Packed with mountains the 2020 Tour de France is aimed to leave the peloton shaken and stirred.
The route of the 2020 Tour de France was unveiled today in Paris in front of a packed auditorium at the Palais des Congrés.
With the usual rumours doing the rounds the course was expected to be designed to further create uncertainty and disrupt the dominance of the GC teams. The presentation certainly proved that was exactly what the organisers had in mind – starting on the French Riviera in Nice it includes 3470km, 29 cols, bookended with mountain stages, the latter an altitude finish TT.
Mads Pedersen wins the elite men’s World Championships road race
With torrential rain and winds returning to Yorkshire it was going to be day that pushed the best cyclists in the world to their limits. The strongest proved to be Mads Pedersen who survived the ultimate test to give Denmark its first male winner at the UCI World Championship.
At the end of a cold, wet and unbelievable grueling 262 kilometers, Pedersen showed he was the strongest, beating Matteo Trentin (Italy/Mitchelton-Scott) and Stefan Küng Switzerland/Groupama – FDJ.
“It’s unbelievable. I didn’t expect this when we started this morning. It was an unbelievable day,” said Pedersen struggling to comprehend his feat.
“The team plan was to get me out in the early final (laps) and then (teammates) Valgren and Fuglsang would come from behind. But in the end, they didn’t follow van der Poel and Trentin when they came to my group. From there on it was just survive, survive, survive and then hope for the best in the sprint,” he explained.
The days cold wet conditions saw many of the strongest riders struggling, and a relentless process of attrition saw the peloton started splitting into fragments with many long given up any ambition greater than making it home upright.
The Danish rider had worked his way into an elite group in the last 50km and was one of only three riders still in contention on the very last drag up Parliament Street, Trentin and van der Poel . Van der Poel despite being a strong favourite faltered and t was Trentin who kicked off the sprint for victory. Pederesen had reserves of power and proved the fastest finisher passing the Italian before throwing his arms aloft in triumph to take the rainbow stripes. Tenacious Trentin meanwhile, clung on for second place on the podium with Switzerland’s Stefan Kung crossing the line two seconds back in third.
“I just hoped that when I saw the finish line, all the pain
would be gone, and I could do a good sprint. It’s six and a half hours on the
bike so everyone is on the limit and so anything could happen in that
sprint,” said Pedersen.
“You had to be focused all day and stay in the front all
the time. But it’s one of the last races of the season, so it’s all about
keeping that focus for six and a half hours and don’t have any bad luck and
hope for the best. This is every rider’s dream to wear this jersey – for me to
do it now? It’s unbelievable.”
Van Vleuten solos to Gold in Women’s Elite Road Race
Annemiek van Vleuten turned the women’s elite road race into a 100km time trial to take the rainbow jersey for the Netherlands. Second spot went to teammate and defending champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team) with Australia’s Amanda Spratt taking bronze.
In front of massive crowds enjoying a day off from the inclement weather the 36 year old Mitchelton-Scott Pro took off on the Lofthouse climb to spend the next three hours holding off a determined pursuit that never really looked like making the catch.
Her lead held to around the two minute mark over the closing 30 km and despite determined efforts by several strong riders including 2015 Champion Brit Lizzie Deignan, who is from Yorkshire, Anna van der Breggen and champion from the Individual Time Trial American Chloe Dygert-Owen to take back some time her lead bent but did not break.
As the race neared the circuits of Harrogate and Van Vleuten grasp on gold became increasingly certain it turned into a competition for the silver and bronze out of a group of just four riders, van der Breggen , Spratt, Elisa Borghini of Italy and Dygert-Owen. When the race entered its third and final 14 km lap of Harrogate just van der Breggen and Spratt remained in contention. Van der Breggen proved the stronger dropping Spratt on a small hill to take silver 2’15” behind her compatriot, with Spratt taking bronze at 2’28”. Borghini took fourth, Dygert-Owen fifth with Marianne Vos leading home the peloton 5’20” after the winner.
Netherlands rider Annemiek van Vleuten said: “That was crazy. I knew the climb was really far from the finish but once I’d attacked my coach told me to keep riding hard and I was lucky I had really good legs. It was definitely not planned but I’d trained so hard for this – put in so many hours on the bike – and I thought ‘if anyone can do this, it’s you’. As I was riding I was thinking ‘maybe I could make history today’, and if it didn’t work out I knew Anna [van der Breggen] was in a great position behind.
