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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 4, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? - Henry Ward Beecher

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Tour de France stage six reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Alexey Lutsenko's Astana team:

It was a day of glory for the Kazakh cycling as the national champion of Kazakhstan Alexey Lutsenko took a great solo win atop Mont Aigoual at the 6th stage of the biggest race in the world the Tour de France.

Lutsenko made a decisive attack from the daily breakaway with some 17 km to go on the final climb of the day. The Kazakh Champion was able to drop all the rivals and to go solo. Taking over 50 seconds on the chasers, Lutsenko finished alone atop Mont Aigoual, taking his biggest success in career.

Alexey Lutsenko

Alexey Lutsenko enjoys his win. Sirotti photo

- Coming to the Tour de France I had a goal to fight for a stage win. The Tour de France was one of the biggest goals of this season. I was dreaming about this victory for a long time and now my dream came true! Indeed, I was aiming this stage and in previous days after doing my job for Miguel Angel I was dropping from the group, on purpose losing some time in the general classification, hoping that the GC favorites won’t follow me in a decisive moment. Today, before the stage we discussed our tactics for this day, and with sports directors and our general manager Alexandr Vinokurov we decided that I would try to go in a break since it could have a chance to go until the finish. I felt quite good all day and my legs worked pretty well. It took some time for our group to break away from the peloton, but finally, we succeed. It was a long and hot day, but I was guided really nice through the stage by Alexandr Vinokurov, who was in the car behind me. On the last climb I tried to stay calm and to keep on my own rhythm. And on the hardest part I made my attack. I am so happy with this win, it is a big achievement for me and for our team! Also, it is a great feeling to win in the jersey of the national champion of Kazakhstan! I thank my team for this great opportunity and a special thank to all our sponsors and our main partner Samruk-Kazyna, who is supporting us so many years! – said Alexey Lutsenko.

The sixth stage of the Tour de France started in Le Teil. Shortly after the start a group of 8 riders went away. Alexey Lutsenko was in this group, working hard in front to try to get as much advantage on the peloton as possible. After some kilometers of intense fight, finally, the group of Lutsenko broke away clear, taking over 6 minutes of advantage.

Entering the final part of the stage, the peloton was able to come closer to the escapers, shortening the gap to just 2 minutes and a half. However, an attack of Alexey Lutsenko from the leading group did not allow the peloton to come closer, while the rider of Astana Pro Team held his leadership in this stage until the finish line.

- It is a big day for our team, but also for our Kazakh cycling. We were waiting for this day for many years and now we see the victory of the Kazakh Champion in the Kazakh team at a stage of the Tour de France! We all are happy and proud to deliver this success to our country. We are also happy because we were aiming this stage, we had a good plan for the day and, in the end, we perfectly achieved our goal! The team did a great job and also Alexey Lutsenko spent a phenomenal day on the road. He was strong, smart and did not do any mistake! It was our day and I congratulate all our fans with such a nice victory. But, the Tour de France is going on ahead. We are still at the first week of the race and there is a long way until Paris. We will keep on fighting during the whole race to try to get more nice results in this Grand Boucle, - said Dmitriy Fofonov, sports manager of Astana Pro Team.

The peloton with all the main race favorites, including Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez, finished 2 minutes 53 seconds behind Alexey Lutsenko.

The British rider Adam Yates still leads the race, wearing the yellow jersey. Miguel Angel Lopez is 10th, +0.13 behind.

GC leader Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

British climber Adam Yates retained his race lead at the Tour de France as the breakaway stayed away on stage six.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates will start stage seven in yellow. Sirotti photo

The day had been earmarked as a potential one for the general classification contenders, but a battle for the overall failed to materialise with Yates crossing the line safely in the reduced peloton.

In contrast to yesterday there was action as soon as the flag dropped to signal the start of the stage, with riders eager to get into the breakaway knowing they may be allowed to stay away until the finish.

Mitchelton-SCOTT kept a close eye on the riders heading up the road before eventually allowing eight riders to go clear.

With the yellow jersey on the shoulders of Yates, Mitchelton-SCOTT assumed their place at the head of the peloton for much of the stage. The escapees were allowed to stretch their advantage out to a maximum of six minutes before the gap began to fall on the approach to the day’s climbs.

