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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, February 12, 2023

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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 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 Oman stage one team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Tim Merlier's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Tim Merlier confirmed he is one of the fastest riders in the peloton, dashing to victory – his first on the road in the Soudal Quick-Step jersey – on the opening stage of the Tour of Oman, which incidentally was the sprinters’ only opportunity to leave their mark at this edition.

Stage one winner Tim Merlier crosses the line as if he were holding his new-born son. Photo: GettySport

Benefiting from a fast and furious lead-out train consisting of Jordi Warlop and Bert Van Lerberghe, the 30-year-old, who was victorious in the Zonnebeke cyclo-cross earlier this season, emerged at the front of the peloton only with the finish line in sight, and despite kicking out with around 200 meters to go, he gave absolutely no chance to his opponents, who were left fighting for the minor places on the podium.

The huge burst of speed he produced in the stage 1 finale allowed Tim to sit up and celebrate before crossing the line, as he dedicated his win to his new-born son, Jules. This success moved Soudal Quick-Step closer to its 900th victory, only two more wins separating the Wolfpack from this astonishing milestone.

“I couldn’t be happier! I’ve been a father for almost two weeks now, and this is what makes today’s result so special. This victory is for my son. Ok, I had already won that cyclo-cross race last month, but I was really eager to experience this feeling as fast as possible on the road, and I’m delighted that I did it here, in my very first stage race with the team.”

“In the closing kilometers, I lost the guys a bit, but I could come back, and it was quite easy to follow Bert from that moment on. Then, in the sprint, I went a bit too early, but I had what it took to keep the speed, and this gives me a lot of confidence for the future”, Tim said after scoring Soudal Quick-Step’s 66th win in the Middle East.

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UAE Team Emirates reports on both the Oman Tour and the Vuelta a Murcia:

UAE Team Emirates put in a strong team display at the Vuelta Murcia with Matteo Trentin and Tim Wellens coming home in 5th and 6th respectively in the Spanish race today.

The Emirati squad went into the race as defending champions after Alessandro Covi’s victory 12 months ago.

Approaching the line, Wellens put in a huge effort inside the final kilometre, taking the front of the reduced peloton and setting up Trentin. Though on the technical bends to the line the Italian would slightly mis-time his effort, and sliding back to 5th place on the uphill sprint won by Ben Turner (Ineos-Grenadiers).

Meanwhile on Stage 1 of the Tour of Oman Pascal Ackermann got involved in the finishing sprint to take 6th place behind Tim Merlier (Soudal Quickstep).

Tim Merlier has his head down as he drives for the line. Photo: Getty Sport

Tomorrow the racing continues in both Spain and Oman, with the Clasica de Almeria from Puebla de Vícar to Roquetas de mar (190.3km) and stage 2 in Oman from Muscat (Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex) to Qurayyat (174km) with a hilltop finish.


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Vuelta a Murcia reports

We posted the report from winner Ben Turner's INEOS Grenadiers with the results.

Here's the report from third-place Jordi Meeus' Team Bora-hansgrohe:

Due to bad weather conditions, today's race was shortened to 183 km and the Collado Bermejo climb in the middle section of the course was removed. At the beginning of the race, Marco Haller, Jordi Meeus, Nils Politt, Jonas Koch and Frederik Wandahl managed to get into a large early break. But the 55-man leading group wasn't able to last long and the race came back together. Following on from that, there were several attacks, but in the end they were all forced to remain unsuccessful. On the slightly ascending finishing straight, Jordi Meeus was able to position himself well and sprinted to a strong third place in Cartagena.

Ben Turner was first across the line. Photo: GettySport

"We had a clear plan, if I felt good, the team would work for me for the sprint. We raced very well together as a squad, which motivated me even more. I struggled a bit on the climb at 15km remaining, but the guys did an amazing job to keep me in the first group. Then it was all about positioning in the finale. i'm happy with my form after my crash in Australia, and overall I'm pretty happy with my third place today." - Jordi Meeus

"The guys rode a strong race. There was quite a lot of wind at the beginning but we were always at the front. The finale was hard, with positioning being crucial, and Jordi finished third here at the end. So chapeau to the whole team who really fought well and managed to pull out a nice podium finish." - Torsten Schmidt, Sports Director


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Team DSM reports on stage three of the UAE Women’s Tour

Here’s the team’s news:

The queen stage of this year’s UAE Tour Women finish atop the tough climb of Jebel Hafeet which averages almost seven percent in gradient for over ten kilometres. To get to the climb though, the peloton would have to navigate predominantly flat terrain which on first inspection didn’t seem like it would cause any issues. However, Team DSM started with a plan and at around 40 kilometres to go the team came forward en masse and alongside a few other teams, split the peloton into three in the wind.

With Charlotte Kool, Daniek Hengeveld, Franziska Koch and Maeve Plouffe all doing some big turns at the front, we were well positioned as a group heading onto the climb, looking to protect climbing finisher Esmée Peperkamp. Road captain Pfeiffer Georgi showed her climbing legs too and stayed with Peperkamp for as long as possible before Trek turned up the pace at around seven kilometres to go. With the group whittling down one-by-one, Peperkamp found herself in the trio at the head of the race, alongside two Trek riders. Digging deep, she ultimately had to let go of the wheels and rode at her own tempo before being caught by some chasers in the closing three kilometres. Showing grit and determination, Peperkamp managed to follow the attack from her new group – pushing all the way to the line to take a strong fourth place finish – her best ever UCI Women’s WorldTour result, and as a result moves into eighth on GC.

“I am super proud of the whole team,” explained Peperkamp. “Everyone gave me confidence and protected me so I was safe the whole day and could start the climb in a good position, and we even split things in the wind which was great. It was the first time I was riding a final like this and wanted to find out where my limit was. I went a bit too hard the first part and then just gave everything I had left until the line. I also learned a lot so I can do a better final next time.”

Results:

107 kilometers raced at an average speed of 38.124 km/hr

  1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) 2hr 48min 24sec
  2. Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo) s.t.
  3. Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) @ 1min 11sec
  4. Esmee Peperkamp (Team DSM) @ 1min 13sec

GC after stage 3:

  1. Elisa Longo Borgini (Trel-Segafredo) 9hr 10min 53sec
  2. Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo) @ 7sec
  3. Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) @ 1min 18sec
  4. Esmee Peperkamp (Team DSM) @ 2min 22sec

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