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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, April 29, 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.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. - Dalai Lama

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Tour de Romandie stage one team reports

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

Here's the report from GC leader Rohan Dennis' INEOS Grenadiers team:

Rohan Dennis kept hold of the leader's yellow jersey at the Tour de Romandie as the Grenadiers controlled the action on stage one.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis remains in yellow. Getty Sport Images

The team retained their early grip on the GC, with Dennis, Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte holding the top three places overall in Switzerland.

With a repeated loop of climbs, the riders set a solid tempo on the front, working together to keep the day's breakaway in check. Eddie Dunbar, Andrey Amador, Owain Doull and Filippo Ganna all put in shifts, before other teams took up the pace setting in the final 15km.

A bunch sprint won by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) ensured it was a largely unchanged GC ahead of tougher stages to come.

Rohan Dennis:
"We just rode a good tempo and we made sure the breakaway was within distance so the sprinter teams could come up and help later in the stage.

"Tomorrow will be more complicated but we’ll see what the legs can do. If I go down I’ll go down swinging, but we’ve got two guys who can climb with the best in the world, so it’s no stress for me.

"We’ll see how tomorrow goes first and Saturday is going to be a pretty decisive day. In the end my head is saying that I’m here if the guys need me to ride on the front, even with this jersey."

Rémi Cagavagna's Deceuninck-Quick Step team posted this report:

Fourth in Tuesday’s prologue, Rémi Cavagna was one of the main animators of Tour de Romandie stage 1, launching a powerful attack with 17 kilometers to go, despite the strong headwind and the long, straight roads to Martigny, the capital of the homonymous canton which this century was visited also by the Tour de France on several occasions.

Remi Cavagna

Deceuninck-Quick Step's Mattia Cattaneo was 9th in the day's sprint.

The Frenchman was caught by the peloton, but soon after he went again, this time bringing three riders with him, including teammate Mattia Cattaneo. With the other two members of the move not contributing to the tempo, it was the Deceuninck – Quick-Step duo who delivered an impressive effort that helped the group take an advantage of 15 seconds over the reduced peloton. The lack of collaboration allowed the chasers to catch the quartet and the stage ended in a bunch sprint, where Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) took the win and Mattia Cattaneo still had enough left to come home in ninth position.

The 30-year-old Italian sits tenth overall ahead of the tough stage 2, which will feature a first-category climb inside the last 20 kilometers before the fast descent to Saint-Imier.

4th-place Andrea Pasqualon's Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team posted this race report:

After yesterday's prologue, it was time for the first stage of Tour de Romandie. The riders rode 168 kilometers between Aigle, home to the UCI, and Martigny, where the organization had mapped out a local tour with two climbs: Produit (2.6 km, 7.2%) and Chamoson (2.1 km, 6.2%). The riders had to tackle these ascents four times each. After the last climb of the Chamoson, another 22 flat kilometers led them to the finish line in Martigny.

Today’s stage had a fairly traditional scenario. Six riders were in front all day but their attempt didn’t work out as they wished. The last one of them was caught a little more than twenty kilometers from the finish line. That’s when a group of eighty riders prepared themselves for a sprint in the area where the world championships of last year were supposed to take place.

With four riders we were well presented in that group. Jan Bakelants, Andrea Pasqualon, Simone Petilli, Rein Taaramäe and Louis Meintjeswere still there. On wet roads, our fast man Pasqualon was well positioned by his Intermarché-Wanty Gobert Matériaux teammates. He did a great job in the sprint and took the fourth place.  Peter Sagan (Bora) won, Rohan Dennis (Ineos) remains the leader in the general classification.

Peter Sagan

Andrea Pasqualon is second from the left. Bettini photo

Tomorrow's stage is 165 kilometers from La Neuveville to Saint-Imier. Especially the second part of the stage promises to be difficult. Two sturdy hills await there. With just under fifty kilometers to go, it’s time for Les Pontins (4.1 km at 8.4%). After the descent and a short valley follows La Vue-des-Alpes (7.8 kilometers at 6.7%). This is followed by another seventeen kilometers, mainly descending, until the arrival in Saint-Imier.

Andrea Pasqualon:
"Even if the profile seemed favorable for a sprint, there was 2000 meters of elevation and it was a very hard stage. I benefited from the team's help throughout the stage, and thanks to the work that we did during 20 days in Sierra Nevada, I could deal with the accumulation of climbing. I still felt strong in the final, Jan (Bakelants), Simone (Petilli) and Rein (Taaramäe) ideally placed me in Sagan's wheel. I am happy with this fourth place, behind riders who come out of the classics and have a better race rhythm. Happy also because I know I'm not at the peak of my sprinting after the altitude training, where I mainly worked on resistance and climbs. But I feel that we are ready and strong collectively on this Tour de Romandie."

Hilaire Van der Schueren (directeur sportif):
“It was a very good day for us. Not only because Andrea Pasqualon sprints to a fine fourth place, but also because we had five riders in the first group. All the guys we expected to be in a group like this, were there. And although most of them were climbers, they did not hesitate to help Andrea for the sprint. That's how we roll as a team, we help each other where we can. Today's stage was not to be underestimated, especially if all of our riders joined from an altitude training camp. So I am very satisfied with the performances that I have seen today, and it's a good sign for things to come." 

Here's the Team DSM Tour de Romandie stage 1 report:

The first open road stage of the Tour de Romandie saw the bunch take on a 168 kilometre route from Aigle to Martigny this afternoon, which featured a large circuit and two short but sharp climbs. After a few early probing attacks, a breakaway of six riders was able to form out front in the opening ten kilometres with Thymen Arensman riding strongly to make the move, while the rest of the team stayed safe in the bunch.

