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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, January 18, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Mark Cavendish signs with Team Astana-Qazaqstan

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Astana Qazaqstan Team is happy to announce the arrival of British National Champion Mark Cavendish, who is going to join the Kazakh team for the season of 2023.

“I am really excited for this adventure. I raced with Alexandr Vinokurov for many years, and now I’m racing with his 2 boys! I remember when they were children the same age as my own, dreaming to be bike racers. Astana Qazaqstan Team is going to be a great place to be successful, with a strong team led by Alexandr, a champion on the bike and a gentleman off the bike. I’ve enjoyed a long career already, but the joy of riding my bike and the hunger to continue winning are as bright as ever. So I’m looking forward to being part of a successful team, whether working with the team for wins, crossing the line first myself, or cheering on my teammates. As always, the objective will be for us to stand on the top podium”, – said Mark Cavendish.

Mark Cavendish wins the 2022 Milano-Torino.

Mark Cavendish (37) is one of the greatest road sprinters of all times, who shares a phenomenal 34-Tour-de-France-stage-win-record with the legendary Eddy Merckx. Mark is the winner of the sprinter’s jersey in all three Grand Tours and 2011 Road World Champion.

In the season of 2022 Mark Cavendish won Milano-Torino, a stage at the Giro d’Italia, Tour of Oman and UAE Tour.

“Well, Mark Cavendish doesn’t need any presentation. He is the best sprinter of all times, and I am happy to welcome Mark in Astana Qazaqstan Team. The arrival of a top sprinter in our team is kind of challenge for us, but we are ready for it. We see new ways and new possibilities. The goals however are still the same – victories in any kind of race: Classics, stages in different stage races and, of course, in the Grand Tours. Mark still has a big desire to win and we are going to support this feeling with all our forces in all kind of races”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Astana Qazaqstan Team.

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Women's Tour Down Under final reports

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

Here's the report from second-place Amanda Spratt's Team Trek Segafredo:

After coming so close to victory the day before, the Trek-Segafredo team were fired up to give their all on the final stage of the Tour Down Under. Team leader Amanda Spratt had already shown she was the strongest climber in the field, so the Team devised a plan to launch the Australian’s attack on Corkscrew road, the toughest climb in the three-day race.

“We had a plan, the Team positioned me perfectly into Corkscrew; Lauretta went, Brodie went,” explained Spratt. “I attacked exactly the way I wanted to, but Grace [Brown] was having a fantastic day and I couldn’t get quite as much time on her as I wanted by the top. It’s never nice when you know that Grace Brown is chasing you on a downhill like that. I was hoping I could get there but she caught me and forced me to go on the front, which I wasn’t very happy about. Honestly, she was just stronger at the finish there.”

Grace Brown finishes ahead of Amanda Spratt in the final stage.

Spratt was the main animator of the final two stages, but was agonizingly caught within the final kilometer on both occasions. However, she doesn’t leave empty handed, as her attack on Corkscrew road was strong enough to create a significant time gap to the peloton. The Australian ends the race with 2nd on the stage, 2nd overall and, quite rightly, the title of Queen of the Mountains.

Spratty’s performance was about much more than second place on the day. There were many positives to take away from the three-day race: the Trek-Segafredo team looked like they had been riding together for years, such was the show of teamwork, however in reality, over half of the Tour Down Under team was formed of new arrivals. On a personal note for Amanda, after an extended period sidelined due to injury, it felt great to be back at the pointy end of things.

“I could ride away from everyone on the climb and climbing is my thing so it gives me a lot of confidence moving forward. I feel like I’m back and it feels great to be able to inflict the pain on the climbs. I gave it everything and didn’t finish with anything left. I have no regrets really, I’m just so pleased and thankful to my Team for supporting me here. Second in my first WorldTour race [of 2023], I couldn’t be happier. I’m looking forward to a great year ahead!”

Here’s the report from third-place Georgia Williams’ Team EF Education-Tibco-SVB:

It’s been an incredible three days of racing for our squad at Tour Down Under with Georgia Williams taking third overall and the team winning the best team competition.

Georgia Williams racing in 2018.

Coming into today’s final stage, our squad knew that the race would come down to the Corkscrew climb and the furious descent to the finish line. The peloton shed riders with each pedal stroke up the Corkscrew but Georgia was supported by teammates Abi Smith and Krista Doebel-Hickok.

“I was not feeling super great on the climb,” Georgia says, “but Abi came past me and set a really good pace. She paced me all the way back up to the group in front and I went with them all the way to the finish. It was perfect.”

Sport director Daniel Holm Fodder sees today’s result as an ideal building block for the year. “For Georgia to finish on the GC podium is very big for her but also for the team. It’s super important for the team to start the season like this,” he says.

It was a true team effort for Georgia to reach the podium and the results showed it. While teams are allowed to have six riders, injury meant we lined up with four riders. Rather than let that be discouraging, it only further motivated Abi, Georgia, Krista, and Lauren to dig deep in support of one another. This commitment to one another placed three of our riders in the top ten and earned us the title of best team at the 2023 Tour Down Under.

