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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 27, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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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 as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Volta a Catalunya stage six team reports

We posted the report from GC leader Sergio Higuita's Bora-hansgrohe team with the race results.

Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl posted this report:

It was wet and cold on the penultimate stage of the World Tour event, and this played into the favour of the small breakaway, who attacked from a long way out – on the 10.5km Coll de les Lebres – and held off the peloton, arriving almost one minute ahead in Cambrils, where Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) took the victory.

One of the just four teams to have won a stage before today, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl started the day in five but finished it with just four men, after Ilan Van Wilder, who was sitting 16th in the general classification, abandoned due to the crash in which he was involved Friday.

Richard Carapaz wins the stage ahead of Sergio Higuita. ASO photo

The 101st edition of the Volta a Catalunya will come to an end Sunday afternoon, with the traditional stage in Barcelona, which will see the peloton tackle six times the famous Montjuic climb – the last of these ascents coming just five kilometers from the finish.

Here's the Catalonia Tour report from team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma has shown attacking ambitions in the Tour of Catalonia. At the beginning of the stage, both Steven Kruijswijk and Rohan Dennis tried to be in the day's breakaway. Sam Oomen moved up a spot in the general classification and is now thirteenth.

On the penultimate day of the Catalan cycling race, the riders had to face a 167.6 kilometre long stage, with over three thousand altimetres. David Dekker did not appear at the start because the young rider is focusing on his upcoming goals.

After Kruijswijk’s and Dennis’s attempts failed, the race exploded and the peloton broke into pieces. Kruijswijk took up position in a first chasing group with many classification favourites. In the race’s final phase the different groups came together, which allowed Dennis, Oomen and Robert Gesink to return. Oomen moved up to thirteenth place in the general classification. Tomorrow the final stage in and around Barcelona will take place.

"Rohan and Steven wanted to be in the breakaway. It was a tough race under tough conditions”, sports director Merijn Zeeman referred to the drizzly weather. "It was full speed ahead from the start without ever slowing down. At one point, it looked a bit like an elimination race. Fortunately, Sam was able to return to the peloton. He is in an excellent position in the general classification. We hope to at least retain that place tomorrow but preferably improve it. In addition, the final stage offers new opportunities to go for a stage victory, but first we will recover from this tough day."

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Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert posted this report:

Once again, the peloton of Volta Catalunya (2.UWT) faced horrendous weather conditions this Saturday, in a 6th stage that covered the Costa Daurada for 168.6 kilometers, connecting the localities of Salou and Cambrils.

The riders started the stage under falling rain. ASO photo

From the outset, the riders of the Belgian World Team went on the offensive through Simone Petilli, who was already in the breakaway on stage 3. As part of a trio, the Italian climber occupied the front of the race before being caught at the foot of the Coll de les Llebres (10 km at 6%).

It was in this 1st category difficulty, whose summit was located at kilometer 39, that the race exploded. A duo who broke away on the slopes resisted the return of the peloton, which included Jan Bakelants, Laurens Huys and Jan Hirt. Eleven years after his last top 10 in the event, Jan Bakelants sprinted to sixth place.

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Here's the Catalonia Tour report from team Groupama-FDJ:

Quite an unusual scenario occurred on the Volta a Catalunya on Saturday. In stage 6, the GC contenders indeed started to battle with more than 130 kilometres to go, and two strong riders eventually went away and made it until the end. Richard Carapaz won ahead of the new leader Sergio Higuita, while Quentin Pacher took fifth place on the day in a small bunch where Groupama-FDJ always had the numbers. Last opportunity on Sunday in the suburbs of Barcelona.

After a quiet day and a bunch sprint on Friday, the bunchentered the weekend under the rain in Salou, at the start of a hilly stage that could definitely suit the breakaway. It goes without saying that there were almost as many riders on the start line as there were riders eager to go up front on Saturday. “We expected a big fight”, said Quentin Pacher. “But probably not that much! It was full gas all day, from start to finish. There was no breakaway when we hit the main climb of the stage, after thirty kilometres. Knowing that the GC was still very tight, Ineos Grenadiers seized the opportunity and made the race incredibly hard. The first climb was almost ridden as if it were a summit finish”.

