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Saturday, May 14, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy. - William Butler Yeats

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Giro d'Italia stage seven reports

We posted the report from stage winner Koen Bouwman's Team Jumbo-Visma with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Juan Pedro Lopez's Team Trek Segafredo:

Managing different goals within a team is never easy, but Trek-Segafredo handled it perfectly in Stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia – the toughest test of the race so far.

The team set two hefty pre-race goals – allowing Bauke Mollema the green light to join the day’s breakaway and fight for a stage win and defending the Maglia Rosa of Juan Pedro Lopez – and came oh, so close to pulling off both.

“It was nice that I could still go for the stage,” said Bauke. “I mean I didn’t have to pull too much in the beginning because we were also protecting the jersey, which was also a goal today. So in the end I still had a chance for the stage and we kept pink, so a pretty good day for us, I guess.”

Bauke Mollema finishes second. Sirotti photo

On a day with over four thousand uphill meters and the accelerator pressed from start to end, Trek-Segafredo managed both goals:  Bauke fought his way into the breakaway and the Team kept control of the gap with the biggest threat up the road at five and a half minutes.

“It was full gas already in the first 60-70 kilometers,” explained Bauke, “and already a lot of splits in the peloton.  In the beginning, I didn’t do too much; everyone was attacking especially on the big road on the flats, so I went for the hard moments on the climbs.

“In the end, we had a strong group with a lot of Dutch guys! I didn’t have to pull too much because we were pulling the peloton to keep the pink jersey, so it was quite a good situation for us.”

While Jacopo Mosca put in a monstrous effort in the chase (enough that we would give him double dessert at dinner!), Bauke eased into the backseat in the breakaway group.

The course took its toll and in the last part of the race, Juanpe only had Giulio Ciccone with him. “For sure it was a hard day to stay in the pink jersey. I gave my 100% on the road,” admitted Lopez. “I had one bad moment in the beginning when I had a flat tire and had to change the bike, but my teammates were there and helped me.”

We asked, if, at any point, he was worried?

“Not really but of course I never underestimated the situation,” he answered. “My teammates did really well in handling the first part of the race, then Ineos took the lead, and we rode safely just behind. We never lost our calm and confidence to save the jersey.”

In the last kilometers, with the race lead under control, Bauke could ride. But he had to figure out a way to beat Koen Bouwman.

“I didn’t have to do too much in the breakaway until Ineos and other teams started pulling behind and we knew that we were going to keep the pink jersey. Then I pulled a bit more in the front to go for the stage,” continued Mollema.

“I felt quite good, but I knew that Koen Bouwman was pretty fast, so I tried to attack a couple of times in the last 10 kilometers. But he was always directly on my wheel, and he also had Tom Dumoulin there to pull in the finale, so it was a difficult situation.”

A highly tactical and thrilling finish. In the end, the four riders arrived together to fight out the win. Dumoulin led out his teammate, and the Jumbo rider made no mistake in the final meters. 

“I tried everything, but it was not possible to beat Bouwman in the sprint. I think in the end, it was a really nice stage, full gas all day, and hopefully there’s more chances coming up in the next weeks. Close, not enough, but at least we keep the jersey,” said Bauke.

A nearly perfect day for Trek-Segafredo, but there was a chance it could have gone wrong, admitted director Greggy Rast, who had to balance the chance of losing pink for a stage win:

“We rode smart but we also rode within our limits. With a start like this today we knew we would lose some riders but luckily Jacopo came back, and he could do a big part, and Dario (Cataldo) did well. At the top of the last climb, we only had 2 riders left and we were lucky that Ineos pulled, or we could have lost the jersey.  We would not let Cicco pull for 60kms for the jersey.

“So we tried for the stage win and to keep the jersey. In the end, almost a perfect day – we are happy!”

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Here's the Giro report from third-place Davide Formolo's UAE Team Emirates:

Davide Formolo put in an attacking show of panache to take 3rd place on stage 7 of the Giro D’Italia from Diamante to Potenza (196km).

The former Italian champion was one of the main animators of the day which was won by Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) on the uphill kick to the line.

Formolo attacked on the penultimate climb at -20km and again on the final descent but couldn’t shake his three other breakaway companions.

