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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, March 13, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Paris-Nice Final Stage Cancelled

The organiser of Paris Nice posted this:

In agreement with the authorities, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the City of Nice, the organisers of Paris-Nice have decided to judge the finish of the race tomorrow, Saturday, at the end of the 7th stage in Valdeblore-La Colmiane. The decision, made in the context of the reinforced fight against the propagation of the coronavirus epidemic, cancels the final stage originally scheduled to take place around Nice on Sunday.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Jasper de Buyst (Lotto-Soudal), Rudy Barbier and Krists Neilands (Israel Start-Up Nation) and the whole of the Bahrain-McLaren team (Dylan Teuns, Pello Bilbao, Damiano Caruso, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Heinrich Haussler, Domen Novak, Hermann Pernsteiner and Jan Tratnik) did not start stage five

Paris-Nice stage five news

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

Here's the report from stage winner Niccolo Bonifazio's Team Total Direct Energie:

This Thursday, our Italian sprinter, Niccolò Bonifazio won the fifth stage beautifully, after 227 kilometers of racing from Gannat to La Côte Saint André. Niccolò performed a masterful sprint in which he beat Peter Sagan, Elia Viviani and Nacer Bouhanni… What legs!

Niccolo Binifazio

Niccolo Bonifazio wins stage five.

It was the team's third victory of the season and, above all, the first at the “World Tour” level, a performance that Team Total Direct Energie has not accomlished for two years.

“At the start of Paris-Nice I lacked a little rhythm, today I pedaled very well. I tried to position myself well in the last kilometer. At 200 meters from the finish I left to sprint and win. Thanks to the whole team."

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

On Paris-Nice’s longest day, the roads started to present the peloton with a more serious challenge – a sign that the race was about to become more mountainous. The 227km parcours featured four categorised climbs, two at the start and two close to the finish, meaning only the strongest would be in contention come the finish. Unfortunately, Pascal Ackermann had to abandon the race due to stomach problems, but with the German rider showing no other, apparent, symptoms.

From the start of the stage, a quartet made their way up the road to form the day’s break, but although they held their lead most of the day, the sprinters were looking to take the glory today. Doing an excellent job of protecting the GC leader, Maximilian Schachmann, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were driving the pace high as they prepared for the predicted sprint. The peloton came to within touching distance, but a last-ditch attempt from the last member of the break went clear in the final kilometres.

In a nail-biting finale, the solo rider looked like he was going to take the win, but the sprinters, with Peter Sagan pushing hard, snatched the win on the line. The Slovak rider finished in third, after starting his kick from a long way out to catch to escape, but found himself boxed in for the final metres, while both Maximilian and Felix Grossschartner maintained their first and third places in the GC respectively.

Max Schachmann

Max Schachmann will start stage six in yellow.

From the Finish Line:
"When the bunch was about to reach the escapee in the final straight I found myself a bit boxed in. Bonifazio had space, timed his sprint well and took the victory. I would have liked to finish the day with a win but I did my best. On the other hand, we were successful in our GC goals and both Felix and Max didn't lose any seconds which was important today." – Peter Sagan

"Today was the longest stage of this year’s race, and actually also one of the hardest. The first 120km or so were not particularly difficult, with the tempo not being so demanding. However, the final 15km, with the constant attacks, were really hard and very fast. However, the guys supported me in these moments really well, and like over the past few days, did a fantastic job. Peter took another podium place, and we didn’t lose any time in the general classification, so we’re coming ever closer to our goal here." – Maximilian Schachmann

"Today we had a long and difficult stage and the breakaway group was very strong. Peter couldn't launch his sprint in the finale in the best possible way, because he was a bit boxed in and was unable to find a good free rear wheel. Bonifazio won the sprint convincingly today, but Peter's third place is a solid performance. We were able to defend the yellow jersey and nothing has changed in the overall classification. Now we’re turning our attention to the first difficult mountain stage tomorrow and we will continue to try to defend the jersey." – Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

EF Pro Cycling: Mike Woods and Lawson Craddock abandon Paris-Nice on stage 5

Mike Woods crashed on Thursday’s stage of Paris-Nice and sustained a broken femur. He was taken to a Lyon, France, hospital immediately, where evaluations confirmed he suffered a closed fracture to his right femur. He will undergo surgery this evening in Lyon to repair the injury. Woods will return home to Girona, Spain post surgery.

