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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, September 21, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. - George Bernard Shaw

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Tour de France stage 21 team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Sam Bennett's Deceuninck-Quick Step team

Sam Bennett rode straight into the history books on the Champs-Élysées Sunday evening, as he carried home the race’s prestigious green jersey, a fantastic performance that Ireland had last witnessed at the end of the ‘80s, when Sean Kelly was finishing at the top of the points classification. Hailing from the same Carrick-on-Suir village as his idol, Sam returned this year at the Tour de France for the first time in 2016 and he made it count, setting several milestones along the way and elevating himself to cycling immortality.

After breaking the ice on stage 10 in Île de Ré, Sam began growing in confidence as he realised he has a fair shot at taking the prestigious green jersey, and helped by a team that turned inside out for him on the flat but also on the mountains, he made it all the way to Paris, where he put the icing on the cake on the most iconic finish venue in cycling, just as the sun was setting down over the French capital.

Sam Bennett

The final stage is Sam Bennett's. Sirotti photo

Once again, Deceuninck – Quick-Step gave him a superb lead-out, with Michael Mørkøv dropping him off in a perfect position, from where Sam Bennett dashed to victory, our squad’s 99th in a Grand Tour, as he became the first Irishman in history to triumph on the Champs-Élysées: “I feel amazing, I can’t tell you how happy I am! I never thought I would be in this position one day. I grew up watching these Champs-Élysées sprints filmed from every angle and to do it myself now in the green jersey it’s unbelievable! It’s the best victory of my career. It’s something I will remember and treasure for the rest of my life, especially as I did it in the green jersey, which I never dreamed of winning.”

Sam – who showed a remarkable consistency and fighting spirit over the past three weeks, two important factors which helped him become the second Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to conquer the green jersey, after Tom Boonen in 2007 – took us through the hectic last kilometer in Paris: “It was really fast and I was a bit nervous, but the boys flawlessly controlled the race and brought me to the front when it mattered. On the final straight, I let other riders come up, because I felt some headwind, and then I opened my sprint with 150-200 meters to go. As I came on the other side, I thought someone was going to come pass me, but it didn’t happen and I still can’t believe I won.”

Deceuninck – Quick-Step concluded the Tour de France again as one of the top performers and entertainers, with three stage wins, three days in the yellow jersey – which Julian Alaphilippe sported following his thrilling victory in Nice on the opening weekend – 13 days in the green jersey and two prizes for the most combative rider of the stage, awarded to the same Alaphilippe and French ITT Champion Rémi Cavagna.

Here's the report from 2020 Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE-Team Emirates:

The amazing tale of the UAE Team Emirates Tour de France 2020 journey ended on the Champs-Elysses in Paris, with Tadej Pogačar claiming the ultimate prize of victory.

Pogačar, still just 21 years old (the youngest winner since 1904)  also claimed the polka dot and the best young rider classification, as well as having won three stages (9th, 15th and 20th).

Tadej Pogacar

Pogacar got to spend a stage in yellow. Sirotti photo.

The success of the Emirati team is also topped off by the triumph of Alexander Kristoff in Nice who won the opening stage of the Tour, with the Norwegian wearing the yellow jersey on stage 2.

The heights of glory reached by UAE Team Emirates in France represent the pinnacle of the young sporting history of the United Arab Emirates.

The final stage was won by Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) ahead of world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo);  with a solid 4th place going to Alexander Kristoff.

Pogačar: “It has been a long journey, which began well before we started in Nice and has ended in the most beautiful way.  My season was focused on the Tour de France from the start of the year, the preparation was perfect and well planned by the team with training camps and training plans during the lockdown: I was always focused even in the difficult moments when the racing stopped earlier in the year.

"I arrived at the Grande Boucle in good shape, along the way we lost two teammates, but the team managed to maintain a great atmosphere.  It was a pleasure to experience this, with all my teammates and staff members by my side, the challenges that the Tour offered up every day, trying to always remain calm and, at the same time, concentrated. I really still can’t believe what fantastic moments I have lived!

"It would have been great to finish second in Paris, but being here in the yellow jersey is the best you can ask for.

"Today was a special day, I was able to finally chat calmly with the other riders while we rode.  It was exciting to receive the compliments of so many riders in the bunch. Cycling is a beautiful sport.”

