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Monday, July 8, 2024

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2023 Tour de France | 2024 Giro d'Italia

Humor is something that thrives between man's aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth. - Victor Borge


Story of the Giro d'Italia volume 2

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy, Vol 2: 1971 - 2011 is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour de France stage 9 reports

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

Here's the Tour stage 9 report from second-place Tom Pidcock's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Tom Pidcock sprinted to second after an action-packed stage nine of the Tour de France.

After a rapid start, a group got away without a Grenadier present. Onto the first of the gravel sectors and Tom would work his way across with Ben Healy (EF Pro Cycling), and would eventually shake out into a break of eight riders.

In the GC group, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) would launch countless attacks, but was unable to stay clear. The team did a great job of keeping Carlos Rodriguez and Egan Bernal up in the front and out of trouble across the fourteen sections of gravel.

Anthony Turgis winning the stage with second-place Tom Pidcock looking less than pleased. Sirotti photo

Into the finale, and Jasper Steven (Lidl - Trek) would go clear, with Tom putting in a big effort to help close the gap. As the sprint unwound, Tom would find himself slightly boxed in. He would jump and deliver a powerful sprint, but was not able to overhaul stage winner Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergis).

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Here’s the Tour stage 9 report from third-place Derek Gee's Team Israel-Premier Tech:

Derek Gee put on another trademark Derek Gee-performance on stage 9 of the Tour de France, spending all day at the front and ultimately powering to third place on the line.

Derek Gee (on far right) was close.... Sirotti photo

“It was a real day out today!” Gee said after the line. “Of course, I would have liked to finish a couple of places higher up, but we raced on the front foot all day and I think we can be happy with that. Hopefully, the win will come soon.”

With 33.2 km of gravel awaiting the riders, everybody was anxious about what to expect. The IPT riders did well in covering all the early moves before the group with Gee finally managed to distance the peloton.

The break never got a gap of more than a few minutes as the fight for the general classification was constantly on behind. Jakob Fuglsang, Krists Neilands, and Pascal Ackermann were all part of the different chase groups, representing IPT in all the right groups.

“It was really touch and go all day. I was already in one move that didn’t get away, and at one point the top-3 GC guys even made it across to us before letting go again,” Gee explained before talking about the final part of the stage:

“It was only in the last 20 km that I kind of knew we would make it all the way, and even then, we weren’t really sure. I tried to give it a big dig on the uphill section into the crosswind, but then Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek) came with a really good counter and got a gap. Luckily, we managed to bring him back, but we brought him back quite late, so it just ended up in a sprint and I missed out by just a little bit.”

Sports director, Steve Bauer, was full of praise for the way the IPT riders managed today’s stage.

“The guys rode a brilliant race today. I said to the guys this morning that this is the stage where we go all in and they did. Derek Gee was so strong, Jakob Fuglsang was covering all the moves in the chase group, and behind Pascal Ackermann and the other boys were right up there. I’m proud of how we raced today. We’re getting closer. Fourth yesterday, third today, that win is coming.”

With today’s impressive performance on the gravel, Gee has now moved up to ninth place overall ahead of Monday’s well-deserved rest day.

“I’m happy with how I have raced these first nine stages and I’m looking forward to the rest of the race. But I’m also really looking forward to the rest day tomorrow,” Gee said with a tired smile.


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Here's the Tour stage 9 report from Remco Evenepoel's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Stage 9 was one of the most important of this edition, comprising fourteen dirt road sectors for a total of 32 kilometers of gravel that spiced up the race and widened the gaps between the general classification contenders just ahead of the first rest day. Held in the Champagne wine region, and starting and finishing in Troyes – the city which made its first appearance at the race 85 years ago – the stage was full gas from the opening kilometer, when half a dozen teams tried to book a place in the breakaway.

The kind of day where you can’t win the Tour but you can definitely lose it, this 199km stage turned into pure chaos as soon as the peloton hit the first gravel sector. Soudal Quick-Step made sure Remco Evenepoel was in an ideal position every time, thanks to an incredible effort of Yves Lampaert and Gianni Moscon, the latter guiding his leader and keeping him at the front as the bunch split, leaving only 50-odd riders in the main group.

