Itzulia Basque Country 2021, Spain, April 5 - April 10

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There is no complicated tactics here:

  • In my opinion, after Thursday, it was 80% on Roglic or Pogacar for the win. 20% the rest. With McNulty with a very small percentage on that 80%. I would give Vingegaard and Yates a bigger percentage.
  • Without the Astana attack, it was still the same outcome to me. All because the idiots of UAE had designated Pogacar to defend the leader's jersey. LOL.
  • The expecting to play out the perfect scenario in order for Roglic to win is ridiculous. He would have won in my book under most scenarios. Astana attacking the descent was just one of them but Roglic didn't need it to win. Look at the stage again. McNulty was going to drop in the following climb no matter what. Period. At that point Roglic was the favorite again and Pogacar had to drop him mano a mano.
Giving UAE the leader jersey was a poisoned chalice & worked as planned because McNulty was designated leader when he's in no was capable of living with Pogacar, Roglic & co on a big mountain stage. It seemed self evident it was a mistake to make Pogacar work for McNulty. And McNulty himself should have been a little more honest with himself (& Pogacar) & actually done some work relaying Pogacar & Hirschi in the valley after the descent & initial break in order to help Pogacar a little.

In the end, Pogacar did all the work with Hirschi whilst McNulty did nothing... then he got dropped anyway. As for scenarios where Roglic wouldn't win, there were many, for example Roglic himself getting caught behind & chasing (without the team to do so, like in Paris-Nice), or Pogacar going thermonuclear on the final climb & taking the 20 seconds off him. I mean this is Tadej Pogacar we're talking about here, i.e. the guy who once-upon-a-time put 2 minutes on Roglic out of nowhere.

So the "Jumbo plan" which people criticized so heavily on Thursday wasn't anything to do with micromanaging a perfect scenario for the win, but really just giving Pogacar someone to babysit. Like an escort mission in a video game where the player has to mind his own health & an NPC companion as well (any gamer here will know what I'm talking about). Those levels are annoying as hell & Pogacar just experienced the cycling equivalent of it.
 
We shouldn't overestimate Jumbo, in the end Roglic followed a move by another team, they didn't initate the attack on the downhill section. They did well to put a strong rider in the breakaway, Roglic was really strong and smart and Vineyard to his job perfectly, but it's not like they had this great, long game masterplan.
Ineos not telling Carapaz to drop back the moment the gap wasn't closed right after the descent played a big part, Yates having a domestique to help UAE close the gap could have made the difference.
 
This was our discussion. If you didn’t mean what you wrote in the first post, it’d be nice if you didn’t repeat it in the second. Or that you’d clarify when I asked you to.

If they were communicating well and being 100% honest, TP should have bridged immediately.
At what point in the race? A km mark would be nice. As I see it, once they were on the descent, with or without McNulty, Pogi had no chance whatsoever of bridging across.
The whole race up to that point. And perhaps he would not have bridged, but I think using TP to provide cover for McNulty was a mistake. TP would need to react based on what he needed to do, and not check with the DS.

It may have made no difference. And it is not like I was rooting for UAE. But I do think that was a mistake that cost a second or two, and that is all it takes.
As I already wrote in my very first reply to you, there never was any chance to bridge across before the gap became “sizeable”. On the descent, Pogačar was doomed and he had no options. No chance to overtake the rider ahead of him (before it was too late), no chance to close the gap, and no matter how McNulty would have ridden from that point on, Pogačar was doomed.
 
Sep 22, 2020
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Very interesting, how the Press and also many here took the UAE and Pogacar statement, that he and his team were defending the yellow jersey, during the attack.

Because, on the video is clearly seen how everyone reacted at the same time when Astana attacked, also Pogacar did not hesitate, and wasn't looking back and waiting for McNulty. They all jumped it no matter of time.

And it was then clear that Alex and Ion from Astana team, they knew the road 100% exactly and therefore went down like a mad man, what was then later told by others, as Valverde, and Gaudu have lucky managed to follow those two, and so did Roglic, at very last.

So I don't buy it, that Pogacar was working for McNulty, till he dropped on Krabelin climb, and that only then Radio team gave him hands free to go by him self. McNulty unfortunately could not cope neither on the descent nor on the flat section.
 
