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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, May 27, 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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Remco Evenepoel leaves Giro d’Italia

Evenepoel's Deceuninck-Quick Step team posted this late in the day:

Following his unfortunate accident on Wednesday’s stage 17, it has been decided that the 21-year-old Belgian will leave the race.

During the stage in which he had looked strong and was riding with the group of main GC riders, Remco was involved in an incident that brought down several riders, both in front and behind him, on the descent of Passo di San Pelegrino, with 25 kilometers to go. He was able to finish the stage and was then examined by the team’s doctor. This examination has revealed there were no fractures, but he has suffered multiple skin lacerations and contusions of the second metacarpal of his left hand, caput radials, sacroiliacal joint, patella and of the 8th rib, as well as bilateral bursitis olecrani.

Following the diagnosis, the medical team decided that it would be best if Remco was to leave the race and recover completely as fast as possible, before working towards his goals for later in the season.

Remco Evenepoel

Remco Evenepoel before the start of stage 15. Sirotti photo

Remco – who racked up three top 10 finishes in the first part of the race – was obviously disappointed with the outcome: “In the end it was a crash that shouldn’t have happened, I don’t know what really happened in front of me, but I came into the corner and saw some guys on the ground and I couldn’t pass on the right side because I was next to another guy, so I didn’t have any chances to avoid a crash. For now, there isn’t anything broken, but I have a lot of contusions, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to carry on with this pain. So I go back to Belgium and go for some CT scans. Then we will see.”

He reflected further on his first Grand Tour experience: “Of course it’s sad to leave the race, and my first Grand Tour too early, but in the end, it was a nice experience and I hope to be back one day again. I’m wishing the best to all my Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates for the remaining stages.”

Giro d'Italia stage 17 team reports

We posted the report from Simon Yates' Team BikeExchange with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Dan Martin's Israel Start-Up Nation team:

An outstanding Dan Martin wins stage 17 after an incredible fight on the final climb. “This is the reason why I came to the Giro d’Italia!”

Dan Martin

Dan Martin enjoys his victory. Sirotti photo

The Irishman forced, together with his teammates, a breakaway group after an hour of racing. The chase in the peloton was on, but didn’t manage to close the gap.

“I came to the Giro to win a stage,” Martin said after the finish. “That I joggled my head after the finish proves that I just could not believe that I made it.

“I knew today would be one of my last chances. As I lost time before, I could try to go for my goal with joining a breakaway.”

One minute and thirty seconds distanced Martin from other GC-contenders. At the finish, he had 13 seconds left.

Martin: “I received the updates from the sports directors about what was happening behind me. From 3.5 kilometers to the finish, I pushed as hard as I could, because I knew from a recon I did that the climb would flatten towards the finish.”

Team co-owner Sylvan Adams was watching the final hour of racing on the bus. It was exciting until the finish, as the gap between Martin and his competitors shrunk, grew, shrunk, and grew throughout the whole race.

With a big smile on his face, Adams said after the finish, “Dan said yesterday that he would give it a go in today’s stage. He said this climb suited him particularly well. The team did amazing to get Dan into the break. He delivered and I am super proud.”

Winning the seventeenth stage in the Giro meant that Martin successfully achieved an important career goal. He has now won stages in the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a Espana, the first and last of those races while wearing #blueandwhite colors of ISN.

Israeli climber Guy Niv said after the stage that he was nervously listening to the race radio, but could not hear anything anymore in the last kilometer. “When I found out that Dan made it to the finish, I was super happy. As a team, we kept fighting after a challenging second week for us this Giro. It is exciting that Dan succeeded today.”

Martin concluded: “We had a Giro with ups-and-downs. We lost Krists in the first stage, then had pink with Alessandro and got a few podiums, then lost two guys in one day and now the team is back at an up. We kept fighting and believing, and today it worked out.”

GC leader Egan Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers posted this update:

Egan Bernal fought to maintain his overall lead at the Giro d’Italia following a gruelling finale on an eventful stage 17.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal (shown finishing the stage with teammate Daniel Martinez) had to go deep today. Sirotti photo

Bernal finished seventh on the summit finish, with Simon Yates moving back into contention with a well-timed attack that saw him gain ground on the maglia rosa.  

The Colombian was in a small group with Yates and Joao Almeida, with the other GC contenders already dropped, when the duo accelerated away on the steepest gradient of the Sega di Ala.

