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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 19, 2023

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2023 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time. - George Orwell


Story of the Giro d'Italia volume 2

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy, Vol 2: 1971 - 2011 is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Team Soudal Quick-Step to race Tour de Luxembourg

Here's the team's news:

Our final outing of the season in a stage race, the Tour de Luxembourg will once again be a hilly affair, offering plenty of opportunities to both puncheurs and attackers. Two uphill finishes and plenty of short but steep climbs spread out over five days of racing, together with a 23.9km undulating individual time trial on the penultimate stage – these are the main ingredients of what promises to be an exciting 83rd edition.

Julian Alaphilippe (shown earlier this year at the Faun Ardeche Classic) is headed to Luxembourg. Sirotti photo

Having impressed two weeks ago in Canada, where he produced two solid displays in the one-day races held in Quebec and Montreal, Julian Alaphilippe is ready to pin on a number again and lead the charge for Soudal Quick-Step at the five-day event. The Frenchman will be joined by Andrea Bagioli – a stage winner last week in Okolo Slovenska – Dries Devenyns, Fausto Masnada, Deutschland Tour winner Ilan Van Wilder, and Mauri Vansevenant, who recently extended his contract with the team for three years.

“The Tour de Luxembourg comes with a challenging terrain, which isn’t a surprise, and stages for all kinds of riders. We have a very strong and motivated team for this race and we will try to go for a stage victory, but we’ll wait for the individual time trial on Saturday to see what is possible to do in the general classification”, explained sports director Wilfried Peeters.

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Team Bora-hansgrohe looks back on the Vuelta a España

Here's the team's update:

BORA - hansgrohe concluded the Vuelta a España with the victory of Lennard Kämna on stage 9, who with that also achieved the Grand Tour triple, his second place on stage 15, the third place of Nico Denz on the final stage and two GC top-10 places with Aleksandr Vlasov and Grand Tour debutant Cian Uijtdebroeks.

Lennard Kämna wins Vuelta stage nine. Sirotti photo

Sports Director Bernie Eisel and four of our riders look back on the three weeks of racing in Spain:

"The last three weeks were a bit up and down and that also is reflected in the results. We had expected a bit more, but we are satisfied. It was a nice stage win by Lenni, who also finished second on another stage despite his late crash. That is an incredible result. We fought our way through technically in the overall standings, although some of our riders were perhaps also a bit hampered due to health reasons. Otherwise, the shared leadership between Aleks and Cian worked well. The atmosphere in the team was, as expected from the "Band of Brothers", also good during these long three weeks. On the penultimate stage we had expected something more, but unfortunately it didn't quite work out. There was no chance for us in Madrid, so we tried to enjoy the parade in Madrid on the final laps."- Bernie Eisel

"Of course for me the highlight of my Vuelta performance was my stage win on Stage 9. It was a pretty hectic day with all the echelons, and I was pleased to have been able to make it into the break and eventually pull away. I had worked pretty hard in the past few months in the leadup to this, and it wasn't necessarily after the Giro with a few setbacks, so it was a rewarding result for sure. Then there was of course Stage 15, when I was yet again in the break, and then leading the race, only to crash just ahead of the finale. It was a disappointment to not be able to finish off that performance with another stage win, but I was right up there and had it not been for the crash, I would have had a very good chance. I gave it one last go on the penultimate stage, where I made it into the break again. The legs were good there, but just not good enough to make the decisive move. All in all, my Vuelta performances this year were encouraging and definitely give me confidence. Thanks as well to my teammates for their support on the road, and also to the staff that accompanied us the past few weeks for all that they do." -Lennard Kämna

"I'm pretty pleased with how my first Grand Tour went. It wasn't an easy one for sure, but I came here expecting that. We can all definitely feel the legs after three weeks of racing, and I have to say that I didn't have the best start, with saddle soreness issues and then becoming a bit sick. But I pushed through and gave my best and produced a good performance. I have to say it wasn't easy to get through those days, I really had to grit my teeth and block the pain out of my mind, so it's good to finally cross the big finish line in Madrid. It quickly became cleat that Jumbo Visma was going to dominate the race, and in the face of that, I tried to ride sensibly and not go over the limit to chase down their attacks. I think that was the best way to manage the race situation. In the end, we succeeded in our goal of taking a top ten result, and to finish eighth is a really solid ride of which I can be pleased. I'm looking forward to seeing how I can continue to improve from here onwards and build on this performance in the future. Thanks to my teammates as well, not just for their support on the road, but also for the advice they've given me on how to take on such a big race. And of course last but not least, thanks to the team staff as well, I really appreciate your support over these past weeks."- Cian Uijtdebroeks


