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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, June 27, 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.

The scars of others should teach us caution. - St. Jerome


Current racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:


Tour de France stage one team reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the post from winner Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

He came, he showed panache, he conquered, he celebrated. Julian Alaphilippe couldn’t have dreamed of a better Tour de France start, as he surged to victory on the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups after a tremendous effort of his Wolfpack teammates, who protected him during the chaotic and nervous stage 1 from Brest to Landerneau before giving him the perfect launch pad to a fourth win in the rainbow jersey.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe has left the rest of the best riders in the world behind. Sirotti photo

“This is such a special victory I can’t find my words to tell you how I feel. First and foremost, I want to say a big thank you to all my teammates for taking care of me today and showing an amazing team spirit. I was involved in that first big crash, but with their help I made it back. They believed in me, worked hard the entire day and I am happy I could repay them”, said an elated Julian after becoming the first Frenchman in two decades to win on stage 1.

The 108th edition of the Grande Boucle rolled out from Brest for the fourth time in history and took in six classified climbs and around 3000 vertical meters for what was one of the hardest opening days at the race in recent history. As soon as a breakaway formed, Deceuninck – Quick-Step posted Tim Declercq at the front of the peloton, and “El Tractor” duly kept the escapees in check, before reeling them in one by one.

Davide Ballerini was next to move to the front, making it really hard in the bunch, before Kasper Asgreen joined in with the last ascent in sight. Alaphilippe stayed in the wheel on the Ronde van Vlaanderen champion until with 2.5 kilometers to go, when Dries Devenyns took over and upped the tempo as the gradient was becoming stiffer, setting up the 29-year-old for one of his trademark panachetastic attacks.

Julian stormed away from the field and quickly gained ground in a move reminiscent of his attack at last year’s Worlds in Imola. This enormous acceleration on the hardest part of the climb brought him a handful of seconds under the flamme rouge, and without looking back, the man who delighted an entire nation two years ago continued his sumptuous move and arrived at the finish well clear of the chasers. As he crossed the line, he celebrated his sixth Tour de France stage success, one which he dedicated to his son Nino, born last week.

“It’s incredible to take the victory and the yellow jersey after the birth of my son. If you would have told me before the start this will happen on the opening stage, I wouldn’t have believed it. I came into the race motivated and with the goal of getting a win and wearing yellow again at some point, and I’m happy I achieved it so early.”

“Today, the plan was to make it a tough race for the fast men, so I asked the guys to ride full gas from the very beginning. Then, in the finale, Kasper guided me on the first ramps of the climb before Dries came on the left, which was the signal for me to follow him. I did just that and when he finished his effort I just took off. I decided to go all out and as soon as I noticed a small gap, I continued to pull hard and give everything. Now I’m hearing that I racked up the 100th Grand Tour stage win in the history of this fabulous team and all I can say is that I am proud to be part of this amazing achievement”, said just the fifth World Champion in history to claim the victory on the first day of the Tour de France.

Here's the report from second-place Michael Matthews' Team BikeExchange:

Australian rider Michael Matthews got Team BikeExchange off to a stunning start, storming to a stellar second place on the explosive uphill finish to today’s opening stage of the 2021 Tour de France in Landernaeu.

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews takes second. Sirotti photo

World champion Julian Alaphilippe stole the show, launching a damaging attack with 2.5km remaining on the steep uphill slopes. With a long way still to go, Matthews and the other race favourites stalled for a second, which proved to be enough for Alaphilippe to open up a gap and ultimately hold on until the finish line by eight seconds.

The 197km day was filled with drama with two huge crashes effecting the rhythm of the race. Multiple Team BikeExchange riders were caught out including Matthews, who came down in the first touchdown, but thankfully was uninjured and with the help of his teammates was able to get back into contention ahead of the final.

The 30-year-old rider now sits in second place on the general classification after picking up bonus seconds on the line, with the result boosting the team’s confidence in Matthews’ form despite a bittersweet feeling having the stage victory and Maillot Jaune within reach.

