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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, October 11, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Fain would I climb, yet fear I to fall. – Sir Walter Raleigh
If thy heart fails thee, climb not at all. – Elizabeth I

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Giro d'Italia stage 8 reports

We posted the report from GC leader Joao Almeida's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Alex Dowsett's Israel Start-Up Nation team:

It’s been an incredible journey! The dream began five short years ago with a small continental team run by former-owner Ran Margaliot, and today it reached this new, incredible milestone: Alex Dowsett won the team’s first WorldTour stage in a Grand Tour.

Alex Dowsett wins stage 8. Sirotti photo

Together with teammate Matthias Brändle he got in the breakaway of the day. Together with Matthias he was dropped on one of the climbs, and together with him he came back to the front. “Matthias and I never stopped believing,” said Dowsett.

“Having two in the break of six was essential,” the British ITT-champion said. When they returned to the front group, Brändle attacked first and then Dowsett went – towards a historic result for Israel Start-Up Nation. “It could easily have been Matthias,” said Dowsett after the finish.

The emotions took over at the finish line. First was the burst of energy and a shout that could be heard in Rome. Then came the unreal feelings and the tears of joy. Finally, the thoughts of his pregnant wife.

ISN co-owner Sylvan Adams, watching the race on television, heard the commentators shouting ‘Yalla’ – our slogan – to Alex. “All the excitement demonstrates that our project has significance beyond sport, it’s showing the true heart of Israel to hundreds of millions of fans around the world. I could not be more proud.”

ISN co-owner Ron Baron had been dreaming of this moment for a long time. “When we founded this team only five years ago, we surely dreamed that we will reach this moment today. We are a team of dreamers who make them reality one by one. This historic moment will actualize our biggest goal: to inspire the next generation of young Israelis to take on this beautiful sport.”

Directeur Sportif Nicki Sörensen, who was in the car behind Brändle and Dowsett, did not find it coincidental that history was written with this team here in the Giro. “This amazing result is because the team atmosphere has been superb this Giro. I am proud to see them fighting every day for a victory and today was our day. I have goosebumps.”

Matthias Brändle came across the finish line in fifth position and was the first one the congratulate Dowsett. They gave each other a big hug, as Dowsett was still wiping tears out of his eyes. “What an amazing day for Israel Start-Up Nation.”

It wasn’t all amazing news today – our Alex Cataford crashed badly two-thirds of the way into the stage. He suffered a lot of road rash but did finish the stage.

Here's the report from second-place Salvatore Puccio's INEOS Grenadiers:

Salvatore Puccio came close to a richly deserved Giro stage victory with a hard-fought second place into Vieste.

Salvatore Puccio

Salvatore Puccio (left) takes second. Sirotti photo

The Italian showed great form in the day's six-man breakaway and put himself in a great position with the peloton content to allow the sextet to contest the stage win.

With their advantage hitting over 11 minutes at one point, Puccio was alert when the attacks began with 30km to go.

On the finishing circuit Puccio was able to split the group with his acceleration on the climb, only for the group to come back together shortly after. A move from Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation) proved to be key, with the Brit using his time trial ability to go clear. With Puccio forced into the lion's share of the chasing behind he eventually came into the finishing straight in a three-up sprint for second - edging out his rivals as they finished 1:15 back on Dowsett.

Back in the bunch Filippo Ganna helped protect Tao Geoghegan Hart on a day that saw the peloton relax ahead of stages to come. Ganna will once again wear the maglia azzurra on Sunday.

Salvatore Puccio:
"I was in the break and I felt really, really good. I was checking the other riders and how they were pedalling. The only thing I was a bit scared about was Israel as they had two riders and they could play a good tactic.

"When Dowsett attacked the first time I tried to follow straight away because I knew he could double the advantage with a teammate behind. I tried to drop them on the climb, and at first I did drop a few guys but they were able to come back. They played it smart. It was good to take second position but it’s a shame for the team. We have tried every day to take a stage win. In four days I’ve been in the break twice. There are still 10 days to go so for sure I will try again."

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

200km separated riders from the start in Giovinazzo and the finish in Vieste for today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia, the parcours skirting the Gulf of Manfredonia on the Adriatic coast for the entirety of the stage, apart from a short excursion inland for the day’s second category climb. While the second half of the stage, coming after this climb, was more undulating that the first, it was still fairly straightforward and this would lead to high speeds throughout.

With multiple attempts to break away from the start, it looked like an escape would have ambitions on taking the victory today, and this proved to be the case as after 30km, a group of six managed to get away, building up a lead of 3:15 within a few kilometres. With 140km to go, this had already gone out to 7:15 and this kept on rising, topping out at more than eleven minutes. Even with the race entering the final 30km, the peloton showed no desire to reel in the break, as the escapees started attacking each other as the finish drew near.

A solo rider took the stage, with the remaining five coming in two groups further back, and it was from here that the peloton upped the pace a little, but was still very relaxed, with few riders choosing to contest the sprint for the remaining points available on the line. There were some tough stages coming up in the race, and the BORA-hansgrohe riders would be looking ahead to these.

