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Hello again, CyclingTips readers.
Have you been watching the Virtual Tour de France? I’ll admit to being a little sceptical about the whole thing – it’s just not quite the same as “real” racing, is it? And yet some great stories have come out of it.
Like 19-year-old British rider April Tacey who broke through with two stages after coming back from a fractured kneecap. Or young Australian Sarah Gigante who finished second on Virtual Mont Ventoux in what is further confirmation of her vast talent. Or Canada’s Michael Woods who won on the Virtual Mont Ventoux, just months after breaking his femur. These are all great human stories, regardless of whether they happened on indoor trainers or out on the road.
You can read more about Woods and Gigante below, plus a handful of other stories from the past couple days. Have a great week!
Matt de Neef
| Woods, Moolman-Pasio win on Virtual Mont Ventoux
Saturday’s stage 5 of the Virtual Tour de France took the men’s and women’s pelotons up to a virtual Chalet Reynard on the famous Mont Ventoux climb. In the women’s race, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv) split the bunch with 5 km to go, leaving only Australia’s Sarah Gigante (Tibco-SVB) able to hold on. Moolman-Pasio pulled clear 2 km from the line, going on to win the stage ahead of Gigante and Lauren Stephens (Tibco-SVB).
In the men’s race Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) did the damage on the final climb, leaving just he and the NTT Pro Cycling pair of Domenico Pozzovivo and Louis Meintjes out front with 5 km to go. Woods dropped his companions in the following two kilometres before going on to win solo. The victory comes a little over four months after Woods fractured his femur at Paris-Nice.
| Clarke, Stephens win on the Virtual Champs-Élysées
Sunday’s final stage of the Virtual Tour de France comprised six laps of a 6.6 km virtual circuit around Paris, finishing on cycling’s most famous boulevard: the Champs-Élysées. The women’s race came to a sprint with a little more than 20 riders, with Lauren Stephens taking the stage win in the yellow jersey, just ahead of two-time stage winner (and vTDF breakout star) April Tacey (Drops). Stephens’ victory sewed up GC success for her Tibco-SVB team.
The men’s race also came down to a reduced bunch sprint with overall leader Ryan Gibbons (NTT) looking to have the stage won with a strong kick. But Australia’s Will Clarke (Trek-Segafredo) hit the front mere metres from the line to snag the stage win. NTT took out overall honours in the six-stage, three-weekend race.
| Egan Bernal will ride for Froome or Thomas at the Tour if need be
Back in May, reigning Tour de France champion Egan Bernal (Ineos) said he would ride for his own ambitions at the upcoming Tour de France. Now, in a press conference Bernal has said that he will ride for whoever’s strongest among the Ineos trident.
“I am paid to ride for Ineos, not for Egan Bernal,” the Colombian said. “We are clear that what matters is the victory of the team and that is a great responsibility. We are not going to do such bad things that lead the team to lose the Tour. The three of us are professionals, we know what it is to win the Tour, we are friends, honest, we speak and understand each other well.”
Bernal explained that Ineos will track the progress of he, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas in the lead-up to the rescheduled Tour de France, and that “the team will see according to the results if they arrive with one, two leaders or a protected leader.” Bernal is currently on a chartered flight to Europe with dozens of other South American professionals ahead of the season restart.
| Coronavirus has cost Deceuninck-QuickStep more than €1 million: Lefevere
Deceuninck-QuickStep general manager Patrick Lefevere estimates that the coronavirus epidemic has cost his team more than €1 million with further costs till to come.
“I estimate the loss of direct income already at €1.3 million,” Lefevere said in an interview published on Het Laatste Nieuws. “But the year is not yet over. I won’t have the final balance sheet until December 31. The damage is expected to have risen to €3 to 4 million.”
Lefevere explained that, should a second wave of races be cancelled, the team will be in significant strife: “You don’t tell any businessman in the world that he should invest without getting anything in return,” he said. “Sponsors will not continue to pay for our beautiful blue eyes, I’m afraid.”
| Canadian GPs in doubt
Two of the biggest late-season men’s races, the GP de Quebec and GP de Montreal, are in doubt as a result of coronavirus. Originally scheduled for September 11 and 13, the two Canadian WorldTour events could be scrapped, according to a press release from organisers late last week.
“With eight weeks to go until the races, the current directives issued by the various European, Canadian and Quebec authorities involved represent various types of uncertainty, which in turn mean multiple operational and financial challenges,” organisers said. Canada has banned large events until August 31 and entry to the country is currently banned for those without an “essential” reason.
There is also a mandatory 14-day quarantine order in place which would affect all those travelling to the races, should it still be in effect.
In case you missed it
| The Japanese champion with the unbreakable smile
José Been returns with a heartwarming feature interview with five-time Japanese road champion Eri Yonamine (Alé BTC Ljubljana), a rider known for her ever-present smile and her never-say-die attitude.
| How Froome ended up going to Israel Start-Up Nation
This is a great read from our friend Andy Hood over at VeloNews. It details how Froome and Israel Start-Up Nation benefactor Sylvan Adams first connected, and how Froome’s open-ended deal came to be.
Today’s feature image comes from Cor Vos and shows Freddy Maertens winning the final stage of the 1981 Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées.