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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 18, 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.

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. - Emily Dickinson


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Tour de Luxembourg stage four reports

We posted the report from stage winner Mattia Cattaneo's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the stage four report from the race organizer:

During the fourth stage of the SkodaTour Luxembourg, the riders had to compete in a 25.4 km individual time-trial, which started and finished in the heart of Dudelange.

It was obvious that this time-trial would probably be decisive in the battle for the overall victory. The profile was far from flat, the 1.5 km climb of the Poteau de Kayl presented a real challenge.

Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck) was the strongest, finishing the stage in 30’52” with an advantage of 2" on his teammate Joao Almeida (Deceuninck) and 26” on Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek).

Mattia Cattaneo

Mattia Cattaneo was the day's fastest rider.

Almeida took over the yellow jersey of the overall leader from Marc Hirschi (UAE Emirates) and has now an advantage of 43" on the Swiss rider. Cattaneo is third, 50" back.

Mattia Cattaneo: “I am very happy, also for Joao (Almeida) and my squad. In this team it is quite easy to become a time trial specialist. I like this discipline. It was the perfect day for us. Tomorrow we will fight to defend Joao’s yellow jersey and to take the overall victory.”

Joao Almeida: “I was really happy with my legs. I gained more time on Marc Hirschi than I expected. Tomorrow is the last day and we will do everything to keep the yellow jersey. It will be a difficult stage, for sure, but we will play all the cards.”

Michael Valgren extends with EF Educaton-Nippo

The team sent me this news:

Michael Valgren is excited to wear pink a while longer. We’re thrilled to announce that the 29-year-old has extended his contract with the team.

EF Education-NIPPO is particularly happy to have Valgren on board after his recent performance at the Giro della Toscana. Valgren rode to victory in Tuscany yesterday and made history at the race as the first Danish rider to win it.

Michael Valgren

Michael Valgren winning this year's Coppa Sabatini.

“This was a race for climbers and I’m not really a climber so I had to dig really deep. This was definitely special,” said Valgren.

“I feel like I understand the team and the team understands me. I can’t wait to keep walking down this path,” he said. 

The Dane vet had a busy summer. Most recently, he earned himself a spot on Denmark’s Olympic team and traveled to Tokyo. “It was always my dream. I was honored to represent Denmark there,” said Valgren.

Prior to the Olympics, he took on another massive effort: the Tour de France. Valgren has ridden the Tour six times before, but he said the latest edition was one of his most memorable.

“It was sweet to come into that particular group. Since day one, the communication was so good and super professional. At moments it was so fun,” he said.

As you might have noticed, Valgren is usually sporting a smile — both on and off the bike. He attributes this to the camaraderie he feels like not only with the riders, but also with the team’s support staff and in particular the sport directors on the team. “I work really well with Andreas Klier and he’s been taking good care of me. Ken and Charly have been so helpful too. I'm really grateful for that,” said Valgren.

Someone that Valgren has become particularly close with is Magnus Cort, another fellow Dane and rider at this year’s Tour de France. Cort will also be riding alongside Valgren in 2022.

“Magnus is someone I've bonded with and we know each other really well now. We can have really good races together,” said Valgren.

As for now, you can keep your eyes out for Valgren at the Eurométropole Tour. The Classics man is also on the team’s shortlist for the team’s Paris-Roubaix roster.

“I’m looking forward to the many good moments to come with this team. I feel like I understand the team and the team understands me. I can’t wait to keep walking down this path,” said Valgren.

Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen team reports 

We posted the report from second-place Dylan Groenewegen's Jumbo-Visma team with the results.

Martin Laas’ Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

The 105th edition of the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen was held on a 15 kilometer long circuit around Koolskamp which had to be completed 13 times. The mostly flat course seemed to be perfectly suited for the sprinters. After the first lap, a group of 7 riders could break away from the peloton and keep a time gap of about one minute over the main peloton. Within the last lap, the escapers were finally caught and it came down to a sprint out of a big group with all the favorite sprinters in it. Also the BORA-hansgrohe riders showed themselves at the very front of the race to prepare for the sprint. After a strong leadout by his teammates, Martin Laas was able to sprint to a third place in a fast and hectic sprint.

