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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, August 16, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. - Kurt Vonnegut

Current racing:

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

News Flash: Critérium du Dauphiné race leader Roglic abandons

Team Jumbo-Visma announced on Twitter the overall leader Primoz Roglic won’t participate in today’s stage: “As a result of his crash yesterday, Primoz Roglic - leader in the GC and points classification - won’t start in the ultimate stage today. The evolution of his injuries will determine the plans for the upcoming races.”

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic winning stage two.

Critérium du Dauphiné stage four team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Lennard Kämna's Bora-hansgorhe team:

No fewer than six tough categorised climbs dotted today’s Queen Stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. The climbing started straightaway on the 153.5km route with a mix of first, second, third and Hors Catégorie climbs – the toughest being the Montée de Bisanne – while the finale would take place on the second category ascent into Megève.

Lennard Kamna

Lennard Kämna enjoys his first professional win.

Bridging to an early break, Lennard Kämna joined the escapees, forming a group of fifteen that could have proved pivotal further up the road when the GC riders started making their moves. However, disaster struck on the descent of the Côte de Plan Bois after 29km when Emanuel Buchmann and Gregor Mühlberger went down and were forced to abandon the race, while Andreas Schillinger also withdrew from the race shortly afterwards. In spite of the upsets further back the road, the escape pushed on, with Lennard riding well, and while the break would stretch out and occasionally splinter, it would keep coming back together.

The Montée de Bisanne was the real test and the young German stayed in the lead group, helping maintain their 2:45 advantage over the peloton. Dropping in number to eight but staying strong, having climbed and descended the day’s Hors Catégorie climb, the lead was still sitting at 2:40 with only the 13km final climb to go. Coming closer to the summit, with 4.7km remaining, Lennard went on the attack and none of the other riders could meet his surge in pace. Passing under the Flamme Rouge with 1km to go, he already knew the day’s outcome, taking an incredible victory with the 23-year-old punching the air as he crossed the line to take his first ever professional win. Emu and Gregor were taken to hospital for further examinations.  

From the Finish Line:
"I'm so happy with this victory, my first ever professional win and to celebrate it here at the Dauphiné is such a big thing for me. I'm so glad about it! Today's strategy was actually for me to be a relay station for Emu, the plan was for him to attack in the penultimate climb but. unfortunately, he crashed, so I went for it. It's a bittersweet day... I hope all the best for Gregor and Emu and that he's back in form for the Tour de France. I'll enjoy this moment now, give my best tomorrow again and then look ahead at the rest of the season, most probably the German Championships and the Tour de France." – Lennard Kämna

"It certainly was a bittersweet day for BORA-hansgrohe. On the one hand, our young rider Lennard Kämna rode perfectly and took a superb stage victory while on the other, our leader Emanuel Buchmann and Gregor Mühlberger suffered a crash and had to abandon the race. The day had started well, a big breakaway group formed and we had Lennard in there with the task to help Emu later on, when he was meant to attack in the penultimate, hard, climb. During the first descent, our squad was well-positioned, in the front of the bunch, but the road surface was tricky and slippery.  A number of riders crashed in front of Emu and Gregor and, unfortunately, it was impossible for them to avoid taking a tumble. Both Emu and Gregor had to abandon the race and went to the hospital for further medical examinations. Since our plan radically changed, Lennard took his chances and gave it a shot at winning the stage. He was very strong, timed his attacks perfectly, and rode to victory. It was a nice boost for the team. We now hope all the best for Emu and Gregor!" – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Here's the stage four recap EF Pro Cycling sent me:

Another tough mountain stage in the books at the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné. With over 4,000m of elevation gain, and 6 categorized climbs, the day seemed suited for the breakaway. Dani Martínez started the day in the white jersey, given to the best rider under the age of 25, and was looking to battle with the other General Classification riders on what proved to be a really hard day in the saddle for everyone.

A 15-man breakaway formed early in the stage and were given space to grow the gap out to just over 5 minutes. With some riders in the break not far off the top of the leaderboards, the peloton was forced to put on a frantic chase to attempt to reel them back in. The blistering pace set by team Bahrain-McLaren and team Jumbo-Visma put quite a few of the general classification riders in trouble on the penultimate climb of day up the Montée de Bisanne. By the time the peloton crested the climb, only 9 riders would be left in the peloton including our own, Dani Martínez.

