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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 17, 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.

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing. - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


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Tour de France stage 19 reports

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

We'll start with stage winner Matej Mohoric's Bahrain Victorious team's report:

Matej Mohorič took his second stage victory at this year’s Tour de France, taking Bahrain Victorious’ tally up to three.

Matej Mohoric

Matej Mohoric gets his second stage win this Tour. Sirotti photo

The 19th stage started in Mourenx and, finishing in Libourne, raced over 207 kilometres. It was expected to be a day for a bunch sprint, but an early breakaway of six riders, including Mohorič, had other ideas.

The break had a gap of around four minutes. With 100 kilometres to go, a group of 14 riders managed to bridge over to the breakaway. In the last 40 kilometres, the break started to attack each other. In the final 25 kilometres, Matej managed to break clear of the rest and solo to victory in Libourne, also earning the most combative rider award.

Matej Mohoric: ” On paper, it was a day for the sprint, but I wanted to make sure I was ready to go in any move. When I heard another group was coming over, I knew that they would also be making a big effort to close us, so I remained calm. In the end, it was about following the right move, and when Pollit attacked, I countered and was able to make a gap. I was suffering in the last ten kilometres, but I just kept fighting till the finish.

I am so happy, not just for me but the team. We had a hard couple of days, but it just brought us closer together and to keep fighting. I’m super proud of this win, this team and what we’ve achieved at this race.”

Here's the report from third-place Casper Pedersen's Team DSM:

A rolling 207 kilometre long parcours awaited the peloton this afternoon as they left the start town of Mourenx. A fierce start was expected to the stage, as numerous teams looked to make it into the breakaway and upset the sprinters. As in previous stages, the team were prominent and to the fore, covering any large moves, before a six rider group managed to slip away. With the peloton content at that moment, those ahead were able to build up an advantage of around four minutes before the bunch started to chase.

It seemed as if the race was settled and it would be a normal sprint stage but a flurry of attacks with 140 kilometres still to go shook the race up. Attentive at the front, Casper Pedersen made it into a large 20 rider chase group that set off in pursuit of those at the head of the race. Teams that missed the move kept the pace high in the peloton and at one point the three groups were separated by less than a minute. Eventually the elastic snapped after some incredibly hard and fast riding, with Pedersen’s breakaway building up a ten minute advantage with 50 kilometres to go; ensuring they would fight it out for the stage win.

Things became incredibly tactical as the group whittled down, with attack after attack put in at the head of the race. Pedersen rode exceptionally well, continuing to force the pace and a group of 12 riders forged on with 35 kilometres to go. The group worked well together for a little while, before the attacks started once gain, where Pedersen was incredibly active for the team but he wasn’t able to get a smaller group clear. Heading into the last 20 kilometres, eventual stage winner Mohoric put in an attack and with the rest of the group looking at each other and the tactical games continuing, his gap began to expand.

With the stage win gone, the fight for the final two podium positions was just as equally intense with multiple attacks made on the run in. Pedersen tried several of his own, before launching one final well timed move going under two kilometres to go and gaining a gap. The chasers countered and Laporte eventually bridged across to him inside 500 metres to go, but Pedersen hung on for a brilliant third place on the line for the team; claiming his first ever Tour de France podium finish.

Christophe Laporte

Christophe Laporte (in red Cofidis kit) leads Casper Pedersen as they finish the stage. Sirotti photo

“There were a lot of teams who wanted to go out and race today,” expressed Pedersen at the finish. “It was the last chance for many teams to go in the break, so I think that’s why at coming up to the halfway point some teams started attacking. We had Cees for the sprint but we were aware that we had to follow the big groups, because it might end up like it did. Mohoric went at a smart moment and he’s also a clever rider. When he went, everyone looked at each other a bit. Once he got the gap, he was able to ride really fast out front as we started to take turns in the chase behind. It was a big tactical game in the finish; it was about being ready to react but also not to react on everything. I did all that I could.”

Team DSM coach Luke Roberts added: “We knew it was going to be a tricky stage today. It was 50-50 if it was going to be a sprint finish or a breakaway. Quite a big crash in the beginning looked as if it would help five riders to get away, with Mohoric jumping them to make it six. From there it looked as if it might go in the way of a sprint but there were a lot of riders in the peloton not happy with that. After some action at the intermediate sprint the race kicked off again. We were sharp and Casper found himself in a move that went across to the front six, so there was a group of 20 guys out front. We tried to analyse a bit who was in the group and how they would race the final. I think Casper has done a really good job covering the moves he had to. There was just one move he couldn’t cover from Mohoric, which was a really strong counter over the top of Politt and nobody had the legs to follow that. Casper has done a really nice ride from there on and in the end picked up a podium place for us; and we can be happy with that.”

