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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 24, 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 final reports

We posted the report from stage winner Felix Großschartner's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results.

Here's the race organizer's report:

Simon Yates is the winner of the 2021 Tour of the Alps. The leader of Team BikeExchange stamped his authority on a race full of top-class contenders through Tirol, Südtirol and Trentino, embellished by 13 World Teams at the start and many of the most expected riders for the upcoming Giro d’Italia.

Yates’s success was built on his emphatic success in stage 2, from Innsbruck to Feichten im Kaunertal, and then he went on to finish in the wake at Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) in the awaited fourth stage from Naturns/Naturno to Valle del Chiese / Pieve di Bono, and finally kept things under control with his teammates in the last effort, the fifth stage from Valle del Chiese / Idroland to Riva del Garda (120,9 km), entirely run in Trentino.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates winning stage two. Sirotti photo

Stepping on the podium with the 28-year-old Briton, the first overall winner to wear the new Melinda green jersey, were Spaniard Pello Bilbao, second at 58 seconds, and Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-PremierTech), third at 1:04. Congratulating the riders on the podium was the President of the Autonomous Province of Trento Maurizio Fugatti; also in attendance in Riva del Garda where the President of the European Cycling Union Enrico della Casa, the President of the Italian Cycling Federation Cordiano Dagnoni, the Italian Federal Councilor Gianantonio Crisafulli and the CEO of Trentino Marketing Maurizio Rossini.

Even the last stage of an eventful edition delivered an entertaining show: the winner was Felix Großschartner of Team Bora-Hansgrohe, the first Austrian capable of taking a stage success since the advent of the Tour of the Alps in 2017.

Großschartner presented himself alone at the finish line in Riva del Garda, after having emerged from a numerous breakaway started after 25 km on the Selle Giudicarie ascent. The action was started by Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) quickly joined by teammate Daniel Martin, Matteo Fabbro and Felix Großschartner (Bora-hansgrohe), Tejay Van Garderen (EF Education- Nippo), Tony Gallopin, François Bidard (Ag2r-Citroen), Michael Storer and Nicolas Roche (Team DSM), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Vadim Pronskiy (Astana-PremierTech), Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Victorious), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Ivan Ramiro Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers), Georg Steinhauser (Tirol-KTM) and Callum Scotson (BikeExchange).

The group led by Team BikeExchange remained constantly in control, always keeping the margin under 2 minutes and 30 seconds. In the final circuit, featuring the ramps of the Tenno climb and the subsequent fast descent towards Riva del Garda, to be repeated twice, Großschartner placed the right shot right at the start of the final lap, chased at a distance by De Marchi and Roche. However, no one was able to bring back the Austrian, who raised his arms.

34 seconds on the Roche-De Marchi duo and 40 seconds on the group led by Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers), fourth, and featuring all the top GC performers, including Simon Yates’ green jersey.

“We knew it could have been a stage for me, and already last night with the team we had decided to try to go for it,” said Großschartner. “I had been showing off during the last days, but the legs weren’t feeling as good as today. It’s a valuable victory, achieved ahead of plenty of strong riders, and I want to dedicate it to my uncle, who passed away last year: he was my biggest fan, and today I know I would have made him happy. For the Austrians, the Tour of the Alps is a great opportunity to race at the highest levels on home roads, something that doesn’t happen every day. It’s nice to race one of the most important – and tough – one-week races in front of your fans.”

Next on for Großschartner will be the Giro d’Italia, as for Simon Yates, who returns from the Tour of the Alps with a green jersey in his suitcase and full of confidence for the pink challenge. “I am very happy with this result, and with my and the team’s performance. There’s never an easy stage at the Tour of the Alps, but today it was mostly about staying alert and avoid any inconvenience. The Tour of the Alps has confirmed that we did a good job in preparation for the Giro: tomorrow I will go on recognition on the Sega di Ala finish, and then I will take a few days to recover and get to Turin in the best possible condition.”

“I have had a fantastic week at the Tour of the Alps, filled with incredible landscapes and views. I hope to be back soon, and not just as a rider,” concluded Yates.

Taking the other race’s classifications were Alessandro de Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation), winner of the KOM Gruppo Cassa Centrale light-blue jersey, Jefferson Cepeda (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), owner of the best youngster’s Würth Modyf white jersey, and Felix Engelhardt, winner of the Intermediate Sprints’ PMG Sport red jersey.

The beautiful sun of Riva del Garda warmed the last effort of this edition, in which the GS Alto Garda organizing company has managed to deliver a high-level race despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for a race involving two nations. The success of the 2021 Tour of the Alps rewards two years of hard work before returning on the road, after the forced stop of 2020, with appreciation coming also from the riders and the attending media. The Tour of the Alps is back and now can look forward. Or better, Uphill, as its mantra says.

Here's the report from winner Simon Yates' Team BikeExchange:

Briton Simon Yates delivered Team BikeExchange the overall victory at Tour of the Alps today, dominating the mountainous five-day race from start to finish, showing impressive form ahead of his main goal of the season next month, the Giro d’Italia.

