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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, June 5, 2023

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Brussels Cycling Classic team reports

We posted the report from second-place Tobias Lund Andresen's Team DSM with the results.

Here's the report from winner Arnaud Démare's Team Groupama-FDJ:

Arnaud Démare’s season is definitely underway. A bit more than a week after his first victory of the year, the French sprinter did it again on Sunday, in the Brussels Cycling Classic. Opportunistic and aggressive, he initially managed to join a strong group that was established following the two times up the Muur. He also benefited from the support of Lewis Askey in the front, in particular in the last kilometre, which allowed him to contest the victory in the sprint. A winner from a small group, he therefore conquered his 93rd career win.

Arnaud Démare times it perfectly.

For the ninth time since entering the pro ranks, Arnaud Démare was at the start of the Brussels Cycling Classic on Sunday. The Frenchman even won the race back in 2017, on a route that was however less tricky than for the 2023 edition, which especially included the iconic “Kapelmuur” twice in the second half of the race. The Bosberg and the Congoberg also featured on the route, in addition to two cobbled sections in the final 30 kilometres. A lively race was expected, but first, the usual pattern took place with four-man breakaway establishing itself through Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal WB), Paul Lapeira ( AG2R Citroën), Jens Reynders (Israel-Premier Tech) and Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X). Yet, the four men only had a three-minute lead approaching the halfway point, and then tackling first Flemish climbs.

“We thought there could be moves early on, in the Muur and the Bosberg”, said Yvon Madiot. “I had told the guys to be careful on the first time there, to be in the top twenty positions because we knew a group could break away. That’s what happened.” “My job was to be in the front and follow the attacks in the first climbs”, added Lewis Askey. “That’s what I did. At first, I found myself at the front in a group of four, then around twenty guys joined us, including Arnaud”. “Laurence should have been there but two riders crashed in front of him, and he couldn’t go through,” Yvon added.

With more than 80 kilometres to go, the race was therefore already on, and a first bunch gradually made a gap on a second, more substantial one. Thirty kilometres further on, the riders went for another Muur-Bosberg-Congoberg sequence. The breakaway was swallowed by the first group, and the distance duel continued. “It was difficult because there was not much collaboration at first, and I had to pull a lot with Intermarché-Circus-Wanty to maintain the gap, because this scenario suited us”, said Lewis. “In the second time on the climbs, I really had to hang on”. “Arnaud also asked Lewis to slow down a little because he was working too much, and we let the responsibility to others a bit after the second sequence”, explained Yvon. “The fact that the group did not take too much of a lead also suited us because I was afraid that there would be attacks all over the place if the gap increased a lot. There was always between 20 and 40-50 seconds, and so they needed to keep on pulling in the front. I had also asked those who were behind to remain careful, and we still had a big squad ready to step in if it all came back together. We were always in a good position as a team. We were pretty confident during the race. The guys never let their guard down, they covered the attack of Arnaud and Lewis. Unfortunately, there was a crash twenty kilometres from the finish which involved Paul, Enzo and Miles”.

While Enzo Paleni and Miles Scotson did not suffer any significant damage, Paul Penhoët had to go to the hospital in order to undergo some medical exams. In the meantime, the second peloton became more and more threatening and reduced the gap to just ten seconds with twenty kilometres to go. “I thought it was going to come back”, confessed Arnaud. “I was disappointed as we had made a lot of effort in front. I though “all this for nothing”, but in the end, they were probably cooked too as we gained ground again”. In the last fifteen kilometres, the victory seemed more and more probable for the front group, which kept a certain harmony until the last five kilometres. Then, a few attacks occurred but some riders sacrificed themselves for their leader. That’s also what Lewis Askey did shortly before the flamme rouge. “In the final, I wanted to lead Arnaud out but a rider from Jayco-AlUla attacked”, said the Briton. “I saw that the guys in the front were tired, and I knew that he could make it to the end if I let him go. So, I made my effort at the end and then I looked a little behind. I saw that Arnaud was in 7th-8th position and that Uno-X were in my wheel. When I stopped my effort, I knew it could be perfect for the sprint because Uno-X had to open early, and Arnaud was well positioned”.

Thanks to this last pull from Lewis Askey, the Frenchman was able to go for the win in the home straight, slightly uphill. “I wanted to wait in the sprint, because it was hard,” he said. “I was in Girmay’s wheel. I was maybe a bit far when the sprint started with 200 metres to go, but I had some energy left. It was difficult to overcome the last guy, but on the line, I felt that I was first”. For a few centimetres ahead of Tobias Lund Andresen, and thanks to a good bike throw, Arnaud Démare concluded this hard day of racing in the best possible way.

