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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 15, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment. - Jane Austen

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage nine team reports

CCC team sent me this bad news about Alessandro De Marchi's crash:

14 July 2019: Alessandro De Marchi’s Tour de France came to a devastating end with a nasty crash on stage nine which left the Italian with multiple fractures, a lung contusion, and abrasions.

Alessandro De Marchi

Alessandro De Marchi in 2018. Sirotti photo

De Marchi was immediately transported to hospital where X-rays confirmed the extent of his injuries.

CCC Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said De Marchi sustained a fractured clavicle, ribs, and a lung contusion in the crash which happened in the first 10 kilometers of the stage.

“Alessandro De Marchi was taken to the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire - Hôpital Nord in Saint-Étienne where X-rays confirmed a fractured clavicle, fractured fourth rib, lung contusion with a small pneumothorax, all of which is on the left side, and multiple superficial contusions, including a laceration above the left eyebrow. Alessandro will be kept under observation for the next 24 to 48 hours, during which time it will be decided if surgery is necessary to fixate the clavicle fracture,” Dr. Testa explained.

“Alessandro’s recovery timeline will depend on whether he has surgery but it will be at least three to four weeks before he can start riding on the rollers, following which he will ease back into training on the road. He will hopefully be in a position to race again in early September but we will continue to monitor his recovery and adjust this plan accordingly.”

After a strong display in the stage eight breakaway, De Marchi is disappointed to leave the race in these circumstances. “I’m really sorry to leave the Tour de France without having won a stage, which was my big goal. I’m disappointed to interrupt my tradition of finishing Grand Tours, as this will be the first time I abandon one. I’m fortunate that my injuries are not worse than they are, I’ve had a chance to speak to my family, and I’m in good hands here at the hospital. I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike as soon as possible,” De Marchi said.

CCC Team will provide a further update on De Marchi’s condition once the decision regarding surgery has been made.

Here's the report from stage winner Daryl Impey's Mitchelton-Scott team:

South African champion Daryl Impey stormed to his debut Tour de France victory in style on stage nine into Brioude.

On Bastille Day, the 34-year-old made it into the decisive break of the day and proved to be the strongest in the 15-man move, eventually taking the victory in a two-up sprint. The win means that Impey has been involved in each of the team's four victories at the Tour de France.

Daryl Impey

Daryl Impey wins stage nine.

Back in the peloton, team leader Adam Yates rolled home safely in the bunch along with his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates, but the day belonged to Impey who claimed his first stage win in his seventh Tour.

As expected, there was a battle to get into the breakaway as soon as the flag dropped with Mitchelton-SCOTT amongst the early attacks as European champion Matteo Trentin and Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge got into various failed attempts.

In the end it was road captain Impey who made it into the decisive attack as 14-riders edged clear of the field. Seemingly happy with the make-up of the move, the peloton sat up and spread across the road, with the break of the day established. The group eventually grew to 15 as Marc Soler (Movistar Team) bridged across on the opening climb of the day.

The escapees worked well together and stretched their advantage out to over 10-minutes with the peloton content to let the group contest the stage win with no danger to the general classification. But with Impey in the group, along with other fast finishers, the rest of the escapees were keen to shed the South African before the finale.

With this in mind, riders began to attack over the penultimate climb of the day, but the initial move was quickly shutdown. It wasn’t long before the next attacks came as Lukas Pöstlberger (BORA – Hansgrohe) jumped away on an uncategorised ramp and with the rest of the break faltering in organising a chase, the Austrian was able to open up a gap of 45-seconds.

The pace in the chasing group proved to be too much for several riders in the break and group was halved as Pöstlberger was reeled back in on final climb. A counter move went immediately as Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) attacked clear, leaving Impey in a small chase group behind. But as the summit approached Impey sensed the leading duo were edging away and the Tour Down Under champion attacked across to the pair.

The leading trio had a sizeable gap on the remains of the breakaway but knowing Impey was a danger in a sprint finish, Benoot attacked. However, the move could only drop Roche as Impey hauled himself onto the Belgians wheel and the duo raced clear of the dropped Team Sunweb rider. With just five kilometres to go it was clear the fight for the win was between Impey and Benoot, with the latter opening up the sprint as the line approached. However, the experienced Impey used his superior turn of speed to come around his rival and take a historic Tour de France stage win. 

