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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, October 1, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency? – Joseph Welch

Epictetus' Golden Sayings

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La Flèche Wallonne reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from winner Marc Hirschi's Team Sunweb:

Buoyed by brilliant performances and wins across the team since the season restart, a fantastic ride from the team at Fleche Wallonne today saw Marc Hirschi able to deliver a ferociously punchy ride up the steep slopes of the Mur de Huy to add another win to the team’s tally of 2020 victories.

Marc Hirschi

Marc Hirschi wins atop the Mur de Huy. Photo: A.S.O./Gautier Demouveaux

Today the riders lined up for Flèche Wallonne, in an unusual autumn slot on the calendar. Thankfully the rain had cleared away as they set out from Huy, with the tough and testing parcours ahead of them and the famous finish atop the Mur de Huy. It didn’t take long for a breakaway of four riders to establish themselves at the head of the race, with the quartet quickly building up an advantage of almost eight minutes.

Alongside some other teams, Felix Gall came to the front of the bunch to help set the tempo as they attempted to slowly reel in the breakaway as the kilometres and climbs ticked by. Coming onto the Mur de Huy for the first time it was Mark Donovan and Robert Power who took over with over with 60 kilometres to go, as the pace increased even further.

However, the breakaway put up a good fight out front and ensured that the peloton kept the speed high for the rest of the afternoon. Thymen Arensman, Michael Storer and Ilan Van Wilder helped to keep Hirschi safe as the race careered towards its conclusion and the final ascent of the Mur de Huy.

Last-man standing from the breakaway, Vansevenant, was caught inside the closing three kilometres, setting up a showdown for the win on the brutally steep slopes. Timing his effort to perfection, Hirschi waited and waited, before launching a devastating kick in the closing 100 metres to take a spectacular win; the 13th victory for Team Sunweb’s Men’s Program in 2020 and Hirschi’s second professional win.

“Today we did a perfect race I think,” explained an elated Hirschi at the finish. “We controlled it from the start onwards. There was only a break of four guys ahead and we helped to set the pace which was really good. When we came onto the final laps the guys always kept me in a good position and followed the attacks. It came all together towards the last climb and I was able to to enter the climb in a good position. I wanted to wait a little bit and used the other guys on the climb. With around 100 metres to go I felt that it was the right moment and started my sprint. I managed to open a gap and could take the win. It was a perfect job from the team today and I’m happy that I had the legs to finish it off. I’m proud of how the team worked today. I didn’t make any mistakes in the finish and I’m really happy to take my second pro win. I’ll enjoy the win now in the next few days before I fully focus on Sunday again.”

Team Sunweb coach Michiel Elijzen added: “The race went really well for us today. We wanted a small break so that we could control the race from the peloton as we knew Marc was one of the favourites on the final climb. Vansevenant put in a really strong ride out front but in the end we were never in trouble in the peloton. The guys did a really good job to keep an eye on Marc and protect him throughout the day, as well as cover any possible breaks. Marc then had the legs on the final climb and finished it off in a great way for us.”

Second place Benoît Cosnefroy's Ag2r La Mondiale team sent me this:

Benoît Cosnefroy: "It represents a lot"
"This race was my goal from the start of the season with its steep finish where everyone is giving 100%. Taking second in a classic, that means a lot.

Benoit Cosnefroy

Benôit Cosnefroy after winning the Etoile de Béssèges earlier this year.

The year has been turned upside down and arriving at the start in form was not a certainty. After the Tour de France, I was under pressure and had to conserve my strength.

The whole team was focused around me the whole race. It was crazy. We took our responsibilities and worked where needed. In the last climb,

Alexis Vuillermoz did an amazing job placing me. Then I gave it my all and managed my climb to the front to control my effort."

Julien Jurdie: "A great team performance"
"It’s a great performance from Benoit and a great collective performance from the team. We were determined to shine with him. The team did a big job right up to the foot of the Mur. It’s always a pretty stressful race where placement is key. It’s a great satisfaction to see Benoit on the podium. "

The number: 1
Benoit Cosnefroy's second place in the Flèche Wallonne is his first podium in a UCI WorldTour classic.

