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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 18, 2020

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow. - George Eliot

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Tour de France stage 18 team reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Michal Kwiatkowski's Team INEOS:

Michal Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz completed a resounding 1-2 finish for the INEOS Grenadiers on stage 18 at the Tour de France.

Kwiatkoski and Carapaz finish

The duo crosses the finish line. Sirotti photo

The pair rode into the finish together in La Roche-sur-Foron after distancing their rivals on a big day in the mountains. Kwiatkowski crossed the line arm in arm with Carapaz, who battled hard over the five categorised climbs to move into the lead of the polka dot jersey.

Throwing everything at the breakaway, the team placed no fewer than four riders in the opening move, with Jonathan Castroviejo and Dylan van Baarle ensuring numbers at the head of the race.

As the climbs wore on, Carapaz and Kwiatkowski were able to work together, eventually dropping Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) on the Col des Gileres. They held on to finish 1:51 ahead of the chasing GC group, featuring race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).

For Kwiatkowski the win marked his first Grand Tour stage victory, while Carapaz became the first Ecuadorian rider to pull on the polka dot jersey - leading the classification by a slender two points with three stages to go.

Michal Kwiatkowski:
"That was some day. I can’t describe how grateful I am to the whole team and also to Richard. That was an incredible day for us and I will never forget that. I’ve had some nice moments in cycling but that was something else – a new experience –  I’ve had goosebumps for the last I don’t know how many kilometres. The gap was so big that we were going to make it. Both of us we really enjoyed the last kilometres. It’s incredible.

"Egan (Bernal) was sad when he was leaving the race but he was wishing us good luck. Hopefully he enjoyed that on the television because that was some race. Collectively we tried in the last three days everything we could to be in the breakaway and win the stage and finally today – most of us we found the best legs ever I have to say. The way we rode with Richard was just incredible.

"We’re going to celebrate big time tonight. We all deserve it after so many stages. We put on some show today and for sure we have to celebrate that."

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

Wout van Aert has finished third in the eighteenth stage of the Tour de France. By finishing third he took the remaining bonus seconds away from the competition.

Overall leader Primoz Roglic finished in Van Aert’s slipstream in fourth place in the final Alps stage, with more than five thousand altitude metres, and retained his yellow jersey.

In the stage from Méribel to La Roche-sur-Foron, with six climbs along the way, Team Jumbo-Visma once again controlled the stage with an iron hand.

On the partly unpaved Montée du Plateau des Glières, Mikel Landa, Enric Mas and Tadej Pogacar attacked several times. However, the yellow and black formation never got into trouble due to the work of Wout van Aert, Tom Dumoulin and Sepp Kuss. Roglic showed to be very strong on the gravel section and in the descent and even put the pressure on his main rivals himself.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic remains in yellow with three stages to go. Sirotti photo

“This was another fantastic team performance”, Roglic complimented his team. “All day we rode where we had to be and we were in constant control. It was very difficult with the sequence of climbs and the number of altitude metres. We did that well and we were still well represented in the end. We are one day closer to Paris, but we are still not there yet. We keep focusing on ourselves and we have to be ready if something unexpected happens in tomorrow’s stage. I feel good and I am very confident for tomorrow and Saturday’s time trial.”

Tom Dumoulin in particular was very impressed by Wout van Aert. “Wout is really incredible. He single-handedly made sure that Landa couldn’t take much of a lead and that the rest couldn’t attack earlier. Many of the GC guys even had a hard time following him. Then, when Pogacar attacked, Sepp stayed with Primoz to support him. Wout and I couldn’t go with them, but we managed to come back in the final. I then did a leadout for Wout. I think it could have been possible for Primoz to sprint for the time bonuses, but it was a lot safer if Wout would take them in front of Pogacar. This was another great team effort. I feel better every day and I am already looking forward to the time trial. I haven’t done a time trial in a long time, but I am very motivated to show myself.”

