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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, June 8, 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.

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars - Walt Whitman


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Tour of Switzerland stage two reports

We posted the report from Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Max Schachmann's Bora-Hansgrohe team:

After the stage start in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, the peloton set off on the 173km long route, which was quite tough with three classified climbs featuring in the finale, before the riders reached the finish following a short descent in Lachen.

Slightly ahead of the 30km mark, the peloton split into several groups, and after the last of the escapees had been caught, the race exploded. Following a series of attacks, a small group including Maximilian Schachmann managed to distance themselves from the reduced group.

In pouring rain, he managed to counter the various attacks and in the end, he was the only one who was able to follow van der Poel's winning move. His second place on today's stage moves him up nine places to third overall.

Tour of Switzerland

Mathieu van der Poel wins the stage. You can see Max Schachmann just behind him.

From the Finish Line:
"When we went up the last climb it was really hard. I tried to open a gap with Alaphilippe and shake off van der Poel, but it didn't quite work out. In the end, van der Poel put in a strong attack, I played poker, but nobody wanted to close the gap and so then I rode by myself to catch up with him. I knew it would be very tough to beat him in a sprint, but I kept riding to take some more seconds for the overall standings." - Maximilian Schachmann

"That was a very strong race from Max. Of course, with the weather conditions it was very difficult, there was constant rain and the race was ridden hard and fast in the descents. The plan was actually to attack in the finale, but van der Poel beat us to it. In this situation, Max reacted quite well and closed the gap to van der Poel rather quickly. Sprinting against this type of rider is always going to be big ask, but Max continued in order to take seconds for the overall. So overall, a great race from him." - Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

GC leader Stefan Küng's Groupama-FDJ team posted this update:

Despite a punchy final in the second stage of the Tour de Suisse, Stefan Küng held on tight to keep the yellow jersey he got on Sunday in the opening time trial. After a good teamwork throughout the day, the Swiss rider fought hard in the last climb and in the run-in to the finish to keep the overall lead for just one second. Tomorrow, he will defend once again defend his jersey the best he can towards Pfaffnau.

Stefan Kung

Stefan Küng on his stage-one winning ride. Photo: Sam Buchli

The mission was hard, but it was worth the effort. Almost literally at home on Monday, Stefan Küng showed up at the start with the yellow jersey on his shoulders, and he had no intention of giving it away without a fight. “We wanted to try to keep the jersey, not only because it’s important for Stefan, but also because it’s a WorldTour event,” explained Franck Pineau. “We had to defend it, even though we knew it was going to be hard in the final with a very hilly course, the rain and a very high competition. We put two guys to pull, namely Alexys [Brunel] and Fabian [Lienhard], and they always kept the gap under six minutes.”

The day’s breakaway, formed after about ten kilometers, just included four men: Tom Bohli (Cofidis), Matteo Dal-Cin, Nickolas Zukowsky (Rally Cycling), Claudio Imhof (Switzerland). Although the terrain was not completely flat over the first hundred kilometers, the pace was still quite moderate, which allowed Stefan Küng to fully enjoy his jersey. “It was amazing today at home, on my training roads,” he said. “I had many friends and family on the side of the road. Every two kilometers, I saw someone I knew. It’s the best feeling you can have. The first part of the stage really was in my area. The race was calmer at this point so I had enough time to look at who was there. I couldn’t afford it in the final, where it was full gas!”.

About 70 kilometers from the finish line, Mathieu van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix ​​came to pull alongside Groupama-FDJ at the front of the peloton, and the gap with the breakaway gradually reduced. So much so that it was only of two minutes after the first 2nd-category climbs, in Ghöch and Oberricken. Due to the strong showers on the downhill from Oberricken, the peloton then split into several pieces but the yellow jersey never was in trouble. “Stefan never moved from the top fifteen places all day, so he’s definitely more likely to be in the right move when breaks occur,” Franck said. It was therefore a bunch of around 60 riders, including Stefan Küng and Jake Stewart, that headed for the final.

The last man standing from the breakaway, Claudio Imhof, was caught in the very first slopes of the last climb, located ten kilometers from the line. Brought back in front by Jake Stewart at the bottom, Stefan Küng then did his best on the 2400 meters of climbing (8,3% of average slope) to stay close to the best punchers. The Swiss champion managed to reach the summit only fifteen seconds behind Alaphilippe, Van der Poel, Carapaz, Woods or Schachmann. The race did not ease off on the downhill or in the flat section leading to the line, so Stefan Küng had to chase hard to the end to limit his losses. As Van der Poel claimed victory, the yellow jersey crossed the line in 26th position, 22 seconds later.

“We knew it was tight for the yellow jersey,” said Franck. “According to our calculations, we thought we would keep it, but we had to wait for the official results. With the rain at the finish, Stefan preferred to go to the bus, even if it meant coming back for the podium”. After a few moments, the GC was made official and the yellow jersey indeed stayed on King Küng’s shoulders, for just a second on Schachmann, and two on Alaphilippe. “Stefan was convinced he could get through the climb today, but it really wasn’t easy,” added Franck. “He really gave his all, and he made it for one second! This is the main thing and the goal has been completed”. “I was feeling good today,” said the Swiss man. “I had said that it would all depend on how my competitors would go up the climb. They went hard, but I gave everything I had and I tried to close the gap as much as possible on the flat. I was lucky to close the gap enough and I’m happy to keep the jersey one more day. I need to thank the team for the awesome job today. Now we’ll keep on going! One-second lead is not a lot but I will do my best to keep it tomorrow. It should be easier. The last climb is not as hard as the one of today. I expect a sprint from a small bunch”. “Tomorrow, we can keep the jersey and do the sprint with Jake”, concluded Franck. “The guys have the right mindset and we can have two goals”.

Team DSM extend contract with Chris Hamilton until 2023

Team DSM sent me this release:

Off the back of a strong performance at the Giro d’Italia, Team DSM are delighted to announce that they have extended their cooperation with Chris Hamilton until the end of 2023.

Since turning professional with the team in 2017, Hamilton has steadily progressed year-by-year, growing as an athlete both on and off the bike. Racing in different tactical roles and regularly an excellent part of the climbing support block, Hamilton is more than happy to take on whatever role is needed at that race to contribute to bringing home the best possible results for the team; which is an incredibly valuable characteristic.

Furthermore, when given the role to be the finisher on behalf of the team he has shown his quality and class on the bike, with sixth place on GC at the 2019 Tour Down Under where he also won the white jersey, alongside eighth on GC at the Tour de Pologne that year as well, testament to that. He was an integral member of the team’s solid seventh place finish on GC at this year’s Giro d’Italia, where he also claimed his best result as a pro; a well-fought and richly deserved second place over a testing parcours from the breakaway.

Hamilton said: “It was a pretty easy decision for me when I was given the opportunity to extend with the team. The past four and a half years have been great, and the support has always been really good here. It’s both a highly ambitious, as well as a nice environment that I work well in and I’m looking forward to the coming two years ahead with the team.”

Team DSM head of coaching Rudi Kemna added: “We’re really happy to continue and extend our contract with Chris. As a team, we really like the way that we cooperate and we have a very good working relationship. Chris brings added value to the team both on and off the bike, and we are confident that this trend will continue in the upcoming years together. He is an excellent team player who is fully committed to our goals and he always brings a nice atmosphere to a group. We are confident that Chris is capable of continuing to contribute to bring home nice results for the team, both in an important support role and also in the role as finisher on some occasions, and together we will build on the strong foundations that we have in place to do that.”

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