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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, March 30, 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.

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Nacer Bouhanni apologizes to Jake Stewart for dangerous sprint at Cholet Pays de la Loire

Bouhanni was relegated for not holding his line in the sprint. Further punishment from the UCI is possible.

Cholet Pays de Loire

The finish of the race, won by Cofidis' Elia Viviani.

Here's the note that was posted on Bouhanni's Team Arkea-Samsic site:

Nacer Bouhanni: “I'm sorry for Jake Stewart. The sprint went as follows: I see Élia Viviani launching and I want to take his wheel. I admit that my mistake was to change course to take his wheel. I don't see Jake Stewart at this time. When we come into contact with each other I find myself unbalanced. I make up for it as best I can so as not to fall. I just wanted to take the draft because the wind was coming from the right side, by no means was it intentional.”

Philippe Gilbert will not be at the Tour of Flanders

Gilbert's Lotto Soudal team sent me this:

Following a disappointing Milan-Sanremo and abandons at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic and Gent-Wevelgem, the 2017 Tour of Flanders winner will take a period of necessary rest, both physically and mentally. Gilbert hopes to be back for the Ardennes Classics, but this is not yet certain.

Philippe Gilbert

Before his Tour de France crash, Philippe Gilbert wins 2019 Paris-Roubaix. Sirotti photo

“We decided with the team that I would take a period of rest now because it is not going well at all”, explains Philippe Gilbert. “It’s been a few weeks now that things haven’t been going well. We took the time to analyse everything there was to discuss and we came to the conclusion that it is a lack of mental and physical freshness. I think it is due to all the work I did after my crash at the Tour de France last year. I am still human. I put in a lot of work, without any decent rest really, because during the weeks off the bike, I was working hard with the physiotherapist or other specialists. At the time, I’ve had a bad diagnosis of the knee. We didn’t really realise how serious that second crash was. In the end, it was much more serious than we initially thought. Maybe I should have stopped my 2020 season at that point.”

“You have to know that the Friday before Milan-Sanremo was the first time I could pedal without any knee pain. So, this has been eleven days now. Maybe this is also an explanation that the body is doing a kind of decompression after having to face with so much pain. During this process, I think it took me a lot more energy to let the body heal than we could have imagined. I think I’m now paying the price for this. Another important element is that I have been riding in the cold a lot this year. Of course, this doesn’t help with an injury like that.”

“After the analysis, I now realise that at the team training camp in January, I was still at least 20 or 30% behind the average level of the group, I think. So, I went through a period of doubt, especially because I was putting pressure on myself to be ready for Milan-Sanremo. So I worked even harder to try to come back. I made big physical progress since the training camp, but it maybe went a little too fast. And now, I am paying for it. At Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, I managed to take a good result, but this had more to do with experience than with the shape. In the end, I haven’t been at my best yet this season. It is now time to take a step back and this will allow me to get over the hurdle. I’ve reached a point where my shape is no longer evolving. I am stagnating and I can’t reach the next level.

"Every year, I normally move up a level and I become stronger after Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. Now, I’m staying at the same level. So, the body doesn’t accept the workload or the system of overcompensation anymore. When you find yourself in this stage, the only way to let your body work naturally, is to give it some rest. At Paris-Nice, I didn’t have a single day where I had the legs to be up there in the final. I was only able to follow. This was also the case in the Belgian races. Around 150 kilometres, the legs started to hurt. Normally, that’s when I start to be able to make the difference.”

Philippe Gilbert will decide later on – together with the team – if it’s possible to return to competition at the Ardennes Classics.

“My idea is to have 4-5 days off the bike and then slowly resume training. The Ardennes Classics remain an option, but it’s still too early to talk about this. First, I want to feel 100%, both physically and mentally, in order to play a role in the finales. After all, that’s why I practice sport”, concludes Philippe Gilbert.

Team BikeExchange headed to Dwars door Vlaanderen

The team sent me race previews for both the men's and the women's races.

Here's the mens race note:

Team BikeExchange will look to build on their strong team performance at Gent-Wevelgem as they tackle another Belgian one-day Classic at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday.

Slovenian Luka Mezgec will be hoping for better luck this time around after a mechanical issue dashed his hopes in Sunday’s outing, while Australian Luke Durbridge returns to a race he has performed well at in the past with a fourth-place finish back in 2017.

Luka Mezgec

Luka Mezgec at the 2019 Tour of Poland. Sirotti photo

The course takes in a number of climbs and cobbled sectors that feature in the Tour of Flanders and the 184.1km race will be another tough test ahead of Sunday’s ‘main event’.

