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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, July 10, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it. - Niccolo Machiavelli

Dirty Feet: Early days of the Tour de France

Les Woodland's book Dirty Feet: How the Great Unwashed Created the Tour de France 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 8 reports

We posted the race organizer's stage 8 report with the results.

Here’s report from stage eight winner Wout van Aert’s Team Jumbo-Visma

Wout van Aert has won the eighth stage of the Tour de France in an impressive way. The green-jersey wearer beat Michael Matthews and Tadej Pogacar on the steep final climb in Lausanne. For Van Aert, who was the best in Calais on Tuesday, it is his eighth stage win in the Tour and his seventh victory of the season.

Wout van Aert is the day's fastest rider. Sirotti photo

The hill stage’s finish was on the Cote du Stade Olympique, a five-kilometre climb with a maximum gradient of twelve percent. His teammates controlled the stage well, and Van Aert maneuvered to the front and got himself in the wheel of yellow-jersey wearer Pogacar. With a mighty final sprint, the green-jersey wearer was the fastest.

"I am thrilled with this win. I asked the team to control the stage because I was confident I could win. It's extra sweet when you can finish it off", Van Aert said. "You can't win this kind of stage without a team. Nathan Van Hooydonck did a great job riding in front all day. I am also super happy for him that I won."

According to Van Aert, l it was a matter of 'fighting and surviving' to stay with the best on the final climb. "I knew I would have a good chance if I could get to the last three hundred metres. At first, I got a bit trapped by a classification rider and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get out. Luckily I saw an opening and was able to pass everyone."

Van Aert, who gave the team its twenty-eighth win of the season, extended his lead in the green jersey classification. "This was an important stage to increase my lead in the points classification. There was a lot of pressure on the final sprint anyway because Pogacar could take some bonification seconds for the yellow jersey. Fortunately, I perform best when the pressure is high."

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GC leader Tadej Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates posted this report:

The eighth stage of the Tour de France made a stop today in Switzerland with Tadej Pogačar taking third place, after 186km starting from Dole and arriving in Lausanne.

The day was characterized by many ups and downs, on which the main breakaway, made up of three men, gained a 3-minute lead.

In the final climb, first McNulty and then Majka accompanied Pogačar up to -200 meters.

In the final sprint, the Slovenian finished in third place, just behind Matthews (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) and the winner Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

The third-place time bonus extended Pogacar's lead another four seconds. Sirotti photo

Pogačar: “The win was not that far away but it was a fun game. I maybe hesitated a little bit and Van Aert passed me with super speed. For sure it’s a little disappointing but third place is still great.

"I always like sprinting, when I was younger I was the smallest and almost always last. I’m really happy that now at least when it’s going up 4 or 5k I can still do a solid sprint in the end. But still not as close as Matthews and Van Aert.

"Today we were missing our big man Vegard Stake Laengen [Covid-19 positive], who unfortunately had to withdraw. We will miss him for sure.

"At the start I was in the middle of the crash too. I hit the ground but not so much, it was one of the softest crashes I’ve ever experienced. It was for me nothing bad, we came back quite fast and for me it was OK.”

Another demanding stage suitable for climbers is scheduled for tomorrow, 192.9 km with departure from Aigle and arrival in Châtel Les Portes du Soleil and 4 GPM points.

Here's the report from second-place Michael Matthews' Team BikeExchange-Jayco:

Stage six runner up Michael Matthews took another agonising second place finish on stage eight of the Tour de France today for Team BikeExchange-Jayco after once again showing impressive form to be in the mix on the punchy uphill finish in Lausanne.

The Australian dug deep to stay in contention on the 5km ascent to the line, with only green jersey wearer Wout van Aert able to get the better of him in the reduced bunch kick for the win.

Michael Matthews finished just a bit ahead of Tadej Pogacar to take second place. Sirotti photo

The Australian outfit took responsibility of the stage as soon as a three-rider breakaway eventually broke the elastic and headed down the road. Chris Juul-Jensen then came to the head of the bunch to set the tempo and keep the gap to the escapees at a manageable distance.

As the race passed over the penultimate climb of the day, the break still held a healthy advantage, but the gap quickly started to plummet when Luke Durbridge moved to the head of the pack and increased the pace again.

Just one rider remained out front as the peloton raced into the foot of the final climb to the finish, with Jack Bauer and Luka Mezgec working hard to guide Matthews into a good position. Nick Schultz then took over on the climb, before swinging off after dropping off his teammate amongst his rivals to battle for the stage win.

