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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, November 1, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia. - Charles M. Schulz

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2021 Tour Down Under cancelled

Editor's note: The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is also cancelled.

The race organizer sent me this press release:

Sunday 1 November, 2020: Despite best efforts, it is with regret we announce that the Santos Tour Down Under will not go ahead in 2021. Cycling will however still be ever present in the streets of Adelaide and regional South Australia, with a smaller domestic cycling festival to take its place in January 2021.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte was winner of the 2020 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

The Santos Tour Down Under is an important event for South Australia, and accordingly it was necessary to consider fully, the possibility of delivering a safe, responsible and successful event for South Australia, event partners, the UCI and the teams in 2021.

“The Santos Tour Down Under is a much-loved event on the world cycling and Australian sporting calendars and we know how important this event is to the people of South Australia. It is for that reason we have done all we can to consider how we can deliver it, but unfortunately in the end it was the international component, with over 400 people that make up the international teams, that proved to be the most difficult to overcome” says Executive Director, Events South Australia Hitaf Rasheed.

“We have worked with our stakeholders, SA Health and SA Police to create a successful strategy to bring the international event to South Australia.  However, the complexities and risks involved with quarantining and international border closures have ultimately proved too much to ask of some of the teams, who have endured a stressful, challenging and compressed 2020 season that will run later than normal, ” said Ms. Rasheed.

“Accordingly, the Santos Tour Down Under with international races will not run in 2021 but we assure everyone it will return to South Australia and the start of the UCI’s world cycling calendars in January 2022, with the full support of the UCI.”

Race Director of the Santos Tour Down Under, Stuart O’Grady said, as his first year as Race Director he was always up for a challenge, but that this year had been one hell of a challenge!

“Of course I am disappointed, but given the challenges, our priority needs to be the health and safety of South Australians, our communities, and the international cycling fraternity.  I believe that for one year we can put delivering an international event aside, and keep our South Australian heart beating by delivering a new, reimagined event for cyclists and for communities across the nation”.

There has been an enormous amount of work and scenario planning undertaken by the Santos Tour Down Under team to deliver an event in January 2021, which will ensure cycling will still have a strong presence in South Australia in January.

“We are so devastated that we cannot deliver the Santos Tour Down Under in January, but equally the team has been working on a scenario two – a domestic cycling festival.

“We are excited about the opportunity to deliver a domestic cycling festival. An incredible amount of work has already been undertaken with key stakeholders and we will now go about finalising what that will look like and will look forward to sharing that with everyone later this month,” said Ms Rasheed.

Kimberly Conte, Race Director, Women’s Santos Tour Down Under said she is disappointed that the race will not be staged in January, however we have a unique opportunity to provide an event here in Adelaide that will feature some of South Australia’s most beautiful regions.

“The Santos Tour Down Under has historically acted as a springboard for some of our most promising young athletes and this new event will offer a unique opportunity to showcase our young talented riders.”

Details of the new event will be released in due course, with a program that will be designed to bring visitors from intrastate and interstate to the City of Adelaide and regional communities during a period in January.   

The Santos Tour Down Under would like to sincerely thank SA Health, SAPOL, participating teams, host councils, major partners and in particular naming rights partner Santos, for their unwavering support of the event and the event team.

Vuelta a España stage eleven reports

We posted the organizer's stage ten report with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Team Jumbo-Visma has controlled the eleventh stage in the Vuelta a España with flying colours. The yellow-black formation climbed with a steady pace on the final climb, which prevented others from attacking. Primoz Roglic eventually crossed the finish line in tenth place in the presence of his main rivals, just over a minute behind stage winner David Gaudu. The Slovenian retained this overall lead.

In the stage with five climbs along the way, the pace was high from the start. It took a long time before a leading group got established. This group eventually battled it out for the stage victory. Behind the breakaway, Team Jumbo-Visma controlled the stage. Due to the steady pace of first Lennard Hofstede and then Jonas Vingegaard, nothing happened between the favourites.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic winning stage ten. Photo: Gomez Sport

“We controlled the stage really well”, Roglic said. “When Soler attacked, we remained calm and didn’t panic. We kept riding at our own pace. I expected some more attacks on the final climb, but I think everyone is afraid of the Angliru tomorrow. I expect the necessary attacks there and especially a hand-to-hand combat. I have never climbed the Angliru before, but I am looking forward to it and I am confident.”