Team Jumbo-Visma took up the pace making on the first of the two third-category climbs, and the increase in tempo saw the gap to breakaway halved down to three minutes. INEOS Grenadiers then moved to the front of the pack over the following ascent and into the foot of the category one Col de la Lusette.

Yates remained calm and was hovering around the head of the peloton with Basque climber Mikel Nieve and Giro d’Italia stage winner Esteban Chaves for company. The gap to the breakaway went on to fall to under three minutes by the summit, but an attack by eventual winner Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) saw it stretch out again.

Heading onto the final uphill drag to the line it was clear that the remains of the break would take the stage victory, while behind, Nieve placed himself on the front of the bunch, setting the pace and guiding Yates through the finale to retain the yellow jersey.

Adam Yates:
"It was nice [the first day in yellow], I think we controlled quite well, it was a strong breakaway and there were a lot of guys that really wanted to go in there today. It was pretty much flat all the way into the climbs, so it was quite hard to control, but I think we did a good job and in the end I still had Mikel and Esteban in the final, so all in all, a good day.

"I think just the way the break already had the gap and all the bonuses were already taken, there wasn’t really much to gain from anybody attacking. Also, the final climb wasn’t super steep, so it takes a lot of effort to get a few seconds, so everyone just kept their energy and saved it for a later day.

"Like I said yesterday, it was a strange situation, but I think we rode well today and hopefully we did the jersey proud. I still want to win a stage, that’s what we came here to do, but it’s pretty hard to throw away time when you’re in the lead, so I think for now we’ll just play it day-by-day and see what happens.

"Tomorrow’s a sprint stage and then we’ve got two really hard stages. These two stages I actually know quite a lot of the climbs, so it’s going to be really tough, but like I said before, we’ve got a super strong team here, not just for the flats but for the climbing stages, so I’m looking forward to it."

Here's the update from third-place Greg Van Avermaet's CCC Team:

As expected, it was a battle to make the breakaway and despite sitting only three minutes back on the General Classification at the start of the stage, Van Avermaet was able to join the eight-rider move.

The peloton sat up to allow the breakaway to go six minutes down the road in the flat first 140 kilometers but with Van Avermaet posing a threat to the yellow jersey, Mitchelton-SCOTT started to reduce the advantage approaching the first of three categorized climbs in the final 50 kilometers.

The breakaway split on the early slopes of the category one Col de la Lusette but Van Avermaet showed his strength to stay with a select group featuring Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb), and Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling).

Van Avermaet was unable to match an attack by Lutsenko in the final kilometers of the climb, instead chasing behind, while refusing to give up, to crest the summit around 45 seconds behind as the fourth rider on the road.

After the descent of the Col de la Lusette, Van Avermaet chased alongside Powless on the eight-kilometer climb to the finish on Mont Aigoual while up ahead Lutsenko soloed to the win and Herrada crossed the line in second place.

Van Avermaet dug deep to out-sprint Powless to finish in third place, an impressive performance from the two-time Tour de France stage winner from a climber-heavy breakaway.

Greg Van Avermaet

Greg Van Avermaet finishes third. Sirotti photo

It was an uneventful day for the General Classification group which crossed the line 37 seconds behind Van Avermaet which sees the CCC Team leader move up to 25th on the General Classification, 2:33 behind leader Adam Yates.

Greg Van Avermaet:
“It was a good day to try something. i was still close on GC so I just gave it a go because it was a bit of an uphill start so it was super hard. We had a super strong breakaway so I just gave it a chance and gave it everything I had but I think Lutsenko was super strong, especially on the steep part [of the climb]. I couldn’t find my rhythm anymore and then it was hard to catch him. I’ve been here on vacation so I knew the climb [Col de la Lusette] a little bit and I knew that if I could survive the steepest part then it would be a better climb for me. In the end, it was good to be out there in front and just give everything I had.”

“It was one of the strongest breakaways I’ve been in at the Tour de France and also with this kind of finish, it was a stage where you never really stop, so because of this we had a little bit of an advantage on the GC guys because they were waiting and on a climb like this, a GC guy cannot make the biggest difference. When I saw Herrada and Lutsenko in the breakaway, also Roche, I knew it would not be easy but on a long breakaway day it’s always different to climbing in the bunch so I just gave my best to see how far I could come. I’m happy with my ride today.”

