Tour de France (stage 20): Ben O’Connor 4th in GC, Aurélien Paret Peintre 15th

Ben O’Connor : «I’m taking a new step forward»

«On Friday, I felt a lot of emotion thinking about the Tour de France, and what I was doing. Today, I am super happy. I have taken a new step forward with a team that trusted an Australian rider. When I think back to what we went through the first day, where I thought I had a fractured shoulder, had stitches and was sore all over the place, and that most of the team had also crashed, I can only savor what we are going through right now.»Ben

Aurélien Paret-Peintre : «I’m satisfied»

« It was a difficult time in a superb landscape… which I found very beautiful to watch on TV before taking the start. I am happy to finish my first Tour de France. My results are pretty good, even if the last week was difficult. I was able to get into two great breakaways which pushed me forward towards a good spot in the overall classification. I am satisfied.»Aurélien

Le chiffre


With Ben O’Connor’s 4th place, it will be the eighth time since 2014 that a rider from the AG2R CITROËN TEAM has finished in the top 10 of the Tour de France.

Jean-Christophe Péraud finished 2nd in 2014, Romain Bardet, 2nd in 2016, 3rd in 2017, 6th in both 2014 and in 2018, as well as 9th in 2015, and now Ben O’Connor is 4th in 2021.

The news

Ben O’Connor will return to racing at the Deutschland Tour

After a few days off, Ben O’Connor will return to competition at the Deutschland Tour (August 26-29). He should then participate in the Tour du Jura (September 4), the Tour du Doubs (September 5) and the Tour du Luxembourg (September 14-18).

Aurélien Paret Peintre, Nans Peters, and Dorian Godon will compete in the Tour de l’Ain (July 29 – August 1).

Oliver Naesen will be at the start of the Arctic Race (August 5-8) and then the Cyclacics Hamburg (August 22).

Greg Van Avermaet, Michaël Schär and Benoit Cosnefroy will participate to the Olympic race (July 24th).

These programs are subject to change.

— Antonin Uvietta to www.ag2rcitroenteam.com

Matej Mohorič is victorious for second time at Le Tour de France as Jonathan Milan is second in photo finish on stage 3 at Settimana Ciclistica Italiana

Matej Mohorič took his second stage victory at this year’s Tour de France, taking Bahrain Victorious’ tally up to three.

The 19th stage started in Mourenx and, finishing in Libourne, raced over 207 kilometres. It was expected to be a day for a bunch sprint, but an early breakaway of six riders, including Mohorič, had other ideas. 

The break had a gap of around four minutes. With 100 kilometres to go, a group of 14 riders managed to bridge over to the breakaway. In the last 40 kilometres, the break started to attack each other. In the final 25 kilometres, Matej managed to break clear of the rest and solo to victory in Libourne, also earning the most combative rider award.

Tour de France 2021 – 108th Edition – 19th stage Mourenx – Libourne 207 km – 16/07/2021 – Matej Mohoric (SLO – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

Matej Mohoric: ” On paper, it was a day for the sprint, but I wanted to make sure I was ready to go in any move. When I heard another group was coming over, I knew that they would also be making a big effort to close us, so I remained calm. In the end, it was about following the right move, and when Pollit attacked, I countered and was able to make a gap. I was suffering in the last ten kilometres, but I just kept fighting till the finish.

I am so happy, not just for me but the team. We had a hard couple of days, but it just brought us closer together and to keep fighting. I’m super proud of this win, this team and what we’ve achieved at this race.”

Tour de France 2021 – 108th Edition – 19th stage Mourenx – Libourne 207 km – 16/07/2021 – Matej Mohoric (SLO – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

From France to Italy, where the team celebrated another podium result in Sardinia at the ‘Settimana Ciclistica Italiana’, with Jonathan Milan second behind Pascal Ackermann (Bohra-Hansgrohe) in a photo finish on stage 3. 

The team’s new pro rider was focused on trying to go for the win as today’s stage (Oristano-Cagliari 180.9km), according to the overall difference in altitude, was on the paper the easiest of the week,  and the course almost flat, especially in the last 50km, suits him. The team worked to support him on the two KoM of the day – in Villacidro atop a steep ramp and atop Genna and Bogai Pass (8km with an average gradient around 5%) – and to close the gap to the day’s breakaway, that ended after 108km. Then it was ‘Gruppo compatto’ until the finish on a straight wide road in Cagliari, where the fast men battled for the win.

