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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, September 3, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy. - Heraclitus

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Tour de France stage five reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Wout Van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team:

Wout van Aert has impressively won the fifth stage of the Tour de France. A day after the victory of Primoz Roglic, the winner of Milan-Sanremo was the fastest in the bunch sprint on the uphill finish in Privas. Van Aert positioned himself perfectly in Cees Bol’s slipstream, after which he finished it off in a supreme way.

Wout Van Aert

Wout van Aert wins stage five.

After his victory in Albi last year, it is his second stage victory in the Tour de France and his fifth victory of the season. Earlier this year, in addition to Milan-Sanremo, he also won Strade Bianche, the Belgian time trial championships and a stage in the Criterium du Dauphiné. It is Team Jumbo-Visma’s sixteenth victory in 2020.

“This is a very nice win”, Van Aert said. “I am very grateful to the team for giving me the chance to go for it today. I am more than happy that I can reward their confidence with this stage win. I only got one chance and I took it. This is really awesome. It was a fairly easy stage, but the finish was still quite difficult. Because there was no breakaway during the stage and the fact that the pace was not too high, a lot of riders were still fresh. Because of the fast last hour and the wind, it got quite hectic in the end. I knew the stage was perfect for me. It was very important to choose position. I was positioned really well in the lead-out of Team Sunweb. I started my sprint when Bol accelerated. I now have my victory, so from tomorrow I will work for Primoz and Tom again. I will do so with great pleasure and happiness.”

New GC leader Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

British climber Adam Yates has moved into the race lead as a bizarre day at the Tour de France ended in a predicted bunch sprint.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates is now in yellow. Sirotti photo

Yates sat second overall heading into stage five, but has been catapulted into the yellow jersey following a time penalty given to former race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick Step).

Slovenian sprinter Luka Mezgec got up for sixth place in the final, handing the 32-year-old his first top-10 stage finish on his Tour debut.

It was an unusual start to the stage with no reaction coming from the peloton as the flag dropped. With the day destined for a sprint finish and a strong headwind, no rider seemed willing to force a breakaway attempt, resulting in an unfamiliar sight as the pack rolled along at a leisurely pace without a breakaway ahead.

The tempo was eventually increased with around 50km to go, with teams wary of the approaching technical roads as they passed through several towns. The speed then dropped again as the race passed over the first of the category four climbs, before the threat of strong winds sparked the peloton to life.

A headwind turned quickly into a crosswind inside the final 10km, but despite some short-lived echelons appearing, little damaged was caused as the focus turned to the looming sprint finish.

Kiwi Jack Bauer and South African Daryl Impey were the men to guide Mezgec into position in the finale, with Impey dropping his teammate off on the wheel of Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) inside the final kilometre.

Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) was the first to open up the sprint, causing a reaction from Van Aert, Mezgec followed, but was unable to match the speed of the Belgian, who sprinted to victory.

An uneventful stage looked to have passed without drama until news filtered through of Alaphilippe’s sanction for an unauthorised feed inside the final 20km. The penalty for the Frenchman puts Yates top of the general classification by three seconds heading into stage six.

Yates becomes the third rider in GreenEDGE Cycling's history to pull on the maillot jaune after Impey and Simon Gerrans, who both wore the jersey for two days each in 2013.

Adam Yates:
“It was really calm day, I mean there was no breakaway and we just cruised for the first 100km or so and then it got pretty nervous there in the final, there was a little bit of wind towards the end, a little bit of crosswinds.

“It’s not the way I imagined taking the jersey, I’m not even sure what’s happened to Julian, I heard he got a time penalty for taking a feed late or something.

“I don’t think any rider would want to take yellow under these circumstances, I’d prefer to take it with my legs rather than the result of a time penalty. I didn’t even find out until I was in the bus and showered. I feel bad for him.”

“Tomorrow I was looking to try and take the jersey anyway, so I guess we’ll just try and go in with the same tactic, try and win the stage and see what happens.”

Luka Mezgec:
“We knew it [the finish] was going to harder and more technical, as a team we like that. The boys did a great job, just in the last three kilometres I wasn’t efficient enough, I had to brake too many times, I lost the position and had to make it up again, just that unnecessary loss of speed.

“But then with one and half kilometres to go I knew I had to do a big effort to come back when I saw Daryl and Jack on the front. I knew it was crucial to be in position with one kilometre to go, I did that. But that finished my legs off.

“But anyway, it was good to be up there, with just a little bit smoother ride from my side into the final and I can do more.”