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There are some more quotes from Grischa Niermann regarding the Jumbo tactics on Thursday when they lost the jersey, i.e. relayed here: Tour du Pays basque - Grischa Niermann : «Un coup de maître tactique» (cyclismactu.net) (& quoted from the In Het Wiel podcast: Podcast | ‘Het belangrijkste nieuws van de maand: Fabio is terug!’ | Wielrennen | AD.nl )

"Nous avons décidé qu'il fallait céder le maillot à n'importe qui, sauf à Tadej Pogacar"
"On s'était dit dès le départ de l'épreuve que tout se déciderait samedi. Lors du briefing jeudi matin, nous avons décidé qu'il fallait céder le maillot à n'importe qui, sauf à Tadej Pogacar. Et nous avons réussi à faire cela. Après la troisième étape et cette arivée en montée, il était clair que Primoz Roglic et Tadej Pogacar étaient beaucoup plus forts que les autres. Les 20 secondes de genius sur McNulty étaient donc largement rattapables. Nous étions donc satisfaits de céder ce maillot afin de pouvoir courir plus librement samedi."


He said stage 6 was seen as the deciding stage even before the start of Itzulia, so during the briefing on Thursday morning they said they needed to concede the jersey to anyone, except Pogacar. And considering stage 3's climb finish demonstrated the fact Roglic & Pogacar were vastly superior to the others, 20 seconds on McNulty wasn't an issue. So they were satisfied to lose the jersey & race with more freedom on Saturday.

----

My opinion? For some of us it made sense at the time, but I'm convinced most of the people who were screaming at Jumbo & calling them incompetents etc. happened to those who massively overrated McNulty as well. I'm thinking Chris Horner for example. Even in his comment section he kept on saying McNulty would be there on the final climb & Roglic needed those bonus seconds for the win.

It seemed seriously wishful thinking considering McNulty's credentials in the mountains (& UAE's mad decision to make Pogacar ride for McNulty compounded their problems).
 
Very interesting, how the Press and also many here took the UAE and Pogacar statement, that he and his team were defending the yellow jersey, during the attack.

Because, on the video is clearly seen how everyone reacted at the same time when Astana attacked, also Pogacar did not hesitate, and wasn't looking back and waiting for McNulty. They all jumped it no matter of time.

And it was then clear that Alex and Ion from Astana team, they knew the road 100% exactly and therefore went down like a mad man, what was then later told by others, as Valverde, and Gaudu have lucky managed to follow those two, and so did Roglic, at very last.

So I don't buy it, that Pogacar was working for McNulty, till he dropped on Krabelin climb, and that only then Radio team gave him hands free to go by him self. McNulty unfortunately could not cope neither on the descent nor on the flat section.
It is clearly seen that Pogacar rides for McNulty on the flat part after the descent until Hirschi drops back... And he rides on Krabelín until McNulty cracks without doing a single turn, are you kidding me?
 
There are some more quotes from Grischa Niermann regarding the Jumbo tactics on Thursday when they lost the jersey, i.e. relayed here: Tour du Pays basque - Grischa Niermann : «Un coup de maître tactique» (cyclismactu.net) (& quoted from the In Het Wiel podcast: Podcast | ‘Het belangrijkste nieuws van de maand: Fabio is terug!’ | Wielrennen | AD.nl )



He said stage 6 was seen as the deciding stage even before the start of Itzulia, so during the briefing on Thursday morning they said they needed to concede the jersey to anyone, except Pogacar. And considering stage 3's climb finish demonstrated the fact Roglic & Pogacar were vastly superior to the others, 20 seconds on McNulty wasn't an issue. So they were satisfied to lose the jersey & race with more freedom on Saturday.

----

My opinion? For some of us it made sense at the time, but I'm convinced most of the people who were screaming at Jumbo & calling them incompetents etc. happened to those who massively overrated McNulty as well. I'm thinking Chris Horner for example. Even in his comment section he kept on saying McNulty would be there on the final climb & Roglic needed those bonus seconds for the win.

It seemed seriously wishful thinking considering McNulty's credentials in the mountains (& UAE's mad decision to make Pogacar ride for McNulty compounded their problems).
Agree with the bolded.

