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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, May 24, 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 society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. - Adam Smith

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Giro d'Italia stage 15 team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Victor Campenaerts' Qhubeka-Assos team:

Victor Campenaerts raced to an incredible 3rd stage win at this year’s Giro d’Italia for Team Qhubeka ASSOS, at today’s stage 15 ending in Gorizia. This victory followed his teammates, Mauro Schmid and Giacomo Nizzolo, triumphs on stages 11 and 13 respectively.

Victor Campenaerts

Victor Campenaerts wins stage 15. Sirotti photo

Team Qhubeka ASSOS, already having it’s best ever Giro d’Italia, started the 147km stage 15 with clear intentions to continue chasing success. From the gun, Campenaerts and teammate Max Walscheid were the first two riders to attack. After getting an initial gap, the race was then neutralized due to a mass crash in the peloton, which included Mauro Schmid, who was able to continue but suffered from multiple abrasions to his right side.

Fortunately, most of the riders that went down, were without serious injury, and able to continue. When racing got underway for a second time, it was again Campenaerts and Walscheid who were first to attack. This time a third Qhubeka ASSOS rider also got involved though, as Lukasz Wisniowski infiltrated the front group too.

15 riders forced themselves clear from the peloton and quickly built a race winning lead. With three riders up the road, Qhubeka ASSOS were in a favourable position despite being closely marked.

Coming toward the race finale, Walscheid, Wisniowski and Campenaerts began attacking and counter-attacking the break as the group did contain a strong mix of climbers and sprinters, who were possibly favoured for victory ahead of the Qhubeka ASSOS trio on paper. However, it was the team work that proved the greatest asset on the day as the Belgian UCI world hour record holder managed to escape with two others in tow, Albert Torres (Movistar) and Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix), with 23km to go.

Campenaerts and Riesebeek were able to dislodge Torres on the final climb, as the rain came pouring down, adding further drama over the closing kilometers. From the top of the climb, the duo held onto a 15 second gap over their nearest chasers, and despite attacking each other a couple of times each, they went on to decide the stage in a two-up sprint.

Campenaerts had that extra kick in the legs to take a brilliant win, his first ever Grand Tour stage victory of his career.

Victor Campenaerts:
"I’ve been chasing a WorldTour, and specifically a Grand Tour, stage win for so long; having been four times second, twice third, once fifth, and I’ve always targeted victories in time trials. I’ve come so close but I decided to change how I race and focus more aggressively on racing on the road bike, and focusing a little less focus on the TT.

"I am at my first Grand Tour with another objective and we’ve already had two victories with the team here. I can’t say that I helped Mauro that much in the break but I helped Nizzolo for his victory and now I helped myself to a big victory – what a day! I had big, big help from the whole team especially Max and Wizzy, who were also in the break with me.

"For two years we’ve speaking about Ubuntu in the team – I am because we are – which is about riding as a team. We cannot go alone, we’re stronger as a team together, and the spirit we have in the Giro is building up to an even greater spirit. Our mission as a team is to change lives with bicycles and the Qhubeka Charity, these successes mean that we play our part in changing the world.

"I also hope that these victories is great exposure for the team, to keep the team alive for the future. It hasn’t been easy to keep it alive and we needed this, so I am just so happy."

Here's the report from third-place Nikias Arndt's Team DSM:

With yesterday’s tough Monte Zoncolan test behind them, the bunch faced a shorter 147 kilometre long stage from Grado to Gorizia this afternoon, but the parcours did feature a steep, tricky climb on the finishing circuit. It was a fast initial start to the race but after only two kilometres the race was neutralised due to a crash. Romain Bardet was caught up in the incident but he came through unscathed, only having to change his bike. Once all the other riders were attended to, the race restarted with a large group of 15 riders escaping almost immediately.

Nikias Arndt rode attentively and strongly to make the move for the team, and with the peloton fanning across the road their gap expanded rapidly, reaching seven minutes after 35 kilometres before increasing even further to almost twelve minutes. The break continued to work well together and with the peloton not chasing behind, they would go on to fight it out for the stage win.

Approaching the final climb of the day, things became tactical in the front group with the attacks starting from just inside 30 kilometres out. Arndt used his experience to cover most of the dangerous attempts and going on the offensive himself, but unfortunately a trio managed to escape before the ascent, just as the rain started to pour heavily on the race. The three out front had teammates behind who interrupted the chase, before Arndt impressed once again with his climbing legs to make the now reduced chasing group on the last categorised ascent. Despite their best efforts in the chase, two of the original trio held on to take the top two spots on the podium. Behind, Arndt produced his trademark seated sprint to win the kick to the line from the group for third place; his second of the race and the team’s third podium finish.

