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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 18, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Philosophy is common sense with big words. - James Madison

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Volta ao Algarve stage two team reports

We posted the report from 3rd-place Remco Evenepoel's Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team with the results.

Here’s the report from crash victim Tobias Foss’ Jumbo-Visma team:

During the second stage of the Volta ao Algarve, Tobias Foss seemed to be on the way to a podium result. However, a crash in the final metres prevented him from sprinting for victory.

Under the Portuguese sun, the riders faced an uphill finish. The day’s early breakaway consisted of five riders who could break away soon after the start. With thirty kilometres and two climbs to go, the leading group was caught by the peloton. Four teammates accompanied Foss. The Norwegian champion remained alert at the front and seemed to be on the way to a good result. In the last few hundred metres Foss came into contact with Sergio Higuita, causing him to hit the asphalt and lose more than forty seconds on the stage winner and new leader David Gaudu.

David Gaudu takes the stage.

According to sports director Maarten Wynants the damage is not too bad. “Tobias is doing okay. He has some scrapes and he hurt his elbow. He was doing everything right up until the crash. He is disappointed, mainly because he lost more than 40 seconds. His classification ambitions have suffered a severe blow.”

Apart from the crash, the stage went as planned. “We expected the uphill finish to be a group sprint. The guys had to make sure Tobias was positioned as well as possible and they managed. All the riders, especially our young riders, did their job perfectly today”, Wynants concluded.

Sergio Higuita was involved with the same crash. Here's the post from Higuita's Bora-hansgrohe team:

After fighting against a bronchitis last week, Nils Politt had a setback yesterday after stage 1 and the team decided to take him out of the race looking ahead to the upcoming goals in Belgium. Stage two however was one for the climbers today. The race was well controlled the whole day even a break went out early again. On the penultimate climb all escapees were caught and Jonas Koch and Anton Palzer positioned Sergio Higuita for the finale.

The pace was high and around 20 riders went on to the last kilometer together. Sergio launched his sprint in the right moment, just before the last corner. It looked like he was able to take the win when Tobias Foss touched the Colombian Champion, and both went down with 100 m to go. As a result, David Gaudu took the stage, with Sergio walking over the line a few seconds later.  

“I felt really good today and the team positioned me well before the last climb. I wanted to wait as long as possible with my sprint because of the wind. In the end I have been in a perfect position and was overtaking on the left side. I thought I can grab the win, but Foss touched me and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to avoid a crash end went down. That’s really frustrating as I judged my effort perfectly.“ – Sergio Higuita

“What to say. Bad luck the second day in a row. After Nils had to leave the race today and the relegation of Jordi yesterday, we wanted to fight back. The race played out like expected and we have been in a good position before the last climb. The team protected Sergio the whole day and I am happy how they supported him until the finale. It’s always tricky here with the wind, but I think Sergio was in a perfect position in the right moment. I have no words to describe the frustration when he went down on the way to take the win. At least he seems to be quite ok physically, but for sure we have to help him now to focus on the upcoming days. He is in great shape and I really hope he gets rewarded in the end.“ – Jens Zemke, sports director

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Here’s the Algarve report from third-place Ethan Hayter’s INEOS Grenadiers team:

Ethan Hayter claimed third in a hard-fought uphill sprint on day two of the Volta ao Algarve.

The Brit was set up by some strong riding from his Grenadiers teammates, who paced the final 20 kilometres of the race to thin out the bunch.

Hayter launched his sprint and was able to avoid a crash between two riders, eventually taking third over the line, with teammate Dani Martinez finishing just behind in fifth. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) timed his burst well to take the win.

Dylan van Baarle and Tom Pidcock, who was involved in a crash during the stage, were the next riders home in 16th and 17th.

Over at the Ruta del Sol, stage two provided another tough finish, and the cobbled slopes of Alcala la Real.

Carlos Rodriguez continued his strong start to the season, taking sixth on the stage, just four seconds back on victor Alessandro Covi (UAE Emirates). That result elevates the Grenadier up to 11th overall, 10 seconds off the lead as the GC realigned following an opening day breakaway victor.

Again the Grenadiers had pushed hard to set the tempo on the approach to the climb, with Jhonatan Narvaez also finishing 18th on the day.

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Vuelta Ciclista Andalucia-Ruta del Sol team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Alessandro Covi's UAE Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the report from Dries Devenyns' Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team:

Alto El Higueral, Puerto Sierra Cristina, Puerto Salto del Caballo, Alto de Las Grajeras and Puerto del Castillo were the five ranked climbs of Thursday’s 150.6km stage between Archidona and Alcala la Real, but everybody knew the main difficulty of the day would be the last kilometer, averaging a stinging 11.5% and featuring a 500m cobblestone section, which only added to the complexity of this steep finish.

With the breakaway neutralized with around ten kilometers to go, the only concern of the contenders was to position themselves close as close to the front as possible for the technical finale in Alcala la Real. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl did a great job in this regard and Dries Devenyns benefitted of this and the strong form he carried into the race to conclude in seventh place, just a handful of seconds behind Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), who took the win.

Alessandro Covi takes the second stage. Sirotti photo

Ahead of Friday’s stage 3, another short and hilly one containing four classified ascents, Devenyns sits in fourth place, only one second separating him from the overall podium of the Vuelta a Andalucia.

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And here's what Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert had to say about the second stage of the Ruta del Sol:

A spectacular final waited for the riders in the Tour of Andalucia (2.Pro, 16-20/02) this Thursday at the end of the second stage. The finish was on top of the explosive climb of Alcalá la Real (3.4 km 6,3%). In contrary to the day before when the breakaway fought for the victory, the contenders for the general classification received the honor today and Italian rider Domenico Pozzovivo finished among the strongest riders.

Just like in the opening stage, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert took the responsibility in the peloton, first in chase behind the early breakaway and then to bring its leaders to the best possible conditions to the ramp towards the finish. Taco van der Hoorn, Théo Delacroix and Barnabás Peák shared the lead of the peloton and closed the gap to the breakaway with 10 kilometer to go.

Looks like the conditions were perfect for a race in Spain. Sirotti photo

Domenico Pozzovivo, Biniam Girmay, Kobe Goossens and Jan Bakelants started the climb towards Alcalá la Real well positioned in the peloton which was skimmed because of the five categorized climbs on the parcours of 150 kilometer. The decision for the stage win was made on cobbles and an average gradient of 11%. Pozzovivo, who is racing for the first time in the colors of the Belgian World Team, crossed the line in eighth position, 4 seconds after winner Covi.

“I managed to achieve my first top ten for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in a stage suited for explosive riders. I’m satisfied with my current form and first two race days in my new colors. Step by step, I’m gaining confidence in my new environment. Since my accident, it’s not easy for my to change equipment, but after my first race days with my CUBE Litening C:68X my doubts are gone. I feel better and better and I want to go full each day to test myself. If I can keep this level, I think I can make use of the longer climbs to obtain a good general classification.” - Domenico Pozzovivo

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