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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, May 15, 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.

No one has ever become poor by giving. - Anne Frank


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Giro d'Italia stage seven team reports:

We posted the report from stage winner Caleb Ewan's Lotto Soudal team with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Attila Valter's Groupama-FDJ team:

No one knows how long the journey will last, but Attila Valter at least had the opportunity to experience it. Throughout the 181 kilometers that made up stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia on Friday, the Hungarian did enjoy his moment of glory. With the pink jersey on his shoulders, and his teammates alongside him all day, the young man was able to feel how much the maglia rosa means on Italian soil. He will still wear it tomorrow at the start, and will defend it tooth and nail in the uphill finish of Guardia Sanframondi.

Attila Valter

Attila Valter will defend his pink jersey in stage eight. Sirotti photo

In the end, it was not a dream. When he woke up this Friday morning, Atilla Valter was still wearing the pink jersey. “For sure,” the Hungarian fell asleep with it on Thursday night, and he came to the start at Notaresco this morning with a completely new status. The young rider met some fellow countrymen, got many congratulations, and then set off for 181 kilometers of pure happiness. Besides that, the sun was shining, and with a trio getting away right from the start, the entire Groupama-FDJ cycling team was able to enjoy the day properly.

“The breakaway went right away, in the first few hundred meters,” told Romain Seigle. “We let it go and then Antoine controlled all day with the sprinters’ teams”. Consistently leading the bunch, the Canadian didn’t have to push beyond reason on Friday, but he did enjoy every pedal stroke at the front of the pack. “It was cool, for sure,” he said. “For a rider like me, it is obviously a great thing to be able to defend a jersey on a Grand Tour. We were lucky today. It wasn’t a stage too hard to control. We were able to quietly enjoy this day in pink”. The gap of the three leading riders never exceeded five minutes and the peloton only got nervous with about fifteen kilometers to go.

“We were hoping for this kind of stage,” continued Philippe Mauduit. “It allows for a bit of recovery and it was not a dangerous stage technically speaking. The guys handled it perfectly”. Throughout the course, Attila Valter could taste the ardour for the pink jersey like he never imagined. “I wasn’t expecting that,” he confessed. “It’s a feeling that cannot be described. There were thousands of people on the side of the road shouting “maglia rosa, maglia rosa!” Every time, I needed to realize that it was me. It’s really a feeling I can’t explain. I have heard my name so many times. People still have to figure out that it’s Attila Valter and not Ottila (smiles), but these are mistakes that can be made but I’m working on it! The stage was not as nervous as it was two days ago and I consider myself lucky that I had such an easy day to enjoy this beautiful jersey”.

The day’s breakaway was finally caught seventeen kilometers from the line and the tension clearly arose before the final where everyone wanted to be positioned. “Romain was supposed to support Attila at this point in the race,” explained Philippe Mauduit. “He has the ability to do this job well in the final, he has the grit, the technique and masters this role”.

“We just made sure to position Attila correctly in order not to be caught behind a split in this tricky final,” added Romain. “Everything went well! We arrived in the first positions and we did not lose time”. Usually not a big fan of the fight for position, Attila Valter may have had a click today with the pink jersey on his shoulders. “The team kept me in front all the time. The final was of course hectic but I felt like a different rider in this jersey”, he explained. “Normally, positioning is not my strength, and I think it changed today. I felt really respected in the peloton. I felt completely changed. I managed to stay quite in the front and out of trouble.”

The Hungarian ended the day in 36th place, within the time of the winner Caleb Ewan. “Marc said yesterday: savour, enjoy. I can say we savoured and enjoyed it in the cars, and the guys probably did even more on the bike. It was a beautiful day,” added Philippe. Saturday, it will for sure be another story towards Guardia Sanframondi where a hill-top finish (3.5 km at 6%) awaits the riders.

“I think we won’t have help like we did today. It will be much more difficult to control, but we are all set,” said Antoine. “We didn’t waste too much energy on Friday, we’re ready for the weekend!”. “We really want to keep the jersey”, Philippe said. “We don’t know if we’ll succeed, but we’ll fight for it. It gives everyone extra motivation. Guys obviously want to retain it as long as possible”. “Tomorrow I will be able to start again with this beautiful jersey, which is already a dream,” concluded Attila Valter. “It’s hard to know how it will unfold. It can be tricky, and the weather might not be on our side. If I have good legs I think I can manage to stay with the favourites but I have only eleven seconds on Evenepoel and sixteen on Bernal. This is a gap that can be quickly closed. I have full confidence in the team, they looked after me incredibly well today. I will just try to enjoy tomorrow and do my best to stay in that beautiful pink jersey”.

Here's the report from Remco Evenepoel's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Fifteen years after its previous appearance on the race, the small town of Termoli returned at the end of an uneventful stage, which began with Remco Evenepoel in white. Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 21-year-old was among the winners of Thursday’s stage, having gained several positions in the overall standings, and sported the jersey on loan, as the rightful leader was topping also the general classification.

