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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, June 5, 2021

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

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

If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered. – Edgar Allan Poe

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Critérium du Dauphiné stage six reports

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

Here's the report from the Bora-hansgrohe team:

It looked like the riders had been in a hurry when the bunch covered over 50km in the first hour of racing on the way to Le Sappey en Charrtreuse at the Dauphiné today. After that crazy fast start, a group of 14 riders finally managed to breakaway, but it was Astana who controlled the gap straight away before BORA – hansgrohe started pulling once again to keep the escapees always within three minutes.

The team did a stellar job to close the gap to a minute at the foot of the first climb of the day. When Movistar started to set the pace, unfortunately Lukas Pöstlberger was dropped from the main field. But with Konrad and Kelderman BORA – hansgrohe had still two riders in front to go for the stage win. When all escapees had been caught, Ineos launched the sprint early, but it was Alejandro Valverde who took the win, with Konrad and Kelderman crossing the line in 3rd and 4th place.

Lukas Postleberger

Bora-hansgrohe rider Lukas Pöstleberger in his last moments in yellow. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line 
"This was a first real test today. Our team was really strong once again pulling in the flat part to keep our chance for a stage win alive. In the climbs Astana and Movistar pushed the pace and unfortunately Pösti dropped. In the end Wilco and I were still there. I had a good speed and with 150m to go I thought I can win, but in the end I had to settle for 3rd. But this is still a strong result and makes me feel comfortable ahead of the weekend." – Patrick Konrad

“It was a super-fast stage and another good day for us. My legs get better and better and I already look forward to tomorrow. It’s a pity we lost Yellow, but it was already a successful Dauphiné with the stage win from Lukas and four days in Yellow. Therefore there is also no pressure anymore. Ineos and Movistar look strong and will make the race the next days, so we just need to stay on their wheel.” – Wilco Kelderman

“We controlled the break in order to give Patrick the chance in the sprint. That worked out pretty well and it was good to have only a small group approaching the final. We are happy with the 3rd and 4th place today. Of course, we hoped Lukas can be there as well, but it is absolutely ok he couldn’t follow anymore today. We presented ourselves very well the last days and I am optimistic there is more to come." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Here's the report from stage winner Alejandro Valverde's Team Movistar:

The Movistar Team got back to winning ways, in a big, pre-Tour event like the Critérium du Dauphiné, with the talent of his biggest reference for two decades, Alejandro Valverde, following a great collective exhibition on the final stretch of the 163km stage six, from Loriol-sur-Drôme to the Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse, on the first of three Alpine routes in this year’s French race.

In a day covered at a whopping 43kph average, despite the last four categorized climbs -riders finished more than half an hour ahead of schedule-, the Movistar Team saved all of its power for the decisive ‘cols’ of Porte (Cat-2) and La Frette (Cat-3), where, after nice protective job from Arcas, Rojas and Erviti, Carlos Verona picked up the pace. The Spaniard strung out the field, leaving only the favourites at the front and neutralising the early break -with Lawson Craddock (EFN) as final ‘survivor’-, while at the final ascent to the finish, Miguel Ángel López continued the work to prevent any attacks and lead ‘Bala’ out into the sprint.

A;ejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde takes another win. Sirotti photo

Valverde, showing his class and power he’s always displayed over his career, came back to the wheel of Tao Geoghegan Hart (IGD) after his late attack and claimed his 129th victory as a pro, second this year, to increase the Blues’ account to 18 -eighth for the men’s team-… in barely two months, the Abarca Sports organisation having only claimed its first success of the year in March 31st and opening the men’s tally in Navarra – with Alejandro, indeed.

