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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 1, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more - Byron

Dirty Feet: Early days of the Tour de France

Les Woodland's book Dirty Feet: How the Great Unwashed Created the Tour de France 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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Tour of Poland stage two team reports

We posted the report from stage two winner Gerben Thijssen's Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert with the results.

Here's the report from Olav Kooij's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Olav Kooij has finished fourth in the second stage of the Tour de Pologne. His teammates once again positioned him well in the front but narrowly missed out on the podium.

Olav Kooij before the start of stage two. Sirotti photo

Kooij had to give up the leader’s jersey to Norway's Jonas Abrahamsen, who was in the breakaway at the intermediate sprints. He collected enough bonification seconds to take over the yellow jersey from Kooij.

Earlier in the day, Team Jumbo-Visma suffered a significant setback. Sam Oomen was forced to miss the start of the second stage with injured ribs and a sore wrist as the 26-year-old rider was too severely affected by a crash in the opening stage.

"It's a lot harder to control the race now we only have five riders left”, sports director Maarten Wynants said. "Quite early in the stage, it became clear we were on our own. In the final stage, we had to give everything to catch the last remaining escapee. As a result, Mick van Dijke had to make a strong effort which he would have preferred to use for the lead-out. Mike Teunissen positioned Olav well in the last few hundred metres. The fourth place is not bad, but Olav went for the highest possible. Tomorrow will be a day for the GC riders. Later in the week, there might be some sprint opportunities.”

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Here's the report from third-place Jonathan Milan's Team Bahrain Victorious:

At the end of the second of three consecutive stages over 200kms, Jonathan Milan found himself unexpectedly at the sharp end of the race as the sprinters reached their top speeds. With 300 metres to go the 21-year-old was in 10th position, behind some of the greatest sprinters of the modern era: Bennett, Viviani, Demare, & yesterday’s winner Kooij to name but a few. Having realised the team’s designated sprinter, Phil Bauhaus, wasn’t on his wheel, Milan put his head down and passed those more established names on the left hand side, keeping pace with Pascal Ackermann & eventual winner Gerben Thijssen, and shutting out Olav Kooij to take 3rd place.

Gerben Thijssen wins the second stage. That should be Milan just under Thijssen's left arm. Sirotti photo

It was an extraordinary effort for a rider who not only isn’t the team’s sprinter and is just returning to road racing after a long break, but who had also worked tirelessly all day for Bauhaus.

“Phil had a flat tire with 18k to go so I waited for him, and we came back to the group together with 7k to go. Then he went full gas to find Heino [Heinrich Haussler]’s wheel so I did the same on the other side of the peloton. I arrived behind Heino and tried to wait for Phil in the last kilometre to bring him to the best position possible for the sprint. When I didn’t see him I just did my best, and with 200m to go I decided I would try for the sprint, but my legs were gone, I was super tired, on the limit for the last 20k!”

The stage was 205.6 largely flat kilometres through the Eastern part of Poland, at one point (in the town of Hrubieszöw), passing just 5km from the border with Ukraine. A 4-man breakaway had established an early lead of nearly 7 minutes, but as expected, were brought back in the finishing town of Zamość with 1,500 metres left.

Milan’s performance was further confirmation of his talent & potential, as well as the team ethic within the Bahrain line-up at the race. And after a difficult few months, it was an important day for the Italian himself.

“For me this result is more than 3rd place, because after 2 months out, for me to come here and be competitive, and to be able to help out my teammates is fantastic. So I’m super happy with this today; it’s more than a 3rd place.”

Stage 3 is the first of the significant days for the GC contenders. Our leader, Pello Bilbao, is well-placed overall and focussed, ahead of the 237.9kms between Kraśnik & Przemyśl.

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Arnaud Démare's Team Groupama-FDJ posted this Tour of Poland stage two report:

Second day of racing, and second bunch sprint on the Tour of Poland. After another stage featuring more than two hundred kilometres, it was Gerben Thijssen who got the victory in Zamość while Arnaud Démare took sixth place on Sunday. Tomorrow, the riders will face a small uphill finish after 237 kilometres of racing.

Arnaud Démare signs in before the stage start. Sirotti photo

In the aftermath of a hectic sprint in the Tour of Poland, the second stage from Chelm to Zamosc also suited the sprinters on Sunday. However, this did not prevent Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Pro), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal), Piotr Brozyna and Patryk Stosz (Poland) from attacking early in the race and establishing the day’s breakaway.

As expected, the teams interested in the stage victory always remained in control, and Groupama-FDJ came to take part in the chase halfway through the race. “We had decided to make Bruno pull after about a hundred kilometres today”, explained Sébastien Joly. “Once again, he did a great job”. The French time trial champion kept the leading four at a short distance before giving his last turns in the final. “The Lotto-Soudal rider went quite far, and he was only caught in the very last kilometres,” added Sébastien. Jasper De Buyst was also in the lead when crossing the line for the first time eight kilometres from the finish, while an incident occurred in the pack.

“The final circuit was quite technical, and a crash happened”, explained Sébastien. “Miles was caught in it, and he slightly hurt his finger. There is nothing too bad according to the doctor, but he was stopped, just like Arnaud”. “We got delayed by the crash”, confirmed the Frenchman. “It was a bit difficult to get back into the top positions given that we had lost Miles, but we managed to get organized quickly”.

In the last five kilometres, the Groupama-FDJ lead-out train eventually came back in the first quarter of the bunch with the final sprint approaching. “Bram and Jacopo did a great work to bring Arnaud back up,” said Sébastien. “I was in a good position in the last roundabout 500 meters from the finish”, said the former French champion. “Actually, it was a too good position. I found myself in the front in the home stretch and got overtaken. It’s a shame, I’m obviously disappointed not to have been able to do a proper sprint, but it’s a nice return to racing and I think there will be other opportunities”.

In second position with 300 meters to go, the team’s sprinter couldn’t match the speed from his opponents coming from behind at the decisive moment. He then took sixth place on the day. “He was passed by the others when he was about to launch his sprint, and had to let them go”, concluded Sébastien. “When he went for it again, it was a little too late. That being said, we felt that they were right in the mix today, even with the absence of Miles. Technically, things were set up. We didn’t get the win, everyone was committed and the guys still played it well. After a special first day, we got back on the right track today!“ Before another potential opportunity for Azrnaud Démare next week, a punchy finish is looming on Monday. “We are going to focus on Quentin”, finally added Sébastien.

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And here’s the report from Mark Cavendish’s Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

British Champion Mark Cavendish was again in the thick of the action at the seven-day World Tour race, but unfortunately for the Manxman he couldn’t find the space to sprint and fight for a good result on the uphill drag to the line in Zamosc, where the long stage 2 came to a conclusion.

Despite counting only four men, the breakaway had the peloton work hard in order to overhaul them, with the last man in the front being absorbed with only one kilometer to go, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl being among the teams who did a great effort behind the leading quartet. In the sprint won by Gerben Thijssen (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert), Mark Cavendish finished tenth, his second top 10 at the race after the one on the opening day.

Mark Cavendish just after the stage. Sirotti photo

The Tour de Pologne continues with the longest stage of this edition, 237.9 kilometers from Krasnik to Przemysl. The parcours comprises three classified climbs in the last 40 kilometers before a steep and explosive uphill finish, where the yellow jersey is expected to change hands and gaps should appear between the overall contenders.

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