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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, October 17, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Giro d'Italia stage 13 reports

We posted the report from stage winner Diego Ulissi's UAE-Team Emirates with the results.

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

Deceuninck – Quick-Step put in again a huge exhibition of panache at the Giro d’Italia, shaping the race inside the final 20 kilometers and helping João Almeida rack up his fourth top 3 finish and thus cement the overall lead. The Caldas da Rainha native continued to defy expectations while writing history at his debut Grand Tour, which he leads since the summit of Mount Etna.

Joao Almeida

Joao Almeida is still in pink. Sirotti photo

Stage 13 was on paper one for the sprinters, but the GC contenders had other plans and set an relentless tempo that dropped all the fast men. Deceuninck – Quick-Step had the numbers in the newly-formed group and positioned Almeida at the front, controlling the attacks that came before the top. Mikkel Honoré and James Knox were again outstanding in the way they kept things together and pushed hard on the descent and the flat final part, increasing the gap over the chasers and setting up João for the finish in Monselice.

Fausto Masnada also chipped in to the remarkable effort of the Wolfpack, who helped the group stay away despite being outnumbered by the chasers. Coming out from the final turn, Honoré led out the maglia rosa, who demonstrated again demonstrated both calmness and a fast turn of speed as he took second, behind Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), for his fourth top 3 finish at the race. The bonifications gained helped Almeida – who equalled the record for the most days spent in pink by a rider before turning 23 – extend his advantage over the closest pursuer to 40 seconds.

“I want to begin by saying a big thank you to my teammates, who did an incredible job for me today, just like in the past two weeks. The group was quite small after the final descent, I had three guys with me and we planned to go for the stage win. They rode their heart out in the closing kilometers, we would have loved to win, but one guys was faster on the line”, João explained before taking to the podium to receive the pink the pink and white jerseys. “Overall, it was a good stage for us and we can be satisfied. We took another top 3, I gained some bonus seconds and we showed an incredible team spirit. It’s incredible to have the maglia rosa on my shoulders for the 11th consecutive day and this boosts my confidence ahead of the weekend.”

Third-place Patrick Konrad's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

Barely rising a metre for the first 155km of the day’s 192km parcours, stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia was always going to be fast. Only two categorised climbs needed to be traversed by the peloton before a flat run to the finish line, something the faster riders would be eager to take, but only if they could stay in contact on the climbs.

As always, the break had their eye on spoiling the sprinters’ plans, and after a few false starts that were drawn back, a group of seven managed to leave the peloton behind them, building a lead of three minutes. The stage was one Peter Sagan would want to challenge for, but if not, it was essential for Patrick Konrad and Rafał Majka to be well positioned for the finale. With this in mind, Cesare Benedetti and Maciej Bodnar stayed at the front to keep the pace high, and this saw the break drop below two minutes after the race had covered 100km, measuring their efforts well to make sure the catch wasn’t made too early.

As the day’s two climbs appeared on the horizon, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were quick to up the pace, both to reduce the advantage to what was left of the break, which had splintered and was steadily being swept up by the bunch, as well as attempting to distance some of the sprinters on the climbs, but on the second climb, with the GC riders adding to the pace, the Slovak rider lost contact. While he pushed on hard, he was isolated in a small group as the overall riders contested the stage ahead of him.

In this group, Patrick Konrad and Rafał Majka were both riding well and were in good positions come the finale. In a hotly-contested reduced bunch sprint, Patrick took a close third, narrowly missing the win, with Rafał coming across the line in thirteenth, and Peter coming in twenty-three seconds later to take twenty-fourth.

Patrick Konrad

Patrick Konrad (far left) finished third. RCS Sport photo

"After yesterday's very hard stage we had two options today. If Peter was able to go over the last two difficult climbs in a good position we would try to go for the stage win with him, if not, Rafał and I would need to respond to any attacks and moves in the GC group. The pace was strong on the last descent and the final flat kilometres to the finish, so it was going to be a sprint among the GC contenders. I had the position and legs to contest it and it was a very close finish. I took third place and got four bonus seconds, so overall I can be satisfied. It is another podium after my second place on stage 5." – Patrick Konrad

"It was clear to us it was going to be very difficult to control the race today. We wanted to win with Peter but we were aware he had to go over two very tough climbs. We let a seven-man break go away and then Cesare with Maciej took over and controlled the pace. We kept the gap to the break at around two minutes and brought it down to one minute before the first climb. It was clear the break was over and that the real race would start. Patrick and Rafał were always in the leading group and Peter was able to stay on the first climb and crest the second one just 8 seconds behind. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to reach the first group, Deceuninck-Quickstep were pulling hard in the front to set their own sprint. He kept trying but it was impossible. Patrick sprinted to third and Rafał was also in the GC group, so in that aspect it was a good day." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

And here's the report from fourth-place Tao Geoghegan Hart's INEOS Grenadiers:

Tao Geoghegan Hart put in another impressive performance at the Giro d'Italia, sprinting to fourth place from a select general classification group.