Settimana Ciclistica Italiana 2021 – 1st Edition – 3rd stage 3rd stage Oristano – Cagliari 180,9 km – 16/07/2021 – Jonathan Milan (ITA – Bahrain Victorious) – Pascal Ackermann (GER – Bora – Hansgrohe) – Rudy Barbier (FRA – Israel Start-Up Nation) – Elia Viviani (ITA – Cofidis) – photo Tommaso Pelagalli/BettiniPhoto©2021

Jonathan Milan: “I’m really happy on this second place. Of course, I was looking for a win, but with a rival like Ackermann it’s never easy to beat him. Anyway, I tried and got second place only for few centimeters. Today the team was really strong and helped me come to the final km; then I just did my best”.

Alberto Volpi, Bahrain Victorious SD: “Jonathan wanted to take his responsibility for the sprint today. He talked to the team at the meeting, and we were happy with this decision. He deserves our congratulations on that. He is a young rider, and in his first year as a pro, he showed great maturity. We know it’s always a bit disappointing losing in a photo finish, especially if you were looking for the first win as a pro. But he took a result of respect, behind a strong sprinter as Ackermann. The team did an excellent job supporting him, but the guys also worked to help Santiago Buitrago, who closes in on KoM jersey. With two stages to go, it will be one of our goals”.

(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious)

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com

Barbier sprints to third, Vanmarcke second in GC after stage 3 Settimana

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.

Settimana Ciclistica Italiana 2021 – 1st Edition – 3rd stage 3rd stage Oristano – Cagliari 180,9 km – 16/07/2021 – Pascal Ackermann (GER – Bora – Hansgrohe) – Rudy Barbier (FRA – Israel Start-Up Nation) – Elia Viviani (ITA – Cofidis) – photo Tommaso Pelagalli/BettiniPhoto©2021

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.

Settimana Ciclistica Italiana 2021 – 1st Edition – 3rd stage 3rd stage Oristano – Cagliari 180,9 km – 16/07/2021 – Jonathan Milan (ITA – Bahrain Victorious) – Pascal Ackermann (GER – Bora – Hansgrohe) – Rudy Barbier (FRA – Israel Start-Up Nation) – Elia Viviani (ITA – Cofidis) – photo Tommaso Pelagalli/BettiniPhoto©2021

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.

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Tour de France (stage 18) : Ben O’Connor takes 8th on the stage and moves up to 4th in the GC

Ben O’Connor: «The third week of the Grand Tours suit me well»

“I didn’t feel as good as the day before, but I managed to get through it. It’s a good day for me and for the AG2R CITROËN TEAM. The third week of the Grand Tours suit me well. Wilco Kelderman and I did the same race today. I’m fourth in the overall standings but the gap with him is slim (32’’). We will see on Saturday after the time trial.”Ben

The number


Aurélien Paret Peintre is fifteenth in the general classification and fourth in the best young rider classification. “For my first Tour, I am satisfied. There have been ups and downs, but I have been in the mix,” Aurélien Paret Peintre explained. The AG2R CITROËN team is fourth in the team classification.“It’s a great day for our team, without too much stress since the race was going so smoothly. In Brest, at the start of the Tour de France, we did not expect such a good result,” Vincent Lavenu, general manager of the AG2R CITROËN TEAM, said.

The news

Bidard, Chérel, Gastaeur, Peters and Venturini are back to racing

Five of our riders who have had to take a break from racing due to health problems will return to competition in the coming weeks.

Mikaël Chérel, who suffered a double collarbone fracture last November in training, will compete in his first race of the season on July 31 at the Clasica San Sebastian.

François Bidard will also return at the Clasica San Sebastian after having to abandon on the sixth stage of the Giro d´Italia with a fractured left collarbone.

Clément Venturini, who has not raced since abandoning during the fifth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné (due to a knee injury following a crash), and Nans Peters, who left the Tour de France during the 9th stage, because of a fracture of the lumbar transverse apophysis, will participate in the Tour de l’Ain (July 29-31).

Ben Gastauer, who has not raced since the Itzulia Basque Country in April and suffered from saddle sore issues, will be at the start of the Tour de Poland (August 9-15).

— Antonin Uvietta to www.ag2rcitroenteam.com

Dan Martin makes top 5 on final mountain stage in the Tour

Dan Martin put Israel Start-Up Nation right in the mix on stage 18 of the Tour de France with an impressive effort on the final climb to Luz Ardiden where he took fifth place on the day.

