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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 26, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me - they're cramming for their final exam. - George Carlin

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Plato's dialogue Crito is available both in audiobook and Kindle eBook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Volta a Catalunya stage six team reports

We posted the report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Team Jumbo-Visma with the results.

Here is the report from GC second-place Remco Evenepoel's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Remco Evenepoel was everywhere on the penultimate stage of the race! Staying true to his nature and instinct, the Belgian attacked on the only climb of the day – just 500 meters from the top – and continued to push hard on the descent with Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), the only rider who could follow him, in his wheel. Evenepoel was the only one to pull, and his effort resulted in a 30-second advantage when the duo entered the flat final kilometers.

It was Kaden Groves who won the stage.

With the Slovenian refusing to share the work, the two got caught, but not even when the peloton came back, with five kilometers to go, Remco didn’t stop, opening a huge acceleration to take three bonus seconds at the last intermediate sprint. Then, to round it out, he got in the mix with the pure sprinters after a solid lead-out of Mattia Cattaneo on the finishing straight in Molins de Rei, and impressed again by taking fifth place – a result that leaves him in the fight for the overall ahead of the tough Barcelona stage.

“We wanted to attack today, and that’s what we did. I felt good, so why not try something. If Primoz had worked with me, we could have gone for the win, but he refused to do it, so that’s that. It will be difficult to turn around the general classification, but we’ll see what we can do on the Barcelona stage. It’s going to be a hard day, up and down all the time, but we are motivated to do our best again”, a confident Remco said after the stage.

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Here's the Catalonia stage 6 report from Team Groupama-FDJ:

Stage 6 of the Volta a Catalunya towards Molins de Rei, on Saturday, left very little rest to the riders, due to a very long fight for the breakaway and an attack from Remco Evenepoel in the final. Only sixty men or so were left in the bunch as the finish approached, and Bruno Armirail, after having perfectly supported Lenny Martinez until then, made an attack with just two kilometres to go.

The French time trial champion stayed away for a few moments but was eventually caught less than 500 metres from the line. Kaden Groves then took victory in a sprint. Lenny Martinez remains in twelfth place overall going into Sunday’s final stage on the hill of Montjuic.

Stage 6 gets started

Although being shortened to 174 kilometres and having its last climb removed, the penultimate stage of the Volta a Catalunya was still set to host a great fight. With a hilly terrain to tackle and just a few sprinters’ teams at the start, the chances of the breakaway were high. Therefore, almost half the bunch wanted to enter it, and the attacks did not stop for almost two hours. “Every year we have a crazy stage in Catalonia, and this year, it was today”, smiled Jussi Veikkanen. “It was very fast, on small roads, slightly uphill, some descents and with a few dangers. We also did not know if the sprinters were going to get over the last climb or not. We wanted Lorenzo to slip in the front, without trying too hard, if a group of more than ten riders went. He was part of a chasing group but was then caught by the peloton. Eventually, a group of six broke away after more than eighty kilometres of fighting, but they never got more than a minute and fifteen seconds”.

Within the bunch, the sprinters’ teams took no risks at all. Therefore, the break only had a 30-second lead at the bottom of the final climb, the Alt de la Creu d ‘Aragall (5km at 5.8%), thirty-five kilometres from the finish.

A whole new race started, just as intense. Marc Soler made the first attack, the peloton lost many riders, and approaching the summit, Remco Evenepoel also went on the offensive. Nobody could keep up with the Belgian, except the leader Primoz Roglic. “Lenny and Bruno had a decent position coming into the downhill, which we knew was very technical”. “I tried to place Lenny well on the climb, and he was almost in front of the peloton when Evenepoel attacked”, said Bruno. “We couldn’t be in a better position. On the downhill, he lost 2-3 positions and found himself in a small split. I waited for him to bring him back in front, but it was nothing serious. Then, in the final, I told him not to stress, not to panic, because there was a headwind. I tried to protect him as much as possible. Anyway, I think he learned a lot about positioning this week.”

When the terrain became flat again going to the finish, the two Groupama-FDJ riders were still up there among a fifty-rider pack. In the lead, Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic sat up as the latter did not wish to collaborate, and a reduced peloton sprint was therefore looming.

