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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, August 19, 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.

The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Vuelta a España stage five reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Fabio Jakobsen's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Three flat stages so far in the opening week of the 76th La Vuelta and as many bunch sprints, and Fabio Jakobsen is the only rider to have concluded all three on the podium, showing amazing physical and mental power one year after the accident that put him on a long road to recovery, which in his own words, concluded with the victory he got in Molina de Aragon.

Fabio Jakobsem

Fabio Jakobsen (in green) was second to Jasper Philipsen. Sirotti photo

Wednesday, on a 184.4km stage where the riders remained alert due to the crosswinds that threatened to split the bunch, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Dutchman was again in the thick of the action. In what was another fraught finale – this time in Albacete – marked by a lot of nervousness and a big crash with 12 kilometers to go, Fabio took second behind Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and added more points to his tally in the green jersey classification.

The race continues Thursday with a short stage to Alto de la Montaña de Cullera, in the province of Valencia, where a 1.9km climb averaging a gruelling 9.4% promises to bring new changes to the general classification.

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

Team Jumbo-Visma has survived the hectic final of the fifth stage of the Vuelta. A massive crash in the last fifteen kilometres caused chaos. As a result of the crash of classification leader Rein Taaramäe, Primoz Roglic moved up to second place in the classification.

Primoz roglic

Primoz Roglic before the start of stage five. Sirotti photo

The fifth stage seemed to be decided just a few kilometres after the start. Three Spaniards attacked and were able to ride in the spotlight until about twenty-five kilometres before the finish. Team Jumbo-Visma rode, partly due to the threat of sidewinds, attentively grouped in the front of the peloton. Leader Roglic eventually reached the line in Albacete in a good and safe manner. The win went to the Belgian Jasper Philipsen.

“It was definitely possible to set-up echelons in the final”, Nathan Van Hooydonck said. “The wind blew in such a way that teams could always come to the front. It was more of a chaos than really racing in echelons. It’s good that Primoz crossed the finish line unscathed and without losing any time. That makes it a good day for us. These are really stressful days, especially for me as a domestique. You know that on days like this you are responsible for your leader. We did well as a team.”

Here's the report from Egan Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers team:

The INEOS Grenadiers combined well to ensure their leaders finished in the peloton following a difficult finale to stage five.

A large crash in the bunch with 12 kilometres remaining on the run-in to Albacete affected a lot of riders, with Richard Carapaz caught up in the incident.

Fortunately, the Olympic champion was not hurt and was brought back into the main peloton by Pavel Sivakov and Salvatore Puccio to finish the stage alongside his teammates as Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin Fenix) sprinted to the stage victory.

On a day where crosswinds were a possibility, the Grenadiers worked well together to position the leaders well and were alert to any potential issues.  One possible place where crosswinds could have played a part was with 30 kilometres remaining as the race turned onto a long straight.

However, despite Sivakov being attentive and ready to push the pace, the wind direction did not suit an attack and the peloton remained together until the crash punctuated a high-speed finish into Albacete.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal finishing stage three. Sirotti photo.

Egan Bernal:
“We knew there would be crosswinds at around 30km to go - that’s why we took the lead into the corner onto the long straight, but actually the wind was more like a head-cross wind, so even if you had the legs it would be very hard to do something.

"I asked Pavel to go a bit easier and in the final kilometres it proved it was important to have numbers to bring me into position. I really like these stages - it’s really hard and you will be suffering, but I like it. One time you may be in the front, one time you may be in the back but that’s what makes it nice."

Pavel Sivakov:
"Flat stages are where something major can happen, there was a lot of tension in the bunch throughout the day. We managed to keep it safe for the boys, we did a great job so it’s one more day down. That’s the kind of day you want to get through as fast as possible.

At 30km to go, I don’t think it was a great place and it was a bit windier clooser to the finish, but we just wanted to be safe, stay at the front and avoid any crashes. I accelerated as I thought they were telling me to go on the radio, but it was actually the opposite! The wind wasn’t strong but you still have to stay close to the front as we saw what can happen.

“Richard was involved in the crash, he was behind and I had to close the gap to get back into the bunch with him. Today I had an early job to do for the team and I think I have good legs so I am looking forward to the weekend."

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this stage 5 report:

Today the peloton took on a 184.4 km flat course from Tarancón to Albacete in southeastern Spain. The first part of the terrain was undulating, but towards the end it flattened out, and the fifth stage of the Vuelta was ultimately decided in a bunch sprint. An early breakaway group tried their luck, with a trio eventually managing to extend their gap to a maximum of seven minutes.

Breakawy group

This trio built a seven-minute lead, but was caught before the end. Sirotti photo

In the end, the leading group was unable to hold off the approaching peloton and with 15km remaining, the breakaway was caught. A few minutes later there was a mass crash which caused several splits in the peloton. Ben Zwiehoff was unfortunately involved and suffered a dislocated shoulder, yet was quickly treated on-site by the race doctor and was taken to hospital for further examinations after he finished the stage.

Despite the crash, all the sprinters seemed to be present in the finale, and so the last kilometres saw a jostling for positions, with BORA - hansgrohe also trying to bring Jordi Meeus in a good position. Despite all efforts, he had to settle for seventh place once again, just like yesterday, while the stage win went to J. Philipsen.

From the Finish Line:
"Until the last 30km everything went pretty calmly, but then it became particularly nervous and hectic due to the crosswinds. Then the crash happened. Before the finale, the guys put me in a very good position, but in the end it was just too hectic to fight for a top placing. I tried to follow different wheels and pass some riders in the last 100m, but in the end, just like yesterday, I finished seventh. Honestly, I'm not super satisfied with that result, and we will try again on the next sprint stages. But thanks to the whole team for the support today." - Jordi Meeus

"With the crash involving Ben Zwiehoff we were somewhat lucky because he dislocated his shoulder, but it was immediately treated by the doctors and he felt relatively good afterwards. All we can say about the ending of the stage is that the guys did well there. They arrived into the finale well and tried everything to find a good position in the last 3km. Sometimes in the final sprint it's a matter of only a few metres, and at the moment Jordi might not have the very best legs to fight for the win. But nevertheless, we will try again on the next sprint stages." - Steffen Radochla - Sports Director

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