With the chances of catching the break dwindling, a drop in the pace of the peloton allowed a few riders to get back in on the descent to the final climb of the day. It was on this climb that Lennard Kämna (team Bora–Hansgrohe), who had been in the breakaway all day, launched his decisive attack with a little over 2 kilometers to go. He held off a charging De la Cruz - (Team UAE), and Alaphilippe (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) who finished second and third respectively.

A whole host of tired legs in the group of favorites behind meant they all rolled into the final straightaway together. They would battle for the minor places but no significant time differences were formed between them and Dani Martínez crossed the line in 15th position, which allowed him to keep his white young riders jersey and move up to sixth in the General Classification.

Here's what the team had to say:

Charly Wegelius - head sport director:
“The start today was a lot more favorable to high quality riders that rode aggressively which allowed a strong breakaway to roll up the road. The race was shaped by the crashes and the aggressive race that Bahrain-McLaren rode on the climb up the Montée de Bisanne, which of course shaped the race from behind, but also meant that the group lost some momentum because there were only favorites left at that point. It was a super selective race and I think Dani put up an excellent performance to hold off the pace set by Bahrain-McLaren on the climb. Hopefully we can bring home a strong result tomorrow.”

“It’s going to be an interesting race tomorrow with Team Ineos not playing their usual General Classification role. We saw that they were more aggressive today so we’ll see how that plays out tomorrow.”

Dani Martínez - rider:
“The sensations were really good today, and the final climb wasn’t as hard as we thought. There were quite a few of us who arrived at the finish line together. But in general, I finished with the legs feeling in good shape and I hope that tomorrow will be another good stage.”

“On the last climb there were about 6 or 7 of us, the pace was high, the group definitely wasn’t hanging around. Then towards the line Nairo had tried to get ahead and so there was a sprint to the line”

The road ahead:
Plenty of mountain passes on display for the last stage of the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné tomorrow with 8 mountains passes and 4,300m of climbing. Another summit finish in Megève promises more General Classification action in what has been a thrilling edition of the race.

And here's the Team INEOS Dauphiné report:

Michal Kwiatkowski picked up seventh place at the Criterium du Dauphine after spending the day in the breakaway.

The Pole hit out early on an undulating day and was joined by teammate Dylan van Baarle as the lead group swelled to 17 riders.

The group was gradually reduced with Kwiatkowski following the moves well on the hors-categorie Montee de Bisanne. At the finish in Megeve the Team INEOS rider crossed the line 1:19 back on stage winner Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Pavel Sivakov rode well to finish within in a select lead GC group, moving up to 16th overall.

The stage began without Egan Bernal who withdrew from the race as he looks ahead of the upcoming Tour de France.

Gabriel Rasch:
"We felt [Egan] had the racing he needed. He had a back injury that he's had before as well, so we wanted to make sure that we had enough time between here and the start of the Tour to treat it properly and make sure he's 100 percent for the start in Nice. He rode back to the hotel and he could have done the stage today for sure.

"G wanted to save his legs tomorrow so let's hope he has something in the tank. [Thomas and Froome] are continuing to progress step by step. They are not there yet but I'm optimistic they will be a step above in Nice at the start."

Michal Kwiatkowski:
"Fair play to everyone who was in the breakaway. It was really tough to find ourselves there and definitely the strongest guy won. It was a pretty straightforward final with the last kilometre around 7%. Whoever had the strongest legs was going to win that stage so chapeau.

"With my abilities to sprint I was wondering and hoping that I would come to the finish with a couple of guys. I just didn’t have the legs to finish it off. I was super motivated and I was looking for a stage win, but at the end of the day this is how it is. I have to be happy with my condition as I was feeling pretty good.

"Everybody has a different approach and nobody really has the recipe on how to prepared after four months of not racing. We’re discovering our feelings right now. Of course it would be nice to win straight from the gun for me at Strade and San Remo. I was in the game there and today I was in the game for the stage win. We are nearly there, but at the end of the day it’s still pretty far to the second and third weeks of the Tour."

Saturday also saw Il Lombardia take place, with Richard Carapaz taking an encouraging 13th place on his return following a crash at the Tour of Poland.

Team Sunweb reports on Il Lombardia

We posted the report from wiin Jakob Fuglsang's Team Astana with the results.

