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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, July 26, 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

You can lead a man to Congress, but you can't make him think. - Milton Berle

Important upcoming racing, according to the UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

Pascal Ackermann wins second stage of the Sibiu Tour

Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

Today's second stage of the Sibiu Tour took the peloton on an undulating loop of 181 km around Sibiu. The course was one for the fast men and with Pascal Ackermann, BORA - hansgrohe had one of the best sprinters in the professional peloton in its ranks today. The race commenced amidst pouring rain, which only subsided in the second half of proceedings. The team from Raubling set a high pace in the field and with only 10km remaining, the peloton split into several groups. This was followed by a series of attacks, which, however, remained fruitless. On the finishing straight, Pascal proved himself to be the fastest, taking the day's victory. Teammate Patrick Konrad remains in the leader's jersey after the stage. Unfortunately Rudi Selig was involved in a crash 25km before the conclusion of the race, but was able to remount his bike and cross the finish line.

PAscal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann earlier this year winning the first stage of the UAE Tour.

1. P. Ackermann    3:58:58
2. R. Barbier             +0:00
3. R. Stacchiotti        +0:00
4. E. Grosu               +0:00

From the Finish Line:
"I'm really happy to return to racing with a victory. However, not everything went according to plan on today’s stage. My lead-out man Rudi Selig crashed 25 km ahead of the finish, and then Patrick Konrad had a flat tire on the last climb. Yet despite this bad luck, we were able to regroup and take the stage win. The sprint was incredibly hectic, with not many of the teams having leadouts. It wasn't immediately clear which wheel I should take, and in the end I decided to jump behind Grosu’s rear wheel. 300m before the finish, I just launched my sprint and it worked out perfectly." - Pascal Ackermann

"Our strategy was to control the race strongly from the get go, and only allow a small group to get away. That worked out quite well, with only five riders being able to break away from the field. In the peloton, Andreas Schillinger set the pace together with Israel Start Up Nation and controlled the race perfectly. On the last 40 km, there were two climbs, the last of which featured a technical descent. Our plan was to ride this climb with Gregor Mühlberger in front to allow the whole team to stay at the front end of the field in the last and very technical downhill. Before the race, we had actually inspected this part of the course quite thoroughly and it paid off. By the end of the race, there was a reduced group from which the sprint was contested. Chapeau to our two GC riders, they dedicated their efforts completely to our sprinters today. Ultimately, Pascal reigned supreme, and we’re delighted that our tactics went according to plan. We’re now able to head with confidence into the final day of racing.“ - Christian Pömer, Sports Director

Annemiek van Vleuten continues unbeaten run after another solo victory at Clasica Navarra

Van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this race report:

Yesterday’s Emakumeen Nafarroako race winner Annemiek van Vleuten demolished the field once again today, claiming  victory at Clasica Navarra to make it three-from-three solo race wins this season.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Van Vleuten racing in the 2019 Giro Rosa.

The world champion was able to follow a strong and important move by Elisa Longo-Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) after 65kilometres of racing on the Muro de Tirapu and the duo quickly put time into the suffering chasers.

It was on the final climb of the day when the Mitchelton-SCOTT rider picked her moment to go, putting the pressure on which caused the Italian to lose contact.

Rapid start
After blowing out the cobwebs in yesterday’s race, the peloton got off to a fast start covering almost 40kilometres in the first hour of racing over the rolling terrain.

It was clear to see the variety of levels within the peloton with a large number of riders already dropped after the first 3 0kilometres.

Short and steep
Mid-way through the race, a selection of short and steep classified climbs saw the peloton break up even further and the successful move came on the climb Muro de Tirapu.

It was Longo-Borghini who really lit up the race attacking away on the steep slopes leaving a reduced bunch behind. Van Vleuten saw the danger and quickly accelerated across to join Longo-Borghini and the duo quickly established a lead.

Changes at the front
On the penultimate climb the pair really began to put time into the chasing group reaching an advantage of one-minute 45seconds.

In a sudden turn of events, a puncture almost took Borghini out of contention however, showing sportsmanship, Van Vleuten waited to allow the Italian to re-join.

The final climb provided the perfect launch pad for the rainbow jersey, as she accelerated away to victory.

Annemiek Van Vleuten
“I didn’t expect to win, it is very special for me to win two-times in a row. I can’t almost remember winning two-times in a row so it a very special day for me.

"It was hard but I know when I feel my legs and they hurt I have to think differently and know this is the moment to attack.