The Brit was more than equal to the task on a run-in that featured two short, sharp climbs. Hitting the front over the final Calaone summit, Geoghegan Hart put himself in a strong position ahead of the sprint, eventually taking fourth place. The result ensured he remained in 12th place overall, 2:51 back on race leader Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step).

Ben Swift had his sights set on the stage and was forced into a late fightback after becoming dislodged from the lead group on the final climb. The British champion attempted to bridge across as a part of a high-quality quartet that also featured Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) - eventually crossing the line 23 seconds back.

The INEOS Grenadiers had arrived at the front to drive the pace ahead of the run-in. Filippo Ganna strung out the pack, with Salvatore Puccio and Jonathan Castroviejo also there to help Swift's chase efforts late on.

CCC Team all in for Matteo Trentin at Ronde van Vlaanderen

The team sent me this:

After a strong ride at Gent-Wevelgem, Matteo Trentin will lead CCC Team at Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday with the team’s full support at the last Monument of the season.

Matteo Trentin

Matteo Trentin leads a break in stage 15 of the 2020 Tour de france. Sirotti photo

After crashing out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and suffering multiple fractures, Greg Van Avermaet will not line up in what was a difficult decision for the Belgian.

Sports Director Valerio Piva said the team is confident Trentin can deliver a good result.

“We know Matteo Trentin is in great form right now and will lead the team well on Sunday at Ronde van Vlaanderen, where we have our strongest riders possible to support him. Matteo raced aggressively last week at Gent-Wevelgem and showed good signs for Flanders. He has recovered well during the week and is ready and motivated. Ronde van Vlaanderen is one of the hardest races of the season and as always, there is a long list of contenders, which includes Trentin, so anything can happen. Of course, it is disappointing that Greg Van Avermaet will not be at the start line but just two weeks after his nasty crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, we knew it was going to be a long shot. He did everything possible to try and line up but ultimately, the risk is too great,” Piva explained.

Trentin is motivated to deliver a career-best result in his eighth participation at Ronde van Vlaanderen.

“I am feeling good. We did a nice recon today and I could turn my legs and taste the cobbles again because we only had less than one kilometer of cobbles in Gent-Wevelgem and, of course, we don’t have the usual approach with the other cobbled Classics. We haven’t had a warm up on the cobbles with all the races before but I’m still feeling ready for Sunday,” Trentin said.

“To win Ronde van Vlaanderen you need to be the smartest of the group. There are a few guys like van Aert and Alaphilippe who probably have a bit better legs than everyone else but behind, there are eight to ten guys who can win so it’s quite open. We will try to be there in the mix. In Gent-Wevelgem, the team did a really good job and these races are all about saving the legs and being fresh when the race kicks off, which is usually after the second time up the Kwaremont. I think we will see an aggressive race after that point, especially as the race is shorter this year. We’ve been racing full gas in every race and I expect nothing less on Sunday.”

Van Avermaet was faced with a tough decision when considering one last race of the season.

“This was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my racing career. I think my heart is saying one thing and my head is saying another but at the end of the day, I know the smartest decision is to not race on Sunday. My legs actually feel really good and that makes the decision even harder because I think with these legs, I could do a good result but the risk is too high and I know I could do more damage if I was to crash again. Even today in the recon, although I was feeling good, I started to feel some pain after one hour and a six-hour race is something else entirely,” Van Avermaet said.

“I wouldn’t want to race Ronde van Vlaanderen just to make up the numbers or to finish in 50th place. It’s a race I still dream of winning but that won’t be happening in 2020. Now, I will concentrate on my recovery and give my body the best chance to heal ahead of the 2021 season.”

Ronde van Vlaanderen (18 October):
Rider roster: Jonas Koch (GER), Michael Schär (SUI), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP).

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

Team Sunweb present 2020 Vuelta a España line-up

The team sent me this news:

Team Sunweb are pleased to announce the riders that will compete at the 2020 edition of the Vuelta a España. Bringing a well-balanced and youthful squad to the race, the team aim for day success whilst focusing on rider development and core processes.

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef: “The Vuelta is the final Grand Tour of the year and the last race of our season to get underway, and after the team’s successes of late, we are keen to continue in that flow as we head to Spain. Our focus will be centred around a day-by-day approach, where we will chase stage success over the three weeks. With a young but very talented group we will not only be on the hunt for results, but also equally look to our riders’ development. A Grand Tour is the perfect environment to focus on the core processes of cooperation for young guys and implement the various areas of expertise that the team has, with no pressure. For five of our riders; Thymen, Mark, Max, Martin and Ilan, it will be their first Grand Tour. Jasha brings his Grand Tour experience whilst also making his debut at the Vuelta, and we conclude our squad with Robert and Michael who were part of our successes in Spain last season. Motivations are high and we look to bring our great season to a close with some nice performances in the Vuelta.”

Jasha Sutterlin

Jasha Sütterlin (shown at the World ITT Championships earlier this year) will be on the Vuelta start line. Sirotti photo

Thymen Arensman (NED)
Mark Donovan (GBR)
Max Kanter (GER)
Robert Power (AUS)
Martin Salmon (GER)
Michael Storer (AUS)
Jasha Sütterlin (GER)
Ilan van Wilder (BEL)

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