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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, April 21, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

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Tour of the Alps stage two team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Simon Yates' Team BikeExchange with the results.

The race organizer posted this report:

That’s the Tour of the Alps formula: short stages, climbs, elevation gain, show. From Innsbruck to Feichten im Kaunertal (121,5 km), that’s exactly what happened in stage 2 on April 20th, 2021.

The frantic pace from the start and the double punch to the Piller Sattel climb put everybody on the ropes but expressed a very clear outcome at the end of the effort in Feichten im Kaunertal: Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) is the man to beat for the Melinda leader’s jersey in Riva del Garda.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates enjoying his stage win. Sirotti photo

The BikeExchange Brit was clearly the strongest when the race was decided, on the ascent to Piller Sattel – Kaunergrat, the first Cat. 1 climb of this Tour of the Alps (7,5 km at 9,3% average), preceded by another Piller Sattel ascent from another slope, Gachenblick.

After the dig by Nairo Quintana’s Arkea-Samsic Team and two attacks from the Colombian Condor, Yates rose to the chair: five acceleration to get rid of everybody else with 1 km to the top and launch himself in the fast and technical descent and towards his first seasonal success.

“Today it was a perfect stage for my characteristics: short, fast and explosive. That’s why I am so happy to be here at the Tour of the Alps,” told Yates. “That’s the kind of race that I like, those in which I give my best, and the best testing ground in the build-up for the Giro d’Italia.”

“I knew I would be taking in plenty of strong rivals, so I can be very happy with my first seasonal win. Quintana, Sivakov and Carthy all looked strong on the Piller Sattel, but maybe spent a little too much energy too soon, and could not keep up when approaching the KOM.”

“Here at the Tour of the Alps it’s fast and aggressive every day,” Yates continued, “and that’s why I expect something to happen also tomorrow, though in a less insidious stage on cards. The fourth stage will present a different profile, with longer climbs: I don’t know yet what our tactics will be, but the race is certainly not closed yet.”

After leaving Innsbruck, a group made of Reuben Thompson (Groupama-FDJ), Janse Van Rensburg (Qhubeka-ASSOS), Mathias Vacek (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Morten Hulgaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling) and Felix Engelhardt (Tirol KTM Cycling Team) went clear and try to open a gap, but Gianni Moscon’s Ineos Grenadiers never conceded more than three minutes to them.

The leaders lost Van Rensburg on the ascent to Arzl im Pitztal, while the first time to Piller Sattel (Gachenblick, Cat. 2) left Bais and Thompson alone in the lead just before reaching the top.

The escapees were reeled in with 26 km to go, on the early ramps of Piller Sattel – Kaunergrat (7,5 km at 9,3%), under the huge pace made by Arkea-Samsic. Nairo Quintana broke the stalemate and made a first attack, and then with a second left only Carthy (EF-Education Nippo), Yates (Team BikeExchange) and Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers) on his wake.

Yates took over from there, with five attacks in the space of few kilometers to drop Carthy and Quintana first, and finally also Sivakov.

Passed over the top with a 15 second gap, Yates extended it in the following technical and fast descent. The 2018 Vuelta a Espana winner had 40 seconds at the foot of the final ascent to Feichten im Kaunertal, and managed to hold them until the finish, taking over both the Melinda green jersey and the best climber’s Gruppo Cassa Centrale light-blue jersey.

Behind him, Vlasov (Astana PremierTech), Cepeda (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Hindley (Team DSM) had managed to come back on the closest chasers, but in the end Sivakov found new energies to end in second place with a 41-second gap. Martin clinched the third place at 0:58, crossing the line along with Vlasov and Ecuadorian Cepeda, the new best youngster’s Wūrth Modyf white jersey. Austrian Engelhardt (Tirol KTM Cycling Team) held on the Intermediate Sprints PMG Sport red jersey.

Nairo Quintana suffered the earlier efforts and won’t be happy with his 1:42 gap, the same as Bardet (Team DSM). Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) suffered a heavy 12:11 gap, while Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up-Nation) came in at 14:19. Yesterday’s winner Moscon ended at 3:11 after enjoying his 27th birthday in the leader’s jersey.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, the riders will return in Italy with the third stage, from Imst (Tirol) to Naturns/Naturno (Südtirol), 162 km and nearly 3.000 meters of elevation gain between another run-up to Piller Sattel, the Reschenpass/Passo Resia, the tough and technical Frinig climb and the steep Frinig drag with 18 km to go, that might well prove decisive for the day’s outcome. The show has just begun.

Here's the report from second-place Pavel Sivakov's INEOS Grenadiers:

Pavel Sivakov put in a strong ride to finish in a solo second place on day two at the Tour of the Alps.

A short and mountainous day made for plenty of attacking racing, with Sivakov and the Grenadiers at the heart of the action.

Sivakov broke away on the Kaunergrat - Piller Sattel climb as part of an elite selection, but was unable to hold the wheel of Simon Yates when the Brit attacked with a kilometre to the summit.

