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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 4, 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.

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Trofeo Laigueglia team reports

We posted the report from winner Bauke Mollema's Trek-Segafredo team with the results.

Here's the report from third-place Mauri Vansevenant's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Mauri Vansevenant confirmed his strong start to the season, riding to an impressive top 3 finish at the 58th Trofeo Laigueglia, which took in around a dozen short but sharp hills that whittled down the peloton long before the finish on the Ligurian seaside.

Animated by a 12-man breakaway, the Italian one-day race came back together with more than 50 kilometers to go, and when it did, Deceuninck – Quick-Step was there with just three men, after several of our riders had been involved in separate crashes. Andrea Bagioli, Ian Garrison – who started his season at Laigueglia – and Pieter Serry were all forced to retire. Of these, Andrea and Pieter were taken to the hospital where they are currently undergoing further examination, with an update on their condition expected to come later.

On the penultimate lap, James Knox and Dries Devenyns hit the front and turned on the gas, pushing on the tough Colla Micheri and creating an elite group numbering around 15 riders. Attacks began pouring in, but none was decisive, the only consequence they had being that the escapees’ time at the front was cut short. James tested the waters with an out-of-the-saddle attack, quickly annihilated by the group, before Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) rode clear on Capo Mele and quickly expanded his lead to half a minute.

Mauri Vansevenant, who in the meantime joined the elite group, tried to breathe life into the chase, but the gap held despite his admirable efforts and accelerations. Eventually, the six men arrived in in the town 40 seconds behind the winner, and Mauri, despite starting the sprint in the last position, produced an incredible turn of speed and finished in third place for his first podium in the pro ranks since joining our team last summer. He was joined in the top 10 by teammate James Knox, who came home seventh, a result that underlined his strong display on the Ligurian coast.

Egan Bernal And Mauri Vansenvenant

Egan Bernal (left, in black) just beats Mauri Vansevenant for second place.

“Being on the podium after such a hard race makes me happy. It’s better than I expected before the start and I’m glad I could be up there for the team, especially after the bad luck we had today. I wish all our guys involved in the crash a speedy recovery”, said the 21-year-old Mauri straight after the finish. “After eighth overall at La Provence, this podium serves as confirmation of the good winter preparation I had and gives me a big confidence boost for my next races, which I can’t wait for now.”

Here's the race report from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux:

The Trofeo Laigueglia (1.Pro, 3/03) opened the Italian season at the Ligurian coast this Wednesday. The 202 kilometer hilly race around Laigueglia is the first race in a long series of cycling events in the north half of the Italian boot. After half an hour of racing in 14 degrees, eleven riders managed to escape from their 159 competitors.

Breakaway

The break was caught. Sirotti photo

The favorites in the peloton didn't wait for the moment they caught the early breakaway to open the final. Before reaching the four local laps, both the breakaway and peloton were skimmed already. Also Jérémy Bellicaud, Théo Delacroix and Tom Devriendt had to let go the first part of the peloton after their work for the team. Maurits Lammertink couldn't avoid a crash downhill and consequently also had to leave the race. It looks like the Dutch rider only has bruises. This trend continued in the final 43 kilometer on the final circuit with the Capo Mele and the Colla Micheri, leaving only a handful of riders in the lead of the race. Bauke Mollema successfully concluded a solo, taking the win ahead of five strong chasers. A little later, Lorenzo Rota sprinted to 10th place.

Steven De Neef (Sports Director):
I think we got the best out of this difficult race. All riders did a good race and performed their roles well today. Just like we planned, Tom Devriendt worked in the first part of the race. Later, Jérémy Bellicaud and Théo Delacroix took over his role. Unfortunately, we lost Maurits Lammertink in a crash in a dangerous downhill, leaving only Jan Bakelants, Lorenzo Rota and Loïc Vliegen in the final. There was a natural selection on this difficult course. After a final effort of Loïc Vliegen for the team, his two remaining teammates gave what they could to finish as good as possible. Looking to the results, I'm happy with this top 10."

Team BikeExchange men head to Strade Bianche with multiple cards to play

The team sent me this release:

Team BikeExchange men line-up with a mixed squad providing different cards to play for this year’s edition of Strade Bianche, with the likes of last year’s seventh place finisher Brent Bookwalter, 22-year-old Australian Robert Stannard and the 2018 Vuelta a España champion Simon Yates heading the talented roster.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates (shown at the 2019 Tour de France) will be on the Strade Bianche start line. Sirotti photo

For the 15th edition, the peloton will cover 184km which includes 11 sectors accumulating to a total of 63km on gravel roads. Yates will make his season and racing debut on the white roads of Tuscany, looking to gain experiences as part of his preparation for this year’s Giro d’Italia, which features an important stage on gravel.

The WorldTour race is often known as ‘Europe’s most southern northern classic’ and with this, Team BikeExchange bring in powerhouses Jack Bauer and Chris Juul-Jensen with Nick Schultz and Barnabás Peák rounding out the mixed seven-rider team.

