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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, May 9, 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.

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. - Bertrand Russell


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Giro d'Italia stage one team reports

We posted the report from winner Filippo Ganna's INEOS Grenadiers with the results.

Here's the report from Edoardo Affini & Tobias Foss' Jumbo-Visma team:

In the opening time trial of the Giro d’Italia Team Jumbo-Visma has finished with three riders in the top ten. Edoardo Affini could hope for the day’s victory for a long time, but in the end he had to let world champion Filippo Ganna go ahead of him. Tobias Foss rode to third place. Jos van Emden finished in sixth place.

Edoardo Affini

Edoardo Affini riding to second place. Sirotti photo

On the flat course of 8.6 kilometres in Turin, David Dekker was one of the first riders to make his appearance. For the young rider it was his debut in a grand tour. Not much later Dylan Groenewegen made his return to the professional peloton. After more than nine months without a race, the sprinter was pleased to finally be able to pin on a number again. “I felt a good tension. I have been looking forward to this for a long time. It feels good to be part of the team again”, Groenewegen said.

Foss set a serious target time. It took the Norwegian exactly nine minutes to finish his individual time trial. Affini replaced Foss in the hotseat a little later. He rode three seconds faster than his teammate. After time trial specialists like Rémi Cavagna, Remco Evenepoel and João Almeida had beaten the time of the Italian, the day’s victory suddenly seemed on the horizon for Affini. Top favourite Ganna ultimately kept Affini from the first pink jersey.

Tobias Foss

Tobias Foss racing to third. Sirotti photo

Afterwards Foss spoke with satisfaction about his performance on the first day of the Giro. “This was a good time trial. Along the way I felt good and I already knew that this would result in a good time. It is especially important for me to take new steps in my development in this race and to help the team. I can be satisfied with this nice result.”

Affini confirmed after his effort that he has gotten the most out of over eight kilometres. “It was a very fast time trial. I gave everything I had. I achieved a high pace. I was able to accelerate in the last three kilometres. You have to find the limit for yourself and maybe even exceed it. There was no other option than to go flat out from the start to the finish. That’s what I did and in the end it paid off with the second place. I would have signed up for that in advance.”

George Bennet rode to 52nd place. The New Zealand national champion conceded a few seconds to a handful of competitors, but also took advantage of riders such as Landa, Bardet and Buchmann. “It was a good day for us as a team. I had hoped to be a bit faster. In hindsight I gained time on some guys and didn’t lose too much on the competition. The majority of the GC riders are close together. Of course, this was only the first day of three long weeks. We have not yet ridden ten kilometres and still have more than three thousand to go.”

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

Turin in western Italy was the starting point for the 2021 Giro d’Italia. Back in its usual slot in the racing calendar, the 104th edition of the three-week stage race opened with an individual time trial in the city streets that would decide who wore the famed Maglia Rosa going into the first road stage tomorrow.

Peter Sagan

Bora-hansgrohe's Peter Sagan finished safely. Sirotti photo

At 8.6km in length, this flat parcours took in twists and turns and street furniture but would give riders a chance to put in a fast time. With early riders coming home in around 9:30 and some fast results from the start, the riders knew the pressure to perform was on. With four Italian riders on the BORA-hansgrohe squad looking to impress on home soil, Giovanni Aleotti was the first rider out of the gates, finishing in 9:38, before Cesare Benedetti, Daniel Oss and Matteo Fabbro posted similar times. Then, the team’s time trial specialist, Maciej Bodnar, made his way onto the road, riding into the provisional top ten with a finishing time of 9:15, ending the day in fifteenth, before Peter Sagan finished strongly with 9:28 – just a second behind Felix Grossschartner.

Looking to stay safe ahead of a long race, Emanuel Buchmann measured his pace and didn’t push himself too far into the red to finish in 9:43. With a long race ahead, there will be plenty of opportunities to fight in the coming three weeks.

