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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, October 16, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. - e. e. cummings

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Giro d'Italia stage 12 reports

We posted the report from stage winner Jhonaton Narvaez's Team INEOS Grenadiers with the stage results.

Here's the update from GC leader Joao Almeida's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

João Almeida retained the overall lead after a miserable 204km stage, which featured heavy rain and strong winds that shattered the peloton with more than 70 kilometers to go, leaving around 25 riders in the maglia rosa group for the last part of the day. Not just the horrible weather conditions made for a brutal Thursday afternoon, but also the parcours, which numbered five tough classified climbs spread along the 204km route around Cesenatico.

Joao Almeida

João Almeida is still in pink. Sirotti photo

Deceuninck – Quick-Step rallied again around the young Portuguese, keeping him out of the wind and fending off the pressure applied by some teams more than 100 kilometers from the finish, when they upped the tempo and significantly reduced the field. Another selection was made on the San Giovanni in Galilea climb, as several riders got caught out, but Almeida was present and remained calm and composed, having with him three companions – Mikkel Honoré, James Knox and Fausto Masnada – who set a moderate tempo and guided the 22-year-old over the top of the hill and on the wet descents.

Almeida eventually concluded the stage in ninth place – some eight minutes down on Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos), who took the victory from the day-long breakaway – and nabbed his sixth top 10 finish since the start of the race. The Grand Tour debutant tops the general classification by 34 seconds, but leads also the youth standings, and on Friday will don the iconic maglia rosa for the tenth consecutive day.

“I have to say that it was another hard stage. We spent almost six hours in the saddle, had a lot of rain and low temperatures, but at the end of the day we retained the pink jersey, which is the most important thing. Despite everything this stage threw at us, I was very calm because I knew there was such a strong and committed team around me, an amazing bunch of guys who gave everything out there. Having such a great squad around me motivated me to do my best and keep the jersey for as long as possible. I never thought I would wear it for so many days when I pulled it on for the first time and I’m happy that I could do it for more than a week”, explained João after Thursday’s stage.

Here's the report from second-place Mark Padun's Bahrain-McLaren team:

Cold and rain characterized the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia with departure and arrival in Cesenatico after 204km. Our Mark Padun finished second behind Ecuadorian Jhonatan Narváez, both part of the 14-man early breakaway. The two young riders have attacked with more than 50km, but Mark was held back by a mechanical problem just over 20 km from the finish line, and so his opponent could only take solo win on the Cesenatico seafront.

Mark Padun

Mark Padun finishes second. Sirotti photo

“This is cycling – Mark commented – it’s difficult to be happy after a second place, but I know I did a good race, which proved to be very hard and selective. If I will try again? We are here to help our leader Pello Bilbao and, fortunately, my condition is growing day by day. I hope to have another chance.”

Sports Director Franco Pellizotti said: ”It was a long day and we were a bit unlucky. We decided to put Mark in the breakaway during the team meeting before the start, and he did a great job all day long. The mechanical he had with 24km remaining prevented him from trying to win, but he must be happy with his excellent performance.”

Pello Bilbao retained his 3rd place overall with a 43sec gap from the race leader João Almeida, while Hermann Pernsteiner had a mechanical in the finale and lost more than 3 minutes and now is 14th overall.

Fourth-place Joey Rosskopf's CCC Team posted this report:

Joey Rosskopf secured his second top five finish from a breakaway at the Giro d’Italia today, battling hard all day and in brutal weather conditions to secure fourth behind the stage 12 winner, Jonathan Navareáz (INEOS Grenadiers)
With the rain bouncing off the road and clouds covering the sky, Rosskopf pushed on solo in the losing kilometers of the stage, riding his own pace behind the ultimately successful three-rider move that went off the front of the initial breakaway approaching the 50-kilometer to go mark.

Joey Rosskopf

Joey Rosskopf finishes fourth. Sirotti photo

Earlier in the day Rosskopf could be soon setting a hard tempo, leading the initial 14-rider breakaway, that had to fight hard at the beginning to go clear, and forcing gaps to open up in the second of the lumpy 204-kilometer stage, which features almost 3700 meters of climbing.

