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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, February 12, 2024

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2023 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically... No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. - Rosa Parks

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Tour de la Provence stage three reports

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

Here's the report from stage three winner Tom Van Asbroeck's Team Israel-Premier Tech:

Tom Van Asbroeck finished off Tour de la Provence in victorious style for Israel – Premier Tech as he won the decimated sprint on stage 3 in Arles. Hugo Hofstetter finished in fourth place.

Tom Van Asbroeck wins stage three. Sirotti photo

“It’s just incredible! I still felt good after two hard days of racing so I was really motivated for this one”, Van Asbroeck explained after the stage, beaming with excitement and surprise.

Despite an unfortunate start to the day, with yesterday’s protagonist Marco Frigo, Riley Pickrell and Riley Sheehan (fourth overall) not starting due to stomach problems, the remaining four IPT riders were extremely motivated to end the race on a strong note.

Knowing that the race could split in the crosswind, in the second part of the stage, the team made sure to be attentive and when the peloton did in fact blow apart, both Van Asbroeck and Hofstetter were in the first group.

“We knew there could be echelons and echelons are one of my favorite things so we were ready. In the end, the plan was actually for me to do a lead out for Hugo but I had so much power in my legs so I just kept going and going and going. I can’t believe I won this stage. It’s amazing!”

Sports director, Oscar Guerrero, was full of praise for how the team handled the difficult start to the day and managed to turn the page quickly to focus on today’s challenging day.

“We started this morning with bad news with three riders not starting and that meant that we lost our two main guys in the GC, and the KOM jersey. We tried to move on as fast as possible and motivate the four guys to do the best race possible because we had confidence today with the echelons and the sprint, knowing that Hugo and Tom had a real option to fight for the victory. The guys were switched on and they were very concentrated all day, ready for all the echelons and were always in the first one.”

“In the last kilometers, Tom was taking care of Hugo, to be sure that he was always on the good wheel, they were calm because the headwind was strong in the last kms and they timed it to perfection. Tom’s legs were amazing today.”

With today’s victory Van Asbroeck moved up to 11th in the final general classification. Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) took the overall win.

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Here's the Tour of Provence report from Team Groupama-FDJ:

The Tour de la Provence was expected to be eventful until its very end. And it was so. The last stage led to some action, with echelons creating halfway through, and the riders fought in the Camargue wind for nearly 80 kilometers. Sam Watson and Sven-Erik Bystrøm managed to enter the right move and the Englishman ultimately took ninth place in a small group sprint won by Tom Van Asbroeck. In the general classification, the Briton climbed to tenth while Lorenzo Germani (14th) was caught behind in the echelons.

Mads Pedersen was the GC winner. Sirotti photo

The Tour de la Provence’s overall ranking was anything but definitive at the start of Rognac on Sunday morning. Although the last stage was extremely flat towards Arles, it did include necessary conditions to turn the hierarchy upside down, and the riders had known this for a few days. After seventy kilometers to reach Arles for the first time, a long detour through the Camargue regional natural park was then on the menu, and the wind awaited them there. A breakaway featuring Kenny Molly, Kévin Avoine (Van Rysel-Roubaix), Thibaut Bernard (Bingoal-WB), Fabien Grellier (TotalEnergies), and Kasper Saver (Philippe Wagner-Bazin) first led the way and took a seven-minute lead, but at the exit of Arles, a completely different race began as expected. “We started to take command with Rémy to be positioned at the strategic moment, but everyone had the same information, and when it all happened, the strongest went,” said Thierry. “The splits happened quickly, and there was a small collision which made it all even more complicated.”

A first echelon of about twenty men got away, with Sam Watson and Sven-Erik Bystrøm in there. “As always when there is wind, there is a decisive moment when it splits,” said Sam Watson. “Unfortunately, when it happened, only Sven-Erik and I ended up in the front group. Lorenzo and Lars were close, but they just missed out, and then they stayed close for a long time.” In a second group of barely ten riders, the Italian and the Dutchman were a few seconds behind for about half an hour, but they never managed to bridge across. “It’s typical of the echelons,” added Thierry. “Either you come back straight away, or you stay in-between, and it gets complicated.”

