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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, October 5, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. - Ernest Hemingway

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Giro d'Italia stage two team reports

We posted the report from GC leader Filippo Ganna's Team INEOS Grenadiers with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Diego Ulissi's UAE-Team Emirates

Shrewd tactics, a great team effort and a perfect finish were the key ingredients that led to success for Diego Ulissi in the 2nd stage of the Giro d’Italia, on the 149 km from Alcamo to Agrigento.

Diego Ulissi

The stage was Diego Ulissi's. Sirotti photo

On the final slope towards Agrigento (3.7 km at 5.3%), UAE Team Emirates showed all its strength, with Valerio Conti picking up the pace at the head of a main group that was being heavily reduced. Conti held out until 700 meters from the finish, when Luca Wackermann (Vini Zabù-KTM) tried a counterattack, followed by Diego Ulissi and Mikkel Honorè (Deceuninck-Quick Step); the latter two were joined in the last 100 meters by Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), for a three-man sprint dominated by Ulissi.

The win marked the seventh personal career victory for Ulissi at the Giro, a success that also earns him the points classification and 10th place in the general classification (+54 ”from Filippo Ganna).

Ulissi: “I am really happy to get my seventh career victory at the Giro. It is a great personal satisfaction, but also for the team: we got off to a great start in this Corsa Rosa, putting into practice what we planned in the team meeting.
Bjerg, Gaviria, Richeze all did great work on the flats. Then, on the final climb, I asked Conti to up the pace, to tire out the sprinters: Valerio was perfect and laid the foundations to allow me to play my cards in what was a difficult sprint, especially when Sagan came back.”

The third stage is already one for the climbers, departing from Enna and arrival, after 150 km, at the top of Mt. Etna (Linguaglossa).

Second-place Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

Staying in Sicily for stage two, the first road stage of the Giro d’Italia gently eased riders into the race proper. There were two fourth category climbs on the 149km parcours, with the second of these being where the finale would take place. While not a summit finish by any means, it would make the day’s outcome that much more uncertain.

The moment the stage started, the attacks came, with five riders making the move that would become the day’s breakaway. Amassing an advantage of five minutes, it was clear there was ambition in this group, but the ambition in the peloton was far greater, with Patrick Gamper taking to the front with 50km to go to draw in this lead, with this effort bringing the gap down to less than two minutes with 40km to go, and only getting smaller as the young Austrian drove the pace. With a little less than 10km to go, the break knew they were caught and eased off, allowing the peloton to bring it all back together, and from here it was all about tackling the fourth category climb to the finish.

With uncertainty in the bunch about who was on form and who wasn’t, it wasn’t until 1.4km to go that the attacks started, these moves seeing the sprinters dropped from the main group. With just 600m left, Peter Sagan made the jump into a select group on the front, drawing closer and looking strong. Lacking the acceleration on the final metres of the climb, the Slovak rider just missed the victory, taking second, but showed the race he was in good form and looking for a win.

Diego Ulissi

End of stage two. Diego Ulissi already has the jump on Peter Sagan. Sirotti photo

"The final climb of the stage was pretty hard, 3.7km and from the bottom to the top we went full gas. In hindsight, maybe I could have done something better. When I caught Ulissi and Honoré, maybe I should have sprinted immediately, but I was also on the limit because of the big effort I did to catch them. When they sprinted I gave my maximum but Diego was stronger and won with a margin of 4-5 bikes. It is what it is and I'm satisfied with my second place. It is strange for me to wear the mountain jersey. I got some points for the ciclamino jersey but tomorrow will be another hard stage, so we will have to see day by day." – Peter Sagan

"Today's stage had a number of climbs in the first 60km, then we rode along the coast and finished with a hard, 4km-long climb. Our goal was to try for a stage win with Peter, so we controlled the race and didn't let a big breakaway group form. Patrick Gamper did a good job in the final 60km, setting the pace in the front of the peloton. The final climb was really fast and Peter had good legs. There was an attack a bit earlier than expected and Peter closed the gap to the two men in the front. He took second place in the finish and the mountain jersey, and, overall, I'm satisfied today. Everybody did a good job throughout the stage." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

Astana reports that Aleksandr Vlasov abandoned the Giro with stomach trouble:

After yesterday`s opening time trial, the race´s first road stage saw an exciting sprint to the line. After the loss of Miguel Angel Lopez due to a crash in yesterday`s stage, the Kazakh team had another blow today, as Aleksandr Vlasov was forced to abandon due to stomach problems.

Aleksandr VLasov

Aleksandr Vlasov earlier this year at the Tour of Provence. Sirotti photo

The second stage took the riders over 149 hilly kilometers from Alcamo to Agrigento, with a slightly uphill running finish stretch.

As most likely on the first days in a Grand Tour, the race was nervous and saw many attacks right from the start. A breakaway of 5 riders managed to distance themselves and built a small gap over the peloton, where all Astana Pro Team riders remained.

With around 60km to go, unfortunately, Aleksandr Vlasov was forced to abandon his first Grand Tour participation due to stomach problems.