Matt White (Head Sports Director):
"I cannot remember a stage with no breakaway at all. We said from the start that this is not a normal Tour de France, it’s been a very, very aggressive first week, but normally the local teams and invited teams are always interested in putting someone up the road. There was none of that today and it was a pretty calm stage until the last hour of racing when nerves, wind and going into certain towns amped up the anxiety and the pace was very fast coming into the finish.

"The boys did a good job of putting Luka into position, he had to make a couple of efforts in the lead up to that final kilometre and a half, which he paid for a little bit and the bigger sprinters just got the best of him. The boys gave him every opportunity and it was a good effort.

"We were probably about five minutes from the bus leaving, all the boys had showered and changed. Then my phone rang from the organisers of the Tour de France and told me that Adam Yates was in the yellow jersey, and I asked why. They didn’t go into too much details, they said Alaphilippe received a 20 second time penalty.

"Nobody likes to take the jersey that way, but at the end of the day we had a tactic coming here to go after the yellow jersey, and if weren’t in second place someone else would have got it. So, the moves that Adam made in the first days, the way the guys have been riding to protect Adam in this first week have enabled us to benefit from the bad luck of someone breaking the rules."

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

Sam Bennett became the first Irish rider in more than three decades to lead a Tour de France classification, after racking up 40 points during Wednesday’s stage 5 from Gap to Privas (183 kilometers). A man on a mission at the start of the day, the 29-year-old showed his intentions early, at the intermediate sprint, where a masterful lead-out of Michael Mørkøv left him in a perfect position to take maximum points in L’Épine.

Going into the final kilometers of this stage – which featured narrow roads and a series of roundabouts – Bennett remained in the wheel of his experienced lead-out man as he moved through up the peloton before the uphill drag to the line. Despite having to come from behind, Sam unleashed a huge acceleration that saw him gain several positions and conclude the stage won by Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in third position.

The points picked up in Privas, combined with those at the intermediate sprint, helped the Irish Champion climb into the lead of the green jersey standings for the first time in his career, a performance which gave him a lot of satisfaction, despite missing out on the stage win.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett is now in green. Sirotti photo

“It was a really hectic sprint, and to be honest, at three kilometers to go I felt that I didn’t have the legs to sprint anymore. The final was really difficult, I could feel that as we were approaching the line. I was focused today on taking the green jersey and having it and following in the footsteps of Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche feels amazing. I am delighted and proud with it and want to enjoy this moment and continue fighting for green.”

Unfortunately, Julian Alaphilippe lost the yellow jersey at the end of the day, after the jury penalized him 20 seconds for taking a bottle inside the last 20 kilometers of the stage. The only Frenchman to have won a stage so far at this edition, Julian sits now in 16th place, 16 seconds behind Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), the race’s new leader.

Attila Valter secures overall victory on home soil after taking the stage win on final day at Tour de Hongrie 

Valter's CCC Team sent me this report:

2 September 2020, Gyöngyös-Kékestető (HUN): Attila Valter wrapped up an already successful Tour de Hongrie for CCC Team in impressive style today, taking an emphatic stage win on the final day of racing and securing the overall victory on home soil.

The final and queen stage of the race lived up to expectations with a fierce battle for the yellow leader’s jersey that ultimately saw Valter, who finished third overall in 2019, grinning from ear to ear and punching the air with delight after powering away from the rest of the field in the closing meters of the race.

CCC Team protected the interests of their General Classification contender all day, maintaining a watchful eye at the front of the bunch and keeping the Hungarian rider in a good position as race leader at the start of the day Kaden Groves’ Mitchelton - SCOTT team set the tempo behind the breakaway.

With just one rider out at the front of the race as it approached the summit of the second categorized climb, Michał Paluta bridged the gap alongside three others to take the pressure of the rest of the team behind him ahead of the decisive summit finish at Gyöngyös-Kékestető.

At the ten-kilometer to go mark, a reduced peloton was back together with the pace only continuing to increase with every stroke of the riders’ pedals, and shortly after it was Valter’s teammate Łukasz Wiśniowski, who put in a huge effort at the front to help whittle the group down further.

Valter’s grit and determination as well as his strength on the climbs were clearly evident as he launched himself off the front of a small chasing group, overtaking Damien Howson (Mitchelton - SCOTT) inside the final kilometer and riding to an impressive double victory on the line.

Valter’s stage win took CCC Team’s tally up to four at the five-day stage race with Jakub Mareczko taking home the green jersey as winner of the Points Classification following his victories on stages two, three, and four.

