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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 28, 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.

History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren't there. - George Santayana

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Bora-hansgrohe & Trek-Segafredo do not start Gent-Wevelgem

Trek-Segafredo with defending champion Mads Pedersen also did not start because of a Covid-19 infection in the team.

Here's the Trek-Segafredo announcement:

One team member tested positive for Coronavirus on Friday 26th. They were then put into isolation along with the other team members who had been in close contact with them. The entire team underwent an extra PCR test which revealed a positive result for one of the isolated members.

The Team has decided to withdraw from Gent-Wevelgem whilst we do further testing before we can safely return to competition.

Our women’s team, including staff, is unaffected by this as they have remained separated. Therefore, they will still race Gent-Wevelgem.

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this angry press release:

After the UCI and race organisers would have given the team the green light, yesterday the Covid doctor in charge of the E3 race imposed a 7-day quarantine on two-thirds of the team, although it is completely unclear what criteria were used to determine who falls under this.

"I am very disappointed and angry. A GP from the region can block an entire team in one of the largest one-day races in the world. We had a positive Corona case with Walls and have the roommate and a physio as category 1 contact persons. That they have to be isolated and quarantined is absolutely clear. However, we of course have other riders and staff on site, so a part of them were also ordered to be in quarantine, but only some of them. Who was selected and the reasons are completely unclear and it seems rather arbitrary. Honestly, I can't understand why other teams are allowed to race after similar cases. We tried everything last night, but the doctor didn't even answer us anymore. It would be nice to at least understand how he has justified his decisions. We are testing every day at the moment and all the tests so far have been negative, without exception. The part of the team that has been quarantined will be quarantined until 1 April. This also means that we cannot start at Dwars Door Vlaanderen." - Ralph Denk, Team Manager

Volta a Catalunya stage six reports

We posted the report from stage winner leader Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Adam Yates' INEOS Grenadiers:

The INEOS Grenadiers retained the top three positions at the head of the Volta a Catalunya after working hard throughout stage six.

The penultimate test ended in a sprint finish but the team ensured they placed numbers around leader Adam Yates and fellow podium positioned riders Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas.

Yates takes a 45-second advantage into the final day, and a notoriously tricky circuit around Montjuic in Barcelona.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan wins stage six. Bettini photo

Adam Yates:
"It was good, it was the first day we didn't have to work or pull or do anything really. It was about staying in position and staying out of trouble. It was a welcome rest, because like I've been saying for a few days, the Barcelona stage tomorrow is going to be super tough. We needed to save all the energy we could for tomorrow.

"Once you get to the circuit it's relentless. You go up, then down a tricky descent. You don't really get time to recover - then you're already on to the next climb. It's a real tough circuit. I've done it before so I know just how hard it is.

"The boys are looking good. We stayed out of trouble today and I think it's going to be about more of the same tomorrow - trying to control the race."

Saturday also saw the conclusion of Settimana Coppi e Bartali on a tough circuit around Forli.

Ethan Hayter continued his consistent form with fourth place on the stage, narrowly missing out on an overall podium after being leapfrogged by the day's victor Mikkel Honore (Deceuninck-Quick-Step).

Hayter finished fourth on GC, 36 seconds back on overall victor Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), but can take great heart from how well he rode, both in the sprints and on tough climbing courses. Sadly Ivan Sosa was unable to complete the race, still suffering the effects of his crash on Friday.

Ben Swift did some good work for the team as part of the day's seven-man breakaway.

Here's the report from Daryl Impey's Israel Start-Up Nation team:

Israel Start-Up Nation has been riding as a close team throughout the whole Volta a Catalunya. It has already led to great results this week, but the team is still hunting for a stage victory.

The team rode impressively well together in today’s stage 6. After Dan Martin’s fifth-place finish yesterday, Michael Woods’ second and eighth positions (stages 4 and 3, respectively), this time it was Daryl Impey who gave ISN a spot on the podium: second.

The South-African came very close to a victory after having been positioned amazingly well by his teammates and a powerful sprint to the line. “The guys truly helped me a lot today,” he would say after the finish.

His sports director Rik Verbrugghe agreed with him: “I am happy and proud to see this perfect teamwork. Chris Froome added: “We all had confidence in Daryl.” Israeli road champion Omer Goldstein concluded: “We nearly rounded off a perfect piece of teamwork.”

Impey himself was happy with second place. “We took responsibility today and rode at the front all day. With Peter Sagan on my wheel in the last few hundred meters, I knew it would be hard to beat him. To get second is good.”

