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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, April 14, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. - Buddha

Story of the Tour de France Volume 2

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, Vol 2: 1976 - 2018 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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Tour of Turkey stage four reports

We posted the report from second-place Patrick Bevin's Team Israel-Premier Tech with the results.

Here's the report from third-place Harm Vanhoucke's Lotto Soudal team:

After three days for the sprinters, the climbers now had their say during the fourth day of racing at the Tour of Turkey. In the queen stage, the riders with GC ambitions had to show their cards because after a relatively flat start of over 100 kilometres, a tough final climb of seventeen kilometres towards Manisa would shake up the overall standings.

Lotto Soudal made sure youngster Harm Vanhoucke was in a perfect position to start the final climb. Both Caleb Ewan and Jasper De Buyst paced the peloton in the opening kilometres of the climb, which was drastically reduced. When the first attacks came at nine kilometres from the finish Jasper De Buyst's impressive work was done.

In a tactical final, the favourites for the stage victory all looked at each other when Eduardo Sepulveda attacked with about five kilometres to go. The Argentinean quickly took twenty seconds, a lead he would hang on to. In a select group including amongst others Vanhoucke and Quintana, there was no cooperation as they were left to ride for second place. Harm Vanhoucke was only outsprinted by Bevin and took a third place on the day. That way, Harm Vanhoucke climbs to fourth place in the general classification, 37 seconds behind leader Sepulveda.

Eduardo Sepulveda won the stage and took the GC lead. Photo: Goshotnet

"Actually, with a flat start it was a relatively easy stage. The most important thing was to be at the front towards the final climb. The team did a great job in keeping me at the front, we were already at the head of the bunch at about ten kilometres from the foot", Harm Vanhoucke said after the stage. "I started the climb in third position with Caleb Ewan and Jasper De Buyst in front, setting a high pace to go into the final with a small group. Jasper did a really good job until about nine kilometres from the finish, when the attacks started. However, the strong headwind on the climb made it difficult to create definitive gaps."

"At about five kilometres from the finish, a select group finally got away but on a flatter section the pace dropped again. A chasing group caught up, from which Sepulveda attacked. Unfortunately, we were all looking at each other and no one really took the initiative to close the gap. Eventually the chase picked up some pace, but the stage victory was gone. I was able to sprint to third place, but of course I would have liked to reward my teammates with a victory. That might have been possible if there had been more cooperation, but with this result I can certainly not be dissatisfied. Currently I am fourth in the general classification and in the last two difficult stages there might still be possibilities to move up," concludes Harm Vanhoucke.

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Brabantse Pijl reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from winner Magnus Sheffield's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

The INEOS Grenadiers continued their winning momentum as Magnus Sheffield finished off a superb team performance to win Brabantse Pijl.

Magnus Sheffield is the winner. Photo: Getty Sport Images

The young American timed his attack perfectly with 3.6 kilometres to go, forging clear of a lead group which featured two of his teammates.

A selfless display saw Ben Turner and defending champion Tom Pidcock work hard on a soaking wet day. The Yorkshire duo eventually came home fourth and fifth as the group arrived into Overijse, 37 seconds behind a victorious Sheffield.

The 19-year old became the youngest rider to win the race for 60 years, and had showed his strength on a string of climbs on the finishing circuit. With Turner and Pidcock able to shut down the moves behind, Sheffield was able to make good his escape, sealing the biggest success of his fledgling career.

Not only was it back to back wins for the team in the race following Pidcock's breakthrough win last season, it also marked a third major victory in a row for the Grenadiers, following success at Itzulia Basque Country and Amstel Gold last week.

Magnus Sheffield:
"I felt really good. I had two other teammates in the breakaway but today it was really bad weather with the rain. Luckily it wasn’t too windy or cold. I just felt unbelievable when I found myself off the front with those last kilometres. I really didn’t expect to be able to hold on, and I really wanted to try to lead out my teammate Ben for the sprint. But I was off the front and I was able to hold on to the finish. It was really gritty out there and you just had to fight the whole way.

"I just followed a move with (Tim) Wellens. He swung off and I found myself alone. I knew I wanted to press it to try and force the other guys to chase, and let my other teammates sit on. But everyone was just kind of looking at each other because it was the final kilometres. I just went full gas, put it in the biggest gear and just tried to grind my way to the finish.

"This feels truly just unbelievable. I was able to get a win at Ruta del Sol earlier this season, but to be able to win a one-day, especially in one of these semi classics, is unbelievable. This season has been incredible."

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Here's the Brabantse Pijl report from team Bora-hansgrohe:

Brabantse Pijl in Belgium today was the opener of the classics season’s grand finale. The riders had to contend with 205.1km from Leuven to Overijse, covering a total of 25 climbs and several sections on cobbles. Due to the wet and slippery conditions the race saw several crashes, in which Jonas Koch and Giovanni Aleotti were also involved. Luckily both are doing fine and didn’t sustain any serious injuries.

For BORA - hansgrohe the race was a good, final preparation ahead of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. After a hard finale it was Magnus Sheffield who was able to take a solo win. Marco Haller made it to the line with a very reduced peloton and so was the best-placed BORA - hansgrohe rider.

From the Finish Line:
"For me it was definitely one of the toughest days of racing this season. The mix of rain, slippery roads, and a super challenging race course made for a challenging day. The Ardennes specialists in the bunch made the race hard and fast. I’m happy with how it went for me, I felt good and luckily made it through without crashing. My shape seems to be on a good level and so I’m really looking forward to Paris-Roubaix on Sunday now."  Marco Haller

“Our line-up today contained most of our riders for Paris-Roubaix and so the goal of the day was to put the finishing touches on the shape for Sunday. With Giovanni Aleotti and Ide Schelling we also had two specialists for the Ardennes on board. Both of them recently came back from illness and the main objective for them was to get them back into race rhythm. Overall we put in a solid performance and were able to use the race as a build up towards our next goals. Due to the rain, the roads were very slippery which resulted in several crashes throughout the day. Unfortunately Giovanni Aleotti and Jonas Koch were involved in one of those incidents as well. From now on, we'll be fully focused for Sunday and the queen of the classics, Paris-Roubaix." Torsten Schmidt, Sports Director

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