Davide Formolo finishing third. Sirotti photo

Formolo: “Today was a day for the breakaway and we decided I would try. In the final I tried to get away on the climb, I tried again on the descent but it just wasn’t to be. Jumbo had two strong guys there and it made it hard to get away solo. It’s always nice get the win of course, but I can say I tried my best. We take this result and go for it again tomorrow with Gaviria, but tomorrow I’ll probably stay in the bunch after a long day today.”

Joao Almeida finished at the head of the peloton behind, taking 8th place and maintaining 7th place on the General Classification as Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) continues in the Maglia Rosa.

Tomorrow the riders will have a stage starting and finishing in Napoli (153km).

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Lennard Kämna's Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

After a rather quiet day yesterday, today's stage promised a much more challenging race in terms of its profile. With 4,510 meters of altitude on the 196 km long course between Diamante and Potenza, a cracking stage over the southern Apennines awaited the peloton.

The first attacks came after 35 km, with Lennard Kämna also trying to get away, but the peloton countered all attacks until a 7-man group was able to successfully go clear after about 70 km of racing. A reduced leading group then ultimately fought for the win among themselves, while Lennard Kämna, back in the reduced field, took sixth as the best-placed BORA-hansgrohe rider.

With this result he remains second overall, but had to relinquish his blue jersey, following three days as the leader of the mountain classification, to the day's winner K. Bouwman. All BORA - hansgrohe GC riders safely crossed the finish line in Potenza.

Lennard Kämna (shown after stage 6) had a good day racing, but will not be in blue tomorrow. Sirotti photo

"Today was the first really tough stage. It was also quite warm and that was a factor in the race as well. But everything went quite well and our three GC riders came through well and were always in a good position. They were sure to stay on the wheel of the other GC teams. We also tried to get into a breakaway with Lenny, but since he was second overall, the peloton didn't let him get away. After that it was a matter of surviving the stage and getting through the day well. Everyone did a good job, Giovanni rode strongly and stayed with our GC riders until the end. We had the idea to do something in the finale to potentially take the pink jersey. But when we reached the finale and INEOS Grenadiers upped the pace, we saw that we didn't have a chance in the end, and so we didn’t push for it." – Enrico Gasparotto, Sports Director

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Zoe Bäckstedt will race for EF Education-TIBCO-SVB

The team sent me this release:

We are proud to announce that current road and cyclocross junior women’s world champion, Zoe Bäckstedt, will race for EF Education-TIBCO-SVB as a trainee beginning August 1, 2022. The 17-year-old currently races for Acrog-Tormans, a cyclocross development team based in Belgium.

Bäckstedt has amassed considerable race results despite her youth and is an incredibly versatile rider. In the 2021-2022 cyclocross season, she won an outstanding 10 races, including the junior women’s world championship and the cyclocross European women’s junior championships. On the road in 2021, she won the junior women’s world championship as well as the individual time trial stage in the Watersley Ladies Challenge. This season she won two of the three stages, the overall classification, and the points jersey at the EPZ Omloop van Borsele. The young rider has also raced track, having claimed gold medals in the individual pursuit, team pursuit, and Madison at the 2021 European junior track championships.

The world of high-level bike racing is a familiar one to Bäckstedt, who was raised in a family of accomplished cyclists. Her mother, Megan Hughes, raced both on the track and road beginning in the mid-1990s and is a former British national road champion. Father Magnus Bäckstedt hails from Sweden and has a long list of impressive results, including a 1998 Tour de France stage win and winning the 2004 Paris-Roubaix. Her older sister, Elynor, is currently racing in the Women’s WorldTour.

Linda Jackson, founder and owner of EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, believes that Bäckstedt and the team are a perfect fit. “As the current junior world champion in both road and cyclocross, Zoe is clearly very talented,” Jackson says. “Our goal is to support her overall development and nurture her growing talent. I am so excited at the prospect of what we are going to achieve together.”

With EF Education-TIBCO-SVB racing a full road calendar while encouraging its riders to race on dirt and gravel, including the Life Time Grand Prix series, the team’s joyful embrace of multi-disciplined riders appeals to Bäckstedt. "I'm so excited to be joining Women's WorldTour team EF Education-TIBCO-SVB as a trainee and I can't wait to start racing for them later this year. I love their multi-discipline approach to cycling,” she says.

“Plus I'm looking forward to wearing the best kit in the peloton,” Bäckstedt continues. In a nod to the 2004 comedy film Mean Girls, she adds, “On Wednesdays—and everyday—we wear pink!"

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