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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 8, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

It was morning; through the high window I saw the pure, bright blue of the sky as it hovered cheerfully over the long roofs of the neighboring houses. It too seemed full of joy, as if it had special plans, and had put on its finest clothes for the occasion. - Hermann Hesse

Bill & Carol McGann’s book The Story of the 2023 Tour de France, 2023: The Viking Again Conquers the Tour is available as a Kindle eBook. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Vuelta a España stage twelve reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the Vuelta report from stage winner Sebastian Molano's UAE Team Emirates:

Sebastian Molano took home the first victory of this Vuelta España for UAE Team Emirates with a sprint win on stage 12 from Ólvega to Zaragoza(150.6km).

The sprint train tandem of Molano and Rui Oliveira timed their effort to perfection, benefitting from the work done by Alpecin-Deceuninck before Oliveira hitting the front at the perfect moment at -400m and opening up the path for Molano to deliver ahead of his closest rival Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck).

Sebastian Molano wins stage twelve. Sirotti poto

The 28 year old Colombian took a comfortable win in the end, converting the 48th triumph of the season so far for UAE Team Emirates.

Molano: “I’m very happy with this win : the team did an amazing job and I dedicate this victory to them and to my family. It’s my second win in the Vuelta now. After my crash in the spring it was tough to come back but I’ve worked hard and now to take a big victory again I’m so pleased.”
Marc Soler continues in 2nd place on the GC ahead of tomorrow’s decisive stage to the Col du Tourmalet.

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Here's the Vuelta report from Alberto Dainese's Team dsm-firmenich:

Always going to be a day for the fast-men of the bunch, Team dsm-firmenich worked to position Alberto Dainese for the finale, with the Italian fast-man taking seventh place in the chaotic finale.

A controlled stage, the peloton always had the two rider breakaway under wraps and Team dsm-firmenich kept their proverbial powder dry for the final. Navigating some nervousness in the bunch after the break was caught, the team moved up well as a group, bringing fast finisher Dainese to the fore on the wheel of Groves inside the final three kilometres. It was a big fight to maintain that place with riders surging from behind, as Sean Flynn gave one last push to bring Dainese into the front as they headed into the last 500 metres. Unfortunately, Dainese was boxed in on the left and couldn’t open up his sprint until late, finishing fast around several riders to take seventh place on the stage.

Alberto Dainese (shown at the 2023 Giro d'Italia) was seventh in Vuelta stage 12. Sirotti photo

“It was quite an easy day and then in the last kilometres it was really hectic for the sprint,” explained Dainese. “We lost each other a bit at the left corner with five kilometres to go. I could then find Sean but in the last moments we were a bit boxed in at the sprint. It’s a pity because I believe we could have got a better result as it wasn’t easy to get a clear run for the finish. It gives me confidence for the next time though that I did have a good kick once there was the space and we’ll aim to do better next time.”

Team dsm-firmenich coach Phil West added: “It was a missed sprint opportunity today. We set out to pick up where we left off after our fateful attempt last time with the crash. We started in a good way and the communication and positioning was there, but at a certain moment we made some poor choices. We missed some communication in the deep final to get more out of today. It’s a disappointing day in terms of result as we had hoped for more, so we’ll reflect on how things went in the finale, talk between us on what we can do better, then aim to put that into action in the next sprint opportunities.”

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Team Groupama-FDJ posted this Vuelta report:

Stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana offered a bit of rest to the riders on Thursday. In Zaragoza, the expected bunch sprint did take place, after a relatively monotonous day. Juan Sebastian Molano took the victory and Sam Watson tried to get involved in the sprint (18th). The program, however, will be completely different on Friday with one of the Vuelta’s hardest stages, including three major climbs in the French Pyrenees, with the Col du Tourmalet as the grande finale. Lenny Martinez will start the day in fifth position overall while Rudy Molard will just try to “survive” after a crash this Thursday.