Interview with Attila Valter:

Congratulations Attila. How are you feeling after taking today’s stage win and the overall title at the Tour de Hongrie?

“This is an amazing feeling and the first thing I need to say is that my team did an excellent job to help me achieve this goal. I cannot think of a better team to have been here with, everyone has been incredible. The last three stages have definitely given all of us a lot of motivation and I felt really good coming into this final stage.”

“I felt like I could get this result today and the way we have raced over the last few days made me feel even more confident. I knew every meter of the last climb and I knew what I needed to do. I waited a little bit longer to attack than last year when I went too early and wasn’t successful so this year, I was more patient. I am really happy to have won this stage and taken the overall victory. It feels great to finish a fantastic week off like this.”

What was it like racing on home soil this week?

“It’s been amazing racing on home soil and even though the situation is different this year, I have still taken a lot of strength and motivation from hearing people cheering for me all week. I am grateful for this support. I am so happy to be able to claim this victory at home. It feels really special to get this win especially after coming close and just missing out last year.”

It’s been an incredible week for CCC Team in Hungary. How would you sum up the race?

“It’s been an awesome race for us. As I said before, the team has been fantastic all week, everyone has worked hard and we really raced well together as a team. To win four out of five stages as well as the General Classification is really cool and I am so happy with what we did here.”

From the Finish Line

Sports Director, Gabriele Missaglia:
“It’s been an unbelievable five days for us at the Tour de Hongrie. At the start of the race, the objective was to win one stage with Mareczko and then go for the General Classification with Valter so, to come away with four stage wins and the yellow jersey is really special. I am really proud of what everybody, riders and staff, did here.”

“This was a really hard final stage with around 3500 meters of climbing but we had a strategy for the stage and the final climb which the guys executed perfectly. Wiśniowski was really strong in the final kilometers for Valter and helped set him up for the finish as we knew he needed to be patient and not be the first to attack. Valter knew this climb very well and we were confident that he could get this victory but you never know what can happen so it’s wonderful to be able to finish off the race with this win.”

Amanda Spratt re-ups with Mitchelton-Scott

The team sent me this release:

Current and three-time Australian champion Amanda Spratt will step up as the main leader of Mitchelton-SCOTT over the next two years following a new contract agreement.

As the only remaining inaugural rider, Spratt will extend her relationship with Australia’s only WorldTour team to 11 years by the conclusion of 2022.

Amanda Spratt

Amanda Spratt winning a stage at the 2020 Tour Down Under.

Since 2012, the 32-year-old has taken 19 professional victories, twice podiumed at the world championships (2018 & 2019) and finished in the top-5 overall at the only women’s Grand Tour, the Giro Rosa, for the last three editions.

Requesting greater responsibility, Spratt will not only continue as the team’s captain on the road, she will also revel in more leadership opportunities as she hunts for even greater results over the next couple of seasons.

Amanda Spratt:
“I feel like I am at a point in my career where I am really ready to take on the leadership role. It’s going to come with more pressure, but I think I am ready for that. In the chances I have had to be the leader, I have done a good job so it’s the next progression for me.

“I’m hoping to win races for the team and to still help my teammates win races too. I always have my eyes set on the Ardennes Classics and the Giro Rosa is also a race I want to target and win for the team. I’m really looking forward to turning some of those top-five results into wins and paying back the team’s faith in me.

“It means a lot to stay. I have been here since the start in 2012 and it really has become like a family to me. I am always looking for an environment where I am happy, where I am challenged and where I am also progressing, and I feel like I’m hitting my best years in the last couple of years and I really believe this is the best place to continue that.

“I want to be more confident in myself sometimes, saving energy for that moment when I know I can win and having a great team around me. I’m confident that it’s going to be really exciting next year to see what we can do."

Gerry Ryan – Team Owner:
“Amanda is one of the inaugural members of GreenEDGE Cycling and her contribution to the team, both on and off the bike, is unparalleled. She is the perfect representative of who we are and what we are about.

“She has delivered results for us from our very first national championships, and to watch her continue grow over the past nine years into the world-class rider we see today has been extremely satisfying.

“The past two years, in particular, Amanda has shown she can match it with the best – world championship medals don’t come easily – and we’re confident that our additional support and faith in her at the biggest races over the coming two years will be thoroughly rewarded.”

Amanda Spratt:
Date of Birth: 17th September 1987 (32)
Nationality: Australian
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2012
New contract: 2021-2022

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