After winning La Classique Morbihan (Sofia Bertizzolo) last Friday, Liv Racing was at the start of the 102 kilometre Grand Prix du Morbihan Féminin on Saturday. Lotte Kopecky sprinted with a depleted peloton for the win. Our Belgian road champion didn’t come further than fourth place. Italian rider Chiara Consonni took the victory in Grand-Champ.
The race in Brittany (France) started early. Before nine o’clock the riders were already on their bikes, in 5 degrees Celsius and fog. A local, hilly circuit of 14.6 kilometres awaited the riders. This had to be done seven times in total.
“We had agreed to start the race calmly but sharply. The first laps we would not do anything ourselves, but we would anticipate if necessary. Unfortunately we missed out when a group of six riders from strong teams escaped. That forced us to chase,” says team manager Hugo Brenders.
After five laps, the leading group, which had a maximum lead of 1 minute and 45 seconds, was caught up by Liv Racing. In the remaining two laps, attacks rained down. “We wanted to keep Lotte Kopecky as fresh as possible for the sprint. But that was quite difficult. In the final sprint, our best was gone after all our efforts. A second successive victory was unfortunately not possible.”
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Stephen Bassett lit up the breakaway at Paris-Bourges on Thursday by winning both the sprints and KOM classification. The 26-year-old launched the early breakaway and went on to score points at all but one of the day’s intermediate sprints and climbs.
“I made sure to check my efforts early in the race in order to have the acceleration needed to get the classifications,” Bassett said afterward. “I was able to pretty easily take the sprint points but the KOM was a lot trickier as I was second over the first one but Tony Gallopin (AG2R Citroën Team) upped the pace and dropped the leader so I was able to soak up the final few points.”
At the finish, Bassett heaped praise on his Felt AR and Pactimo kit.
“I was also really happy with my kit as there were so many sections where I could hunker down and coast while I could see the guys in front of me had to keep on the pedals for longer.”
Bassett has been active in breakaways and the amount of racing he has done in Europe has left him in good stead.
“I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress this season in adapting to life and racing in Europe,” he said. “I’ve taken my chances in breakaways and had good results so I’m happy.”
Rally Cycling animated much of the racing before the final bunch sprint that was won by Jordi Meeus (BORA – hansgrohe). Pier-André Coté was the team’s top finisher in 24th place.
After winning the KOM prize at the Eurométropole Tour, Robin Carpenter said that the team wanted to improve on their performance at Paris-Bourges from 2019. Keen to bury the demons of two years ago, the Philadelphia rider went for a daring breakaway with Ryan Mullen (Trek – Segafredo) inside the final 10km before being caught by the charging peloton.
Kyle Murphy also launched an attack late on, but the flat run-in proved difficult terrain to open a gap up. Although their bids for glory didn’t work out, they were examples of how Rally Cycling riders race with their hearts on their sleeves.
The men’s team will spend the next week in France as they prepare for the final race of the season at the Grand Prix du Morbihan on October 16.
Australian champion Sarah Roy sprinted to 11th place on an aggressive opening stage of the Women’s Tour in Banbury.
The two-time stage winner was in the mix in both the intermediate sprints on the 147.7km stage, taking second and third respectively as Team BikeExchange looked to go on the front foot on day one.
With a number of attacks coming and going in the opening half of the stage, Janneke Ensing tried her luck as she jumped clear ahead of the Iron Down Hill QOM. The Dutch rider opened up an advantage of more than 30 seconds, but the peloton soon shut the move down as the race reached the finishing circuit.
A flurry of attacks were then launched over the course of the last lap, with a dangerous group of five edging away inside the final 10km. However, it was all back together again in time for the sprint finale as Marta Bastianelli took the win, with Roy battling to 11th place after getting caught behind a late crash.
Sarah Roy: “The legs are feeling great after Roubaix surprisingly. My blistered up hands on the other hand are quite sore, but I know I’m not the only one.
It’s a real shame there is no live coverage of this race. It’s always so dynamic and interesting. Today in the last 15km we had a small group away and a fast chase from behind with a very reduced bunch after a quick QOM.