With the last rider caught with 3.5km to go, it was then a waiting game as the bunch whittled down and the finish line edged closer. Matthews was the first rider to open up the sprint with 150 metres to go, but despite a fierce kick, it wasn’t enough to hold off Van Aert on the line and the 31-year-old had to settle for another bittersweet second place.

Michael Matthews (2nd):
"I learnt from two days ago that I really need to start my sprint first, I gave it a shot from the front and started my sprint first but just got beaten by Wout [Van Aert] on the line. I honestly don’t think I made a mistake today, I did everything I could, there was just a stronger rider in the bike race today, so I wouldn’t take anything back.

"I think it was around 200m to go, it looked like a lot of guys, Tadej [Pogacar] and Wout were boxed on the left a little bit, so I was hoping I could get a little bit of a jump, but I just wasn’t quick enough.

"I did my best, the team rode a great race to lead me to where I needed to be, and it's second again, hopefully I'm knocking on the door of that win."

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“The boys rode very well today, we wanted to give Michael the best chance of winning and it was a real team effort from everyone across the board there to give him the best chance for a result and we have to walk away proud of that ride.

"Wout van Aert is a very special athlete, we gave it our best and that is all you can do, but we are not finished yet.”

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Aleksandr Vlasov’s Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

Even though attacks started again right from the gun of stage eight in the Tour de France, the beginning was different than expected. First, three riders went clear from the bunch, but then a big crash forced the peloton to slow down. Unfortunately, Max Schachmann was involved. He was able to get back on the bike but suffered facial abrasions.

Due to the crash the gap of the breakaway was fast up to three minutes before Jumbo-Visma and BikeExchange started chasing. The race was well under control before a fast finale started. In the end the break had no chance on the final uphill stretch when BORA – hansgohe hit the front. Patrick Konrad did a huge turn to force a selection and to keep Aleks Vlasov in position. Aleks looked almost back to normal strength after his bad day yesterday and crossed the line in sixth place while Wout van Aert secured another stage win.

Here's Bora-hansgrohe rider Nils Politt finishing the stage.

“I felt already a lot better than yesterday, but still had some pain in the back. I still need some time to recover before we can make plans for the Alps stages. I think tomorrow is all about hanging on and avoid losing more time. Then we got a rest day which we need to take advantage from.” – Aleksandr Vlasov

“We simply wanted to show in the finale that we are still there and still have the spirit to fight also for the GC. We didn’t have the best day yesterday, even Lenni rode an exceptional race of course. Aleks is still our leader, and he seems to get back to full strength. Quite often the second day after a crash is still difficult, Aleks was already better today which makes us confident. In the end we wanted to stay safe, therefore we hit the front before the climb. Patrick did an impressive turn then to stretch out the bunch and keep Aleks in position. We wanted to avoid any surprise attack and that worked out well.” – Rolf Aldag, Sports Director

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Team DSM’s Kevin Vermaercke abandons stage eight after crash

The team sent me this bad news:

Team DSM’s Kevin Vermaerke was involved in a large crash during today’s eighth stage of the Tour de France. Kevin unfortunately took a heavy tumble in the opening 20 kilometres of the day which saw the American’s race end prematurely. Following the crash, he was taken to hospital for examinations which revealed a broken left collarbone, alongside other superficial wounds and contusions.

Vermaerke said: “I’m gutted to end the Tour de France like this. I have no words. I really wanted to continue on but unfortunately it was just not possible. I was really enjoying the opening week with the guys. The legs felt good and the atmosphere at the race was incredible, so I’ll take some nice memories with me but this motivates me even more to come back stronger. I want to wish the all of the guys the best of luck for the rest of the Tour.”

Team DSM physician Anko Boelens continued: “During a crash in today’s stage Kevin unfortunately fell hard on his shoulder. He was brought to a hospital where tests have shown that he broke his left collarbone during that crash. It is likely that he will need surgery but we will find out more in the coming days after further examinations. His other injuries are thankfully only superficial, including other wounds and contusions.”

Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “It’s a real shame to lose Kevin and a disappointment for the team. He was doing a super good job in his first Tour de France. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to continue due to the injury. We’ll for sure miss him, he did a really good job in the opening stages but I’m sure he will come back stronger and have plenty more chances in the future.”

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