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Monday, August 15, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do. - Jean-Paul Sartre

Tour de France: 2020

Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2020: The Tour During Covid-19, Better Late Than Never is available in both Kindle eBook and Audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Arctic Race of Norway stage 4 team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here’s the report from winner Andreas Leknessund's Team DSM:

A deceptively hard day in the saddle and a parcours that begged to be attacked, Andreas Leknessund and Team DSM put on a masterclass of tactical cycling to win the final stage and overall title at Arctic Race of Norway today.

Race winner Andreas Leknessund. Photo: ARN/Gautier Demouveaux

After yesterday’s queen stage and the summit finish, today’s parcours at the Arctic Race of Norway saw the peloton faced with constantly rolling terrain and a punchy closing circuit in Trondheim; which featured a two kilometre climb, a short plateau, fast descent and then a flat run to the line.

It was an incredibly fast and attacking start to the stage with the team incredibly active, with both Mark Donovan and Andreas Leknessund in moves that were brought back. Eventually after roughly 60 kilometres of action, Leknessund forced the gap and broke the elastic to the peloton, going clear alongside two other riders. Leknessund and his breakaway companions worked well together, building up their advantage to two minutes over the peloton where it held steady, as Leknessund was still a threat on GC as he started the stage just 36 seconds behind the leader.

Heading onto the finish circuit the gap had fallen to just over one minute so with 30 kilometres to go Leknessund stamped on the pedals and forged on solo. Putting his power to brilliant effect, Leknessund held onto his gap over the next lap before a counter attack went clear over the top of the following ascent, with Max Poole riding superbly to follow the move and police it.

Taking the bell inside eight kilometres to go, Leknessund led Poole’s chase group by 38 seconds, with the yellow jersey group one minute and nine seconds in arrears – where Donovan and Romain Combaud were also doing a brilliant job of controlling things. Over the last climb Poole’s chase group split up, with the youngster just having to let go of Conci’s wheel approaching the top of the ascent. It was an all-out battle to the line with Conci closing the gap to Leknessund down to just 15 seconds as they started the descent.

Giving everything he could to the finish with the chasers closing in, Leknessund crossed the line to take a brilliant win; eking out every second possible on that home stretch as the GC win was a possibility too. Raising his arms aloft in jubilation after the finish a nervous few minutes awaited before it was confirmed he would take home the GC title too. Behind, Poole finished a superb fourth from the chasing group – his first Pro level top five – after doing an incredible teammates job in the closing stages.

“I felt quite bad yesterday so today we agreed to see how the legs reacted and waited for the local laps,” explained a smiling Leknessund. “The attacks kept coming in the bunch though and as a team we decided to all participate in the moves and after a while the legs felt better and I went away with three guys. At first, I didn’t think that it would go to the line but my personal goal was to get a lap out front of the crowds and enjoy it. When I was out there alone I just went full-gas. I didn’t believe it would stay away until the last kilometre actually. I felt pretty tired and was expecting the guys to come really fast from behind, especially as the climb which was steep and hard. My teammates told me on the radio that everyone was suffering and that really motivated me. It’s really nice after yesterday. It’s like home race for me and it’s one that I watched since a small kid – it’s unbelievable to win the race overall, it’s quite emotional to be honest.”

Team DSM coach Phil West added: “What a nice day and way to win a bike race. We were a bit disappointed after yesterday’s stage so we knew we had some work to do but the upshot was that where we were positioned in GC meant we had some breathing room. We wanted to be aggressive in the race and be on the front foot and that the race day was a fast one. We knew that the finishing circuit was going to be critical because it the climb was tough and it was fast afterwards, which made it difficult to control and chase; so we wanted to create a bit of chaos. We played it so that Andreas could then make a move on that finishing circuit and then we just committed fully for it. It was also a really nice job from the guys in the group behind to cover things. It was a really nice team win today and credit to the guys who bounced back and really went for it, after a day before where we quite didn’t get it right yesterday. I’m proud of all their efforts.”

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Here’s the Norway Race report from GC 2nd-place Hugo Houle’s Team Israel-Premier Tech:

Hugo Houle’s summer of success continued at the Arctic Race of Norway where the Canadian battled to finish in second place on the General Classification after crossing the line in fifth place on the final stage.

Hugo Houle

Hugo Houle after winning 2022 Tour de France stage 16. Sirotti photo

A strong team performance saw Israel – Premier Tech finish with three riders in the top-12 overall with Carl Fredrik Hagen finishing in ninth place on home roads, and Krists Neilands in 12th place.

“I’m really happy with the way I raced here all week, and the way we raced as a team as well. A big thanks to all of the guys in the team, we had a good group here and without them, this result wouldn’t have been possible. It’s another strong result and I did my best so I am happy,” explained Houle.

Stage 4 was an action-packed day starting with a huge battle to form a breakaway before a trio of riders were finally able to go clear after more than an hour of racing. Although the peloton kept the breakaway on a short leash in preparation for four laps of a punchy finish circuit, eventual stage and race winner Andreas Leknessund attacked solo from the breakaway.

