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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, June 28, 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 only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. - Socrates


Current racing:

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Tour de France stage two team reports

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

Here's the report from the day's second-place and 2020 Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

It was a thrilling day on the Tour de France, with Tadej Pogačar going head-to-head with the race favourites to take 2nd place behind Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) on the Mur de Bretagne climb, the spectacular finish of the 2nd stage of the Tour de France (183.5 km, starting from Perros Guirec).

The Dutchman attacked on both passages on the Mur de Bretagne: at the first lap on the iconic slope, Van der Poel won 8” bonus seconds passing first on the line (Pogačar 2nd, 5″ bonus), with Van Der Poel also taking the maillot jaune.

The UAE Team Emirates captain showed excellent legs, crossing the line 6 “behind the winner and preceding Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), whom marked his younger rival closely.

In the general classification, Pogačar moved up to 3rd position (+13 ”), keeping the white jersey of best youngster.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar having a good day at this year's Liege-Bastone-Liege. Sirotti photo

Pogačar: “The day started well, as all my teammates involved in yesterday’s crashes managed to start, including Marc Hirschi.

"I would have liked to fight to win, but it was also nice to see Van der Poel win, today he was the best and he also surprised everyone by attacking already on the first pass on the Mur. He also asked me, jokingly, if I wanted to attack with him the first time up.”

On the final ascent, it was not easy for me to try to attack because a lot of guys were marking me and it turned to a game of chess. I still got second place, a result that I’m happy with, and I’m happy with how I’m feeling and where I am at this point in the race”.

Meanwhile Marc Hirschi put in a brave performance to finish the stage strongly, just 9’06’’ down on the winner, having spent the majority of the day in the peloton.

Hirschi: “It wasn’t an easy day, it was quite painful. When the tarmac was good and on good roads it was okay and on the speed bumps or the rough roads it hurt more. The back got stiff too because I couldn’t get out of the saddle. My goal was to arrive to the finish so I hope every day will be a little better from now on.”

The third stage will start from Lorient and will end, after 182.9 km, in Pontivy in a day that could favour the sprinters.

Here's the report from third-place Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic has finished third in the second stage of the Tour de France. During the final climb on the Mûr-de-Bretange the Slovenian didn’t have an answer to the attack of stage winner Mathieu van der Poel. Jonas Vingegaard also finished in the top ten with the seventh place.

Roglic was well placed at the front in the final. As a result, the Slovenian was able to take two bonification seconds on the first climb of the Mûr-de-Bretagne.

Sepp Kuss looked back on the vicious finale: “It was tough, the first time uphill. After the first climb I saw that the group had thinned out a lot, so I could position myself better. On such a short climb, a good position is crucial. As you can see, every second counts. You saw that everyone was working on that today. That is what races, and also the Tour, are decided on. It is important to be there at those important moments. It would be a tough final and we knew in advance that we had to be up front.”

Field sprint

The field sprint, where Roglic was second across the line. Sirotti photo

In the final kilometre, Roglic had to acknowledge his superiority to Van der Poel. The Team Jumbo-Visma leader sprinted with Pogacar for the last bonification seconds and finished third. “It was a good situation for us. Of course we also wanted to fight for the stage win, but in the end we were more focused on the direct competitors for the general classification. You could see that Primoz and Tadej are well matched”, Kuss said.

Fourth-place Wilco Kelderman's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

On a stage that spent most of the day skirting the Channel, the weather on stage 2 of the Tour de France was suitably damp, with wet weather and high humidity making the riding tough.

The 183.5km saw the peloton tackle another six categorised climbs, once again with a third category climb to the finish, this time on the Mûr-de-Bretagne – 2km long with an average gradient of 6.9% - a deceptively-difficult climb that would suit the punchier riders. Looking to honour the polka dot jersey of the King of the Mountains classification, Ide Schelling once again made the jump, and the Dutch rider played a cat and mouse game with his breakaway compatriots as the virtual Maillot à Pois changed hands throughout the day, as his group of six built a lead of four minutes.

The race hit the 100km to go marker and the peloton slowly upped the pace, using their strength in numbers to scale the climbs quickly and bring the escapees back in contact. While it was clear that the break wouldn’t last the day, this didn’t stop Ide pushing hard to protect his jersey, the joy on his face at winning the points on the climbs making it clear how important this was to him.

