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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won't get much sleep. - Woody Allen


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Giro d'Italia stage four reports

We posted the report from stage four winner Lennard Kämna's Team Bora-hansgrohe with the results.

Here's the race organizer's post:

At this time last year, Lennard Kämna was struggling with a particular period in both his career and his life in general. Basically, he was trying to work out whether being a professional cyclist was really what he wanted to do with his life, or perhaps it was preferable to do something that would allow him to make a living with a little less self-sacrifice. And these uncertainties began to swirl around in his head just a few months after the year in which he established himself at the highest level: in 2020, Kämna had been one of the season’s revelations, with a stage win in the Tour of Dauphiné and then at the Tour de France.

Lennard Kämna

Lennard Kämna wins stage 16 of the 2020 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Yet, in 2021, his head just clicked. He had a slow start of the season, his first race was the Volta a Catalunya at the end of March (where he still managed to win a stage), but then he stopped. He raced the Volta ao Algarve in early May and then decided he’d had enough. He didn’t race for the rest of 2021: he needed to find himself again.

“I felt that I lacked the opportunity to develop other interests – he explained in an interview with Weser-Kurier – With every unplanned event, the stress increased tremendously. I thought I had lived my life in the wrong way, I needed to open myself up to other experiences. It was difficult for me to get out of that tunnel”. Bora-Hansgrohe never failed to support him, and, in those difficult months, Lennard realised that cycling really was his life.

He got a sailing licence and got back in the saddle: the first race he did, however, was the Cape Epic in South Africa, 8 stages on MTB to test his limits. With him was his friend and teammate Ben Zwiehoff, also present in this Giro d’Italia, and from there began his journey of rebirth, which today on Mount Etna has reached its climax. After a stage in the Vuelta a Andalucia and a stage in the Tour of the Alps, Kämna has now won at the Giro. “I am definitely back to my old self” he said after the finish. And that is by far the most important thing.

If Kämna’s is a rebirth, Juan Pedro López‘s is a real birth – cycling-wise, of course – because wearing the Maglia Rosa takes you at least three steps into cycling history. The 24-year-old Andalusian is the first Spaniard to wear the Rosa since 2015, when a certain Alberto Contador won his second Giro d’Italia. In addition, at 24 years 9 months and 9 days old, Lopez becomes the youngest Spanish Maglia Rosa ever, beating the record also held by Contador, 25, in his 2008 Giro win. The elevations of the upcoming stages should allow him to last a few days in pink and we look forward to the opportunity to get to know him better.

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Here's the report from new GC leader Juan Pedro Lopez's Team Trek-Segafredo:

Juan Pedro Lopez finishes second on Etna and claims the overall lead of the Giro d’Italia

There was no hiding the sheer disappointment for Juan Pedro Lopez when he crossed the finish line of Stage 4 in the Giro d’Italia. He had messed up the final corner, and it caused him to brake hard. His rear wheel slid on the tarmac. Juanpe kept the bike upright, but a chance at victory atop Mount Etna was gone, leaving him a bitter second place.

Then moments later, he realized what he had accomplished. The coveted maglia rosa was his, and tears of frustration turned to sobs of joy.

Juan Pedro Lopez

Juan Pedro Lopez will start stage five in pink. Sirotti photo

“I am so happy to take the jersey,” said an emotional Lopez. “I didn’t believe in the moment when someone told me I had the pink jersey. After 10mins, I finally realized it. I will enjoy it today, tomorrow, I don’t know how many days I will have it, but I will enjoy every moment.”

Stage 4 was the first climbing test of this year’s Giro, and Lopez had orders to join the breakaway if there were enough riders for a chance to make it to the finish. When 14 riders went up the road, Juanpe was there. “It was the plan to be in a breakaway if a large group went,” said Juanpe. “So, mission accomplished.”

The breakaway gained over seven minutes, and with no significant threats to the GC, there was no urgency to bring it to heel. At the foot of Etna, a long 22 kilometers to the finish, it was likely the win would come from the leading group.

Juanpe gave a little dig at the start, testing the waters, but the group came back together. It wasn’t until 11 kilometers from the finish that he went all-in.

“My director told me to try and go in the hardest part [of the climb], so I did,” explained Lopez. “It was the best moment to make the difference, and when I went, I felt strong. You never know what happens, so I tried.”

Lopez quickly caught the sole leader – Sefano Oldani (Alpecin-Fenix), who had slipped out of the group at the foot of the climb – and took over the pole position. Juanpe settled into his pace. The meters slowly ticked off, and the gap steadied at 30-40 seconds to the chasers.

Behind, Lennard Kamna (Bora-hansgrohe) had waited patiently, and at six kilometers to go made his move.

