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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, June 16, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Covid-19 forces Team Jumbo-Visa to abandon Tour of Switzerland

Here's the team's June 16 release:

Team Jumbo-Visma will not appear at the start of the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse today. The reason is that despite all precautions, corona has crept into the team again. In the interest of the health of the riders and staff and to protect the peloton and the race, the Dutch formation's medical and sporting management consider withdrawing from the Swiss race the wisest decision. The decision was taken in consultation with the Tour management.

Team Jumbo-Visma doesn't reveal who became a victim of the covid infection. For the time being, the situation has no consequences for the Tour de France shortlist, although we have to wait and see what happens in the next few days.

The adequate action of Team Jumbo-Visma is based on the daily testing of riders and staff so that a possible corona case can be isolated as soon as possible. The use of mouth masks, air purification columns and single rooms is still common practice on the team.

Tour of Switzerland stage four reports

We posted the report from second-place Michael Matthews' Team BikeExchange-Jayco with the results.

Here's the race organizer's report:

Daryl Impey wins the fourth stage of the Tour de Suisse with a strong finish. He took the stage ahead of Michael Matthews and Søren Kragh Andersen. There was no change in the General Classification but leader Stephen Williams briefly lost contact with the lead.

Stage winner Daryl Impey. Sirotti photo

“This is a big win for me today,” Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech) said of his Tour de Suisse Stage 4 victory. “A win is always special but winning here at 37 years old is fantastic. It gives me confidence to know I still have a chance against the young guns.” Second place went to another experienced cyclist, Michael Matthews (Team Bike Exchange). Alberto Bettiol, whose team EF Education Easypost led the peloton at a terrific tempo towards the finish, had to settle for fourth place. Leader Stephen Williams (Bahrain Victorious) had a close call. He briefly lost contact on the climb up the Sattel but managed to catch up again on the summit and keep the jersey.

It took about 20 kilometres for a leading group to make a break. Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal), Markus Hoelgaard (Trek-Segafredo) and Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Fenix) rapidly built up a five-minute gap. But the peloton reacted quickly and steadily reduced the advantage. At the beginning of the last climb of the day, from Steinen to Sattel, it was all over for the breakaway. The favourites resisted attacking on the 8.5% gradient, three-kilometre long climb. Only Marc Hirschi and Sebastian Reichenbach tried to attack but were caught soon after. The Stage finished in a 70 strong bunch sprint with Daryl taking the honours.

Preview of the next stage
Tomorrow the Tour de Suisse leaves the German-speaking region for the time being and heads to Ticino. From Ambrì, the peloton cycles through the Leventina over Monte Ceneri to the southernmost tip of Switzerland in the municipality of Novazzano. The terrain around the Ticino town is extremely hilly and reminiscent of the Ardennes Classics or the 2009 World Championship course in Mendrisio. The circuit around Novazzano will be completed three times.

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Here's the report from 3rd-place Soren Kragh Andersen's Team DSM:

The Swiss sun was beating down on the peloton this afternoon as they tackled a 190 kilometre route from Grenchen to Brunnen, with a tricky climb in the finale the focal point of the day. As the bunch rolled out from the start there was a sense in the air the breakaway could fight for the stage so an infernal pace was set at the beginning of the day but after 20 kilometres a three rider move had gone clear and things settled.

With the Team DSM riders in the bunch, focus remained on riding well together towards the final climb. The breakaway built up a solid advantage but the peloton was always in control and on the lower slopes of the ascent with 20 kilometres to go the race was all back together. A strong pace was set on the climb with the bunch thinning out over the top, where Andreas Leknessund and Søren Kragh Andersen made the reduced peloton, before Nikias Arndt rejoined on the run in to the line.

On the technical and twisting finale, Leknessund tried to position Kragh Andersen for the sprint but the speed in the bunch was high and it was difficult to move forward. Starting his sprint from around tenth wheel, Kragh Andersen produced a good turn of speed, passing several riders to take a strong third place at the finish.

The dash for the line. Sirotti photo.

“It was a really good day for the team,” explained Kragh Andersen. “We fought really well together and stayed with each other throughout the stage, with Andreas and I in the group over the top. I’m happy to give a podium spot back to the team in the sprint and we’re looking forward to the next days.”

Team DSM coach Phil West added: “It was another interesting day. We had a view that the final could work out in several ways so we had options where Søren and Andreas would pay attention to attacks on the final climb and we would see if Nikias could possibly pass in the front group. Generally we wanted to continue with the good teamwork we’ve had here in the last few days. We were attentive at the start to make sure the right break went and then focused on fuelling and keeping cool in the heat. Unfortunately, Cees punctured at a critical point in the lead up to the climb so we missed his power there but the guys rallied in a really good way and we came into it in a good position where Søren and Andreas could pass it in the front of the race. Nikias also came back on the descent but it was really at the last moment so he continued to do a good finish but ahead Søren did a great sprint to take third. It was another good day for the team.”

