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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, September 20, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old. George Burns

Current racing:

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Tour de France stage 20 team reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner and new GC leader Tadej Pogacar's UAE-Team Emirates:

Tadej Pogačar turned his dream into reality in the 20th stage of the Grande Boucle, the 36.2 km time trial from Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles (a 6 km climb at 8.4% average gradient), setting the best time of the day and stealing the yellow jersey from fellow countryman Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar turns in a stunning ride. Sirotti photo

With a stunning performance, the UAE Team Emirates leader stopped the clock with a time of 55’55” (average 38.844 km/h), 1’21” better than Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) and 1’56” better than Primoz Roglic, projecting himself to the top of the general classification with a 59” advantage on the former leader of the race.

Pogačar had recently beaten Roglic in a time trial with a similar course to that of today already in the last Slovenian national championship.

The new yellow jersey is also the leader of the youth rankings and is back at the top of the ranking of the best climbers.

Pogačar: “I’m dreaming. I am very proud of this jersey that repays all the efforts made by the team up to this last phenomenal push to put me in yellow. I dreamed of winning this Tour since I was a boy and now it has come true.
I must say that the credit is not only mine, but of all the members of UAE Team Emirates and the sponsors who support us. We had come here to the TT for a reconnaissance, so I knew what we were going to do and I knew where to accelerate and where to manage the effort: today I only had to think about pushing hard from start to finish.

"During the time trial I felt that I was going strong and this spurred me even more. My dream as a cyclist was to participate in the Tour de France, winning it definitely goes further”.

Tomorrow will be the final stage, 122 km from Mantes la Jolie to Paris.

Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team on losing the Yellow Jersey:

Team Jumbo-Visma and Primoz Roglic have had to relinquish the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. In the mountain time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles, Primoz Roglic finished fifth, almost two minutes behind the very strong Tadej Pogacar. As a result, Roglic ultimately lost the leader’s jersey that he had had in his possession for eleven days.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic simply faced one hill too many. Sirotti photo.

Team Jumbo-Visma rode a more than decent time trial. The yellow-black formation finished in the top five with three riders. Tom Dumoulin finished second, Wout van Aert fourth.

“I didn’t have the legs to go faster today”, a disappointed Roglic said. “I just couldn’t push harder. I couldn’t ride the watts I needed to win. I tried my best and gave it my all, but Tadej was just too strong. I knew what times Tadej was riding, but in the end it didn’t matter because my legs were not good enough to anticipate on that. But despite the disappointment, I think we rode a very strong Tour as a team. I want to thank the team for everything they have done for me over the past three weeks. I am proud of how we raced as a team and we need to take the positives out of it for the future.”

Dumoulin finished second. It was his first podium in more than a year. In spite of this, disappointment also prevailed with him. “This is quite a pity. Pogacar was of a different level than we were today. Primoz was feeling good this morning and he knew that he had to do a good time trial. It wasn’t his best time trial ever, but it certainly wasn’t his worst either. We’ve bounced on a strong Pogacar. The Tour victory slipped out of our hands. That is very disappointing. I did a considerable time trial myself. I didn’t ride very fast at La Planche, but before that I had some good pace. But it doesn’t matter anyway. It was neither for the stage win nor for the overall win. We did not see this one coming.”

Wout van Aert rode a strong time trial at La Planche des Belles Filles, but did not see this plot twist coming as well. “It comes as a complete surprise. Primoz felt good. There was nothing that indicates that he wasn’t feeling great. During the time trial I already saw that he was riding his bike differently than usual. We have all worked very hard for it. And we have gone all in for the past three weeks. That it didn’t work out is very disappointing. For myself I can be satisfied with my time trial. I think this was the highest achievable for me.”

Here's the report from third-place Richie Porte's Trek-Segafredo team:

It was one of the most thrilling finishes of the Tour’s overall podium in decades. And for Richie Porte, a long-sought-after dream came true.

