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The last minute, re-arranged World Cycling Championships were very good considering all of the stress and alterations to the venue in the run up.
Naturally it was a shame not to see U23 competitions and the team time trial (especially seeing as how controversial it was when it came in). But the events we did get to see where entertaining and with deserving winners.
|1||VAN DER BREGGEN Anna||Netherlands||350||100||47.157||40:20|
|3||VAN DIJK Ellen||Netherlands||200||40||46.561||0:31|
|6||NEBEN Amber||United States||100||20||45.648||1:20|
|7||NORSGAARD Emma Cecilie||Denmark||85||15||45.612||1:22|
|9||STEPHENS Lauren||United States||60||9||45.232||1:43|
Anna Van Der Breggen was a narrow winner of the Womens TT with Marlen Reusser at only 15 seconds and Ellen Van Dyke only a second away from a 30 second blanket being able to be thrown over the podium.
|1||VAN DER BREGGEN Anna||Netherlands||600||200||4:09:57|
|2||VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek||Netherlands||475||170||1:20|
|3||LONGO BORGHINI Elisa||Italy||400||140||,,|
|6||DEIGNAN Elizabeth||Great Britain||225||110||,,|
|8||LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup||Denmark||150||90||2:41|
The road race was less close with Van Der Breggen doing the double. Special mention must go to her team mate and rival Annamiek Van Vleuten who came home for a silver medal despite recently suffering a fracture of her wrist.
As with the womens events, the mens were dominated by the big names of the sport with Fillipo Ganna winning the time trial ahead of Wout Van Aert (who bagged a pair of silver medals) and Stefan Kung who had left the Tour de France early to prepare for this event.
The weather was unpredictable with howling wind and cloud closing in and pulling out all through the event. At one point a cloud burst looked inevitable and this would have given an advantage to the early starters. But it didn’t materialise.
It was interesting to see that despite a pretty bland circuit and shortened distance the riders made the event and that was exactly what the championships needed to be successful.
|2||VAN AERT Wout||Belgium||250||190||52.349||0:26|
|4||THOMAS Geraint||Great Britain||150||110||52.086||0:37|
|9||DOWSETT Alex||Great Britain||60||60||51.405||1:06|
The final event of the weekend was the mens road race which I settled down to watch with a beer after 80km of hard, windy riding of my own Sunday morning.
The breakaway were kept at a suitable arms length going into the latter stages of the race before Tadej Pogacar rocketed out of the front of the pack with a lap and a half to go.
He managed to get a good distance before fading, but it was a clear plan to soften the race up for his team mate Primoz Roglic.
Whether Roglic didn’t feel too great I don’t know. But he didn’t seem capable of getting out of the wheels when the likes of Tom Dumoulin and Greg Van Avermaet went off up the road.
The attack that did stick came from Julian Alaphillippe who went clear on the penultimate climb before following the Pogacar blueprint from previous laps and digging in on the plateau and rolling section of road.
He then made good on the decent into the Formula 1 circuit before stretching his narrow lead in the final kilometer as the chasers started to disfunction and settle for the lower places.
|2||VAN AERT Wout||Belgium||475||260||0:24|
Van Aert came home second as previously mentioned with man of the month Marc Hirschi finishing off the podium places.
We now have a really short break before the Eneco Tour this week, Ardennes Classics on Wednesday and Sunday and the Giro starting Saturday.
Bring it on!
I have taken a trip to the dark side (Walloonia!!) when in the West Country recently.
Whilst my family were loafing around the Home Bargains in Bude I found some Belgian beer for 75p a pop.
I wasn’t convinced it would be up to much but as a barbeque accompaniment it was ok.
Anyone else tried Belgica before? Some of the review apps love it and some hate it, but I quite liked it.
A VAM of just shy of 700….
Tadej wont be quaking.
Regular readers of this website will remember that my preview of this years race was based around my memories of 1989. Something that hindsight has proved to be good punditry!
