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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 24, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Good executives never put off until tomorrow what they can get someone else to do today. - John C. Maxwell

Current racing:

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:


National Cycling Championships reports

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

After a number of BORA - hansgrohe riders were forced to forego participation in their national championships this week, partly due to injury, and partly by virtue of the intensive racing schedule this year, the team from Raubling was only able to come away with one national title, that of Juraj Sagan in Slovakia.

Pascal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann (shown earlier this year winning the Almeria Classic) was second in the German championships.

Results:

Thursday:
Road Race Estonia - Martin Laas, 12th place

Friday:
Individual Time Trial Poland - Maciej Bodnar, silver

Saturday:
Individual Time Trial Austria - Patrick Gamper, silver
Road Race Slovakia - Juraj Sagan, gold; Erik Baska, silver

Sunday:
Road Race Germany - Pascal Ackermann, silver
Italy - Daniel Oss, TBA
Luxembourg - Jempy Drucker, bronze

"The German road race was held over 160 km, featuring 48 laps of the Sachsenring. We actually wanted to control the race for Lennard Kämna, Andreas Schillinger, or Marcus Burghardt and hoped that there would be enough attacks in the second half of the race to make the going difficult. Unfortunately, events were pretty calm and several of the other riders were looking to us. We controlled the race and Pascal was able to save energy throughout the day. Ultimately the team ended up concentrating its efforts on him and supported him well over the final few laps. In the end, he finished second, to be honest, not quite what we had hoped to achieve, but unfortunately that was all he had today. Even though he pulled out a good sprint, it wasn’t enough to get him the win this year.” – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Team Jumbo-Visma posted this generous report on the Dutch road championships:

Team Jumbo-Visma has had to settle for the bronze medal at the Dutch National Championship. On the course around the VAM mountain, Timo Roosen, Pascal Eenkhoorn and Jos van Emden crossed the line behind winner Mathieu van der Poel as the number three, four and five respectively.

Mathieu Van der Poel

Mathieu Van der Poel (shown winning the 2020 GP Sven Nys cross race) is Dutch road champion for 2020.

Sports director Arthur van Dongen’s yellow-black brigade started the championship with nine riders. From the start there was a big battle in the peloton. The strong wind, the heavy rain and the heavy course contributed to this. The Team Jumbo-Visma riders attacked several times, but they never got much space. The supreme Van der Poel started a solo at about forty kilometres from the finish and crossed the finish line alone in the Drentse Wijster.

“It was a very fair race. The course was grueling and very tough. We did everything we could to create a surplus situation”, Roosen said. “There was nothing that could be done about Van der Poel. Pascal tried several times to follow in his wheel. That was very brave. We tried everything, but this was the best we could do. I don’t think we can blame ourselves. The best has won, that seems clear to me. For me it is nice to be on the podium. On the last climb we decided among ourselves who would be third.”

Sports director Van Dongen endorses the words of his rider. “Van der Poel was great. He deserved to win.”

Here's Astana's report on the Spanish championships:

Luis Leon Sanchez took his first road race title at the Spanish National Championships. Today, the experienced rider of Astana Pro Team won the gold medal of the National Championships in Jaen after a powerful attack inside the final kilometer of the race.

Luis Leon Sanchez

Luis Leon Sanchez (shown winning the second stage of the 2020 Vuelta a Murcia) is the Spanish road champion.

- I am so happy to win the title of the national champion in the road race. After many attempts and podium places, finally, I did it! I want to thank my team for staying here next to me! Today Oscar Rodriguez worked a lot to help us to keep the race under control, and also Gorka Izagirre was so strong today and in the final he provided me a great support! It was a very hard race, difficult to control with a lot of attacks. I was staying in the group, waiting and waiting for the best moment. When Jesus Herrada went away, I decided to follow him. Once I caught him, I waited until some 500-600 meters to go and gave my all to the finish line. It is a great feeling to become the National Champion and I will be proud and happy to wear the jersey of the Spanish Champion during the next year all around the world, - said Luis Leon Sanchez.

