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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger. - Harriet Tubman

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Tour de France Stage 10 team reports

We posted the organizer stage ten summary with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Sam Bennett's Team Deceuninck-Quick Step:

Sam Bennett captured his maiden Tour de France win in emphatic fashion in Saint-Martin-de-Ré and immediately unleashed an uncontrollable outpouring of emotion as he slowly realised that he finally fulfilled a career-long dream of taking a stage victory at the biggest race in the world and thus following in the footsteps of Sean Kelly, the last Irishman to win a bunch sprint at the race, four decades ago.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett gets to wear the points classification leader's green jersey in stage eleven. Sirotti photo

“I don’t think it has hit me yet, I still can’t believe I’m a Tour de France stage winner. I want to thank to the whole team for their confidence and support, to Patrick for giving me this opportunity, to my wife, my family and everyone around me. You dream of it and you never think it will happen, but then it does and you just need a while to sink in. I waited so many years for this to happen and I am so relieved and happy now”, said the first reigning Irish Champion to win a Tour de France stage after scoring Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 777th victory since 2003, when the team was created.

Fourth, second and third on the previous bunch sprints, Sam had a point to prove on Tuesday’s 168.5km stage and he did it after capitalising on his teammates’ incredible work and the flawless piloting skills of Michael Mørkøv. The Dane provided a masterful lead-out and dropped him off in an excellent position, from where the 29-year-old flew to his fifth victory of the season, one which lifted him back into the green jersey.

“Being part of the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team is a huge opportunity for me and I wanted to deliver at the Tour de France, where so many great sprinters won for the Wolfpack. I can’t thank all the guys – my teammates, the mechanics, the soigneurs, the sports directors – enough, their help in achieving this was huge.”

“The team was incredible today, Michael was so calm and smooth going into the last kilometer, and I left it as late as possible knowing it was a headwind there. Everything was perfect today and this victory gives me a lot of confidence”, continued Sam, just the second Irish rider in history with stage victories in all Grand Tours, before talking of his green jersey ambitions. “It’s special to wear it. Sean Kelly won it and it would make me super proud to be on the podium in Paris, but we’ll take it day by day and see where that takes us. What I can tell you for certain is that being here in the Irish Champion jersey and winning today is something I will always remember.”

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

A very attentive Team Jumbo-Visma has guided overall leader Primoz Roglic through the nervous tenth stage of the Tour de France without any problems. The yellow-black formation raced all day in the front and avoided the scuffle. In the sprinter stage, won by Sam Bennett, Roglic and some of his teammates finished in the belly of the reduced peloton. The Slovenian therefore retained the lead in the overall standings.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic has earned another day in Yellow. Sirotti photo

In the stage from peninsula to peninsula the peloton raced full throttle from the start. It was very nervous and there were many crashes, involving Robert Gesink among others. The Dutchman could continue and finished the stage. Team Jumbo-Visma took the initiative at crucial moments with Wout van Aert guiding the yellow jersey.

“The team has once again done a perfect job”, Primoz Roglic said. “We can be proud of our performance so far and of the way we raced. I cannot thank my teammates enough for getting me through this stage in one piece. I am wearing the yellow jersey, but it really belongs to the whole team. It was a tough stage: very nervous, fast and at times dangerous too. We had hoped for an easier day, but the race was full on from the start and it never stopped. We are already looking forward to the upcoming days. I will wear the yellow jersey with pride.”

Wout van Aert concurred with his leader’s story. “It was certainly a stressful day. It took a lot of energy. The most important thing was to get Primoz to the finish unscathed and we managed to do so. It is a pity that the wind was not perfect for crosswinds. We raced in the front all day and we were where we needed to be. It was a matter of continuously paying attention. The team managed that pretty well again. Everyone gave themselves one hundred percent. It is nice to see that we all go through the fire for each other.”

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

After two tough days in the Pyrenees, riders returned from the rest day to a pan flat 168.5km. There wasn’t a chance of the day being easy though – with the opportunities for the sprinters dwindling, all of them would be contesting this stage. Starting on the Île d’Oléron and finishing on the Île de Ré, riders would be windswept the whole day. In spite of this though, a small break managed to get ahead of the peloton, building a lead of a little more than a minute.

The sprint teams always kept this in check, reducing it as the day went on before being caught with a little less than 100km of the day still to go. This increase in pace caused the bunch to stretch out, even creating some splits on the road, while the fast pace and road furniture led to multiple crashes throughout the day. At the head of the lead group, Peter Sagan took second in the intermediate sprint and with this taken care of, all eyes turned to the finale.

Riders first had to contend with roundabouts and street furniture in La Rochelle, before crosswinds saw echelons form as the peloton headed towards the finale on the Île de Ré. BORA-hansgrohe were well represented in the lead group with Lukas Pöstlberger, Daniel Oss, and Felix Grossschartner riding together with Peter as the race entered its final 10km.

In the twists and turns before the final straight, Peter was positioned well, four riders back and when the kick started, Peter was up there the entire time and was gaining ground constantly, taking third on the line after a hard effort.

