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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, April 8, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. - Flannery O'Connor


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Scheldeprijs team reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from Mark Cavendish's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Scheldeprijs promised wind, hail and storm, but the peloton ended up being split not by the weather, but by a series of crashes that left most of the riders trailing with more than 100 kilometers to go. Sam Bennett and Michael Mørkøv booked a place in a reduced front group, which with 70 kilometers remaining was joined by a dozen or so riders, including three teammates: Mark Cavendish, Florian Sénéchal and Bert Van Lerberghe.

A top 10 finisher in six one-day races this season, Florian did a ton of work once the junction was made, driving the group and making sure the peloton wouldn’t come back. The gap remained around the two-minute mark until the penultimate lap in Schoten, but even if the chasers managed to cut it by 40 seconds with ten kilometers to go, the leaders weren’t under threat of getting caught at any point in the closing part of the race.

Once Sénéchal peeled off the front, Van Leberghe stepped in and expertly shut down a pair of attacks, before Michael Mørkøv took over and moved towards the front both Sam Bennett and Mark Cavendish. Just as our team was preparing to kick off the sprint, Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) anticipated it and took the victory, just ahead of Sam Bennett, who almost closed the gap in the final meters, and Mark Cavendish.

Jasper Philipsen

Jasper Philipsen was the day's fast man.

For the 30-year-old Bennett, this was his first ever top 3 at Scheldeprijs, while Cavendish claimed his sixth podium in the race, which put him on par with Ernest Sterckx, who until Wednesday was the rider with the most top 3 finishes in Flanders’ oldest race – a record the Belgian held since 1954.

“It wasn’t an easy race and the first 75 kilometers went really fast, as the peloton travelled at more than 50km/h. We had riders in the first two groups and once it came back together, we took responsibility and Florian and Bert did a tremendous job, making sure it would come down to a sprint. At the end of the day, one rider was faster, so we don’t have any regrets, although we have preferred to take the win”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels.

Steels continued: “We draw the curtain over the first part of the Classics and we can say we had an exceptional campaign. We won four important one-day races – all World Tour events – we saw a very active World Champion, we were always prominent and we put the cherry on the cake by winning De Ronde in a superb way! We showed an amazing team spirit every single time and the guys can be proud of themselves and of what they achieved”.

The report from Cees Bol's Team DSM:

Rolling out from Terneuzen this afternoon for the race known as the unofficial sprinters world championships, Scheldeprijs, the peloton was immediately met with strong winds and open roads. A nervous bunch saw lots of crashes and several splits, yet again. The pace remained high and with a few groups still caught behind, the race split for good heading towards the final circuit.

Cees Bol rode strongly to make the front group of around 25 riders after initially being caught in the second group after it split, while Alberto Dainese and Casper van Uden were in the peloton behind, policing the chase. As the kilometres ticked by the gap reduced ever so slightly to around 1 minute and 45 seconds where it stabilised, and although it fell a little more, it became clear that Bol’s group would go on to contest the finish.

Heading into the final kilometres Bol latched himself onto the back of the other team’s lead outs, but when the sprint started he just ran out of legs to compete for a top result at the line after spending a lot of energy to bridge the groups earlier in the race

“It was a hard race today,” explained Bol at the finish. “I was in the second echelon and we had to chase hard to come back. I tried to position myself for the sprint but I was fully cramping when the sprint opened up. I’m quite disappointed to not have the legs to go for a result but that’s the way it is. Hopefully, I will come back stronger next time and in my next races for the team.”

Team DSM coach Phil West added: “Our plan was to bring Cees into a forward position for the final on the finishing circuit. We anticipated that the race might be in two parts; with the first a crosswind battle on the narrow, open sections for the first 120 kilometres, before the technical circuit in Schoten. Early on the race was in several groups and we managed to place Cees into the front of the race well, but unfortunately he was a bit isolated there. He positioned himself around the other teams going into the final but just didn’t have the legs left to go for a top result in the end.”

