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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, August 12, 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.

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Tour of Poland stage three team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Fernando Gaviria's UAE Team Emirates with the race results.

Here's the report from GC leader Joao Almeida's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

At 226 kilometers in length, stage 3 of the Tour de Pologne was the longest of this edition, taking the riders from Sanok to Rzeszow over a course that was peppered by a couple of hills in the first part before a flattish second half ideally suited to the sprinters.

Clad in the yellow jersey which landed on his shoulders following the impressive victory he got on the stage 2 uphill finish, João Almeida spend a quiet day, surrounded by his teammates, in a bunch who had to deal with an eight-man breakaway that forced them to work hard in order to have the desired mass gallop.

Feranando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria wins stage three of the Tour of Poland. Bettini photo

Despite holding a maximum advantage of just three minutes, the escapees survived at the front until with three kilometers to go, when they were reabsorbed by the peloton from where Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) sprinted to victory. Mikkel Honoré concluded the stage as Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s best placed rider and kept his fifth place in the overall standings, where João Almeida continues to sit at the top, four seconds ahead of his closest rivals.

Here's the Tour of Poland report from Phil Bauhaus' Bahrain Victorious team:

After an exciting GC day, we are back to sprinter’s day. 226km between Sanok and Rzeszów is the longest stage of this year’s Tour de Pologne. The race’s first half contained 3 classified climbs totalling 2835m, but the second part was fairly flat.

Heinrich Haussler did not start stage 3 due to medical reasons. He suffers from sciatica and will need further diagnostic and treatment.

The early breakaway of 12 (later reduced to 10) kept the distance for most of the stage, but around 3 minutes. Our riders were part of the group that did the majority of work during the day to keep escapees at a safe distance and pull them back towards the end of the stage. Our team planned to lead out Bauhaus to the finish line, but we felt Haussler was the missing piece to bring Bauhaus “home”. Fernando Gaviria and young Olav Kooji edged Bauhaus at the finish line, giving our team 3 podiums in the first 3 days.

Phil Bauhaus: ”It was a super long day, hard race. We started pulling with Kevin Inkelaar, and later Eros Capecchi was working with the front group. In the end, it was a sprint finish like expected. I’m quite disappointed as I wanted to win again for the team, they did a good job. Matej did a super good lead-out, but I still felt it was a bit long, so the other sprinters came from behind. I did accelerate to the same speed, but unfortunately, I couldn’t hold it that long.” Asked about the next stages and if he’ll take the foot off the gas pedal down until stage 7 when is the next sprint opportunity, Phil said: “No, I’ll be working for the team in the next 3 days. Matej is in super good condition, and I think we have a great chance for GC with him. We’ll try our best to bring him maybe the leaders jersey, and I’ll be helping with that.”

Tim Harris, our SD: “It was a very long stage and quite tricky because in the middle of the stage we had 3 quite hard hills. There was a group of 12 riders away, so we had to pull quite hard, helping Quickstep and UAE to bring the break back. Unfortunately, we missed Heinrich Haussler because he had to retire before the race with a sciatica problem, and we really missed him in the final sprint. Phil did a fantastic job getting 3rd, but we missed that final lead out from Haussler. Otherwise, I think Phil would probably have won today. We are disappointed that we lost Haussler today, but otherwise excellent ride from the team. Upwards and onwards for tomorrow.“

And here's Groupama-FDJ's Tour of Poland report:

Over more than 225 kilometres, the Tour de Pologne’s longest stage proved to be quite contested on Wednesday. It still ended up with a mass sprint. Jake Stewart therefore tried to get involved in the fight for the win but could not match the top specialists in the last hundred metres. He then placed fourteenth in this third day of racing. Thursday, a hillier finish is looming for the riders towards Bukovina.

Jake Stewart

Jake Stewart at this year's Etoile de Bessèges. Sirotti pnoto

Although the first two stages of the Tour de Pologne already crossed the symbolic two hundred kilometre-mark, the third one scheduled on Wednesday still remained the longest of the event, topping 226 kilometres. However, with a difficult first part of the course, several riders saw the perfect opportunity to upset the bunch. Ten of them managed to break away after some twenty kilometers: Lukasz Owsian (Poland), Lionel Taminiaux (Alpecin-Fenix), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Alexander Konychev (BikeExchange), Nicola Conca (Lotto- Soudal), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Tom Bohli (Cofidis), Simon Clarke (Qhubeka-NextHash), Daniel Arroyave (EF Education-Nippo) and Niklas Märkl (Team DSM). “We did not want to be in front at all costs, but we would have liked to have one guy in a group of ten”, confessed Frédéric Guesdon. “The breakaway established itself in the climbs, and we could not get into the right move. We then hoped that it would end in a sprint”.

