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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 17, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true. - Julius Caesar

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2020 Critérium du Dauphiné final reports

We posted the organizers stage five report with the results.

Here's the report from stage five winner Sepp Kuss' Team Jimbo-Visma:

Sepp Kuss has given Team Jumbo-Visma a third stage victory in the Criterium du Dauphiné. The 25-year-old American soloed in Megève to his first victory of the season after having been on the attack all day. For Team Jumbo-Visma it was a nice boost after race leader Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk had abandoned the race. Roglic crashed hard on Saturday and did not start today. Kruijswijk literally dropped out yesterday with an injured shoulder.

Sepp kuss wins stage five

Sepp Kuss wins stage five.

In addition to the three stage victories, the team of Grischa Niermann and Arthur van Dongen also won the team classification and the points classification with Wout van Aert.

For Kuss it is his sixth victory of his career. Last year, the American had his breakthrough with a stage victory in the Vuelta d’Espana, which was ultimately won by Roglic. Kuss clinched Team Jumbo-Visma’s thirteenth victory of 2020.

With race leader Roglic not taking the start, the riders of Team Jumbo-Visma were able to race aggressively today. Dumoulin, Kuss and Van Aert attacked from the start.

On the penultimate climb, Kuss got away with Sivakov, Pogacar, Martinez and Lopez. On the final climb, Kuss proved to be the strongest and left his rivals behind in the last ten kilometres.

“After yesterday, I felt strange when I woke up this morning”, Kuss said. “We were all shocked by what had happened to Primoz and Steven. But the switch in mindset also gave us the opportunity to race aggressively today. And we did. It was one of the toughest days on the bike. It was full throttle from the start. I had seen that everyone was riding on their limits. It was a bit of a poker game at the end. I waited for the right moment and then went all in. It was still a long way, but it luckily worked out well. Today was a beautiful day for me. I’ve been training very hard for this lately, also to be ready for the Tour. This is a confirmation that things are going in the right direction. The team is very strong. Anyone on the team can win. It is a privilege to be able to ride for this team and to get my chance now and then.”

Dumoulin is looking forward with full confidence after a great Dauphiné. “What a day. What a week. I don’t know whether it is because I had not raced for a while or whether it is just this race. I’ve never had such a tough five consecutive days. You don’t even get that in the Tour. It was really hard every day, but it went well I think. I was competing with the best every day, but I should still gain some power to make a real difference. Luckily Sepp finished it off in a great way. After Primoz and Steven had abandoned, we decided this morning to go for it and go all out one more time. And so we did. From the start fifteen riders attacked including three of us. Wout was really very strong. I am impressed. It was going very fast when Wout was setting the pace. So all in all it was a great day.”

Van Aert collected enough points along the way to take home the green jersey, just like last year. “It is a day with mixed feelings, but the stage victory and this green jersey makes things more or less right. We have shown that we can also deal with setbacks. We answered on the bike. This morning it felt like all the work this week had been for nothing, but in the end we had to switch our minds and we gave everything one more time. I helped Tom and Sepp as well as I could and I am glad Sepp finished it off. He is a great guy who is always ready to help everyone and does not hesitate to do the work that needs to be done. This victory is well-deserved.”

Final GC winner Daniel Martinez's EF Pro Cycling team sent me this:

When it became clear race leader Primož Roglič (TJV) wouldn’t start the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, teams knew the race would explode. Anything could happen, and fortune would favor the bold. Dani Martínez and the rest of the EF Pro Cycling team rode accordingly, and after a truly magnificent day of racing, it was Martínez who pulled on the final yellow jersey and was the overall winner.

Daniel Martinez

Daniel Martinez winning stage seven of the 2019 Paris-Nice.

The Dauphiné is typically filled with last-minute drama and surprises. Today was no exception when a number of strong riders dropped out before the fifth and final stage. In addition to Roglič, Egan Bernal (INS) also withdrew ahead of yesterday’s stage citing a back injury, and Steven Kruijswijk (TJV) dropped out after dislocating his shoulder in a crash on stage 4.