Porte finished the 36.2-kilometer race of truth in the penultimate stage of the 2020 Tour de France in 57 minutes and 16 seconds, netting him third place for the race and securely setting him on the Tour’s final podium step. A life-long dream to be on the Tour de France final podium had just taken a big step into reality.  Porte only needs to get safely through Sunday’s mostly ceremonious final stage into Paris to make it official.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte riding to third place. Sirotti photo

“For me, it’s an absolute dream. I grew up watching the Tour on the other side of the world, seeing guys like Robbie McEwan, Cadel Evans, and Brad McGee. To finally crack the podium here is an absolutely incredible feeling. It’s going to take a little while to sink in, but, you know, it’s been a journey. Most of you know the battles that I’ve had, the dramas along the way,” said Porte.

“It doesn’t matter what races you have won, the Tour’s the one you are judged on,” he added. “I said to my wife that the photo that I want to have when I retire is the one standing on the podium in Paris.

Porte started the day 1 minute and 39 seconds from third, held by Miguel Lopez (Astana). After all the tough battles in the high mountains and thwarting off disaster with a courageous chase in Stage 18, Porte finished it off with a superb performance in the time trial.

“It’s been a good battle between Landa, Lopez, and myself, but in a time trial I knew I should be able to beat them, though you still have those lingering doubts in the back of your mind. I had a good team around me, and they were really confident in me. I started getting time checks from [Director] Kim Andersen, then on the radio he said, ‘Three K to go, Richie, you’re going to get your dream!’ It was such a sweet moment.”

The Trek-Segaredo team rode strongly in support of Porte for three weeks, but it was the World Champion who was designated as Porte’s bodyguard. And Mads Pedersen played the babysitter role to perfection.

“There’s never an easy Tour de France. I came here in great shape, and the team didn’t put that much stress on me. Every day has been full gas, and all the guys played their part.  I know I shouldn’t single anyone out, but Mads Pedersen has been absolutely incredible. He’s probably got more belief in me and my abilities than I do. Every night he would come to my room and explain: ‘this is how it’s going to be; you follow my wheel and it’ll be fine.’ And it was. You can’t do this without a team and what a team we had!”

An unprecedented Tour de France raced in September amongst an on-going coronavirus pandemic threw a hiccup into Porte’s personal life.  He missed his baby daughter’s birth on September 4, and a podium in Paris has eased his feelings in making that ultimate sacrifice.

“Once the whole coronavirus thing kicked off, and the Tour was rescheduled, I guess that’s just me, the luck I have, that I would miss the birth of my daughter. My wife Gemma said to me: ‘Go to the Tour, do your thing.’  She had a plan. The other thing she said was, ‘If I turn the television on and you’re at the back of the peloton, I’ll be a little bit pissed.

“The team gave me the option to leave, which was incredible for a team to do. It’s a very humane team. I came here, and I knew I had a mission to achieve. To miss the birth – I feel like this goes a little bit of the way to make it worthwhile.”

With one more sprint on Champs-Élysées in the final stage Sunday the team has one last opportunity for a stage win, and the question was asked of Porte: Is there anything you can do to help Pedersen in tomorrow’s fast finish?

“Probably get out of the way, to be honest,” Porte smiled. “If he doesn’t have to babysit me like he did for the last three weeks, then that’s the best thing I can do.  He deserves a win tomorrow. It would be the cherry on the cake.”

Remi Cavagna's Deceunick-Quick Step team posted this report:

One day after receiving the most combative rider of the stage trophy for his stunning 120km solo ride, Rémi Cavagna embarked on another individual time trial, albeit much shorter, between Lure and La Planche des Belles Filles. Clad in the stunning tricolour kit designed by Vermarc after his victory at last month’s National Championships, the 24-year-old from Clermont-Ferrand was one of the first riders to leave the start house, from where he rolled down motivated to honour his jersey.

Remi Caagna

Remi Cavagna leading a break in stage thirteen. Sirotti photo.

