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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, July 18, 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.

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all. - Noam Chomsky

Current racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

Volta Limburg Classic cancelled because of flooding

Here's the organizer's statement:

The situation created by the flooding in large parts of South Limburg is incalculable and causes enormous problems. We would therefore like to inform everyone that unfortunately there will be a line through the Volta Limburg Classic weekend of 17 and 18 July 2021.

As an organization, we were ready and everything was done to make the event go coronaproof. “We were confident that we were going to have a great event that met the corona measures after last Friday's press conference. Especially when the weather forecast was announced last weekend, sunny with 25 degrees.” said chairman Jean Demollin. What happened in the past few days, however, could not be overstated.

South Limburg is ravaged by heavy rainfall and flooding and this causes huge problems. Many roads in South Limburg are impassable and the situation remains highly uncertain. The problems in the region are enormous and the damage is incalculable. We are defeated and sad after seeing the terrible images. We sympathize with all those affected and wish them a lot of strength. The cancellation of the Volta Limburg Classic weekend is therefore the only option, even if it becomes sunny again this weekend and the roads would be accessible again. As an organization we do not think it is responsible to organize an event in this disaster area.

In the coming period, the consequences for the Volta Limburg Classic will be looked at and this will be communicated with the participants, sponsors, suppliers and other involved parties at a later date. We have also been taken by surprise by the scale of the disaster currently taking place in South Limburg and we do not have a script ready for this scenario. We hope for everyone's understanding of the situation and will inform everyone of the further steps later.

Tour de France stage 20 reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team:

Wout van Aert has won the twentieth stage of the Tour de France. The Belgian rider was the fastest in a time trial over thirty kilometres. It meant his second stage in this edition of the Tour. Jonas Vingegaard rode to third place.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert on his way to winning stage 20. Sirotti photo

The fact that Van Aert was riding a good time trial became clear through his intermediate times along the road. Van Aert was faster than the competition at both the first and the second waypoint. At the finish he had an advantage of twenty-one seconds over number two Kasper Asgreen. Vingegaard consolidated his second place in the general classification thanks to a strong time trial.

For Van Aert it is his seventh victory of the season. He took Team Jumbo-Visma’s 2021 victory tally to twenty-three.

“It was one of my big goals in my career to win a time trial in the Tour de France”, Van Aert said. “It’s the biggest race of the year. I have been looking forward to this time trial for a long time and I really worked towards it in recent days. I am very happy that it worked out. Compared to the previous race against the clock, this was a faster time trial. That was to my advantage. When I saw the classification riders’ times from the hot seat, my hopes of winning began to rise. It was a perfect day.”

Van Aert is proud of the way his team continued to fight after a difficult start. “It was not an easy Tour for us. We kept fighting and that resulted in three stage wins and a second place for Jonas in the general classification with one stage to go. We can all be very proud of that.”

Sportive director Merijn Zeeman also spoke of a perfect time trial for Van Aert. “We have invested a lot of time and effort in Wout’s time trial. Mathieu Heijboer put a lot of energy and time in it. Think of materials, posture, position and wind tunnel tests. It all comes together in this great performance. Wout was clearly much better than during the first time trial. He has really grown and become better in this Tour. I expected this from Wout. We knew he was one of the top favourites today and that he would be satisfied with nothing less than the win. The fact that Jonas finished third today makes it a dream day.”

Vingegaard was proud of his time trial which consolidated his second place in the standings. “It’s great to be second in the GC one day before Paris. I’m really proud of that. It was a difficult course, but I felt good on the road. After Primoz abandoned in the first week, I took over from him. I’m happy with the way I did that.”

Here's the report from second-place Kasper Asgreen's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Kasper Asgreen delivered another solid performance, confirming his prowess against the clock and finishing runner-up in the 30.8km individual time trial that took place over a rolling course between Libourne and Saint-Émilion, in the Nouvelle-Aquitanie region.

Kasper Asgreen

Kasper Asgreen time-trialing at this year's Dauphiné. Sirotti photo

The three-time Danish ITT Champion was one of the riders to watch on this penultimate Tour de France stage, and he didn’t disappoint, turning out a great ITT and setting the benchmark at both intermediate checkpoints. Not even the heat and the headwind could hamper the Ronde van Vlaanderen’s effort, who continued to ride strongly tucked over the aero bars to keep the watts and save speed, setting a time of 36:14 at the finish after averaging a stunning 51km/h.

Asgreen remained in the hot seat for almost two hours, until Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who was among the late starters, improved his time. The 26-year-old wasn’t the only Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to impress Saturday afternoon, as also Mattia Cattaneo produced a good time trial and concluded sixth for his fifth top 10 at the race.

“There were many strong riders at the start today, so I knew it was going to be difficult, that’s why being on the podium is a result that gives me a lot of satisfaction, especially as it comes after a long and hard three weeks and just a few days before the Olympics. The opening kilometers had some rough asphalt and were quite bumpy, making it difficult to find the rhythm, so my main focus was on the two long straights. Top 3 at the end of the day is a good result, my first podium at the race this year”, Kasper said at the finish.

