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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, February 10, 2020

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Jai Hindley wins 2020 Herald Sun Tour

We posted the report from stage winner Kaden Groves' Mitchelton-Scott team with the race results.

Here's the report from Hindley's Team Sunweb:

After an intense five days of racing, Jai Hindley and the team won the general classification at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour today.

Jai Hindley

Jai Hindley winning stage four.

The foundations for Hindley’s win were set on stage two and the summit finish of Falls Creek. After some great work throughout the day the team set a strong tempo on the finish climb, putting several riders into difficulty and reducing the head of the race down to just three riders come the finish line. Hindley proved to be the strongest on the day as he won the sprint and moved into the race lead.

After protecting Hindley’s lead on a difficult stage three, the penultimate day of racing on stage four saw the peloton faced with the second mountain top finish of the race, Mount Buller. Riding almost the perfect race, the team controlled the breakaway on the flat lands before continuing to drive the pace as the road headed upwards. In the finale Hindley was able to follow a stinging attack from Berwick, before coming over the top of in the last 200 metres, taking his second stage win of the race.

As a result of bonus seconds on the line Hindley headed into the final day of racing with a ten second advantage over Berwick. The team worked well to protect his lead throughout the fast afternoon of action, covering any dangerous attacks and keeping him safe. Crossing the line at the end of the stage, a jubilant Hindley secured the GC title.

“I’m super relieved to finish the tour off today and get the win, and repay the boys for all the hard work they’ve done this week,” said a joyous Hindley at the finish. “It’s pretty amazing to get my name on that trophy with some pretty big names on there, so for me this is a huge win. It’s for sure the biggest win of my career so I’m thrilled to get it today.”

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts added: “It’s a young group we have here and we worked hard on our teamwork in the previous races in Australia. The little things we picked up throughout the weeks in Adelaide and Geelong, the guys put into practice this week. We really started to make steps to become a very strong team this week, considering it’s such a young group, and we were able to almost dominate this race. Full credit to the guys for their commitment here and it’s good that we could also see the results at the end of it from their commitment and good teamwork. I’m really happy for the guys and it’s awesome to have won three stages, take the GC title and for all the guys to be on the podium and celebrate together as winners of the team classification.”

Tadej Pogacar wins Volta a Valenciana

We posted the report from stage five winner Fabio Jakobsen's Deceuninck-quick step team with the results.

Here's the report from Pogacar's UAE-Team Emirates:

After a winning display on stage 4 yesterday on the steep climb to Altea, Tadej Pogačar has today cemented his victory in the Vuelta Valenciana (2.1).

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar enjoys his victory.

With a relatively short final stage of 97.7 kilometres, it was destined to be a day for the sprinters. In the final kilometres UAE Team Emirates were active at the front with even race leader Pogačar pulling on the front in support of Alexander Kristoff. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck Quick Step) proved quickest in the dash for the line with Kristoff just behind in 4th.

This result from Pogačar marks the 7th victory of the season for the UAE squad who will now turn their attention to the Tour Colombia 2.1 which gets underway on Tuesday 11th February.

Director Sportif Neil Stephens was quick to pay compliments to the team and to Kristoff who played a key team role during the week and will now look towards the classics.

Neil Stephens DS: “It was a relatively quiet day today. Deceuninck and Jumbo Visma controlled the finish to set it up for a sprint. As far as we were concerned our priority was looking after Tadej and then in the final few kilometres we tried our best for Alex in the sprint. It’s been a tough week for everybody especially Alex he’s been sprinting in the sprint stages and working in the mountain stages and even though 4th isn’t a stage win he’s in good form it’s a positive sign heading into the spring classics. As far as we’re concerned it’s a great start for the team in Europe, there’s a really good vibe in the team and we’re looking forward to more and bigger challenges in the future.”

Pogačar: "This win means a lot to me, especially after all the hard work we did in the winter to prepare. To start my first race and win is incredible, my form is really good – not as good as when I was in the Vuelta a Espana obviously, but the season is still early. My first big goal of the year will be the UAE Tour at the end of this month before building up towards my first Tour de France.”