Alejandro Valverde:
“I’m so, so happy. Before anything, I have to mention, and congratulate and thank my team-mates, for all the work they’ve done for the past few days, ever since the start of the race and even more so today. Close to the Line, López told me on the radio: ‘Should I push, so no one can attack?’ I told him to go ahead – and I have to thank him especially for that, because he was incredible. INEOS put on a big pace before the sprint, but as soon as Geraint Thomas stopped pushing, I knew I couldn’t hesitate: I had to go full-gas to cover that move from Tao. I tried to keep him close, and as soon as I saw the finishing banner, I well on full steam. A special victory? Every single one I get is special, even more so now – being up there with the best, contesting these victory, is even more beautiful after everything I’ve done as a pro. The GC? Well, we’ve got Miguel Ángel and Enric, who have shown to be really strong so far, and there’s two big mountain stages ahead where any of them can aim at the top spots.”

Here's the report from new GC leader Alexey Lutsenko's Team Astana-Premier Tech:

Alexey Lutsenko returned to the podium on stage six with the yellow jersey on his shoulders as the new race leader after an impressive performance in the mountains.

Alexey Lutsenko

Alexey Lutsenko has the yellow jersey with two stages to go. Sirotti photo

After flying to the time trial win on stage four, Lutsenko started the day one second off the race lead and dug deep on the category three summit finish to cross the line in seventh place and inherit the race lead.

“For me, this is really special. Today was a really hard stage but we fought for the yellow jersey. I’m really happy to take the yellow jersey as that was the goal today. Today was hard for everybody, not just for me. I didn’t have a plan to attack, my plan was to follow and take the wheels of Movistar and Ineos. In the last kilometres, I was following Valverde’s wheel but I wasn’t able to stay with him,” said Lutsenko.

“Day by day, I am feeling good but the most important thing before tomorrow is recovery and seeing how the lags are tomorrow on the climbs. I have worked a lot so far and tomorrow is another hard day. The climbs are longer but I will fight to keep the yellow jersey and we also have Ion Izagirre just behind me so we have good cards to play.”

Lutsenko was joined in the front group by Ion Izagirre who moves into second place overall, eight seconds behind Lutsenko, after a brilliant day of teamwork from Alex Aranburu, Dmitry Gruzdev, Yuriy Natarov and Oscar Rodgriguez.

“It was a good day for us and we worked hard to set things up in the finale as it was a good finish for Alexey. In the last five kilometres there were some good attacks but finally we arrived all together, about 25 of us. In the sprint I am not so fast so I just tried to stay up there and not lose any time. Tomorrow will be another hard stage especially in the beginning as it will not be easy to control. There are some guys not so far away in the GC who may try to go in the breakaway so we have to be ready for anything. And then in the last climb, you have to give everything you have. My legs are good and I’m feeling good after the altitude block so I’m happy with how things are going,” said Izagirre.

After a battle for the breakaway that played out for more than one hour, 14 riders eventually went clear but the peloton kept their advantage under three minutes in anticipation of the four categorized climbs in the final 50 kilometres.

The breakaway’s advantage quickly came down as various teams took up the chase, including a strong effort from Astana – Premier Tech approaching the final 25 kilometres.

With the last of the attackers caught, the General Classification riders began to pick up the pace on the final three kilometre-climb to the line. But it was an attack from Alejandro Valverde that went unmatched and saw the Spaniard take the stage win while Lutsenko followed close behind in seventh place and Izagirre in 15th.

Lutsenko carries the race lead into a big weekend of racing in the mountains, including the summit finish on La Plagne on stage 7.

Giro winner Egan Bernal is Covid-19 positive

Here's the short release Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers team posted:

Egan Bernal has tested positive for Covid-19 following a routine test on Thursday ahead of his planned return to Colombia this weekend.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal after the final 2021 Giro d'Italia stage. Sirotti photo

He will now self-isolate at his European base according to the necessary guidelines. He has displayed mild symptoms but is in good health.

Egan still plans to return to Colombia once his isolation period is over to mark his Giro d'Italia victory in his homeland.

Team BikeExchange headed to Tour of Switzerland

The team sent me this update:

Team BikeExchange return to Switzerland ready to fight on all fronts, as the squad targets stage wins and the general classification at the eight-day Tour de Suisse.

