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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, March 1, 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.

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. - Marcel Proust

Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies

Upcoming races:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne team reports

We posted the report from third-place Tom Pidcock's INEOS Grenadiers team with the results.

Here's the report from winner Mads Pedersen's Trek-Segafredo team:

In 24 hours, Trek-Segafredo went from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the podium.

There was little to say after the team went missing in Omloop het Nieuwsblad, a 63rd place their best result in the opening classic they won in 2020.  After Saturday’s dismal performance, Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pederson combined to give the best response in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne Sunday.

Mads Pedersen

Mads Pedersen takes the race. Sirotti photo

“It was super nice to finish it off today and make a result after yesterday. What can we say? We fucked up pretty hard and it was pretty bad, so it’s nice to show that we are there,” said Pedersen, pulling no punches. “Always let the legs speak and not make silly excuses. I think we did it in the right way with the win today.”

“We don’t want to see that team of yesterday, that’s for sure,” he continued. “So of course we were motivated to do better today after a shit result like yesterday. In a case like this, it’s always better to speak from the bike.”

How it happened:
Mathieu van der Poel’s audacious attack with over 70 kilometers remaining kicked off the action in the 73rd edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.  Jasper Stuyven made the next key move on the Oude Kwaremont and his acceleration at the bottom helped form a strong chase group. With still 55 kilometers to go, and Van der Poel ahead with over a minute’s lead, the race was on!

“I made the first selection on the Kwaremont because I thought okay, I feel a lot better so let’s just try. I suffered a lot there, but it was good. It was a big group with a lot of strong guys, so I did not want to do too much and save a little bit. Mads was in the group behind so it was perfect,” explained Stuyven.

Pedersen added: “I was actually sitting in Mathieu’s wheel when he went, but it was quite early, so I didn’t even want to follow. Then when the group went on the Kwaremont, my position was okay, but I was not quite good enough to follow,” he admitted.

“It was a good situation for us with Jasper in the first group. He can do a really good sprint, his chances were good too, so actually we were quite happy with the two groups,” Mads added.

And that’s how it remained until eight kilometers from the finish when the two chase groups merged and, a few kilometers later, the leaders finally contained.

A late crosswind section presented a final hurdle, and Stuyven and Pedersen played it well, hiding and waiting.

“We knew it was a crosswind section before the final straight, and of course we didn’t want to get dropped there, so Jasper placed us well, not full in the front, but up there,” explained Pedersen. “And then it was just about waiting game, and in the finish straight Jasper timed it perfect. Yeah, super nice from Jasper today.”

With a perfect leadout from Stuyven, Pedersen made the sprint look easy, winning by over a bike length.

“He said he was feeling good for the sprint, and I know that I am good in delivering him,” said Stuyven. “I was also ready to follow some moves if necessary. I made the leadout – we didn’t need to talk; I just know Mads is following – and he just finished it up.”

Stuyven won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in 2016, and Sunday, five years later, he led out his teammate. It’s what makes this team so special, and now Pedersen has a KBK donkey of his own.  “I like donkeys, I know Jasper does too,” smiled Pedersen. “And we’re going to name this one after Ryan (Mullen).”

Somethings never change. There’s always a time and place for a Mullen dig.

Ed: Here's Pedersen's gearing: 54/41 rings, 10-33 cassette

Here's the report from John Degenkolb's Lotto Soudal team:

Lotto Soudal rider John Degenkolb made a strong impression on the second day of the Belgian Opening Weekend but didn’t manage to take a top result in what was a nerve racking end to Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. A five-rider front group was eventually caught in the final kilometres of the race and it was Pedersen who took the victory in a sprint. John Degenkolb was a little too far back and had to settle for 17th place. The 32-year-old German feels disappointed after being left empty handed following a strong race.

Team Lotto-Soudal

Lotto-Soudal at the team presentation ceremony. Sirotti photo

“It was a fight until the bitter end and we really had to go flat out to close the gap on the front group”, begins John Degenkolb. “Those five guys were really strong. I am a little disappointed because the result doesn’t reflect what I was capable of today.”

The race was decided on the Oude Kwaremont, where John Degenkolb made a strong impression and reacted to an acceleration of Kasper Asgreen. This effort saw quite a big and strong group form in which Degenkolb was joined by teammate Frederik Frison. This chasing group went on a mission to catch a five-man front group with Van der Poel and Narvaez, who attacked from the peloton on the Kanarieberg, at 80 kilometres from the line. The front group was only caught in the final kilometres of the race and it all came down to a group sprint in which Mads Pedersen was the fastest. Degenkolb wasn’t rewarded for a strong race and had to settle for 17th place.

John Degenkolb: “I am happy about how the team raced today, but in the end it wasn’t rewarded with a nice result. I felt very strong all day and I still had some energy left for the sprint, but unfortunately, I was a bit too far back going into the final corner. With a lot of riders in front of me, I couldn’t get a top result.” 

The next race for Degenkolb will be Le Samyn on Tuesday. Afterwards, the German will be at the start of Paris-Nice, to further fine-tune his form.

“Tuesday, there will be a new chance at Le Samyn and I am convinced that we can go for a good result. Via Paris-Nice, I hope to further build up the form to start the upcoming Classics in top shape”, concludes John Degenkolb.

Here's the Bora-hansgrohe report:

Over the years, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne has developed a reputation as a sprinters’ race, with a flat finale often taken by the fast riders, but with 197km between the start and finish, along with twelve tough climbs – including the famed Oude Kwaremont – to contend with, there was no telling who would take the win today.

