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

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

History is a vast early warning system. - Norman Cousins

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

Will Clarke wins Stage 6 of the Virtual Tour de France

Here's the report from Clarke's Trek-Segafredo team:

Clarke timed his sprint to perfection to win the final virtual stage into Paris.
Australian Will Clarke claimed an impressive win on the iconic Champs-Élysées with a perfectly timed sprint, notching Trek-Segafredo’s second stage victory on the first-ever edition of the Virtual Tour de France. 

Will Clarke

Will Clarke wins stage six.

The 42.9-kilometer Stage 6 comprised six laps of a 6.6km circuit in Zwift’s brand-new Paris course and, much like the traditional closing stage of the Tour de France, a bunch sprint was expected.

Trek-Segafredo lined up with a competitive four-rider squad: Koen de Kort, Emīls Liepiņš, Matteo Moschetti, and Will Clarke, 4th on stage 4 last weekend.

The team put up a tremendous collective performance with Liepiņš taking the second intermediate sprint and riding attentively at the fore alongside teammates de Kort and Clarke.

A heavily reduced bunch was still together heading into the final 15km, having averaged nearly 50km/h over the first half-hour of racing.

In the run-in to the line, Team NTT – leading the overall classification – looked well poised to take the win with Maillot Jaune wearer Ryan Gibbons, but Clarke blasted past the competition on the line with a power sprint. Clarke, affectionately nicknamed ‘The Big Horse’ for his exceptional workhorse abilities, claimed Trek-Segafredo’s second stage win in the Tour de France e-race after Julien Bernard’s victory on stage 2.

“I’m really happy with today’s race. It was obviously pretty hard, and starting out I just had to make sure I stayed at the front. The selection was made pretty early on, and I think there were only 30 or 40 riders left, so I just had to make sure I stayed towards the front and tried to save energy when I could.

“Last week I sprinted too early, but this time I made sure I timed it exactly right. It was hard because I came from a long way back, but it’s a nice result to finish off this Virtual Tour de France. The goal today was to try and get another stage win after Julien (Bernard) started really well for the team two weeks ago,” said Clarke.

With Clarke’s win on the Champ-Élysées, Trek-Segafredo concluded the three-consecutive weekends of e-racing with two stage wins and a third-place in the overall classification.

NTT Pro Cycling wins first Virtual Tour de France

Here's the team's post:

NTT Pro Cycling were crowned the first ever virtual Tour de France champions, after the final stage of the race ended in an exciting sprint on the Zwift virtual world Champs-Elysees course.

NTT Pro Cycling

The winners.

A fully committed team performance over the 3 weekends of racing saw NTT Pro Cycling go into stage 6, the final stage, of the virtual Tour de France leading every classification in the race. The goal for the South African UCI World Team was to hold off the challenge from the other 22 professional teams and make history by clinching the overall title.

Ryan Gibbons, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Max Walscheid and Rasmus Tiller were the four riders lined up for NTT Pro Cycling on the Champs-Elysees.

Being cheered on by the entire squad from the team’s base in Lucca. Italy, it looked like Gibbons was going to bookend the race with stage wins, but the South African road champion did not repeat his stage 1 victory and was narrowly beaten to the line, finishing in 3rd place on the stage.Incredibly, Tiller, Walscheid & Boasson Hagen all managed to place inside the top 10 as well, taking 4th, 6th and 9th respectively.

NTT Pro Cycling’s commanding performance saw the team ride away with the yellow general classification classification jersey, the green points jersey, the polka dot king of the mountain’s jersey and the white jersey for the best young rider. The team also secured the victory in the overall team classification.

Douglas Ryder – Team Principal:
To win the first ever virtual Tour de France, the team was just exceptional. This was an amazing opportunity for us to engage with people on a platform that is uniquely different, and I believe e-cycling racing is here to stay. We put a lot of effort into the event, as did NTT providing the data and analytics viewers could see on screen, so to win the first ever Le Tour Virtual is brilliant.

A thank you to the A.S.O for putting on the event, together with Zwift, as we were able to connect with people during a time when they have possibly never felt further apart. Inspiring hope into the lives of others is what our team’s mission has always been, and through incredible technology we were able to do this during the Virtual Tour de France.

Mitchelton-SCOTT seventh overall: Wrapping up the Virtual Tour de France

Here's the team's race summary:

Sun 19 Jul 2020: The first ever Virtual Tour de France concluded today after three-consecutive weekends of challenging e-racing which saw Mitchelton-SCOTT pick up three, top-3 stage finishes, third place overall on the points classification, before concluding the inaugural six-stage event in seventh place on the overall classification.

With the Tour de France postponed until August 29th due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual race gave fans and riders the chance to experience live racing throughout the month of July, with new virtual ‘worlds’ around France such as today’s final stage on the Champs Élysée.

After competing in two other e-races previous to the Virtual Tour de France; the five one-day race series DigitalSwiss5 and the five-stage Tour for All, Mitchelton-SCOTT riders were ready and prepared to test themselves against the other WorldTour teams on the digital platform, getting their competitive juices flowing again.

After two stages every weekend for three weekends, NTT Pro Cycling proved to be the best team, dominating the entire event to claim the overall victory with 500 points, 233 points ahead of second place Rally Cycling and 361 points over the Australian outfit.

Stage 1: 36.4km Watopia Hilly
Mitchelton-SCOTT got off to a flying start on day one with Nick Schultz, Daryl Impey and Dion Smith making it into a reduced select group as the peloton found their feet in the virtual world. Schultz displayed great form on the hilly Watopia course to finish in third place on the stage behind the eventual winner Ryan Gibbons (NTT Pro Cycling. 