Sam Bennett

Peter Sagan (in green) was third in stage 10. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"It was a stressful day, right from the start everybody was nervous about the wind. We had headwind nearly all of the stage, with crosswind a few times. The speed of the group was high and we had crashes. In the end, we had a pretty messy sprint where Sam Bennett showed he could win the stage and take the green jersey. But we are still halfway through the Tour de France, and there are still opportunities to take the jersey back. Thanks to all my teammates today for staying with me." - Peter Sagan

"The wind wasn't as strong as initially feared, especially in the start, although it picked up as we advanced in the stage. There were lots of narrow roads, but also roundabouts and traffic islands in the cities which caused quite a few of crashes but our guys managed to stay out of trouble and avoided any crashes. In the finale we worked for Peter, it worked well in the last kilometres as the guys were always in a good position. In the sprint, Peter was close and fought for victory, so in that aspect, it was a good day. We stayed safe and saw that Peter is getting increasingly stronger in the sprints and hopefully we are on the right track for the next stages. As for Emu, we had decided in the morning that we didn't have any aspirations for the GC, so he rode calmly, as easy as possible in order to stay out of trouble." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Team Sunweb had this to say about the stage:

With the first rest day behind them, the peloton returned to racing for today’s tenth stage of the Tour de France. With an almost pancake flat parcours ahead of them, a bunch sprint was expected at the finish but as the peloton rolled out of île d’Oléron there was an air of nervousness about the potential crosswinds later in the stage.


It was a nervous day in the peloton. Sirotti photo.

A breakaway duo escaped from the gun and built up a lead of one minute and 30 seconds where it stabilised, with the peloton rolling along quickly behind them. The nervousness in the bunch remained and with 100 kilometres to go the pace increased as the race approached a crosswind section. The team were well placed in the front third of the bunch but a crash in the middle of the pack took down Casper Pedersen and Nicholas Roche. Both riders were able to get back on their bikes and return to the peloton.

After that point the peloton stayed together throughout the afternoon, as they headed towards more exposed roads yet again in the finale. En masse the team were alert, and moved up to the front with 30 kilometres to go as they made their way through narrow town roads. Holding their position, Tiesj Benoot led the peloton through the 20 kilometre to go sign, where the bunch split into pieces in the wind.

Initial panic in the bunch subsided as the race turned into a headwind but a combination of the GC teams and those with sprint ambitions made sure that those who were dropped wouldn’t make it back. Approaching the final four kilometres, the team hit the front of the bunch with Benoot and Marc Hirschi rotating turns and keeping the pace high. Pedersen, Søren Kragh Andersen, Nikias Arndt and Joris Nieuwenhuis took over as the action heated up, but Bol lost the wheel of the train and as the team headed towards the left side of the road, he was caught in the wind and had to fight for a wheel. Starting his sprint from far back, Bol never managed to fully open his kick to the line, crossing the finish in eighth place.

“It was super fast in the last 25 kilometres,” explained from Bol at the finish. “The guys did a really good job and we were always in the front, and I was really well protected so it wasn’t too crazy for me. We then went through the wind and went to the left side of the road, but then the wind came from the right, so I was exposed to it. In the last kilometre I was always in the wind and had to fight for a wheel, it was just a mistake from us. The conditions are what they are, I still believe we can do it into a headwind; today the mistake was made in the side wind part. We still have more chances at this race.”

Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston added: “It was a really hectic stage, we had a few crashes with Nico and Casper but we got everyone back to the peloton. The guys were really organised in the hectic moments through the city in La Rochelle, and we were in the right position. It became more and more hectic into the final and we took control but going into the real final Cees lost the train a little bit and was on the wind side which wasn’t ideal. It’s something that we’ll look at and evaluate, and look to improve on going into tomorrow.”

Team Sunweb physician Camiel Alderschof said: “Nicholas had a pretty heavy fall today at the Tour. An x-ray of his wrist showed no fractures, but a deep wound to his arm required multiple stitches. He is also bruised and sustained abrasions to his legs. He will take some rest this evening and we will continue to monitor his progress over the coming days.”

And here's the report from GC second-place Egan Bernal's Team INEOS:

Egan Bernal came through a tricky and stressful 10th stage at the Tour de France to retain his second place overall.

The Colombian was well protected on a flat but testing day that saw a constant threat from winds and narrow roads. The INEOS Grenadiers worked hard in a lengthy battle for position, as well as pushing the pace on some exposed sections.

Michal Kwiatkowski and Luke Rowe helped shepherd Bernal through a final crosswind section with 20km to go, while Richard Carapaz was able to recover well after being held up by a crash.

Bernal remains 21 seconds back on race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), with Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) winning the stage.

Egan Bernal:
"We all knew it was going to be a stressful day, we knew there would be wind and there could be splits, so it was fast all day, with a lot of nerves and a lot of stress. It was mostly nerves, because in the end there wasn’t so much wind but everyone wanted to be up front. Fortunately, none of our riders crashed."

Tuesday also saw the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, with a more straightforward day leading into a sprint finish, won again by Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Geraint Thomas crossed the line in 22nd, safe amongst the pack to keep his strong early position ahead of the climbs to come.

The climbing action is expected to pick up in the coming days, starting with Wednesday's third stage.

Geraint Thomas:
"It's nice to be back in the groove now with the boys. After a couple of stages you kind of find that rhythm again. It's been quite a while since I did bunch sprints like that - trying to stay out of trouble. It's not like you need reminding, but just getting used to that stress again. Our boys rode really well, and obviously last man with (Filippo) Ganna - he turns on the turbo and just rides until 3km to go. You can't ask for any more really.

"Physically [stage 3] is not really a big GC day on paper. It's not a mountaintop and the climb isn't super hard. But it's definitely a racing course and a tricky final - a lot can happen. There's a steep climb with 8km to go. It's similar to the stage I won here a few years ago."

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