The break had about 15 seconds and all of my teammates had already used all their biccies helping me earlier in the race, so I was following wheels alone but feeling very good. The group was caught with 2-3km to go. Our first objective for the finish was to be top-10 into the roundabout 1.3km from the line, and I was thereabouts when the peloton split into two lines going around it and as they merged there was a big crash in front of me. Thankfully I made it through, but unfortunately was off the back of the sprint and didn’t get to contest for it.
Today was a fantastic team ride, and I really enjoyed it with this crew. Janneke, Ane and Teniel were really strong out there covering important moves and looking after me. I’m looking forward to the next stages. I hope all those who came down are okay.”
2021 Women’s Tour Stage 1 – Results: 1. Marta Bastianelli 3:44:41 2. Chloe Hosking ST 3. Clara Copponi ST 11. Sarah Roy (Team BikeExchange) ST
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«It was nice to have Robin up the road. The last five to ten kilometers were chaos. I tried to have a late go at it, but couldn’t quite find my way to the line. But yeah, happy with the result.»
The sprint came after a Robin Carpenter-led breakaway was caught just five zkm from the line. Despite suffering through the day, Carpenter found a little extra energy to salute the huge crowds on the Cairn o’Mount KOM.
«The fans were just crazy and I was trying to hype them up. That was the best part of the day.»
Carpenter has enjoyed a superb Tour of Britain, with a stage win and day in the overall race lead. He said, «You can feel like people want you to be here. Just feel the love.»
Joyce summed up the team’s time in Britain.
«It’s an amazing country, especially Scotland. The dense forests, the rivers, and the amazing crowds.»
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Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) won stage 5 of the Tour of Britain, taking the win just ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka NextHash) with Dan Mclay (Arkea Samsic) in 3rd place.
Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain was a 150km route from Alderely Park to Warrington. After a few initial undulations, the final 80km of the stage was mostly flat which made it a great opportunity for the sprinters.
Team Qhubeka NextHash looked to make the most of this opportunity with the European Champion, Nizzolo one of the favourites for the stage. Five riders formed the early break of the day, but as expected, they were not given much of an advantage.
Nicholas Dlamini, together with a rider from Deceuninck-Quickstep and Israel Start-Up Nation controlled the gap throughout the day. It was then Qhubeka NextHash that took responsibility, adding Mauro Schmid and Sean Bennett to the chase with 25km to go to shut down the break.
The finale was made trickier due to a brief but late downpour which, making the roads quite slippery. Just inside of a kilometer to go, there was a crash right up near the front of the peloton. This created a slight split in the peloton which Nizzolo was caught behind.
Fortunately for Nizzolo, Barbero was there in support to close the gap, but it was still a significant effort required just before kicking to the line. Almost as soon as Nizzolo got dropped off he had to launch his sprint from far to try and pass those that escaped the crash ahead of him before the line arrived.
Nizzolo had the superior speed over the final meters and was able to pass everyone that but Hayter, who just held on to take the stage victory.
Unfortunately, the crash in the last corner was not necessary. We had to come from far with Carlos, he did a great job to close the gap but it did not come for free. When I arrived it was the moment to start the sprint and my legs were already full of lactic acid. I can say I am happy I didn’t crash but at the same time not super happy because I think I had a better chance to play my card. Overall, I am happy, the team did a super job to control the race with Deceuninck and now I look forward to the next goals.
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Bahrain Victorious took another second place at Benelux Tour. After Phil Bauhaus was runner-up on opening day, Sonny Colbrelli was close to the victory on stage 5 (Riemst-Bilzen, 192km), with Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) beating the Italian Champion on the slightly uphill finish.
Today’s course, rolling in the Belgian provinces of Limburg and Liège, featured a hilly section, including 15 côtes, but a finale that could represent the last opportunity for pure sprinters to shine at this year’s edition.
