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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, February 13, 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.

Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much. - Oscar Wilde

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Tour de la Provence stage two team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Davide Ballerini's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the report from Patrick Konrad's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The second stage from Cassis to Manosque covered 174.7 km of undulating terrain, and featured an uphill finish. Although a rider managed to escape the breakaway 40 km to the finish, he was reeled back in by the field 20 km later. The peloton took on the final kilometers in pouring rain and was forced to neutralise a series of late attacks. In a nervous finale on wet roads, D. Ballerini prevailed yet again, while Patrick Konrad put in a strong ride to cross the line in fifth place. The Austrian rider now sits in sixth position in the GC, while Ide Schelling, currently 9th overall, will wear the best young rider's jersey tomorrow.

Patrick Konrad

Patrick Konrad

From the Finish Line:
"Up until the finale, it was a very controlled race. Then, as expected, it became quite chaotic towards the end, with several crashes. I really tried to get the maximum out of today's stage, but the crash of Alaphilippe broke the momentum in the peloton. This is my first race of the season and from my performance, it's clear that overall my the form is quite good. Now I'll be concentrating on tomorrow, as that's the day we've been putting the main focus on." - Patrick Konrad

"The last 60 km was ridden quite hard. Deceuninck-Quickstep controlled the pace and in the last hour of racing, it became even more difficult, due to wet and narrow roads. As a result, the peloton split into several different groups. Our goal was to prepare the finale for Patrick. We thought we'd try with Matt after his strong performance yesterday, but the arrival into the finish was slightly too hard with its 5% incline. Patrick put in a strong performance and already has a few seconds lead over some main competitors in the overall standings ahead of the Mont-Ventoux stage. We're happy with his fifth place and so far everything seems to have gone well." - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

Team DSM posted this report:

After yesterday’s opening stage under the sunny skies in Provence, today the riders were met with much more overcast conditions; with the afternoon set for a deluge of rain and cool winds. As the bunch rolled out of the start town in Cassis, it didn’t take long for a five rider breakaway to escape the bunch and build up an advantage of roughly three and a half minutes.


The peloton was hit by rain. Team DSM photo

With the rain continuing to fall, the team moved forward en masse as the raced entered the final 80 kilometres, keeping a good position towards the fore of the peloton. As the kilometres ticked by conditions became more difficult and the terrain more rolling, with several hills stretching and thinning out the bunch. The team did a good job to move Max Kanter into the front 30 positions over the climbs as other sprinters were dropped, but as the fight intensified in the closing 20 kilometres, the team then found themselves a bit further behind than they wanted.

On the wet, twisting, narrow roads the bunch was stretched out in one long line as they approached the three kilometre climb to the finish, and as the road kicked up the intense pace made it incredibly difficult to move up. Romain Combaud was ultimately the team’s first rider home, after a handful of crashes split the bunch in the finale and took away any good chance for a nice result for the team.

Speaking after the stage the experienced Nicholas Roche said: “Today the team rode well together as a group and the racing automations are starting to kick in again which is nice. We missed a good result at the finish but we’ll keep trying for one in the coming two days.”

Team DSM coach Michiel Elijzen added: “Today was a pretty long stage at around 180 kilometres and we had some rain along the way. It was a pretty easy start but it became harder towards the end, with some climbs. We tried to position Max for the uphill sprint at the finish after we saw that he was surviving the climbs. We lost each other a little bit in the hectic final and we didn’t have the legs and luck to compete for a top result on the stage. Overall, the day was okay for us; we’re feeling better than yesterday so that’s already an improvement. We’ve still got two days left to get a nice result and we’ll keep trying.”

Team Movistar posted this report:

Three categorized climbs and lots of non-rated ascents into a route as difficult, or even harder, as in the eve’s racing, 174km towards the interior of Provence, from Cassis to Manosque. At the loop around the finish -3km at 3,5%; in practice, two hard slopes and a false flat between them-, riders would find up to four climbs, two of them categorized: Mort d’Imbert (Cat-2) and Montfuron (Cat-3).

Differently from yesterday, clouds covered the skies, with even some chance of rain, and temperatures on the down, 8 to 12ºC. Things would become significantly harder as showers started to hit the peloton.

Five riders went on an early move ahead of the peloton, always led by race leader Davide Ballerini’s Deceuninck-Quick Step squad. The escape by Conca (LTS), Grosu (DKO), Cousin (TDE), Bleier (AUB) y Leroux (XRL) was never let go more than three-and-a-half minutes ahead of the main field.

