Embarrassment for Alaphilippe at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and opening weekend of the Giro

Six and a half hours of racing ends with embarrassment for Julian Alaphilippe as celebreates too early, losing the race to Primoz Roglic and ultimately being relegated to 5th place for his improper sprint line.

The Giro opened this weekend with big time dents into major GC contenders, with Nibali, Fuglsang, and Kruijswijk losing over a minute to Geraint Thomas. Bad news stuck for Astana who lost Miguel Angel Lopez on stage 1 and Aleksander Vlasov on stage 2.

Giro d’Italia preview, why Hirschi will win worlds in 2021 and the competition for ugliest bike

A preview of the race favorites for the Giro d’Italia. Why history tells us that Marc Hirschi’s win at La Fleche Wallonne makes him the favorite for next years UCI world championship road race. We also look in awe at the ugly bikes and kits rolled out this week by EF Education, Ineos and Julian Alaphilippe’s rainbow SL7!

UCI World Championships Men’s Road Race Results – Julian Alaphilippe wins rainbow

Julian Alaphilippe is the 2020 UCI World Champion! He’s won 5 stages of the Tour de France, Strade Bianche, Milan-Sanremo, La Fleche Wallonne, San Sebastian, been 17 days in yellow and now will wear rainbow as the World Champion. The French have a world champion for the first time in 23 years, first since Laurent Brochard. France has only had 2 podiums in the last 20 years, Anthony Geslin in 2005 and Romain Bardet 2nd in 2018.

The course

This year’s UCI Men’s World Championship course is a circuit of 9 laps adding to a total of 258.2km. There are two climbs that break this race apart that they hit 9 times each – the Mazzolano (2.8km at an average gradient of 5.9%, max 13%) and the Cima Gallisterna (2.7km at 6.4%, max 14%). 

How it unfolded

There was of course a breakaway for the first 185km, which would be the distance in most races, but today that meant when caught there was still 70km to go and it was the French said ok we’ll take this from here led by Quentin Pacher and Nans Peters over the top of the climb and France just went to their limit in support of Julian Alaphilippe. Issue was after all that work 144 riders were still in the peloton with all the contenders still in there. Pogacar did a bike change on the flats and Belgium took over control of the race with Australia, Spain and Denmark all moving up, and Italy riding right behind.  

Medzec pulled Pogacar up to the front on the climb and that meant he had to be ready for an attack because Medzec can’t go long for Pogacar and he did exactly that. The exact point where Anna van der Breggen went yesterday to make her decisive attack and took it the distance. The Belgians couldn’t match Pogacars attack, so they just stayed within themselves and tried to reel it back. Pogacar kept the lead to 15 seconds but he looked quite challenged back down on the circuit preparing for the final lap. He did continue to extend it slightly but there was good organization behind him.

On the final lap the race dynamic allowed for several teams to stay completely intact including Spain, Italy and Colombia all strong heading into he final climbs. It was such good racing you could easily forget to pause and look at the amazing scenery. Truly beautiful land the riders went through with vineyards and olive groves across these large estates and what will certainly be one of the greatest photo opportunities we’ve seen as they run across a single lane road with dropped land on either side, giving the image of an action movie.

On the first of two climbs Dumoulin, who looked bad the other day and earlier in the race bridged the gap and got to Pogacar, no love loss there after Pogacar ruined he and Jumbo Visma’s Tour de France. Then other attacks followed which would bring the race back together once again.

At that point there was still a number of teams with matches to burn, Carapaz, Van Aert, Caruso, Alaphilippe, Nibali, Hirschi, Uran, Landa. And it became a real race from there with relentless attacking. For a moment there was a 4 man break with Landa, Nibali, Uran and Van Aert as that was probably the best chance for those three but Van Aert would not do the work, figuring best odds is to defend all attacks and leave it to the sprint.

Final climb, Hirschi makes a move to win, Van Aert over him, Alaphilippe, Nibali, Roglic, Schachmann, Kwiato & Fuglsang all followed. Exactly who we expected to be there.