The absence of Roglič from stage 5 moved France’s Thibaut Pinot (GFC) into the overall lead on the final day, which moved Martínez into 4th place in the general classification. Martínez, who held onto his white jersey for two days in a row, was confident. “I finished feeling in good shape and I hope that tomorrow will be another good stage,” Martínez said yesterday. And what a stage it was.

The stage served the riders myriad climbs throughout 153.5 kilometres in the beautiful French terrain. It featured eight classified climbs, including the Hors Catégorie Col de Romme and Col de la Colombiere. The beginning featured two ascents of the Côte de Domancy while a dozen riders broke away with a small advantage over the rest of the group. As they made their way on the Domancy and on one of few flat roads the stage offered, the lead group distanced themselves by only 15 seconds over the rest of the peloton toward the Col de Romme. Martínez was missing from this group as the breakaway increased, and the now 15 escapees made their way along the valley.

The front group eventually expanded to 23 riders on the descent of the Col de Romme, which soon included Martínez and Hugh Carthy, who were able to bridge. Pavel Sivakov and Julian Alaphilippe eventually broke away from the rest, but still with Hugh and Dani in the group of riders chasing behind. Hugh Carthy eventually dropped back, while Martínez continued chasing Alaphilippe and Sivakov, who were leading on the descent off the Col de la Colombière.

The situation changed quickly when Martínez became the race leader on the road up the ascent of the Côte de Domancy as he closed the gap on the leaders. Dani had 6 seconds on Miguel Angel Lopez and looked calm and strong as he eventually increased the distance between them to 30 seconds.

Lopez was looking like his only other competition for the general classification before the riders reached the final climb. With 7.3 kilometres to go, Pinot looked strong as he shortened the gap between him and Martínez and Lopez. Pinot eventually passed Lopez and moved to 2nd place, and was 22 seconds behind Martínez with 5.8 kilometres to go. And then with 1.5 kilometres left, Martínez had only 12 seconds on Pinot, and it was constantly in flux as Pinot kept attacking. Martínez responded and changed the tempo when he stamped hard on the pedals with 1 km to go. Sepp Kuss won the stage, but it was Martínez who crossed the line 2nd and won the general classification in this grueling and thrilling race. The Dauphiné victory marks the second time the EF Pro Cycling outfit has won the race in daring fashion, with Andrew Talansky also taking the GC via last-day heroics and tactical nuance in 2014.

What the team had to say...

Dani Martínez - rider:
It’s one of the most amazing days of my life, it’s one of the most important races and I’m just so happy to have achieved it. I’m still so tired from the race and still can’t quite believe that it’s happened. It’s incredible, the last race we raced was in Colombia and we won and then we’ve won here today too at the Dauphiné.

Without doubt I want to say that this race is for all my family and my little boy, this win is for them. This is for all the people who have believed in me and the ones who have helped support me for me to be able to arrive at this point.

This week everyone has worked really hard, we’ve had hard times like with Sergio’s crash, but the whole team has really helped me, Rigo, Hugh, all of them they’ve been amazing. And also to EF, who supports this team. This victory is for them and their staff across the world, too!

Jonathan Vaughters, team CEO:
When we signed Dani in 2018 off a pro-continental team, it’s fair to say he’d been overlooked. That happens all the time in this sport. But Rigo recommended him to me, and he believed in Dani. And after a few years of working together it’s clear it was a chance worth taking. Dani put in the hard yards to get himself to this level, and his style suits this team perfectly. I couldn’t be happier for him and for the entire team — notably our Colombian contingent of riders and fans.

Dani won that race with tactical nous and style — similar to the way this team won the Dauphiné in 2014 with Andrew Talansky. Both those victories were unexpected, dazzling rides that showed not only strength but smarts. It’s so indicative of who we are as an organization: we’re not the powerhouse team, but we find talent and we race with conviction. It’s who we are, and it was really clear on the roads today. It brings a huge smile to my face.

This has been a really strange season, and a really hard time for so many people. For us, this one goes out to EF and those who support us when the chips are down. Today shows the kind of team we really are, and I’m just grateful to have EF in our corner. We’ll celebrate this one properly, and see you at the Tour.

