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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, April 10, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever. - Charles Lamb


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Tour of the Basque Country stage six reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the stage six report from stage & GC winner Daniel Martinez's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

An immense performance from Daniel Martinez on a rollercoaster final stage sealed the INEOS Grenadiers' first-ever overall victory at Itzulia Tour of the Basque Country.

Martinez battled his GC rivals across undulating terrain, finally dropping race leader Remco Evenepoel on the final climb to win the yellow jersey.

It was a deserved victory for the Colombian, who had enlivened the race as part of a well-drilled Grenadiers team who worked tirelessly all week to create opportunities - finishing the race with the overall title, two stage wins and topping the best team classification.

The final podium, from left: Ion Izagirre (2nd), Daniel Martinez (1st) & Aleksandr Vlasov (3rd). INEOS photo

Needing two seconds to overhaul Evenepoel, the Grenadiers began a sodden final stage in Eibar quickly, with Geraint Thomas and Omar Fraile ensuring a hard pace reduced the peloton before the major climbs of the day.

With 3636m of climbing in just 136km of racing, there were always going to be plenty of opportunities to attack, but the GC battle began in earnest on the fearsome category one Krabelin climb.

With an average gradient of over 10% across just 4km, Primoz Roglic attacked the leaders in the early part of the climb to splinter the group. Martinez was able to make an elite GC cut, with Evenepoel distanced, although an eventful descent ensured further splits.

Movistar riders Enric Mas and Nelson Oliveira crashed while pushing the pace, with Martinez caught behind and losing contact with the other leaders. The Colombia then worked with Evenepoel to bring the leaders to heel before the final climb.

This led to a shoot-out amongst the favourites, with Martinez able to maintain a high, yet steady pace to drop the race leader, before finishing fourth in a sprint to the line to seal his second WorldTour stage race victory of his career and wrap up a memorable week of racing for the Grenadiers.

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Third-place Marc Soler's UAE Team Emirates posted this report:

Marc Soler took a fine 3rd place on stage 6 of the Itzulia Basque Country.

The final leg from Éibar to Arrate (135km) was won by Ion Izagirre (Cofidis) while Dani Martinez (Ineos-Grenadiers) sealed the overall race win.

Davide Formolo was the main animator of the day , forming part of the first elite breakaway before later attacking the favourites group, only being brought back with under -4km to go on the steep slopes of Arrate.

Soler stuck in with the reduced favourites group, kicking hard in the final 800m but was passed on the technical descent to the line and finished on the bottom step of the podium.

Soler: “Overall we’re really happy with today. Formolo got in the move and later attacked and came close to winning the stage which was pretty impressive.
Personally I found myself getting stronger as the race went on. There was a really high level here this week so to be up with the main guys was a big boost.
Now I’ll head to Flèche and Liege to support Pogačar before taking a break and building up to the Tour de France, all things going well.”



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Here's the report from Remco Evenepoel's Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

Remco Evenepoel showed endless amounts of guts on what was arguably the hardest day of racing this season so far, one comprising seven classified climbs and over 3500 vertical meters. Relentlessly attacked by his opponents inside the last 40 kilometers of the short stage between Eibar and Arrate, Remco demonstrated both calmness and a clinical mindset, riding at his own pace even when the gap went out as high as 30 seconds and the merciless double-digit gradients of the Basque Country began to bite.

Remco Evenepoel (shown riding the stage 2 time trial) went into the stage as the GC leader.

Forced to chase on the descent off Krabelin, which he started with a 25-second deficit on the other GC riders, Evenepoel quickly made significant inroads in the gap and bridged across the leading group ahead of the penultimate ascent. There, the yellow jersey was again put under pressure but he kept his composure and rode with maturity well beyond his years, keeping things together before collecting three seconds at the last intermediate sprint of the day.

On the viciously steep early slopes of the Usartza, all the admirable effort put in up until that point took its toll on the overall leader of the race, who got dropped but continued to fight valiantly. In the closing kilometers, over the top of the hill, Evenepoel managed to reduce the gap to the front group and came home just 24 seconds down on the winner of the stage – a result which saw him conclude Itzulia Basque Country in fourth place, a frustrating five seconds off the podium.

“It was a very hard stage. I didn’t have a bad day, I gave my best the entire stage, but I just missed a bit to be up there with the best guys and fight for the GC victory. It was difficult, especially on the steep parts of the climbs, but I kept fighting and kept believing in myself. I came here wanting to test myself against the Grand Tour contenders and this result is something I can build on in the future. There is some disappointment, as I was so close to the podium, but also some satisfaction, because I’m getting closer to the level I want to be. Maybe in a couple of days I will see things differently, given how tough this race was and the quality of the field here”, said Remco, who became the first Belgian winner of the Itzulia Basque Country youth classification.


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Andreas Kron kicks off his first Ardennes campaign with Amstel Gold Race

Kron’s Lotto Soudal team posted this:

On Sunday 10 April, atypically one week after the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Amstel Gold Race is scheduled for Lotto Soudal. It means the start of the Ardennes Classics with after the Brabantse Pijl and Flèche Wallonne, the fourth cycling Monument of the season: Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Lotto Soudal will be riding the Amstel Gold Race with the following seven riders: Victor Campenaerts, Sébastien Grignard, Philippe Gilbert, Matthew Holmes, Andreas Kron, Maxim Van Gils and Tim Wellens. In Maastricht, the starting shot will be given for 254 kilometres of racing, in which the riders will face no less than 33 climbs – including three ascents of the famous Cauberg – before finishing in Berg en Terblijt. For Philippe Gilbert – who won the Amstel Gold Race no less than four times – it will be his fifteenth and final participation at his beloved race in Dutch Limburg.

The 23-year-old Dane Andreas Kron opted for an altitude training camp to prepare for his first Ardennes campaign, in which he hopes to show himself.

Andeas Kron winning the first stage of the 2021 Tour of Catalonia. Sirotti photo

“It was a pity that I missed the Ardennes Classics last year due to illness, that is why I am now even more looking forward my first full campaign with Amstel Gold Race, Brabantse Pijl, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège”, begins Andreas Kron. “Together with the team, I decided to prepare for the Ardennes Classics in a somewhat different way as I went on altitude training camp after Strade Bianche. Last week’s Volta Limburg Classic was the ideal race to get some race rhythm in the legs. I went on the attack several times but the legs still felt quite heavy, which was logical as I had just returned from altitude training camp prior to the race. After all it was a good test for what’s to come and the victory of Arnaud made it a successful day.”

“Prior to my first Amstel Gold Race participation, I did the recon of the course the day after Volta Limburg Classic. It is a nice course and with fans again allowed alongside the roads it will for sure be a fantastic day. Due to the twisty and narrow roads it will be a nervous race, in which the Gulpenberg will really be the start of the final I think. Afterwards it will be important to get over the steep Keutenberg with as many teammates as possible. It might be an open race so we need to have several options to play with. We have a strong team at the start so we can be ambitious for this race. Personally, I hope for top ten results during the Ardennes Classics, a podium spot would just be fantastic”, concludes the young Dane.

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