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2021 Season Thread

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Post by Lowlandbrit Sat 23 Jan 2021, 3:59 pm

Racing calendar TBC, but enough news to get us started!

Alejandro Valverde has said this will be his last season, with the Olympics as his main focus.

Jumbo-Visma announced take two for their 'three-headed monster' Tour strategy after Kruijswijk's injury prevented it last year, only for Tom Dumoulin to announce he's taking an unspecified amount of time off the day after.

WorldTour team changes:
- If you thought AG2R La Mondiale had the ultimate marmite kit before, wait until you see what they've come up with now that they're AG2R Citroën
- McLaren are gone, now we have Bahrain Victorious
- Mitchelton-Scott is now Team BikeExchange
- The place of CCC has been taken in by Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert
- NTT are now Team Qhubeka Assos
- Sunweb are now Team DSM

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Post by Azabache Fri 05 Feb 2021, 10:32 pm

I'd love to see Euskaltel-Euskadi get back to the top rank again.

Much missed.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Sun 07 Feb 2021, 8:16 pm

Ineos reveal early team leaders for the Tours.

Giro - Bernal and possibly Carapaz
Tour - Thomas, Carapaz, Geoghan Hart
Vuelta - Yates

Ganna will also go to the Giro, Dennis to the Tour along with Porte.

Nice to see British company Hunt Wheels supplying Qhubeka Assos first time supplying a team at this level.

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Post by Lowlandbrit Mon 05 Apr 2021, 6:37 pm

Rare sign of humanity as MvdP runs out of juice and Asgreen wins De Ronde. Paris-Roubaix postponed until October.

We've also seen the first DQs under the new rules for throwing away things in the wrong place. I get the idea, but it seems silly to ban riders throwing bidons to kids/fans. Descending on the frame is also banned now.

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Post by dummy_half Tue 13 Apr 2021, 4:47 pm

Lowlandbrit
Agree about the DQ of the rider who gave his bidon to a fan was excessive.

As for MvdP being human, he's mostly been that this Spring with the exception of Strada Bianchi - been very good but quite frequently found someone equal to him. The Ronde was a classic of the sprint being 100 m too far.

And in the ' you wait an hour for a bus then two come along', Cav scored his first win since 2018 yesterday with a good sprint in the Tour of Turkey, and has followed it up with another win today. Amazing what a bit of confidence can do - his position in the sprints has been getting better, with him picking up good placings several times this spring, and now the top end speed seems to be coming back as well. Probably not back to what it was in the early to mid 2010s, but enough that he's now competing rather than hanging in.

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Post by Lowlandbrit Thu 15 Apr 2021, 3:52 pm

Not sure if it's the move or if last year just made him realise how much it really still means to him, but it's great seeing Cav looking happy and winning again.

Androni Giocattoli are replacing Vini Zabu as a Giro wildcard after the latter withdrew because of recent doping issues.

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Post by Lowlandbrit Mon 19 Apr 2021, 7:40 am

Van Aert beats Pidcock in a (remarkably quickly announced) photo finish in the AGR. Cyclo-cross continuing to look like a good way to spend the winter.

Philippe Gilbert is retiring at the end of next season. Great career, unbeatable at times.

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Post by Lowlandbrit Sat 08 May 2021, 12:09 pm

Giro starts today. Simon Yates the favourite, although it'll be interesting to see what Egan Bernal can do. Hugh Carthy probably in the second tier with the likes of Landa, Vlasov and Martin. UK highlights on Quest apparently.

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Post by Lowlandbrit Mon 24 May 2021, 3:06 pm

Think we can write the final summary for this one already: Egan Bernal proves he's a real deal GT winner.

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Post by Azabache Mon 24 May 2021, 10:39 pm

Barring any horrors of course-let's hope all survive to the end-the Giro hasn't a good record in this respect-remember the bizarre incidents last year?

A week to go and there's already a 10-minute spread over the top ten! I'm very pleased to see Bernal back to his frightening best; I guess the Tour is a no-no given the short interlude to its start-the Vuelta does make more sense.

