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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, July 23, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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Team reports on the Tour de Wallonie's third stage

We posted the stage three report from the Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner and new GC leader Quinn Simmons' Trek-Segafredo team:

The first professional victory is a milestone in a rider’s career and Quinn Simmons had to wait two years to get his, thanks in large part to a year disrupted by a pandemic.

Quinn Simmons

Quinn Simmons wins ahead of Stan Dewulf

In Stage 3 at the Tour de Wallonie, Simmons finally made good on his achievement when a five-rider move with teammate Juan Pedro Lopez was caught in the closing kilometers and he quickly countered – an attack that was one of many in an action-filled ending.  This time, it proved successful.

Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën) tagged onto the move by the young American, and the pair worked together to hold off a small chase group. Simmons did not have to play cat-n-mouse on the climb to the finish; he simply unleashed his sprint early. Dewulf fell off his wheel, giving Simmons a long-awaited and very sweet first pro win.

“It’s my first pro victory, and for sure the first pro win is a big one,” agreed Simmons. “It’s been a year and a half now as a pro, and to finally make it happen is a big relief. It took a while, and I was starting to lose faith in myself. But you saw how the guys rode today – it was perfect.

“Everyone did his job pulling hard from the beginning, and Juanpe (Juan Pedro Lopez) was super strong in the finale. It’s been quite a while since I played a finale; the last time I won a race was the Worlds in Yorkshire two years ago. It’s nice to get the emotion back.”

How it played out
The hills arrived in the Tour de Wallonie and Trek-Segafredo, after patiently waiting through two flat stages, was ready to play.

The team kicked off the action in the final 50 kilometers, pushing the pace over the climbs with Jakob Egholm, Antonio Nibali and Alex Kirsch each taking his turn setting a harsh pace.

Under the Trek-Segafredo force, it was not long before the three-man breakaway was reeled in. Simmons pulled the first blow with a searing attack over the top of a climb with around 27 kilometers to go, drawing out a group of seven riders, including teammate Lopez.

The reaction was swift from behind, and within a few kilometers, the peloton caught the escape group, but it set off a series of attacks that continued to the end.

“We took control 60k out almost,” explained Simmons. “Alex (Kirsch) really ripped it on the climb, and then I had Juanpe with me to attack that first time. When we got brought back, we thought it was almost over, but the whole team was super strong; we were almost in every move.”

On the penultimate climb, a group of five moved clear with Juan Pedro Lopez again in the mix. It was looking like this might be the winning move seven kilometers to go, but still, the group came back.

And then Simmons jumped.

"You saw in the finale we had both Juanpe and me there, so we had two cards to play, and he was going super strong on the climbs. And with two of us in the finale, you’d better not lose. I was able to make it on the downhill, and I almost forgot how to play a finale; it’s been nearly two years since I did it right."

Belgian rider Dewulf went with Simmons, and the two opened a sizeable gap to four disorganized chasers.

In the final kilometer, it was obvious the win would come from one of the two and Simmons was confident with a climb to the finish.

“When it’s a sprint after this many climbs, I am pretty confident,” Simmons said. “When it’s on the flats, I don’t stand a chance, but this is more my kind of sprint, so once the two of us were there, I knew it was game over. It’s never easy to win, but with the way the team rode and set it up for me to do my job was really straightforward. Thanks to the team, it was as easy as it could come.”

Quinn Simmons and his Trek-Segafredo team now have the leader’s jersey to defend with two hilly stages remaining.

“More work cut out for the boys and myself to protect it and we’ll just see what we can do,” added Quinn. “But the week is already a success now. Everything else is a bonus.”

Team Bora-hansgrohe posted this report:

After yesterday's stage for the fast men, today's route was 177 km-long, with a start town that was moved on short notice from Plombières to Signal de Botrange. Shortly after the riders had left the town, the highest point of Belgium awaited the peloton, before the following 160 km followed an undulating profile until the final lap, where the steep ascent of the Côte de Befee had to be taken on only a few kilometres ahead of the finish in Erezée.

The breakaway group of the day, which had managed to gain a lead of about 6 minutes, was unable to claim the victory today, with all escapees being pulled back by the peloton 30 km before the finish.

On the final climb, a small group attacked, to which Patrick Gamper was able to catch up, yet a short time later they were caught by the peloton. In the final 8 km a small group containing Matteo Fabbro broke away, but ultimately when a duo attacked, the Italian BORA - hansgrohe rider was forced to drop back. With Quinn Simmons eventually taking the win from that group, Matteo had to settle for 26th place.

