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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, April 11, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. - Epictetus

Current racing:

Upcoming races:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

Tour of Turkey to attempt shortened stage one on Sunday

The organizer's posted this short note on Facebook: 2nd stage’s host city Konya will also host opening stage tomorrow. We've posted the new, shortened stage map and profile here.

Vuelta al País Vasco final team reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here is the report from stage six winner David Gaudu's Team Groupama-FDJ:

David Gaudu saved the best for last. On the final stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, which was also the toughest one, the young climber of the Groupama-FDJ cycling team showed all his talent and grit. Attentive when he needed to be and really impressive on the climbs, the Frenchman took a prestigious victory at Arrate. At the end of a frenetic race, he also brought to the team its first WorldTour win this year. Finishing together with the overall winner Primoz Roglic, David Gaudu also completed his week in fifth position in the general classification. He’s now perfectly on track for the Ardennes Classics.

DAvid Gaudu

David Gaudu wins the final stage ahead of Primoz Roglic. Gomez Sport photo

Just 112 kilometers had to be covered to close the 2021 edition of the Tour of the Basque Country on Saturday, but there were the toughest ones. Seven climbs, including three of the first category, featured on the course, and the riders got to the heart of the matter as soon as the start was given, just before 3 pm. As expected, “there were riders all over the place straight away, and it never stopped,” said Franck Pineau. “The race opened up early and it all came down to the legs.”

It was then a small bunch of around thirty riders that tackled the first big climb of the day, after fifteen kilometers. A few riders went away, but since the intensity never decreased, the gaps remained quite small. At the top of the fourth climb, around ten men were just a minute ahead of the yellow jersey group, which featured David Gaudu. The Frenchman was actually perfectly on the alert when the race’s first turning point occurred, in the Elosua’s downhill. “At the briefing, we made it clear that the race could be played as much in the downhills as in the climbs,” said Franck. “Like all week, it was necessary to be well positioned at the top of the climbs. We were sure that some would try to make the racer harder there. Luckily, David has great skills, but he still needed to be in good position”.

The two-time stage winner on the Vuelta was so, and could then enter the right move that made a gap on the rest of the bunch, and in particular on the yellow jersey Brandon McNulty and his teammate Tadej Pogacar. On the valley leading up to the next climbs, some leaders made perfect use of their teammates to make the gap grow even more.

Shortly after halfway, David Gaudu then tackled the “first” climb of Arrate in the leading group. He was also the only one, along with Hugh Carthy, to be able to hold the wheel of Primoz Roglic when the Slovenian decided to accelerate on that climb. “When the three of us got away, I realized I might be one of the strongest in the day,” the young man said later. At first, however, he let the Slovenian pull on his own. “He’s the champion, and he was going for the overall,” Franck said. “Then I told David to take some turns because we could hope for the win, and it was easier to get rid of two riders than fifteen”. It was then with a 40-second advantage over the chasing group that the trio got to the bottom of the Arrate’s final climb. “Roglic told me he didn’t care about the stage,” David said. “I knew that if I took him to the finish in the last climb, he would let me the victory. But I needed to get rid of Carthy first. I attacked, and when I saw he was dropped, I gave it my all. I was going flat-out! Franck was yelling on the radio, the Basques were also shouting on the side of the road. My legs didn’t even hurt anymore! I was having Goosebumps, it was crazy, mental!”

After he did the entire climb in the front and held back the chasers, David Gaudu could start to enjoy his victory when Roglic congratulated him in the last kilometre. He then celebrated his second win of the season, but also one of the finest of his career. “It was an incredible day. I hadn’t experienced any other like it before”, he added. “I was always calm and confident. I didn’t think too much, I raced the way I wanted to and it paid off. I especially want to remember how I won. It came down to the legs the whole day, from the beginning to the end, and I came away with the win. Maybe this is what makes me happy the most.” “He really rode perfectly,” added Franck. “He made it look easy, like it happens from time to time in cycling. We wanted him to finish in style. We can tell he really did. He raced like a champ. I think he even had the means to drop Roglic if he had to. He was extremely strong and he did not make any mistake. I’m proud of him, but also of the whole team. We must not forget all the work that was upstream by all his teammates. We worked for him all week for him to be at the top of his game on this last stage. All the little efforts he did not have to do the previous day could be used today”. “Everyone has been flawless,” confirmed David. “They trusted me and I can only thank them for what they did”.

