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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, September 20, 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 you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered. - Edgar Allan Poe

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Tony Martin calls it a day after 14 years in pro peloton

Martin’s Jumbo-Visma team sent me this announcement:

Tony Martin will say goodbye to professional cycling after the World Championships time trial and Mixed Relay in Belgium. The four-time world champion time trial shared this decision today on his website and social media channels. The German rider (36) has told the team management of Team Jumbo-Visma after the Tour de France that he didn’t want to fulfil his one year ongoing contract.

Among the many other victories on Martin’s impressive palmares are five (individual) stages in the Tour de France, the win in the GC of Paris-Nice and 10 German TT titles. Moreover, ‘Der Panzerwagen’ impressed with thousands of kilometres at the head of the peloton in support of his teammates.

Tony Martin

Tony Martin time-trialing to victory in the 2011 Paris-Nice.

This is the message Martin shared on his channels, just before he started the final preparations for the individual time trial at the World Championships today:

"Today I want to announce that the upcoming time trial and mixed relay World Championships will be the last races in my career. Such a far-reaching decision is of course not easy to make. Cycling has been a large part of my life for a long time, with highs and lows, big successes and losses, crashes and comebacks. What many young riders dream of, I have achieved. In the last few months I have been thinking more about what is to come after cycling. The bad crashes this year have also caused me to question whether I am ready to continue to face the risks that our sport involve. I have decided that I do not want to, especially since race safety has not improved despite the many discussions about courses and barriers. Hopefully the cycling world will listen to the plans presented by my team and other teams.

"Therefore I want to be fair to myself, my family and all my colleagues and end my career as a pro cyclist. I want to say farewell in a fitting manner at the Worlds TT, which I won four times. I have trained hard for it.

"I’d like to thank Team Jumbo-Visma for its support the last three years and the opportunity to end my career in this way, as I have wished. I also want to express my deepest thanks to my family, my friends, my fans and all colleagues. Without you I could not have lived my dream and I will never forget you!"

World Individual Time Trial Championships reports

We posted the report from winner Filippo Ganna's INEOS Grenadiers with the results.

Second-place Wout Van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team posted this report:

Wout van Aert has won the silver medal at the World Championships time trial. The Belgian finished just five seconds behind Filippo Ganna, who extended his world title.

Wout Van Aert

Wout Van Aert riding to second place. Sirotti photo

Tony Martin finished sixth in his very last World Time Trial Championship, while Edoardo Affini and Jos van Emden finished ninth and 12th respectively.

Van Aert set the best time at both the first and second measuring points. In the final stretch Ganna managed to close the gap and Van Aert had to settle for silver. It is the second consecutive silver medal at the World Time Trial Championships for the Belgian road champion.

According to the vice world champion he has nothing to reproach himself for. “I was beaten by Ganna. He’s a very good time trialist and even more of a time trial specialist than I am. Seeing how close I end up behind him I should really just be happy. It’s a top result, but I was very close to that rainbow jersey. That makes it a little bit disappointing.”

Van Aert will be the leader next week in the road race of the World Championships in the Flemish town of Leuven. “This week I’m going to prepare myself well for the road race next Sunday. I have a lot of confidence in it. Today the crowd was really fantastic. It was great to see people standing along the side of the road. I think we will see the same scenes next week. I’m really looking forward to that.”

Tony Martin

Tony Martin riding the penultimate race of his long career. Sirotti photo.

Four-time world time trial champion Martin could only just hold back his tears, just before the start of his second-to-last race as a professional cyclist. “It was difficult for a few seconds when I was on the starting podium and heard the reaction of the people when my name was called. Then I could focus on the time trial again, but it was definitely an emotional day for me. I enjoyed today with all these great fans along the track. It’s a great way to end my great career, but first I’m going to give it all in the Mixed Relay on Wednesday.”

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

Remco Evenepoel was in Brugge Sunday afternoon, not to visit the nooks and crannies in the Koningin Astridpark, but to receive a well-deserved bronze medal at the end of the first race of the World Championships – the flat 43.3km individual time trial.

