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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 9, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

Only the brave know how to forgive; it is the most refined and generous pitch of virtue human nature can arrive at. - Laurence Sterne

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Arctic Race of Norway final reports

We posted the organizer's stage four summary with the results.

Here's the report from GC winner Ben Herman's Israel Start-Up Nation team:

Israel Start-Up Nation took its 14th victory of the season as Ben Hermans secured the overall win in Arctic Race of Norway after a nail-biting finish on the final day.

Ben Hermans

Ben Hermans wins stage three.

Starting out the stage with a gap of just four seconds down to the second place, nothing was settled before the riders would cross the finishing line for the final time in Harstad.

Early on the stage, a strong group of riders managed to distance the peloton and that scenario suited the ISN riders perfectly. With a breakaway up the road, the bonus seconds – which could put Hermans’ overall lead in jeopardy – would be taken out of the equation.

The main priority was to keep the overall lead and the team made sure to keep Hermans in a good position throughout the entire the stage.

As the peloton took on the last ascent towards the finishing line, it was certain that the break would make it all the way and take the bonus seconds. Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché – Wanty), who was second in the GC, attacked on the final part but Hermans dug deep to stay with the other favorites to ultimately seal the overall victory with a margin of just two seconds.

Today’s victory is also the first overall stage race win for Israel Start-Up Nation this season.

Ben Hermans: ”The last 500 meters were very steep and explosive and that’s not really my specialty but I still managed to finish at the front. It was a close call though. I expected that Eiking would attack at the end but I thought I could follow him. However, he went hard and I started to panic a little when he got a small gap. I was nervous after crossing the line until I got the confirmation. I’m really happy for my teammates. They all did such a good job again today. I’m so happy that all their hard work wasn’t for nothing.”

Sports director, Nicki Sørensen: “It went all the way down to the wire today. We knew that the other teams would need to put us under pressure early in the stage if they wanted to move up in the GC and they really tried to do so on the long climb at the beginning. However, our guys were ready and they did very well to close down all the dangerous moves.

“In the end, the breakaway made it and that was really good for us as Eiking had a good day and won the sprint in the group of favorites and took two seconds back on Ben. It was a close one but that also just makes the victory even sweeter.”

Here's the report from Team Bora-hansgrohe:

Six classified climbs awaited the riders on the 164km long final stage between Gratangen and Harstad before they were to complete three laps around the finish. The race was dominated by a strong 9-man breakaway group and although BORA-hansgrohe, Uno X and Israel Start Up Nation tried to control the gap in time, their attempts eventually had to remain unsuccessful. 

A duo, who managed to distance themselves from the leading group, were ultimately able to fight it out for the stage win. The winner of the fourth and final stage was Philipp Walsleben, while Ben Hermans took the general classification. BORA- hansgrohe finished the Arctic Race of Norway with a stage win by Martin Laas on the second day of racing.

Philipp Walsleben

Philipp Walsleben wins stage four.

From the Finish Line:
"Right at the beginning we had a long ascent and we wanted to be in the first larger group with our sprinters. Before the climb, a strong 9-man group broke clear, but we let Erik, Juraj and Schilli set the tempo accordingly in order to keep the gap ahead of the finish lap as small as possible. The laps also contained some climbs that were unfortunately too hard and steep for Rudi and Martin, and so they were unable to ride up front. But it was not about the victory today for the peloton, with two riders from the leading group having ultimately decided the day's victory between themselves. In the end, our riders did their best this week. We were without a GC rider here due to illness, and so without Frederik it wasn't possible to achieve more in the general classification, but it was great that Martin was able to win a stage, which was also definitely good preparation for him in the lead-up to the Vuelta." - Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

Team Jumbo-Visma headed to Tours of Poland and Denmark

Here’s the team’s update:

August has started and that means it’s time for the Tour of Poland. The riders of Team Jumbo-Visma will be chasing day victories in the Polish stage race.

The 78th edition of the Tour de Pologne has a varied course. On paper the first stage is one for punchers and sprinters. The peloton will then have four days of hilly and mountainous stages. The fifth stage is the toughest, containing three first category cols and an uphill finish. On the penultimate day there is an 18-kilometre time trial, after which the Tour ends with a flat stage to Kraków.

Sports director Arthur van Dongen has a clear race plan in mind. “We think there are some great chances for a bunch sprint. We would like to sprint with David Dekker and Olav Kooij. With Jos van Emden, Christoph Pfingsten and Pascal Eenkhoorn we have experience in the group to form a good sprint train and lead-out. New in this race is the time trial which should suit Jos very well. George Bennett, Pascal Eenkhoorn and Antwan Tolhoek can go for day successes in the hill stages.”