The second Monument of the year was upon us today, with the peloton taking on the “Race of the falling leaves” in an unusual summertime slot. The change of date for Il Lombardia didn’t correspond with a change in parcours, with an incredibly difficult day of climbing once gain on the menu for the riders.

Jakob Fuglsang

Jakob Fuglsang wins 2020 Il Lombardia. Sirotti photo

An incredibly aggressive start to the race saw multiple attacks and over 40 kilometres of non-stop action before a break of 11 riders finally got clear, with Florian Stork riding well to make the split for the team. Their gap was allowed to grow to almost five minutes but approaching the final 100 kilometres of the day the pace was upped in the bunch. As a result, the peloton had the break in their sights with 60 kilometres to go, as Stork fought hard to stay ahead.

Once everything was back together the pace remained high and the bunch whittled down over the famous Madonna del Ghisallo climb, with Chris Hamilton and Wilco Kelderman in the group of around 30 riders. The fast speeds didn’t stop and on the brutally steep climb of Muro di Sormano with its stinging gradients, the peloton completely exploded. Hamilton and Kelderman did their best to try and hold on but were eventually dropped.

With the race continuing on ahead, the duo found themselves in one of the many chase groups on the road before the final two climbs. Kelderman would make up some places on the ascents and cross the line first for the team in 19th place after an incredibly hard day in the saddle.

“It was a long fight today to get into the breakaway but luckily I managed to get in there for the team,” explained Stork at the finish. “From that point on it went quite well in the front group but unfortunately we were caught quite early at the halfway point on the Ghisallo so we couldn’t get over it, which was a shame. In the end though, I’m happy with my performance today.”

Best-placed finisher Kelderman said: “I didn’t have the best legs today. It was a really hard final and on the Ghisallo they went full gas. From then on I was just hanging on and I tried to go as far as possible, and try to get the best result I could. I’m not massively satisfied with the result but we’ll keep working on it and hope for better in the next races.”

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts added: “It was a really fast pace out there today in the race. It was a quick start with a big fight to get into the breakaway. We had hoped to put one guy there and it was a big group of 11 riders that got away. Florian did a great job to get in that group, with the goal of anticipating the final and be in front over the two big climbs. The break was given only a short lead and the peloton chased hard and early to bring them back, which opened up the final. Pretty quickly we were down to a very small front group with Wilco and Chris in it. Today we missed a little bit to really go for that top ten result but it was a solid performance from Wilco and Chris, and credit to Florian for his efforts today in the breakaway.”

NTT Pro Cycling sprinters take on Tour de Wallonie

The team sent me this:

BRUSSELS, Belgium, August 15, 2020/ -- NTT Pro Cycling  will send a sprint heavy lineup to start the UCI 2.Pro Tour de Wallonie. The race which gets underway on Sunday 16 August in Belgium will reach its conclusion after 4 stages, on Wednesday 19 August.

The Tour de Wallonie has always attracted some of the best fast finishers in cycling, and the 2020 edition will be no different. As one of the final stage races before the Tour de France, the sprinters will be looking to sharpen their high speed kicks for the line during the first 2 stages.

The final two stages do offer something for the puncheurs, but even so, there will be a couple of fast men thinking they can still be in contention when the race ends in Erezee, Belgium.

NTT Pro Cycling will start with last week's Milan-Sanremo 5th place finisher, Giacomo Nizzolo leading our lineup.

Giacomo Nizzolo

Giacomo Nizzolo wins the second stage of this year's Paris-Nice.

Joining our Italian will be the South African champion, Ryan Gibbons, fresh from his 5th and 4th place sprint finishes on stages of last weeks Tour of Poland while Max Walscheid will also provide another fast finishing option.

Completing our lineup will be Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Michael Carbel, Dylan Sunderland and Rasmus Tiller.

Alex Sans Vega - NTT Pro Cycling Sports Director:
"Our team is looking forward to Tour de Wallonie. With 2 pure sprint stages and 2 harder stages, we expect to be taking the race on and being one of the prominent teams in the finals. Wallonie can be a very good race for Giacomo, the way he is riding has been impressive, and he will have good support here. Ryan and Max are both also looking strong at the moment, and it's good to have this depth in our team here. The final two stages are going to be really hard and we also have to consider the wind can play a role on some days, so a strong team will be important in Wallonie."

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