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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, April 23, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

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Digital Swiss 5 stage one team reports

We posted the report from winner Rohan Dennis' Team INEOs with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Nicholas Roche's Team Sunweb:

Today saw 19 teams, made up of three riders, compete in the opening race of the Digital Swiss 5, with Chris Hamilton, Wilco Kelderman and Nicholas Roche taking part for the team. A mountainous 26.6 kilometre long route awaited them and with all of riders’ Cervélo bikes set up on their Elite Cycling trainers, the flag dropped and the action started instantly.

Nicholas Roche

Nicholas Roche at the 2019 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

Immediately the pace was high with the front runners pushing in excess of seven watts per kilogram for the opening flurry of attacks, before the race settled into a rhythm. With previous experience in virtual racing, Roche was well to the fore as the already disintegrated bunch hit the first climb. Picking off riders steadily, Roche moved up to third place by the crest, while behind Hamilton stealthily moved his way through the field into sixth place.

After a fast descent Roche had second-placed rider Whelan in his sights and on the latter half of the next climb, he made the catch before pushing on and gaining a gap. Likewise, Hamilton was dancing on the pedals and continued to pick off riders, moving up to fourth place. With everyone on their limit, the top ten didn’t change drastically in the closing kilometres.

Roche crossed the line in the virtual Leukerbad for a superb second place, while Hamilton crossed not long after for a strong fourth place, rounding out a good first race for the team.

Speaking after the race Roche said: “Ouch. It’s a very weird feeling. It’s not a time trial, it’s not a sprint; it’s more of a mental challenge than anything but obviously you need to be in good condition too. I’ve been practicing doing online races during the week because the effort is completely different to what we’re used to. I had a good battle with James Whelan, he put the pressure on me but I was able to see the kilowatts on the screen so I tried to follow his pace and then accelerate when he slowed down. I managed to do just that on the last bit and then get a gap.”

Hamilton added: “I finished in fourth place with Nicholas in second. I have to say that was one of the hardest hours I’ve ever had in my life; it was definitely the hardest I’ve ever gone on the indoor trainer before. It was good fun though!”

Deceuninck-Quick Step posted this:

Race 1 of the newly-inaugurated Digital Swiss 5 consisted of a 26.6km-long virtual ride on a hilly course between Agarn and Leukerbad, that borrowed parts of the Tour de Suisse route. Deceuninck – Quick-Step was one of the teams to field three riders at the start – Dries Devenyns, Pieter Serry and Remco Evenepoel – and it was the young Belgian, a winner of five road races this season, who concluded as our top finisher, in seventh place.

Remoc Evenepoel

Remco Evenepoel racing at this year's Tour of San Juan

“The race was quite fast from the start. I think I started a bit too easy and that’s why the other guys opened a gap almost immediately. I found myself behind the first group and had to chase back and ride hard before the start of the first climb, but I managed to keep my power steady and just ride my own tempo without blowing up”, Evenepoel explained. “Then I even caught some guys and worked myself into a top 5 position, but I was passed by two riders on a slight downhill section and from then on all I could do was keep the power. It was a hard but fun ride, a nice experience, and now I look forward to see the next races and how the others will do.”

Digital Swiss 5 continues Thursday with Race 2, which will bring Irish Champion Sam Bennett, Rémi Cavagna and Danish Champion Michael Mørkøv in the thick of the action.

Here's the report from team Bora-hansgrohe:

The Digital Swiss 5 had its premiere today. This series of races consisting of five one-day events, is held on the virtual online training platform, Rouvy, and culminates not in the award of a leader’s jersey by week’s end, but rather five individual daily winners. BORA – hansgrohe was represented by Matteo Fabbro, Lennard Kämna and Ide Schelling in today’s race, which took the peloton over 27 km on their smart trainers at home.

After only 4 km, around 800 metres of elevation had to be tackled within a very short period, with the narrow and steep hairpin bends demanding everything of the riders before crossing the virtual finish line in Leukerbad after approximately one hour in the saddle. After 5 km of racing, Ide managed to hold down 25th place, but had to concede time as the road kicked up further. It was at the 10km to go mark that Rohan Dennis launched a decisive attack, and was not to be reeled back in, leading him to take the victory on the first day of racing.

In the end, Ide finished in 37th position and was the best placed BORA-hansgrohe rider. After a fast and furious start to the series, our riders will continue racing tomorrow, with a flat circuit around Frauenfeld.

From the Finish Line:
"I really miss bike racing, and we were admittedly in the saddle today, but it was really like a one-hour time trial. You had to ride full gas the entire time, and I have to say, that was very hard. Having said that, it was nice to finally get back into competition again and ride against the other guys I’m so used to seeing in the peloton. After this first event, I’m looking forward to what will happen in the Digital Swiss 5 over the next few days, and maybe I can also give my teammates tips about online racing from my experience today.” - Ide Schelling

"Today we witnessed a world premiere in cycling. It was akin to a mountain time trial, where the riders started at the same time and competed side by side. As such, the result was like one would expect from such a time trial. The rider with the highest watts per kilo would inevitably take the win, and Rohan Dennis was ultimately the strongest today and was able to prevail. From our point of view, Ide finished in the midfield of the pack. In my opinion, races like this are not a perfect solution, but since there is a standstill in professional cycling at the moment, we’ve done well to be able to offer something to teams and fans, and all in all, I think this event was really interesting.” - Christian Poemer, Sports Director  

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