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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, March 14, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. - Dr. Seuss

Current racing:

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Latest completed racing:

Giro d'Italia postponed

The Giro organizer posted this notice:

RCS Sport 2020 Giro d’Italia date postponed
In response to the spread of the coronavirus the Hungarian government has declared a state of emergency. This prohibits the organization of mass events and makes it impossible to organize international events.

As a consequence, the Organising Committee of the Giro d’Italia’s Hungarian stages declared that the Giro’s start could not be held in Hungary at the originally scheduled time. All parties have agreed that they are determined to work together to enable the Giro d’Italia to depart from Hungary at a later time.

RCS Sport, having taken note of the international and national situation, announces that the date of the 2020 Giro d’Italia is thereby postponed.

The new date will be announced no earlier than 3 April when the provisions of the D.P.C.M. (Decreto del Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri della Repubblica Italiana – Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic) of 4 March 2020 will end, and only after having consulted with the appropriate representatives of the Italian Government, local and territorial authorities and Italian and international sports institutions.

2020 Giro d'Italia

The 2020 Giro d'Italia has been postponed.

Grand Prix de Denain cancelled

France's Grand Prix de Denain, scheduled to be run March 19, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus epidemic. Here's the organizer's Facebook post. Even if you don't speak French, it's meaning is clear:

❌ Suite à une demande de la préfecture pour endiguer le Covid-19, nous sommes au regret de vous annoncer l’annulation de notre 62ème édition. ❌

GP de Denain

Paris-Nice stage six reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Tiesj Benoot's Team Sunweb:

Today’s penultimate stage of Paris-Nice saw the peloton faced with a testing 161 kilometre long parcours from Sorgues to Apt that featured very little flat road. Coupled with strong wind conditions out on the course, it was set to be another tough day in the saddle.

The racing was intense from the flag drop as some teams looked to split the bunch up in the early crosswind sections. Despite a few small gaps, everything regrouped and the attacks continued at the head of the race until a break of seven riders established itself out front after 50 kilometres of action. They were kept close though, with the peloton not allowing the gap to increase to anymore than one minute and 45 seconds.

As the race entered the final 50 kilometres the breakaway split up over one of the many climbs on the route. Back in the peloton, Nikias Arndt put in a strong attack to get clear and attempt to catch those ahead. It didn’t take long before the team attacked again out of the bunch, this time it was second place on GC Søren Kragh Andersen that made his move. With Arndt waiting up for Kragh Andersen ahead, Arndt dug deep and gave it his all on the front of the group before Kragh Andersen then went solo in pursuit of the remaining breakaway duo.

Putting his time trial skills to good use, Kragh Andersen made contact with Bardet and Edet at 33 kilometres to go, and the trio worked well together at the head of the race. Yet, the bunch were motivated and reduced the gap to around 25 seconds as the race approached the final climb of the day.

Kragh Andersen continued to push hard on the pedals and hit out solo with around 15 kilometres left in the stage. The attacks flew from the bunch behind and Tiesj Benoot was quick to follow a dangerous move from Nibali, latching onto his wheel. A powerful kick then saw Benoot distance Nibali, before making contact with Kragh Andersen, who dug deep and gave one last final pull for his teammate before Benoot went solo over the top of the cimb.

A fast and sinuous descent was expertly taken by Benoot, and he managed to build on his lead over the chasers before the foot of the final uncategorised ascent. Giving it his all, he maintained his gap over those behind on the climb, and arrived under the flamme rouge with over 20 seconds behind.

Able to sit up and savour the moment as he approached the finish line, Benoot raised his arms up in celebration, taking his first win for the team after what was a truly spectacular performance from the whole team.

Tiesj benoot

Tiesj Benoot takes Paris-Nice stage six.

Rounding off a perfect day for the team, Michael Matthews stormed home to win the reduced bunch kick, taking an excellent second place.

“It was a really hard day, full gas from the start,” beamed a jubilant Benoot at the finish. “Quickstep immediately started to pull from the start of the stage. I knew it was a good situation for me; I had really good legs. I like the days where you have to push all day and today was a day like this. We came into the final in a really good situation. I went in the counter attack with Nibali and I felt I still had something left so I went full gas to Søren. After he did his pull, it was only ten kilometres to the finish. I’m really happy to get a win for the team today. We did really good preparation with some really nice time gaps earlier in the year. We’ve put a lot of effort into the team with the classics guys here. Unfortunately, we cannot ride the classics this year but I’m sure in the future we can achieve some nice things there.”

