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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 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.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. - Kurt Vonnegut


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Paris-Nice stage four team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Primoz-Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic has won the fourth stage of Paris-Nice. The Slovenian from Team Jumbo-Visma attacked three kilometres before the finish and finished with a twelve-seconds advantage over the chasing group. Roglic is the new leader in the general classification thanks to his victory.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic wins the stage and becomes the GC leader.

The fourth stage of Paris-Nice was fairly quiet until the final. A group of six riders escaped early in the race. They were allowed to ride free for a long time, until Team Jumbo-Visma increased the pace in the peloton fifty kilometers before the finish and took control. In the nervous final, the leader of the Dutch team took the lead after a splitting attack and thus raced to his first victory of the season.

"I am very happy with the result", Roglic said. "Yesterday we already showed that we are in good shape. The course suited me well today with all the short climbs. It was tough, but thanks to the team it worked out in the end. We controlled the race and at the end I still had enough energy in my legs to get away. It feels good that I’m now wearing yellow in Paris-Nice. The goal is to keep the lead until Nice. We’re not there yet, but the team is strong. I am looking forward to the next stages in which we want to maintain this flow."

Sports director Grischa Niermann saw his team perform well. "Today actually went as planned. We knew other teams would be watching us. We would have liked to have more men in the front in the final, but as a team we had to do a lot of work today. Everyone did well in the end, allowing Primoz to go for the win in the last three kilometres. It was a bit tense in the last kilometer, but he showed again today that he is currently the strongest in this field."

INEOS Grandiers posted this bad news about Tao Geoghegan Hart's Paris-Nice crash:

Tao Geoghegan Hart was forced to abandon Paris-Nice after a crash in the closing portion of stage four.

The Giro d’Italia winner went down on a hairpin as the peloton descended off Mont Brouilly. The Brit was able to remount his bike and continue briefly before climbing off. Geoghegan Hart headed to hospital following the race for checks.

Tao Hart

Tao Geoghegan Hart haviong a better day, having just won the 2020 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

The Grenadiers had been pushing the pace in a bid to set up Tao on the run-in. Laurens De Plus put in an acceleration with 22.5km to go on the penultimate climb, and when the counter attacks came, Geoghegan Hart looked strong at the head of the race.

His abandonment continues a tough race for the team following the departure of Richie Porte on the first stage following a similar innocuous crash.

Dylan van Baarle was our lead finisher in 29th on the day, with Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) winning the stage to move into the overall lead.

Over in Italy the team got their Tirreno-Adriatico challenge under way. The race opened with a sprint finish in Lido di Camaiore, with the objective to keep our GC challengers safe ahead of more selective stages to come.

Flanked by their team-mates, both Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, Michal Kwiatkowski and Pavel Sivakov finished in the peloton following a mass sprint won by Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

Here's the report from second-place Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

With the 188 km-long route from Chalon-sur-Saône to Chiroubles, the first mountain stage awaited the peloton, with its six second-category climbs, and concluding first-category ascent. The terrain could very well suit the defending champion Maximilian Schachmann, and the German rider did not disappoint. 30 km ahead of the finish, BORA - hansgrohe moved to the front of the peloton with a view to increasing the pace and as a result the lead of the escapees shrank to about two minutes.

On the second last climb of the day, the jostling for position began on the narrow, steep roads, with several attacks leading the advantage of the front group to disintegrate, and only one rider out front. The group of favourites, including Max had reduced to only 20 riders at this point and somewhat later P. Roglic attacked from this group and was able to ride to the head of the race. Behind him a smaller chasing group formed, among them Max. The BORA - hansgrohe rider managed to break away with two other riders in the finale to finish second behind the day's eventual winner Roglic. At this point, he currently sits second in the general classification after having moved up 11 positions overall.

Max Schachmann

Max Schachmann was second today. Bettini photo

"Primož attacked at the perfect moment and I couldn't quite follow. I thought the last 3 km would have been steeper actually. Maybe I didn't have the confidence and I should have tried to keep up. But I am very happy with the result. Primoz has a very strong team around him here and it will be hard, but the atmosphere here in the team is good and of course we will try and continue to do our best." - Maximilian Schachmann

"That was a stage that could suit us quite well. It was a very hard road to the finish line, with the leading group working well together and the very high pace really wearing down the peloton. But the team worked well together. For the finale, we expected that there would be a bigger group that would fight for the victory. Roglič was very strong today, and it was quite astute of him to attack over the last 3 km, where nobody was able to keep up. But chapeau to Max who managed to finish second on the stage and also move up to second overall. That's a great placing for us. The guys put on a display of good teamwork and in the end our plan worked out, to be able to race for the stage win in the end. We can be pleased with second place behind Roglič, who was extremely strong." - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

Here's the report from Rémi Cavagna's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Beaujolais, the historical province of France inhabited by the Romans thousands of years ago and renowned for its wine production, welcomed the bunch Wednesday afternoon with a tasty menu consisting of seven classified climbs. Among them, Mont Brouilly, where a young Julian Alaphilippe time trialled to victory four years ago, a resounding win that brought him the yellow jersey at the end of the day.

