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Hello again, CyclingTips readers,
Following Monday’s rest day, Tuesday’s return to racing at the Giro d’Italia brought no shortage of storylines.
Before stage 10 got underway, two whole teams and one rider on a third team withdrew from the race after the announcement of several positive tests for COVID-19. When the peloton did roll out from Lanciano, it did so without Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma teams, as well as Michael Matthews of Sunweb.
The stage itself, meanwhile, would deliver plenty of action, and when all was said and done, one of the biggest names in cycling picked up his first career win at the race, and his first victory since July of last year.
Read on for more …
Peter Sagan took his first victory of the season after an impressive solo performance on a dramatic stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia.
The day opened with news even before the stage started as Michael Matthews, Steven Kruijswijk, and several Mitchelton-Scott staff members tested positive for COVID-19, leading to the departures of Matthews and the entire Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott teams from the race.
When the race did get underway, there was a long battle to form the day’s breakaway, with Sagan getting into the move that eventually did get clear. The three-time world road champion then soloed off the front in a lumpy finale and then held off a chasing peloton, which came oh-so-close to catching him at points, to pick up his first Giro d’Italia stage win on rain-slicked roads in Tortoreto. Brandon McNulty nabbed runner-up honors 19 seconds later after jumping out of the GC group, while race leader João Almeida took third 23 seconds down, padding his overall lead with a few more bonus seconds.
There was some movement in the top 10 overall as Jakob Fuglsang suffered a horribly timed punctured with less than 10 kilometers to go, while Harm Vanhoucke lost touch with the GC group in the lumpy finale. Fuglsang lost 1:15 to the GC group on the day, dropping from sixth on GC to 11th. Vanhoucke, who began the day in seventh, lost 3:38 on the day and dropped down to 16th overall.
The 10th stage of the Giro took the peloton 177 kilometers from Lanciano to Tortoreto, and it took quite a few of those kilometers for the main break to finally form after a furious fight to get clear, with Sagan and world time trial champ Filippo Ganna initiating the decisive move before they were joined by more escapees, including 2019 Giro king of the mountains Giulio Ciccone and breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt.
Arnaud Démare’s Groupama-FDJ team drove a hard pace to try to bring the move back before the intermediate sprint but they were unable to close down the strong escape, and Sagan managed to pick up full points at the sprint. After topping out at around five minutes, the break’s advantage began to fall again on the run-in to a challenging finale. Attacks and counterattacks flew in the break on the series of five short climbs, three of them uncategorized, in the last 50 kilometers of racing, whittling down the contenders out front to only a handful of riders. Meanwhile, the peloton was closing in, with the gap under a minute with 25 kilometers to go.
Pello Bilbao jumped out of the pack in an attempt to bridge, and then Sagan and Ben Swift attacked out of the small lead group. Bilbao joined up with Davide Villela, who had been in the early breakaway, and the duo were less than 15 seconds behind Sagan and Swift at one point. Bilbao dropped Villela as he continued his pursuit but then Sagan dropped Swift to go solo near the top of the final ascent. Sagan went up and over the top of the climb with Bilbao not far behind and the peloton itself only 25 seconds back.
Fuglsang punctured on the descent and was left chasing. The peloton swept up Bilbao, but Sagan held onto a gap to take the impressive victory with a 19-second gap over runner-up Brandon McNulty, who arrived four seconds ahead of the pink jersey.
