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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, January 22, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 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 in print, Kindle eBook & Audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour Down Under stage 4 reports

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

Here’s machine-translation of the report from stage winner Bryan Coquard's Team Cofidis:

At the heart of this strong group of racers tackling the last kilometers, in the wide Australian arteries, two Cofidis runners played the spoilsports. They resisted the edges and ambitions of their rivals to position themselves at the front of the race. There is Alexis Renard, back to competition after an operation which caused him to miss the end of last season. It is he who takes control of the peloton in the last corner.

Bryan Coquard enjoys his first World Tour win. Sirotti photo

Behind, there is Bryan Coquard, ready to spring. The Cofidis sprinter does not need to be asked and begins his effort less than 300 meters from the finish. He is the only one to emerge from the peloton, he gets a few meters ahead and keeps them until the end. Bryan Coquard can savor, take his head in his hands and then fall into the arms of his teammates. His intense joy is the height of what he has just achieved: Bryan indeed signs the first victory in the UCI World Tour of his career. The accomlishment had been checked-off.

The ‘Coq’ therefore offers Cofidis its first victory of the season. A success that feels good: Cédric Vasseur, the team manager, has long repeated that it was necessary to win quickly in order to start the season as well as possible. Last year, it was also Bryan who raised his arms first, during the Étoile de Bessèges. This year, he is doing it again on the other side of the world to the delight of all team members.

Bryan Coquard: “I'm super happy because it's my first victory in the UCI World Tour. This is my 11th season as a professional, I had the chance to win a lot but never in the UCI World Tour. And this counter, we were keen to unlock it with the team this season. It's not a relief because the emotion is the same on arrival but there is a little more! Today was a day with a lot of stress because we knew there would be curbs. We had one about sixty kilometers from the finish and we were in the first group with Alexis Renard, who took great care of me throughout the stage. We were really focused on the finish trying to save ourselves to do a good sprint. He lifted me right at the right time and it went well. Afterwards, I didn't hesitate, especially since it's the type of finish that I prefer!"

Roberto Damiani, sports director: “We had identified this stage beforehand because we knew that it could correspond to Bryan. With the wind and the edges, it was a difficult stage and we regret that Victor (Lafay) did not manage to stay in the 1st group. But what is positive is that Alexis and Bryan kept their cool and held on until the end. This slight false flat rising at the finish was conducive to his qualities and we can only be proud of his victory. This victory, the first of the season, is good for morale and allows us to start in the best possible way!"

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Here’s the Down Under report from GC second-place Simon Yates' Team Jayco-AlUla:

Briton Simon Yates crept up one place on the general classification on today’s penultimate stage of the Santos Tour Down Under to second spot, while teammate Michael Matthews retained his lead in the points classification.

Michael Matthews just after stage four. He remains the points classification leader. Sirotti photo

The 133.2km stage from Port Willunga to Willunga Township wasn’t a typical day suited to Yates, however Team Jayco AlUla made the most of it, maximising their opportunities by assisting the multiple Grand Tour stage winner Yates in the intermediate sprint to take a valuable bonus second.

After starting the day in third place overall at 16 seconds, the Team AlUla Jayco rider moved up to second place, now on equal time as Pello Bilbao ahead of an all-decisive stage around Mount Lofty tomorrow.

Earlier in the stage, Matthews successfully sprinted to third place in the first intermediate sprint, sweeping up more points behind two escapees, which helped the Tour de France stage winner increase his lead in the points classification.

The Australian outfit worked to split the race in crosswinds and kept the pressure on during the race to avoid dropped sprinters returning to the front group, in order to set up Matthews for the stage win.

On the uphill sprint finish, which on paper suits the 32-year-old, Matthews sat in position but found the line too far and had to settle for sixth place. Not the result he had hoped for but the stage placing still ensured that the Australian extended his lead further in the points classification, where he now sits 11 points ahead of Caleb Ewan.

Michael Matthews:
“I had really high hopes for the stage win today, unfortunately the legs weren’t there, but we still believed in the opportunity to go for the stage win and the team set it up for me. We continued to drive it all day to keep the race hard and split it but I just didn’t have the legs in the finish to finish it off.

"Today we optimised the intermediate sprints with Yates taking one second, so that was a big positive for us and now he is up to second overall. We are still in the game, we aren’t going to give up until the finish line tomorrow afternoon. It has been a rollercoaster week for us, but Yates has stayed strong and kept himself in position to win this tour, and obviously that is our goal. We aren’t here for second place we are here to win, and we have the best riders around us and have won this race multiple times before as a team, so hopefully we can all get around Yates tomorrow and get him on to the top step.”

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Here’s the report from Mauro Schmid’s Team Soudal Quick-Step:

For the second time in three days, crosswinds wreaked havoc, this time on the road to Willunga Township, where the penultimate stage of the race finished. Things were ignited around 80 kilometers from the finish, when the peloton was fragmented and the original breakaway was reabsorbed by a group featuring Mattia Cattaneo, Mauro Schmid, Jannik Steimle and Martin Svrcek.

Mauro Schmid after stage three. Sirotti photo

Several teams, including Soudal Quick-Step, joined hands at the front and kept the speed up, preventing the chasers from bridging across. Things remained tense as the small bunch in the lead approached the final ten kilometers and some of the riders vying for a good result began jostling for position. On the uphill drag to the line, it was Bryan Coquard who took the victory, while the general classification remained unchanged in the upper echelon.

Protected by his three teammates, Mauro Schmid concluded safely in the bunch and retained his place in the standings. The 23-year-old, third in Campbelltown, is fifth overall going into the last stage of the Tour Down Under, which will see the peloton tackle the demanding Mont Lofty climb.

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And here’s the report from Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Kim Heiduk led home the INEOS Grenadiers in ninth after a reduced bunch sprint decided a tumultuous day's racing at the Tour Down Under.

Heiduk keenly contested the uphill drag to the line, securing his best finish for the Grenadiers, followed closely behind by Ethan Hayter in 11th.

Magnus Sheffield finished as part of the same group to remain fourth overall and retain the Zwift Best Young Rider's jersey ahead of the final stage.

Clearly a breezy day at the race. Sirotti photo

Crosswinds had caused havoc earlier on, with around a third of the peloton missing a split in the bunch.

The Grenadiers contributed to the pace setting, with Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas, Luke Plapp and Heiduk all doing turns to ensure the front group were able to keep the chasers at bay.

As the pace increased towards the end of the stage, the numbers in the front group further dwindled, with Heiduk and Hayter the first Grenadiers home from the reduced bunch.

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