Jasper philipsen

Jasper Philipsen wins the 2021 Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen.

From the Finish Line:
"The race went as we planned today, we were expecting a small group to breakaway, which was perfect for me so I could stay in the peloton and save my energy for the sprint. In the last 50k's it was quite stressful and I also punctured two laps before the finish, so that cost me a bit of energy. But the team did a great job and took great care of me. After the leadout, I launched my sprint but I needed to stop pedaling for a second to not risk a crash. Even if that cost me a bit of momentum I am still happy with my third place and about the team's support today." – Martin Laas

"Today we fully concentrated on the sprint. With a 3rd place by Martin in the end, our tactics worked out very well today. The team worked really well together all day and did a great leadout. The other two riders were simply stronger today, so the 3rd place is perfectly fine and we can be satisfied with our performance."  – André Schulze, Sports Director

Here's the Championship of Flanders report from Team DSM:

The string of Belgian one-day races continued for the team at Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen today. Taking place over 13 laps of a 15 kilometre long circuit, which featured a mostly flat parcours around the town of Koolskamp and the surrounding area, it was set to be a fast day out.

A break of seven managed to escape directly after the neutralised zone, and with all Team DSM riders in the peloton, focus remained on staying safe and saving energy for later in the day. The breakaway’s advantage reached a maximum of two minutes, where the peloton held it steady and slowly began to reel them in throughout the race. Heading onto the last lap the break was almost all but caught, with Jasha Sütterlin bringing the team forward and into a good position for the narrow and twisty roads.

With a fresh peloton the fight for position was fierce and the “washing machine effect” was in full display, as teams and riders came to the front and then went backwards. In the hectic final few kilometres the team tried to move forward to position finisher Alberto Dainese, dropping him off on Fabio Jakobsen’s wheel. However, as the sprint was about to open up Dainese got swamped and he was unable to compete for a result at the finish.

“The race was pretty easy, with other teams controlling it all day,” explained Dainese. “As it was easier earlier, the final was then really fast and crazy. The guys committed to put me in the front but at a few kilometres to go we were a little bit behind the facts. Max did a good pull to put me on the back wheel of Jakobsen in the last roundabout, but his team stayed in the middle and we got swamped from both sides. In the end I couldn’t really sprint which is a shame but we’ll go for the next one on Sunday.”

Team DSM coach Michiel Elijzen added: “It was a quiet race in the beginning. The break went away and then it was controlled by the other sprint teams and with no wind and a pretty easy parcorus, everyone in the peloton was pretty fresh coming into the finish. We tried to bring Alberto into a good position, going into the last kilometres. He was in the wheel of Fabio Jakobsen when the sprint started to open up but his team got a bit in the mix and we couldn’t really sprint. It can happen though and we’ll try again on Sunday for a top result.”

Team BikeExchange to race Eschborn-Frankfurt

The team sent me this:

Australian Michael Matthews will headline a strong Team BikeExchange squad at the one-day Eschborn-Frankfurt.

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews finishing stage three of this year's Paris-Nice. ASO photo

Leadout man Luka Mezgec will be looking to guide his teammate to victory in Germany, while an in-form Luke Durbridge continues his World Championships preparation after an impressive showing at the Benelux Tour.

The rest of the team return to racing after the Vuelta a Espana, with Lucas Hamilton, Rob Stannard, Damien Howson and Nick Schultz all completing the three-week Spanish Grand Tour earlier this month.

Luka Mezgec:
“My shape is quite good still after the Vuelta, I’ve had a nice 10 days of recovery, then I did one big training ride. It’s a bit hard to start the engine, but after four hours I start feeling really good and that’s good for the race that is coming up on Sunday.

"I think it’s a good race for the team and it’s the last preparation race before the Worlds, a lot of guys who are doing the Worlds are racing in Frankfurt. After so many stage races this summer, it’s important to do a one-day classic before the Worlds.

"It’s good preparation as well as the opportunity for a good result. As a team we have the goal to be very aggressive, we won’t just wait for the sprint, we will go on the offensive. If it happens to be a sprint we have a good option with Michael, we worked well together in the Vuelta and the Tour, so I’m looking forward to it if there’s a leadout job for me.”

Matt White (Sports Director):
“This is the first time the team has done this race and we will be looking to leave an impression come Sunday.