Michael Matthews - 2nd place:
“The goal was to win today, but there was just one guy stronger than me. I guess I have sort of mixed feelings, obviously you want to win, but it’s also nice to start the Tour de France already with a podium position. I think it sets the tone for us as a team going forward for these three weeks.

"He (Alaphilippe) always does this (attacking early) and it’s the best way for him to win the race, so his attack wasn’t unexpected that’s for sure.

"It was a tense day, and I went down in the first crash. It was a stupid sort of crash, one of those ones where it was starting to get nervous in the peloton and getting fast towards the finish and someone touches the wheel and I think 80 guys went down.

"Tomorrow I think the final climb is actually harder, but better for me. We can only take confidence from today’s performance.”

Matt White (Sport Director):
“It’s been a bittersweet day. Second place was a solid start for us, but we have some injured riders and fingers crossed we are starting with a full team in the morning.

"Michael played the final well, he knows his ability on a climb like that. Alaphilippe certainly showed he was the best today. But Michael has shown his form is in a good place so tomorrow is another day which suits the same riders, so we are looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge.”

Here's what third-place Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team had to report about the stage:

Team Jumbo-Visma has not come through the opening stage of the Tour de France unscathed. The stage through hilly Brittany degenerated into a battlefield due to two massive crashes. Primoz Roglic stayed focused despite a crash and all the commotion and finished third. Steven Kruijswijk lost two minutes to the head of the race.

In the port city of Brest, the 108th edition of the Tour de France started at full speed. Two massive crashes made for a chaotic final. Team Jumbo-Visma was involved with almost the entire team in the first crash, caused by an inattentive spectator. The peloton dropped the pace, allowing most of the riders to come back to the front. A new crash followed leading up to the final five kilometres, again with many victims.

On the final climb of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups, leader Roglic had a good position, partly due to the work of his remaining teammates. The early attack by Julian Alaphilippe proved decisive. Roglic finished shortly afterwards as the number three. Wout van Aert tried to get involved in the battle for the day’s victory on the steep flanks of the final climb, but fell short of the world champion. “I was quickly à bloc on the steep part. I had no answer to Julian’s attack. To be honest, I was expecting that. I quickly made the switch to limit the damage for Primoz as much as possible. And it worked.”

Van Aert saw an ‘off-day’ for his team. “It’s nice that the fans are back, but it immediately creates even more hectic. It was a far from ideal day for us. Fortunately, Primoz’ chances are still very much alive.”

Robert Gesink, who just managed to avoid the first crash, also looked back on a ‘lousy day’. “Of course we tried to stay out of the frenzy. That was also the task of Tony and me. Tony hit the sign of the spectator and almost the whole team crashed. It really sucks that something like that happens. It’s a terrible thing to go through. Maybe it’s good that people sometimes think better about what they are doing on the side of the road. I hope the damage will turn out to be not too bad.”

Road captain Tony Martin also licked his wounds. “We had everything under control until the crash. I brought the guys to the front via the right side of the road, but crashed into the sign of the spectator. It all happened very quickly; suddenly almost the entire team was on the ground. Many spectators behave respectfully, but unfortunately not this one. Fortunately, Primoz came through it well. I hope the physical damage to myself and the other guys is manageable.”

Mike Teunissen has x-rays taken of his injured hip, wrist and elbow. He's suffering some bruises and scrapes, but no fractures. He will start tomorrow's second stage for another painful day on the bike.

King of the Mountains Ide Schelling's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this news:

The world’s most famous cycling race had finally arrived – ‘La Grande Boucle’ started today in Brest with a long 197.8km parcours that was far from easy. Six categorised climbs dotted the coastal profile, and while the third category climb that formed the finale in Landerneau was far from a summit finish, the day’s exertions meant the day’s outcome would be difficult to predict. From the very start, it was clear this was a race like no other, with multiple riders working to get in the day’s break and there was a high level of excitement – as well as nervousness – in the peloton.