At the Tour de France, the Emirati team was represented by rookie Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia), David De La Cruz (Spain), Alexander Kristoff (Norway), Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway), Marco Marcato (Italy), Jan Polanc (  Slovenia), as well as Fabio Aru (Italy) and Davide Formolo (Italy), both of whom unfortunately did not reach Paris.

UAE Team Emirates now hold a total of 29 victories to their name this season.

Here's what GC second-place Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team had to report:

Team Jumbo-Visma has concluded a strong Tour de France with three stage victories and a second place in the final classification for Primoz Roglic. In the final stage to the Champs Elysees in Paris, nothing unexpected happened anymore.

The yellow-black formation directed by Grischa Niermann had been riding in the yellow jersey for eleven days, showed fighting spirit throughout the whole Tour, but ultimately bounced on a strong Pogacar.

Primoz roglic

Primoz Roglic loses two minutes in the stage 20 time trial. Sirotti photo.

For Roglic it is his third podium in a grand tour. Last year he won the Vuelta a Espana and finished third in the Giro d’Italia. It is the fourth podium for Team Jumbo-Visma in a grand tour after Steven Kruijswijk finished on the podium in Paris last year. “I am obviously very disappointed”, Roglic said. “I gave 110 percent, but I had nothing left yesterday. I feel sorry for my teammates for not finishing it off, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I just couldn’t go any faster. Despite the disappointment, I am also very proud of this second place. I’d rather finish second or third than finishing just off the podium. I am also proud of the team. We fought every day for three weeks on end and we gave everything. We continued to fight for our goal together. The way we raced was beautiful. I am very proud of that. I don’t know if we made mistakes as a team. Whether we should have raced even more aggressively. We have to analyze that. I will definitely come back to the Tour. You always want to win and be the best. We can learn from this and there are certainly areas for improvement, also with me. The motivation is there and hopefully we will come out even stronger.”

For manager Richard Plugge the end result comes as a huge disappointment, but pride dominates. “We came to win the Tour, but we didn’t succeed. We can be proud on the three stage wins, eleven days of yellow and the way we raced. We just haven’t reached our goal. We have to live with that and get the positives out of it for the future. We are very disappointed. Stunned too. We didn’t see this one coming. If you think that 57 seconds should be enough for the win then this is a huge deception. Primoz did a good time trial to the point that he heard it wasn’t going to be enough for him. Then it also starts to become a mental struggle. I don’t think we’ve done wrong much in the past three weeks. We just bounced on a strong Pogacar. We did everything we could and we executed our plans down to the last detail. But it did not work out. We learn every year. Two years ago we finished fourth and fifth in the Tour, third last year and now second. We are continuing to learn how the Tour works. Despite the disappointment, I am proud of the entire team.”

Two-time stage winner Wout van Aert placed himself in the mix in the sprint on the Champs-Élysées and finished sixth. “With Amund I was one man short in the final. He’s normally one of the last leadout riders for Dylan so he knows how it works. He had to deal with a mechanical problem on the penultimate lap so getting back to the front was difficult. I had to position myself on my own for the sprint. That went quite well and I also had a lot of speed in the last corner. I lost that speed because I was held up by Viviani. For me personally this was a fantastic Tour with two victories, but the disappointment of missing the overall win still dominates. It wasn’t easy to head into today’s final stage, but we made the switch to go for it one more time. We raced at the front for three weeks and we showed that again today. I would rather have won again, but it was not possible. Now it’s time to rest for two days and then I’ll switch my focus to the World Championships.”

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

A flawless lead-out from Jasper Stuyven, a remarkable second-place sprint from Mads Pedersen, and a long-awaited podium for Richie Porte as the 2020 Tour de France came to a successful close in Paris for Trek-Segafredo.

While the 122-kilometer Stage was mostly a parade of celebrations, as each year when the peloton arrives onto the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the race is on.  While a few opportunists tried to spoil the sprinters’ last stab at glory, the extreme speed on the final seven-kilometer loop in the heart of Paris resulted in the usual ending.

Trek-Segafredo only had Stuyven in the lead-out as Edward Theuns crashed with a few laps remaining, an unfortunate fall, but even with the usual two Classics specialists helping Pedersen, beating a red-hot Sam Bennett was going to take something special.

