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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, January 20, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable, for the happy impute all their success to prudence or merit. - Jonathan Swift

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Santos Women’s Tour Down Under Stage 4 reports

Here's the organizer's final report:

Simona Frapporti wins Schwalbe Stage 4, Ruth Winder crowns it all

Italy’s Simona Frapporti avoided a bunch sprint finish to claim her first win of the season in the closing stage of the Santos Tour Down Under that consisted in 25 laps in the streets of Adelaide, while Ruth Winder bravely defended her overall lead in the first two Ziptrak Sprints to take home a worthy title.

Ruth Winder

Ruth Winder enjoys her victory.

“It feels pretty crazy to win the Santos Tour Down Under,” Winder reacted. “Team Sunweb and Mitchelton-SCOTT really put us under pressure. I’m really happy to pull it off. I’m still really excited after the stage I won yesterday. It’s such an incredible feeling. It’s not a single person’s sport. For every win, you need a strong team. I wish my team-mates could accompany me on the podium.”

The first Ziptrak Sprint after lap 6 saw the dominance of Team Sunweb with Liane Lippert and Leah Kirchmann taking the first two places with Winder in third, which meant Lippert got closer to the overall lead, only five seconds down.

The second sprint after lap 12 was won by Lotta Henttala (Trek-Segafredo) who stole the time bonus to favour Winder, third on the line again behind Spratt who benefitted from a good lead out by Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Ten riders managed to form the first breakaway on lap 15 with Brodie Chapman (FDJ- Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope) being the most active of them all. It gave the opportunity to Jaime Gunning (Specialized Women’s Racing) to win the third Ziptrak Sprint ahead of Lauren Stephens (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank).

A member of the breakaway, Rushlee Buchanan (Vantage New Zealand National Team) opened a gap with four laps to go. With a deficit of thirty seconds, it was game over for the peloton in the last five kilometres of racing but Trek-Segafredo paced to retain the Santos Ochre Leader’s Jersey. Buchanan got reeled in by the chasers at bell lap. Frapporti, who was also one of the ten breakaway riders, emerged in the last straight line to take her first victory of 2020.

“It’s always nice to win on the first stage race of the year,” Frapporti said. “Coming from Italy, we were behind the locals in terms of condition but I was feeling very well today. So I took my chance. I’m sure my two brothers (Marco and Mattia Frapporti) who are professional cyclists too will be happy to hear that I’m a winner today. It’s important to start an Olympic year with a victory. It’s perfect for the confidence.”

And here's the report from GC third-place Amanda Spratt's Mitchelton-Scott team:

Australian champion Amanda Spratt secured third place overall following an aggressive final stage at the 2020 Santos Women’s Tour Down Under.

After two hotly contested intermediate sprints, a lapse in the action allowed for a strong breakaway to form with Georgia Williams sent to cover the move for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Despite being almost caught on a number of occaisons, the breakaway survived to contest the stage with an error in judgement costing the New Zealander the chance for victory.

Accustomed to success at the Tour Down Under, having won every prior edition, including the last three editions with Spratt, there’s no doubt the team arrived in Adelaide aiming for another title.

Whilst they didn’t pull off the ultimate prize on the newly designed course, they walk away with a stage win, third overall and another week of racing that proved the outfit is one of the strongest and most cohesive units in the peloton.

With seven seconds separating the top three overall at the start of the day, the ochre jersey was still up for grabs with the right combination of bonus seconds.

The first intermediate was hotly contested by leaders Trek-Segafredo and second placed Team Sunweb, before Mitchelton-SCOTT got involved in the second intermediate sprint.  All three leaders picked up seconds to tighten the race at the front.

The intensity of the first two sprints took its toll on the bunch and a lapse in action provided the perfect launch pad for opportunists.  A group of 12 riders rode to the front, with Williams keeping watch for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Whilst on occasion the bunch looked motivated to bring them back, including in the final lap, it didn’t eventuate.

Williams launched early following a call from the car, but the speed came from behind her in the final straight with Simone Frapporti (BePink) winning the final stage.

Ruth Winder (Trek Segafredo) held onto the overall title with Spratt in third, six seconds adrift.

Amanda Spratt - 3rd overall:
“Of course I came here to win but I’m really proud of the third place. My reign at the Tour Down Under had to end at some point.

"I can’t fault the team this week, they all rode really well. There wasn’t much more that we could have changed, we were just beaten by a stronger rider, especially on yesterday’s stage.

“It was a different Tour this year, it all came down to bonus seconds. That made it quite exciting and it put me out of my comfort zone today too.”

Georgia Williams:
“After the second sprint there was a bit of a lull. A few girls drove it down the front straight, and there was a bit of crosswind there so it split. It was perfect because there was pretty much one rider from every team.

"I hadn’t planned to get in the break, we didn’t even think there would be a break today.

"I was backing my sprint in that group but the call from the car was that the bunch was coming so I just went. So in the end, I ended up leading out the sprint by going early."