There was little sign of what happened on stage 20 coming to pass, even as the two main protagonists, Tadej Pogacar and yellow jersey Primoz Roglic warmed up ahead of the start of their time trials.
But Pogacar was gaining time from the start and at the first unofficial GPS tracking check was already 12 seconds closer to his Slovenian counterpart.
This fast start from his opponent seemed to freak Roglic out and he was starting to fold before our very eyes.
As they both started to climb the Planch des Belles Filles and swapped bikes there was very little to choose between them on GC time. This was pheomenal as Pogacar had had to go a minute quicker to that point to get back level.
Once the guy in 2nd had overhauled the erstwhile yellow jersey to take the race lead he kept that pace up and stretched out almost another minute which was enough to leave him a comfortable winner in GC.
Maybe it wasn’t as close as the 1989 finish as I led you to believe then!
The pictures of Roglic struggling up the 20% gradient to the finish line with his face all sunken in and his crash helmet wonky to the point of looking comical was sad to see.
He rolled alone over the finish line before Tom Dumoulin and Wout Van Aert tried to comfort him. Just along the road from this sad sight Pogacar also has his head in his hands, but in disbelief and joy.
I feel a mighty amount of sympathy for Roglic to lose in this way and for him to go to bed without his yellow jersey, but with a broken heart. It was wretched for him and I wonder where he goes from here.
It says a lot about him as a man though, that he congratulated the man who beat him so soundly and that he was front and centre riding into Paris on Sunday. A much lesser man would have hid.
The final stage was less about drinking booze on the run in to Paris, another feature of this Covid world. Sam Bennett was the winner proving that his green jersey was thoroughly deserved (as if we doubted him!) and that he was the fastest man of the race.
Sorry Caleb and Wout!
So that’s it for the 2020 Tour de France, thanks very much for sticking with my coverage of the race. I really hoped you enjoyed reading how I saw it, please tell your friends and buy a Beers of Belgium CC jersey (using the store password of “FENDRIEN” ahead of the classics !
Here is the final top 10 on GC from www.procyclingstats.com
|1||POGAČAR Tadej||UAE-Team Emirates||87:20:05|
|2||ROGLIČ Primož||Team Jumbo-Visma||0:59|
|3||DOOR Richie||Trek – Segafredo||3:30|
|4||LANDA Mikel||Bahrain – McLaren||5:58|
|5||MAS Enric||Movistar Team||6:07|
|6||LÓPEZ Miguel Ángel||Astana Pro Team||6:47|
|7||DUMOULIN Tom||Team Jumbo-Visma||7:48|
|8||URÁN Rigoberto||EF Pro Cycling||8:02|
|10||CARUSO Damiano||Bahrain – McLaren||14:03|
Polish domestique deluxe Michal Kwiatkowski got due reward for his years in service of Tour de France winners when he took stage 18 after a long breakaway.
With team mate Richard Carapaz, they took flight from the days break along with serial escapee Marc Hirschi of Sunweb.,
The most active rider of the race was keen to add to his stage win last week but crashed on a descent leaving the Ineos pair alone at the head of affairs.
With the gap big enough and the favourites not interested in attacking they had the luxury of sorting out who was going to win on the run in to the finish. It was brillant to see a clearly emotional Kwiatkowski cross the line for a rare, but really popular win.
Stage 10 saw Soren Kragh Andersen win the stage after a day that was only brightly animated by Remi Cavagna in a long lone breakaway that was always doomed but was entertaining enough to avoid switching the TV off.
Late in the stage a breakaway did escape including a number of good classics riders. Luke Rowe , Nils Pollit, Tim DeClercq and the king of Flanders Greg Van Avermaet made the split.
However Andersen was able to repeat the feat as he did on the way into Lyon escaping to win his 2nd stage of the Tour.
All eyes now move to the final weekend of the race and its opening and only time trial.
It’s been a really decent Tour so far so let’s hope for an exciting final weekend of action.