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Here’s the Swiss Tour report from Sébastien Reichenbach’s Team Groupama-FDJ:

Sébastien Reichenbach had the opportunity to show himself on stage 4 of his national Tour, this Wednesday. The Swiss climber indeed made a small attack at the top of the last climb of the day, fifteen kilometres from the finish. Against a bunch made of fifty riders or so, he was however unable to take a sufficient gap and was caught in the last ten kilometres. Daryl Impey later won the final sprint, while Stefan Küng scored his third top-10 (10th) on this 2022 Tour de Suisse. The time trial specialist will tackle a typical “Ardennes” stage on Thursday being fifth overall.

Before heading to much harder terrain in the coming days, the Tour de Suisse offered a last stage for the punchers-sprinters on Wednesday, with a late climb to spice everything up. In other circumstances, the breakaway might have had its chance. It wasn’t to be today. “There were two possible scenarios”, introduced Philippe Mauduit. “One was to see a big fight in the two climbs at the start with a breakaway of 8-10 riders developing, in which case we wanted to be in front. The second option was to see a race controlled by the punchers/sprinters, and this proved to be the right one. The race was blocked, and we headed for a reduced bunch sprint”.

Less challenging terrain today. Sirotti photo

Only three men eventually went away after fifteen minutes of racing, namely Matthew Holmes (Lotto-Soudal), Markus Hoelgaard (Trek-Segafredo) and Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Fenix), and the bunch could therefore easily control them. The gap first increased to five minutes, but several teams subsequently agreed to cooperate in the chase and thus make a sprint happen at the end. Entering the last hour of racing, the leading trio had less than a two-minute lead, and they approached the final climb at Sattel (3 km to 8.5%) barely fifteen seconds ahead of the peloton.

Due to a very fast pace, the peloton lost many riders including the pure sprinters. Approaching the summit, only thirty men or so still made up the leading group, including Stefan Küng, Thibaut Pinot and Sébastien Reichenbach. And the latter then tried to thwart some teams’ plans. “I didn’t feel too bad at the top of the hill, so I tried to go, but I quickly realized that it was going to be hard”, said Sébastien. “I would have liked a few riders to come with me, it was a pity to go alone. The descent did not benefit me much because we had to continue pushing the pedals. There was not much to do against the bunch, but at least I could see the shape was good. The legs feel good and there is a lot to go for in the coming days. Personally, I quite enjoy the heat.”

After attacking with fifteen kilometres to go, Sébastien Reichenbach remained in the lead for five kilometres before a still substantial peloton brought him back. “The guys could seize the opportunities in the final, but we knew we needed to attack with other riders because the peloton always goes faster than a single man in this type of downhill”, added Philippe. “He got the opportunity to attack, he took it, and it’s sometimes better than staying in the wheels”.

On the line, Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech) eventually outsprinted a group of about sixty men, while Stefan Küng got in the mix again to take tenth place, his third top- 10 of the week. The double European time trial champion therefore retained his fifth place overall before three very hard stages. “Tomorrow is quite a difficult and tiring circuit”, warned Sébastien Reichenbach. “Then, we’ll have two great mountain stages. There will be a fight for both the breakaway and the overall”.

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Tour of Belgium stage one reports

We posted the report from stage winner Mads Pedersen's Team Trek-Segafredo with the results.

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

A roller-coaster of a stage kicked off the 91st edition of the race where our team holds the record for the most GC victories, with nine such successes brought by five different riders. Comprising many of the climbs known from the Spring Classics, the trek between Merelbeke and Maarkedal gave almost no moment of respite, and the Wolfpack was one of the main instigators of the day.

The first to show his intentions was Mauro Schmid. A stage winner in the beginning of the season at the Tour of Oman, the Swiss all-rounder jumped from the peloton with more than 60 kilometers to go, as soon as the six-man breakaway got pegged back. Although short-lived, this move netted him some important bonus seconds, which would go on to count at the end of the day.

On the second of the four laps in Maarkedal, Florian Sénéchal went, and with him, five other riders. They managed to put around ten seconds between them and a peloton that was getting thinned out by the kilometer, but they too were eventually caught. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl neo-pro Stan Van Tricht also gave it a go before the final lap, where for a brief moment the sprinters that got previously dropped found a way to rejoin the pack.

Mads Pedersen won the first stage.

The final hill of the day was where the decisive selection was made. Florian attacked, a ten-man group featuring Mauro soon bridged across, and together they opened a gap on the chasers just as the gradient stiffened towards the top. Sénéchal took seventh as Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) sprinted to victory, while Schmid – helped by the bonifications scored during the stage – climbed to third in the general classification, where Yves Lampaert is just three seconds behind his teammate.

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