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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, June 2, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. - William James


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Critérium du Dauphiné stage three reports

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

Here's the report from GC leader Lukas Pöstlberger's Bora-hansgrohe team:

A day in yellow for BORA – hansgrohe after the impressive win of Lukas Pöstlberger and probably the only chance for the sprinters in the bunch at the Critérium du Dauphiné, that was the story of day three in the race.

Two riders attacked quite early to establish today’s break while BORA – hansgrohe started pulling in the bunch to defend the Yellow Jersey on the way to Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux. The race situation didn’t change at all during the day and in the end, all came down to the expected bunch sprint after the escapees had been caught.

On a tough uphill stretch to the line, it was a pure power sprint which saw Sonny Colbrelli grabbing the stage win. Wilco Kelderman took a strong fifth place while Lukas Pöstlberger successfully defended his leaders’ jersey.

Lukas Postleberger

Lukas Pöstlberger will try to defend his lead in Wednesday's 16.4 km individual time trial. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"Today I was really tired from the effort yesterday. I went on the roller before the stage and actually thought it’s ok, but after a while I felt really empty in the race. But my team did a great job to control the race and they brought me well protected to the last kilometer. I wanted to lead out the sprint then but was too tired and in the end happy to don’t lose any seconds on that uphill stretch. Tomorrow will be kind of a mission impossible, but we’ll see how the legs are and for sure try our best again." – Lukas Pöstlberger

“We defended the jersey, that was most important today. In the end I was positioned quite well and realized everybody is pretty tired already, therefore, I decided to give it a go and launched my sprint with 350m to go. In the end I took fifth which gives me a lot of confidence for the upcoming days.” – Wilco Kelderman

"Our main goal was to keep the jersey and to protect Lukas. That worked out well and the guys did a very good job. For the sprint our idea was to support Schwarzi, but the final was really hard and in the end Wilco took a strong fifth place. So we are really happy again today." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Here's the report from stage winner Sonny Colbrelli's Bahrain Victorious team:

After showing impressive sprinting form on the opening stages, Sonny Colbrelli finally got his win at the Critérium du Dauphiné on stage 3.

Sonny Colbrelli

Sonny Colbrelli wins stage three. Sirotti photo

The 172.2-kilometre stage started in Langeac and ending with an uphill finish in Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux. After two successful breakaway days, the peloton controlled the breakaway with only two riders able to go away. At just under 20 kilometres to go, the break was caught, and the pace picked up towards the finish. In the final 200 metres, the sprint was launched by Astana’s Aranburu, but Sonny latched on and took the win.

Sonny Colbrelli was delighted to get his chance to sprint for the win:” Finally, a victory. I’m very happy. In the last 10 kilometres, it was very fast and hard to fight for position. In the final kilometre, it was 6-7%, and I followed Kwiatkowski. Then 200 metres Aranburu jumped, and I followed. The last two days were very difficult with the breakaway. Today the team gave me great support in the final, and I was able to take the victory!”

Second-place Alex Aranburu's Astana-Premier Tech team posted this report:

A nail-biting finish to Critérium du Dauphiné stage 3 saw Alex Aranburu sprint to second place on the uphill finish in Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux, after being caught with 100 metres to go by Sonny Colbrelli.

Stage 3 finish

This shot from the TV coverage shows Aranburu (far right) finishing second.

“The last kilometre was pretty crazy. It was pretty tough. We all went two by two from each team so it was not organized at all. I was going from one side to the other to try and catch some wheels. I saw I was a little ahead so I decided to start my sprint because in the first two stages I was closed in a bit in the sprints. When I saw the opportunity, I went for it but I came up a bit short in the last stretch,” said Aranburu.

After a relatively quiet stage, the last of the two breakaway riders were caught with 22 kilometres to go, as the peloton battled for positioning heading into the finale.

Aranburu was well positioned by his teammates as the fast pace saw splits in the bunch and despite sitting outside of the top 20 riders approaching the flamme rouge, Aranburu showed his skill to surf from wheel to wheel and move up inside the final kilometre.

With the finish line in sight, Aranburu launched his sprint with 250 metres to go and immediately had a gap but Colbrelli was able to jump on his wheel and with 100 metres to go, come around the Basque rider to take the win.

Aranburu’s second place is his third consecutive top ten result in the opening three stages and sees him sit in third place on the General Classification, 18 seconds behind race leader Lukas Pöstlberger.

“My legs are good though. After the altitude camp in Teide I had some doubts but the truth is I am feeling better day by day so I’m happy. Tomorrow we have the time trial, then we have some hard stages in the mountains and we have to be strong for the General Classification. I think we will have to work hard but we will see what happens with breakaways too,” added Aranburu.

Alberto Bettiol extends with EF Education-NIPPO

The team sent me this announcement:

For Alberto Bettiol, EF Education-NIPPO is a second family. The 27-year-old Tuscan began his career with the outfit in 2014, when Cannondale was the title sponsor. He has since developed into one of the most exciting racers in the sport. During his early years, he earned a series of good results in one-day races, before spending a year away in 2018. He then returned home in 2019 and won his first monument and first professional race: the Tour of Flanders. Now, after a scintillating Giro d’Italia, in which he won the race’s longest stage with a brilliant solo attack over the hills near Stradella and rode like a lion for Hugh Carthy, he has signed a contract to stay with the team for seasons to come.

Alberto Bettiol

Alberto Bettiol wins 2021 Giro d'Italia stage 18. Sirotti photo

“I still would like to win more races,” he says. “I want to win more important races, and with my help to win a Grand Tour. I was close to it with Rigo three years ago. I think we can do it. I will fight myself to get more victories, but also for the team to get a big Grand Tour win.”

Alberto’s fondest cycling memory already occurred in Paris, on the evening he first raced onto the Champs Élysées.

“It was the first time that Jonathan Vaughters met my mom and my dad—in the embassy of America in France,” he says. “My real family met my second family, EF, with all the happiness I still had from finishing my first Tour.”

The feeling that he is a part of a family is important to Alberto Bettiol. “I need to have around me people who trust me, like this team trusts me,” he says. “That’s why I decided to stay. Our fight, our commitment, our goals are difficult to get, but we can do it together. I need the support of all the team.”

With his teammates, Alberto has a special role to play. He is a leader, with the power to win monumental races and change the course of events in grand tours. The other riders look up to him and follow his example. Every time he clicks into his pedals, he has to earn their support. “I am sure I give 100 percent on the road every time,” he says.

But Alberto is a friend to his teammates first. Cycling is a very hard sport, and he knows how to put racing into perspective.

“Sometimes, we forget how lucky we are and how thankful we have to be to all the staff with us. And sometimes we forget that it is just a bike race. Especially when you are under pressure, you sometimes see only darkness. If I can help my teammates to laugh and not think about the dark, I am happy to do that,” he says.

Alberto hopes his exploits on the road can bring comfort and excitement to everyday people, too. After his stage win at the Giro, he encouraged the audience to give a thought to the victims of the Mottarone cable car accident and their families and dedicated the victory to his former agent Mauro Battaglini, who passed away last year and was like a second father to him.

That is something he thinks he can do within the larger EF family as well, which he says, “is not just made by the cycling team but also the thousands of staff.”

Alberto rides for them, and for all of his fans in Italy and around the world. The next seasons are going to be very exciting for him, as he is just coming into his prime.

We’re happy and proud that Alberto Bettiol is one of us.

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