Luis Leon Sanchez and Gorka Izagirre stayed in the group of the main favorites during the entire race. Despite many attacks on the final part of the race, no one could get a serious advantage. Jesus Herrada made his attack with 3 km to go, while two Astana Pro Team riders counterattacked shortly after him. Sanchez was able to catch Herrada inside the final kilometer and with 600 meters to go Luis Leon made his decisive move, which brought him the title of the 2020 Spanish Road Race Champion.

Gorka Izagirre finished second, taking a silver medal.

- The truth is the race was very hard. We were three in the race and everyone was watching on us. It was not easy to control the race, but we managed to do it! Oscar Rodriguez did absolutely incredible job today for Luis Leon Sanchez and me. In the end Luis Leon was able to realize his chance and to win. It is a beautiful victory! Also, I am pretty happy with my second place! – said Gorka Izagirre.

NTT Pro Cycling's Italian Championship report:

Giacomo Nizzolo sprinted to victory at the Italian National Road Championships, beating Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Mclaren) to the title.

Giacomo Nizzolo

Giacomo Nizzolo is Champion of Italy.

Despite crashing 4km into the tough 253km Italian national road race, Nizzolo was able to position himself at the front of affairs at all the critical moments of the race.

Samuele Battistella was on-hand to support Nizzolo throughout the race, and played a vital role in keeping the race together, for Nizzolo to have the opportunity to sprint for victory.

After the final climb of the race peaked with around 25km to go, Nizzolo and Battistella were both in the front selection of 13 riders that went all the way to the line.

Nizzolo launched his sprint late, but timed his move to perfection as his late lunge for the line just edged out Ballerini. This is Nizzolo’s 2nd national title, following his 2016 triumph, and will see the NTT Pro Cycling sprinter proudly wear the tricolore at the Tour de France, starting next weekend.

Here's the Team Sunweb report:

Friday 21st August

France – Women’s Time Trial:
Best result: Juliette Labous – 1st.

Netherlands – U23 RR:
Best result: Nils Sinschek – 5th.

“Lap-by-lap I made my way closer to the front and by the time I got there, there were already some guys up the road so I attacked and managed to bridge across to that gap,” explained Sinschek. “I had some stomach issues and looked for some water but it was hard to take the feed on the course and that definitely affected my performance. I knew that there were some faster guys in the group, so I tried to attack and get clear but they immediately closed me down so it was tough to breakaway from the group. In the end I tried my best but it was only a fifth place. It was nice to race again but of course I wanted to be a bit higher up the rankings, but it was a decent result.”

Saturday 22nd August

France – Women’s RR:
Best result: Juliette Labous – 22nd.

Sunday 23rd August

Denmark – Women’s RR:
Best result: Pernille Mathiesen – 6th.

Denmark – Men’s RR:
Best result: Asbjørn Kragh Andersen – 5th.

Kragh Andersen said: “It was a super fast, hard and wet race. It was a tough battle today against the Trek and Quick-Step guys, but I gave it a try. I’m also happy about my own performance and how I rode the race today.”

Germany – Men’s RR:
Best result: Marius Mayrhofer – 5th.

Mayrhofer said: “It was a strange race today and it didn’t go how we expected it to. We worked really well as a team throughout the day and the guys did well to cover the attacks. The finale suited me well and I’m happy to finish in fifth place.”

Netherlands – Men’s RR:
Best result: Nils Eekhoff – 2nd.

Here's Groupama-FDJ's report on the French champonships:

Historical. Against all comers on Sunday afternoon in Grand-Champ, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team and Arnaud Démare managed to conquer another French champion’s jersey. After a huge work from his teammates over 233 of the 237 kilometers that were on the menu today, the sprinter made the last efforts by himself in the final to follow several brutal attacks of Julian Alaphilippe. He eventually found himself in contention for the title with the latter and Bryan Coquard as well. However, being on top of his game at the moment, no one could deny him the victory in the final sprint. After 2014 and 2017, Arnaud Démare is crowned for the third time while the Groupama-FDJ cycling team wins its eleventh title on the road.

Arnaud Demare

Arnaud Démare (shown winning 2020 Milano-Torino) is the 2020 French road champ.