Bruno Armirail, however, had another idea in mind. “I told Lenny: stay with me, I’ll protect you up to three kilometres, and if I have the opportunity to attack between three and one kilometre to go, I will”, said the Frenchman. And so, I tried. Anyway, we were not going to win in the sprint. I had to try something, and I will try again when the opportunity arises. It’s just a pity because there were still about fifty riders while we were only twenty-five after the downhill. It would have been better for me, but that’s the way it is”. “We knew that Jumbo-Visma did not necessarily want to come for the win, so Bruno went for it. Unfortunately, there were still 2-3 sprinters, and he couldn’t pull it off, but it was worth trying. It was an opportunity today, and it’s always better to be in the mix”.

The French time trial champion attacked with two kilometres to go, took a small fifty-meter lead, but the peloton never gave up and eventually caught him in the home stretch, at just 400 metres. In the sprint, Kaden Groves took his second win of the week while Lenny Martinez finished safely in the peloton, retaining his twelfth place overall before the final stage around Barcelona on Sunday. “The Montjuic stage has been crazy for the past two years, and I think it will be the case this year too, but it also comes down a lot on positioning”, warned Jussi. “We will therefore need our domestiques until the final circuit, and then the legs will decide in the last 2-3 laps”.

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Settimana Coppi e Bartali stage five final reports

We posted the report from GC winner Mauro Schmid's Team Soudal Quick-Step with the results.

Here's the report from Team Jumbo-Visma:

Tijmen Graat was the best-placed rider for Team Jumbo-Visma in the individual time trial at the International Cycling Week Coppi e Bartali in Carpi. The Dutchman finished 25th in the race against the clock. Johannes Staune-Mittet was forced to settle for a spot outside the top ten in the final classification due to equipment failure.

Final winner Mauro Schmid on his time trial ride. Sirotti photo

A time trial on a nearly flat, slightly more than 18 kilometres long track marked the conclusion of the five-day Italian stage race. Graat finished 23 seconds behind winner Cavagna in 25th place. Sports director Robert Wagner was pleased with his performance. "Tijmen rode a great time trial. He is mainly known as a climber, but he has developed his time trial skills well. It's a shame he missed out on a top-ten place in the final classification by three seconds.”

Staune-Mittet was ninth in the general classification going into the final time trial. The 21-year-old Norwegian of Team Jumbo-Visma was fast until he encountered equipment problems. "Johannes had an excellent start”, Wagner said. "He had an intermediate time similar to Tijmen's, but he had to change his bike due to a mechanical problem. He lost too much time and dropped out of the top ten in the final classification. That's a shame.”

"It was a fantastic week with an admittedly undesired ending for us. But the guys showed remarkable things for the future.”

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And here’s the report from second-place Michael Hepburn’s Team Jayco-AlUla:

Former Australian time trial champion Michael Hepburn produced another stunning ride against the clock to take second place on the final stage of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.

The 31-year-old backed up his recent top-five finish in the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial with another strong performance in Italy, with only Remi Cavanga able to beat his time of 22’30”.

Remi Cavanga on his stage-winning ride. Sirotti photo

Hepburn was amongst the early starters in Capri, and he set the early benchmark as he powered around the course to move in the hot seat by more than 10 seconds.

It was then a case of waiting for the remaining riders to finish, with particular attention on stage one winner Cavanga. In the end the Frenchman was able to take the stage win, with Hepburn holding onto to an impressive second place.

Michael Hepburn (2nd):
“In the end I was second, which I think is a good result, I can be happy with that. It was 18 seconds to Cavagna in the end, so it wasn’t that close and there wasn’t a lot else I could have done to close that gap.

But I was happy with my ride, and it was a good way to finish a pretty solid week here at Coppi e Bartali. Felix [Engelhardt] finished just outside the top-10 after riding really strong all week over some hard terrain, so it was a good way to finish a tough week.”

David McPartland (Sport Director):
“We’ve had a solid week here at Coppi e Bartali and we finished off today with an 18km time trial and a good, solid performance from Michael.

"We obviously always want to do better, we came here to win, so now it’s about looking at the performances objectively and looking where we can improve together to get to the next step.”

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