Ineos again are well disciplined, giving terrific support to their leader.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Wed 26 May 2021, 9:53 pm

Well there's some cracks there in the Verbal armour. He's a lucky boy tomorrow is a flat stage. He's got to have lots of protection tomorrow so he can refind some legs before the mountains of Friday and Saturday because there will be loads of attacks. 

Carthy will be setting a harsh tempo as that's how he likes to ride as he can't follow the sharp increases in speed. That'll make it quick and the Ineos attendants look like they are struggling. Yates only hope is attacking off the front and on today's form Carouso and Almeyda might fancy a bit of that as well.

Hopefully see another Qhubeka Assos win tomorrow. As they are rocking some small UK company wheels.

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Post by Azabache Wed 26 May 2021, 10:17 pm

Yep-what a difference a (rest) day makes eh! He "only" lost some 12 secs. to the second, but it's the trajectory that is intriguing.

We should have a better idea after tomorrow's marathon.....

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Post by formerly known as Sam Thu 27 May 2021, 7:18 pm

Yeah he didn't lose much to second but Yates made back 57 seconds and put himself back into striking distance. Should be a lot of attacks tomorrow. Not attempts to chase down the break today from Ineos so they obviously want to save the energy for the coming onslaught of the next two days. Losing Sivakov so early might come back to hurt them.

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Post by dummy_half Fri 28 May 2021, 11:24 am

Some speculation on other message boards that Bernal's back problems were the cause. I'm not convinced - just looked like he pushed too deep on a really tough climb, perhaps also a little over-geared?. Actually thought he did pretty well to only lose about a minute, as for a little way it looked like he'd properly blown.

Of course the interest is now whether Bernal has been able to recover, or whether that was the first sign that he's genuinely out of gas (like Yates a couple of years ago). Certainly makes the last few stages less of a foregone conclusion than they looked three days ago.

Oh, and a massive shout for Bettiol - quality classics rider (former winner of Flanders) being able to shepherd a struggling Carthy through a mountain stage and then win the next day's flat stage from the break.

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Post by Azabache Fri 28 May 2021, 10:27 pm

There might be a turn-up over the last two days; but I think it's a case of it's Bernal's to lose, rather than the second and third being capable of overcoming their respective deficits.

He (Bernal) has given the impression of a latent weakness over this last week, but he then keeps plugging away with the support of his reduced team, and I rather got the impression today that he was tempted to go hell for leather in the last two kms. but wisely took radio advice to conserve...

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Post by Lowlandbrit Sat 29 May 2021, 3:15 pm

He's definitely looked weaker since the second rest day. Wednesday he looked in real trouble to me, Friday felt more like he knew he had enough to play with that he didn't need to risk blowing himself up.

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Post by Azabache Sat 29 May 2021, 10:45 pm

Another terrific stage today (Sat.). Bernal probably had enough in store even when Caruso was approaching a 1 min. lead on the road, but-just to make sure-they got Martinez to bridge a gap and get to lead Bernal. From then on it was another awesome Power Train display from his fellow Colombian; he deserves a nice bonus from Ineos! Was Bernal capable of overhauling Caruso? I kinda think he was, but wisely he didn't risk blowing up but conserved energy for the TT tomorrow.

It's not over of course until the end, but any analyses must consider the significance of those two stages where Bernal got over 2 mins. advantage-it was always going to be difficult for the chasers after that.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Mon 31 May 2021, 6:04 pm

Agree on Martinez, his contribution was huge for Bernal. If he wasn't there to shoulder that work load in the mountains, particularly on the day Bernal cracked I don't think Bernal ends up wearing pink. He definitely would have lost more than a minute earlier in the week had Martinez not been there driving him on quite so hard.

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Post by Azabache Mon 31 May 2021, 8:33 pm

Will be interesting to see their next duo performance-with the rest of the team of course!-presumably the Vuelta?

Now we're already into the Dauphine-interesting discussions already re. the perceived increased morale of Ineos without the participation of You Know Who and others.

