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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 12, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. - Heraclitus


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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Tirreno-Adriatico stage six reports

We posted the report from stage winner & GC leader Primoz Roglic's Team Jumbo-Visma with the results.

Here's the Tirreno-Adriatico report from 2nd-place Tao Geghegan Hart's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Tao Geoghegan Hart produced another gutsy performance to take a close second place on stage six of Tirreno-Adriatico.

The toughest stage of the race thus far played out over a brutal parcours, but saw the Brit once again excel.

INEOS Grenadiers rider Tom Pidcock led in a group at 20 seconds. Sirotti photo

Tao went for a gap against the barrier but saw his path blocked inside the final kilometre, but was still able to regroup and launch his sprint, narrowly missing out to race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma). However bonus seconds and time taken on key rivals elevated him into a podium position in third ahead of Sunday's finale.

Geoghegan Hart sits 23 seconds back on the blue jersey and 11 seconds ahead of fourth placed Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe), with a bunch finish expected to conclude the race.

The team rode well together, allowing Tao to conserve energy as much as possible. After a regrouping on the final lap it was Thymen Arensman who drove on the front to help bring back a dangerous late break.

Tom Pidcock was also present at the sharp end and came home ninth in a chasing group.

Tao Geoghegan Hart:
"[Roglic is] probably one of the most impressive riders of his generation. It’s like that sometimes. I was quite confident to be honest but we know the kick that he has.

"I was super comfortable all day and just being calculated. I was in Kwiato’s wheel for 150 kilometres without ever leaving it. On days like this where it’s really hard that makes a huge difference and I’m really grateful to him."

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Here's the Tirreno-Adriatico report from third-place Joao Almeida's UAE Team Emirates:

Joao Almeida continued his consistent high-level today with 3rd place on stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico from Osimo Stazione to Osimo (193km).

The wind subsided slightly after yesterday’s stage but the racing was intense until the line with the uphill kick to the line proving decisive. Joao Almeida stuck with the other race favourites in the heavily reduced group finishing a bike length behind race leader and stage winner Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma).

Roglic wins the stage from a small group. Sirotti photo

Almeida now moves up to 2nd overall at just 18’’ being Roglic ahead of the last stage starting and finishing in San Benedetto del Tronto (145km).

Almeida: “ I was feeling pretty good the whole day. The team did a great job all day protecting me even though it was quite chaotic. I think the strongest rider won today. I wanted to win but no regrets, I’m happy with my shape and the result.”

And here’s the Tirreno-Adriatico report from Julian Alaphilippe’s Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Julian Alaphilippe was again Soudal Quick-Step’s top finisher at the “Race of the Two Seas”, which took place in and around Osimo, the picturesque town lying not far from the Adriatic Sea. The profile like saw teeth, with some viciously steep gradients, made for a gruelling day in the saddle, the gaps between the favourites being bigger than on the previous day, when the race ended atop Sarnano-Sassotetto.

No shortage of climbs in stage 6. RCS photo

A breakaway comprising nine men, including Casper Pedersen, took center stage for more than three hours, but ultimately, they were swept by the field, which left nothing to chance. The hardest hill of stage 6 came with six kilometers to go – 1400 meters and an average gradient well over 12% – and it was there that the peloton cracked after a huge change of speed at the front saw a small group surge clear. Alaphilippe tried to follow and almost made it across, but by the time the climb was crested he was trailing by a couple of seconds, and eventually found himself part of the chasing group.

The 30-year-old Frenchman finished this brutal stage 6 outside the top 10, some 20 seconds behind winner Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), but remains our highest-ranked rider in the general classification going into the last day of Tirreno-Adriatico, in San Benedetto del Tronto.


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Paris-Nice stage seven reports

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

Here's the update from stage winner and GC leader Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

UAE Team Emirates were once again victorious on the second summit arrival at Paris-Nice taking their second win of the week through Tadej Pogačar.

After a day of forced rest caused by the strong wind, UAE Team Emirates’ captain conquered stage 7 of the French race, 142,9 km from Nice to the Col de la Couillole, preceding his direct rivals for the general classification David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), 2nd at 2”, and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), 3rd at 6”.

Tadej Pogacar wins stage seven in style.

On the final climb, the peloton bridged the gap from the main breakaway of the day (18 riders) and then the battle between the main favourites of the race began: Vingegaard attacked for first at -5,7 km, causing the prompt reply by Pogačar who led the race for a couple of kilometers with 7” on the chasing duo Gaudu-Vingegaard.

The Slovenian rider was reached by the two opponents and Gaudu tried a couple of attacks, but the three entered all together in the final 500 meters. Vingegaard launched the sprint and Pogačar succeeded in obtaining his 7th seasonal victory (13  success of the year for the Emirati team).

The Slovenian increased his GC lead by 12” on Gaudu and 58” on Vingegaard. UAE Team Emirates’ captain wears also the green jersey of the points classification and the white jersey of the young riders classification.

Pogačar: “Today was the first real hot day of the season and the pace was on since the start of the race. Ineos-Grenadiers forced the pace in the approach of the final climb, where we had a tough battle for the victory.

"Maybe I attacked too early, but I did not want to have too many riders in the front in the final: at the end, everything went as I hoped, so that’s perfect.
Tomorrow we will face the most demanding stage of this Paris-Nice, but I am confident because the climbs will be more suitable for my characteristics and on roads I know well”.

