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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, November 5, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. - Carl Sagan

Tour de France: 2020

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Vuelta a España stage 14 reports

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

Stage winner Tim Wellens' Lotto Soudal team sent me this report:

Lotto Soudal’s Tim Wellens claimed his second win of this year’s Tour of Spain in stage 14 from Lugo to Ourense (Galicia). In an uphill sprint, after a climb of almost two kilometers, Wellens won, from a small group, ahead of Michael Woods and Zdeněk Štybar. All three riders were part of a break of seven riders that was formed after some 40 km. With three third category climbs and rolling terrain throughout this was the ideal day for a break's survival.

Time Wellens

Tim Wellens wins stage 14. Photo: Gomez Sport

"The goal of team Lotto Soudal was to win at least one stage in La Vuelta. After my first win in Sabiñánigo in stage 5 we hoped to win another one. I knew today was a stage that suits me very well. I was looking forward to this stage for a long time. One thing is to look forward to a stage, but another thing is to be in the right breakaway and have the legs to finish it off. Today everything went according to plan”, said Tim Wellens.

"This was not at all an easy victory. There was a big fight to get into the breakaway. When I succeeded to be in the right break, all of my companions were really strong guys. We rode a strong pace for the whole day. In the descent of the final climb we accelerated with three riders. I thought we were gonna stay in front till the finish, but the three others were able to return in our wheels."

Woods attacked 2.5 km from the summit on the last 3rd category climb, the Aldo de Abelaira. Périchon was distanced and Soler, Štybar and Wellens moved clear. When Dylan van Baarle, Woods and Thymen Arensman regained contact with the three leaders, with 1.3 km to go, an uphill sprint would decide about the victory.

The Canadian was also looking for his second win of the race and he stretched his companions to almost breaking point with around 700m to go but Wellens had enough in the tank to respond and he kicked with 400m remaining. Only Woods could manage to hold Wellens' pace but the Belgian not only had the faster acceleration but he also picked the best line and with no room to even think about passing inside the final 75m it was Wellens who lifted his arms to celebrate another victory.

"On the final climb I knew I had to take the final corner in first position”, said Tim Wellens. “I felt Michael Woods coming in my wheel but suddenly the finish appeared and I crossed the line first. The whole day I had the impression that Dylan Van Baarle was the strongest in the break. He is such a good rouleur. But when we speeded up on the climbs I noticed that also Woods and Soler had strong legs. I was a little afraid of Woods in the uphill sprint. That is why I wanted to start the sprint first to be able to take the final corner on the inside."

For Wellens, who extended his contract with Lotto Soudal one more year,  this victory is his fourth Grand Tour stage win.

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

After the fourteenth stage of the Vuelta a España, Primoz Roglic is still in the lead in the general classification. During the stage to Ourens, his first place was not in danger. Tomorrow, the Slovenian will start with the red jersey around his shoulders again.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic will start stage fifteen in red. Jumbo-Visma photo

After a fast opening phase with many attacks, the peloton let go a leading group of seven riders. They eventually competed for the stage win. In the chasing peloton, the leader of Team Jumbo-Visma was well-surrounded by his teammates. There were no time differences between the favourites in the last - ascending - kilometre.

Roglic complimented his teammates afterwards, who had done a good job in the fast and hectic first kilometres, he said. “The opening phase was difficult and fast, but we were on the top of our game. It was okay for us that the strong leading group made it to the end. There was not really a chance to grab extra seconds in the final phase. The speed was very high in the last kilometres. We can be happy with the result of today’s stage. No, I don’t consider it a missed opportunity for another stage win and extra bonus seconds. The way the stage went was fine for us. The gap to the leaders narrowed, but make no mistake: you cannot easily close two minutes in the final on a strong leading group. The leaders deserved to be able to compete for the win.”

And here's the report from third-place Zdenek Stybar's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

An aggressive start to the stage Wednesday morning saw the peloton travel at more than 45km/h for the first two hours, as numerous attempts to form a breakaway came from the riders who sensed a move could go all the way to Ourense, the former Roman settlement which returned as a stage finish for the tenth time in history and for the first time in 25 years.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step was in the thick of the action – Grand Tour debutant Ian Garrison, Rémi Cavagna and Mattia Cattaneo attacking one by one and getting infiltrated in moves that unfortunately turned out to be short-lived. Eventually, it was 70 kilometers into the race that a seven-man group managed to snap the elastic, and when it did, Zdenek Stybar was there for the Wolfpack and contributed to the group’s five-minute maximum advantage.

On Alto de Abelaira, the final climb of the stage, the gap came down to just two minutes, but somehow on the descent they managed to extend it to three minutes. With 14 kilometers remaining, the former Czech Champion accelerated and together with two of his fellow escapees put some daylight between them and their former companions.

Inside three kilometers to go, it looked as if they would fight for victory, but on the uphill kick to Ourense the chasers bridged across, making it a six-man battle for victory. Stybar was well in the mix and looked poised for his second career stage win at La Vuelta, but was boxed in on the technical and twisting climb and ended the day third, behind Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling).

Zdenek Stybar

Zdenek Stybar winning the 6th stage of the Tour of San Juan earlier this year.

“Coming into the Vuelta two weeks ago, I didn’t have the best feeling, but kept improving day by day and today I felt really good, so I decided to give it a go. It was very intense from the start and once the move slipped away, we rode full gas until we took our advantage north of two minutes. Even then we continued to work well together and when we hit five minutes, we began thinking it would be our day.”

“When the gap dropped, I still kept believing that we would make it, because the tempo was really high in the group on the last climb. I was a bit on the limit, but making it over the top of the ascent and seeing that also the others were suffering gave me a lot of confidence. In the downhill I tried putting some pressure on the group and managed to drag two more riders with me, but we got caught just ahead of the flamme rouge, which was a real pity. The final kilometer was very tactical, and unfortunately, I got blocked with 400-500 meters to go and that was when I lost the chance to fight for victory. I am disappointed, but at the same time happy with my condition and with a podium on such a hard finish, which only add to my motivation for the next four stages”, Zdenek explained after racking up Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 35th top 3 finish of the season in the World Tour ranks.

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