Alaphilippe launches an attack over the top of the final climb and makes a gap, chased by Fuglsang but he put the space on it and broke up the select group. Fuglsang, Kwiato and Van Aert chasing behind him.

5k to go it was 10 seconds gap and Alaphilippe was just full gas ahead of the chase. The gave 110% and everyone looked at each other like it was a local crit and not the rainbow jersey on the line.

Results

Van Aert finished 2nd, the biggest favorite of the day and Belgium executed for him perfectly. Marc Hirschi continued his Tour de France momentum out leaning Michal Kwiatkowski for the final spot on the podium with, Fuglsang and Roglic just behind.

Alaphilippe will debut the rainbow band Wednesday at La Fleche Wallone where he has competed 4 times with two wins and two second places, expect fireworks.

1Julian Alaphilppe (France)6:38:34
2Wout Van Aert (Belgium)0:00:24
3Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)
4Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)
5Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)
6Primoz Roglic (Slovenia)
7Michael Matthews (Australia)0:00:53
8Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
9Max Schachmann (Germany)
10Damiano Caruso (Italy)

UCI World Championships – Men’s Individual Time Trial Analysis

The men’s UCI World Championship Individual Time Trail went relatively as expected with Italian fast man Filippo Ganna unseating two time reigning champion, and teammate, Rohan Dennis.

Some think Ganna taking the win comes out of the blue, however, that’s because most of Ganna’s damange is done inside the velodrome where he already has 4 World Title’s against his name. Having just won the ITT at Tirreno-Adriatico over Rohan Dennis and Geraint Thomas, he jumped up the board as favorite and he delivered the goods today. A monster performance from start to finish, he had the fatest time at the only time-check and held onto it through the finish line. It was actually teammate Geraint Thomas who held the hot seat for most of the day despite racing the ITT circuit without the aid of his bike computer, ultimately finishing 4th overall. It was the Belgian Wout Van Aert who showed us that the Tour de France is no match for his legs, seemingly unbothered by the 3,366Km’s the tour put into his legs riding to 2nd place today and reinforcing him as a favorite for Sundays road race.

Rounding out the podium was Stefan Kung, a deserving medalist who is 4 time reigning ITT champion of switzerland and 4 time medalist in the world championships at the TTT. Stefan won two combativity awards at this years Tour de France (stages 10,14) before withdrawing to focus on todays race. Rohan Dennis, two time defending champion had the 2nd fastest time at the time check but could not hold on for the victory, or even the podium, finishing 5th. It’s unclear what’s next for Dennis.

The disapointment of the day was definitely Tom Dumoulin who finished 10th at 1:14 back from Ganna. The course did not suit him perfectly but he was still outperformed by those who beat head to head in the stage 20 TT at the tour and not a great result for the former world champion.

Overall a great result and great omen for Ineos and in Geraint Thomas in particular as he eyes the start of the Giro D’Italia next weekend. This years Giro features three ITT’s where Thomas will look to put a dent into his foes. The Giro both starts, and ends, with an ITT.

FEEDZONE: Roasting the UCI – Because, why not?

Welcome to the FEEDZONE, a break from normal racing coverage. We are heading into one of the most exciting weekends of the year for professional cycling, the UCI world championships where we will learn who gets to wear the coveted rainbow jersey in their respective discipline next year on their sleeves forever. BUT, let’s not be so quick to forget all the drama and frustrations caused by the UCI in general, and most recently at this years Tour de France. So let’s have some fun and roast the UCI!

Here are some of the key stats of the penalties levied at the tour by the UCI:

86 total penalties worth over $32,000, two minutes of time, 62 points, 3 KOM points, 1 relegation to the back of the peloton and the ejection of one sports director.

The most popular fines were litering (28 times), stick bitons (28 times), improper fueling (8 times).

Jumbo Visma topped the list with 10 penalties for a total of 8,500 Swiss Francs.

Stage 18 accumulated the most penalties with 10, 8 of which were sticky bitons (no suprise on the hardest climbing day of the tour).

Only 3 stages (1, 14, 21) were without penalty and just two teams escaped without penalty, Lotto Soudal and Trek Segafredo.

Listen as we break down the most egregious and impactful penalties from this years Tour de France!