For a rider making his first appearance in the race, Ide Schelling confidently made his way into the day’s break, the Dutchman instrumental in the escape building a lead that hit almost four minutes. With less than 100km left to race, Ide clipped off the front and left his fellow breakaway riders behind, and it was this move that allowed him to claim almost all of the remaining mountain points and put him in the Tour de France’s Maillot à Pois. The remainder of the break was caught soon after Ide left them behind, just before the day’s intermediate sprint, where Peter Sagan took third place in his quest for the green jersey of points leader. A crash caused by a spectator with 45km to go created a split in the main bunch, and with so many riders brought down, the narrow road made it impossible to pass, with several BORA-hansgrohe riders caught up here.

Trying hard to bring things back together, the pace in the peloton ramped up, a move that brought Ide’s lead down dramatically. Caught with 27.7km to go, Ide settled back into the bunch, but while the peloton had their thoughts on the finish, a second crash with 7.5km to go took down half the bunch once again, creating more splits. The remaining riders hit the day’s final climb with its maximum gradients of 14%, and these demanding inclines saw only a few riders make it into a select group to contest the win, Wilco Kelderman representing BORA-hansgrohe in this lead group.

IdeSchelling

Ide Schelling gets the first dotted jersey. Sirotti photo

A late attack from Alaphilippe took the stage, but Wilco came in fifth, just eight seconds behind. From here it was a nervous wait to see how the day’s events had affected the other riders, with most of them having been caught up in the crashes. Coming in safe to collect his polka dot jersey, Ide was the last of the team to cross the line, marking the end of a tough day at only the first stage of the race. While there were no serious injuries in the team, some abrasions and hematomas will be probably felt in the coming days.

From the Finish Line:
"The goal for me today was to try to make it to the breakaway and take my chances at the polka dot jersey. It's a beautiful jersey and I knew I had to do things differently to get hold of it. So, when I got the chance, I attacked the rest of breakaway to catch them by surprise and take the points. I managed to build a big gap and the DS in the car told me to go for it and give it my all to the next summit. I put in a big effort, it was hard but I'm extremely happy to put on this jersey. You don't often get a chance to win it on the first day of the Tour de France. We'll have to see how my legs are doing tomorrow but we'll try to keep it." – Ide Schelling

"It was a hard stage with a lot of tension and crashes. I was caught up in the first big crash. I didn't suffer any serious injury but I lost time and had to spend a lot of energy to make it back to the front group. The Tour de France just started and we'll fight every day." – Peter Sagan

"The first day of the Tour de France is always hectic. We had a lot of up down in the day and it's good we had Ide in the breakaway. He has the king of the mountain jersey so that's really good. With about 50km to 60km to go there was a big crash in the peloton and Peter, a few other teammates and I got caught up. I managed to catch the peloton afterward and be in the front group in the finale. It was a hard finish, but I had good legs and tried to sprint and give my best, finishing fifth. My legs feel well but my elbow is hurting. It's a bit of a disappointment but it's not so bad. I will recover and fight in the next stages." – Wilco Kelderman "As expected, we had a very stressful first stage of the Tour de France. We knew that in that parcours, up and down, left and right all day, it would be dangerous and the goal would be to stay in a good position. We also had as a goal to send Ide in the breakaway, this worked out very well, he now has the polka dot jersey and that's nice. Unfortunately, we weren't very lucky, there were a lot of crashes and we had six riders on the ground. It's not what we had hoped in the finale. Wilco was there, in the leading group, but all the other riders had to change bikes and spend a lot of energy to come back to the bunch. It wasn't our best day but we are happy for Ide and we look forward to the next stages." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Geraint Thomas' Team INEOS Grenadiers posted this update:

Geraint Thomas and Richard Carapaz finished in a select lead group after a crash-filled opening stage of the Tour de France.

Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz on his way to winning the 2019 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

The stage in Brittany was marred by a pair of massive crashes in the final 50 kilometres, causing chaos and time loss throughout the peloton.

Good forward positioning ensured that the Grenadiers were able to miss most of the carnage, with Thomas and Carapaz finishing 10th and 22nd respectively in Landerneau. Sadly both Tao Geoghegan Hart and Richie Porte were held up by the first crash, and despite making it back to the peloton, lost time at the finish after being caught up in the second pile-up.

Porte dropped 2:16, with Geoghegan Hart finishing 5:33 down on a bruising day for the peloton. Carapaz finished as part of the front group but narrowly found himself on the wrong side of a split at the line, dropping just five seconds to his team-mate.

