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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, May 10, 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.

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Giro d'Italia stage two team reports

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

Here's the report from 2nd-place Giacomo Nizzolo's Qhubeka-Assos team:

Team Qhubeka ASSOS sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo stormed to an impressive second place on stage two (179km) of the Giro d’Italia, that finished in Novara on Sunday.

Giacomo Nizzolo

Giacomo Nizzolo was close.... Sirotti photo

The stage was won by Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) with Elia Viviani following Nizzolo home to complete the podium.

A relatively benign ride by the peloton in towards the finish saw key moments in the final 4km well marshaled by the likes of Bert-Jan Lindeman, Max Walscheid and Victor Campenaerts.

In the finale, Merlier opened up his sprint with around 200m to go and impressively managed to hold off the fast-finishing Nizzolo who was just unable to come around him at the line.

Nizzolo’s podium place followed up an excellent opening stage individual time trial for the team in which Walscheid finished second.

At the conclusion of stage two Team Qhubeka ASSOS also retain fifth position in the overall team classification.

Giacomo Nizzolo:
"I think overall that I got the best out of it (the situation). Merlier did a great sprint so I think today the strongest won. Obviously as it was the first stage of the Giro everybody was full of energy so the sprint was quite hectic and I found myself in a good place with 1km to go.

"I had a good wheel, I tried to overtake him but obviously it was not enough.

"Overall I’m happy and I think that we’ve started this Giro well; and hopefully we can get a better result in the coming days.

"In terms of the team, we’ve shown good legs yesterday and today as well, so we look forward to the stages to come."

Aart Vierhouten – Sports Director:
"We should be happy with how he ended up in the final, as we saw a team together at the right points – they were there – and that’s already satisfying when you’re in the car and see the plan is working.

"At the last moment we just missed one guy but Giacomo is smart enough to be in the right spot, on the right wheel. We spoke about Merlier before, we saw that that he’s been riding well for the last weeks so I think everything was in place, and in the end Giacomo got beaten.

"This is a second place at the Giro d’Italia, at a Grand Tour. He should be happy and we’re waiting for more, and it will come. That’s for sure."

Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

The 2021 Giro d’Italia hit the streets of Stupingi for the race’s first road stage. Making its way east for the predicted sprint finish in Novara 179km later, the roads were almost completely flat the entire day, with just one fourth category climb for the riders to contend with.

Eager to make their mark on the race, three Italian riders made the jump the second the flag dropped to start the stage, quickly building an advantage that topped out at 4:20. The peloton was confident in being able to make the catch, with the flat roads making it easy to bring the escapees in, and even 120km from the finish line, it was clear that with BORA-hansgrohe on the front, the time gap was going to drop quickly. This advantage fell to 1:30 with 50km remaining and it continued to drop steadily as the peloton came closer to Novara.

Giro d'Italia

Closing in on the finish line. Sirotti photo

Again with BORA-hansgrohe on the front, the remnants of the break were caught with 27km to go, and from here it was all about preparing for the sprint finale, with Cesare Benedetti holding the peloton at bay to make sure no late attacks went out. The pace picked up as the finish grew closer, with some long sweeping turns ready to catch riders out of position, as the nervousness at the first road finale of the Giro became apparent.

Holding position with Maciej Bodnar and Daniel Oss to protect him, Peter Sagan was staying safe several riders back as the bunch made its way around the final tight turns before the finish, the finishing straight only 150m from the line. Riding the wheels, Peter sprinted hard, picking off places as he went, but with no room to pass on the inside line on the final bend, it just wasn’t enough and the Slovak rider had to settle for fifth place.

From the Finish Line:
"The stage was quite straightforward and it played out the way we were expecting, with a fast sprint finish. Up to the last kilometres, it was easy but in the finale, you had to be really focused as it could be messy. It was important to stay safe and avoid any crashes. I think the result reflects the field of sprinters in this Giro. I'd like to thank again my teammates for their work all day, I felt that my condition is getting better." – Peter Sagan

"It was our first road stage of the Giro and a very easy one because the important action didn't take place before the final 30 kilometres. We had three riders in the front but it wasn't the ideal situation for us because for Peter we would need a harder stage to fight the sprinters. However, we raced with the sprint as our goal. We controlled in order to allow only a small breakaway group to form. Cesare worked in the front in the final 70 kilometres and Maciej with Daniel took over for the leadout. The sprint was quite messy and I think that having a bit of luck was also important. Peter took fifth, an OK result but we'll keep fighting tomorrow." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

Here's the report from Dylan Groenewegen's Jumbo-Visma team:

Dylan Groenewegen has finished in fourth place in the second stage of the Giro d’Italia. It was his first bunch sprint after his comeback. The sprinter of Team Jumbo-Visma was put in position by his team in the streets of Novara, but had to recognize his superior in stage winner Tim Merlier, among others.


The peloton starts the second stage. Sirotti photo

The second stage was controlled by the sprinter teams. An early breakaway didn’t get much of a lead and got caught in the final. In the hectic last kilometres Groenewegen was brought into a good position by Edoardo Affini and David Dekker. In the overall standings nothing changed. Affini remains second, followed by Foss. Van Emden is also in the top ten in seventh place.