Crossing the line, the former French champion was sure about his victory and immediately started a celebration in reference to his young daughter. “This is my second victory here but this edition was harder with the hills and the cobblestones”, he said. “We did a great race and I’m always very happy to raise my arms, especially since it’s only my second win this year. I was not at my level at the start of the season. I feel good now, I’m getting better and better and I feel like it’s on”. “The guys followed the plan, Lewis was great in supporting him and the rest of the team was also ready to do their part in case of”, concluded Yvon. “Arnaud is back in good shape, that’s for sure, especially since it was not just a sprint today. This was hard racing, it went fast for 200 kilometres”. This is also why Lewis Askey, a key man and 21st on the line this Sunday, had a smile on his face. “It’s finally a good day for me,” he said in the evening. “Since the Classics, I struggled to find my real level, I was missing a little something. I just had a good 2-3 weeks of training, I was looking forward to being here, and I felt really good from the start. I’m really glad I had good legs today. We are super happy because Arnaud finished it off, and personally, that’s also a performance I really needed”.

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Here’s the Brussels Cycling Classic report from Tom van Asbroeck’s Team Israel-Premier Tech:

The rolling course of the Brussels Cycling Classic was always going to create an exciting race, and IPT made sure to animate the event, with Jens Reynders fighting hard to get into the day’s breakaway, and Derek Gee attacking in the last two kilometers. However it was Tom van Asbroeck who was IPT’s best finisher, sprinting to a respectable eighth place, with Derek rounding out the top 10.

Tom wanted more from the race, but was delighted with how the team worked, and knows the team can achieve better results if they race as they did today.

“I was looking for a better result, but I was boxed in in the last five hundred meters, so I had to work hard to chase back, so it’s not the result we were hoping for. But we did a great race as a team, we were active, and the team is going very strong, so we can’t complain about that, but the results aren’t quite there yet considering how hard we worked. I’m sure in the next weeks we will get some good results for sure, if we keep racing like this.”

Tom Van Asbroeck winning 2019 Binche-Chimay-Binche.

Whilst it was Van Asbroeck who had the better finish, Derek was pleased with his performance, rolling the dice

attacking with two kilometers to go, before helping lead out Tom to his eighth place.

“Coming off the Giro I was looking forward to seeing how my legs would be. I’m really happy with how I felt in the race and the team was super active so it was an awesome atmosphere to step into. We were hoping for a little more in the final but I think we can be happy with what the result shows for the coming races.”

Sports Director Dirk Demol was also pleased with the team’s overall performance, in such an animated and attritional race, but was sure the team could have done better if the riders had more luck on their side.

“8th and 10th is a nice result, but we definitely deserved better, as the team is riding well, they’re all in great condition, and we had a good mentality as a team. We just need to have a little more luck. Today when the split in the race happened there was a crash in front of Giacomo which he couldn’t avoid. It was a big group up front with Tom and Derek, and Tom was fast but he was a little boxed in, so he had to come from far back. It was very impressive again from Derek, especially after a hard Giro that he’s able to fight. The race was hard, and the parcours was all new to him, so he fought hard and a tenth place is fantastic. We’re working so well as a team, I’m optimistic for the races in the coming weeks.”


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Critérium du Dauphiné stage one reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Christophe Laporte's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Christophe Laporte has added the first stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné to his list of honours. In the final metres, the Frenchman of Team Jumbo-Visma sprinted past breakaway rider Rune Herregodts to win the stage. Laporte's win takes Team Jumbo-Visma's season tally to 31.

Christophe Laporte wins stage one. Sirotti photo

Five riders took an early lead. Despite the unpredictable weather conditions, Dylan van Baarle and Attila Valter kept Team Jumbo-Visma in control. The final consisted of three local laps around Chambon-sur-Lac and featured a tricky hill with the Côte du Rocher de l'Aigle. Laporte and Jonas Vingegaard rounded the final section safely with their teammates, after which the Danish Tour winner set up a strong lead-out. Laporte sprinted away from everyone to take his third win of the season.

"It was a difficult and nervous stage”, Laporte said. "The last descent was dangerous, especially with Herregodts still in front. But the team kept Jonas and me in the lead. I got the chance today, and I have to thank my teammates for that. Jonas' lead-out was fantastic. This is an excellent start to the week for the team.”

Vingegaard is using the Dauphiné in preparation for the Tour de France. "My form is improving, and I have prepared well for this race. Of course, I would like to win the general classification here, but the Tour remains the primary goal. We came to the Dauphiné to get a significant boost. In any case, I like to have a stage race in my legs before the Tour. This week will show if I am on the right track.”


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And here's the Dauphiné report from second-place Matteo Trentin's UAE Team Emirates:

Stage 1 of the Criterium du Dauphine took place on a challenging hilly circuit around Chambon-sur-Lac, spanning a total race length of 156km. The focus of the stage was on defending UAE Team Emirates’ leader, Adam Yates and an impressive display of teamwork and strategy, protected the British rider safely to the finish.

The peloton racing before the rain began to fall. Sirotti photo

As the stage reached its climax, a sprint finish emerged, with Matteo Trentin displaying his strength and determination, with the veteran giving a powerful performance, securing a commendable second-place finish in the sprint.

However, it was Christophe Laporte (Jumbo Visma) who ultimately emerged as the victor and moved into the yellow jersey.

Trentin: “It was a super hard day in the bunch. I think I made a nice sprint but Laporte was just a bit better. It was a messy sprint and in the end nobody had a lead-out man left so with 500m to go everybody was just dead and did their best. We’re more here for the GC but it’s nice to get a result like this.”

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