The stage and the race’s opening yellow jersey went the way of Julian Alaphilippe after the Frenchman launched an audacious move on the climb with 2.3km to go.

No one was able to follow the Frenchman on the steep run-in, with Michael Matthews and Primoz Roglic crossing the line eight seconds later to round out the podium places.

Geraint Thomas:
"It was a solid day - stressful with a few crashes. In the big crash at the end I had no idea who was in it. It ended up with Richie being in it which wasn't great. I was just concentrating on staying on my bike basically.

"I was too far back on that last climb. At the time I thought it's okay I'll sit here and then slowly move up when it lulls. I was expecting it to lull after the steep bit and then move up a bit. But it never lulled! I think because Alaphilippe went so hard for so long, it was just full gas all the way up. It made my life a bit harder. But for me personally it's not too bad. I never feel 100 percent on the first stage after a few easy days. Happy to get through it but gutted about Richie and Tao."

Team DSM's Jasha Sütterlin abandons the Tour de France on its opening stage

Here’s the update from Team DSM:

Team DSM’s Jasha Sütterlin was involved in a large crash during today’s opening stage at the Tour de France. Around 80 percent of the peloton was involved in the incident, where Jasha unfortunately took a heavy tumble which saw the German’s race end prematurely. Following the crash, he was taken to hospital for examinations which revealed no broken bones, but a severe contusion to his right wrist that will require further examinations back at home.

Jasha Sutterlin

Here's Jasha Sütterlin winning the third stage of the 2017 Tour of Madrid.

Sütterlin said: “I am so disappointed; I have no words for it really. I can’t really move my right wrist so it was impossible for me to carry on today. It’s good that nothing is broken, but I can’t say more than I’m really disappointed to go home. I wish the rest of the guys the best of luck for the Tour.”

Team DSM physician Camiel Aldershof added: “Unfortunately Jasha was involved during a crash today. Checks at the hospital revealed a severe contusion to his right wrist, and he also required stitches to his wrist and elbow. His wrist will require further checks and investigations once he has returned home so we can really determine the cause of the pain.”

Team DSM coach Luke Roberts continued: “We’re really disappointed to see Jasha leave us so early in the race with a crash like this. We will really miss him amongst the team that we have here. For now we wish him a speedy recovery while we continue with our hunt for stages.”

Here are the medical updates from team Ag2r-Citroën:

Seven of our eight riders were caught in the various crashes during the first stage of the Tour de France.

Caught up in the first mass crash 45 km from the finish, Ben O'Connor was attended to by the Tour de France medical service once he finished the stage. He had an X-ray and ultrasound assessment of the right shoulder which revealed no serious injuries. The rider also suffered a large and deep wound to the right forearm that required about ten stitches.

Ben OConnor

Ben O'Connor wins stage 17 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

Benoit Cosnefroy, who fell twice, suffers from dermabrasions with dorsal-lumbar and cervical contusion as well as a wound in the right arm caused by a crankset and which required the installation of a suture.

Dorian Godon, who also fell twice, suffers from road rash on his elbow and trauma to his left middle finger.

Aurélien Paret Peintre, the victim of a crash 80 km from the finish and then caught in the mass crash 7.5 km from the finish, suffers from a contusion with a sore left knee.

Nans Peters, who fell twice, suffered a bruised left shoulder with road rash.

Michaël Schär suffers from a cervical trauma.

Greg Van Avermaet, who fell in the mass crash 7.5 km from the finish, did not seem to suffer any major injuries.

Vincent Lavenu: “It's a very frustrating day because we have lived through a disaster scenario. Seven out of eight runners fell, including all of our leaders. It is the law of sport and we will get up and fight. There will still be some great stages but all the work done upstream to prepare for the Tour has been undermined. The sport of cycling generates great joys but we are not always rewarded in relation to the efforts made. The first fall was caused by a spectator. The organizers communicate a lot with messages of caution but today we are faced with the unconsciousness of a staff. It's really unfortunate because we were all happy to find the public on the side of the roads."

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