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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, July 4, 2021

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose. - Richard Dawkins

Current racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

Mathieu van der Poel does not start Tour de France stage nine

The Tour organizer posted this:

Mathieu van der Poel has decided to leave the Tour de France after he wore the yellow jersey for six days. He spoke this morning:

Q: Mathieu, the fairytale ended yesterday in yellow. It was just too difficult.  

A: Yeah for sure, you know. When you see a mountain stage like this, I think it's impossible to defend against the climbers. And it was also not my goal to go for GC. It's been an amazing dream week for me and the team. We won a stage - 2 stages! - and we've had yellow for 6 days. It was my first Grand Tour and I think we can be really proud of that.   Unfortunately, I will not start today. We decided with the team that it's in my best interests to quit the race and focus on the Olympics now. 

Mathieu van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel after stage 2. Sirotti photo

Q: So you won't be racing today? You're not going to Les Gets to do the mountain bike race?  

A: No, no. I'm going to take some time to recover from this first week. We know it would have been difficult for me, and I have some other goals. And due to corona, it was impossible for me to do the whole Tour and then be at my top game in Tokyo. I think… I guess I had one week. We've had an amazing week, and I'll be back next year to go to Paris.

Primoz Roglic leaves Tour de France

Here's the post from the Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic and Team Jumbo-Visma have decided that Roglic is going to leave the Tour de France. The Slovenian will not appear at the start of the ninth stage in Cluses today and will focus on new goals.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic heading to the start of stage eight. Sirotti photo

Roglic crashed badly in the third stage of the Tour de France and had to continue in an injured state. His injuries are taking their toll and have forced last year’s runner up to abandon the race.

“We made this choice together”, Roglic said. “There is no point in continuing this way. Now it’s time to recover and focus on my new goals. I am very disappointed that I have to leave the Tour, but I have to accept it as it is. I remain optimistic and look forward.”

“Immediately after my crash in the third stage, I did not think that crash would herald my departure from the Tour. I never look that far ahead. After a few days I saw that I was not making any progress in my recovery. Even though I surprised myself in the time trial, I had a bad feeling again the days after. The long and tough stages take their toll. I will now focus on recovering from that.”

Tour de France stage eight team reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Dylan Teuns' Bahrain Victorious team:

Dylan Teuns added to his Palmares, winning his second Tour de France stage. Like Mohorič, Teuns took his chance in the breakaway and attacked on Col de la Colombière before descending to the finish in Le Grand-Bornand to claim a consecutive victory for Bahrain Victorious.

Dylan Teuns

Dylan Teuns wins stage eight. Sirotti photo

Bahrain Victorious raced aggressively with Mohorič, Teuns and Poels, fighting to make the day’s breakaway from the off. Poels managed to go solo and gain an advantage of a minute to take the points in the mountain classification. Poels was caught by the rest of the break and managed to stay with Teuns to snatch more points on the rest of the climbs, moving into the polka-dot jersey and retaining it for the team.

Attacks started on the Col de Romme, with a group of 15 riders. Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) took advantage of over 30 seconds. But it was on the Col de la Colombière when Teuns launched his attack and bridged the gap. Teuns then dropped Woods soloing to the line at Le Grand-Bornand, claiming victory.

Dylan Teuns: “It’s incredible. I knew it was going to be very difficult today. I had goals, and I achieved them. It was not easy tactically. From the beginning, there was a lot of stress, nervousness. It was hard to have a group that stood out in front of it. Wout was chasing ahead for the jersey and was up there alone. It made it easier for me to follow the wheels and not force anything. On the final climb, I felt good and was able to drop Woods.

"In the end, I heard Pogacar was coming back, and at the top, I heard it was just over a minute, and If I can make it to the top of the last climb with that advantage, it should be okay, and it was.

"I dedicated the victory to my grandfather, who passed away just before the Tour, and I’m sure he would be proud of me.”

Wout Poels was also happy about retaining the jersey for the team: “I’m super happy. We raced aggressively from the beginning, and I tried to get away a few times. I managed to make a gap and secure points on the climb. When it was all back together, I was also able to accelerate to the top and take enough points to move into the jersey. It was the plan for me today, and I’m happy I executed it. Tomorrow is another day, and we will try to hold on to the jersey.”

Here's the report from new GC leader Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

With a masterpiece of class and courage,Tadej Pogačar jumped to the top of the general classification of the Grande Boucle.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar is in yellow again. Sirotti photo

The new Maillot Jaune took flight on the penultimate climb on the 8th stage of the Tour de France (Oyonnax-Le Grand Bornand, 150.8 km in the Alps.

The UAE Team Emirates leader began his attack 30.5km from the finish, with 2km to go before the top of the Col de Romme ascent (8.8km at 8.9% ): in the rain, after some excellent preparation work by his teammates. Pogačar made his move from the group with only Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers) able to follow; with the 22-year old dislodging him further up the climb.

Pogačar continued his strong pace up the Col de la Colombière (7.5 km at 8.4%, brow at 14.5 km from the finish), to pick-off all the members of the days breakaway except Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Victorious), the eventual stage winner.

The reigning Tour de France champion finished the stage in 4th place (behind Ion Izagirre, 2nd and Michael Woods, 3rd), with an advantage over his direct rivals in the general classification wide enough to allow him to take the yellow jersey.

