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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, February 12, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

You speak of Lord Byron and me; there is this great difference between us. He describes what he sees I describe what I imagine. Mine is the hardest task. - John Keats

Tour de France: 2020

Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2020: The Tour During Covid-19, Better Late Than Never is available as an audiobook here. For the Kindle eBook version, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour of Oman stage two reports

We posted the organizer’s report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Mark Cavendish's Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team:

Just twenty-four hours after opening his season by taking a close second on day one of the Tour of Oman, Mark Cavendish went one place better and recorded his 157th pro victory courtesy of a perfectly-timed sprint in Sutrah Corniche, where Friday’s 167.5km stage concluded.

Mark Cavendish wins stage two. Getty Sport photo.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl was again prominent, playing an important role in controlling the gap of the two escapees and bringing them back inside the final hour of racing, as well as nullifying a late attack that came with around 25 kilometers to go. The Wolfpack continued to drill the pace in the closing kilometers as things began heating up, putting in long turns and expertly navigating a short technical part before the long finishing straight.

Then neo-pro Stan Van Tricht hit the front and devoted all his energies to working for Cavendish, who kicked out with around 300 meters to go and produced a stunning recovery and a dominant sprint, coming around his opponents 100 meters from the line on the right side of the road and comfortably beating Kaden Groves (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Amaury Capiot (Arkea-Samsic). The victory – his 55th for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl – and the ten bonus seconds it carried moved Mark to the top of the general classification.

“I was looking forward to this sprint, as it was similar to a Tour de France one, with a long finishing straight of over one kilometer. Everyone on the team was committed and did a great job, and coming into the stage I had a lot of confidence from yesterday’s good work. When the sprint started, I was a bit far back, but I had a good speed and I am happy with the way things panned out. It’s been only a few weeks since I returned on my bike following that crash on the track, so I am quite satisfied with my form. To take a win so early in the season it’s always important and we hope to get some more nice results before the Tour of Oman ends”, said the Manxman, who in addition to the overall, also leads the points classification.

Team Astana Qazaqstan posted this report:

The first normal stage of the Tour de la Provence (Istres – Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 151.8 km) has been impacted a lot by the cross wind, which provoked echelons in the middle part of the distance. Finally, a group of some 20 riders broke away from the peloton to make the decisive move and, thus, to play the stage win.

Astana’s Samuele Battistella, yesterday fourth in the prologue, once again showed his good form at the beginning of the season, taking a nice fifth place at the stage and moving into the lead in the best young rider classification.

“Actually we knew that the weather forecast was predicting a strong cross wind during the stage, so we were quite ready to this situation and to the echelons. My teammates helped me really well, in the right moment they moved me up in front to a good position, so I was able to join the leading group and to stay there until the end. Unfortunately, Leonardo Basso in a moment was almost involved in a crash and thus he could not join me in front. At the end of the day I was able to sprint for a good fifth place and I am quite satisfied with this result. Also, I am happy with the best young rider jersey, it is a good start of the season for me”, – said Samuele Battistella.

“Indeed, our team worked very well today as we expected that the wind will be a key factor today. Artyom Zakharov and Gleb Brussenskiy did a great work on the first part of the distance, supporting Samuele Battistella and Michele Gazzoli. Later there was a dangerous situation and Leonardo Basso was almost crashed but, fortunately, escaped to crash. However, there was a split in the group right on that moment and he and Michele Gazzoli found themselves in the second group. It’s a pity because Michele could do a good sprint in the final, anyway we still had Samuele Battistella there and he spent another strong day on the bike”, – added Dmitriy Fofonov, team Sports Director.

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Here's the Tour of Oman stage two report from Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert:

Just like on the first day, the second stage of the Tour of Oman (2.Pro, 10-15/02) this Friday ended in a bunch sprint in Sohar. A flat stage connected Naseem Park with the old capital of the sultanate through a parcours of 167 kilometer next to the Arabic Sea and only two riders animated the breakaway of the day.

Belgian rider Tom Devriendt was the appointed sprinter in the selection directed by Valerio Piva and benefited from the exemplary teamwork of his teammates all race long. He finished fifth in the sprint which was won by Mark Cavendish.

On Saturday, an explosive finish awaits the riders in Qurayyat (2.8km at 7%) after a hilly stage of 180 kilometer through the Hajar mountains.