Before the last fifty kilometers, the first peloton made a definitive gap and then caught the morning breakaway. From then on, the day’s outcome seemed pretty clear “With the numbers of Lidl-Trek and Decathlon-AG2R, a sprint was almost guaranteed,” explained Sam. “There was a strong headwind at the finish. I found myself in the front positions a bit too soon, then with the wind, I couldn’t get the wheels back. In this type of sprint, you need to come from behind with speed.”

The British rider therefore settled for ninth place at the finish, where Tom Van Asbroeck took victory. “We don’t have too much regret as for today,” said Thierry. “We were committed, but we didn’t really prove successful. Lorenzo was also a little under the weather this morning. He still took the start, he fought as best he could, with his day’s strength, but he was not feeling great.” The Italian therefore had to give up his place in the overall top-10, while Sam Watson narrowly entered (10th).

“We’re left hungry for more this week,” explained Thierry. “It was the start of the season for five of our riders, in difficult weather conditions. We were still there, but we’re not rewarded for the commitment we put in. Yesterday Sam missed a little something, today it was Lorenzo for different reasons. In the end, we were in the mix, but couldn’t get a great result.” The Groupama-FDJ cycling team still concluded the event with three stage top-10s, a podium on the prologue and with a rider in the final top-10 as well.

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Tour of Oman stage 2 reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Finn Fisher-Black's UAE Team Emirates:

UAE Team Emirates put in a dominant display on stage 2 of the Tour of Oman with Finn Fisher-Black taking the stage win and overall lead on the rain soaked finale from Al Sifah to Qurayyat(170.4km).

Finn Fisher-Black takes the stage and the GC lead.

Just two days from his first win of the season the 22 year old struck again in fine fashion, sprinting ahead of a reduced group to pull out seconds on the hilltop finish of the 2.7km finishing climb.

The win was underscored by the strong showing overall by the Emirati squad with Diego Ulissi taking 3rd and Adam Yates 6th under difficult meteorological conditions.

The team now leads both the overall classification with Fisher-Black and the teams’ classification ahead of tomorrow’s key GC stage from Bid Bid to Eastern Mountain (169.3km).

Fisher-Black: “The team did a top job today. To arrive here at the finish in these crazy wet conditions and be able to go for the win was something special. I had good feelings in the last days at the Musat Classic so the team trusted me to go for the win again and believed in me. The weather made it very tough today which makes the win all the sweeter. Tomorrow we have a big stage with a longer climb which might suit Adam more than myself so we’ll see how it goes ad try and take another win.”

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Here's the Oman Tour report from Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Luke Lamperti confirmed there’s more to him than meets the eye on the second stage of the Tour of Oman. Two days after taking runner-up in the hilly Muscat Classic, where he won the bunch sprint behind the solo victor of the day, the 21-year-old from Santa Rosa produced an incredible ride on the first uphill finish of the Omani stage race, finishing ahead of the climbers and the puncheurs on his way to another podium.

It was a rain-hit day at the Tour of Oman, something that isn’t common here, but that didn’t prevent the peloton from bringing back the three-man breakaway group that at one point had a six-minute gap. Things began heating up despite the inclement weather in anticipation of the final battle, as more teams moved to the front knowing positioning would be key.

On the tough Qurayyat climb, averaging 6.7% over 2.7 kilometers but featuring ramps of 14% under the flamme rouge, Luke showcased his undoubted talent and turned heads with a ride impossible to ignore that netted him another second, behind Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team Emirates), and out him in the same position ahead of Monday’s stage.

“The weather was crazy. Because it hasn’t rained for so long the roads were very slippery, something I have never encountered before. The team rode really well and helped me get to the climb in a good position. The plan was to survive and see what I could do, as the finish was on paper too hard for me, but with the weather it was also about positioning and being smart, and I managed to get this nice podium. It’s a good result, but we’ll keep looking for a win here”, Luke said after the race which saw another Soudal Quick-Step rider, Mauri Vansevenant, finish in the top ten.

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