Dani Martinez worked tirelessly to keep the gap to the pair controlled and the Colombian duo managed to battle their way back to within 53 seconds of Yates, the Grenadiers arriving at the line with Damiano Caruso to ensure the gap to the Italian on GC was only cut by a few seconds. 

Dan Martin won the stage from the breakaway to deny Yates and Almeida maximum bonus points, with the gaps in the general classification increasing on a dramatic summit finish.

Earlier Gianni Moscon had been part of an early breakaway that formed after a high-speed start to the first stage after the rest day. Moscon maintained the gap to the peloton to allow the Grenadiers some relief from chasing, with Bike Exchange picking up the responsibility.

The advantage remained until the final climb, when the Grenadiers finally came to the fore and Jonathan Castroviejo dented the GC hopes of many with an unrivalled pace on the lower sections of the climb before the final attacks came from Yates and Almeida, splitting the contenders into small groups, allowing Martin to say away and take victory. 

Egan Bernal:
“Today was a tough day for me, the last kilometres were really steep and I tried to follow Yates, but today he was stronger than me and I just tried to arrive at the finish with Caruso who is the closest in the GC, I didn’t want to take any risks. Yates was impressive and I just did my best.

"I am happy because I didn’t lose too much time to Yates in today’s stage, today’s stage was perfect for him and then with Caruso who is second in GC I lost just a few metres.

"A bad day today but I lost nearly no time to second on GC, I have some advantage over Yates so I just need to arrive with some time in Milan and if I win the Giro by one second or two minutes it will be the same."

Joao Almeida's Team Deceuninck-Quick Step team posted this report:

A combination of endless courage, unbelievable strength and superb tenacity on a day that recalibrated the general classification saw João Almeida deliver a memorable performance on the lung-busting climb of Sega di Ala, which made its first appearance at the race after being previously used in the Giro del Trentino, a couple of years ago.

The day witnessed a brisk start to the affairs, a breakaway finally being established after 50 kilometers. James Knox and Pieter Serry were the two delegates of Deceuninck – Quick-Step in that move that gained five minutes on a peloton who began a proper chase after the first classified ascent. Both James and Pieter produced a solid effort, trading turns at the front of the group together with their companions, until the moment they were dropped on the rough Passo di San Valentino, a climb that left its mark also over the bunch, seriously whittling it down.

Counting around 20 men, the chasing group started Sega di Ala (11.2km, 9.8%) with a one-minute deficit on the four riders still at the front from the original breakaway, a big chunk of the advantage being erased by Knox and Serry, who helped with the pace-setting after being caught. Taking many by surprise, João Almeida laid the hammer just as the gradient began biting, unfazed by the r14% gradients where many began struggling, riding with the confidence of a seasoned veteran and pacing himself perfectly.

The 22-year-old forced a selection on a steep section, only a couple of men being able to match his pace, but not for long, as the tempo pushed by João dropped more riders, including the maglia rosa. Inside the final kilometer, another acceleration dispatched Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) as the Portuguese set off in pursuit of Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Academy), who narrowly managed to hold on and take the win. Almeida finished just a few seconds down, for his first podium at this edition, a result that continued his progress in the general classification, where he is now eighth.

Joao Almeida

Joao Almeida finishes stage 17. Sirotti photo

“I don’t think we could have done more than this. The guys protected and worked for me, they produced a strong effort in the valley as we approached the last ascent. Then, as I was feeling good, I just tried on the last climb I just tried, and to be sincere, I didn’t expect to have those gaps or to gain more places in the general classification. Second on this hard climb and eighth overall gives me more motivation and confidence for the remaining stages”, said João after putting in another stunning performance at Il Giro.

Unfortunately, when everything was done and dusted, it wasn’t a perfect day for Deceuninck – Quick-Step. Dropped from the peloton on Passo di San Valentino, Remco Evenepoel showed amazing resilience and determination as he came back and rejoined the favourites group, only to crash on the descent in a corner.

The Belgian hit the guardrails and needed medical treatment before continuing the stage, which he eventually finished escorted by several of his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates, more than half an hour behind the winner. Evenepoel will be assessed now by the team doctors, and an update on his condition will be released later this evening.

Here's the report from Romain Bardet's Team DSM:

After yesterday’s rest day, the peloton were back in action once again as the final week of racing at the Giro d’Italia began this afternoon with a challenging 193 kilometres in the saddle and the summit finish at Sega di Ala.