“We feel for Mike and his friends and family,” said the team’s head of Medicine, Kevin Sprouse. “We’ll work with Mike every inch of the way as he recovers from this injury.”

American Lawson Craddock was forced to abandon Paris-Nice as well on Thursday, as he was suffering from a headache. Per ASO protocols due to concerns around the COVID-19 virus, he was taken to the finish in an ambulance. The team’s doctor was in Lyon with Woods, but ASO medical officials determined Craddock did not meet the criteria to be tested for the coronavirus. Craddock will return to his European base of Girona, Spain, on Friday.

Fernando Gaviria confirms he has coronavirus

VeloNews posted this:

Colombian sprint star Fernando Gaviria is the latest confirmed victim of coronavirus in the pro peloton.

Fernando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria wins stage four of the year's Tour of San Juan.

Just days after Dmitry Strakhov (Gazprom Rusvelo) was the first rider confirmed to have contracted coronavirus, Het Laatste Nieuws has reported that Gaviria has been in hospital in Abu Dhabi with the virus for the past two weeks.

“I know there’s been a lot of rumors about my health,” Gaviria said. “Exams have found that I am positive for coronavirus, but I am feeling good. I want to say thanks to the team, and everyone at the hospital who have been treating me very well. I’m [staying] here to avoid infecting other people, and we’ll see how it goes. I want to assure everyone that I am OK, and we’re hoping this is resolved as soon as possible.”

You can read the whole story here.

CCC Team returns to racing at Ronde van Drenthe

The team sent me this update:

12 March 2020: CCC Team will return to the start line this Saturday at Ronde van Drenthe, where the team’s young riders will have the opportunity to take on the cobbles.

“We are happy to return to racing at Ronde van Drenthe. This has been a complicated time and it is clear the evolving COVID-19 situation will continue to have an impact on professional cycling. Our priority throughout this time has been the health and safety of our riders and staff. At a one-day race, where the team has more control over the environment, we believe we can take the necessary precautions to race in a safe environment for all parties. Of course, we all want to race and we will be glad to see the CCC Team jersey back on the start line,” CCC Team President Jim Ochowicz said.

CCC Team will line up at the one-day race with a diverse and motivated roster, including Polish champion Michał Paluta, Sports Director Steve Bauer explained.

”Ronde van Drenthe is a great race to test our riders’ form going into the important cobblestone Classic season. This race has all the elements and demands of a Dutch "Paris-Roubaix" with its forested cobble sections. Our goals will be to build our team cohesion and go for the win. Some of the riders in the group have experienced this race before which will help us to devise our strategy. The team is certainly motivated to race hard with the recent race calendar adjustments”, Bauer said.

Kamil Małecki returns to racing after a strong start to his first season at the WorldTeam level.

”After starting my season with Etoile de Besseges and Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia, I came back to Poland and continued training. I felt really good at those races and I did a good job afterwards to improve my shape and stay healthy. The parcours is unique as one open or cobbled section can change the scenario for the entire race. From the profile, it looks like the route is perfect for sprinters so the teams with fast guys in their rosters will be controlling the race. I expect the race will be particularly hard as with quite a few races cancelled, teams will send strong rosters,” Małecki said.

Polish National Champion Paluta is also looking forward to testing his legs in The Netherlands.

”I started my season with two stage races in France and after a short break, I have focused on building my shape for the upcoming Classics. With Ronde van Drenthe, I will start the next part of the season so I hope that I will have strong legs. Looking at the parcours, I think there are many scenarios for this race soit’s good that we will have such a diverse roster. We will have to tackle cobble sections, short climbs, and a flat finish. As always, I’m happy to race in my Polish champions jersey,” Paluta added.

Ronde van Drenthe (14th March)

Rider roster: Josef Černý (CZE), Kamil Gradek (POL), Kamil Małecki (POL), Michał Paluta (POL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL), Georg Zimmermann (GER)

Sports Director: Steve Bauer (CAN) 

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