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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.- Ernest Hemingway

Tour de France: 2022

Bill & Carol McGann’s book The Story of the Tour de France, 2022: The Fastest Tour Ever is available as in both Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Vuelta al País Vasco/Tour of the Basque Country stage one team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Ethan Hayter's Team INEOS Grenadiers with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Mauro Schmid's Soudal Quick-Step team:

Mauro Schmid confirmed the good shape that just last month brought him his second stage race success of his career at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, coming close to victory in Labastida.

The small town lying near the border with La Rioja hosted the finish of a race for the first time, and after a quiet day in the saddle it came down to a bunch sprint. Soudal Quick-Step controlled the last kilometers with the likes of Mattia Cattaneo, Rémi Cavagna, James Knox and Martin Svrcek, before Mauro hit the front in the final 100 meters, on the uphill drag to the line, launching a powerful sprint that netted him second, behind Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers).

Ethan Hayter was the day's fastest man.

“It was a good day. I wasn’t sure how my sprint legs would be, but the team believed in me and gave me this opportunity. When Rémi came to the front, he stretched out the whole bunch and this helped me be in a good position. Then I came round the last corner in third place, but I just ran out of road in the end. Overall, it’s a good start, after a fantastic job of the entire team”, Mauro said.

The race continues Tuesday with a hilly stage – the longest of the week – between Viana and Leitza, where an 11km climb that will be crested just four kilometers before the finish is expected to play a key role in the outcome.

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Here's the Team Jumbo-Visma report:

The opening stage of the Itzullia Basque Country was trouble-free for Team Jumbo-Visma. The cyclists of the Dutch cycling team crossed the finish safely behind the sprinters competing for the day's victory.

"Crossing the finish line safely was the most important today", sports director Frans Maassen said. "We did not suffer any damage. That is very nice." On the 164-kilometer opening day in the Basque Country, the spectators had to wait long for some good action. Three riders took advantage of a few minutes on the peloton, but the escapees were caught early. The stage then became increasingly frantic.

Here's the stage finish from a different angle.

"It got hectic in the last forty kilometres. The peloton was still on open roads, and everyone was still fresh, but you knew that there would be a sprint for bonus seconds later", Maassen explained. Rohan Dennis put Jonas Vingegaard in a good position and took two seconds. "We discussed that the sprint could be decisive. The guys performed a great job. I am happy about today."

The longest stage of the six-day race is scheduled for tomorrow. In the north of Spain, the cyclists will encounter five categorized hills. Maassen: "I think tomorrow's stage is similar to today's. I expect a reasonable group to stay together and sprint for the stage win. Of course we want to finish in the front group. We will come up with a good plan for the descent in the final kilometres."

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Here's the Basque Country Tour report from David Gaudu's Team Groupama-FDJ:

For his return to racing, a bit less than a month after Paris-Nice, David Gaudu experienced a good day this Monday on stage 1 of the Tour of the Basque Country. Always surrounded by his teammates, the Groupama-FDJ leader finished safely within the peloton (25th), while Ethan Hayter won the sprint. Quentin Pacher finished two ranks ahead of his mate, and a slightly hillier stage is looming on Tuesday.

David Gaudu earlier this year at the Faun Ardeche Classic. Sirotti photo

Only one categorized climb was on the menu for the opening stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, and a sprint was therefore expected in Labastida after 165 kilometres. However, the hilly terrain brought the day’s total elevation gain to 2500 meters, which made for an active start on the other side of the Pyrenees. As for the race itself, the scenario was crystal clear to say the least. Jon Barrenetxea (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Txomin Juaristi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Cristian Rodriguez (Arkéa-Samsic) broke away after about ten kilometres and remained in the lead of the race for about one hundred and twenty kilometres.

In the meantime, the Groupama-FDJ team stayed alongside David Gaudu throughout the day. “Although we have a 100% renewed team compared to Paris-Nice and we have a lot of riders who have never raced together, I think they found each other quite well for a first day”, said Philippe Mauduit. “They worked well, everyone did what was expected of him. We always stayed in the top positions to avoid any problems, but also to get used to racing with a leader, especially for the youngest. Lars returns after a month’s absence, Romain is competing in his first very high-level stage race, and they have to fit into the group. That’s what they managed to do today.”

Until twenty kilometres from the finish, and the approach of the second and last intermediate sprint, Matthieu Ladagnous led the Groupama-FDJ train at the head of the pack. Subsequently, Bruno Armirail took over at the front of the bunch until the last five kilometres. “We missed out a bit on the bonus sprint then on the final sprint, which was a bit chaotic, but there are no deep regrets”, added Philippe. “Quentin got a little boxed in before the last kilometre, which means he couldn’t find a space to anticipate before the final. He could have aimed for a good placement as he already did in the past, but he will have other opportunities. It is still a rather satisfying first day on this Tour of the Basque Country”.

After a very fast final despite a few slopes, Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) took advantage of his excellent positioning to claim victory. Quentin Pacher (23rd) and David Gaudu (25th) finished almost together. The fast men could have another shot tomorrow in Leitza. “The second part of the stage will be hillier, and the last climb of almost fourteen kilometres will be hard for some, even if the average slope is 4%”, warned Philippe. “There will be a big battle to be in a good position at the top, located just five kilometres from the finish. So, we can expect a fast pace on this climb.”

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Thomas De Gendt injury update

Here’s the update from De Gendt’s Team Lotto Dstny

Further examinations revealed that Thomas De Gendt has sustained a small fracture in one of the carpal bones of his left hand. The fracture is a non-displaced one and is healing well but will keep the Lotto Dstny rider out of competition for another while.

Thomas De Gendt after stage 8 of the 2022 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

De Gendt crashed in stage seven of Paris-Nice and was forced to abandon. At first sight, he sustained a bruising to his calf and hand.

Now, further examinations have shown a minor fracture in his hand, which still hinders De Gendt. The riders is wearing a brace as a protective measure but can already train with caution. The fracture is healing well and De Gendt is expected to return to competition at the Tour de Romandie, which starts on 25 April.

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