“The cohesion in our group plays a crucial role in our performances here in Oman. I want to thank my teammates who made it possible for me to achieve this top five. Kévin Van Melsen ensured a position in the front at an important point with 2 kilometer to go, after which Julius Johansen took over his role until the final kilometer. Just like yesterday, Hugo Page waited for the final 400 meter to launch me, so I could sprint for the victory with some of the best sprinters in the world. We already had the capabilities to achieve a similar result yesterday if only we were not boxed in. The next two days we will focus on supporting Jan Hirt and Rein Taaramäe towards the climbs. After, I want to grab another sprint opportunity in the final stage. “ - Tom Devriendt

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Tour de la Provence stage one team reports

We posted the report from winner Elia Viviani's INEOS Grenadiers team with the results.

Here's the report from Team Movistar:

It was a day of mixed fortunes for the Movistar Team at a hectic stage one of the Tour de La Provence (UCI ProSeries; FRA), held on Friday over 151km between Istres and a windy, finishing circuit in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in the Camargue area, with former European champion Elia Viviani (IGD) taking the day’s honours.

Elia Viviani wins stage one. Sirotti photo

A group of about twenty riders got together to the finish at the front, after echelons formed due to crosswinds with more than hundred kilometers from the end. While Matteo Jorgenson, strong and intelligent as few others, made the right move and finished in a solid 9th -with no lost time-, the Blues had to regret a DNF during the stage due to a crash, as the split formed, with Gorka Izagirre involved.

The Basque allrounder sustained deep cuts to his face, with inflammation on his cheek and chin after a significant impact. The race doctor’s official communiqué also pointed out Izagirre had suffered significant blows to his shoulder and hip. The veteran Spaniard, making here his ‘reentrée’ in Movistar Team colours, was transferred to the Hospital d’Arles, where checkups ruled out any fractures. Gorka, who received several stitches to heal his wounds, will return home Saturday.

Jorgenson now sits in 7th overall, 21″ behind race leader Filippo Ganna (IGD) and just 10″ off the podium, with two days to go in southern France. Saturday’s stage two will bring a lumpy circuit, with a hilly finish, in Manosque -where Matteo himself already did well in 2021 before a crash into the sprint-, right before Sunday’s decisive mountain-top finish in Lure.

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And here's the Tour de la Provence stage one report from Julian Alaphilippe's Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team:

Battered by savage crosswinds and broken into echelons, stage 1 of the Tour de la Provence offered plenty of opportunities to race aggressively after the first 70 kilometers, and when it happened, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl was among the main protagonists, with World Champion Julian Alaphilippe playing a leading role.

The race exploded 80 kilometers from the finish in Saintes-Maries-de-le-Mer, when several teams put the hammer down and split the bunch, leaving only 25 riders in the group, including Julian Alaphilippe, Ilan Van Wilder and Louis Vervaeke. The Wolfpack trio came through and helped the front echelon gradually increase their advantage, which reached two minutes inside 30 kilometers to go. Alaphilippe was extremely active, mopping up the bonus seconds at both intermediate sprints and even launching an attack eight kilometers from the line.

Julian Alaphilippe attacks near the finish. Sirotti photo

Caught after one kilometer, the rainbow jersey wearer remained close to the head of the group which began shedding riders on the long and exposed roads to Saintes-Maries-de-le-Mer and got involved in the reduced sprint, finishing just behind Elia Viviani (Ineos-Grenadiers) and Sep Vanmarcke (Israel-PremierTech) for his first podium of the season. Third on this insane stage 1 of the French race, the 29-year-old made up significant ground in the general classification, where only four seconds separate him now from the lead with the toughest stages still to come.

“Everyone awaited a nervous and fast day, which was the case in the end. We were well represented at the front, and I’m happy, as the legs were good and I had fun. Once the split was made, everybody was committed, rode à bloc and contributed to the fierce pace that was driven at the front. In the finale, I knew it would be difficult to win the sprint with Elia, but that didn’t stop me from trying. It’s been a really nice start to the race and I’m already looking forward to the weekend. There will be two more opportunities for us and we’ll try our best”, said Julian after a visit to the podium, where he pulled on the jersey awarded to the points standings leader.

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