Cavagna breezed through the three intermediate check points in Le Raddon, Plancher-Les-Mines and Mi-Pente, before finding his rhythm on the punishing 5.9km climb averaging 8.5%, where unlike other riders, he opted to continue on his time trial bike. In full aero tuck on his Specialized Shiv, the Frenchman became the first rider to go under the one-hour barrier and moved into the provisional lead with a stunning time of 57:54.

This result allowed the Plouay European Championships silver medalist to stay into the hot seat for more than three hours, his position coming under threat only after the GC guys began their effort, in the last hour of the stage. Eventually, as those came over the line and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) took the win, Cavagna finished in sixth place as the best Frenchman on the day, a confirmation of the major improvements he has made in the discipline since joining Deceuninck – Quick-Step.

“I am happy with my performance. I gave everything I had and at the end of the day I was beaten by better riders. When I started this morning I knew it was going to be very hard with that climb at the finish, but I was still motivated to do a good ride, especially as it was my first outing in the National Champion jersey. It’s nice to see the results of all the hard work I put in. This gives me a lot of confidence for my next appointments of the season”, a smiling Rémi said after stage 20.

And Bora-hansgrohe sent me this stage 20 report:

The organisers of the Tour de France had saved the race’s one and only individual time trial until the penultimate day. Starting out flat, this 36.2km route had a sting in its tail – finishing with a climb up the infamous la Planche des Belles Filles – a first category ascent that covered 5.9km and had an average gradient of 8.5%.

If this wasn’t tough enough, the last section of the climb was an eye-watering 20%, but while the stage had a climb, this wasn’t necessarily a stage for the climbers. The first BORA-hansgrohe rider out of the gate was Daniel Oss, measuring his efforts well to finish in a time of 1h04’26”, with Peter Sagan coming in with a time a little less than thirty seconds slower than Daniel’s.

With the more natural climbers taking to the course, the times started to drop. Felix Grossschartner started his ride well, choosing to stay on his aero bike the entire course while others switched to a standard road bike at the foot of the climb. Finishing in 1h01’26”, the Austrian rider had set the best time for a BORA-hansgrohe rider, until Maximilian Schachmann came across the line with less than an hour in the saddle, finishing in 59’54”.

While Lennard Kämna performed well on the climb, he was just unable to unseat Max from claiming the team’s bragging rights, taking a time of 1h00’07”. Max’s time gave him a top twenty finish, taking seventeenth spot after sitting in the provisional top ten much of the day, with Lennard ending the day in twenty-first. With just the road to Paris to come, the race wasn’t going to be over for BORA-hansgrohe until the dust had settled after the sprint on the Champs-Elysées.

From the Finish Line:
"We didn't have a specific goal or target, in terms of speed, time, or power, planned for me in today's time trial, I rode mostly on how I was feeling. During the entire Tour de France, I suffered from the aftermath of my broken collarbone at the Lombardia. I have had muscle problems, some days more painful, at times less, so I didn't want to push too much today. I'm already focused on the World Championship road race next Sunday and today I rode at a speed I felt comfortable with. In the last climb, I was feeling better and I accelerated a bit. In the end, it wasn't such a bad time but it wasn't my goal today.” – Maximilian Schachmann

"I knew it was going to be a hard time-trial, so I rode at my own pace to make sure I was within the time limits. We have one more stage left, the most iconic of the Tour de France, and I think it is a dream for any rider, especially a sprinter, to win on the Champs-Elysées. We will give our best in Paris as well." – Peter Sagan

"Felix and Lennard were our two riders today that were given the freedom to decide whether they wanted to go all out or save some energy for tomorrow's sprint on the Champs-Elysées. After the first intermediate point, Felix indicated he was nearly empty and went on at a steady pace until the finish, not pushing too much. Despite his tremendous effort in the mountains, and his stage win, Lennard still had the power to fight on and finish quite well. Max was BORA-hansgrohe's highest-placed rider, but he didn't push to the limit either. We are fully focused on tomorrow's sprint stage and Peter will receive the team's full support to maybe take his first win on the Champs-Elysées." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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