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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, February 3, 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

I am a kind of paranoid in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy. - J. D. Salinger

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Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race reports

We posted the report from winner Dries Devenyns' Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the race results.

Here's what second-place Pavel Sivakov's Team INEOS had to say about the race:

Pavel Sivakov took an impressive second-place finish after an aggressive showing from Team INEOS in Geelong.

Dries Devenyns

Dries Devenyns finishes ahead of Pavel Sivakov.

Sivakov launched a solo move with 5.5 kilometres to go, yet was hauled back by Dries Devenyns (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), with the Belgian edging out the two-up sprint.

Dylan van Baarle also found himself in a select front group on the final lap and dug deep to finish in fifth place, four seconds back on the lead duo.

The team were in the mix straight from the gun as the peloton quickly split in the crosswinds. New signing Cameron Wurf was thrust into the action, drilling it on the front alongside Luke Rowe. The pace went up again with 85km to go, with Ian Stannard, Owain Doull and Chris Lawless also contributing to making the race hard ahead of the finishing circuits.

The final time up the Challambra climb it was Sivakov who latched on to the acceleration of Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). This proved to be the launchpad for a strong podium finish, with Van Baarle able to sit in behind and wait for the sprint.

Pavel Sivakov:
"I saw everyone was on the limit, and when you're racing for the win you have to attack. I knew I wasn't the fastest guy in the group, so I had to try to go away if I wanted to win. I almost did it, I just missed a bit. I'm happy and disappointed at the same time.

"We didn’t really plan it to go like this but we knew there were some crosswinds from the start. We just wanted to keep it safe, and when all the team were on the front we did some damage. We put everyone under pressure. It was a really tough day throughout the whole race – really full on, stressful and hard for everyone. Then on every lap some guys were getting dropped. In the end it was a select group at the front. I’m happy to come second but a little bit disappointed not to win. It was pretty close but chapeau to Dries.

"The team was amazing. We were there from start to finish. Of course we wanted to get rid of the sprinters but we knew that the sprinters are some of the best guys in the crosswinds. It was more to make it hard before we came onto the laps, so everyone was tired and we could race aggressively again."

Cameron Wurf:
"It was super hard as expected. As a team we didn’t have a sprinter, so the plan was to make it as hard as possible. And that meant making it hard from the start. For my first race back it would have been lovely to have maybe 50-60km to ease your way in, but I was the first person to do a pull. That was about 5km into the race and I was on the limit it from then on. But it’s great – when you’ve got a team like this it’s easy to motivate yourself to do whatever you can. You can tell that Pavel and Dylan particularly were super strong. If we could make it hard all day then they had a chance of doing well – and they showed it at the end. It was great.

"I felt pretty comfortable out there in the peloton. I didn’t know if everyone knew it was me and were giving me a bit more space! A lot of guys said hello and welcome back which was really nice. It was a great way to start. It was tough but I’m glad I did it now, as early as possible. Now I know what to expect and to improve for next time.

"I’ll run back to the hotel now. Perfectly they’ve positioned the finish line a half marathon distance away, which is (coach) Tim Kerrison’s minimum requirement (laughs)."

Third-place Daryl Impey's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

South African champion Daryl Impey has settled for third place at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong this afternoon.

After a dominate performance by his Mitchelton-SCOTT team in the final two laps, the 35-year-old was marked out of the race after two riders escaped in the final kilometres, with Dries Devenyns (Deceuninck-Quickstep) going on to take the victory.

Impey has now finished third in the last three consecutive editions.

Dry and windy conditions offered the bunch variables to play with early and it didn’t take long for them to be utilised, with the race splitting in the first 20km.

Mitchelton-SCOTT made the front split but, despite almost reaching a one-minute gap, the second group recovered to see the action back together. Racing calmed after the regrouping, allowing the Australian wildcard pair of Carter Turnbull and Elliot Schultz to ride out to a sizeable advantage of six minutes.

