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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 22, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy. - Milan Kundera

Dirty Feet: Early days of the Tour de France

Les Woodland's book Dirty Feet: How the Great Unwashed Created the Tour de France is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour de France stage 19 reports

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

Here's the report from GC leader Jonas Vingegaard's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Breakaways dominated the 19th stage of the Tour de France. In a stage that resembled a spring classic, Christophe Laporte and Tiesj Benoot were part of a group of 36 escapees. Laporte eventually finished sixth behind winner Matej Mohoric.

After a strong start, Benoot was part of a leading group of nine riders. A larger group soon joined them, bringing the total to 36 riders. They would fight for the stage win. In the end, a group of three made it to the line first. A few seconds behind, Laporte sprinted into the top ten for the second consecutive day. Jonas Vingegaard crossed the line in the yellow jersey more than 13 minutes after the day's winner.

Jonas Vingegaard and Dylan Van Baarle just after the stage finish. Sirotti photo

"It was a fast stage”, said Vingegaard, referring to the average speed of almost fifty kilometres per hour. "We got through the day safely again. We ensured no one high up in the general classification got away. We managed that. For us, Tiesj and Christophe were in the lead group, so the situation was good. Winning the stage would have been nice, but it didn’t happen. This stage was like a spring classic. The start was pretty fast because everyone wanted to be in the breakaway. In the end, we are happy with the way it went today.”

The Dane saw the end of the Tour approaching. "Every day, we are getting closer to Paris. We are also getting closer and closer to our ultimate goal. Before we head to Paris on Sunday, we have a challenging mountain stage tomorrow. My priority is to consolidate my lead in the general classification. Being able to fight for the stage win would be a nice bonus. I also expect something from the competition. In any case, we will have to stay focused. I am looking forward to tomorrow's beautiful stage.”

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Here's the report from stage winner Matej Mohoric's Team Bahrain Victorious:

Matej Mohorič won the third Tour de France stage of his career and secured a third stage for Team Bahrain Victorious at this year’s edition following the victories of Pello Bilbao and Wout Poels.

Matej Mohoric (right) beats Kasper Asgreen for the stage win. Sirotti photo

The Slovenian rider known for his art of winning from the breakaway had to be patient to eventually make it in the winning move. The first breakaway that formed included Jack Haig, but later a group of over 30 riders broke from the peloton, which included Mohorič and Wright, which was when the peloton allowed the break to go as they sat up.

From there, Mohorič put in an attack with 30km to go along with Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën) and Stage 18 winner Kasper Asgreen. They quickly worked together to get a gap of 30" and collaborated to make that the decisive move to the line. Leading up to the sprint, O’Connor went long while Mohorič followed the wheel of Asgreen and threw his bike to the line. It was decided by a photo finish with Mohorič clinching it by millimetres. 

Mohorič commented: “It’s super emotional for me. It’s been a hard month for us all, and it’s been a rollercoaster. This has been an incredibly hard race, and the level is hard. It’s the best bike race in the world with the best bike riders. You are suffering and struggling to hold the wheels some days. When I get in the right place, I try to exploit my opportunities. I went away with great riders, and even though Ben knew he wasn’t the strongest in the sprint, he tried, and we worked well together.

"Kasper was incredibly strong, and honestly, he also deserved the win. But in this Tour, the suffering and sacrifice people go through, you’d want each rider to have this chance to win a stage.

"I had Jack and Fred in the break, and they supported me incredibly well. But it’s not just them. We have an amazing team and amazing staff who give everything every day for us to support us and achieve the dream.

"Another one for our good friend Gino.”

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Here’s the report from second-place Kasper Asgreen's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Kasper Asgreen produced another fantastic ride in what was arguably the best stage of this edition – which the breakaway rode at an insane 49km/h average speed – coming just a tire’s width from what would have been his second consecutive victory at the race.

The powerful Dane was part of a three-man group that managed to get away on the day’s final climb from a much larger group, where our Soudal Quick-Step team had also Julian Alaphilippe, the man who actually instigated the main breakaway of this stage to Poligny, where the Tour de France arrived for the first time. The move was helped by the undulating roads of the Jura department, which made it really difficult for the peloton to control it, and Julian took advantage of that soon after the start to go on the attack, his move being soon imitated by other riders who then joined the Frenchman to form a strong front group.

It was a close finish between Mohoric (top) and Asgreen.

Helped by some crosswinds which briefly split the bunch, more riders – including Kasper – bridged across and pushed the advantage to more than five minutes. That was the moment when attacks came pouring, as many of the escapees tried to distance the fast men present in the group. All the attempts were futile, until 30 kilometers to go, when Kasper upped the tempo and took two riders with him as they crested the summit.

Their slim ten-second gap quickly expanded to half a minute in just a couple of kilometers thanks to an incredible commitment of the trio, who kept the chasers at bay. After shutting down an attack of Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen), Asgreen launched his sprint again from the distance, just like on the previous stage, and looked to have the upper hand on Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), but the Slovenian came from behind and a late bike throw brought him the win for just a few centimeters.

“I’m disappointed, which is normal when you come so close. The legs were empty after yesterday, but I just followed the wheel of the other guys and found myself in the front group after another big fight to get into the breakaway. It took forever for one to form, as we raced full gas from the start, but as I felt good and was already there, I went for my chance and kept pushing with the other two guys once we opened a gap. Looking back, I don’t think I could have done anything different in the sprint, as I once again gave everything I had there”, Kasper said after his podium Friday afternoon, which came on the fastest race of the season.

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And here's the stage 19 report from Nils Politt's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

With an average speed of over 49km/h, stage 19 of the Tour was another furious one. It took a long time before a first promising break, which included Nils Politt, was able to form at the front. However, due to a mechanical problem, Nils had to drop back behind the bunch before a move of more than 30 riders became the break of the day.

Nils Politt waiting for a new bike after a broken chain took him out of the break.

With Marco Haller and Jordi Meeus, BORA – hansgrohe had two riders in that break, but on the last climb of the day the group split. A trio went clear, and Marco was part of a second chase while Jordi was dropped. In the end M. Mohoric took the win by only a few centimeters. Marco attacked over the last 500m from his group to finish 13th.

“It was an incredibly fast day, and everybody knew the win will be taken from a break. It looked promising for us when Nils was in front. But unfortunately, the team car was still behind the bunch when he had the mechanical and he dropped back. It would have made a huge difference to have him in front as he was super strong again. I managed with Jordi then to jump into the big group, but we both were already tired before heading into the finale. I had not much left and tried to poker a bit, but it was difficult to catch the right move. In the end it didn’t work out, but I have to admit that I wasn’t one of the strongest guys today.” – Marco Haller

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