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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, June 8, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road. - Stephen Hawking

Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies

Les Woodland's book Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies: The rise and fall of bicycle racing's champions 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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Critérium du Dauphiné stage three team reports

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

Here’s the report from new GC leader Wout van Aert’s Team Jumbo-Visma:

Wout van Aert has recaptured the yellow leader's jersey with the second place in the third stage of Critérium du Dauphiné. The Belgian champion thought that he had won the stage, but after his victory gesture, he saw Frenchman David Gaudu pass him with an ultimate jump.

David Gaudu timed his bike throw perfectly.

From the start, the road went up. Several riders broke away in the stage with over 2700 altimetres. The peloton kept the escapees under control all day. In the stage's final phase, Team Jumbo-Visma took the lead and made sure the breakaway was caught before the 6.2-kilometre-long final climb. Chris Harper, Christophe Laporte and Tiesj Benoot were mainly responsible for that.

Steven Kruijswijk put himself at the head of the now depleted peloton as the road began to climb. Shortly after the Dutchman's turn, Jonas Vingegaard took over. The Dane, with the leaders Primoz Roglic and Van Aert in his wheel, made sure no one could escape from the group of favorites. Van Aert seemed to have a bad moment, but the hard-working Vingegaard brought him back to the head of the race.

As a result, Van Aert was able to sprint for the victory. The Belgian champion seemed to be heading for the win and threw his hands in the air. To everyone's great surprise, Gaudu came racing past. The opening stage winner immediately realised that not he but the Frenchman had pushed his wheel over the line first. Partly due to the accumulated bonification seconds, Van Aert is now back at the top of the classification. Roglic finished twelfth and is now in eighth place in the overall ranking.

"This is a rookie mistake. I can't describe it in any other way", Van Aert said. "The team worked hard all day with one goal in mind. We desperately wanted to win a stage again. Therefore it is all the more painful that I let it slip out of my hands in such a way. Something like that has never happened to me before. I could kick myself. I was so close, but I gave it away. When I passed the Cofidis rider on my left, I thought I would push my wheel over the line first. On a finish like this, you lose pure speed very quickly. David passed me very quickly and I realized I had made a mistake."

Van Aert once again praised his team's work and he had no intention of throwing the towel. "I was on my limit on the climb's steep parts. Thanks to Jonas I was able to sprint for the win. Tomorrow is the time trial. I'm really looking forward to that. Hopefully I will recover quickly because it was not an easy day. Tomorrow I will do everything I can to defend my yellow jersey. Hopefully I can also compete for the stage win again. I have some making up to do", he concluded with a wink.

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Here’s the report from stage winner David Gaudu’s Team Groupama-FDJ:

The Critérium du Dauphiné really started this Tuesday for the GC contenders, and David Gaudu was right on time. After quite a straightforward day, twenty riders or so fought for the win in Chastreix-Sancy at the top of the final climb. The French climber then perfectly found his way through the sprint and showed all his speed in the last 100 meters to beat Wout van Aert on the line! The Groupama-FDJ’s leader took his second win of the season and proves he’s back in top shape after a difficult spring. At the end of this third stage, he also sits in second place overall, six seconds behind Van Aert, while Kevin Geniets completed the team’s great day with a solid fifth place at the finish.

David Gaudu enjoys his stage win. Sirotti photo

After two stages made for the punchers-sprinters, the third stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné offered a nice playground for the punchers-climbers on Tuesday, with a final climb of six kilometres in Chastreix-Sancy. But would there be a real fight on the eve of an important time trial for the general classification? With a big smile on his face, David Gaudu had his own answer. “I hope I can test myself and that I will have good legs”, he said to journalists. “We need to race day by day. We have nothing to lose, everything to gain.”

