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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, April 20, 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.

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Tour of the Alps stage one team reports

We posted the report from winner Gianni Moscon's INEOS Grenadiers team with the results.

Here's the race organizer's stage one report:

The Tour of the Alps is back. Two years after the finish in Bozen/Bolzano and Pavel Sivakov’s success, the Euro-regional stage races resumed its journey on Monday April 19th with the 1st stage of the 2021 edition, from Brixen/Bressanone (South Tyrol) to Innsbruck (Tirol, Austria) after 140.6 km.

Tour of the Alps stage one

There is no shortage of climbing in the tour of the Alps. Sirotti photo

The comeback of the Tour of the Alps wasn’t the only one to celebrate under the pale sun of Innsbruck: Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers), one of the shiniest talents in recent years in Italian cycling, raised his arms on the finish line crystalline talents of Italian cycling in recent years, too often halted by injuries or controversial episodes, raised his arms over the finish line.

Returning to the race two months having his scaphoid fractured at the Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, Moscon took advantage of the perfect knowledge of the streets of Innsbruck, the city where he has chosen to live for more than three years now, to place a solo dig with four kilometers to the finish line, then managing to resist the charge of the surging peloton by a whisker.

Second place for the surprising Idar Andersen (Team Uno-X), who also attacked in the finale, while Aleksandr Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates) had to settle for third place ahead of Fabio Felline (Astana-PremierTech) and Nicholas Schultz (Team BikeExchange).

“It’s really the best way to get back into the race,” Moscon commented, “it’s an unbelievable emotion to win after such a long time (nearly three years), especially here in Innsbruck. My knowledge of the roads certainly helped, but it’s the legs that made the difference. I didn’t expect to be able to win in my comeback race, but this is the demonstration that if you really believe in it, it is possible to achieve big results. Tomorrow is my 27th birthday, I gave myself a double present in this green leader’s jersey and a success that is worth a lot: my Tour of the Alps will continue in the sign of determination, and whoever from Ineos Grenadiers wears the green jersey in Riva del Garda, we’ll be happy with that.”

Before the race ignited in the final, with the double ascent to the Axams climb that was already seen in the 2018 Team Time Trial World Championship, the race lived on the initiative of Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-up Nation), Marton Dima (Eolo Kometa ) and Felix Enghelardt (Tirol KTM Cycling Team), who attacked immediately out of Brixen/Bressanone, managing to open up to a 5.27 advantage, and passing over the Brenner under slight sleet.

De Marchi remained alone in the lead on the first time up to Axams, and then resisted the charge of the peloton led by Astana-PremierTech for several kilometers before surrendering with 15 km to go.

After the attempt of Jensen, Bilbao, Umba and Savini, quickly reeled in, it was Moscon’s move that resolved a frantic finale, earning to the Trentino-born the Melinda green jersey. Behind him, the surprising Dane Andersen had a best youngster’s Würth Modyf white jersey to show in addition to the most prestigious result of his career. Alessandro De Marchi wore the Best Climber’s light blue Cassa Centrale Group jersey, while the Intermediate Sprints PMG Sport red jersey went to Austrian Enghelardt.

All the standout names of the race ended up in the main group, with one notable exception: Chris Froome (Israel Start-up Nation), who finished 115th at 5.13. The road back to his best seems to be still long and tricky for the four-time Tour de France winner.

The second stage of the Tour of the Alps will take place on Tuesday, April 20th: 121.5 km from Innsbruck to Feichten in Kaunertal. An all-Tyrolean stage, the 2nd one is going to be substantially more challenging than the opening effort. After 50 km substantially on flat, the athletes will face the Piller Sattel climb twice from two different sides: the most demanding, the second one (slopes up to 18%) reaches the top with 21 km from the end. From there, a fast and technical descent will lead to the gradual final ascent towards Feichten im Kaunertal, which will certainly produce a far different general classification from today. Moscon, anyway, is not ready to give up: “I’ll try to defend the green jersey, that’s for sure.” That would make heck of a birthday.

