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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, May 23, 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.

It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered. - Aeschylus

Tour de France: the Inside Story

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Giro d'Italia stage 14 team reports

We posted the report fromGC leader Egan Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers team with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Lorenzo Fortunato's Eolo-Kometa team:

Lorenzo Fortunato put his name to it, but the signature was a group one. A signature of a whole project, with twenty cyclists and many people working to assist them, which was born a few months ago in the ProTeam category. Lorenzo Fortunato won this Saturday on the summit of the Monte Zoncolan, he released the palmares of the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team and certified the fulfilment of a dream for a structure that faces the Corsa Rosa after the invitation of his organization. That invitation was a responsibility. And the ambitious objective was to win a stage. A difficult undertaking, very complicated, because winning is always difficult. But the goal was clear and they had worked hard to achieve it. Lorenzo Fortunato realised that desire and unleashed the euphoria.

Lorenzo Fortunato

Lorenzo Fortunato atop Monte Zoncolan. Sirotti photo

Lorenzo Fortunato won on the summit of Monte Zoncolan, where the breakaway triumphed once again. The rider from Bologna and Vincenzo Albanese were part of a breakaway of eleven riders that was formed in the first kilometres. The eleven managed to build up a lead of more than eight minutes, which put the race into the limbo of uncertainty. Could the breakaway make it? Albanese was incommensurable in assisting Fortunato. The eleven of them passed the Forcella Monte Rest, the one with the twisty descent.

On the approach to the Zoncolan, the breakaway was down to nine riders, with Albanese already letting himself go once the job was done. Their lead was just over six minutes. And on the Zoncolan, the delirium. There, the ‘Bahraini’ Jan Tratnik moved with ten kilometres to go and the hardest part. There Fortunato reacted, who saw it clear and went solo to leave him behind in the last three kilometres. Fortunato managed the hardest ramps slightly better to achieve the most important victory, not only of his career, but of an entire sporting project.

“I still can’t believe what happened. I realized that I had won 150 meters from the end when I heard Stefano Zanatta on the radio saying “Now do a sprint” and meanwhile Ivan was screaming. It is a dream come true, a great thing: I thank my sport directors, I thank Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador, I thank Luca Spada and all the staff of Eolo-Kometa because without them I would have never succeeded in this enterprise. This team will grow and I’ll grow with it, I’m sure of it. Thanks to everyone: this morning Ivan Basso told me “Go in the breakaway and win the stage”. And it happened, it really happened”, tells Lorenzo Fortunato.

Ivan Basso, mánager of EOLO-KOMETA: “Lorenzo today was truly extraordinary: we had promised to be protagonists this year, and today, thanks to him, we hit the target. For those who love this sport, the Zoncolan is a real monument: today Lorenzo has written his name among the great champions who have conquered it, and I don’t think there is a greater joy than seeing our efforts rewarded with a performance of this level. The teamwork really made the difference: thanks to the support of Vincenzo Albanese in the breakaway and all the other guys in the group, we were able to keep our promise to win a stage. And it’s not over yet: the final catwalk is still a week away, and our thirst for victory is certainly not exhausted”.

Here's the report from third-place Alessandro Covi's UAE Team Emirates:

Grand Tour debutant Alessandro Covi continued to impress on stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia, with the 22 year old taking 3rd place on the iconic climb of the Zoncolan.

Alessandro Covi

Alessandro Covi finishes third. Sirotti photo

On a day which took the riders from Cittadella to Monte Zoncolan (205km), the Italian made it into the main 11-man break which held a lead of over 7 minutes with 150km still left to ride.

As the riders neared the base of the final ascent, Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Victorious) established a gap, opening up 40’’ on the chasers. Covi waited and made his move with just over 2km to the line, setting out in pursuit of the leaders, but never managed to close the gap.

Fortunato took the stage honours while Covi held off a chasing group of favourites to claim his second top-3 of this Giro.

Covi: “This morning we decided to try and fight for the breakaway, I managed to get in it and then I gave it my all on the last climb which was really tough. I am happy with my condition which keeps getting better and we hope to have more opportunities and give it another go in the remaining stages.”

Egan Bernal (Ineos-Grenadiers) continues to lead the race with Davide Formolo gaining two places to move up to 16th at 9’52’’. Tomorrow stage 15 takes the riders from Grado to Gorizia (147km) over a mainly flat course.

