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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, April 15, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of. - Bruce Lee

Tour de France: 2021

Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2021: The Little Cannibal Dominates is available in both Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour of Turkey stage five reports

We posted the report from winner Sam Welsford's Team DSM with the results.

Here’s the report from George Zimmermann’s Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team:

Six early escapees played a main role in the third stage of the Tour of Sicily (2.1) between Realmonte and Piazza Armerina in the provinces of Agrigenta and Enna.

Not long after the start at the south coast of the Italian island the breakaway was formed on the first slopes of Naro (15.6km at 2.6%), the first categorized climb of the day. The seven riders of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert stayed united in the stretched peloton which crossed the hilly countryside with a strong headwind 4 minutes behind the leaders.

After the forced abandon of Gerben Thijssen because of physical problems, the peloton was skimmed in the explosive final race hour. The climbers in the selection under the direction of Jean-Marc Rossignon survived the selection as one unit and were part of a group of twenty riders after an explosion of the peloton on one of the steep sections with 10 kilometer to go.

Behind the last survivor of the early breakaway, several groups joined each other and sprinted for second place. German rider Georg Zimmermann took ninth place and approaches the top twenty of the general classification, were Domenico Pozzovivo (5th) and Louis Meintjes (13th) are on the eve of the final stage towards the top of the Etna.

Sam Welsford wins the stage. Team DSM photo

"The Tour of Sicily is a nice discovery for me. I enjoy to be back racing, the excellent conditions and our good team spirit. This race was the perfect opportunity to return into competition after my crash in Milano-Torino. After three days of racing we’re in a good position with the team, but the most difficult part is yet to come. I’m expecting a very hard battle on the slopes of the Etna tomorrow. It is probably the first time in my career that I will race on such a hard climb. But with our good starting position in GC, our focus on the queen stage and our two strong climbers we are confident that we can finish our good work from the past three days in style. Everyone is motivated to give it their all during four and a half very intense hours!" - Georg Zimmermann

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Sam Bennett's Team Bora-hansgrohe posted this report:

Another day for the sprinters – already before the start of the fifth stage of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Türkiye it was clear that the fast men would fight for victory today. The stage led over 186.1 kilometres from Manisa to Ayvalik and was mostly flat, except for some hills in the first third of the race. The race was characterized by various breakaway groups, with BORA - hansgrohe sitting in the peloton, protecting its captain, Sam Bennett.

In the last kilometres, the sprinters' teams prepared the finale, BORA - hansgrohe was also involved in the chase with several riders. In the final sprint, however, Sam Bennett had bad luck and had to get out of one pedal after a contact with another rider. In the end, the Irishman was the best BORA - hansgrohe rider and came in as eleventh.

“We got through the stage well and managed to avoid crashes. The guys did a good job, especially Shane Archbold and Luis-Joe Lührs helped a lot today. In the last kilometres everything was very hectic. Sam was unlucky when another rider touched him, and he had to get out of one pedal. Of course, we are not satisfied with the result, but we will try again tomorrow.” – Bernhard Eisel, Sports Director

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Paris-Roubaix team previews

Our 2022 Paris-Roubaix page

Here's the update from Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

The “Queen of the Classics” is waiting for its suitors, and just like Portia, it will be awash with them this Sunday, when the riders lining-up in Compiègne for the 119th edition will battle the pavé and the dust for a chance at eternal glory in the iconic Roubaix velodrome. The 257.2km parcours contains 54.8 kilometers of rough cobblestones spread out over 30 sectors, the first of which – Troisvilles to Inchy – will be tackled after almost 100 kilometers, marking the real start of the race.

But it will be later, on the five-star rated Trouée d’Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre – the most feared cobblestone sectors of the day – that the major shake-ups are expected to come, although these won’t be the only opportunities for the contenders to try and make the difference.

Victorious in Paris-Roubaix six times since 2005, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl will be present at the start with a strong team comprising seven riders who between them have a total of over 30 participations in the race and three podiums: Kasper Asgreen, a top 10 finisher just last week at Amstel Gold Race, last year’s Omloop winner Davide Ballerini, Tim Declercq, Yves Lampaert – third here in 2019 – Florian Sénéchal, Jannik Steimle and Zdenek Stybar, runner-up at the 2015 and 2017 editions.

Philippe Gilbert won for the team in 2019 (he now rides for Lotto Soudal). Sirotti photo

“We have big hopes for Paris-Roubaix, which we will start with a good team. It will be the final northern classic of this spring and we go there with confidence, motivation and the same fighting spirit, hoping luck will be on our side this time. We aim for a good result Sunday afternoon, when we’ll rely on several riders to try and make the difference”, said sports director Tom Steels.

Here's the Paris-Roubaix news from Wout van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team:

After extensive examinations and approval by the medical staff, Wout van Aert is ready to participate in Paris-Roubaix. Merijn Zeeman provides more information about the decision to let the Belgian champion start. Mike Teunissen also looks ahead to 'the Hell of the North'.

Wout van Aert winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad ealier this year. Sirotti photo

Van Aert's participation in Paris-Roubaix was a deliberate decision. "After a covid infection, we are extremely careful with our riders' health", Merijn Zeeman says. "The medical staff has an important and decisive role in this. Together, we have monitored his situation intensively. A doctor has been with Wout for four days to monitor his body's reaction to the training. He also had very extensive examinations before he resumed training. At the beginning of this week, the medical staff determined that he is fully fit and can continue his efforts at top sporting level."

