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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. - Ludwig Wittgenstein

Story of the Giro d'Italia, volume 1

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy, Vol 1: 1909 - 1970 is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour of Oman stage three team reports

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

Here's the report from Cian Uijtdebroeks' Team Bora-hansgrohe:

Climbing legs were required on stage three, with the day concluding with a 4.5 km mountain finish at Jabal Haat, featuring an average gradient of 7.5 percent. A small break managed to go clear right from the start, but a few kilometers ahead of the finish they were reeled back in. Emanuel Buchmann, Cian Uijtdebroeks and Ben Zwiehoff tackled the final ascent in a 35-rider strong group. On the steepest part, the two German BORA - hansgrohe riders were forced to fall back somewhat, while Cian was able to follow the moves in a small group until the last few metres of racing. With the victory going to Matteo Jorgenson, the young Belgian finished fifth, only three seconds behind the day's winner, and is now ninth in the GC.

Matteo Jorgensen wins the Tour of Oman's third stage.

"Today was a good day for me, also in terms of the overall classification. But it was a difficult finish because the climb was pretty punchy. The guys, especially Emu, helped me well all day so I could save my energy. The approach to the final climb was not easy, but we reached the bottom of the climb in a good position. On the climb itself, the guys helped me maintain my good position. When the attacks started I was able to follow quite easily, but the sprint at the end was a bit too explosive. Eventually I finished 5th but most importantly I had a good feeling on the climb and so we can definitely look forward to the Green Mountain climb, which suits me much better." - Cian Uijtdebroeks

"The race was quite fast but well controlled. Everything came down to the last mountain. The climb started very steep where the peloton quickly crumbled. We had chosen Emu and Cian as captains. The team executed our plan well, but it seems that barriers had been swept onto the road by the TV helicopter, hampering Emu and Ben somewhat. Cian was at the front of a group of six riders, but opened his sprint a little too early and ended up in 5th place. But it's better to be a little too early than to wait too long." - Rolf Aldag, Sport Director

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Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior team reports

We posted the report from second-place Ben Turner's Team INEOS Grenadiers with the results.

Here’s the report from race winner Tadej Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates:

First race of the season for Tadej Pogačar and same result of his last appearance on the roads in 2022 (Il Lombardia): victory.

The Slovenian from UAE Team Emirates has won the Clasica Jaen Paraiso Interior, from Ubeda and arrival in Baeza after 178,9 km, with 42 km of gravel roads.

Tadej Pogacar has left his nearest chaser almost a minute behind.

When there were less than 44 km to go and the race was led by Sergio Samitier (Movistar) with 1’40” on the main bunch, Pogačar attacked for the first time, causing the reaction from 7 riders, amongst whom there were two other riders from the Emirati team, namely Marc Hirschi and Tim Wellens.

Just hundreds meters later, the Slovenian attacked once again and this time no one could follow him. The captain from UAE Team Emirates bridged over the gap to Samitier, forming a leading duo after the end of the fourth sector of gravel roads.

On the fifth sector, Samitier could not keep the pace of Pogačar, who became the solitary leader of the race with 33 km to go and two gravel road sectors, that did not worry the Slovenian rider, well backed in the first chasing group by team mates Hirschi and Wellens.

With 1’40” of advantage in the approach of the final sector of gravel road, Pogačar had no problem in changing the bike at 8,1 km to go because of a flat rear tyre and in resuming his winning path to the arrival for a solo victory with 58” of advantage on Ben Turner (2nd, Ineos Grenadiers) and Tim Wellens (3rd). The amazing day of the Emirati team was completed by the 4th place by Marc Hirschi 8+1’19”).

Pogačar: “It was, in the end, perfect teamwork, and we had a really good gameplan in the end, I managed to stay alone until the finish which gives me a big boost for the start of the season. It was the plan to attack there. The team put us in a perfect position. It was just as we planned. It was perfect.”

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Team Soudal Quick-Step to race Volta ao Algarve

Here’s the team’s update:

Fabio Jakobsen will headline our seven-man team this week.

No other team has won the Volta ao Algarve more times this century than the Wolfpack, our squad counting five overall wins at the most important Portuguese race, in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2020, and 2022. Aside from these triumphs, Soudal Quick-Step racked up also two dozen stage victories, most recent of these being last year’s individual time trial in Tavira.