Team BikeExchange at Dwars door Vlaanderen:
Jack Bauer (NZL)
Alex Edmondson (AUS)
Luke Durbridge (AUS)
Amund Grøndahl Jansen (NOR)
Alexander Konychev (ITA)
Luka Mezgec (SLO)

Luka Mezgec:
“At Ghent-Wevelgem I felt the best I have felt so far at these one-day Classics, so I’m looking forward to Wednesday. I’ve rested up a little bit after De Panne, I didn’t do E3 because I felt I was a bit tired.

"Yesterday was good, the legs were ok and we did a great team effort, so I’m looking forward to Dwars door Vlaanderen, which is probably going to be another intense race, because it’s much shorter. I know the area pretty well now, so I think we can put up a good fight again.”

Mat Hayman (Sports Director):
We won’t have Michael Matthews here, he’s sitting this one out, so it’s an opportunity for some of the other guys to have a go. It’s another race in Belgium, another testing course and some of the guys who have worked in the last couple of races will have an opportunity.

Luka Mezgec is in there and is a good option if the race comes down to a sprint, Luke Durbridge also, who has finished fourth in the race before, so he has a lot of experience in this race and I think that will be key for our assault on Wednesday’s race.”

2021 Dwars door Vlaanderen – Race Details:
Wednesday, 31st March: Roeselare – Waregem, 184km

And here's the note from the women's team:

Team BikeExchange will head to Dwars door Vlaanderen with an open and aggressive approach as the Belgian Classics continue on Wednesday.

Recent Brugge-De Panne winner Grace Brown is back in action as she builds towards Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, and the Australian will be surrounded by an in-form and motivated team, including Teniel Campbell, Arianna Fidanza, Jess Roberts and Moniek Tenniglo.

Grace Brown

Grace Brown will be racing in Belgium.

Dwars door Vlaanderen is often dubbed as a ‘mini Flanders’ thanks to the race taking in a number of the same climbs and cobbled sectors, although much shorter in length at 122km.

Team BikeExchange at Dwars door Vlaanderen:
Grace Brown (AUS)
Teniel Campbell (TTO)
Arianna Fidanza (ITA)
Jess Roberts (GBR)
Moniek Tenniglo (NED)
Urška Žigart (SLO)

Teniel Campbell:
“My confidence is definitely building thanks to the girls and the team, they’ve given me lots of encouragement to keep trying and keep improving on my mistakes that I’m correcting. It’s good because I’m stepping in the right direction.

"So I’m looking forward to supporting the team some more on Wednesday and building on my abilities and confidence with each race that we do, and also helping the team deeper into the final of these races.”

Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
" We want to go in there and give more opportunities to riders, we’ll have a little bit more open approach to the whole race. It’s a nice way to recon a bit of the course for Flanders as well and will give us a bit of insight before Sunday.

"So we have quite an open plan and we’ll give opportunities to those who take them and have the legs on the day. We have Grace replacing Jess Allen who was down to race here, so of course we have a really strong rider in Grace coming onboard there.

"But I don’t think that will really change our approach to our tactics, we’ll go there and be aggressive and see if we can make some moves and be in the game.”

2021 Dwars door Vlaanderen – Race Details:
Wednesday, 31st March: Oudenaarde - Oudenaarde, 122km

Team Deceuninck-Quick Step will race Dwars door Vlaanderen

Here's the team's release:

The last race before De Ronde, Dwars door Vlaanderen takes place this Wednesday over a 184.1km course comprising three cobblestone stretches and thirteen hills, including the Taaienberg – where Deceuninck – Quick-Step ripped the peloton apart at last week’s E3 Harelbeke – Kruisberg and Nokereberg, which will be the last hurdle of the day, with the riders cresting it just 11 kilometers from home.

The 75th edition of the World Tour event will mark Julian Alaphilippe’s debut there, in what will be the UCI World Champion’s second outing of the season on the cobbles after Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where he contributed to Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 12th Opening Weekend victory.

A stage winner earlier this month at Tirreno-Adriatico, Alaphilippe will be joined by newly-crowned E3 Harelbeke champion Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini – the first Italian in eight years to triumph at Omloop – Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns, two-time winner of the race (and the only rider in history to score back-to-back victories) Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe wins Tirreno-Adriatico stage two. Sirotti photo

“Wednesday brings another appointment with the cobbles and we are looking forward to it. It will be an important race for Julian before Flanders, the combination of short climbs, narrow roads and nervousness of the bunch being just what he needs to get in the race mode for Sunday’s big rendez-vous. The condition of all our guys is there, the team comprises several riders who can attack from the distance, while in Davide we have a fast rider for the finale, so we are confident we can rack up another good result”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels.

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