Sunweb sent me this report:

After yesterday’s success at the Lotto Belgium Tour, Coryn Rivera was once again motivated to deliver a strong result on today’s final day of action, racing with the USA national team.

Coryn Rivera

Coryn Rivera.

Faced with a difficult route that featured three ascents of the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen, a rolling parcours and an uphill finish into Geraardsbergen itself; it proved to be a very testing day out in the saddle for the peloton. Rivera was in the initial breakaway of the day along with Team Sunweb teammate Susanne Andersen, who was racing for the Norwegian national team.

The group were caught as they entered the local finish laps and on the first ascent of the Muur van Geraardsbergen the race split up, with a strong group of favourites going clear that included Rivera and Liane Lippert, who was riding for the German national team.

The hard pace remained throughout the rest of the stage, with the short and sharp ascents taking their toll on the peloton. Rivera’s group would stay away and fight it out for the stage, with the American delivering a tremendously strong uphill kick to take the win, beating Lippert into second place.

“The team was always in a good position to win today,” said Rivera at the finish. “Even early in the race, Ruth and I were in a good move after a flat cobble section but it was a bit too dangerous for the peloton and we were brought back before the finishing circuits. The whole team was in good position for the first time over the Muur and I made it with the front split. From there it was back in breakaway mode. We all worked pretty well together with Liane sitting on respectively since her GC leader was behind. We were able to keep the peloton away and I am very happy to take the uphill stage win today, proving I’m not only a flat and fast sprinter, but I can also roll a break and win an uphill finish. It was a great opportunity to show my versatility and progression as a rider and also shows good form going into the World Championships.”

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans added: “Susanne and Coryn were in the first break of the day and they were caught before they entered the local lap; where they needed to do the Muur three times. On the first time up the Muur, a strong group went clear with Coryn and Liane. Liane was able to sit on because her national teammate was in the lead of the race and chasing behind. Coryn had to keep working with the group and it only shows how strong she is at the moment, being able to finish it off on the tough finale after working all day.”

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