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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. - Isaac Newton

Dirty Feet: Early days of the Tour de France

Les Woodland's book Dirty Feet: How the Great Unwashed Created the Tour de France 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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Paris-Nice stage three reports

We posted the organizer's stage one report with the results.

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

Team Jumbo-Visma has won the team time trial of Paris-Nice. After a lightning-fast race against the clock, the Dutch team had the fastest time at the finish line. Team Jumbo-Visma won the race with an average speed of almost 57 kilometres per hour, earning them their eighth victory of the season.

Jumbo-Visma showing how a team time trial is done.

The team time trial was right up the yellow-and-black team's alley. Team Jumbo-Visma, which consists of time trial experts Rohan Dennis, Edoardo Affini, and Tobias Foss, already had the best time at the intermediate point and could hold onto the first position. Despite being small, the one-second advantage over EF-Education-EasyPost was sufficient to win the stage.

Leader Jonas Vingegaard was happy with his team's performance. "It feels great to have so many strong riders alongside me in this race. You can see that it can be really beneficial in stages like this. We tried to stick together with as many riders as possible for as long as we could."

Vingegaard claimed that Team Jumbo-Visma affirmed its status as one of the best in the world in this discipline. "While we don't get to practice the team time trial as frequently as we would like, you can tell we have mastered this discipline. The time trial went very well, and at the end, we sprinted for every second. We naturally would have preferred to take a little more time, but we gave it our all to secure a solid position in the general classification. The coming mountain stages are going to be decisive. Tomorrow, the first uphill arrival is already a nice test."

Nathan Van Hooydonck missed out on tomorrow's yellow leader's jersey by one second. The Belgian is second overall. After stage three, Vingegaard, Foss, and Jan Tratnik are still among the top ten. Van Hooydonck: "We went full speed towards the finish to ensure that Jonas, in particular, finished strongly. In the last kilometre, Jonas, Jan, Tobias, and I were left, and we gave it our all."

Despite the victory, sports director Marc Reef experienced exciting moments in the [following car]. "The intermediate times were close together. Every time, we were counting. We knew it would be close. They gave it their all, and in the end, we won. That's what counts, and it boosts the entire team's performance. Nathan could have won the yellow jersey, but another goal for today was that we gained ground on our competitors for the general classification."

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Here’s the report from new GC leader Magnus Cort's Team EF Educaton-EasyPost:

Magnus Cort took over the leader’s jersey at Paris-Nice after a superb TTT effort with his teammates on stage three.

We finished just 1.4 seconds short of the stage victory, but a huge turn from Magnus in the final kilometer fired him ahead of his rivals in the race for the yellow jersey. Magnus now leads Paris-Nice by one second going into stage four.

Magnus Cort will ride stage four in yellow.

“I am very happy,” Magnus said afterwards. “You know you can’t expect to come in yellow, but we were dreaming big today. We have a really strong team for this team time trial, so it is not completely unexpected.”

The organizers of the French stage race shook up the format for this TTT. For Paris-Nice’s first team time trial in 30 years, the time of the first rider to cross the line would count, instead of the fourth, as team time trials are traditionally run.

Going into the stage, Magnus was just ten seconds back from yellow, so the team decided to go all-in for him. Marijn van den Berg, Owain Doull, Andrea Piccolo, Stefan Bissegger, Tom Scully, and Neilson Powless committed 100% to the plan. They rolled through their pace line at nearly 57 km/hr, crossing the first time check in fifth place, ten seconds back of eventual race winners Jumbo-Visma, just over halfway into the 32.2-km race. Undaunted, they increased their effort, maintaining their blistering speed, while rotating smoothly through their formation to pull back time on their rivals.

“The TTT is always a difficult discipline,” Magnus said. “I quite like the course here. It is not very technical, but there were still some rolling hills, so it was not completely flat. It was all about catching the speed and sitting there doing good turns, and also having some good recoveries in the wheels for your next turn.”

Going into the final kilometer, we knew that it was going to be a close run, both for the stage win and for yellow. When Magnus saw the finish line, he launched his sprint with all of the strength that his teammates had left him. He crossed the line just in time to earn the yellow jersey.

After the podium, Magnus thanked his teammates.

"Obviously, I am very happy," he said. "It’s always a bit frustrating, when you are so close to winning, but you don’t get it, especially in a TTT. We still get something out of it with this jersey, but really it is the whole team who did the job. I am just one piece of the whole puzzle here. We all rode well. Otherwise, you can't do a good team time trial like we did."