Remco Evenepoel on the second graveled sector. Sirotti photo

With each kilometer and each gravel road segment that passed, Evenepoel felt better and better, and with an incredible 77 kilometers to go, as the unsurfaced road went up, he took off putting 15 seconds into the chasers from just a couple of pedals. Joined by the yellow jersey and the defending champion, the 24-year-old Belgian kept pushing through the dust, taking their buffer to almost half a minute.

The move had potential, but the lack of collaboration ended any hope of it going all the way, allowing the chasing group to bridge across. Remco had the incredible Mikel Landa for company – the Basque producing a fantastic effort on this challenging stage – and remained prominent and in the thick of the action as more attempts to split the peloton came on the challenging white roads that were stacked in the last 50 kilometers of this brutal day.

While at the front the escapees had their own battle, which ended up being won by Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies), the GC favourites continued to trade blows as the kilometers ticked down. Evenepoel remained calm and was present in all the moves, and eventually, the group accepted that there won’t be any changes and came home together, around two minutes behind the breakaway.

“I felt good today, stayed the whole time out of trouble thanks to a very good team, and at one moment I decided to attack on one of the sectors, despite being some 80 kilometers from the finish. It’s a pity that some didn’t work in the group, as we could have gained a significant margin of minutes even over the others, but it was their tactic in the end, so we have to accept it, that’s cycling.”

“Personally, I did a good stage, had fun out there and proved that I can ride on the gravel. It’s a nice way to conclude what has been a strong and rewarding first week of the Tour de France for us. I am satisfied with how things stand, the shape and the confidence are there, so everything that comes from now on will be a bonus”, said white jersey Remco Evenepoel, who remained second overall after this stage.


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And here's the Tour stage 9 report from Jonas Vingegaard's Team Visma | Lease a Bike:

Team Visma | Lease a Bike piloted leader Jonas Vingegaard safely through the gravel stage of the Tour de France. On a total of fourteen French gravel sections, the team was always well in front at the moments that mattered. Breakaway rider Anthony Turgis won the stage.

On the third gravel sector of the day, Vingegaard was unlucky with a puncture. Vingegaard immediately saw Jan Tratnik hand over his bike, allowing the two-time Tour de France winner to continue on his way.

Jonas Vingegaard on the second graveled sector.

Wout van Aert, Christophe Laporte and Matteo Jorgenson also did well for Vingegaard. Tadej Pogacar attacked on the white French roads, but thanks to the work of the trio, Vingegaard never really got into trouble. In the end, the Dane crossed the line in a group that included all the favorites.

Vingegaard was relieved afterwards, "I am very happy to have crossed the line safely in the same time as my main rivals. Especially with the knowledge that bad luck didn't completely spare me today. Jan's accurate handling allowed me to quickly jump on his bike. He has a similar sized bike, which allowed me to continue on my way without any problems. I am incredibly grateful to him, as well as the rest of the team. All day we were in a good position. When we turned onto the gravel sectors we were always ideally positioned. It was a stressful day for the whole peloton, but we got through it fine. Tadej was the strongest individual today, but Team Visma | Lease a Bike was a very strong team," the Dane praised the collective.

"This was a nice demonstration of teamwork," says sports director Grischa Niermann. "We had a moment of bad luck due to a flat tire on Jonas, but we all stayed calm at that point. Jan was close to Jonas, and we knew he could swap bikes. Because Jonas and Jan have the same saddle height, Jonas was able to finish the ride on his bike. Unfortunately, we did lose Jan as a result, and Tiesj Benoot also had a puncture. We were under a lot of pressure, but we fought through everything with strong team play. At the time of the puncture, the team car was about three minutes behind Jonas because of the commotion. If Jan hadn't been around Jonas, we probably wouldn't be so satisfied. Now fortunately only the good feeling prevails."

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