Dary Impey:
“That is pretty much for me, from the Tour de France perspective, something that was really missing and this is my seventh time riding the Tour de France. I’ve been in quite a few breakaways and to finally nail it today, it’s just a dream come true, I really don’t have any words.”

“It was a stage I kind of marked for a breakaway, yesterday was a bit unfortunate as the break went straight away and today we were pretty active, Luke and Matteo were active at the start. I just kind of found the lucky move, I didn’t have to do too much to get in there, then we all just worked really well together and I kind of just believed in myself and played it quite smart there at the end I think.”

“I haven’t actually been that emotional at the finish for a long time, so it’s fantastic to win at this level, the Tour de France. I think the last stage victory for South Africa was Robbie Hunter in 2007, so it’s been a long time between drinks and to win on Bastille Day that’s fantastic, that’s a magic memory.”

“This is a dream come true, this is something I really wanted to do and you know it’s so difficult at this level, so when all the stars line up like they did today, I can’t be any prouder, it’s fantastic and I know South Africa will be cheering on and thanks to my family as well, they’ve supported me the whole way through this.”

Matt White (Sports Director):
“Daryl has been a part of every Tour de France victory we’ve had. In 2013 he led Simon Gerrans out to win, in 2016 he led Michael Matthews out to win and he was part of the team time trial in 2013, and today he won on his own. So, he’s been a part of every victory we’ve had in this organisation at the Tour de France and many more.”

“We’d earmarked stage eight and nine as stages that very much suited the characteristics of Daryl and Matteo. So obviously having one of the two in the breakaway was going to be key, having someone fast to finish it off. When we saw the composition of the break that was one box ticked, but it was a very, very strong group. I don’t know off the top of my head but there’s probably four or five Tour de France stage winners in that group, so it was never going to be an easy win.”

“The crucial moment for Daryl’s win was when he bridged across and left the two fastest guys. Once he got across to the front group, that was one thing, but he was definitely the fastest guy to finish off the sprint.”

Second-place Tiesj Benoot's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this report:

After the impressive solo of Thomas De Gendt in Saint-Étienne yesterday, Lotto Soudal again battled for a stage victory in the Tour de France today. In a hilly stage with finish in Brioude, Belgian Lotto Soudal rider Tiesj Benoot was part of a fifteen-rider move that would go for the stage win. The breakaway was gradually thinned out until only Tiesj Benoot and Daryl Impey remained at the front. The duo would eventually sprint for victory and it was the South African who took his first ever stage win in the Tour. Tiesj Benoot could – after an impressive performance – step on the podium to collect the fourth most aggressive rider prize for Lotto Soudal. Tim Wellens keeps on wearing the polka dot jersey.

Tiesjn Benoot

Another view of the sprint with Benoot coming in second to Impey. Sirotti photo.

Tiesj Benoot: ‘I targeted the victory today and did not ride this stage to win the most aggressive rider award, obviously. To finish second of such a strong breakaway is already huge but when you’re in such a position, you want to win of course. With Daryl Impey, I probably had the quickest rider of the break alongside me. The South African is able to win reduced bunch sprints, then you just know it will be difficult. I tried to surprise Impey in the sprint and corner him but that wasn’t enough to turn it to my advantage.”

“During the stage, I felt really strong, I tried to take the initiative myself in order to thin out the group of fifteen, which also succeeded. It seemed that I would have been able to beat Roche but Impey is of course a different story, the section downhill to the finish also did not play into my hands.”

“I wasn’t feeling great the past two days, so this performance brings good news. I clearly found my good legs back. With still eleven stages to go, there will come some more opportunities. The team is in a good flow and I am sure there will be some more chances for Thomas, Tim and myself to get in the breakaway during the second and third week.”

Here's the report from GC leader Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Julian Alaphilippe’s special day started at the team bus, where he was greeted by the hundreds of fans who came to see the first French rider in half a decade to sport the iconic yellow jersey on July 14, continued briefly at the sign-on – where he made his way through a sea of enthusiastic supporters – and then over the 170.5km-long hilly course between Saint-Étienne and Brioude.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe is introduced before the stage start. Sirotti photo

Featuring three ranked climbs, stage 9 didn’t pose a problem to the peloton, who decided to take it easy and leave a 15-man breakaway fight for glory. Surrounded by his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates, who devoted all their energies to working for him, Julian savoured his time in the spotlight, twenty-four hours after igniting a devastating attack that netted him a second spell in the yellow jersey.

