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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 4, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The just is close to the people's heart, but the merciful is close to the heart of God. - Khalil Gibran

Olympics 50 Craziest Stories

Les Woodland's book The Olympics' 50 Craziest Stories: A Five Ring Circus is available as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Saudi Tour stage three team reports

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

Here's the report from winner Dylan Groenewegen's BikeExchange-Jayco team:

It was a dream start to the season for Dutch sprint star Dylan Groenewegen, as the 28-year-old finished off a perfect lead-out, to take his debut victory for Team BikeExchange-Jayco on today's third stage of the Saudi Tour in AlUla; the region of one of the team's major partners.

Dylan Groenewegen gets the win.

With work to do after a difficult sprint on stage one, the squad delivered a sprint train masterclass on today's stage, as they guided Groenewegen through the finale and into the perfect position in the closing metres, leaving the Team BikeExchange-Jayco leader to throw his hands in the air for the first time this season.

The opening kilometres of the day saw chaos in the crosswinds that left just 27 riders at the head of the race. Groenewegen and teammate Luka Mezgec were amongst those to make the front split before things eventually came back together again and despite several further attempts to split the field, the reduced peloton raced into AlUla Old Town for the anticipated sprint finish.

In the final, Team BikeExchange-Jayco took command of the front of the bunch and as Alex Edmondson swung off inside the final kilometres, with Groenewegen sat in prime position on the wheel of lead-out man Mezgec. The Amsterdam fast man then launched his sprint, holding off his rivals to take a memorable first win of 2022, his maiden victory in Team BikeExchange-Jayco colours.

Dylan Groenewegen - 1st place
“It’s really amazing to win in my first race. We tried something on the first day but it didn’t work well but everybody is really strong so today we made a new plan for today. The finish was really hard but in the end, everyone was there in the small group, we did a really good lead-out and I only sprinted for 100m so thanks to the team and it is incredible that I can give them the win for their help today.

“It was a really crazy stage but the guys put me in a really good position in the front and also Luka Mezgec was there, but then with the headwind everything came back but that was good for us to have everyone there in the final.

“We made a really good plan and the tactic was amazing and everybody did a really good job. It’s only the second sprint for me this year, but it feels like we are already working together for two years.

“For morale it is really nice if you can win in the first race. We were a little bit angry after the first day but we also learnt a lot so it was also a good day. Today it is really amazing and good for moral to take the victory in the first race, it is good for the team and for me.”

Tristan Hoffman - Sport Director
"Towards the final it was a little bit cat and mouse, to ride, not to ride, but in the end we started riding with Jan [Maas] and also some other teams put some riders there. I’d say from the last seven kilometres we had some good talks, ‘meetings’, with the boys, how to do things, what went good and what went wrong on the first stage.

“We had a plan of who should go where, and they executed the plan and Dylan finished it off, for us it’s fantastic to do this."

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Egan Bernal has successful second surgery on his spine

VeloNews posted this update:

Egan Bernal has undergone a successful second surgery on his spine.

The Colombian rider has had five surgeries, two on his spine, since his high-speed crash during a training ride last week.

Surgeons operated on the cervical section of his spine [the upper portion -ed] having previously operated on the thoracic section, which he fractured in a high-speed crash. The Ineos Grenadiers rider fractured the T5 and T6 vertebrae when he collided with a bus while out on a training ride last week.

Egan Bernal after his surgery.

The hospital treating him said that Bernal was recovering well from this latest surgery and that the procedure went without any complication.

You can read the whole story here.

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Team Qhubeka moving forward in 2022 with 14-rider squad

The team sent me this:

Nicholas Dlamini – Tokyo Olympian and Tour De France rider – will continue his journey with Team Qhubeka, as one of 14 riders in our squad for 2022.

Dlamini, the 26-year-old from Cape Town, South Africa, takes on a unique role as a mentor and rider for the Team Qhubeka UCI Continental team based in Lucca, Italy. Dlamini graduated from the team’s development outfit before turning professional in 2018.

Nicholas Dlamini at the 2018 Tour Down Under. Sirotti phot

This extremely exciting young team boasts a wide range of diverse talents from South Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Italy. Team Qhubeka plays a crucial role in cycling’s fabric, with over 50 riders from Africa having had the opportunity to grow through our programme and race at the highest level, which in 2019 saw Samuele Battistella crowned the under-23 World Champion.

