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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, September 10, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind. - H. P. Lovecraft

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Tour de France Stage 11 team reports

We posted the organizer's stage eleven summary with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Caleb Ewan's Lotto-Soudal team:

Caleb Ewan claimed a second Tour de France win on Wednesday in Poitiers. With an ultimate throw on the line Caleb was faster than Peter Sagan, Sam Bennett and Wout Van Aert in a bunch sprint. It is the 2nd stage win for the Australian and team Lotto Soudal after his stage win in Sisteron in stage 3.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan wins stage eleven. Photo: Alex Broadway

Caleb Ewan:
“It was such a crazy finish. I was in the front with 1.5km to go and dropped back because of the head wind. After my first stage win I knew I had to keep calm and wait for the right time and the gap to open. That happened quite late to the finish. I did a big throw on the line and didn’t know if I won. I had a real desire to win today. After yesterday I was disappointed and I am so happy to repay my teammates with the win.”

“I am super happy with my two stage wins. One just takes the pressure off. Then after the first one you always want a second. And now I for sure want a third victory, especially in Paris with the Champs-Élysées. So I hope to get through the mountains and get another chance in Paris.”

“With Lotto Soudal we are down to five guys. That means we only have four guys to do the work for me in the sprint stages. After the hard work during the stage I had to manage with two guys in the final 10 kilometers. The other teams put us under a lot of pressure with the attacks. But my two guys rode like ten guys. They did such a terrific job.”

“My closest opponent Sam Bennett is one of my best friends. It is always business when it comes down to sprinting. But we are happy for each other when we win. I was very happy for him yesterday getting his first win. You saw how much it meant for him and I know how hard he worked for it.”

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

One of the last days for the sprinters, stage 11 was going to be hotly contested from the start to the finish line in Poitiers, 167.5km later, and only one fourth category climb would give the peloton cause to slow down.

While the sprinters were confident the day would end in a sprint, one brave solo rider made the jump off the front. Never allowed to take more than a few minutes’ advantage, the gap was sitting at around 2:30 most of the day and the peloton seemed happy with this, only reacting when Lukas Pöstlberger went on the attack, taking five others with him in an attempt to push the pace, reeling him back in quickly.

It was only when the race entered its final 60km that the peloton started chipping away at the break’s lead. With Peter taking fourth in the intermediate sprint, attention turned to the finale. The lone leader of the stage was still out in front, but carrying their speed from the intermediate sprint, the bunch soon caught the escapee and absorbed them back into the bunch with 43km to go.

Having been struggling during the stage, Gregor Mühlberger abandoned the race with 30km remaining. While the Austrian rider had ridden well on Sunday – a strong performance after his crash at the Dauphiné – this was too much of an effort for him to recover from to ride well today. The race was now on for the finish, the sprinters having staked their claim on the day. With 6.2km remaining, Lukas went on the attack again to shake up the sprinters and disrupt the finale, The two riders from Deceuninck Quick Step who went with him were clearly suffering, and peeling off with 2.1km left, Lukas had burnt out two of the green jersey’s sprint train.

In a race of pure power where the sprinters had to battle for the win without their teams supporting them. Having fought for space on his way to the line, Peter was against the barriers and losing space, passing one rider but touching another. The Slovak rider took second position, however, this incident in the closing meters of this tense finale saw Peter relegated from the day’s standings.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan (shown after stage three) still wants to win the Green Jersey.

From the Finish Line:
"Today, I had the speed and, in the sprint, I tried to go on the right side. I passed one rider easily, but then it got really narrow. I had to move to avoid the barriers and as a result, I got relegated. This cost me a lot of points but I still have not abandoned the fight for the green jersey." – Peter Sagan

"We were hoping to have a bigger group escape, but in the end, it was just one rider. Later on, we tried to attack with Lukas in a second group in order to make the stage harder. That didn't work, but in the finale our goal was once again to make it as hard as possible, so we attacked once more and that move worked very well. In the sprint, Peter was in a good position but at times he was blocked and in the final meters he saw a possibility that he could go for the win if he rode close to the barriers. He touched Van Aert harder than what he would have liked to, so he was relegated. That's far from perfect but we have to accept it." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Here's the report from Green Jersey Sam Bennett's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

A strategic location between Paris and Bordeaux, capital of the historical Poitou region and the Vienne department, and the place where Charles Martel’s army defeated that of the Ummayad Caliphate in 732, Poitiers hosted a Tour de France finish for just the fourth time in history Wednesday afternoon.

Completely flat, the 167.5km stage 11 came to life inside seven kilometers to go, when one rider launched a move to foil the sprinters’ plans, only to be countered by Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Kasper Asgreen and Bob Jungels. Once they bridged across, the duo continued at the front, applying pressure on the other teams, who ignited a mad chase in order to bring them back with only two kilometers to go.

