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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 24, 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.

Read in order to live. - Gustave Flaubert

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2021 Paris Roubaix postponed

Quick note: Le Parisien newspaper reports that ASO will not run Paris-Roubaix on its scheduled date of April 11. Because of worsening Covid-19 conditions in Northern France, the race will probably be postponed to sometime in October. ASO has not yet commented on the postponement. The French sport newspaper L'Equipe says that a decision won't be made until next week.

Volta a Catalunya stage two reports

We posted the report from new GC leader Joao Almeida's Deceninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Stage winner Rohan Dennis' INEOS Grenadiers team posted this report:

Rohan Dennis produced a superb ride to claim a five-second victory in the stage two time trial at Volta a Catalunya.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis wins the stage.

The Australian's first victory for the team was also his first since taking the TT world title in Yorkshire in 2019. Success on roads local to his home, and with family and friends cheering him on, made it all the more special for Dennis.

One of the earlier starters down the ramp, Dennis set a benchmark five seconds up on rival Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), and was able to occupy the hot seat for the rest of the stage.

It was a strong day for the Grenadiers with no less than five riders in the top 15. Richie Porte and Adam Yates put themselves in strong GC positions with sixth and seventh fastest times respectively. Geraint Thomas was 10th, with Jonathan Castroviejo 15th.

In his first race of the year, Richard Carapaz was 1:20 back on his team-mate, but will feel much more at home on Wednesday's Vallter 2000 summit finish.

Rohan Dennis:
"I’m relieved! It’s been a long time between drinks if I’m completely honest. It’s been a tough little road but it’s really great to be back on that top step. It’s amazing – the team have always supported and believed in the fact that I can be back on that top step. It’s just amazing to be back here.

"It means a lot. It’s my first victory with the INEOS Grenadiers and my first victory since Yorkshire Worlds. It’s been a pretty tough sort of year and a half of seconds, thirds or even being out of the top 10 sometimes. It’s something I’ve been trying to work on every day. It’s not getting any easier with all these young guys, so I’m making the most of this win at Volta a Catalunya. I train on these roads a lot and there are a lot of friends down here to cheer me on. It’s great to do it in front of them.

"For me I’m just the donkey if I’m honest with you. I’m the one that helps out, and it’s amazing that we’ve got the cards to play with the two Richies, G and Yatesy as well. It’s not going to get any easier from here – we’ve got Vallter 2000. Yesterday was the “flat” stage and you saw how that was with Movistar when they lit it up. It’s good that we’ve got options."

Tuesday also saw Settimana Coppi e Bartali get under way in Italy with a pair of stages. Ethan Hayter took fifth as the morning opener ended in a sprint. The team then set the fifth fastest time in the afternoon team time trial.

Here's the report from Team Bora-hansgrohe:

Day 2 of the Volta a Catalunya and it was straight into an individual time trial. Heading north from Banyoles into some rolling countryside, the 18.5km course made its way towards the Estany de Banyoles – a natural lake to the west of the town before finishing back where the route started. The roads were smooth and there were no real obstacles for the riders to contend with, which made conditions good for some fast times.

Even at this early stage of the race, a strong ride could prove pivotal in the GC standings and, as the BORA-hansgrohe riders made their way onto the roads, with Frederik Wandahl the first to ride down the start ramp onto the course, the fastest times were sitting around twenty-three minutes. This time was only coming down as the stronger ITT riders completed their ride, and it was clear that some riders were trying to take time here that they would lose in the more mountainous stages, with others doing the opposite, instead looking to gain back time on the later days of the race after slower times today.

Wilco Kelderman posted a time of 23:20 in a strong ride after coming back from injury, putting him in provisional 7th, later finishing the day in 12th, before Lennard Kämna hit the road and posted a time of 23:32 to finish 22nd, a good result for the German rider, who would also be able to ride well in the mountains and reclaim time in the overall standings there.