Remi Cavagna

This should be Rémi Cavagna racing in Beaujolais country.

This time, another Deceuninck – Quick-Step Frenchman was in the spotlight towards the end of the stage. Runner-up in the Gien individual time trial, Rémi Cavagna attacked on the last descent and quickly opened up a gap, which he stretched out to 50 seconds by the time he reached the foot of Chiroubles (7.3km, 6%), proving once again there’s a reason why he is called the “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand”. But luck wasn’t on his side as a mechanical spelled the end of Rémi’s ambitions and with six kilometers to go he got caught by the peloton, from where Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) took a solo win at the top of the ascent.

Mattia Cattaneo concluded the day as the team’s highest-placed rider, while stage 1 victor Sam Bennet remained within reach of the green jersey, which he has a chance of donning again at the end of the flat stage 5 to Bollène, a small town in Vaucluse making its first appearance in 50 years at Paris-Nice.

Tirreno-Adriatico stage one team reports:

We posted the report from winner Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team with the results.

Here's the report from Team DSM:

The opening stage of Tirreno Adriatico saw the bunch faced with a hilly circuit as they left the start town of Lido di Camaiore, before a flatter loop as they made their way towards the finish in the same town. A break of six riders broke clear early in the stage, quickly building on their advantage with all Team DSM riders in the bunch.

The peloton were always in control and the gap to the breakaway slowly fell throughout the afternoon and with 15 kilometres to go the race was all back together. The team moved forward en masse to stay safe but also position sprinter Max Kanter for the finale. However, on the long eight kilometre finish straight, the proverbial ‘washing machine effect’ was fully on display and it was hard for teams to hold onto their position. Fighting their way to the front, as teams battled for position in the closing kilometre, Kanter delivered a good show of speed in the messy finale to take 12th place at the finish.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert takes the first stage.

“Today was the first stage of the race and we had nice commitment in the group,” explained Kanter. “Towards the final it got really hectic and nervous, and we tried to stay safe. At the end we came a little bit too late and I didn’t have the punch to get a top result and finish in the top ten. We got 12th in the end which is an okay result for us today. We’ll improve step-by-step and hopefully in the next stages we can aim for an even better result.”

Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “The goal today was do an optimal lead out and sprint with Max. I think we rode really well together as a team throughout the day. It’s the first time this combination of guys have been together so it’s a new set-up but I’m really happy with the teamwork we showed throughout the stage. There are a few tweaks we can do to the lead out that cost us a top result but everyone is really positive. We felt like we were together and executed our plan to the most extent, and with a few tweaks we can start pushing for a top result there. On the whole, everyone is happy with today and we’ll build and push towards the coming days.”

Here's the Tirreno-Adriatico report from Peter Sagan's bora-hansgrohe team:

A week of hard racing was waiting for riders at the start line of Tirreno Adriatico, and it was straight onto the road, the Race of the Two Seas foregoing its usual individual time trial and starting with a 156km route around Lido di Camaiore, the stage marking Peter Sagan’s first race of the 2021 season after recovering from Covid-19. The day started with three laps of a 24km circuit featuring a single climb, before finishing with a flat 29km course ridden another three times.

While the BORA-hansgrohe team’s aim was to come in safe, the flat finish would make for a fast finale that Peter could contest if he felt able. Six riders went off up the road to try to take some points in the climbing competition, and maybe even push for the stage win too, and the peloton was in a relaxed mood, letting the escape build a lead that topped out at 3:20, their number shrinking as the climbs were covered and riders chose to go back to the main bunch. Confident in their ability to bring them back in before the finale, the peloton reduced the gap to less than a minute with 50km to go, but were careful not to make the catch too soon in case a second, less controllable, break went out.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan before the stage start.

At the 15km to go point, only two remained, but the peloton ate away at their lead, and it was all back together for the final fast 10km. Four BORA-hansgrohe riders were in the mix, with Daniel Oss, Maciej Bodnar and Marcus Burghardt riding a few places off the front and Peter Sagan on their wheels. In the narrow, tight finishing stretch, the Slovak rider was squeezed between other riders and was unable to put the power down, finishing just outside of the top ten in eleventh position, with the remainder of the team all taking the same time as the sprinters.

From the Finish Line:
"First stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico and, as expected, it came down to a fast bunch sprint. For me, it was also the first race of the 2021 season, so it was important to get back to race rhythm after a long break. The team, once again, did a very good job and I was kept safe in the long, final straight line to the finish. The last kilometre was quite hectic and, unfortunately, I wasn't in an ideal position to contest the sprint." – Peter Sagan

"We approached today's stage in a calmer way. Our main goal was to protect our GC riders and make sure they avoided any major issues because we knew the stage would be decided in a fast sprint. In addition, it was the first race of Peter this year after some time, so we decided not to take any risks and take it as it would come. The 6-man break that formed early in the race was kept under control. They battled among them for the mountain jersey points and the bonus seconds and were caught in the final 10 kilometres. The guys feel well, all of them finished within the bunch, they have good legs, so, overall, we think we can be satisfied with today's performance." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

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