In the space of just 20km, the race fired up again and the leading duo’s advantage dropped from six minutes to just one. The pressure from the front of the peloton was once again enough to snap the elastic, with groups scattered across the road.

Much of the race regrouped again and, despite getting within 10seconds of the leaders, the bunch allowed the pair to once again ride away. As the peloton cross the start/finish line to receive three laps to go, the leading duo still held a 50second advantage.

Mitchelton-SCOTT turned the screws in the final two laps, bursting apart the race on the penultimate climb up Challambra courtesy of Dion Smith. His efforts forced a group of 15-20 riders at the front, Mitchelton-SCOTT with five.

Damien Howson drilled the next lap to hold the advantage of the group from the chasing peloton before Simon Yates attacked on the final ascent of Challambra to whittle the group down even further.

Yates lost touch following his effort and after an attack by Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos) and Devenyns it was left to Impey to chase back as his rivals sat on the wheel.

It wasn’t meant to be as Impey sprinted to third place, four seconds behind the lead pair.

Daryl Impey – Third place:
“Third place, again, but we did a great performance. We did exactly as we planned. We wanted to take the race on with two laps to go and the boys did an amazing job.

“They held that gap, we thought everything was pretty good up until that final climb when we lost Yatesy there, then it was a tactical battle.

“I thought the faster guys were going to do some work but I think they were pretty pinned. It’s a shame we didn’t all work together properly in the end, because I think I had the best legs out of the guys there.

“Simon went a bit earlier than expected, but we had to take the race on. A lot of guys were comfortable with where we were at, and we needed to try to whittle that group down. Simon did a great job, it just caught up with him on the last climb.

“That’s bike racing, you go all in and that’s how it is. It’s always a tactical battle, it’s not always the best legs but Dries had good legs and the winner is always right.”

Matt Wilson – Sport Director:
“It was an awesome performance by the team. We had a really specific plan this year, we knew our strengths, and the guys executed it perfectly.

“We were in exactly the position we wanted to be in the final. Simon made a big effort over the top and into the last kicker and just couldn’t recover in time. Daryl was awesome, he rode all the way to the line, I think the other two were basically sitting on him and he still beat them for third, so he was going really well.”

And 6th-place Jay McCarthy's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

With today’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race, BORA – hansgrohe brought its campaign in Australia to a conclusion. The 171 km long course took the riders from the bayside city of Geelong to the Great Ocean Road on the shores of the Bass Strait, and back again.

On their return towards Geelong, the riders faced three-and-a-half laps of a 16.6 km finishing circuit that included four ascents of the short but brutal Challambra Crescent. With 25 km remaining, a 20 rider strong group, including Jay McCarthy, launched an attack and over the final few kilometres, a duo got away from the leaders and sprinted for the win, which was taken by Dries Devenyns. Jay put in a strong performance, and despite the injuries he sustained from the Tour Down Under, he finished in 6th place.

“Over the past week, I tried to recover from the injuries I got at the Tour Down Under and today I felt that I had a chance to get a good result. I tried to concentrate on this goal and not let myself be influenced by what happened last week, but ultimately, I didn’t have enough strength left to fight for the victory. I don’t want to use the crash as an excuse, but it has been a tough week. Today the guys supported me well all day and put me in a good position on the final lap, but in the end I wasn’t able to ride right at the front of the race anymore. Of course I’m slightly disappointed with the way things have happened at the start of the season. We’ve had some bad luck here in Australia and that’s why we couldn’t achieve what we had planned." - Jay McCarthy

“Today's race was marked by strong winds and so we made sure to ride in a good position from the beginning. After the first feed zone, we wanted to make the race difficult with echelons and our riders were able to put this plan into practice well. The peloton then split into several different groups. We tried to always stay in front and keep Jay in a good position on the climbs. With two laps remaining, Mitchelton - Scott made the race quite difficult and a larger group, including Jay, was able to ride away. On the final climb, this group split and six riders, once again including our Australian rider, remained in front. However, a duo was able to jump away shortly before the finish and in the end Jay reached 6th place. After his crash in the Tour Down Under, this was a good result. The team did well in the Tour Down Under and also here in Geelong and so, given the circumstances, we can be satisfied with our performance.” - Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Polish champion Michal Paluta ready for his CCC Team debut 

CCC Team sent me this release:

02 February 2020: Polish road race champion Michał Paluta will make his CCC Team debut at Etoile de Bessèges, the five-stage race commencing on 5 February.

