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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, September 18, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. - George Washington Carver

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy, Vol 1: 1909 - 1970 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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Vuelta a España stage 21 final team reports

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

Here's the report from 2023 Vuelta winner Sepp Kuss' Team Jumbo-Visma:

After Primoz Roglic's victory in the Giro d'Italia and Jonas Vingegaard's victory in the Tour de France, Team Jumbo-Visma has completed a unique trilogy with Sepp Kuss' final victory in the Vuelta a España. For the first time in cycling history, the same team has won all three grand tours in the same season.

Team Jumbo-Visma celebrates its win. Sirotti photo

After the eighth stage, Kuss, part of this year's winning teams in Italy and France, took the red leader's jersey. The American never relinquished it for the rest of the Spanish race. Flanked by teammates Vingegaard and Roglic, the 29-year-old shone on the top step of the podium in Madrid on Sunday evening. "This is like a fairytale. With Primoz winning in Italy and Jonas winning in France earlier this year, I wanted to be part of this team chasing the overall victory in the Vuelta. Standing here as the overall winner is something I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams.”

Team Jumbo-Visma CEO Richard Plugge was equally pleased with the team's performance. "This is phenomenal. The fact that we are also first, second and third on the podium makes it truly exceptional. We came here to achieve our big goal of winning all three Grand Tours in one season. We won this race as a team. The way we did it makes it even better. Sepp's success over two super champions like Jonas and Primoz demonstrates our values. Winning together is not only our slogan but also our trademark.”

"It will take a while for this to sink in”, Kuss said, struggling to find the words to describe his triumph. "At some point, I felt it was possible. I was getting stronger and more confident every day. When you add that to the team's strength, you can take on the whole world. I have grown wings in the last few weeks. I am eternally grateful to Jonas, Primoz and the others for their support. This is an achievement I will remember for the rest of my life. The same goes for the support of the fans from all over the world. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this success story. Together, we have made history.”

Plugge: "Winning the three grand tours with three different riders in the same year is the crowning achievement of the last ten years. It is a milestone written in golden letters in the history book that Team Jumbo-Visma is writing. Even after this triumph, we will continue to evaluate and see what could be even better. There is no time to sit still in top sports. The competition is getting stronger and stronger, so we cannot let up or become complacent. It is not that we are saturated now. We are doing something unique. I have to pinch myself to realise that this is really true. We are going to enjoy it with the whole team. We have managed to do it together again.”

Team Jumbo-Visma won five stages in the last Vuelta. Kuss's final victory takes the team's total number of victories to 62 in 2023. The Dutch outfit also won the team classification of the Spanish race.

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Here's the Vuelta report from stage 21 second-place Filippo Ganna's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

The INEOS Grenadiers completed stage 21 of the Vuelta a Espana, with a combative display, bringing the Spanish Grand Tour to a close.

Filippo Ganna sprinted to second place after holding off the peloton in an elite lead group. Omar Fraile and Kim Heiduk put in some great turns to help Ganna into the breakaway, before 'Pippo' produced some huge turns to keep the bunch at bay.

A character-building race saw the team continue to battle on together despite crashes and bad luck on the road to Madrid.

Filippo Ganna’s emphatic victory in the stage 10 time trial stands out as a highlight, in addition to some spectacular sprinting performances from the Italian. Ganna finished a close second on stage five, stage 19, and stage 21, demonstrating another string to his bow with superb turns of speed in bunch kicks.

Filippo Ganna on his way to winning Vuelta stage 10. Sirotti photo

Geraint Thomas put in a typically gutsy ride to make it to Madrid. The Welshman returned to Spain following second place at the Giro in May, but the race didn’t go his way. A combination of crashes and time loss saw G slip back on the GC. A rousing breakaway ride on stage 11 yielded fifth place, as well as another day up the road on Saturday.

The team never gave up trying, targeting a number of breakaways in the second half of the race. Jonathan Castroviejo (fourth on stage 14) and Egan Bernal (seventh on stage 18) pulled off great rides. Omar Fraile was also active in support of the team, as was Kim Heiduk who impressed to complete his Grand Tour debut.

Laurens De Plus sadly crashed on a slick opening team time trial in Barcelona. The Belgian sustained a non-displaced fracture to his right hip, but quickly underwent surgery and is continuing the rehabilitation process back at home.

Thymen Arensman showed some encouraging early form but had a lucky escape following a nasty crash at the conclusion of stage seven. The Dutchman hit the ground hard but thankfully scans ruled out any major injuries.

The race was won overall by Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), with Thomas our best rider on GC, in 31st.

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Here's the Vuelta report from KOM Remco Evenepoel's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Remco Evenepoel continued to write more history for Belgium and Soudal Quick-Step as he took to the podium twice in Madrid, after the final stage, which he made more exciting by ripping up the script. Victorious here one year ago, Evenepoel was one of the riders that lit up La Vuelta, taking a victory in each of the race’s three weeks and confirming once again not just his potential, but also the extraordinary versatility he possesses.