A regrouping on the descent saw Sivakov rejoined by teammate Daniel Martinez, who put in a counter attack of his own. With Yates up the road, Sivakov set off solo in pursuit, finishing 41 seconds back, and now 45 seconds back on GC after time bonuses.

Pavel Sivakov

Pavel Sivakov finishes the second stage. Sirotti photo

The team had got through a lot of work early on, riding on the front in support of overnight leader and birthday boy Gianni Moscon. The Italian dug deep and finished 31st on the day, relinquishing the green jersey.

However in addition to Sivakov, Ivan Sosa and Martinez sit 13th and 16th respectively overall, with lots to play for in the remaining trio of stages.

Team DSM posted this stage two report:

The second stage at the Tour of the Alps saw the peloton take on a short but very testing 121 kilometre long parcours which featured three climbs in the second half of the day. As the bunch rolled out of Innsbruck a few probing attacks were made before a six rider breakaway got clear. With all Team DSM riders in the peloton, focus switched to conserving energy for the tough finale.

Leon Heinschke and Michael Storer did a good job of positioning the team going onto the two main climbs of the day and on the latter an infernal pace was set from the bottom. The peloton drastically whittled down on the steep slopes, with Jai Hindley and Romain Bardet riding prominently to the fore for the team. The strong pace continued and riders were on groups all over the road as they hit the summit, with Bardet and Hindley in the second chasing group on the road behind lone-leader Yates.

A brilliant descent from the Team DSM duo saw them bridge to the group ahead as they hit the flat valley road before the final climb to the line, where the attacks flew. Both Bardet and Hindley were active in trying to get a group clear and it was the latter who escaped in a group of five. They worked well together before more attacks were made on the steep slopes and their group split. Hindley dug deep and gave it his all on the way to the line, finishing in sixth place on the stage, while Bardet rode strongly in the group immediately behind and crossed the line in ninth place.

The double top ten on the stage for the team leaves them in a solid position for the coming days as the tough hills and mountains come thick and fast, with some more attacking racing expected.

“It was a short and pretty intense stage,” explained Hindley at the finish. “All the guys rode super well. The young guys Henri and Leon are doing a good job each day here, as is the rest of the team. Everyone did a good job to bring me and Romain as fresh as possible into the last categorised climb. It was just race-on up there, it was full gas. It was really nice to have Romain there to work together in numbers and he rode at a really nice tempo on the climb. We came down the descent and it was all back together. We could play off of having two guys there and we were jumping with the moves up the valley road. I went in a move that stayed away from the guys behind. In the end it was a pretty good day.”

Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “It was a solid performance from the guys today. We brought Romain and Jai into position in a good way, ready or the final. When it kicked off, we were there and active in the attacks which was good. I think when we reflect on today we wanted to go for a nice result and we did some good things there on the road so we can be satisfied with the performance.”

Dan Martin's Team Israel Start-Up Nation posted this Tour of the Alps report:

The Israel Start-Up Nation riders put on another strong performance in Tour of the Alps this Tuesday, as Dan Martin fought admirably to take third place on the difficult stage 2 of the race.

Dan Martin

Dan Martin finishes stage two. Sirotti photo

With a length of only 121.5 km but nearly 3,000 meters of climbing to overcome, it was clear to everyone that this stage was going to be a challenging day in the saddle for the riders.

As expected, a small breakaway got away early on the stage. However, the peloton never let the group get a gap of more than three minutes and as the riders started on the penultimate climb of the day, it all came back together again.

The pre-race favorites attacked as soon as the race hit the steep slopes of the ascent. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) ended up soloing away, while Martin did well to manage his effort intelligently, which allowed him to come back to the main chase group and fight for the podium.

Ultimately, Martin took third place, which is also his position in the general classification. Alessandro De Marchi is second in the KOM classification, but will wear the blue jersey again tomorrow as the leader, Yates, also leads the race overall.

Dan Martin: “Today was a good test for me. I suffered a bit at the bottom of the final climb and got dropped but I stayed focused and did a big effort to move up. On the last climb, it was really aggressive with multiple attacks. I felt quite good at that moment and I made another big effort to go across to a strong group that was chasing Yates. Sivakov then went away with five kilometers to go and we just kept going full gas to the finish to get the best result possible. There is still a long time to the Giro and today was definitely a good sign ahead that. I’m quite satisfied with how it went today.”

Team Deceuninck-Quick Step headed to La Flèche Wallone

Here's the team's update:

After nine years, Flèche Wallonne returns to its traditional start point, Charleroi, for the 85th edition taking place this week. The 194km route will take in twelve climbs, including three ascents of the iconic Mur de Huy (1.3km, 9.7%), and even though it’s likely the winner will emerge again on the punishing slopes of the day’s last hill, attacks could come earlier as shown by what happened at the recent editions.

One of the only five riders in history to have racked up consecutive wins at Flèche Wallonne, Julian Alaphilippe will continue his spring campaign at the Belgian Classic, where he finished on the podium at all his four previous participations. Mauri Vansevenant, who last year impressed at his debut there, joining the breakaway and staying at the front until with four kilometers to go, will also be in action, three days after impressing everyone with the tenacious ride he produced at Amstel Gold Race.