Here's what Tom Dumoulin's & Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma had to say about the day's racing:

Team Jumbo-Visma has finished the sixth stage of the Tour de France without any problems. In the stage with finish on Mont Aigoual, Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin finished in the peloton with all the favourites surrounded by their teammates. They crossed the finish line at just under three minutes from stage winner Alexey Lutsenko. In the overall standings nothing changed: Roglic remains in second place, Dumoulin in sixth place.

Roglic and Dumoulin

Dumoulin & Roglic after the stage. Sirotti photo

In the stage through the central massif, a breakaway of eight riders got away early on in the stage and eventually competed for the win. Behind the breakaway, Team Jumbo-Visma remained grouped around their two leaders. Roglic and Dumoulin crossed the line in the presence of Sepp Kuss, George Bennett and Robert Gesink.

“The race went exactly as we had expected beforehand”, Dumoulin said. “The top of the steep Col de la Lusette was too far from the line to try anything. This was an ideal scenario for us. We don’t have to show ourselves every day. We were still there with five guys at the end. The team is strong and I felt pretty good today. All in all it was a good day.”

Roglic concurred with his teammate. “It was a hard race from the start, so it was not possible to relax. We had to stay sharp and focused all day long. The boys did well again today. So far everything is going according to plan.”

Fellow stage winner Wout van Aert switched back to his domestique role. “Nothing happened GC-wise. The plan was to be in the front all day with Primoz and Tom and bring them to the finish without any problems. We succeeded at that. We chose to save a bit of energy today. The Tour is still long and there are still plenty of tough days to come. It was a fast stage, so we couldn’t rest on our laurels either. The team is in a good place and our leaders are in good shape.”

And Emanuel Buchmann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent this report:

While 155 of stage 6’s 191km parcours was flat, this didn’t mean the day was going to be dull. The stage covered all kinds of terrain, from urban roads to winding mountain passes, before the finale would really come to life on the first category climb of the Col de la Lusette ahead of the finish in Mont Aigoual. The break wasted no time in going out, making the flat kilometres at the start of the stage really count, with Daniel Oss leading a group of eight to a lead of more than six minutes.

With the peloton relaxed and the Italian BORA-hansgrohe rider keeping the pace going, the lead was consistent almost the entire stage, but as the road started heading upwards, the gap started going down, as riders dropped off after the day’s exertions. With the day’s major climb coming, Daniel returned to the peloton to support his teammates on this tough ascent. In the GC group, Emanuel Buchmann and Maximilian Schachmann were riding together, with Gregor Mühlberger providing support.

While riders attacked off the front, it was important for the contenders for the overall race not to expend energy chasing down moves that didn’t affect the standings. Expertly meeting the rise in pace in the bunch as some of the GC group tried to create extra seconds, both Maximilian and Emu crossed the line at the same time in 17th and 19th respectively.

From the Finish Line:
"I have to say that I’m quite happy with how I fared, and I felt good. The group didn’t necessarily go as hard as we could have, but I still felt like it was a good test of my form. Max was always by my side, and it was good to have someone there on the last climb. I think today’s stage was a good step forward. We weren’t fighting it out for the stage win, with the other riders having gone up the road, so it was a 50/50 decision, either full gas or a controlled tempo going up the climb, and we went up in a controlled tempo. So all in all, I’m feeling good, and every day that I don’t lose time and continue well in the race is a good day for me. I should become stronger over the next few days, or at least I hope so, but I’m optimistic. It’s still a long way to go until Paris, and there’s a lot of hard stages, but I’m going to take it from day to day, and try to avoid making any mistakes. If the form is there, then of course I’m looking forward to the important and challenging mountain stages, but there’s still a long road ahead of us." – Emanuel Buchmann

"We expected that the long final climb and the very tricky roads would make for a hard finale, so we were fully concentrated on bringing Emu in a good position in the last part of the stage. Before that, our attention was on potential bigger breakaway groups and for that reason, Daniel went there. The group was too strong for him, so he waited in the climb to give Emu a bottle or reach the top to help him. In the intermediate sprint, Peter got some points while in the end, we had Emu and Max in the leading group. They both felt quite well and didn't lose any time, so it was a normal good day for the team." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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