“We know that Sam Bennett is one of the fastest guys, so it would have to be a miracle for me to win today,” admitted Pedersen. “But if you don’t try, you never win.  We hoped that he would be a few spots behind me, and then I actually had a chance. In the end, Jasper did a perfect leadout, but so did Quick-Step. Sam was just straight in my wheel when I started the sprint, and then it was almost mission impossible.

“Of course, I would have loved to finish my last race in the World Champion jersey with a victory, but I’m really happy with a podium on the Champs-Élysées.”

Finishing safely behind the chaos happening in the front, Richie Porte crossed the line in 62nd place and could breathe a heavy sigh of relief.  When the Tour de France’s final Stage hits Paris, it’s never easy, and everyone must get across the last finish line to certify the final classification.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte (on right) made the 2020 Tour's final podium

“Everyone says it’s a procession, but it’s a hard stage,” said Porte. “The cobbles are not getting any softer over the years, so it’s just a relief really to get it over and done with.

“It’s a great feeling, a dream come true, to be honest. To stand on the podium in Paris is just unbelievable. It was so nice to be up there with two champions. It’s a moment I will savor for the rest of my life.”

It was a long and tough three weeks of ups and downs. When Porte lost 81 seconds to many rivals in the crosswinds of Stage 7, he never gave in.  In the high mountains, he began chipping away at his deficit, and in the penultimate Stage’s race against the clock, he gave arguably the best time trial of his life.  The dreaming was over: He had finally reached the podium of the Tour de France.

“This result just caps everything off – I’ve had some bad luck over the years, so it’s finally nice to have a three-week race where everything goes to plan,” continued Porte. “The Stage where I really started to believe was the Grand Colombier. Obviously, the Slovenian guys were the strongest there, but I was third.

“And the time trial yesterday was one of the best I have done in my career. It’s just been such a journey. I am just so happy to finally be on the podium of a Grand Tour.”

Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this:

Mitchelton-SCOTT wrapped up the Tour de France in Paris today having equalled the team’s longest time in the yellow jersey courtesy of Adam Yates.

The 28-year-old, who eventually finished ninth overall, moved into the Malliot Jaune on stage five and went on to wear it for four stages, equalling the team’s efforts back in 2013 when Simon Gerrans and current teammate Daryl Impey wore it for two days each.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates after the end of stage five. Sirotti photo

Capping off an impressive debut, Slovenian Luka Mezgec continued to show his career-best form to finish 13th in the final sprint on the Champs Elysees today.

An unconventional start for the Tour de France saw mountains appear on the parcours almost immediately, and prompted a plan for an aggressive start.

On just the second day, in Nice, Yates saw his opportunity to jump off the front on the final climb, collect intermediate bonus seconds and finish third on the stage to sit second overall, four seconds down on Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quickstep).

Expecting to wait until the summit finish on stage six for an attempt to take the jersey, the honour came 24-hours early when Alaphilippe took an illegal feed in the final 20km.

Attention switched to jersey defence for the next four days, before Yates relinquished it to Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) ahead of the first rest day.

After illness interrupted Yates’ preparation, the Briton and team management agreed to focus on stage victories at the 2020 Tour de France, anticipating significant loss of time to allow freedom for breakaway opportunities.

As one of cycling’s greatest privileges that isn’t handed over without a fight, the four-day stint in yellow delayed that plan. And, as the mountains continued to pass, Yates continued to find his legs, seemingly getting stronger as the days went by following his illness in July.

With a podium position still up for grabs until the final mountain stage, Yates and Mitchelton-SCOTT fell into the overall battle until the final moments, with another top-10 finish, the third in the organisation’s history, for the records. 

Despite falling short of stage glory, it wasn’t from a lack of effort from a squad that ultimately finished with two second-places, a third-place and eight other top-10 finishes between Mezgec and Yates.

After the steady annual procession at start of the final stage, the real action began once the riders entered the Champs Élysées.

Despite multiple attacks off the front it came back for the expected bunch sprint, won by the green jersey of Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quickstep). Caught too far back, Mezgec settled for 13th in his first appearance on the Champs Elysees.

Luka Mezgec:
“It was a great experience. It was actually much harder than expected, much rougher surface, so I was quite in shock, for the first two laps I was like ‘woah, this is kind of hard.’

“It was a little bit weird because of there were no crowds, I saw lots of Slovenian flags, but still I cannot imagine how much better it can be when everything is full.

