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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, October 24, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book? - David Attenborough

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Giro d'Italia Stage 19 reports

We posted the report from GC leader Wilco Kelderman's Team Sunweb with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Josef Cerny's CCC team:

Josef Černý was able to celebrate in style as he rode down the finishing straight on Giro d’Italia stage 19 after an impressive 20-kilometer solo effort saw him secure the biggest victory of his career to date.

Josef Cerny

Josef Cerny wins stage 19. Sirotti photo

Černý, the Czech national time trial champion, showed off his power and speed in the closing kilometers of the shortened stage after a stinging attack off the front of the day’s 14-rider breakaway saw him ride away from the rest of the group, which had amassed a sizeable advantage of more than 10 minutes after the peloton sat up.

Despite a concerted effort from the five remaining chasers behind him, Černý dug deep and was able to maintain an advantage of around 20 seconds going into the final three kilometers of the 124-kilometer race before finally raising his hands in the air with delight after securing the stage win.

Černý’s first Grand Tour stage win, and his first WorldTour victory, comes off the back of two strong time trial performances already at the Giro d’Italia, sixth in stage one and fifth on stage 14.

Interview with Josef Černý:

Josef, congratulations! How does it feel to take your first Grand Tour win?

“I still cannot believe it but it is a really nice feeling. I didn’t believe it until I was about 500 meters to go. I still had about 25-30 seconds in the last ten kilometres but it was a full headwind. I thought I could I could do it and I was pushing hard and now I’m here after crossing first in the finish line. It’s unbelievable. I cannot describe it, it was just incredible. I try so much and today, I have achieved my dream. I am really happy for my team, my family, and my girlfriend.”

Talk us through today’s shortened stage.

“It was a strange day and it was a very difficult moment. We had three really heavy days in the mountains in the last days and today, it was raining full gas. I was really happy the organizer shortened the stage but it was still a hard day. I think history will not ask me if I won a shortened stage or a longer stage, I just won the stage. It’s really nice to have the hands in the air in the finish line. I was lucky in the breakaway and we were working well together and in the final, it was just about who had the better legs.”

After two good results in the time trials, you now have a stage win. How has the Giro d’italia been for you?

“This Giro d’Italia has been really special for me. I was happy with my results in the time trials and I’m looking forward to the final one in Milan. But to win a road stage is really special. I enjoy the fight in the breakaway because it’s a lottery. I was happy that I had good legs after the Stelvio yesterday and I’m happy I was able to show what I can do.”

Here's Team Bora-hansgrohe's Giro report:

What was originally the Giro d’Italia’s longest road stage became the shortest today, with the planned 258km route being cut in distance to just 124.5km a short time before the day started. Heavy rain fell on the roads, which saw most of the riders start the day in jackets and leg warmers as the flag finally dropped to commence the stage in Abbiategrasso, some 130km further up the road from the original start location. Immediately, attacks came from the peloton as riders looked to make up for lost racing time, with BORA-hansgrohe trying to close this down, only for an unlucky puncture for Cesare Benedetti to slow their efforts. In spite of this setback, the team was constantly at the head of the peloton, keeping the pressure on the break as the fourteen-man group splintered with the high speeds, leaving six on the front and a chasing group of eight trying to stay in touch.

Giro d'Italia

It was a wet day in Northern Italy. Sirotti photo

The flat roads and finale were made for a sprint, but while the BORA-hansgrohe riders had pushed hard for around 70km, the German team was the only one that was working. With 55km to go and no other teams taking over on the front, the break was allowed to go, its advantage going out quickly from less than a minute to more than ten minutes as the stage entered its final 20km. The win coming from the breakaway, the mood in the peloton shifted to one of trying to save energy for the last big day in the mountains tomorrow, with Patrick Konrad and Rafał Majka finishing with the bunch, there were no changes in the GC standings as the Giro d’Italia approached its important, penultimate day.

From the Finish Line:
"It is true that yesterday's stage was very tough, with more than 5,800 metres of elevation gain and a climb over the Stelvio, that we had to leave our hotels this morning at 6am and that weather conditions were a bit difficult today. However, it was possible to race today and I think it was unfair to inform race organisers in the morning that there would be a strike. This isn't professional, this isn't the way it should be. There should be a procedure to discuss these issues after the end of the stage, in order to make future improvements, but the strike before the start wasn't correct. We were absolutely ready to race the full stage, as scheduled." – Ralph Denk, Team Manager

"While initially scheduled to be more than 250km long, today's stage was shortened by race organisers to 124km. We knew it was going to be very fast and our plan was to control the break and the peloton in order to try and go for the stage win with Peter. Right after the start, we were unlucky as Cesare Benedetti had a puncture just when the break was forming. So, at that crucial moment, we temporarily lost a rider in our fight to bridge the gap and have the ideal break form. Maciej Bodnar tried to go as well but in the end, we got in the front of the peloton and worked hard. Our guys put in a great effort and managed to bring the gap from 1'30" down to 28" but with only four riders it was very difficult to reach the 11 escapees. After relentlessly trying on our own for 50km we called off the chase as it was getting impossible to gain time. No other team took any initiative, so the stage win came from the breakaway group." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

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

Tao Geoghegan Hart safely navigated a truncated stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia as Josef Cerny (CCC Team) won from the breakaway.

