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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, February 6, 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.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. - Rabindranath Tagore

Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies

Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

Peter Sagan infected with Covid-19

Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this bad news:

At a training camp in Gran Canaria, Peter Sagan, his brother Juraj, and Erik Baska tested positive for Covid-19. All three are well and in quarantine.

"Peter, Erik and Juraj tested positive for the SARS-Cov-2 virus several times via independent PCR tests. All three are exhibiting mild, general symptoms of illness and at this time are able to remain in domestic quarantine in accordance with state guidelines until they recover. There remains close communication with the medical team. Once quarantine has been completed, further comprehensive medical evaluations are planned." - Christopher Edler, MD, Head of Medical

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan winning 2020 Giro d'Italia stage 10.

"For a few weeks now, my brother Juraj, our teammate Erik Baska, and I have been training in Gran Canaria. On January 29th, we had a PCR test done in a local laboratory in order to be able to fly back home. Unfortunately, the results weren't what we would have hoped for and all three of us tested positive for Covid-19. We are all feeling well but, obviously, since that day, we have remained in quarantine. From the moment we received the positive test results, we have had the full support of the team and I'd like to thank our manager Ralph Denk and our medical department for this. Although we are thousands of kilometres away and in isolation, we always felt as if we were right next to them. We are kept under continuous remote supervision and will remain here for as long as required. Hopefully, our next test results will be negative so that we can resume our normal training schedule as soon as possible." - Peter Sagan

"The timing is certainly not ideal, but then again, there is no good time to become ill with Covid. Peter was - and is - extremely motivated, and that's why he was already quite far along in his preparatory build up for the season. But the most important thing now is that all three are well and not displaying any severe symptoms. Our medical department is in very close contact with them, and the care that they are receiving is as optimal as is possible. What this means for the start of the season cannot yet be exactly known. First, all three must be fully healthy again and receive medical clearance, and then we can consider what the next steps will be." - Ralph Denk, Team Manager

Etoile de Bèsseges stage three team reports

We posted the report from Team Lotto-Soudal with the results.

Edward Theuns' Trek-Segafredo team posted this report:

Edward Theuns sprinted ahead of his breakaway companions in Stage 3 at the Etoile de Bessèges, crossing the line for second place after a hard, fast race.

Edward Theuns

Edward Theuns takes the field sprint for second. Trek-Segafredo photo

The Trek-Segafredo Belgian hoped to be sprinting for the win but Tim Wellens’ (Lotto Soudal) thwarted that with a bold solo effort in the final kilometers. Still, it was a solid result that gave Theuns pleasant feedback after a full gas stage from start to end.

“I am a little bit disappointed,” said Theuns about his second place. “I was really looking forward to today’s stage, I know my form is well, I had a really good winter, and I felt already in the past two days that I was strong.

“I focused on the sprint for second as I knew I should be the fastest of the group.  I did a good sprint. In the end, it’s a pity because I think I had the legs to win. Sometimes you also need a bit of luck. But overall, a very good day, and it was actually quite a hard race, so good to test the form. I can say I am happy with my test!”

The hills peppered the third day in Bessèges and Trek-Segafredo’s tactics were clear with Vincenzo Nibali and Bauke Mollema active on the early climbs.

But nothing was going away easy.

The continuous efforts from Trek-Segafredo paid off, and Edward Theuns – who had eyed Stage 3 – jumped into a sizeable 17-man break that would prove to be the winning move of the day.

Theuns, targeting the stage victory, had a relatively comfortable back seat in the dangerous escape group that contained pre-race favorites. The teams who missed the move chased feverishly, but the firepower out front proved too much.

“It was a hard start to the stage, which I was hoping for, and I could find myself in the front group,” explained Theuns. “I did not have teammates there, so I could do the minimum of work and sit on as much as possible in the back.”

A climb 15 kilometers from the end was the final obstacle before a downhill and flat local loop in Bessèges.  Feeling good, Theuns tried on the short uphill and Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos) countered, stretching the group, but it was on the descent where the elastic snapped.