While the main sprinters’ teams kept the leaders at a short distance all day long, the tension still heavily increased as they entered the last hour of racing, when the ten leaders decided to go all-in. “The breakaway almost succeeded,” Frédéric continued. “When I saw the gap going up to three minutes with forty kilometers to go, I figured the bunch was not going to catch them up that easily. Rightfully so, as they only brought them back in the final. There was a moment of doubt, but it actually ended with a sprint and the team was able to do some work for Jake, who was able to get in the mix. That was the goal”.

The last three survivors of the breakaway surrendered with five kilometres to go, as the lead-out trains started to move on either side of the road. Jake Stewart followed his trusted mate Fabian Lienhard for a few minutes before slipping into the top ten positions of the peloton within the last two kilometres. He still was in a good position under the flamme rouge, but the young Briton slipped back in the last hundred metres and crossed the line in fourteenth position, a few lengths behind the winner Fernando Gaviria.

“He was in a good position early on, but riders came back fast from the back, there was some fighting for position and he lost a bit of speed,” analysed Frédéric Guesdon. “He might have been at the limit too, and probably still lacks a bit of pure power, but I think he can do better. These are still his first mass sprints at WorldTour level. We must continue to work and results will come. He probably still comes short for the win against real sprinters like Gaviria or Bauhaus, but I think his place today does not match his qualities. He is able to make a top 10 on this kind of sprint and we have to continue this way. This is a bit of a common thread on this Tour of Poland. There are still two stages that can suit him and we will keep trying and working for him”.

Stage 5 towards Bielsko Biala on Friday could indeed “really suit” Jake Stewart. Stage 4 tomorrow, however, looks more complicated with a hill-top finish in Bukovina. “We will perhaps give more freedom for the riders to go in the breakaway”, added Frédéric. “This will not prevent us, in any case, from getting involved in the final if it eventually comes back all together. I know the last climb as I’ve done it as a rider. The top is quite rolling and it’s a little less difficult than yesterday”.

Tour of Denmark stage two race reports

We posted the report from stage winner Mads Pedersen's Trek-Segafedo team with the results.

Here's the report from third-place & GC leader Dylan Groenewegen's Jumbo-Visma team:

Dylan Groenewegen has managed to finish on the podium in the second stage of the Tour of Denmark as well. The victory was not in the cards this time. The resident of Amsterdam finished third in the bunch sprint. As a result, the fast man from Team Jumbo-Visma maintained his lead in the general classification.

The stage took the riders over almost 190 kilometres from the east coast to the west coast of Denmark. The breakaway of the day only took shape at 90 kilometres from the finish. Five riders were close, but could not claim the day’s victory.

In the final stage it was up to the sprinter teams. With a scorching pace Deceuninck-Quickstep and Team Jumbo-Visma rode at the head of the bunch. Groenewegen was well positioned in his strong sprint train. After a powerful lead of, again, Edoardo Affini it was up to Mike Teunissen to do the final work. The Dutchman saw Groenewegen eventually finish third, behind day winner Mads Pedersen and European champion Giacomo Nizzolo.

Mads Pedersen

Mads Pedersen wins stage two.

“Today we were a strong team again”, Teunissen said. “We actually did everything right. Dylan was dropped in a perfect position in the last couple of hundred metres. Too bad that Pedersen turned out to be just a little bit stronger today.”

Teunissen continued: “Personally, I’m in good spirits. Since my return from injury I’ve been riding with a good feeling. Now I have to get back into the sprints, because I haven’t been able to do that all year. I am here to help Dylan in the finals. The focus is now on tomorrow, when we will have more opportunities as a team.”

Sports director Jan Boven looked back on the second stage with mixed feelings. “It is a pity that Dylan fell just short of the victory. He was a little disappointed about that. He was not able to sprint all the way. I have nothing to complain about the rest of the day. Rick Pluimers was in control all day. He did this with flying colours. Dylan’s sprint train did not disappoint again today. We are very happy with that.”

Boven spoke with great confidence about tomorrow’s day. “The final of tomorrow’s stage is particularly tricky. On paper it is the queen stage of this stage race. In the final we ride a number of laps. The local circuit is an executioner and has a gradient of up to twenty percent. We will ride to win. I am confident that the men in our team have the qualities to do well tomorrow”, Boven concluded.

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