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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 24, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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UAE Tour stage four news

We posted the report from stage winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Adam Yates' INEOS Grenadiers team:

The INEOS Grenadiers put in a string of impressive rides on the first day of climbing at the UAE Tour.

Adam Yates was active on the Jebel Jais summit, riding at the head of the lead group and eventually taking second place on the stage.

The Brit crossed the line on the same time as victor Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), and moved up to fourth overall in the process.

Tadej Pogacar finishes ahead of Adam Yates and Aleksandr Vlasov.

Yates was joined by Fiippo Ganna and Luke Plapp in the final kilometres. Ganna put in a sensational ride to come within touching distance of taking the race lead. The Italian buried himself to finish 11th, on the back of a group that finished three seconds back on Pogacar. Bonus seconds elevated the Slovenian into a narrow two-second lead over Ganna – who once again demonstrated his incredible all-round credentials.

Also a star on the stage, neo-pro Luke Plapp helped shut down a number of dangerous moves and rode on the front in elite company during his first stage race for the team.

The next two stages will see the sprinters return to the fore, ahead of a final GC showdown on Saturday.

Adam Yates:
"Ganna in second! A top ten of climbers and then the big fella. We did a really good race. But to be honest on this climb, it’s pretty hard to get it right. With a 5% average the whole way and the wind plays a factor so we tried to be conservative today. Plappy did a great job closing moves and then his attack was impressive in the final trying to chip off for the win. And the big fella was still there! So it’s been a good day.

"I was with Pogacar but he’s pretty quick on this type of finish hey? It was the best we could do but we gave it a crack. Like we've said all along, Saturday will be the critical climb."

Luke Plapp:
"It was… I don’t have the words! It was good fun. I thought we controlled it pretty well. But it was too easy to ride tempo up that climb I think. Once you had a gap it was too easy for the group to ride it back.

"But we gave it a crack and Adam got second so it keeps us in the fight for the final day and anything can happen there. We’re still in the hunt.

"I had some pretty good legs today. For the first time I didn’t know where that would sit in the WorldTour, so I was pretty happy with that.

"But ride of the day - Pippo. It was awesome to see him do that and so nearly take the jersey."

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Here's the UAE Tour report from third-place Aleksandr Vlasov's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Today the peloton took on a mountain stage for the first time at this year's UAE Tour. The initial half of the 181 km long course featured two longer climbs before the riders arrived at the 18.7 km final climb to Jebel Jais. After the break of the day was caught, the race came together at the foot of the climb. On the ascent itself, the field split, which led to a series of moves by the favourites. Aleksandr Vlasov and Jai Hindley remained attentive and were able to counter these non-stop attacks. The stage came down to a sprint from a reduced group, won by T. Pogačar, with Aleksandr taking third place in the same time, and Jai finishing seventh.

"When the field became reduced, I had Jai with me for support. He was really strong and countered the early moves. I felt good today and remained focused on Pogačar so as to not lose time to him. The climb wasn’t hard enough to make a big difference. But Saturday’s stage looks like a good chance and perhaps an option to attack if I have good legs there. So I think I’m in a good position now, and am pleased with how the race has gone so far." - Aleksandr Vlasov

"We wanted to ride offensively today. Aleksandr tried to keep Pogačar in his sights and counter all key attacks. And through solid teamwork we were able to do just that. Today was one of those days where the sprinters could also be of assistance, with the course being quite flat ahead of the final climb. Then our climbers, in particular Koni, could look after Aleks and Jai. Ultimately, we saw a strong team performance be rounded out by Aleks quite well. Looking ahead, after two flat stages, there's a slightly steeper mountain finish, and in terms of the overall classification, we're remaining quite optimistic." - Rolf Aldag, Sports Director

Tom Dumoulin's Jumbo-Visma team had this to say about the stage:

Team Jumbo-Visma has not been able to get involved in the battle for the day's victory during the fourth stage of the UAE Tour. Chris Harper was the squad's first rider to cross the finish line on the Jebel Jais. Tom Dumoulin didn't have a good day and lost more than five minutes. As a result, he dropped from the top of the classification.

After Team UAE Emirates had taken over the lead on the Jebel Jais, the pace was significantly increased. Dumoulin, who finished third on Tuesday's time trial, had to let go of the peloton halfway up the nearly nineteen-kilometre-long climb. Chris Harper seemed to have good legs and tried to get away twice.

