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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, September 14, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger. - Harriet Tubman

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Tour of Flanders: The Inside Story - The rocky roads of the Ronde van Vlaanderen is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Vuelta a España stage 17 team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Primoz Roglic's team Jumbo-Visma:

Primoz Roglic has won the seventeenth stage of the Vuelta a España. The Slovenian of Team Jumbo-Visma crossed the line with teammate Jonas Vingegaard, nineteen seconds ahead of general classification leader Sepp Kuss. It is the second time in this Vuelta that the Dutch squad has completed a mountain stage podium.

Roglic leads Vingegaard across the finish line. Photo: Sprint Cycling

"It's great to take the win on this climb”, Roglic said. "The Angliru is one of the most famous climbs in the world. The mountain has a rich history, and the gradients are unprecedented. I wanted to win this stage.”

On the way to the win, Roglic showed another fine display of teamwork with teammates Kuss and Vingegaard. The trio rode together at the front of the Angliru for a while. At a blistering pace, Roglic and Vingegaard rode together to the line, where the Slovenian took the day's victory. Kuss kept the leader's jersey.

Roglic: "Sepp told us to give everything. Of course, it feels strange to leave a teammate behind. But we are riders, and we always try to do our best. I told Sepp to keep fighting and to believe in himself. He heroically fought his way to the finish. We are here for a bigger goal, and that is to win the Vuelta with the team.”

"We knew today would be one of the decisive days”, birthday boy Kuss said. "Claiming first, second and third place, we passed this tough test with flying colours. Things are looking good for Team Jumbo-Visma. But there is still a lot to do in the coming days. For example, we should not underestimate tomorrow's stage. The time differences don't lie. It is up to us to give everything in the remaining stages.”

Roglic's second victory is the fifth for Team Jumbo-Visma in this Vuelta. The Slovenian's 14th win of the season takes Team Jumbo-Visma's tally to 61 in 2023.

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Here's the Vuelta report Mikel Landa's & Wout Poel's Team Bahrain Victorious:

Team Bahrain Victorious showcased remarkable teamwork on Stage 17 of La Vuelta, which saw three riders finish in the top 10 as Mikel Landa secured an impressive 4th place, Wout Poels 5th, and Santiago Buitrago 8th. This collective effort has elevated Mikel Landa into the top 5 in the overall standings, while Buitrago moved into the top 10, with only four stages remaining.

Wout Poels climbs the Angliru. Sirotti photo

Team leader Mikel Landa was happy with the way the day turned out:
“We had this stage marked from the beginning. Everyone was super motivated and focused on the plan. We did a great job, and everyone has been super.”

The team’s strategy to mark the stage was evident as Antonio Tiberi led them up the start of the last climb. Tiberi explained, “Today was a really fast stage, like almost every day. We did a really nice job from the next to the last climb. I did 3-4km of pulling, and after the downhill, I did another 6-7km of the last climb. After my effort, Damiano started the job.”

Team Bahrain Victorious sports director Neil Stephens praised the exceptional teamwork: “Today was a fantastic day for the team. Today at the team meeting, we said we’d try two things. One was that we’d try as hard as we could to win the stage; if we couldn’t do that, the other was to improve on General Classification. In the first half of the race, we saw that the breakaway would be quite difficult to get to the finish, and instead of sitting back and waiting to see what other teams would do, we decided to take control of the race and do things our way. Once we took control of the race, we knew that actual stage victory would be really hard, but once again, we didn’t want to sit back and shy away from work. We used all of our strength, and we had some fantastic firepower in our workers. We used all of them to the best of our ability, and the result was there.”

Stephens concluded, “Fantastic day today, I’m really proud of the boys, and we are ready to fight again tomorrow, to try to defend the General Classification, and most importantly, to try to get a stage win that has been avoiding us up till now.

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Romain Bardet's Team dsm-firmenich posted this Vuelta report:

The famous Altu de l’Angrilu and it’s brutally steep gradients awaited the peloton on Wednesday afternoon, with Romain Bardet attacking the GC group and then fighting to the line for 12th place.

A potential day for the breakaway, it was a fierce start to proceedings with multiple attacks at the head of the race. Team dsm-firmenich were active in following the moves with Romain Combaud and Chris Hamilton making it into a five rider group. However, the peloton kept them close and the gap was eventually closed as riders bridged across and attacked over the top with the duo returning to the bunch. A strong pace continued to be set throughout the day as they tackled the climbs, with Max Poole and Romain Bardet remaining in the ever-reducing peloton as they hit the lower slopes of the final climb. Testing himself against the GC group, Bardet stayed within the peloton whilst Poole let go of the group and rode at his own tempo; saving energy for the coming days.

Romain Bardet on the Angliru. Sirotti photo

Riding with panache, Bardet put in two attacks once Evenepoel was caught from the breakaway but the GC group kept up their strong pace and didn’t allow him to get a substantial gap. Once he was reeled in, Bardet rode at his own tempo, battling up the steep gradients to take a solid 12th place at the finish.

“It was a hard day but it was good,” explained Bardet at the finish. “We managed to put Chris and Romain in the break but unfortunately wasn’t meant to be a breakaway day. Then after that I think it was good I was with Max going into Angliru. I tried to give it a go at the start of the steep part but once I could see that I couldn’t make a decisive move, then I tried to ride as conservatively as possible to hopefully be at the front tomorrow.”

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And here's the Vuelta report from Remco Evenepoel's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Alto de l’Angliru, one of cycling’s most brutal climbs, made its return at the Spanish Grand Tour after three years, and it came with another impressive ride of Remco Evenepoel, who just like on the last two stages of the previous week, attacked from kilometer zero.

The Belgian Champion was extremely active, constantly trying to get in the breakaway in order to cement his position in the mountains classification and have a shot at victory on the mythical Asturian climb. After a fraught opening 40 kilometers and many attacks, the double stage winner made it at the front of the race together with his Soudal Quick-Step teammate Mattia Cattaneo. The Italian was again incredible, producing a solid and constant effort as he helped Remco open a maximum gap of almost three minutes over a peloton that didn’t want to give too much space to the breakaway.

Remco Evenepoel climbing the Angliru. Sirotti photo

One of the most impressive riders of this Vuelta, Cattaneo paced his teammate on Alto de la Colladiella and in the valley that followed, before calling it a day on the first slopes of Alto del Cordal. From that moment on, the 23-year-old went into time trial mode, cresting the climb with a 1:20 advantage which he carried onto the beast that is the Angliru (12.4km, 9.8%). There, showing an amazing resilience, he remained in the lead until with five kilometers to go, when despite his best efforts, he was reeled in on the gruelling double-digit gradients by the bunch, from where Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) went on to take the win.

Remco Evenepoel concluded some minutes in arrears, with the KOM jersey firmly on his shoulders after the twenty points scored during the stage and with another combativity award to his name, after the ones he got last week: “I realised before the start that the others would try to control things so they could fight for the victory, but I still wanted to try, knowing the first two climbs would be important to win in the battle for the jersey. We did a two-man breakaway and it wasn’t easy, but Mattia was very strong there and he deserves the combativity award as much as I do. The moment I got caught I began saving some energy for Thursday, when we’ll try again to take as many points as possible.”

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