Van Aert is riding a very strong Tour de France with his two stage victories and the massive amount of work in support of Roglic. “I was completely cooked. It was such a tough stage. When they attacked on the final climb, I had to give in because the pace was too high. They had told me that I had to keep going because I still had to sprint to take the bonus seconds away from the competition. Together with Tom that worked out. So in the end I did not suffer for nothing. It was a great day for us. Having the four of us in the front makes it also a lot easier to counter attacks.”

GC third-place Miguel Angel Lopez's Team Astana posted this report:

The leader of Astana Pro Team Miguel Angel Lopez finished 12th in today’s stage 18 of the Tour de France in La-Roche-sur-Foron. This result allowed Lopez to keep his third place in the general classification of the French Grand tour.

Miguel Angel Lopez

Miguel Angel Lopez winning stage 17 Wednesday. Pauline Ballet photo.

- A hard day, but I am happy to pass it without problem and to finish up there with the best riders. Once again the team did a great job for me and I was able to save some energy for the last the most difficult climb. The pace of our group on the last climb was really high, so it was not possible to try something. The gravel section was a bit dangerous, but I managed to pass it well. I am happy to keep my position in the general classification and not to lose time to the others. Well, one stage less and we are a bit closer to Paris. On Saturday we will have a tough individual time trial and of course I will try to show my maximum there. Every time trial is different and a time trial at the 20th stage of the Tour de France differs a lot from any other race. All you can do - just to give your all. But, first of all we have to do tomorrow’s stage well, - said Miguel Angel Lopez after the last day in big mountains.

Stage 18 became the last mountain stage of this edition of the Tour de France: the peloton passed 175 km with 5 categorized climbs from Méribel to La-Roche-sur-Foron. A group of 32 riders went away at the first part of the distance with Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez among the escapers. On the second climb of the day a new group of 5 riders broke away clear, while Sanchez remained in the first chasing group. In the end of the day two riders from the leading group, Michal Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz finished together to make 1-2 for their team Ineos Grenadier.

Behind their shoulders, several attacks have been made inside the yellow jersey group on the steep last climb of the day Montée du Plateau des Glières. Miguel Angel Lopez stayed up there among the favorites always ready to follow any move of his rivals. However, no one of the race contenders could escape on the last 30 km and they arrived at the finish line all together, almost 2 minutes behind the stage winner. Miguel Angel Lopez finished 12th, thus protecting his 3rd place in the overall standings.

Ahead of the last three stages of the Tour de France 2020 the Slovenian Primoz Roglic leads the race, his compatriot Tadej Pogacar is second, 57 seconds behind, Miguel Angel Lopez is 3rd, 1 minute 27 seconds behind, while the Australian Richie Porte is 4th, 3 minutes 6 seconds behind.

Stage 19 with a hilly profile will be held tomorrow: the riders will do a 166.5-km-long distance from Bourg-en-Bresse to Champagnole.

Here's the report Bora-hansgrohe sent me:

While the Queen Stage was a not-so-distant memory, this didn’t mean the race was going to get any easier. Stage 18 of the Tour de France covered 175km and five categorised climbs, the last of which being the Hors Catégorie Montée du Plateau des Glières – short, but incredibly steep, with an average gradient of 11.2%.

Stage 18 profile

Another tough day in the mountains.

The intermediate sprint came early on the stage, and so there was a rush from the fast men and their teams to be in position, a large group forming on the front made up of sprinters and climbers eager to go on the attack. Peter Sagan took third in the intermediate, taking fifteen points for his efforts, before the real break of the day formed. The break dropped the faster riders as the day went on, with other riders, including Lennard Kämna, trying to make it across.

Eventually slimming down to eighteen riders, a small group then attacked and set about building a lead that topped out at six minutes. With none of the team in the break and the stage not suiting the BORA-hansgrohe riders, the decision was made to hold back and fight hard on stage 19, the hardest climb coming so close to the end of the day. Emanuel Buchmann, Felix Grossschartner and Lennard Kämna were the first of the team to cross the line, sharing the same time, with the rest of the riders coming in safely.

