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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, February 7, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? - John Wooden

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Tour of Flanders: The Inside Story - The rocky roads of the Ronde van Vlaanderen 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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Egan Bernal is discharged from hospital

Bernal’s INEOS Grenadiers team posted this short note on Facebook:

We’re happy to report that Egan Bernal has been discharged from hospital today.
Egan will now return home to begin his long rehabilitation journey — and we’ll be supporting him every step of the way.

He's outa there....!

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Etoile de Bessèges final reports

We posted the report from GC winner Benjamin Thomas' Cofidis team with the results.

Here's the report from stage five winner Filippo Ganna's INEOS Grenadiers:

Filippo Ganna put in a superb time trial performance to finish Etoile de Bessèges with a final stage victory. 

Ganna set the early pace on the hilly 11km test, eventually beating Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) by six seconds, with Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) nine second behind in third.

The World Champion made it back-to-back victories in successive years in Alès, having won the time trial on a similar course in the 2021 edition of the race. 

Here's Filippo Ganna winning the 2021 edition of the Bessèges final time trial. Sirotti photo

Here's the report from Mads Pedersen's Trek-Segafredo team:

It has already been a good week for Trek-Segafredo at Etoile de Bessèges.  However, the Team was not quite finished tallying podiums with a final time trial still on offer.

The 10.6-kilometer race against the clock ended with a challenging 2.5km climb testing the specialists against the climbers.

In the end, World Champion Filippo Ganna prevailed, holding off a flurry of Trek-Segafredo riders that took to the start in rapid succession.  First, Bauke Mollema crossed the line 11 seconds off Ganna’s time before Mads Pedersen clocked a few seconds quicker.

Mads Pedersen winning the first stage.

Not one to miss out on the fun, Antonio Tiberi, coming off a superb third place in the queen Stage 4, was not far off his teammates’ pace and slotted into a provisional 5th place (+23”).

Then the three teammates had to endure a lesson in patience with the top of the GC, including teammate Toms Skujins, still to complete the ‘race of truth.’

The times held for Mads and Bauke until the final rider and overall leader Benjamin Thomas finished, knocking Mollema down one rung.  It could not, however, erase the smile from Bauke’s face.

“I am quite happy, I was already yesterday in the uphill finish, especially after not feeling great in the first days here,” said Bauke.

“This TT is nice; I did it twice already and knew that it was really important to not start too crazy with a hard four and half minute climb in the end.  I started okay, but not too crazy, and then gave everything on the last steep climb.  It has been a while to do a good result like this in a TT.

“Also, our new TT bike is nice,” added Mollema, “It’s more aero, so you just go faster with the same watts. I feel comfortable on the bike and the handling is really good with some of the roundabouts and the 180-degree corners today.  It’s my 4th TT now on this bike, and they have all been good results, so hopefully, more coming!”

Adding to his Stage 1 win and Stage 2 second place finish, Mads held onto the second-fastest time for a parcours typically not perfectly suited to his strengths.  However, right now there is seemingly little the red-hot Mads can’t take on, and he powered over the final steep climb to finish within six seconds of Ganna.

“In general, a good TT today,” said Mads. “I paced it really well on the flat part of the course and emptied the legs with a good 5-minute effort at the end! The climb was quite okay. Hard, but I had a good feeling.

“I’m surprised by the result today, but once again it shows I’m on the right path with my shape. So, now it’s time for a week easy at home, and then ready to race in Algarve!”

Antonio was overtaken by five riders, but held on for 10th, adding another strong performance to his 3rd place finish in the Queen stage.

Meanwhile, Toms Skujins’ who has been putting in a massive effort of support all week, was paid with a top 10 overall, securing 9th place GC after a solid effort in the time trial.

A solid five days, giving us plenty in the pockets to leave France with increased confidence and higher motivations.

Diego Ulissi's UAE Team Emirates posted this:

Diego Ulissi got his year off to a positive start with 6th place overall at the Etoile de Bessèges in France after putting in a solid time-trial on Stage 5 finale in Alés (11km).

The day was won by Filippo Ganna (Ineos-Grenadiers) with Ulissi taking 9th place on the hilly finish against the clock, 23’’ down on the winner. Frenchman Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) won the overall title.

At the final day of the Vuelta Valenciana it was a double top-ten through Matteo Trentin and Sebastian Molano who placed 6th and 8th respectively in the frantic bunch finish into Valencia.

Stage 5 from Paterna to Valencia (92km) was won by Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) as Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) sealed the overall victory.

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Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana final reports

We posted the stage five report from winner Fabio Jakobsen's Quick Step Alpha Vinyl team with the race results.

