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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 10, 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.

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or does it explode? - Langston Hughes

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Paris-Nice stage three team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner & new GC leader Stefan Bissegger's EF Education-Nippo team:

Stefan Bissegger won stage 3 and now wears the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice after a show-stopping sprint to the line in Gien, France.

“It feels really great to show what I’m capable of and to take the win here,” said Bissegger.

Stefan Bissegger

Stefan Bessegger going faster than anyone else in Gien.

His performance at the Paris-Nice time trials shook up the cycling world and nobody really outside of the team could have expected him to take the win. The 23-year-old was up against some of the most experienced and successful riders in the sport. And yet in his first full season as a pro, Bissegger proved that he’s a name worth remembering in the cycling world.

When teammate Neilson Powless watched him cross the finish line, he could best describe the energy as ‘electric.’ “We’re gonna have a fun dinner tonight and we’ll use this momentum for the rest of the race. It gave us the confidence we needed to carry forward,” said Powless.

Today’s stage was an incredibly difficult one according to Sport Director Andreas Klier. “It was a very exciting ride regarding the power output and the steering and just the overall risks you had to take,” said Klier. “Stefan knew very well what he wanted. And today everything came together and he was the fastest. Every second counted and he knows very well how to time and pace a TT.”

Bissegger and teammate Magnus Cort agreed with Klier. If you were out there riding today, you had to take plenty of chances and power moves in order to secure a top spot. “It was really technical. You had to take risks at the right corners and be patient in other corners as well. I think I managed it well, so I’m super happy about that,” said Bissegger.

Magnus Cort’s sprinting abilities were also on full display as he shared impressive results with his new teammate. “I was hoping for a top 20 and I got that. Then it was so amazing to see Bissegger take the stage win and jersey. It was a big win overall for the team today,” said Cort.

Bissegger’s talent, especially in the time trial stages, was recently showcased at the UAE Tour where he placed second in the event. “Time trials definitely suit me and I’m very happy. It’s the second big stage race of my career,” said Bissegger.

Bissegger grew up around the green pastures of Switzerland and is now a stage winner on the WorldTour. He’s been racing bikes for nearly half of his life and did his first road race when he was 10 on a bike borrowed from his local bicycle store. “The guy from the store told me I couldn’t start the race on the bike I had been riding around on as a child,” Bissegger explains. “He gave me a bike of his. That bike and that race started it all. And the funny thing is, the guy who gave me the bike, he’s now my trainer. I was 10-years-old. He’s been by my side for 10 years now,” said Bissegger.

The training has certainly paid off as he now goes into stage four tomorrow as the overall race leader. Not to mention, having the yellow jersey is a particularly big advantage in a race like Paris-Nice. “The roads are small so it’s always an advantage when you can be at the front. Hopefully he can hold onto it for a few more days and just enjoy every minute of it,” said Powless.

Here's the report from oh-so-close Rémi Cavagna's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Rémi Cavagna got off to a great start Tuesday afternoon, when the “Race to the Sun” scheduled a 14.4km individual time trial around Gien, setting the fastest time at the checkpoint after averaging over 47km/h in the first kilometers of the stage. In the second part of the course, which included a small hill, the “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand” continued to tap out a solid tempo, caught his two-minute man and stopped the clock in 17:34, a fantastic time which sent him straight into the hot seat.

Unfortunately, Rémi was bumped into second place just minutes later by Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) for a frustrating eight tenths of a second, missing out on what would have been his first victory of the season and the chance to don the prestigious yellow jersey at this Paris-Nice debut.

Remi Cavagna

It must hurt to come so close. Cavagna just after learning he didn't win the stage.

“Of course, I am disappointed because coming into the race my goal was to win this stage and I was very close of doing that. Wearing the Paris-Nice yellow jersey was one of the dreams I had growing up, and it’s a shame I couldn’t do it for such a small margin. At the same time, I am proud of what I did today and getting to show again my beautiful jersey. I produced a strong ride and to be on the podium of a World Tour ITT it’s still something”, Cavagna explained at the finish. “I don’t know if there will be any other opportunities for me to have the yellow jersey, as a tough stage awaits on Wednesday, but we’ll keep the motivation and see what we can do.”

The 25-year-old Frenchman was one of our squad’s three riders in the top 15, together with Yves Lampaert (9th) and Mattia Cattaneo (15th), helping the Wolfpack take the lead of the team classification.

