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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, May 3, 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.

Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts. - Charles Dickens


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Tour de Romandie stage final team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Rémi Cavagna's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results

Here's the report from GC winner Geraint Thomas' INEOS Grenadiers:

Geraint Thomas led home a superb INEOS Grenadiers 1-2 at Tour de Romandie as Richie Porte moved up to second with an impressive time trial performance on the final stage

Thomas put in a measured ride in Fribourg to overhaul leader Mike Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) and secure the overall victory from his teammate by 33 seconds.

Starting the day in sixth, Porte put in a strong performance in changeable conditions to move up to second overall and secure back-to-back World Tour stage race second places.

Thomas finished third on the final stage, not pushing for the stage win, knowing that his aim was to overturn a 11 second gap to race leader Woods. The Welshman looked on course to achieve this at the intermediate check point, where he led the field.

However, with patches of rain across the course, the Welsh rider carefully navigated the second half of the stage, finishing third to seal overall victory.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis on his time trial ride.

Rohan Dennis and Filippo Ganna were ninth and 10th respectively to make it four Grenadiers in the top 10, which helped secure the best team classification.

Geraint Thomas:
“I’m very happy, especially after the little mishap yesterday - which wasn’t ideal! That definitely made it more of a challenge today but I felt good.

“To be honest it kind of reminded me of when I won the Tour back in Espelette, it was kind of like this, the last descent on the radio they were telling me to ‘take it easy’ and just ‘don’t do anything stupid, don’t crash on the corners’ and then obviously you overthink it a bit then. I’m really happy to finish it off and it’s been a great week with the team.

“Today was all about trying to take the jersey and get around safe. Obviously I would have loved to have gone for the stage, but that last descent it was a bit wet, so best to just take it steady and finish the stage rather than risk it all.

“At the start of the year, I said my goal was the Tour and every race was a build up to it and didn’t really put any pressure on myself to perform early, but I seem to have come into some good shape pretty soon. I’ve had a lot of good races building up, obviously Catalunya was really good for the team, I was third there behind two teammates, which was amazing to be a part of. I knew I was going well and myself and Richie wanted to come here and make sure one of us won the race. First and second - we can’t complain!

“I knew I was going well. I’ve done a lot of hard work and spent a lot of time away from the family. I really wanted to make it worthwhile - and I’ve certainly done that.

“As we all know bike racing is about winning but it’s not like I haven’t performed since I won the Tour. I was second in the Tour the next year, second in Tirreno, third in Catalunya. I’ve been up there but it’s nice to finally get the win.”

Team DSM posted this report:

The final day of racing at the Tour de Romandie saw the peloton faced with a challenging 16 kilometre long time trial in and around the town of Fribourg. Featuring a cobbled climb, rolling roads and technical sections, plus some changeable weather conditions; it was sure to be a tricky last stage.

Chad Haga set a good early benchmark time for the team stopping the clock in 23 minutes and nine seconds, before teammate Marco Brenner bettered his run by 11 seconds, with the youngster putting in a good effort to cross the line in a time of 22 minutes and 58 seconds. Felix Gall was next to finish for the team and he put in a respectable ride too; nine seconds behind Haga.

Chad Haga

Chad Haga (shown at the 2019 Giro d'Italia) rode well today. Sirotti photo

The penultimate Team DSM rider to set off from the start ramp was Ilan Van Wilder and he flew around the opening part of the course, crossing the intermediate check at just five seconds behind leader Cavagna. Riding an exceptionally well measured effort, Van Wilder tamed the technical run in to town before flying up the rise to the line, clocking a superb time of 22 minutes and 12 minutes at the finish to move into a provisional third place on the stage, and a brilliant fourth place come the end of the day.

Thymen Arensman, resplendent in the white jersey as best young rider, rolled out from the start in Fribourg and produced a consistent and solid effort throughout the technical course, eventually crossing the line in a time of 23 minutes and seven seconds. It was a result that sees Arensman secure the jersey for the team alongside a very strong 11th place on GC after a hard week of racing in the Tour de Romandie.

“I went all out in the TT and was able to push over the whole course,” explained Van Wilder after the stage. “It’s a bit of a pity that we missed the podium by less than one second but I’m still very happy with the result today!”

Team DSM coach Marc Reef added: “It was an interesting time trial; it was quite technical, with some difficult descents. The weather also played a role as there were different conditions throughout the course. We did a good preparation and did a good recon with everyone this morning. In the end, we all went for it. All of the guys were within the first 40 on the day result, which is a good indication of how well everyone did today. Ilan was just exceptional; he could push it all the time and paced it in a really good way. To finish fourth after such a hard week and to strike back after yesterday’s mountain top finish is really good. Thymen also did in the end a good job, securing the white jersey and finishing 11th on GC at a WorldTour stage race is a really good result for such a young guy. All in all, I think we can look back on a really good week. Every day we went for our goals and we had quite a lot of good day results and to finish with the white jersey and 11th on GC with Thymen, it’s really good. The guys learned a lot, we focused on the right things and I think we can look back on a really good week. It’s promising for the future.”