The 28-year-old secured the overall title in style, by claiming the Queen stage victory on day two, followed by another top performance on yesterday’s stage, accelerating on the final climb with only one other rider able to follow.

Today’s final, short but hilly 120km day was all about keeping Yates safe. Team BikeExchange controlled the stage once again, originally putting Callum Scotson in the early breakaway, before guiding Yates to the finish line in the main front group just 40 seconds behind the solo stage winner Felix Großschartner.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates just after finishing the final stage. Sirotti photo

Simon Yates – 2021 Tour of the Alps Winner:
“I am really happy it was a fantastic result, the guys did an amazing job, not just today but all week and we really gelled as a team. They controlled at the start then rode all day and in the final they were fantastic again.

"It was a short day and there wasn’t much action for the general classification, but it was still a hard day with a lot of stress in the peloton and with the fast descent here to the finish, it was always nervous.

"I feel good, now we just need to look after ourselves, try not to get sick, try not to get injured and try to arrive to the Giro d’Italia in the best possible shape.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“In the end it was a very successful week for the team. We came here with the primary goal to go through the process to get ready as a team for our major goal of the Giro d’Italia next month and I think we ticked a lot of boxes.

"Obviously winning the race was the objective but also to bring this group of riders together and it worked very well. It gives us great confidence going into the Giro and we have some fresh faces and old hands coming in.

"For those guys to have worked together in this environment this week in Italy with our leader and with the success we have had, it has been a great boost for us.”

Third-place Aleksandr Vlasov's Astana-Premier Tech team posted this report:

The final day of racing at Tour of the Alps saw Aleksandr Vlasov secure third place overall after five tough days in the mountains, in what was his final race before the Giro d’Italia.

Final podium

The final GC podium, from left: Pello Bilbao (2nd), Simon Yates (1st) & Aleksandr Vlasov (3rd)

Astana – Premier Tech’s Russian leader showed strong form day after day, finishing second and fourth on two occasions, to round out the General Classification podium, 1’06” behind winner Simon Yates. Vlasov takes confidence from the result, following his second place overall at Paris-Nice, and a top ten finish at Tour de la Provence, so far this season.

“I think I had a very good week at the Tour of the Alps, and these five days were really important for the Giro d’Italia. The race was very difficult, every day we had to give our best to stay in front and to fight for a good result, but from the point of view of the preparation, you can’t think of a better race. The main goal at the Tour of the Alps was to finish my preparation for the Giro, but at the same time I am very happy that I was able to finish the race on the podium in the overall standings.

"This result gives me additional motivation and confidence in myself before the main start of the season. The Giro is only two weeks away and I will try to use this time in the best possible way to get ready. A special thanks to all the team, the guys showed themselves superbly at this race, providing me with excellent support, ” said Aleksandr Vlasov.

The fifth and final stage was almost all climbing and descending after a flat first 20 kilometres, at which point the breakaway of the day, featuring Vadim Pronskiy, was able to go clear as the road began to rise.

As was the case in all of the stages, the peloton controlled the breakaway and began to bring them back in the second half of the stage. On the category two Lago di Tenno climb, Fabio Felline launched an attack and towards the summit, Luis Leon Sanchez increased the pace with Vlasov in his wheel but the group remained together over the summit.

A crash involving Harold Tejada and Fabio Felline occurred inside 20 kilometres to go and disrupted the bunch but fortunately, both riders escaped without any major injuries. At the end of the day, Felix Grossschartner was able to hang on and win solo from the breakaway while behind, Sanchez was Astana – Premier Tech’s first rider across the line in seventh place in the same group as Vlasov and the rest of the GC riders.

Team Qhubeka-Assos' line-up for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

The team sent me this announcement:

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, April 23, 2021/ -- Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the oldest of the cycling monuments, is set to take place this Sunday in the Ardennes region of Belgium. Team Qhubeka ASSOS will line-up at the UCI World Tour classic with an experienced group of climbers.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege dates to 1892, with this year seeing the 107th running of the event. Covering a distance of 259km, the route includes a number of cycling famous climbs, like Cote de La Redoute and Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons among others, making this a monument of cycling for the climbing specialists.

While the first 160km of the race is by no means flat, the majority of the notable climbs do come in the final 100km of the race, making La Doyenne (The old lady), one of the most arduous single day bike races in the world.

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru climbing in the 2019 Tour of Switzerland.

Team Qhubeka ASSOS will be counting on its experienced quartet of climbers, Domenico Pozzovivo, Sergio Henao, Fabio Aru and Simon Clarke, who will be supported by Sander Armee, Robert Power and Sean Bennett, to deliver a top result for the team on Sunday.

Aart Vierhouten - Sport Director:
"Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the oldest, and if the sun shines, one of the most beautiful classics in the world. It is also one of the hardest. Taking on a climb such as Col de La Redoute with already 220km in the legs requires a unique kind of strength to be successful".

"Sergio and Domenico have both previously achieved top 10 results here and Simon also has a lot of experience at this race. So, we have the quality of depth and experience together with some younger guys, and the excitement of Fabio Aru who will be racing his first "La Doyenne". This gives us a good balance to take on the race with positive ambitions."

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