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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, November 7, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. - Buddha

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Vuelta a España stage 16 reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Magnus Cort Nielsen's EF Pro Cycling team:

The 162km stage, from Salamanca to Ciudad Rodrigo, had a number of factors that teams had to be prepared for. The prevailing winds that could easily cause splits if teams momentarily let their guards down. The heavy climbing packed into the second half including the category one climb, Puerto el Robledo, or descending down from it and hitting the 1km long climb with ramps up to 11%.

As the break was slowly whittled down to just Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step) powering away at the front, the chasing group behind had the collective urge to reel him in. With 4km to go, as Cavagna looked over his shoulder, he knew his chance of victory had fizzled out. As the reduced bunch swallowed Cavagna up, the high pace continued and the stage looked destined to finish in a sprint. With 200m to go, Magnus Cort (EF Pro Cycling) having positioned himself well, could taste victory. There was nothing else to do but go all out to the line.

As Cort crossed the finish line first ahead of Primož Rogliç (Team Jumbo-Visma), his hands held high, the Dane was happy to take his second win of the season, nine months to the date after his first.

Magnus Cort Nielsen

Nielsen enjoys his stage win. EF Pro photo

Magnus Cort, rider:
“I think I timed my sprint pretty well, I came from the last corner in a decent position, not too far away from the front. Then I sat there looking for an opening, and I found that with about 200m to go, maybe a little less, and from there I went with everything that I had.”

“I was never confident that I could win it. Starting today I hadn’t even thought about winning this stage. I thought it would be a more reduced bunch coming in, and I was helping Hugh out, and suddenly I could see my chance to get over the first cat climb with about 25 to 35km to go, and although it wasn’t that much of a reduced group I knew there weren’t many guys faster than me. There was still Cavagna out front, but there were a lot of teams wanting it to come back together.”

“I think the last nine months have been difficult for everyone this year, it means a lot coming back and winning [since my last win nine months ago to the date]. I was coming into good form when we came back after the long break, but then I caught the coronavirus myself and I was out. So I have only been training for three weeks before coming here to this race, and it’s really nice to get the victory here.”

Mike Woods, rider:
“It’s been an amazing race for us and Magnus finishing it off, that was awesome. Magnus has got a huge kick on him, unfortunately I didn’t see any of it, I got a flat with about 10km to go and killed myself to get back up to help him, but I just watched the replay and he really won it! It was awesome.:

“Even until 10km to go Magnus was helping out Hugh, so I mean it was just a classy win, he’s just such a classy bike rider. He always gives 100 percent for all his teammates and has been crucial to my wins this year, even on stage 7 he was there in the break with me, so it’s just awesome that he can get a win as well. We’ve got a big day ahead tomorrow, but Hugh’s ready.”

And here's what GC second-place Richard Carapaz's INEOS Grandiers had to say about the stage:

Richard Carapaz goes into Saturday’s general classification decider at the Vuelta a Espana in second place overall – 45 seconds off the race lead.

Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz racing in stage 13.

The Ecuadorian sprinted to fifth place on stage 16 in Ciudad Rodrigo, as a select group of riders contested the finish. Race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) edged his way into second over the line, carving out another six bonus seconds to add to his advantage.

The INEOS Grenadiers had looked to make the day as tough as possible, pushing the pace over the top of the El Portillo climb with Dylan van Baarle, before Andrey Amador set the pace on the descent.

They kept the pressure on along the approach to the first category Puerto El Robledo, with Cameron Wurf, Ivan Sosa and Van Baarle working hard. With the breakaway caught, a host of teams then hit the front in a bid to contest the stage win.

Amador worked hard to play the wingman role for Carapaz on the run-in – with attention turning quickly to stage 17 and the summit finish on the Alto de La Covatilla.

Gabriel Rasch:
"We’ll support Richie as best as we can tomorrow. Everyone knows it’s a hard finish on the Covatilla. Anything can happen up there and we’ll give it our best shot.

"Today we wanted to go over the climb onto that descent first because we knew it was technical and pretty bad in places. We wanted to make sure we were safe there and be in a good position to begin the final climb.

"Tomorrow it’s a super hard climb up to the finish. We’ll support Richie for as long as and as best we can. Hopefully other teams will also be looking to put the pressure on."

