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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. - Immanuel Kant

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Tour de France stage four reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic has won the fourth stage of the Tour de France in an impressive way. The Slovenian champion completed fantastic teamwork from his teammates in the first uphill finish. He is now third in the classification with Tom Dumoulin just behind him in seventh place. It is the fifteenth victory of the season for Team Jumbo-Visma.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic wins stage four. Sirotti photo

The peloton maintained a tight pace in the stage from Sisteron to Orcières-Merlette, which made the gap with the breakaway never grow larger than five minutes. Team Jumbo-Visma was always at the front of the peloton and kept the leaders out of the wind.

On the final climb, Tony Martin, Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss, among others, caused a big battle. The Belgian rode in front for one and a half kilometres, then the American took over the fast pace. Despite two attacks in the last kilometre, Roglic sprinted to victory. The yellow jersey remains in the hands of Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, Roglic follows at seven seconds.

For Roglic it is his sixth victory of the season. He previously won the final classification and two stages of the Tour de l'Ain, he was the best on the Col de Porte in the Dauphiné and became national champion of Slovenia. “It was a fast and quite difficult stage. The guys always kept me in a good position. Everyone was very strong. In the end I was able to deliver a nice sprint. I am very happy with that. We all arrived safely and we won. We must continue on this path. I feel better every day. In the second stage I already felt that it is all good.”

Tom Dumoulin was happy for his winning teammate. “It’s a fantastic day for the team. Primoz showed his class once again. He was really good and he also indicated that he wanted to win. The team was incredibly strong today. You can see that in the lead-out of Wout and Sepp. I didn’t feel really well today. In the end it was a fight to reach the finish line. Fortunately I was able to keep up with the first group. I hope I can improve my level in the coming days.”

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

Visited for the first time in 1971, when Luis Ocaña crushed all his rivals en route to one of the most dominant wins ever seen at the Tour de France, Orcières-Merlette returned on the race after 31 years. First summit finish of this edition, coming at the end of a stage that featured four other classified climbs, Orcières-Merlette witnessed another strong and composed display of Julian Alaphilippe, who retained the yellow jersey, that he will now sport for the 17th time.

The stage that started from Sisteron was animated by six riders, whose margin was kept in check by Deceuninck – Quick-Step. Our team had also another goal for Tuesday – help Sam Bennett get as many points as possible at the intermediate sprint in Veynes, and the Irish Champion didn’t disappoint. Bennett emerged as the fastest when the bunch passed through there, some three minutes behind the escapees, and is now on equal scores with the green jersey classification leader.

The huge and impressive amount of work of our team paid dividends on the early slopes of Orcières-Merlette (7.1km, 6.7%), where the last survivor of the breakaway was caught. Dries Devenyns and Bob Jungels continued to set the pace until with four kilometers to go, when other teams became more prominent at the front and ramped up the pace. No moves came until with 300 meters remaining, when an acceleration of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) saw the Slovenian claim the victory.

JulianAlaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe remains in yellow. Sirotti photo

Fifth at the top, Alaphilippe – who remained in the yellow jersey – took us through the finale of stage 4: “The main goal of our team was to control the race and keep the jersey. The guys did an amazing job and I’m very proud of them. In the end, I would have liked to win, but the tempo was very high in the closing kilometers and I was a bit on the limit. I’m not disappointed, others were just stronger today. On the other hand, having the yellow jersey makes me very happy and relaxed. Every day I spend in it gives me a lot of joy and satisfaction and I hope my run will continue.”

Here's what GC second-place Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team had to say about the day's racing:

British climber Adam Yates climbed to 10th place on the first summit finish of the Tour de France on stage four.

The former young rider claffication winner was in the mix alongside Colombian teammate Esteban Chaves on the category-one climb to Orcières-Merlette and remains second overall on the general classification heading into stage five.
It was a routine start to the stage with six riders jumping out of the peloton as soon as the flag dropped on the outskirts of Sisteron. The peloton immediately sat up and despite several riders attempting to bridge across, the race quickly settled down.

