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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, August 7, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous. - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Current racing:

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

Mitchelton-SCOTT win Czech Tour Team Time Trial

The team sent me this report:

Mitchelton-SCOTT got their title defence off to a perfect start by storming to victory in the opening stage team time trial at the Czech Tour.

The win puts Australian Luke Durbridge top of the general classification, with the national TT champion also pulling on the first yellow jersey of the race in 2019.

After taking the win on stage one 12 months ago, the team were amongst the favourites as they headed off last down the start ramp for the fast 18.2km course in Unicov.

Uno-X Pro Cycling Team had set the time to beat when Mitchelton-SCOTT got their effort underway, but with a handful of WorldTour teams still to cross the line, that looked set to change.

Team Sunweb then matached the fastest time, but nobody could hold off a charging Mitchelton-SCOTT squad who came home in a time of 19:49 to go 25seconds faster than their closest rivals.

Luke Durbrudge

Luke Durbridge (shown in the 2017 Tour de France) is now the GC leader at the Czech Tour. Sirotti photo

Luke Durbridge:
"It was a fantastic team ride, obviously we were targeting the team time trial to try and get our GC guys the biggest buffer as possible, and we did that.

"It was a super, super fast course, but since the lockdown we haven’t done an effort like this, so it was bloody hard! We did a really, really great job, everyone was super strong, some really big turns from the TT guys and everyone else just did what they needed to do.

"A win is a win, to pull the yellow jersey on for the team is great. It wasn’t the plan for me to get it, it was just everyone go as hard as you can to the line and that’s just the way it was. So a fantastic start, but it’s just the beginning of the tour and we have a few days to try and hold onto the yellow jersey."

Dave McPartland (Sports Director):
“We came into this stage and the goal was to win, and the boys all rode really well and executed the plan to perfection.

“There’s a lot of bonus seconds up for grabs on the upcoming stages, each day up to 19seconds with three intermediate sprints and then the 10second bonus on the finish, so we needed to finish with a good margin today to set us up for the next few days.”

Czech Tour 2020 Stage 1 Results:
1. Mitchelton-SCOTT 19:49
2. Team Sunweb +0:25
3. Uno-X Pro Cycling Team +0:25

Czech Tour 2020 GC after Stage 1:
1. Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 19:49

Pascal Ackermann narrowly misses victory in second stage of the Tour of Poland

Here's the report from Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Taking off from Opole, the riders took on the 151.5 km-long undulating route towards Zabrze, where, as expected, the second stage ended in a mass sprint. After a few kilometres, a duo was able to break away and quickly pedal out a lead of several minutes. In the second half of the race, the teams of the sprinters gradually began to chip away at the lead of the leaders, which had in the meantime increased to 4:30 minutes.

BORA-hansgrohe was always to be seen at the front of the peloton, with the lead of the leaders being reduced to one minute with 30 km of racing left. In a fast-paced finale, the team brought Pascal Ackermann into a perfect position, with the German fast man launching a strong sprint, which was, however, not enough today to take the win from World Champion M. Pedersen.

Mads Pedersen

Mads Pedersen wins Tour of Poland stage two.

From the Finish Line:
"We controlled the race all day quite well, with my teammates finishing this off by doing an excellent job in the finale as well. They brought me into a perfect position in the finishing straight, and I thank them for the strong display of teamwork. I gave it my all in the sprint, but unfortunately it wasn't quite enough to take the win. It was a very tight sprint in the end, so chapeau to Pedersen for getting to the line first." - Pascal Ackermann

"Our goal today was to support Pascal as well as possible and to take bonus seconds for Max. Since there were only two riders in the leading group, a bonus second was awarded at the sprint classifications. We tried to support Max here, but unfortunately it didn't quite work out. But the guys rode well together and handled the difficult task of supporting both our sprinters and our climbers very well. Maciej Bodnar did a particularly good job today, because together with a rider from Israel Start-up Nation he was able to control the race perfectly and that was a very strong performance. In the finale, the guys produced a very strong leadout. We had two lead-out riders for Pascal on the home straight, Michael Schwarzmann and Rudi Selig, but in the end it wasn't quite enough. Pedersen deserved the victory, his sprint was very strong. Over the next two days, we'll work to support our GC riders as well as we can and on Sunday the sprinters will have yet another chance. All in all, it was pleasing to see such coherent teamwork from all the guys today." - Christian Pömer, Sports Director

Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin give CCC Team multiple options at Milano - Sanremo

The team sent me this:

5 August 2020: Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin will team up to co-lead CCC Team at the first Monument of the season, Milano - Sanremo, this Saturday 8 August.