The profile was perfect for the sprinters, but despite that three riders joined forces and formed a breakaway that put five minutes between them and a peloton who made their homework and brought back the trio with 15 kilometers to go. French ITT Champion Rémi Cavagna was our best finisher, as Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) took the victory.

Peloton

The pelton make its way out of the start town of Notaresco. Sirotti photo

The Giro d’Italia continues Saturday with the 170km stage between Foggia and Guardia Sanframondi, where an uphill finish could bring more fireworks between the maglia rosa contenders.

Second-place Davide Cimolai's Israel Start-Up Nation posted this stage seven report:

Once again, Israel Start-Up Nation was in the mix for the stage win in the Giro d’Italia as Davide Cimolai sprinted to second place on stage 7. This was the fourth podium place and the seventh Top 10 for the team in the race so far.

Caleb Ean

Davide Cimolai was second today.

With a flat profile and a strong headwind for the majority of the day, it was no surprise to see only three riders interested in joining the early breakaway. The peloton kept the trio in check all day, never letting the gap exceed four minutes, and, as expected, it all came down to a sprint at the end.

Taking place in the backyard of the team’s sponsor, Vini Fantini, the ISN guys were eager to put on a strong performance today. Additionally, Sports Director Nicki Sørensen was hoping for a gift in the shape of a good result on his 46-birthday.

In the final kilometers of the stage, Cimolai did very well to get on the right wheels, ultimately finding his way to the wheel of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) who took the win, while Cimolai gritted his teeth and hung on for second place on the line.

Team leader Dan Martin finished safely in the bunch, keeping his top-10 place overall ahead of tomorrow’s mountainous stage.

Davide Cimolai: “This almost feels like a victory. It’s another second place but today I’m happy because I did my best and when you do your best, you’ve got to be happy. After the last uphill part, I took the wheel of Ewan and I just did my best to stay there. It’s hard to beat him when he’s on a good day like today but we will try again for sure!”

Egan Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers team posted this:

Egan Bernal was able to navigate the seventh stage without difficulties at the Giro d’Italia to retain his strong general classification foothold.

After the brutal exploits of Thursday’s stage, the peloton was a calmer place, allowing the team to conserve energy ahead of the weekend.

Both Bernal and compatriot Daniel Martinez were able to finish safely in the peloton as the stage was decided in a bunch finish, won by Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal).

Gianni Moscon played a useful wingman role for Bernal in the technical final kilometres, after the team had helped drive the pace into Termoli.

After a week of racing Bernal sits an encouraging third overall, just 16 seconds back on leader Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ). Martinez moved up once place on the day to 11th, 1:06 back.

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

Weaving its way down Italy’s Adriatic coast, stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia was predicted to be one for the sprinters. The 181km parcours was fairly flat much of the day, with only a fourth category climb to slow things down on an otherwise fast stage. While the peloton and its sprinters were confident of taking the stage, a trio decided they would try to frustrate the faster riders and set about building a lead of five minutes.

The five minute marker was the point the bunch sprang into action to reduce this gap, bringing things down to a more manageable 2:30 at the day’s halfway point, before reducing this further to thirty seconds in the final 25km. Once the catch was made with 15km to go, BORA-hansgrohe took over on the front, the entire team working to keep Peter Sagan in position for the sprint and to ensure Emanuel Buchmann arrived at the finish safely.

The final kilometres were incredibly demanding, with narrow roads, street furniture and multiple bends that could cause crashes or catch riders out of position – especially with speeds hitting 60km/h in the final 5km.

On an uphill stretch with 1.2km to go, Daniel Oss pulled to draw back a late attack, leaving Peter with the sprinters behind. The Italian rider took to the front to control the pace before the sprint started and Peter followed as the fast men leapt towards the line. However, on the final right-hand bend, Peter was pushed into the barrier, the Slovak rider using all his bike handling skills not to end up on the ground and at this point, the loss of momentum prevented him from contesting the win. Peter crossed the line in fourteenth position, with the rest of the team coming in safe with the bunch.

"I would say it was a bittersweet stage today. I had strong legs, I was feeling well and the squad was fantastic. They worked perfectly to keep me safe and position me, especially in the difficult final kilometres. I was in a good position for the sprint finish but a rider in front of me closed me into the barriers and there was little I could do." – Peter Sagan

"It was a sprint stage that suited Peter really well. The finale was tricky, with was a sharp right-hand corner with 1.5km to go, followed by a short and steep climb. Peter was very well positioned, the guys did a brilliant job all day and Daniel Oss lead him out very well. Unfortunately, in the final few hundred metres, Peter was closed by another rider, touched the barriers and that was the end of his sprint effort." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

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