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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, October 10, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

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Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

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Giro d'Italia stage 7 reports

We posted the report from GC leader Joao Almeida's Deceuninck-Quick step team with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Arnaud Démare's Groupama-FDJ team:

On Friday morning, La Gazzetta dello Sport made an audacious comparison between Arnaud Démare and Napoleon, but it looks like the French Champion is indeed conquering the Giro. One day after his impressive victory in Matera, the Groupama-FDJ’s sprinter notched his third win in the race in Brindisi, at the end of stage 7. It all came after another remarkable team effort and following a hectic sprint where Démare was able to maintain his position. He now cumulates 13 wins in 2020 and consolidates the cyclamen jersey before another potential opportunity on Saturday.

Arnaud Demare

Arnaud Demare seems to think he looks good in cyclamen.

It is from quite a stunning setting in Matera that stage 7 of the Giro started on Friday afternoon. The stage was quite short, only 143 kilometers, and its main danger was known by everyone. “There was wind all day,” Sébastien Joly recalled. “From yesterday evening on, the guys were ready to fight for it. They knew what to expect and they were super motivated. Ramon, in particular, was keen to make a contribution after two difficult days. The race quickly exploded at the start, they ended up being barely 30 in front, and most of our guys were there. When you’re there right away, as we were, it clearly is the sign of a great day.”

The Deceuninck-Quick Step and Jumbo-Visma’s acceleration, which dropped some of the GC contenders, quickly caught the breakaway that emerged in the opening minutes. Therefore, an intense fight took place for more than an hour before the pack would come back as one. “Our goal is to have as many guys as possible in the finale for Arnaud’s lead-out train,” Sébastien explained. “Obviously, if we put too much energy into the battle in this kind of echelons, we will automatically miss this very energy at the end. The guys rode smart. They were there, well sheltered but they didn’t overdo it.”

Before the first intermediate sprint, located after 66 kilometers, everything then got back to normal. Simon Pellaud and Marco Frapporti, already on the attack at the start of the stage, took the lead again, preventing the sprinters to collect the maximum points for the cyclamen jersey. Wearing this very jersey on Friday, Arnaud Démare took fourth place in this sprint. “Then the wind was not that strong anymore, and it was more difficult to create echelons. It was still quite tense and there was a big crash,” explained Sébastien.

Once again, a general regrouping nevertheless took place, as Miles Scotson also suffered a crash – a minor one, fortunately. The Australian rider was then fully operational for the finale, and so was the rest of the team. “With the headwind, the bunch took all the space of the road until three kilometers to go,” said Arnaud Démare, still preceded by five teammates entering the last ten kilometers. “We knew it would be a real sprint today, that all the sprinters would be there. Therefore, the fight for position was quite intense approaching the city. The road then became narrower and more winding, and we were in a good position”. Constantly in the front in the few turns stretching the peloton in the finale, Groupama-FDJ however had to adjust along the way.

“We had to switch roles,” said the French champion. “We did it instinctively. Ramon had a problem with one kilometre to go, and we immediately exchanged a few words. Jacopo told Miles “take Ramon’s role”. As for Kono, he had already put in a lot of effort beforehand but he is doing so great at the moment that he still had the strength to be there. He’s a handyman and he was there 800m from the line”. “The most impressive thing today,” Sébastien added, “is that Kono and Miles are the ones launching Jacopo. Miles undoubtedly wanted to redeem himself after the fourth stage’s confusion, and it was also a real pleasure to see Kono there. This is today’s great story. The guys are able to organize themselves according to each finish. We should emphasize this collective intelligence”. In a few words that he repeated twice on air, Arnaud Démare summed up: “I have a fantastic team! It’s extraordinary”.

The Frenchman was left with 250 meters to go, first took Davide Ballerini’s wheel before moving to the right of the road and hold Sagan back. “There was a big fight in the end”, he said. “I waited a bit, I didn’t want to launch too early. There was a 3/4 headwind and it was not easy. In the end, I started my sprint the right way and I managed to keep Sagan at my pedals level. Once again, the sprint was not perfect, but we won it and that is the most important thing”.