The final stage tomorrow: 118,4 km with departure and arrival in Nice, three 2nd category Kom (Cote de Levens, Cote de Chateauneuf, Cote de Berre les Alpes) and two 1st category Kom (Cote de Peille and Col d’Eze).


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And here's the Paris-Nice report from second-place David Gaudu's Team Groupama-FDJ:

David Gaudu surely deserves his spot on the provisional podium of Paris-Nice. The Frenchman again demonstrated it on Saturday on the week’s greatest summit finish. In the Col de la Couillole, on stage 7, the climber from Groupama-FDJ proved the strongest among the favorites, together with the yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar. He even tried to attack him a few times, but victory was eventually decided in a sprint, and the Slovenian took it like on Wednesday. Second at the top, David Gaudu strengthened his second place overall, twelve seconds behind Pogacar, before the traditional hilly stage around Nice on Sunday.

In this picture you can see how close to Pogacar Gaudu was at the finish.

After an unexpected rest day on Friday, a nice mountain stage was on the riders’ menu this Saturday in Paris-Nice. Most importantly, a proper climb was set to host the fight between the favourites, with no less than fifteen kilometres averaging 7% to reach the summit of La Couillole, final climb of the day. David Gaudu started the stage as the runner-up to the yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar, being just six seconds behind the Slovenian, which made him the main rival to the double Tour winner. The Frenchman honoured his status and role all day at the front of the pack, after what first was a lively start to the race. “It was very fast, Arnaud made the effort to try to get into the breakaway, which he did”, said Philippe Mauduit. “Then, we hit the first climb and it was a bit difficult but having him in front at this point in the race was interesting. All the big teams then tried to set their pace.”

In the short but twisty climb of Villars-sur-Var, Ineos Grenadiers tried to split the bunch, but the Groupama-FDJ was never put in trouble thanks to a perfect positioning. “It’s the snowball effect”, said Philippe. “All the team riders realize that David is capable of meeting the expectations, and they all think they can’t mess it up because he won’t. David thinks the same when he sees the work done by his mates all day”. “We knew the terrain, and I think we rode well”, added Rudy Molard. “We were always in front, trying to save energy and avoid the accelerations”.

This especially allowed the Breton to approach the final climb of the Col de la Couillole in excellent conditions, while the breakaway was just a minute ahead. “We didn’t show ourselves too much in the first part of the race, but we were up there at the bottom of the last climb, with Rudy, Stefan, Kono, Kevin and David”, said Philippe. “The first goal was to make sure that David was able to go for victory at the bottom of the final climb. From this point of view, the team was flawless”.

And so started the last fifteen kilometres of the day, uphill. Jumbo-Visma took control while David Gaudu was able to benefit from the support of Kevin Geniets and Rudy Molard for a few kilometres. The yellow jersey group quickly came down to the main GC contenders and the last man standing from the break was caught. With a headwind for most of the climb, the big attacks eventually started six kilometres from the finish, through Tadej Pogacar. David Gaudu took his own pace and made it across together with Jonas Vingegaard four kilometres from the top, before going on the attack himself!

“I tried today because I felt really good”, explained David. “Mentally, I really wanted to do something, I was very motivated. I didn’t want to have any regrets and tell myself that I could have followed them. I shouldn’t be afraid to attack. Last year, I was more trying to take my rhythm. This week and this year, we are trying to respond to attacks, or to attack”. In the last four kilometres, the Groupama-FDJ climber did take the initiative on a few occasions, but Tadej Pogacar always responded immediately while Jonas Vingegaard struggled a bit more.

After a sharp attack just over two kilometres from the top, the Frenchman and the Slovenian passed the flamme rouge a few meters ahead of the Dane, but the latter returned in the mix for victory, which was eventually decided in a sprint. The last winner of the Tour started from far, but Pogacar again made full use of his explosiveness while David Gaudu had to settle for second place at the top, as at La Loge des Gardes. “It’s really great to see the team working like this for me, so I’m sorry not to bring back the victory,” added David. “It was a nice climb. We tried, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. In the sprint, he was once again stronger, I don’t think I made any mistakes. I’m happy to be at this level and I really enjoyed being able to attack them. Even if it did not work, we must take the positive out of this race. It shows that the team can trust me and that I am not afraid to fight with the best. We also gained time in the general standings on the other podium contenders”.

“Every time he tries, he gets closer to the best”, said Philippe. “Pogacar is still a little faster than him in the sprint, but we saw that he was not as dominant as the other days. This is one of the first times he challenged him for victory in a mano a mano, on a summit finish. It shows him that it will be possible to beat him one day. This is an important sequence for David and Groupama-FDJ”.

The last stage, on Sunday, will also be of the utmost importance since David Gaudu remains second overall in the “Race to the Sun”, just twelve seconds behind the yellow jersey. “We have seen in the last years that this final stage makes Paris-Nice uncertain until the finish line”, concluded Philippe Mauduit. “This stage is usually extremely hard, fast, and opens up very early. I don’t see why the scenario would be different this year. David deserves a little better than a second place, but we have another stage tomorrow. We still have to believe in it”.

 

 

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