George Bennett

George Bennett will ride the Tour of Poland. Sirotti photo

Line-up Tour de Pologne (9-15 August)

Tour of Denmark:
The Tour of Denmark begins one day after the start of the Tour of Poland. The course is characterised by many hilly kilometres and also offers opportunities for sprinters. The classification will be decided on the last day with a 10.8 km time trial. Team Jumbo-Visma will be built around Dylan Groenewegen and Mike Teunissen in Denmark. For Edoardo Affini there are chances in the time trial. Tim van Dijke and Rick Pluimers join from the Jumbo-Visma Development Team.

Line-up PostNord Danmark Rundt (10-14 August)

Team Bahrain Victorious to ride Tour of Poland

Here's the team's news:

The 78th edition of Tour of Poland will run from August 9th to 15th. This is the first World Tour stage race following the Tour de France, which will overlap with the 3rd Grand Tour – La Vuelta.

The race kicks off in Lubin, a first for the race the World Tour. Stage one is expected to be a spring finish, while stage 3 is expected to be another chance for the fast men with the team looking towards Phil Bauhaus. Stages 2 and 4 are more suited to punchy riders, such as Matej Mohoric who has proven his strength in the breakaway at the Tour de France. The fifth stage is the Queen stage where the GC contenders will battle it out on the 9-kilometre long Krowiarka Pass, the highest point of this year’s race. Stage 6 will settle the winner of the race in a time trial before a flat stage finishing in Krakow for the sprinter.

Matej Mohoric

Matej Mohoric wins stage 19 of the 2021 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Lead Sports Director Tim Harris: ”Bahrain-Victorious will be taking a very strong team to the Tour of Poland with two recent Tour de France stage winners, Matej Mohoric and Dylan Teuns. We hope to be competitive across the board in this prestigious world tour event. In the sprint stages, we will be looking for  Phil Bauhaus to increase his impressive tally of wins this season and in the more hilly and mountainous stages we will be aiming for good results with Dylan Teuns and Matej Mohoric”

Rolf Aldag, Sports Director talked more about the race: “I found this really interesting and an exciting race, Tour of Poland this year could be a race of seconds. The bonus seconds at the finish line will be crucial, as in my opinion there will be no big gaps in GC between contenders. This will make the race interesting as many more riders will be contending for the top spots, and it will be harder to control the race. We also have two riders “in the game” – Dylan Teuns and Matej Mohoric. They both are good time trialists and will be able to defend that game of seconds I mentioned earlier. Riders will have to be sharp from the km 0, they can’t just sit in the peloton and risk splits in the peloton, which would make them lose 20 seconds and take them out of the GC contention. With Phil Bauhaus, we do have someone that, I believe, is able to beat anybody in sprint stages. We will support him with Sieberg, Haussler and Mohoric. At least those guys will be in the final with him, and if he has legs that he has shown already this season, then I’m pretty sure he’s in the mix for a stage win.”

To sum it up, we are up for sprint stages with Phil Bauhaus, we are up for hilly stages and we’ll try to win stages with Dylan Teuns and Matej Mohoric, we do have a chance to give Kevin Inkelaar and Eros Capecchi the opportunity to get into early and long breakaways, and last but not least we focus on the General Classification with Dylan and Matej and should have pretty good chance there.

Matej Mohoric: “Tour of Poland is coming up straight after a successful weekend in San Sebastian and Gexto. My condition is still good after the Tour and I hope for another good race in Poland. It will serve me as a preparation for the World Championship in September. I will try to get a good result, and also help out my teammates. We do have a strong team for Poland with Bauhaus for the sprints and Teuns for GC.”

UAE Team Emirates signs Marc Soler

Here’s the team’s press release:

UAE Team Emirates continue to strengthen their squad for the future with the signing of Marc Soler who will join the team starting from 2022.

The 27-year old from Vilanova i la Geltrú is the latest rider to commit his future to the team alongside João Almeida and Pascal Ackermann who have already been confirmed to join.

Marc Soler

Marc Soler wins stage three of the 2021 Tour de Romandie.

Soler’s palmares highlights his impressive record in stage racing: winning the overall at Paris Nice in 2018 along with stage wins in major World Tour races such as the Vuelta España in 2020 and a recent impressive solo victory at this year's edition of the Tour de Romandie.

Joxean Matxin Fernandez (Team Manager) : “It’s no secret that Marc Soler is one of the finest riders in the pro peloton and we believe he carries all the key attributes and the racing mentality to fit in well to this team. He’s an attacking rider, a fighter, and his personality and mental qualities are things that make him unique. He has his own distinctive racing style and character and we are excited to bring him on board into a team where I believe he will adapt to very well.”

Soler: “I’m very pleased to be joining UAE Team Emirates and looking forward to the new adventures and challenges ahead. I’m coming here with a lot of excitement and with desire to work hard and and enjoy this new chapter.

After 7 years at Movistar I think now is a good time in my career to look for new challenges and I thank them dearly for all our years working together and wish them all the best for the future. I’m ready for this new step.”

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