An early breakaway of 3 riders formed after 28km, but it was always kept under control by the peloton, which closed the gap before the last lap of the final local circuit, with riders crossing the finish line 3 times before the finish. Bahrain Victorious sprinter Phil Bauhaus wasn’t feeling good and couldn’t keep pace with the main group. With the German rider out of the game, it was then up to Sonny Colbrelli and Matej Mohorič to play their cards. A series of attempts of attacks enlightened the finale, including those of the Slovenian Champion, who tried to jump clear with about 5km to go. But with sprinters teams controlling the race, it was clear that a restricted group of fast men would fight for the win. The Italian Champion was the one who opened the sprint after a perfect leadout of his teammates with Mohorič as the last man, but the Australian Caleb Ewan put on a powerful acceleration to outsprint him.
Sonny Colbrelli: “It’s a pity not to have finalized with a victory the excellent job done by my teammates. We raced well, and I’m confident ahead of the last two stages. I will try again, that’s for sure”.
Rolf Aldag, Bahrain Victorious SD: “It was a pretty intense stage since the beginning, as it was the last chance for sprinter’s team to take a win. We adjusted our strategies during the race, as our initial plan was to win the stage with Phil Bauhaus, but we knew that the race might be harder than on paper, so we left it open for Colbrelli and Mohorič. Moreover, Phil didn’t feel good today. He’s struggling a bit with his health since the Deutschland Tour. So we made the race for Sonny, with also the option to a late attack from Matej. Everybody executed his job excellently, keeping the guys on the front. Haussler kept the pace high and was still there in the leadout as Wright did. Before that, Milan and Sieberg positioned the team on the narrow roads. So all in all, we are satisfied, although it’s a second place again, and only again a matter of some metres. Anyway, we must accept that we can be beaten by someone who is in perfect shape.”
Benelux Tour continues tomorrow with the final two stages. A very demanding weekend, with a climbing stage 6 and the cobblestones on the last day.
(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious)
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Israel Start-Up Nation got off to a good start in Tour de Pologne as Hugo Hofstetter took third place in the opening stage of the Polish WT race.
With a predominantly flat profile, Monday’s stage was always expected to end in a bunch sprint. However, as the last 500 meters were uphill towards the line, the sprinters had to time their effort perfectly in order to fight for the win.
ISN took the front of the peloton on the final five kilometers, keeping Hofstetter in a good position for the sprint and the fast Frenchman didn’t disappoint.
On the last couple of hundred meters, Hofstetter did well to stay with the pre-race favorites, ultimately crossing the line in third place on the day. With the result, Hofstetter is fourth overall before tomorrow’s stage, which finishes with a 1.5 km incline towards the line.
Hugo Hofstetter: “After the first passage of the finishing line, Norman [Vathra] came to the front and did a really good job. Matthias [Brändle] then did his turn until about 2.5 km to go, keeping me at the front. I managed to save a lot energy for the final thanks to the guys today. In the sprint, I did my best on the very hard finish. Bauhaus [the winner] was really strong and even though I was in his wheel, I still finished behind him so I think the best man won today. I’m still very happy with my performance though and I really want to thank the team for their support!”
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Israel Start-Up Nation set up Rudy Barbier perfectly for the final sprint on stage 2 of Arctic Race of Norway with an impeccable leadout.
Knowing that Friday’s stage would be a good opportunity for the sprinters to shine, the ISN guys were the determined to get in the mix. The team helped set the pace in the peloton, bringing back the early breakaway for the expected bunch sprint in Kilpisjärvi (Finland).
At the end, Tom Van Asbroeck and Rick Zabel pulled off an incredible leadout for Rudy Barbier who sprinted to fourth place on the day. The Frenchman was aiming for more but unfortunately, he suffered a hard crash earlier on the stage, which held him back in the sprint.
Tomorrow, the queen stage of Arctic Race of Norway awaits with the uphill finish in Målselv. ISN will be banking on Ben Hermans to fight for a good result.
Sports director, Nicki Sørensen: “It makes me happy to see such a strong team performance as we saw today. Unfortunately, Rudy [Barbier] crashed hard halfway through the stage and landed up in a ditch. Taking that into consideration, I think this was a good result. The leadout was impeccable. Once again, Rick [Zabel] and Tom [Van Asbroeck] show how incredibly good they are at this. Also Guy Sagiv was very impressive today. He pulled a lot yesterday and today he was up there again. He’s really strong at the moment. We didn’t get the win today but I’m still very satisfied with the guys.”