From the Finish Line:
"I tried again today to go into the break but I didn't make it. I gave my best, I took my chance and I think I can be proud of myself. Tomorrow, we will go full gas for Peter, we still want to win a stage with him and we have two chances left, tomorrow and in Paris." – Lennard Kämna

"As expected, the stage got off to a fast and hard start. The first part was a bit uphill, so it was up to each rider's legs to make it to the breakaway group. We had Peter there and for a time Emu who, unfortunately, didn't have the legs to follow. Then, in the first climb we tried again with Lennard to have a chance at bridging across. It didn't look daunting initially but, in the end, the speed of the front group was too high and our riders simply didn't have the energy any longer after having invested so much in the last two and a half weeks. On top of that, the crashes before the Tour and in the first stages took their toll and their effects are felt now. We have been riding aggressively since the start, everybody gave their best today, so we don't have any regrets in that aspect." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Tomasz Marczyński to leave Tour de Luxembourg

Marczyński's Lotto-Sudal team sent me this:

Team Lotto Soudal decided to send home its rider Tomasz Marczyński after he showed viral symptoms in the Tour de Luxembourg. Following the team’s protocol, his close contacts (one staff member, as well as his roommate Harm Vanhoucke) will be sent home as well.

Tomasz Marczyński

Tomasz Marczyński winning a stage in the 2017 Vuelta a España.

A PCR test, specific to SARS-Cov-2, revealed a negative result for Tomasz Marczyński. The team doctor and team management however did not take any risk and decided to take these isolation measures. He will undergo more tests today to find the cause of his symptoms.

Priority for Team Lotto Soudal is to protect the health of the team and the race. The Team wishes Tomasz Marczyński a speedy recovery.

Crash takes down Annemiek Van Vleuten and Amanda Spratt in final of Giro Rosa stage seven

Here's the bad news from Team Mitchelton-Scott:

Race leader Annemiek van Vleuten and Australian champion Amanda Spratt were both caught up in a crash in the finale to stage seven of the Giro Rosa.

Amanda Spratt

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

The pair made it into a select lead group which looked set to contest the finish until the crash saw both riders go down. Both Spratt and Van Vleuten were able to finish the stage but have been taken to hospital to have their injuries further evaluated.

Unlike the previous days, a breakaway was allowed to head down the road inside the opening kilometres on the outskirts of Nola. The peloton looked more than happy to see the two riders edge away as the pair went on to establish a maximum advantage of 4’40” over the bunch.

The pack soon upped the pace and began to whittle the time gap down before three riders attacked with the hope of bridging across to the leaders. The trio eventually made it across the gap to make a group of five as the finishing circuit approached.

The gap was 2’20” as the peloton crossed the line for the first of the two finishing loops, with Australian Sarah Roy leading the chase at the head of the bunch. An attack in the leading group of five over the top of the climb then left just one rider out front with a gap of just over one minute as the pack crossed the line for the second time.

Disaster Strikes
The lone leader was the reeled in on the final ascent of the climb as attacks were launched over the top. The action saw a small select group go clear with both Van Vleuten and Spratt amongst them as they raced towards the uphill drag to the finish line.

The group then swelled in size as the stage looked set for a reduced bunch sprint before disaster struck when a crash took Van Vleuten and Spratt down in the closing kilometres. Both riders crossed the line but were taken to hospital to have their injuries assessed, further updates will be given when facts are available.

Andrew Smith (Sports Director):
“The stage was going well for us, the breakaway went away early before it eventually came back on the final final lap. There were some attacks over the last climb and we had Annemiek and Spratty in the small group off the front.

"Then unfortunately they both came down in a crash inside the final kilometre and have been taken to hospital for scans on their injuries."

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