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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, May 30, 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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Giro d'Italia stage 20 team reports

We posted the report from GC leader Egan Bernal's Ineos Grenadiers team with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Damiano Caruso's Team Bahrain Victorious:

Damiano Caruso secured his first Grand Tour win on Stage 20 of the Giro and further secured second place standing in the GC, taking time off his rivals with only a 30km Time Trial remaining in Milan tomorrow.

Damiano Caruso

Damiano Caruso get his first Grand Tour stage win. Sirotti photo

The 164km stage started in Verbania, and despite 4,200m of altitude gain, it was the tactical brilliance of Caruso and Bilbao, attacking on the descent of the first climb on Passo San Bernardino, latching on to a move from Team DSM. From 50 kilometres to go, Bilbao put in an impressive effort to help Caruso distance himself from the GC rivals.

With 6km to go on the Alpe Motta ascent to the finish, Caruso gave Bilbao a pat on the back to thank him for his work and was set on his way to fight for the stage win with only Romain Bardet (Team DSM) left with him. The gap of 40 seconds began to fall on the final few kilometres to the finish after impressive riding set by Ineos Grenadiers. Still, Caruso proved too strong and rode Bardet off his wheel, taking the stage win and reducing the gap to the Maglia Rosa by 24 seconds.

Damiano Caruso was delighted to win his first Grand Tour stage: “I knew that today, for me, it would be very important to confirm the podium and try to hang on to 2nd place, but what happened was a stupendous stage. My companions and I rode in great fashion, we made the most of it, and in the final, it was magical. The move was not planned. On the descent from San Bernardino, we saw that Team DSM was increasing the pace, and I and Pello Bilbao decided to follow them because we thought getting ahead could be a good strategy. In the end, it turned out to be the winning move. Before Pello was dropped, I thanked him because he had done a fabulous job, and it was especially satisfying to be able to finish it off with the win.

"I thought about a thousand things in the last meters before the finish line, all my sacrifices, my training, and all the work done by my teammates. We rode in an exemplary way today. Pello Bilbao in particular did an incredible job and he played a fundamental role in this victory. Today I realised a dream. I think I’m the happiest man in the world!

"I also thought that we’re doing this with 5 riders left. Who knows what we could do with the whole team. We did a classy ride today. 70% of this win is for Pello. I never won as a ‘champion,’ but today, yes, I can say I had my day like a champ.”

Fourth-place Romain Bardet's Team DSM posted this report:

The penultimate stage of the race and the last day in the mountains lay ahead of the riders as they rolled out of Verbania this morning, with a testing 164 kilometre long parcours. A stage of two halves, the opening 80 kilometres would see the riders traverse valley roads before three back-to-back climbs in the second half; Passo San Bernardino, Splügenpass and the ascent of Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta to the line.

It was an incredibly fast start to the day, with a hard fought opening 50 kilometres before a break of nine riders finally escaped, with Nico Denz riding strongly to make the move for the team. The peloton kept Denz’s breakaway close, reaching a maximum of four minutes before coming onto the Passo San Bernardino climb the gap had fallen to three minutes. A strong pace was set in the break and Denz sat up to not go too into the red, so he could help the team when caught by the bunch.

Halfway up the climb and at 64 kilometres to go, the team charged into action and upped the tempo drastically in the peloton, with Nicholas Roche doing an incredibly strong turn at the front. Nearing the summit Chris Hamilton took over after Roche had gave his all for the team, thinning the bunch out even further. On the descent, Hamilton used his mountain bike skills and he, Michael Storer and Romain Bardet gained a gap over the chasing peloton. Continuing to push on in the valley, they were joined by second placed Caruso, forming a working alliance to further increase the gap on the chasing Maglia Rosa group. After digging deep, Hamilton ended his turn at the foot of the Splügenpass with Storer continuing to ride strongly along with Bilbao as the gradients on the climb started to bite.

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet near the finish of stage 20. Sirotti photo.

After an excellently paced climb, the leading quartet increased their gap to 40 seconds by the summit and held onto it on the descent and following short valley road, before the last challenge of the day began; the Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta. Storer went for as long as he possibly could on the opening slopes before peeling off, and the Bahrain duo started pacing. Bardet rode strongly alongside Caruso on the inconsistent and stinging gradients, bouyed by the team’s display. Giving it his all, he had to let go of the wheels at just inside two kilometres to go on the steepest section as to not go too far into the red and blow up completely. Riding at his own rhythm and tempo while fighting all the way to the line, Bardet finished the stage in a brilliant fourth place and as a result moves up to fifth place on GC ahead of tomorrow’s final time trial.

“I think today we can all be proud with the way we rode,” said Bardet after the finish. “Everyone committed 100 percent to the plan we made, and we gave it our best to the line. I’m really pleased by the dedication from everyone in the team.”
Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “I think we can be really proud of the way we raced today. We made a plan before the stage and we really committed to the plan to give Romain the best opportunity to move up on GC. I think you can see the commitment there in the way the guys rode. It almost came off, not quite, but almost. I think we can reflect on a good team performance and we also moved up to fifth on GC which was also the goal at the start of the day.”

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

Passo San Bernardino (23.7km, 6.2%), Passo Spluga (8.85km, 7.3%) and Alpe Motta (7.3km, 7.5%) were the last classified ascents of this year’s race, all crammed inside the final 90 kilometers of stage 20, which started in Verbania and crossed the Swiss border before a return to Italy, for one more showdown between the climbers.

