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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, October 23, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Certainly anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices. - Voltaire

Plato's Apology

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Giro d'Italia Stage 18 reports

We posted the report from stage winner Jai Hindley's & GC leader Wilco Kelderman's Team Sunweb with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Tao Geoghegan Hart's INEOS Grenadiers team:

Tao Geoghegan Hart powered his way into contention for overall victory at the Giro d’Italia with a rousing ride to second place on the queen stage.

Tao Geoghegan Hart

Tao Geoghegan finishes second in stage 18. Sirotti photo

The Brit paced the entire final climb up to Laghi di Cancano with rival Jai Hindley on his wheel, finishing second in the sprint to now sit just 15 seconds off the pink jersey.

The general classification battle turned on its head during a memorable day of racing, with an explosive ascent of the Passo Dello Stelvio setting the tone. Geoghegan Hart locked himself onto teammate Rohan Dennis as the Australian ripped up the famous climb, splintering the peloton and putting everyone behind into difficulties.

With overnight leader Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) already slipping back, only Sunweb duo Hindley and Wilco Kelderman remained, with the latter losing time in the final kilometres of the climb.

Dennis led the group of three over the Giro’s highest point – taking the Cima Coppi prize for his efforts – before supporting his teammate on the descent. With Kelderman chasing behind, Dennis helped drive a further minute into the group’s advantage before pulling off at the foot of the Torri di Fraele climb.

With Hindley’s teammate losing time but still set to go into the lead, the Australian was content to sit on as Geoghegan Hart paced the final climb. At the finish Kelderman dropped 2:18 but held on to a narrow lead with three stages remaining.

Tao Geoghegan Hart:
"We didn't really have a specific game plan going into the stage, other than to try and get one or even two guys up the road. It was a pretty tricky start but we achieved our first primary goal with Swifty and Filippo, first in the big move on the climb - and then when that came back together they managed to get away again - mainly because of Filippo really driving it and forcing the move. That was super impressive to see, no surprises there I have to say. We were happy to have them up there, knowing they would likely come back to us at some stage and be there if we needed them.

"Then it was just a case of seeing how it unfolded on the Stelvio, In the end I think Rohan basically rode 99% of the race off his wheel. It was super, super impressive.

"It was kind of tricky to know how the situation was behind and how everything would be after such a hard stage. Congrats to [Jai] for the win. He's a super nice guy and a friend of mine.

"In hindsight it was a pretty crazy stage. We set out at the start of the day to take time and we did that. I can only really thank my teammates. I didn't really do much in the end! It was 90% them I'd say.

"It's really unexpected - especially if you look at how the first stage of the race was. I was pretty far behind after a few stages. We can almost smell Milan now so we'll stay focused and see what happens."

Rohan Dennis:
“i was not expecting to get over the Stelvio on the front, the goal was to go hard, try and split the race up and launch Tao.

“In the end I was still feeling good and I kept going until I had nothing left. I’m glad Tao and Jai let me get to the top first - it’s nice to get the Cima Coppi"

Here's the post from Joao Almeida's Deceuninck Quick Step team:

João Almeida’s reign in the coveted pink jersey came to an end on the ruthless gradients of the mighty Stelvio, but not without a brave fight, that earned the 22-year-old legions of new fans. Over the past two weeks, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Grand Tour debutant perfectly embodied panache and the never-say-die Wolfpack spirit, which saw him pass some stern examinations in Valdobbiadene, Piancavallo and Madonna di Campiglio and write history with each day spent at the top of the general classification.

Joao Almeida

Joao Almeida climbing the Stelvio. Sirotti photo

The overall leader knew that it was always going to be a tough ask to keep his position after Thursday’s stage, which featured the Stelvio – the climb that achieved legendary status after Fausto Coppi’s outstanding exploits at the 1953 edition – but he kept producing a valiant effort after getting dropped with 50 kilometers to go and show the same grit and determination that have carried him to top of the Giro d’Italia.

The U23 rider with the most days in the maglia rosa (15), João didn’t give up after losing contact on the punishing double-digit gradients of Stelvio and continued to push on, despite becoming aware that his pink dream was coming to an end with each kilometer. Almeida put himself deep in the pain cave and with the help of Fausto Masnada continued to soldier on, even clawing back time on the long descent to Laghi di Cancano, the last climb of the stage, used for the first time in the race.

