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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 19, 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.

History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. - Napoleon Bonaparte


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Tour de France stage 21 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:

After a strong sprint, Wout van Aert has won the final stage of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées. Jonas Vingegaard finished second in the general classification. The Dane of Team Jumbo-Visma crowned his debut in La Grande Boucle with a podium place. It is the third consecutive year that the Dutch team has achieved a top three ranking in the final classification of the Tour.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert wins the Tour final stage. Sirotti photo

Thanks to a strong lead out by Mike Teunissen, Van Aert sprinted to his third stage victory. The Belgian won a mountain stage and a time trial earlier in the Tour and now also a sprint stage.

The Tour de France started in a bad way for Team Jumbo-Visma. In the first stage an inattentive spectator caused a crash in which almost the entire team of leader Primoz Roglic was involved. In the third stage Roglic again crashed, after which he continued with a heavy injury. After the eighth stage the Slovenian had to abandon. Tony Martin and Robert Gesink also literally crashed out of the Tour, while Steven Kruijswijk had to give up sick in the third week.

Team Jumbo-Visma continued to compete with the young Vingegaard in the top of the general classification. In addition, Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss achieved success in four different stages. Van Aert was the best in the stage that included two passes over the mythical Mont-Ventoux, in the time trial on the penultimate day and today on the Champs-Élysées, while Kuss triumphed in a mountain stage in his home town of Andorra.

Van Aert could hardly comprehend his third stage victory of this Tour on the Champs-Élysées. “It has been a real rollercoaster. To finish the Tour in this way is beyond my expectations. This victory is priceless. My team, and Mike in particular, did a perfect job. I had confidence in Mike and just had to keep his wheel. Hats off to his lead out.”

Vingegaard did not expect to finish second in the overall classification this year. “If someone had said to me a month ago that I would come second in the Tour, I wouldn’t have believed them. I never expected a podium place in my first Tour and I still don’t quite believe it. I came to the Tour as a replacement for Tom and as Primoz’ servant. I had to stay in the classification as long as possible to be able to play multiple cards if necessary. Unfortunately we lost Primoz in the first week. That gave me a chance and it’s great how it worked out.”

According to the Dane, the second week was a tipping point in the Tour for his team. “We kept fighting as a team. In the second week we won two stages and I moved up to the top of the rankings. We started to believe in it more and more. In the third week things went well for us again and a podium place came into sight. To finish on the podium in the Tour de France is a dream come true. I am very happy with that.”

Sportive director Merijn Zeeman spoke of a Tour that went from extreme disappointment to enormous joy. “I am extremely proud of this entire team, both riders and staff. They have managed to maintain the spirit and focus and set new goals. We all believed in that and went for it. That resilience is a great thing and in top sport crucial to be successful. We did this together and that fills us with joy and pride.”

“After those setbacks, we kept thinking in solutions and not in problems”, Zeeman continued. “We succeeded in that and that is very nice. We kept the faith and came up with a tactic and strategy together with the group of riders. We put a lot of time into this. The performances that Jonas has shown have helped us tremendously. That was a big goal to keep going for. That together made it all come together very well.”

The fact that Team Jumbo-Visma is on the podium, despite only reaching Paris with four riders, has to do with the quality within the team, according to Zeeman. “We kept believing that we could be successful. We dealt with the setbacks in a good way. We regretted that four of our guys had to leave the Tour and we took a moment to reflect on that too, but then we also looked at tomorrow.”

Zeeman, in addition to the fine achievements of the present, does not forget to look to the future. “We have the top of the present, but also of the future in our team. That gives us the belief and awareness that we will also be among the best in the world in the coming years. We have an obligation to continue working with the same passion and energy as we do now. These results have not come out of the blue. They are the result of the hard work of many people in our team who are all pulling in the same direction.”

Here's the report from 2021 Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

Tadej Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates brought the curtain down on a beautiful three weeks of racing by claiming overall victory at the Tour de France 2021. The confirmation of his victory came on the streets of Paris on the Champs Elysees on Stage 21, won by Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

Tadej Pogacar

2021 Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar. Sirotti photo

The foundations for the victory were laid as early as stage 5 at the Laval time trial which he won by a considerable margin and consolidated with the attacks in the Alps on the 8th and 9th stages, crowned with the Pyrenean successes on the Col du Portet and in Luz Ardiden (18th and 19th stages).

