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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 20, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time. - George Orwell

Current racing:

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CCC Team Previews Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var

The team sent me this:

19 February 2020: CCC Team will line up at its third and final French stage race of the month this week with another strong team heading to the start line of Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var (21 - 23 February).

Sports Director Steve Bauer said that CCC Team is motivated to line up at the three-day race which will provide the team with another opportunity to race aggressively in France.

“The Mont Faron finish on the final stage will certainly be the most important factor for the General Classification standings and our climbers will have to be set up well approaching Toulon to be in with the chance of aiming for a good overall result. All three days are likely to be open and aggressive with breakaways having the potential to make the racing unpredictable. In general, the terrain of the race suits our roster of riders well and all of our guys are motivated as we continue our quest for a win,” Bauer explained.

Fausto Masnada is looking forward to building on his performance in France last week which saw him finish just outside the top ten on the General Classification at Tour de la Provence.

Fausto Masnada

Fausto Masnada winning stage six of the 2019 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

“After four difficult days of racing last week, I have good feelings ahead of Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. I think Tour de la Provence was a good way to get back into racing and to start to improve my condition because every day we went pretty deep. This week’s three-day race will also be demanding but I like the look of the parcours and it suits me so my goal will be to try to obtain a top ten finish on the General Classification and try to go for the best result possible on a stage while also continuing to build my shape as I look ahead to my first WorldTour races of the season.” Masnada said.

Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var (21 - 23 February)

Rider Roster: Will Barta (USA), Fausto Masnada (ITA), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Attila Valter (HUN), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL), Georg Zimmermann (GER)

Sports Directors: Steve Bauer (CAN), Gabriele Missaglia (ITA)

Volta ao Algarve stage one team reports

We posted the report from winner Fabio Jakobsen's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the Bora-hansgrohe update:

The opening day of the Portuguese stage race headed over 195.6 km from Portimão to Lagoa, and with only two smaller climbs early in the race, it was an affair for the sprinters. The peloton wasn’t in any particular rush to reel back in the three escapees that formed the break of the day, yet they were steadily brought back until it all came together 30 km before the finish.

Ten kilometres later, the peloton split and a small group of riders launched an attack from the front of the field, but their attempts remained in vain. In the end it came to the expected bunch sprint which was taken out by the Dutch champion F. Jakobsen. The top-placed BORA - hansgrohe riders were Jempy Drucker and Martin Laas, who took out 12th and 13th position in the bunch gallop respectively.

FAbio Jakobsen

Fabio Jakobsen enjoys his stage win.

From the Finish Line:
“The plan was to get a good result with me or Jempy. With 3 km remaining, we were in a good position, and we were at the front of the field as we crested the small uncategorised climb shortly before the finish. After that, it became a bit chaotic, with a steep downhill and also a roundabout. I was able to find Jempy in the finale, however we became somewhat closed off in the peloton, and so I wasn’t able to launch a strong sprint, which is a bit unfortunate given that we came into the final kilometres in a good position.” – Martin Laas

“The stage proceeded largely as we had expected. A small break got away, was reeled back in, and a couple of attacks followed. The teams of the sprinters controlled the race the whole day, while we had the aim of protecting our GC riders and not losing any time in the overall standings. In the approach to the finale, we concentrated our efforts around Martin and Jempy, so that they could take their chances in the bunch sprint. It was a slightly chaotic finale, and the best result that we could come up with was 12th place.” – Jean-Pierre Heynderickx, Sports Director

And here's the Team INEOS Algarve report:

Ben Swift was upbeat about his early season form following the opening stage of the Volta ao Algarve.

Swift secured a top 20 finish on the stage which came down to a bunch sprint won by Fabio Jakobsen (Deuceunick-Quickstep), but the 32 year old drew positives from his overall performance which saw him in contention throughout a tough final 30 kilometres on undulating terrain.

He told “The actual finish had a headwind and the guys did an amazing job - we’re here for the GC but they gave me this opportunity.