Second place on the stage Matthews continued: “It was different than we expected, we thought a bigger break might go, especially in the crosswind section at the start. After the breakaway established itself, Quickstep took control which was good for us. It meant we didn’t have to ride and we could save as many guys to help us in the final. With around 50 kilometres to go we sent Nikias up the road to make a stepping stone for Søren, to attack across to him. Søren was alone for a while before Tiesj then went across to him, and he could stay away solo to the line to take the win. I was able to hang with some of the best climbers to do a good sprint in the finish for second place.

"All in all it was a really good day for us, I think we showed we’re a really good and strong team as a unit. First and second on a stage like this, you can’t really ask for much more.”

Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston added: “It was a fantastic stage from the team, we had all bases covered throughout the day. All the guys showed a really good level. It started off with Nikias with a pre-final attack, then Søren did a really excellent job to set up Tiesj in the final. Michael also did a great job to surf the wheels all day and worked really hard to disrupt the chase. He was also the fastest guy in the group so even if Tiesj’s break didn’t succeed we still had options for the finish. I think it was a really, really dominant performance from the whole team today; it was superb.”

GC leader Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this Paris-Nice update:

Six categorised climbs were going to make stage 6 one of the toughest of the race so far. While the hardest on this 161.5km day was a second category, once all of these ascents had been dealt with, the riders would be feeling it in their legs. Initially, a seven-man break went out, dropping in number as the climbs were crossed. The pace had been driven hard all day with BORA-hansgrohe protecting race leader, Maximilian Schachmann, and by the time the distance remaining dipped below 20km, there were only two on the front and the gap had dropped to less than twenty seconds, catching them shortly after.

The final climb was to prove pivotal, with its steep slopes being used as a springboard for late attacks, with one rider going off alone here. Maximilian fought hard to close down the moves, with Felix Grossschartner alongside him, with the lead group stretching out and then re-forming as they descended. Felix worked with another rider to bridge the gap to the lone rider on the front, while further back, Maximilian responded well when the attacks came from the yellow jersey group.

Pushing hard on the descent, less than a kilometre from the line, Maximilian slid out on a corner, hitting a wall. While the crash looked scary, the German GC leader jumped back on his bike seemingly unscathed and rode hard to get to the finish line and limit his losses – keeping hold of the yellow jersey ahead of a difficult day in the mountains tomorrow.

Max Schachmann

Despite crashing, Max Schachmann is still the GC leader.

From the Finish Line:
"I crashed with about 800 metres to go but I'm well. The race was full on and the guys were going full gas down. I had a small gap and came back but I think I was a bit too fast. I made a mistake but managed to get back on my bike. I still have the yellow jersey and tomorrow will certainly be a tough stage but I felt good in the last long climb. Today we rode a bit defensively but there is no doubt tomorrow will be all out." - Maximilian Schachmann

"Max's crash was not too bad. He fell off in the last corner, but he feels good for now. It was a difficult situation for us on the stage today, as several of our helpers were dropped early, but towards the end, we had Felix up there and he rode a very strong race. Patrick did extremely well today as well. Overall, we can be very happy with having defended the yellow jersey for another day." – Christian Pömer, Sports Director 

Team Bahrain-McLaren withdraws from Paris-Nice

Here's the team's update:

Team Bahrain McLaren has with regret today withdrawn from the 2020 Paris-Nice road race.

Following consultation with the team’s riders, medical staff and other stakeholders, and in light of the rapidly escalating public health risks associated with the Covid-19 virus, the decision has been taken to repatriate all team personnel to their homes as soon as possible. Rolling restrictions on movement across Europe and the health of the entire team mean this precautionary measure is an immediate priority.

Team Bahrain McLaren wishes to thank the UCI, the ASO, the AIGCP and its competitor teams for their understanding and support at this time. The team extends its appreciation to its partners and the many thousands of passionate fans and communities that have supported all of the riders throughout this great race.

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