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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 2, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

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Tour of Poland stage four team reports

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

Here's the report from Tim Merlier's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

The Tour de Pologne returned on the flat after two days in the medium mountains for a stage of almost 200 kilometers which had bunch sprint written all over it. It wasn’t that straightforward though, as just 60 kilometers into the race echelons split the peloton spreading panic, with some of the fast men and GC contenders caught on the wrong side of the split.

After some intense chasing, the second group rejoined the bunch, who at that moment was trailing the breakaway by just two minutes. Soudal Quick-Step was again visible at the front, especially with Josef Cerny, who played an important role in the escapees being brought back some 15 kilometers from home.

Olav Kooij wins Tour of Poland stage four.

In the sprint, which was a fraught one, Tim Merlier finished in seventh place as Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) took the victory, a result that keeps the Belgian in contention for the points jersey. His teammate Ilan Van Wilder remained in the top 10 overall going into the complicated stage five to Bielsko-Biala, which could bring more changes to the general classification, where the gaps continue to be tight.

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Team Groupama-FDJ posted this Tour of Poland stage four report:

A proper bunch sprint took place in Opole on Tuesday on the Tour de Pologne, three days after the chaotic finish of stage 1. However, good positioning entering the home stretch was essential, and Paul Penhoët unfortunately found himself too far back to get a top result. Despite the good work of his lead-out man Bram Welten, the young French sprinter had to settle for eleventh place on the day. The more demanding finish in Bielsko-Biała on Wednesday could be more to his advantage.

Between Strzelin and Opole, nothing was supposed to get in the way of the sprinters throughout the 200 kilometres of racing. At least, no climb. “It was still nervous because there was quite a bit of wind and we were riding on exposed roads for a large part of the day”, said Frédéric Guesdon. “There were real risks of echelons. Ineos Grenadiers made an attempt 130 kilometres from the finish, after a cobblestones section, but it only lasted 3-4 kilometres. It was too far from the finish, and they did not keep pushing”.

The lead of the day’s breakaway, made of Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana Qazaqstan), Jacopo Mosca (Lidl-Trek), Sebastian Schönberger (Human Powered Health), Norbert Banaszek (HRE Mazowsze Serce Polski) and Patryk Stosz (Voster ATS), was however reduced and then controlled by the sprinters’ teams. A few minutes later, Lenny Martinez also suffered a small setback. “It was nervous, and he got caught in a crash,” said Frédéric. “Fortunately, it then got calmer with less wind and exposed sections. Lenny felt some pain in his behind due to the shock, but he was able to get going again”.

The peloton set its own pace for the rest of the day and caught Stosz, the last fugitive, with twenty-five kilometres to go. “We knew it was going to be really very nervous because of the wind, and although not much happened, it was quite tense all day”, added Paul Penhoët. “The whole team rode well around Lenny and me. It was perfect”.

In the last fifteen kilometres, the bunch gradually set up for the final sprint and the fight for position proved rough. “Everyone was fresh, it was tailwind, so the final was quite fast, and all the teams wanted to set their sprinter up,” explained Paul. First, Lewis Askey and Sam Watson kept the Groupama-FDJ sprinter in the first part of the peloton, then Bram Welten took over to lead his young teammate out. The duo was still in a good position entering the last three kilometres, despite a tough fight, but in the final moments, it got split up. “Bram said that we should be well positioned in the turn at 500 meters, and he was”, resumed Frédéric. “Unfortunately Paul was not in his wheel, but the rider who was there took the win”. The Dutchman came out from the last curve in the lead and launched the sprint, but it was Olav Kooij who reaped the rewards.

“I lost Bram’s wheel a kilometre from the finish, and that’s what cost a good result, even victory,” said Paul. “We can see that after the turn, the positions almost didn’t change. I was a bit in the traffic at 500 meters, before the corner. Then a rider tried to overtake me from the outside and we just went straight. I came out of the corner in 30th position, and I had almost no speed… Despite being frustrated with myself, I try to take the positive out of today. I started from far and I overtook nearly twenty guys. The legs are good, but now, I have to not let loose the wheel stupidly”.

At the finish, Paul Penhoët had to settle for eleventh place. “It’s a shame because Bram did a great job and a podium was possible”, confirmed Frédéric. The former rider of “La Conti” could however have another opportunity to show himself on Wednesday, in Bielsko-Biala. “The uphill false flat finish may suit Paul, if he has good legs,” concluded Frédéric. “We know this finish where Rudy and Jake have got results. This is a good opportunity, so we’ll go for it”.


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Ag2r-Citroen rider Alex Baudin has results removed from 2023 Giro d'Italia for Tramadol positive

Here's the UCI's news release:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that the French rider Alex Baudin has been sanctioned for an infringement of the in-competition ban on using tramadol as set out in the UCI Medical Rules with the aim of protecting the safety and health of riders in view of the side-effects of this substance.

The analysis of a dried blood sample provided by the rider on 24 May on the 17th stage of the 2023 Giro d’Italia revealed the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites.

[Editor: Baudin finsihed 73rd in the 2023 Giro d'Italia]

In accordance with the UCI Medical Rules, and after a thorough examination of the case, the rider is disqualified from the 2023 Giro d’Italia. This decision may be appealed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the next 10 days.

During the 2023 Giro d’Italia, a total of 64 dried blood samples were collected as part of the tramadol programme.

Infringements of the in-competition ban on using tramadol are offences under the UCI Medical Rules. They do not constitute Anti-doping Rule Violations. As this is a first offence, Alex Baudin is not declared ineligible and can therefore participate in competitions.

The UCI will not comment further on the matter.

Here's the Ag2r-Citroen news release:

AG2R CITROËN TEAM: Official press release

The AG2R CITROËN team takes note of the UCI's decision to disqualify Alex Baudin from the Giro d'Italia 2023 following the detection of Tramadol in the analyzes carried out during the 17th stage.

Because of this decision, the AG2R CITROËN team places the rider in reserve as a precaution.

The AG2R CITROËN team, a founding member of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), advocates the practice of cycling in line with strong ethical rules, in strict compliance with UCI and MPCC regulations.


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Jan Christen officially joins UAE Team Emirates

Here’s the team’s news release:

After spending the first part of the season learning his trade at Axeon Bermans, 19 year old Jan Christen will make the step-up to World Tour level as he officially joins UAE Team Emirates.

Christen, who won an impressive solo stage at the Giro Next-Gen in May, will debut in the colours of UAE in the coming weeks, with a program geared towards learning and development in the professional ranks. The Swiss youngster was recently crowned Under-23 European Mountain TT Champion to add to his list of European and World titles at Junior level.

He is signed to the Emirati team until 2028.

Mauro Gianetti (Team Principal & CEO): “Jan is a rider we’ve been following and working with for some time now and we are very pleased to give him the opportunity to step-up and show what he can do.

"He is a very young rider who we hope can continue to grow and develop both as a cyclist and as a person in our team.”

Jan Christen: “I’m very happy to make this step in my career and I’m thankful for the trust that Mauro, Matxin and UAE Team Emirates have shown in me. I’m joining one of the biggest and best teams and I’m very excited for the years ahead but also so thankful to Hagens Berman Axeon for the valuable experience these months and for the opportunities they gave me.
The first aim now is to learn and grow as much as possible and find my feet in the pro peloton and score soon my first pro win. It’s a dream become reality and I can’t wait to get started.”

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