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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, May 16, 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.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches. - Andy Warhol

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Giro d'Italia stage eight team reports:

We posted the report from stage winner Victor Lafay's Team Cofidis team with the results.

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

After quite a peaceful day for sprinters on Friday, defending the pink jersey was supposed to be harder on Saturday in Stage 8 of the Giro, throughout the 170 kilometers leading to Guardia Sanframondi. And this was indeed in the first part of the race, but Attila Valter’s teammates then took things in hand and were able to safely lead their young leader to the line. Sunday, the Hungarian will be able to enjoy his third day with the leader’s jersey, but he will also have to fight for it again in a very hilly stage towards Campo Felice.

Attila Valter

Attila Valter has a tough day of racing coming Sunday. Sirotti photo

On Friday, a simple breakaway of three riders going from the very start allowed for quite a calm first day in pink for Attila Valter and the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. The scenario was really different on Saturday starting stage 8 from Foggia. Philippe Mauduit summed it up in his own way: “Your turn, my turn, it was all over the place. Attack on the right, on the left, counter-attack, regroup, attack again, and counter-attack again… When it’s like that, you just have to deal with it, but as so many guys wanted to be in the breakaway, they all chased one another. Therefore, it was war for sixty-five kilometres”. “We knew it would be a more difficult stage to control,” added Antoine Duchesne. “There was a crosswind for an hour and it went really fast in the first 50 kilometres. We had to be there and make sure that there were no dangerous GC guys in front. If we would let the right breakaway go, the stage would be easier to handle. Everyone did his part and it went well”.

Before the good move went away, Attila Valter still was briefly caught by surprise. “I have to admit I made a mistake, I was behind and there was a split,” the pink jersey said later. “We were a bit in a bad position at that point but it was still far from the finish so I was not stressed. I was trying to save as much energy as possible by not taking the wind in the front, and that ended up being in the second group. I know I have to be much more aware of this in the next few days”.

The race intensity eventually decreased shortly before entering the final hundred kilometers. Nine riders took the lead, but none of them was a threat to the jersey. Then, the entire Groupama-FDJ team took position in front of the bunch with the Canadian Antoine Duchesne leading the way. “For us, the stage victory was not important, we preferred to leave it to the breakaway,” said “the Caribou”, who let the gap go up to seven minutes before stabilizing it almost on his own. “I’m happy because it’s been a long time since I was able to perform at this level. After two very difficult years, being there and riding at the front of the pack to defend a pink jersey is a great thing for me. This is also what I love to do and what I feel capable of doing. It really is a huge relief, personally. I questioned myself a lot, I wondered if I still had my place at that level, so to be able to play my role in the best possible way today feels really good”. “Antoine did an exceptional day”, said Philippe Mauduit. “This morning, he was hoping to get to the bottom of the first climb. Eventually, he was still with his mates twenty kilometres from the finish. It was a very good day for him”.

As hoped, the breakaway therefore played victory in the hilltop finish at Guardia Sanframondi (3km at 6.5%) and Victor Lafay (Cofidis) took the win. Five minutes later, the peloton also got to this final climb. “Even if there was a bit less tension because the stage was not at stake, we know that all the leaders are afraid of splits and losing time”, explained Philippe Mauduit. “They all ask their teammates to bring them in the front, and there is no room for everyone. You need at least a teammate or two to be able to make your way through the obstacles. Attila always had someone with him to close the gaps. I especially want the guys to keep an eye on him. If they have him in the wheel, they don’t know where he is or what’s going on behind their backs. If they are behind him, they can react and do what they need to do.” “I don’t think that today was the best opportunity for the favourites to get the maglia rosa”, added Attila. “Still, it is always hectic when there is a technical finish. Everyone wants to stay in the front. I just had to survive this climb. I’m happy I did and that I can continue to wear this beautiful pink jersey”. In the final moments of the race, the 22-year-old man also benefited from the support of Sébastien Reichenbach, who also finished in this group of about twenty men.

That’s how the second day in pink ended for Attila Valter, and his happiness was still quite noticeable. “I hope I never get used to the incredible feeling of having the maglia rosa,” he said at the finish. “On the first day, I wondered what it was like to be Filippo Ganna in Italy. Now I get this feeling a little bit. I have heard so many people shouting my name again. It was another perfect day to wear the pink jersey and I enjoyed every moment of it.” The Hungarian, still leading the overall for eleven seconds on Remco Evenepoel, will face another test tomorrow in stage 9, which will take on several climbs before an explosive finish at Campo Felice (5.7 km at 5.8%). “There will be several battle plans and we will try to play our cards right,” said Philippe Mauduit. “Everyone does their job well and that gives Attila even more confidence,” added Antoine. “Tomorrow it will be an even harder stage but we have some super good climbers who can do the job until the end”. “It will all depend on how the race will go, but I think it is possible to keep the jersey until the rest day,” concluded Attila Valter. “Anyway, I have already had two beautiful days and I will have another one tomorrow. The good point is that I have nothing to lose”.