It was a fast start to the stage with the opening 60 kilometres mostly downhill. The team worked well to cover any dangerous moves, bringing back a counter attack that had went off in pursuit of the large breakaway group.

With other teams taking control of the peloton, the race sped towards the Passo di San Valentino, where the team did brilliantly, moving up in unison towards the front of the bunch as the gradient increased. A strong pace was set and over the top of the ascent, Romain Bardet, Michael Storer and Nicholas Roche were in the reduced GC group. The pace remained high as the peloton made its way onto the ascent to the line – Sega di Ala with its almost ten percent average gradient for 12 kilometres.

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet finishes stage 14. Sirotti photo

It became a race of attrition as a strong tempo was set on the stinging gradients. Bardet dug deep as others were dropped but he too had to let go of the wheels as to not go too far into the red at five kilometres to go. With the help of Storer, the duo fought hard all the way to the line together, where Bardet ended the stage in 14th position, a result that sees him move up to sixth place on GC for the team.

“It was a fast start to the stage today before the breakaway went clear.” explained Bardet. “The guys positioned me really well going onto the first climb. Over the top there were three of us in the front group which was great, they brought me onto the final climb in good position. From there on it was full gas and I just focused on pacing my own climb. It was a heavy one and Michael did a really great job to help bring me all the way to the line. We’re another day closer to Milan and we’ll continue giving it our all to move up the GC.”

Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “It was a big fight at the start to get in the break but the guys did a good job to keep the overview of movement so that the right breakaway went clear. The team brought Romain into good position for the final climb and he dug super deep with the team in support around him. Michael was up there with Romain until the line which was great to see. We crossed the line losing a bit of time but we moved up another place in the overall standings and will keep fighting through the rest of the week to move up the GC places again.”

Matteo Fabbro's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

By the end of stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia, yesterday’s second and final rest day would be a distant memory. The 193km parcours covered three categorised climbs, ending with a summit finish on the Sega di Ala, an 11km climb with an average gradient of 9.8% and with ramps of up to 17% near the top.

Stage 17 profule

Stage 17 had a tough profile.

The first 50km was downhill and the fast speeds here saw several attempts to break away drawn back, the speeds in the opening kilometres so high that it was hard for anyone to escape, along with the Maglia Rosa controlling the attacks.

Finally, after nearly 60km covered, the break finally formed, with nineteen riders in this move, Felix Grossschartner representing BORA-hansgrohe here in his second time in the break, working to build a slim lead over the peloton, which was splitting under the strain of the high speeds. The gap went out to five minutes, but the bunch was still chasing hard, but while the escape group was slowly shrinking, Felix stayed up front before dropping back with less than 50km to go as the break’s advantage was steadily falling.

Testing his legs, Matteo Fabbro had stayed in touch with the select group of GC riders, the Italian rider pushing himself hard into the final 10km before returning to the main bunch behind. On this tough day with a difficult climb to the finish, Matteo was the first BORA-hansgrohe rider to cross the line, taking 27th after the whole team returned strong from the rest day, making sure they had something in reserve for tomorrow’s massive undertaking. Crossing the line safely, Peter Sagan maintained his hold on the race’s ciclamino jersey of points leader that he had held since stage 10.

From the Finish Line:
"It was a really hard stage. We tried to go in the break and Felix made it. In the penultimate climb, he came back to the group of favourites and tried to stay with them. I gave it my all to follow the GC group as much as I could but in the last climb, with about 8km to go, I wasn't able to keep up with the pace any longer. It was very hard." – Matteo Fabbro

"Today, our primary, big goal was to defend Peter's ciclamino jersey. We were successful, the guys protected him, so we can be satisfied with that. Our second goal of the day was to have a rider in the breakaway. It took a lot of effort, it was hard work but we did it with Felix. After the climb to Passo San Valentino, the breakaway split into pieces and Felix saw his chances at a stage win slip away, so he came back to the main bunch. Finally, we motivated Matteo to stay as long as he could with the GC favourites. He gave his absolute best and was still in contention halfway through the last climb but in the final kilometres couldn't follow. These mountain stages are really hard, it's full-on racing from the start. Dan Martin was very strong and as we all saw even Bernal suffered in the end. We were all extremely motivated, the guys executed the plan we had but, today, we weren't on a level to be able to follow through." – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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