This year, he won the general classification of Etoile de Béssèges, the fourth stage of the Route d’Occitanie and the GP La Marseillaise.

He wore the jersey of the King of the Mountains at the Tour de France for two weeks.

The news:
No serious injury for Naesen

The victim of a crash on Tuesday in the final of the first stage of the Binck Bank Tour, Oliver Naesen received an MRI scan of his right knee on Tuesday night which found no serious injury.

He has a large hematoma inside the capsule of his knee. A decision whether he will continue the race will be made based on how the pain of the injury evolves.

And Patrick Konrad's Bora-hansgrohe team sent this:

Patrick Konrad takes 7th at Fleche Wallonne to open Ardennes season for BORA - hansgrohe.

In rainy conditions the peloton took on the 202 kilometers from Herve to Huy to race the first of the Ardennes Classics – La Fleche Wallonne –  this morning. An early break of 4 riders were able to build a lead of more than seven minutes over the bunch, before Ide Schelling started to chase the leaders together with A. De Marchi with 70 km remaining. About 20 kilometers later the Duo with Schelling was already over 2 minutes ahead of the bunch while still trailing the leaders by 2:40.

On the penultimate time up the Mur de Huy, Ide lost contact to De Marchi and was little later caught from the bunch again. Still a great effort from the young BORA – hansgrohe rider today, while also the leading group felt apart. With about 15km to go R. Uran tried to escape from the main bunch, where also BORA – hansgrohe started to be active with McCarthy, Kämna and Konrad, but in the end the race was all back together at the foot of the Mur de Huy.

It was M. Hirschi who proved to be the strongest on the final 500m, with Patrick Konrad taking a strong 7th place ahead of the Giro d’Italia, which will be his big goal of the season.

"At Tirreno I was not at the level I had hoped for after an illness prior to the race. The last weeks my training went well but I still didn’t really know where I am at the moment compared to the others. I put in a lot of effort during these weeks, training many ours in rainy conditions at home. During the race my legs felt quite good and therefore, we decided to go for me at the end. The change of the parcours was not in my favor, as the run in to the Mur was easier than the last years. Still I was positioned very well but didn’t have quite the legs to go for the win. When Woods launched the sprint, I think I also was missing a little bit of racing kilometers. But the 7th place is a good result and I am happy with that. Now I can go to Italy for the start of the Giro with good confidence." – Patrick Konrad

"Our plan this morning was to wait with Patrick for the finale and try to go with a group in the last 30 km with Lennard if there is an opportunity. Before that, Ide was part of a chasing group which wasn’t planned, but still he rode a strong race today showing our colors at the front. Lennard was active after the penultimate time up the Mur, but there was not a big enough move. Uran alone had no chance. Lennard and Jay helped then to position Patrick, and I think he did a very good job to secure a top ten result today. All in all, we are happy with the day, and Patrick can go to the Giro now knowing he is in good shape." – André Schulze, Sports Director

INEOS Grenadiers confirm Giro d'Italia lineup

The team sent me this news:

The INEOS Grenadiers can confirm the Team to support Geraint Thomas at the Giro d’Italia.

Thomas, who returns to the Giro for the first time since 2017, will be supported by Jonathan Castroviejo, Rohan Dennis, Filippo Ganna, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Jonathan Narvaez, Salvatore Puccio and Ben Swift.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas in stage 10 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

INEOS Grenadiers Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “The proximity of all three Grand Tours is a unique challenge this year but it’s something we’ve relished. We’ve seen a thrilling, open edition of the Tour and we’re expecting to see more of the same in Italy.

“Racing in Italy is always special for us and the Giro is challenging whether you race it in May or October. You have to dig deep and withstand whatever it throws at you. With the route this year, we know it’s going to go down to the wire in that gruelling final week.

“Geraint has worked hard to get to this point and it’s been energising for the whole Team to see how he’s responded to the challenge of leading us at the Giro. He’s a true champion and I know he’s up for this fight. We’ve thought a lot about the right riders to support Geraint in Italy.  We think we have a group that is really well balanced and has the right mix of skills to get the job done.”