As rain appeared, things became quite harder for the peloton during the second half of the stage. As Conca left behind his break companions, the DQT-led peloton never allowed that break a chance and caught the last man standing after the top of the Montfuron, 15km before the end. Ballerini would go on to take his second consecutive victory.

Near the end, the Movistar Team took on a leading role with its first attack of the season, coming from one of its biggest hopefuls: Matteo Jorgenson. The American was one of the most significant factors in the finale, for both good and tough reasons. He went on the attack with about 10km left, together with Florian Vermeersch (LTS); was caught with four kilometers remaining; contested the sprint, coming into the final straight in sixth place; and crashed -apparently, by touching a spectator who was hanging over the barriers-, losing any chance yet fortunately with no injuries.

Matteo Jorgensen crash

Matteo Jorgensen lies on the ground after crashing. Bettini photo.

The overall result of the 2021 Tour de La Provence should get decided on Saturday at the Queen stage, day three of the event, from Istres to the Chalet Reynard (154km). The final climb, three quarters of the legendary Mont Ventoux ascent (14.6km at 7.6%), will be the first big mountain test of the season.

Here's the Lotto-Soudal stage two report:

Lotto Soudal showed offensive racing in stage two of the Tour de la Provence. Soon after the start in Cassis, an early breakaway formed, which included Lotto Soudal’s neo-pro Filippo Conca. The young Italian clearly felt good as he attacked and left his breakaway companions behind at 40 kilometres from the line. Conca put in a solid solo effort, but was eventually caught by a chasing peloton at fifteen kilometres from the line.

“I noticed that the peloton was already quite close with 40 kilometres of racing still to go, so I decided to attack and go full gas”, said Filippo Conca. “From that moment on, I went all out, but unfortunately I got caught at 15 kilometres from the finish. Winning the stage actually never crossed my mind as the gap wasn’t big enough and the peloton was already quite close.”

Not long after Conca was caught, another Lotto Soudal youngster Florian Vermeersch put in an attack. He was joined by the American Jorgenson, but the duo wasn’t able to escape a bunch sprint.

Florian Vermeersch: “Of course, we first protected the breakaway of Filippo Conca, but at the summit of the final climb, he got caught. Shortly after the descent, I spotted an opportunity to attack. I made it to the bottom of the uphill finish, but the furious pace in the peloton made it impossible to stay ahead.”

At one and a half kilometres from the finish, Philippe Gilbert was well-positioned but had to swerve around a crash.

Philippe Gilbert: “I was in a nice position during the final kilometres, but unfortunately I had to use the sidewalk to swerve around the crash of Alaphilippe. That way, I lost a lot of speed and that was it for me. I am really disappointed as today’s finish really suited me and the legs felt good.”

Another young Italian, Stefano Oldani, managed to sprint to 8th place in the end. His compatriot Ballerini took a second consecutive stage win at the Tour de la Provence. Tim Wellens didn't have a great day, "Bad legs today", explained the Lotto Soudal rider.

“My intention was to launch Philippe Gilbert for the sprint but due to the crash of Alaphilippe, we had to change plans. Eventually, I managed to take 8th place”, said Stefano Oldani.

Georgia Williams wins third New Zealand Time Trial Championship title

Williams’ Team BikeExchange sent me this report:

Georgia Williams has powered to her third New Zealand Time Trial Championship title today in Cambridge, putting 22 seconds into her nearest rival.

The 27-year-old stormed to victory, regaining the championship title that she last won in 2019. Williams covered the 27.6kilomtre course in a time of 38minutes 46seconds, to give Team BikeExchange their fourth championship title for 2021, following on from the recent success at the Australian Championships.

Williams now looks ahead to the weekend, when she will try to make it a 'double', as she lines-up for the road race event which takes places on Sunday, 14th February.

Georgia Williams

Georgia Williams racing in 2018.

Georgia Williams:
“I was feeling pretty good coming into this event. However, my training was pretty rushed over the last two months after coming out of hotel quarantine, having returned from overseas at the start of December, but I think my coach Alejandro (González-Tablas) and I managed it well.

“I was happy with my ride, I went out a bit hard but managed to hold it okay. I was chasing the second-place getter Jaime Nielsen (Waikato Bay of Plenty) and I knew she was the one to beat, so I could tell I was up on her which gave me confidence.

“It’s really special to start the season off like this and bring the TT jersey back. Not having it last year was real motivation to get it this year.”

New Zealand Time Trial Championships 2021 – Results:
1. Georgia Williams (Team BikeExchange) 38:46
2. Jamie Nielson (Waikato Bay of Plenty) +0:22
3. Bronwyn Macgregor (The Tank Guy) +1:56

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