“We thought there might have been a chance of crosswinds at the start today so we were prepared for that but nothing happened,” explained Arndt. “It was then a super fast restart and I was able to make it into the breakaway which was nice. We rode well together out front but then the games started towards the finish and two guys got away. I think maybe we might have had a higher chance of catching them if it was dry but they were strong. I hoped that on the last two climbs that we would be able to come back to them but in the end the guys out front were strong and we weren’t able to make it. Unfortunately, it meant that for us we were sprinting for third place but we managed to get another podium finish here which is a nice result.”

Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “It was a good result again today by Nikias, who got into the breakaway. I think he did a good job after the restart to refocus and get into the breakaway for the second time. He did us a really nice job in there to get us a podium. We just missed that first attack but still came through the stage well and got a nice result. The guys in the bunch did a good job looking after Romain on a tricky finish. In the end it was not too much to stress about and we can focus on tomorrow’s big day.”

Emanuel Buchmann had to abandon the Giro after crashing. Here's the release from his Bora-hansgrohe team:

In a sad development for the BORA-hansgrohe squad, the team’s GC leader, Emanuel Buchmann, was forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia after being taken down by a crash in the opening kilometres of the stage. The race headed into Slovenia today for stage 15 and from the moment the stage started, there was a rush of activity on the front as riders fought to get in the break, knowing there was a good chance of being in contention for the win today.

Emanuel Buchamnn

Emanuel Buchmann winning the Trofeo Tramuntana in 2020.

In the chaos of the first few kilometres, a huge crash took out BORA-hansgrohe’s Emanuel Buchmann in an incident that sadly forced the German rider’s retirement from the race. A tailwind at the start of the day pushed the peloton to speeds in excess of 70km/h when the crash in front of him left him with nowhere to go. With the stage neutralised to ensure the riders involved received attention from medics, the race re-started shortly after, the peloton allowing a large group to go ahead, this breakaway group building a substantial lead.

With the bunch riding conservatively, the advantage quickly hit more than twelve minutes and stayed this way for the remainder of the stage, with the Maglia Rosa’s team controlling the pace in the peloton and stopping any attacks going off the front. With the race hitting its final 20km, the gap remained high and the rain started falling, making an unwelcome return to the race and soaking the riders to the skin. The cobbled streets of Gorizia were made slippery by the wet weather, making the chance of crashes all the more likely, forcing the peloton to slow down as the break took the stage win.

For the BORA-hansgrohe riders, there was a sombre mood as they crossed the line safely with the bunch to end a disappointing day, Matteo Fabbro and Felix Grossschartner the first of the team to come in, the duo having supported Emanuel so well in the first two weeks of the race.

"After the fall, Emu was taken straight to hospital. A CT scan ruled out any broken bones. He sustained a mild concussion and several bruises on his face and hip. In addition, he has a wound in his mouth on the inside of his lower lip." – Christopher Edler, Team Doctor

"One of the most difficult things that can happen to a team during a stage race happened to us today. Emanuel Buchmann, our captain with ambitions for the podium, was forced to abandon following a crash. We were careful to protect him well over the last 15 days, but nevertheless, he was involved in the large crash today, ultimately with no chance of continuing by virtue of his injuries. This is of course a very bitter moment for us, and now we'll have to adjust our tactics for the last week and try to limit the damage." – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

And here's the report from Jumbo-Visma, whose Jos van Emden also had to abandon the Giro:

Jos van Emden has had to leave the race after a massive crash in the fifteenth stage of the Giro d’Italia. Van Emden suffered five broken ribs, a lung contusion and several abrasions. Tobias Foss climbed to tenth place in the general classification after the equally unlucky Emanuel Buchmann.

Jos van Emden

Jos van Emden riding 2021 Giro's stage 1 time trial. Sirotti photo

The stage to Goriza was interrupted early on by a major crash. Edoardo Affini, Foss and Van Emden were involved. The Dutchman was taken to hospital with abrasions and pain in the ribs for further examination. The other riders of the black and yellow formation emerged unharmed and were able to resume the stage.

After a neutralisation, the stage was restarted. A front group of fifteen riders managed to escape. They were given the freedom to go for the stage win.

Sports director Arthur van Dongen looked back on a difficult day. “For us it was not the best stage today. After all the days we tried to be in the breakaways, our plan today was to save our forces a bit for the tough final week ahead. We knew there would be a strong wind at the start of the race. Jos and Edoardo had the task of bringing Tobias through this as well as possible. Then that massive crash happened and we lost Jos. It is of course a great pity that we have to miss such an important rider in the last week. Not only for the team, but especially for Jos himself. He was in very good shape and could support the team very well. Fortunately he is doing well, considering the circumstances.”

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