Geraint Thomas said: “I’m excited to lead the Team again in Italy and I feel ready. It’s been a strange year for everyone but it’s great to have this big objective. The legs are feeling good - Tirreno went well and then the World Time Trial was a confidence booster for me. Now stage one is nearly here and I’m more motivated than ever.

“I’ve a long association with Italy - I’ve lived here, I’ve raced for an Italian team, and I had some rough luck the last time I came to the Giro. I’m determined to right that wrong this time around.

“We’re taking a great Team and I’ve got total faith in the guys around me. Racing a Grand Tour with Swifty again will be a pleasure - we’ve been good mates since I was 12 and he’ll be our guide on the road. Tao and I have raced really well together before, most notably when I won the Dauphine, and Filippo is obviously flying after the Worlds. Puccio has so much experience of the Giro, young Jonny Narvaez is going really well and obviously everybody knows what Castro and Rohan can do.

“The Team couldn’t have supported me any better in the lead up to this race and I know those seven guys will do the job and support me on the road. Now it’s time to fight for the maglia rosa.”

Jonathan Castroviejo – age 33 – Spain
Lining up for his 12th Grand Tour appearance, Jonathan Castroviejo will look to maintain his consistent form off the back of the recent Tour de France. A five-time Spanish national time trial champion, in recent seasons he has continued to develop as a climber.

Rohan Dennis – age 30 – Australia
A decorated all-round talent, Rohan Dennis has shown he can climb at an elite level, in addition to his renowned time trial ability. A two-time TT world champion, the Aussie finished as high as 16th in his last Giro appearance in 2018, in addition to wearing the pink jersey.

Filippo Ganna – age 24 – Italy
The newly crowned world time trial champion is set to make his Grand Tour debut in his home race. Filippo Ganna has improved rapidly on the road since joining the team in 2019, adding to a decorated track career. He is one of the most powerful rouleurs in the peloton.

Tao Geoghegan Hart – age 25 – United Kingdom
Continuing to gain experience and develop in the high mountains, Tao Geoghegan Hart returns for a second appearance at the Giro this year. The young Brit will provide Geraint Thomas with key climbing support across the three weeks.

Jhonatan Narvaez – age 23 – Ecuador
Making his second start at the Italian Grand Tour, Jhonatan Narvaez arrives at the race off the back of a recent overall victory and stage win at Settimana Coppi e Bartali. The Ecuadorian is comfortable riding tempo in the mountains, and relishes fast, punchy finishes.

Salvatore Puccio – age 31 – Italy
One of the most experienced members of the team, Salvatore Puccio has grown into a respected support rider across all terrains. He knows the race intimately having ridden six out of the last seven editions of the Giro and will be a key and calming asset to the squad.

Ben Swift – age 32 – United Kingdom
Ben Swift will proudly showcase the British national champion’s jersey in his third Giro appearance. The Brit was one of the team’s best-performing climbers prior to lockdown, and his versatility will make him a valuable member of the lineup – providing protection on the fast, flat finishes.

Geraint Thomas – age 34 – United Kingdom
After shifting his focus to the Italian Grand Tour, Geraint Thomas arrives in good form, ready to tackle a race with which he has unfinished business. The 2018 Tour de France winner lines up as team leader and will be hoping for more success at the sport’s highest level.

NTT Pro Cycling announces Giro lineup

The team sent me this:

NTT Pro Cycling is delighted to announce our very exciting lineup for the 103rd Giro d’Italia which commences in Palermo on Saturday, 3 October and finishes in Milan on the 25th of October

ROME, Italy, September 30, 2020: Three individual time trials are a feature of this year's race and with the maglia rosa on the line in the opening stage, our Belgian TT specialist Victor Campenaerts will be our headline act. The race features three opportunities in his favoured discipline including stage 14 and the final stage in Milan.

Victor Campenaerts

Victor Campenaerts racing at the 2020 World Championships. Sirotti photo

The 28-year-old comes into the race in good form having recently finished eighth at the World Championships, second at the Belgian championships as well as third at the European championships. He was also second in stage eight of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Our selection features an exciting group of climbers spearheaded by local favourite Domenico Pozzovivo. The 37-year-old Italian has on three occasions finished in the top-10 overall at this race and took a stage victory in 2012.