“The final sprint, I was just not in a good position. I actually didn’t feel so good and I spent too much trying to get in a good position in the final corner.

“We expected more, at least a stage win and we were a few times really close, but my for my personal success I’m really satisfied.”

Adam Yates – 9th overall:
“All-in-all I think we can be happy. As we said at the very beginning we never came here with ambitions of riding the general classification and in the end we came out with a top-10 in the biggest bike race in the world.

“The whole race we rode well as a team and stayed focused throughout and I think we can be proud of what we did here.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“We came here with the idea of hunting stages and we went after it in the first week and that resulted in the yellow jersey. The negative side of that, for Adam at least, because he was the leader of the general classification and the yellow jersey, he couldn’t go on the attack for those stages.

“But we held the yellow jersey for four days, finished in the top 10 and we came mighty close with Mezza on a couple of occasions. The boys committed to the plan every day.

“The big positive in general, especially for Mezza in his first Tour, he’s a guy that has always been a support rider in this team over many, many years and he’s got his chance in the biggest race of the year and to show the talent that he’s got, finishing second twice, he’ll take a lot from the Tour, for sure.

“The boys did super, it wasn’t the successes of last year, but it wasn’t through lack of effort and we’re a team that people talked about during the race, besides the yellow jersey, the way we raced and our close calls, and the boys certainly did the team very proud.”

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

As is tradition on the Tour de France, there would be no real racing on the last day until the riders arrived in Paris. The first part of the 122km route from Mantes-la-Jolie would be to celebrate the jersey winners and to contemplate the racing of the previous three weeks, with the sprinters taking centre stage when the day, and the race, came to its end on the Champs-Elysées.

For the BORA-hansgrohe riders, it was a chance to reflect on a Tour de France that saw multiple strong team performances, with the riders working together well both to control the pace on important sprint stages in Peter Sagan’s quest for the Maillot Vert, as well as individual achievements, such as Lennard Kämna’s multiple days in the breakaway, before finally taking his well-deserved first Grand Tour win on stage 16.

Peter SAgan

Peter Sagan did spend some time in green, but he couldn't take the jersey to Paris this year. Sirotti photo

Entering Paris with 66km to go, the pace was relaxed as the peloton took in Paris’ sights, from the Cathédrale Notre-Dame to the Louvre museum and art gallery. Passing the Luxor Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde with 55km to go, the race proper was on for the first of nine laps of the Champs-Elysées circuit, with attempts to breakaway starting instantly. The day’s intermediate sprint was approaching fast, and Maximilian Schachmann jumped in a group of four to up the pace.

The high speeds on the course meant Max’s group was never more than fifteen seconds in front, and as the sun set low on the roads and the kilometres remaining dipped below 10km, the sprint teams massed at the front. Gritting his teeth, Max was the only rider left, lasting until the 3.5km to go point before he was swept up.

From here it was all about the sprinters. Moving his way up through the bunch, Peter Sagan was in a strong position on the final bend, and starting his sprint, he surged through the field, never letting go until the line was crossed. Narrowly missing out on second, the Slovak rider took third to draw his and BORA-hansgrohe’s Tour de France campaign to a close.

"As expected, it all came down to a fast bunch sprint. I was well-placed, in Sam's wheel but in the end, he was faster and I took third. Everything is fine, the Tour de France is over and I'm happy to be here in Paris." – Peter Sagan

"We had three objectives here, two of which, we must admit, we were unable to achieve. Peter’s preparation for the Tour and the Giro was something of a tightrope walk. Enough has already been reported about Emanuel’s fall – I think everyone could see from the Dauphiné that he was on course, but after that, unfortunately, it didn’t work out. In general, we had a lot of bad luck at the Tour this year. Mechanicals in the unluckiest of situations, Sagan, whose chain came off at a critical moment, or even Lukas’ bee sting. Nevertheless, I’m drawing a positive conclusion, because the way our riders presented themselves here was great. Their attacking riding style was received enthusiastically by the cycling world. You could see the passion, the fighting spirit, but also the form that would have actually been there. We performed here as a team. Lennard's victory was the reward for this hard work and a huge relief for everyone. I am particularly proud, as this was the first German stage victory for our team at the Tour. Next year, we will certainly come back with ambitious goals, and the potential to achieve them is definitely present in our team.“ – Ralph Denk, Team Manager

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