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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, October 15, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered. - Edgar Allan Poe

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Giro d'Italia stage 11 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 Arnaud Démare's Groupama-FDJ team:

In Rimini on Wednesday, Arnaud Démare took part in his fourth sprint in the 2020 Giro d’Italia, and he won… for the fourth time! After another perfect lead-out of his teammates in the finale, despite Ramon Sinkeldam’s abandon yesterday, the French champion proved too strong for Peter Sagan and Alvaro Hodeg, who were never able to overtake him. He becomes only the second Frenchman to collect four victories in a single Giro after Bernard Hinault. He also now cumulates 14 wins in 2020 and strengthens his leadership in the points classification.

Arnaud Demare

Arnaud Démare just after the stage. Sirotti photo

After an intense fight for nearly a hundred kilometers on Tuesday, Arnaud and his teammates eventually decided to stop chasing Peter Sagan in order to look to the next day, which was stage 11 towards Rimini, much more suited to the French champion. At the start in Porto Sant’Elpidio on Wednesday, Groupama-FDJ therefore quickly showed their ambitions. The day’s breakaway was barely formed, with Sander Armée (Lotto-Soudal), Mattia Bais (Androni Giocatolli-Sidermec), Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù-KTM), Fabio Mazzucco (Bardiani-CSF) and Francesco Romano (Bardiani-CSF) inside it, when the French team took control of the bunch. “We were down to six after losing Benjamin and Ramon,” recalled Ignatas Konovalovas. “Our problem was also that there was a good organisation in breakaway. At the beginning, we just wanted Kilian [Frankiny] to pull, but later we also needed to put Simon in order to close the gap”.

Although the breakaway remained just three minutes ahead of the peloton for a long time, things did indeed get tense in the last twenty kilometers. Sander Armée went solo in the lead, and Elia Viviani crashed in the bunch, causing the end of the cooperation from Cofidis. “These events did not really destabilize us,” Sébastien Joly said. “Kilian and Simon did a great ride. We said at the start to Kilian that he would be riding for a very long time today, and he proved faultless.”

As Rimini got closer, more teams got interested in the sprint and the Belgian leader finally saw his gap dropping in a blink of an eye, and everything was back together about six kilometers from the finish. “We got a bit outflanked entering the city,” Arnaud admitted. “We then slowly came back up, turn after turn, but it was really tense”. “We knew that the last ten kilometers were complicated, with roundabouts, curves and narrowings,” added Jacopo Guarnieri. “We were maybe a little too far behind, but we stayed calm, united, and we knew there was a nice straight line with headwind from 2.5km to 600m to go, where we could produce our effort. Then, Kono was very strong and brought us back in the front. We even ended up there a little early, but Miles stayed calm, held his position and didn’t move until he needed to. He then showed what incredible job he was capable of doing and led us to the last corner. It was perfect, because I could start my effort at 400 meters. It was ideal”.

With his cyclamen jersey, Arnaud Démare then finished it off with style. “As Miles did a very long pull, Jacopo was able to launch me a bit later”, he explained. “He was more explosive than usual and it allowed me to be launched with overspeed. When I’m clear enough, I try to do sprints that way. In the home stretch, I then waited, let a little space between Jacopo and me, and when I launched, I felt I had a lot of strength. I was afraid they would come back from behind but it was enough. It was really the perfect sprint today.”

After another great display from the team, Arnaud Démare therefore took his fourth win on this Giro, which no Frenchman except for Bernard Hinault managed to do in a single edition before him. He also increased his lead in the cyclamen jersey classification (36 points). The “Bella Vita” for the French champion and his mates is set to continue a little longer then. “It’s extraordinary,” he said with a big smile. “We came for stage wins, but we couldn’t imagine winning four! Hats off to the whole team! I am fortunate to have teammates who truly believe in me. Work pays off and today we got the rewards for it”. “We’re having fun, and we already have four victories in eleven stages, plus the cyclamen jersey,” Jacopo said. “That’s wonderful. Arnaud is not only a great rider but also a great teammate. The team cohesion is very strong”. A sports director of the team in Italy, alongside Jussi Veikkanen and Benoit Vaugrenard, Sébastien Joly added: “The word that best defines this group is serenity. You can really feel that this group is calm and that they know where they are heading. Our number 1 goal on this Giro is stage victories. But when we got here, we did not give an exact number. We shouldn’t set ourselves limits, and we must continue with this state of mind. There will still be opportunities, for sure, but we take it day by day. That’s what we’ve been doing from the start and it works for us. There is already a difficult stage ahead of us tomorrow. We will take stock after”.