As the riders started the final 50km, the break began to attack each other, with two heading up the road, but knowing their time was limited, Ide and the remnants of the escape prepared to be swept up by the bunch, which happened with 18km left to race. While the late attacks came to nothing, the higher speeds did stretch and split the leading group, with Peter Sagan one of the riders to be dropped here. The few sprinters who had made it into this select group were quickly dropped on the final climb, and as was the case yesterday, the first across the line were the GC riders, with Wilco Kelderman the first of the BORA-hansgrohe riders to cross the line, taking fourth on the stage and maintaining fifth position in the overall standings after a late surge 400m from the line, with Emanuel Buchmann finishing two seconds later.

While stage winner van der Poel took the climbers’ jersey as well as the yellow, Ide would continue to wear the polka dot jersey on tomorrow’s stage as the second-placed rider in the King of the Mountains contest.

Ide Schelling

Ide Schelling will get to wear the dots tomorrow, since the leader of the KOM competition is Mathieu van der Poel, and he'll be in yellow. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"Our goal was, of course, to maintain or try to increase our lead in the polka dot jersey. I managed to go in the breakaway but it wasn't easy. Anthony Perez was there as well and took the first summit. In the second one, I made it a long one and got away from him, taking the point and the lead. I wanted to get more points but it wasn't possible. Van der Poel and I are tied on points but with his stage win, he takes the jersey." – Ide Schelling

"It was another hectic day in the end, with the messy descents, narrow roads and passages in small towns. Actually, in the final 60km we were always in the front with the team, Niels and Lukas brought us to the start of final lap at the bottom of the Mûr de Bretagne. From that point on it was full gas. I was towards the front of the group and feeling good in the last climb. I had good legs but not enough to react to van der Poel. However, there was a gap behind, and with 400m to go, I attacked. Only Roglič and Pogačar were able to follow me. Unfortunately, they passed me but I think, overall, it was a good day. We were always sharp in the race, there was good teamwork and I'm actually happy. My elbow and shoulder were still a bit stiff from yesterday's crash but in the finale, you forget about that and the legs do the rest." – Wilco Kelderman

"When we reached the bottom of the Mûr de Bretagne we were already going full-on. I was a bit further back and had to go deep already but I had the legs in the second climb, I was there in the front and I'm happy. I think I can be happy with my legs and form today, as the short climbs aren't the perfect ones for me. Still, seeing that most of the other riders weren't better than me, was a good sign, I think." – Emanuel Buchmann

"It was a tough stage and I was expecting a better result for me. It didn't go the way I would have wished for but that's the way it is. Congratulations to Wilco for his race today. Tomorrow, we have a sprint stage and we'll take our chances. The Tour de France is hard and long and we'll take it day by day." - Peter Sagan

"We gave Ide again the chance to catch points. It was a hard fight to get in the group, but you could see his fighting spirit there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough in the end as van der Poel was super strong today. He was a class of his own and we have to accept that. However, our guys did a great job again keeping Wilco safe and in a good position. Patrick was better than expected after the hard fall yesterday, he stayed with Wilco and Emu for quite a long time. I hope he can now recover during the next days. Wilco was really strong again. He was up there and attacked in the finale. He proved to be one of the strongest here at the moment. Emu looked really good as well, so we can be happy with the day." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

And here's the report from Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

In the space of just 24 hours, Julian Alaphilippe sported a third different jersey at the Tour de France. After starting the race Saturday in rainbow and continuing it in yellow following his sublime victory, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s World Champion will now sport the green jersey, which he donned atop Mûr-de-Bretagne, the climb that has made a habit of featuring every few years on the route.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe started the day in yellow, but finished it in green. Sirotti photo

One of the steepest ascents in the entire Bretagne region, averaging 6.9% over two kilometers but pitching up to 14%, Mûr-de-Bretagne was tackled twice inside the last 20 kilometers of Sunday’s stage, and despite several attacks the first time up, it all came down to the final ascent.

There, the fireworks began under the flamme rouge, when a series of attacks put the peloton on its limit. With no team having enough members to control things, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) went clear at 800 meters to go and took the victory eight seconds ahead of a small group from where Alaphilippe sprinted to fifth place – a result that saw him transition from yellow to green, which he wears for the first time.

“I enjoyed every single moment in the yellow jersey and I want to thank all my teammates, who once again worked hard for me and protected me the entire day. I gave my best there and rode really hard in my attempt to retain yellow, but I didn’t have the best legs when the attacks came. Nevertheless, I am content with my first weekend and with having another distinctive jersey on my shoulders”, said Julian after joining a select club of just six riders to have led the four Tour de France classifications at some point in their career: overall, points, KOM and youth.

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