From the Finish Line:
"It was a tough race but I felt good. The entire team put in a strong showing and I also had some of my teammates with me ahead of the final. Over the last kilometres I gave everything, but the ascents were a bit too short for me and so the peloton was able to catch us again. Afterwards, a small group attacked again and was able to fight for the win amongst themselves. I think my form is better than expected, particularly as I've had a break from racing recently. In any case, I'm now ready to face new challenges." - Matteo Fabbro

"Now that we've had two days for the sprinters, today was a day for the Classic riders. We don't have any designated Classics specialists here and so we planned to ride a very attacking style in the finale, especially with Matteo Fabbro, Cesare Benedetti and Patrick Gamper. The guy did a good job in that respect. Our goal was to enter the two final laps with as little energy spent as possible and then to try to put in some attacks, a plan which worked out quite well.  Matteo in particular rode a very offensive race. On the steeper climbs he was able to break away several times as part of small groups, but in the end, it was not a day for the climbers, and rather for the real Classics specialists, and he was reeled back in. However, he did a great job with his tactics and rode a strong and spirited race. Unfortunately, the climbs were a bit too short for him. Patrick also rode very well in what was a difficult finale. Ultimately, we didn't quite get the result we had hoped for or that the guys deserved. But that's cycling. Tomorrow will be another day for the sprinters and we will try to race aggressively yet again, and net a good placing from that." - Christian Pömer, Sports Director

Here's the report from Pascal Eenkhorn's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Pascal Eenkhoorn has finished fifth in the queen stage of the Tour of Wallonia. After this third stage the Dutchman is also fifth in the general classification. Dylan Groenewegen lost his leader’s jersey to stage winner Quinn Simmons.

Pascal Eenkhoorn

Pascal Eenkhoorn wins the third stage of the 2018 Colorado Classic.

Initially, the stage was to start in Plombières, but the course was changed due to the recent floods. Alternatively, the start took place at the highest point of Belgium, the Signal de Botrange. On the way to the finish in Érezée, the Côte de Beffe was the highlight and had to be climbed twice in the last 40 kilometres.

The breakaway of the day consisted of three riders. They got a maximum lead of almost seven minutes. The efforts on the hilly route took their toll and at thirty kilometres from the finish they were caught. Meanwhile Timo Roosen rode attentively at the front and parried several attacks from the reduced peloton. On the Côte de Beffe Groenewegen had to let the rest go. Christoph Pfingsten had to withdraw sick.

Together with Stan Dewulf Simmons escaped from the peloton. In a group of three, Eenkhoorn sprinted to fifth place in the stage result. After stage three the Dutchman is in the same place in the general classification. Tomorrow and Saturday are two stages that seem to suit the sprinters.

“I felt good throughout the day”, Eenkhoorn said after his fifth place finish. “It was a tough race with the Côte de Beffe at ten kilometres from the end was crucial. I worked towards that. I came over the top with the first ones. Then it was a tactical game where I came with three riders behind the two leaders. The cooperation was not great and unfortunately we could not ride for the victory. In the last difficult kilometre I started my sprint a bit too early. I am satisfied with fifth place. This is a boost. I am looking forward to competing for prizes here.”

Sports director Addy Engels was satisfied. “This was the toughest stage of this tour. I am happy that some of our guys were able to stay in the front for a long time. Also Tim van Dijke and Rick Pluimers, who normally race for our U23 team, presented themselves in a good way today. The fifth place of Pascal is very good. We knew this stage would be too hard for Dylan, but he stayed in front for a long time. The only blemish of the day is that we lost Christoph. He was unable to continue due to illness.”

And here's the report from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert:

Stage 3 of the Tour de Wallonie, described as the most difficult of this 42nd edition, was to start from Plombières, in the province of Liège. But the organizers decided to move the start 45 km ahead, on the Signal de Botrange, the roof of Belgium. To compensate for this change, an additional final lap has been added, bringing the total distance to be covered to 170 kilometers. If only 5 difficulties were listed on the parcours, the crossing of the Ardennes towards Erezée (Luxembourg) was riddled with climbs.

Shortly after the start, the Belgian Loïc Vliegen distinguished himself at the front of the race, winning the first KOM of the Côte de Libert, located at kilometer 11. However, we had to wait 30 kilometers before the good breakaway formed : 3 riders benefited from the leniency of the peloton, which offered them a maximum lead of 6 minutes at the halfway point.

The Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team, led by Valerio Piva and Jean-Marc Rossignon, took charge of the pursuit with two other teams, closing the gap at the entrance to the Erezée final circuit. The hard work of Kévin van Melsen, Aimé De Gendt and Baptiste Planckaert made it possible to force the regrouping 30 kilometers from the finish.

In a field reduced to around thirty men, Quinten Hermans, Loïc Vliegen, Andrea Pasqualon and Odd Christian Eiking took turns taking part in the attacks, as the race had completely gone out of control on the last lap. Attentive, Hermans won Cielle’s intermediate sprint, scoring another 3 bonus seconds. As they tackled the final ascent of the Côte de Beffe, located in the last 10 kilometers, the Norwegian Eiking launched his move, isolating himself for a moment at the front of the race with 3 other riders.

Quinten Hermans

Quinten Hermans racing at the 2019 Essen Cyclocross

The weak cooperation did not allow the leading group to last, however, and several pursuers were able to make the connection in the descent towards Erezée. One of them, Simmons (Trek), counterattacked with Dewulf (Ag2r) and won the stage in a two-man sprint. Arrived 25 seconds later, Eiking finished 11th and Hermans 15th. In the general classification, Hermans is now 6th, and became the leader of the intermediate sprint classification.

"The team was absolutely fantastic today. We took the initiative to chase the breakaway, because no team decided to engage to close the gap. I was with Odd Christian in the final, who attacked impressively in the Côte de Beffe. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to get out due to the headwind, and it came down to a sneaky move on the descent to Erezée. In the end, the reward is small considering the efforts made, which is why I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't have done better, and fully reward the team. But nothing is settled, we will exploit other opportunities to improve this ranking." - Quinten Hermans

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