Finally, the Frenchman took advantage of his performance to climb to fifth place in the final general classification. He can now head towards the Ardennes Classics with a high morale. “The Tour of the Basque Country is really the optimal preparation race for these events,” he concluded. “Now, I just need to stay focused. I hope I will be there in great shape.”

GC winner Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team posted this report:

Primoz Roglic has won the Tour of the Basque Country for the second time. In the final stage with seven climbs the leader of Team Jumbo-Visma finished second. Teammate Jonas Vingegaard finished behind Roglic in second place in the final classification.

The Dutch team also took all jerseys and the team classification. For Roglic it meant his fifth victory of the season and the thirteenth for Team Jumbo-Visma.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic riding the stage one time trial.

The short queen stage was spectacular from the beginning. Antwan Tolhoek and Sam Oomen were part of the leading group. In the descent of the fourth climb the peloton broke into pieces. Roglic created a gap with his direct competitors Brandon McNulty and Tadej Pogacar. The Slovenian joined the group with Tolhoek and Oomen a little later. The advantage of the group quickly increased and fluctuated in the remainder of the stage around 40 seconds. On the finish Roglic left the day’s victory to his only remaining co-escapee David Gaudu.

Roglic looked back on his final victory with a good feeling. “I am very honoured to have won the overall classification. Luckily we were spared bad luck this time. This stage was short, but powerful. It was a tough day, but the end result was worth it. I am very proud that we have done the maximum here with a young team. I knew the course. There was nothing left to do but ride hard today. I enjoyed riding in the Basque Country last week. The result only makes it better. I am proud of the talented team we have raced with this week. Jonas’ second place in the general classification is a nice reward for his strong performance.”

Vingegaard himself was very pleased with his performance. “I have made a very big step this season. I am very happy to have finished second in the overall classification. I was disappointed not to win Thursday’s stage, but this performance makes up for everything. I would have signed for second place and the win in the youth classification in advance.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann saw the tactic that had been outlined turn into a success. “A great day for us as a team. It turned out exactly as we had planned. We wanted to race from the start and put the competition under pressure. Today we did a great job as a team. We take all the jerseys home in one of the toughest races of the year. The compliments not only go to Primoz and Jonas, but to the entire team. Not everyone understood our tactic in the past week, but in hindsight it appears that it was the right one. Today we have proven once again that we have more to offer than just controlling the race. We end this week with an excellent feeling.”

Adam Yates' INEOS Grenadiers posted this update:

Adam Yates put in an impressive performance on the final day of racing in the Basque Country, maximising his opportunities to move back up to fourth place overall.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates descending in the 2020 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

The Brit rode well amidst an elite group of contenders after an extremely action-packed and selective queen stage.

Yates crossed the line in fourth, moving up two places on GC, leapfrogging Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) and holding off stage victor David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ).

The Grenadier ended the six-day event 1:26 back on winner Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma). The Slovenian took advantage of a split in the peloton to launch an audacious bid for overall victory.

Richard Carapaz was present in a breakaway group following an attacking start to the day. Yates was able to sit in behind, with Tao Geoghegan Hart monitoring the initial counter attacks.

Ion Izagirre's Team Astana-Premier Tech posted this report:

Astana – Premier Tech’s Ion Izagirre finished 11th on the sixth and final stage of Itzulia Basque Country, to secure tenth in the final General Classification of the race.

Ion Izagirre

Ion Izagirre winning a close one in stage four.

The Kazakh-Canadian team rode aggressively from the moment the flag dropped, attacking right from the start of the queen stage. Alex Aranburu and Omar Fraile were the riders who always stayed at the front, following all of the moves and attacking by themselves on the climbs and on the descents of their home roads.

In the decisive moment of the race, on the descent from Elosua climb, the fourth out of seven climbs of the day, Aranburu and Fraile increased the pace dramatically. The effort from the Basque duo made a huge selection and brought Izagirre to the front of the race, to create a leading group which also included a few GC contenders with Primoz Roglic among them.