Martin Vestby - Sport Director:
“The girls have been great this week. We had some plans and we followed them all week. It went our way a couple of days and it didn’t go our way a couple of other days. Cycling is like this, but we gave it a really good crack.

“We didn’t really expect a breakaway at all today. My thought was that Team Sunweb would back their leadout train and would go for bonus seconds in the GC but then we got the breakaway and it was good to have Georgia there.

"I didn’t think it would stay away and even on the last lap it looked like it was getting organised quickly and they would get closed down, so I told Georgia on the last lap it would be her only chance to have a go at it. Of course it stopped in the bunch, it came down to a sprint and it was a bad call by me."

Women’s Tour Down Under – Stage 4 Results:
1. Simona Frapporti (BePink) 58:23
2. Lauren Stephens (Tibco Silicon Valley Bank) ST
3. Rushlee Buchanan (New Zealand) ST
9. Georgia Williams (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

Women’s Tour Down Under – FINAL General Classification:
1. Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) 10:11:07
2. Liane Lippert (Team Sunweb) +0:05
3. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:06

Schwalbe Classic team reports

Winner Caleb Ewan's Lotto-Soudal posted this report:

In a rainy Adelaide, Caleb Ewan and Lotto Soudal made a perfect start of the season by winning the 51 km Schwalbe Classic. Elia Viviani and Simone Consonni, both Cofidis, finished second and third.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan takes his first win of the 2020 season. Sirotti photo

“The last six, seven laps it started to rain”, explained Caleb Ewan. “That made it a lot more nervous in the bunch. We were in a great position. My team helped me a lot to stay up to the front. Roger Kluge left that gap for me in the final straight. That gave me a really good launch.”

It was Caleb Ewan’s fourth victory in five editions of the Tour Down Under Classic Criterium.

“This is my first race of the season. Usually I’ve done some races before, but apparently that didn’t matter. I was pretty relaxed for the first half, sitting on the back and then, when I needed to go, I got off into position. That was it. ‘Easy’.”

Caleb’s wife and 7-month-old daughter were present in Adelaide.

“The two days that my daughter was at a race was in Tour de France, when I won my second stage, and now here today in Adelaide. So maybe she’s my good luck charm”, concluded Caleb Ewan.

Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday with a 150km circuit stage around Tanunda.  

Here's the update from Team Deceuninck-Quick Step:

Surprisingly, light rain welcomed the riders who lined out at the start of the Tour Down Under Criterium, held two days before the start of the 22nd edition of the World Tour event, on a fast and challenging circuit that the peloton had to cover 30 times.

Six riders attacked on the opening lap and built a 30-second maximum gap, which several teams, including Deceuninck – Quick-Step, kept in check and gradually brought back as the race progressed. A late crash split that occurred on a tricky left-hand corner split the field and slowed down Irish Champion Sam Bennett, who found himself at the back and tried hard to return to the front of the group as the race entered in the final kilometres.

Michael Morkov

Michael Morkov at the team presentation ceremony. Sirotti photo

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, the speed being well over 50km/h at that point, and this meant Michael Mørkøv took over sprinting duties, finishing in seventh place the race won by Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) over Elia Viviani (Cofidis). It was the final test for the riders ahead of the Tour Down Under – first race of the World Tour calendar – which starts Tuesday, with a flat stage around Tanunda.

And here's what Team Sunweb had to say about the race:

Before the Tour Down Under begins next week, the traditional pre-race criterium took place with 30 laps around the streets of Adelaide today. It was a controlled start to the race and a breakaway of five riders quickly established itself at the head of the race. Another rider soon jumped across to the leaders and the race then entered a familiar pattern, with the breakaway held steady at around 15 seconds ahead of the peloton.

With some rain in the air, the conditions on the road became more damp and that saw the breakaway increase their advantage as the race headed into its final third. Approaching the final five laps the rain started to fall and combined with the high pace it stretched the bunch out even more.

Heading towards the finish, the team worked well to move Alberto Dainese towards the front of the race, before the Italian followed the wheels of his competitors in the closing laps. With the infernal pace at the front of the bunch it was hard to move up but Dainese did well to pick up places in the slippy conditions, before delivering a strong sprint on the final straight to end the day in sixth place on his debut for the team.

“The road was slippery in the last few laps, and there were a few crashes but the guys put me in a good position for the finish,” explained Dainese. “After the last corner I was in eighth place but there were some gaps in front of me so I couldn’t sprint for the win anymore. I had hoped for a little bit more but it is what it is and it’s a good start.”

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts added: “It wasn’t traditional Aussie weather and the bit of rain made it slippery heading into the finale of race. Unfortunately Max had a small crash, but he seems to be ok. The wet roads made it havoc in the bunch, and it was difficult for riders and teams to be organised. Alberto was up there for the finish, sprinting to a good sixth place and showed his ability to compete with the fastest here.”

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