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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people. - Isaac Newton

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Tour de France stage three reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage three winner Caleb Ewan's Lotto-Soudal team:

Caleb Ewan has won the 3rd stage of Tour de France finishing in Sisteron. In a bunch sprint the 26-year-old Australian was faster than Sam Bennett and Giacomo Nizzolo. For Ewan it is his fourth stage win in the Tour de France.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan grabs the third stage.

Caleb Ewan:
“Unfortunately team Lotto Soudal is down to six riders after the crashes of Phil and John in the opening stage. But everyone stayed motivated. We knew that when everything went right I could win the sprint today. All my teammates gave 110% today and made up for the two guys that were missed. And yeah, it worked!”

“The guys did a great job of keeping me in the front in the final. In the last kilometer I was literally too far forward, so I dropped back into the wheels. That gave me some time to rest the legs a little bit before the final leadout. Coming from behind was a bit of a risk but I found my way through the barrier and I came with a lot of speed. In the end it worked out perfectly.”

“We knew today was gonna be possibly quite hard. In the end only a little break went up the road and it was quite controlled. We need to take every sprint opportunity we can, because they are pretty rare this year.”

“This is the Tour de France. It is the biggest race and the world, where every rider wants to win at. I am so happy to get another win here. I hope to keep coming back and keep winning. With the caliber of sprinting here it is always gonna be hard to win more stages. But we have some more chances, and we will take them as they come.”

Here's the update from GC leader Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Many were expecting a ferocious battle for the breakaway at the start of stage 3, but the actual fight to feature at the front during the 198km trek between Nice and Sisteron concluded after the first kilometer. Four riders jumped from the peloton and padded out their lead to four minutes, before three of them decided to drop out of the group, leaving only Jerome Cousin (Total Direct Energie) in the lead.

Back in the peloton, Julian Alaphilippe was enjoying his 15th day in the yellow jersey, a record among this year’s Tour de France starters. The whole Deceuninck – Quick-Step team rallied around the overall leader, Danish Champion Kasper Asgreen, Dries Devenyns, Tim “El Tractor” Declercq, TGV of Clermont-Ferrand” Rémi Cavagna devoted all their energy working for Alaphilippe and maintaining a steady pace.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe getting wet. Sirotti photo

Eventually, the catch was made 16 kilometers from Sisteron, a stage finish for the first time at the Tour and one of the most picturesque in southern France, whose imposing Citadelle resembled Tolkien’s Gondor – Men’s greatest realm at the end of the Third Age towers over the historic center. Going into the closing kilometers, Julian Alaphilippe and Bob Jungels took over the pace-making, before Michael Mørkøv dropped off Sam Bennett in a perfect position with 150 meters to go.

That was the moment the Irish Champion opened his sprint, pouncing clear thanks to a rapid acceleration, only to be denied in the closing meters by Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and the strong headwind on the finishing straight. His runner-up place – best result at the Tour de France – helped the 29-year-old reduce the gap to the green jersey classification leader to a mere five points.

“The guys provided a great lead-out, but the headwind was really strong and made it easy from somebody in the back to come off the wheels. I didn’t have the best legs, but I wouldn’t change anything. I think it’s a matter of luck and hope that I’ll have some reasons to smile soon”, said Bennett in Sisteron.

Julian Alaphilippe safely concluded the stage and retained the yellow jersey, which on Tuesday he will wear for the 16th time in his career on the roads taking to Orcières-Merlette, the race’s first summit finish.

Green jersey Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

The undulating parcours of stage 3, with its three categorised climbs, wasn’t as tough as it might have first appeared. The most difficult ascents of the 198km route would be over with a little more than halfway through the day, meaning it was mostly flat or downhill to the finish – it was just a matter of getting there safely. Three riders leapt off the front at the start of the day, building up a lead that at first stayed around two minutes.

As rain fell on the course, this breakaway group started to slow, until a solo rider went off the front and extended their advantage to more than five minutes as the road shifted to more downhill than up. Having taken points on yesterday’s stage, Peter Sagan was on the hunt for more, and with Daniel Oss leading him out, the Slovak rider was the first from the bunch to cross the line in the intermediate sprint. From here, it was a race to see who was going to take the stage win, and with the solo rider’s lead down to under a minute, it looked like the day would end with a sprint.

By 20km to go, the peloton was less than thirty seconds behind, and the catch was made 5km later. The pace ramped up here and the BORA-hansgrohe riders were keeping safe as some road furniture created nervousness in the bunch, with no one team wanting to take control. The slight uphill to the line, along with a headwind, slowed the sprinters, but Daniel Oss created space for Peter to start his kick, keeping the power down and looking strong to take 5th position, having started a little early. The day’s points total saw him end the day with the prestigious Maillot Vert on his back as he climbed to the top of the points standings. A crash in the final 7km saw Lukas Pöstlberger take some abrasions but the Austrian rider completed the stage and will undergo tests to be sure there is no concussion.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan is back in green. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"It was a pretty messy sprint. In the final three-four kilometres of the stage, we had a terrible headwind and everybody was all over the place, riders were coming to the front then dropping back, it was messy. Thanks to Daniel's leadout work we were able to position ourselves well but I think we launched the sprint too early and at about 150 metres from the finish I was overtaken from the right. Still, I'm happy for this green jersey, it's nice to wear it and I'll do my best to keep it all the way to Paris." – Peter Sagan

"The stage got off to a fast start with three riders in the breakaway. We tried to save energy and were fully concentrated on the finale. Midway through the stage, there were some rain showers that made the descents dangerous but everything worked out well in the peloton, without any crashes, a major improvement over the previous days. Unfortunately, Lukas fell with 7km to go and we worked to place Peter in a good position for the sprint. We knew there was a strong headwind, so we went from behind. I think Peter started a bit too early but he's now in green." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Team Sunweb renew contract with Tiesj Benoot until the end of 2022

Team Sunweb sent me this announcement:

After joining Team Sunweb at the start of 2020, Benoot immediately found his feet in the team, impressing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad where he rode strongly to help teammate Søren Kragh Andersen to third place on the day.

