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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, June 14, 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.

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. - Thomas A. Edison


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Tour of Switzerland final team reports

We posted the report from GC winner Richard Carapaz's Team INEOS Grenadiers with the results.

Here's the report from the race organizer:

With Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers), the strongest climber of the pack has won the 84th Tour de Suisse. The Ecuadorian rider won with a bonus of 17 seconds over Colombian rider Rigoberto Uran (EF Education – Nippo). The final stage in Andermatt was won by young Swiss rider Gino Mäder (Bahrain).

Tour of Switzerland podium

The final GC podium, from left: Rigoberto Uran (2nd), Richard Carapaz (1st) & Jakob Fuglsang (3rd).

During the final sections of the Tremola climb, Mäder launched his pursuit on Michael Woods (EF Education – Nippo) who was in the attack. He bridged up with the Canadian rider on the descent towards finish town Hospenthal. Mäder easily won the two-man sprint without coming off the saddle. “Of course I’m super happy. I started this last mission with the goal to do well. That worked out very well”, said the young pro who already made a name for himself by winning the sixth stage in the Giro d’Italia.

With Mäder’s success and the stage wins from Stefan Küng (in Frauenfeld) and Stefan Bissegger (in Gstaad), with the latter also winning the points classification, it wasn’t just a Tour de Suisse but also a Tour from the Swiss. The Swiss pro rider generally rode very aggressively thus living up to the reputation of the Swiss’ national stage race.

During the queen’s stage on Sunday the overall leader, Richard Carapaz, passed the Tremola test. Both runner-up Rigoberto Uran and Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) attacked the leader but Carapaz answered swiftly. It should be mentioned that Carapaz was able to rely on an extremely strong INEOS Grenadiers team. Edward Dunbar, for example, stayed with his leader until the finish line in the stage over the Gotthard pass. Team-mates Pavel Sivakov and Rohan Dennis did valuable pacing work up until halfway up the Gotthard climb.

Carapaz showed a first sign of his potential to become the overall winner of the Tour de Suisse during the mountain top finish in Leukerbad. During the 6th stage, the first of two Alpine stages, the Ecuadorian rider kept his rivals in check. Only during the time-trial over the Oberalp pass he showed some sign of weakness, making the tension mount ahead of the final stage. Carapaz, winner of the 2019 Giro d’Italia, is a worthy winner of this Tour de Suisse. The South American rider will now switch focus to the Tour de France where he’ll be one of the spearheads together with Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte.

Here's the report from stage winner Gino Mader's Bahrain Victorious team:

At the Tour de Suisse, Gino Mäder secured his second win of the season on the queen stage. After his podium finish in yesterday’s TT, Gino put in a perfectly timed move over the final climb to move away from the GC group and beat Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) to the line.

Gino Mader

Gino Mader wins the Tour of Switzerland's final stage.

Gino Mäder shared his happiness, especially for taking a win in his homeland:
“I was looking forward to this stage. I wanted to finish off my home race with a win, and I achieved it. The team worked well from the beginning, with Wout Poels in the breakaway, then Hermann Pernsteiner jumping across to him and having two riders in the front was perfect. All the other teammates were helping me behind, bringing food and water and mental support as well. They positioned me perfectly into the last climb. It was incredible teamwork from everybody”.

GC 3rd place Jakob Fuglsang's Team Astana-Premier Tech posted this report:

Jakob Fuglsang fought until the finish line on the eighth and final stage of the Tour de Suisse, where he crossed the line in ninth place to move back onto the General Classification podium.

Jakob Fuglsang

Here's Jakob Fuglsang finishing the 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

‘After yesterday’s not so good day, I was fully motivated to try something today to make it onto the podium or end this week with a stage win. On the last ascent, I heard that Schachmann had a gap and therefore I knew I need to go all in and just gave all I had in the final last kilometres. The week was a mixed one, the mountain stages went quite good with almost a stage win, but the time trial days were, let’s say, not my best ones. I am happy with my podium spot and it shows me that I am on the right path towards my next big objective, which is the Olympic Games. Now I am heading home for the Nationals Championship and then the Tour de France so there are some important races coming up and I think I am heading in a good direction,” said Jakob Fuglsang.

The last day of the Tour de Suisse was this year’s queen stage with riders facing more than 160 brutal kilometres with two category one climbs and the iconic HC climb, the Gotthardpass.

Right from the start, Astana – Premier Tech was active at the front of the race with Basque rider Omar Fraile, who showed incredible form throughout the race, representing the Kazakh-Canadian team for many kilometres in the breakaway.

Approaching the final climb of the day, the breakaway fell apart and Fraile went back to help his teammates in positioning Fuglsang for the decisive part of the stage.