Within the first 15km, a four-man attack saw no fewer than two BORA-hansgrohe riders get themselves in the mix – Maciej Bodnar and Patrick Gamper. Within just a few kilometres, this group built a lead of more than five minutes, before a duo joined them on the front, only making them stronger and driving the gap out by another minute. Maciej – the Polish powerhouse – helped keep the tempo in this breakaway group and held this lead before dropping off as the race hit the Kruisberg, leaving just Patrick in this lead group of five. The peloton was chipping away at the leaders’ advantage and the gap was dropping steadily as the race approached the Oude Kwaremont – the day’s penultimate climb – and it was here that the fast pace and hard efforts split the peloton.

Maciej Bodnar

Maciej Bodnar leads the escape. Sirotti photo

While the escapees were maintaining their slim lead over this newly-formed chasing group, Ide Schelling and Nils Politt had made it into this select group and were joined by Maciej to represent BORA-hansgrohe here. With 5km to go, the Austrian was holding his own in the lead group, the gap holding steady at twenty seconds, but a late burst from the chasers in the final 1,500m saw this slim lead disappear and it was all together for the finale. Eager to improve on his finish in yesterday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Nils Politt pushed around the outside to take seventh in the bunch sprint after a strong ride by the whole team.

From the Finish Line:
"Today we showed yet another example of fantastic team work, with Maciej and Patrick in the leading group. Patrick rode very well there and looked to be very strong. This allowed Ide and me to save our energy somewhat in the group behind, and to let the other teams do the chase work. Ultimately, I have to say that the guys supported me very well today, and I think that we can be satisfied with the seventh place that I was able to take as a result. It was quite close in the end, but it was a successful weekend, and I’m happy with not only my own performance, but that of my teammates who worked hard the whole opening weekend. I’m sure we can continue along this path at our upcoming races." – Nils Politt

"Our tactic was to get someone in the breakaway, and Maciej and I ended up making it together into the leading group. That ended up working out well. It was unexpected that it came so close in the end, and it was also a shame to have missed out by such a small margin. However, we can look towards the next time and always hope to improve. We played the tactics well and didn’t make any errors, so we can be satisfied with our performance." – Patrick Gamper

"Our plan, first and foremost, was to make it into the breakaway group and dictate the race from there, and also to be present on the Kwaremont with Nils, Ide and Daniel. We also had a card to play with Jordi, should it come down to a sprint from a larger group. The race was, however, pretty tough with winds and several climbs in the first 130km, and on the Kanarieberg, van der Poel rode away and caught the leaders. In my opinion, he then proceeded to do damage a little too early in the leading group, but Patrick was able to hold on and rode a great race. Unfortunately, his group was caught 1.5km ahead of the finish. But with Nils, we took a top 10 finish in the sprint from the chasing group." – Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

And here's the report from team DSM:

Cobbled racing continued today at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, with the route taking on its traditional snaking parcours around the Belgian countryside. Early into the race a break of six riders was able to establish itself out front, with the peloton and all Team DSM riders settling into a rhythm as the kilometres ticked by.

Team DSM

Team DSM before the race start. Sirotti photo

A strong attacking duo broke clear at 85 kilometres to go, before the peloton started to increase the tempo and a fierce pace was set on the famous Oude Kwaremont. Tiesj Benoot and Søren Kragh Andersen rode very well on the cobbled climb, getting clear over the summit in a strong group that set off in pursuit of those ahead. It resulted in a long chase throughout the remainder of the race, with the gap slowly being brought back; standing at 15 seconds with ten kilometres to go.

After some strong turns those ahead were caught with two kilometres to go and Kragh Andersen tried to get clear in the slight crosswind section, putting in a big, stinging attack. Although initially getting a gap, riders were quickly in his wheel and he soon stopped his effort after another few hundred metres. Benoot tried his best to get up in the sprint for a good result and was the team’s first rider across the line, with Kragh Andersen not too far behind.

“It was good weather out there today, although with enough wind to make it a harder race,” said Kragh Andersen at the finish. “We were in a good position for the key points of Côte du Trieu and the Oude Kwaremont, and we were able to make the move. With Tiesj and I in that group, we tried to catch the group that was out front and we got them really late in the race. I tried to attack in the last kilometres, but when I look back I maybe should have waited for the sprint as guys were in my wheel quickly and I burned my bullet there. I think we did a good race still and we’re improving, the shape is fine at the moment and will hopefully be a bit better in the coming weeks.”

Team DSM coach Marc Reef added: “It went better than yesterday; we were in the race more. The circumstances were more in our advantage too with the wind today. We were able to save our energy in the first part of the race and then switch on for the Trieu, because that’s the important positioning part before the Kwaremont. We were there in a good position with three guys; Tiesj, Søren and Nils. Unfortunately Nils crashed on the Kwaremont so he lost contact with the group, but Søren and Tiesj were there in the front group that went over the top. The guys raced well and tried together with the group to bring back the five leaders.

"In the end, we motivated them to try and attack and think offensively because quite a few good sprinters came back to the group. We wanted to try and win the race with an attack instead of waiting for the sprint and maybe coming in the top five or ten. That’s what Søren tried to do but it wasn’t enough anymore to make the jump alone from the group. He followed Asgreen first but then when they were caught, he tried again but the others were immediately in his wheel. It’s a gamble, if we go for that or for the sprint, but we tried to race aggressively because we wanted to win. All in all, I’m happy to see how the guys rode today and it’s promising for the next races.”

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