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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 10, 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.

God created man, but I could do better. - Erma Bombeck


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Sunday's first stage of Tour of Turkey cancelled because of snow

At the stage one finish city of Urgup: The city of Urgup is in the hills of Anatolia and lies at an elevation of 1,043 meters (3,422 feet). As I write this (2:50 PM, local time, Saturday, the 10th) snow is falling on the city and is forecast to continue all day and into Sunday, when the first stage is scheduled to begin. The organizers posted this Tweet: "1st stage from Nevşehir to Ürgüp is cancelled due to heavy snow. See you next time Nevşehir! [Monday's stage]"

Tour of Turkey snow

The organizers posted this photo.

Vuelta al País Vasco stage five team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Mikkel Honore's Deceuninck-Quick step team with the results.

Here's the report from the race organizer:

The stage got off to a fast start, with the peloton riding at a rate of 46km/h for the first hour, and the main breakaway taking place shortly thereafter and lasting almost the entire race. The breakaway included the two riders from team Deceunink-Quick-Step: Josef Cerny (82, DQT) and Mikkel Honoré (84, DQT) Ide Schelling (17, BOH), Julien Bernard (72, TFS) and Andrey Amador (112, IGD) who managed to create a gap of more than 2’40” over the peloton.

Andreas Leknessund (134, DSM) appeared in between the peloton and the escapees, 30″ behind the lead group at all times until he was finally able to join them.

As the kilometres passed, Astana riders Omar Fraile (5, APT) and Alex Aranburu broke away from the peloton to chase down the day’s escapees – still Cerny, Honoré and Schelling – but were unsuccessful and caught again by the group.

Ultimately the three riders from the initial breakaway at the start of the race managed to hold on and were the first to cross the finish line: Honoré, Cerny and Schelling.

Honore and Cerny

Mikkel Honore nad Josef Cerney were the day's winners. Sirotti photo

GC leader Brandon McNulty's UAE Team Emirates posted this:

It’s all unchanged in the top positions of the general classification of the Itzulia Basque Country after the 5th stage (Hondarribia-Ondarroa of 160.2 km) won by Mikel Frolich Honoré (Deceunicnk-Quick Step) ahead of teammate Josef Cerny and Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo).

Brandon McNulty remains in yellow

Brandon McNulty remains in yellow.

The main group arrived 28" in arrears with 10th place for Tadej Pogačar and 24th for Brandon McNulty.

The American from UAE Team Emirates will face the last stage of the race, from Ondarroa-Arrate (111.9 km) with seven classified climbs, in the jersey of the overall leader (23 “ahead of Primoz Roglic).

Pogačar (43 ”gap from his teammate) will race with the leader’s jersey for the best climbers’ ranking.

McNulty: “Today was tough with the wind and the speed but we did what we could to save energy. I guess I’m a little nervous but it’s been quite exciting to lead a race at this level. We’re in a really strong position with myself and Tadej in the mix for the GC. It could be rain tomorrow but my best results have always been in the wet which is surprising as I’m from the desert, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Pogačar: “Today’s stage was a little less stressful than yesterday’s, but it was still a tough day: we faced challenging stages day after day, so tomorrow it will not be easy to deal with such a hard finish.

"It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. Our goal is to ensure that the team manages to win and keep the leaders jersey. We hope to be able to defend it”.

Here's the report from Primoz Roglic's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma had gotten through the fifth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country without any problems. In the streets of Ondarroa the early escapees made it to the finish line. The decisive queen’s stage awaits tomorrow.

A six-man breakaway group formed early on in the stage. The lead of the escapees never exceeded two and a half minutes. However, a select group managed to stay in front for the entire stage. Mikkel Honoré took the win. Primoz Roglic sprinted to seventh place.

PRimoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic (in green) was able to stay out of trouble today. Sirotti photo

Roglic was satisfied after a trouble-free day. The Slovenian is now focusing on tomorrow's stage. “Today was the least difficult day here in the Basque Country. Nevertheless, the pace was again very high. We were able to save some energy for tomorrow. That will be the decisive stage. Of course we will do everything we can to win this race tomorrow. We need a good strategy to make it difficult for the competition.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann is hopeful about his team's chances. “We came through today well. We are still in a good position in the general classification. Tomorrow is by far the toughest stage in this Tour of the Basque Country. With Primoz and Jonas we have two irons in the fire. A lot is going to happen tomorrow. It will be a tough race from the start.”