Fabio Jakobsen winning the first stage of the 2022 Volta ao Algarve.

A stage against the clock will feature on the course also at the 48th edition (15-19 February), but this time in Lagoa, where the race will conclude after five days that will give opportunities to both the sprinters and the climbers, the latter once again set to battle on the fierce slopes of Alto da Foia and the now iconic Alto do Malhão.

European Champion Fabio Jakobsen – who has won four stages and a pair of points jerseys at his previous outings – will target the race’s two flat stages, where he’ll be guided by Michael Mørkøv and Casper Pedersen, who just last weekend took the spoils at the Figueira Champions Classic. Two former ITT National Champions, Kasper Asgreen and Rémi Cavagna, will also be on Soudal Quick-Step’s squad, which will be completed by Tim Declercq and Ilan Van Wilder.

“Algarve is a race we like, a race where we had a lot of success in the past. We look forward to it, and especially to the combination of Fabio, Michael and Casper in the bunch sprint, it will be a good test for the lead-out. Regarding the general classification, we can try something with Ilan. He had some solid displays in Mallorca and Figueira, and with that time trial on the las stage, he has a chance of getting a good result”, said sports director Tom Steels.

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Team Bahrain Victorious will race Vuelta a Andalucia

Here’s the team’s news:

Team Bahrain Victorious are back in Spain and back to racing, as the 69th Vuelta Ciclista a Andalucia (Ruta del Sol) gets underway on Wednesday. Winners last year when Wout Poels lifted the trophy, we return to defend the title with a line-up ready to take on the mountainous route.

Wout Poels winning stage four of the 2022 edition.

As usual, the parcour features narrow roads, uphill finishes, and some serious climbing that starts on the opening day, which includes no fewer than 3 first category ascents. On paper it’s also the toughest stage, with 4000m elevation gain over the 179km from Puente de Génave to Santiago de la Espada.

Lead Sports Director is Gorazd Štangelj, who notes:
“The first stage should be the ‘Queen’ stage and is the hardest, along with the last 2, but none of them are easy. On our roster, we have Mikel Landa as the leader, with co-leader Santiago Buitrago and Jack Haig to support them in the latter stages.”

Landa comes to Andalucia on the back of a strong showing at Valenciana last week, where he rode in support of Pello Bilbao, and has finished on the podium here before, in 2020. Meanwhile, 23-year-old Columbian Buitrago – a stage winner at last year’s Giro d’Italia – topped the young riders’ classification at the Saudi Tour and is looking to build on his good form of 2022.

For Jack Haig, who won a stage and finished runner-up at La Ruta in 2020, it will be a first competitive start since a crash on stage 5 of last year’s Tour de France left him with multiple wrist fractures.

Day 2 will see the peloton cover 156 hilly kilometres, all leading up to the castle ruins above Alcalá La Real. The uphill 3.4km to the line are partially cobbled, and after the ‘flamme rouge’, the gradient rises to 11.5%

Friday’s profile is largely flat, but once again, there is a sting in the tail. This time it comes in the form of a final kilometre at 10%, also over cobbles, with ramps up to 25% before the finish at Alcalá de los Gazules.

Štangelj comments,
“The two middle stages look less hard, but the finishes are tricky and complicated. We need to focus & support our leaders, so they don’t lose time, and then on the harder stages give them the ideal position to gain time at the end.”

On these days, last year’s Milan-Sanremo winner, Matej Mohorič, will come to the fore, and with him, new signing Andrea Pasqualon. The 35-year-old is one of three Italians representing Bahrain, along with Edoardo Zambanini, who makes his season debut, and veteran Damiano Caruso, winner of the mountains classification back in 2016. Their main role will be to support Landa and Buitrago on the hilly parts of the route.

The road goes up almost immediately on stage 4, with the first of several short but steep climbs, and there is barely any flat on the 165 kilometres between Olvera & Iznajar, during which the riders will face over 3000m of elevation gain.

The race concludes with another mountain stage, from Otura to Alhaurín de la Torre. The longest climb of this year’s edition – The Puerto del Sol – comes halfway through, before a final 85km which is mainly downhill and ends with the only flat finish of the week.

“It will be a battle from the first to the last day,” says Štangelj. “Our goal is at least to podium with Landa or Santi in the GC, and we are also looking to win stages, at least one, maybe more. We’ll be chasing victories from day 1.”

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