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

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Clasica de Almeria team reports

We posted the report from winner Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results.

Here's what second-place Alexander Kristoff's UAE-Team Emirates had to say about the race:

Alexander Kristoff showed his form is coming to the boil nicely ahead of the classics by placing second in the Clasica Almeria (1.Pro) behind Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe).

Pascal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann winning the 2020 edition of the Clasica de Almeria

In the closing kilometre Kristoff latched on to the wheel of Ackermann as the sprint opened up. Ackermann took a big lead and though Kristoff began to claw him back towards the line he was unable to come around the German rider.

Yousif Mirza and Velerio Conti were at the head of the race to close the five-man break in the first half of the route.

The team gathered around Kristoff in the final 40km with Laengen and Bohli tasked with leading out Kristoff in the final 10km which were marked by exposed roads and lots of wind from the coast.

Kristoff: “The team did a good job today. When I needed them they were alert when it split up so we were at the front. Going into the final the guys put me into the right position. In the final kilometre I think I did a good job in positioning myself for the sprint and I came onto the wheel of Ackermann in the last 400m. In the end I had the speed but it took me too long to get to maximum speed so he got to the line first. Second place is a good result for me and I’m happy with it but I’ll be looking for the win next week in Algarve.”

And here's the report from 5th-place Luka Mezgec's Mitchelton-Scott team:

Slovenian Luka Mezgec sprinted to fifth place at the Clasica de Almeria after some strong work from his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates in a messy finale.

Unfortunately the 30-year-old was squeezed off his teammates wheel inside the final kilometre and was forced to sprint from too far back as a result.

It wasn’t long before five riders slipped up the road to form the day’s breakaway, with the quintet going on to open up a maximum advantage of 3’18” before the peloton began to reel them back in.

Mitchelton-SCOTT were content to let the sprint teams dictate the pace and the escapees were routinely mopped up with 50km to go. But the dynamic of the race then changed as the wind began to blow, with a number of teams making efforts to split the field on the exposed roads.

The wind made for a nervous peloton as several teams battled for control of the front of the race and it wasn’t long before a crash occurred. Luckily Mitchelton-SCOTT riders managed to avoid the carnage as the pack raced towards the finishing circuits.

Italian Edoardo Affini and veteran Michael Albasini gave some big turns on the front to keep Mezgec to the fore, with Australian Alex Edmondson tasked with delivering the Slovenian to the line.

However, a chaotic run to the line saw Mezgec pushed off his teammates wheel and as Pascal Ackermann (BORA – hansgrohe) launched his winning sprint, Mezgec was left out of contention for the victory, crossing the line in fifth place.

Luka Mezgec:
“The team was fantastic today. We have lots of new guys and this was our first real leadout train in a while. We made a mistake to not chose one side of the road in the end and because of that, I got squeezed out from right and left in the final kilometre.”

“It’s a pity about that, but definitely work in progress. With all these young guys we have a strong team for finals like this. Every single individual today could ride very well in the chaotic final and that meant that everyone was there. This is great to see and I’m looking forward to racing again with such a squad.”

Matt White (Head Sports Director):
“It was a different course to the last couple of years, it was nearly the same metres of climbing but the climbs weren’t as steep, so it was a pretty negative day. The weather was good too, so there wasn’t as much wind as in previous years as well.”

“The break went away early and it was controlled by the sprint teams and it did split up a little bit in the end but there wasn’t really enough wind to keep it going.”

“We were always going to concentrate on the final today and the guys did a pretty good job but got a little bit stuck at the very end. Luka got squeezed off the wheel in the last kilometre and came into the last corner too far back so he didn’t get a good run at the finish and fifth was the best he could manage.”

Greg van Avermaet and Simon Geschke to ride Volta ao Algarve 

CCC Team sent me this:

16 February 2020: After a strong performance at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Greg Van Avermaet is ready for his second race in this season, Volta ao Algarve, where the Olympic champion will be joined by Matteo Trentin and Simon Geschke, who secured third overall at the Santos Tour Down Under in January.

Simon Geschke

Simon Geschke at the 2020 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

CCC Team will line up the five-stage race with a diverse roster and multiple objectives, Sports Director Valerio Piva said.

"Once again, Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin will line up together at Volta ao Algarve so, the first objective will be to try to win a stage. We saw them both racing well in Spain so I think we can build on this further in Portugal. We have a lot of our Classics group lining up at this race and for me, this is important as it allows us to continue working together ahead of the first races in Belgium,” Piva explained.

“Traditionally, the General Classification is won on the climbs so for that, we will take the race day by day. Of course, Simon Geschke is coming into the race after a strong performance in Australia so I'm sure he will be motivated to continue racing well and then Paddy Bevin will also join us so, the time trial on stage five will definitely be another target for us".

Van Avermaet is looking forward to the next race of his early season after a solid performance in Spain.

”I feel good after five days of racing in Valencia and I’m looking forward to racing in Portugal. It’s good to be back into the racing rhythm as the legs are getting better every day. So far, everything has gone well when it comes to building my shape before the Classics season. Volta ao Algarve is the next step in my preparations. Of course, I’ll do what I can for the team and try to achieve the best possible result. Looking at the parcours, the two stages that suit me best are stage one and the fourth stage which finishes on the Malhão climb,” Van Avermaet said.

Geschke, who climbed to a career-best third place result in a WorldTour stage race at the Santos Tour Down Under, is looking forward to racing in Europe for the first time this year.

“Volta ao Algarve is a really nice race, I’ve only done it once but I like the parcours. I think that my shape will be good as after a strong race in Australia in January, everything has gone well with my training. Coming home with the result I achieved at the Tour Down Under gives me the confidence for short stage races. For me, the key stages at Algarve are both with mountain top finishes and the time trial. I am looking forward to this time trial as it will be a test for me and for sure I would like to finish it with a good result. I did quite well at the time trial two years ago and now it is quite similar. I’ll try not to lose time on the other stages and ride well in the time trial and hopefully, I’ll have good result on GC”.

Volta ao Algarve (19 -23 February)

Rider roster: Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Bevin Patrick (NZ), Simon Geschke (GER), Michael Schär (SUI), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Fabio Baldato (ITA)

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