It was 100% clear to me after stage 4 that he was going to lose the jersey on Saturday. I even wrote it after the stage. Whether JV did it on purpose or by accident, I don't care. The main focus for them was Roglic being glued to Pogacar's wheel. Period. As long as Roglic kept together with him is mission accomplished. I do not care for the rest. As for this forum hyping McNulty after Thursday. It is beyond me why they were thinking that he was capable of following the Slovenians. I have seen this stage in the past. It is madness hard. When I was watching the replay I had to pause several times to rest a little bit. It was that hard!!!! :p

As for the question about being many scenarios in which Roglic would lose I say, Yes, there were several, no many, but the other scenarios included Pogacar winning, Not McNulty. And to a lesser extent an outsider. But probabilities were low with the others IMHO.
 
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Sep 22, 2020
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McNulty unfortunately could not cope neither on the descent nor on the flat section, and Pogacar was very good aware of that fact! And it would look awkward if McNulty in yellow jersey would be pulling in front of him.
 
Agree with the bolded.

It was 100% clear to me after stage 4 that he was going to lose the jersey on Saturday. I even wrote it after the stage. Whether JV did it on purpose or by accident, I don't care. The main focus for them was Roglic being glued to Pogacar's wheel. Period. As long as Roglic kept together with him is mission accomplished. I do not care for the rest. As for this forum hyping McNulty after Thursday. It is beyond me why they were thinking that he was capable of following the Slovenians. I have seen this stage in the past. It is madness hard. When I was watching the replay I had to pause several times to rest a little bit. It was that hard!!!! :p

As for the question about being many scenarios in which Roglic would lose I say, Yes, there were several, no many, but the other scenarios included Pogacar winning, Not McNulty. And to a lesser extent an outsider. But probabilities were low with the others IMHO.
As I mentioned before, you were right on target about McNulty. But I don’t think that people asking on this thread whether we might be dismissing his chances too readily were try to “hype” his chances. We were wrong, but I wasn’t invested in his performance (which I usually think of when we speak of hyping a rider).
 
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@Libertine Seguros

Roglič indeed is strong, but not that strong, nobody is. We have seen on PN on how easily can a motivated peloton distance Roglič.

The main problem is you have already decided, stage 4, on what your stance on it will be.

Roglič and Pogačar currently being rather equal, using tactics, where one defends the leaders jersey and has the burden of responibility, that comes with it, and the other one is in a position of an attack and can sit on a wheel. For me the outcome is known upfront.

Especially if the race is as short and hard as this one was. Before the race unfolded, stage 6, basically the peloton was already upfront. The defending wall was porous and no team would be able to hold.

In addition some people acted like no other team is really going to put stress, on the leaders jersey. Like top 10 GC is close and only UAE and JV will do something, the rest will just do nothing.

C'mon.

And then just one of those scenarious could have played out differently, and the exact same choice could've been a total disaster.
That's the beauty of it, isn't it?

Why is it so terrible to admit that Jumbo screwed up on stage 4, but - rather impressively - were able to turn things around and still get away with the win?
It was JV intention to give the leaders jersey to McNutly and by doing that JV didn't lost anything against Pogačar on stage 4. Somebody being in despair, trying to keep the leaders jersey at all costs for sure doesn't act like JV did. If they didn't want to give the leaders jersey to McNutly it was in their power, not to do that. It was their intention, for McNutly to take it and to get Pogačar from Rogličes wheel and put him in front of McNutly. To make Pogačar work on stage 6 (potentially 5).

There is no complicated tactics here:
Sure there was plenty of that involved, starting on stage 1. That move was an unorthodox one too, stage 1. JV controlling the race, by not seeing them anywhere. That was an unorthodox tactics being used too, by JV standards ... It was almost like saying we don't care all that much about "Sky/Ineos style", we just do what we feel will get us to the goal!

This alone could indicate the era of hogging the race with excessive control is under threat. There is a chance we are at the dawn of a golden era of cycling again, not only for Slovenians.

I guess ultimately the Tour will tell.
 
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In addition some people acted like no other team is really going to put stress, on the leaders jersey. Like top 10 GC is close and only UAE and JV will do something, the rest will just do nothing.