After a quiet few days at the start of last week, the Tour de France has been really exciting at the start of this culminating in yesterdays stage finish at the top of a new purpose built cycleway in the sky.
The two alpine stages have been going over new ground and exploring, whilst retaining the tradition of scenary and toughness that makes them the best part of the race (for me at least).
The first of the most recent two stages saw Egan Bernal dropped again before abandoning and Jumbo taking the opportunity to let breakaways go.
In fact the Tour de France 2020 has become the year of the lone winner with the likes of Marc Hirschi, Soren Kragh Andersen, Lennard Kamna and now Miguel Angel Lopez.
Kamna was part of a stage 16 breakaway that included Richard Caparaz and Julian Alaphillippe before he gave the Ecuadorian a fake suffer face and then attacked him.
Villard de Lans will always be about 1989 and Laurent Fignon for me so it was a real trip down memory lane for the race to finish their again.
Kamna was a worthy winner to honour that history pulling away on downhill, flatlands and climbs to make sure he won.
Carapaz and Alaphillippe looked to get over the disappointment by being in the next days breakaway on stage 17 only to be caught by the GC battle.
Meribel put on its finest display for the race arriving and as the Bahrain led peloton sped through the town to get tot the new finish at Col de la Loze it felt like we had the real race back again. For a few minutes there were cheering fans and despite their masks it was a brief moment where covid wasn’t on my mind.
The new bike path looked amazing despite its fluctuating gradient and it had the desired effect on breaking up the GC leaders including Bahrains leader Mikel Landa meaning all their work was not rewarded.
‘Superman’ Lopez got away and behind him the likes of Richie Porte and Rigoberto Uran started to fade.
Then it was the leaders turn with Primoz Roglic putting some daylight between him and Tadej Pogacar as the road got over 20% in steepness.
However Pogacar wasn’t gone for good and he battled back to limit his losses to 15 seconds meaning he is 57 down now against the yellow jersey.
This race is most definitely not done and I am enjoying every minute of it. Let’s see what today brings.
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With defending champion Egan Bernal definitively falling away from contention, Tadej Pogacar looks like the only man who can deny Primoz Roglic Slovenia’s first Tour de France win.
A twist or irony being that in doing so, he would also become the first Slovenian to take home the yellow jersey.
The best of the rest are currently Rigoberto Uran and Richie Porte and whilst both are talented and Tour proven, they are approaching veteran stage and wont get enough time back to get ahead of the two riders topping GC.
Sunday saw a flat stage into Lyon that had plenty of excitement and it was Sunweb who again challenged existing tactical norms by almost attacking as a team near the end. In footballing language, Marc Hirschi threw a dummy before the real attack came from Soren Kragh Andersen.
He held on to win in the ‘grand manner’ crossing the line alone before being mobbed by team mates. There is growing interest in their British coach Matt Winston and with the poor showing of our “national” team at this Tour de France it seems only a matter of time before the Ineos cheque book gets waved at him.
I am all for innovative and exciting, open racing so long may he continue in that style whichever team car he is sat in.
Sunday saw an unusual stage in that it climbed the Grand Colombier three times from different routes up.
To be fair they could have found another two or three routes up and many of the favourites would have been struggling.
First Nairo Qunitana slowly dropped off the back before Bernal popped out of the line of riders following the Jumbo train before losing contact and ground rapidly.
The way that Wout Van Aert rode for kilometer after kilometer on the front was spectacular and as the spring opened up they had pinned the other riders to the gutter so hard that they still had one rider left.
Chris Froome told ITV that their display reminded him of Sky in their prime.
But they are due a bad day and Roglic does have previous of making what looks like a simple run in more complex by having a crash or mechanical or getting caught in the wind.
You would think that despite not having a strong team Pogacar will be much more alert to any splits that might occur. At the moment the two of them are inseperable and it will be down to the final time trial on Saturday in the Vosges.
But will Jumbo be confident enough in their leader not to have to put Pogacar further behind if they can?