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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, July 5, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

To be a poet is a condition, not a profession. - Robert Frost

Current racing:

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Virtual Tour de France stage one team reports

Men's race winner Ryan Gibbons' NTT team posted this report:

Ryan Gibbons and NTT Pro Cycling made a bit of Tour de France history today when the South African champion sprinted to the stage 1 victory of the first ever Virtual Tour de France.

Ryan Gibbons

Here's a picture of Ryan Gibbons winning stage five of the 2017 Tour de Langkawi

Racing on the the Zwift virtual cycling platform, 23 of the worlds best cycling teams lined up for the first ever virtual Tour de France today. NTT Pro Cycling’s 4-rider lineup included, Gibbons, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Rasmus Tiller.

Stage 1 was an undulating 36.4km over 4 laps of Zwift’s Watopia virtual world. Each lap contained an intermediate sprint and a category 3 climb, meaning the fight would be on from the start for the green and polka dot jersey’s.

NTT Pro Cycling took the race on from the front, with all 4 riders present at the head of affairs throughout the stage. This saw our quartet regularly racking up points in both intermediate competitions. However, the main goal today was the final sprint for the line, and to secure the stage win and yellow jersey.

On the final lap, Gibbons, Boasson Hagen and Tiller crested the category 3 climb, which peaked with just over 2km to go, in a front group of around 30 riders.

Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos) and Greg van Avermaet (Team CCC) tried to go early for the line but it was Boasson Hagen who led out the sprint proper, with Gibbons catapulting into the lead in the final 200m with a perfectly timed sprint.

Gibbons secured the first ever virtual Tour de France stage victory ahead of Pier-Andre Cote (Rally Cycling) and Nico Schulz (Mitchelton-Scott).

Boasson Hagen held on to claim 6th place on the stage and Tiller also crucially finished in the yellow jersey points scoring top 25 places, to ensure NTT Pro Cycling also took home the first Virtual Tour de France yellow jersey.

Thanks to accumulating points at the intermediate sprints and Gibbons stage winning sprint, NTT Pro Cycling will also have the green jersey for tomorrow’s stage 2 and the lead in the team’s classification. A fantastic start for our South African UCI World Team in cycling’s biggest ever virtual race.

Here's the update from Team Astana:

The opening stage of the Tour de France virtual saw a fast start into the race weekend. The riders fought hard in their pain caves, with Gorka Izagirre crossing the line inside the Top-25 as Astana`s best ranked rider.

Gorka Izagirre

Gorka Izagirre in 2017

It would not be July without Le Tour de France. We may have to wait a little longer for the real one but over the next three consecutive weekends 23 teams will battle it out on six stages in a virtual world at the Tour de France virtual 2020.

The opening weekend started with a 36.4 km, stage over nine laps of the Watopia Hilly circuit with an elevation of 100m. The race started in the afternoon with Daniil Fominykh, Yevgeniy Gidich, Gorka Izagirre and Nikita Stalnov trying to fight for glory.

It was a frantic and fast start as some riders attacked right from the start. The race went on fire as the race headed up the first GPM´s. Astana Pro Team stayed together in the bunch. On the final lap, the riders tried to make their way up to the front, so Gorka Izagirre.  In a fast finale, Gorka Izagirre was Astana`s top finisher, crossing the line inside the Top-25.

-I think we can be satisfied with our performance today. The Tour de France virtual is a perfect training for us to get back into race mode. The course wasn`t that easy and everyone went full gas right from the start. Gorka was our best finisher and tomorrow we will see another tough stage. – Claudio Cucinotta, Coach

Tomorrow, the second stage of the Tour de France virtual will cover 29.5 hilly kilometers. Manuele Boaro, Laurens de Vreese, Hugo Houle and Yuriy Natarov will line up for the Kazakh team.

Mauri Vansevenant to turn pro with Deceuninck-Quick Step

Here's the team's release:

The first Belgian in 36 years to win the Giro della Valle d’Aosta will join the team for the Val di Fassa training camp.

A contract that will see Mauri Vansevenant ride for the Wolfpack until the end of the 2023 season had already been negotiated last year, as was the arrangement of having him join the team and turn professional only upon finishing his Bachelor in Electromechanics. After his graduation, the next milestone immediately awaits the Torhout resident: turning professional.

“I wanted to finish school first”, the 21-year-old explained. “It’s not compatible with being a professional cyclist. I’m very happy to have my degree. For me it was a requirement. I’m comfortable now. It gives me certainty for the future. Sooner or later I’m going to need it.”

Before officially joining the Wolfpack, Mauri, the son of former pro Wim Vansevenant, already met with his new teammates on a few occasions, at the annual Calpe winter training camp, and more recently in the Flemish Ardennes, where the team gathered for an encounter with the parcours of Gent-Wevelgem and the Ronde van Vlaanderen. “It was really fun, but I’m more of a climber than a classics rider”, he added. “Last year I won the Giro della Valle d’Aosta with my U23 team EFC-L&R-Vulsteke. Riding uphill really suits me, I like those tough mountain stages. But the future will show which role will suit me best. First, there are still a lot of things I have to learn.”

Vansevenant will join his Deceuninck – Quick-Step colleagues for the team’s altitude training camp, his first activity as a professional rider. “I have got a lot of watching, listening and learning to do in the coming weeks. I’ll have to adjust to the level and the way of racing with the pros. I’m sure my teammates will help me. I feel good among the guys, there’s a good vibe in the Wolfpack. There are many Belgian riders, which makes it easy for me to integrate. They really pull me into the group. It’s a pleasure, a dream come true”, concluded the youngster.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere was obviously delighted in having Vansevenant join the Wolfpack: “Mauri did very well in the U23 category and showed his climbing skills multiple times. I’m happy to have him join the team. He is still very young so he will get the time to grow as a professional cyclist without any pressure. We don’t expect anything of him in the short term, just to steal with his eyes and to learn from the more experienced riders. He will be asked to help the team where needed; and if the opportunity presents itself to show his qualities in a mountain stage, we’re definitely not going to stop him.”

“Aside from the more experienced riders like Keisse and Devenyns, we have a very young team roster, with guys like Almeida, Bagioli, Evenepoel and now also Vansevenant. I hope to add a few youngsters to the team every year. This way we gradually rejuvenate the Wolfpack and prepare for the future”, concluded Patrick Lefevere.

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