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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, July 28, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

I've been on a calendar, but I've never been on time. - Marilyn Monroe

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Team Soudal Quick-Step to ride Tour of Poland

Here's the team's update:

Tim Merlier will headline our seven-man squad for the 27th World Tour event of the season, taking place between 29 July-4 August. Winner of six races so far in his first year with Soudal Quick-Step, the two-time Belgian Champion will look to add to this tally in Poland, where the sprinters will get three opportunities, including one on the opening day.

Tim Merlier winning stage six of this year's Tour of Dunkirk.

This year, the route comes with some changes that will see the climbers hit the hills earlier than in the past, and that’s because the second stage schedules a challenging uphill finish in Karpacz, followed just twenty-four hours later by another hard day in the saddle, to Zdroj. A hilly parcours to Bielsko-Biala and a 16.6km individual time trial held over the undulating roads around Katowice complete the parcours of this 80th edition.

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Soudal Quick-Step’s squad for the Tour de Pologne includes also Mattia Cattaneo and Josef Cerny – who have recently extended their contracts with the Wolfpack – Jan Hirt, experienced lead-out man Bert Van Lerberghe, Ilan Van Wilder and Louis Vervaeke.

“In Poland you always get some chances in the sprint, and for this we have Tim, who will rely on Bert. Concerning the general classification, we’ll go with Ilan – who has done a strong Giro d’Italia in the first part of the year – and now kicks off his second half of the season. This course, with the time trial, should suit him, so we’ll see how far he can go in the standings. Supporting him will be Louis, Jan and Mattia, but also Josef, who can be of great help on the flat stages”, said sports director Geert Van Bondt.

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Team Bahrain Victorious to ride Clásica de San Sebastián

Here’s the team’s news:

The Clásica de San Sebastián 2023 takes place this Saturday, July 29, in the Spanish Basque Country, with departure and arrival from San Sebastián itself. Our lineup includes two Basque riders – Mikel Landa and Pello Bilbao, both of whom come directly from the Tour de France, where Bilbao was a stage winner.

Pello Bilbao wins 2023 Tour de France stage 10. Sirotti photo

For this 43rd edition, the riders will have some 230.3 kilometres and seven climbs to cover, including the Jaizkibel, the Erlaitz and a final test on Murgil-Tontorra.  With some sections far steeper than its 10% average gradient suggests, it’s a genuine challenge that will sort the contenders from the pretenders.

The majority of the race takes place at sea level, with the highest point, the top of the Iturburu climb, at 553 metres.

The parcours is a succession of steep hills, making it the ideal rugged playground for both punchers and climbers. The first of seven climbs is the 3rd category Meaga, after 26.8km (3.5km at 3.4%). The following fifty kilometres see the Iturburu (C2, 6.6km at 5.3%) and the Alkiza (4.4km at 6.2%). A little later, at km 137, comes the famous Jaizkibel (7.9km at 5.6%) followed immediately by the Erlaitz (3.8km at 10.6% ), which is the only first category ascent of the day.

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With 30 kilometres remaining, and the end in sight, two bumps in the road remain. The Mendizorrotz (4.1km at 7.3%), and finally the Murgil-Tontorra (2.1km at 10.1%). That summits with just 8 kilometres of descent and flat terrain until the finish.

Lead Sports Director Neil Stephens comments:
“We look forward to Clásica de San Sebastián. It is the first race after the Tour de France. It’s a little bit difficult for us coming off of such a successful Tour de France; expectations are pretty high. We have two leaders: Pello and Mikel, both of whom are from the Basque Country. We will race to support Pello; he was in great form throughout the Tour de France, achieving a stage win and 6th place overall. But, obviously, we are not too sure about his fatigue level coming into the race.

"It was really hard racing, especially last week, and we hope he has recovered a bit. Pello will have some great support. I suppose Mikel is slightly frustrated with the TDF, but he is looking to try to do something at San Sebastian. Whether he has a wild card in the finish, rides for himself, or helps Pello, we’ll find out as the race unfolds. Santiago Buitrago is coming from Colombia; this is his first race since the Giro. He was training well, looking well, and was one of the key riders at the final part of the race. The rest of the riders, Edoardo Zambanini, Johan Price, Jonathan Milan and Yukiya Arashiro are all in a supporting role. We have high expectations of the race, but once again, we are all aware that our team leaders are both coming from the Tour de France, so we are not exactly sure if they will be able to come back already and perform at their absolute best.”

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