“So many emotions, my mother was here, that’s really special for me. It was such a big dream for me to be world champion, I’ve been world champion in the time trial, but on the road you can wear it so much more often.
“It was only towards the end that I dared to believe, and I was being cheered on by so many fans. The crowds in Bradford were huge at the start and I had so much encouragement out on the course as well. British fans are amazing and I want to thank them all for helping make this win so amazing.”
86th World Championships Women’s Elite Road Race Results:
Men’s U23 and Women’s Elite Individual time Trials
BJERG AND DYGERT find gold in the rain and wind
Heavy rain and roads mimicking lakes couldn’t dampen the action on the third day of the 2019 UCI Road World Championships with Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark) and Chloé Dygert Owen (USA) taking victory in the Under-23 Men’s and Elite Women’s 30.3km Individual Time Trials.
Women’s Elite Individual Time Trial
The USA’s Chloé Dygert Owen had almost nothing left in the tank as she crossed the line completing the 30.3 km course in a time of 42:11.570. The 22 year old who rides professionally for Sho – Air TWENTY20 had to be helped off her bike before slumping to the soaking wet tarmac after arriving 3’15” faster than the the previous pace setter Lucinda Brand. The results were all the more remarkable for being achieved in conditions that were near-apocaplyptic and had forced the race to be delayed by almost an hour.
Nobody really threatened the time. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands/Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team), adrift by 1:32 took silver while Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands/Mitchelton-Scott) took bronze.
USA rider Chloé Dygert Owen
said: “It’s always special to wear the rainbow stripes and I worked really
hard for this. I had a concussion which forced me to miss last year’s
Championships so I prepared specifically for this one and to win is really
“Being here in Yorkshire is
really cool and it’s a really neat place to be. I’ll enjoy this moment tonight
but I’ll be competing in the road race on Saturday so it’ll be back to work
Men’s U23 Individual Time Trial
The U23 Men had to endure heavy rain and flooded roads in their morning event. which saw riders skidding into puddles the size of ponds. this did not faze Mikkel Bjerg. The Dane was the final rider down the start ramp and produced a time-trialling masterclass as he navigated his way successfully through the tricky parcours.
The 20 year old was fastest at the 14.2km split and consolidated his advantage to claim victory by a 26.45sec cushion over USA’s Ian Garrison. It was Bjerg’s third successive triumph in the Men’s Under-23 Individual Time Trial event and he seemingly has the world at his feet as he prepares to turn professional in 2020.
Denmark rider Mikkel Bjerg said: “Today was really, really crazy and they were very difficult conditions out there today. I was told to hold my handlebars tight, keep looking ahead of me, and go full gas through the water. I didn’t have any slips or slides so I am over the moon to have pulled off this third victory.”
Roglic secures Slovenia’s first Vuelta win as Jakobsen takes final stage in Madrid
Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) has become the first Slovenian to win a Grand Tour with victory in La Vuelta a Espagne
Individual General Classification
Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma)
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), + 2’16’’
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), + 2’38’’
Madrid, Sunday, September 15th 2019 – Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) made the most of his pure speed to snatch a prestigious stage win in Madrid. The young Dutch national champion out-sprinted the Irish national champion Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) to claim his second Grand Tour victory.
Race leader Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) made it safely to the line to become the first Slovenian rider to win a Grand Tour, ahead of the World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) while a second Slovenian the 20 year old prodigy Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) took the third spot.
Roglič took over the race lead after winning the individual time trial on Stage 10 and despite being tested by attacks and crashes saw his lead remain resolutely above two minutes for the rest of the tour. He also takes home the green points jersey, beating Pogačar despite the youngster winning three stages. The third spot went to arguably the best sprinter of the Vuelta, Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe)
Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale) secured the mountain climbers competition, with Ángel Madrazo (Burgos-BH) second and Sergio Samitier (Euskadi Basque Country – Murias).
Miguel Ángel López (Astana Pro Team) was awarded the prize for the most aggressive rider of the race some consolation for coming second in the young riders competition to Pogačar.
The team prize went to Movistar, who placed three riders in the top ten, with Astana second and Jumbo-Visma third.
Mieke Kröger (Germany/Team Virtu Cycling) has won the 2019 Lotto Belgium Tour beating Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal Ladies) by a mere eight seconds.