With only two flat stages and a time trial remaining of this year’s Tour, today’s stage was the last opportunity for the climbers to put their mark on the race. Many tried to escape at the beginning of the stage but it wasn’t until the peloton took on the iconic Col du Tourmalet that a few riders managed to get away.

However, despite several breakaway attempts, it all came down to a fight between the GC riders on the steep slopes of Luz Ardiden. Determined to put on a strong performance on this final day in the mountains, Martin hung on to the group of favorites until the leading rider, Tadej Pogačar UAE Team Emirates) put in his expected attack on the last 3 km.

Keeping his own pace, Martin minimized the gaps as much as possible before putting in a final acceleration on the last kilometer trying to make it all the way back to the front. Ultimately, the Irishman crossed the line in fifth place, just 24 seconds down on Pogačar who took the win and increased his lead in the general classification.

Dan Martin: “I’m glad that I got to show the real me on the final day in the mountains. I wasn’t really sure how my legs would be after not feeling great the last couple of days, so I decided just to sit back and get as much draft as possible as the final climb was really fast. That way I could also see how the other guys were doing, if they were fading or looking good or not. Every time somebody would let the wheel go a little bit, I just jumped over them. I was actually a bit a surprised of how it went and as we got closer to the finish, I started to think that maybe I could go for the stage.

“When the group split, I was staying with O’Connor and Kelderman for a bit as they were pacing for their GC spots. At one point, I felt that they started to tire so I jumped away from them and tried to close the gap to the front group. Without the hard tempo from Sepp Kuss maybe I would have had a chance to come back. Regardless, it was really nice to feel like myself again on the climbs today and show my true colors for one of the first times in this race.”

— Mikkel to israelcyclingacademy.com

Ion Izagirre dug deep on the first Pyrenees stage to take yet another top result on the brutal Tour de France stage 15 – Astana

Ion Izagirre dug deep on the first Pyrenees stage to take yet another top result on the brutal Tour de France stage 15

Basque rider Ion Izagirre showed great form yet again by riding at the front of the race on the first Pyrenees day to take a great fourth place after 191 brutal kilometres, to miss the podium by just centimetres.


The last stage before the rest day and final week of the Tour de France delivered a big mountain stage, featuring the highest peak in this year’s edition, the Port d’Envalira at 2408 metres.

From the drop of the flag, the peloton fought to create a breakaway with Ion Izagirre amongst the attacking riders. After some kilometres of racing a large group consisting of 30 riders pulled away, with Izagirre representing the Kazakh-Canadian team.

The breakaway, which featured many stronger climbers, opened up an ample gap of more than eight minutes over the peloton on their way to the Pyrenees in Andorra. Meanwhile, Izagirre’s teammate Alexey Lutsenko found himself next to the yellow jersey and rode yet another amazing race to defend his place on the overall ranking.

Tackling the penultimate ascent of the race, the highest point in this year’s edition, the 10.8 kilometre long and 5.8% in average steep climb, saw the race come alive. Several attacks were launched and Ion Izagirre was able to hold the pace until later stage winner Sepp Kuss made his decisive move. The Basque rider stayed in one of the chasing groups near the soloist at the front, while Alexey Lutsenko was limit his time loss.

The last climb of the day before the descent towards the finish line in Andorra la Vella, saw a battle between youth and experience, as Sepp Kuss was able to hold off former World Champion Alejandro Valverde to take the stage win, while Ion Izagirre missed out the podium by centimetres in the sprint from the chasing group.

Five minutes later Alexey Lutsenko crossed the line among the other top ten GC riders and moved up to seventh place on the overall ranking ahead of the final week of the Tour de France.

We knew today’s stage would be a hard and long day, especially as we are already stage 15 of the Tour de France. We decided that I would go in the breakaway, which wasn’t easy at all to get into but I managed it and was in the big break. We followed the Groupama FDJ pace, as they had quite a good pace with the whole team, as they rode for Gaudu. On the second to last climb, there were some attacks and I tried to follow but on the last climb, the race lit up and the fight for the stage win started. I tried to give my best, but I couldn’t do more in the end and took fourth place. I am still happy with my place and performance, of course we wanted to do better but we will look forward to the final week and try again to finally take a stage win., says Ion Izagirre



Race Profile

Tour de France

Stage 15: Céret > Andorra la Vella (191.3km)

Top 3: Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma); 2.Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar); 3.Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious)

Astana – Premier Tech Top 3: 4. Ion Izagirre; 27. Alexey Lutsenko; 55. Jakob Fuglsang



— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Omar Fraile on the attack on Tour de France stage 14 – Astana

Omar Fraile on the attack on Tour de France stage 14

Omar Fraile went on the attack on Tour de France stage 14, finishing it off with another top 10 result for the Kazakh-Canadian team, crossing the line in sixth place.

