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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. - Elbert Hubbard

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Paris-Nice stage two news

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Stage 2 of the ‘Race to the Sun’ showed little sign of living up to its name, with riders facing more wet conditions and damp roads as the route headed south on a gently undulating 166.5km parcours.

A duo attacked from the start, building a lead of 2:35, before the peloton upped the pace and started reeling them in. With the dual responsibility of protecting race leader, Maximilian Schachmann and setting the pace for the predicted sprint, BORA-hansgrohe were controlling the race from the start. Making the catch with 55km still to go, there was plenty of time for drama, and with the wind picking up, echelons formed on the road and BORA-hansgrohe split the peloton with a coordinated effort. No fewer than six BORA-hansgrohe riders were in the lead group, holding a slim advantage as the race dipped below 10km to go.

As the finish line loomed on the horizon, four of the team remained in this group, race leader Maximilian Schachmann joined by Peter Sagan, Pascal Ackermann and Felix Grossschartner to form a strong team presence on the front.

Led out by Maximilian, Pascal and finally, Peter, Pascal pushed hard on a long sprint and was only narrowly beaten to the line, taking second after a hard effort from a long way out. Crossing the line shortly after, Maximilian Schachmann held his yellow leader’s jersey, with a fifteen-second advantage in the GC standings.
From the Finish Line

Max Schachmann

Max Schachmann remains in yellow.

“It would have been great to top off today's incredible team effort with a win but that's racing. We were in the front when it mattered, we had an excellent position in the finale but victory slipped away on the line. Thanks to the squad for their work today.” – Pascal Ackermann

“I didn’t have a particularly good day today. I didn't expect the rain, so it was really cold and difficult in the beginning and then got hot with all the clothing. I'd like to thank the guys that supported me well and brought me to the front several times. In the crosswinds, my legs opened up again and I was riding really well, and was able to make it up to the front. Peter then put in a huge effort to split the field, and in the end, I was up there with Felix, Pascal, and Peter. Felix and I tried to do a leadout, but today it didn’t quite work out enough to get us the win. We did a very good job today and I extended my lead in the yellow jersey but we certainly will not take anything for granted because I saw that other competitors were also strong today.” – Maximilian Schachmann

“It was yet another hard stage, with the bad weather and heavy rain and wind, particularly in the finale. However, the guys did a great job again today. Over the final 40km there were crosswinds, and they performed particularly well there. We were always up at the front with Max, Pascal and Peter. In the final sprint, Pascal was well supported, but that didn’t suffice to take the win. In such a hard race, these things can happen though. The strongest man wins on the day, and today that was Nizzolo. In the overall standings, we were also able to make another step further, with Max extending his lead. The team’s performance is really deserving of praise today.” – Steffen Radochla

Here's the report from Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

A flat just as the peloton got battered by crosswinds and broken into echelons left the Frenchman trailing on the hectic stage 2.

Crosswinds, crashes, mechanicals and big gaps – it was another crazy day of racing at the “Race to the Sun”, one that unfortunately saw Julian Alaphilippe bleed time in the general classification, just twenty-four hours after putting on an aggressive display that cemented his status as one of the race’s favourites.

The nervous peloton remained alert at all times and even made sure of bringing back the breakaway with more than 60 kilometers to go, knowing the last part of the stage could hold some unwanted surprises. Deceuninck – Quick-Step were prominent at the front, always having a strong contingent in the first twenty positions, but when bad luck struck, there was nothing that our team could do, just fight hard to limit the losses.

The incident in cause occurred with 30 kilometers to go, when Julian Alaphilippe punctured and lost contact with the bunch which fragmented to pieces at that very moment, due to the strong crosswinds that then accompanied the riders until the finish. The Wolfpack rallied around the green jersey wearer, the likes of Kasper Asgreen, Sam Bennett, Yves Lampaert and Michael Mørkøv trading long turns in that echelon. A mad pursuit ensued and our riders emptied themselves in order to reduce the gap to the front group, from where Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) sprinted to victory.

Giacomo Nizzolo

Giacomo Nizzolo takes stage two.

This cohesive all-out effort thrown in by the Deceuninck – Quick-Step boys meant that Alaphilippe lost just 1:25 by the time he came over the finish line in Chalette-sur-Loing, and although he is out of the top 10 overall, with five stages to go (including an ITT and two days in the mountains) he still holds an important chance of edging his way back in the general classification.

Here's the report from Thibaut Pinot's Groupama-FDJ team:

For the second consecutive day, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team proved itself in the Paris-Nice’s crosswinds. Even more gathered around Thibaut Pinot and Rudy Molard than the previous day, they even were among the most aggressive teams when things got serious with fifty kilometers to go. Eventually, only a small split of fifteen seconds in the finale prevented our leaders from finishing in the first group, but after two stages, the balance is nonetheless quite satisfying.

Thibaut Pinot

Thibaut Pinot winning stage 14 of the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

The story almost repeated itself at the start of the second stage of Paris-Nice on Monday morning. Like the day before, a duo took the lead quite early on. In there, there was again Jonathan Hivert (Total Direct Energie), wearing the KOM jersey, accompanied by a Nippo Delko One Provence’s rider, this time being Jose Diaz Gallego, and both were able to complete the first half of the course relatively peacefully, 2-3 minutes in front of the peloton. Then, as in stage 1, then bunch started to be more and more tense at halfway point, leading to the breakaway being caught but also to an increased attention from the leaders’ teams as of entering in the last 70 kilometers. A few momentary splits sounded like a warning before everything got broken up with 50 kilometers to go. Perfectly on position and attentive, the Groupama-FDJ team managed to be in the right move, with numbers.