Top 10, stage 10
1 SAGAN Peter (BORA – hansgrohe) 4:01:56
2 MCNULTY Brandon (UAE-Team Emirates) 0:19
3 ALMEIDA João (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 0:23
4 SWIFT Ben (INEOS Grenadiers)
5 HINDLEY Jai (Team Sunweb)
6 MAJKA Rafal (BORA – hansgrohe)
7 KONRAD Patrick (BORA – hansgrohe)
8 KELDERMAN Wilco (Team Sunweb)
9 POZZOVIVO Domenico (NTT Pro Cycling)
10 BILBAO Pello (Bahrain – McLaren)
Top 10, GC
1 ALMEIDA João (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 39:38:05
2 KELDERMAN Wilco (Team Sunweb) 0:34
3 BILBAO Pello (Bahrain – McLaren) 0:43
4 POZZOVIVO Domenico (NTT Pro Cycling) 0:57
5 NIBALI Vincenzo (Trek – Segafredo) 1:01
6 KONRAD Patrick (BORA – hansgrohe) 1:15
7 HINDLEY Jai (Team Sunweb) 1:19
8 MAJKA Rafal (BORA – hansgrohe) 1:21
9 MASNADA Fausto (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 1:36
10 PERNSTEINER Hermann (Bahrain – McLaren) 1:52
More to come …
| Mitchelton-Scott, Jumbo-Visma, and Michael Matthews withdraw from Giro after testing positive for COVID-19
Michael Matthews, Steven Kruijswijk, and four Mitchelton-Scott staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in rest day testing at the Giro d’Italia, leading to the withdrawals of the entire Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott teams as well as Matthews from the Giro peloton prior to the stage.
The UCI and RCS announced on Tuesday morning in a joint statement that one rider from Sunweb, one rider from Jumbo-Visma, four Mitchelton-Scott staff members, one Ineos Grenadiers staff member, and one AG2R-La Mondiale staff member had registered positive results for COVID-19. Jumbo-Visma and Sunweb would then confirm the identities of Kruijswijk and Matthews, respectively, as the riders who had tested positive.
Mitchelton-Scott, whose team leader Simon Yates had already left the race after a COVID-19 positive, announced its departure from the race shortly thereafter. Kruijswijk’s Jumbo-Visma team was not present at the start and then announced that the entire team would be departing from the event. Sunweb will continue on at the Giro without Matthews.
“All other riders and staff returned a negative test and at this stage, no other team member displays symptoms of COVID-19,” Sunweb said. “The team will continue to closely monitor all within their bubble, operating with as much discipline as possible, doing the maximum it can.”
| Fuglsang: There is still a long way to go
After he lost over a minute on his main rivals at the Giro following an untimely puncture on stage 10, Jakob Fuglsang acknowledged that things didn’t go according to plan on the day, but he is already looking ahead to the (many) opportunities to come.
“Well, not the day we thought it would be, it was just an unlucky day for us,” Fuglsang said. “I had a puncture in the worst moment you can have one. I gave my all and tried to limit any huge time gaps but it is how it is. We have to get over it, and focus on the upcoming days. There is still a long way to go and there are still plenty of chances.
| Vuelta announces increased restrictions, banning fans from several major climbs
Amid rising coronavirus cases in Spain, Vuelta a España organizers announced measures to restrict crowds at this year’s race. Included among the restrictions are bans on roadside fans on several major climbs on the 2020 parcours, including the Alto d’Angliru and the Col du Tourmalet.
Limits on public attendance will also be implemented at other start and finish locations.
“La Vuelta deeply regrets that the current epidemiological situation in Spain does not allow the adequate conditions required for the public to be present at those points,” read a statement from organizers. “The race will take place without its usual commercial and advertising activities, such as the Parque Vuelta and the advertising caravan, in order to avoid any unnecessary crowds.”
| Bahrain-McLaren confirms Cavendish for Scheldeprijs
Mark Cavendish said on Sunday after Gent-Wevelgem that it was “perhaps the last race of my career,” but his Bahrain-McLaren team named him in its roster announcement for Wednesday’s Scheldeprijs, confirming that Cavendish is at least slated to race one more time at a race he has won thrice in his career.
Beyond that, Cavendish’s future plans remain unclear for now, as he is not known to be signed with any teams for 2021.
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| Grace Brown, Aussie aggressor: ‘I am not afraid to fail while trying’
José Been caught up with rising star Grace Brown on the heels of some impressive performances.
Today’s featured image of Peter Sagan winning stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia comes from Cor Vos.