Team BikeExchange Men at Strade Bianche:
Jack Bauer (NZL)
Brent Bookwalter (USA)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Barnabás Peák (HUN)
Nick Schultz (AUS)
Robert Stannard (AUS)
Simon Yates (GBR)

Robert Stannard:
“I've already raced Strade two times and it’s a race I am really looking for to and it’s definitely one of my best races of the season. This year, I’m going to Siena with the best form I’ve ever had for the race and my goal is to be with the best in the final and try to reach a good result in Piazza del Campo.

"For me, the weather we get is what it is and that doesn’t affect how I’m racing. It’s one of the most difficult races on the calendar and it will be more important how the race tactics will evolve after each gravel sector”.

Gene Bates - Sport Director:
“Strade it’s a fantastic race with a very, very strong field which will make the 2021 edition even more difficult. Weather conditions will play an important role and now the forecast is for rain and could make a very long and tough race.

"We aren’t going in with just one leader, we have a few guys so we have some options to play in the finale. It is such a hard race that you need good legs and a little luck in the last part going back to Siena. When we will get at that point, it will be quite obvious who has the best legs to be supported for the finish.

"Robert Stannard will be one rider to have the opportunity to go for a result and he has strong teammates to help him to be in the right position before the crucial points. At the end, Strade it’s not dissimilar to a Belgian Classic, getting ready for the different climbs and I think we need to have the same approach”

MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) March press release

The MPCC sent me this:

Fight against doping, riders safety, saving the environment

MPCC members noted WADA’s decision to ban any type of glucocorticoids injection starting 2022. This topic has been on our Board of Directors and General Assemblies’ agendas for many years. Since the very beginning of the movement in 2007, our members volunteered to commit to stricter rules about glucocorticoids use. Over the past twelve years, MPCC carried out 4 207 cortisol level tests prior to a lot of major races, thanks to the involvement of the member teams and its riders. The announcement by WADA of stricter regulations on glucocorticoids is good news, as MPCC was not created towards this purpose. However, MPCC will be forced to continue setting up cortisol level tests in 2021, within the framework of the health of the riders.

For many years MPCC has fulfilled its whistleblower role on the glucocorticoids matter. The prospect of reaching a consensus is a big step. Though, the movement insists that it will not be fully satisfied until the exact content of this regulation is known. At this moment, this is still in process. We expect WADA and UCI to release more information to ensure this ban will improve cycling’s credibility and offer equal opportunities to teams and riders. MPCC will hold its whistleblower role with care alongside the governing bodies.

MPCC also remains vigilant on others important topics such as ketones. All the physicians of the member teams committed not to encourage their riders to use this substance. MPCC urges WADA and UCI to make progress on their monitoring studies about ketones so we can rely on a complete knowledge about side effects.

Following these new elements, all of the teams which are not part – or not anymore – of the movement because of our strong engagement on the glucocorticoids should change their minds.

MPCC also reviewed the new rules released by CCP about riders’ safety and environment preservation. The fight for the credibility of cycling is not only about antidoping, so we welcome these decisions as they are relevant with our line: cycling needs its stakeholders to set an example to protect its image.

Race organizers & sanitary context

Our members have expressed concerns after RCS Sport announcement of Giro d’Italia’s wild cards. MPCC will not mess with the choices of the organizers. However, we are surprised that ethical criterion was not taken into account: RCS granted two of its four wild cards to non-MPCC members (Eolo-Kometa and Vini Zabu-Brado-KTM). Vini Zabu-Brado-KTM’s case is annoying: this team, once a member of the MPCC, decided to quit the movement, and experienced a positive antidoping test on the 2020 Giro d’Italia. We reckon that this regrettable event should have influenced the decision of the organizer. Given that this has not been the case, we have trouble understanding how RCS Sport sets its criteria, both in sporting and ethical terms.

At the end of each season, MPCC highlights the ProTeams which received wild cards on WorldTour races. In 2020, RCS Sport didn’t follow the example of other main organizers such as ASO or Flanders Classics, by granting fewer wild cards to MPCC teams – a situation already experienced before. We can’t be confident 2021 will promise us a trend change. Once again, MPCC doesn’t want to put pressure on race organizers’ choices but MPCC is convinced that awarding a wild card for races as popular as the Giro d’Italia to a team which ended the previous edition with a positive antidoping test is a wrong signal.

MPCC would like to remind all the cycling race organizers of its support. In 2020, the consequences of the current Covid-19 crisis caused major difficulties, but a large majority of the races achieved to offer high levels of professionalism to comply with the required sanitary constraints. We can’t say all the sports and all the sporting events reveal the same rigor in the application of the rules. This is why MPCC wants to congratulate all the players of the cycling sport: teams, riders, staff members, sponsors, as well as all the different accredited workers attending the races. In these serious circumstances, all the people who keep our sport alive are displaying responsibility. This is an evidence of the great strength of cycling, a sport which is able to do what has to be done in order to maintain credibility.

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