Here's the report from fifth-place Nick Schultz's Team BikeExchange:

Australian climber Nick Schultz sprinted to fifth place to kick-off proceedings at the Tour of the Alps today for Team BikeExchange, taking third in the bunch kick behind two escapees that just held off the chasers into Innsbruck.

Gianni Moscon

Gianni Moscon holds off the pack. Sirotti photo

A breakaway of three riders established early on in the stage and remained ahead until the race entered the final 20km. The attacks began to fly from the peloton causing the trio to be reeled back but four riders weren’t content with remaining in the bunch, and clipped off the front of the peloton down a descent and hovered 15seconds ahead as the kilometres ticked down.

The eventual stage winner, Gianni Moscon then launch the race winning move shortly after the peloton returned back together again with four kilometres to go, launching away on a small rise and quickly opening up a gap.

Moscon was joined by Idar Andersen in the final kilometre, which played to his advantage and the pair battled on ahead to hold off the chase, with Team BikeExchange working to place Schultz into position for the sprint for the minor placings.

Nick Schultz:
“It was a bit of a surprise to have a go today, this week we are here primarily to use it as a building block and become a well drilled unit for the Giro d’Italia so the main objective was to keep Yates safe. Then in the final, once that was ticked off, I had the opportunity to go for the sprint.

Tanel Kangert and Callum Scotson did a great job in the final kilometres to deliver me perfectly and enable me to do the best sprint I could. It wasn’t too bad considering I am not a sprinter.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“It is a nice start to our campaign; this is a really good race for us to put the icing on the cake for our Giro d’Italia preparation.

We were a little concerned at the start of the race as to how bad the weather could be, but actually it wasn’t too bad, we had a little bit of snow over the pass and then it turned out to be a pretty nice day.

Simon Yates rode well, stayed safe and finished on bunch time and Nick was able to finish fifth with a good sprint to start the race for us.”

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

The opening stage of this year's Tour of the Alps led over 140.6 km from Brixen to Innsbruck. After the riders had crossed the border between Italy and Austria on the Brenner Pass, there were still two laps on the program, each with an ascent of the third category. The team starts the tour in the Alpine region with many neopros and newcomers. After the start, a group of three broke away, which was able to pull out a maximum lead of 5 minutes.

In the last climb to Axams, almost 20 kilometers from the finish, there was a merger and the final was opened by various attacks. The Bora-hansgrohe riders were also active here. On the last small climb shortly before the finish, the later winner Gianni Moscon was able to use the narrow route and escaped from the pack. The team`s mountain and GC riders reached the finish without losing any time and kept all chances open for the next few days. The newest team member, Anton Palzer, was also happy about his debut as a professional cyclist and finished just 25 seconds behind the winner.

From the Finish Line:
"Very cool experience. I didn't really have any problems riding uphill, but it's amazing to see how hectic everything is. You always have to be fully involved so that you don't lose touch. It all takes so much energy to be focused all the time. That makes you tired over time. Unfortunately, on the last small climb I was too far behind and when the driver in front of me lost the connection, I thought you couldn't get there anymore. I really enjoyed it and I am confident that I will find my way around better and better over the next few days and I am happy that the next few days will go to the right mountains." - Anton Palzer

"I felt good today and I am completely satisfied with my form after the high altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada. I tried once, but that was a little early. In the finale, due to the narrow roads and hectic, I couldn't quite get into position to follow Gianni Moscon, who just deserved to win today. I'm looking forward to the next few days and I'm optimistic." - Felix Großschartner

"It is a great experience and a great challenge to form a team of many neopros and newcomers. Our plan was to drive a good race as a team today and bring Rudi to the finals for the sprint. Unfortunately, the pace was just too fast for him on the last long climb. With our mountain and GC drivers, however, we didn't lose any time and we still have all the options for the next few days." - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

And here's the update from third-place Aleksandr Riabushenko's UAE-Team Emirates:

Aleksandr Riabushenko came tantalizingly close to his first victory of the season in a fast sprint finish on Stage 1 of the Tour of the Alps.

Riabushenko led the bunch sprint home as they closed in on the two escapees, Gianni Moscon (Ineos-Grenadiers) and Idar Andersen (Uno-X) in the flat closing meters of the hilly Stage 1 from Brixen to Innsbruck (140.6k).

