TDF rest-day testing, Ackermann wins at Tirreno-Adriatico: Daily Tour Digest

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Hi there CyclingTips readers,

It was a rest day at the Tour de France on Monday which gave everyone a chance to stop, catch their breath, and prepare themselves for the two weeks ahead. It wasn’t an entirely restful day though – every rider and team staff member at the race was tested for coronavirus on Sunday or Monday and there’s a sense of nervous anticipation as we now await the results.

As a reminder: anyone with a confirmed positive for COVID-19 is out of the race; any team with two positives in a week has to send their whole entourage packing. Fingers crossed that no one gets sent home; hopefully the Tour can proceed as planned.

While we wait for the test results and for the Tour to resume, there’s plenty of other news to catch up on. Tirreno-Adriatico has begun, we’re getting to the business end of the Tour de L’Ardèche, and there’s rider transfer news as well. Read on for all that and more.

Have a great day!

Matt de Neef
Managing Editor

| Pascal Ackermann wins Tirreno-Adriatico opener

German sprinter Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) took out the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Monday, narrowly beating Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) in a bunch kick.

Gaviria looked to have the stage won but a late surge along the barriers from Ackermann saw the German take stage honours and the overall lead in the eight-stage race. Gaviria held on for second while Magnus Cort (EF) was third.

“I can say I’m really happy to have finally won,” Ackermann said. “I was sick all week and was only one time on the bike in the past six days. I’m really happy about my sprint – I have to see it again because it felt amazing. Especially with the position I came from. I just found the right gap on the right side; it wasn’t that big, but it was enough.”

| Leigh-Ann Ganzar wins at the Tour de L’Ardèche

Crosswinds wreaked havoc on stage 5 of the Tour de L’Ardèche with the race splitting in the early kilometres. American Leigh Ann Ganzar (Rally) bridged across to the remnants of the lead group and eventually it was just her and compatriot Lauren Stephens (Tibco-SVB) leading the race.

The pair made it to the finish 1:14 ahead of the rest of the field, with Ganzar taking the stage win and Stephens taking enough time to snag the overall lead (albeit on the same overall time as previous leader Mavi Garcia). In the bunch, Chloe Hosking took third to complete an impressive day for Rally Cycling.

The win was Ganzar’s first in Europe. Two stages remain in the seven-day French race.

| Roglic calls for fans to respect riders’ health

Tour de France leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) has called for roadside fans to show more respect for the health of the riders in this year’s race.

“Sometimes on the climbs, also yesterday on [the Col de] Marie-Blanque, it feels like the same as it was before — having no road, no space, with all the people around,” Roglic said on the Tour’s first rest day. “Maybe [fans] should try to watch out for their own health, and also in the end the health of us all.

“We all need to follow the rules, even if sometimes they seem stupid. Also, for me to wear all the time mask, this and that, but we do a favor to ourselves because in that case we can race, and people can work like normal and not be in quarantine.”

| Coronavirus testing complete on the Tour’s first rest day

Meanwhile at the Tour, all riders and team staffers in the race ‘bubble’ have been tested for coronavirus on the race’s first rest day.

“The final team has now been tested and these tests have now been sent to a laboratory in Paris for analysis,” a staff member at the Tour testing centre told AFP. “The results will first be communicated to the team doctors, who must then pass those results on to the International Cycling Union. They in turn will inform the Tour organisers.”

Test results will be officially announced on Tuesday morning ahead of stage 10, although it’s expected some teams will release their results before then.

| Bardet: 2020 Tour is the “highest level” edition of my career

Two-time Tour de France podium finisher Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has described the 2020 Tour as “the highest level Tour of my career”.

“I’m doing performances that I’ve never done in the past,” he said on the rest day. “I’m breaking records, so the form is very good, but the level is just ultra-high. All the top players are here, with only one or two exceptions. It’s really a race of a very high level and I like it when there’s a battle like that.”

Bardet said Roglic and Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) are “a step above everyone else at the moment” and that it will take something of a miracle for him to claw back enough time to win the race overall. Bardet currently sits fourth overall at 30 seconds off the pace.

| Wilco Kelderman signs with Bora-Hansgrohe

Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman is headed to Bora-Hansgrohe in 2021, the German team has announced.

“Wilco is a rider with enormous potential,” said team manager Ralph Denk. “Our task over the next few years will be to consistently bring out this potential on the road. He is the ideal age for this, and will certainly be a real asset.”

Kelderman, now 29, has spent the past four seasons with Team Sunweb. His best result in that time was a fourth on GC at the 2017 Vuelta a España.

“I am really looking forward to this new challenge,” Kelderman said. “After the first few meetings with the coaches and management team, it became clear to me that this is exactly the right step for me. I quickly gained the confidence that a partnership with Bora-Hansgrohe would provide me with new incentives at this stage of my career.”

| Matteo Trentin signs with UAE-Team Emirates

Three-time Tour de France stage winner Matteo Trentin is headed to UAE-Team Emirates next season, his new team announced Monday.

The 31-year-old Italian, who counts stage victories in all three Grand Tours and a European road title on his career palmares, joined CCC this year after two seasons with Mitchelton-Scott.

“I am very happy to join UAE,” Trentin said in a UAE team statement. “It’s an ambitious team that is doing very well and where I hope to be able to contribute with some good results.”

| Aussie sprinter Taj Jones signs with Israel Start-Up Nation

Young Australian rider Taj Jones will join the WorldTour in 2021 with Israel Start-Up Nation. The 20-year-old won a stage of the Tour de Langkawi earlier this year, catching the attention of Israel Start-Up Nation sports director (and fellow Australian) Zak Dempster.

“It’s incredible to think about where I have come from and where I am heading,” Jones said of his three-year contract. “To be a part of the same team as a legend like Chris Froome along with other world-class riders is exciting and I can’t wait to see where I can take my career under the guidance of a WorldTour team.”

| Coming up at the Tour

Tuesday’s stage 10 looks easy on paper but it starts and finishes on islands stuck out into the Atlantic, and, in between, passes through flat, wind-swept marsh with few windblocks. Crosswinds could be on the menu!

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Today’s featured image comes from Cor Vos and shows Astana manager Alexandre Vinokourov on the first rest day of the Tour de France.

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