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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, September 16, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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

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Tour de Luxembourg stage two reports

We posted the report from winner Marc Hirschi's UAE Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the race organizer's report:

On Wednesday, the second stage of the SkodaTour Luxembourg took place, marking the queen stage over a distance of 186,1 km and no less than seven categorized climbs. On the last 50 kilometres, the Côte d’Eschdorf had to be tackled three times. The finish line was located 800 m behind the last climb, where Marc Hirschi (UAE Emirates) won the race, 8 seconds ahead of second placed Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and third placed David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ).

Marc Hirschi

Marc Hirschi wins stage two. UAE Team Emirates photo

Hirschi also took over the yellow jersey from the Portuguese rider Almeida, who had worn it after his victory on the first stage. In the overall classification, Hirschi now has an advantage of 4 seconds on Almeida. Gaudu is third, 19 seconds back.

Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels), Kenny Molly (Bingoal), Adam de Vos (Rally) and Kamil Gradek (Vini Zabu) formed the breakaway group of the day after the start in Steinfort. Schönberger and Molly were already in the leading group on the first stage and fought for the jersey of the best climbers classification, which Molly defended successfully.

A little bit less than 30 km before the finish, the leading group was caught and in the last lap, Anthony Turgis (Total Energies) took the lead. But he had no chance when the main favourites accelerated the pace. Hirschi attacked early. At the beginning, Nairo Quintana (Arkéa) tried to follow, but the Swiss rider was the strongest in the end.

Marc Hirschi: “I picked up the pace on the last climb and saw that there was a gap. That’s why I attacked again and gave full gas until the finish. I’m just getting into great shape and I’m happy to have won again after almost one year. Of course I will try to defend the yellow jersey, but it will be hard because the competitors are very strong.”

Here's the report from second-place Joao Almeida's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Seven classified climbs, lashing rain and slippery roads made for an attritional day in the saddle at the Tour de Luxembourg, which got off to a quiet start before things became more hectic in the final 30 kilometers. Victorious on the opening stage and clad in the leader’s yellow jersey, João Almeida was surrounded by his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates, who took over the reins and kept in check the four men who animated the 186.1km stage.

Joao Almieda

Joao Almeida winning the first stage.

Mattia Cattaneo, Dries Devenyns, Fausto Masnada, Pieter Serry and Mauri Vansevenant did again a wonderful job in the service of Almeida, pegging back the breakaway with around 30 kilometers to go and helping the Portuguese pick up three important bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint. Soon after, the pace went up again and one rider put the pressure on the overall leader of the race, but the Wolfpack was again there, duly making up ground and reeling in the lone attacker at the base of the final climb, one averaging 8.4% over 3.1 kilometers.

A flurry of attacks whittled down the group to just a handful of riders, and Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) took advantage of this to go clear on the steepest section and solo to a victory that landed him the yellow jersey on his shoulders. Almeida led the chasing group over the line eight seconds behind and took runner-up in Eschdorf, a result that saw him slip to second in the overall standings but keep hold of the points jersey.

“It was a hard day and the goal was to not lose too much time. The team was great and I am grateful for how they rode for me, nullifying the breakaway and protecting me perfectly. I’m content with how things went on this tough parcours that didn’t give any moment of respite and with the fact that at the end of the day the gaps are small, that’s the most important thing”, said João after the podium ceremony.

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert reports on Giro della Toscana

We posted the report from winner Michael Valgren's EF Education-Nippo team with the results.

This Wednesday, Italian rider Lorenzo Rota, lover of one day races, stood out in the Giro della Toscana (1.1, 15/09), the opening race of the Italian end of the season classics. The race of 191 kilometer brought the riders around Pontadera (Pisa) in two loops. The southern circuit was relatively flat and followed by a northern lap with the Monte Serra (8.4km at 7%), repeated twice.

It was after the first passage on the Monte Serra, where the early breakaway was caught, that Lorenzo Rota chose to anticipate by attacking with two Colombians from EF. Afterwards, the rider from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert was among the best ones uphill and remained in a group of around twenty riders on the second passage of the Monte Serra, with the top situated 25 kilometer before the finish. After winner Valgren and chaser De Marchi, who both escaped in the final flat kilometers, Rota sprinted to 2nd place of the casing group, securing 4th place.

Michael Valgren

Michael Valgren winning this year's Giro della Toscana. Sirotti photo

“I felt mentally and physically fresh after a week of rest at the end of a busy period with the Tour de France, San Sebastian and the Tour de Pologne. I trained for two weeks in Tignes, on altitude, where I focused on climbing and power. This training was fruitful as I felt ready to come back in competition and performed well today. Tactically the final was not easy today, because EF outnumbered the other teams. They attacked one by one and it wasn't possible to follow all attempts of those four riders. So with Valerio Piva we thought the best option was to focus on the sprint. In the end, I finished close to the podium. Even if it was possible to get a better result, I'm very satisfied about my performance which is promising for the next races.” - Lorenzo Rota

“It was nice to see how strong Lorenzo Rota was. He was third on top of the first passage of the Monte Serra and then accompanies Higuita and Uran in an attack. I was not convinced that this breakaway would be successful, so I recommended Lorenzo to stay calm. He could rely on the work of Jérémy Bellicaud on the foot of the second passage and the climb was only a little too long for Jan Hirt to stay in the first group on top of the second passage. Taking into account the long run towards the finish, we chose to focus on Lorenzo's abilities in a group sprint. His 4th place was a confirmation of his good legs!” - Valerio Piva (Sports Director)

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