This race also marks his 20th Grand Tour appearance, having previously appeared 13 times at the Giro d’Italia. Pozzovivo most recently was forced withdraw from the Tour de France on the first rest day after bravely fighting the aftereffects of a crash on the opening stage but has since recovered and trained well in preparation for the start in Palermo.

South Africa’s Louis Meintjes – twice a top-10 Tour de France finisher – will be looking to capitalise on his recent strong form shown at Tirreno-Adriatico where he finished just outside the top-10 on the general classification. He'll be joined by Ben O’Connor who so agonisingly missed out on a top-10 in this race two years ago. The Australian took an impressive stage win at Etoile de Besseges earlier in the year and is now raring to go in his third appearance at the Giro d’Italia.

Eritrea’s Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier returns to the race for a second time and continues to demonstrate that he’s a huge talent that could well see him finally breakthrough in challenging for a Grand Tour stage win. Danilo Wyss completes our set of climbers and will be a key component as he takes an important leadership role for the three-week event.

Two young, exciting riders will make their Grand Tour debuts for NTT Pro Cycling at the race:

23-year-old Italian neo-pro Matteo Sobrero will realise a dream by making his bow at the Giro d’Italia and is one to watch out for. Stage 20 will start in his home town of Alba, and one he’s particularly looking forward to.

Meanwhile completing our lineup will be 24-year-old Australian Dylan Sunderland who will play a valuable role in a support role at the race. He made his debut for our team at the Tour Down Under and immediately impressed with his versatility and work ethic.

Douglas Ryder:
This race comes at an extremely important time for our team, with the announcement earlier in the week that we are actively seeking a new title partner for 2021 and beyond.

Having won a stage at the Giro in the past, we are extremely excited to once again be at the Grande Partenza and look forward to fighting on all fronts in what promises to be a great race. Moreover, the incredible impact our team continues to have, and make, in changing lives through bicycles with the Qhubeka Charity sees us with a unique opportunity to make a huge difference in the world.

Louis Meintjes:
It should be a really good three weeks in Italy and I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully summer stays around for a little longer and the weather is good as it’s a good course for me – lots of mountains!

I’m just going to go there and make the most of it, I was feeling good at Tirreno so hopefully we can have some good days out there.

Victor Campenaerts:
I’m really looking forward to a Giro that contains three relatively flat time trials. Filippo Ganna, the recently crowned World Champion, is also competing so it’s going to be difficult to win even one of them but I will try with every ounce of my being, especially the first time trial as there’s a pink jersey on the line; so we will go all in.

I also believe that within the first two weeks there are some chances for breakaways and I’ll try to play a role in making a success of one of those opportunities.

Danilo Wyss:
I’m really looking forward to the Giro as my condition is good and I really like this race. It’s going to be my seventh Giro so I really like it and have good memories. I’m ready to fight in what will be a super hard race.

The parcours is tough, like every year, but I’m fully motivated and hoping to take a good breakaway and go for a result in one of the stages and otherwise try to help the team as best as possible. We have a good group here and we will keep the motivation high even if it’s not an easy time right now.

Matteo Sobrero:
I’m really excited to be at the start of my first Grand Tour especially as an Italian. To be at the start of the Giro for me is like a dream and I’m really motivated to do well.

I’m really looking forward to being at the start in Palermo and I hope to reach the second last day where the start of the stage is in my hometown.

Ben O’Connor:
I’m ready to rumble and get stuck in! Personally the last two months hasn’t exactly gone to plan but after a really good build-up I’m coming in really confident.

I think that the race already in the first week has got so many different challenges – from time trials to hilltop finishes, to mountain tops and to flat sprints - so it’s pretty clear that if you’re going to be fighting among the top, especially for the overall, you need to be in the mix.

So my eyes are fixed on Etna and I really can’t wait to test myself because I think I can do something really good at this Giro d’Italia.

Dylan Sunderland:
I’m just so excited to be heading to the Giro for my debut Grand Tour. I’m incredibly proud and I can’t wait to get started with the next three weeks of racing, doing whatever is required of me within the team to make it as successful as possible for the team.

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