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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday March 15, 2021

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

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

You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway. - John Steinbeck


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Paris-Nice final team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from 2021 Paris-Nice winner Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Due to a route change, the final day of Paris-Nice started in Plan-de-Var and ended not on the traditional Promenade des Anglais in Nice, but in Levens in the hinterland of the coastal city. BORA - hansgrohe wanted to secure Maximilian Schachmann's second place overall on the last stage and the German rider showed his strength yet again today.

Max Schachmann

Before the stage. That should be Max Schachmann bumpng fists with Primoz Roglic. Bettini photo

During the day, BORA - hansgrohe was to be seen repeatedly at the front of the peloton, to keep the race under control. After P. Roglič crashed twice, the Slovenian had to drop back and was ultimately no longer in the fight for the overall victory. At the front of the field, the race was on, and Max, who by now was in the virtual yellow jersey, managed to close several gaps that appeared repeatedly on the final climb and to then follow the attacks of his close opponents.

In the sprint over the final hundred metres of the stage, M. Cort Nielsen crossed the line first, while Max took 10th place in the same time, securing the overall victory at Paris - Nice for the second time in a row.

From the Finish Line:
"I’m happy about winning the general classification, however, I have some mixed feelings. All the events came thick and fast today: I had a mechanical ahead of the first climb and had to chase hard to get back on, and Primoz then crashed twice. We tried to wait for him, but when he went down for the second time, we had a strong leading group in front of us and were trying to fight for the stage win. Several teams were riding very hard out in front and we didn't want to lose our current position. It was just crazy today. I don't know if I can be too happy about the victory at the moment, because it's never the ideal way to win a race. Of course, our goal this year coming into the race was to defend our victory from last year, and now I'm standing here on the last day in the yellow jersey. That was a bit unexpected and I am still somewhat speechless. I have to say thanks again to the whole team, which worked so hard all week and supported me well to make this possible." - Maximilian Schachmann

"At the beginning, we were a bit nervous because Max had a problem with his front wheel right before the first climb. However, Pascal managed to bring him back. Our strategy today was to ride at the front to secure our second place overall. When Roglič crashed, we slowed down the pace, and continued our race. But we had a total of 15 riders in front of us in a strong group, so it was a bit of a sticky situation for us, with Barguil being about two minutes behind us in GC. So we then had to go, in order not to endanger our second place. We’re sorry that Roglič and his team were unable to catch up. It's never the best way to win a race. We followed our initial strategy and were aiming for victory on the last climb, and our guys did well there. Chapeau to all our riders, who went deep today and gave everything, and ultimately helped to defend our biggest stage race win from last year." - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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

Primoz Roglic has lost his leading position in the general classification of Paris-Nice in the hectic final stage after crashing twice. Despite his battle to the finish line, the Slovenian lost a lot of time in the general classification.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic after crashing. Photo: ASO/Fabien Boukla

The shortened eighth stage of Paris-Nice, which finished in Levens, was nervous and hectic. Early in the stage, Roglic crashed in a descent, after which he was able to return to the peloton. After the Slovenian went to the ground for the second time, he could no longer make the connection with the peloton. Roglic eventually dropped to fifteenth place in the overall ranking.

The leader of Team Jumbo-Visma was disappointed with the way the French stage race ended for him and his team. “It was not the stage I was hoping for. I made mistakes today. The first crash dislocated my shoulder and after the second crash I was so far behind that I couldn’t come back. It was a huge fight to the finish in which I gave everything. I am disappointed, but this is also part of our sport. Yet I also bring positive things from this start to my season. We will certainly remember those moments. We need to learn from this edition of Paris-Nice and make plans for the next goals. I am now going to recover and try to prepare myself for the races to come.”

“It was a bad day for us”, sports director Grischa Niermann concluded. “After Primoz had crashed in the first descent, he was able to come back quite quickly. When he slipped again in the same descent, his chain also came off. He got to within twenty metres of the peloton, but then he had to give in and it was over. We can only blame ourselves. I think Primoz is very strong mentally and that he will also come out better from this. He has proven that before. It’s a shame for now, but we also won three stages and the green jersey. Of course, we came here to win the final classification, but from now on we have to look ahead to the next races.”

Stage eight winner Magnus Cort Neilsen's EF Education-Nippo team sent me this report:

The final stage of any race often delivers fireworks and plenty of emotions — both good and bad.

And no matter what team you were rooting for at Paris-Nice this year, you surely watched the last stage with bated breath as the riders neared the finish. Fortunately for us, it was our Dane Magnus Cort who secured the victory in a stage that marked a worthy ending to “The Race to the Sun.”

agnus Cort

Magnus Cort Neilsen wins the stage. Getty Sport photo

Today’s ride was 92.7 kilometers in length and significantly less hilly than the previous stages. Yet it still served plenty of tricky ascents and descents as the peloton made its way through the magnificent hills of La Région Sud. Today’s route was a perfect opportunity for a rider who wanted to make a big move — especially if that rider can sprint.

