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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 19, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? - George Carlin

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage 19 team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Soren Kragh Andersen's Team Sunweb:

Having already raised their arms aloft in victory twice so far at this year’s Tour de France, Team Sunweb set out with a plan to make it three wins this afternoon on stage 19. After another perfectly timed late attack, Søren Kragh Andersen went solo all the way to the line with Nikias Arndt perfectly disrupting any chase behind.

Soren Kragh Andersen

Soren Kragh Andersen has plenty of time to sit up and enjoy his win. Sirotti photo

With the Alps behind them, the peloton were faced with an intriguing parcours on stage 19 of the Tour de France today. Despite there only being one categorised climb, the road was constantly up-and-down throughout the stage, particularly in the closing 50 kilometres.

As expected, there were a flurry of attacks at the start of the stage but as the dust settled it was only Cavagna that forged on alone at the head of the race. Behind in the peloton, Nicholas Roche did a great job and started setting pace alongside Bora-Hansgrohe to ensure that the gap didn’t grow out any further than two minutes and 30 seconds, with a view of setting up Cees Bol for the sprint finish.

The kilometres ticked by and the Roche-led bunch slowly ate into Cavagna’s advantage with the Frenchman only holding a small gap through the intermediate sprint with 50 kilometres to go. This is the moment when the attacks started in the bunch, with the team always active and ever present in any dangerous group. All of the initial moves were brought to heel before the race winning break went with 25 kilometres to go.

Søren Kragh Andersen and Nikias Arndt made the split for the team, with the duo riding well as the group extended their lead. It soon became tactical in the closing 15 kilometres and Kragh Andersen sensed his opportunity to attack on one of the many unclassified climbs. Quickly building up a gap of ten seconds, those in the chasing group fanned across the road and Kragh Andersen forged on, extending his lead even more. Arndt did a brilliant job to further halt any organised chase by quickly tagging onto any counter attack.

As a result, Kragh Andersen was able to sit up and savour the crowds as he entered the final few hundred metres, taking an excellent second stage win for him – and the Team Sunweb’s third of the race. Behind, Arndt tried a long range attack to secure the one-two for the team, but he was passed in the closing metres and crossed the line for a very credible sixth place finish and yet another top ten for the team.

“The motorbike told me you have one minute and I realised in the last kilometre that I had the second win.” beamed an elated Kragh Andersen at the finish. “The first one is of course magical, but today is even more crazy in my opinion; I’m speechless. First of all, Nicholas did a great job on the front the whole day. We were going for Cees with a sprint finish but the race developed, and it was my job to be represented in the attacks. Nikias was there so we planned that I would attack from the group and he would go for the sprint. The moment came after Trentin’s attack when it was super hard. I took the chance and I was lucky they let me go.”

Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston added: “Quickly we reverted to ‘scenario b’ after the intermediate sprint where we saw groups going clear and we knew what was going to happen. We were in a really nice situation with Søren and Nikias in the breakaway but it was a world class group. We said to each other that we’ll have to go long and Søren stepped up to the challenge and made a really nice attack, and all of the guys behind started to look at each other. Søren is also a really strong guy and if you give him ten seconds – he’s gone. Nikias was able to just follow then behind and mark things to disrupt the chase. I think all together it was a really nice job from the guys today once again. The atmosphere we’ve got in the team at the moment is really good. Everyone is in great spirits and we’re all hungry to keep moving forward, keep learning, talk about what we’ve done and keep progressing. The whole team is hungry to keep doing well and keep getting good results.”

Second-place Luka Mezgec's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Slovenian Luka Mezgec has won the bunch sprint for second place on stage 19 of the Tour de France, in a bittersweet case of déjà vu for the 32-year-old.

Luka Mezgec

Luka Mezgec on his way to winning the sprint for second-pace. Sirotti photo

After riding themselves into the decisive move in the final 35km, Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) escaped off the front with 16km to go and, in a repeat of the results of stage 14 into Lyon, held on to finish 53seconds ahead of the Mezgec group.

Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quickstep) went it alone in the day’s breakaway, but he was tightly monitored by BORA-hansgrohe and Team Sunweb and never managed more than a few minute’s advantage.

The counter attacks began just ahead of the intermediate sprint and continued until the correct formation was made at the front.

The battle for the green jersey saw the likes of Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quickstep) and Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) break off the front immediately following the sprint and Mezgec knew his only opportunity was to join the next group that followed.

The Mitchelton-SCOTT sprinter made the junction which saw him join teammate Jack Bauer at the front.

When Kragh Andersen made his move with 16km to go, a moment’s hesitation was all it took for him to get a gap.

Putting everything on the line, Bauer committed to support Mezgec but despite briefly getting the gap down to 25seconds and breaking up the chase group, it wasn't enough to stop the Team Sunweb rider who went on to claim his second stage victory.

Luka Mezgec:
“Sure I would like to win, everybody would like to win at least one stage of the Tour. I was two times second and two times second behind the same guy. He has got a good flow this Tour de France, kudos to him.

“I am happy with my performance this Tour, but it was a gamble in that situation. If one guy followed, then the race would fall down completely differently but it is what it is and sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don’t. In cycling there’s more time that you don’t succeed.

“I am really looking forward to seeing the Champs Elyseés, I have been watching it many times on the television and now I am going to be there, if I finish tomorrow.”

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

Just two more stages until the ceremonial stage into Paris, but there was no sign of the riders at the Tour de France letting off the pressure just yet. Stage 19 was 166.5km long and with only one easy categorised climb, it looked like the faster riders would be contesting the finale on this undulating day.

