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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, July 11, 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 most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said. - Peter Drucker

Tour de France: 2020

Current racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

Team DSM’s Søren Kragh Andersen abandons the Tour de France

The team sent me this bad news:

The worst affected from a crash on a section of road strewn with gravel that brought down nearly all of Team DSM’s riders, Søren Kragh Andersen will not start stage 14 of the Tour de France today. Finishing yesterday’s stage 16 minutes down, Kragh Andersen was the second last rider to cross the finish line on the day, he was immediately taken for assessment by the team’s medical staff. After close observation overnight, Kragh Andersen showed signs of concussion, which left no room for discussion with the team’s medical staff regarding his continuation at the race. The 26 year old Dane will now head home for a period of rest completely off the bike while he recovers.

Soren Kragh Andersen

Soren Kragh Andersen racing in this year's Paris-Nice. Photo: ASO/Boukla

Kragh Andersen said: “I am really disappointed and don’t want to leave the Tour de France. In my heart I know that the decision of the team’s medical staff can only be right one. I hope this is the last of the bad luck for the guys here at the race, and I wish them all the best for the final week.”

Team DSM physician Camiel Aldershof added: “We closely monitored Søren during the evening and very quickly came to the decision that he was no longer fit to race after seeing some signs of concussion. Søren will now take a complete period of rest and we will continue assessing his progress, before we consider a plan for his return to the bike.”

Tour de France stage fourteen reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Patrick Konrad's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The fight on stage 14 of the Tour de France would take place on several fronts. With a little more than a week until the grand finale in Paris, the GC contenders would be aiming to take time wherever possible, and the undulating 183.7km parcours with its five categorised climbs spread throughout provided an excellent springboard for a late attack in the shape of the final climb, summitting less than 20km ahead of a long downhill stretch to the finish line in Quillan.

Other riders with their eye on the prize today were the breakaway, with the attacks starting from the moment the flag dropped to start the stage. After a couple of false starts, three riders built the slimmest of leads over the peloton, with the bunch stretched out and splintering from multiple attacks and counter-attacks, with Ide Schelling trying to get in the day’s big move.

It wasn’t until the peloton had covered nearly 100km that the race settled down, Patrick Konrad one of the riders who made it into a chase group as they fought to join up with the leaders, with the main bunch more than four minutes behind at this point. An attack from the lead group saw Bauke Mollema go ahead solo with 40km to go, and with little ambition to make the catch in the chase group, the Austrian national champion went off the front with three others in their quest to catch him with 20km remaining.

With Patrick leading his chase group and the distance remaining dropping below 10km, the main bunch was more than six minutes behind and had no chance of making the catch. While the solo rider took the stage, in the fight for the remaining podium places, Patrick sprinted from a long way out and claimed the second step on the podium in a photo finish finale. Staying safe in the bunch with the GC leaders, Wilco Kelderman crossed the line side by side with Emanuel Buchmann, all of the GC top ten aside from the yellow jersey dropping a place today, the Dutchman finishing the day in seventh overall.

Patrick Konrad

Patrick Konrad beats Sergio Higuita for second place. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line
"It was a really, really long and hard fight today for the break to form. I would say that 80% of the bunch wanted to be in there and that's why it took so long to finally go away. After seeing that the GC riders seemed to be happy the race started to get controlled by UAE, I saw it was my opportunity and had to take it, so I went full gas on the KOM and got in the break.

"With Guillaume Martin in the day's breakaway, it was clear I wasn't going to pull in that group. He was 9 minutes back in the GC and I didn't want to bring him earlier to the finish. I was sitting at the back of the break when Mollema attacked. I don't know why nobody made the effort to follow him, I tried once but there was no rhythm any longer in the break. I can't say I'm unhappy but I would certainly be happier if I were sprinting for victory. Mollema made a smart move, the road was twisting and we couldn't see him. The climbs suited him today and he was strong. When he had a 30-second lead nobody wanted to chase him and it wasn't up to me to do it." – Patrick Konrad

"Patrick had a solid race today, he gave a spirited fight to make it to the breakaway and was there with many strong riders. Since Guillaume Martin was in the break as well, we didn't work as we didn't want to contribute to his GC positioning. We saved energy and tried to win the stage. We were surprised to see that the decisive move would be made downhill, Patrick missed it but afterward did a good race, was strong in the final climb, and took second on the line. It was a very good result." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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

Mattia Cattaneo continues to be the best placed Italian rider at the Tour de France, where he now lies an impressive tenth after a third day in the breakaway, this time with the Pyrenees looming on the horizon. It all happened at the end of the hilly stage 14 between Carcassonne and Quillan, which featured five classified climbs and 3000 vertical meters.