“It was the perfect way to finish and I couldn't be happier," said Cort at the finish. His teammate Jonas Rutsch also made several big moves in the breakaway throughout the stage. “Jonas had an incredible ride today and then Magnus could smell the victory. Those two were playing off each other,” said Neilson Powless.

Powless, another breakaway standout this week, added that Stefan Bissegger’s stage win was the turning point that opened up opportunities like today’s stage victory. “Ever since Stefan won the time trial, we started racing super well as a group. And today it paid off,” said Powless.

Bissegger, who was caught smiling in almost every photo captured since his win, finished this race with even more pride as he watched Magnus cross the line.

“Two out of eight stages is huge. It’s just really nice to finish it off this way. We can be super proud moving forward,” said Stefan Bissegger.

This win is also special simply because Magnus adds a lot of humor and lightheartedness to the group. Racing is a serious business and when a character like Magnus comes along, the team is quick to rally behind him.

“Magnus is a highly unique character who I find challenging and endearing,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “The smart ones are never easy, but that’s what makes Magnus a special rider and a special guy on our team. He is always challenging, always pushing.”

With Stefan’s win earlier in the week, the team had plenty of confidence to keep going back to. And with a finale like this — they can build upon it even further.

“We were really looking forward to racing our bikes today and we came away with an amazing result and hope we can keep this momentum for the season ahead and just really enjoy this win,” Powless said.

Tirreno-Adriatico stage five team reports:

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

GC leader Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates posted this update:

Tadej Pogačar put in a determined display on stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico (Castellalto-Castelfidardo, 205 km), finishing in 2nd place at 10″ from the winner Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). The Slovenian can take heart having distanced his main rivals for the general classification and putting on an exciting display.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar finishes stage five. Sirotti photo.

On what was a very demanding stage, with five climbs of the Castelfidardo ‘wall’ (1500 meters at 10% average gradient) made even more difficult by bad weather.
It was Van der Poel who played the leading role for a long time, with an attack 66 km from the finish that led him to reach the final 20 km with a 3’40" advantage over the chasing group of top riders.

At -17.4 km, the Slovenian from UAE Team Emirates decided to unleash his power on the penultimate lap, opening up a 39″ advantage on Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and 21" on Sergio Higuita (EF-Nippo), 2nd and 3rd respectively this morning in the general ranking.

Pogačar gradually narrowed the gap to Van der Poel, coming within close reach of the Dutchman.

To underline the good performance of UAE Team Emirates, Davide Formolo came home in 6th place (+2’17”) having worked hard earlier in the stage to defend the leader’s jersey.

The good form of Pogačar is reflected in the rankings: he solidified his role in the general, with his advantage extended up to 1’15" on Van Aert and 3’ on Landa, as well as in the ranking of best young rider and mountain prize.

Pogačar: “I attacked with the intention of widening my lead in the overall standings as much as possible, and I got an extra boost when I saw that my action had put Wout Van Aert in trouble.

"I had no thought to take Van der Poel back, but I almost managed to catch him: many compliments to Mathieu, once again he did a great ride, it was not easy to be in the lead for so many kilometers alone in this stage and in this weather.
The advantage over Van Aert is certainly more comfortable than what I had this morning, I would be happy to start in the time trial with this situation but it’s still quite tight”.

The 6th stage will start from Castelraimondo and will end in Lido di Fermo after 169 km: the last 45 km will be on a circuit, to be repeated four times, with an ascent of 2 km at 4.1%.

Here's the report from GC second-place Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team:

Wout van Aert is still in second place in the general classification after the tough fifth stage in Tirreno-Adriatico. After a grueling battle on steep Italian hills, the wearer of the points jersey fought his way to a new third place.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert in the leader's jersey after stage 2. Sirotti photo.

In the flat opening phase, five riders chose to be in the breakaway. In conditions befitting a spring classic, the attacks in the hilly second part followed one another in quick succession. The wind, rain and cold made the final phase of the race more difficult. Van Aert almost always reacted attentively, with the GC in mind. About fifty kilometres from the line, Mathieu van der Poel chose to attack, only to arrive solo in Castelfidardo after a man-to-man battle.

“The harsh weather conditions only made the race harder. I got really cold, especially in the descents. It was a bit like ‘survival of the fittest’”, Van Aert explained. “I fought for what I was worth in the last lap. The best men were at the front of the race and so they came out on top. I kept my focus on Pogacar, because Van der Poel was already way up in the standings.”

The winner of the opening stage didn’t think he would be competing for the overall win. “Before the start I had the idea that I could possibly take some time today. In the last lap everything fell apart and it was just survival of the fittest. It’s no shame to be beaten by Tadej uphill. I’m not going to make up the difference of 1'15 in a possible sprint tomorrow and a short time trial on Tuesday. The next two days I can still go for stage wins. I still have the motivation for that.”

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