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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 5, 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.

Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats. - Rebecca West

Current racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage nine team reports

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

Here's the report from second-place Mattia Cattaneo's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Mattia Cattaneo turned himself inside out on the hardest day of the Tour de France so far, one that took in over 4000 vertical meters and five classified climbs including the Col du Pré, Cormet de Roselend and Tignes, which hosted a stage summit for the first time in the race’s history.

The 30-year-old featured in the breakaway for the second consecutive day, this time together with Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates Julian Alaphilippe and Kasper Asgreen in a mammoth 43-man group that fragmented on the slopes of Col des Saisies. With 100 kilometers to go, Mattia was the team’s only member in a considerably reduced group and kept pushing in the atrocious weather on this rain-lashed stage.

On the final ascent, it was more or less every man for himself, as the gap to the peloton was of more than eight minutes at that point, and Cattaneo continued to ride a strong race behind Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen), who at that point was alone in the lead with a considerable gap over his former breakaway companions. Top 10 overall at the UAE Tour and Tour de Suisse, Mattia went in pursuit of the Australian after dispatching all the other members of the group and rode admirably, impervious to the filthy conditions, increasing the tempo near the top of Tignes and pacing himself perfectly.

Mattia Catteano

Mattia Cattaneo near the finish. Sirotti photo

This netted him second on the stage, a remarkable result for the always-smiling Italian – who is racing his first Tour de France – which made him quite emotional: “Second is the first guy who lost, but for me it was a day to remember. At the beginning of the stage I suffered a lot due to Saturday’s effort and the cold, but kilometer by kilometer I felt better. We were dozens of riders in that big group and when I saw that a lot of those guys started losing contact I got quite a morale boost. Today, I raced more with my head than with my legs. I hope to continue like this in the next two weeks. I am in the best team in the world, an amazing group of guys and this makes me very happy”, said a visibly delighted Mattia after the valiant effort he produced on the last day in the Alps.

Sunday’s stage witnessed many stories develop on the roads to Tignes, and one of those had Mark Cavendish in the spotlight. The Manxman was part of the large gruppetto that fought hard to make the time cut, and with less than four kilometers to go, things were still in balance for them, but an incredible team effort saw the 36-year-old roll over the line with one minute and a half to spare, meaning that he’ll now carry the green jersey into the second week.

“This was one of the stages I was terrified of and there was a lot of suffering today. We got dropped on the first classified climb, but I had these amazing guys around me, who paced me and gave a lot of support. I’m quite emotional I got over it and happy that I’m still in the race. I had Dries, Michael and Tim with me and I’m so grateful to them for what they did for me today and how hard they worked”, Mark Cavendish said before going to the podium to collect his 31st green jersey.

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

Stage 9 of the Tour de France saw Tadej Pogačar successfully defend his lead on his first day in the maillot jaune in this years Grand Boucles.

The leg from Cluses to Tignes (144.9km) brought wet and cold over several mountain passes with stage honours going to Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen) who formed part of a large early breakaway which build up a maximum lead of over 8 minutes on the main peloton.

Pogačar attacked from the GC group with 4km to go with no answer from the other favourites as he rode home to 6th on the stage.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar riding the day's final kilometers. Sirotti photo

Pogačar: “Today the weather was really bad : it rained the whole stage and we got really cold. I’m glad it’s over and we have a rest day tomorrow. I love racing in this weather. I’m more worried about the hotter stages that will come later in the Tour. That’s where I suffer the most and the other guys know that so I tried to make the most of these two days. For a moment it looked like I might lose the jersey to O’Connor but I’m glad I didn’t – I really enjoy this jersey.”

There was a tense moment for the Emirati squad 30km from the line when Brandon McNulty went off course on the descent into a verge but luckily escaped without any injury.

Tomorrow marks the first rest day with the race resuming on Tuesday with 190.7km from Albertville to Valence.

Here's the report from third-place Sonny Colbrelli's Bahrain Victorious team:

Sonny Colbrelli continued his amazing form this season, taking 3rd on the most challenging stage of Tour de France so far.