Second-place Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

Today’s rolling 182km parcours would give the sprinters a chance to go for the stage win, with only a fourth category climb on the road to Rimini, it was going to be fast and full-on from start to finish. Unlike yesterday, where it took some time for the escape to form, five riders went off early on, with the peloton happy to let them build a time gap that hit a little under four minutes at its peak. The sprinters in the peloton agreed this was as much as they were going to allow after yesterday’s breakaway stage win by Peter Sagan, and started sending their riders to the front to reduce the lead.

With 100km to go, this lead was sitting around three minutes and with 50km left, this was when the pace started rising in the peloton and the break started to splinter. Two escape groups were left on the road, with two riders up front, and the peloton was close behind, catching the trio first with 20km to go, before swallowing the leaders with 6.5km left – perfect timing for the sprint. The street furniture in the lead up to the finale kept riders alert, with speeds in excess of 60km/h in the final few kilometres. Several riders back, Peter Sagan was riding the wheel of the points leader, responding quickly as the sprint started.

Rounding the slower riders, the Slovak picked off places as the finish line came closer, taking second on the line, still able to contest the sprint after a hard day in the break on yesterday’s stage. Coming in with the bunch, Patrick Konrad and Rafał Majka held onto their GC sixth and eighth respectively, there being no change in the overall standings today.

Arnaud Demare

Arnaud Démare wins while Peter Sagan (right of Démare) is second.

"There was no surprise today and this flat stage came down to a fast bunch sprint. The team did again a very good job, in the final kilometres we were in the front parts of the group and after the last left bend, I entered the long straight stretch well positioned. I did my best in the sprint but it wasn't enough to take the victory." – Peter Sagan

"After Peter's victory yesterday and given the stage profile today, we knew that the sprinters’ teams were going to control the race, so we let them do the work. When the fast sprint started, Peter was in third position and showed very good speed but took second place. Still, we can be satisfied with today's result and performance of the team." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

Scheldeprijs team reports

We posted the report from the race organiser with the results.

Here's what race winner Caleb Ewan's Lotto-Soudal team had to say:

Caleb Ewan from Lotto Soudal was supreme in the streets of Schoten, Belgium, in a mass sprint, which was marred by a serious crash. The Australian used his trademark late acceleration to move ahead of his rival sprinters and win Scheldeprijs on his debut in the sprinters’ Classic.

aleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan wins the 2020 Scheldeprijs. Picture: Photonews

The Scheldeprijs is the oldest Flemish race on the international calendar. With 174 km, and start as well as finish in Schoten, the 108th edition was, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a shortened version of the traditional Scheldeprijs.

The 26-year-old Ewan was faster than Pascal Ackermann and Niccolò Bonifazio. Both riders were unable to match Ewan’s speed. Later, Ackermann was disqualified for a dangerous sprint.

“I felt really good. I started my sprint a little bit earlier than I was thinking of doing, but I was able to keep my speed and nobody came closer”, said Caleb Ewan. “For me the sprint wasn’t too bad as I was in front and my team always did a super good job. I was all day out of trouble, even in the sprint. I only saw on TV that they crashed behind me. It’s always a quite crazy sprint. I wanted to be up the front, out of trouble and that’s what the team did for me.”

“This is probably one of the biggest sprint classics. I haven’t won one of these classics before, so it’s super nice. Moreover it’s the first time that I’ve done this Scheldeprijs. I wanted to come here and we were really motivated. I know it’s really important for the team to have a big win in Belgium. So, I’m super happy that I could deliver that for them. We haven’t had a win in a classic of this level for a long time in the team. So, they’re going to be very happy. As it’s my first time here and now my first win, I am super happy to have this on my palmares now”, concluded Caleb Ewan.

Ewan’s next race will be the AG Driedaagse Brugge - De Panne on October 21st.

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

On a slightly modified course of 10 laps around Schoten the Scheldeprijs took the riders today over 173 kilometers. Traditionally it’s a race for the sprinters and therefore the bunch controlled an early break of 8 riders at around 1:30. As predicted the front group was caught right on time to set up a bunch sprint, when also BORA – hansgrohe formed at the head of the peloton. The pace was really high on the last 5km with teams battling for the best positions. BORA – hansgrohe launched its lead-out with 2km remaining while C. Ewan took advantage of the best position on the home straight.

Pascal Ackermann came from a little further back but found a hole at the 150m mark to break out on the right side with one rider crashing behind him. It was too late to catch Ewan, but he crossed the line in 2nd place. Unfortunately, Pascal was relegated after a jury decision little later.

"This was clearly miss-judged from the jury. Pascal found a hole and launched his sprint without touching any rider. Unfortunately, one guy touched his back wheel then and took a fall. But this was a racing incident we see quite often. From my view this is simply the wrong decision. It’s a pity for Pascal but also for all the other guys as they did a really good job today in the finale." – Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

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