“I thought today’s course would suit different girls compared to yesterday, it was a bit punchier and I was thinking for me it was better to have the long climbs. Alejandro Gonzales, my director, was talking about the Cote de La Redoute climb from last year, that gave me goosebumps and that was really good coaching from him.

"Remebering last year on La Redoute, I just went from the bottom, didn’t look back, committed and at the top there was nobody there, then I picked up Elisa (Longo-Borghini) about half-way up.

“At the moment when Elisa had a mechanical, we had around one and a half minutes, I was thinking should I stop or is it better to continue with a solid pace and hopefully she could come back.

"When I saw her coming, I waited for her and I was really happy we could ride together. That is not the way to drop someone or the way that you want to win. It felt like fair play and I am happy she came back.

“Today was really good also to see all my teammates were there, we had a full lead-out into climbs, all together, protecting each other and that is also really good for the motivation if you ride together.

“It was really happy to see Lucy Kennedy was better and better with her positioning and also Moniek Tenniglo was really strong today. That makes me really proud."

Classica Navarra Results:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT)
2. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Trek-Segafredo)
3. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Valcar - Travel & Service)

Giacomo Nizzolo to lead NTT team at Vuelta a Burgos

The team sent me this press release:

BURGOS, Spain, July 25, 2020: NTT Pro Cycling has confirmed its selection for Vuelta a Burgos which sees the seven-rider line up spearheaded by Giacomo Nizzolo, winner of the opening stage of the 2019 event.

Giacomo Nizzolo

Giacomo Nizzolo (right) just beats Alexander Aranburu to win the first stage of the 2019 Vuelta a Burgos

The 2019 edition saw Nizzolo take a photo-finish win in dramatic fashion on stage one, which he followed up with a second place on stage two, ensuring that he led the race for two days.

The Italian comes into the race following the conclusion of a highly successful team training camp in Lucca, Italy, and with confidence following stage victories at the Tour Down Under as well as at Paris-Nice earlier this year.

He will be supported in expected sprint finishes by Max Walscheid. The German also made an excellent start to 2020, winning two stages at the Tour de Langkawi as well as claiming the green points jersey.

Our contingent of climbers sees the trio of Louis Meintjes, Ben O’Connor and Danilo Wyss all on the start line, where they’ll be joined by Benjamin Dyball. The 31-year-old Australian has yet to make his debut for NTT Pro Cycling after missing the early part of the year with illness.

Our line-up is completed with the late inclusion of Nicholas Dlamini. The 24-year-old South African takes to the start line for the first time this year having missed the early part of the season due to a an arm injury.

One man that misses out is local Carlos Barbero. A triple stage-winner at this event in the past, the Spaniard unfortunately sustained a broken left hand in a crash while training at our recently completed team training camp. He will undergo surgery and is expected to make a swift recovery.

Bjarne Riis, Team Manager:
After the enforced break our team training camp in Lucca was an excellent way to bring everything that we’ve been working on all together. We had a very successful period of time spent together: team spirit is very high, our preparation has been excellent and we all can’t wait to get back to racing now.

I’m excited for the team that we’ve selected for Burgos, and I look forward to seeing what they’re able to do in what looks to be a very strong field.

Giacomo Nizzolo:
The camp was great; we had a brilliant time, trained very well and I’m really looking forward to Burgos. We’re definitely ready to race again.

It was a great week for us last year where I was able to secure victory in the opening stage and from there we were always in contention in the sprint stages, so it was a great feeling.

This year the approach will be a bit different, as we also look a little further down the line to Milan-Sanremo but of course if I get the chance to score a result then I will always try and go for it.

Nicholas Dlamini
I’ve haven’t pinned on a number in about 10 months, if not more, and so I’m very excited and nervous. I’ve done all the preparation and I’m feeling really good. I’m really looking forward to the race, to be on the start line and having a number on my back, that’s going to be a lot of fun.

We’ve got a strong line up and obviously getting a late call up to this race is really cool. Being able to start racing even earlier than originally planned is a good thing for me, as I can get my head into it much quicker and earlier. Burgos is a really nice race, it was actually my very first race as a stagiaire so it’s nice to be heading back.

Carlos Barbero
I am really disappointed having crashed and broken a bone in my hand as I was really looking forward to starting the race. I was in really good condition but sometimes these things happen.

I’ve already shifted my mind to full focus on the recovery process and be back racing with my teammates as soon as possible again.

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