And how ready is Chris? David Millar was not prepared to write him off yet...


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Post by formerly known as Sam Wed 02 Jun 2021, 6:49 pm

Yeah looks like Martinez, Yates and Bernal could all be at the Vuelta. Thomas, Carapaz and Geoghan Hart all at the Tour. Some enviously good options.

It's hard to write off Chris Froome because he is one of the best ever and his ability to come from nowhere to win is outstanding (just ask Simon Yates). Not sure he's back to grand tour challenger fitness yet though, his injuries were pretty nasty and it might take until next season for him to be ready again. He's well down at Dauphine.

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Post by Azabache Wed 02 Jun 2021, 11:31 pm

Yes-it's looking rather sad, and David Millar changed his tune the very next day. It would be a real optimist/hero worshipper to argue that Chris is using this race as some sort of pre-training for the Tour. Poulidor was around-competitively-forever so maybe next year for Chris?

Thomas is looking rather good, and displays real maturity in his interviews-a future Patron of the Peloton?

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Post by formerly known as Sam Thu 03 Jun 2021, 8:48 am

Well G is in his mid thirties now he's got all the experience. I think we saw that in Bernal's Tour win a couple of years back when Thomas sent him on the attack even though it meant he couldn't defend his own Tour title. With him and Porte in the likely Ineos Tour squad that's quite a lot experience in controlling the peleton though Thomas has admitted to getting the TT stage wrong yesterday and pacing poorly.

Froome is only going to get back to his racing best by entering the big competitions and suffering. It's the unfortunate reality of his situation. Valverde is still going at over 40 and getting some results in so for the right person age isn't a problem.

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Post by Lowlandbrit Thu 03 Jun 2021, 12:57 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:It's hard to write off Chris Froome
Unfortunately it's really not if you've watched him this last year or so. Looks like a somewhat useful helper for the early parts of a mountain stage on his good days.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Thu 03 Jun 2021, 1:32 pm

Lowlandbrit wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:It's hard to write off Chris Froome
Unfortunately it's really not if you've watched him this last year or so. Looks like a somewhat useful helper for the early parts of a mountain stage on his good days.

I think next year might be a more reasonable ask than this year. That Giro where he looked buried by the end of the second week and then made up five minutes to come back and win. That being said he doesn't have the same quality of team to nurse him through so it'll be a lot bigger ask.

This year a stage win and some team work is probably all he can hope for.

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Post by Azabache Sun 27 Jun 2021, 12:00 am

Day One of the Tour and we already have mayhem and some leading contestants' chances wrecked.

The second crash was rider-caused; the first due to an oaf irresponsibly waving a whopping piece of board without heed of the consequences (which were that-surprise-a rider was brought down).

Only glad that Thomas-for once-wasn't affected...

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Post by Lowlandbrit Sun 27 Jun 2021, 4:54 pm

Two days in, two big guns living up to their pre-race billing with spectacular performances to win. Alaphilippe, MvdP; who's next?

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Post by formerly known as Sam Sun 27 Jun 2021, 6:52 pm

They wanted some early stages where the puncheurs would come to the fore and that's what they've got. Good start to the tour albeit the crashes yesterday have sadly thinned the GC field a little prematurely.

Looks bone flat tomorrow so should be a sprinter's day. Be great to see Cavendish grab a win but more likely to be Ewan.

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Post by Azabache Sun 27 Jun 2021, 11:05 pm

Is MVDP going to knacker himself?

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Post by dummy_half Mon 28 Jun 2021, 10:34 am

Azabache wrote:Is MVDP going to knacker himself?

That was just van der Poel doing his thing - I think the finale on day 1 was a bit too steep for him, but yesterday was perfectly set up for his high power output style. He's not aiming to finish the Tour (to prep for the Olympic mountain bike race), so expending energy on a couple of days to take stage wins and hold the yellow jersey for the next couple of days until the ITT is all that he's looking for, before a withdrawl possibly the day before they go up Mont Ventoux twice.