Pogačar finished the Tour de France in 82h36’56”, ahead of Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers) in the overall standings.

Just like the 2020 edition, the Slovenian talent also won the polka dot jersey of best climber and the white jersey as leader of the youth ranking.
In conquering his second Grande Boucle (29th career success, 12th of the season), Pogačar was supported by teammates Mikkel Bjerg, Rui Costa, Davide Formolo, Marc Hirschi, Vegard Stake Laengen, Rafal Majka and Brandon McNulty.

Pogačar: “I’m without words. To be here again in Paris less than a year from my first victory is something really special and I am so happy to win this race again. It’s been an emotional few weeks. All the team and staff were amazing and I am so thankful for all the hard work they have done to support me. I leave to the Olympics in Tokyo tomorrow with amazing memories. I can’t wait to come back to the Tour de France again soon.”

Points classification winner Mark Cavendish's Deceuninck-Quick Step team posted this report:

Mark Cavendish capped off one of the most remarkable comebacks in sports history by taking home the Tour de France green jersey on the iconic Champs-Élysées at the end of an incredible three weeks that saw him score four wins and equal Eddy Merckx’s record of stage victories.

Coming into the race for the first time since 2018, the Manxman hit the ground running early, on stage 4, when he prevailed on the uphill finish in Fougères, before repeating just forty-eight hours later in Châteauroux, the site of his first ever Tour de France win. Valence and Carcassonne followed suit, by which point the 36-year-old had already asserted his dominance over the points classification.

Mark CAvendish

Mark Cavendish wins stage four. Sirotti photo.

Shepherded on the mountains by his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates, who turned themselves inside out to help him make the time cut, Cavendish survived the Vosges, the Alps and the Pyrenees and arrived safely in Paris, where he sprinted to a fifth top 3 finish at this edition and wrapped up the green jersey for the second time in his career, a decade after his first triumph in this classification.

“I’m very happy. One month ago I wasn’t supposed to do the Tour de France and now I am here, after three weeks that will live long in memory. I never imagined I would be again wearing green on the Champs-Élysées, but here I am, thanks to the amazing riders and staff of Deceuninck – Quick-Step. They were a big part of this success and together we’ve been through so many emotions.”

“I am incredibly happy that I have my family here, as I haven’t seen them in the last five weeks and it feels great to share with all of them these unforgettable moments”, a smiling Mark said after a sparkling race that strengthened his legacy as the best sprinter in the history of the Tour de France.

One of the few squads to arrive in Paris with all eight riders, Deceuninck – Quick-Step wrote history by becoming the first team in the last 45 years to be in possession of the green jersey from the first until the last stage. World Champion Julian Alaphilippe held it for three days following his superb opening day victory in Landerneau, before Cavendish took it over at the end of stage four.

The Wolfpack – which continues to be the most successful World Tour team of the season – leaves the Grande Boucle with the points jersey, a day in yellow, five stage victories, a total of nine podiums and Mattia Cattaneo’s solid 12th place in the general classification, made even more impressive by the fact it was the Italian’s first presence here.

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

Richard Carapaz finished in third place at the Tour de France, becoming the first Ecuadorian to finish on the podium in Paris.

The Grenadier was supported by his team across three tough weeks of racing and rode a hard, attacking race.

Third place represents the team’s 11th podium finish in 12 years of racing at the Tour de France, a fantastic achievement.

The final day in Paris saw Tadej Pogacar crowned as victor, with Jonas Vingegaard joining Carapaz on the podium on Sunday evening.

Final GC podium

The final GC podium, from left: Jonas Vingegaard (2nd), Tadej Pogacar (1st) and Richard Carapaz (3rd). Sirotti photo

That podium completes a Grand Tour set for Carapaz, adding to a victory at the Giro d’Italia (2019) and second place at the Vuelta a Espana (2020).

It was an up and down Tour for the Grenadiers, with co-leader Geraint Thomas going down in a stage three crash, and battling onwards despite a dislocated shoulder. Both Richie Porte and Tao Geoghegan Hart were held up by incidents during a bruising opening week, but the team rallied around Carapaz as he moved up the GC.