And here's the report Felix Großschartner's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me:

The peloton left Salamanca, initially traversing flat terrain until the parcours became more demanding in the second half of the 162 km-long stage. The first-category Alto El Robledo ascent came 35km ahead of the finish line, with the road then flattening out towards the finale in Ciudad Rodrigo.

For several riders, today presented the final chance to net a victory in the current season, and so many riders attempted to make the cut into the break, yet were repeatedly reeled back in by the peloton. Eventually a small group was able to get away. The peloton, led interchangeably by BORA-hansgrohe, Ineos Grenadiers, EF Pro Cycling and Movistar, didn't let them build up their lead too considerably, however on the first climb of the day, they maintained a moderate tempo, to avoid putting the sprinters into too much difficulty.

On the final ascent, a soloist attacked out of the leading group, yet was caught 2km ahead of the finish. The stage was decided by a sprint from a very reduced bunch, which was taken out by M. Cort Nielsen. Felix Großschartner crossed the line in sixth place, and also defended his seventh position in the general classification.

"We had expected the possibility of echelons, but no one in the peloton was really committed to riding hard. Then, a group eventually managed to get away. We controlled the race at the beginning and when Ineos Grenadiers came up to the front, the pace quickly went up on the climb. In the end there was only quite a reduced field left. I tried not to make any mistakes at that point and to stay with the small bunch, which was quite stressful at times. I may have had to invest quite a lot into achieving that, but ultimately I wanted to secure my position. My timing in the end was probably not perfect, but it’s not often that I have the opportunity to take part in a sprint from a reduced field. That’s somewhere where I can perhaps improve in the future. However, all in all, it was a good day, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” – Felix Großschartner

"We had two options today. If the race could be kept well under control, we wanted to push for the sprint with Pascal. But it didn't work out that way because the climbs were just too hard. So it was then Felix's goal to finish in a good time and make the best of the finale. That plan worked out very well. He rode strongly and ended up taking a strong 6th place. Tomorrow will be the last tough day and we're hoping that we can defend his position in the overall standings." - André Schulze, Sports Director

Lorena Wiebes wins opening stage at Madrid Challenge

Wiebes’ Team Sunweb sent me this:

Team Sunweb continued their successful 2020 season today, with their Women’s program claiming victory on the opening stage at the Ceratizit Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, with Lorena Wiebes powering across the line in first place.

Loena Wiebes

Lorena Wiebes wins the second stage of the 2019 Yorkshire Tour.

Today’s opening stage at the Ceratizit Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta took place on a mostly flat parcours, albeit with a few rolling climbs scattered throughout the 80 kilometre course. Strong winds made for a nervous day in the saddle as the threat of echelons always loomed over the peloton, but Team Sunweb were attentive throughout the race, alway ensuring they were towards the front of the bunch to make any splits.

Despite a few solo attacks, the race was all together as the peloton charged towards the finale, with the team doing a great job to position sprinter Lorena Wiebes for the finale. Coming into the uphill kick to the line, Wiebes produced her trademark powerful kick on the testing ramp. Raising her arms aloft to celebrate, Wiebes claimed her third race win since joining the team, and Team Sunweb Women program’s fifth of the year – a great reward for a strong team effort on the stage.

Winning the opening stage means that Wiebes moves into the race lead and will be the last rider to leave the start house in tomorrow’s nine kilometre individual time trial.

“Today was a fast race and the second half was both headwind and crosswind, which made it nervous,” explained a delighted Wiebes after the stage. “The team did an amazing job to keep me out of the wind all the time and we had lots of cards to play today depending on how the race went. In the end, it ended up in a bunch sprint and we were all there in the final where we all did our best to keep me in a good position towards the climb. It was a really hard finale and I’m happy that I could finish it off in a good way with the win today.”

Team Sunweb coach Nicolas Marche added: “It’s a nice stage for us and in general the girls did a really good job, sticking to the plan and committing fully to go with Lorena in the sprint. They were super sharp all day, communicating well and were always present in the crosswinds. We can be really happy with the win but there are still things that we can improve on in the lead out as it was not as perfect as we had planned so there are some things we can be even better at on Sunday. It’s a great start to the race though, and we can be really happy with today and we’re hoping for more good results in the coming stages.”

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