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Post by The Oracle Mon 28 Jun 2021, 1:38 pm

I love Geraint Thomas to bits, but he just can’t stay on a bike! Big crash and looked to be out of the tour but he’s back on the bike and battling on. Not sure what caused it.
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Post by dummy_half Mon 28 Jun 2021, 2:01 pm

The Oracle wrote:I love Geraint Thomas to bits, but he just can’t stay on a bike!  Big crash and looked to be out of the tour but he’s back on the bike and battling on.  Not sure what caused it.

Apparently back up and in the bunch, but suggestions of a dislocated shoulder. Sounds like bad luck for G, in that he was up near the front and someone went down in front of him. It's always the guys immediately behind the first faller that take the worst of it (Roglic's important domestique Robert Gesink went over Thomas and is out with his injuries)

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Post by The Oracle Mon 28 Jun 2021, 3:01 pm

dummy_half wrote:
The Oracle wrote:I love Geraint Thomas to bits, but he just can’t stay on a bike!  Big crash and looked to be out of the tour but he’s back on the bike and battling on.  Not sure what caused it.

Apparently back up and in the bunch, but suggestions of a dislocated shoulder. Sounds like bad luck for G, in that he was up near the front and someone went down in front of him. It's always the guys immediately behind the first faller that take the worst of it (Roglic's important domestique Robert Gesink went over Thomas and is out with his injuries)

There has been no good footage yet but it seemed like Thomas was first to go down. Commentators suggesting he hit a bump and went down. Not sure yet but Thomas could have been the one at fault.
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Post by Azabache Mon 28 Jun 2021, 10:44 pm

These first few days are certainly maintaining the great tradition of carnage! It can't just be due to packed ranks and high speeds, there's an indefinable tension/nerves element that seems to affect-and infect-most of the pack....

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Post by Just Gareth Tue 29 Jun 2021, 4:05 pm

Cavendish!!!!! What a win

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Post by alfie Tue 29 Jun 2021, 4:13 pm

Just John wrote:Cavendish!!!!! What a win

Indeed it was ! Count myself lucky to have switched over from the cricket with three k to go...terrific finish to the stage though you always feel a bit sorry for a lone wolf who gets run down by the pack in the last hundred yards.

Great to see Cavendish "back". You could see how much it meant to him after all his struggles in the last couple of years. More to come this tour , perhaps ?

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Post by Lowlandbrit Tue 29 Jun 2021, 5:35 pm

What a fairytale (fairwell?) season this has been for Cav. Delighted for him. Wasn't even going to be in the team a week before the start.

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Post by The Oracle Tue 29 Jun 2021, 6:36 pm

Absolutely awesome win! The emotion at the end had me nearly in tears too! So good to see. As Cav mentioned it was such a good team effort. Having Alaphilippe, the green jersey and someone who would have ambitions to win the whole thing himself, put in a big turn to get Cavendish in that position was great to see. As said on commentary Cav needed to do a bit of old school racing as he lost his team towards the end so he got in on the wheel of other teams and got himself in a perfect position. 31 TDF stage wins - unbelievable!
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Post by The Oracle Tue 29 Jun 2021, 6:41 pm

alfie wrote:
Just John wrote:Cavendish!!!!! What a win

Indeed it was !  Count myself lucky to have switched over from the cricket with three k to go...terrific finish to the stage though you always feel a bit sorry for a lone wolf who gets run down by the pack in the last hundred yards.

Great to see Cavendish "back".  You could see how much it meant to him after all his struggles in the last couple of years. More to come this tour , perhaps ?

Heartbreaking for him. It would almost be better to be caught a few km out, or even 1 km. But the last few metres is agony! I felt his pain trying to keep the gear turning to keep ahead of them, but it wasn’t to be. Great effort from him though.
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Post by Good Golly I'm Olly Tue 29 Jun 2021, 11:21 pm

The best sprinter there’s ever been - incredible comeback from Cavendish
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Post by dummy_half Wed 30 Jun 2021, 9:38 am

Lowlandbrit wrote:What a fairytale (fairwell?) season this has been for Cav. Delighted for him. Wasn't even going to be in the team a week before the start.

