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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. - Oscar Wilde

Story of the Giro d'Italia, volume 1

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy, Vol 1: 1909 - 1970 is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour de France stage 4 reports

We posted the race organizer's stage 4 report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner & GC leader Wout van Aert's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Wout van Aert has won the fourth stage of the Tour de France in spectacular fashion. The yellow jersey wearer was launched by his teammates on the day’s final slope and in the last ten kilometres he rode to the finish solo and made up for three consecutive second places.

He's gone! Wout van Aert heads for a brilliant solo win. Sirotti photo.

In the 170 km long stage, nothing noteworthy happened for quite some time. Team Jumbo-Visma kept the leaders out of the wind all day and with twelve kilometres to go, the riders of the Dutch formation stepped up the pace significantly.

“It was a planned action”, Nathan Van Hooydonck described the team’s power explosion. “We study the Tour route every year down to the last detail. We knew we could do something today.” The Belgian accelerated on the climb, with his compatriots Tiesj Benoot and Van Aert in his wheel. After Van Hooydonck and Benoot’s hard work, it was Van Aert’s turn to finish the job.

The leader of the general classification managed to do so brilliantly. “The sport directors told us over the radio that our leaders were between their main competitors”, Van Aert refers to his teammates Primoz Roglic’s and Jonas Vingegaard’s position. “That was a perfect opportunity for me to go for the stage win. This stage was important for the battle for green, because it was perhaps too difficult for the real sprinters, while fifty points were to be earned. I had to go over the limit and it was a fight for ten kilometres, but the result was great.”

In no time, the Belgian created a 30-second gap. On the finish line in Calais the unleashed Van Aert won for the sixth time this year. It was his team’s 27th win of the season. “The yellow jersey gives me wings. This is certainly one of my career’s most stunning victories. Winning in the yellow jersey is very special. Fortunately, I can start in this beautiful jersey again tomorrow. We did some impressive things as a team today. This was a perfect day for our team.”

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Here's the TDF report from Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

Six classified climbs punctuated the 171.2km stage 4 that left from Dunkerque, which featured again on the race after 15 years, and Calais, the port city that played a vital role during the Middle Ages, when England and France fought over it.

Côte du Cap Blanc-Nez was the last of the day’s hurdles, averaging 7.5% over 900 meters, and it was there that the peloton was blown to pieces, after several riders upped the tempo on the hardest section knowing they would drop the sprinters, whose mission to come back was complicated by the fact they had only a couple of kilometers to make up ground.

Florian Sénéchal and Mattia Cattaneo tried hard to reduce the gap to the leader, halving it with two kilometers to go, but despite their best efforts, Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) took the win for a couple of seconds. Fabio Jakobsen arrived home together with the peloton and finished in the top 15, a result that keeps him in second place on the points classification.

Jasper Philipsen leads in the rest of the field after van Aert's solo win. Sirotti photo

“We were well-positioned going into the final climb, but the speed was too much and found myself among those chasing. I gave my best to hang in there, the guys rode hard at the front of the bunch, but in the end I felt in the legs the effort I put in on the hill, where I surprised myself, and couldn’t sprint for a better result. It wasn’t our day today, but we remain optimistic and motivated for the next stages”, an upbeat Fabio said.

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Here's the report from Adam Yates' Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Adam Yates retained eighth place on the Tour de France general classification after showing good legs on the run into Calais.

After a relatively straightforward stage, the final Cote du Cap Blanc-Nez saw the peloton blow apart briefly as Jumbo-Visma launched a move.

Yates followed the acceleration of Wout Van Aert after being well positioned along with his teammates on the run-in. However Van Aert would not be caught and broke away to win solo, extending his race lead to 25 seconds.

Yates remains eighth, 48 seconds back, while the team’s top finisher on the day, Tom Pidcock, maintained 10th (+49”).

Geraint Thomas and Dani Martinez also held station as the race came back together for a bunch sprint behind Van Aert. Attention quickly turns to Wednesday’s stage and the cobblestones on the run to Arenberg.

Earlier in the day the team had been alert to the danger as the peloton split briefly following the early cobbled Cote de Cassel.

