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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 15, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

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Vuelta a España stage 18 team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Remco Evenepoel's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Remco Evenepoel became one of the youngest riders in history to amass 50 pro wins after another incredible display of strength on a tough day of racing that contained five classified climbs, including the brutally steep Puerto de la Cruz Linares, a 9.8km ascent averaging 8.6% which made its debut in La Vuelta.

The defending champion started the stage with two goals in mind: securing the KOM jersey, which was resting on his shoulders since last Saturday, and going for a third victory at this edition. Evenepoel was ready to attack from the start, and he didn’t waste any time when it came to showing his intentions, zipping away as soon as the flag was dropped and forming a strong breakaway group together with other riders.

Remco Evenpoel has left everyone behind. Sirotti photo

With the peloton having no interest in chasing them down, the fourteen men in the lead built a considerable gap which at one point reached twelve minutes. Evenepoel was the driving force of the breakaway, taking some incredibly long pulls on both the flat and the climbs, on the latter passing first over the top to add more points to his already impressive tally in the mountain classification.

The strongest rider in the group, already victorious in Arinsal and Larra-Belagua, Remco led the break onto the first ascent of Puerto de la Cruz Linares, pushing a tempo that whittled down the group to just a handful of riders. Around four kilometers from the top, he made the decisive move, a short but powerful acceleration dropping all the other men, and putting him on course for a hat-trick of mountain victories at a single edition of the Spanish Grand Tour, something no other Belgian has achieved in the nine decades since the race was created.

Diving down the descent, but without taking any risks, Remco continued to increase his advantage, starting the final climb of the day two minutes clear of his nearest opponents. With each kilometer, the 23-year-old got closer to his seventh Grand Tour stage win, which he eventually got by a huge margin, pointing to his head to indicate his amazing mental strength before making a heart shape with his hands as he crossed the line.

“I dedicate this victory to my wife. I talked with her before the stage and said that if I would win again at this race, it would be for her. I felt really good today, I had very strong legs and am proud of what I did and achieved on such a tough parcours.”

“I won three of the most beautiful stages of this Vuelta, and even though the GC plan didn’t work out, I can call this an amazing race for us. We can be happy with these three weeks. When I attacked today on the penultimate climb, I felt that I was the strongest of the group, and once I had a gap, I just kept going. To take another victory and mathematically win the KOM jersey is just incredible”, added the first Belgian rider in the last 41 years to score a hat-trick of victories at the Vuelta a España.

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Here's the Vuelta report from GC leader Sepp Kuss' Team Jumbo-Visma:

During the 18th stage of the Vuelta a España, Team Jumbo-Visma focused on preserving their lead in the general classification. In the end, Sepp Kuss managed to slightly extend his lead.

The stage was ideal for early breakaways. Remco Evenepoel was the strongest of the 14-man breakaway, with the Jumbo-Visma riders controlling the race in the background.

Sepp Kuss with his teammates close by in stage 18. Sirotti photo

"It's an honour to have two such champions working for you”, said Kuss, referring to Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic controlling the pace on the final climb for the GC leader. "They have both won some big races in the recent past. So this is a great honour”, said Kuss, who was impressed by the support from the roadside. "It's probably the best part of being a professional cyclist. You feel the passion and the emotion when people cheer you on from the sidelines. It touches me every time.”

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Here's the Vuelta report from fourth-place Max Poole's Team dsm-firmenich:

With the goal of getting it into the break to play for the stage win, Max Poole made the move for Team dsm-firmenich, where he rode brilliantly over the challenging terrain to take fourth place at the end of the day.

After the GC riders fought for stage glory on Angliru yesterday, there was a sense in the peloton that Thursday’s stage would be even more likely to go to the breakaway. As a result, a fierce start to the day saw multiple attacks from the bunch, before a group with Poole forged clear after 20 kilometres. Despite being held close initially for a few minutes, the proverbial elastic then snapped and Poole’s break quickly gained enough time so it was clear they would fight for the stage win. The up-and-down nature of the route made for a hard stage, as the break charged towards the final climbs. On the penultimate ascent Evenepoel turned the screw and made his eventual race winning move, with Poole the last rider to hold onto his wheel.