Tomorrow, we will defend the race lead. Stage four runs from Saint-Amand-Montrond southeast towards La Loge des Gardes, with several hard climbs on the 164.7-km route. First up is the Côte de Vernet, then the Col du Beaujolais, before the summit finish atop La Loge des Gardes, a 6.7-km-long climb with an average gradient of 7.1%. It will be tough for Magnus to keep yellow, but he is up for the challenge.

“It is unfortunately quite hard tomorrow, but I will do my best of course!” he said.

Neilson Powless is also ready for the showdown on La Loge des Gardes. After today’s TTT, the American is just eight seconds back on GC.

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Tirreno-Adriatico stage two reports

We posted the report from stage winner Fabio Jakobsen's Team Soudal Quick-Step with the results.

Here's the report from Team Groupama-FDJ:

The Tirreno-Adriatico peloton crossed Tuscany from north to south on Tuesday and eventually arrived together in Follonica. As expected, a sprint concluded the second stage of the Race between the two Seas. Fabio Jakobsen took the victory while Fabian Lienhard crossed the line in thirteenth position. Wednesday, another bunch sprint is expected in Foligno.

The rush to the line. Sirotti photo

In the aftermath of the opening and wet time trial in Lido di Camaiore, the riders of Tirreno-Adriatico started under a few sunny spells on Tuesday for the second stage. Without major hills listed in the final, this long 210-kilometre day was set to finish with a sprint. “For our two leaders, Valentin and Thibaut, the goal was simply to finish in the winner’s time”, explained Benoit. “They had to ride a bit conservatively while not suffering any split and be careful of the crashes. Then, we also wanted to do a good sprint with Jake. Even if we knew that such flat terrain did not really suit him, we wanted to put him in good conditions”.

By the time the race passed Pisa after around thirty kilometres, the day’s breakaway was already established for a while and had an advantage leaning towards five minutes. In the lead Davide Bais, Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa), Stefano Gandin, Alessandro Iacchi (Team Corratec) and Roland Thalmann (Tudor) led the race for some time and could compete for the first king of the mountain halfway through the race. After the climb, Bais sat up, then Gandin did the same after passing the intermediate sprint seventy kilometres from the finish. Only three riders remained in the lead, and then saw their lead gradually reduce, before being caught with just twenty kilometres to go.

“It wasn’t a lively race today”, said Benoît. “The bunch rode at its own pace behind the breakaway. When they arrived on the last circuit of twenty-two kilometres, there was therefore a lot of tension. Everyone was fresh, so there was a big fight for positions”. The only small climb featuring more than kilometres to go did not create any selection and the bunch headed a whole towards the finish. “On this type of course, very flat, on large roads, we had a disadvantage to bring Jake to the sprint”, added Benoît. “We missed a lead-out train, even if we had a good rouleur with Bruno. We did our best”.

However, the Briton and his lead-out man Fabian Lienhard did not find their way through in the last hundreds of metres and therefore remained a bit in the back. The Swiss man took 13th place and the Englishman 18th. “They had trouble finding each other in the final, but it was not easy”, concluded Benoît. “Against the big teams, we knew it was going to be hard, but we had to make the most of the other teams, stay in the wheels, sneak in and do a good sprint. That said, the sprint was not straight-forward. It was hectic. We had to be on the right side and be lucky, but we will try again”. This should come already on Wednesday towards Umbria and Foligno. “It will be a long stage again, but with a slightly more tortuous finish”, previewed Benoît. “It will be more about positioning and it could suit Jake a little more compared to today”.

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Here’s the Tirreno-Adriatico report from Jordi Meeus’ Team Bora-hansgrohe:

Even though some crosswinds were expected in the beginning of the stage, the race was under control the whole day. Five riders went clear from the bunch early but had no chance against the sprinter teams. In the end all came down to a bunch sprint in Follonica where F. Jakobsen was the fastest. Jordi Meeus crossed the line in ninth place.

“It was an easy day, and everybody was focused on the finale. When everybody is getting fresh like this into a bunch sprint, it is super hectic. Also today it was really tricky. Nico brought me up once, which was great and on the last kilometer, I had to choose a wheel. In the end I was boxed in on the left and had no chance to start my sprint.” – Jordi Meeus

“We don’t have a real lead-out here and even Jordi is quite good in finding his way almost alone, it is of course super difficult when other teams take on the finale from the front. I think Nico did a good job and Jordi simply had no chance when he was stuck on the left side. But everybody came home safe, so nothing to complain about.” – Enrico Gasparotto, Sports Director


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