"Michael Matthews will be leading the group and we are definitely looking for a good placing in one of our last Word tour events of the season.”

2021 Eschborn-Frankfurt – Race Details:
Sunday, 19th September: Eschborn – Frankfurt-am-Main (187.5km)

More than half of Deceuninck-Quick Step riders to race World Championships

Here’s the team’s update:

Julian Alaphilippe, Rémi Cavagna and Florian Sénéchal, (France), João Almeida (Portugal), Shane Archbold (New Zealand), Kasper Asgreen and Mikkel Honoré (Denmark), Tim Declercq, Remco Evenepoel and Yves Lampaert (Belgium), Davide Ballerini (Italy), Sam Bennett (Ireland), Mark Cavendish (United Kingdom), Alvaro Hodeg (Colombia), Josef Cerny and Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic) – riders who between them have scored close to 50 wins for Deceuninck – Quick-Step since the start of the season – will all be present at the World Championships held between 19-26 September in cycling’s heartland, Flanders.

Julian Alaphilippe

2020 winner Julian Alaphilippe will again be on the line racing for France. Sirotti photo

Of these, Asgreen, Cavagna, Cerny and Evenepoel will be in action also Sunday, on the opening day of the competition, when they’ll roll down the ramp for the 43.3km flat individual time trial between Knokke-Heist and Bruges, which Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels previewed.

“It’s a parcours that suits our guys. Remco has the advantage of riding at home and he’s confident after the European Championships. Kasper, as the winner of Ronde van Vlaanderen, is used to the atmosphere of the races here in Belgium and will be very motivated, as will Rémi and Josef. The parcours is long but not technical, so they have a solid chance of fighting for a good result.”

Tom Steels talked also about the road race, which has more than 40 climbs crammed in its 268.3 kilometers: “The event is a really long one, and will be technical especially in Leuven, as those final 30 kilometers will be very hard. Julian will come to the start motivated and has a chance of defending his title on this up-and-down route which brings many rhythm changes and will be difficult to control. Riding on home turf means the pressure will be big on the Belgian riders, but Tim and Yves have the experience to guide the others. The way the race will unfold will also show what role Remco will have in function of the Belgian team.”

Since the team was created, back in 2003, four Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders have won the prestigious rainbow jersey in the road race on five occasions – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2020 – making our squad the only one this century to have had so many different victors at the World Championships.

Jumbo-Visma signs Linda Riedmann and Noemi Rüegg

The team sent me this update:

German Linda Riedmann and Swiss Noemi Rüegg will strengthen the Team Jumbo Visma Women selection in 2022. The young talents both sign for two years with the Dutch formation.

The 18-year-old Riedmann, brand new European junior champion, is looking forward to the switch. “It feels like a great opportunity to develop myself and learn from experienced riders. The step to the elite class is a big one, but I am confident that this team can guide me in the right way. It is a very professional environment with a family atmosphere. At the first test training I immediately felt at home and at ease. My recent victory at the EC has given me extra confidence for next season. I am looking forward to being part of the team and competing for victories together.”

The 20-year-old Rüegg comes from cyclocross. This season she finished on the podium among the elite women at the Swiss National Championships and she won the youth classification at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. “It’s a dream come true to ride with this team. I can still learn so much there in terms of race preparation, tactics, nutrition and equipment. I’m going to do everything I can to keep growing and contribute to the team goals. My strength is my punch. I love it when it goes up and down all day. I want to get the best out of myself, keep developing and it would be nice to be able to compete for wins in the World Tour peloton one day.”

At Team Jumbo-Visma, talent recognition and talent development go hand in hand with top sport. Team manager Esra Tromp is therefore very enthusiastic about the young assets and has great confidence in the development of both riders. “Linda and Noemi are still young, but have enormous potential. The next two years will be about learning. Linda will make the transition from the juniors to the elite peloton next year. That will undoubtedly be a big step and as a team we will guide her carefully. Noemi stood out to us because of her attacking way of racing. Her technical skills from the cross and her guts will take her far in a professional environment. There is still a lot of room for development for both riders. This season we have seen some of our current riders make great strides. We are very proud of that. For Linda and Noemi we see that possibility as well.”

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