I suspect not, given how well it's going. Would have been if he was in the same form as the last couple of years, where he was hardly able even to get involved in the finishes never mind win them.

I note he took the available points for the intermediate sprint and currently holds the green jersey. Couldn't seriously be thinking about that for the end of the race could he?

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Post by Big Wed 30 Jun 2021, 9:55 am

I haven't posted on here in years, but was reminded of previous times by Cav's win yesterday.  For me I absolutely loved it, tough for Van Moer, but at least he got one in the Dauphine and as a youngster hopefully has many great wins to come!  It was far from an easy win, and required some sprinting intelligence to get in the right place and attack at the right time - perhaps more a nod to his experience than the out and out speed of old.

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Post by The Oracle Wed 30 Jun 2021, 10:20 am

Deceuninck Quickstep (and their previous iterations) have always had a really good lead out train that has led to loads of sprint success for the likes of Kittel, Viviani, Bennett (in no particular order) and others whose names escape me off the top of my head.  They always seem there or there abouts for the sprints. And now Cavendish bringing home the wins.  It’s just they’re never seemed to have a big GC contender on their roster from memory? Just not something they’re interested in contesting?  Or not got the budget for?

I read recently that Sam Bennett is leaving them.  I wonder if Cav will be kept on in the ‘1st team’ while in such good form, rather than just injury cover?


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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 30 Jun 2021, 10:37 am

Made up for Cav, been a tumultuous few years and it's good to see him return to winning ways in the twilight of his career.

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Post by dummy_half Wed 30 Jun 2021, 1:26 pm

The Oracle wrote:Deceuninck Quickstep (and their previous interactions) have always had a really good lead out train that has led to loads of sprint success for the likes of Kittel, Viviani, Bennett (in no particular order) and others whose names escape me off the top of my head.  They always seem there or there abouts for the sprints. And now Cavendish bringing home the wins.  It’s just they’re never seemed to have a big GC contender on their roster from memory? Just not something they’re interested in contesting?  Or not got the budget for?

I read recently that Sam Bennett is leaving them.  I wonder if Cav will be kept on in the ‘1st team’ while in such good form, rather than just injury cover?

They've certainly had the budget in the past (not sure they can now match up to Ineos, Bahrain or Jumbo, but Mapei were one of the biggest sponsors during their time). They have generally focussed on the Classics and short stage races, while aiming for stage wins in Grand Tours. Their Belgian heritage is probably a major component of that - winning Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix carries a bigger weight to their fans than would a podium in a Tour.

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Post by The Oracle Wed 30 Jun 2021, 2:20 pm

dummy_half wrote:
The Oracle wrote:Deceuninck Quickstep (and their previous interactions) have always had a really good lead out train that has led to loads of sprint success for the likes of Kittel, Viviani, Bennett (in no particular order) and others whose names escape me off the top of my head.  They always seem there or there abouts for the sprints. And now Cavendish bringing home the wins.  It’s just they’re never seemed to have a big GC contender on their roster from memory? Just not something they’re interested in contesting?  Or not got the budget for?

I read recently that Sam Bennett is leaving them.  I wonder if Cav will be kept on in the ‘1st team’ while in such good form, rather than just injury cover?

They've certainly had the budget in the past (not sure they can now match up to Ineos, Bahrain or Jumbo, but Mapei were one of the biggest sponsors during their time). They have generally focussed on the Classics and short stage races, while aiming for stage wins in Grand Tours. Their Belgian heritage is probably a major component of that - winning Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix carries a bigger weight to their fans than would a podium in a Tour.

Bit of a typo from me - meant ‘iterations’ rather than ‘interactions’! Edited that now.