It was at Paris-Nice, otherwise known as the Race to the Sun, where Benoot really shone for the first time in the team’s colours. Third on the opening stage after a daring attack, stage six into Apt saw a fantastic team performance with multiple attacks utilising all of the team’s strength. Benoot went on to round off their work perfectly with a magnificent win, crossing the line solo but with the strength of the team behind him. The final day of racing there would see him once again climb with the best, claiming second on the stage, a result that was mirrored in the overall classification – his best ever GC finish in a WorldTour stage race. After just one season and the match between team and rider clear, a new contract until the end of 2022 has been agreed.

Tiesj Benoot

Tiesj Benoot wins 2020 Paris-Nice stage six.

“All of the things I expected from the team last year before I joined came true,” explained Benoot. “I’m happy with how things worked at the start of the season and how things continue to go between us – it’s a nice fit. I’m really looking forward to having a more long-term project with the team and that’s why we renewed my contract. It’s also nice to feel that the team has confidence in me and I’m looking forward to continuing to make more nice races and get good results together.”

Team Sunweb head of coaching Rudi Kemna added: “It’s Tiesj’s first year in the team and we are happy with how things have been going. With such a good fit, we wanted to give ourselves more time to continue working in this way together with additional years to his existing contract. His strong early season results with a stage win at Paris-Nice and second on GC show that we have gelled well together so far. He is a really talented rider and we see his strengths in going for results in the Flemish and Wallonie classics, as part of our strong classics block. On top of this, we want to develop Tiesj and see where his limits are as a GC rider in the future, working with our team of experts on his climbing and TT ability.”

Another second place puts Kaden Groves into the overall race lead in Hungary

Here's the report from Mitchelton-Scott

Young Australian sprinter Kaden Groves came close to a stage win at the Tour de Hongrie today, picking up another second-place finish, which subsequently catapulted him into the overall race lead after gaining bonus seconds on the line.

The 21-year-old will ride in the yellow leader's jersey tomorrow for Mitchelton-SCOTT with a small two second buffer over second place Jon Aberasturi (Caja-Rural).

Kaden Groves

Kaden Groves winning stage three of the 2020 Herald Sun Tour

The stage began like previous days with a breakaway group jumping away early on. The group of five riders settled into their rhythm and were quick to open up a gap of over six minutes, with the peloton in no hurry to bring them back on the lengthy 182km stage.

Coming into the final 25km the peloton upped the chase as the sprint teams began getting ready for the finish, and the gap dropped to just one minute.

As the finish drew closer, four of the five leaders were swallowed up with one rider from Jumbo-Visma not willing to give up just yet.

Eventually, with just over five kilometres to go, the peloton was all back together again and teams fought to take control ahead of the bunch sprint.

Mitchelton-SCOTT worked to keep Groves in a good position with Alex Edmondson and Luke Durbridge setting a hard tempo into the final kilometre. Trek-Segafredo then took over into the last 800metres with Groves surfing the wheels before opening up his sprint.

As the sprint began, Groves came fast on the left-hand side but was denied the victory by Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team) who launched a fraction of a second earlier.

Kaden Groves:
“Second again, I know I’ve said it before, but the boys did a really good job. It is nice to be in yellow, but I think it will be a hard day for us tomorrow, with other teams expecting us to ride.

“We had a small mistake today, I think we maybe went a little too long, but it was quite stressful today so the guys all did a really good job.

“The run in was pretty hard, I started the sprint on Mareczko's wheel and when he kicked on the left, I went at the same time and realised I should have gone earlier and got the jump on him.

"We will see how it goes tomorrow it is the last possible sprint chance.”

Dave McPartland – Sport director:
“We were going for the stage win today, it is still a work in process, but we are certainly getting closer and closer.

"Kaden was coming at Mareczko in the finish, so maybe he could have gone slightly earlier as he ran out of road but that’s the small details. He did everything he could and so did the whole team in the lead-out. We pretty much nailed it, the guys dropped him off where they needed to and everybody contributed to that well.

“We were hoping for the stage win so to be in the leader’s jersey can feel like a bit of a consolation prize, but of course it is still always great to be leading a race and shows how consistent Kaden has been in the sprints.”

2020 Tour de Hongrie Results - Stage 3:
1. Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team) 3:48:33
2. Kaden Groves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
3. Eriend Blikra (UnoX) ST

General Classification after stage 3:
1. Kaden Groves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 10:14:45
2. Jon Aberasturi (Caja-Rural) +0:02
3. Lennard Hofstede (Team Jumbo-Visma) +0:03

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