With the stage win being played out between the escapees, the peloton enjoyed a quiet day, which not even an attack on the final climb couldn’t disturb, and arrived at the finish a quarter of an hour after winner Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), in the applause of a generous public who gave Julian – the third Frenchman since the turn of the century to wear the yellow jersey on Bastille Day – a raucous welcome.

“It’s difficult to describe what it means to wear the maillot jaune on July 14, but what I can tell you is that it was more beautiful than the first time I wore it, at the beginning of the week. I spent the entire stage together with my teammates, who controlled it and protected me, for which I am very grateful”, said Julian, who now has five days in yellow, an all-time record for a Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider.

The 27-old Frenchman, who is living his best season yet, which so far includes 11 victories and a lengthy stint at the top of the UCI Individual Classification, continued: “The support I got from the public was phenomenal and is something I will always remember. Hearing my name from the moment I get out of the bus until I arrive in my hotel room is something very special and makes me fight even harder to keep the maillot jaune it for as long as possible.”

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this update:

Most stages at the Tour de France are earmarked for certain kinds of riders, and after a week where it was possible on most days to predict who would be in contention at the end of the day, Bastille Day’s 170.5km route could be taken by anyone.

There were three categorised climbs on the parcours – the hardest and longest the first category Mur d’Aurec-sur-Loire, with its 11% average gradient – but the rest of the day was undulating and demanding. The last ascent came just 12.5km from the finish and in spite of the downhill stretch to the finale, there was so much that could happen in the day that would influence the outcome.

With the breakaway riders as likely to take the stage as anyone, a group formed early on and after a week of BORA-hansgrohe being the team to draw in the escape, today Lukas Pöstlberger was up there in the break to try his luck. The group of fourteen – an appropriate number for France’s national day – built a lead of more than five minutes before a fifteenth rider joined them.

Lukas Postleberger

Lukas Pöstlberger having a good day at the 2017 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

With only 50km covered, the lead continued to go up, hitting ten minutes, and with more than 120km of the stage completed and the time gap having gone out to almost eleven minutes, Lukas started putting some distance between himself and his peers in the break. The Austrian rider pushed on hard and looked in good form, the gap to the peloton only growing, hitting thirteen minutes in the last 30km, while Lukas maintained just under a minute on the chasers. This injection of pace had made everyone sit up and take notice and the other escapees went in pursuit, shedding half their number in the process.

Catching Lukas with 15km left and subsequently dropping him, their lead was still more than fourteen minutes, making a win from this group almost certain. After the lead duo fought it out for the win and the remnants of the break crossed the line, with Lukas coming in thirteenth, it was just a matter of waiting for the peloton to come in and reflecting on the bold performance of the Austrian BORA-hansgrohe rider.

With no change in both the GC and the points contest, Emanuel and Peter will be ready to fight it out on the final stage before the race’s first rest day.

From the Finish Line:
"I had a gap in the front after the downhill and after a bit of hesitation because I knew there was still a long way to go, I decided to take my chances and attack. I gave all I had in the first kilometres, then as we were approaching the climb, they were coming closer. I tried to save some energy for the climb but after they caught me, it was impossible for me to follow the attacks. Nevertheless, this is part of the race. If you don't try, you can't win." – Lukas Pöstlberger

"We were expecting there would be a big breakaway, so we jumped with different riders in the start and Lukas managed to stay with the group. As it was becoming clear the break would make it to the finish and with a lot of strong riders in there, we knew we needed to try something. After the descent, Lukas had opened a small gap, so we decided he should go for it. He's a rider that can push big gears and he really gave it his all. At one point, it looked promising but with the likes of Benoot chasing him, it was hard. Still, it was a good attempt, a strong ride from Lukas, so we have nothing to regret about it." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

Giro Rosa final reports

Annemiek van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent this:

World time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten has claimed an impressive consecutive overall victory at the 2019 Giro-Rosa, the only women’s Grand Tour of the year, winning two-stages in the process.

Van Vleuten claimed a solo victory on stage five which moved her into the Maglia Rosa, before extending her lead even further on day six, winning the individual time trial stage by an impressive margin of 52seconds.

Annemiek van VLeuten

Annemiek van Vleuten winning the stage six time trial.

With a strong and committed team around her, the Mitchelton-SCOTT leader just needed to stay safe throughout the final four-stages, holding onto her sizeable advantage of three-minutes 45seconds to eventually be crowned the 2019 champion today in Udine.