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Israel Start-Up Nation finished off this year’s Tour de France with a strong team performance as André Greipel sprinted to fifth place in Paris.
After three weeks of hard racing, the Tour concluded with the traditional sprint finish on Champs-Elysées this Sunday. Having announced that this would be his final Tour de France, Greipel was eager to finish off with a good result. His ISN team mates did well to position him near the front for the sprint and at the end, Greipel managed to cross the line in fifth place, finishing off an impressive Tour de France career with a strong result.
André Greipel:“This was an emotional day, knowing that I would take on my last Tour de France stage. In the sprint, due to the new finish, everybody gambled a bit in the headwind and I guess I gambled a bit too much. I would have liked to finish with a better result, so there is some disappointment now but also relief as I could finish another Tour de France.”
Looking back at the race, Sports Manager Rik Verbrugghe says that the ISN riders can be proud of the way they fought to overcome the difficult start to the Tour with seven out of eight riders being involved in the many crashes on the first day.
Michael Woods took the KOM jersey after a gutsy ride on stage 14, which saw him spend stage 15 in the iconic polka dots. The Canadian climber finished both third and fifth during the race. Also Dan Martin made Top 5 when he put on an impressive performance on the final mountain stage of the race to Luz Ardiden.
In total, Israel Start-Up Nation made Top 10 on nine stages in this year’s Tour de France and Top 5 on three occasions.
Rik Verbrugghe:“I believe the guys can be proud of what they managed to do in this Tour. We had a challenging beginning but we never lost morale and the guys were quick to change focus and fight for new goals.”
“Taking ISN’s first ever leader’s jersey with Michael Woods in polka dots was surely a race highlight for us but we also saw strong performances by Dan Martin and of course André Greipel who can look back at an outstanding career at the highest level. The whole team fought admirably and this is definitely something we can build on for the future.”
Israeli Tourism Minister, Yoel Razvozov: “We are so proud to see an Israeli team carry the Israeli flag at one of the largest sporting events in the world. Thanks to the partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, the team is promoting our brand of tourism to Israel throughout the race.
Events of this kind are the biggest generators of tourism in the world, so it was important for me to come and learn about what is needed, and how it will be possible to bring major international sporting events to Israel on the day the skies open.”
Sylvan Adams, ISN co-owner: “ISN’s second Tour represented another building block in the team’s growth. For the first time, we were on the podium, with Michael Woods earning the iconic polka dot climber’s jersey. We also had our share of bad luck, with terrible crashes destroying our GC hopes on the first day. But the team held strong, and was cheered all along the roads of France, with shouts of Israel, Israel, allez! Also, allez Start-Up Nation in recognition of the Team moniker and allez Froome, in respect of our great four time Tour winner. We have put the ‘Start-up Nation’ on the world map. And a special mention of our Israeli Omer Goldstein for racing like a consummate pro, despite being in his first Tour de France.”
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The party in the third stage of the Settimana Ciclistica Italiana started over halfway into the stage.
The reason? The wind.
Israeli riders Guy Niv and Guy Sagiv played a vital role on the windy battlefield. They were among the team members that sprinter Barbier and GC competitors Ben Hermans and Sep Vanmarcke relied on.
Over the team radio, Israeli sports director Dror Pekatch encouraged his pupils to give it a go in the final 20 kilometers. They did, and their efforts resulted in echelons.
Barbier was in the front, and so were ISN’s GC riders. The French sprinter found himself in a good position to launch his final effort, finishing third.
After the finish, he said that the team raced very attentively and took the initiative when it mattered. “We were together in the front, and that resulted in a good day for us. I am happy that I podiumed, and that Sep moved up a spot.”
The previous number two in the general classification missed the cut and is out of contention, moving Vanmarcke up a notch.
ISN is now also the leader in the team classification.
ISN’s GC ambitions for Settimana are more alive than ever. Tomorrow is an important day to work on those ambitions with Ben Hermans and Sep Vanmarcke. As Vanmarcke moved up a spot, he’s only six seconds away from taking the overall victory.
It wasn’t particularly Sebastian Berwick’s day. He suffered a crash, a change of wheels and a bike change, but came back to the bunch and carried out his job sufficiently afterwards.
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