Here's the report from final GC winner Aleksandr Vlasov's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The fifth and last stage of this year's Tour of Valencia was a traditionally short stretch. Today's mostly flat 92 kilometres took the riders from the start in Paterna to the old town of Valencia. As expected, it was a day for the sprinters. F.Jakobsen was the fastest in a tight bunch sprint. For BORA - hansgrohe the mission was clear: to keep Aleksandr Vlasov out of trouble and bring home the yellow jersey. With the overall victory at the Tour of Valencia, the new signing Aleksandr Vlasov also ticks off the first GC win of the season for BORA - hansgrohe.

Aleksandr Vlasov winning stage three.

“I’m super happy to take home the overall win, we’ve had perfect five days here! We’ve worked very well together as a team and I really want to thank my team mates for the hard work they’ve done here day in day out. I’m happy with my shape and I think we have a good base to build on for the next goals.” - Aleksandr Vlasov

“We’re super happy with the win, the guys worked very well together. Today it was a bit stressful in the beginning of the stage, as some of the GC team tried to launch some attacks. But the boys did a great job again and kept everything under control so we could take home the overall win. Without Wilco and Matt they had to work even harder during the last days and I’m more than proud how they’ve raced here.” -  Jean-Pierre Heynderickx, Sports Director

Bahrain Victorious posted this:

As the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana draws to a close for another year, Bahrain Victorious can be auspicious about their week spent in Eastern Spain. With multiple top 10 finishes across the five stages, there is enough to lend optimism as we move into the coming weeks of Grand Tours.

In stage one, Luis León Sánchez on his debut with Bahrain Victorious, attained a fourth place with teammate and co-leader Matej Mohorič earning ninth. As we moved into stage two and the region of Betera, Mohorič showcased his talents to take home fourth.

The Queen stage followed and Pello Bilbao was able to excel expectations in collecting a top-5 finish, navigating the various category 2 and 3 ascents – including Alto Antenas del Maigmó Tibi, a gravel surface that was new to the race this season.

In the final stage, the riders were tasked with completing a 92km loop around the ‘comunidad autónoma’ of Valencia with an expectation that there would be a bunch finish, and the outcome didn’t differ. The peloton constantly played ‘cat and mouse’ with the breakaway group throughout, keeping the gap under a minute long for large amounts of the race. Ultimately, Aleksandr Vlasov of Bora-Hansgrohe came out on top in the general classification whilst Luis León Sánchez finished seventh overall.

Neil Stephens, Sports Director, gives his verdict on the week overall: “It’s been a great week here in Valencia. Perhaps we didn’t get the stage win we were looked for but really happy with the form of the guys, they trained really hard. They’ve come through this race well and all signs are that it’s going to go even better in the future!”

And here’s the Valencia report from Alexander Kirstoff’s Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team:

Another bunch sprint was expected this Sunday to conclude the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (2.Pro, 02-06/02). Only 92 kilometers were to be covered between Paterna and Valencia, capital of the eponymous autonomous community, without any difficulty listed. Just like throughout the week, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux took its responsibilities in pursuit behind the breakaway to allow the Norwegian sprinter Alexander Kristoff to defend his chances.

The selection led by Aike Visbeek and Steven De Neef thus controlled the gap with the four fugitives of the day, who ended up giving in 10 kilometers from the finish. United around Kristoff, the sprint train jostled its way to the home stretch, judged on the wide roads of Avenue Maestro Rodrigo. Although slightly boxed in along the barriers, the former European champion took third place in the sprint and closed the stage race with a second consecutive podium.

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Mark Cavendish will start 2022 season at Tour of Oman

Cavendish’s Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team posted this:

Our stint in the Middle East continues between 10-15 February with the Tour of Oman, which is back on the calendar after a two-year hiatus. Created in 2012, the race offers a mixed terrain, with a bit of everything for everyone, although the return of the gruelling Jabal al Akhdar (5.7km, 10.5%) ascent together with the punchy finish of Qurayyat (2.8, 6.5%) means that the general classification will be again an affair between climbers.

The most successful active rider in the peloton, with 156 wins to his name, Mark Cavendish will start his fifth season with the Wolfpack at the Tour of Oman, where back in 2011 he took a victory, on the Matrah Seafront, which will now host the finish of the last stage. It will be the Manxman’s first outing for the Wolfpack since last October’s Münsterland Giro, where he notched up the win that put him into double-digits at the end of a remarkable season.

Mark Cavendish winning stage four of the 2021 Tour of Turkey.

Joining him for the team’s second outing of the year in the Middle East will be the experienced Iljo Keisse, Il Lombardia runner-up Fausto Masnada, Mauro Schmid, Stijn Steels, as well as neo-pros Stan Van Tricht and Ethan Vernon.

“The Tour of Oman is back and comes with a nice course, with many stage finishes already used at many of the previous editions. We will try to be in the mix with Mark in the bunch sprints, and if possible, do something with Fausto in the general classification. He has just returned from a training camp and is motivated to kick off his season. Overall, we go there with a solid team, capable of getting some good results”, said Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Klaas Lodewyck.

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