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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, June 18, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

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Paris–Roubaix: The Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Paris-Roubaix: The Inside Story - All the bumps of cycling's cobbled classic 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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Baloise Belgium Tour stage four team reports

We posted the report from Casper Pedersen's Team Soudal Quick-Step with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Thibau Nys' Team Trek-Segafredo:

The Queen stage of this year’s Baloise Belgium Tour featured four laps of a hilly circuit in the Ardennes, starting and finishing in picturesque Durbuy. Asbjørn Hellemose jumped in the early breakaway which enjoyed the lead of the race until a lap and a half remained. From that moment, we saw attacks, splits and regroupings as various riders tried their luck.

In the final lap, Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) launched an attack which resulted in the peloton splitting. Trek-Segafredo’s Toms Skujiņš took on the lion’s share of the chasing work along with Thibau Nys to reel in the Dutchman. They reduced the deficit from around 40” to just 15”, but as Skujins finished his last pull on the front the impetus went out of the chase and Van der Poel stayed away to the finish. As the chase faltered behind, individual riders attacked in the hope of dropping their rivals and gaining time for the general classification. Mathias Vacek timed his attack well and picked up six bonus seconds through the Golden Kilometer.

Mathieu van der Poel wins stage four

In the final 10 kilometers there was a counter-attack of three riders from the chasing group, containing Thibau Nys, who was clearly feeling better after he struggled through the opening stages of the race. The finish suited Nys’ punch perfectly and he was able to take the runner up spot behind Mathieu Van der Poel. With one stage remaining Trek-Segafredo have three riders in the top-10 GC: Jasper Stuyven (5th), Mathias Vacek (9th and best young rider) and Toms Skujiņš (10th).

Reaction from Thibau Nys:
“I think this is again the form I was riding in two weeks ago, I think I had the legs to win to be honest, if we had played out cards a bit differently, but at the moment Mathieu went I had already closed a gap just after the finish line, then I was a bit too far back and on the limit when he attacked. It was a really chaotic final and I tried to do what I could for the team, keep the bunch together and give Mathias some space, but then there were some attacks I had to follow and then they rode with me to the finish line and I could finish it off. I still felt really good, my legs were super. I started feeling better and better compared to the start of the race, I’m happy with the shape. [This style of race] is exactly why I love this sport and this is the kind of stage that suits me 100%, so maybe in the future I can try to win here one day.”

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Tour of Switzerland stage seven team reports

We posted the report for stage winner Remco Evenepoel's Team Soudal Quick-Step with the results.

Here's the report from second place Wout van Aert's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Wout van Aert has finished second in the seventh stage of the Tour de Suisse. The Belgian was the fastest in a sprint for second place behind stage winner Remco Evenepoel. The stage to Weinfelden was a serene tribute to Gino Mäder.

Before the start of the stage, the Tour de Suisse organisers announced that the stage race would continue. After talking to the riders, Team Jumbo-Visma also decided to ride the final stages.

There were no early attacks on the 183-kilometre stage between Tübach and Weinfelden. The peloton rode as one towards the final climb. With 20 kilometres to go, the final started. After an acceleration by Team Jumbo-Visma, a group of around 15 riders formed, including Wout van Aert and other favourites.

Three kilometres later, Evenepoel accelerated in the lead group. The world champion arrived solo. Van Aert was the fastest in the sprint for second place. The points leader beat Bryan Coquard with an ultimate jump.

Remco Evenepoel wins stage seven.

"It was a strange and difficult day”, Van Aert said. "The decision to take it easy in the beginning and race in the final was the right one. We showed that our thoughts were with Gino and his family, but we also gave the spectators a race. Everyone in the peloton respected each other's decisions.”

The Tour de Suisse concludes on Sunday with a 25-kilometre individual time trial. Van Aert is one of the favourites for the stage victory. "Before this race, I looked at the time trial and studied it well. At the time, it seemed more like a course for the GC riders. I haven't thought about it in the last few days. I hope I'll be able to concentrate on it tomorrow because it's an excellent chance to win a stage.”

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Here's the Tour of Switzerland report from seventh-place Romain Grégoire's Team Groupama-FDJ:

In the aftermath of the tragic loss of Gino Mäder, and a short stage ridden as a tribute to him, the peloton did cover the full seventh stage on Saturday. However, the proper racing started with only twenty-five kilometres to go, where the time for the GC was exceptionally taken. Remco Evenepoel took the win solo and Romain Grégoire placed seventh.

It is with a heavy heart that the peloton got back on the road this Saturday, barely a day after the devastating news. However, there were only 117 riders left in the race at the start in Tübach, after some teams decided to withdraw as a whole and some riders individually chose not to resume racing. In a press release, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team explained: “We listened, discussed with all our riders one by one. Some will not start today, others will continue. We support every rider in his decision in this difficult moment for the whole cycling family”. Stefan Küng, Arnaud Démare and Miles Scotson left the event while Michael Storer, Romain Grégoire, Sam Watson and Quentin Pacher decided to continue. In total, thirty-seven riders withdrew on Saturday morning. A bit later, the race started but in a sober way. “It was a particular stage given the circumstances”, said Sébastien Joly. “A compromise was naturally found, and it was a good thing. Trek-Segafredo, the leader’s team, took the race in hand and there were no attacks. There was kind of an agreement in that regard”.

The Tour de Suisse riders therefore covered the first 160 kilometres as one and at a decent pace. “The final was also particular because the times for the general standings were blocked twenty-five kilometres from the finish”, added Sébastien. “Some decided to let it go, others got back in the mix. As for the team, Romain managed to focus on the final and even entered a group of a dozen riders at the top of the last climb”. Following that final hill, with about fifteen kilometres to go, the world champion Remco Evenepoel broke away alone and later took the victory, dedicating it to Gino Mäder. In a small chasing peloton, Romain Grégoire took part in the sprint and obtained seventh place of the day. “It’s a good thing he was able, despite everything, to refocus on the race” said Sébastien. On Sunday, a 25-km long, hilly time trial will conclude the Swiss race.

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And here's the report from Team Bora-hansgrohe:

After consultation with the teams, riders and Gino Mäder's family, the organisers have decided to continue with the Tour de Suisse. However, the timing for the overall classification took place today 25 km before the finish of the 183 km stage, while the decision on the stage win was made on the finish line in Weinfelden. After the start in Tübach, the peloton rode together towards the finish and it seemed that a pact was in place in the peloton.

The race situation remained unchanged until Otteneberg, where the moves began. Shortly after, Evenepoel managed to break away from the peloton. The World Champion was chased by a small group including Matteo Fabbro, but ultimately wasn't able to be reeled back. He dedicated his stage win to Gino Mäder.

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