Yes I agree, the Belgians love their one day, classics, cyclocross, etc and they seem to have lots of Belgian riders so I guess, as a Belgian team too, it does lead them to race in that way and have that sort of ‘ethos’ at the grand tours. Not knocking it as it makes for much more exciting races in my opinion rather than every team having a GC rider and the teams all focusing on leading them round, dropping off rider by rider when they’re spent, and getting GC in position to finish strongly. A bit ‘robotic’, that. It would be very boring if all the teams were like that!
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Post by The Oracle Wed 30 Jun 2021, 2:22 pm

I have to say though that the time trial does nothing for me! I know it’s a discipline within a discipline and allows a different type of rider to gain time etc., which should add some excitement to the overall race and standings, but I can’t get excited by it! Sorry
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Post by dummy_half Wed 30 Jun 2021, 5:13 pm

The Oracle wrote:I have to say though that the time trial does nothing for me! I know it’s a discipline within a discipline and allows a different type of rider to gain time etc., which should add some excitement to the overall race and standings, but I can’t get excited by it! Sorry

Pretty much agree with you there - I think they are needed in the race, but from a viewing perspective they are rather flat.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Wed 30 Jun 2021, 7:39 pm

The Oracle wrote:
dummy_half wrote:
The Oracle wrote:Deceuninck Quickstep (and their previous interactions) have always had a really good lead out train that has led to loads of sprint success for the likes of Kittel, Viviani, Bennett (in no particular order) and others whose names escape me off the top of my head.  They always seem there or there abouts for the sprints. And now Cavendish bringing home the wins.  It’s just they’re never seemed to have a big GC contender on their roster from memory? Just not something they’re interested in contesting?  Or not got the budget for?

I read recently that Sam Bennett is leaving them.  I wonder if Cav will be kept on in the ‘1st team’ while in such good form, rather than just injury cover?

They've certainly had the budget in the past (not sure they can now match up to Ineos, Bahrain or Jumbo, but Mapei were one of the biggest sponsors during their time). They have generally focussed on the Classics and short stage races, while aiming for stage wins in Grand Tours. Their Belgian heritage is probably a major component of that - winning Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix carries a bigger weight to their fans than would a podium in a Tour.

Bit of a typo from me - meant ‘iterations’ rather than ‘interactions’! Edited that now.

Yes I agree, the Belgians love their one day, classics, cyclocross, etc and they seem to have lots of Belgian riders so I guess, as a Belgian team too, it does lead them to race in that way and have that sort of ‘ethos’ at the grand tours. Not knocking it as it makes for much more exciting races in my opinion rather than every team having a GC rider and the teams all focusing on leading them round, dropping off rider by rider when they’re spent, and getting GC in position to finish strongly. A bit ‘robotic’, that. It would be very boring if all the teams were like that!

Almeida and Alaphillipe have both had tilts at major Championships in recent years. Almeida spent a lot of the Giro last year wearing pink. The problem is that they do lack climbers on the team so their GC contenders do come unstuck in the big mountains when there's little to no support and the likes of Ineos and Jumbo-Visma are attacking.

Remco Evenopoel might have something to say in future GC quests. Jackobson will return from injury and be the main sprinter next season but if they had room for two sprinters before Cav then they may well have room for two next season after Bennett goes.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Wed 30 Jun 2021, 7:39 pm

dummy_half wrote:
The Oracle wrote:I have to say though that the time trial does nothing for me! I know it’s a discipline within a discipline and allows a different type of rider to gain time etc., which should add some excitement to the overall race and standings, but I can’t get excited by it! Sorry

Pretty much agree with you there - I think they are needed in the race, but from a viewing perspective they are rather flat.

You not enjoy the finale to the Tour last year?

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Post by Azabache Wed 30 Jun 2021, 10:46 pm

The TT is part of the tradition and, in any case, can spoil the "GC" tactics outlined by The Oracle earlier; though the power of the moneyed teams over the years in recruiting a topflight expert for every discipline-and having 9 riders-did tend to lessen the hoped-for impact.

Far from wishing to see the end of the individual TTs, I wish the Team TT (TTT) was also a feature every year!

Going back to the discussions on the early crashes, I was wondering whether the now near-universal switch to disc brakes is contributing?

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