The general ranking sees Pogačar move up to first position with an advantage of 1’48" over Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and of 4’38" over Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech).

Tadej Pogačar: “This morning it wasn’t the plan to attack. I had planned to see how the stage would develop, and then decide how to move. The race proved to be very tough from the start, with cyclists attacking from all sides, but I was fine and I was able to benefit from the rainy conditions that I like: so I decided that I would attack and so, when there were still three climbs left, I asked the team to work at the front to set up my attack.

"I started very far from the finish line because I saw that all the opponents were in trouble, both because of the excellent work done by McNulty, Formolo and the rest of my team, and because of the cold weather so I thought it was a good time to go.

"Today’s result makes me happy, even more when I think back to the work my team did in yesterday’s stage.

"Now we are in the yellow and day after day we will show that we are ready to defend the leadership, because we are a very strong team ”.

Tomorrow the riders will take on the first summit finish: 144.9 km starting from Cluses and arriving in Tignes, finishing on the final ascent of the Montée de Tignes (1st category).

Tadej Pogačar will be at the start wearing the yellow jersey, becoming the youngest ever rider to wear the yellow jersey in two consecutive editions.

Here's the report from GC second-place Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma squad:

Wout van Aert remains second in the general classification after the first mountain stage of the Tour de France. The champion of Belgium was not able to take the yellow jersey in the stage to Le Grand Bornand. Defending champion Tadej Pogacar was unapproachable and passed Van Aert in the ranking.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert on the final descent to Le Grand-Bornand. Sirotti photo

After a fast opening phase, a reduced peloton remained. On behalf of Team Jumbo-Visma Van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard, Steven Kruijswijk and Sepp Kuss were present. Kuss then broke away from that peloton with a few riders. The American was unable to interfere in the battle for the stage win from that leading group. That went to Dylan Teuns.

“Once I was in the leading group, my best legs were gone”, Kuss said. “I had given just a little too much to get there. We wanted a smaller group to go or a bigger group with one of us in it. It was good that I was there, but unfortunately I couldn’t play a significant role. When I was caught, I tried to help Wout.”
Vingegaard encountered the asphalt on the way, but was able to quickly continue with a new bike. The young Dane rode to tenth place in the stage result with some scrapes and moved up to fifth place in the general classification.

Sportive director Merijn Zeeman shared his feelings on the Tour of Vingegaard before the start of the eighth stage. “For Jonas it is his first Tour de France. He is given time to learn and gain experience. We have a long-term plan with him. This is a very welcome experience for him in that plan. In the future we will set higher goals for Jonas in the Tour de France, but that will not be for this year. He now gets the chance and we see that as part of this learning process. We try to train a guy like Jonas, but also someone like Tobias Foss, in the shadow to become a rider for the general classification.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann knew in advance that the stage would explode early. “It was a very tough stage. The whole stage was ridden at full speed and in combination with the bad weather it meant a lot of suffering. On the Col de Romme the whole thing came apart and Pogacar showed that he was in a league of his own. Still, Wout kept fighting for that yellow jersey, but he fell short for the yellow. We are now second and fifth in the standings. Hopefully the damage is not too bad for Jonas.”

Primoz Roglic looked for a place in the gruppetto so as not to put too much strain on his battered body.

And here's the race report from team Deceuninck-Quick Step:

Comprising five classified climbs, including Col de la Colombière – a regular feature at the race in the last years – stage 8 of the Tour de France was the first real test for the general classification contenders, whose day was complicated by the nagging rain and low temperatures that accompanied the peloton from the start in Oyonnax.

A small unclassified climb was the perfect launchpad for a series of attacks that quickly split the peloton in two groups. In what was a very frantic start to the stage, Mattia Cattaneo was one of the most active riders, attacking boldly as he tried to ignite a breakaway before the first-category Côte de Mont-Saxonnex. Eventually, after the intermediate sprint in Frangy, a numerous group kicked away from the bunch and ensured themselves a nice buffer of over seven minutes.

Cattaneo was there for Deceuninck – Quick-Step and even attacked on Col de Romme, the day’s penultimate climb, where the concord between the escapees went up in smoke. One rider established a gap on the toughest section of the ascent, which prompted a response from Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 30-year-old Italian, who tried to organise the chase behind, with little success, as the others were reluctant to chip in to the effort.

Mattia continued to soldier on, pushing through the rain and doing his best on the punishing slopes of the Colombière, finishing ninth in Le-Grand-Bornand – where Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) – for a strong and well-deserved top 10: “I am satisfied because today was a very hard stage from the start until the finish and the cold didn’t help. I wanted to be in the break and managed to get there, giving my best to get a good result. In the end, I finished ninth and I’m content with it considering the conditions.”

Mark CAvendish

Mark Cavendish heads to the start of a tough stage. Sirotti photo

Mark Cavendish came home with the gruppetto and retained the green jersey, which he will wear for the 30th time in his career on stage 9: “We knew it was going to be tough from the beginning with that uphill start, but I had Michael with me and am thankful to him for helping me make it over all those climbs. It was important to have him there and I wasn’t worried for a single moment about not making the time cut, as we paced ourselves really well. Sunday will be another mountain stage and the plan is the same, make it safely home before the rest day.”

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