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

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. - Plato


Tour de France: 2020

Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2020: The Tour During Covid-19, Better Late Than Never is available in both Kindle eBook and Audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour de France stage three reports

Here's the race organizer's stage three report:

Jasper Philipsen won stage 3 to Bayonne in a bunch sprint finish ahead of Phil Bauhaus and Caleb Ewan. It’s the third Tour de France stage victory and the 30th career win for the 25 year old Belgian as well as the fifth Tour de France win for Alpecin-Deceuninck. Adam Yates retained the overall lead.

Jasper Philipsen wins stage three. Sirotti photo.

The start of stage 3 was given at 13.14 to 174 riders. King of the Mountains Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) was first in action. He was joined at the front right after flag off by Laurent Pichon (Arkea-Samsic). Powless added points to his account in the King of the Mountains competition at Trabakua (km 13.8) and Millol (37.8) to mathematically secure the polka dot jersey at least until the Tour reaches the Pyrénées on stage 5. A time gap of 3’ minutes was recorded after 30km of racing. 37.2km were covered by the leading duo in the first hour of racing. Before the intermediate sprint at Deba (km 65.8), stage 2 winner Victor Lafay (Cofidis) escaped from the peloton to score 15 points behind Pichon and Powless in order to defend his green jersey.

PICHON FIRST IN FRANCE
At km 112, after having crested the four categorized climbs in first position, Powless sat up and left Pichon alone in the lead. Pichon entered France with an advantage of two minutes over the peloton and 60km remaining. It was down to 40’’ fifteen kilometres later as the teams of the sprinters entered in action. After 156km in the lead, Pichon was reeled in with 37km remaining. No breakaway took shape in the finale as sprinters’ teams set a high tempo and GC teams made sure their captain remained well positioned.

VAN DER POEL LEADS PHILIPSEN OUT
Intermarché-Circus-Wanty paved the way for Biniam Girmay to win his first Tour de France stage but the masterpiece in terms of lead out was made by Mathieu van der Poel at the service of Jasper Philipsen who started the 2023 Tour de France the same way he finished 2022. After winning his second stage on the Champs-Elysées last year, he claimed the first bunch sprint this year, pipping on the line Phil Bauhaus who is taking part in the Grande Boucle for the first time. Caleb Ewan rounded out the podium. Adam Yates retained the Maillot Jaune.

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Here's the stage three report from third-place Caleb Ewan's Team Lotto Dstny:

Lotto Dstny rider Caleb Ewan has taken third place in the first bunch sprint of the 110th Tour de France. In a technical final and a nailbiting sprint, Caleb Ewan launched a powerful kick to the line, but the Australian had to settle for third after Bauhaus and Philipsen, who won the stage. “This performance gives me confidence for the chances to come. The legs felt good and if I can start my sprint from a better position, that win is coming soon.”

Caleb Ewan (far right) was close. Sirotti photo

Following a tough opening weekend in the Basque Country, the sprinters had their say today. On lumpy terrain, two attackers were kept within reach of the peloton, which had its eyes on a first bunch sprint in this Tour. In a technical final, Lotto Dstny sprinter Caleb Ewan was kept well at the front by his teammates. The Australian surfed wheels in the final kilometres, launched a powerful acceleration and eventually finished in third place.

“As expected, this was a really nervous one but we did well with the team. The level here is really high and almost every top sprinter is present. So it was an enormous battle for the best positions. Of course we missed Jasper at the very end but we had to change plans today and did well. It was a hectic sprint but I felt really good. I was maybe a little too far back when I started my sprint but we have to take the positives from today. With this form, I feel there will be some nice things to come”, concludes Caleb Ewan.


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Here’s the report from fourth-place Fabio Jakobsen’s Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Fabio Jakobsen finished fourth on the third stage of the race, which brought the peloton on French soil after an unforgettable weekend in the Basque Country. Bayonne – the home town of 1937 Tour de France winner Roger Lapébie – came at the end of a pretty quiet day that took in just a few classified climbs, which inspired only two riders to go in the breakaway.

The peloton working to keep the breakaway riders from getting away. Sirotti poto

Soudal Quick-Step was among the teams to show their intentions early, sending Tim Declercq at the front of the bunch to keep the gap in check. Our team continued to be prominent also in the closing kilometers, when Kasper Asgreen and Yves Lampaert stretched out the field as the line was getting closer and closer. In what turned out to be a hectic mass gallop won by Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Fabio Jakobsen came in fourth place, a result he talked about after the stage.

“It’s a pity, as I had the legs, but I was just too far and not in a winning position. I got boxed in a bit on a small uphill and there I lost Michael’s wheel, so next time I have to fight more for that. He waited for me, but then we got boxed in again and I found myself stuck. We both had the legs, but Michael had nowhere to go out. I tried to find my way, but in the end, I concluded in fourth. The finish was a bit tricky, it could have been on a straight line instead. Anyway, we saw a strong team, which is good, and this is very important for the next days”, explained the European Champion after the stage.


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And here’s the report from Neilson Powless’ Team EF Education-EasyPost:

Neilson Powless went on the attack to defend his lead in the King of the Mountains competition on stage three of the Tour de France.

The American broke clear of the peloton soon after the start in Amorebietano-Etxano and stayed away over the summits of the Côte de Trabakua, Côte de Milloi, Col d’Itziar, and Côte d’Orioko Benta to win every point he could have won on the route and extend his lead in the race for the polka-dot jersey. He soared along the coast of the Bay of Biscay, ducking into Basque fishing towns and over surf-battered headlands on his way to the French border and the finish in Bayonne.

Laurent Pichon and Neilson Powless on their long breakaway. Sirotti photo

Huge crowds waving local flags cheered for Neilson every time he went for a summit in his polka-dot climber’s jersey. He saluted them every time he reached a top. With his feats in the Basque Country, Neilson has won the hearts of cycling’s most passionate supporters.

He sat up to save his legs for the Pyrénees after the Côte d’Orioko Benta. Tomorrow’s lumpy run from Dax to Nagaro only features one fourth-category climb. The Tour will then hit the first high mountains of this year’s race. Stage five from Pau to Laurens will be a huge test. It crosses the Hors-Categorie Col de Soudet, third-category Col d’Ichere, and first-category Col de Marie Blanque. The next day in the Hautes-Pyrénées will be even harder. En route from Tarbes to Cauterets-Cambasque and the first summit finish of the 2023 Tour lie the mythical Col d’Aspin and Col du Tourmalet.

Neilson will recover hard and get ready for the fight to stay in polka dots.

Neilson Powless:
It has been a successful day. I got to score some KOM points today and it didn’t cost too much energy, so I’m happy. We definitely have to focus on the Pyrénées, both for the KOM jersey and to get a stage win. Several teammates of mine have been resting up these days, so hopefully we will be able to pull something off. I felt very good today. Everything is going in a good direction. I’ll have one day to relax tomorrow that will help get me ready for the Pyrénées.

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