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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, August 31, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. - J. Robert Oppenheimer quoting from the Bhagavad Gita after the first nuclear explosion at Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1945.

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Vuelta a España stage five team reports

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

Here's the stage five report from GC leader Remco Evenepoel's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Remco Evenepoel concluded safely in the bunch the 186.2km stage five from Morella to Burriana, after a day that featured one classified climb, 2300 vertical meters, and countless roundabouts, eight of which came in the last five kilometers.

Remco Evenpoel heads to the stage five start. Sirotti photo

But before leaving the fast men center stage, the red jersey had other plans, and with the help of Casper Pedersen – who provided a perfect lead-out – he won the intermediate sprint in Nules, racking up six bonus seconds which helped him extend his buffer in the general classification to eleven seconds. It was a move that caught off-guard the opponents of the 23-year-old, who at the end of the stage won by Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) took his 19th La Vuelta leader’s jersey.

“I know that these seconds won’t probably make any difference at the end of the race, but as the speed went up, I said to myself I should just go for the bonifications, especially as it didn’t cost me any energy. So far, the race was perfect for us and we hope it will continue like this”, said only the third Belgian to amass 19 leader’s jerseys at the Spanish Grand Tour.

Thursday brings the race’s second summit finish, in Aragon. Pico del Buitre, a climb taking the riders to almost 2000 meters above sea level, is 10.9 kilometers in length and averages 8%, but has some gruelling 15% slopes, some of which coming inside the final kilometer, where it is very likely to see some gaps opening between the general classification contenders.

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Here's the report from Jonas Vingegaard's and Primoz Roglic's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma has come through the fifth day of the Vuelta a España unscathed. Leaders Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic crossed the line safely in Burriana. Kaden Groves took the win, just like the day before.

Jonas Vingegaard finished the stage safely. Sirotti photo

The profile of the fifth stage in Spain was almost a copy of the previous day. Soon after the start in Morella, a single leader was ahead of the peloton. His advantage was quickly wiped out on the Collado de la Ibola, the day's only categorised climb. The rest of the stage was trouble-free for Team Jumbo-Visma.

Sports director Grischa Niermann also saw this. "The goal for the fifth stage was to reach the finish unscathed. We managed that; we got through the day in good shape. Wilco felt good after yesterday's crash. It's a nice boost for the team.”

A challenging stage is on the agenda for Thursday. After more than 180 kilometres, the finish is on the Pico del Buitre, a first-category climb. "Tomorrow will be another test for our riders. Of course, we already had a tough stage two days ago. The final climb will be tough. Fortunately, this is familiar territory for Primoz, who finished sixth there in 2019”, Niermann concluded.

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Here's the Vuelta report from Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Filippo Ganna unleashed a powerful sprint to finish a superb second place in stage five of La Vuelta.

Whilst most of the day was taken at a sedate pace, with just a lone rider in the breakaway, the pace ramped up within the last 10 kilometres of racing.

Strong positioning work was key as the Grenadiers avoided a late pileup with less than four kilometres remaining.

With Geraint Thomas and Thymen Arensman safely beyond the three kilometre to go banner, Ganna began positioning himself for the sprint finish.

Filippo Ganna finished second to Kaden Groves. Sirotti photo

A late surge brought the Italian up to the front of the bunch, before a long and impressive sprint saw ‘Pippo’ surge towards the line, finishing a close second to Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceucninck).

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Team Lotto Dstny switching from Ridley to Orbea bikes

Here's the report from the GCN site:

Belgian bike manufacturer Ridley has accused Lotto Dstny of “disloyalty” and “reputational damage” after it was revealed that the UCI ProTeam would be ending their 12-year partnership with the brand to seek new bike suppliers for 2024.

Caleb Ewan with his Ridley bike before the start of 2023 TDF stage three. Sirotti photo

Lotto Dstny were set to ride Ridley bikes until the end of 2025, but reports in Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws - which were later confirmed by Lotto CEO Stéphane Heulot - stated that the team would break that partnership early.

A day after the news emerged on Tuesday, Ridley responded in a statement given to HLN by CEO Jochim Aerts, describing the situation as a “cold shower”.

“Ridley feels compelled to respond to ongoing press leaks from new management at Lotto Dstny,” the statement read. “A current agreement is unilaterally terminated and 12 years of intensive and positive cooperation are consigned to the rubbish bin.”

Aerts also suggested that Ridley would be seeking financial compensation or settlement from Lotto Dstny.

“This disloyalty and reputational damage and the lost investments will have to be compensated,” the statement concluded. “It is a pity that I also have to end with a financial aspect, but as I said, the future of my company and its employees are sacred to me.

"Ridley is therefore looking forward to the proposals that the management and/or the Board of Directors of Lotto Dstny will come up with to repair the damage suffered."

Though the reasons for the termination of the relationship are not clear, various reports in the Belgian media have pointed to a reduced financial contribution from Ridley - a hangover from the Covid-19 pandemic - and suggestions that riders had to use old equipment, specifically time trial bikes, which the brand had failed to provide.

In their statement, Ridley resolutely rejected this narrative.

“In 2021, we were asked by the then-management to open up the current agreement [running from 2022 to 2025], something that we as a company went along with to please the team and the riders. Two years later, when we are fully investing in optimising the material for the team, we get a cold shower.

“At the end of May, several shots were fired in the press in which the CEO of the team claimed that Ridley's bikes would not be ProTour worthy. There were doubts, especially about the new time trial bike, the new Dean.

“It is remarkable when you see how many races Arnaud De Lie wins on our new Falcon and when you read that Alec Segaert stated on September 16, 2022, following the signing of a professional contract, that the new Ridley time trial bike has certainly played a role in his decision.”

You can read the entire story here.

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