However, the peloton did not let him go. Due to his earlier efforts, Harper could not keep up with the front group's pace anymore. The Australian finished almost fifty seconds behind stage winner Tadej Pogacar; Dumoulin lost more than five minutes. "This is quite a disappointment", team manager Frans Maassen responded.

"We were confident that Tom would go with the best, but he didn't have the legs today. Especially after yesterday's stage we didn't see this coming." According to Maassen, Harper could also have finished higher. "He was a bit impetuous and made two attacks that he shouldn't have made. With the legs he had, he definitely could have finished in the top twenty."

Now that the possibilities for a good final classification seem to be over, Team Jumbo-Visma focuses on the upcoming sprint stages. "Tomorrow we'll go at it full force again and we hope to do better than today", Maassen concluded.

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Fausto Masnada’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team posted this UAE Tour report:
A steady climb, averaging 5.7% over 18.7 kilometers, but featuring also some steeper parts, Jebel Jais welcomed the peloton for the third time in four years, and unlike the previous editions, the skirmishes between the favourites began early, with around seven kilometers left to the top.

Here's the stage four profile

As a result, the peloton was whittled down long before the gradient stiffened, leaving just a couple of riders in contention on what is considered the easier of the race’s two summit finishes. Fausto Masnada remained in the reduced bunch until inside three kilometers to go, when the pace intensified and he lost contact with the select group from which Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) took the victory.

With three stages left, two for the sprinters (Al Marjan Island and Dubai) and one of which will be the demanding mountain top finish to Jebel Hafeet, the Italian continues to be Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s best placed rider in the general classification.

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Team BikeExchange-Jayco headed to the cobbles in Belgium

The team sent me this:

Team BikeExchange-Jayco will head north as they line-up for the opening weekend of cobbled classics racing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

The double-header marks the start of the classics season as teams tackle the famous Belgian roads in two one-day events. Australian Luke Durbridge will be keen to start his classics campaign with a strong showing, while fast finishing Dion Smith gives the squad options in reduced bunch sprint scenarios.

Italian Alexander Konychev will continue his classics development, with new signings Lawson Craddock and Jan Maas completing the five-rider team.

The profile of the 2022 Omlop Het Nieuwsblad is challenging.

The first race of the weekend features a more demanding parcours, with 13 ‘bergs’ and 12 cobbled sectors, including the famous Kapelmuur and Bosberg inside the last 20km. Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne also features 13 climbs, with six cobbled sectors, the last of which comes with 35km remaining.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco Line-Up
Lawson Craddock (USA)
Luke Durbridge (AUS)
Alexander Konychev (ITA)
Jan Maas (NED)
Dion Smith (NZL)

Luke Durbridge:
“I’m looking forward to ‘opening weekend’, I’m coming off a good week at Ruta del Sol, a hard week, if I’m honest. I’ve never actually raced in Europe prior to ‘opening weekend’, it’s usually my first race in Europe and it’s usually a shock.

"I usually go into ‘opening weekend’ to get myself into the swing of things, but it’s too big of a race to use as a ‘build-up’ race, so I’m glad to get Ruta del Sol into the legs. It was a very challenging tour, but I think I came out of it well, so now it’s just about recovering and getting ready for the weekend.

"I thoroughly enjoy ‘opening weekend’ , it’s like a commencing of the classics with Omloop and then Kuurne, I’m getting excited, and we’ll have a small, fired-up squad ready to go for the first classics of the year.”

Tristan Hoffman (Sport Director):
“‘Opening weekend’ is the first ‘Flanders Classic’ races of the season in Belgium, and we will face a fantastic style of one-day racing. As always, we can expect a very high level of racing and it will be important to be switched on and attentive from the start.

"It is also important to try to save energy where possible and we know positioning in the second part of the races will be crucial. We only have a small team of five riders, but together we are strong, so we will look to stick together.

"There are some sections that are different to last year, so the recons will be important before the weekend. For Kuurne there are a lot of smaller roads this year, particularly late in the day, but thankfully we should face good weather conditions all weekend, so that is one less thing to worry about.”

2022 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – Race Details:
Saturday, 26th Feb: Ghent – Ninove, 204.2km

2022 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – Race Details:
Sunday, 27th Feb: Kuurne – Kuurne, 195.1km

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