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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, March 9, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal. - Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Story of the Tour de France Volume 2

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Paris-Nice stage one news

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Warren Barguil kicked out of Paris-Nice for drafting

Here's the report from Cycling Weekly:

Warren Barguil has been disqualified from Paris-Nice 2020 after he drafted his team car following a crash on stage one.

The race jury made the decision following the conclusion of the opening day of the French stage race, won by Bora-Hansgrohe’s Max Schachmann.

The Arkéa-Samsic rider was also fined 200 Swiss Francs (around £160) and his sports director Yvon Caer 500 CHF over the incident.

Warren Barguil

Warren Barguil at the 2019 Tour de France teams presentation ceremony. Sirotti photo.

Caer was fined an additional 500 CHF for not respecting the instructions of the race commissaires and will also have the last place in the team car convoy for stage two as the French squad look to aid Nairo Quintana’s hopes for overall victory.

You can read the entire story here.

Paris-Nice stage one winner Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report.

Following an undulating 154km parcours, stage 1 of Paris-Nice was characterised by wet and windy weather, the conditions making it difficult from the outset. Following a circuitous out and back route that started and finished in Plaisir, riders faced crosswinds that regularly split the peloton.

While a break did form in the early kilometres and built a strong advantage, as the day went on and the winds took their toll, the bunch used their strength in numbers to combat the wind and bring the break back in contact. The challenging road conditions, a combination of wind, rain and the occasional cobblestone section, saw riders crash and gaps form, but the BORA-hansgrohe riders kept out of trouble and stayed near the front. As more breaks formed, Patrick Konrad and Felix Grossschartner went out in front to keep things under control, but a strong duo went on the attack with 29km to go, just as the rain got even worse.

With 10km remaining, the gap was still at more than thirty seconds, but as BORA-hansgrohe hit the front again, the advantage dropped down to ten seconds with 5km to go. The German National Champion, Maximilian Schachmann, gave chase as the kilometres dropped, joining up with another rider and bridging to the lead duo with 3km left, before the BORA-hansgrohe rider attacked with 2km to go.

Reeled back, Maximilian wasn’t going to be denied as the quartet approached the finish line and he timed his sprint to perfection – taking a commanding victory and claiming the first stage of the 2020 Paris-Nice race.

Max Schachmann

Max Schachmann takes the first stage.

From the Finish Line:
"I'm so happy with this victory. Actually, things worked out a bit better for me because in the tailwind, there was a traffic island in the middle and I found myself on the left, so I entered the crosswind nearly last. I managed to make it back step by step and I'd like to thank the team for their work. In one moment, Peter helped me and really saved me and in the finale, Felix did a fantastic job. It was the first really hard race for me and coming here I didn't know what my form was. My legs felt a bit painful in the finale but I could see the other struggling even more, so that gave me confidence. I'm very happy to bring home this victory for BORA-hansgrohe. I had a good start to the season, I missed a stage in Algarve by a few centimetres, so it's nice to win here. Being the overall leader is a great feeling and a responsibility but we'll certainly do our best, we have a very good team here." – Maximilian Schachmann

"We came here to France with a team consisting of several strong riders, and we had to make a plan that allowed each of them to have the opportunity to share their strengths. That’s why we prepared ourselves for three different scenarios today. We rode at the front of the field the whole day, with Patrick Konrad and Felix Grossschartner also making it into the 16-man leading group. From this group, Alaphilippe and Benoot then launched an attack and we had to invest everything in chasing this down, because we knew that the final 15km featured a tail crosswind. Felix did a fantastic job of chasing down the duo and bringing them back, and even took 9th place in the end. As planned, Max attacked on the top of the cobbled climb with 5km to go, and in the end was able to take a very impressive win. Now we’ll try to defend the jersey, and tomorrow looks like it could be a day for the sprinters." – Christian Pömer

Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team posted this Paris-Nice report

Lying to the southwest of France’s capital, the small town of Plaisir hosted the start of the 78th Paris-Nice, but it wasn’t the most pleasant of welcomes, the soaking rain, cold temperatures and strong crosswinds changing the nature of the race, which was heavily impacted by the conditions. The lurking danger of echelons prompted several teams, including ours, to hit the front of the peloton early and chew into the escapees’ advantage, and at the same time, split the bunch into smaller groups.

The race came back together ahead of Côte de Neauphle-le-Chateau, which gave the riders a preview of what was to come in the business end of the stage, but it was only a short lull in proceedings, the bunch exploding again as soon as they entered the open roads of the Yvelines department. The peloton was blown to pieces with 50 kilometers to go and several groups got scattered all over the road. Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen and Zdenek Stybar were among the 16 men to book a place in the front, and it was from there, on the short rise to the day’s first intermediate sprint, that Alaphilippe got out of the saddle and took Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb) with him for company, in an instant opening a decent gap over the chasers.