As Rosskopf produced another strong breakaway performance, his teammates were locked in their own tough race as the General Classification contenders and their teams starting to pile on the pressure in the peloton, resulting in rider after rider losing contact in only a small maglia rosa group remained.

The cold and wet weather conditions only increased the difficulty of the challenging kilometers that still lay ahead in the run into the finish with Ilnur Zakarin, who started the day 12th overall, one of those who lost time, coming across the line in a group over ten minutes behind the race leader alongside Kamil Małecki, Víctor de la Parte and Attila Valter.

Joey Rosskopf:
“It was definitely a tough day out there today. Compared to the breakaway on stage eight, the course, the riders in the group and the way we raced today made today five times harder. Luckily my legs were better and I played the day as best I could but it definitely got a little cold and the legs sort of froze up for half an hour or so. When I pushing on the front of the breakaway I definitely didn’t feel like I was dragging any of the guys around. When the gradient of the road is 15 percent I don’t think you lose much by being on the front and for me, it’s a lot easier to do my own pace and choose to do 450 watts than being forced to do it on someone’s wheel. I was going for it today and honestly, I’m just really happy to be at the finish because it was pretty brutal. After the three guys went, the wind was gone and I was just trying to keep going to get something out of the day and stay motivated for a top-five, top-ten finish, going all in.”

Mitchelton-Scott headed to Vuelta a España

Here's the update the team sent me:

Mitchelton-SCOTT has named a diverse team for this year’s Vuelta a España, looking to maximise their opportunities with a mix of potential for overall and stage success in the team line-up.

Former podium finisher Esteban Chaves will lead the squad’s pursuit for overall success, whilst experienced 36-year-old Grand Tour stage winner Mikel Nieve plus recent Coppa Sabatini winner Dion Smith provide the Australian outfit with options for stage victories.

Dion Smith

Coppa Sabatini winner Dion Smith will ride the Vuelta.

Mitchelton-SCOTT at the Vuelta (20th Oct – 8th Nov 2020):
Esteban Chaves - (COL, 30) 6th appearance
Alexander Edmondson - (AUS, 26) 2nd appearance
Tsgabu Grmay - (ETH, 29) 4th appearance
Mikel Nieve - (SPA, 36)  8th appearance
Dion Smith - (NZL, 27) 2nd appearance
Nick Schultz - (AUS, 26) 4th appearance
Callum Scotson - (AUS, 24) Grand Tour debutant
Robert Stannard - (AUS, 22) Grand Tour debutant

The remainder of the team is comprised of motivated young talent in Australians Callum Scotson and Robert Stannard, who will both make their Grand Tour debuts. Meanwhile, compatriots Alex Edmondson, Nick Schultz and Ethiopia’s Tsgabu Grmay return to the Spanish tour with previous Grand Tour experience under their belts.

The Course:
The 2020 Vuelta a España will be shorter than the traditional Grand Tour distance of 21 stages and will instead cover 18 stages, after the start location was modified from Holland to Spain, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The third and final Grand Tour of the year will travel a total of 2882.2 kilometres and includes one individual time trial stage, four flat stages, five hilly stages, eight mountain stages (including four special category climbs) and two rest days.

The race is noticeably suited to the climbers, with a total of 47 categorised climbs, starting immediately on the opening stage before the first real mountain test on day six, ahead of the first rest day, when the race enters France and heads up the iconic Col du Tourmalet.

The second week features the most climbing with three hard mountain tests, including the brutally steep Alto de l’Angliru on stage 12, followed by one final test on the penultimate stage up the Alto de La Covatilla.

Race History:
Over the past eight years, Mitchelton-SCOTT has finished in the top-10 on the general classification on four occasions at the Vuelta a España.

This includes an overall race victory thanks to Simon Yates in 2018, the Australian outfit’s first Grand Tour victory, and one other podium finish in 2016 with Chaves in third place. The other two top-10 placings were fifth place from Chaves in 2015 and 10th place from Nieve in 2019.

