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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, July 15, 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.

Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm schizophrenic, and so am I. - Oscar Levant


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Police raid Bahrain Victorious team at Tour de France

Here's is the Associated Press report:

The Bahrain Victorious team competing at the Tour de France was raided by French police on the eve of Thursday’s stage as part of a doping investigation, according to judicial and police officials.

The team confirmed in a statement that riders’ rooms were searched by officers at the hotel it stayed in in the southwestern city of Pau.

PEllo Bilbao

Bahrain Victorious rider Pello Bilbao climbs Mt. Ventoux in stage 11. Sirotti photo

In a statement to The Associated Press, the Marseille prosecutor in charge of the case said a preliminary investigation targeting members of the team was opened on July 3 “for acquisition, transport, possession, import of a substance or method prohibited for use by an athlete without medical justification.”

Judicial officials in Pau confirmed “judiciary actions” took place at the team hotel, without further details.

About 25 officers from a special public health unit (OCLAESP) in charge of the case were involved in the search, according to police.

“Despite being unaware of the investigation reasons, the team was also requested to provide all training files which were compiled and presented to the officers as requested,” the team said.

“We were greeted by several French police officers. We were not given a warrant to read through, but the team complied with all the officers’ requests,” technical director Vladimir Miholjević said. “The process had impacted our riders recovery and meal planning, and as a professional team the wellbeing of our team is a key priority.”

You can read the entire story here.

Tour de France stage 17 reports

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

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

On the queen stage of this Tour de France, 178.4km from Muret to the top of Col du Portet at 2,200 meters above sea level, Tadej Pogačar once again showed his class, taking his second stage victory in the 2021 edition of the Grande Boucle.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar takes stage seventeen. Sirotti photo

The race saw the men in the general classification control the initial stages, with UAE Team Emirates protecting and escorting the Yellow Jersey to the slopes of Col du Portet, a 16.3 km climb with peaks of 10% gradient.

Halfway through the last climb, Pogačar attacked, with only Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)able to follow.

With 2km to go Carapaz launched a decisive attack but was unable to shake off Pogačar.

On the final metres the trio reunited with Pogačar launching the final sprint which earned him not only the stage but precious seconds over his rivals in the general classification.

Tadej Pogačar: “Today the team did a great job, checking the breaks as always and allowing me to arrive as rested as possible to the final climbs. In the last 8km I tried to attack several times, but Vingegaard and Carapaz really pushed me and made me work to get this victory. With Vingegaard we understood that Carapaz would try to surprise us, so I was careful and then ready to launch the final sprint in the last 50 meters ”.

Tomorrow the last mountain stage is scheduled. “Only” 130km with the ascents to the Col du Tourmalet (17.1km at 7.3%) and the arrival in Luz Ardiden (13.3km at 7.4%).

Here's the report from second-place Jonas Vingegaard's Jumbo-Visma team:

In the seventeenth stage, Jonas Vingegaard has done well regarding the final podium in the Tour de France. The leader of Team Jumbo-Visma impressed on the Col du Portet and only had to bow his head for race leader Tadej Pogacar. The Dane also climbed one place in the general classification and is second behind the Slovenian.

Jonas Vingegaard (white jersey) finished a little ahead of Richard Carapaz. Sirotti photo

During the Pyrenees stage, including the Col de Peyresourde, it was a hand-to-hand combat on the steep slopes of the Col du Portet. After an early break was reeled in, Pogacar attacked. He was joined by Vingegaard and Carapaz. After the Ecuadorian had accelerated in the final kilometre, Vingegaard initially couldn’t go along. The Dane, however, managed to fight back and eventually crossed the line just behind Pogacar in second place.

Steven Kruijswijk had to abandon the Tour with illness symptoms, which means that Team Jumbo-Visma is down to four riders in the remaining stages.

Vingegaard was delighted with his performance. “What a day. Second in the stage and second in the general classification. I’m very happy with that. I think Pogacar, Carapaz and I were evenly matched today. Carapaz didn’t cooperate with us. When he accelerated in the final kilometre, I initially wasn’t able to respond his attack. But luckily I was strong enough to fight back and outsprint him on the line. I don’t think I could have beaten Pogacar. He is very strong and is in the overall lead for a reason. But I don’t regret my efforts. Hopefully I can survive tomorrow and then it looks good to finish on the podium in Paris.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann concurred and made a big compliment to his team. “I am very proud of how the team rode today. The boys were very strong again. It is of course a pity that we lost Steven due to illness, but it is admirable how the others have flipped a switch. Especially Wout and Sepp were of great value in the run-up to the final climb. Jonas has shown that he is a great talent for the future and has made big steps in his development as a Grand Tour rider in the Tour. We didn’t expect him to be able to do this already. The fighting spirit he has shown to fight back beyond Carapaz is good to see. But we are not there yet as another tough mountain stage and a time trial are yet to come. Anything can still happen. But today we have taken a big step in the right direction. With Jonas, and also with a talent like Tobias Foss, things are looking good for us for the future.”