The Dane Jonas Vingegaard rode a fantastic stage and has paced the peloton for almost the entire final climb. “I felt really good today. I just kept riding at a pace that I know I can hold on to for a long time. Because no one attacked, I just kept going on. We certainly didn’t use all our strength with an eye on tomorrow’s short, but tough day.”

And here's what GC second-place Richard Carapaz's INEOs Grenadiers had to say about the stage:

Richard Carapaz and Primoz Roglic remain locked on the same time at the top of the general classification following a tough day of climbing at the Vuelta.

The duo crossed the line together in ninth and 10th respectively atop the Alto de la Farrapona, with Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) retaining the most slender of advantages.

Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz back in stage eight, when he was the race leader. Sirotti photo

A barrage of tough climbs were ticked off by the peloton, with a select group arriving together at the finish, 1:03 behind the day's victorious breakaway.

Cameron Wurf got through a lot of work at the head of the race, setting a tempo during the middle portion of the stage, with Chris Froome, Dylan van Baarle and Andrey Amador heading onto the final climb alongside Carapaz.

As the pace was increased the group slowly began to reduce, but with Sunday's finish on the Alto de l'Angliru looming large, it was stalemate amongst the top contenders.

Gabriel Rasch:
"In general it was a very hard stage, with a hard pace from the start. The big names and GC favourites look to be waiting a little bit for tomorrow. On today's stage the hardest climbs were the two middle ones and the last climb was also hard, but not hard enough to really make a difference.

"In the end it was quite controlled and for Richie there wasn't much he could do. He needs to wait for others to attack first and the race to be a bit more open before he starts making moves."

Here's the report from stage winner David Gaudu's Groupama-FDJ team:

Today, David Gaudu made another step in his – young – career. The French climber was looking forward to it for so long, and it finally came on the Vuelta on Saturday. In what he considered to be the queen stage of the 2020 Tour of Spain, the 24-year-old rider has today conquered his very first win on a Grand Tour. Furthermore, he did it in a mountaintop finish, which is a first for him since he turned pro. Beating Marc Soler on the line after a long breakaway and the invaluable support from Bruno Armirail throughout the day, David Gaudu brought the first win to Groupama-FDJ on this Vuelta and also climbed to 12th overall.

David Gaudu

David Gaudu wins stage eleven. Photo: Gomez Sport

“We’ll need to interpret the race well and maybe get one step ahead if the opportunity arises”. These words from Thierry Bricaud on Thursday evening clearly echoed during stage 11 of the Vuelta today. Quite soon, Bruno Armirail already tried to get in some moves although the first breakaway of eleven riders went without him. However, the race circumstances – and the battle for the KOM jersey in particular- led the peloton to continue pushing. Therefore, all was brought back together in the Alto de la Colladana, the first of the four first-category climbs of the day.

At that point, David Gaudu and Bruno Armirail then forced the course of destiny. “In the bus this morning, we considered that I would go up front, and that Bruno would come with me”, explained the French climber. “It’s not always easy to do what you aim for, but we managed to get in the front indeed”. “We plan a strategy in the briefing, but to see it realizing itself is something completely different”, confirmed Thierry Bricaud. “It was pretty much the scenario we would have liked to see occurring, and it worked out perfectly. The breakaway eventually formed on that first big climb after fifty kilometers, which was actually good for us since we had a better chance of putting David in there.”

At the top of this very climb, the Groupama-FDJ’s young leader was together with his teammate and six other riders. However, the peloton never really let go and just sat two minutes behind the day’s breakaway. Marc Soler took advantage of this small margin to bridge across on the next climb, the Alto de la Corbeteria. His teammate Nelson Oliveira and Bruno Armirail then give their all in the more rolling parts of the route. “We knew that Bruno is going very well and that he could play his part, so that the break would go far but also so that David could save some energy until the bottom of the final climb,” said Thierry. “This is what happened, he did a really great job”. “We managed to channel Bruno the right way in order that he could be useful in the finale,” smiled David. “He did a huge job and completely sacrificed himself for me. At some point he came to tell me that he’s taking his last turn, then he dropped back… but he came back again! I can say a big thank you to him today”. Although the bunch never stopped pulling because of Soler’s presence at the front, the breakaway still managed to keep a good collaboration over the kilometers and climbs to get to the bottom of the Alto de la Farrapona with a three-minute lead.