Photography : Allan Stone 2019
Going into the stage with a lead of 26″ on GC The 27 year old German finished 26″ down in 19th spot behind stage winner Coryn Rivera (USA/Team Sunweb) and had to dig deep on the pave finish to ensure she restricted losses to her closest rival Kopecky to a minimum. As it was it was a close run thing losing 18 seconds of that overnight lead to the Belgian. Third spot went to France’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France/Trek-Segafredo Women) at 14″ with Rivera a distant fourth at 2’33”.
Mathieu van der Poel wins the Tour of Britain after taking final stage in Manchester
Riding for the Belgian Pro-Continental team Corendon – Circus (PCT) Mathieu van der Poel dominated the rankings with three stage victories en route to winning the eight stage Tour of Britain by a margin of 17 seconds from Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) with Jasper de Buyst (Lotto Soudal).
Toledo, Friday, September 13th 2019 – A flat stage on the way to Toledo offered more craziness at La Vuelta 19. While rain swept through the area causing pile-ups Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) stormed to an impressive solo win after dropping all his breakaway companions with 25km to go. This is the first Grand Tour stage victory for “the TGV from Clermont-Ferrand” .
Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) retains La Roja despite several scares. The race leader was involved in a crash that also saw Miguel Ángel López (Astana Pro Team) hit the deck with 67km to go. After remounting Roglič and the others involved had to chase their way back to the peloton. A litel while later Roglič had to do the same after Bora-hansgrohe split the bunch in the wind. The efforts clealr took their toll and the Slovenian lost three seconds to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) in the uphill sprint.
While the crash was no doubt caused by the inclement weather there were harsh words directed by riders at Movistar who seemingly rode on at pace forcing Roglic and company to ride hard to catch-up despite an unwritten rule that the race leader shouldn’t be taken advantage of if they suffer a mishap.
The crash also deprived Roglič of his road captain Tony Martin ahead of the crucial stage in the Sierra de Gredos.
Stage 19 Video Summary (courtesy of La Vuelta)
Miguel Angel Lopez spoke about the day’s events and summarised riders sentiments:
“I am more or less OK after my crash. Many riders crashed in front of me and I had no any chance to avoid it. I have some abrasions on my hand and right leg, but in general, everything is good. Fortunately, I have a very strong team in this race and my teammates did a perfect job to bring me back in front.
“Indeed, we had to spend a lot of energy to reach the first group as Movistar pulled hard in front after that crash. Of course, nobody was happy with that, I’d like to see more respect in the peloton. But all we could do, just to give our best to come back. In the end of the day I am still fourth in the general classification and still have the white jersey on my shoulders. I hope to recover as well as possible after the crash, because tomorrow will be the last important stage of La Vuelta. We will try to do our best“
Stage 18: Colmenar Viejo to Becerril de la Sierra, 178.2km
Higuita takes solo win on brutal stage
Grand Tour Debutant, Sergio Higuita (EF Education First) took his first stage with a solo win, while Roglic kept rivals at bay with a show of power.
The 22 year old added another win to Columbia’s 2019 palmares after beating a chasing trio of top-ten riders race, leader Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) and Rafał Majka (BORA – hansgrohe), by a full fifteen seconds.
Video race Summary (Courtesy of La Vuelta)
Sergio Higuita (EF Education First):
“Yesterday, when I didn’t have the legs to be in the echelons and fight for the top10 of the GC, we decided to save energy for today and to relax as much as possible, as if it were a recovery ride. It was great for me, as I was feeling really tired before the stage – I even fell asleep on the bus! This helped me relieve some pressure off me and take the start today with renewed energies. Today’s stage was perfect for me: I could either win from a breakaway or from a sprint. Climbing Cotos I felt extraordinary good legs, and I was able to keep my chasers at bay.
“I went full gas to the finish line, as I was pretty motivated to give my team a stage win after such a difficult La Vuelta. I didn’t have any energy left, but I had my heart set on those dreams I’ve chased for so long. I didn’t assume victory was mine until 5 kilometres to go, as my chasers were quite strong and I was afraid they would catch me. My DS kept spurring me, and insisted I could make it to the finish line. I was very emotional at the finish line because there were so many Colombian fans there. At La Vuelta 19, I’ve learnt not to give up, not even in the worse moments, and to be resilient. Every day is whole different story on which one can triumph.”
The win gilded a series of strong performances by Higuita through 2019 including a second place on GC at 2019 Amgen Tour of California (2.UWT) and fourth on GC at 2019 Tour de Pologne (2.UWT). It also rescued a disastrous Vuelta for EF Education First after losing GC contender Rigoberto Urán to a major crash on Stage 6. The youngster now lies 14th on GC.
