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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, August 17, 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.

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. - John Muir


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Vuelta a España stage three reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from new GC leader Rein Taamaraë's Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team:

This Monday, Rein Taaramäe offered Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux a fantastic stage win at the Tour of Spain (2.WT, 14/08-5/09), a fourth victory of the season for the Belgian team. The third stage at the Tour of Italy is still fresh in the mind of numerous cycling fans. Taco van der Hoorn surprised by surviving from a breakaway of eight riders, resisting to the peloton and offering the team a first Grand Tour stage victory in its first Giro.

Rein Taamaraë

Rein Taamaraë enjoys his win. Sirotti photo.

Three months later, history was repeated on the Iberian Peninsula. Rein Taaramäe chose to join an early breakaway of eight riders after the start of the third stage in Santo Domingo de Silos. In the 202 kilometer stage, the peloton followed only 9 minutes later on the roads which bring the Estonian rider special memories since his victory at the Tour of Burgos in 2015. The final of the stage was very exciting with the gap between the leaders and the peloton melting away like snow under the sun during the 30 last kilometers. But Taaramäe stayed cool under the circumstances, didn’t react to attacks and waited for the final climb.

The top of the Picon Blanco was waiting in the fog after a climb of 7.6 kilometer with an average gradient of 9.1 per cent. The Estonian rider accelerated progressively until he dropped his last companions Kenny Elissonde and Joe Dombrowski on the steep slopes and remained the only leader in the race. The 34 year old former Giro and Vuelta stage winner fought for each second and triumphed on the top. It was a triple succes for Taaramäe as he not only took the stage win but also acquired the lead in the general classification and the QOM classification.

This Tuesday, Taaramäe will show his new red kit for 163.9 kilometer on the roads between El Burgo de Osma and Molina de Aragon.

"This victory is not completely unexpected, as I was feeling really good and as I discussed for a long time about this opportunity with our smart sports director Valerio Piva yesterday evening. I won stages in the Giro and the Vuelta before, but I was dreaming about knowing how it feels to be a leader in a Grand Tour. I was pretty close this spring in the Tour of Italy when Joe Dombrowski won the stage.

"Also when I took the Giro stage victory in 2016, the American rider was present in the breakaway. I'm 34 so not many opportunities will come across anymore. That's why I started the stage with a clear mission this morning. The stage win was possible today because I really believed in myself. Our breakaway was composed of eight strong riders and I considered Elissonde and Dombrowski as the most dangerous contenders. It is not the first time I was in this situation and this experience made me stronger. The biggest question was whether the peloton was hungry for the stage win or not. This is fantastic, I'm going to enjoy this a lot the next days!" - Rein Taaramäe

Here's the report from Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

After the first uphill finish of the Vuelta, Primoz Roglic is the new number three in the general classification. The Slovenian saw his leader’s jersey go to the day’s winner Rein Taaramäe, but held up well in the group of classification riders on the steep climb of the Picón Blanco.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic finished seventh today. Sirotti photo

The battle for the day’s breakaway erupted from Santo Domingo de Silos. In the end eight riders managed to remain in the spotlight all day with a maximum lead of nine minutes. Team Jumbo-Visma kept their leader well out of the wind and controlled almost the entire stage. The peloton allowed the leading group to go for the day’s victory, after which the red leader’s jersey also changed shoulders.

“It went fine on the road and I am satisfied”, Roglic said. “There was a lot of wind on the climb, which even made it a bit cold. Especially after the heat of the last days it took some getting used to. The fact that we have lost the jersey is actually good for us. It was a steep and tough climb, but the result does not say much. There are still many tough stages to come.”

“Primoz had a good day, Sepp on the other hand a much weaker one”, sports director Grischa Niermann said. “In the general classification we are where we want to be. It was a good day for us. If we wanted to defend the jersey, we would have done so. Primoz agreed that we would give up the jersey. It may sound a bit strange, but we are satisfied despite losing the leader’s jersey.”

Third-place Kenny Elissonde's Trek-Segafredo team posted this report:

Straying from the typical layout of other Grand Tours, something La Vuelta prides itself in, the organizers scheduled a tough summit finish three days into the three-week race that tested the general classification rivals and gave an early chance to breakaway opportunists.

And Trek-Segafredo showed they were ready. Kenny Elissonde finished 3rd from the day’s escape group and just missed out on claiming the red leader’s jersey.

Kenny Elissonde

Kenny Elissonde finishes stage three. Sirotti photo.

Not far behind, in the group with the overall contenders, young Juan Pedro Lopez paced Giulio Ciccone up the steep slopes of the seven-kilometer climb and allowed the Trek-Segafredo leader to finish amongst the GC rivals.

A top grade for Ciccone in his first test as GC leader.

“Being the first uphill finish, I’m satisfied,” said Ciccone. “The first part of the race was relatively quiet. Good job by Kenny [Elissonde] getting in the breakaway, which was our goal for the day. We all know it could be suited for his characteristics.

“The first summit finish is always an eagerly awaited test and for me, it went as expected. I climbed with a regular pace, always in the first positions. Juanpe (Juan Pedro Lopez) did a great job supporting me, especially in the final part of the climb with the headwind. In my “day by day” Vuelta, today we put a positive checkmark.”

Although Trek-Segafredo missed out on victory and taking the coveted leader’s jersey, their efforts in the first mountain finish showed they had prepared well for a Grand Tour of novelties and great opportunities.

Kenny Elissonde sits in 2nd overall and Giulio Ciccone in 8th and plenty of chances ahead.

INEOS Grenadiers posted this:

Adam Yates and Egan Bernal finished amongst the top GC contenders on the stage three summit finish at La Vuelta a Espana.

The Grenadiers duo came home eighth and 11th respectively atop Picon Blanco on a day that saw the breakaway hold on for victory.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal finishes stage three. Sirotti photo

The pair finished in a select group, 1:48 behind solo victor Rein Taaramae, on a stage where the group of favourites split from the rear. Yates looked strong on the steep slopes, hitting the front on a number of occasions, but a headwind made pushing clear a difficult task.

Richard Carapaz was forced to dig deep in the closing kilometres to limit his losses on the first-category climb. The Ecuadorian came home one minute behind his teammates after losing contact.

Bernal moved up to ninth overall on GC, 57 seconds behind new leader Taaramae, whilst also moving into the white Young Rider jersey. Yates now sits 16th (+1:21) after time loss on Sunday, with Carapaz 22nd at 1:55.

Adam Yates:
"I was really disappointed after yesterday, losing time in a silly crash. So today I really wanted to do something. I tried quite a few times but there was a block headwind up here, so no matter what you did you weren’t going very far. It is what it is.

"In the end I’ve trained well, prepared well. I really struggled after the Olympics with the jet lag. It took me a week or two just to get back into the routine. Now here we are and I just hope it continues.

"We have cards to play. I lost some time yesterday but I’m still in the game. Hopefully we can just keep plugging away."

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