Charly Wegelius - Sport Director:
It goes without saying it was an intensive day. When we heard Roglič wasn’t starting, we knew that it was going to be a day that the race could be turned upside down. The move in the beginning was a little on the backfoot, and the team really stepped up there and laid it down for Dani. From there, it was trying to manage the rivals and manage the energy that we had. Dani was absolutely on top of his game. He really held his nerve and didn’t crack. It’s really nice to get a win like this for the whole group because everybody worked really hard to come back for these races.

Rigoberto Urán - rider:
It’s been a really hard race, especially as it’s been so long since the last time we were racing. I have suffered a lot this week whilst trying to get back into the rhythm of it all, but in the end I think for the team, and for me, it’s been an absolutely excellent race, we’re all really happy that Dani won.

We’re going well and we’re now just hoping that everything goes really well for the Tour. I think that the team can do good there, everyone has been working really hard and it’s nice to have won such an important race before heading to the Tour.

GC second-place Thibaut Pinot's Groupama-FDJ had this to say about the fifth stage:

Thibaut Pinot, his team and his fans went through all the emotions on Sunday. A new Critérium du Dauphiné’s leader after Primoz Roglic’s withdrawal in the morning, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team’s rider found himself the target of all the attacks from the start. The French climber nevertheless appeared in control in the first part of the race before being dropped with 30 kilometers to go. He then bravely fought to keep his place on the GC podium. He eventually finished second, 29 seconds behind the race winner Dani Martinez, and can confidently look ahead to the Tour de France.

Thibaut Pinot

Thibaut Pinot winning stage 14 of the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Until the very end, the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné proved to be astonishing. On Sunday, a few minutes before the start of the fifth and final stage, a first news already turned everything upside down: the yellow jersey Primoz Roglic himself would not start following his crash the day before. Therefore, Thibaut Pinot found himself as the provisional race leader. He did not wear the jersey but he indeed had the status, and he could expect a fierce battle on the 153-kilometer stage with eight climbs on the menu. And that’s what happened, straight from the start. “The day started off at top speed, with a peloton completely shredded after twenty-five kilometers of racing, and groups already away from each other by 30 seconds or a minute, told Philippe Mauduit. In the Col de Romme, it was already every man for himself. It started the day in quite a complicated way, but we expected it. It was almost inevitable given the route today”.

Under pressure from the start by his main rivals in the general classification, Thibaut Pinot had to ride hard for a good hour and a half. “I got attacked from the second kilometer already,” explained the Groupama-FDJ’s leader. “From there, I had no choice but to be in the breakaway. Then, in the sequence of the Romme and Colombière climbs, it was non-stop attacks”. “The instruction for Thibaut was to try to let the team get back together after the first climbs,” added Philippe, “but the start was so hard that we never managed to gather again. There were too big gaps between the different groups and it came down to a fight between leaders early on. There were hardly any teammates up front except for Jumbo-Visma. The others were either lonely or with one teammate at max”. Thibaut himself saw Sébastien Reichenbach returning alongside him in the Col de la Colombière, while a duo Pavel Sivakov-Julian Alaphilippe got away in front.

From then on, the Swiss champion and Jumbo-Visma put some order in the favourites group, already down to about fifteen men but without Mikel Landa or Nairo Quintana. The gap even reduced to one minute with the leading men approaching the Domancy climb, thirty kilometers from the finish. Then some favourites such as Tadej Pogacar and Dani Martinez went on the attack and Thibaut Pinot was unable to follow. “I wasn’t in a great day, especially at the end,” he said at the finish. “When I tried to accelerate, the legs did not respond. When I saw them attacking, it was a big blow. It took me a while to refocus, but I really didn’t want to give up. Seb had done a great job all day, Julian [Alaphilippe] did a nice turn for me and everyone cheered me on. It really boosted me and I didn’t want to give up for them.”

After losing quite quickly a minute to Pogacar, Martinez but also Sepp Kuss, Thibaut Pinot let the storm pass before regaining strength in the last twenty kilometers in order to fight for the overall podium, or even for victory. “He really showed that he has a strong mental strength, that he is able to fight even when he’s in big trouble,” Philippe said. “But we had no doubts about it, we know that is part of his qualities and his strength”. At one point, the French climber even got back to a – virtual- dozen of seconds of the overall victory, but he finally lost more ground in the final kilometers, crossing the line in seventh position, one minute behind Sepp Kuss and thirty-five seconds behind Dani Martinez. It did not prove to be enough to maintain the first position, but it did to get the Critérium du Dauphiné’s second place. “There is still some disappointment tonight but I did what I could with the legs I had today,” added Thibaut. “I really finished with my head, thinking about everything we’ve done this week.”

“Tonight, there is a bit of disappointment and satisfaction, concluded Philippe. Obviously, when you come so close to victory, you can only be disappointed. That being said, there are also good things we can raise. Results-wise, we hadn’t set any goals for this Dauphiné and I think everyone would have signed for a second place earlier this week. There was a Tour de France competition on this race and we saw that Thibaut was keeping pace with the best. This is one of the things to remember. He really is back to his best level and it’s interesting for what’s to come. He is well on schedule for his preparation for the Tour de France”. “It sure bodes well, but I was still looking for a victory,” said Thibaut. “This week, I was mainly thinking about the Dauphiné, not so much about the Tour. It’s a pity but the legs are good and that’s the most important. Now, we’ll have to rest well before the start of the Tour because it’s been a really hard week and a lot of riders are very tired tonight”.

Here's the report from Pavel Sivakov's Team INEOS:

Pavel Sivakov bounced back from a hard crash to pull off a valiant ride to fourth place on the final day of the Criterium du Dauphine.

The Team INEOS rider was active throughout the 153.5-kilometre test, forcing his way into numerous breaks, before going clear alongside Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) on the Col de la Colombière.

The pair combined well, only for Sivakov to go down on a descent with around 30km to go. That helped a group of contenders draw level, with a cat and mouse battle ensuing on the run-in. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) pulled clear to take the stage, with Daniel Martinez (EF Cycling) finishing second to claim overall victory.

Fourth place, 45 seconds back, saw Sivakov elevate himself up to 11th place overall.

Pavel Sivakov:
“It was a crazy day I have to say.

“I’m all good. Obviously [to crash] is not ideal. You have to just forget about it and just recover as best as possible.

“I was feeling really good today and I hoped I could be up there for the victory. I was pulling in the break all day and [Kuss] was able to sit in the wheels. For sure I had the legs for the victory today. It was my strategy to go in the break early but they pulled us back.

“We’re going to do some recons in the next few days. Tomorrow we’ll have a day off. It’s been a really hard week but now it’s time to get ready for the Tour.”

Elsewhere the Tour de Wallonie got under way in Belgium. A late downpour made for tricky conditions on the opening stage, with Chris Lawless the first Team INEOS rider home in 34th. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) won the opening bunch kick to move into an early race lead.

Here's what Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team had to say:

Julian Alaphilippe showed again his pedigree, on a chaotic final stage at the French race, reminiscent of the 2014 edition’s last day. Attacks galore from the outset, a peloton in pieces, a general classification which was up for grabs and a tough course around Megève – all this contributed to an exciting day of racing, which our rider lit up with a brave attack on the first of the seven climbs sprinkled over the 153.5km-long route.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe at the 2019 Tour de France.

Côte de Domancy (2.5km, 9.4%), where Bernard Hinault forged his remarkable success at the 1980 World Championships in Sallanches, was used by Alaphilippe as a launch pad, the Frenchman’s stinging attack splitting the field and leaving him at the front with just eight riders. A frantic chase ensued, but it was only on the Col de Romme that twenty riders managed to bridge across. The gap to the peloton was a mere 55 seconds, but a series of trademark Julian Alaphilippe accelerations took the margin to almost two minutes and helped last year’s KOM jersey winner jump away together with Pavel Sivakov (Ineos).

Working very well together, the duo stretched out their lead to 1:30 and looked to have a good chance of going all the way to the finish, but all this went up in smokes when the Russian crashed on a descent. Julian slowed down a bit and waited for his breakaway companion to return at the front, which he eventually did, but so did a strong four-man chasing group, who was already making up ground. From there, Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) took off on the last climb and soloed to victory, while Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) sewed up the general classification.

Alaphilippe – who climbed to second in the Dauphiné KOM rankings after his second consecutive day in the break – came home a couple of minutes later, getting a big round of applause from his countrymen for the panache and never-say-die attitude displayed over these past days at his last stage race before the start of the Tour de France.

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