"It was a really fast time trial and I did the best I could. In hindsight, there might have been some moments you could have gone faster, maybe in some corners, but today, I gave it my all and my final time was the best I could have achieved. I was hoping for a top-ten finish today but I think it will be difficult. Anyway, the form is there and the Giro is long, we have another 20 opportunities to fight for with Emu in the GC and Peter in the Maglia Ciclamino." – Maciej Bodnar

"I think it was a solid start to the Giro, I didn't feel very well but not too bad either. I think that today you couldn't lose the Giro, there are many hard stages ahead of us and I look forward to the three weeks of racing." – Emanuel Buchmann

"Our goal was to not lose a lot of time to the top GC favourites, and we had admittedly hoped for a better result with Emanuel today. However, he has just come from an altitude camp, and so that is always a bit difficult. However, in this Giro, there are some very tough stages in the final week, which is when the race will ultimately be decided. Regarding Maciej's 15th place, we thought it would be possible for him to take a top ten result, but we have to accept this like it is. Despite this, it's a long way to Milan, and there will certainly be ups and downs along the way." – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

Here's the report from Team Groupama-FDJ:

The first Grand Tour of the 2021 season officially started on Saturday afternoon, in the streets of Torino. A short time trial opened the 104th Giro, and just like last year, the world champion of the speciality Filippo Ganna took the win and the pink jersey on the opening day. Romain Seigle turned out to be the best rider from the Groupama-FDJ cycling team on Saturday, but the fight is just getting started in Italy.

Filippo Ganna

Filippo Ganna on his way to winning the first stage. Sirotti photo

Shortly after 2pm, the Swiss climber Matteo Badilatti, starting his first Grand Tour with the team, opened three weeks of adventure for the squad led by Philippe Mauduit, Sébastien Joly and Jussi Veikkanen. About twenty minutes later, Lars van den Berg gave his very first pedal strokes in such a big event. With eyes – and ears – wide open. “I was happy to start my first Grand Tour today with this time trial,” said the Dutchman of 22 years old. “It was a nice lap in the city, and it was amazing to finally have some crowd after all these races with no spectators. It was beautiful to see people on the side of the road. I really enjoyed every minute of it, although it hurt quite a lot!”

After he left the ramp at 4:35 pm, Romain Seigle was able to set a solid time of 9’26 on this very fast course that still included a few tricky turns. This earned him the best place for the team in this opening day (41st), 39 seconds behind the winner Filippo Ganna. Rudy Molard, the last Groupama-FDJ rider on course this Saturday, covered the stage just one second slower than his teammate. “I think that’s okay,” he said on the finish line. “It’s a good time among the climbers’ ones. For a start, that’s pretty good. To begin with nine minutes at full speed, it hurts but it allows you to get awake for the three weeks ahead”.

 “We didn’t have any real specialists at the start,” said Julien Pinot, one of the team’s coaches. “Therefore, our goal was to make sure everyone would do the time trial properly to start the race. We also have quite a few young guys in the team, so in terms of development, it was also important for them to do it well. Our two best riders are in the mix with the climbers and they did good times on this type of course, which obviously favoured the pure time trialists. It was a special effort and we don’t have riders here who are used to working that specific intensity, namely a nine-minute effort “full gas”. The issue was to manage the effort well, as we are not used to practicing it. The trap, in this case, would often be to start off too fast. Some have experienced it, like Attila and Simon today. Having said that, they are young and it’s a good experience for the future”. On Sunday, the Giro will continue to travel in the Piemonte region with a perfect stage for sprinters between Stupinigi and Novara, where the riders will only have to face one, small climb. “The start of next week should suit us more”, added Julien.

And here's the report from 8th place Max Walscheid's Qhubeka-Assos team:

Max Walscheid delivered a superb performance on the opening stage of the 104th Giro d’Italia to finish in 8th place, and lay down a marker for Team Qhubeka ASSOS’ ambitions at the 2021 event.

Walscheid’s performance, in which he finished 19 seconds behind eventual stage-winner Filippo Ganna (IGD), was the highlight of an excellent outing for the team, who placed 5th overall in the team competition on the opening day.

The short 8.6km course through Turin saw plenty of power laid down by the peloton and ultimately it was the dominance of Ganna, the world champion, who ran out a comfortable winner by 10 seconds ahead of Edoardo Affini (TJV).

Domenico Pozzovivo also impressed as he rode to an excellent 21st place, closely followed by Victor Campenaerts, who opted to take the day’s opening slot for our team. The Belgian was the third man off the start ramp and briefly held the day’s leading time before being usurped by Roger Kluge.

In addition, prior to the start of the individual time trial the World Hour Record holder, Campenaerts, conducted his pre-race routine on the Zwift platform, an engagement which saw excited fans able to share their daily own ride with the Belgian.

A successful day for the team was completed by Mauro Schmid, Kilian Frankiny, Giacomo Nizzolo, Lukasz Wisnowski and Bert-Jane Lindeman all delivering strong performances that bode well, as the team looks ahead to its ambitions in stage two of the race on Sunday and beyond.

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