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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, February 11, 2024

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2023 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

The earth laughs in flowers. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle

David L. Stanley's masterful telling of his bout with skin cancer Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle 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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Tour de la Provence stage two reports

We posted the report from stage winner Mads Pedersen's Team Lidl-Trek with the results.

Here's the report from seventh-place Lorenzo Germani's Team Groupama-FDJ:

The second road stage of the Tour de la Provence did create the anticipated damage. Unfortunately, Groupama-FDJ couldn’t impact the race towards Manosque as they wished. Only Lorenzo Germani was able to follow the small group which fought for victory, taken by Mads Pedersen once again. Seventh on the day, the young Italian sits in eighth place overall before a final stage which could be eventful.

Mads Pedersen wins stage two. Getty photo

Although the overall elevation gain did not seem frightening (2400 meters), today’s stage on the Tour de la Provence still offered very little flat portions. Between Forcalquier and Manosque, the riders’ task was made even harder by the pouring rain. “The conditions were even a bit more extreme than we could have imagined,” said Thierry Bricaud. “The race was extremely hard.” Initially, however, the usual scenario took place with an early breakaway led by Emmanuel Morin (Van Rysel-Roubaix), Marco Frigo (Israel-Premier Tech), Thomas Bonnet (TotalEnergies), Scott McGill (Project Echelon Racing) and Kasper Saver (Philippe Wagner-Bazin).

The peloton was quite content with this situation and from then on sailed – quite right given the context – two minutes behind the leading men. “It was a very hard day with the weather, the cold and the rain,” added Lorenzo Germani. “The plan was to stay together all day given the narrow roads, then try to put Lidl-Trek in a bit of trouble in the final.”

Thirty-five kilometers from the finish, the riders reached the last part of the race, much hillier, including the Col de l’Aire dei Masco (6.6 km at 4.8%). Marco Frigo tackled it with a two-minute gap, but the action soon started in the pack. “We wanted to influence the race, and for Rémy to go on the attack,” said Thierry. This is what happened thirty kilometres from the finish, but the French climber was unable to open a real gap since the race leader himself, Mads Pedersen, answered to the attacks. The bunch mostly reduced from the back, and only around thirty riders were left in it at the top.

“We wanted to make it hard a little, but it didn’t go as we would have liked,” added Thierry. “The pace was quite fast on the climb, and Sam wasn’t super today. He was a bit distanced towards the top. It came down to details, because he was still close at the summit. He was unable to close the gap on the descent, Rémy sat up to wait for him, they had the peloton within sight, but they attacked up front. Ten riders went way with Pedersen and it was over for Sam.”

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With twenty kilometres to go, only Lorenzo Germani remained in contention, since the Italian managed to enter the right move while his fellow countryman Marco Frigo was still leading the race. “Lars was there after the descent, but he didn’t have good legs,” said Thierry. “Lorenzo was careful, he followed and there was obviously no question of making him wait.” “Unfortunately, we lost Sam on the last climb, then there were attacks,” recounted Lorenzo. “Instead of pulling, Lidl-Trek sent Pedersen up front and stopped riding. I managed to follow and there were about ten of us in front. I knew I couldn’t win, so I didn’t take turns. Pedersen was so strong in the last kilometers, it was impressive. I didn’t have any particular goal. Initially, I was supposed to help others, and I found myself up front. I gave everything to get the best result.” The former U23 Italian champion struggled but fought hard to keep the wheels up until the end. Frigo was caught in the last kilometre, and despite all his efforts, Mads Pedersen still won the sprint. Lorenzo Germani crossed the line in seventh position, two seconds behind the Dane.