"It was a long stage, 200km, and one that suited us but this would have required hard work and control from our side all day. As a result, we decided to let a small break group go away and then see what teams had an interest in controlling and setting things for a sprint finish in the final circuit. Nobody took the initiative, so we decided not to push hard and go easy. Our focus was just to protect our GC contenders and avoid any potential time losses ahead of tomorrow's very tough stage. Finally, given the very few points at stake on the finish line, Peter Sagan also stayed within the bunch." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

Simon Yates withdrawn from Giro d’Italia following positive COVID-19 result

Yates' Mitchelton-Scott sent me this:

Tirreno-Adriatico champion Simon Yates will not start the eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia today following a positive COVID-19 result.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates after winning 2020 Tirreno-Adriatico. Sirotti photo

Yates developed very mild symptoms in the hours following yesterday’s seventh stage. The Mitchelton-SCOTT medical team immediately requested a rapid test which indicated a positive result. A second, RT-PCR, test was later taken, which has confirmed the positive result.

The 28-year-old was isolated in his single room during the process and is being safely transported by organised ambulance for a period of quarantine where the team can offer its best possible care. His symptoms remain very mild.

With the health of staff and riders the highest priority, the remaining Mitchelton-SCOTT riders and staff have also undergone a rapid test, each returning a negative result. They have been given clearance by the RCS to continue racing and, as a precaution, will undergo further testing in the coming days.

Dr. Matteo Beltemacchi – Team Doctor:
“Simon displayed a very mild temperature on Friday evening during our routine temperature checks, which have been completed three times per day during the course of the Giro d’Italia.

“Following the team’s RACESAFE COVID-19 policy, he was isolated in his room and we immediately requested a rapid test using the services offering by the RCS, which has returned positive.

“Simon’s health remains our main concern and, thankfully, his symptoms remain very mild and he is otherwise in good health. We want to thank the RCS for their support in arranging the quick testing and his transport.

“All other riders and staff have returned negative results and have been cleared to continue the race, but as a precautionary measure we will monitor the situation closely and undergo further testing in the coming days.”

Team Ag2r La Mondiale: Broken left collarbone for Ben Gastauer

The team sent me this bad news:

Ben Gastauer crashed on the 8th stage of the Giro’Italia between Giovinazzo and Vieste. He has a broken left collarbone.

Ben Gastauer

Ben Gastauer racing the 2019 World Road Championships. Sirotti photo

“The stage was going well, we were reaching top of the first pass of the day. Before the summit I had a problem with my chain getting stuck and went over the handlebars of the bike. Once I was on the ground, I couldn’t get up; I could tell I had a problem with my collarbone. I’ve been a professional since 2010 and I’ve never broken my collarbone. There’s a first time for everything. After Tony’s abandonment, this just piles on the bad luck. I am disappointed to leave the Giro in this way.” - BEN GASTAUER

THE NEWS: End of season for Benoît Cosnefroy after Paris-Tours
Benoît Cosnefroy will end his season tomorrow after Paris-Tours. In 2020, he won three events with the Grand Prix de la Marseillaise, the Etoile de Bessèges and the 4th stage of the Route d'Occitanie. In 52 days of racing, he has had eight top five and has had to abandon a race only once.

CCC Team wil race Gent-Wevelgem

The team sent me this update:

Matteo Trentin will lead CCC Team in Belgium once again this weekend with the next cobbled Classic, Gent Wevelgem - In Flanders Fields coming up on Sunday (11 October).

Matteo Trentin

Matteo Trentin leading a break in stage 15 of the 2020 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Sports Director Steve Bauer said that CCC Team will be looking to race more aggressively after missing out on the crucial split at Brabantse Pijl.

“I think we have to be honest and admit that Brabantse Pijl was not our best race and now, looking ahead to this weekend, I expect us to be riding more aggressively. Gent Wevelgem - In Flanders Fields is a race famous for the wind and for the moment, it looks like there will be some on Sunday and even though it’s not looking too strong right now, it will still be a factor. Once again, we will start with Matteo Trentin as our leader, I think he is the strongest for this kind of race so, we will look to support him and keep him well-positioned. I know that all of our riders are capable of being at the front and being active during the day so I hope that we can race well together and help make the best result possible,” Bauer explained.

After Brabantse Pijl, Trentin is anticipating another tough day of racing in Belgium this weekend.

“Gent Wevelgem - In Flanders Fields is always one of those unpredictable races and if the wind rises there will be a big fight, which is what I am hoping for as it will make it a hard race and a good one for me if my legs are strong. The loop around the Kemmelberg is a bit different but the essence of the race will always remain the same, it’s all about positioning and being in the right move when the group eventually splits,” Trentin said.

Gent Wevelgem - In Flanders Fields (11 October):
Rider Roster: Jonas Koch (GER), Michael Schär (SUI), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Georg Zimmermann (GER)

Sports Directors: Steve Bauer (CAN), Valerio Piva (ITA)

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