On a stunning Specialized bike which was covered in polka dots to match his jersey, Remco showed his panache by going on the attack even on the streets of Madrid, a move that took the peloton by surprise, and at the same time, showed there was a reason why he was named the Super Combative rider of the race. His attack came with more than 35 kilometers to go, and was quickly joined by five other riders, who worked well together with the World ITT Champion, building a stunning 30-second lead on a circuit that shouldn’t have posed any problem to the sprinters.

Stage 21 winner Kaden Groves and polka-dotted Remco Evenepoel ride the final kilometers of the 2023 Vuelta a España. Sirotti photo

Evenepoel was the engine of the group and did some incredibly long pulls that helped the group enter the final kilometer with a small margin over the bunch, despite the combined efforts of around eight teams. Amazingly, despite the combined efforts of around eight teams, they entered with a small gap in the final kilometer, and just as the chasers looked to be closing the gap, Remco got out of the saddle one more time with 600 meters to go and with the last resources of energy he still had, produced another huge acceleration that turned into a powerful sprint which netted him eighth in Madrid.

“Attacking today wasn’t really planned, but once I got a gap and saw the riders who came with me, I decided to go all in. I left everything out there, despite being aware that it was going to be difficult to win today, but I had a lot of fun and this is the most important thing”, said Remco, who will conclude the season as the rider with the most Grand Tour stages won this year – five.

“I am content after this race: I won three stages, the KOM jersey, the most combative trophy, and I gained a lot of experience, which is always important. I learned how to race more defensively, how to deal with bad situations, and I think this will help me a lot towards the future. We can be proud with what we got out of this Vuelta, we have many beautiful memories”, added Remco after the podium ceremony, where he received the polka dot jersey and the Super Combative trophy.

“We came here with different ambitions, we performed well as a team, and even when we faced a difficult moment, as was the Tourmalet stage, the guys showed a lot of professionalism and character, staying around Remco all the time. The same goes for the staff, who were committed from the first day and always remained focused. Overall, we can be happy with what we achieved in these three weeks”, explained Soudal Quick-Step sports director Klaas Lodewyck.

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And here's the Vuelta report from Team Groupama-FDJ:

The Grand Tours season is officially over. In Madrid this Sunday, the 2023 Vuelta a Espana came to an end with the victory of Kaden Groves and Sepp Kuss’ success overall. The Groupama-FDJ team joined the Spanish capital with its eight riders and with quite a great record. With six former riders from “La Conti”, including five Grand Tour rookies, the French team still left its mark over the last three weeks. Its youngsters have not only made a name for themselves but also gained invaluable experience for the future.

Three weeks after its successful team time trial in Barcelona (5th), the young Groupama-FDJ squad reached Madrid on Sunday after 3,153.8 kilometres. On the final day made for the fast men, Kaden Groves took the win and Lewis Askey obtained 14th place. The French team therefore leaves Spain with a tally of eleven top-10s, including two second places with Romain Grégoire and Lenny Martinez, but also and above all two days with the red jersey.

Lenny Martinez in the red jersey after stage six. Sirotti photo

When looking behind, the lead sports director Benoît Vaugrenard proved quite positive. “We started with a young team, but without complexes,” he recalled. “We wanted to be in the mix right away and that’s what we managed to do. We did very well during the first ten days, especially with Lenny’s red jersey and his second place. I also liked the way they rode: always at the front, without fear. They rode alongside the big guys, the startlist was impressive, but I was stunned with their way of getting in the fight. I saw a very strong team. Of course, at the end of the day, we missed a stage victory, but I think we did everything to get it. We were just beaten by a stronger rider each time and we didn’t miss many breaks that could interest us. We got the best out of this group, we couldn’t do better. There are really no regrets. Or if there were, it could be Remco Evenepoel’s failure in the general classification, as it changed the situation and made the task much harder in the breakaways.”

Although there are many satisfactions for the race’s youngest team, Benoît Vaugrenard confessed there was also a “hard sequence” halfway through, when Lenny Martinez lost positions overall particularly: “We felt that it started to be complicated in the second week, the speed got even faster, and the mountain stages were harder with quite short time limits. They really needed support. We needed to find new goals to get them back into it, then they recovered and realized that everyone was struggling.”

From this came out some important lessons. “I think that our youngsters discovered themselves in many angles,” Benoît continued. “In particular, they realized that you could still achieve something while being tired. This is something they didn’t really know. During the third week, they managed to get results and go on breakaways, which they did not think they would be able to do in the second week. When your legs hurt, your head takes over, and most of all, everyone is in the same situation. So you can do lots of things even if your legs hurt. We were there to work for the future, and this Vuelta will help them to make another important step in their progression. This should bring them an advantage already next year. They will acquire the strength that they did not all yet have at WorldTour level. I am sure that they will take another step forward.”

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