Volta a Catalunya stage winner Esteban Chaves will lead the general classification charge alongside Australian Lucas Hamilton, while fast finishing Michael Matthews will be on the hunt for stage glory.

Esteban Chaves

Esteban Chaves (shown at the 2021 Volta a Catalunya) will contest the Tour of Switzerland.

A strong and experienced mix of riders will provide the support with Jack Bauer, Luke Durbridge, Amund Grøndahl Jansen and Dion Smith all lining-up.

Team BikeExchange:
Jack Bauer (NZL)
Esteban Chaves (COL)
Luke Durbridge (AUS)
Amund Grøndahl Jansen (NOR)
Lucas Hamilton (AUS)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Dion Smith (NZL)

Lucas Hamilton:
“I’m feeling good heading into Suisse, we had an altitude block at home in Andorra with the team and it was pretty good. It sometimes takes a bit to see how you are after those big blocks, but I’m looking forward to getting racing again. The weather seems to be getting warmer now, so it’s always nice to do the first few races in summer.

"It’s a pretty diverse course, with a mountain TT, a smaller TT at the start and then a lot of intermediate stages. Some of the mountain stages look really hard and I’m looking forward to seeing how the form is heading into the upcoming races.

"We have a super strong team for this kind of race and everyone is motivated, it’s a nice time of the year, everyone is fit, so I think we have plenty of options to try and bag a couple of results.”

Mathew Hayman – Sport Director:
"We are heading into Suisse with a strong team with most of these riders coming back to racing after a break following the spring Classics. We will of course be looking for stages wins with Michael Matthews, while also focusing on the general classification with our two climbers Lucas Hamilton and Esteban Chaves.

"Lucas has been in great form this year, he’s been up there in every race he’s done, while Esteban won a stage in Catalunya, which proves that he is finding his form again. There will be a couple of stages that suit Matthews and hopefully we will be able to fight for victory with support from Dion.

"The good thing about this group of riders is that we have options for each day and we will look to make the best out of this race ahead of our upcoming goals.”

Brent Van Moer signs for two more years with Lotto Soudal 

The team sent me this release:

Good news for both Brent Van Moer and Lotto Soudal. At least till the end of 2023, both parties continue to work together. Brent Van Moer extended his contract at the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he won the opening stage. Brent still is 23 years old but already a familiar face at Lotto Soudal. In June 2019, the young Belgian turned pro from the Lotto Soudal U23 team.

Brent Van Moer

Brent Van Moer wins the first stage of this year's Critérium du Dauphiné.

“I received a nice offer and didn’t need much time to think about it, despite several other teams being interested.” says Brent Van Moer. “I feel really good within the team, have an excellent relationship with all of my teammates and also with the team staff. I love to be on the races with this group. And maybe even more important, at Lotto Soudal I get the chance to develop into a really strong rider. I can also still explore where the best of my abilities are. At the shorter stage races? Or at the Classics? Next year, I already want to fight for the victory at the semi-classics. I am really ambitious.”

In 2018, Brent Van Moer conquered the silver medal at the U23 time trial world championships. Also in that discipline, Brent Van Moer wants to see how far he can get.

“Step by step”, adds Lotto Soudal General Manager John Lelangue. “Brent is the perfect example of a rider who is trained at Lotto Soudal and keeps making progress. Into a winner. And there are also others like Brent in the team. And we keep on following the road we’ve chosen. The young guys are our future. Already in March, after Brent’s second place in a Tirreno-Adriatico stage, several other teams were interested. Brent would make an excellent domestique. At Lotto Soudal however, he gets more opportunities. We absolutely believe in Brent and vice versa.”

“And the team can continue to rely on me to work for the other guys”, concludes Brent Van Moer. “Nothing beats the feeling of giving it all for a winner like Caleb Ewan. Winning, that is why we became professional athletes in the first place.”

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