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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 10, 2020

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them. - Lily Tomlin

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:


Damien Howson wins final stage and the overall at the Czech Tour

Howson's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Australian Damien Howson clenched the overall victory at the Czech Tour with a stunning win, his first in Europe as a professional, on the final stage of the race.

The 27-year-old attacked on the final lap of a brutal day of racing and took the win in a two-way sprint for the line, securing back-to-back victories at the race for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Damien Howson

Here's Howson a few years ago, at the 2016 Tour of Romandie. Sirotti photo

Fast and Frantic
It was a fast and frantic start to the stage with several riders fighting to get into the day’s breakaway. Eventually five riders pulled clear, but their time out front was short-lived as the race exploded on the first of the categorised climbs.

A counter-attack in the peloton saw 15-riders edge away, and the increase in pace marked the end for race leader Kaden Groves, who was distanced. The move left just 30 riders at the head of the race as they swept past the early breakaway.

The stage briefly settled down before the next climb and the front group doubled in size as riders tagged back on. The lull in the bunch allowed three riders to launch a second breakaway attempt, with the trio opening up a gap of 2’50” as they passed over the Lyra climb at the halfway point.

Taking Control
With the escapees posing a threat to the general classification Jack Bauer and Michael Hepburn assisted in the chase, and the gap was down to below one minute by the time the pack reached the finishing circuit.

Team Sunweb were keen to animate the race and made several moves on the lumpy circuit in Šternberk, but nothing stuck over the course of the opening lap. The attacks did see the remains of the breakaway reeled back in and it was all set for a last lap showdown.

Despite only having to finish in the lead group to secure the overall, Howson jumped away with one other rider over the climb on the final lap. Nobody else was able to follow and the stage came down to a two-up sprint for victory, with Howson coming out on top.

Damien Howson:
“It was a hard day, I had to be attentive and respond to any moves throughout the stage that looked dangerous, because the guys had put in a massive amount of work over the last couple of days and we needed to keep ourselves on the front foot. So, I think I did that pretty well and remained calm.

“For the last half of the stage we had Jack and Michael there to help me, they did a tremendous ride and kept me calm. I said to them as long as they can get me into the last climb, they’d done more than enough, and I was confident to at least seal the GC at that point.

“I just had to match anyone on the climb on the last lap. When the Uno-X guy rode a super hard tempo there was only us two left and then it was a matter of playing my move right into the final to get my hands in the air.

“It’s awesome, it’s been a long time coming, I guess. I put some hard work in in the last couple of months and it’s nice to see that pay off. I can’t reiterate enough, the guys here, kicking it off with the team time trial and the way they’ve ridden the last couple of days, it’s truly amazing to sit behind these guys and see what they’re able to do. It was my way of repaying them with the stage win and the GC.”

Dave McPartland (Sports Director):
“Alpecin-Fenix put the hammer down at the bottom of the first climb, which was the biggest climb of the day, and that really ramped up the tempo and broke the race into five or six different groups. At one point we only had Damo in the front group of about 15 guys and we were on the back foot for a while.

“From that point on a few groups came back, we had Heppy and Bauer who re-joined Damo, then we took over control and everything calmed down a bit. We had Heppy and Bauer protecting Damo on the circuits, nullifying any attacks and those guys were super.

“Damo only really had to cover on the climb on the last lap, and he was all over it, he was the best bike rider there.

“This was the goal at the start of the week, we had lofty goals with the GC and stages, and we ticked both boxes there. We had it taken to us a bit more than last year, there was a lot deeper field than last year, but we came away with two wins and the overall.”

Czech Tour – Stage 4 Results:
1. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:24:44
2. Markus Hoelgaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) +0:01
3. Adam Ťoupalík (Elkov – Kasper) +0:09

Czech Tour – General Classification:
1. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT)

Tour of Poland final reports

We posted the report from GC winner Remco Evenepoel's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here the report from Team Bora-hansgrohe:

On the last stage BORA- hansgrohe had another chance to go for a stage win with Pascal Ackermann. The first half of the 188 km-long course consisted of hilly terrain, which was, however, followed by a flat parcours until the finish in Kraków, where the day ended, as expected, in a mass sprint.

A quintet formed an early breakaway, with all BORA - hansgrohe riders remaining in the peloton. Yet the team remained attentive from the get-go and focused on controlling the race, so that the gap to the leading five riders never extended to more than three minutes. After the leaders had been pulled back in, the teams of the sprinters began to position their fast men in the lead up to the finale.

