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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 6, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others. - Robert A. Heinlein

Current racing:

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

Virtual Tour de France stage two team reports

Here's the report from stage winner Julien Bernard's Trek-Segafredo team:

In a nail-biting finish, Julien Bernard came from behind and sprinted to glory on the mountainous 29.5km second stage of the Virtual Tour de France.

Julien Bernard

The virtual Julien Bernard on his way to winning stage 2.

The 28-year-old Frenchman rode strongly on the main difficulty of the day, a cat-2 climb, which boasted 600 meters in elevation, and found himself in a chase group alongside teammates Giulio Ciccone and Niklas Eg, a few seconds off the front.

“My strategy coming into the race was more or less what I use in all my previous Zwift races: one minute with intense power to try to stay at the front of the bunch. In e-racing, it’s really important to start super fast. Then there was a small bunch, and I could stay tucked in there and save my legs for the climb. I tried to start the climb in a good position and then paced myself. On the summit, I was in a second group, but I was not stressed. There were only four guys in front, and I knew that it would be possible to catch them on the downhill, and this is what happened,” said the Frenchman.

After the descent, Bernard was able to close the gap to the leaders and soon afterward launched an attack dragging compatriot Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) with him. The duo was swiftly reabsorbed, but the damage was done, and only 15 riders remained at the fore.

“I tried to attack because I was slightly afraid the group behind would catch us as there was no cooperation at the front group of 15 riders. But I was unsuccessful. Then I waited for the final sprint in the bunch,” continued Bernard

With 2019 Tour de France Maillot Jaune wearer Giulio Ciccone, Danish climber Niklas Eg, and Bernard, Trek-Segafredo had the numerical superiority heading into the final 5 km.

Paddy Bevin (CCC) launched a late attack in the flat run-in to the finish, but the Kiwi was overhauled by a flying Bernard who calculated his sprint to perfection to win by three-hundredths of a second in a nail-biting finale.

“I started the sprint a bit too late, but I think this was a good thing because I think some of the other guys lost some steam in the last 100m. I’m very proud because this is a Tour de France stage, even if it’s virtual, I’m very happy to have won and also for Trek-Segafredo. We worked very well during this lockdown period, and now we are ready for the real racing to start,” concluded Bernard who, back in February before the racing suspended, won his first victory as a pro at the Tour of the Alpes-Maritimes and Var.

In a strong collective performance, Ciccone concluded the stage in 7th position and Eg just outside the top-10.

With this result, Trek-Segafredo moves up to 4th place in the General Classification, still being led by NTT.

And here's what second-place Freddy Ovett's Israel Start-Up Nation team had to say:

Was he first or was he second?

A tight finish, that’s for sure, at the second stage of the Tour de France Virtual. The footage and broadcast clearly showed a winner: ISN-rider Freddy Ovett, however he was not announced as the number one.

Ovett made it into the front group after the top of the climb halfway into the stage. Fourteen riders would sprint for the victory and Ovett, launching his final push early, crossed the finish line in first place.

At least, that is what the broadcast showed, the commentators said, but the Zwift algorithms/computers decided differently: Julien Bernard won, Ovett second.
Israel Start-Up Nation did claim the lead in the polka-dots classification, after James Piccoli taking maximum points on the KOM of the day and Ovett crossing the line fourth.

Omer Lahav once again showed his talent, beating his 20-minute maximum effort ever, as he was riding in the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome with Israel Cycling Academy manager Aviad Izrael cooling him down with water bottles containing ice cubes.

The mountain in the middle of the race was not particularly in favor of our Classics rider Jenthe Biermans. The Belgium rider who signed one week ago for another two years with ISN kept up as long as he could and finished the race.
Next week the vTdF continues, and the chosen team leader will be wearing the polka-dot jersey during the stage.

Florian Sénéchal claims inaugural GP Vermarc

Here's the report from Sénéchal's Deceuninck-Quick step team:

Florian Sénéchal soloed to a beautiful victory Sunday afternoon in Rotselaar, where the Grote Prijs Vermarc, the team’s first event since Paris-Nice in March, took place on a 15.4km-long circuit which made for some thrilling racing right from the gun.

A 14-man group snapped the elastic on the opening lap, with Pieter Serry and Stijn Steels representing Deceuninck – Quick-Step in the move which quickly gained a 1:30 gap over the peloton, where Dutch Champion Fabio Jakobsen and Sénéchal provided extra options to our team in case of a regrouping. Despite the leaders shedding riders out the back due to the fierce pace and having their advantage cut to a mere minute with 50 kilometers to go, the bunch couldn’t make the catch.

Instead of that, a counterattack group formed inside the final 30 kilometers and began to reduce the escapees’ advantage. Florian Sénéchal, Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) and Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) were the trio who worked well together and bridged across on the last lap of the race. There wasn’t a moment of respite for them, as the skirmishes started almost immediately. Eventually, it was Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Frenchman who took off, seven kilometers from the finish, and went all the way to the line, where he celebrated his second victory in a Belgian kermesse, after the 2018 success at Textielprijs Vichte.

Florian Senechal

Florian Sénéchal racing earlier this year at the Het Nieuwsblad. Sirotti photo

“This win gives me a lot of satisfaction. Even if it’s only a kermesse, it still means a lot to us to get the victory after showing our jersey and sponsors in the best way possible. They are all affected by the coronavirus, so it was important for everybody here at the Wolfpack to show them our support with this win”, said Florian moments after the finish.

“The race was really fast. It was the first one in a long time, so you can imagine that everyone was eager. The level was high. It was tough out there, I feel it in my legs, but at the same time, it was nice to get back to racing and see all the riders again and even some fans on the circuit”, the 26-year-old continued. “The shape is good, which makes me happy. During the past couple of months, we have always been in close contact with the team, the nutritionist, coaches, the sports directors, so I trained well and controlled my weight. All this helped me today, as I felt strong and very confident. Now it’s time for our Val di Fassa training camp and from there to the first official races of the second part of the season.”

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