Riabushenko: “When I saw the stage profile I knew that it suited me very well. I put everything into the final sprint but unfortunately there were two riders who we couldn’t bring back, though we came very close. I’m happy with the condition and will look for another opportunity this week.”

Tomorrow stage 2 continues from from Innsbruck to Feichten im Kaunertal (121.5k) with a mountain finish.

Team DSM's upcoming racing

The team sent me this schedule:

La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, APR 21

Bennie Lambregts - Team DSM coach:
“La Flèche Wallonne and its challenging Mur de Huy finish makes for a hard and interesting day in the saddle. Traditionally, the race comes back together for the final ascent but as we saw at Brabantse Pijl the right move with the right teams can get away. We want to be in the final with numbers so that we can once again race aggressively and show ourselves well at the head of the race, so that we can get another good result as a team.”

Line-up:
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Esmée Peperkamp (NED)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Julia Soek (NED)

La Flèche Wallonne, APR 21

Michiel Elijzen - Team DSM coach:
“We head to La Flèche Wallonne with a young and motivated group of guys, with Chad and Martijn able to offer their experience in tricky one day races and to help guide them, while Ilan will be racing on roads that he knows very well. Like we showed at Brabantse Pijl where Andreas took a brilliant top ten for us, we once again want to race aggressively here and be in any important breakaway that gets clear. If we can do that then we can potentially anticipate the final and the steep Mur de Huy finish.”

Chad Haga

Chad Haga (shown at the 2019 Giro d'Italia) will ride the Flèche Wallone. Sirotti photo

Line-up:
Thymen Arensman (NED)
Marco Brenner (GER)
Mark Donovan (GBR)
Chad Haga (USA)
Andreas Leknessund (NOR)
Martijn Tusveld (NED)
Ilan Van Wilder (BEL)

Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes, APR 25

Bennie Lambregts - Team DSM coach:
“Liège-Bastogne-Liège ends our Ardennes campaign and we arrive at the race with a lot of confidence in the team after our win at Scheldeprijs and attacking displays at Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race. We once again want to ride offensively here and reach the final of the race with as many riders in the front group as possible, so that we can use our numbers well and make sure that we're in any dangerous move that might go on to fight for the win.”

Line-up:
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Wilma Olausson (SWE)
Esmée Peperkamp (NED)

Liège-Bastogne-Liège, APR 25

Michiel Elijzen - Team DSM coach:
“We're looking forward to taking part at the third Monument of the year: Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It's a long and hard day in the saddle for the peloton, so we need to make sure we're switched on for the important key moments. We have a well balanced squad for the race with a mixture of youth and experience. We'll look to get as many guys deep into the final as possible and support Tiesj in search of a good result for the team.”

Line-up:
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Mark Donovan (GBR)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Andreas Leknessund (NOR)
Martijn Tusveld (NED)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)

Tour de Romandie, APR 27 - MAY 2

Marc Reef - Team DSM coach:
“Tour de Romandie is a beautiful race with good roads, nice scenery and hard stages. This year has another interesting parcours with two time trials, one mountain-top finish and three tricky stages in the hills and mountains. We have a nice mix of riders at the race where we will aim for good stage results every day as a group, with Chad acting as an experienced road captain for us.”

Line-up:
Thymen Arensman (NED)
Marco Brenner (GER)
Nico Denz (GER)
Felix Gall (AUT)
Chad Haga (USA)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Ilan Van Wilder (BEL)

Amstel Gold Race team reports:

We posted the report from winner Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team with the results.

Here's the report from third-place Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The course of the Amstel Gold Race, the opener of the Ardennes Week, underwent changes this year. 219 km, 38 climbs, and almost 2,800 meters of altitude on a circuit east of Maastricht awaited the riders today. Following the start in Valkenburg, a 10-man breakaway formed and was able to gain a lead of approximately 4 minutes over the peloton.

The race situation remained unchanged for quite some time until with 80 km remaining, BORA - hansgrohe joined in the chase and the gap to the leaders began to dwindle. Over the next laps, the peloton ramped up the speed, causing some riders to lose contact with the field.