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

Primoz Roglic has finished third in the third stage of Paris-Nice. The Slovenian only came six seconds short of the victory in the race against the clock.

Primoz Roglic

Roglic is certainly in form. Cor Vos photo

Thanks to his strong time trial, Roglic climbed to third place in the general classification. Steven Kruijswijk also rode a strong time trial and finished just outside the top ten in eleventh place.

For the Slovenian leader of Team Jumbo-Visma this was the first time trial of the season. “Time trials are always a challenge. I always learn something new and I am happy that I was able to do so early in the season. The changes in tempo that were necessary on today’s course suit me well. Of course you always want to win the stage, but I am satisfied with the result. I did what I could and I am already looking forward to the stages to come.”

Sports director Frans Maassen looked back on his leader’s performance with a good feeling. “It may not have been Primoz's very best time trial, but we are very satisfied. He rode a very good time trial today and did well with regard to the general classification.”

Fourth-place Brandon McNulty's UAE-Team Emirates posted this report:

Brandon McNulty put in a very solid display to finish 4th on the stage 3 individual time trial at Paris-Nice.

Brandon McNulty

Brandon McNulty riding to fourth. Bettini photo

The 22-year old whipped around the 14.4km course starting and finishing in Gien in a time of 17.43 with a whopping average speed of 48.8kmph, just 9’’ shy of the days winner Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo).

This result now bumps McNulty up the general classification to 4th, just 9’’ off the race lead of Bissegger.

He also lies just behind the Swiss in second place in the youth classification and will wear this jersey for stage 4.

McNulty: “I’m super happy with the TT today, for the first one of the year I think it was a good performance for me and I’m looking forward to building on it the rest of the week. I expect tomorrow to be hard, there will be a few teams to keep an eye on, especially Jumbo for GC, so we’ll give it good shot and see how it goes.”

Tomorrow stage 4 will be the first mountain test of the race going from Chalon-sur-Saône to Chiroubles (187.6k).

And here's the report from fifth-place Soren Kragh Andersen's Team DSM:

Buoyed by yesterday’s success and stage win, the team were back in action today for the third stage of Paris-Nice; a 14.4 kilometre long time trial around the town of Gien. Featuring flat power sections, twisting turns and descents, and sharp climbs; the route was a perfect playground for the team’s Scott Plasma bike with Shimano disc brakes.

Jasha Sütterlin was the first rider down the ramp for the team, with the German setting a good early benchmark time of 18 minutes and 19 seconds, which saw him take a provisional fourth place before slipping down the order as other riders finished their effort.

All eyes were on 2020 Paris-Nice TT stage winner Søren Kragh Andersen as he left the start house, with Kragh Andersen flying around the opening part of the course, setting the fastest intermediate time. Continuing to put the pressure on the pedals and leaving nothing in the tank, he pushed all the way to the line to stop the clock in a time of 17 minutes and 44 seconds – putting him into an excellent provisional first place. Unfortunately, the wind speed dropped a little for the later starters and four riders were able to best Kragh Andersen’s time, with the Team DSM rider ending the day in a very good fifth place for the team.

Soren Andersen

Søren Kragh Andersen. Cor Vos photo

Seventh placed rider on GC before the stage, Tiesj Benoot, put in a solid and steady ride against the clock; ending the stage alongside some other climbers and puncheurs. Tomorrow’s stage sees the peloton faced with the first uphill finish of the race with the Category One climb up to Chiroubles set to decide the day.

“It was a good performance and I’m satisfied with how it went today,” explained Kragh Andersen at the finish. “Of course we had hoped for more but we can be happy with the top five on the stage. It also shows just how high the level is here at the race. We are performing in a good way and from tomorrow the climbs begin. I’m looking forward to fighting there for the team goals with Tiesj and Jai.”

Team DSM coach Marc Reef added: “It was time trial day today and everything went according to plan. The preparations went nicely with the recon, warming up, our parcours knowledge was solid and the pacing plan we had was good as well. It’s just the result wasn’t like last year for us but Søren finished really strong with a fifth place, while Tiesj and Jasha also did a good effort against the clock too. The feeling in the team is still good and we’re looking forward to tomorrow and the hills with Tiesj and Jai. All in all, it was a solid day and we’re hoping to continue that in the coming days.”

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