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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday April 3, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others. - Diogenes

Dirty Feet: Early days of the Tour de France

Les Woodland's book Dirty Feet: How the Great Unwashed Created the Tour de France is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Volta Limburg Classic team reports

We posted the report from winner Arnaud De Lie's Lotto Soudal team with the results.

Here's the report from Tom Dumoulin's Jumbo-Visma team:

Tom Dumoulin helped colour the final of the Volta Limburg Classic by being in the group of six riders that made it to the finish. In the last two kilometres the Dutchman had a puncture, which meant he could not sprint for a podium. Dumoulin eventually had to settle for sixth place.

Immediately after the first climb of the day, the peloton broke. Eventually, six riders managed to break away. They gained a maximum lead of about two minutes, but with 80 kilometres to go, the escapees were caught.

Team Jumbo-Visma showed themselves in front of the peloton with several attacks by Gijs Leemreize and Dumoulin. At twenty kilometres from the finish, Dumoulin made the decisive attack and five riders were able to follow him. These six riders remained in front and had to decide the winner. Arnaud De Lie proved to be the strongest.

Arnaud De Lie wins the Volta Limburg Classic.

Dumoulin was disappointed he was unable to sprint for the podium. “I certainly could not have won because De Lie is really fast. I did feel it was possible to sprint for the podium, though, especially after such a difficult race.”

The Dutchman was happy to be able to colour the race. “I felt better than the past few weeks. I was able to make the race. I tried to get away a few times, but I didn’t have the legs to make it work. Nevertheless, this is a step forward for the coming period.”

Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert posted this report:

At the end of a sélective race with 38 climbs, Belgian rider Loïc Vliegen obtained his second podium of the season in the Volta Limburg Classic (1.1, 2/04). The resident from Riemst finished twice ninth on his training roads before and had to battle against a freezing cold and snow storm this time.

By taking the responsibility in the peloton, the Belgian World Team maintained the early breakaway within reach and in the approach to the fourth and last passage on the Gulpenberg, Kévin Van Melsen counterattacked behind a new breakaway of two riders, forcing the other teams to work behind with 47 kilometer to go.

In the final 20 kilometers, Vliegen isolated himself with five other riders in the front. He did not calculate his efforts and tried to get rid of his fast breakaway companions. In the end, the six men battled for the victory on the cobbles in the centre of Eijsden and Vliegen achieved third place. Baptiste Planckaert finished one minute later in the remaining peloton, in fifteenth position.

"I'm happy to conclude my spring with a podium finish, especially because this race was on my training roads. We knew that it would be a hard race on this difficult parcours but the freezing weather conditions made it even more challenging. Baptiste Planckaert and I could rely on an impressive Kévin Van Melsen to keep us in the front of the bunch until the final. I then joined a breakaway of six riders. Arnaud De Lie was among us, I considered him as the fastest rider of the bunch and my main competitor for the victory in this flat last part of the race. I was confident to finish on the podium in case of a sprint and that's what happened. After 30 days of competition, it is now time to take some rest and come back fresh and in good condition in May." - Loïc Vliegen

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GP Miguel Indurain team reports

We posted the report from second-place Aleksandr Vlasov's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results.

Here's the report from third-place Simon Clarke's Israel-Premier Tech team:

They say consistency is the key to success and for Simon Clarke, that certainly rings true. The 35-year old Australian scored his third podium result of the season today, sprinting to an impressive third place at the one-day Gran Premio Miguel Indurain.

It's Warren Barguil winning the 2022 GP Miguel Indurain. Photo: Sprint Cycling.

“Today was a good day. It’s great to be able to rack up a few points for the team,” said Clarke, who came into the race after a solid block of racing at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya last week. It appeared to be the perfect preparation for today’s hit out.

The peloton awoke on Saturday morning to see heavy snow had fallen in the Basque Country, causing the race route to be altered with three long climbs removed from the parcours and the race shortened to 191 kilometers.

“Honestly, it was a pretty tough day. The conditions were borderline raceable, particularly at the start. Fortunately, the weather improved and even though we still got snowed on a fair bit, we were able to race. I just tried to make the most of it. The course changed and probably suited me better and normally, I would have been happy with that. But we were conscious of having to race in the snow, and I wasn’t really thinking about anything other than that.”

