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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, August 12, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. - Lao Tzu


Tour de France: the Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Tour de France: The Inside Story - Making the World's Greatest Bicycle Race is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Elite Time Trial World Championships team reports

Here's the report from winner Remco Evenepoel's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Remco Evenepoel added another major victory to his already outstanding palmares at the end of Friday’s 47.8km individual time trial in Sterling, where he produced a flawless ride on his way to being crowned World Champion. The win meant that the 23-year-old rider of Soudal Quick-Step, who earlier this season became National Champion on the road, will now wear a distinctive jersey in all the races he will do in the next ten months.

Remco Evenepoel on his World Championship ride.

The third-to-last rider to roll down the ramp, Remco had a solid start, which put him in second position as he rode through the first checkpoint, before gradually ramping up the pace in the last 30 kilometers. This allowed the Belgian to improve Filippo Ganna’s time at the next two splits while catching his minute-man in the process, and begin the cobbled climb to the finish with a consistent advantage over the Italian.

Evenepoel tamed the steep gradients of that short ascent in Sterling with remarkable ease and stopped the clock in 55:19, having averaged 51.84km/h over the longest course seen at the Worlds in the last four years. The victory meant that he became Belgium’s first rider to win the gold medal in the men’s individual time trial and only the second rider in history to have won in his career the prestigious rainbow jersey in both races, road and ITT.

“This was one of my biggest goals of the season, and to pull it off on a route that wasn’t really tailored to me is just fantastic. I knew I was the fastest at the second split and with the up-and-down part of the course that suited me still to come, I was confident I could take the victory, especially as I had great legs today. I felt perfect and even managed to ride faster than I had planned at the beginning of the race. The final hill was a tough one, but I paced myself well there, and now I am incredibly proud with this result and with this beautiful jersey that I will wear for the next twelve months”, said Remco after becoming the third different rider in the history of Soudal Quick-Step to win the individual time trial title.

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Here's the time trial report from Filippo Ganna's and Josh Tarling's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Filippo Ganna and Josh Tarling secured impressive silver and bronze medals in the World Championship time trial event in Scotland.

The Grenadiers duo set strong times across the 48.8-kilometre course to step on to the overall podium.

Ganna went fastest through every split but was unable to hold off the surging Remco Evenepoel. The Belgian went fastest by 12 seconds at the top of the final cobbled climb to take the gold and the rainbow jersey.

Filippo Ganna time trialing at this year's Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

Tarling impressed massively during his first elite worlds, going fastest to sit on the hot seat briefly, with his time holding up for an incredible bronze medal. His effort was just 48 seconds back on Evenepoel, a fantastic performance for the 19 year old.

Geraint Thomas was the third Grenadier in action and took 10th place, making sure all three of the team's riders finished inside the top 10.

Josh Tarling:
"Yeah it’s a bit crazy, just super cool to do it in the UK you know? Australia was amazing but this just feels next level.

"It was all about being patient, sitting at a good pace on the way out in the headwind. Then on the way back it starts to get lumpy and twisty, then it's more under-over then you know? Then this last climb is horrible. I never did this last bit in the recon, and I thought - you know when you turn left, and you’re nearly there? - ‘woahhh’ you’re up in the clouds.

"I’ll always try my best, and I look forward to the next few races of this season first."


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Team dsm-firmenich signs super sprinter Fabio Jakobsen

Here’s the teams announcement:

Team dsm-firmenich are delighted to reveal that the exceptionally talented, fast Dutch sprinter Fabio Jakobsen will join the team next season, riding in the distinctive two-striped jersey until at least the end of 2026.

Fabio Jakobsen winning stage five of the 2023 Tour of Belgium

At still a young age of only 26, Jakobsen is one of the most successful sprinters in the current peloton with 43 wins to his name. Having turned pro in 2018 he immediately hit the ground running, taking seven wins in his opening campaign, including the “unofficial sprinters world championships” as it’s commonly known at Scheldeprijs. 2019 saw him continue that trajectory with another seven wins and his first taste of Grand Tour stage success where he won two stages at his debut Vuelta a España.

Starting 2020 strongly, Jakobsen already took three wins by March before Covid-19 halted the season. Returning to racing, Jakobsen’s life was turned upside down on the opening day at the Tour de Pologne after a horrific crash. It is testament then to his nature and resilient character, and alongside some incredible mental fortitude, that after undergoing his physical recovery, he was back in action the following year and would add three more Vuelta a España stage wins to his palmarès.

Continuing to stamp his mark as one of the most prodigious sprinters in the peloton, 2022 saw Jakobsen claim his first Tour de France stage win before winning the European championship with the Dutch national team. A proven winner, Jakobsen has notched up a further five wins in the 2023 campaign so far, a tally he will look to add to before returning to a team on home soil next season, where he aims to build on his pedigree as a top sprinter.

Jakobsen expressed: “From when I was in the younger age categories this was one of the big and upcoming teams in the biggest races such as the Tour de France. It was always something to look up to. When you walk past the pink jersey, polka dot jersey, the green jersey, see the World Team Time Trial championships; I think this team has a legacy and it’s an honour to become a part of it.