Roglic attacked on the Krabelin climb, the hardest climb of the day, breaking away together with two more riders, while Izagirre was able to join the first chasing group on the descent. At the end of the day, Izagirre dug deep and fought all the way to the line to finish 11th, while the Frenchman David Gaudu won the final stage atop the famous Arrate climb. Roglic finished second on the stage and, thus took the final victory at Itzulia Basque Country while Izagirre rounded out the top 10 of the General Classification.

The sixth stage wrapped up a successful stage race for Astana – Premier Tech with two stage wins courtesy of Aranburu and Izagirre, who were victorious on stages two and four respectively.

“Well, we are finishing this race with two stage wins and this is a very positive moment for our team. We’ve been waiting for the first stage victory for a while and the patience paid off with two very beautiful wins. Also, as a team we did a very strong and aggressive race, staying in front in every stage, trying to attack, to break away and to put on a nice cycling show. It did not work out as we hoped in the General Classification, and at the end of the day we have just a tenth place of Ion Izagirre, but we feel like the team is improving really well and I think we will be ready for the our next goal – the Ardennes classics”, – said Giuseppe Martinelli, Sports Director.

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

This year’s race came to a conclusion with a 112 km-long queen stage, which treated the riders to seven categorised climbs, among them three first category ascents from Ondarroa to Arrate. On the topographically challenging route, tactics were sure to play a significant role, and on the 8.7 percent steep last climb, it came to a showdown for the overall classification. In the battle among the favourites, Roglic, Gaudu and Carthy managed to open up a gap, followed by a group of about 13 riders, while the overall leader McNulty found himself in serious difficulty.

Unfortunately, it was a tough day in the saddle today for the BORA-hansgrohe riders, who missed the decisive attacks and were unable to make the jump into the front groups. At the end of this short yet brutal stage, the victory went to Gaudu, while Roglic was crowned the overall winner of this year's race. The highest-placed BORA-hansgrohe rider on today’s stage was Emanuel Buchmann, who finished 16th, ending the race in 13th place overall.

Stage 6 profile

The stage had a challenging profile

From the Finish Line:
"That was a really brutal stage. We were hoping to do something in the finale to make up time in the general classification, but we weren’t able to follow the attacks on the descent and after that it wasn't possible to close the gap to the front groups. It's a disappointing day but we will definitely learn from what happened." - Emanuel Buchmann

"It was an extremely hectic stage, it was full throttle right from the first kilometre of the race. Of course we wanted to be represented in the front group, and then try something with Emanuel from the halfway point of the race onwards. Unfortunately, we were left behind in the downhill and could only fight to limit the damage. Emu showed great fighting spirit but it was too late and so the stage did not go as we had hoped. Our initial goal was to move up a few places in the overall standings, but we essentially lost all chances in the downhill. We can only learn from that for the future." - André Schulze, Sports Director

Here's the report from Team Deceuninck-Quick Step:

Aribinieta, Elkorrieta, Azurki, Elosua-Gorla, Krabelin, Trabakua and Usartza (or Arrate, how it’s known in the cycling world) made for a tasty menu on the final day of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, which got off to an insane start. Riders attacked in waves, some trying to go in the breakaway, while others put pressure on the yellow jersey, who eventually cracked and lost contact with more than 70 kilometers to go.

Mauri Vansevenant was present in the group that pulled clear, opening a 30-second gap over the chasers in the valley, and contributed to the pace-setting, helping expand the gap to almost one minute by the time they hit the fifth ascent of the day. Three riders attacked there and put some distance on the 17% ramps, while behind them an eight-man group featuring the ever-present Mauri formed. The 21-year-old Belgian, sitting 11th in the general classification at the start of the stage, brought his contribution to the chase, who started the mythical Arrate with a 50-second deficit on the front group, from where David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) took the win.

Riding just his second World Tour stage race since turning pro with Deceuninck – Quick-Step last summer, the 21-year-old from Oostende continued to press on even though the massive effort he had put in up until that point was beginning to take its toll on him. With five kilometers to go, Mauri was dropped from the group but summoned his remaining energy and not only managed to limit the losses, but finished in the top 10, just like he did three days ago on the Ermualde, another brutal Basque climb.

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