“Solidarity was the key word today,” said Arnaud Démare on Sunday afternoon, a few minutes after he crossed the finish line of the French championship as a winner. It was indeed necessary throughout the 237 kilometers of the Grand-Champ course, made of thirteen laps of eighteen kilometers. Considered by everyone, riders as well as cycling followers, as the main favourite for the event, Arnaud Démare was aware that his opponents would give him a hard time. Groupama-FDJ was also aware that they would have to control the race all by themselves. That’s exactly what happened from the end of the first lap on, when a group of nine riders went up the road. The team sent David Gaudu in the front, as a guarantee but mostly started its work at the front of the bunch. They did it alone, of course, and first with the young guys of the development team Hugo Page and Théo Nonnez. From then on, for almost half of the race, the race unfolded in a very usual way, with the breakaway riding three to four minutes ahead of a quite calm bunch. Then, while Pierre Latour and Valentin Ferron went to form a duo in front after six laps, some disorder started back in the peloton. With almost a hundred kilometers to go, attacks came from all sides, and from all teams, aiming to isolate Arnaud Démare as much as possible.

Several groups then went up the road, but their advantage over the peloton led by Groupama-FDJ never exceeded a minute. “We witnessed a tight-knit team,” said Arnaud Démare in his post-race interview. “From start to finish, we never get divided. We were attacked from all sides but we remained united, the team was very strong. We were able to keep up the pace, first with the young guys from the Conti who did a great job, then with the more experienced guys. They all did a tremendous job”. “We got there as the favourites and we took on this role by taking the race in control from the start,” added Yvon Madiot. “We showed our ambitions very quickly and everyone understood that we were riding for Arnaud. We were attacked almost throughout the whole championship but the team was quite formidable, solid and united. I think what makes the difference is that we are riding for a lone leader. We manage to unite everyone with a project and a tactic”.

With fifty kilometers to go, a fairly substantial breakaway took shape as the bunch was just bringing back all the leaders. Sixteen men then took the lead in order to weaken the collective strength around Arnaud Démare. However, they remained in sight of the bunch, with only a 30-seconds gap. They even entered the last lap with the same gap. The final attacks, and undoubtedly the most dangerous ones, were obviously anticipated. The first one came from Florian Sénéchal, together with Romain Bardet, but Groupama-FDJ also speeded up the pace, which was clearly needed. “I was a little bit doubtful entering the last lap, especially since there were a lot of them in front,” admitted Arnaud. “They may have looked at each other a bit but above all, when our time trialist Benjamin Thomas started to pull, we gained seconds and seconds. We went through the corners with a good speed and I thought we were going to close the gap quite quickly. That’s what happened.” However, the most feared attack was yet to come. Julian Alaphilippe eventually made it with only four kilometers to go, after a devastating turn from Florian Sénéchal. “We all knew Julian was going to attack,” smiled Arnaud. “Before he attacked, the bunch was already scattered. I knew it was going to be tough but Anthony Roux told me: if Julian attacks, follow him.”

Julian Alaphilippe indeed attacked, as strong as he usually does, and Arnaud Démare hung on, 20-30 meters behind the Deceuninck-Quick Step’s rider. The two men started battling from distance for a few hundred meters before Bryan Coquard also joined the fight, and took a few turns with the Groupama-FDJ’s sprinter in order to close the gap. “My few time trial trainings proved to be useful to come back,” smiled Arnaud Démare. After a final attempt from Alaphilippe closed by the Milan-Turin winner in the last kilometre, a three-man sprint was then going to decide the new French champion. “This three men final was really special,” Arnaud said. “I was going a little into the unknown as I only experienced this kind of situation a little, but I remembered Paris-Nice 2017, where I got to the finish with Alaphilippe and beat him. I was careful also to Bryan, with his track record and his speed. With the headwind, I was really scared of missing this out, but in the end, the legs lived up to my expectations and I was able to launch and then resist.”

