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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, September 9, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines. - Frank Lloyd Wright


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Tour of Britain's stage four team reports

We posted the report from second-place Julian Alpahilippe's Team Deceuninck-Quick Step with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner and new GC leader Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team:

Wout van Aert has won the Tour of Britain’s queen stage with great display of power. The Belgian champion beat world champion Julian Alaphilippe on the steep final climb. Thanks to his victory, Van Aert recaptured the lead in the general classification.

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert just beats Julian Alaphilippe

In the fourth stage the riders had to cope with three thousand altitude metres in a stage of more than 210 kilometres. A front group of six riders immediately broke away. Thanks to Team Jumbo-Visma the breakaway riders were caught before the final even started.

In the final kilometres, Pascal Eenkhoorn and George Bennett proved to be ideal teammates for Van Aert. Eenkhoorn kept the Belgian leader at the front on the penultimate climb of the day. A little later, Bennett personally made sure Van Aert was dropped in a good position at the foot of the final climb.

Woods was the first to attack. Van Aert seemed to give in for a moment, but a few seconds later he caught up with the Canadian and the world champion. After Alaphilippe had started the sprint from behind Van Aert, the versatile Belgian of Team Jumbo-Visma didn’t hesitate for a moment. After a sprint on the edge, Van Aert won for the second time this race.

“It was painful for two kilometres”, said Van Aert. “At the bottom of the final climb it was very steep. I set myself the goal to survive that tricky part. We knew Alaphilippe and Woods would be the biggest competitors today. When I was in the wheel of those guys, I knew I could rely on my sprint. I was also thinking about the general classification. When Julian attacked, I put in a good sprint. This was a very nice finish. I put this victory high on my list. It may not be the biggest race I have won, but I will be happy with the way I did it for a long time. I am very happy with this victory.”

The Belgian champion says he has a lot of confidence at the moment. “I studied the course beforehand. I knew it was very important to be in a good position at the bottom of the climb. Woods attacked early. From that moment on there was nothing else to do but ride full speed to the finish. For me this was the most important stage of this tour. This has been a good test for me. On paper today’s course seemed to be just a bit too difficult for me. However, it turns out that with confidence a lot is possible. I tried to motivate the team all day long. They worked hard all day to put me in the best possible position at the foot of the final climb. I was able to go just over the limit to get this win. I had to dig really deep.”

For Van Aert, it is his tenth victory of the season. That brings Team Jumbo-Visma’s tally to thirty-five victories.

Here's the report from Ethan Hayter's INEOS Grenadiers team:

Ethan Hayter put in a gutsy but measured ride on the slopes of the Great Orme as he was forced to narrowly relinquish the Tour of Britain leader’s jersey.

The Brit set his own tempo on the steep final climb in Wales, finishing fifth as Wout Van Aert won the stage. Bonus seconds saw the Belgian elevated into the race lead by a slender two-second margin over Hayter.

The INEOS Grenadiers had set an impressive tempo on the Marine Drive run into Llandudno, after helping to set the pace for much of the stage.

Ethan Hayter

Ethan Hayter winning a stage at the Ruta del Sol earlier this year.

Hayter was initially distanced but made his way back to his rivals with 300 metres to go, before a final acceleration saw Van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe duke it out for stage honours.

Hayter still retained hold of the blue points jersey at the race’s halfway point. Rohan Dennis also held on well up the steep gradients to remain in sixth place overall.

Odd Christian Eiking signs with EF Education-Nippo

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Eiking has been racing professionally since 2016 and recently came to prominence at this year’s Vuelta a España where he wore the leader’s red jersey for seven stages. “It’s not something I ever imagined. I was hoping for a stage win but instead to have had the red jersey for so long, it was really, really amazing,” he said.

Eiking

Odd Christian Eiking in the Vuelta's red leader's jersey. Sirotti photo

The Norwegian considers what leading a Grand Tour taught him. “It’s changed me as a rider. It gave me more confidence, seeing that it’s possible to stay with some of the best riders. I want to continue on this good path where I am now.”

For Eiking, continuing on this good path means finding new opportunities and new goals. “I need to be in a place where I can grow and develop and EF looks really great for me to develop. It looks like a really good group and I want to be a part of it,” he said.