Vuelta al País Vasco stage three team reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

Tadej Pogačar put in a determined performance to take stage 3 of the Itzulia Basque Country (167.7 km starting from Amurrio and finishing in Ermualde): at the end of an intense head-to-head, the UAE Team Emirates star outfoxed Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) in the battle for stage success.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar enjoys his win.

The scene of the Slovenian duel was the Ermualde climb (3.1 km with stretches of 20%), where Pogačar made his move with -2.6 km, then again at -2 km, at -1.8 km and at -1.5 km, always being followed by Roglic.

At 1000 meters from the finish, David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Adam Yates (Ineos-Grenadiers), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) returned to the Slovenian duo, but on the last climb Pogačar and Roglic went again, with the UAE Team Emirates leader coming out on top in the final dash.

Brandon McNulty put in a very solid ride to come home in 10th place (+18 ”), now 3rd in the general classification (+30” from Primoz Roglic) in which Tadej Pogačar moved up to 2nd position (+20 ”from his compatriot). The winner of the 2020 Tour de France is now the new leader of the youth ranking.

This marks the twenty-second career success for Pogačar (first at Itzulia Basque Country), and the eighth win of the season for UAE Team Emirates.

Pogačar: “In the morning we had gone by car to see the finish and the team manager Matxin had explained the route to me well, so I was aware of the toughness of the climb and I knew that it would be crucial to be in first position on the final crest to launch well into the final meters downhill towards the finish. This success makes me very happy because, after racing here in the Basque Country two years ago, I have always had the ambition to come back and do well : it is a very beautiful race and the enthusiasm of the fans is really amazing.
There are still three days of racing, all quite hard. I’m pretty optimistic because the condition is good and the team is racing very well together”.

The Itzulia Basque Country will not give the riders too much time to relax with the 4th stage from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Hondarribia (190 km) including 4 categorised climbs.

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

Primoz Roglic has finished second in the third stage of the Tour of the Basque Country. In the final few metres of the steep climb he was only outsprinted by Tadej Pogacar. Jonas Vingegaard finished in eighth place. The Slovenian leader of Team Jumbo-Visma kept the leader’s jersey.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic gets his bike before the start of stage 3.

Seven riders broke away from the peloton and rode in the lead for almost the entire day. Even before the hectic final began, all the escapees were caught by the peloton. It was Richard Carapaz who opened the attacks, after which Roglic and his rival Pogacar could no longer hide. The two Slovenians were in the lead for most of the steep climb, which had peaks with a gradient of about 20 percent.

Roglic was satisfied with his performance. “It’s a shame I didn’t win in the end, but I’m happy with my form. The final climb was very hard and intense. At 500 metres from the finish it came to a halt and some riders came back as a result. Then Tadej was just a little bit better in the sprint and he deserved this victory.”

“I’m happy that I’m doing well and that I’m still in the lead. I have to be vigilant for any attacks in the coming days. We have to look at it day by day. The big goal is to win this race. In the end, it doesn’t matter to me if I win with one second or with a five minute difference”, the classification leader concluded.

And here's the Basque Country Race update from Adam Yates' INEOS Grenadiers:

Adam Yates moved up to fourth place overall following a thrilling finale to stage three in the Basque Country.

The Grenadier crossed the line in fourth atop the steep and narrow Ermualde climb, just five seconds back on stage winner Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).

Yates had followed as a select group went clear on the steep slopes, and was able to move up a place to fourth overall in the process, 39 seconds off the lead.

Richard Carapaz rebounded well from his crash on Tuesday, slipping into a breakaway group early on the climb, before accelerating on solo into the final kilometres. Despite opening up a gap, the Ecuadorian was hauled back as Pogacar and compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) pushed on.

The Grenadiers worked well during the day, hitting the front when required to set the tempo and create a strong run into the finale.

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