Geoghegan Hart finished the stage with his teammates in the peloton, as the bunch was unable to catch a strong early break which escaped in the early stages of the shortened stage.

Tao Geoghegan Hart

Tao Geoghegan Hart finishes stage 18. Sirotti photo

Originally slated to be 258km, stage 19 was reduced in length following discussions between riders and the race organisers. After riding the first eight kilometres, the riders retuned to the bus to travel to the new start in Abbiategrasso.

After the re-start, a large break quickly escaped the peloton and despite an early concerted effort to bring them back, the break prevailed with the INEOS Grenadiers finishing together in the bunch.

Vuelta a Espana stage four reports

We posted the race organizer's stage four summary with the results:

Here's the report from stage winner Sam Bennett's Deceuninck-Quick step team:

Sam Bennett racked ups his seventh win of the season after a flawless teamwork and a powerful sprint on stage 4 of the Vuelta a España, which on Friday gave the sprinters a rare opportunity to fight for glory in Ejea de los Caballeros. For Bennett, who is doing his second three-week race of the season after the Tour de France, where he became the first Irishman in 31 years to win the famous green jersey, it was the eighth win in a Grand Tour, one which underlined his status as one of the world’s best sprinters.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennet wins the fourth stage. ASO photo

Deceuninck – Quick-Step drilled the pace at the front of the peloton since the start of the 191.6km-long stage and their hard work paid dividends, as the four men who spent the day in the breakaway got caught ten kilometers from the finish. Our team continued to be at the head of affairs, aware that positioning would be key in the technical last kilometers, which contained some undulating roads and tight corners.

Michael Mørkøv and Zdenek Stybar, both stage winners at the event a few years ago, provided a textbook lead-out to the Irishman, who kicked out with 150 meters to go and produced a devastating turn of speed that allowed him to overtake Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) – who tried to anticipate the downhill sprint – and win by almost a bike length.

“It was so fast in the run-in, and actually, it was fast all day and I was a bit nervous, got to admit that. We said we needed to come together at one point and the team did the job perfectly. They came together when we needed to and even more than we asked to be. We only asked a few guys to be there and the whole team was there.”

“I went for the outside and Philipsen came up the inside and got such a jump I actually didn’t think I was going to be able to catch him. But in the end, I started getting more and more speed and I was still accelerating to the line. I had the power but he was so explosive out of the corner and I didn’t know if I would catch him. But I found the speed I needed, and in the end, I managed to overtake him and take my first win since Champs-Élysées, which feels amazing”, a delighted Sam explained after picking up Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 39th victory of the year.

And here's the report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Team Jumbo-Visma has navigated leader Primoz Roglic through the fourth stage of the Vuelta a España without any problems. The yellow and black formation was riding very attentively all day. The fast and nervous stage finished in a bunch sprint. Roglic retained the overall lead.

Primoz Roglic

GC leader Primoz Roglic winning stage 1. ASO photo

The stage was controlled by the sprinter teams, who got one of the few sprint opportunities today. A breakaway therefore barely got much of a lead. At one moment some teams tried to split the peloton apart in the strong winds, but that did not work out. Team Jumbo-Visma remained grouped around Roglic and did not get surprised.

According to the Slovenian, it was far from an easy and calm stage. “It was definitely not an easy day. There was a lot of tailwind. As a result, it was a very fast stage and the peloton rode very nervously. We had to remain focused and alert and we couldn’t afford to weaken for a moment. The team once again did a good job to keep me in the front. We cannot afford to make mistakes and certainly not in a stage like this. We have to stay sharp.”

Ben O‘Connor joins the Ag2r Citroen for 2021

The team sent me this release:

24-year-old Australian Ben O’Connor will join the Ag2r Citroen team for the 2021 season. He won the 17th stage of the Giro d'Italia solo this week.

Ben O'Connor

Ben O'Connor winning stage 17 of this year's Giro. Sirotti photo

Ben O’Connor:
It will give me the chance to discover a new culture, new teammates, a different way of racing. I know very little about France, apart from a holiday in the Alps with my parents, but I know that the AG2R CITROËN TEAM is one of the teams in the peloton with the deepest history.

I know it's going to be very rewarding and I’ll have the opportunity to improve by riding with such experienced riders.

I am also happy to continue riding a BMC. With the arrival of CITROËN, I know that the team has great ambitions for the future, and I am proud to be part of it.
I have proven that I can win in the UCI WorldTour, now I want to improve in stage races, be more consistent and take more victories."

Vincent Lavenu:
“We had been in contact with Ben O’Connor for two years. His profile as a climber was of great interest to us and he really has the strengths we were looking for.
He is not yet 25 years old and has already confirmed his potential with his stage victory in the Giro as well as his good overall performance. He is certainly a top reinforcement for the team."

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