In addition to leading the Vuelta, he finished second overall at the Arctic Race of Norway and seventh at the Clásica San Sebastián. The Norwegian is coming off of his best season to date and is highly motivated. “I’m excited to meet the team and to win races together. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters has had his eye on the Norwegian for some time. “I was watching him throughout the season. He was great in San Sebastian. He almost won the Arctic Race of Norway and then went to the Vuelta and had a great run in the leader’s jersey. Almost pulled off a top 10 overall. I watched it all. I was talking to his agent the entire time and an opportunity came up to pull the trigger on it and I did not hesitate,” Vaughters said.

The 26-year-old credits the sport with teaching him the value of discipline. “Cycling is a hard sport, of course. It’s a lot of hard work to get to the top of cycling – I’m not even at the top. To get to where I am now, it’s a lot of hard work,” he said.

Fortunately, Eiking isn’t one to shy away from hard work. “Every aspect of cycling motivates me, whether it’s riding, the good atmosphere within the team, or training outside. It really drives me, especially the competition,” he said. “To be able to travel and see different parts of the world while competing in the biggest races, that’s what really motivates me.”

When Vaughters realized just how keen Eiking was to show his potential, the CEO was enormously impressed. “He didn’t want to talk about a contract until he’d proven himself in races and I thought, ‘Damn, this guy’s got some guts to basically turn down a potential offer and want to show his worth first.’ Very few riders in his position would do that,” Vaughters said. “The fact that he wanted to prove himself, I feel like that’s an attitude that’s going to take him a long way.”

Eiking has always had a competitive streak. As a child, he grew up Nordic skiing, a common pastime given Norway’s snowy winters. “But when you see you’re not reaching the top, you have to find another sport,” he jokes. “Then I started cycling. Cycling was more my thing. I started because a few friends of mine started and I liked to be outside. I was a really energetic kid.”

While racing has taken him all over the world, his home roads remain his favorite. Picture towering glaciers, cascading waterfalls, mountains speckled with trees and rock, and colorful towns dotting the coast. “I really like to ride at home. I’m from Bergen and the landscape on the west coast of Norway is pretty spectacular. It’s where I grew up so I know all the roads. The nature and the roads are really special there,” Eiking said.

“I really look forward to getting started next year. I hope as a team we can win races together. I hope, of course, that I also will be able to win some races. To be on a winning team is great no matter what. It’s a really special feeling. I hope I can have a lot of that feeling next year and in the coming years.”

We hope so, too, Odd! Welcome to the EF team.

Team DSM's upcoming racing

The team sent me this:

Antwerp Port Epic / Sels Trophy: SEP 12

Bennie Lambregts - Team DSM coach
"Antwerp Port Epic is normally a very hard but exciting race with several gravel sections spread throughout the day. We could see one, or a group of attackers get away, or a reduced bunch might come to the finish and fight it out in a sprint. We have a mixed team at the race, with three riders from our Men's program alongside four from our Development program, and it gives the guys a good chance to gain more experience. Tiesj is of course a specialist on this type of terrain and we have Casper who is in good form after the recent win at Ronde van Achterhoek. With the combination of the rest of the team who all enjoy this type of racing, I think we can ride an aggressive race as we search for a good result."

Tiejs Benoot

Tiesj Benoot (shown winning 2020 Paris-Nice stage 6) will race the Antwerp Port Epic.

Line-up:
Tobias Lund Andresen (DEN)
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Marius Mayrhofer (GER)
Vegard Stokke (NOR)
Casper van Uden (NED)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)

La Choralis Fourmies Féminine: SEP 12

Albert Timmer - Team DSM coach
"This will be the our first time competing at La Choralis Fourmiers Féminine, and it looks to be an interesting parcours. The last edition of the race saw a sprint finish but with a rolling circuit in the finale, we could also see a group get away. We have a strong team that can compete on several fronts. We want to make sure that we're always in the race, riding aggressively. If it comes down to a sprint finish then we'll look to set up Lorena, but Coryn and Pfeiffer have shown good form recently and give us other options too."

Line-up:
Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Esmée Peperkamp (NED)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Julia Soek (NED)
Lorena Wiebes (NED)

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