2020 UCI World Championships Preview and Predictions

It’s time for the 2020 UCI world championships! Odd to be just one week after the tour and before either the Giro or Veulta but its 2020 and here we are. The championships take place in Imola, Italy after Switzerland announced their cancellation of the event due to Coronavirus restrictions.

We are looking at two unique courses for the Men’s races this year. First the TT course for its utter simplicity 32km of flat road; and on the flip side a brutal 258km road race course with 5000m of climbing.

The TT course is straight forward. My picks for top 5 include Ghanna, Dennis, Cavagna, Van Aert and Dumoulin. This leaves Kung and Thomas on the outside looking in, but there can only be 5 in the top 5.

The road course has brutal climbs in its 9 laps of the circuit. There are two notable climbs on each lap the first with 1km at 9.6%, followed by 1.3km at 10.9%….9 times each! It will still require some punch to get this done so it won’t be a true climber that takes it. I like Van Aert for the win. Both Pogacar and Roglic need to be considered favorites but its an open question as to how their tour ‘hangovers’ are, both literally and figuratively…knowing them mostly figuratively. I also pick Fuglsang for a podium position.

2020 Tour de France: Pogacar wins & the tour by the numbers

Today we wrap up the tour, the weapons were put down. They took down the finish line on the Planche de Belle Fille, FDJ visiting Pinots goats. Sagan conceded green. Roglic slept on his defeat. It was all smiles and pageantry on the roads to Paris. Familiar scenes of the Yellow jersey team with teammates arm and arm wide across the road. Classy sportsmanship by Roglic who comes up the road during the neutralized section and had a minute with Pogacar arms over each other saying who knows what in Slovenian, but can’t overstate the sportsmanship of Roglic. Stand-up guy, not doubt. Of course we feel for him. All sorts of noise overnight about Pogacar and his “unbelievable” performance. Well believe it, internet trolls go home!

Marc Hirschi was the super combative most subjective award, but his wounds were wrapped up like a mummy and if that’s the case you are probably, atleast arguable quite combative. Good for that great oung rider who won a stage and also had a 2nd and 3rd.

Sam Bennett puts a stamp, period exclamation point on his green. Big sprint, decisive win, set up perfectly by his team. Good representation in his final stage in rainbow by Mads Pedersen who took 2nd and Sagan 3rd. Ewan was in bad position the whole time and couldn’t have a go at it. First green for Ireland since Sean Kelly in ’89, Sean Kelly won it 4 times, so some rich history for Ireland. Sam Bennett delighted and well deserved. We also need to go back to 2014 was the last time that Quickstep didn’t win a sprint stage. Bennett, Viviani, Gaviria, Kittel, Cavendish. Peidgree of great riders. Finished with 380 vs. Sagan 284. He won he earned it.

Tour de France by the numbers and were not just talking 21 stages and 3,366KM covered.

10: Times that Richie Porte has ridden the Tour de France before finally achieving the podium this year.  

9: The number of riders in the top 10 of the GC who finished stage 20 in a different place than they started it.  Only Rigoberto Uran did not change places.

8: Stage podium finishes in this years tour for team Sunweb, an incredible result for a supposedly leaderless team.

7: Number of Tour de France wins among active professional riders. 0 which rode into Paris (Froome, Bernal, Thomas, Nibali) active tour champions, only 1, Bernal started.

6: Teams winning multiple stages UAE Emirates (4), Deceuninck- Quickstep, Astana, Sunweb, Jumbo visma, Lotto Soudal. That meant that 12 of the 22 teams did not turn in a win.

5: Times that the tour has climbed the Planche de Belle Fille and the number of times that the yellow jersey changed shoulders on those days. 5 is also the number of positive COVID-19 tests of the over 1,300 tests done during the tour, zero riders testing positive. This is the anxiety of the world this year and we were blessed to put it aside to enjoy 23 days of the Tour de France.  

4: Stage wins by UAE in this year’s tour, the most of any team.  

3: Countries with 2 riders in the top 10 of the General Classification. 3 is also the number of Jerseys that Tadej Pogacar won (yellow, white, polka dots), the first rider since Eddie Merckx in 1969 when he won green instead of white as white didn’t exist.