As a UCI Continental team in 2022, our vision is to continue to see cycling diversify, to reach new audiences and to move forward. Our mission is clear and we are committed to changing lives through bicycles. Our partnership with the Qhubeka Charity is paramount, as we share this common belief. 

We are also most grateful to our incredible partners that have enabled us to continue our journey as Team Qhubeka in 2022, and we look forward to engage in many new partnerships in support of us rising again in the future.

Douglas Ryder (Team Qhubeka: Principal):
Team Qhubeka means to move forward, and we will continue to move forwards, changing people’s lives, providing hope, opportunity, and mobility. Our team is about performance and racing, but it is equally about upliftment and community. We are very excited about our UCI Continental team for this year as well as our incredible partners. I want to thank our fan community for all your support and messages. We have listened to you and in the coming weeks we look forward to engaging with you to become part of Team Qhubeka. #BicyclesChangeLives

A special thanks to our partners: Qhubeka, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Pax 8, Acronis, Hunt, Ekoi, Mercedes-Benz, Supersport, Hoap, Bigalli Libero, L.A.B. SRL, Mercedes-Benz Louwman, Amacx Nutrition, APO Group, Flare, Gaerne, Garmin, L’Avenir, Morgan Blue, Rotor, and Tacx.

Kevin Campbell (Team Manager):
Every year we start the season excited to realise the potential of our African riders. They usually come to our attention through word of mouth or because of one standout performance.  While not every rider from our team has moved onto a professional team, we are encouraged by the fact that we have also unearthed superbly talented riders that have gone on to perform at a world class level.

Our 2022 squad is a good balance of experienced riders with some exciting young prospects, and all our riders are hungry for success.  We are the flag-bearers for the African continent at many events within Italy and around Europe, and we want to continue to showcase the richness of talent that can be found in Africa, talent that is deserving of opportunities to compete against the best cyclists in the world.

Nicholas Dlamini (Rider):
I am really excited to stay with Team Qhubeka as the team means an enormous amount to me and is a part of my DNA. To continue to support the Qhubeka Charity in racing for a purpose is completely unique across not only cycling, but all sport.

The team has given me personal opportunities including being able to fulfil my childhood dream and to ride at the Tour de France. This year I will fill a mentorship role to the under 23 riders in the squad. Having moved through the ranks and now being able to mentor the youngsters in the team and show them the ropes, will be extremely fulfilling for me.

Regarding the Tour de France, there is unfinished business and I would love to go back to the Tour to finish what I started; I still have a lot of years ahead of me to race my bike and to achieve my dreams and goals.

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Team Jumbo-Visma loses David Dekker after crash at Tour of Valencia

Here’s the report from the team:

For David Dekker the Tour of Valencia is over after two days. The sprinter, one of the outsiders today, missed a corner in the final descent and crashed hard. It looked terrifying, but fortunately he didn’t sustain any major injury. Due to Dekker’s crash, Team Jumbo-Visma’s chances of a stage victory were gone instantly.

David Dekker at the 2021 UAE Tour. Sirotti pthoto

Early in the race, a front group of six men formed. This group got a maximum lead of four and a half minutes. In the stage with some treacherous climbs in the middle, the sprinters’ teams tried to close the gap. Just before the final climb, they succeeded and a complete bunch turned up the final climb. Despite several attempts, no one was able to get away and the team started the descent towards the finish in Torrent. Dekker crashed and eventually reached the finish in an ambulance. The stage victory went to Fabio Jakobsen.

“I’m doing relatively well after what happened. A rider crashed and I noticed it too late to avoid him. I chose to go left instead of crashing into him. As a result, I fell into the bushes a few metres down. It was quite steep, so by the time I got back to the top, everyone had passed. My wheel was broken and I was a bit dizzy. That’s why I got in the ambulance. I am okay now. Physically, I’ve had a big blow. My left buttock is swollen and I have abrasions on my shoulder from the branches. I wouldn’t have been able to race tomorrow anyway”, Dekker said.

A difficult stage with an uphill finish awaits the riders tomorrow. According to sports director Frans Maassen, the objective for the race has to be adjusted. “Tomorrow, our three climbers can do their best again. Our main goal was to sprint with David, so that’s out of the question now. That is a shame. We will now recover and try to show our best side tomorrow.”

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