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

The penultimate stage, which led from Hondarribia to Ondarroa over 160 km of hilly terrain, on paper offered the faster men of the peloton a chance to take a stage win in this year's race. BORA - hansgrohe was represented in an early breakaway by Ide Schelling, with the Dutchman putting in a strong performance on the stage. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite able to keep up the pace on the last climb, and when two riders from the leading group attacked, he had to drop back.

Race peloton

The peloton is strung out along the coast. Sirotti photo

Although the teams in the peloton had been motivated to chase the remaining escapees, the day's victory ultimately went to M. Honoré from the break, while all the BORA-hansgrohe riders crossed the finish line back in the peloton. Meanwhile, the general classification remains unchanged, with Emanuel Buchmann still sitting in seventh position overall.

From the Finish Line:
"It wanted to try to make the break today. It wasn’t necessarily as hard as yesterday, but at the same time, it was far from easy. The group was very strong and we rode a hard tempo the entire day. Although our advantage was never that big, I think we nevertheless worked well together. On the last climb I was pretty much at the limit and when the two Deceuninck-Quickstep riders attacked the legs were just not good enough to follow them. But it was a good experience to have." - Ide Schelling

"Today we really motivated our guys because we knew the lead group had a good chance of winning the stage. We wanted to be represented by one or perhaps two riders in the break today. One of them made it, Ide Schelling, a strong rider who can put out a good tempo. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough strength on the last tough climb, and he dropped out of the leading group. That's a pity, of course, and a missed chance, but for a young rider such as him it also shows that he has the potential to win such a stage, or at least to finish on the podium. That's the positive thing we have to take out of today's stage. And next time it will surely work out."  - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

And here's the stage five report from Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert:

Today it was already time for fifth and at the same time penultimate stage of Itzulia Basque Country. Start location was Hondarribia, where the finish took place yesterday. Today’s stage took the riders 160 kilometers further to Ondarroa. By Basque standards this was a rather easy stage with three climbs of third category. Urkaregi (5km, 4,7%) was the ultimate one. The top of this climb was at a little more than 30 kilometers of the finish line.

In contrast to yesterday the early breakaway was, regarding the ‘early’, formed in a normal way. Five riders left for an adventure. After a chase of more than 45 minutes, Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) would join his five colleagues in the breakaway. That made six. In the beginning our guys tried to get in the breakaway. By doing so, Georg Zimmermann crashed. He had cut tears on his left side that needed stitches. That way his second race for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux came to an unfortunate end.

It seemed that the rest of the stage was getting a traditional scenario. The six riders in the allies in the front kept battling but the bunch kept the difference with them around two minutes the whole day. Quinten Hermans, who has been extremely active this week, is aiming for the polka dot jersey. He hid in the bunch for the riders in front already took all the KOM’s.

With around 35 kilometers to go it was time for Urkaregi. The climbing itself wasn’t really exciting but in the descent Alex Aranburu and Omar Fraile (both Astana) joined forces in order to seek for the front of the race. This action would turn out to be nothing more than a little intermezzo because they never actually saw the breakaway again. That means they didn’t witness the efforts of Deceuninck-Quick Step riders Mikkel Honoré and Josef Cerny, who ended first and second.

Quinten Hermans, yes him again, couldn’t keep his legs quiet at the end of the stage. He tested the legs but couldn’t get away. A big group eventually sprinted for the fourth place. Lorenzo Rota and Quinten Hermans still had some forces left so they finished twelfth and seventeenth in the sprint. Quinten improved his GC a little, he is now in 28th position there. He remains second in the KOM classification.

Simon Verdonck (team doctor):
"Georg crashed heavily early on in the stage and had to be evacuated by ambulance, then taken to hospital for examination. Fortunately, his injuries were not too serious and he has not sustained any fracture. He suffered from open wounds on the left flank that required stitches, and he should be able to recover quickly."

Valerio Piva (sportdirecteur):
"In the road book this seemed like an easy stage but it turned out that it was hard to control. Several riders of the team tried to get in the early breakaway. Just when Zimmermann was managing to do so, another rider bumped into him while his chain fell off. Bad luck, otherwise I think he would have joined the succeeding breakaway. The final of the stage was chaotic due to the heavy wind. Lorenzo and Quinten have ridden a good sprint today. Tomorrow’s stage will be the hardest one of the week. It is rather short but tough and on top of that, bad weather is predicted. Taking the polka dot jersey with Quinten would be great but of course we know this won’t be easy when the GC riders go full gas when battling for the final win."

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