The escapees went on to open up an advantage of four minutes on the peloton, with controlling the tempo in the Deceuninck - Quick Step on behalf of race leader Julian Alaphilippe.

The tempo was increased as the race moved inside 40km to go, with several teams racing to the front of the bunch as the gap to the breakaway began to fall. Mitchelton-SCOTT worked well to look after Yates and Chaves, with Kiwi Jack Bauer and Dane Chris Juul-Jensen tasked with escorting the duo into the final climb.

The last man standing from the original breakaway was eventually mopped up with seven kilometres to go as the peloton hit the foot of the final climb. It was then a waiting to see who would make the first move until Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels - Vital Concept p/b KTM) tried his luck with less than five kilometres to go.

However, the attack was short-lived as Basque climber Mikel Nieve came to the head of the pack to assist in the pace making. Both Chaves and Yates were lurking around the front of the reduced peloton,

The victory finally came down to a reduced bunch sprint inside the final 300 metres, with Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) taking the win, while Yates rolled across the line in 10th, two places ahead of Chaves in 12th.

Adam Yates:
"It was a hard day in general, all the climbs were ridden at a hard pace and in the final, the last kilometre, two kilometres the pace was really on, so it would have been tricky to try something.

"In the end I think I finished top-10, so not a perfect day, but all in all we can be satisfied. Like I said, it’s been a hard day and we were up there with the best. So, day by day."

Esteban Chaves:
"There were six strong guys on the front, so all day we were going pretty fast in just one line, all day. The guys did a really good job to look after myself and to look after Adam in the final.

"I prefer steeper (climbs), because when it’s five, six percent like this you climb with a big gear and it’s for strong guys, and everyone now has fresh legs, it’s stage four. So, normally I need climbs steeper or longer, which will come later in the race."

Matt White (Head Sports Director):
"It was a very solid day because Deceuninck - Quick Step wanted to keep the jersey and there were a couple of good climbers in the break and one guy at 3’50”. So, it was solid, the six guys out front were really pushing it all day and to keep the jersey the pace had to be on until the bottom of the last climb.

"The final climb was fast, too fast for any of the real climbers to make a difference and the way it was ridden, at a really fast tempo, especially by Jumbo-Visma in the last couple of kilometres, the gradient just wasn’t steep enough for it to be an advantage for any of our climbers."

Emanuel Buchmann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

From the start of stage four, the 160.5km parcours steadily made its way upwards, getting progressively harder as the day went on, from a category three climb after 67.5km, before taking in a fourth category and a further two third categories, before the day’s finale at the top of a first category ascent. It didn’t take long for the day’s break to go out, with a group of six jumping up the road almost as soon as the race director dropped the flag. The break’s lead hit four minutes at its peak, but with no threat to the GC standings, the peloton was relaxed when it came to chasing them down.

Nil Politt

Nils Politt leads the day's break. Sirotti photo

The intermediate sprint came early in the day, but in spite of a strong effort, Peter Sagan was boxed in and was unable to challenge for the maximum points at stake. As the day went on and the kilometres counted down, the peloton was slowly but steadily taking time off the break, which was now four in number, with the lead going below two minutes with 25km to go.

This lead dropped down to less than a minute with 10km left, and with only the day’s final climb to go, it was here the stage would be decided. With ramps up to 8%, the break lost ground quickly, everything coming back together with 7km to go. The BORA-hansgrohe riders were strong in number here, with Emanuel Buchmann, Maximilian Schachmann, Lennard Kämna and Gregor Mühlberger in the lead group. When the attacks started, Emu responded well, going with the select group of GC riders but losing contact on the last turn before the finish line, the German rider crossing in seventeenth position.