With 50 km to the line, Maximilian Schachmann and Cesare Benedetti were involved in a crash, with Max re-joining the peloton a little later. On the penultimate lap, Ide Schelling then attacked and rode solo for several kilometres but was eventually caught on the first part of the final climb of the Cauberg. A few kilometres later the race exploded and Maximilian managed to make it into the first group. The German tried to attack from the leading trio with a little more than a kilometre left, but in the end was unable to shake off his opponents. In the final sprint in Berg en Terblijt, Van Aert prevailed in a photo finish ahead of Pidcock, while Max took 3rd place. Teammate Ide Schelling was awarded the most combative rider prize.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert (right) wins the 2021 Amstel Gold Race. Schachmann (center) was a close third. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"I knew that it would be very difficult in that group, because we were quite far out from the finish. I wanted to try something, of course, and I gave it a go with 1500m to the finish, because I believed that I had the best chance at that point. But unfortunately it didn't quite work out, because Van Aert immediately latched onto my rear wheel. Nevertheless, it was a very nice race, although it was a different feeling without spectators on the road. But I'm glad and grateful that we were able to race." - Maximilian Schachmann

"That was a super good performance by the entire team. We wanted to perform offensively in the finale and then finish it off with Max as the leader. We implemented this plan very well today. All the guys gave their best and we are very satisfied with his third place. Max tried to attack on the last kilometers, but he couldn't quite get rid of the other two riders, however, third place is a great result and a testimony of the strong work of the whole team." - Steffen Radochla, Sport Director

Here's the report from fourth-place Michael Matthews' Team BikeExchange:

Team BikeExchange came close to a podium finish for the second time today at Amstel Gold Race as Australian Michael Matthews fought to fourth place, taking the bunch kick behind the victorious breakaway.

A 10-rider group escaped on the opening lap, but the attackers were never allowed more than a five-minute lead over the peloton, with Team BikeExchange staying amassed around Matthews throughout. The squad were alert to the first moves of the day as Robert Stannard followed an attack over the Cauberg with 70km remaining as the race suddenly lit up.

Relentless attacks followed and saw the gap to the breakaway tumble with Colombian Esteban Chaves then pushing the pace over the next ascent of the Cauberg.

The remaining escapees were all finally reeled in as the pre-race favourites came to the fore on the final passage of the Cauberg with 17km remaining and the race exploded. Matthews was alert to the danger and followed the accelerations, grinding his way to the head of the race as the bell rung for the final lap.

The race winning move established after a flurry of attacks after the final finish line passage, and three riders managed to slip away from the newly formed group. Chaves attempted to galvanise the chasing group behind, however, despite the gap narrowing in sight of the line, the trio held on with Wout van Aert claiming the victory in a photo finish.

Matthews sprinted to fourth from the chase group, just two-seconds behind, giving the team their second fourth place finish of the day following on from Amanda Spratt’s effort in the morning.

Michael Matthews - 4th place:
“The race opened up a lot later than we thought. We thought it would be an aggressive race throughout, but with such a big breakaway group up the road there was no point opening it up too early.

"They were playing games and with three Ineos in the front it was hard to see which move was going to go, but then on the top of the second to last climb the three of them got away. We all kept believing it would come back, a fair few team missed it. It was up to us and a couple of other teams to try and bring it back, but we just fell short in the end.

"I gave it my best and I was fourth in the end and I think after crashing quite badly on Wednesday, this is not a bad result.

"We brought a strong team in with riders like Esteban to make sure we could cover those hard moves in the final there and he did a great job, the whole team did a great job today. They positioned me really well all day and gave me the best opportunity to win the race.

"I come here with a smile on my face every year and it is my dream to be on the top of the podium. I will continue to fight to try and get there and it will be even sweeter if I get there eventually.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“The boys executed the tactics very well today; I think we had nearly everything covered all day and great positioning in what was a very nervous circuit.

"We came here to win. It is a very competitive time of year and Michael did everything he could to be in that final selection but found himself a little bit outnumbered with Ineos riders in the end. After that we tried to bring it back with Esteban Chaves but it just wasn’t to be and in the end we won the sprint from the best of the rest.”

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