The Groupama-FDJ cycling team therefore set off from Saint-Paulien with the clear goal of being up there in the final, thus leaving the breakaway to other teams. Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels-KTM), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X) and Thomas Champion (Cofidis) took the lead quite early on, before being joined by a B&B Hotels-KTM trio an hour later: Miguel Heidemann, Alexis Gougeard and Pierre Rolland. This group, however, never had a considerable lead due to the high tempo set by the team of yellow jersey Alexis Vuillermoz. In the long uphill section leading to the climb of Besse-en-Chandesse, the peloton kept the pressure, and even accelerated in a bumpy transition towards the bottom of the final climb of Chastreix-Sancy (6.2 km at 5.6%). “There always was a good pace”, noted Frédéric Guesdon. “The last 40-50 kilometres were not easy, it proved tiring for a lot of riders, and we always stayed safe in the bunch”.

In the lead, the last men standing from the breakaway tackled the final climb barely fifteen seconds ahead of the bunch, and the tempo set by the Jumbo-Visma definitively closed their attempt with just four kilometres to go. After being positioned by his teammates at the bottom, David Gaudu stayed attentive alongside the other big favourites. “We studied the end of the course well,” said Frédéric. “We knew the whole climb was going to be done with a tailwind, except for the last two kilometres. We wanted to be in a good position in the first part, without really being at the front, but then David had to move up with two kilometres to go. This is what happened”. At that point, the peloton was made up of only forty riders. Some other ten were dropped from the group before the summit following a few attacks that David Gaudu managed to follow.

A reduced sprint was set to occur, and Kevin Geniets managed to hold on the wheels before moving himself back in the front in a rather flat last kilometre. “David was a bit blocked at first, and the final was pretty fast”, said Frédéric. “He did not have a great position, but he then used Kevin as a lead-out man”. 300 metres from the line, the Breton got into the wheel of the Luxembourger, and the sprint started a hundred meters further. David Gaudu continued the story: “When they launched the sprint, I was a little boxed in and a bit far, and I thought it was over. But I felt I had some power, so I gave it all. Wout was still up there but I saw him losing a few places in the climb before. When I realized that I could come back to him, I thought about that. I told myself that he was maybe tired, that I could perhaps get him… I came back with drafting, and I told myself: “I’m gonna get him!”. And that’s what I did!”

After slipping in-between several riders, David Gaudu came back next to Van Aert with much more speed. He then passed him over the line, as the Belgian rider was just beginning to celebrate. “David came back very quickly, and above all, he threw the bike, unlike Van Aert”, pointed out Frédéric. “I passed him before he even raised his arms,” David certified. Without even waiting for the photo-finish, the young man confidently screamed his joy. “When I crossed the line, I exploded, I was almost the happiest of men,” he said with a big smile. “After all the setbacks I experienced in the spring, it feels so good… I don’t have the words. I’m moved because I have been looking for such a victory since the start of the year. I told myself that if I could win on the Dauphiné, it would really be a relief. The team was amazing today, so a big thank you to them. I am very happy. My doubts are forgotten: there is always light at the end of the tunnel”.

The young climber took his ninth career win, but this one had a special place. “When you’re French, winning in one of the three WorldTour races in France is quite something,” he said. “I was watching these races as a kid. Winning here is really important for me, especially in front of such competition”. “All victories feel great, but for sure David had been waiting for this one for a while”, added Frédéric. “Returning to victory makes him happy, and it makes everyone happy. This group has worked a lot lately. They were all in training camp together. It’s never easy to win races, so when you do, you appreciate it even all the more.”

The French rider also brought the sixth victory of the season for Groupama-FDJ and moved up to second place in the general classification. In the meantime, Kevin Geniets also put in a real performance by taking fifth place today. “Kevin has worked well, and he’s going well in this kind of climb”, added an unsurprised Frédéric. “He was a bit struggling with 1,500 meters to go but he took advantage of the downhill to get back. He managed to get fifth, and I’m happy for him, because he’s also someone who works a lot for the team”.