Here's the report from third-place Richard Carapaz's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Richard Carapaz put in a strong and measured late attack on stage 17 to finish third on the stage and move up to third overall at the Tour de France.

The Ecuadorian dug deep to stay on the wheel of yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar and nearest rival Jonas Vingegaard on the steep slopes of the Col du Portet. Pogacar’s attack saw only that trio go clear, with Rigoberto Uran becoming distanced.

Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz leads Tadej Pogacar with a half-kilometer to go. Sirotti photo

Carapaz bided his time before launching an acceleration with 1.4km to go, attacking through the tunnel in a bid to win the stage. Despite Vingegaard initially losing contact, Richie was shut down and eventually finished third over the line, four seconds behind a victorious Pogacar.

The result ensured the Grenadier moved up to third overall, now 1:34 ahead of Uran, and now just four seconds behind Vingegaard.

Carapaz’s efforts were aided by an incredible turn from Jonathan Castroviejo. The Spaniard was the final teammate on the steep slopes, upping the pace before burying himself to help Carapaz bridge across following the initial acceleration of the yellow jersey.

And here's the report from sixth-place Wilco Kelderman's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Stage 17 of the Tour de France started quietly, with flat roads for the first two-thirds of the 178.4km parcours, but this all changed for the last 65km of the route. Flat roads were replaced with incredibly tough climb, with two first category ascents followed by the hors catégorie Col du Portet for the day’s summit finale.

It was a big day for the French riders, who would want to make their mark on Bastille Day, with several massing at the front of the peloton waiting for the chance to attack. While there were multiple attempts to break away, none of these moves managed to stick until a quartet managed to escape after more than 20km of racing, with two Frenchmen getting in the break, along with Lukas Pöstlberger and with another two joining them soon after.

As rain started falling on the course, Lukas’ group built a lead of more than four minutes, using the flatter roads to their advantage, which rose to eight minutes with 80km of the stage covered. The rest of the BORA-hansgrohe team was working hard for Wilco Kelderman to keep him safe and protected ahead of the day’s three major climbs, with Emanuel Buchmann working with him on these. Each of the mountains had different characteristics, with the first climb longer and with a shallower gradient, and the second shorter but steeper. It was here that Lukas dropped back from the lead group to support Wilco, leaving the Austrian rider in a second group of three behind the three leaders.

While the gap was dropping ahead of the Col du Portet, the peloton would feel every kilometre of the 16km climb and its average 8.7% gradient, but in a rapidly-shrinking GC group, Wilco was riding confidently having stayed in touch the whole stage and sticking close to the yellow jersey. However, a crash on the descent of the Col de Val Lauron-Azet saw Wilco lose time, and at a point where Emanuel, having supported him throughout the stage, was about to drop back, the German rider rode Wilco back into contention with the main GC group.

Wilko kelderman

Here Alexey Lutsenko leads Wilco Kelderman in stage 11. Sirotti photo

When the roads hit 14% and the attacks came, Wilco dug in and rode at a steady pace, the Dutchman instead picking off the riders who put themselves into the red responding to the attacks. With most of the break caught and passed, it was for the overall contenders to fight for time on the final 5km as the roads became surrounded by mist at these high altitudes. Crossing the line to take sixth place on the stage, Wilco maintained his sixth in the GC with a tough day in the mountains to come tomorrow.

From the Finish Line
"In the last corner of the final descent, I went wide and crashed. I thought I was going to make it, I was able to hold on with one leg on the gravel but my front wheel was blocked, so I tumbled and landed almost flat on my face. It wasn't very nice, just before the last climb. It's a pity, my legs were good and I was a bit interrupted. Emu was with me and helped me reach the GC group again just when the final climb started. I would say it was a good day, I held on to my position, and tomorrow will be another hard day where I will, hopefully, be able to battle for a better spot." - Wilco Kelderman

"Everything went according to the plan we had today, until the final descent. We wanted to put a rider in the breakaway that wouldn't be able to stay over all the climbs but still be available to help in the final part after he dropped back from the break. Lukas made it and did a great job. He was there to feed Wilco and Emu when he went back to the main group. Everybody else was focused on staying with Wilco, the big guys worked a lot in the flat parts, sheltering him from the wind. Emu stayed as long as possible which was important because Wilco suffered a fall at the end of the last descent. Emu, obviously, waited, pulled for him in the final flat part, and brought him back to the GC group at the bottom of the final climb. Unfortunately, that required a lot of effort from both of them, especially Emu who had to go deep. The fact Wilco was able to stay with the best in most of the climb was a very good sign and we can be happy with our performance today, even if we weren't very lucky." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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