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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Vuelta a San Juan final team reports

We posted the report from stage seven winner Sam Welsford's Team DSM with the results.

Here's the report from stage seven second-place Fabio Jakobsen's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

The final stage of the Vuelta a San Juan saw former Wolfpack member Maximiliano Richeze say goodbye to cycling after 18 years in the pro ranks, four of which he got to spend with our team, winning six races. After a well-deserved guard of honor for “El Atomico”, the race kicked off with a breakaway that had to fight hard to put one minute into a peloton whose main goal Sunday afternoon was to see this come down to a mass gallop.

Max Richeze after 2016 Tour of Switzerland stage 3. He has hung up the chamois. Sirotti photo

The bunch’s missing wasn’t a straight forward one, as they had to really work for it, especially in the final 15 kilometers, when Remco Evenepoel and Quinn Simmons took off. The World Champion and his US companion snapped the elastic and carved out a 25-second gap which allowed them to stay in the lead until two kilometers to go, when they were swallowed by the chasing group.

It came as no surprise that the bunch sprint was again a chaotic one, on the wide boulevard in San Juan, but the recklessness of some of the spectators made it even more dangerous. Fabio Jakobsen launched on the right side of the road close to the barriers, only for a spectator holding out his phone to hit him in the face and almost knock him off his bike. Luckily, Fabio managed to stay upright and concluded just behind Sam Welsford (DMS) in second place.

“Vuelta a San Juan was for the riders here a good race to start the season and we leave not just with a stage win, but also with the confidence given by how our guys rode. They showed here that they are ready for the next races. Maybe we could have done more, but the level was very high this week, so overall we can be pretty content with how things went for us”, explained Soudal Quick-Step sports director Davide Bramati.

Here’s the San Juan report from second overall Filippo Ganna’s Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Filippo Ganna secured an impressive second place overall at the Vuelta a San Juan.

The Italian finished on the runner-up step of the podium for the third time in the last four editions with an assured ride across the week in Argentina.

Filippo Ganna after stage four of the Dauphiné. Sirotti photo

The foundations for Ganna’s podium were laid on Friday’s queen stage, with a gutsy second place atop the Alto Colorado. Ganna finished 30 seconds back on overall victor Miguel Angel Lopez (Medellin-EPM), while Brandon Rivera made it an even stronger week for the team with fifth place on GC.

The Colombian came home 1:01 back on his compatriot after a consistent week of racing. Egan Bernal also enjoyed some encouraging results during his first race of the year, finishing fourth on the queen stage before being forced to depart the race early.

The final stage saw the peloton tackle a loop around San Juan with a bunch sprint concluding with a victory from Sam Welsford (Team DSM).

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And here's the San Juan report from GC third-place Sergio Higuita's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

The Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina concluded with a 112km mostly flat circuit in the town of San Juan. Thousands of fans followed the final stage of the eight-day race along the road - a real cycling festival! The sprinters’ teams controlled the stage and kept the breakaway on a short leash. In a hectic finale, Sam Welsford sealed the win. While Sam Bennett was boxed in a bit, Danny van Poppel crossed the finish line in fifth. In the overall standings, Sergio Higuita was able to defend third and secured the first stage race podium of the season for BORA - hansgrohe.

It was Sam Welsford who took the final stage.

“This week was super good for the team! We rode strong as a team, supported each other and had some nice results. I’m happy with this start to the season, taking home a podium here was definitely my goal. My next race will be the national championship in Colombia - I’m super motivated and hope keep the jersey for another year.” - Sergio Higuita

“Of course we wanted more for the sprint today, but unfortunately in the finale Sam Bennett was boxed in a bit and another win was out of reach. Overall we are happy with the Vuelta a San Juan. A stage win and the podium in the overall keeps us optimistic for the upcoming tasks.” - Bernhard Eisel, Sports Director

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Saudi Tour stage one reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Dylan Groenewegen's Team Jayco-AlUla:

Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen stormed to his first victory of the season with an emphatic and powerful sprint on the opening stage of the Saudi Tour.