With a solid roster, including sprinters Jakub Mareczko and Jonas Koch, and two Polish debutants, Kamil Małecki and Paluta, the team will aim for a strong start to the season, Sports Director Fabio Baldato, who won this race in 2003, said.

Jkob Mareczko

Jakub Mareczko (shown in 2017) will be joining Michal Paluta at the Etoile de Bessèges.

“When you look at the route of Etoile de Bessèges, you will see that our fastest guys, Mareczko and Koch, will definitely have the opportunity to show off. That’s why we are bringing a young but experienced squad to support our sprinters from the first to the last kilometers. As well as looking for success, we also would like to see what shape they are in at the beginning of the season. The last stage is an individual time trial, so here we are counting on Kamil Gradek, who is a solid time trialist. Even though this stage finishes on a climb, which is usually demanding for Kamil, I am sure that he can perform well as he is in good shape."

“This will be also a special race for us as we have two debutants, Małecki and Polish champion Paluta. Both riders are extremely motivated and they are looking forward to starting their journey at the WorldTour level. Etoile de Bessèges is a perfect race to start with and I’m sure that they’ll perform well.”

After a busy off season, including January’s training camp in Denia, Paluta is excited to make his debut after stepping up from CCC Development Team.

“It’s almost the same feeling I’m used to having every season, before the first races. But this time, it’s a bit different. First of all, I’m interested to see how my legs will react, whether the work I’ve done during the off season period will bring the intended results. In addition, this will be my first season in the WorldTeam and this gives me a lot of motivation. I’m trying to stay calm and do my best to be prepared for racing. We have a strong roster for this race, so we will definitely try to fight for stage wins. I want to check my legs and do everything for my teammates, so one of them could raise their hands at the finish line. And of course, I also want to show what I can do as well,” Paluta explained.

“The route is varied and the race is often accompanied by difficult weather conditions, so this can also affect the way the stages are raced. The final time trial will be a great test of how our bodies will react after a few days of regular racing. I'm really looking forward to the start of the season in new but "’old’ colors. "

Etoile de Bessèges (5 - 9 February)
Rider roster: Kamil Gradek (POL), Jonas Koch (GER), Kamil Małecki (POL), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Michał Paluta (POL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Georg Zimmermann (GER)

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Gabriele Missaglia (ITA)

Team Movistar reports on final day of Challenge Illes Balears

We posted the report from Pascal Ackerman's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results of the fourth & final race of the series.

The 2020 Challenge Mallorca came to its close on Sunday with Matteo Moschetti (TFS) as the top scorer of the first Spanish event of the season. The Italian claimed his second victory of the week as he bested Pascal Ackermann (BOH) and Andrea Pasqualon (CWG) at the end of the 159km Trofeo Playa de Palma – Palma.

Matteo Moschetti

Matteo Moschetti (right) just wins the Trofeo Palma.

Following Saturday’s Marc Soler win in Andratx, the Movistar Team did not miss this brandnew chance to go on the attack and shone with its two Majorcan riders at the start. Lluís Mas got himself into the early breakaway, a three-man effort alongside Álvaro Cuadros (CJR) and Brian Van Goethem (LTS) which he kept alive for 120km. The Spaniard was rewarded at the podium with the Intermediate Sprints competition and Most Aggressive Rider awards.

As Lluís was caught by the sprinters’ teams, Enric Mas took his turn to try several attacks through the climb of the Coll de Sa Creu (Cat-3), eventually caught before the descent by a peloton which didn’t let the bunch sprint go. The Movistar Team thus completed a notable performance in the Spanish season’s opened, now thinking of their next challenge at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

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