After some late attacks were neutralized, Clarke dug deep on the short, final climb and was able to reach the top in fourth place before tackling the short, technical descent to the finish line. He hit the front with 300 meters to go to launch his sprint but wasn’t able to hold off Warren Barguil (Arkea Samsic) and Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora – hansgrohe) who claimed first and second respectively, to leave Clarke to round out the podium.

“There were some quite dangerous attacks going with 15 or so kilometers to go with the guys from Movistar and Cofidis but I knew I had to put everything in on the final climb and I focused on that, hoping that some of the teams that had missed the move would close the gap, which they were able to do. It all came back down to that final climb and getting over that before positioning myself for the sprint, which was tricky. I was in the second wheel coming into the sprint which made me a fraction too far forward. I just tried lay off the wheel and do the best sprint possible and unfortunately, the race was 20 meters longer than I needed it to be.”

After today’s hit out in Spain, Clarke is set to return to the familiar territory of Amstel Gold Race next Sunday, where he finished second in 2019.

“It’s good to be back on the podium and good signs for next weekend,” summed up Clarke.

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Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl to race Itzulia Basque Country (Vuelta al Pais Vasco)

Here’s the team’s update:

The 61st edition of the Itzulia Basque Country kicks off with an individual time trial taking place over a rolling 7.5km course in charming Hondarribia. The prologue contains three unclassified climbs, some of which have double-digit gradients, and will establish an initial pecking order before two stages favouring a late attack, as both feature a small hill in the closing kilometers that can be easily used as springboard to victory.

Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque Country, will host the start of the fourth stage, one that is perfect for a breakaway. The battle between the overall contenders is expected to heat up on the penultimate day, when a highly selective route consisting of eight ascents will shake up the standings and set up the show for a brutal final stage, between Eibar and Arrate. The last of these climbs, averaging a gruesome 8.8% over 4.5 kilometers, is the cherry on the top of this complicated route that can turn the general classification on its head.

Julian Alaphilippe winning stage one of the 2018 Tour of the Basque Country.

Rainbow jersey Julian Alaphilippe, who in 2018 became the first Frenchman in more than nine decades to take back-to-back stage victories at Itzulia, will return at the start after three years together with a team that will also include French Champion Rémi Cavagna, Dries Devenyns, Remco Evenepoel – a winner this season at the Volta ao Algarve, who will make his debut at the race – James Knox, Mauri Vansevenant and Louis Vervaeke.

“Itzulia is a hard event, one of the most difficult stage races of the whole season. At the same time, it’s an important step towards the Ardennes. We have a strong and motivated squad at the start of this edition, and we plan to take it day by day and see how things go in terms of general classification. We hope to have a good week and get some nice results to boost our confidence ahead of the Classics”, said Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Klaas Lodewyck.

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Sonny Colbrelli discharged from hospital after successful operation

Colbrelli’s Baharin Victorious team posted this good news:

Sonny Colbrelli is returning home today after being discharged from the Cardiology Clinic of the University of Padua, where he was admitted on Saturday 26th March.

Sonny Colbrelli winning the 2021 Memorial Pantani.

The athlete underwent clinical cardiovascular evaluation coordinated by Professor Domenico Corrado, Director of the Genetic Cardiomyopathy and Sports Cardiology Unit of the Azienda Ospedaliera/Università di Padova, an Italian centre of excellence for diagnosing and treating arrhythmogenic heart muscle diseases, following his collapse after the finish of stage 1 of the Volta a Catalunya two weeks ago.

Based on the results of the clinical evaluation, in agreement with the team medical staff, Sonny Colbrelli has been through a successful intervention of subcutaneous defibrillator (ICD) implantation on Thursday.

Professor Domenico Corrado said: “In Padova, the athlete underwent comprehensive clinical, genetic and imaging evaluation to identify the cause of the arrhythmia that led to cardiac arrest and the most appropriate therapy. The decision to implant a life-saving device has been shared by Colbrelli who received a subcutaneous ICD. The device works to correct the rhythm of the heart if it’s needed in extreme cases”.

Sonny Colbrelli will continue the rehabilitation at home to guarantee privacy and peace for him and his family. Everybody at Team Bahrain Victorious encourages everyone to respect our athlete’s privacy and wishes him a prompt recovery.

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