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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 12, 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.

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Tour de la Provence stage one team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Davide Ballerini's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the report from Team DSM:

Racing returned for the team today, as we made our first outing in our brand new colours as Team DSM in the opening stage at Tour de La Provence. A testing parcours awaited the riders with several climbs throughout the day, but with a flat finish in Six-Fours-les-Plages, a bunch sprint was expected at the end of the stage.

On the opening climb of Col de l’Espigoulier a breakaway duo escaped from the peloton and the race settled into a rhythm, with the team nestled nicely within the bunch ahead of what was to come. The breakaway’s advantage never exceeded much further north of two minutes and at 70 kilometres to go in the stage, the race exploded on the climb of Montée du Brulat which saw the duo caught and a strong trio forge on ahead, as the bunch split behind.

After a regrouping, the peloton started to coordinate their efforts and began to chip into the trio’s one minute and 30 second lead over the rolling terrain. However, those ahead put up a good fight and they still held onto a 30 second advantage as the race reached the coastline inside the final ten kilometres. The combination of a strong Mistral wind blowing across the riders and the narrow, technical roads saw some splits in the bunch with some of the team unfortunately caught out.

The rest of the guys tried to move sprinter Max Kanter towards the front of the bunch as best as possible but found their way blocked, with Kanter ultimately unable to compete in the sprint at the finish.

Team DSM

Team DSM just after the stage. Sirotti photo

“Today we didn’t achieve the result which we had hoped for at the beginning of the stage,” explained Kanter at the finish. “It was a really hard race and we were always riding on the back foot. I think we are all a bit disappointed about today’s result, but we will evaluate it and try to learn and improve for the next stages.”
Team DSM coach Michiel Elijzen added: “It was a strange stage today. We expected a really hard start but from kilometre zero, a break of two went away. The peloton played a little bit with the breakaway up until 70 kilometres to go, where the final opened up pretty early with an attack from Alaphilippe, Moscon and Ciccone. So with three good riders in front, there was a big chase behind from the big sprint teams. We were present in the peloton but in the end didn’t have the legs to get together towards the sprint, so we couldn’t do much in the finish. Max was a bit disappointed with his placing in the end, but there are a lot of things we can learn from today and take into the next days here.”

Here's the report from Team Movistar:

It has to be hard for a sprinter to start your season at the Tour de La Provence, have some good chances right from day one – but still have to tackle a long, tough climb like L’Espigoulier (Cat-1) right from the start and lots of ups and downs before the finish. The Movistar Team was bringing more of a stagerace-suited team to France to start its 42nd season, which meant it was more of a warm-up to them.


The peloton early in the stage. Bettini photo.

The challenging start invited only two riders to try their luck into the early break. Delio Fernández (DKO) and Lilian Calmejane (ACT) jumped from the gun and ammassed a maximum gap around four minutes, which Groupama-FDJ and B&B Hotels – KTM would later reduce and keep around 2′. The Movistar Team kept Enric Mas well protected near the front, with Verona, Jorgenson and debutant Abner González putting his face against the wind.

The escape was caught with about 70km to go at the Montée du Brulat (Cat-3), with a series of attacks by Ciccone (TFS), Moscon (IGD) or even Julian Alaphilippe (DQT) creating a second move, which increased its advantage over one minute. Lotto, Bahrain, Arkea and UAE would later take to the front of the group into the last hour of racing to shrink the gaps and secure a sprint finish.

The finish, quite strung out due to the coastal winds, saw numerous splits forming before a crash into the streets of Six-Fours-les-Plages further opened the gaps. Matteo Jorgenson and Lluís Mas finished into a leading group of about fifty riders led home by Davide Ballerini (DQT). Into that final chaos, Enric Mas lost contact while into the group and finished about twenty seconds back. Imanol Erviti and Abner González, who found the incident on their way to the finish with no physical consequence, saw their gaps neutralised.

The 2021 Tour de La Provence will finish in Manosque on Friday’s stage two (175km), tackling a hilly final loop that features up to five ascents -including a 3km, 3% finish-, two of them categorized: the Col de la Mort d’Imbert (Cat-2) and the Montfuron (Cat-3).

Trek-Segafredo posted this:

In his first race of the season, Giulio Ciccone had something to prove. After a bitterly disappointing 2020 season riddled with setbacks, including fighting off Covid-19, Ciccone could not hold back in the first stage of Tour de la Provence that was pinned for the sprinters. On a categorized climb with some 70 kilometers to go, and after a few attacks had already softened the bunch, he accelerated off the front.