Sébastien Joly also underlined the work of Grand Tour’s debutant Simon Guglielmi, “who was not expected at this level in a finale”. At the end of the day, there was “nothing wrong” he could say about the team performance. “They’re on a winning streak and we are not going to stop them,” he concluded. As of tomorrow, the profile does not completely suit Arnaud Démare. However, the points classification’s leader (55 points ahead of Peter Sagan) still looks hungry for more. “It seems complicated to me, I’m also a little tired, but we will obviously fight for it”, he promised. “There are steep slopes along the way, that’s what I’m more afraid about. We’ll see, but for now, I want to enjoy this one.”

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

With a short and flat parcours, it would be easy to think that stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia would be dull, but when the profile is flat, it’s up to the riders to make things interesting. Wind was expected to batter the peloton today on this 143km stage, and it was clear from the surge in pace when the flag was dropped to start the day that it would be far from subdued on the roads.

After four men broke off the front, the high speeds saw echelons form and splits develop in the peloton. After just 20km, a large group set an extreme pace on the front of the chasing bunch, causing panic in the peloton as the speeds were simply too high for many riders to stay in contact. This carried on for the first 60km until both the chasing group and the stragglers brought things back together with 80km left. While several small breaks of one or two riders went off, they were barely allowed an advantage, the bunch always in view behind them, all while in the peloton the high pace again caused splits, with riders struggling to stay in touch.

By 21.5km to go, it was all back together once again, but by now the efforts were showing, and none of the peloton was brave enough to go on the attack again. The day was going to be decided in the finale, and it was shaping up for a bunch sprint. With the BORA-hansgrohe riders massing to keep Peter Sagan safe and deliver him to the line, the Slovak rider was in a good position in the closing kilometres.

Keeping an eye on his rivals and reading the sprint well, it all came down to Peter and Groupama-FDJ’s Démare. Peter was the only rider able to stay with him, stuck to the Frenchman’s wheel, but was just unable to pass on the right due to being so close to the barriers, in the end taking second on the fastest road stage in Giro d’Italia history.

Peter Sagan

Stage seven: Peter Sagan is second. Sirotti photo

"It was a very fast stage, very nervous as well and marked by many crashes. The guys did, once again, an excellent job today, and we were very well positioned for the sprint, which was a chaotic one. I was close to the victory but it just wasn’t the day today." – Peter Sagan

"Today was a very important stage. There were strong winds from the start and all teams were extremely focused because they were aware there could be upsets in the GC if they were caught off guard in the crosswinds. As a result, there was a lot of tension in the peloton. In the first 70km of the stage we faced winds close to 30km/h, the first splits were formed quite early and at some points, there were up to five groups. Peter Sagan was in the first and Rafał Majka in the second but was able to come back. The peloton regrouped with about 20km to go and went for a fast sprint finish. Peter contended the sprint and finished second." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

Ag2r La Mondiale sent me this bad news about Tony Gallopin:

9 October 2020: Tony Gallopin crashed 45 kilometers from the finish of the Giro’s 7th stage between Matera and Brindisi. He suffered a broken left wrist. The duration of his unavailability will be communicated later.

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin racing in the 2019 Giro. Sirotti photo

“The crash occurred passing through an arch, 45 kilometers from the finish. We were on a two-lane road, and we were going very fast. I flipped over the bike, I landed hard, and had the wind knocked out of me. It took a long time for me to start again and then I quickly realized that my left wrist was broken, just like in February during the Tour de Valence. I have felt good from the start of the race, but my Giro ended there. Of course I am disappointed to leave my teammates and the race in this way.” – Tony Gallopin

THE NEWS: Road rash for Paret-Peintre and Vendrame
Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Andrea Vendrame, both of whom also crashed 45 kilometers from the finish line, suffered from road rash on their left sides.

Time Sport back on sale as WhaTTfornow deal fails

Bike Europe sent me this industry update:

SAINT-JEAN-DE-MOIRANS, France – Last June, Rossignol announced that the Group had reached an agreement with the French start-up WhaTTfornow to acquire the industrial and commercial activities of Time Sport. Unfortunately, the financial deal failed at the end of September leaving Time Sport looking for a new buyer once again.

To explain this situation, the French Rossignol Group said in a local newspaper that François Guers, president and CEO of WhaTTfornow was unable to raise all the funds to purchase Time Sport, the high-end bike and pedals brand. Currently, Rossignol say they are discussing options with some other potential buyers, but they are not prepared to say anymore at this moment.

You can read the entire story here.

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