Here's the report from GC sixth-place Emanuel Buchamnn's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Dominating the parcours from the start, the Monte Zoncolan towered over stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia. This 205km route saw riders cover 130km before there was any climbing at all, but the riders would have this first category climb in their minds the entire time, with its slopes averaging 8.5% over its 14.1km distance, with the steepest ramps coming up at an eye-watering 27%. Undeterred by this huge undertaking awaiting them, the break went off early, with eleven riders clipping off the front and building a lead of eleven minutes.

tough conditions

The riders faced a tough day in the mountains. Sirotti photo

While the peloton was working to reduce their lead, the aim for everyone today was to make it through the stage without losing time in the overall standings. Representing BORA-hansgrohe, Emanuel Buchmann was keeping safe in the bunch with Matteo Fabbro and Felix Grossschartner supporting him. As the climbing started and the kilometres started having an effect, the break started to splinter, leaving only four men on the front at the foot of the Zoncolan. While the peloton was reducing the gap, which now stood at 5:30 with 8km to go, there were few signs of the peloton wanting to go for the win, and as they made their way to higher altitudes, the mist came in and the weather became colder.

When the fog cleared, there was snow visible on the ground, but Emanuel and Felix were still in the GC group and riding well, ready to respond when the attacks came. While the break took the stage win, the German rider was looking strong, as the select group of overall riders fell apart and it was down to each of them riding at their own pace to reach the line. With seconds separating the top riders, Emanuel crossed the line in thirteenth position and kept hold of his sixth place in the GC standings.

From the Finish Line:
"It was a hard stage, that got off to a really fast start. Astana controlled the pace and in the final climb, Matteo and Felix put me into a good position. With 3km to go before the steep part, I was in third spot in the GC group, on Bernal's wheel. I wasn't able to follow Bernal and Yates in the finale but I think it was a good day for me. There are still a few hard stages ahead of us." – Emanuel Buchmann

"The stage went pretty much as we expected. At one point, there was a dangerous situation when after the Col du Rest a 7-man chasing group, strongly represented by teams such as Ineos and Astana, attacked from the peloton. However, our guys did a great job closing the gap again. Over the last kilometres it was every man for himself. There was a big fight for the placings and Emu was right up there. He was very well supported by the team until the last 2.5km, and after that, it was "up to the legs." He showed today that he has good form and we are satisfied with the day." – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

George Bennett's Jumbo-Visma team posted this report:

George Bennett has finished in seventh place in the fourteenth stage of the Giro d’Italia. The champion of New Zealand was part of an early breakaway, but had to let go on the Monte Zoncolan. Tobias Foss didn’t have his best day and lost two places in the overall classification. He is now in eleventh place.

George Bennett

George Bennet (shown finishing stage 12) was seventh today. Sirotti photo

Eleven riders attacked early on in the stage, with next to Bennett also the number two from yesterday and the opening day Edoardo Affini for Team Jumbo-Visma. The eleven got a maximum lead of more than eight minutes. Affini made sure that the leading group was able to start the Zoncolan with a lead of over six minutes, but Bennett wasn’t able to respond to the attacks. Foss had to let the GC group go in the last three kilometres. He limited his time loss with the help of Koen Bouwman.

“Unfortunately I didn’t have the legs to compete for the stage victory”, Bennett said. “It was a really tough stage. We went full throttle from the start and there was a lot of headwind. We had to fight for every second to stay ahead. Edoardo was really strong and he deserves all the credits, because he made the difference on the flat. As a result I didn’t have the power anymore at the beginning of the Zoncolan.”

“We had a clear plan and that was to go for the stage win with George or Koen”, sports director Arthur van Dongen said. “In the flat approach the plan was also to have Edoardo, Jos or Paul in the breakaway for support. That went perfectly according to plan. Edoardo did a fantastic job, but because Astana increased the pressure from behind it cost George, in particular, a little too much energy on the flat. He paid the price on the Zoncolan. That is a pity because normally such a climb suits him. Tobias had to pass on the steep part, but limited the damage thanks to Koen. He’s been riding very strongly throughout the Giro and he showed his great form again today.”

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

Stage 14 brought another showdown between the GC contenders, who started the day from Cittadella, in the province of Padua, heading then north-east towards the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and the daunting Monte Zoncolan (14.1km, 8.5%), which made its seventh appearance in the race, but just the second one from the Sutrio side. It was a day of two fights, one that had the breakaway in the spotlight, and one those trying to make an impact on the overall standings.

While the first one was won by Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), who dropped all his companions en route to victory, the other was properly ignited only in the closing kilometers of the stage, when the slope pitched up to an insane 25%. Remco Evenepoel stayed with the small peloton until with two kilometers to go, when the climb became more and more torturous and he lost contact with the group. Helped by João Almeida, who paced him in the finale, the 21-year-old Grand Tour debutant found his rhythm on this gargantuan climb and concluded the stage just 1:30 down on the maglia rosa.

“It was a hard stage, also with the low temperatures, and I felt that my legs were running out of energy when we hit the steepest parts of the ascent. I lost time again, but I continue to be in the top 10, which is a good thing, and will continue to fight every day. I felt my long break today. When the power isn’t there, it’s just the way things go, and today I knew I would suffer in those last three kilometers, where the most explosive gradients were. Considering everything, losing 1:30 is not that bad”, explained Remco, who is eighth in the general classification.

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