Giulio Ciccone

Giulio Ciccone racing in yellow in the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

“I think not many people expected me to attack in my first race, especially in a stage like this, but today I decided to follow my feeling,” said Ciccone. “I had good legs, good energy and [my attack] was a way to draw the line to my bad season last year. I wanted to prove to myself that I am ready to turn the page.”

Ciccone is an emotional rider who simply loves to race. He faced a frustrating year with the pandemic and health setbacks wreaking havoc on his season, so in his first race back he needed to demonstrate that last year was not him.

“At that point of the race, I was awaiting an attack from (Julian) Alaphilippe, but I saw he was waiting, so I decided to attack. (Gianni) Moscon followed me and then Alaphilippe, so we were a good group, and we all made a strong effort to keep the pace and gap to the peloton.”

For 70 kilometers, the dangerous trio rotated turns, giving the sprinters’ teams behind a little more work than they expected.  The peloton made the catch inside the final two kilometers, and in the end the sprinters had their say. But for Giulio, it didn’t matter.

“At one point, I thought and hoped we might make it to the finish. It was a good effort, and I am happy with my feeling today. Let’s see if there’s a chance in the next days to try something similar,” added Ciccone.

The line drawn, Ciccone is ready for more.

Bora-hansgrohe posted this:

The four-day Tour de la Provence began with an undulating opening stage from Aubagne to Six-Fours-les-Plages. The team from Raubling took on the 179km-long course in southeastern France with a series of young riders, including two newcomers. Although a duo was able to go almost five minutes clear quite early in the race, their efforts were ultimately left unrewarded and they were caught with 70 km remaining. This was followed by several attacks, with a new 3-man breakaway group of Alaphilippe, Ciccone and Moscon subsequently forming, which was, however, caught 2km from the finish. The stage ended in a bunch sprint, in which Matthew Walls and Ide Schelling held their own against strong competition and finished fifth and sixth respectively. In ninth place overall, Matthew, who today made his debut for BORA - hansgrohe, will also wear the young rider’s jersey tomorrow.

Matthew Walls

Matthew Walls with his Best Young Rider's jersey. Bettini photo

"I am happy with my top-5 finish in the sprint, especially since it was my first race with BORA-hansgrohe. The last few kilometres were quite chaotic because we ended up catching the escapees quite late. Before the finale, I found myself in the wind a bit too early, so I tried to find a better position for the sprint. I managed to do that pretty well and ended up taking fifth place behind a series of strong sprinters, a satisfying result in my first race of the year." - Matthew Walls

"We tried to make it into the leading group of three, but we were a bit too far back to be able to do that today. The next option was then to prepare the sprint for Matthew. With his fifth place in the end, he showed that he can sprint well against such strong competition, but was just a bit too early in the wind on the finishing straight. That's why he just didn't have the requisite power left over the last 100m, but fifth place and the young rider’s jersey is a solid start to the season." - Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

2021 Vuelta a España route announced

Here's the organizer's announcement:

Today, the Burgos Evolution Forum hosted the official presentation of the route of La Vuelta 21. The event, marked by sanitary safety measures, limited capacities and distancing among the attendees, presented the ‘La Vuelta de las Catedrales’. The Spanish grand tour’s 76th edition will take off in front of the Burgos Cathedral on the 14th of August and will take place entirely within Spanish territory up until the very last stage that will conclude in the Santiago Cathedral on the 5th of September.

na map

Map of the 2021 Vuelta a España

On Thursday the 11th of February, Unipublic revealed the route of La Vuelta 21 that will take place from the 14th of August to the 5th of September. The first eight kilometres, out of the total 3336.1 km that make up the race, will be an urban individual time trial within the city of Burgos. The route will revolve around its cathedral, the locality’s most emblematic monument, which celebrates the 8th centenary of its construction in 2021. The two following stages will be held within the Province of Burgos, with a finale in the district of La Gamonal and another at Picón Blanco, the first unprecedented high-altitude finale of La Vuelta 21.

The peloton will travel towards the peninsula’s East, with stops in the provinces of Soria, Guadalajara, Cuenca, Albacete, Valencia and Alicante – The latter leading to the discovery of a new climb: the Balcón de Alicante. Heading further South, La Vuelta will hold a finish-line in the Region of Murcia, marking the end of the first week of competing at the renowned Alto de Velefique, in Almería.