João Almeida was part of the reduced peloton that arrived at the bottom of Alpe Motta, where they trailed a three-man group by 40 seconds. The hard tempo pushed by the pink jersey’s team put the 22-year-old on his limit, but dropped three times in the space of five kilometers, he dug deep into his resources and regained contact with the small group, impressing one more time with his amazing pacing abilities and never-say-die attitude, qualities that have earned him plaudits since his Grand Tour debut in 2020.

Joao Almeida

Joao Almeida goes deep in stage 20's final meters. Sirotti photo

Distanced ahead of the flamme rouge by the overall leader as the climb ramped up to double-digit gradients, Almeida gritted his teeth, ignored the pain and put in another vigorous effort, expertly limiting the losses and taking fifth on the stage won by Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) after a long-range attack. It was his fourth top 10 finish in the space of ten days and one that him on track for another solid overall result at the Corsa Rosa, which in twenty-four hours will bring down the curtain over this 104th edition.

“Today was really hard, with some very tough gradients especially on the last climb, but I’m happy with my result and with being there again with the best guys. I did everything that I could and although I came outside the podium, I am satisfied with what I achieved on this stage. I can’t believe three weeks have passed and on Sunday the race will come to an end. I don’t know what’s possible to do in terms of general classification, but I will give my best in the time trial and try to finish the race on a high note”, said João after his display of bravery and determination on Alpe Motta.

Simon Yates' Team BikeExchange sent me this report:

Yesterday’s stage winner Simon Yates maintained his third place on the general classification, after a brutal final road stage of the Giro d’Italia.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates winning Stage 19. Sirotti photo

Team BikeExchange took the race on as soon as the breakaway was established, with Michael Hepburn and Chris Juul-Jensen trading turns on the front to keep the gap in check ahead of the ascent of the Passo San Bernardino.

The stage then turned on its head as a select group containing Romain Bardet and second placed Damiano Caruso went clear on the descent of the climb. The attackers quickly swept passed the early breakaway and held their advantage at 40 seconds over the second climb of the day.

Meanwhile, Yates remained calm in the Maglia Rosa group, which was down to just a handful of riders as the race reached the foot of the final climb. Dani Martinez set a blistering tempo for his teammate, race leader Egan Bernal, on the slopes and it eventually proved too much for Yates as he was distanced inside the final two kilometres.

Out front, Caruso held onto to take the stage win and consolidate his second place in the standings, while Yates battled home in sixth place to head into tomorrow’s final stage time trial in Milan in third overall.

Simon Yates:
"We tried to do something again, the boys did a fantastic job again, as always. The plan was to try something on the second to last climb, but we arrived there and I didn’t have the legs, a bit of fatigue from yesterday maybe, a bit of fatigue from three weeks all coming together.

"But as always, I did the best as I could and I’m happy with what I did and we finish off with the TT tomorrow. We’re staying focused, it’s only one more day and then we can celebrate a nice podium in Milan."

Matt White (Head Sport Director):
" We wanted to give Yatesy one more chance at winning a stage, one more chance at moving up the general classification, so we took control of the race and it was all going really good. In the end Yatesy just didn’t have the legs on the final climb to go with Martinez and Bernal.

"It was 100% effort from all the boys and we can ask no more."

And here's the report from Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The last road stage, as well as the penultimate stage of the race overall, day 20 of the Giro d’Italia was also going to be one of the hardest. Making its way into Switzerland to sample some of its iconic climbs, the 164km parcours featured the infamous Passo San Bernardino and the Splügenpass before returning to Italy for the summit finish in Madesimo.

The day’s intermediate sprint came at just under 17km and Peter Sagan’s rivals for the ciclamino jersey made their intentions known at the very start, trying to attack and take the points. The whole BORA-hansgrohe team was working hard to put an end to the dreams of any riders who thought they would be able to take the jersey, but when the dust settled, Peter was still leading this contest. The snow and cold weather predicted at the tops of the tallest climbs were of no concern to Felix Grossschartner, and neither were the total of more than 4,200m of climbing, the Austrian rider making his move as the peloton ventured into Switzerland and his group of nine set about building a lead of 2:30, before extending this to 5:20 with 100k still to race.

Two sections of the Passo San Bernadino hit a maximum gradient of 12% over its long 24km length, but Felix was looking comfortable here as he pushed on ahead of his colleagues in the break, with three riders distancing the other six. However, on the lower slopes of the Splügenpass, the peloton was riding hard and fast and were cutting the break’s lead swiftly, the gap at just thirty seconds. Knowing the escape group couldn’t stay out until the end, Felix dropped back with 30km to go as the metres of ascending and kilometres of riding took effect in the peloton and riders were being left behind by a select GC group.

Peter Sagan

If Peter Sagan finishes Sunday's time trial he will win the points classification

Felix held his own and stayed in touch as long as possible, closing the day in twentieth position after a confident performance, while Peter Sagan came home safe to defend his ciclamino jersey lead.

From the Finish Line:
"I tried to go into the breakaway today and I made it. We worked really well among us, but, unfortunately, the peloton really controlled the race. I think that when we crested San Bernandino our advantage had already dropped to a minute, so it was going to be a very difficult task. I haven't been feeling very well during this Giro, I suffered quite a lot today as well but, like every other day, I tried to do my best. I managed to stay as long as I could with the GC favourites.  It is what it is but I'll be back." – Felix Grossschartner

"I motivated the guys in today's meeting and explained to them that they are competing in one of the biggest sports events in the world, and reminded them that as a child, this is what you dream of competing in. To just enjoy being in the leading group and really give it your all, to try to get another stage result. And that's what we did. Felix in particular did a great job in the lead group, refused to give up, and kept going. He put in a spectacular performance in the finale, so again great teamwork was reflected here. And with that, we concluded the 20th stage of the Giro." – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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