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

The Corsa Rosa continued with a day in the Apennines and the start of race was insane, with waves of attacks coming one after the other, and as if this wasn’t enough, the crosswinds made it really nervous for the riders as they exited Foggia, splitting the bunch into several groups. After a few minutes of panic, it all came back together, but the attempts didn’t stop there, as more and more riders tried to snap the elastic on the roads to Guardia Sanframondi.

Remco Evenepoel

Remco Evenepoel (shown racing in stage 1) has a big test coming up Sunday. Sirotti photo

Eventually, more than 50 kilometers into the stage, nine riders slipped away and gained enough of a lead to fight for victory on the small second-category climb to the finish, where Victor Lafay (Cofidis) prevailed after attacking on the steepest section of the ascent, with around two kilometers to go. When the bunch hit the bottom of this hill, Deceuninck – Quick-Step were massed to the front, protecting Remco Evenepoel, just as they had done during the stage. In the final kilometers, the 21-year-old relied on João Almeida, who led him home along with the rest of GC contenders.

Remco remained second overall, just a handful of seconds off first place, ahead of the toughest stage since the start of the race, from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice – a day that will feature 3500 meters of climbing, a short gravel roads sector on the final ascent and a demanding summit finish.

Here's the report from Egan Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers:

Egan Bernal heads into Sunday's general classification test in a strong position at the Giro d'Italia.

The Colombian came through stage eight in good shape as a select peloton crossed the line together following a late fourth category climb. Bernal, who sat on the wheel of a driving Gianni Moscon in the closing kilometres, still sits third overall, just 16 seconds back on the maglia rosa of Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ).

Egan BErnal

Egan Bernal (right) finishing stage six. Sirotti photo

Daniel Martinez also finished in a GC group numbering just 26 riders. He remains 12th, 1:06 off the lead.

Both riders were involved in a rapid start to the day, which saw the Grenadiers driving on the front of the peloton as the bunch split briefly. Eventually the stage settled into a rhythm, with the breakaway being allowed to build up an unassailable lead. Victor Lafay (Cofidis) timed his move perfectly to take a solo stage victory.

Sunday's ninth test features four categorised climbs, with the finish on the category one Rocca di Cambio.

Emanuel Buchmann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

The Giro d’Italia was getting progressively harder, and stage 8 gave a taste of the mountains to come, with a constantly undulating 170km parcours that featured two categorised climbs, the last being a fourth category ascent to the finish in Guardia Sanframondi. In spite of the rising and falling terrain, the day could be taken by any of the riders and the break staked its claim on the stage from the start, with several attacks brought back by the peloton, and with several BORA-hansgrohe riders trying to get in the day’s move.

It took more than 50km of hectic racing for the escape to finally stick, nine riders going ahead and building a lead of more than five minutes, the peloton waking up a little after this gap reached 7:30 to bring things down to a more manageable six minutes with 50km to go. Reaching the top of the day’s biggest climb – the Bocca della Selva – BORA-hansgrohe took to the front to ensure there were clear roads ahead of them in case of any crashes on the descent.

With the final climb getting closer, the break’s advantage was going to make it hard for the peloton to make the catch before the finish line, and even as the escapees started attacking each other, this only saw the gap increase. There were going to be two races today – one for the stage win and one for the overall standings.

Emanuel Buchmann

Emanuel Buchmann winning the 2020 Trofeo Tramuntana

With the stage won by a solo attacker from the break, attention turned to the Maglia Rosa group, where Emanuel Buchmann and Matteo Fabbro were representing BORA-hansgrohe. Emanuel was riding confidently in this select GC group, showing no signs of the day’s exertions as he crossed the line in 22nd spot.

"It was a hectic stage with lots of crosswinds from the start but we were always safe in the front and once the break was gone it was a controlled race. I had pretty good support from the team, they put me in a very good position before the last climb and I finished with the group of favourites. I'm also happy with the way I feel today, much better in good weather. We'll now have to see what happens in the next days." – Emanuel Buchmann

"We concentrated our efforts today on Emu, and we knew that it could be a very good day for the break, so we also tried to make it there with several riders, which unfortunately didn’t quite work out. In the end, however, Emu was able to cross the line with the best riders in the GC. " – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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