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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 23, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office. - Robert Frost

Tour de France: 2021

Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2021: The Little Cannibal Dominates is available in both Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Team DSM announces Tour de France squad

The team sent me this:

With just over a week to go until the Grand Départ in Bilbao, the peloton at this year’s Tour de France will take on an action-packed 21 days of racing, where a wide variety of parcours awaits. Team DSM today reveal their exciting eight-rider strong roster who are ready to fight on all fronts.

Getting underway in the Basque country, the proverbial heat will already be on with two challenging days right out of the block as the puncheurs and GC riders are expected to do battle over the tough climbs. The sprinters will get their chances on stage three and on their return to France the following day, before the very non-stereotypical tough early start continues with some hard days in the mountains to follow. The varied parcours continues before the opening week is rounded off with a climb to the top of the mythical Puy de Dôme ascent, where those looking to battle for the yellow jersey will come to the fore.

Week two sees the mix of terrain continue as the peloton and race snakes its way from the west of France to the east, and a further flurry of mountains to close the weekend. Racing resumes after the second rest day with the only individual time trial of the event, before some days for the sprinters and breakaway artists while the last two mountain stages will see the GC riders duke it out one last time to decide the destination of the famous yellow jersey. The closing day in Paris gives the sprinters and teams who have braved the challenging three weeks one last shot of glory on the famous Champs-Élysées.

Will this finally be Romain Bardet's Tour after so many high placings? Sirotti photo

Heading to the race with lots of momentum after strong recent results and team performances, plus a combination of well thought out training plans and other specialist areas, the Men’s program will be rocking their new look as they take on their first race in our beautiful Team dsm-firmenich kit, emblazoned with the distinctive two-stripe design to reflect the team’s Keep Challenging philosophy.

Team DSM coach Matt Winston expressed: “We’re looking forward to getting underway at the Tour de France next week, and we head to the race with the goal of going for the GC and stage results as a team. We’ve got a good strong core GC group that have been working well together over the past few months with Chris, Kevin and Matt, who can support our GC finisher Romain over the mountainous terrain; and they showed in Tour de Suisse that they are in good shape. Likewise, we also have a core sprint group with Alex, John and Nils, with Sam as our sprint finisher for those fast finales.

"We will work together as one team like always though, with our climbing group supporting the sprint group on those flatter days and vice versa with the sprint group doing early work in the mountains. As for the route, we expect there to be fireworks already in the Basque Country with some difficult opening stages, before potentially a sprint on day three. The route then returns to France and through Romain’s home region, which will of course be special for him, followed by a variety of terrain where we can make our mark as a team throughout the three weeks before the big traditional finish in Paris.”

Romain Bardet (FRA)
John Degenkolb (GER)
Matt Dinham (AUS)
Alex Edmondson (AUS)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)
Sam Welsford (AUS)

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Filippo Ganna is Italian time trial champion

Here’s the report from Ganna’s Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Victory by 24 seconds in Sarche represents the fourth win in the last five years against the clock for the Grenadier.

Ganna was able to set a winning time of 32 minutes and 48 seconds, leading home Mattia Cattaneo (Soudal - Quick-Step) and, six seconds further back, Mattia Sobrero (Jayco AlUla).

Filippo Ganna time trialing earler this year at the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race. Sirotti photo

The Trentino course saw the riders climbing from the outset, tackling the Passo Sant’Uldarico, before dropping back down for a flat run to the line as Ganna drove home his advantage.

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Rémi Cavagna is French time trial champion

Here’s the report from Cavagna’s Team Soudal Quick-Step

Rémi Cavagna put in a truly dominant ride Thursday afternoon in Cassel, taking his second gold medal at the National ITT Championships after the one of 2020. The “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand”, one of the pre-race favourites, gave absolutely no chance to his opponents as he delivered the 68th national title in Soudal Quick-Step’s 21-year history.

Cavagna time trialing earlier this year at the Coppi-Bartali stage race. Sirotti photo

The penultimate rider to roll down the ramp, Rémi had a strong start, going through the first checkpoint just one tenth of a second behind the reigning champion. Cavagna, who came here after a solid outing at the Critérium du Dauphiné, ramped up the speed in the second part of the 31.3km course and set the fastest time at the remaining splits. Not even the final climb to the line, averaging 8.8% over 900 meters, could stop the 27-year-old from powering into the hot seat and to the win with a phenomenal time of 39:36, more than half a minute clear of the next rider in the ranking.

“It’s amazing! To have this jersey again means a lot to me. It’s an honour to wear the colours of my country in the time trials for the next twelve months, it’s something that makes me very proud. I knew the parcours suited me, I made some recons this week and was aware that on the final hill I needed to still have some power left, so I put in a solid ride from the beginning but kept some energy to increase the tempo there.”

“The fans were really incredible today, they made a fantastic atmosphere out there as they encouraged me from the start. This victory gives me extra motivation for Sunday’s road race, where despite the fact we will ride in just three, we are confident we can go for a good result”, added Rémi after his third win of the year.

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Tsgabu Grmay and Urška Žigart claim national time trial titles

Here’s the news from their team Jayco-AlUla:

Tsgabu Grmay and Urška Žigart have both won their national time trial championships with dominant rides against the clock, while Italian Matteo Sobrero also stepped onto the podium with a bronze medal ride.

Ethiopian Grmay kicked-off the day in style as he powered to his seventh national time trial victory as he returned to his home city of Mek’ele. The 31-year-old was back in his homeland for the first time in three years to race his national championships, and despite having to quickly adapt to the altitude in the Tigray Region, he was victorious once again.

Tsgabu Grmay time trialing in the 2019 Tour of Switzerland. Sirotti photo

Over in Slovenia Žigart retained her national time trial title with an impressive display over the 15.7km course. Fresh off finishing seventh overall at the Tour de Suisse earlier in the week, the 26-year-old continued her fine run of form to take her third national TT title by 1’43”.

Meanwhile in Italy, former champion Sobrero stepped onto the podium again in the Italian time trial championships with a strong ride for third place in Sarche.

Tsgabu Grmay:
“I’m so happy to win the race, it has been three years since I’ve come back here, the race was in Mek’ele, my city. It was hard with the altitude as I’ve been here just three days.

"The race was around 30km, and it was just good to see the people back and the races have started again after the hard time with the civil war. I’m so happy to be here to race the Ethiopian championships and to win and to be back in the Ethiopian champions jersey, I’m looking forward to wearing it again.”

Urška Žigart:
“I’m really happy to keep the jersey for another year, I’m always really proud to wear the national colours.

"It was really hot today and I got a bit scared, I started quite fast, but luckily there was something left in my legs after the last few days of racing. I’m super happy with how it went today and I’m looking forward to keeping the shape for the races in July.”

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