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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, September 24, 2020

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month. - Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Deceuninck-Quick Step reports on Belgian road championships

Here's the team's post:

This year’s Belgian National Championships followed an unusual script that saw a large breakaway group get clear just ahead of the local laps and stay clear until the end, despite several teams joining forces behind them. Iljo Keisse and Pieter Serry booked a place in that 20-man move and brought a huge contribution to the gap that went up to almost five minutes with some 100 kilometers to go.

With the Tiegemberg the main difficulty of the circuit, the peloton used it as a launch pad to try and claw back time and eventually reel in the escapees, but they couldn’t do it, in part also thanks to the rest of the Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders, who shut down every attack with the likes of Bert Van Lerberghe and Mauri Vansevenant, the two stomping their authority at the front of the bunch.

At the same time, attacks happened up the road, where the concord between the escapees crumbled as more and more riders tried to zip clear and establish a race-winning gap. Iljo Keisse and Pieter Serry put in several digs that stretched out the group going into the last lap and had the margin over the peloton hover around two minutes. Then, Serry burst away from the pack on a short hill and opened a small but promising gap inside the closing 15 kilometers. Unfortunately for him, the 31-year-old Belgian crashed on a right-hand corner and was passed by Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix).

Dries De Bont

New Belgian road champion Dries De Bont wins the third stage of the 2020 Etoile de Bessèges earlier this year.

Showing a remarkable fighting spirit, Serry didn’t concede and despite being caught by the group, he continued to push hard to try and narrow down the gap and give his teammate a chance to fight for victory in a reduced sprint. But the lack of cooperation from the other members of the breakaway allowed De Bondt to stay at the front and win for a small gap ahead of the group, from where Iljo Keisse and Pieter Serry sprinted with 100 meters to go and rounded out the podium.

“I worked very hard in the past months and my condition was really good. I did an altitude training camp and then went straight to the Tour of Slovakia, where I felt good on the climbs and this gave me a lot of confidence going into this race. I was very focused before the start, found myself in the break with Iljo and sensing there was an opportunity, I attacked on a short climb. Unfortunately, I had bad luck and my front wheel slipped on that corner, so I hit the ground. Then, on the last hill, I tried one more time, but everybody was on my wheel. It was frustrating to see that no one was willing to work with us, just chase our every single move. I am disappointed after today, because without that crash, I would have been very close to my first victory”, Serry explained at the end of the 238.5km-long race.

His feelings were echoed by Iljo Keisse, runner-up in Anzegem, where he took his best ever result at the National Championships: “We always ride to win and today was no different. The race was strange, full gas for 100 kilometers before a break finally managed to go clear. Having riders from all the strong teams we knew that we might have a chance to remain in the front and it happened. With two laps to go, we had a two-minute gap and I talked with Pieter about our strategy for the finale, which went really smoothly until that late crash. It’s a pity, but that’s cycling. Being on the podium is just a consolation, what we wanted today was the victory.”

Ane Santesteban adds key climbing support for Mitchelton-SCOTT

The team sent me this:

Mitchelton-SCOTT has signed talented Spanish climber Ane Santesteban to support their key ambitions in 2021.

Santesteban joins the Australian squad from Ceratizit-WNT following the team’s commitment to support inaugural team member Amanda Spratt and build a strong and diverse climbing group.

The 29-year-old, who won the Spanish championships in 2013 and finished second in 2020, has shown steady progression in recent years, with top-10 general classification performances at the Giro d'Italia (2020 – 7th, 2018 – 9th) and Emakumeen Bira (2019 – 8th).

Ane Santesteban:
“I am super happy to join the team because we do a lot of races together, I am always looking and it looks like a really good group. All of the girls and also the staff are like a family altogether and when I spoke with the team it was a super nice conversation so I was really happy to join the team.

“Honestly, another reason I am happy to be in the team is because of Amanda Spratt. She is a super good rider, in the worlds recently she was always with a medal and also in the Giro d’Italia she was really strong so I am happy to ride with her as a climber and also with the other girls. They really work as a team, I would like to learn from everybody and give all I have to work well with them.

“In the last years I have really improved as a rider and as a person, and I would like to continue with this improvement. I also just want to be happy in the team, I am a really positive person and I want to give this for the spirit of the group.”

Martin Vestby – Sport Director:
“We are aiming to really build a good climbing group for the Giro d’Italia, the Ardennes and those hilly races; and alongside Spratty, Lucy (Kennedy) and Georgia Williams, Santesteban is the perfect addition.

“She really understands her role as support for Spratty, but she also just finished seventh overall at the Giro and is capable for going for her own results too.

“She hasn’t won many races, but she is consistent in hilly races, has produced good results and is always up there.  She has the experience, but we think the change of environment and our support structure will really help her take the next step and we will see her reach her peak in the coming years. She will really strengthen that climber’s group so we can play more cards.”

Ane Santesteban:
Date of Birth: 12th December 1990 (29)
Nationality: Spanish
Joins Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2021
New contract: 2021

Top results:
- 3rd 2019 Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa
- 7th 2020 Giro d'Italia – Overall
- 8th 2019 Emakumeen XXXII.Bira – Overall
- 9th 2018 Giro d'Italia - Overall

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