Managing the descent and flat valley road, Poole was joined by Caruso and the duo made it onto the final climb together. Riding strongly and giving everything he had on the steep slopes, Poole fought to the finish in La Cruz de Linares, taking a great fourth place on the stage.

Max Poole finishes a stage in the 2023 Critérium du Dauphiné. Sirotti photo

Speaking at the finish Poole said: “It was a fast start and we wanted to get in the break today as a team so we all tried. I managed to get into a big group and that was that. I tried to go with Remco when he went on the climb, which was a positive and nice to try and hang with him, but that maybe pushed me a bit into the red. The strongest rider on the day won. I gave it everything in the end but just had nothing in the last kilometres. I tried to push as hard as I could to the line. It was a bit disappointing to get rolled for the podium in the finale but I gave it my everything so can’t have too many regrets. I had a tricky first week and a bit to be honest, but this week I’m feeling better so far, so I think that’s a positive. We also expected that as a team coming in as I normally get better as a race goes on, so it’s nice to be able to race in the final week. Hopefully we can try again in the days left.”

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Jake Stewart signs with Team Israel-Premier Tech

Here’s the team’s announcement

Israel – Premier Tech is excited to welcome Jake Stewart to the team in 2024 to take on a key role in the classics as well as forming part of the team’s sprint lead out train.

Stewart burst onto the pro cycling scene with second place at the 2021 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, showing his potential as a first year neo pro so when the opportunity to sign the 23-year-old British rider arose, IPT didn’t hesitate.

Jake Stewart descending in stage 12 of the 2023 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

“Jake Stewart is a huge talent and a rider we have yet to see the best of. We have made a number of key signings for next year and beyond, but we were still on the lookout for a rider who could take on a leadership role in the classics and also play an important role in our sprint lead out. We believe we have found the perfect fit in Jake, and we can help him reach his potential in the IPT environment. Jake is already close with a number of our riders, current and future, so I think he will fit in well and we look forward to seeing what he can do with us,” says General Manager Kjell Carlström.

For Stewart, team culture and leadership opportunities were the key factors when making the decision to sign a two-year deal with IPT.

“I think the biggest thing for me when looking at changing teams was going into a team where I would be happy, where I can thrive, and where I can fit into the culture. Everyone I spoke to at Israel – Premier Tech and all the conversations I had before making the decision made it really clear to me that the IPT project and culture of the team would be a good fit, where I can thrive and hopefully fulfil my true potential. It’s a project I am really excited to get stuck into,” explains Stewart.

IPT owner Sylvan Adams echoes Stewart’s sentiments when welcoming him to the team.

“Jake is a strong rider who helps beef up our classics squad. Also, given our recent new signings of top sprinters, Jake will be a valuable addition to our lead out train. I’m really happy Jake has chosen to join us. I think he will fit in really nicely into our team culture,” Adams reiterates.

Stewart is relishing the chance to take on multiple roles in the team in both a leadership and support rider capacity.

“Being involved in the classics as well as in a sprint lead out train, rather than taking the sprints on as I have done previously, is an exciting opportunity. The classics are the kind of races that get me out of bed in the morning and motivate me to go training. So, to come into a team where I have some leadership in the classics is extremely motivating. The team is putting a lot of trust and confidence in me to excel in that role, so I hope to get a good run at the classics, coming in off a good block of training, and seeing everything falling into place. The last two classics seasons have been hampered by injury and illness and I haven’t had much of a clear run. It would be really nice to return to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to get some redemption and go one step higher than I did in my first year pro.”

Not only will Stewart develop his skills in the lead out train, but he’s set to unite with good friend Ethan Vernon.

“Playing a key role in the sprint lead out train isn’t really something I have done much of, but I have really enjoyed it when I have and helping the boys to get a win has been just as good a feeling as it has been winning myself. I really want to cement myself in that role and excel. I have raced with Ethan Vernon since I was a junior and we’re good friends so coming into the team with him is super exciting. I’m really looking forward to a new opportunity and new adventure, new goals, a change of scenery, and working with new people with new ideas,” adds Stewart.

Stewart is the latest IPT signing for 2024 alongside Vernon, Pascal Ackermann, Michael Schwarzmann, George Bennett, Hugo Hofstetter, and Oded Kogut, Nadav Raisberg and Riley Pickrell, all of whom step up from the IPT Academy.

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