It was a tall order for the duo to stay at the front on the undulating terrain, but the two continued to soldier on nevertheless, braving the rain and extending their advantage to 45 seconds, before the peloton got organised behind and turned on the gas. On the partly cobbled climb of Côte de Neauphle-le-Chateau, the margin of the leaders began to tumble and despite several accelerations of Julian, they got caught by two chasers some three kilometers from the finish.

Struggling with the cold, Alaphilippe still had enough left to shut down two dangerous late attacks and make sure it will be a four-up sprint in Plaisir, but this admirable effort finally took its toll in the last 500 meters and he couldn’t contest the victory, which went to Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe). Fourth on the line after this tough and energy-sapping stage 1 and with six bonus seconds in the bag as a result of the two intermediate sprints which he won, the 27-year-old Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider saw the glass half full at the end.

Maxh Schachmann

Max Schachmann wins the first stage of Paris-Nice. Bettini photo

“My attack wasn’t planned, our only plan at the beginning of the day was to remain focus and at the front, as we knew the crosswinds could wreak havoc, which they did. When the peloton exploded, I found myself in a very good position together with Kasper and Zdenek, and then I just went for the bonus seconds and once I opened a gap, I kept going. I worked well together with Tiesj, it’s a pity he stopped collaborating on the last climb and the others joined us. For my part, I wanted to give my best until the finish, but it was really difficult with the cold. Still, I am not disappointed, but quite happy, because this stage showed that I have good legs and I’m gradually improving my form”, said Alaphilippe, who lies just seven seconds off the overall lead.

Paris-Nice stage one team quotes from EF Pro Cycling

Andreas Klier, team sport director:
"Everything went pretty well. We just had a bit of a mess up at around kilometer 90 where we wanted to be in the first split but didn’t make it. Then we wanted to give it a go at around kilometer 105 and that’s what we did. I think if we hadn’t of had this tiny issue around kilometer 90 on the roundabout with the crash, which luckily none of them went down in, if this hadn’t have happened then I think we would have made the first cut and the race would have been a little bit different. However they raced very well, they split up the peloton big time in the end, but then I think they ran out of energy a bit around the last 6km when Schachmann and Teuns went over to Benoot and Alaphilippe, in this moment they couldn’t follow but that’s just fine tuning I would say, but overall they did very well."

"Going in to tomorrow all they need to do is keep their heads as they did today and I think we go from there and let’s hope we have good luck and that no one suffers a puncture or anything like that at a bad moment. We’re going to see quite a few groups again tomorrow like we did today from the crosswinds."

Mike Woods, rider:
"There was a big split with the crash and pretty much all our guys were the wrong side of that crash which was pretty unfortunate as I was towards the front group, then someone went down in front of me, I think maybe Ackermann, but I managed to keep it upright, but there were a lot of guys on the ground and it that caused the split. Sergio, who is our main guy for this week, was also caught behind it; but the benefit of having such a strong team and also having really good information from Andreas meant that we were also able to stay calm and tie everything back together and animate the race."

"It was also really cold today and the rain was pretty significant but we had a great meeting pre-race with Andreas and every guy here on this team is a world class rider and I think we are able to set a lot of distractions aside, including the cold and wet and focus on the bike race and I think we did a really good job of doing that today."

Lawson Craddock, rider:
"Through some pretty extreme circumstances today we missed the first split at around 90km but at that moment that wasn’t the main objective for us in the race. Which then meant we had to switch out mentality quickly in that moment to another objective that we hadn’t planned in the morning meeting, which I think we did well. In the end we all kept calm and kept together and executed our plan really well which was to go at around 100 kilometers and we were able to impact the race quite heavily. Of course, we would have loved to be in that initial split,  but I think in the end we raced really well and kept our important guys out of trouble and were still up there in the finish."

Lawson Craddock

Lawson Craddock signing in to stage 14 of the 2019 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

"When we caught that first group towards the end of the race it was at a really difficult moment. For me it was kind of the end of my day, at that point I was just kind of dangling and yo-yoing off the back. But, it was after a tough couple hours of racing and everyone was kind of on the limit already with the conditions so it was just everyone doing what they could and gambling a bit. And then in the end those guys who were at the front are the guys you expect to be up there, so for us we just need to focus on what we did really well today and carry that momentum on for the next couple of days."

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