From the Finish Line:
"I think it was a good TT, being the first one of the season, in a new team, with a new bike, and a new setup. I think I can be satisfied, the feeling was good and I'm happy with it. I'm not so sure about the next stages, it's always hard to get back from an injury. My legs were good in training bur racing is something different, so we'll take it day by day." – Wilco Kelderman

"It was a hard TT. I am happy with my performance, but it is still a little bit off the optimal level and there is some work ahead of me on the TT bike. Nevertheless, my position before the mountains is good and we'll see how my legs turn out tomorrow." – Lennard Kämna

"Today's TT course was 18.5km long with a rolling parcours, a hill right after the start, another one in the middle and a steep ramp in the finale. Our goal for our two GC riders was to put in a solid performance without pushing over the limit because tomorrow and the day after tomorrow we have two very important mountain stages with summit finishes. Wilco's result was good and Lennard performed very well, so we can go into the next two days quite confidently with our two climbers. We will see there whether we can reach our goals but all in all, I'd point out again that it was a solid performance by both of them and we are very optimistic about tomorrow's stage." -  Christian Pömer, Sports Director

Steven Kruijswijk's Jumbo-Visma team posted this report:

Steven Kruijswijk has maneuvered his way into the top ten of the general classification with the fifth place in the time trial at the Tour of Catalonia. In the streets of Banyoles the classification rider rode the 18.5 kilometres in exactly 23 minutes. Koen Bouwman and Robert Gesink also rode among the best twenty. George Bennett and Sepp Kuss also did well, but had to concede a little more time.

Steven Kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk time trialing in 2019. Sirotti photo

Rohan Dennis took the day’s victory. In addition to Dennis, Kruijswijk only had to concede to time trial specialists Rémi Cavagna, João Almeida and Brandon McNulty. In the standings, the Dutchman did well by gaining time on competitors like Richie Porte, Adam Yates, Geraint Thomas and Richard Carapaz. Kruijswijk occupies the fourth place in the classification after the second stage.

Afterwards, the Team Jumbo-Visma leader was slightly surprised about his performance on the hilly course. “It surprises me that I ended up fifth. After a tough edition of Paris-Nice I felt I had to get used to it here. I didn’t expect to finish in the top of the day’s results today.”

Kruijswijk is now looking ahead to the tough days ahead with a good feeling. “Today’s performance gives me a lot of confidence towards the coming days. I think everyone in the team rode a strong time trial today. I’m happy to see that the team is riding very well across the board.”

Tomorrow awaits a finish at the top of Valtter 2000.

And here's the report from Groupama-FDJ:

The time trial in Banyoles on Tuesday was set to be the first test for the GC contenders on the Volta a Catalunya. Within the Groupama-FDJ team, only Sébastien Reichenbach could be interested in that regard. “Since he finished inside the right group yesterday, he had to give his best in this time trial,” said Philippe Mauduit. “This is not his main quality for sure, but for his first one of the season, it was okay.” The Swiss rider ended up losing less than two minutes to the day’s winner Rohan Dennis, and now is 1’20 away from the new leader Joao Almeida in GC. The briefing was quite straightforward for the rest of the team. “Since we had no specialists, the instructions were to be careful, focused but not to take risks and to save a little energy for the coming days”, added Philippe. The message was received and understood, but Attila Valter still stood out with a promising performance placing him in 33rd at the finish, surrounding some GC favourites.

Sebastien Reichenbach

Sebastien Reichenbach leading a break in the 2020 Tour de france. Sirotti photo

“Yesterday evening, I had an individual debriefing with each of the riders, including Attila”, told Philippe. “Today, he also wanted to prove that yesterday was just a mishap, and that we could count on him. With him, I emphasised on the technical aspect before and during the race, as I had noticed in the UAE Tour’s time trial that there was a lot to work on from that point of view. I asked him not to focus too much on the performance but rather on the technical aspect of the discipline. On the finish line, he actually set quite a decent time. Being just outside the top 30 in a WorldTour race with that field, it also confirms he has qualities. He could have gained a bit more time by doing it at 100% like he was playing the GC, but that was not the goal.” The young Hungarian could also notice his good condition, and like the rest of the team, he can now head towards the next – mountainous – stages including that of … Vallter 2000, tomorrow.

“On these stages, there are always A, B and C plans,” added Philippe. “We know the riders won’t have an easy day as there are 150 kilometers of false flat before the final climb. This stage will require some energy. Going into a 4-man breakaway would not be really useful, especially that we can think the favourites will go for the win.

"For a break to succeed, we would need a big fight at the start of the race and a group of ten in front without dangerous guys. We’ll have several plans and we’ll decide which one to choose depending on the situation. Anyway, if the peloton is all together at the bottom of the climb, I will ask the climbers to hang on because we need to know how far they can go in the mountains. We haven’t really had a chance to see that yet. It will be interesting for the team, but also for them, to see where they stand against the best on a real climb. For the team, there are real stakes in this stage”.

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