The team also finished at the top of the points classification thanks to Impey who claimed maximum points in the first two intermediate sprints followed by fourth place across the line in the final two sprints.

Line-up: Daryl Impey, Alex Konychev, Dion Smith, Nick Schultz
Stage 1 Top Position: 3rd – Nick Schultz
Stage 1 Team Points Classification: 1st

Stage 2: 29.5km Watopia Mountain
It was a hard second stage with a huge split occurring in the peloton just 12kilometre into the stage. Mitchelton-SCOTT unfortunately missed the move and the front group continued to fragment further as they headed up and over the summit of the main climb of the day.

Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) claimed the stage win with Michael Hepburn the highest finisher for the team on the day.

Line-up: Barnabas Peak, Michael Hepburn, Damien Howson, Michael Albasini
Stage 2 Team Points Position: 2nd - 53 points

Stage 3: 48km France R.G.V
Day three moved to a new virtual world as the peloton headed to France for a pan-flat stage. After completing the first of two laps, the peloton had whittled down to around 40 riders with Callum Scotson the main contender for the team, consistently riding within the top ten.

Scotson contributed to Mitchelton-SCOTT’s points classification campaign, picking up valuable points in two intermediate sprints, before taking on the sprinters in the final dash to the line.

The Australian came up against Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ Continental and Matteo Dal-Cin (Can) Rally Cycling in a close sprint finish, but just came up short and crossed the line in third place with Dal-Cin taking the victory.

Line-up: Jack Bauer, Sam Bewley, Esteban Chaves, Callum Scotson
Stage 3 Top Position: 3rd – Callum Scotson
Stage 3 Team Points Position: 2nd – 85 points
Overall Position after Stage 3: 7th – 70 points

Stage 4: 45.8km France, Casse-Pattes
After three stages, Mitchelton-SCOTT came ever so close to winning their first Virtual Tour de France stage thanks to Australian rider Schultz.

An attack on the ‘Casse-Pattes,’ the circuit’s main climb, a 2.7km ascent with an average gradient of four percent, a group of eight-riders breakaway with Schultz making the move.

The Australian showed his talent for e-racing, going one better than his stage placing on day one, finishing in second place which catapulted Mitchelton-SCOTT up to 5th place on the general classification with still one-weekend of racing to go.

Line-up: Alex Edmondson, Jack Haig, Barnabas Peak, Nick Schultz
Stage 4 Top Position: 2nd – Nick Schultz
Stage 4 Team Points Position: 2nd – 96 points
Overall Position after Stage 4: 5th – 110 Points

Stage 5: 22.9km La Reine
The penultimate stage was one for the climbers with the first and only summit finish of the virtual tour.

Mitchelton-SCOTT didn’t feature on the stage with large splits occurring within the peloton and with Mike Woods (EF Education First) dominating.

Woods attacked with a small group at the bottom of the climb; Mont Ventoux. The virtual peloton shattered behind as Woods headed away from the front group to claim a solo stage win as Mitchelton-SCOTT dropped down to eight place overall.

Line-up: Brent Bookwalter Luke Durbridge, Lucas Hamilton, Adam Yates
Stage 5 Team Points Position: 2nd 100
Overall Position after Stage 5: 8th – 115 points

Stage 6: 45.8km Champs-Élysées
It was the first time the virtual peloton visited the Champs-Élysées to cap of a busy three-weeks of racing on Zwift.

The pace was high with six intermediate sprints up for grabs along the route causing the peloton to significantly reduce down to just 35 riders as they passed the half-way mark.

Mitchelton-SCOTT riders were well represented with numbers in the reduced front group of but an explosive speed in the final sprint saw the team finish outside the top-ten on the stage, however Luke Durbridge was awarded the most combatitive prize after his day's efforts.

Line-up: Luke Durbridge, Edoardo Affini, Rob Stannard, Kaden Groves
Stage 6 Team Points Position: 3rd – 140 points
FINAL Overall Position: 7th - 139 points

A week in the life of Remco Evenepoel

Here's the post from Evenepoel's Deceuninck-Quick Step team

Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 20-year-old Belgian talked of the day he took on the iconic Muur-Kapelmuur 50 times.

Training, resting and enjoying time with my family – this is what the lockdown was about for me. In the morning I always did some training hours, came back home, had a small lunch, got some rest in the afternoon and then cooked a bit with my girlfriend for dinner. I also played on my PlayStation from time to time and watched some Netflix. I began and completed all seven seasons of “Sons of Anarchy”, a great series which I really liked and I recommend to others to watch.

Remco Evenepoel

Evenepoel nears the top of the iconic climb. Photo: Wout Beel

As you might have heard, I also did the Muur challenge, which popped into my mind when I was thinking of doing something a bit unusual. For me, Muur-Kapelmuur is the most famous climb in the whole of Flanders, those cobbles have so much history and have witnessed many memorable moments, and as it’s not really far away from me, it was pretty easy to organise everything and go there with my Specialized bike and do the 3km loop 50 times.

The day was very nice, I had good weather, no wind, no clouds, just sun. I started pretty early, because I knew it will take me some time to complete the challenge, but fuelled by 6D I managed to achieve this goal. I won’t lie, I had to overcome a tough moment after 30 laps, because it felt like I was getting closer and closer to the end of this challenge, when actually I still had a lot of kilometres to put in. Just so you can make a better picture, it took me about one hour to do the loop eight times, so by the end of the day, I had been in the saddle for six hours and 20 minutes.

In the evening, my parents brought me some tasty fries, and I must tell you that it was one of the best moments of the day and a great way to savour what I had just done.

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