2: Times since 2011 that a team other than SKY/Ineos has won the Tour de France. Nibali in 2014, the year Chris Froome crashed and broke his wrist; and now in 2020 with Tadej Pogacar.

1: Black rider in the peloton at the Tour de France. Its pretty obvious that cycling has not been an equal opportunity sport for a number of reasons. Kevin Reza from B&B hotels is the only black rider in this year’s TDF and in a year where we’ve seen most professional sports pause in some way shape or form to recognize and show solidarity for racial equality we have not seen that in cycling. UCI has done nothing proactively and they should. We’ve seen some riders take responsibility into their own hands, Kwiato Roglic I saw with say no to racism written on their masks, love to see that, UCI needs to be better. And I encourage you to listen to the interview that Bradley Wiggins did with Reza on his Eurosport podcast.

 Vive the 107th edition of the tour. It was a dream. But we’ve got a lot to look forward to, world championships a week away and on October 3rd we get the Giro; but when you want to talk about going over the Stelivio and attacking the alps/dolomites of Italy in October, the snow is already falling. IT was the riders who threw everything at the tour, it will be the world throwing everything at the Giro and we’ll see you there, so buckle up its going to be a wild ride.

Tour de France stage 20: Pogacar turns the tour on its head and Porte reaches the podium

He is the white jersey, polka dot jersey, yellow jersey, the maillot jaune, he is the youngest winner of a stage of the Tour de France (and he has three of them) and the youngest ever champion of the Tour de France, Tadej Pogacar has turned the race upside down today.

Full breakdown of the stage including the movement across the top 10, with Richie Porte riding himself to his first ever TDF podium while Miguel Angel Lopez drops all the way to sixth.

Team Jumbo represented well on the stage with Tom Dumoulin taking 2nd and Wout Van Aert 4th. It was also meant to be a stage for Richard Carapaz who looked to retain the polka dot jersey but his efforts fell short, but that’s mostly credit to the unbelievable performance of Tadej Pogacar.

Tour de France Stage 19: The green jersey wraps up and final countdown on yellow

Stage 19 of the Tour de France was the final chance for Peter Sagan and his Bora Hansgrohe team to reel in Sam Bennett to give Peter at shot at his 8th green jersey. Some bad luck for the team with a bee sting to the mouth of Lukas Postlberger caused him to abandon.

Just after the sprint point the men in front decided to have a go at a breakaway and a 12 man field which included the likes of Sagan, Bennett, Kragh Andersen, Trentin, Van Avermaet and some Deceuninck-Quickstep support made it and put several minutes into the peloton. It was a move by Kagh Andersen, which went unresponded to, that allowed him to run up a nearly 1-minute advantage to his second stage victory of the tour.

Turning to tomorrow we have a battle for the TT podium, the yellow jersey, and the polka dot jersey. There are a number of scenarios that we break down which could leave the jersey on the shoulders of Roglic, Pogacar, or the current leader, Carapaz. It could even be a podium sweep for Jumbo Visma tomorrow with current yellow jersey holder Primoz Roglic, former TT world champion Tom Dumoulin and the ever strong Wout Van Aert.

Tour de France Stage 18: Ineos gets redemption, Landa attacks and the podium settles in

Tour de France stage 18 was one for Ineos. After several days of attacking by Richard Carapaz, today he and Michal Kwiatkowski got away and won the stage. It was a special moment for them as they entered the final kilometers knowing that nobody could challenge them. They even seemed unsure of what to do, but it was hugs and high fives as they came to the line. Kwiato was awarded the win, which is well deserved for the former world champion, winner of Milan SanRemo, Strade Bianche, Polish national champion (amongst others) who has been in a support role in his 7 tours of France and never had an opportunity to win a stage.

In the GC it was a day for the guys outsdie the podium to make a final stand and a great move was made by Bahrain Mcclaren in support of Mikel Landa. He had two riders up the road, enabling him to launch an attack and have support later in the race. He was able to move up two spots in the standings jumping ahead of Adam Yates and Rigoberto Uran.