The Tour Down Under always offers an exciting start to the season and this year was no exception. Crosswinds on the first day put the peloton on edge but our quartet kept their cool with Lauren and Georgia both finishing safely towards the front of the bunch. The following day took the peloton through the rolling hills east of Adelaide. The stage was hard to control with so many teams hungry for a result but our team kept their focus. Lauren rode in the late breakaway which removed pressure from our shoulders before Abi led Georgia out for the final sprint. Georgia finished second on the stage which launched her to second overall. On today’s final stage, Lauren covered the early moves and Abi and Krista looked after Georgia on the Corkscrew. Two riders up the road meant the overall podium was out of contention but Georgia powered to the front of the bunch sprint and finished the day third, securing third place on the final podium.

“Considering we started the race with just four, it’s all the sweeter,” Abi says.

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Men's Tour Down Under prologue reports

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

Here's the report from winner Alberto Bettiol's Team EF Education EasyPost:

Alberto Bettiol wins the Tour Down Under prologue by a margin of eight seconds, taking the race leader’s ochre jersey.

Just as the first rain drops began to fall, Alberto set out on the 5.5 kilometer course. He set the early fast time of 6:19, averaging 52.2 kilometers per hour, which no rider could touch.

Alberto Bettiol enjoys his win. Sirotti photo

Alberto, one of the first riders on the course, had ridden the course earlier in the day and had his strategy dialed in.

“The plan was to go full, to go flat out,” the Italian says. “I especially learned the best way to take the corners, how to approach the corners because sometimes in six and a half minutes, it’s more important to do a corner in the right way than anything else. I did the loop many times and I learned the corners really well.”

Sport director Tom Southam knew Alberto was capable of a strong ride tonight and is thrilled to get the race underway with a win.

“It’s obviously the best possible way to start the year. I expected the rain but maybe a little bit later. As it was, it worked out kind of perfectly for Alberto but he also rode very fast so I don’t want to take away from his ride. If you look at the other people who rode around him, they were quite far behind him so he did a superb time trial. I could see before the race he was motivated. The rain came at a time that helped him but I think he’s better than he thought he was and that’s going to prove it to him.”

Starting the season with a win is rare and that is not lost on Alberto.

“It gives you extra motivation for the next weeks and gives motivation to the team, from the staff to the riders, so it’s better to start with a win, even if it was an unexpected win. This is cycling. You have to be ready to go for a win,” he says.

With five more days of racing ahead of us, Tom says the team aims to defend the jersey tomorrow. “It’s not like he’s got a small gap of one or two seconds. Most of the sprinters are over 10 seconds behind him and there are sprint bonuses tomorrow. There are a lot of people who lost a lot of time so we don’t have to close every gap to catch it. We can keep a lot of breaks quite close which is quite nice. I think the gaps are much more significant than we thought. I still don’t see us as the favorite team having the most pressure to win the GC here. It’s an early result. It’s nice. From there we roll forward step by step. We’ve got a super team to defend the jersey. Tomorrow is the most straightforward day and then it’s going to get more complicated. We will take it as deep as we can and get the most we can out of this race.”

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Second-place Magnus Sheffield's Team INEOS Grenadiers posted this update:

Magnus Sheffield got the Tour Down Under off to a strong start for the INEOS Grenadiers with second place in the opening prologue time trial.

The weather conspired to make the 5.5-kilometre course even more tricky, with heavy rain starting to fall as the first batch of riders left the start ramp.

Sheffield was able to manage risk while also maintaining great speed out on course, setting a time just eight seconds off the drier benchmark, and eventual winning time, of Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost).

Magnus Sheffield time trialing at the 2022 Tour of Denmark.

Second place also ensured the American moved straight into the Zwift Young Rider's Jersey heading into Wednesday's first full road stage.

Ethan Hayter and Luke Plapp also set competitive times to ensure both riders remained within 20 seconds of the ochre jersey. The mixed conditions caused havoc on the day, with the road starting to dry out again, only for rain to resume for the later runners, including Ethan.

His brother Leo was the first Grenadier down the ramp and, despite encountering heavy rain during his effort, came home 32nd. Despite a number of crashes on the day the team were able to get home safely, with Geraint Thomas among those taking a risk-free approach.

Magnus Sheffield:
"I’m really happy with how the start of the season has gone. I had really good form and I’m really happy with the off-season and also how I came down here.

"It’s a long race and we’ve got plenty of cards to show for later in the race. In the stage you saw today on Corkscrew in the women’s race, I think it will be a really exciting week.

"The way the race is structured with time bonuses it’s always going to be really tight no matter how the stages play out. There’s guys like Michael Matthews and also the strong sprinters like Caleb (Ewan). There’s a lot of fast guys you need to watch out for.

"It was really special getting to race here by the Adelaide Dome. It was a really nice course, although some of us were hindered a bit by the rain, but there’s nothing you can do about this."

Team DSM to race Vuelta a San Juan Internacional

The team sent me this :

Callum Fergurson - Team DSM coach:
"For the first time in the team’s history, we are heading to South America for the Vuelta a San Juan (Jan 22 – 27). At the race there seems to be one out-and-out GC stage, and then six stages that will most likely end in sprints, with four of them being almost completely flat. We go there with a strong squad and we are looking at performing well in the flat stages and then setting up a GC chance on stage five. We have Marco who will test himself as the team’s finisher in the GC, while Sam is our designated fast-man for the sprint stages."

Marco Brenner at the 2022 Vuelta a España. Sirotti photo

Tobias Lund Andresen (DEN)
Marco Brenner (GER)
Jonas Hvideberg (NOR)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)
Sam Welsford (AUS)

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