The race headed into the final part of the stage as the gap came down and inside the finale 10km to go, the reduced peloton closed the gap to the breakaway, among them Jakob Fuglsang. The Danish rider stayed in a good position after the tremendous work by Manuele Boaro. On the final stretch up to the finish, D. Ulissi took the stage win, while Jakob Fuglsang crossed the line 5 seconds later in 12th position. On the overall ranking Astana Pro Team´s leader now sits 1:47 down on the owner of the Maglia Rosa, F. Ganna.  

First, sadly we lost Aleksandr today, it would have been his first participation and also he was in such a great shape. It is such a pity after Lopez that we also lose now him, but nothing we can do about it. However, I wish him a speedy recovery. Today was the first road stage, and as always it was quite nervous and at the end fast. Manuele did an amazing job and kept the pace high while putting me into position. The stage ended as expected in a sprint of a reduced bunch. I am quite satisfied with my result, but tomorrow we will finish on the Etna. It will be the first mountain top finish and it will be for sure a tough battle up to the volcano. – Jakob Fuglsang

- I cannot put into words how disappointed and sad I am, it would have been my first participation and to be one of the helpers for Jakob was an honor for me, and now I leave the Giro. But it is how it is, I have been dealing since yesterday night with stomach problems, and unfortunately, it wasnt getting better and I wasnt able to continue at one point. I feel sorry for Jakob and also for the team not being able to help them any longer but I am confident that I will return stronger.– Aleksandr Vlasov

Liège-Bastogne-Liège team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results

Here's the report from winner Primoz Roglic's Team Jumbo Visma:

Primoz Roglic has won Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Slovenian from Team Jumbo-Visma won his first monument after a memorable sprint.

Julian Alaphilippe seemed to be heading for the victory, but put his hands in the air too early, resulting in Roglic pushing his wheel over the line earlier. The new world champion was also downgraded afterwards due to an irregular sprint.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic throws his bike across the line as Julian Alaphilippe sits up.

It is the second victory in a monument for Team Jumbo-Visma this year. Wout van Aert triumphed in Milan-Sanremo at the beginning of August.

The breakaway of the day was controlled at the start of the race by, among others, Tom Leezer. The Dutchman rode his last race as a professional cyclist. Roglic was then constantly held in front by his teammates in the final. After some minor attacks on the Côte des Forges, the peloton fell apart on the decisive Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. Tom Dumoulin kept the pace high, after which Alaphilippe attacked. Roglic, Marc Hirschi and Tadej Pogacar joined at the top. The four men stayed ahead and sprinted for the win. Roglic ultimately triumphed.
“This is unbelievable. It was so close”, Roglic said. “You should never stop believing and always keep going in the last centimetres. It’s a great feeling. I am very happy to be able to win again and I am very proud of the team. Tom was very strong on the final climb and the other riders also did a great job. It was the first time that I started here. It was on my wish list to win a monument and I succeeded.”

General director Richard Plugge saw Roglic’s victory on a screen while being present in the Giro d’Italia. “I am very happy for him and the team. This is our second monument win this year. It’s incredible what we’re doing this season. This was a great opportunity for the team. After the setback in the Tour, Primoz came back great. He can handle winning, but also losing.”

For Leezer it was his last race in the professional peloton. “It’s a strange feeling. On the one hand it is good because I suffer from physical complaints. On the other hand, it’s crazy to quit. I have always enjoyed racing.”

Here's the report from Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Liège-Bastogne-Liège – which this year ran its 106th edition – was a hectic race which saw newly-crowned World Champion Julian Alaphilippe battle through a crash and a few mechanicals with 70 kilometers to go before launching a trademark attack on the final climb of the day, Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. Only three men could follow him on the double-digit gradients of the 1.3km hill, with another rider joining the party on the downhill, inside the closing kilometers.

In the sprint that played out between the five in the center of Liège, Julian opened his effort inside the last 200 meters and finished a close second to Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), but minutes after the finish was relegated by the jury to last place in the group (fifth place) after changing direction by veering to the left.

“I felt good today, wanted to do a nice race and had a very strong team around me, who did a great job, protecting me the entire day. Then I attacked on the steepest part of Roche-aux-Faucons, made a selection there and opened a gap together with the other guys. We worked well together, kept our advantage over the chasers and I felt confident going into the final kilometer”, Alaphilippe explained. “I started my sprint at 200 meters to go, but then I made that mistake, for which I take full responsibility. I am aware that my swerve caused a problem to the other riders and I apologise for that, but I want to underline that I didn’t do it on purpose. I accept the jury’s decision and all I can do now is focus on the next races.”

Greg Van Avermaet sustains multiple injuries in Liège-Bastogne-Liège crash:

Greg Van Avermaet was forced to abandon Liège-Bastogne-Liège today (04 October) after sustaining a torn ligament and multiple fractures in a crash inside 100 kilometers to go, CCC Team doctor, Dr. Piotr Kosielski confirmed.

Greg Van Avermaet

It looks like Greg Van Avermaet's season is over. Here he is winning a stage at the 2019 Tour of Yorkshire.

“X-rays performed at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire du Sart-Tilman in Liège revealed that Greg sustained an acromioclavicular joint separation as well as three fractured ribs, a small pneumothorax, and a small fracture of the first thoracic vertebra transverse process. Fortunately, he suffered no concussion. These injuries more than likely mean the end of Greg’s season however, alongside CCC Team’s Chief Medical Officer, Max Testa, we will monitor his recovery and make any decisions accordingly in the coming days and weeks.”

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