Van Aert was also checked during and after training, Team Jumbo Visma's sportive director says. "On the functioning of the heart, among other things. Wout's health is in excellent shape. But after a week of isolation, top form is no longer possible. His run-up to Roubaix is poor and he will miss the reconnaissance on Thursday. All in all, it is anything but an ideal preparation. However, a rider like Wout can still play a role in supporting Christophe Laporte, Mike Teunissen or Nathan Van Hooydonck."

For Mike Teunissen, Paris-Roubaix is one of his favourite races. "The race suits me well. I have very good memories of it. For Sunday, it is difficult to estimate what result I can expect. It also depends on how we race. Hopefully I can compete in the final, but we'll have to wait and see. I had hoped that my spring would go a little better. The level is very high, within the team and in the races. I could do what I was supposed to do, but I didn't bring something extra in most cases. Hopefully it will go a little better on Sunday. Then the world will look a lot different."

Paris-Roubaix is often said to be a race fought man-to-man, but the Dutchman sees it differently. "We have shown all spring that riding with a strong team is good. You can really make each other stronger. It is a man-to-man fight, but it is still nice to have good guys around you. That is always an extra advantage."

Teunissen expects a dusty 'Hell of the North'. "For Sunday, dry and relatively good weather is forecast. So it will be very different from last year."

The 119th edition of Paris-Roubaix means a return to racing in spring. Therefore, better weather is expected than last year's heroic edition. But whether it's raining or dry, the riders will still face a tough race. The course is 257 kilometres long, including 55 kilometres of cobblestones, spread over no less than 30 cobbled sections.

Line-up Paris-Roubaix (17/04):

  • Wout van Aert
  • Mike Teunissen
  • Nathan Van Hooydonck
  • Edoardo Affini
  • Christophe Laporte
  • Mick van Dijke
  • Timo Roosen

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Here's the Paris-Roubaix news from Team Bahrain Victorious:

After last year’s unprecedented autumn edition, Paris-Roubaix returns to its traditional during Spring on Easter Sunday (17th April).

The 257.2 km course also follows tradition, featuring 54.8 km of cobbles spread out over 30 sectors. The sectors are rated on a scale from one to five stars, with the maximum assigned only to The Trouée d’Arenberg (no. 19), Mons-en-Pévèle (no. 11) and the Carrefour de l’Arbre (no. 4). Just a slight change affects the route in the sectors from 23 to 24 (118 km-135 km), and with the weather expected to be dry, it may look different to last year’s edition.

After the jubilation at the finish in 2021 for Sonny Colbrelli and Bahrain Victorious, sadly, this year, the Queen of the Classics will start without the King [Ed: Colbrelli fell unconscious after finishing second in the opening stage of the 2022 Tour of Catalonia, has had a defibrillator implanted, and to the best of my knowledge, is not currently racing].

Sonny Colbrelli winning the 2021 Paris-Roubaix. Sirotti photo.

“We will also ride for Sonny!” say the Sports Directors Enrico Poitschke and Michal Golas: “We will ask the guys to give their best, ride together as a team and never give up. The aim remains to try to win the race. Matej Mohorič will be our leader. He’s motivated and not at his first experience on the cobbles. The key is to stay in a good position and try to follow early attacks. He will also be ready to attack at the right moment. Each rider in the team will support him in each race phase.

We have strong riders for such an epic race, such as the experienced Jasha Sütterlin, who will help, especially in the second part of the race, and Fred Wright, who, despite his young age, has shown a good attitude in the North Classics and last year at Roubaix. Matej will also count on Dylan Teuns at his debut in the race. Yukiya Arashiro, a true helper when needed, and the young Johan Price-Pejtersen are also debutants. Not a debut for Chun Kai Feng, who rounds out our lineup”.

Matej Mohorič will return to Paris-Roubaix for the third time, after his first appearance in 2019 and the last edition of the race, where he rode in a supporting role: “Paris-Roubaix is one of the biggest races there is in cycling. It was an unforgettable experience last year with Sonny taking the monumental win in an epic edition with rain and mud over the cobblestones. This year, it will be different without him, and we miss him a lot. The weather will be dry so the race will be different. I think my condition is still there. I was just short of being able to join the front selection in Amstel Gold Race, but fortunately, there are no climbs on Sunday where I could struggle, just a couple of cobblestones to make the selection between who will write the history this year and the rest. We will do our best to fight for the win because this truly is a race where anything can happen!”

Sonny Colbrelli won’t be the only big absentee for the team, as Roubaix fanatic Heinrich Haussler also misses out due to injury.

Unfortunately, Haussler crashed in a training ride before the Tour of Flanders and is suffering from a knee injury. After returning home, he underwent an MRI and will undergo surgery today. Following surgery Haussler is expected to be back on the bike in two weeks.

Sep Vanmarcke to miss Paris-Roubaix

Vanmarcke's Israel-Premier Tech team post this short note:

Unfortunately, Sep Vanmarcke has been ruled out of Paris – Roubaix due to illness.

The Belgian has been recovering from a respiratory tract infection and although his recovery is progressing well, Sep will need more time in order to return to race condition.

Sep will hopefully be in a position to resume a full training load at the start of next week, following which his race program will be adjusted accordingly.

Vanmarcke: “I am really sad to miss one of my favorite races of the year, Paris – Roubaix. It was a big goal for me. But I have to accept the situation and let my body recovery first from the illness I’ve had in the last weeks.”

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