Eventually, after leaving it all out there on arguably the hardest day of the season, he concluded stage 18 in seventh place, almost five minutes down on winner Jai Hindley (Sunweb). Despite being divested of the pink jersey he was wearing since Sicily, João put on a brave face at the finish and drew plenty of encouragement from his lengthy spell in the lead.

“Today was very hard. Others were stronger, I’m not yet at their level yet and there wasn’t too much I could do about it. I was pretty much on the limit halfway up the climb, so the only thing I could do was ride at my own pace. On the other hand, being in pink on the Stelvio was really special, despite losing first place on the GC. It was also every emotional, as my family and a couple of Portuguese fans were at the top cheering for me.”

“I am a bit sad not having this iconic jersey anymore after more than two weeks, but at the same time happy of what I achieved and proud that I had such a great team by my side, which helped me live the pink dream. I don’t know what this race still holds for me until Milan, but I’m ready to do my best”, said João, who continues to be Deceuninck – QuickStep’s best placed rider in the general classification, where he sits in fifth with just three days to go.

And here's the update from third place Pello Bilbao's Bahrain-McLaren team:

Pello Bilbao

Pello Bilbao finishes third. Sirotti photo

Vuelta a España stage three reports

We posted the organizer's stage three report with the results:

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

Primoz Roglic has sprinted to second place in the second stage of the Vuelta a España. The leader in the general classification won the sprint of the group of favourites in Lekunberri, behind stage winner Marc Soler. The Slovenian leader of Team Jumbo-Visma took six bonus seconds and extended his overall lead.

Dan Martin

Dan Martin just beats Primoz Roglic.

The stage from Pamplona was directly controlled by Team Jumbo-Visma. After Movistar took over, a breakaway was reeled in quickly. On the Alto de San Miguel de Aralar the pace was very high and the peloton was quickly reduced to ten riders including - in addition to Roglic - also Sepp Kuss and George Bennett for Team Jumbo-Visma. The latter two kept Soler within striking distance in the last ten kilometres.

“This is another great result”, Roglic said. “It was a difficult and nervous stage due to the wind. The team did a fantastic job of keeping control and always keeping me in a good position. Movistar rode very fast on the climb, but Sepp and George managed that well. Even when Carapaz attacked. So far, things are going well for us and hopefully we can maintain this flow. The Vuelta is still long and I definitely expect a tough battle with Carapaz and the Movistar guys, among others. I think today was fun to watch.”

Tom Dumoulin has faced better days. “I didn’t have the legs to compete with the best. But the most important fact after today is that we are still in the lead and the team is very strong. I have also shown in the Tour that I can be very valuable in a serving role”, the Dutchman concluded.

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this Vuelta stage three report:

The third day of the Vuelta a España featured yet another first category ascent, with the climb to La Laguna Negra. Right after the start gun in Lodosa, a group of five broke away from the field and was able to extend their lead to a maximum of four minutes. After 110 km of racing, however, the last of the escapees was caught, only for a second breakaway to try their luck in vain.

At this point, BORA - hansgrohe was attempting to bring Felix Großschartner safely into a good position for the final climb up to the glacial lake. With only 1000 m to go, the favourites were together, before D. Martin attacked over the last 500m to take the win after 166 km in the saddle. Felix arrived at the finish line in the first group, taking seventh place, only 12 seconds behind the Irishman, and thus moved up to 7th place in the overall standings.

"I tried to attack over the last 500m, but it didn't quite work. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with my performance. Yesterday I had cramps but today I felt much better. Our initial goal here was to go for a stage win, but then the team also gave me the go-ahead to ride for the GC. In any case, this year's Vuelta will enable me to gain experience for the future and I'm glad that this opportunity has been given to me. I'd like to also thank the team again for their hard work and for bringing me into a good position on the final climb." - Felix Großschartner

"The stage went just as we had imagined it would. For Felix, we wanted to make the race in such a way that he could save as much energy as possible for the climb. The whole team worked very well together and we can be very satisfied with that. They put him in a good position for the final climb and we can also be very satisfied with his 7th place. Tomorrow we have a sprinter stage and we will try to go for the win with Pascal.”- André Schulze, Sports Director

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