The 29-year-old finished off a perfect lead out from teammates Luka Mezgec and Zdeněk Štybar after battling back from three punctures earlier in the 180km stage.

Dylan Groenewegen takes the first stage of this year's Saudi Tour.

Windy conditions and rough roads made for a tough day of racing, but Team Jayco AlUla controlled the peloton throughout. As the finale approached the experience of Štybar and Mezgec proved vital as they timed their run to the front perfectly, avoiding the crashes and carnage behind them.

Mezgec then peeled off in the sight of the line, launching Groenewegen who had time to sit up and savour the moment as he crossed the line for his first win of 2023, adding to his two victories in Saudi Arabia last year.

Dylan Groenewegen:
“It was really hectic, we did a lot of work, only DSM was working with us and the breakaway was really strong. I had a flat tyre at the wrong moment and with 20km it was still two minutes, but all the team was working really good and we are really motivated to show AlUla that we are really strong.

"In the end we only had three guys left for the final, but we waited for a good moment and then we went and I saw nobody. The team performance was really strong today and we’re really happy to take this first victory of the season with the sprint train.

"We know that the shape is really good with everyone, but in a race it’s always different. This is a really important race for us, with AlUla on the jersey, so we’ve made our sponsor proud and to win the first stage is a good beginning.”

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Here’s the Saudi Tour report from second-place Dusan Rajovic’s Team Bahrain Victorious:

Dušan Rajović sprinted to second place on his Team Bahrain Victorious debut coming up short to Dylan Groenewegen from Team Jayco AlUla.

The first stage of the Saudi Tour started from AlUla International Airport to Khaybar on a 180km flat parcour, with the peloton only having to be wary of the crosswinds that were present for most of the day to impact the chances of a bunch sprint. The day’s breakaway of 6 riders were given a maximum lead of 6 minutes, while Team Jayco AlUla and Bahrain Victorious set the pace to control and catch them, with the last breakaway rider caught with 13km to go, before the fight for positions began ahead of the bunch sprint into Khaybar.

The peloton races across the desert.

Dušan Rajović: “The last kilometer was nervous; a lot of riders were fighting in the front. We lost Johnny as someone hit his wheel. In the end, second place is not bad, it’s the start of the season. I was thinking I could do better as the team put me in a good position, I was coming from behind but was closed. Second place is not bad, but we’ll keep fighting in the next stages.”

Sports Director Enrico Poitschke commented: “Second place is a good result, although we hoped to win the stage, we also had a lot of bad luck today. We had to stop twice with mechanical problems with Jonathan Milan, one rider hit him, so he couldn’t do the leadoff. During the stage, the team did a good job, they stayed together, and they were in the position to be able to react if needed. It was a hot day, not an easy stage with difficult roads, very bumpy. So taking all in consideration, we are happy with the second place, a very good result for Dušan as we are looking forward to the next stages.”

And here’s the Saudi Tour report from sixth-place Rui Oliveira’s UAE Team Emirates:

UAE Team Emirates had a testing start to the Saudi Tour, with Ivo Oliveira salvaging 6th place for the Emirati squad on the flat opening stage from Alula International Airport to Khaybar (180km).

The plan for the stage was to lead-out the designated sprinter Pascal Ackermann though he would drop from the front of the race due to stomach problems. Ryan Gibbons was then given the task to step-up for the sprint though found himself behind a crash at the front of the peloton in the closing 3km.

The task then fell to Rui Oliveira, who normally navigates the final kilometre to go himself and the Portuguese managed a highly respectable 6th place behind stage winner Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-Alula) who also takes the race lead.

Rui Oliveira: “The idea today was to set-up Ackermann for the sprint but during the stage he wasn’t feeling very well so we changed to plan to sprint for Gibbons. Then Ryan was held up by the crash in the fine 3km which left it down to me and I managed to do a decent sprint but the goal is to lead out the guys over the next days and go for victories with them .”

The Saudi Tour continues tomorrow for Stage 2 from Winter Park to Shalal Sijlyat Rocks (184km).

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