Mattia Cattaneo

Mattia Cattaneo finished fourth. Sirotti photo

The battle for the breakaway was a fierce one, Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen and Dries Devenyns all trying their luck in a crazy fast first hour of racing, but the peloton remained as one until the Col de Montségur, where Mattia Cattaneo made his move. The 30-year-old was soon followed by other riders and soon a breakaway group was formed, which continued to nudge out their advantage to a maximum of six minutes inside the final 40 kilometers of the stage 14, when attacks began coming thick and fast.

On a descent, Bauke Mollema (TrekSegafredo) took off, while behind Cattaneo was the heart of the chasing group, putting in some long turns at the front as he tried to reduce the gap to the Dutchman. The final climb on the course awaited the riders with a brutal double-digit section, which poured lead in the legs of some riders, but Mattia continued to tap out a solid tempo that reduced the gap to the leader. One of the stage’s most combative riders, the man from Lombardia continued to pull in the closing kilometers and finished fourth, missing out on a second podium finish for a mere two seconds.

His valiant effort didn’t go unrewarded, as at the end of the day Cattaneo moved up one position in the general classification, making him the highest ranked Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider: “I tried to give my best today, as the objective was to fight for the stage victory, but in the end I began feeling the stage in the legs. It was a very tough day from the start and you could see how difficult it was to make it into the break, but I was determined to be there because I like going on the attack. When things became really hard on the last ascent I dosed my effort carefully and rode at my own tempo, which helped. To be tenth in the standings is nice and it would be great to finish there, but it’s still a long way to go so I will continue to take it one day at a time.”

Points classification leader Mark Cavendish made it home safely – protected by several of his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates – and will wear the green jersey, which he won a decade ago, for the 36th time in his career.

Here's the report from new King of the Mountains Michael Woods' Israel Start-Up Nation team:

Israel Start-Up Nation has taken the iconic polka dot KOM jersey with Michael Woods after a courageous effort by the Canadian climber on stage 14 of the Tour de France. This is the first ever leader’s jersey for ISN in the the Tour!

Michael Woods

Michael Woods is in polka-dots. Sirotti photo

With its undulating profile, today’s stage had breakaway written all over it. Therefore, it was no surprise to see a furious fight to make it into the right group at the start of the day. After nearly 100 km of fighting, a group finally managed to get away. Having been attentive near the front the whole time, waiting for the optimal moment, Woods was quick to get up the road and join the leading riders.

“From that moment on, I was trying to play my cards right,” Woods explained afterward. “I didn’t want to spend too much energy fighting Poels for the KOM points, but I also had to take more points than him, which was a difficult task because he’s so strong.”

On the following three categorized climbs, Woods picked up nine KOM points which put him in the virtual lead of the competition.

Unfortunately, on the penultimate descent, Woods suffered a minor crash, which meant he had to expend significant energy chasing back to the front group. Shortly after he made it back, Bauke Mollema [Trek-Segafredo] attacked and soloed away.

At the top of the last climb, Woods put in another strong effort, crossing the line in second place, sealing his move to the top of the ranking in the KOM competition.

“It was a nice feeling, knowing I had taken the jersey, but I was also cursing myself for crashing. I was so disappointed in myself. Still, I knew I was on a really good day and I’m really proud to be riding in the polka dot jersey tomorrow. Especially on familiar roads in Andorra,” Woods said.

In the end, Woods finished fifth on the stage, his second top-5 place in this year’s Tour de France after taking third on stage 8. An impressive result, but – to Woods – only one thing mattered today.

“Growing up, I didn’t know anything about cycling, but I always watched the Tour and I found that the KOM jersey was the coolest jersey of them all. It’s truly a dream come true to be in that jersey now. I hope I can get a good night’s sleep so my body can recover, and I will be able to enjoy it tomorrow.”

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