C'mon.
GC after stage 4:
1 Brandon McNulty (gained 53" in stage 4)
2 Primož Roglič +23"
3 Jonas Vingegaard (gained 49" in stage 4) +28"
4 Pello Bilbao (gained 55" in stage 4) +36"
5 Tadej Pogačar +43"
6 Adam Yates +1'02
7 Emanuel Buchmann (gained 49" in stage 4) +1'07
8 Alejandro Valverde +1'13
9 Ion Izagirre (gained 59" in stage 4) +1'15
10 Mikel Landa +1'23"

So even ignoring McNulty, that's eight guys within a minute of Rogla, three of whom they would not have had to be concerned with on stage 6 if they were still leading (not counting Vingegaard for obvious reasons). So yes, it meant UAE would have had multiple different teams to worry about controlling - but had Jumbo-Visma not let that group go, then any attacks from those teams are not as threatening. Bahrain don't have two bullets in the gun, because both Bilbao and Landa are over a minute down, and Jumbo still have the Vingegaard card to play against either of them anyway, Buchmann would become an irrelevance that doesn't need chasing down, and really the only people he'd have to worry about would be Tadej and maybe Adam Yates or Landa.

It's not about that only UAE or JV would do something, it's that if Jumbo don't allow that break to go up the road in stage 4, they don't need to make an instant reaction to a move from the likes of Astana, Bahrain or Movistar, as the only immediate threats are UAE and maybe Ineos, the others are only threats if they start to gain close to a minute. As we saw in the stage that transpired, Astana tried that kind of strategy - only with less time required than would have been the case had Izagirre not been allowed back up into the GC mix - and blew themselves up.

It worked out for Jumbo in the end, but they had to rely on a lot of third party factors that could have been disregarded had they not made that gambit on stage 4. We will never know how much of this was by accident and how much was design, and Niermann is totally right to claim it was all in hand whether it was or not (if it wasn't, then he's hardly going to admit that the team panicked under pressure because that means other teams will seize that as an opportunity in bigger races in the future, but while they may claim the credit, the decisive move was not theirs but somebody else's that they profited from so it doesn't tell us anything about how the race may have panned out if they don't make that gambit - other than that if Rogla was strong enough to win with the race panning out how it did, he was similarly likely to be strong enough to win if they had kept everything under control). And Chris Horner is the man that towed rival riders up Alpe d'Huez in the Dauphiné to try to get an American on the podium and it is well-documented from multiple sources that he treats people differently whether they're American or not, so there's probably some truth in Rackham's comments where he's concerned, if not everybody else.

Personally, I actually like Rogla and feel that the Jumbo brain trust have already messed up enough races for him (and given the team's long history of tactical lacunae, over the years for many others) that I just can't give them the benefit of the doubt when they decide racing from the position of weakness is a better idea than racing from the position of strength. And it would have been more races that they'd cost him had his strength not bailed them out on a few occasions, too.
 
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@Libertine Seguros







It was JV intention to give the leaders jersey to McNutly and by doing that JV didn't lost anything against Pogačar on stage 4. Somebody being in despair, trying to keep the leaders jersey at all costs for sure doesn't act like JV did. If they didn't want to give the leaders jersey to McNutly it was in their power, not to do that. It was their intention, for McNutly to take it and to get Pogačar from Rogličes wheel and put him in front of McNutly. To make Pogačar work on stage 6 (potentially 5).
So tell me then please, why they just didn't let McNulty and Landa go away on Erlaitz? Why Vingegaard closed that move? They had Vingegaard, Tolhoek and Rogla in that group, they could've control those two perfectly.
Truth is, stage 4 was a total mess from Jumbo, that ended up good because of many factors, but hardly any of those had something to do with Jumbo's "great tactics".
 
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@Libertine Seguros

Signs of possible long(er) range attack where there already, Paris–Nice. And on this race stage 2 and 3 indicated something long(er) will happen on stage 6. The way JV was racing, letting other teams closer, that was in my opinion intentional. Especially considering giving the jersey away willingly. It suited Roglič making the stage 6 as hard as possible. And they didn't lost anything against Pogačar, on the stage 4.

You are too much focused on stage 4 tactics alone!

Anyway, Grischa Niermann said the move on stage 4 was intentional. We are therefore now more or less arguing if it was stupid or brilliant tactical move. On the long run, this race should be looked at as a whole and as such it will in my opinion withstand the test of time and will be considered being a race that was won tactically.
 
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The issue was Pogačar. Hence in the end they didn't even gamble, when using such tactics. As they didn't in any way improve Pogačar chances and most if not all other reasonable possible scenarios all indicated Roglič will be in the same position as before or will get an advantage.
 
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