Bruno Armirail gave what he had left on the first slopes of this final ascent and then left David Gaudu battling against Marc Soler, Guillaume Martin or Michael Storer. The Spaniard made the first attack but the Frenchman managed to follow quite easily with five kilometers to go. “We knew Soler was strong, but the first goal was for the two to make a gap, so to be sure to go for the stage,” explained Thierry. The duo quickly took a 30-second lead and then stayed wheel-to-wheel until the last kilometre. “David hesitated to attack or to go for the sprint”, told Thierry. “We know he can do good punchy little sprints up the hills. He took that option and he did well.” “I know I have a lot of punch, that I’m doing very well in this kind of finish,” added the rider from Brittany. “When Marc Soler attacked 500 meters from the finish, I saw that he sat down quite quickly with the headwind. I waited for the last 150 meters and gave it my all. I saw he was dropped with 75 meters to go and I understood that I got it. From then on, it was just about happiness.”

The 24-year-old young man noticeably showed that happiness on the line, with his gestures and with his voice. “It was a scream of relief because I had been struggling for a few days,” he explained. “It was also a difficult season, we really struggled for three months and we failed at the Tour de France. We came on this Vuelta with a very combative spirit, and even if Thibaut had to abandon, we remained united and committed since the start. Today, I wasn’t necessarily feeling very well at the start but I ended up winning here. It’s something exceptional. I got my first WorldTour victory last year. Today, I took my first win on a Grand Tour, at the top of a mountain moreover. This is a first for me, and I did not do it ahead of just anybody. It means a lot to me and I hope it is only the start. Anyway, this is also a reward for the whole team for their work from the start of the Vuelta”. “David has had a tough season, so it’s important to be able to finish it on a high note, even if the Vuelta isn’t over,” said Thierry. “We can now say that this Tour of Spain has been successful, but like what we did on the Giro: now that we got one, why not get a second? That will be our state of mind. If we can get a final top 10, that would be great too, but the real goal is to get another win.”

And here's the report from third-place Michael Storer's Team Sunweb:

Today at the Vuelta saw the riders faced with the first of two big days in the mountain this weekend, with this afternoon’s stage featuring over 5000 metres of climbing and a difficult sawtooth profile. The bunch were climbing from the gun and we saw numerous attacks on the opening ascent and valley roads afterwards, with the Team Sunweb riders present in almost every move. A large breakaway of around 12 riders eventually broke clear but Cofidis weren’t happy with its composition and closed it down on the next climb. This then saw a counter attacking group venture forward on the slopes, with Michael Storer and Grand Tour debutant Mark Donovan riding strongly to make the split.

The break of eight worked well together over the next 90 kilometres and long climbs, expanding their gap to a maximum of three minutes. As they began to take on the mountain-top finish of Alto de la Farrapona the group had whittled down to five riders, with Donovan and Storer showing their abilities on the ascent to still be there with the strongest of riders. Continuing to work as a unit, the group held onto a two minute lead as they reached the steep final five kilometres which averaged close to double digit gradients.

At that moment attacks flew from the group with Gaudu and Soler managing to break free. Storer initially tried to follow but he just couldn’t make it onto the wheels of the leading duo, before he sat up and waited for Donovan. The duo rode excellently together on the steep slopes, managing to distance Herrada and take a brilliant third and fourth place for the team, crossing the finish line together – rounding off a strong day out in the mountains for the team.

“Today we weren’t sure if the breakaway would make it but we could try anyway if we felt up to it,” explained Storer after the stage. “Mark and I managed to get away on the first first-category climb with very strong company. We rode with perfect team work, especially in the final kilometres where I couldn’t close the gap to Soler and Gaudu and saw that Mark wasn’t so far behind. We then worked together to just hold off Martin and the GC group chasing behind. Mark and I are both extremely happy with the result after all our hard work.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “We had a pretty tough stage ahead of us this morning. The goal was with four guys to aim for the breakaway because we thought there was a chance that it might go all the way. So for Thymen, Mark, Rob and Michael we would look for the breakaway. We missed the first one of eight but luckily Cofidis missed it with Martin so they pulled towards the second categorised climb. On that climb there was a big fight and just before the top a group of five went away and in there we had Mark and Michael in it. It was incredibly strong from both of those young guys. The games started a little bit because of the current GC situation of Gaudu we didn’t want to go full already with them, which is why Soler could also bridge across. Mark and Michael did an incredible race, they did everything right in that group to not spend energy and just to be there; it was a really hard day. In the final they could follow and only Gaudu and Soler were just too strong but they could finish third and fourth which is a really, really good result for them both on such a day. It shows once more that we are in the race and with this young team we’re doing the right things and can play a role in this race. It’s a big compliment to the boys. Although it’s not a victory, we’re still enjoying this result and looking forward tomorrow’s stage on the Angliru which will be really hard.”

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