After yesterday’s flat stage, today’s stage offered five climbs on the 183-kilometre course from yesterday’s finish town, Carcassonne to Quillan, where another showdown was expected.

Like in the previous days, the nervous start phase saw several attacks out of the peloton, trying to form a breakaway. Jakob Fuglsang and Omar Fraile launched attacks as the race tackled the Col De Montségur, around 95 kilometres from the finish.

After constant attacking, the Basque rider and Spanish champion Omar Fraile made it into the breakaway of the day. The big group of 14 riders opened up a gap of more than five  minutes on the peloton.

On the descent of the penultimate ascent of the day, Bauke Mollema launched an attack, which turned out to be the winning move, while Fraile found himself in the chase group behind.

Fraile showed fighting spirit tackling the final climb of the day in the second chasing group, while Mollema held on to take the solo win.

The Basque and Spanish Champion finished today’s demanding stage in a solid sixth place, another top ten result for the Kazakh- Canadian team.

Teammate Alexey Lutsenko crossed the line in the peloton, and moved into eighth place on the overall ranking.


“It was a big battle for the breakaway today, we really spent a lot of time trying to make a move stick. I spent a lot of energy to get into it because we knew this was a good day for a breakaway. The team had this stage marked as one for us so I was really motivated to go away. The group was really strong and when you look at the guys in there, you see that they are all guys who are often working for a leader so when you get your own chance, you’re always motivated even more. Of course I wanted to win and I gave everything I had. I came here to win a stage but now we’re going into the final week and there are not many opportunities left for me I don’t think. But we are really motivated to help Lutsenko as much as possible. I think he’s really strong and in better shape now than he was in the Alpes.”, says Omar Fraile


Race Profile

Tour de France 

Stage 14: Carcassonne > Quillan (183km)

Top 3: 1. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), 2. Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe), 3.Sergio Higuita (EF Education Nippo)

Astana – Premier Tech Top3: 6. Omar Fraile, 38. Ion Izagirre, 42. Alexey Lutsenko



— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Alex Aranburu sprints to a great sixth place on demanding Tour de France stage 13 – Astana

Alex Aranburu sprints to a great sixth place on demanding Tour de France stage 13

After 220 kilometres in the saddle, the race headed towards the finish line in Carcassonne with Alex Aranburu sprinting to a strong sixth place.


The 13th stage of the Tour de France was another long and demanding stage, with almost 220 kilometres on an undulating terrain awaiting the riders. The second part of the stage was marked by cross and tailwinds on narrow roads, which made today’s stage quite nervous.

After a long battle for the daily breakaway, three riders managed to distance themselves but the peloton kept the escapees on a short leash. Astana – Premier Tech was tucked in the bunch, protecting Alex Aranburu to bring him into position for the finale.

As the peloton caught the breakaway, several crashes caused again with favorites leaving the race. Unfortunately, Dmitriy Gruzdev was involved in one of the crashes. Fortunately he was able to finish the stage but suffered some road rash and abrasions.

He will be assessed by our medical team overnight and the decision if he can continue the race will be taken tomorrow.

Meanwhile the sprint teams started to form their lead out with Omar Fraile and Alexey Lutsenko also lining things out for Alex Aranburu. The team delivered the young Basque rider into a good position rolling towards the tricky final part of today’s stage. In a thrilling finale, Aranburu sprinted to a strong sixth place, while Mark Cavendish made history claiming his 34th stage win.

“It was a hard race. We had 220 km and there was a lot of wind and a lot of tension. In the end, because there were echelons, there were attacks. We had to be a bit attentive there. Well, in the end, nothing really happened but we were up there. I had Lutsenko and Omar helping me in the sprint but I lost the wheel and then I tried and came back. But, well, sixth is not bad”, says Alex Aranburu.