Some hard work will undoubtedly be done again in the rest of the week, but on Wednesday, each rider will just face himself on the 32-kilometre time trial between Montbrison and La Bâtie d’Urfé. “It’s a tough one”, warns Frédéric. “It will be important for the overall and for the future. David will give everything, and we know that he has made good progress”. “We worked on the time trial, and I can’t wait to see how it will go”, concluded David. “Wout will start two minutes after me. Logically, if he doesn’t catch me, it should be a good performance (smiles). We will first enjoy a bit tonight before entering gradually in time trial mode”.

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Here’s the report from GC fourth-place Patrick Konrad’s Team Bora-hansgrohe:

The 169km long third stage of this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné took the riders from Saint-Paulien to the skiing resort of Chastreix-Sancy. A 6.2km long mountain finish to this stage promised to be a first test for the GC contenders. An early breakaway was brought back at the bottom of the last climb.

Even though attacks were flying on the climb up to the mountain finish, eventually it was a group of almost 30 riders that made it to the line together and sprinted for the win. David Gaudu took the stage win while Patrick Konrad and Wilco Kelderman were blocked and not positioned well enough to go for the stage. Looking at the GC Patrick Konrad moved up to 4th overall ahead of tomorrow’s time trial.

“It was a hectic and nervous stage today with quite a lot of wind and narrows, twisty roads. On the last climb I felt really good but in the finale I was blocked a bit and so out of contention for the stage win. Looking at the GC I was able to move up to 4th, which I’m really happy about. Full focus on tomorrow’s ITT now!“ Patrick Konrad

“Our main goal of the day was to escort our GC riders Patrick Konrad and Wilco Kelderman towards the final climb and then stay amongst the favorites without losing any time. The team did a really good job riding for Patrick and Wilco, both made it to the line within the first group. Patrick moved up to 4th in the GC which I’m really happy about, it’s definitely a boost for the moral. Tomorrow we have to consolidate our GC position in the ITT and then there’s a couple tough and decisive stages waiting for us in the alps.” Christian Pömer, Sports Director

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Maxim Van Gils re-ups with Lotto Soudal

Here’s the team’s news release:

Maxim Van Gils continues his career at Lotto Soudal. The 22-year-old winner of the Saudi Tour has extended his contract by two years, until the end of 2024. “I think I still have a large growth margin and I can't imagine a better place than here to continue my development.”

Maxim Van Gils winning stage four of the 2022 Saudi Tour.

Van Gils has been part of Lotto Soudal since 2018. He is, as many young, Belgian pro riders, a product of the Lotto Soudal Development Team. “During all those years in the team, first in the U23’s, later in the WorldTour, I was always able to progress”, Van Gils says. “The team has always believed in me and helped me to further develop myself. The atmosphere in this team is great, both amongst riders and staff. I feel at home here.”

With his stage and overall victory in the Saudi Tour, Van Gils got his first and second win during his second year at the pros. He also showed himself during famous Classics as Clásica San Sebastián, Milano-Sanremo and the Amstel Gold Race. Because of his results, but also his professional attitude, his ambition and his young age, Lotto Soudal was eager to renew Van Gils’ contract.

“Young, talented, Belgian riders like Maxim Van Gils belong at Lotto Soudal”, comments CEO John Lelangue. “He has already shown at his young age that he is capable of winning races at pro level. That first victory is an important step in the career of any rider. We believe that we will be able to guide Maxim Van Gils step by step to an even higher level.” Van Gils agrees with Lelangue’s words. “I think I still have a lot of growth margin and I can't imagine a better place than here to continue my development.”

Van Gils hopes to further develop himself in one-day races on hilly terrain and one-week stage races. “I would like to improve on my current strong points”, says Van Gils. “I want to compete for the victory in difficult one-day races and see how far I can go in shorter stage races. Also, in the grand tours I hope to be able to go for breakaways and fight for stage victories. I have a good sprint and want to put myself in situations where I can use it more often.”

“We have great confidence in the qualities and potential of Maxim Van Gils”, ends John Lelangue. “He fits perfectly within our team and the plans we have for the future. Together with him, we look towards that future with great enthusiasm.”

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