Here's the report from Wilco Kelderman's Bora-hansgrohe squad:

The final stage of the Tour de Romandie gave riders just a 16.19km individual time trial on which to pull back any time gaps in the GC race. The course made its way out of Fribourg and back again, traversing an undulating profile which even included a cobblestone section which, on time trial frames and wheels, would be felt in the tired legs of all the riders.

Some riders would use the day as an opportunity to warm down after a hard week, where Peter Sagan took a strong sprint victory in his return to the race after eleven years, while others would be looking for a time that could improve their GC standing. The fastest riders were coming in with times under twenty-three minutes, and both Jordi Meeus and Ben Zwiehoff put in good efforts, but with rain coming down on the course, this made fast times more difficult to come by.

Undeterred by the wet conditions, Wilco Kelderman was the last BORA-hansgrohe rider to make his way onto the course. The Dutch rider posted a time of 22:45, which put him thirteenth on the stage and was enough to confirm a top ten finish in the overall standings after consistent performances the entire week.

From the Finish Line:
"I think it was a good time trial and although conditions weren't perfect, I finished the week in a good way. Unfortunately, it wasn't my best GC and not what I was expecting in the Tour de Romandie. I had some problems with my body but in my view, we can be satisfied with the effort and work of the entire team here. I now look forward to the rest of the season." – Wilco Kelderman

"After an intense week with tough weather conditions and strong battles, we concluded the race with more rain today. Wilco put in a good performance in the closing time trial and stayed in the GC top ten. I believe that, in the end, we can be satisfied with our result." – André Schulze, Sports Director

And here's the report from Stefan Küng's Groupama-FDJ team:

Stefan Küng was on his terrain this Sunday for the closing time trial of the Tour de Romandie. However, the European champion against the clock did not find himself in the best possible conditions to fight for the first places. Two days after his crash, the 27-year-old Swiss rider suffered from poor weather conditions. He eventually took 15th on the day and thus put an end to his first part of the season. Just outside the top-20 overall, Sébastien Reichenbach and Matteo Badilatti will head towards the Giro in the coming days.

Stefan Kung

Stefan Küng racing in the 2020 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

At 12:30pm this Sunday, Fabian Lienhard opened… the closing time trial of the Tour de Romandie for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. Sixteen kilometres made up this quite short TT, which also included several uphill sections and a cobbled climb just after the start. Shortly before 1pm, Jake Stewart also got underway and established a solid provisional ninth time on the line (36th at the end of the stage, editor’s note). “It was not bad at all for him,” said Yvon Madiot. “Of course he started on dry roads, but he still did a good time trial. He is proving once again that he does have qualities for this, and he is taking a liking to it”. Starting just before the time trial world champion Filippo Ganna, the Briton even joked later: “I told myself that if I wasn’t caught by him, it would be a good day… Turns out it was.”

As for Stefan Küng, he lined up in Fribourg with real ambitions today, but the Swiss and European time trial champion was unable to achieve them. “It was a tough course,” he said first. “Due to my crash two days ago, I also felt that I was struggling to get into the right pace. Moreover, a hail shower caught me halfway through. There was nothing I could do today. You feel early enough if you’re on the right track or not. I felt I was not so great today, so I took even less risk”. “He still did seven kilometers with a hail shower”, argued Yvon. “We knew it was dead from then on. It almost looked like the cloud was following him. He started when there was the worst weather, there’s not much that can be done about it. The coin did not fall on the right side for us. He couldn’t compete with the others today”.

After his overall victory on the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, the Swiss came on home soil with big goals this week. He eventually ended the event with two top 15s – in the prologue and the time trial – and a little bitterness. “I still think I had a real chance to win in Estevayer on Friday,” Stefan said. “The crash also had an impact on today’s performance, but it’s all part of the sport. I was in good shape here, unfortunately that was not enough, but the first part of my season still is satisfying. I will now take a little break and get ready for the big upcoming goals”.

When taking stock of this 2021 Tour de Romandie, Yvon Madiot confessed: “We are a bit disappointed, because knowing that it would be difficult for the GC, we were hoping for a stage win. That being said, all the other teams and all the other riders had that same goal. We just have small regrets about Stefan’s crash”. As for Sébastien Reichenbach and Matteo Badilatti, 23rd and 24th respectively in the overall, they were able to get some racing days in the legs a week prior to the Giro d’Italia. “They have one last small step to make in order to reach their best condition, but they certainly are on the right track,” said Yvon.

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