Following the first rest day, the race will resume at Roquetas de Mar and will slowly travel through the Andalusian territory. The provinces of Málaga, Jaén and Córdoba will watch the peloton ride past before returning to Extremadura for the first time since 2013. The provinces of Badajoz and Cáceres will host two departures and two finish-lines in 2021. Pico Villuercas is an extremely tough unprecedented La Vuelta climb that stands out for its spectacular nature. Just before the next rest day, Avila will mark the end of the second week with a finish-line at the historic town of El Barraco, the birthplace of some of the best Spanish cyclists in history.

The riders will recover their strength before the final stretch of the race that promises to thrill spectators. Cantabria will hold a stage entirely within the autonomous community, before giving way to the Lagos de Covadonga climb. The Principality of Asturias seeks to become the judge of La Vuelta 21, by linking the mythical climb with a stage that will face a brand-new mountain pass expected to go down in history: the Altu d’El Gamoniteiru. Galicia will resume the race with a finish-line in Monforte de Lemos and a stage held entirely within the Province of Pontevedra that will delight Classics specialists.

A Coruña, not Madrid, will be the province chosen to host the final stage of La Vuelta 21. Taking into account the Jacobean year, and the fact that the 2021 edition is “La Vuelta de las Catedrales”, the organisation has prepared a final time trial with a finale in Santiago de Compostela and a departure from Padrón. This will ring a bell with 90s cycling fans as a very similar stage took place in La Vuelta 1993, which was the deciding factor behind Tony Rominger’s victory.

“The world is going through a very tough time right now, and this is being particularly felt in our country. For this reason, we wished to design a different kind of race. It is an ambitious Vuelta, that will cover many kilometres, but will stay only within Spain. We want to showcase our country: its beauty and its potential as a tourism world leader. We will be present in many territories, with a huge variety of terrains and unprecedented locations, while also visiting some of the country’s largest tourist centres. This is our way of entertaining people and of promoting tourism as we await a gradual return to normality”, expressed Javier Guillén, General Director of La Vuelta.

The stages:

1 Ind. time trial Saturday, Aug 14 Burgos. Catedral VIII Centenario 2021 > Catedral 8 km
2 Flat Sunday, Aug 15 Caleruega. VIII Centenario de Santo Domingo de Guzmán > Burgos. Gamonal 169.5 km
3 Flat Monday, Aug 16 Santo Domingo de Silos > Espinosa de los Monteros. Picón Blanco 203 km
4 Flat Tuesday, Aug 17 El Burgo de Osma > Molina de Aragón 163.6 km
5 Flat Wednesday, Aug 18 Tarancón > Albacete 184.4 km
6 Flat Thursday, Aug 19 Requena > Alto de la Montaña de Cullera 159 km
7 Mountain Friday, Aug 20 Gandía > Balcón de Alicante 152 km
8 Flat Saturday, Aug 21 Santa Pola > La Manga del Mar Menor 163.3 km
9 Mountain Sunday, Aug 22 Puerto-Lumbreras > Alto de Velefique 187.8 km
- Rest Day Monday, Aug 23 Descanso
10 Hilly Tuesday, Aug 24 Roquetas de Mar > Rincón de la Victoria 190.2 km
11 Hilly Wednesday, Aug 25 Antequera > Valdepeñas de Jaén 131.6 km
12 Hilly Thursday, Aug 26 Jaén > Córdoba 166.7 km
13 Flat Friday, Aug 27 Belmez > Villanueva de la Serena 197.2 km
14 Mountain Saturday, Aug 28 Don Benito > Pico Villuercas 159.7 km
15 Mountain Sunday, Aug 29 Navalmoral de la Mata > El Barraco 193.4 km
- Rest Day Monday, Aug 30 Descanso
16 Flat Tuesday, Aug 31 Laredo > Santa Cruz de Bezana 170.8 km
17 Mountain Wednesday, Sept 1 Unquera > Lagos de Covadonga 181.6 km
18 Mountain Thursday, Sept 2 Salas > Altu d’El Gamoniteiru 159.2 km
19 Hilly Friday, Sept 3 Tapia > Monforte de Lemos 187.8 km
20 Mountain Saturday, Sept 4 Sanxenxo > Mos. Castro de Herville 173.6 km
21 Ind. time trial Sunday, Sept 5 Padrón > Santiago de Compostela 33.7 km

Although the route’s presentation is a major event that brought together 1200 attendees in 2020, this time around security has been put first, ahead of the usual festivities that would normally take place. With an assistance equivalent to 15% of the capacity of the Burgos Evolution Forum, the use of face masks was compulsory, and the recommended interpersonal safety distance of 2 metres was respected between each and every person in attendance.

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