Here's the report from fourth-place Stefan Küng's Team Groupama-FDJ:

For several days, Stefan Küng was only thinking about the last time trial of the Tour de France. The European champion gave everything through the vineyards in Bordeaux’ surroundings, but it was not enough on Saturday to get the only place that interested him: the first one. Runner-up to Pogacar in Laval, the Swiss rider eventually finished 4th in this twentieth stage, a bit more than thirty seconds behind the winner Wout Van Aert. On the eve of the final day of racing in Paris, and before flying to Tokyo, Stefan Küng brought Groupama-FDJ its eighth top-10 in this 2021 edition of the Tour de France.

Stefan Kung

Stefan Küng riding the stage five time trial. Sirotti photo

In the minutes following his second place in Laval’s time trial, Stefan Küng already had thoughts on Saint-Émilion’s one, scheduled on the penultimate day of the Tour. After making it through the Pyrenees quite well, the Swiss champion seemed quite ready for this final time trial, contested on a very rolling 30-kilometre course made for specialists. However, before the European champion set off around 3:30 pm, the silver medallist of the last French time trial championship left the ramp. On a good day, Bruno Armirail set a very solid time that provisionally placed him in third place. Eventually, the Frenchman took a decent twelfth place at the end of his very first Tour de France. “My time trial was alright,” he explained. “But having been sick lately, I didn’t have as much power as I use to. I really felt it today. I would have liked to compete in this time trial at my maximal potential, but I hope I will have the opportunity to do so in the next few years.”

An hour after Bruno Armirail, Stefan Küng also took the start of the time trial. Named by many as one of the day’s favourites, the European champion pushed hard right from the beginning and even had a ten-second lead at the first checkpoint. “I absolutely wanted to win today,” said the Swiss rider later. “I felt really good and I was really motivated at the start. Maybe too much, actually. I started too hard and I then paid for it. I’m a specialist and I know what to do, but we’re on the Tour, and I was so motivated. I thought it could be my day. I really wanted to pull it off. I felt really confident, and having already been second twice on the Tour, I absolutely wanted this victory. Maybe I got a little excited, and once you get into the red zone, you can’t really recover in such a time trial. Then, it all gets very complicated and it’s just pure suffering”.

At the second checkpoint, the Swiss rider thus lost all his advantage and eventually crossed the line thirteen seconds slower than Kasper Asgreen. Jonas Vingegaard, and above all the winner Wout van Aert, also beat him later and the Swiss champion had to settle for fourth place today.

“Stefan was really looking forward to this time trial, in order to do the best possible result, but some were better than us today,” simply said Marc Madiot. “I surely am disappointed,” added the bronze medallist of the last World Time Trial Championship. “When you absolutely want to win, you can also make mistakes, but there will be other opportunities. That being said, Wout’s time puts everything back in perspective. He did what I wanted to do: crush everyone. But I will come back”.

Three times in the top-5 on this year’s Tour de France, Stefan Küng won’t be relaxing for long after tomorrow’s finish in Paris, as he will aim for a medal in the Olympic Games’ time trial. “I know I’m in shape, and I feel like I am recovering well because I had great legs today,” he said. “I am confident for Tokyo”. David Gaudu will also fly to Japan at the end of the Tour, while he secured eleventh place overall on Saturday’s time trial. Tomorrow, the Tour will end as usual with a sprinters’ stage in the streets of Paris. “It’s always special to arrive on the Champs Élysées”, concluded David. “I think of Bruno, for whom it will be a first experience. Personally, my head is already on the Olympic Games in a week’s time”.

And here's the report from Richard Carapaz's INEOS Grenadiers team:

Richard Carapaz put in a strong time trial performance to all but confirm third place at the Tour de France.

The Ecuadorian will ride into Paris with his Grenadiers team-mates on Sunday with a comfortable advantage back to fourth place, and is set to complete a collection of podium finishes at all three Grand Tours.

Richard CArapaz

Richard Carapaz leads GC leader Tadej Pogacar in stage 17. Sirotti photo

Carapaz sits 7:03 seconds back on race winner-in-waiting Tadej Pogacar, and 1:43 back on runner-up Jonas Vingegaard.

Dylan van Baarle was the highest finishing Grenadier on the day, setting the 10th fastest time on the road into Saint-Emilion. Jonathan Castroviejo also continued his superb Tour with 13th fastest time on the day.

Geraint Thomas:
"It was nice to ride on my own and enjoy the crowd with lovely weather and nice roads.

"It’s certainly been an up and down race. It’s probably the toughest Tour I’ve done mentally. I came here to fight for the win or at least a podium. So for that to just disappear on stage eight, and to be back there – that’s not where I wanted to be and what I’d trained all year for. To get through all that I can be proud of that. It will be nice to see my son in Paris tomorrow. That will be a nice moment."

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