Kristoff: “It was a good week for the team – we won two stages and the GC so we can’t ask for more. For me it was also a good week, I felt quite strong on every stage and I was competitive in the sprints. I took a 3rd and a 4th, for sure I was aiming for more but I take confidence heading into my next race in Clásica Almería.”

Here's the report from third-place Tao Geoghegan Hart's Team INEOS:

Tao Geoghegan Hart finished safely on the final day to secure a strong podium finish in Valencia.

The young Brit was able to cross the line in the peloton, with a bunch finish allowing him to clinch third place and one of the best stage race results of his career. With no time bonuses during the race, Geoghegan Hart occupied the same time as second-placed Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott), with just stage placings separating the two riders.

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) had made sure of overall victory on the steep slopes of Saturday's queen stage, in which Geoghegan Hart finished third. Six seconds proved to be the final margin of victory.

Ben Swift sprinted to 12th place on the final stage after playing a key support role during the race. The final bunch kick was won by Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). Gianni Moscon also impressed with 11th place overall.

Tao Geoghegan Hart:
"With the way my programme is this year I wasn't specifically targeting this race. There's still quite a lot of time after this until my big targets for the year, so it was a pleasant surprise and a nice start to the year to build on.

"I didn't really know what to expect on the queen stage climb. I hadn't done a recon but quite a few training partners of mine had been up there having had team camps down that way. They all said it was difficult and I found it was as hard, if not harder, than the similar type of climbs I did at the Vuelta last year. Actually the whole day was really hard. We went pretty quick all day so it wasn't just the final climb. It's not every race that you do climbs that steep. In some ways I don't think it makes for the best racing, because it almost neutralises it a little bit. At the same time it did split the race up fairly well. It is what it is - the first hard climb of the year done and now onwards.

"Everyone was riding really well. For me it was a massive honour to have Swifty there in the British champ's jersey, Michal (Kwiatkowski) with the rainbow bands around his arms, and the whole team helping out. They all rallied yesterday to make sure I had a perfect position into the climb. Then they took it on and gave me a lot of confidence to believe in myself, to try and go for the stage, and with that the GC. It didn't quite happen but it wasn't too far off either, so that's a really nice start for the first race of the year."

And here's the Valencia report from Dylan Groenewegen's Jumbo-Visma team:

Dylan Groenewegen has not succeeded in completing the trilogy in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. In the third bunch sprint of the week, the Dutchman got beaten for the first time. Team Jumbo-Visma nevertheless completed a successful stage race. The yellow-black formation of Grischa Niermann and Arthur van Dongen returns home with two stage victories and the points jersey for Groenewegen.

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenwegen (shown winning the final stage of the 2019 edition) wasn't able to get a third Valenciana win. Sirotti photo

The rider from Amsterdam came up short in the short final stage to Valencia for his third stage win. In the bunch sprint he got narrowly beaten by Fabio Jakobsen.

Team Jumbo-Visma controlled the stage from the start, together with the other sprinter teams. As a result, the breakaway got an advantage of no more than one minute. In the final kilometres, Groenewegen was well protected and brought into position by Jos van Emden, Pascal Eenkhoorn and Christoph Pfingsten after Maarten Wynants and Paul Martens had fixed up the preparatory work. Groenewegen started his sprint in Jakobsen’s wheel, but came a few millimeters short.

“I was in a good position for the sprint”, Groenewegen said. “We did that very well as a team and we were well organised all day. I was in the perfect position for the sprint. Perhaps I was a little too close in Jakobsen’s wheel, after which I wasn’t able to react properly on a unexpected move by others. It made me lose some speed and as a result my sprint was over. Next time I have to make sure that I am more in control.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann had once again witnessed a strong team. “The fact that it didn’t work out today is a pity. We would have liked to take home a third stage victory. But this is also part of cycling. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We controlled the stage perfectly and Dylan was were he needed to be for the sprint. With two stage victories and the points jersey we had a very good week, except for the crash of Tobias Foss.”

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