“I knew it was going to be hard in the finale as there were a lot of teams with two or three guys. I waited until the last climb, and then I tried in one moment to go. Maybe it was a bit optimistic, but I knew it was not far to the top, so I wanted to try,” said Theuns.

“In the downhill, Wellens went hard, and there was some oil on the road and Kwiatkowski crashed. We all slipped there a bit, and Wellens got a good gap. Behind, he also had two teammates who were doing their best to slow the group down.  It was hard to come back, and he was also strong in the front,” Theuns added.

Wellens finished 37 seconds ahead of the breakaway group led home by Theuns. “I am happy with the form and looking forward to what’s coming,” he ended.

Wellens now leads the 5-day race, 44 seconds ahead of Theuns, heading into the queen stage Saturday.

Here's the stage three report from Bora-hansgrohe:

The 154 km-long stage around Bessèges was marked by several attacks right from the get go, with the widely expected sprint finish not coming to fruition. After several unsuccessful breakaway attempts, a 17-man group finally broke free, which included Nils Politt in its ranks. On the last descent with over 10 km remaining, T. Wellens managed to distance himself from the group and take the stage win solo. Nils reached the finish line in eight place, as part of the chasing group.

Nils Politt

Nils Politt (Bora-hansgrohe) in the day's break.

From the Finish Line:
"It was a pretty tough race from the start. The first 1.5 hours of racing were full throttle until the break of the day was established. The leading group was super strong and ultimately the peloton wasn't able to bring us back in. Unfortunately, Wellens got away on the downhill and we weren't able to do much at that point. The finale was rather chaotic and I didn't really have a good opportunity to approach the sprint as I would have liked. But still, the legs are good, the form is there, and I think we put on a display of good teamwork today. We can certainly build upon this result and I'm pleased with my performance and that of the team on the stage." - Nils Politt

"This day was anything but easy. We aimed to keep Pascal in a good position in case the day was decided in a sprint. The guys did a good job there, especially Lukas, who helped to keep the race fairly under control. After a few unsuccessful breakaway attempts, Nils managed to make it into the leading group of the day. We tried to net a good result with him, but when a rider slipped in front of him on the descent, he lost his position. After that, Wellens launched an attack and despite our efforts, it was not possible to bring him back. Nils ultimately finished in 8th place, a solid result that shows he is in good shape, but just unfortunately had a bit of bad luck this time." - Ján Valach, Sports Director

And here's the report from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert:

Unlike the first two stages which resulted in sprint finishes, today's stage in the Etoile de Bessèges (2.1, 3-7 / 2) offered an open race thanks to a more difficult parcours. Riders eager to prevail for the general classification showed their teeth as soon as the first slopes came about. However, it took 55 kilometers of racing and the Col des Brousses for a decisive move to see out the vigilance of the peloton. 17 strong candidates for the overall which included Philippe Gilbert (Lotto), Greg Van Avermaet (Ag2r) and Michal Kwiatkowski (INEOS) as well as our own Odd Christian Eiking.

The group seemed to get along well, until Tim Wellens (Lotto) pulled away in the descent at around 13 kilometers from the finish line. He reached Bessèges as stage winner and new leader of the general classification. The Norwegian Eiking, who was already displaying great intentions last weekend in GP La Marseillaise, tried his best to anticipate a sprint between the men in pursuit with 3 kilometers to go. But in the end, he came in eleventh place 37 seconds later, a spot he also occupies in the overall standings. This Saturday, the 152 kilometer long final stage before the time trial will be another opportunity for the ambitious men to get rid of the sprinters, and make use of the uphill finish on the Col de Saint-Siffret to gain precious bonus seconds.

Odd Christian Eiking:
"The first two hours of racing were extremely hard, I eventually managed to get in a leading group with most of the big names. We worked well together and I felt great in the final. After an unsuccessful attack, I mistimed my sprint approach. I waited too long, which got me shut in. Unfortunately, I didn't get everything out of what today had to offer, although I know that an uphill finish would of course have been better for me than this flat sprint. In any case, it is a good sign of my current form and for the weeks ahead. Tomorrow, I believe Lotto-Soudal will control the stage, but everything is possible in an uphill finish. My focus is now on delivering a good GC."

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