Remco Evenepoel

Remco Evenpoel riding to third place. Sirotti photo

Runner-up in his first participation two years ago in his first pro season, Remco returned to the start after missing the 2020 competition through injury, and was the first of the big names to roll down the ramp in Knokke-Heiste, getting raucous cheers and an extra kick of adrenaline from the huge crowds that gathered to watch the event.

Pedalling smoothly and confidently, the 21-year-old smashed the reference time at both intermediate checkpoints and kept the speed high all the way to the finish, where he stopped the clock in 48:32. The result brought a lengthy spell in the hot seat for Remco, who remained there until the final minutes of the race, when Filippo Ganna (Italy) and his countryman Wout Van Aert bumped him into third place.

“I am really happy, because I got the most out of this course. I came here having learned a valuable lesson in Trento, where I had a powerful start and paid for that towards the end. This time, I paced myself better and this allowed me to increase the tempo in the second part of the race, which made the difference at the end. It’s a great satisfaction to be on the podium in this company. I didn’t have an easy year, but I kept believing and working hard, and that paid off today”, said Remco, who less than two weeks ago took third also at the European ITT Championships.

Eschborn-Frankfurt reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from second-place John Degenkolb's Lotto-Soudal team:

Lotto Soudal rider John Degenkolb sprinted to second place in his home race Eschborn-Frankfurt. The 60th edition of the one-day WorldTour race unfolded as many times before with a front group – which formed in the hilly part of the course – ended up being reeled in by a reduced bunch in the final of the race. Eventually, the victory would be decided by a group sprint.

Jasper philipsen

Jasper Philipsen was the fastest man in Frankfurt Sunday.

It was Lotto Soudal rider John Degenkolb who tried to surprise the bunch and launched the sprint early. The German gave his all and looked to be going for the win, but in the final metres it was the Belgian Philipsen who came past him and took the victory. A disappointed and emotional Degenkolb had to settle for second place, already the fifth podium place of his career at this home race ‘der Radklassiker’.

Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert posted this report:

The riders of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, under the direction of sport director Valerio Piva, played a major role in the classic Eschborn-Frankfurt (1.WT, 19/09) this Sunday. Five riders animated the first race half through the Taunus mountain range and behind, Georg Zimmermann started the battle in the peloton, showing again an offensive race style on his home soil.

His first attempt after the top of the Billtalhöhe (2.7 km at 5,9%) wasn’t succesful, however, Zimmermann joined a strong group during the third ascension of the Mammolsheim (2.3 km at 7.6%). Among the new sixteen race leaders there was not only the best young rider of the recent Tour of Germany, but also Lorenzo Rota who acquired a double top 5 in Tuscany earlier this week.

These sixteen leaders had to fight for their advantage, which only exceeded one minute for a short time. With all climbs behind the back, the sprinter’s teams reorganized during the final 40 kilometer towards Frankfurt. This was without taking into account the perseverance of Georg Zimmermann, who resisted to the peloton for 20 more kilometers with Scaroni.

George Zimmermann

George Zimmermann winning the second stage of this year's Tour de l'Ain

Andrea Pasqualon prepared for the bunch sprint, but punctured 10 kilometers before the finish. After a bike change, the 33-year old managed to join the peloton and get back to his position in the front thanks to the help of his teammates. Zimmermann did a great positioning job during the final local lap for the Italian sprinter, who took 4th place behind winner Jasper Philipsen. In this way, Pasqualon repeated the result he achieved in this World Tour classic in 2018.

