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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, October 1, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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Giro di Sicilia stage three reports

We posted the report from stage winner Alejandro Valverde's Movistar team with the results.

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

After two wins from two stages courtesy of Sebastian Molano, the strong streak of UAE Team Emirates continues at the Giro di Sicilia with Alessandro Covi coming close to victory today, taking 2nd place on the hilly transfer on stage 3 from Termini Imerese to Caronia (180km).

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde finishes ahead of Alessandro Covi. Sirotti photo.

In the closing stages, it was Brandon McNulty who hit out for home with 1.5km to go to soften things up for Covi, who stayed in the wheels of the Movistar train right until the final metres, with former World Champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) holding off for the victory.

Covi now sits 2nd overall on GC behind Valverde and will wear the white jersey as leader of the young riders classification.

Tomorrow stage 4 will take the riders from Sant’Agata di Militello to Mascali (180km) with two categorised climb to tackle.

Covi: “I’m pleased but really I would have liked to have taken the first victory as a professional today. In the sprint maybe I should have hit out a bit earlier before the two corners in the last 100m but saying it now doesn’t change the result and it’s still a good second place behind a great champion like Valverde. Big thanks to my teammates and to the team who trusted me today.”

Here's the report from 5th-place Romain Bardet's Team DSM:

The penultimate day of racing at the Giro di Sicilia saw the peloton take on the first and only uphill finish of the race, with a three kilometre climb to Caronia settling the day. Before reaching the finale, the bunch were faced with a 180 kilometre long parcours and over 3000 metres of climbing; making for a challenging day in the saddle.

It was an attacking start to the day but proceedings quickly settled down, with an eight rider group forming out front and all Team DSM riders in the peloton. The break managed to build up an advantage of almost four minutes but with it being the first stage for the GC riders and climbers, the peloton were always in control and slowly started to reel them in throughout the day. Over the summit of the penultimate ascent it was all back together, with the pace increasing in the bunch.

Some good work saw the team well positioned towards the front of the bunch, protecting Romain Bardet, who managed to get up in the intermediate sprint to take one bonus second. Approaching the final ascent, the team held their position well, moving forward as a unit before the gradients started to bite. On the punchy kick to the line, Bardet gave it his all to the finish and ended the stage in a good fifth place, with Thymen Arensman impressing and finishing on the same time in 14th.

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet after stage 14 of the 2021 Vuelta a España. Sirotti photo

Tomorrow sees the peloton take on the final stage of the race, with the tough HC climb of Sciara di Scorciavacca cresting at 17 kilometres to go before a mostly downhill run, and a flat final few kilometres to the line.

“We approached the last short climb in a very good way as a team and the guys looked after me well,” explained Bardet. “I then missed a bit of wisdom to position myself well for the sprint but we’ve got one more stage to go and are motivated for it.”

Team DSM coach Luke Roberts added: “Today’s stage in Sicily was quite challenging. It started out with some tough terrain for the first 80 kilometres with a lot of climbing, and some technical descents going into the second half of the stage. In the last hour there was quite a big climb where the pace was forced. Our guys supported Romain well over that. Towards the final climb we still had five guys there in the reduced bunch and helped set up Romain to have a good go on the three and a half kilometre climb to the finish. Unfortunately, the ascent was maybe a bit too flat and high speed for Romain to really make the difference there in the last part, but he’s come in with a good fifth place. It keeps us up there in the top five and in contention for a good GC result tomorrow.”

Team BikeExchange announces Paris-Roubaix team

The team sent me this update:

Team BikeExchange return to Paris-Roubaix with a mixture of youth and experience in their ranks for the penultimate Monument of the season.

The squad will be led by Luke Durbridge, in his seventh edition of the ‘Hell of the North’, and New Zealander Jack Bauer, who will tackle his eighth Roubaix on Sunday.

Dane Chris Juul-Jensen and Kiwi Sam Bewley add further experience to the team line-up, with Rob Stannard set to get his second taste of the French Monument. Rounding out the roster will be debutants Alexander Konychev and Barnabás Peák.  

The 257km classic needs little introduction, with the peloton set to tackle 31 brutal cobbled sectors before reaching the famous velodrome in Roubaix.

Team BikeExchange at Paris-Roubaix :
Jack Bauer (NZL)
Sam Bewley (NZL)
Luke Durbridge (AUS)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Alexander Konychev (ITA)
Barnabás Peák (HUN)
Robert Stannard (AUS)

Jack Bauer

Jack Bauer racing in stage 19 of the 2019 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

Luke Durbridge:
“Paris-Roubaix is always an exciting race for me. It’s going to be my seventh time and I want to give it my best shot this year. I haven’t done Roubaix since 2018 and I am happy we are back here. Everybody knows the race is really unpredictable, anything can happen, and you always need to be focused.

"We have a strong line-up, with a good combination of experienced riders and younger ones, who can hopefully learn for the future. Our aim is to be part of the game at any time. We have been working hard all year long, but we can’t hide it has been a tough season for us so far.

"The aim is to keep pushing and giving our best, we will do the same this weekend and look to turn things around and bring home a strong result for the team.”

Mathew Hayman (Sport Director):
“Looking forward to this year's Paris-Roubaix, we line-up with Luke Durbridge as our ‘leader’ together with Jack Bauer. Both of them have had good performances in the last few weeks in Luxemburg, Benelux and Frankfurt.

"We are confident we can be competitive here. The weather of course is always unpredictable, and the recon will be really important for the likes of Barnabás Peák and Alexander Konychev who will make their debuts this weekend.