The Danish rider was motivated and dug deep to drop a few of his opponents on the final climb while on the descent, he was able to open a gap to his rivals, who were ahead of him in the General Classification at the start of the day. Fuglsang pushed hard on the run into the finish trying to bridge to the leading duo and eventually crossed the line in the reduced GC group with enough of an advantage to see him round out the podium, one minute 15 seconds behind winner Richard Carapaz.

“We played our last card today to get Jakob on the podium and I’m happy we were able to do it. Jakob worked hard in the lead up to the race, he arrived here in good condition and he demonstrated a good level in the mountains. He came close to a stage win and unfortunately, just missed out with second place on stage five. He did a great race and everything he has done this week will help him to arrive at the Tour de France in top condition. The team worked really well for Jakob and I’m happy with how we raced this week,” added Bruno Cenghialta, Astana – Premier Tech Sports Director.

Here's the report from GC 4th place Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The Tour de Suisse ended with the queen stage, which took the riders on a 160 km long course around Andermatt. The route to the finish led over the Oberalp Pass (cat. 1), which had to be taken on right after the start. Subsequently, the Lukmanierpass (cat. 1) and ultimately the Gotthardpass (H.C.) had to be crested before the peloton raced downhill to the finish.

After a hectic start, a nine-man group was able to break free on the second climb and was later joined by another six riders. The peloton, however, kept the advantage of the leaders in check and never let their gap grow to more than 2:30 minutes. Ahead of the climb to the Gotthard Pass, BORA - hansgrohe also moved to the front of the field and set the pace, while a little later, the leading group split on the cobblestone section of the final climb. At this point, the decimated field contained no more than 15 riders, including Maximilian Schachmann.

Although he was dropped many times on the Gotthard Pass, he mobilised all his strength and was able to repeatedly bridge back. In the descent, he attempted to catch up to the leaders and almost succeeded. With G. Mäder taking the day's win, Maximilian ultimately crossed the finish line in 10th place, narrowly missing a podium finish by just four seconds. BORA - hansgrohe finishes the Tour de Suisse with a second place on the second stage and fourth place overall.

"The stage was really tough, right from the start with that climb coming so soon. Of course, I rode hard and it was frustrating that I had to let go over the last metres. I fought hard, but I'm still a bit disappointed that I ultimately didn't make it onto the podium." - Maximilian Schachmann

"It's an incredible shame that we missed the podium by four seconds. The team and Max gave everything today and he received excellent support from the guys. He was slightly left behind on the last climb, but was able to bring down the gap again. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite sufficient, with him needing four more seconds to keep a place on the podium. It’s a pity, but that's the way it goes in sport and we'll be back on the attack again in the next race." - Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

Route d'Occitanie stage final team reports

We posted the report from GC winner Antonio Pedrero's Team Movistar with the results.

Here's the report from 2nd place Ginaluca Brambilla's Trek-Segafredo team:

Gianluca Brambilla passed under the red kite. He was alone at the head of the race after countering his two breakaway companions with three kilometers remaining. The trio, all who remained from a seven-rider breakaway, were fighting it out for the stage win, and it was a thrilling ending to the four-day Route d’Occitanie.

Brambi’s attack looked good.  He had opened up 25 seconds and seemingly was on he was to take another exciting solo win after a similar move in Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var earlier this year.

Behind Tony Gallopin (AG2R Citroën) and Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) fought to keep the Italian climber close. Gallopin was on the limit, but Cort still had something in the tank and set off after Brambilla.

At 500 meters to go, Brambi was still leading. So close to victory, he could taste it.  And then everything unraveled.

“It’s a second place that leaves disappointment and sorrow. I had the victory within reach, and I thought I had made it. I feel I have nothing to reproach myself with, honestly. I rode well but Cort Nielsen was simply stronger today,” said Brambilla.

Magnus Cort

It was Magnus Cort who won the stage.

"In the final phases of the race, Gallopin seemed to be the most brilliant of the group, and when he attacked I followed him. As soon as he slowed down I took off and immediately gained a good lead. The last 3 kilometers were very hard with a strong headwind. I climbed hard and Gallopin did the same.

"It seemed to be a challenge between me and him because Cort Nielsen was always on his wheel. In the last kilometer, the easiest one, I felt the fatigue of the day, most of all the heat. I thought I could manage the lead, which was still over 20 seconds, confident that the most was done. But Cort Nielsen came back in a great way. I tried to keep up with him but at that moment I was already riding low on fuel.

"I'm sorry, but if I look to take something positive, I know that the condition is there. At the Ventoux Challenge, I suffered some stomach problems. It's good that I managed to put them behind me and now I can refine my form in view of the Italian Championship."

Giulio Ciccone finished in 13th place for the stage and ended in 5th place overall.

It was a solid four days for the team in France, with Jacopo Mosca also adding two podium finishes and led the points competition for two days.

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