Gilbert awarded ‘Ruban Jaune‘ after breaking stage speed record to win Stage 17
Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck – Quick Step) defied hot windy conditions to win Stage 17 and set a new speed record for a stage longer than 200km – 50.63km/h.
The 37 year old Belgian was part of a large breakaway that at one point numbered 48 riders, that turned much of the GC on its head after finishing over five minutes head of a race leader Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) and seeing Nairo Quintana leap into second spot ahead of teammate Alejandro Valverde.
The break which from its initial unwieldly size settled to around 28 riders and despite windy hot conditions and the presence of several GC contenders including Nairo Quintana (Movistar) grew its lead until it was over six minutes.
Deceuninck – Quick Step, with seven of its eight riders dominating the engine room, had two dogs in the fight, Gilbert for the stage and James Knox for the GC. Quintana was a clear beneficiary and as the lead crept above four and half minutes he was looking at leaping from sixth spot to second overall over-taking teammate Alejandro Valverde who was isolated in the changing red Jersey group and juggling divided loyalties. He could not preserve his overnight second spot without sacrificing the team’s chance of assailing Roglic.
As Quintana edge closer on the virtual GC to Roglič Team Jumbo-Visma and Astana buried themselves to male the catch, but while the lead did ease it lodged at around five minutes as the race rocketed at full gas in both groups and a stalemate became clear – there would be massive time losses, but how much?
As the leaders entered the shaded streets of Guadalajara the attacks came thick and fast. Zdeněk Štybar (DQT) was first, followed by Sam Bennett (BORA – hansgrohe). The Irishman could not mimic his win in Oviedo on Stage 14 and it was Gilbert who shot past to win.
Philippe Gilbert: “It’s a very special one. I think it’s a stage that will stay in the history books because of the way we rode. It was crazy from the gun. We went with a big group of 40 guys. There were some guys for GC like Quintana and James Knox for ourselves. We were 7 of the 8 Deceuninck guys and we rode crazy as a team, we gave morale to each other and it was incredible to see. As the kilometres passed, we lost some guys with the crosswinds, the climbs… It was really fast. At some point we were doing 75km/h on the flat. I had a 54×11 and I was spinning all the time. In 17 years as a pro, I don’t think I’ve ever done that. It was really really crazy. The crosswinds and echelons are part of the team’s DNA and I also love it. It’s not the first time I win two stages in a Grand Tour but I’ve never done it three times. Friday’s stage suits me and I’ll try to fight for victory in Toledo.”
The result gave the GC a new complexion. Roglič still leads but saw his margin shaved by 24 second and second spot occupied by Quintana at 2’24”. Valverde dropped to third, pushing Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) off the virtual podium) into fourth while James Knox slipped into the top ten at eight spot.
Primoz Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was sanguine about the day’s events: “It was a hard day. I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have where I was, I should have been in the front. The team saved me with a big effort. They just went full gas from the very beginning and that was it for the rest of the day. We can see our team did a really big effort from the beginning. In the end, we couldn’t anymore so other teams had to work also. We’re still in a really good position. It was a hard day for everyone. We lost a battle today, but not the war. I never felt like La Vuelta was lost. Other guys wanted to finish as fast as possible so it was full gas until the finish line. We’ll see in Madrid but things are still looking really good for us. La Vuelta is really unpredictable and we can expect still big fight for the days to come.”
The ‘Ruban Jaune’
The Ruban Jaune was inaugurated by the great cycling innovator Henri Desgrange to mirror the trans-atlantic Blue Riband, and be awarded to the fastest time over a race distance of 200km or more. It was first awarded in 1936 to Belgian cyclist Gustave Danneels, who covered 251 kilometers in the Paris-Tours at an average of 41.455 kilometers per hour.
The record has subsequently changed hands 12 times with the last holder being Matteo Trentin, another former Quick-Step rider who took the prize after winning the 231km Paris-Tours in 2015 in a time of 4h 39’12”, an average speed of 49.64kmh.
Gilbert’s record not is the forst above 50km/h, but also the first time the record has gone to a winner in a stage race, the previous awards going exclusively to winners of one-day races, nine of which were at Paris-Tours, two at Paris-Roubaix and one at Paris-Brussels.
Trentin was quick to congratulate Gilbert on the record: