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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, August 30, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time. - Jackie Robinson

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

John Degenkolb out of Tour de France. Philippe Gilbert in pain.

Team Lotto-Soudal sent me this bad news:

Rain and slippery roads caused a number of crashes during the first stage of the Tour de France. Worst team victim was John Degenkolb. He crashed on his both knees with 65 km to go, managed to finish the race alone and arrived some minutes out of time limit. The jury applied the rule strictly and John Degenkolb’s Tour de France is over.

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb at the 2020 Tour de France teams presentation ceremony. Sirotti photo

X-rays didn’t reveal any fracture but to start in stage 2 would have been difficult anyway.

“The problem is especially my right knee, but the knee cap is okay,” said John Degenkolb. “There was however a big impact on the bursa and the knee is swollen. I am deeply disappointed to leave the Tour like this, especially on the first day. There is nothing we can do. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I think that also for my health it is better to go home. The season is not over yet.”

Philippe Gilbert was involved in a bad crash as well and finished 11 minutes behind and was brought to hospital to check his left knee. At this moment (10.45 PM) he is still in hospital.

Tour de France stage one team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Alexander Kristoff's UAE-Team Emirates:

Alexander Kristoff was the fastest in the first stage of the Tour de France, hitting a fantastic double with a stage victory and sealing the yellow jersey.

Alexander Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff takes the first stage.

The 156 km of the inaugural stage of the Gran Boucle were characterized by numerous crashes due to the heavy rain that featured throughout the entire race. The group moved cautiously along the descents of the course, only to put the hammer down again in the final 20 km.

In Nice, on the final straight, Kristoff unleashed his power with a perfectly timed sprint, where he overtook Mads Pedersen (Trek – Segafredo) and Cees Bol (Team Sunweb).

Today’s victory gives UAE Team Emirates their first ever yellow jersey. It will be the first time in yellow also for Kristoff, his fourth career success at the Tour (his last win at the Grand Boucle dates back to the final stage of the 2018 edition).

Alexander Kristoff: “It’s a dream to wear the yellow jersey, I don’t think you can ask for anything better. The team came here to aim for the General Classification and some sprint stages. I was hoping, but I didn’t think I would win so early . Today I was riding well and I was able to give my best on the final straight, realizing that I was in the frame for a win. I stayed in the wheels for a while, coming out on the right in the final and, when I realized it was the right moment, I pushed hard. In the past few months I haven’t been able to give my best and I also crashed at the European Championships, so being here celebrating is a great feeling.”

Tomorrow Kristoff will face the second stage in yellow, 186 km starting and finishing in Nice. The hilly route features the Col de la Colomiane, Col de Turini, Col d’Eze and Col des Quatres Chemins.

World Champion Mads Pedersen's Trek-Segafredo team posted this report:

The rain fell, and so did the riders.  So many that the peloton took matters in-hand and neutralized the race through the final downhills, gifting a tricky first stage to the sprinters as the 2020 Tour de France officially opened Saturday.

Trek-Segafredo had the savviness of its Classics trio Jasper Stuyven, Edward Theuns, and Mads Pedersen – all fast on any given day but none pure sprinters – to handle the madness that comes in the Tour’s first days, and they delivered in a messy sprint finish.

Stuyven and Theuns masterfully piloted the World Champion in the final kilometers, keeping safe at the front and missing the massive pileup at three kilometers to go. Pedersen finished it off with a brilliant, well-timed sprint that was only bettered by Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates).

Alexander Kristoff

A wider view of the stage finish.

For a Tour rookie, even a rainbow decorated one, it was impressive.  And it earned him a trip to the podium for the white jersey as Best Young Rider.

"It was pretty hard actually. This is my first Tour, so I actually realized today that the average speed is quite high the whole day. The peloton stuck together as a unit today and took it easy on the tricky downhills.

"On the bike you could actually see how much oil was on the road so it was nice to see the peloton stand together and decide to [descend] together and start racing again at the bottom.

"For me to finish second was super nice, the boys did a really good leadout, but I lost them a little bit. Now that I was this close, I would have really liked to make the win, but I think I can be happy with a second place. Of course, I’m racing to win so I’m a little disappointed, but I can also be happy.

"It’s super nice to start my first Tour, the only thing I could hope for more was obviously the win. I’m happy with how the boys did the sprint for me today and how we’re going together."

Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

After a longer wait than usual, the first Grand Tour of the 2020 season had finally arrived. Starting and finishing in Nice, the race’s Grand Départ consisted of three loops around the city, totalling 156km. The two third category climbs wouldn’t figure in the day’s result, with the flat finale making this a day for the sprinters. While the parcours would be drenched in sunshine in the summer, the late August start saw rain soaking the peloton and create risky conditions on the roads that caught many riders unaware.

Throughout the day there were crashes as the nerves in the peloton came to the surface, a mix of single riders losing traction on corners to large falls that brought down entire sections of the peloton. Attacking riding saw some small groups forming on the road, but the peloton was always close behind, pulling them back as the race ebbed and flowed.

At the day’s intermediate sprint, with two riders narrowly ahead, Peter was first from the peloton to cross the line, taking thirteen points for his efforts. By the time the race had entered its final 50km, there was still no break and it seemed destined to stay that way, and as the race neared the finish and the sprint trains formed, the decision was made to take the GC times from the 3km to go point to avoid danger in the finale – only for a crash at the 3km mark splitting the peloton.

Brought into position by Daniel Oss, Peter Sagan was in the front and ready to challenge for the win. In a long and hard-fought sprint, with the sprinters riding into a headwind, Peter stayed in contention to the end, crossing the line in fifth position.

From the Finish Line:
"It was a very hard stage with a crazy finale. The last 5km were all the way headwind, the bunch was very nervous, a big mess. Sprints like this one with headwind are always a lottery and I think you also need good luck at times." – Peter Sagan

"Staying safe wasn't an easy task today, it was extremely dangerous and slippery and nearly half the peloton crashed. The team did a very good job throughout the stage and I finished safely, which was the key point. I come to the Tour de France after a crash at the Dauphiné but the pace wasn't very high today, so you could say I was in good shape. Most importantly, I didn't feel any pain in my hips." – Emanuel Buchmann

"The stage was already a very technical one with the descents and on top of that the rain created some dangerous situations. Our focus was to stay safe, all the time in a good position, and the riders did it very well. I'd like to thank them for that and we were lucky in the end as nobody had a hard tumble. There were so many crashes and we were involved only once or twice, without any issue, all riders are fine.  In my view, the bunch took the right decision to go easy on the downhills. Peter took some points in the intermediate sprint and then claimed fifth on the finish line. I think more was possible there but overall we are happy we avoided any hard crashes and we look forward to the next stages." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

And here's what defending champion Egan Bernal's INEOS team had to say:

Egan Bernal emerged safely through a brutal opening day at the Tour de France as wet roads and crashes slowed a nervous peloton.

The racing debut for the INEOS Grenadiers demanded absolute concentration as rain turned the roads around Nice into a treacherous challenge. The team rallied around Bernal and, with the organisation taking the decision to neutralise the general classification times at the 3km to go mark, got him into a position of safety. Richard Carapaz also finished safely alongside his team-mate on the Promenade des Anglais.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal at Friday's team's presentation ceremony. Sirotti photo.

Numerous crashes punctuated the action, with Pavel Sivakov and Andrey Amador both hitting the ground twice during the day. Sivakov spent much of the stage off the back of the peloton, finishing 13 minutes down on a bruising day that saw a number of big names caught up in accidents.

As the peloton decided to neutralise the final climb and descent, the action resumed with 20km to go and the expected sprint finish. It was Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) who prevailed to take the race’s first yellow jersey.

Reaction, Luke Rowe:
"I think the problem was just the fact that it literally hasn’t rained here for two or three months – then you get one day where it rains and it’s literally like ice. I think most teams have at least half their rider who have touched down today. We’ve had a couple but luckily we’ve passed through.
"We’ve got a riders organisation and there’s a couple of guys from each team in there. We spoke last night about how we’re going to approach the Tour de France in general, look after each other and do the right thing when it’s needed. And whilst you want to race and put on the best show, at the same time you could see just how many crashes there were and that was with the three descents being ridden at a very careful speed."

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