A 1.6km final straight preceded by a tricky lump was what awaited the riders in the final of this otherwise quiet day, which culminated in a bunch sprint that had Sam Bennet again amog the protagonists. The Irishman took the line down the center, his whirring legs generating again a huge sprint that netted him third behind Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), only 15 centimeters separating him from what would have been his second victory in as many days.

Minutes after the finish, Sam was elevated to second, after the Slovak was relegated by the race commissaires for irregular sprinting, the points he picked up in Poitiers and at the intermediate sprint in Les Grands Ajoncs, where he relied again on an excellent Michael Mørkøv, giving him a buffer of 68 points in the green jersey classification.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennet remains in Green, now with a healthy lead. Sirotti photo

“The guys did a fantastic job looking after me and I got to enjoy another beautiful day in this nice jersey and get a lot of support and applause from the roadside fans. The sprint was really nervous and I found myself in the front too early, so I drifted back a bit, but it was too late. Despite that, I tried to limit my losses and get the most out of it. Would have been nice to add another win, but second is still a strong result in these conditions, especially as it helps me increase my lead in the points standings”, explained Bennett after the first Tour de France stage finish in Poitiers since 1978.

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

Wout van Aert has finished third in the eleventh stage of the Tour de France. The two-time stage winner of this edition of the Tour de France was pushed by Peter Sagan in full sprint. The Belgian crossed the finish line in fourth place, but was classified third after the former world champion had been relegated. Primoz Roglic finished in the belly of the peloton and retained the overall lead.
In the stage to Poitiers, Team Jumbo-Visma rode near the front of the peloton all day with GC leader Roglic. Van Aert started the sprint early and got outsprinted in the last metres.

Caleb Ewan

Wout Van Aert was awarded third. Sirotti photo

“I was a little too far, but there was enough space on the right”, Van Aert said. “My only chance was to start the sprint early, otherwise I would definitely get boxed in. I started the sprint from too far to speak of a perfect sprint. However, I was still very close. When Sagan basically pushed me aside, I was so shocked that I lost my momentum. I think I could have won, but now I went from too far and that push made me lose some speed as well. I had a good sprint in my legs, but my positioning was not perfect. A sprint of more than three hundred metres, slightly uphill with headwinds was a bit too much if you have to cover so much distance.”

Primoz Roglic will head into the upcoming mountain stages as the GC leader. “The team once again did a good job by bringing me to the finish line in one piece. Especially in the technical final with a few narrow passages. In the next few days we will see what happens. I certainly expect the necessary attacks, but tactically little changes for us. We have to focus on ourselves and do what we have been doing throughout the Tour. We cannot do more than our best. If the competition has plans, we will find out about them soon.”

Team Bora-hansgrohe reports on Tirreno-Adriatico stage three

We posted the report from stage winner Michal Woods' EF Pro Cyclng team with the results.

With 217 km, today was the longest stage on the program at this year’s Tirreno - Adriatico. After the start in Follonica, the riders set off on quite hilly terrain before the stage ended with a mountain finish in Saturnia. Yet it was not only the length of this stage that made the race challenging, but also the two ascents of the Muro di Poggio Murella, which featured gradients in some sections of up to 20 percent.

The early breakaway of eight riders ramped up the tempo right from the start and was able to extend their lead over the peloton to almost eight minutes. In the second half of the day, the peloton gradually brought them back. On the final climb of the Poggio Murella, the field fell apart and the group of favourites, among them Rafał Majka and Patrick Konrad, attacked. Shortly afterwards, M. Woods broke away from the group, but the Polish BORA - hansgrohe rider managed to catch up with the Canadian soloist and the duo eventually fought out the win amongst themselves.

On the finishing straight, Woods managed to pull past Rafał in a short sprint and relegated the BORA - hansgrohe rider to second place. Shortly afterwards, Patrick Konrad crossed the finish line in fourth position. After today's stage, Rafal sits in second place in the overall standings, five seconds in arrears of the GC leader Michael Woods, while Patrick moves up to 5th place.

Michael Woods

Michael Woods takes stage three. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"I wanted to win for the team today, but there was quite a tough climb that we had to take on twice, so it wasn’t going to be easy. In the critical moment, I was able to ride a good tempo and then make the first group on the road, and then when Woods attacked, I was able to follow. He was simply that extra bit quicker in the end today, but we have a few more difficult climbing stages ahead of us, so we’ll still have some more chances here. My form is good and I think that we’ll be able to do something over the next few days.“ - Rafał Majka

"We’re very pleased with today’s result. The stage wasn’t easy, and the field rode a constantly high tempo, with the heat also making the race that much more difficult. We wanted to try something in the finale, and the guys executed our plan extremely well. They showed superb teamwork throughout the stage, and that’s something they can be very proud of. Woods was stronger today, but we can definitely be very satisfied with Rafal’s second position and Patrick’s fourth place.“ - André Schulze, Sports Director

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