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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 10, 2021

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example. - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

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Tour of Britain's stage five team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Ethan Hayter's INEOS Grenadiers team with the results.

Here's the report from Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team:

Wout van Aert has been unable to sprint for the places of honours due to an unfortunate moment in the final phase of the fifth stage of the Tour of Britain. The Belgian champion ended up behind a crash. Partly due to that setback, Van Aert lost the leader’s jersey.

With five riders in the breakaway the stage to Warrington took a traditional course. The peloton was in control all day and caught the five riders in time.

Nothing stood in the way of a bunch sprint. After several riders crashed in the final corner, Van Aert was forced to abandon his sprint ambitions. The Belgian had to hit the brakes and lost so much speed that it was impossible to continue the sprint. Thanks to the bonification seconds, day winner Ethan Hayter took over the blue leader’s jersey from Van Aert.

Ethan Hayter

Ethan Hayter wins stage five. Photo: Getty Images.

“I’m especially happy that I didn’t suffer any physical damage”, a relieved Van Aert said. “I my mind, I was well placed in the last kilometre. I chose the wheel of Mark Cavendish. It was hectic. The road surface was wet and that also caused some riders to crash. I was able to hit the brakes just in time to make sure I didn’t crash. Unfortunately, after this incident the chances for a sprint disappeared immediately. The goal for today was to defend the jersey. But the most important thing is to avoid unnecessary risks. With regard to what’s still to come, I’m happy that I arrived at the finish in one piece", Van Aert concluded.

Sports director Jan Boven had mixed feelings about the stage. “It’s never fun to lose the leader’s jersey. The whole day the race situation went according to plan. The final was chaotic. We had done our homework well. We knew there were some dangerous corners in the course. Unfortunately, in the last corner a rider slipped, which meant Wout had no chance in the sprint. In the end, we count our blessings and are relieved that Wout is unharmed.”

Here's the report from second-place Giacomo Nizzolo's Team Qhubeka-NextHash:

Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) won stage 5 of the Tour of Britain, taking the win just ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka NextHash) with Dan Mclay (Arkea Samsic) in 3rd place.

Giacomo Nizzolo

Giacomo Nizzolo after winning stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo.

Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain was a 150km route from Alderely Park to Warrington. After a few initial undulations, the final 80km of the stage was mostly flat which made it a great opportunity for the sprinters.

Team Qhubeka NextHash looked to make the most of this opportunity with the European Champion, Nizzolo one of the favourites for the stage. Five riders formed the early break of the day, but as expected, they were not given much of an advantage.

Nicholas Dlamini, together with a rider from Deceuninck-Quickstep and Israel Start-Up Nation controlled the gap throughout the day. It was then Qhubeka NextHash that took responsibility, adding Mauro Schmid and Sean Bennett to the chase with 25km to go to shut down the break.

The finale was made trickier due to a brief but late downpour which, making the roads quite slippery. Just inside of a kilometer to go, there was a crash right up near the front of the peloton. This created a slight split in the peloton which Nizzolo was caught behind.

Fortunately for Nizzolo, Barbero was there in support to close the gap, but it was still a significant effort required just before kicking to the line. Almost as soon as Nizzolo got dropped off he had to launch his sprint from far to try and pass those that escaped the crash ahead of him before the line arrived.

Nizzolo had the superior speed over the final meters and was able to pass everyone that but Hayter, who just held on to take the stage victory.

Here's the report from Team DSM:

After tackling the longest stage of the race yesterday, the Tour of Britain peloton were in action for the shortest road stage of the week today, with 152 kilometres from Alderley Park to Warrington contend with. Despite some early climbs, the flatter finale lent itself to a fast finale and the first full bunch sprint finish of the race.