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"A top ten in a Grand Tour is always a solid performance. After having to leave the Giro earlier this year, I wanted to give my best and have another go, and coming here I was in pretty good form, with strong results at San Sebastian and the Vuelta a Burgos in particular. This was for sure not an easy Vuelta, with so many riders competing here also in good form. Unfortunately, I have to say that I didn't have the best start to the race, as I fell a bit sick, which made performing at the level I had envisaged that extra bit tougher. Nevertheless, every mountain stage was about sticking with the GC group, which I did pretty well. It's obvious that Jumbo Visma was dominant in the race, and all we can do in that situation is our best, to ride like we had planned, and give everything we had. Big thanks to everyone in the team for their support, as always, it wouldn't have been possible without your support."- Aleksandr Vlasov

"This was my third Vuelta, a race that I usually really like competing in. We knew heading into the race that it wouldn't be easy, and compared to last year's parcours, for example, it was even more demanding. I had a more free role in the team here, which I was quite looking forward to. However, in the end I wasn't able to make it into the decisive moves or breakaways, which is something that I would have liked to have done. I'm sure there will be new opportunities coming, where we'll see where we can improve on this performance here to produce some strong results. But we'll take this as an experience, and I must say it was good to be able to support the rest of my team to finish with two riders in the top ten and also a stage win." - Sergio Higuita


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Team dsm-firmenich's upcoming racing

The team sent me this schedule:

Omloop van het Houtland: SEP 20

Roy Curvers - Team dsm-firmenich coach:
"A yearly returning race on our schedule is the Omloop van het Houtland. There, the riders will find a lot of different parcours throughout the years which always end with a local lap around Lichtervelde and are mostly decided in a bunch sprint. Although this year's parcours is again in favour of the sprinters, we always have to be aware of the chance of a more open race. The line-up we bring gives us good options for both scenarios. In an open race we can play multiple cards with good teamwork and in a bunch sprint we would draw Casper's card as our finisher."

John Degenkolb (shown at the 2023 Tour de France) will ride the Omloop van het Houtland. Sirotti photo

Line-up:
John Degenkolb (GER)
Patrick Eddy (AUS)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Tim Naberman (NED)
Casper van Uden (NED)
Sam Welsford (AUS)

Paris-Chauny: SEP 24

Roy Curvers - Team dsm-firmenich coach:
"The peloton will find a lot of short punchy climbs along the route at Paris-Chauny. For our classics group, this is a sign to race attentively and look for opportunities to attack. Next to that, we will try to keep Sam's gunpowder dry in case the race unfolds in a bunch sprint where he will be our finisher."

Line-up:
Pavel Bittner (CZE)
Alberto Dainese (ITA)
Alex Edmondson (AUS)
Sean Flynn (GBR)
Tim Naberman (NED)
Casper van Uden (NED)
Sam Welsford (AUS)

Ronde van Midden-Brabant: SEP 24

Bennie Lambregts - Team dsm-firmenich coach:
"The Ronde van Midden-Brabant is a typical Dutch race, where you have to fight as a team to come into the race. Positioning as a team is the most important task that the guys have to fulfil. The race will take place on a lap with a cobblestone section in it and parts that could see some echelons. We see this race as a good opportunity for the guys to improve the basics of teamwork and build further on the things we have worked on throughout the year."

Line-up:
Joost Brinkman (NED)
Robbe Dhondt (BEL)
Moritz Kärsten (GER)
Frank Ragilo (EST)
Adam Seeman (CZE)
Max van der Meulen (NED)

CRO Race: SEP 26 - OCT 01

Joey van Rhee - Team dsm-firmenich coach
"Next week we will be in action at the CRO Race. We are going into the race with the combination of Men's program riders and three guys from our Development program. We have a really young team who know each other well from racing together in our Development program. Our goals for the race are competing for GC with Matt and Oscar as finishers, while next to that we will go for day results in the sprints with Tobias and Pavel. Our teamwork has to be on point and then we see lots of chances for a good week together."

Line-up:
Tobias Lund Andresen (DEN)
Pavel Bittner (CZE)
Matt Dinham (AUS)
Patrick Eddy (AUS)
Enzo Leijnse (NED)
Oscar Onley (GBR)
Frank van den Broek (NED)

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