From the Finish Line:
"I felt OK until 1.5km to go, when they started going really fast and I was too far behind in the group. I spent a lot of energy riding in the wind to keep my position, so, when they accelerated, I was unable to follow and I lost some time in the finish but not too much. My injuries are getting better by the day and I don't feel any pain anymore, I'm not yet at 100% but I hope the next days will be better. It's still a very long way to Paris with many mountain stages and we'll see how it all goes." – Emanuel Buchmann

"It was a fast stage, 160km long, and all the GC contenders came together before the final climb where the pace was fast as well. Emanuel was able to follow until the final 1.5km. The rest of the squad did their best to help him but, in the end, he lost a few seconds. I don't think this was a big surprise, he's still suffering from some small problems from his crash. He's not yet at 100% but, hopefully, in the next days, he will get better. We're happy he didn't lose too much time. It wasn't a very long or very steep climb but all the riders that were very strong in the last weeks were there. Some of them lost more time but everybody in contention in today's climb will be in the fight for the podium in the next two and a half weeks." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

CCC Team reports on Tour de Hongrie stage four

The team sent me this:

Jakub Mareczko and CCC Team made the most of the final opportunity for the sprinters at Tour de Hongrie with the Italian rider proving once again that he is the fastest in the field, taking his third consecutive victory on stage four.

Jakob Mareczko

Jakjob Mareczko winning a stage in the 2018 Tour of Hainan

There was another victory salute from Mareczko in Hungary today after a powerful sprint to the finish line in Kazincbarcika saw him secure a hat-trick of stage wins, this time ahead of Emīls Liepiņš (Trek - Segafredo) and David van der Poel (Alpecin - Fenix).

CCC Team took responsibility for the pace-making at the front of the peloton as a five rider breakaway, which was only able to extend a maximum advantage of around three minutes 30 seconds, went clear after an initial 40-kilometer battle.

At the start of the first of two laps of the 37.8-kilometer finishing circuit, which included two short but punchy climbs, the escapees were still holding onto a three-minute advantage but with CCC Team, led by Michał Paluta, continuing to pull on the front, the gap began to fall quickly.

Eventually, on the final climb, which topped out with around 18 kilometers to go, the race was back together and, despite the best efforts of some teams to try and string out the peloton and force gaps to open up, the stage was soon set for the bunch sprint.

Similarly to stages two and three, Kamil Gradek and Łukasz Wiśniowski guided Mareczko into position, keeping him well-placed and out of trouble at the front of the bunch before the Italian, who remains the leader of the Points Classification after today’s stage win, surged to the line.

Interview with Jakub Mareczko:

Congratulations, Jakub. How are you feeling after your third victory in three days?

“I feel amazing. It was another great day for us today and I really have to give a huge thanks to the team. The guys once again did an unbelievable job for me throughout the day and they worked hard to make sure we caught the breakaway and to help set me up for the sprint. In the final, like yesterday and the day before, Gradek and Wiśniowski did a super job and delivered me into the best position for the sprint. All I had to do was finish it off.”

It was a different run into the line with two small climbs on the finishing circuit. Talk us through today’s stage.

“The final kilometers were harder on paper today than on the previous stage with two short climbs on the finish circuits, but I knew I was in good shape so I wasn’t too worried about them. The team made sure I was right at the front of the bunch all day and especially at those crucial moments. This was the final opportunity for the sprinters at this race and so I am really happy to have taken my third victory for the team before we go into the mountains tomorrow and work for Attila Valter.”

Quotes From the Finish Line

Sports Director, Gabriele Missaglia:
“Three wins in three days for Jakub is fantastic. We knew he was in good shape coming into the race and we were aiming to get at least one stage win with Jakub so, now we have exceeded our own expectations. Once again, the whole team did an amazing job today. Michał Paluta has worked hard on the front every day and, on this stage, he was up there pulling until around 20 kilometers to go.

"Immediately after Kamil Gradek and Łukasz Wiśniowski moved to the front to lead-out Mareczko, while also keeping Attila Valter safe ahead of the GC battle on the climbs tomorrow. It wasn’t an easy finish with the two climbs on the finishing circuit, the first of which was pretty steep, so I am very happy that together we were able to force the bunch sprint and help Jakub take this third victory. I’m really happy for him and the team. Tomorrow, we will be working for Attila Valter and everyone is really motivated to see what we can do especially after Jakub’s stage wins so we will see what happens.”

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