Froome pulled hard in the last hour of racing to get the breakaway back. He said it was great to be able to get behind the team effort and contribute to getting Daryl to the line. “It was a fantastic team performance from start to finish, and everyone can be proud.”

Goldstein, important in the lead-out for Impey, agreed with Froome. “We got so close to winning once again. I am sure the consistency that we show is because we race so well as a team. I feel like if we continue to keep racing the way we do, we will get even better results in the future.”

According to Verbrugghe, ISN could not have done more. “We were there all day, also at the critical moments. It was great to see Chris and Omer helping Daryl for the sprint, even after having pulled multiple times to get the escapees back.”

He gave Goldstein an extra compliment. “It is impressive how he shows up in crucial moments day after day. We can be proud. It was a great day for us, in a series of fantastic days.”

Settimana Coppi e Bartali final team reports:

We posted the report from GC winner Jonas Vingegaard's Jumbo-Visma team with the results.

Here's the report from stage five winner Mikkel Honoré's Deceuninck-Quick step team:

Mikkel Honoré won a pulsating final stage of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, after an audacious day spent on the offensive, thus becoming the 94th different Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to claim a victory for the squad since 2003, the year that the team was created.

Mikkel Honore

Mikkel Honoré wins the final stage just ahead of Jonas Vingegaard. Sirotti photo

Now in his third pro season, the Dane launched a bold solo move in the opening kilometers of the stage based around a circuit in Forli, carving out a small advantage before being joined by six riders at the front. Together, they collected a maximal lead of three minutes over the peloton, which was then gradually pulled back by the chasers on the hard climbs that made up the 166.2km stage.

Despite their margin being cut to 50 seconds with 25 kilometers to go, Mikkel kept believing in his chances and launched a powerful attack that only one other rider could match. On the last climb of the day, he was mopped up by the bunch, but didn’t get to spend too much time there, zipping clear on the final descent together with Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), the race’s overall leader.

The two Danes ensured themselves a nice ten-second buffer that ballooned to almost half a minute under the flamme rouge, when it became pretty clear the victory would be an affair between the two of them. Honoré hit the front with 200 meters to go, a powerful surge to the line seeing him prevail over his countryman and cross the line with his arms held in the air, the joy on the 24-year-old’s face being visible as he celebrated his maiden win in the pro ranks. The podium was completed by another Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider, Shane Archbold, the fastest from the group which included also Mauri Vansevenant, who concluded the race in seventh place.

“We talked this morning that with two guys sitting in the upper part of the GC it should be all or nothing for us, so we were keen on trying something and going on the attack. The circuit was hard, but I went clear ahead of the first climb and was later joined by six other riders, together with whom I worked well. In the final part of the stage, we lost some guys and the gap came down rapidly, but I kept pushing, and even after getting caught on the last ascent I remained confident. That’s why I jumped together with Jonas on the technical descent and we immediately opened a consistent gap over the chasers.”

“In the finale, I could get the victory and I have to say that it’s an incredible feeling to have my first win with the pros here in Italy. I want to say a big thanks to the team, because this perfect day wouldn’t have been possible without them”, said Mikkel, whose boldness paid off massively, netting him not just an unforgettable victory, but also second on the general classification.

Here's the final report from Team DSM:

The final day of racing at Coppi e Bartali saw the peloton faced with a difficult lap around Forlì, with the three and a half kilometre long ascent of Rocca delle Caminate the focal point. With its over six percent gradient, it was set to sap the legs throughout the afternoon as the stage progressed.

After a hard fight in the opening 20 kilometres, a breakaway of seven riders established itself at the head of the race, with all Team DSM riders in the peloton. As the kilometres ticked by, the gap to those ahead diminished while simultaneously the peloton reduced in size. Heading into the final 25 kilometres Marco Brenner, Henri Vandenabeele and Ilan Van Wilder were riding well to the fore for the team, with the breakaway of now three riders only one minute ahead.

On the last ascent of the day it was all back together and the attacks began. A strong group of 14 riders found themselves out front after the summit, with Van Wilder showing his good legs by making the move. On the run in it became tactical and a duo broke clear to fight it out for the stage win, while Van Wilder sprinted to a very solid seventh place on the line; a result which saw him secure tenth on GC.

“It was a super hard start to the day, with the bunch splitting in multiple groups,” explained Van Wilder. “It was really an elimination race out there, with the group getting smaller each lap. We stayed together well and the guys kept me in a good position before I tried to give it a shot in the final.”

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