Julian Alaphillipe winning La Flèche Wallone for a second time in 2019. That's Jakob Fuglsang in the Astana kit getting second. Sirotti photo

Joining them on Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s line-up for the penultimate World Tour one-day race of the spring will be Mattia Cattaneo, Josef Cerny, Dries Devenyns, Mikkel Honoré and James Knox.

“We have a solid line-up for Flèche Wallonne, a race where the team proved in the past that it can do very well, with Julian – who won or was always up there at all his participations – and Mauri, who we all remember what an impressive debut he had last year. It’s a strong field at the start, containing many riders who’ll want to get a good result, so it won’t be easy. As was the case in the past, everything should be decided the last time up the Mur de Huy, although attacks could come earlier, on the local laps, meaning we need to be focused and pay attention to these moves”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Klaas Lodewyck.

Vincenzo Nibali fitted with carbon wrist brace

Here's the update from Nibali's Trek-Segafredo team:

Vincenzo has taken a new step in his recovery path six days after he fractured the radius of his right wrist in a training accident. With the hope to be at the start of the Giro d’Italia on May 8, the staff at the Fisiology Center in Forlì, led by Fabrizio Borra, designed and developed a carbon brace for Nibali. Nibali was fitted with the new brace Monday.

Vincenzo Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali won the Giro d'Italia for a second time in 2016. Sirotti photo

Trek-Segafredo physician Emilio Magni: “The brace was modeled on the grip between the hand and the handlebar to allow Nibali to ride the bike. This is the aspect at the center of our evaluation to understand the real possibilities of Vincenzo to face competition in safety.

“On Thursday is scheduled a visit with the surgeon who operated on him, Dr Tami, who will remove the stitches and give a medical feedback one week after surgery. We have also scheduled an X-ray to better understand how the recomposition of the fracture is progressing.

“After an initial approach, the physiotherapy work on the hand now enters into full swing. The goal is to recover the best function of the limb. The daily work of drainage continues on the upper part of the wrist where, during the operation, it was necessary to enter for arthroscopy.

“After Thursday’s visit, we will be able to think about the next step, which is to allow Vincenzo to train consistently on his home trainer and then on the road. It will be a gradual process that, in addition to the medical indication, will take into high consideration the feelings of the rider. I think it is still premature to hypothesize a timing for the decision on Vincenzo’s presence at the Giro. We continue to have hope and to do the impossible to succeed, but the road is still uphill.”

Philippe Gilbert returns to competition at Flèche Wallone after short break

Gilbert's Lotto-Soudal team posted this update:

After a short break, Philippe Gilbert resumes competition. The Lotto Soudal rider will be at the start of La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, two races he won back in 2011. Gilbert is eager to pin on a number again during ‘his’ Ardennes Classics.

“Following several days without the bike, I was able to train well and I am really happy to be at the start of La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I needed a short period of rest, but now I am ready to race again on the highest level”, begins Philippe Gilbert. “It’s nice to be back with the team and I am really looking forward to be racing again. Unfortunately, a crash slightly disrupted my preparation. During a solo training ride, I crashed on a descent. Luckily without any major consequences, except for quite a few abrasions. I also had to adapt my training plans a little. Still, I was able to do some six plus hours, which will have a positive effect on my shape.”

Exactly ten years ago, Philippe Gilbert won La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. This year, the Lotto Soudal rider primarily wants to have fun at the Ardennes Classics and take the opportunities as they come.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert winning Flèche Wallone in 2011. Sirotti photo

Philippe Gilbert: “Of course, I had quite an unusual run-up to the Ardennes Classics this year. Due to the short break, it’s difficult to say where I am, shape-wise, compared to the other riders. But I don’t fear these races are coming a little too soon. I am definitely not amongst the favourites, so there’s no pressure to perform. However, I am really eager to race. What concerns my ambitions, I am cautious. Let’s just go for the best result possible.”

Often, La Flèche Wallonne is decided with a showdown between the favourites on the final ascent of the feared Mur de Huy. But when everything falls into place, the race can have an unusual ending, says Philippe Gilbert: “There isn’t one clear favourite this year, which will make for an open race. I expect that quite some teams will want to anticipate. When you have the right composition, a small group could make it till the very end. But for that, you need at least 40 seconds at the foot of the Mur. Also at Lotto Soudal, we have to anticipate and race aggressively. In the past, Rik Verbrugghe and our sports director Mario Aerts have shown that it isn’t a mission impossible to win from a breakaway.”

“However, there aren’t much tactics involved when climbing the Mur de Huy. It is one of the toughest finishes of the season and certainly an honest climb. The one who is able to suffer the most, wins La Flèche Wallonne”, concludes Philippe Gilbert.

Line-up Lotto Soudal La Flèche Wallonne: Philippe Gilbert, Sébastien Grignard, Tomasz Marczyński, Sylvain Moniquet, Stefano Oldani, Tosh Van der Sande and Tim Wellens.

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