It was a relatively steady start to the action with a five rider breakaway escaping after ten kilometres of racing, and all Team DSM riders in the bunch. The group out front built a lead that reached a maximum of just over three minutes but as the afternoon progressed, they were slowly reeled in by the peloton. Working well as a group, the team moved forward en masse to try and position finisher Nils Eekhoff for the fast gallop to the line. On the rain-soaked and fast run in, the team did well to drop Eekhoff off on the wheels of the other sprint trains, with Tim Naberman acting as last pilot fish.

Nil Eekhoff

Nils Eekhoff winning the U-23 Mens World Champonships in 2019.

Eekhoff then followed the riders in front and was poised in a great position inside the last kilometres. However, when going around a roundabout at around 700 metres to go, a few riders slipped out in front of Eekhoff, forcing another rider to unclip who then unfortunately closed the gap between Eekhoff and the barriers, with both riders involved in a crash. Thankfully, Eekhoff was able to get back on his bike OK and complete the stage but a chance of a good result was gone. Mark Donovan and Nicholas Roche hold onto their GC placings in ninth and 11th respectively ahead of tomorrow’s stage.

“With today’s finish promising to be a sprint we saved as much energy during the race as possible,” explained Naberman. “Our initial plan was to go for a sprint with Max but unfortunately he didn’t feel his best on the bike today so we made a change of plans and prepared for a sprint with Nils. After the hilly section we came together and slowly made our way to the front with Mark doing some early positioning. We stayed calm in the front and started moving up with around ten kilometres to go. Going towards the end Nils and I stayed together, and Romain came to us and together we positioned Nils behind the first lead out train going into the last kilometre. Unfortunately, he crashed in the last corner which meant we were not able to go for the top result we were fighting for but it’s good to see he’s OK. Personally, I really enjoyed doing my first proper sprint preparation at WorldTour level, and staying together with Nils until one kilometre to go.”

Team DSM coach Phil West added: “We anticipated a day for the sprinters today and so had made the plan to sprint with Max. Unfortunately, Max had some stomach trouble during the stage and was in some difficulty, so we then made the switch to go for Nils. Again the guys did a super job, already with the original plan they were tight as unit and then worked super well together to bring Nils into the final kilometre in a great position. Unfortunately, there was a crash directly in front of him around the last corner at 700 metres to go. Several riders came down leaving Nils nowhere to go and he touched down hard but thankfully he is OK. That aside, again it was a good day for the team and the way the guys are working together as a unit here is really nice to see.”

European Time Trial Championships reports

We posted the organizers reports with the results.

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

European Time Trial Champion in his first pro season, Remco Evenepoel returned at the start of the competition which he missed last season through injury and averaged more than 54km/h on the flat 22.4km course on his way to a solid third place, just a couple of days after stomach problems forced him to retire from the Benelux Tour.

Remco Evenpoel

Remco Evenpoel winning stage three of the Tour of Denmark.

The winner of this year’s Belgium Tour and Danmark Rundt was one of the four Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders present in Trento – alongside Portuguese National ITT Champion João Almeida, Kasper Asgreen, and 2020 silver medalist Rémi Cavagna – and the last one to roll down the ramp Thursday afternoon. A solid ride in the opening kilometers saw him go through the race’s only intermediate checkpoint just one second off the pace, but the strong headwind in the second half didn’t play into his favour, and the Belgian stopped the clock in 24:44 – 15 seconds from first place.

The result earned him the bronze medal, behind Stefan Kung (Switzerland) and Filippo Ganna (Italy), and boosted his confidence ahead of Sunday’s 179.2km road race, which will feature a string of hard climbs and over 4000 vertical meters.

“It wasn’t a parcours that suit me, as I prefer longer time trials, but it’s no shame to lose against those two guys, I knew they were the men to beat today and were really strong. The route favoured the heavier guys, especially with that headwind in the second part, but I did my best and gave everything for a good result. It’s my second medal of the season after the one at the Nationals and another step in the right direction. I’m very happy to be again among the best in the world in this discipline after a ride that will give me more confidence for my next goals”, an upbeat Evenepoel said after Thursday’s race.

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