“I have to be satisfied with this fourth place after nine months of absence”, Groenewegen said. “Though I am still a bit disappointed. I am a winner and I always want to achieve more. But the fourth place in my first sprint is certainly not that bad. My legs are feeling good, so I’m looking forward to the next sprint. The team did very well today. This is my first time with Dekker and Affini. That is something I have to get used to, but due to them I was placed in a very good position. The sprint went quite well and better than expected. Maybe I should have started earlier or maybe I should have hesitated a little less. I just have to get that old feeling back as well as my self-confidence.”

And here's what Team Groupama-FDJ had to say about the stage:

In the aftermath of the opening time trial in Torino, the Giro riders were set to travel the Piedmont roads this Sunday, from Stupinigi to Novara, through 179 kilometers almost entirely flat. Only one 4th category-climb was listed at the halfway point, which left little doubt regarding the outcome of today’s stage.

Three brave men, from three invited teams, still got into the fight right from the start, and they immediately got away. Filippo Tagliani (Androni-Sidermec), Umberto Marengo (Bardiani-CSF) and Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa) then enjoyed a maximum lead of five minutes at the front of the race, though they never had the chance to dream about making it to the end. Albanese was even caught faster than expected after a mechanical problem while his two breakaway companions were reeled in before the last 20 kilometres.

The day's break

The day's break, about halfway into the stage. Sirotti photo

As for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, there was nothing special to report today. “Even though we don’t have a sprinter, and we were deeply convinced that the breakaway would not make it, we couldn’t afford to take it too easy on the stage,” Philippe Mauduit recalled. “There are always potential dangers on the road. In the end, we got through the stage safely and without problem, but the guys still had to be serious. They were also able to get into the race rhythm, but to tell the truth, they were already in the swing of things since yesterday”.
“It was a pretty easy and everything went well, said Matteo Badilatti. In such days, we just try to enjoy the easy ride and to save energy in order to use it in the best way possible afterwards. Of course, you also have more time to speak with others guys. You’re still focused, but it’s more relaxed and you have time to exchange words with friends. It’s also good to have stages like this. I was actually surprise by how many people were standing on the side of the road. It had become quite unusual in the last times”.

As expected, this second stage of the Giro ended with a bunch, quite hectic sprint and Tim Merlier took the win. However, all the sprinters might not fight for the win in Canale on Monday after a 190-kilometer stage that will include four climbs in the last 75 kilometers. “The profile is a bit more interesting,” added Philippe, “but only the race circumstances will decide whether there will be moves or not. In any case, things might obviously be a bit livelier tomorrow”.

Team BikeExchange reports on the final stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana

The team sent me this:

Slovenian rider Urška Žigart gave Team BikeExchange something to celebrate on today’s final stage of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, attacking to take her first victory of the 2021 season in impressive style, with a strong and convincing solo move, with teammate Arianna Fidanza winning the bunch sprint behind for second place.

After some bad luck with crashes yesterday, Team BikeExchange started the final stage on the offensive, sending Teniel Campbell into an early move, which headed in hot pursuit of an early solo escapee, Nadine Gill. Campbell’s move was eventually brought back yet the squad remained attentive, and it was up to 24-year-old Zigart to take the next opportunity.

Ahead of the penultimate climb of the day, with more than 70km still to race, the Slovenian attacked away from the bunch and quickly bridged across to the sole leader Gill. The duo worked together to increase their advantage out to more than three and a half minutes before Zigart launched away from her breakaway companion with 25km remaining. 

Pushing on with every pedal stroke over the undulating terrain, the new 2021 signing was able to hold on to take a classy debut victory for the team, holding off the chasers by a slim margin of five seconds, wrapping up a successful four-days of racing in Valencia.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Amnnemiek van Vleuten (shown winning Dwars-door-Vlaanderen earlier this year) was the final winner of the 2021 Setmana Ciclista Valenciana

Urška Žigart – Stage 4 winner:
“When I was about six kilometers to the finish, the gap was coming down really fast because they were preparing for the sprint from the back. At that time, I was thinking I am not going to make it, they’re going too fast, and I had a headwind, but my director was yelling in my ear to push through and telling me I can do it and to believe and I made it so I am very happy.

"We wanted a bit more with the GC but that was more or less decided on the first day. We were really happy with Arianna taking third place two days ago and of course today we took first place and second place, so to have one-two on such a hard stage it is really good, and we can go ahead into the next week of Spanish races very confident."

Alejandro Gonzales-Tablas – Sport Director:
“It was an amazing day and finally we had a bit of luck. The team rode awesomely and Urška took her opportunity, a move that doesn't happen so often but when it happens it feels the best.

"With Arianna in second place, it proves one more time what she is capable of. It has been an amazing week where we can take lots of confidence in to the next races we have here in Spain.”

2021 Setmana Ciclista Valenciana stage 4 results:
1. Urška Žigart (Team BikeExchange) 3:30:13
2. Arianna Fidanza (Team BikeExchange) +0:05
3. Sheyla Gutierrez +0:05

Final General Classification Results:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten 13:18:57
2. Mavi Garcia +2:16
3. Katrine Aalerud +2:30
11. Janneke Ensing +2:37

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