Jonathan Castroviejo and Dylan van Baarle played superb supporting roles, putting in big rides at key moments during the race. Michal Kwiatkowski was as dependable as ever as a support rider, while Geoghegan Hart and Porte were able to help out in the high mountains as the race wore on. Sadly Luke Rowe was the only Grenadier missing in Paris after a gutsy ride on stage 11 ended just outside the time limit.

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

After almost 3,500km of incredibly tough riding, the 108th edition of the Tour de France was coming to a close. The start of the 108.4km parcours would take a sedate pace, more an opportunity for the winners of the four leaders’ jerseys to celebrate and for the rest of the peloton to reflect on the race they had spent three weeks contesting, rather than the attacking riding of the past twenty stages. For BORA-hansgrohe, the race had been bittersweet, starting with Ide Schelling’s hold on the polka dot jersey of best climber for much of the opening week, and the Slovak national champion, Peter Sagan, coming close to taking stage wins before he was forced the abandon the race before stage 12 with a knee injury sustained when he was brought down earlier in the race.

However, on stage 12 following Peter’s abandon, Nils Politt went on to win with a stunning late attack, before a second, equally-impressive win on stage 16 for the team, when Patrick Konrad attacked from 35km out to take a second solo stage win.

Patrick Konrad

Patrick Konrad wins stage 16. Sirotti photo

In the race for the Maillot Jaune, Wilco Kelderman put in an excellent performance to confirm fifth place in the GC standings. Wilco’s strong finish was made all the more notable given the Dutch rider was brought down by a crash on the very first stage and had to fight through pain over the following weeks.

For the peloton, there was one last finish line to cross, the world-famous Champs-Élysées and, while the bunch had stayed together for the opening 60km, once the race hit this beautiful boulevard, the attacks started from the first of the eight laps.

Taking position at the head of the race, Patrick Konrad went out with two others with 51km remaining, building a slim lead of thirty seconds as the race tore through the French capital’s streets. This trio managed to hold out for 20km before they were caught by the chasing peloton, only for Ide Schelling to make the jump accompanied by two others, making sure BORA-hansgrohe were represented in the two main breaks of the day.

Like Patrick’s group, Ide’s trio were unable to build more than thirty seconds over the chasing peloton, the catch finally made with a little less than 10km remaining. From here, the sprint trains formed ready for the predicted fast finale, and with the sprinters deciding the outcome on the Champs-Élysées and even Daniel Oss and Lukas Pöstlberger getting in the mix for the finale, Wilco Kelderman crossed the line with his teammates to confirm his fifth place in the overall standings – the Dutch rider’s best-ever finish at La Grande Boucle.

From the Finish Line:
"I'm happy with fifth place and particularly happy with my performance over the past three weeks. The entire team provided me with great support, everyone did a great job and the team spirit was simply fantastic. I think that was the key to our success, because even though it was a tough race and we had to deal with some setbacks, we enjoyed ourselves and everyone was there for each other. In the end it was a very successful race for BORA-hansgrohe and I am proud that I was able to contribute to it. I normally have one or two fantastic days during a Grand Tour, and maybe that was missing this time. It's hard to say what that was due to, but I already have one or two points in mind where we can still improve. So, there's still room for improvement and I'm keen to continue working on this together with the team. I feel very comfortable here and I'm sure we can continue to be successful in the future." – Wilco Kelderman

"It was a very successful race for us and we are really very satisfied with it. This tour was certainly special, the aggressive racing style, the intensity demanded everything from the riders, but was really exciting for the spectators. We also contributed a lot, we were in many attacking groups and almost always represented at the front. Of course, it was a tough setback when Peter had to leave the Tour with a knee injury, but the team didn't let itself feel down and found the right response to that situation, and I'm very proud of that. We won two stages with Nils and Patrick. However, it was the way that we won these stages which was impressive. Then, at the beginning of the Tour, we also had the mountains jersey for a week with Ide, so one cannot forget about that either. As a Tour rookie, the emotion with which he fought for the points in every lead group for three days was particularly impressive. In the overall classification, our goal was the top five and in the end that also worked out. Wilco was one of the most consistent riders over the past three weeks and was always at the front, although he was not always lucky and had to cope with a few crashes. He showed a lot of spirit, never let himself down and was rewarded in the end. To achieve all this, we worked together as a team and stood up for each other. That was great to see and everyone did an amazing job. As a Team Manager, one can only say thank you to all involved." – Ralph Denk, Team Manager

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