The squad from Raubling brought Pascal Ackermann into an ideal position from which to launch his sprint, and it looked as if he would take the win, however he was just pipped to the line by D. Ballerini, and ended up taking second place. At the conclusion of the five-day race, Rafal Majka also took fourth place in the general classification, as well as the prize for the best Polish rider.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka (shown at the 2019 Vuelta a España) was fourth in the final GC. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"The team controlled the race well the entire day and didn't let the leading group stretch the elastic too far. Although yesterday was a difficult day, today I had good legs and thought I had a good chance to win. On the last kilometres I had a good lead-out, but I put on my sprint a bit too early and then it wasn't enough to win. It's a pity that after I only just missed the victory on the second stage, I couldn't win a stage this year.“ - Pascal Ackermann

"We started the race with a few options for the general classification, and we also wanted to win stages with Pascal. So all in all, I think we balanced these two ambitions quite well. Of course, I would have liked to have finished on the podium, but in the end, I finished four seconds behind Simon Yates, who took third in the GC. So we can see from the race that I'm in good form." - Rafal Majka

"Today the team concentrated on preparing the sprint and controlling the race for Pascal. In addition, we wanted to secure fourth place for Rafa, and that worked out well. There was great teamwork and everyone sacrificed themselves and did a perfect job. Unfortunately, Pascal was a bit too early and he was skipped on the last meters. We wanted to go home with the victory and we are not completely satisfied with it. But you can say that all the riders are in good form and we have shown a strong team performance this week." - André Schulze, Sports Director

Team Jumbo-Visma posted this update:

Team Jumbo-Visma has concluded the Tour of Poland with an eighth place in the general classification for Jonas Vingegaard. The Polish stage race was overshadowed by a serious crash during the first stage involving Dylan Groenewegen.

Sports director Frans Maassen indicates that the heavy crash during the opening stage affected his team. “That crash and its consequences are of course a nightmare. This hit both our riders and our staff members hard. We hope with all our heart that Fabio Jakobsen recovers well. That’s the most important thing for this moment. Of course I also hope that Dylan will be fine. He is having a very hard time with what happened. It hit us all enormously.”

The former rider continues: “I was happy to see that our team went on after that dramatic event. We kept ourself aloof in the peloton for a day and then we raced offensively again. Jonas can certainly be happy with his place in the top ten of the final classification. The fact that he competed well in this strong field of riders gives him a lot of morale for the following races. Today Jos van Emden went full speed again and our young talent Tobias Foss eventually finished in the top twenty during his World Tour debut. Those are the bright spots during this emotional week.”

And here's the final Tour of Poland report from CCC Team:

After being protected by his teammates for the majority of the stage and maintaining a good position at the front of the peloton throughout on fast finishing circuit, Kamil Małecki crossed the line safely to secure sixth place on the General Classification behind, Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).

This result comes after an impressive ride on the queen stage yesterday saw him go head to head with most of the pre-race favorites on the tough climbs, holding onto the early position in the top ten overall that he secured after his breakaway efforts on the opening stage of the race.

Meanwhile, Sajnok once again contested the bunch sprint for CCC Team but in a hectic run into the line with the day’s breakaway caught just seven kilometers from the finish and very little time for teams to set up any kind of lead-out, he sprinted to ninth behind stage winner Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).

Kamil Małecki:
“I am really happy to be able to finish off the week with sixth place on the General Classification. Like I said yesterday [after the queen stage], to secure a place in the top ten overall at my first WorldTour race is amazing and gives me a lot of motivation for the rest of the season. Today was all about making sure I finished safely in the bunch and I have to say thank you to the whole team for doing such a great job today and throughout the week.

After training camp in Livingo and also Vuelta a Burgos, I felt like I was coming here is good condition so I am happy to know that all my hard work during the break has paid off.

It was another hard stage today and we were really going full gas from around 60 kilometers to go. I could feel it in my legs a bit especially after yesterday’s effort so I am looking forward to a few recovery days before my next races.”

Team INEOS reports on the final stage of Tour de l'Ain

We posted the report from winner Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team with the results.

Egan Bernal secured second place overall with a battling ride on the final day of the Tour de l’Ain.

The Colombian put in a late attack in the final kilometre on the Grand Colombier climb, but was unable to hold off Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), finishing four seconds back on the stage and 18 seconds overall.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic wins the final stage of Tour de lAin with Egan Beranl a bit behind him.

Despite slipping back briefly, Bernal held on well in an elite group of climbers on terrain that will be revisited in the form of stage 15 at the upcoming Tour de France.

Team INEOS had applied the pressure earlier in the stage, splitting the race on the Col de la Biche. Bernal had four riders for support on the descent with Geraint Thomas taking up the work in the valley.

Andrey Amador took up the tempo on the final climb, before Chris Froome and Jonathan Castroviejo shared the workload. Despite eventually having to face off against four Jumbo-Visma riders Bernal coped well, taking another GC podium to add to his recent victory at La Route d’Occitanie.

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