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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 5, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Tour de France stage seven reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Wout Van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team:

Wout van Aert has claimed his second stage victory in this Tour de France. The Belgian won the tumultuous seventh stage, a stage with crosswinds to Lavaur, in a superb way. Van Aert positioned himself well in the slipstream of Stuyven and Sagan, after which he finished it off in a dominant way once again.

Wout Van Aert

Wout Van Aert wins stage seven. Sirotti photo

For Van Aert it is already his third stage victory in the Tour de France in his second participation. It is his sixth victory of the season and Team Jumbo-Visma’s seventeenth.

“I am very proud of this victory”, Van Aert said. “I am also proud of how we rode as a team today. It was a very fast stage because Bora immediately went full throttle on the first climb. After that, it never stopped. At the end there was still a lot of chaos and it was very hectic because of the crosswinds. Everyone feared them. The plan was to get Primoz and Tom through the stage without damage and time loss. That worked out well. The team was very strong again. I never expected such a mess and such a battle. Due to the fact that many sprinters were dropped and we were left in front with only a small group, I went for my own chance again. The guys started the sprint quite early and I was able to go along in the slipstream. When Boasson Hagen accelerated, I went along and timed my sprint perfectly. It took a lot of energy, but it was worth it. This is really amazing.”

Teammate Tom Dumoulin ran out of superlatives for his teammate. “This is just unbelievable. Wout rode to protect Primoz all day and to keep him out of danger. He also took a lot of wind. It is unbelievable that he can then still pull such a sprint. I have no words for that. The team was again very good today. We were continuously riding in the first part of the peloton with six riders. The fact that our climbers George and Sepp were still able to do massive pulls at the end says a lot about the strength of this team. We knew where we had to be in the front for the crosswinds and we knew where it was going to split apart. It is great that Wout then finishes it off. This is a very beautiful day. Now on to the Pyrenees.”

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

Race leader Adam Yates remains at the top of the overall standings as crosswinds wreaked havoc on a chaotic stage seven of the Tour de France.

Adam Yates

Race leader Adam Yates heads to the start line. Sirotti photo

The 28-year-old made it into the select front group as splits appeared inside the final 30km, and despite being the only Mitchelton-SCOTT representative to make the final move, Yates made it safely to the finish in Lavaur.

The British climber will now go into stage eight wearing the yellow jersey for a third successive day as the race heads into the Pyrenees for the first time.

There was initially no movement in the peloton as the flag dropped for the start of the stage, but eventually two riders did edge clear. It looked like that would be the break of the day, but BORA-hansgrohe had different ideas as they came to the front of the bunch and upped the pace on first of the categorised climbs.

The increase in pace ended the short-lived breakaway attempt and a number of riders were shelled out the back of the pack over the top of the climb. The speed didn’t let up on the descent and groups were soon spread across the road, with Yates attentive to the danger.

The yellow jersey wearer was joined in the leading group by teammates Chris Juul-Jensen, Luka Mezgec and Esteban Chaves as the gap back to the second group on the road increase to four minutes.

The tempo had finally slowed with around 90km to go, until breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) launched a solo attack over the top of the second climb of the stage. The Belgian opened up a maximum gap of around 50 seconds, but the BORA-hansgrohe led bunch were keen to keep him on a tight leash.

De Gendt was swept up with 35km to go as the general classification contenders positioned their teams on the front with the threat of crosswinds looming. A change in direction then saw the race explode into life once again as the peloton strung out in single file.

Gaps soon began to appear, but Yates was alert to the threat as he moved to the front of the pack. A number of GC hopefuls missed the move, and despite having no teammates for company, Yates looked comfortable in the select lead group.

The pace didn’t relent all the way to the finish as the GC teams looked to put as much time as possible into those left behind. The stage concluded with a reduced bunch sprint as Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) took his second stage win of the race, while Yates crossed the line safely in ninth place to remain in yellow.

Adam Yates:
"There were only a few critical moments where you had to be in position. The wind wasn’t crazy strong, but it was just kind of enough to create a few splits.

"But the guys looked after me perfectly, even in the final I ended up on my own just because they put me in position and used a lot of energy to keep me up there.

"The next two days should be pretty tough, I think today everyone was expecting to have an easier day before the two big mountain stages, but BORA-hansgrohe had other ideas and we rode pretty much full gas from start to finish. It was a hard day for everybody."

Matt White (Head Sports Director):
“Adam was well protected up until the split caused by INEOS, that’s a mistake from our guys. INEOS caught a few GC guys napping through the towns, they ripped through the roundabouts.

“It wasn’t so much the wind, it was just that there was a lot of speed and yeah, it was a mistake from our guys not being there, but Adam handled himself very well to the finish line.

“I think a lot of people are expecting that we’re not going to give the yellow jersey away easily, but there are two definite days that breakaways could go. So, I expect an incredibly active first hour of racing tomorrow until something goes.