Clear winner on the line, ahead of Coquard and Alaphilippe, the three-time French champion put both arms in the air, with a feeling of strength coming out of him similar to the one he’s shown since the season restart. Arnaud Démare was the main favourite and was aware that he would get a hard time. It did, but eventually the mission was accomplished, in style. “This title is completely different from the other two, but it is the most beautiful, both collectively and individually”, he claimed at the finish. “To come back as I did on Julian, who is the best puncher in the world right now… It’s an exceptional title”. General manager Marc Madiot passionately experienced this title from the team bus. “It was intense and stressful,” he said. “The money time in a championship is always special and there is only one place that matters. On top of that, it was an explosive final; a great championship final, which I think will go down in history. We often think that we have more riders than the others, but we are not. We just put everything we have into it. There is solidarity, momentum, confidence and serenity in this group. The guys give more than usual on this particular day and the young guys of la Conti already want to come back again! “

With this fifth victory – and what a victory – in eighteen days, Arnaud Démare now appears as the most prolific rider since the season restart. “Since Milan-Turin and the Tour de Wallonie, I feel very confident” he confirmed. “Yesterday the guys told me during the recon that it wasn’t that easy, but I still had good feelings about it. Right now, nothing is stopping me. It’s an incredible feeling”. Another proof of the stature he got in recent days, the national coach informed him during the protocol that he was finally selected for the next European Championship, not far from there, in Plouay. And one can say that with the way he’s riding at the moment, an European champion’s jersey could well be added to the French champion’s shirt on Wednesday.

UAE-Team Emirates had a good day:

Sven Erik Bystrøm took his first victory in UAE Team Emirates colours by winning the Norwegian National Road Race Championships. Bystrøm took the win by hair from Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Uno-X) in a three man sprint to the line.

Sven Erik Bystrom

Sven Erik Bystrøm (shown racing in the 2019 Tour de France) is Norwegian road champion. Sirotti photo

Working together with his teammate Alexander Kristoff, the former under-23 World Champion Bystrøm  built up a gap of over 1’ on the chasing group behind, before beating his fellow escapees in the dash for the line. Kristoff led home a chasing group to claim 6th place, 1’22’’ behind.

Bystrøm : “For me it was a special win. I have been 2nd before and the difference from winning is huge. I’m really happy to be on the top of the podium again. Also I want to thank Alex Kristoff for the way he was riding. We shared the work and we were able to bring home another national champion jersey to our team.”

Results:
1. Sven Erik Bystrøm  (UAE Team Emirates) 5:02:41
2. Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Uno-X) “
3. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Lotto Soudal) “
6. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) 1’22’’

The Bahrain-McLaren team put out this report:

Sunday, August 23rd – Team Bahrain McLaren is on the podium of the Italian Road Race National Championship, as Sonny Colbrelli sprints to third place in Cittadella – in the Veneto region, behind the winner Giacomo Nizzolo and Davide Ballerini, second.

Our team – that was in action also with Enrico Battaglin, Eros Capecchi and Damiano Caruso – raced perfectly on the 254km course, that featured in the second part 11 laps of a 12,50 km circuit, including the Rosina climb (2 km length at average 6%) and before the final loop also a cobbled climb ‘La Tisa’, that made the decisive selection. Colbrelli managed to stay with the small leading group, showing that the course suited him and that he was ready to try to go for the win. As every attempt of attacks in the finale was unsuccessful, it was clear that the new Italian Champion would be one of the fastest men among the 13-rider group on front. Sonny was the one who opened up the sprint, but Ballerini and then Nizzolo overcame him.

Colbrelli, who took the bronze medal, after he was silver last year, says: “Too bad. I really wanted to win this title. I think I proved how much I cared about it. I opened the sprint from distance, trying to surprise my rivals, but I’ve got headwind and unfortunately, I couldn’t finish it off with a better result. I’m afraid for my teammates because I was hoping to repay them with a win. They were great at supporting me today. It’s another podium at the National Championships, I will try again”.

Team Bahrain McLaren Sports Director Franco Pellizotti adds: “I have to say that the boys were great today. We were in the early breakaway with Capecchi and then we controlled the race with Battaglin and Caruso, to support Colbrelli until the key moment. Sonny was perfect in every phase of the race. Too bad that the sprint unfolded in that way. We were looking for a win and so we’re a bit disappointed. But we did everything we could.”

Today it was also scheduled the Spanish Road Race National Championships. We were competing there with Ivan Cortina, who just missed the podium, finishing 4th.

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