Behind, Houle was part of a seven-rider chase group sitting around 30 seconds behind the Norwegian leader while Hagen and Neilands covered the yellow jersey group behind. Houle dug deep on the final two laps to ensure he would stay clear of the third group on the road and while his huge efforts prevented him from picking up bonus seconds on the finish line, the Canadian managed to finish 15 seconds clear of the next group to secure his podium position.

“The whole day was really fast. It was really chaotic at the beginning with lots of attacks until the breakaway finally went away. Leknessund deserved to win today, he was really, really strong. We tried really hard to bring him back on the final circuit and I thought maybe we could after he had done such a big effort so a big thumbs up to him. For myself, on the second climb we were going quite fast and I saw an opportunity to attack and I managed to get away with six other guys, including three from Alpecin – Deceuninck, so we had quite a good group and we were able to go about 40 seconds clear of the bunch. At that moment, I knew it was good for me as we still had Carl and Krists behind to play their cards. I did my best on the last lap. Alpecin attacked me on the last climb and if we had stayed together, I think we could have gone for the win,” added Houle.

Hagen finished in the group 15-seconds behind and Neilands crossed the line another six seconds back in a testament to IPT’s teamwork throughout the past four days, said Sports Director Nicki Sørensen.

“In the end, our guys did a good race. Hugo did a beautiful race and it’s nice to see him having his best season ever by far. Carl Fredrik and Krists did everything they could behind and were able to finish in a good position on the General Classification as well. We had great support from Simon Clarke and our two young guys Sebastian Berwick and Cole Kessler were really able to learn a lot from this race. It was a wild stage in the end and congrats to the winner Andreas Leknessund, it was a super nice race by him,” said Sørensen.

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Fabio Jakobsen is the new European Champion

Here’s the report from Jakobsen’s Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

The 25-year-old Dutchman took another win in what is an outstanding season for him.

Fabio Jakobsen dashed to a spectacular victory in Munich, where the seventh edition of the European Championships takes place this year, cementing his status as the fastest sprinter in the world at the end of a 207.9km race that came down to a fast and furious bunch gallop.

Winner of eleven races this season, including Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and stages at Paris-Nice, Tour of Belgium and Tour de France, Fabio came at the start Sunday morning as the main favourite and lived up to the billing, becoming the second Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider in four years to win the road race at the event.

Fabio Jakobsen winning Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne ealier this year.

After the two-man breakaway was easily brought back on the penultimate lap and a late attack was reeled in less than three kilometers from the finish, Fabio was ideally positioned by his teammates as they entered the finishing straight and produced a perfect effort that gave absolutely no chance to Arnaud Démare (France) and Tim Merlier (Belgium), who rounded out the podium.

“I am incredibly happy! To be European Champion is something that I only dreamed about, but at the start I was confident in my chances of turning this dream into reality, as I came in good shape and had a strong team. We don’t race too much together during the year, but everybody in the Netherlands team did a great job and put me in a perfect position going into the last kilometer, for which I am grateful to the guys.”

“I felt good today. I survived on the first climb, then struggled a bit on the steep gradients of the second one, but came through while the team made sure of keeping the breakaway’s advantage under control the entire time. In the final 200 meters, I just did my sprint and I am delighted with this victory and having this jersey on my shoulders for the next twelve months”, an elated Fabio said after making it a dozen victories this season.

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Polynormande race reports

We posted the report from winner Franck Bonnamour's B&B Hotels-KTM team with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Lorenzo Rota's Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert:

One week after winning the Sazka Tour, Lorenzo Rota was very close to a new victory on a selective course in the Polynormande, which was ridden on eleven hilly local laps and in the rain.

With more than 160 kilometers to go, the Italian rider attacked with a group of eight riders and managed to resist to the return of the peloton and to sprint for the victory in the streets of Saint-Martin-de-Landelles.

The leading group, which was reduced to five men in the final lap, preceded the peloton with around 20 seconds and Lorenzo Rota took second place. It is the eleventh time this season that the Italian rider finishes in the top five.

Franck Bonnamour wins in Saint-Martin-de-Landelles.

"The decisive race move happened after 40 kilometer. It seemed quite early, but when we arrived on the local lap I saw that it was perfect for a breakaway, especially in these wet circumstances. Four riders were in the lead and with Guillaume Martin I managed to make the junction on the climb. In the end we were nine strong riders in the lead and as we cooperated well I was quite confident that we could make it to the finish. However, the peloton was only 10 seconds behind us with one lap to go. We went all out and this was decisive as the peloton soon gave up the chase. I feel more confident after my victory in the Sazka Tour, I really needed this. I'm now preparing for the Tour du Limousin before an altitude camp and the Italian classics. I like this period of the year, it would be a dream to win in Italy." - Lorenzo Rota

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