Nobody has raced here since 2019, so it will be good to have a mix of experienced riders who can also lead the younger guys. We will look to animate the race as much as possible, it’s always a hard race and any moment can be important. We will need to be focused and ready to be aggressive.”

2021 Paris-Roubaix - Race Details:
Sunday, 3rd October: Compiegne – Roubaix, 257km

Team Deceuninck-Quick Step headed to Paris-Roubaix

Here’s the team’s news release:

Paris-Roubaix is back after 903 long days. Cancelled in 2020 for the first time in almost eight decades and rescheduled this year, the “Queen of the Classics” will take place at the beginning of October – a first in its 125-year history, but other than that there are no significant changes for this 118th edition.

Starting from Compiègne and finishing on the iconic Roubaix velodrome, the French Monument will run over 257.7 kilometers and feature 30 cobblestone sectors, including the five-star rated Trouée d’Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre. The last of these – which will be preceded by the ancient Roman road of Camphin-en-Pévèle – will be tackled inside the final 20 kilometers and could be again the springboard to victory, as it happened so many times in the past.

Kasper Asgreen

Kasper Asgreen (shown winning the 2021 Tour of Flanders) will ride Paris-Roubaix. Sirotti photo

Deceuninck – Quick-Step will bring to the start a strong team, comprising riders who between them have won eight cobbled Classics: Ronde van Vlaanderen champion Kasper Asgreen, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Davide Ballerini, Tim Declercq, two-time Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Yves Lampaert – third at the previous edition of Paris-Roubaix – Florian Sénéchal, Zdenek Stybar, runner-up here in 2015 and 2017, and Bert Van Lerberghe.

“We are happy that Paris-Roubaix is finally back. It will be an interesting edition, because being held in October means that the weather could play an important role in the outcome. If the riders will have to race in rain here after almost two decades, it will completely change the scenario. We have a strong team, with many riders fresh off the World Championships. It’s obvious we hold several cards to play and we’ll try to do our best to get a good result”, explained Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels.

Here's Team Bahrain Victorious' Paris-Roubaix participation announcement:

The Queen of the Classics finally returns. After last year’s edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this 118th edition rescheduled to October, from its traditional slot in April, now the long-awaited moment has arrived.

On Sunday, October 3rd, Paris-Roubaix will be back with its 55km of cobblestones spread out over 30 sectors, including the confirmed legendary five stars rated Trouée d’Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle and the Carrefour de l’Arbre, for a total distance of 257.7km from Compiègne to the iconic finish at Roubaix velodrome.

The nickname Hell of the North couldn’t be even more appropriate this year, as it will probably be a rainy day. It hasn’t rained since 2002, but a wet Paris-Roubaix is something a massive classics expert like Heinrich Haussler – twice top ten finisher and at his fourteen participation – is looking for: “It would be the next level. I’m not saying I wish for it, but it’s something I like to have sooner or later. Have a real wet, muddy race. Get into the velodrome completely full of mud and dirt, belongs to the race and its history. For me, Paris-Roubaix is, without doubt, by far the hardest race on the calendar, and that’s why it means so much to me. It’s so brutal as you push your body to the absolute limit. I love this hardness of the race. It really motivates me. The best approach is to have a fighting spirit and never give up”.

Marcel Sieberg

Marcel Sieberg checking out the cobbles of the 2014 edition of Paris-Roubaix. Sirotti photo

Regarding the experience at this race, Bahrain Victorious team will also count on Marcel Sieberg, who will end his 17 years long career at the Roubaix, notably the race where he took an impressive 7th place in 2016 and where he will be at the start for the 14th time.

Both riders will offer precious advice to race debutant, Sonny Colbrelli: “I’m excited to debut at Roubaix. I came from an intense period, culminated with the World Champs last Sunday. I’m trying to stay focus one week more, knowing that I will have to face something far from easy. I tasted the pavé on a Tour de France stage, but it can’t be compared to my absolute first time on this race. It’s something totally new that I want to try, as it is so different from other races. More than ever, you have to be lucky not to have any mechanical issues, flat tyres or crashes. I’m really looking forward to riding it”.

It will not be a real debut for Fred Wright, as he rode the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs in 2019 and Juniors in 2016-2017, and Jonathan Milan as he participated in the Juniors edition of the race in 2018. Those experiences made both young athletes falling in love with the cobbles and having the Paris-Roubaix as their favourite race. A race that no doubt also suits them and that they dream of winning in the future.

Bahrain Victorious SD Rolf Aldag: “We did the recon of the second half of the race today on pretty dry cobbles. Nothing of what we can expect on Sunday. It will be even more important to enter the cobbles in the front to take the race on, and riders need to be super focused. You need to control the race and avoid situations in which it can get out of your hands. We know that we have excellent equipment for rainy conditions and that gives our riders much more confidence. They are thrilled about this race and motivated. At his last race before retirement, Sieberg wants to show what he’s capable of doing and can be the key helper towards the finale for positioning the team. Milan will be fundamental at the beginning of the race, where attacks go off on the tarmac, and all the others basically have the chance to get into the finale. As a team, we can ride offensively, we can try to anticipate the race. We can also try to get into groups, because it will be much easier if you are in the leading small group to enter the cobbles, rather than having a big group sprinting to the pavé sector. All riders are in perfect shape and could join an attack. The goal will be to take a strong result”.

Bahrain Victorious lineup for Paris-Roubaix: Sonny Colbrelli, Marco Haller, Heinrich Haussler, Jonathan Milan, Matej Mohorič, Marcel Sieberg, Fred Wright.

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