“Then the big thing will be, are teams happy with us to have the jersey for the weekend? Or do they want to put us under the pump, or put each other under the pump and see who’s actually climbing well on real, proper epic climbs over the next two days.

Here's the report from Egan Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers team:

There were mixed fortunes for the INEOS Grenadiers' General Classification riders on a tumultuous seventh stage of the Tour de France which was animated by attacks throughout.

Egan Bernal finished eighth in a reduced bunch sprint, won by Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma), after Bernal's teammates had split the peloton with a well-timed attack in the crosswinds.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal is now fourth in the GC. Sirotti photo

The move with 35 kilometres remaining saw six Grenadiers hit the front of the bunch and push the pace to distance several of Bernal and Carapaz's GC rivals.

Several other teams joined the attack, which saw a gap quickly grow as the pace intensified as the lead group neared the finish in Lavaur.

Unfortunately,  Carapaz suffered a late puncture and was distanced from the lead group with 20 kilometres remaining, and despite the valiant efforts of Jonathan Castroviejo, was unable to bridge the gap. 

The Ecuadorian rider joined the chase group, but they were unable to close the gap, finishing 1'21" behind Bernal's group.

The result moved the 2019 Tour de France winner up to fourth overall, which means he now leads the best young rider classification.

Egan Bernal:
"It was exactly the plan we had in the morning. We knew that after the city, there were two roundabouts and then tail-crosswind and when it’s like this when you go out of a roundabout, it’s difficult to take the wheel.

"We knew that we should be in first position there. The Team did a great job - it was just there in the final that Richie had the flat tyre, but we can’t control that. I’m really sorry for him because he has lost some time in the GC but in the end, we should be happy.

"The whole stage was stressful - you need to move to the front all the time. It was more a bit more intense before the split - when the split happened, the whole peloton worked really well, plus it was tailwind which really helped."

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

With some mountain stages in the Pyrenees on the horizon, stage 7 of the Tour de France was going to be one of the last opportunities for the faster riders to take the win. On paper, once the climbs were out of the way on this 168km stage, it was going to be fast and full on until the finish line in Lavaur.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan before the stage start. Sirotti photo

Catching the sprinters unaware, BORA-hansgrohe put the entire team on the front from the very start of the stage and set an unforgiving pace, the green jersey and the other sprinters unable to hang on. With the fast men further down the road, Peter Sagan was easily able to pick up points in the intermediate sprint – taking second here as one of the only riders in the contest for the Maillot Vert in this lead group. While attacks went from the front of the peloton, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were more concerned with how far behind the sprinters were – and with 35km to go, the closest group was almost seven minutes behind them. Just a couple of kilometres later, a group split from the front, but both Peter and Emanuel Buchmann kept their wits about them and jumped in, Emu benefiting from the time he would take on his rivals who were left behind.

Into the final 10km and after his incredible efforts, Daniel Oss was awarded the Combativity Prize for the day. The incredibly fast pace saw the final kilometres fly by as the riders positioned themselves ready for the sprint. A few riders back, Peter was well placed to launch his attack and the Slovak rider was looking for space wherever he could find it.

A mechanical cruelly denied Peter the win, but his 13th position finish, as well as the points gained at the intermediate sprint, put him back in the green jersey. Finishing in this bunch, Emu jumped five places in the GC standings to 12th.

From the Finish Line:
"I'm very proud of all my teammates, they did such a fantastic job today, they controlled the race. They pulled hard in the front of the peloton from the start, all day. In the end, there were crosswinds, and Emu and I stayed with the first group, everything was looking nice for the finish but, unfortunately, in the finale, my chain dropped off and I couldn't finish my sprint. I missed a lot of points but what can I do? That's cycling." – Peter Sagan

"The team did an amazing job today. Our plan was to make the race hard and drop the sprinters for Peter. In the first climb we went full on, dropped most of the sprinters and then kept going. I think that today we showed the peloton that we have a very strong team here. We did spend energy today to achieve this but I think that this will not be a big problem ahead of the Pyrenees because everybody else spent a lot of energy as well, even if you were at the back, you had to work hard. I think it was the same for everybody today. As for me, I'm ready for the upcoming days and I can ride hard stages back to back." - Emanuel Buchmann

"In the morning we had planned to make the race hard, taking advantage of the crosswinds and cross-tail winds. So, we got off to a strong start, attacked early, and in particular in the second climb, 3km long, we planned to ride as hard as possible and use the cross winds. The first guys were dropped there and we then kept on pushing, the whole team did a fantastic job, all the way to the finish. We were hoping to fight for a stage win, we had Peter with Emu in the select leading group but bad luck struck Peter who had a technical problem in the final stretch. All in all, the guys did a fantastic job, Emu is feels well, we are still in the GC and the fight for the green jersey. I could say it was a good day for us. The team did a great job today, alone, with very little help from other teams, they showed their strength." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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