“We maybe hit the front a bit too early, I tried going in behind some guys once Michal Kwiatkowski had done a really good job and then the guy I tucked in behind pulled off, so with 400m remaining I had to sprint, then sit back, bide my time and try and go again. When you do that, you only really have one effort in you.

“Encouragingly, I felt good on the steep climbs, I was able to move up and into position, so I’m looking forward to doing my bit and repaying the guys tomorrow and on stage four."

The British National champion was led out in the final kilometre by Kwiatkowski, one of Team INEOS' GC contenders, and a grateful Swift was quick to praise the efforts of his teammates. 

He beamed: “It’s amazing - that’s what you get on this team, it doesn’t matter who you are, you all work together.

“We may only have had one win so far this season, but if we keep on riding the way we are, there will be many more to come."

Ruta del Sol stage one team reports

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

Here's Team Movistar's report:

Dane Jakob Fuglsang (AST) is the first leader of the 2020 Vuelta a Andalucía as he took the better from Basque Mikel Landa (TBM) at the tough final slope of Grazalema, ending point of a meteorologically demanding -rain early-, mountainous -five rated ascents, including Las Palomas (Cat-1)- stage one from Alhaurín de la Torre (174km).

Jakob Fuglsang

Jakob Fuglsang takes the first stage. Sirotti photo

The Movistar Team took a leading role for most of the day, yet wasn’t able to extract the result they deserved from the work they did. The efforts by Mora -who turned 32 today-, Arcas, Oliveira and Roelandts to lead the bunch and bring back the 11-man morning break, plus the work by Antonio Pedrero to cover his team leaders during the final ascent, weren’t enough to keep the Blues at the front near the end.

Marc Soler, who progressed from a difficult start into Las Palomas, was the top Movistar Team performer in 12th place (+1’21”), while Enric Mas, still recovering from illness which forced him to abandon in the Vuelta a Murcia, finished 3’58” back. Pedrero finished between them, in a nice 15th place.

The Ruta del Sol will tackle another tough finish on Thursday’s stage two to Iznájar (1.2km at 8%) after the longest route of the race, 198 kilometers starting from Seville’s famous Plaza de España.

And here's the report from Team Jumbo-Visma:

Chris Harper has started the Ruta del Sol with a seventh place. In the tough stage to Grazalema, the Australian climbed along with the best for a long time. Antwan Tolhoek was the second rider of Team Jumbo-Visma in the top fifteen. He finished in fourteenth place.

In the 174-kilometre stage from Alhaurin de la Torre, a leading group of eleven got a maximum lead of three minutes. On the last climb of the day, the Puerto de las Palomas, the leading group got reeled in, after which Mikel Landa and the later winner Jakob Fuglsang made their decisive move.

In the first chasing group, both Harper and Tolhoek left a strong impression. Harper accelerated a few times and was leading the chasing group a few times. Just before the summit of the final climb, Harper had to let his companions go, after which he crossed the line in seventh place, 54 seconds behind Fuglsang.

“I felt really good, especially on the climbs”, Harper explained. “I tried to accelerate a number of times, but I couldn’t get away. Just before the summit of the final climb I couldn’t follow, after which I could not close the gap anymore in the descent. That’s a bit of a pity because I think I could have gone a bit better. The team did a good job supporting Antwan and me until the final climb. It also gives me confidence, as I personally expected more from the Tour de la Provence last week. Then it is good to see that things are going in the right direction again. The coming days are going to be tough, but I hope to maintain my position in the GC.”

Sports director Arthur van Dongen talked about a good start. “We cannot be dissatisfied with two riders in the top fifteen. It was a very difficult stage with the necessary altitude metres. Chris manifested himself well on the last climb, but got a bit surprised just before the top, so he just wasn’t able to get along with the first chasing group. Antwan also climbed along with the best for a long time. The other guys finished the stage without any problems and supported our two climbers very well all day. It was a fair stage and everyone finished where he belongs today. This result gives us good prospects for the remaining stages.”

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