Here's the report from fourth-place Mike Teunissen's Jumbo-Visma team:

Mike Teunissen has finished fourth in the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France. The Dutchman was part of a large leading group that was allowed by the peloton to go for the stage victory. Jonas Vingegaard kept his second place in the general classification.

Jonas Vingegaard

Jumbo-Visma rider Jonas Vingegaard kept his second place in the GC. Sirotti photo

In the stage of more than two hundred kilometres it took a long time before the breakaway with Teunissen got established. When the peloton gave in, the lead rapidly increased to more than twenty minutes. In the leading group a tactical game of cat and mouse ensued. Teunissen tried several times, but Slovenian Mohoric proved to be the strongest of the breakaway.

“You don’t get in that position every day, so you have to go for it. In such a big group you have to gamble and be lucky”, Teunissen said. “We were in the front with only strong riders. You can’t watch just one rider: everyone is watching everyone. And you can’t react to everything. When Mohoric accelerated on that uphill section, I didn’t have the legs to go with him”, Teunissen continued.

“Behind him, the cooperation wasn’t optimal either. When it turned out we didn’t get a second closer, you know you’re riding for second place. Wout said he wanted to focus on the time trial, so this was a chance for me. Fourth is not bad, but ultimately it is also nothing. I would have liked to reward the confidence of the team.”

And here's the report from fifth-place Nils Politt's Bora-hansgrohe team:

As the last proper road stage ahead of tomorrow’s time trial and the traditional procession into Paris on Sunday, stage 19 would give riders their last opportunity to win from a breakaway.

There were few climbs on the 207km parcours and while the stage was long, it might not be enough to put the sprinters out of contention. Instead, the break would have to build an insurmountable advantage to take the win. Heading due north without any more big mountains to contend with injected some pace into the peloton, with multiple attacks as soon as the stage started, but this frenzied beginning to the day brought with it some crashes, Patrick Konrad, Nils Politt and Wilco Kelderman coming down in these. While the trio was held up by these incidents, there were no signs of injury other than bruises, and all three resumed riding.

In amongst the chaos, a group of six went ahead and built a commanding lead, but with around 125km to go and clearly undeterred by the earlier crash, Nils joined a large group that aggressively pursued the leaders, their high pace splitting the twenty-man chase group just a few kilometres after going off the front of the peloton, this new fourteen strong group joining up with the leaders with 100km remaining. From here, the surge in pace and fresh legs in the lead group saw the break increase its lead dramatically, surging to more than twelve minutes with 35km to go.

Further attacks created a new group on the front, Nils representing BORA-hansgrohe here, before a further attack with 25km left put a solo rider in the lead. The ten remaining riders gave chase and it was clear from the huge effort Nils was putting in that the German rider wanted to add a second win to the one already taken on stage 12. While the gap to the solo rider shrank, Nils’ colleagues in the chase group were less ambitious and broke off their pursuit. Crossing the line to take fifth position, it was then just a matter of waiting for the rest of the peloton to come in safely, the remainder of the BORA-hansgrohe team riding across the line together with the peloton, twenty minutes later.

Peloton

The peloton finished stage nineteen almost 21 minutes after winner Matej Mohoric crossed the line. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"It was a really hard day, with almost 49km/h average speed with headwinds. We had quite a hectic start as well with the two crashes in the beginning and then 50km into the race, the attacks started again. Unlike the previous stage where I was also active in the breakaway, this time I was alone and it was a big group, so I had to try something towards the end instead of earlier. It was also quite hilly and I tried nearly in every hill. It was a hard fight, everybody was dead and I think that fifth on the line is quite a good result. In one of the attacks, I was trying to select a group but everybody was looking at me. Then Mohorič went but it wasn't up to me again to close the gap because there were some teams with two riders there. For sure, when you already have a stage win in your pocket it isn't easy because everybody is looking at you." – Nils Politt

"We had a hard day, and for some, it maybe was harder than expected. However, a lot of teams have still no win and will try everything to get one. It's a pity Wilco was involved in the second crash, but fortunately, he is fine besides some bruises. Still, this isn't an ideal situation ahead of tomorrow's TT. Nevertheless, overall, the team did a very good race again, they were always active. Nils was in the escape group and probably was the strongest one, together with Mohorič. He attacked several times but Mohorič made a smart move at the right moment. Unfortunately, nobody wanted to cooperate with Nils afterward since they knew how strong he was, but that's part of cycling. We raced an offensive stage again, so everything is good." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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