“Just like each season, I prepared this period with end of the season classics well with a big training volume and by working for my teammates. This week it was my turn to rely on the fantastic support of the team. Today I could relax in the peloton thanks to the presence of Lorenzo Rota and Georg Zimmermann in the front. I unfortunately punctured with 10 kilometer to go, but my teammates brought me to the front in time for the sprint. This 4th place reflects the efforts I made the previous months and I'm convinced that I'll be able to realize more nice performances in the next weeks!” - Andrea Pasqualon

“I like to race aggressively, especially when I can show myself on home soil! This race traditionally ends in a bunch sprint, but I did what I could to make this edition an exception. After being caught by the peloton in the city centre of Frankfurt, I gave all I had left to keep Andrea Pasqualon in the front. His 4th place is an excellent result and I'm proud that I contributed to this strong collective succes! I'm very satisfied about my current form and I can't wait to line up at my second World Championships in de pro category with these legs!” - Georg Zimmermann

Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this Eschborn-Frankfurt report:

When an early break was caught already with more than 60km remaining a strong group of 16 riders tried to force a decision in the hilly part of the race. Matteo Fabbro was part of that group for BORA – hansgrohe and controlled at the front while back in the main bunch his teammates worked for a bunch sprint for Pascal Ackermann. All came back together when the field entered the finishing circuit in Frankfurt. In a sprint royal Pascal Ackermann just had Nils Politt on his side after all the hard work done before. Philipsen took the win in the end with Ackermann in fifth.

PAscal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann winning the second stage of this year's Settimana Italiana.

From the Finish Line: 
"Actually, the race seemed to be in our favor at one point. We had Matteo in the big group and the race was hard, therefore some sprinters had been in difficulties. But we had to invest a lot to set up a bunch sprint then, and as a result I missed some help in the end. I tried to position myself in front to catch a strong wheel, but I was too far back after the last corner. I couldn’t even launch my sprint because there was no place for me to go. To be honest I am disappointed, even there is nothing we did wrong today.” – Pascal Ackermann

"The guys did a good job today. We worked from the beginning in the bunch with Emu and when the big group was in front, we had Matteo up there. But it was really a hard effort to bring this group back and we had to spend more energy there than we would have liked. As a result, Pascal only had Nils on his side on the final kilometers. Nils also had bad luck and a puncture before the red kite. Pascal was on his own and then a little too far back in the last corner. He also was blocked on the right side and took fifth place in the end. Not the result we hoped for today, but like I said, everyone did a good job today.” – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

Here's the report from Team DSM:

The traditional challenging and hilly parcours lay ahead of the peloton this afternoon as they rolled out of Eschborn, with a 187 kilometre route ending in Frankfurt. It was an active start to the day before a breakaway group of five went clear, with all Team DSM riders in the bunch.

Out front the breakaway increased their advantage to almost seven minutes but on the first climb of the day the pace increased in the peloton, with Marco Brenner following a probing attack which was reeled back in. However, with the high speed the gap to the break fell drastically and on the penultimate ascent of Mammolshain it was all back together, with the attacks starting again and the bunch exploding.

A strong group of around 15 forged on, with several Team DSM riders left in the bunch. It was an intense fight over the next ascent but eventually on the flatter roads with 30 kilometres to go they were brought back by the reduced peloton, which featured Nico Denz, Nicholas Roche and Kevin Vermaerke. A counter attacking duo then went clear but several sprint teams closed them down, setting up a fast finish. Denz tried his best in the finale but got blocked in a little, leading the team across the line.

“Obviously the result isn’t what we had hoped for today but that happens sometimes,” explained Denz. “Personally, I had really good legs all day and I passed the climbs in the front and didn’t have to push too hard to be there, so I felt pretty fresh in the final. In the final I just couldn’t find the position to deliver a nice sprint. In the end I got boxed in and didn’t really get the result we were hoping for but I’m happy with the legs after the Vuelta and coming back to racing.”

Team DSM coach Luke Roberts added: “It was quite a tough race today. A strong break was given a six minute gap early on, but the tempo already lifted on the Feldberg and then it was relentless all day. UAE and Bora showed to have the race under control and it looked inevitable to be a reduced bunch sprint. We hoped to keep Nils in contention but unfortunately he just missed a little today, and in the final Nico gave it his best and led us home at the finish.”

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