The duo, who have both finished in the top ten on two occasions respectively, will be supported by the versatile team of Alessandro De Marchi, Fausto Masnada, Jonas Koch, and Michael Schär.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg Van Avermaet racing in stage 20 of the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

CCC Team Sports Director Valerio Piva expects a unique edition of La Primavera.

“I think we could see a very different Milano - Sanremo for a number of reasons. Firstly, we are talking about a race in August so the temperatures will be much higher than they usually are in March, and most riders only have a handful of race days in the legs in the past week so a 300-kilometer race is going to be very demanding. As usual, I think the Cipressa will be the crucial point of the race but having one less rider per team can make it harder to control,” Piva said.

“We have two very strong leaders in Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin and we have seen them working well together at the early Classics so we have two excellent cards to play. Alessandro De Marchi and Fausto Masnada are in great shape and can play a big role on the climbs, likewise with Jonas Koch and Michael Schär, who can drive the pace on the flat terrain. We are confident in the team to deliver a good result on Saturday.”

Van Avermaet will line up on the back of two top ten results at his first races back; Strade Bianche and Gran Trittico Lombardo.

“It has been a pretty tough start to racing again with Strade Bianche and Gran Trittico Lombardo but despite the two races being completely different in terms of weather and parcours, I was happy with my results even though it was a big shock to the system. I always look forward to Milano - Sanremo and I think we are lining up with a really strong team. I’ve had a few days to recover now and my legs are feeling good so I’m excited to see what we do as a team this Saturday,” Van Avermaet said.

Trentin is looking forward to tackling the new parcours.

“I’m feeling good. My first race at Vuelta a Burgos was good preparation and I am quite confident ahead of the race. There is a new parcours so it will be a surprise for everyone plus we are normally used to racing Milano - Sanremo in the Classics block and now we find ourselves with a 300-kilometer race without many race days in the legs. Without many tests to see how the condition is it will be a really interesting race. I really like the new parcours to be honest. It gives some more “pepper on the table’ in the finale,” Trentin added.

Milano - Sanremo - 8 August

Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jonas Koch (GER), Fausto Masnada (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Fabio Baldato (ITA)

Geraint Thomas ready to pin numbers on at Tour de l'Ain

Here's the news from Team INEOS:

Geraint Thomas is hoping to help the team continue its recent momentum as he returns to racing at the Tour de l'Ain.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas climbs the Tourmalet in the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Despite being just three days, the French stage race packs a punch with some tough climbing kilometres, including a chance to trace the finale of stage 15 of this year's Tour de France.

With his last race days coming in February at the Volta ao Algarve, the Welshman is relishing the chance to test his race sharpness, before heading to the Criterium du Dauphine and ultimately the Tour.

He told "I'm just looking forward to racing again. Obviously it's been a really weird season. I started in the Algarve and was targeting Tirreno. I was feeling like I was starting to go really well and then it all shut down. Since then it's just been a long period of training. I feel like I managed to do a decent amount of work. I'm feeling alright and I think these next two races will be good to bring me on that bit more. Then we just rest up, head to the Tour and do what we can do.

"It will be nice just getting that number on your back and racing again. That's what we do it for."

Forming part of an extremely strong Team INEOS lineup in France, Thomas will take each stage as it comes as he bids to ride himself into the best shape ahead of the Tour's Grand Depart on August 29.

"I'm pretty chilled about it really. Obviously I'd love to win, but at the same time it's not make or break. We'll just see how it goes, see how the legs are and obviously speak to Egan (Bernal) as well. He's already got a win, and I think the team are moving really well. We'll just take each day as it comes really.

"We've got a really strong team here, and with Jumbo-(Visma) and a few other teams being so strong – and because there's such limited races now – it's worked out really well for the race. To have a lot of strong Tour contenders here is exciting and with our team you can't ask for more really."

Thomas, who opted to take a few extra days rest before joining the team out in France, admitted he was pleased with the work he and the team were able to do in Tenerife in July.

He added: "We had a really good training camp in Tenerife. The roads were quiet and the team did a great job to get us out there to be consistent with what we're used to. The block was a similar time out from the Tour to what we've done previously. I really enjoy it out there and it works really well. It's hard work. The process is hard but the outcome is worth it."

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