“Kamna caught me in the last 2-3k, and we worked together until the sprint. But I nearly crashed and… nothing. I wanted to win, but it was so difficult,” explained Lopez. “Then I found out I have the jersey, and now I am so happy!”

Juanpe was overwhelmed by alienated emotions. First, utter disappointment of missing the win, then, the reality of what he had accomplished – a leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour – overtook him.

He didn’t hold back his tears: “I did so much sacrifice and effort for this Giro so this jersey is a nice payback for that. It has been a dream since a young kid to take a leader’s jersey.”



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Here’s the Giro report from third-place Rein Taaramäe’s Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert

This Tuesday, Rein Taaramäe finished third on top of the Etna in the first mountain top finish of this Giro d’Italia, which was also the first stage on Italian soil.

Rein Taaramäe

Rein Taaramäe finishing third. Sirotti photo

The Estonian rider joined the early breakaway of fourteen riders, which quickly gained an advantage of more than 10 minutes and a chance on taking the stage win.

They started the final climb (23.3 km at 5.9%) with a lead of more than 5 minutes battled for the stage victory from the first slopes. An acceleration of Taaramäe caused a split in the group.

Even though he was distanced by four competitor, Taaramäe continued his effort at his own rhythm and crossed the line in third position. Behind, Domenico Pozzovivo and Jan Hirt accompanied the best riders in the peloton for a long time and finished 24th and 26th respectively.

At the end of this first mountain stage, Taaramäe is third in the provisional classification, Pozzovivo is 20th and Hirt 24th. The last stage on Sicily tomorrow is suited for sprinters, however, a climb of almost 20 kilometer (4%) animates the first race half.

"I came well prepared to this Giro d'Italia and this stage was a perfect opportunity for a breakaway. I dreamed of repeating my stunt at the latest Tour of Spain and with today's third place I was pretty close. I is thanks to my experience that I finished on the podium today, because my body didn't want to cooperate today. I wasn't feeling great and I had a difficult moment when López and Kämna accelerated. But I knew that it was possible to gain a second wind on such a long climb, so I didn't panic.

"As other riders of the breakaway faced their limits, I maintained my own rhythm until the top. I gave the best of myself, hoping that the two leaders would start looking at each other but they cooperated well until the end. » « In each of the stages, there will be opportunities for our team. I take my sixteenth Grand Tour day by day. In the first stage I set the pace in the peloton in order to prepare the sprint for Biniam Girmay and today I was the first rider of the team to attack. I believe in the strategy of our sports directors Valerio Piva and Steven De Neef, who will make sure that I will perform in service of my leaders or in chase of a stage win until the difficult third week!" - Rein Taaramäe


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And here's the Giro report from fourth-place Sylvain Monquiet's Team Lotto-Soudal:

Lotto Soudal youngster Sylvain Moniquet has immediately shown himself during his Giro debut. The 24-year-old Belgian was part of a 14-rider breakaway that would battle for stage victory on the slopes of Mount Etna, in stage four of the Giro d’Italia. In a two-man sprint, it was eventually Lennard Kämna who took the victory, Spaniard Juan Pedro López had to settle for second place but became the new leader in the general classification.

In the first stage on Italian soil, the bunch immediately faced a tough mountain stage with a summit finish on Mount Etna, following an over 20 kilometres long ascent. After the start in Avola, attacks flew and eventually a breakaway of fourteen riders formed, which also included Lotto Soudal climber Sylvain Moniquet. The group worked together really well and also the peloton allowed the break an advantage of over ten minutes.

When the attackers reached the foot of the Etna with a comfortable lead, it became clear that the stage winner would come from the breakaway. During the long climb of the Etna, the best climbers of the breakaway emerged. The 24-year-old Belgian Moniquet impressed but winning the stage proved to be a bit too much. It was the German Kämna who took the win as he beat Spaniard López, who took over the maglia rosa. Moniquet sprinted to fourth place, just ahead of his compatriot Vansevenant.

Sylvain Moniquet (right) just beats Mauri Vansevenant

Sylvain Moniquet (right) just beats Mauri Vansevenant for fourth place. Sirotti photo

Sylvain Moniquet: “Of course, I’m happy with this fourth place. The goal was to be in the breakaway today and that succeeded. At the end it was all about the 22 kilometres long climb of the Etna and all about having the legs. There weren’t any tactics involved, really. I could manage my effort in the last climb but the final three to four kilometres were a bit too much. It’s a pity to miss the podium spot but that’s life. This was only the first mountain stage and there are lots of opportunities to come. I hope the shape will improve day by day, I feel good and motivated to set some other great results. After two relatively flat stages, I will be ‘back in business’.”

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