History repeated itself with teammate Amanda Spratt also riding onto the podium once again for third place, after riding consistently strong throughout the week in support of team leader Van Vleuten, highlighting the strength and depth of the Australian outfit.

The final stage began with a fast pace with many riders trying to breakaway. Nobody was given any freedom with Mitchelton-SCOTT patrolling the front of the peloton keeping their race leader safe.

Eventually inside the final 30kilometres a duo snapped the elastic, broke away and opened up a gap of around one-minute.

The leaders were caught just in time for a hard finish up a steep cobble climb into Udine. It was Marianna Vos (CCC-Liv) who claimed the stage victory with Van Vleuten in the main bunch, crossing the line for her second Giro-Rosa victory.

Key moments:
After winning the event last year, Van Vleuten returned as the defending champion but with a stronger field of competitors on the start list, a consecutive victory was always going to be a big challenge.

The key and defining moment of the race came on the fifth stage where Van Vleuten displayed her incredible form, climbing to a solo victory in Lago di Cancano, two-minutes 56seconds ahead of all her main general classification competitors. From then on, her advantage continued to grow.

Earlier on in the race on stage two, Lucy Kennedy had her own opportunity and took a thrilling second place, a close call, but her first ever podium finish in a WorldTour event.

The team wrap up the prestigious event, their main goal of the 2019 season, satisfied with first and third place on the general classification plus the overall victory in mountains and points classifications.

After the 10-day Grand Tour, Van Vleuten also extends her lead in the UCI Women’s WorldTour ranking.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
"It's so cool to win again, especially as I felt even a little bit better than last year. I felt so relaxed today with all of the team around me so it was a fantastic Giro-Rosa.

"It is a dream come true again. Last year was the first time and now we did it again. It was a really big goal of mine this year and to finish it off for the second time in a row is really special.

"We prepared 100%, we worked so hard for this and it's so nice that it pays off with the win. It’s also so nice for my team. We worked hard for it, we were all prepared, we reconned stages, the whole team was all in. You feel some pressure but then it is even more special to finish it off.

"In a one-day race you can maybe win by yourself but in a stage race you really need the team everyday and that makes it so special and beautiful. We really nailed it as one team and tonight we will celebrate well."

Martin Vestby - Sport Director:
“It is a really big achievement, coming in with all the pressure having won last year and to have pulled it off and kept that focus, not just these 10-days but the last months, it is really, really impressive.

"I don’t think there’s many people who realise how much Annemiek has sacrificed for this win. She has been so professional, doing all the little things right and that also reflects over to the rest of the team.

"It has been a massive team effort, everybody has been so committed. It is also great to see Spratty get on to the podium too, this year she has taken another step up.

"It was nice we actually had the opportunity to help Spratty, with Annemiek holding a good solid lead overall she could ride to try and help her.

“It was a big thanks to Annemiek in yesterday’s stage, she probably sacrificed a stage win by giving Spratty that early attack to split the group. It just shows what kind of team we are and the respect between the riders.”

Giro-Rosa Stage 10 Results:
1. Marianna Vos (CCC-Liv) 2:51:45
2. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) +0:01
3. Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal Ladies) ST
17. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:12

Final General Classification after 10 stages:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 25:01:41
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +3:45
3. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +6:56

Giro Rosa best young rider Juliette Labous' Team Sunweb sent this:

Taking the lead of the classification after stage two, Labous rode strongly over the ten days of racing to not only maintain, but extend her lead in the competition. Ably supported by a strong team, Labous showed tact with her approach to every stage and was always in control of the jersey, confirming the win after the final stage finished in Udine today.

A delighted Labous said: “We had a really good Giro and I enjoyed it from the beginning to the end with both the girls and staff; we had a very good mindset through the entire race. I got the opportunity to go for the white jersey at the race and it is great to achieve this goal. It was also great to have Lucinda as a leader who was so strong during these ten days; it is really nice to work with such a champion. We had some downs but we always stayed as a unit and we can be proud of what we have done at this year’s Giro.”

Team Sunweb coach Nicolas Marche continued: “Juliette finished well today and where she needed to be, confirming her win in the white jersey competition. It was a goal for us before the Giro and to win it shows how good her’s and the team’s performance has been in this race. With the jersey, Lucinda’s sixth in GC and some solid results through the week, we can look back on a good ten days here in Italy.”

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