Along with overall success, the team has also enjoyed 12 stage victories from eight different riders, the most being four stage victories from four different riders at the 2016 edition of the race.

Esteban Chaves – 3rd place in 2016:
“I'm very happy to do the Vuelta this year, it’s one race that I have a lot of appreciation for, I really like to do this race and enjoy it. This year, because of the timing of the race and the circumstances, like everything I feel a bit weird, but I feel like I am arriving in good condition especially after the Tour and world championships.

“Sometimes you finish a Grand Tour and don’t really feel good and you are super tired but this time after the Tour it was not the case. I could continue along the general line that I am doing this year and if everything continues like this, then the Vuelta will be no exception.

“We will race hard from the beginning; it is really hilly and if you have good legs then you need to be aggressive and take any chances from the start.

“It will be a cold Vuelta too, so we need to be ready for that and everyone knows that. It’s all in the North and it will be weird on the days that it doesn’t rain.

“I like when we have young riders in the team, they remind me of myself at my first ever Vuelta six-years ago. We obviously have a lot of motivation, excitement and will ride with hunger. In that company and with the experience of Mikel and myself, it is a good combination.”

Julian Dean – Sport Director:
“We are throwing the net wide in terms of looking for all possibilities in this year’s Vuelta.

“Esteban was good towards the end of the Tour de France and said he came out feeling really good, so it will be exciting to see him race and back at the level he was at a couple of years ago. It will be a great opportunity for him because he is healthy, he hasn’t had any crashes or illnesses and can go into the Vuelta looking to make the most of the opportunity to go for a good result overall.

"Mikel has returned from his crash at the Tour, his progress back has been good, he might need a little bit of time to ride into it but obviously he has won stages at Grand Tours before, so certainly, as we get further into the race, we will be looking to give him opportunities for a stage win.

“Dion Smith is another rider that we will look to provide opportunities for. He has had a cracker season and picked up some great results and a win and deserves to have our full support to go for some of the stages more suited to him.

“This year you’re going to have to be really competitive early on if you’re coming to the race looking for a podium or high GC result. There’s the Tourmalet on stage six and already a couple of hilltop finishes before that.

“It is a hard edition and clearly one of the big challenges we are going to face is the weather with the race being all in the North of Spain at this time of year, particularly some of the stages up in Asturias and the stage up to l’Angliru.

“In general, we will be looking to maximise the opportunities with the potential we’ve got in our team line-up. We’ve got some young blood in the team with Scotson and Stannard who will hopefully be the future of our team, and so it will be good to help them get through their first ever Grand Tour.”

Here's Jumbo-Visma's Vuelta a España preview:

The 75th Vuelta a España will start on Tuesday 20 October. Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin are the leaders of Team Jumbo-Visma and will try to win the general classification.

Roglic took the victory in last year’s edition. After eleven days in the red leader’s jersey, the Slovenian was crowned overall winner in the Spanish capital Madrid.

Primoz Roglic

2019 Vuelta winner Primoz Roglic. Sirotti photo

Sports director Grischa Niermann indicates that the division of roles between the two leaders will gradually be determined in more detail during the Vuelta a España. “During the Vuelta it will become clear who will be our main man. Our team is at the start with two favourites for the final victory, one of them is last year’s winner. That ensures that other teams will watch us. We are aware of that. We have to come up with a good plan to achieve a good performance. I think we have a very strong team with two riders who are our absolute priority. The other boys can optimally support Primoz and Tom. Jonas Vingegaard is at the start of a grand tour for the first time. This fits well with his development. He will probably have to do a lot of work, but that is a good learning process.”

The German thinks that his riders will face a tough course. “The first three stages are mountain stages. So we have to be strong from the very start. The sixth stage will follow soon after that. In my opinion, the sixth stage is the Queen stage, given the finish on the Col du Tourmalet. Of course there will be some tough stages, but in my opinion, the most important week of the Vuelta is the first week.”

Line-up Vuelta a España (20/10/2020-08/11/2020)

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