If Sam Watson lost his place on the provisional race podium, Lorenzo Germani appeared in the top 10 overall, in eighth place, thirty-four seconds behind Pedersen. “It limits the damage,” concluded Thierry. “We were more ambitious than that, but it’s very good for him. This is the only card we have left for the overall. He likes echelons and fighting for position. That’s good, we’re going to have another hard day tomorrow. It won’t be calm. We will be in the Camargue and it will be very open. The wind will rather be from the front or from the back, but when we have it on the side, we will need to be there because it can explode. We will mainly think about the stage with Matt Walls, but if we can gain a few places with Lorenzo, we won’t hesitate.”

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Vuelta a Murcia team reports

We posted the report from second place Jan Tratnik's Team Visma | Lease a Bike with the results.

Here's the report from third place Paul Wellen's UAE Team Emirates:

Tim Wellens opened his season in fine fashion taking 3rd place at the Vuelta Murcia in Spain today.

Wellens formed part of an elite chasing group which caught the days early breakaway over the top of the Cat 1 Collado Bermejo which crested at the halfway point of the race between Alhama de Murcia and Murcia (198.7km).

The group would split with -20km to go and Wellens was alone with Ben O’Connor (Decathlon AG2R) to form a powerful duo out front. O’Connor would prove the stronger on the day, dropping Wellens on the final categorised climb with -12km to go and going on to win the race.

Ben O'Conner win the Vuelta a Murcia. Photo: Getty Images

Jan Tratnik (Visma-LAB) would catch Wellens in the closing kilometres, with the Belgium rounding out the podium.

Wellens: “I’m pretty satisfied with how the race went. We knew that around the halfway mark that the race would be hard on the Cat 1 climb and there is where Visma pushed on. The stronger climbers moved away and I was among them so I was pleased with that. Unfortunately the cooperation was not so great when we caught the breakaway but that’s to be expected. I went solo with Ben O Connor who was a really good guy to have as he was strong and we worked well and I was thinking of the victory. On the climb I went over my limit and I exploded and was counting the kilometres to the finish, Ben had the better legs today. I’m happy looking forward to the next race in Jaen knowing the shape is good.”

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Remco Evenepoel wins Figueira Champions Classic

Here’s the report from Evenepoel’s Team Soudal Quick-step:

Remco Evenepoel produced a sumptuous performance at the one-day Figueira Champions Classic race – which signalled the beginning of his sixth campaign in the Soudal Quick-Step colors – delivering our squad’s fourth win of the season after a long-range attack that pulverised the peloton and gave no chance to his opponents, who saw him for the last time Saturday afternoon with more than 50 kilometers to go.

Remco Evenepoel starts the 2024 season in style. Photoi: Joao Fonseca

That was the moment the ITT World Champion got out of the saddle and launched a stinging acceleration from a bunch that up until that point had been softened up by his Soudal Quick-Step teammates, whose stellar effort the entire day left him in an ideal position on the steepest part of the Enforca Cães climb (900m, 7.3%), where he decided to make his move.

Once he cleared the ascent with a twenty-second advantage over the chasers, Remco went in time trial mode and continued to increase his buffer with each kilometer, to the point he started the final lap of the 192.4km race with more than a minute on the group behind, despite a combined effort of latter. The remaining climbs didn’t slow him down, on the contrary, the Belgian – untouchable from the moment he took off – adding to his margin unfazed by the demanding terrain before eventually arriving at the finish in Figueira da Foz with an incredible gap of almost two minutes.

“I’m happy I could start the season with a victory just as I wanted, it’s good for my confidence and for my next race. I enjoyed the parcours here and I liked riding it alone for more than 50 kilometers. The original plan wasn’t to attack with two laps to go, but instead wait for the last climbs of the race. On the other hand, when I noticed the peloton was down to around 25 riders and many were struggling with the pace of my teammates, I just decided to go and see what would happen.”

“Once I got news that I had 20 seconds at the top of the climb, and later 40 seconds as I entered the final lap, I kept going. I had the power to push in the headwind, which was no joke today, and I’m delighted with how things panned out and with this win”, added Remco, who made it back-to-back Soudal Quick-Step victories at the Figueira Champions Classic.

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