Arensman’s group worked well together and initially built up an advantage of almost six minutes but the peloton soon started to pace and their gap diminished. Approaching the final double-header of climbs, the peloton had the breakaway within their sights but a defiant Arensman showed fighting spirit, attacking his breakaway companions and going clear solo. Riding strongly, he held off a charging peloton over the two ascents but was caught just as the reduced bunch hit the final descent.

Heading into the finale there were a few attacks but a headwind saw the stage finish in a reduced sprint, with Chad Haga leading the team home after Arensman’s ride in the breakaway.

“Today we had a good plan, everyone was really committed to try and go for a sprint with Nico,” explained Arensman. “We wanted to make the race hard to get a big break, with someone in there, so the bunch had to go fast on the climbs. In the end I was in there with some other strong guys, so that was goal accomplished. It was a nice break and we got a good gap. We pushed on the climbs, but because we had a big gap the peloton chased fast and it was really hard the last time up the climbs. Nico really tried and the guys really committed to position him and work together, but he just didn’t make it in the first group. I tried my best to keep the break going and make the race as hard as possible. I managed to test my legs on the last two climbs and tried my luck, testing myself for the coming days. If I see how the team was committed to our goal today, it shows great signs for the rest of the week. Everyone is committed and feeling good, so we’ll keep going for it.”

Team DSM coach Marc Reef added: “It was a hilly day in Romandie. We had the goal to get into the break to make the race somewhat harder so that the real sprinters wouldn’t survive and we could go for Nico at the end. Thymen did well to get in a six man group where the bunch needed to chase them hard. After a good ride out front, he got caught back on top of the last climb, where Nico unfortunately wasn’t able to follow in the group. Chad, Chris, Ilan and Thymen were in the peloton for us with the stage decided in a reduced sprint.”

Hugh Carthy extends with EF Education-Nippo

Here’s the team’s announcement:

EF Education–NIPPO is proud to announce the re-signing of Hugh Carthy.

“I chose to stay at EF simply because the team feels right,” said Carthy. “We’re a weird mix of riders but we form a team. When it feels right, staying seems the only logical option. I’ve had some nice memories and made good friends here amongst riders and staff. I want to continue on this journey and play my part in the team’s great legacy.”

Since he joined our ranks, the young Brit has steadily progressed, with last season’s third-place overall at the Vuelta a España and stage win on the fabled Alto de L'Angliru brilliant highlights.

High Carthy

Hugh Carthy wins 2020 Vuelta stage 12. Sirotti photo

“Over the past few seasons he has really blossomed as a climber and has become a leader in this team as well. We are excited to have Hugh Carthy be part of the future of this team,” Vaughters said. “Hugh represents this team’s foundational values. He works hard, isn’t scared to punch above his weight, and, most importantly, he stays true to himself. We knew his work ethic would pay off, and we’re just glad people are starting to notice.”

The 2019 campaign was Carthy’s breakout. After starting the year with a third-place finish on the general classification at the Tour Cycliste International du Haut Var, Carthy continued to impress with a standout performance at the Giro d’Italia, where he was regularly seen setting a rapid tempo at the front and finished 11th overall.

A man of few words, Hugh usually lets his legs do the talking. His first career victory was taken in style on the queen stage of the 2019 Tour de Suisse. Carthy rode 98 kilometers solo over three of Switzerland's most iconic mountain passes on a blisteringly hot day before crossing the line more than a minute ahead of his closest competitors. If you hadn’t noticed him before then, he certainly made sure the cycling world knew his name that day. On the bike, he has a flair for the dramatic.

After a crash at the Vuelta a España later that year slightly dampened his otherwise stellar season, Carthy entered 2020 set on doing more of the same, which for him meant more expressive pain faces and gutsy attacks on some of cycling's hardest climbs.

At his maiden Tour de France last year, the Brit showed he could be a trusted teammate no matter the situation. From setting the pace for Rigo on the climbs to launching the decisive break for Dani Martínez before his stage 13 win, he showed he was always there when it mattered.

But the Vuelta a España was his time to shine. After a strong start to the race where he showed he could ride with the best, Hugh went on to win a stage on the summit finish atop the infamous Alto de L'Angliru, a climb known for its leg-breaking length and steep gradients. He would wrap up a brilliant three week performance with a third place finish in the general classification, a clear sign that he could be in the mix over a three-week race.

“My favorite memory with the team must have been the Vuelta 2020,” said Carthy. “The team really knitted together those three weeks and was the best team performance I’ve witnessed here.”

Off the bike, Hugh has earned a reputation among his teammates for always being quick with a joke. He’s also known for always carrying a book around. Biographies of some of his favorite athletes – most of whom are snooker players, boxers or darts professionals.

An eternal rationalist, one doesn’t need to spend a lot of time with Hugh to get the sense that he doesn’t speak unless he has thought about what he was going to say thoroughly, balancing each side of the equation.

On the topic of how hard three-week long races are for example, Carthy said: “I’ve been in Grand Tours before where you settle into survival mode and the whole thing drags, so a few years ago I said no more survival mode, take every day as it comes, enjoy every stage and then it passes a lot quicker.”

Carthy, who has spent most of his pro career in Spain and Andorra, has impressed over the past few seasons with the team. He has quietly and consistently racked up big performances in cycling's biggest races and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for Hugh.

“I’m looking forward to trying to lead the team to success and have fun doing it,” concluded Carthy. “Not just focus on being good bike riders but good people, too.”

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