The peloton exploded into several pieces and a first group of about fifteen riders first managed to take a small gap. Michael Storer was up there. “He is getting better and better”, said Philippe Mauduit. “Knowing what happened to him in Paris-Nice, it’s nice to see him more and more capable of making high-level efforts day after day. It’s promising “. A few kilometres from the top of this first climb, the Australian could not however follow whenLuke Plapp, Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Sergio Higuita (Bora-hansgrohe) got away. The trio then quickly made a real gap on the rest. “Our riders did everything they could to enter the breakaway, but there were two riders stronger than everyone today,” Philippe said. “When there were only twenty riders left at the top of the first climb, we still had many guys, like Michael, Quentin, Seb, Rudy, Bruno…”

The favourites opened the race up more than 130 kilometresfrom the finish, which made for a restless stage that soon became an ordeal for the whole bunch. “It was a tough day for the riders”, confirmed Philippe. “The course and the weather made this kind of scenario all the more possible”. “We started under the rain, it was cold on the descents, it was a very trying day for the body”, testified Quentin Pacher. “In these cases, you need to be careful on clothing so as not to getcold, but you also have to eat well and stay focused. It was going up and down on small, winding roads all day, so we needed to be super attentive. Especially with the rain.” That’s actually what caused Bruno Armirail’s abandon, although he was very active at the start. “He was caught by the cold, stopped to change his clothes but that was not enough”, explained Philippe. “Let’s not forget that it was 4°C in the rain for almost the first hundred kilometres”.

At the front of the race, Higuita and Carapaz increased their lead to 3’30 against a – small – powerless peloton led by Joao Almeida’s team. “When it’s like that, you let the leaders deal with it and you wait to see how things will unfold”, continued Philippe. “We realized that there was not much to do against the two leading men”.

Although the peloton became a little bit bigger with seventy-five kilometres to go, which made it possible for Attila Valter to return, it never managed to reduce the gap significantly. The leading duo still had a lead of almost two minutes at the top of the last climb and therefore easily stayed away until the finish line in Cambrils.

Forty-eight seconds after them, Quentin Pacher took third place of the bunch sprint, meaning fifth on the stage. “I fought all day to remain in the pack, and I told myself that I had not done all that for nothing”, said the Frenchman. “There were many of us in the first peloton, we have a super homogeneous group. In the final, Michael took the lead in the last kilometre and Attila positioned me a bit. It was nice to do a little something together. I was very tired, it was a sprint of tired riders, but I wanted to take my chance and it ended up with a top-5. It’s good. After the podium on day one, it is a good result for the whole team”. “Quentin keeps surprising us with everything he does,” said Philippe. “He went through difficult times on this Volta a Catalunya,but he never gives up, and he is rewarded today with this fifth place”. In addition, Sébastien Reichenbach climbed toseventeenth overall after this sixth stage. Sunday, the race will end on the usual, punchy circuit of Montjuic. “We are expecting yet another big fight”, concluded Philippe.

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Coppi-Bartali Week stage five final team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Josef Cerny's Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team with the results.

Here's The Coppi-Bartali report from Marc Hirschi's UAE Team Emirates:

Marc Hirschi completed a successful return to racing with 3rd place overall at the Coppi & Bartali stage race in Italy.

The final stage from Casalguidi to Cantagrillo (160km) was won by Josef Cerny (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) with Diego Ulissi coming home in 10th as part of an elite chasing group. Hirschi also finished in the group to secure his final podium.

Josef Cerny and Remy Cavagna crossed the line together. G.S. Emilia photo

The overall title went to Irishman Eddie Dunbar (Ineos-Grenadiers) with his teammate Ethan Hayter in second place.

Hirschi’s podium comes off the back of his win at Per Sempre Alfredo classic last weekend and confirmation of his strong form.

Marc Hirschi: “I’m happy with the podium, it was a hard and aggressive week of racing and we all showed ourselves well as a team. We wanted a stage win and although we came close it wasn’t to be. After my win last weekend this is further motivation and gives me confidence for the races to come.”

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