Sonny Colbrelli

Sonny Colbrelli on his way to third place. Sirotti photo

The 9th stage of this year’s Tour started in Cluses and crossed 144.9 kilometres climbing 4,262 metres finishing in Tignes. It was a consecutive day of rain, made harder with the cold conditions atop of the climbs.

Bahrain Victorious rode aggressively again, with Wout Poels, Sonny Colbrelli and Dylan Teuns moving into the day’s breakaway. Colbrelli aimed to take the intermediate sprint to keep up the fight for the Green Jersey and did so comfortably, moving into third.

Sonny continued his effort showing his versatility on the climbs staying with the second group, and managed to cross the line third on a day other sprinters barely made the cut-off time.

Colbrelli: “I tried to go in the breakaway for the intermediate sprint. I’m happy I took the points there. I then felt good legs and continued to try and fight for the team classification. There are more opportunities for me, and I will try for the Jersey.”

Wilco Kelderman's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

The Tour de France’s first rest day was approaching fast, but not before the hardest day of the race so far. Five difficult climbs dotted the 144.9km parcours, none of these being easier than second category, with the first Hors Catégorie climb the first of many to come in the next two weeks.

The scaling of the Col du Pré came at the 66km point, but there were still two more climbs to contend with, including the first category ascent to Tignes, and with plenty of opportunities to go on the attack, the GC standings would likely look very different once the dust had settled at the end of the day. In spite of the day’s final climb being the longest of this year’s edition of the race, there was plenty of ambition at the start, with riders attacking from the first kilometre, only for others to attack shortly after.

This left the peloton stretched out on the road, with several groups forming immediately as some riders dropped off the back on the 9.4% average gradients of the first climb, while others chose to clip off the front, Patrick Konrad one of those pushing ahead. A small lead group was followed by a larger escape group of around thirty riders, but with the constant climbing and descending, these groups would break apart and come back together as the day progressed.

Patrick was joined by Nils Politt in the large lead group, and at the midway point, as the race made its way up the HC Col du Pré, Patrick and Nils’ group was around a minute behind the leaders, with the peloton six minutes back. However, both riders were feeling the strain at this point, both riding at their own pace. Wilco Kelderman was riding with the GC favourites and the Maillot Jaune, a group that had stuck together much of the day.

As this select group made its way up to the finish line in Tignes, the yellow jersey went on the attack, but with the harsh conditions taking their toll, and in a great show of team spirit, Patrick and Nils dropped back to ride in support of BORA-hansgrohe’s GC rider, Nils supporting the Dutchman at the start of the last climb, and Patrick in the latter part. Wilco was careful not to push himself too hard, taking thirteenth on the line, with Patrick finishing less than a minute behind him. From here, it was a matter of waiting for the rest of the team to come home, with all of the BORA-hansgrohe team coming in safely and within the time limit.

Patrick Konrad

Patrick Konrad riding stage 14 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"It was another brutal day. Sometimes, I was so cold in the descents that I couldn't feel my hands anymore. However, my legs were good again, actually, I was really confident before the final climb. In the finale, I struggled a little, maybe because I hadn't eaten enough, but, in these conditions and after these harsh days, it can happen. Overall, I can be happy with this first week, I am still in the mix for a podium spot and I look forward to the second week." – Wilco Kelderman

"I was up there from the first climb, I focused on Alaphilippe because he was the man today. Actually, I invested too much energy in the first hour while some riders made it into the break and saved more energy. That's why I had to ride at my own pace in the first steep part of Col du Pré. In the end, I felt better again and was going well. I felt I had a chance at finishing third on the stage but when Wilco found himself alone with the other contenders, I realized I had to sacrifice my ambitions and wait for him. One never knows what can happen and it is always better to have someone there to help if needed." – Patrick Konrad

"As we all have seen, it has been an incredibly hard first week at the Tour de France. Today as well, the stage was about suffering, from the start. The guys did a great job, Patrick and Nils made it into the break while Wilco was also well protected. In the finale, Nils was with Wilco at the beginning of the last climb, later Patrick waited to be with him in the last section. That was really good. Wilco did a strong race again, some contenders struggled in the end, he was there and just lost contact in the last km. We can be happy as we are still fighting for a podium spot. It was difficult to survive this first week and Wilco already crashed on the first day. If we take this into account, his position now is almost perfect." –Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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