“Today, they impacted the race” Philippe Mauduit
“When you are in the back, even more with such bad weather, you’re not in control of the race, you need to make constant efforts to stick to the peloton, and it does not put things in the right order morally”, explained Philippe Mauduit. “That’s why we wanted to ride in front, because doing so, we see what is happening and we can make the race. There was a strong risk of wind but it was very fluctuating. So no matter how much we look at all the weather forecast, it’s always better to ride in front.” This enabled Thibaut to have four teammates by his side when a first bunch broke away. “It’s satisfying to have five guys in this group of around thirty, that’s for sure,” said Philippe, “but we’re not going to brag about it. These are extreme conditions. It worked for us yesterday, today also, but it’s so complicated that we can also get caught next time.“

The stage would actually have been perfect if a new split had not occurred ten kilometers from the line, causing Thibaut Pinot and Rudy Molard to lose fifteen seconds on Vincenzo Nibali and Sergio Higuita while Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT) went on to win the stage. “These are uncertain situations, because you can very well succeed for 35 kilometers, and in a blink of an eye, everything can change,” continued Philippe. “That’s why we have to keep working on these racing tactic and technique, but in any case I am satisfied with the team as a whole. Until now, on these situations, we were rather passive. Today, they impacted the race and it is interesting because psychologically, especially, it gives them confidence for the future”. “We were very close to being on the first echelon on a real stage of Paris-Nice”, agreed Julien Pinot. “We also built this roaster to improve in this racing scheme. There are reasons of being satisfied in this regard after the first two stages, but we do not get carried away. Stefan Küng brings a lot, as a leader in this terrain, he pulled some big turns, and all the other guys also committed a lot”.

“We are on the right track” Stefan Küng
The Swiss time trial champion, always perfectionist, was then not completely satisfied at the finish: “Before coming to Paris-Nice, we said that the objective was to work as a team in these situations. Even when you are caught behind, you should not let go, and push until the end. This is what we did today, we gave everything we had and we did the best we could. However, we cannot say that we did everything perfectly. I’m giving us 6 out of 10: it’s good that we took some time on Alaphilippe and Quintana, but I think we were able to be in front. The goal is never to finish in the second group, it is to be in the first one. But we are on the right track ”. After two stages that did a lot of damage, Rudy Molard and Thibaut Pinot are nonetheless doing very well with their top-15 on GC, about 40 seconds behind the leader Maximilian Schachmann.

“Overall, I am satisfied with my day and the balance is rather good after two tricky stages,” said Thibaut. “The team has been very strong today. Whatever happens, the work that has been done is very positive and gives me confidence for the rest of the season, especially in the echelons’ situations, which are not my speciality. I have no regrets that we failed to hang on to the first echelon today. I was exhausted, I just didn’t have the legs anymore”. Rest is highly required before the third stage, which Philippe Mauduit expects to be again very tense. “It is another complicated stage. We’ll still have to look at the weather to know what to expect”, he concluded. “We stay focused, we want to have a great stage and get through it ok ”. “I hope to recover a bit for the time trial on Wednesday that is very important to me,” ended Thibaut.

Too big to fail? Provincial government might help bail out Louis Garneau Sports

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

MONTRÉAL (BRAIN) — Louis Garneau Sports, Inc., which has requested creditor protection from the Canadian government, has listed over CAN$32 million ($24 million) in debts to a long list of creditors including Chinese factories, Canadian banks, the company's own U.S. subsidiary, and a company owned by Louis Garneau's wife. 

Le Journal de Québec, a news site, reported Friday that provincial officials are evaluating how to help the 37-year-old company recover. At a news conference last week, Louis Garneau said he was hoping to restructure the company and remain in Québec. He said he was seeking financial help and advice from within the province.

The company has not yet filed a list of assets. Sixty-six employees at its headquarters in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Québec, were laid off last week when the filing was announced.

The bankruptcy in Canada does not affect related companies in the U.S., Mexico and elsewhere, a spokesman for the company told BRAIN. "The situation only concerns Louis Garneau Sports with the office in Québec," said the spokesman, David Couturier. "There is no impact (jobs, business activities) in the U.S. or elsewhere." Louis Garneau USA, the company's subsidiary based in Vermont, is listed as a creditor owed CAN$614,000.

Documents from Raymond Chabot Inc., Garneau's insolvency trustee, show debts owed to more than 500 creditors.

One of the largest is CAN$1.86 million owed to Gestion Monique Arsenault, Inc., a company reportedly owned by Louis Garneau's wife, Monique Arsenault.

Other creditors include the Royal Bank of Canada, owed CAN$11.4 million; Investissement Québec, an investment company created by the National Assembly of Québec to support Québec-based businesses, which is owed CAN$6.37 million; Aguila, a Taiwan-based company that produces shoes and gloves in China and Cambodia, owed CAN$1.15 million; a Chinese company listed as "Xiamen (JDX)", owed CAN$804,000; and Horizontal Co., LTD, a trading company based in Shenzhen, China, owed a total of CAN$817,000.

The company also owes its employees $671,368.

You can read the entire story here.

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