"I have had some beautiful moments and nice memories but I’m only turning 27 at the end of the month so I still think I have more good years in the legs, and I’m really motivated to be fast and to win together.

"In top sport you always aim for the highest and there are always areas for improvement, and I think that is something which I know I can do here. I think every athlete needs a motivating, step-by-step process to get to the highest level. I think this is an environment where that is facilitated in the most optimal way with a lot of experts and with their help, I look forward to finding that edge again.”

Fabio Jakobsen is planning to play a pivotal role as the finisher of Team dsm-firmenich’s sprint train about which Jakobsen says: “As a sprinter you cannot win alone. You need teammates to pull, help you over the mountains, help you on those difficult days, position you for the sprint, and of course the team off the bike too. That is one of the reasons why I am here; this is a team where I know I won’t be on my own. I will get that support which is then the basis of being able to sprint for victory.

"The team has had some beautiful wins this season which shows the team is capable and I hope to contribute to that also. It’s the main reason why I wanted to join, I have fast legs and can get to the line first, but I also need a good team to be able to do that. I am confident that if we invest and work together then we can have lots more success together.

"I don’t know everything, but I’ve had six good years in the peloton and learned from some great experienced riders who have been in the sport for over 10 years. I like to learn all the time at every race so I hope that I can motivate the young riders but also work together with the more experienced riders to create an optimal environment and atmosphere for everybody to excel; to chase wins and to do it together. Like I said, as a sprinter you never win alone, you win with the team and that’s what I hope to find at Team dsm-firmenich.”

Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna added: “Sportive wise, everyone knows that Fabio is one of the top sprinters in the world and we’re happy to have him as part of our team. We had really nice conversations about our goals of winning sprints at the highest level together and how we will go about achieving that. Fabio has a really strong character, and he is a very determined and resilient individual. He always wants to get the most out of himself and those around him; and that is something we really admire and adhere to as a team as well. We’re looking forward to the coming years together as we bring our sprint group to the highest level.”


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Team Jumbo-Visma’s Jos van Emden to retire at end of season

Here’s the team’s news release:

Jos van Emden will retire from professional cycling at the end of the current season. The reigning Dutch time trial champion will end seventeen years with the team. "I am very proud of everything I have achieved and happy with the life I was able to live so far”, he said.

Jos van Emden wins the 2017 Dwars Door West-Vlaanderen.

The 38-year-old began his career with Rabobank, the forerunner of Team Jumbo-Visma, in 2008. Before that, he also spent two years with the Rabobank Development Team. Van Emden debuted in the Giro d'Italia in his second year as a professional, a race with which he would have a special relationship throughout his career. He raced no fewer than eleven times in Italy, twice in the Tour de France and once in the Vuelta a España. It was also in the Giro that he reached his sporting peak: He won the final time trial in 2017. Also on his palmares: seventeen victories, including three national time trial titles and an Eneco Tour time trial.

"All these years, I have been able to live my childhood dream”, the reigning Dutch time trial champion says. "I am very proud of everything I have achieved and happy with the life I was able to live so far. It has been a great adventure, and I have enjoyed every day. During my career in the sport, this team and I, as a rider, have developed tremendously. I have enjoyed being able to be so professional in my sport. I have never lost the fun of riding: The love of the sport, the bike and the adventure have always come first. At 38, my retirement feels like the end of my youth.”

Mathieu Heijboer coached Van Emden for much of his time with Team Jumbo-Visma. The two shared a special bond during that time. "Jos has had a wonderful career”, Heijboer recalls. "He has been a constant in the team all these years. In 2015, when things were going very badly for the team, he was one of the driving forces behind our project to take time trialling to the next level. And with success. To this day, he continues to be a tremendous asset to all our leaders: He can set up a sprint for a sprinter or keep a GC rider out of the wind and trouble for days on end. What I like about Jos: He has kept up with all the innovations and developments in the sport, but at the same time, he has remained an old-fashioned rider who does not like fuss.”

Managing director Richard Plugge echoes Heijboer's sentiments: "From day one with the team, Jos has been a highly respected force and one of the key culture bearers. He and I share a love of cycling and even rode for the same club, where that love was instilled at an early age. We will also miss Jos as a rider, as he continues to perform at a high level.”

Van Emden listens to their words with pride. He has enjoyed being part of Team Jumbo-Visma all these years, he says. "The development of the team has been excellent to experience. The team made me better, and I made the team better. It felt like a family I have enjoyed being a part of all these years. In that sense, it is exciting to take the next step now, but it had to happen at some point. Been there, done that. Symbolically it is very nice for me to say goodbye in the red, white and blue as reigning Dutch time trial champion.”

Although the decision to end his career has been made, Van Emden is looking forward to the final part of the season. He will be at the start of the World Time Trial Championships, with more races to come. His farewell race has not yet been decided. One thing is sure: "Even on 1 January 2024, when I am no longer a professional, I will still be riding my bike. The love of cycling and adventure will always be there.”

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