Before a very tough end of the week, the sprinters were expected this Thursday on the Vuelta a Espana. No climb featured on the 150 kilometres from Olvega to Zaragoza, and the fear of echelons quickly disappeared. “We were lucky today because there was a front wind for most of the day,” explained Benoît Vaugrenard. “Fortunately, because the roads were very exposed, and a lot could have happened if the wind had blown in the other direction”.

The day therefore unfolded in the most classic way possible, and only Jetse Bol (Burgos BH) and Abel Balderstone (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) were willing to form the day’s break. Kaden Groves’ Alpecin-Deceuninck left them no chance and the duo’s attempt even ended before the last forty kilometres. “It was a rather calm stage,” said Benoît. “That said, they still did 150 kilometres and it all counts and adds up.” The race got eventful in the last twenty kilometres, with the bonus sprint at first, then the preparation for the bunch finish.

No crash happened entering Zaragoza, but the fight for positions proved tough. On Thursday, Groupama-FDJ bet on Sam Watson, and the Briton talked through the last kilometres: “It was a really easy day, and so it led to a very chaotic finale. The guys did a good job of keeping me in a good position, but it got pretty chaotic, and I found myself too far back behind the chaos. The plan was to keep Lewis for the closing kilometres, but we had to use him a bit early and he did a great job of moving me up.”

The riders head for the finish line. Sirotti photo

At the flamme rouge, the young man was able to sneak in the first fifteen positions of the bunch. However, the door did not stay open for long. “I was waiting for the sprint to open in front of me, but UAE came around on the outside, and at that point, I was a little swamped,” said Sam. “It’s a shame because positioning was good, but the wave coming from behind was fatal to him and he got blocked,” added Benoît. Consequently, Sam Watson was unable to properly sprint and crossed the line in eighteenth position. “It’s frustrating, but that’s how it is,” he concluded.

As for Lenny Martinez, he crossed the line within the main pack and kept his fifth place in the general classification. Alongside the young climber until the end, Rudy Molard, on the other hand, had a difficult day after a crash in the first part of the stage. “This is the day’s big negative point, because Rudy is a very important rider in our squad, especially for Lenny,” explained Benoît. “His ribs hurt. The x-rays did not reveal any fracture, but we will see tomorrow. We hope he can get through the day, but it will for sure be complicated for him.”

On Friday, the stage will certainly only be 134 kilometres long, but it will include the Col d’Aubisque and the Col de Spandelles before the legendary Col du Tourmalet. “It’s a tough program, one of the most intense stages with one of the greatest elevation gains,” added Benoît. “We expect a hard start and a big fight because some teams want to isolate Evenepoel.”

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And here's the Vuelta report from GC leader Sepp Kuss' Team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma has finished the 12th stage of the Vuelta a España without any problems. The stage ended in a mass sprint won by Juan Sebastian Molano. Primoz Roglic took four bonus seconds in the intermediate sprint.

The yellow-and-black formation had a quiet day on the straight roads between Ólvega and Zaragoza. Roglic caused some excitement by picking up bonification seconds in the intermediate sprint 15 kilometres from the finish. As a result, the Slovenian moved up four seconds in the general classification.

"On a quiet stage like this, it's important to stay out of trouble”, sports director Marc Reef said. "We managed that. Sepp, Jonas and Primoz were always in a good position to avoid risks. Everyone crossed the line safely, which was the most important thing.”

Sepp Kuss remains the GC leader. Sirotti photo

This weekend, the peloton heads for the Pyrenees. The Col du Tourmalet is the finish location of the queen stage on Friday. "The two stages in the Pyrenees will be very important for the general classification”, Reef continued. "This is where the strength of the GC contenders will be seen for the first time. We are in good shape, and we have a plan. We are all looking forward to it.”

Race leader Kuss is confident heading into the critical Pyrénées weekend. "It's great that Primoz and Jonas believe in me. I have already received a lot of support and advice from them. The three of us are still in the top ten, which works in our favour. It's hard to say how tomorrow's stage will go, but we'll support each other”, the American concluded.

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