Race Profile

Tour de France

Stage 13: Nîmes > Carcassonne (219.9km)

Top 3: 1.Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick Step), 2.Michael Morkov (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix)

Astana – Premier Tech Top 3: 6. Alex Aranburu, 32. Alexey Lutsenko 84. Omar Fraile



— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Alexey Lutsenko takes a strong eighth place on Mont Ventoux stage – Astana

Alexey Lutsenko takes a strong eighth place on Mont Ventoux stage

The epic Mont Ventoux was on today´s menu for the eleventh stage of the Tour de France with Alexey Lutsenko showing his form with an impressive eighth place.

With one ascent of the iconic climb already brutal enough, the peloton faced it twice before descending towards the finish line in Malaucéne after 198.9 kilometres.

It was, as expected, a fight for the daily breakaway as soon as the flag dropped and some kilometres after leaving the start town Sorgues, the favourites for the stage win went on the attack. Astana – Premier Tech had several cards to play but also kept an eye on the overall ranking with Lutsenko.

Jakob Fuglsang was the first rider of the Kazakh – Canadian team to try his luck in an early breakaway but the group got caught ahead of the second climb of the day. After a long battle and countless moves brought back, a group was finally able to open a gap on the peloton.

Lutsenko, Fuglsang and Ion Izagirre stayed in the yellow jersey group, which was some minutes behind the leading group.

Approaching the first ascent of Mont Ventoux, Fuglsang and Izagirre had to let the group go and rode home in their own rhythm, crossing the line around 15 minutes down on eventual stage winner Wout Van Aert.

On the final lap up Mont Ventoux, Lutsenko trailed the solo leader by two minutes but dug deep all the way to the line. The Kazakh rider put in a strong ride, pushing on the descent towards the finish line, which saw him cross the line in a strong eighth place. After this great ride, Lutsenko moved up to seventh place on the General Classification.

It was a brutal stage today. Due to the overall ranking, I tried to stay as long as possible on the wheels of Pogacar, not to lose any time in the GC, and it worked quite well. On the top of Mont Ventoux after the second time, I found myself with Kelderman and the chase was on. I am happy with my 8th place and also that I could move up again one place on the overall ranking. Of course, the Tour is still long with some tricky and tough stages but so far I am satisfied with my performance. – Alexey Lutsenko


Race Profile

Tour de France

Stage 11: Sorgues > Malaucéne (198km)

Top 3: 1.Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo Visma), 2. Kenny Elissonde 3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

Astana – Premier Tech Top 3: 8. Alexey Lutsenko, 37 Jakob Fuglsang, 53 Hugo Houle



— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Hugo Houle crowned most combative on Tour de France stage 10 – Astana

Hugo Houle crowned most combative on Tour de France stage 10

Hugo Houle claimed the combativity prize stage 10 of the Tour de France after being at the front for more than 150km in the day’s breakaway.

After a well-deserved rest day, the peloton returned to racing with an almost 200km stage rolling from Albertville to Valence.

Right after the start, Astana – Premier Tech rider Hugo Houle launched an attack and pulled away with another rider to open up a gap of several minutes.

The leading duo worked well together and was able to stay away for more than 150 kilometres before the sprint trains increased the pace to close the gap.

Houle’s aggressive riding was rewarded with the combativity award and the Canadian will wear the red number on stage 11.

“I came to the Tour de France with the goal of winning a stage in honor of my brother. With today´s combativity prize, I think that goal came already a little bit closer, at least I stepped onto the Tour de France podium. As I pulled away I thought maybe some more riders would join, but well, once you are gone, you are gone and then you just push. We got caught quite quickly, with the crosswind at the end of the stage it was easy for the bunch to close the gap, but with two guys there is not much to do against it. However, being at the front of the race, especially at the Tour de France, is something special and to get awarded with the combativity prize was worth it all,” said Houle.

As the race headed towards Valence, the bunch faced crosswinds and with the gap dropping steadily Hugo Houle and his breakaway companion were caught with 40 kilometres to go.

At this point, teammate Omar Fraile took over the lead of the peloton, bringing Alexey Lutsenko and Alex Aranburu into position for a possible reduced bunch sprint.

After almost 200 kilometres, the 10th stage of the Tour de France ended in another bunch sprint, taken by Mark Cavendish.

All Astana – Premier Tech riders crossed the line safely with no changes to the overall ranking.

Race Profile

Tour de France

Stage 10: Albertville > Valence (190.7km)

Top 3: 1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick Step), 2. Wout Van Art (Jumbo Visma), 3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin Fenix)

Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 39. Alexey Lutsenko, 121. Alex Aranburu, 123. Hugo Houle

Photo: Getty Images

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com