The peloton leaves the start city of Dunkerque. Sirotti photo

Adam Yates:
“We had a suspicion Jumbo-Visma might do something as they did something similar at Paris-Nice on the first stage there. On a finish like this, they just start sprinting and you either hold on or you don’t. I was able to hold on for as long as I could, I got maybe 100-150 metres from the top and I blew to be honest as they were going so fast.

“We got over the top and Jonas Vingegaard was with me, and he wasn’t going to do a turn and chase his teammate so that was that.

“I just followed the boys all day and we’ve been doing tat from the start, I hope they know where they are going and I do my best to follow!”

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And here's the Tour report from David Gaudu's Team Groupama-FDJ:

The first French stage of the 2022 ‘’Grande Boucle’’ offered an explosive final on Tuesday. Ten kilometres from Calais, Wout Van Aert took advantage of the last climb of the day to break away after a huge acceleration from his teammates. The yellow jersey then took a solo victory, a few seconds in front of the bunch that featured David Gaudu, who benefited from another great support of his teammates today. On the eve of the big “Roubaix” stage, towards Arenberg, Stefan Küng remains ninth in the general classification.

After a joyful stay in Denmark and a rest day devoted to the teams’ transfer, the Tour de France was back in France on Tuesday for a stage joining Dunkirk to Calais. Although barely fifty kilometres separate the two cities, the peloton had to cover a little more than 170 through a loop inland before returning along the coast. Like on Sunday, the fight for the breakaway was not the most exciting since Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easy Post) and Anthony Perez (Cofidis) went away as soon as the flag was out. Despite a small echelon in the first third of the race, the peloton remained calm for a long time.

The chase only began eighty kilometres from the finish. The Dane then let the Frenchman take the lead alone and the pace within the pack gradually increased. For different interests, each team tried to position before the final climb of the day, the côte of Cap Blanc-Nez, located about ten kilometres away from the line. From the very bottom, Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert put the hammer down.

Some splits occurred, and the yellow jersey finished the job off by going on his own approaching the summit. David Gaudu reached the top a dozen seconds later. “I did not necessarily expect it to be honest”, commented the Breton. “I thought it was going to be controlled by the sprinters’ teams, but you never know… Wout did a hell of a ride in the climb. We were not in a good position at the bottom, around fiftieth place. Luckily Kevin was there and paced me very well on the climb. At the top, we are not far from the group of favourites that was just behind Wout. It’s quite encouraging after a rest day.”

David Gaudu riding the stage one time trial. Sirotti photo

A few moments later, David Gaudu eventually bridged across to his GC rivals and many more riders then joined the main bunch. On the other hand, Wout Van Aert did not get caught and was therefore able to celebrate his first win in this Tour de France, after three runner-up places. David Gaudu, Stefan Küng, Kevin Geniets, Valentin Madouas and Thibaut Pinot finished in the main pack, eight seconds behind the winner.

“It was more or less the stage we imagined, knowing there was not so much wind”, breathed director Philippe Mauduit. “In the final, Van Aert did this impressive attack, but as far as we were concerned, we had to stay around David and make sure to bring him as close as possible to the lead on the finish line. That’s what happened”. On Tuesday evening, the Groupama-FDJ leader is 29th overall, 1’15 behind Van Aert. Stefan Küng remains ninth, at 48 seconds. Tomorrow, one of the key stages of this 2022 edition will be on the program into Arenberg. “It will be a big day on the cobblestones”, foresees Philippe. “We consider this stage as a small Paris-Roubaix, without being really small since there are still nineteen kilometres of cobblestones. We’ll get the equipment we usually ride on Paris-Roubaix. Once again, the goal will be to stay together for as long as possible, and to be as numerous as possible with David until the end of the stage”.

“We’ll need to have some luck on our side, and then to have good legs”, added David. “Everyone fears this day, but we’re ready and we want to go for it. I think we have the right team for it. We had one of the best Classic campaigns, we have 4-5 riders who do well on the cobbles. It will be down from the back, and you will always have to be in a good position. I trust my teammates. We need to be ready to roll up our sleeves”.

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