Taking to the front to control the race, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were quick to pull back any attempts to attack, with some important points available at the intermediate sprint after 117.5km, as well as at the finish line. One rider managed to escape and build a minute’s advantage, but the high pace made it hard for anyone else to get away.

In an unfortunate and unlucky incident in the opening kilometres, Lukas Pöstlberger was stung in the mouth by a bee and was forced to abandon the race. The Austrian rider was immediately seen to by the race doctor before being taken to hospital for treatment, already feeling better, but unable to continue in the race.

While the pace was high in the peloton, a late attack just before the intermediate sprint limited the number of points available, with Peter Sagan taking fifth here. From here, all eyes were on the finish, and the high speeds carried over from the intermediate sprint saw multiple attacks.

Lennard Kämna and Maximilian Schachmann were riding hard to keep things together, before a group of twelve – including Peter – made their move. This group built a healthy lead and as the final 10km drew near, the attacks started. One rider managed to escape off the front, with Peter’s group chasing, but it wasn’t possible to make the catch. With the Slovak rider finishing in ninth position, there was only an individual time trial left to ride before the race’s finale on Sunday.

Sagan and Bennett

Sam Bennett beats Peter Sagan for 8th place. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"I tried in every way possible today to go for the win and the team did its best to make that option happen. When we broke away with about 30km to go, the group grew to 12 riders and there were four teams I think that had two riders in there. As a result, it was impossible for me to respond to all the attacks on my own. Once again, we gave our best and I will certainly give it my all to try and win in Paris." – Peter Sagan

"It was a fast stage and we tried to control it. Just one rider went on the breakaway and he slowed down after the intermediate sprint. After that point, there were many attacks in the peloton and we tried to control again but it didn't really work the way we wanted as we also had to follow the other attacks. Our riders were tired from the previous stages and on top of that, we lost Lukas in the first 10km when he had to abandon. His contribution was also missing in the finale. There was a late break where Peter was present alone, so he wasn't able to follow all attacks. It isn't the result we had hoped for but everybody gave his best." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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

After the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France, Primoz Roglic will head into tomorrow’s mountain time trial at La Planche des Belles Filles as the leader in the general classification. In Champagnole, the Slovenian finished in the peloton, accompanied by his Team Jumbo-Visma teammates.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic is almost in Paris in Yellow.

The battle for the green jersey determined the outcome of the stage in the Jura. Team Jumbo-Visma didn’t put themselves in the mix. The yellow-black formation rode attentively in the front all day and made sure that Roglic finished safely.

“It was another great day for us”, Roglic said. “We are one day closer to Paris. The boys once again did a great job by keeping me in the front and keeping me safe all day. I’ve emphasized it before, but I can’t do that enough. They were fantastic and although I am the one who’s wearing it, this yellow jersey really belongs to all of us.”

Tom Dumoulin was happy that the stage did not end in a bunch sprint. “I think it would have provided some trouble in the final. It was quite technical. For us this was an ideal situation and it was easier to control.”

Tomorrow the battle for the general classification will be decided with a mountain time trial. Roglic looked ahead with confidence. “I have done a recon of the time trial several times. This time trial is going to be a fair fight from man to man. I just have to push as hard as possible and ride as fast as possible, both on the flat and uphill. Besides you also have to have the legs for it. We will see what it brings tomorrow. I’m definitely looking forward to it. Now I will focus on my recovery first and then I will focus on tomorrow.”

Dumoulin, who is ninth in the GC, is also looking forward to it. “It has been a long time since I did a time trial, but I’m looking forward to it. I feel good and I am really motivated. I will do my best and I will give one hundred percent. It’s a matter of riding the big gear as long as possible and then we’ll see where we end up. I think that fitness and fatigue will play a major role. I hope I can also move up in the GC. That would be a nice bonus.”

UCI & Jumbo-Visma statements after team director Merijn Zeeman is kicked out of Tour de France

First, here is the UCI's statement:

Mr. Zeeman behaved in an unacceptable manner towards the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) staff responsible for carrying out an X-ray control and then dismantling the Yellow Jersey bike at the finish of the stage at Col de la Loze in accordance with UCI regulations relating to the fight against technological fraud,” the statement said. “As a result, Mr. Zeeman was excluded from the event and fined CHF 2,000. The UCI has made the fight against technological fraud one of its priorities to ensure the credibility of the results, and calls on all cycling families (riders, teams and organizers) to join forces to ensure the reputation of our sport.

And here is the Jumbo-Visma post:

Jumbo-Visma director Merijn Zeeman was present at the control of Primoz Roglic's bike after the 17th stage. A discussion arose with the UCI employee in question when the crankset of the bike was dismounted. The bike was damaged and the crankset had to be replaced afterwards.

The altercation that took place during that check gave the UCI a reason to sanction Merijn severely. Merijn made his apologies on the spot and, just like the team, regrets that the discussion became so heated. A scuffle or something similar has not taken place.

To be clear: the routine check showed that the bike of GC leader Roglic was in accordance with the regulations.

Zeeman: “I got upset when the commissioner dismounted the crankset from Primoz's bike. We stand for a fair sport and that includes checks, but that must be done in a reasonable way. Despite that, I should have kept myself cool and approached the UCI commissioner in a more respectful way.”

Merijn is allowed to remain part of the Tour de France team of Team Jumbo-Visma in France, but during the remaining three stages he will no longer perform official functions within the accredited aeras of the race.

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