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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 3, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful. - Leo Tolstoy

Paris–Roubaix: The Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Paris-Roubaix: The Inside Story - All the bumps of cycling's cobbled classic 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 four team reports

We posted the report from stage four winner Pascal Ackermann's UAE Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Sergio Higuita's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

The 179 km long fourth stage between Lesko and Sanok featured numerous short climbs before coming to a conclusion with a short ramp to the finish. The break formed after about 30km, yet the peloton, led interchangeably by BORA - hansgrohe, didn't let them escape too far beyond its control. The last of the escapees, as well as some late attacks, were all reeled back three kilometres ahead of the finish.

At around one and a half kilometres remaining, there was a crash in the peloton involving Sergio Higuita. After an attack by Zdenek Stybar was thwarted on the finishing straight, a sprint from a group of about 60 riders decided the day's win in Sanok. Jordi Meeus launched his sprint from behind, was able to overtake several riders on the finishing passage, and eventually crossed the line in second place, behind the day's winner Pascal Ackermann.

Pascal Ackermann wins stage four.

Despite his injuries, Sergio was able to get back on his bike and as he was given the same time as the stage winner, he was able to defend his yellow jersey. Examinations by the team doctor confirmed that he fortunately did not suffer serious injuries.

"After the crash, the race was super fast to the finale. It was quite a chaotic sprint, and also quite a hard one with the ramp up to the finish. I felt good when I launched my sprint, and was able to overtake quite a few riders on the finishing straight. In the end, I managed to take second behind Ackermann. Of course I would have preferred to take the win, but there can only be one winner."- Jordi Meeus

"A rider in front of me crashed and everyone had to brake quickly. I also had to brake in that moment and lost control of the bike, and I hit the deck. It's super bad luck, and it's never nice to crash, especially in the leader's jersey. But I was able to get back on the bike and finish the stage, and I'm still in the yellow jersey. Now I've just got to focus on recovery ahead of tomorrow's stage and see how it goes." - Sergio Higuita

"We went into today's stage with ambitions to defend Sergio's jersey. We were able to control the race well with the help of other teams interchangeably, but the last five kilometers were quite technical with many changes of direction and turns and then the racing became chaotic and Sergio unfortunately crashed. But luckily with the 3km rule he received the same time as the winner and so he was able to defend his jersey. Jordi also of course deserves to be mentioned. He sprinted to second place and was not far off a potential stage win. This again confirms that things are going well for us. So now we have to lick our wounds, so to speak, and see how we go tomorrow. The yellow jersey is still in our ranks and that’s of course always a positive thing." - Rolf Aldag, Sports Director

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Here’s the Tour of Poland report from Olav Kooij’s Team Jumbo-Visma:

Olav Kooij has finished fifth in stage four of the Tour de Pologne. He sprinted to a top five place on the steep finish in a stage with almost three thousand altimetres. It is the third time in four stages that the young Dutchman has finished in the top five.

Olav Kooij winning Tour of Poland stage one.

Despite the challenging stage profile, the ride from Lesko to Sanok was not spectacular. A five-rider front group tried to escape but was caught about 10 kilometres from the finish. Before that moment, Mike Teunissen attempted to join the leading group but failed. Kooij and some teammates then positioned themselves at the front of the bunch and narrowly avoided a crash in the final phase. In the uphill finish, Kooij sprinted to fifth place.

“Before this stage, we thought this finish would be too difficult for a pure sprinter like Olav”, said sports director Maarten Wynants. “Olav said he was feeling good. That’s why we decided to bet on Olav just before the end. It shows great talent that he can compete for the podium until the end of the race. It is another step in his development. Not everything went smoothly for our team at the end”, Wynants referred to the crash in which Tosh Van der Sande was involved. “At first glance, he has some bruises and abrasions. We will have to see later what the exact consequences will be. That accident disrupted our sprint preparation. That’s why it’s great that Olav finished fifth on a finish like this.”

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Former world champion Rui Costa joins Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Rui Costa will become the first Portuguese rider to defend the colors of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux starting from 2023. The World Champion of Firenze 2013 races on the highest level for thirteen years already and will join a Belgian team for the first time in his career, after concluding six years with UAE Team Emirates.

The world title is one of the 27 professional victories of the 35 year old rider, which he often obtained solo or in a tough duel. It was in this way that he became a Tour de France stage winner in Superbesse at the age of 24, before adding two more wins in the Alps two years later. In addition to ten Tour de France participations, the triple stage winner also finished the Vuelta and the Giro twice, fishing close to more Grand Tour stage wins with multiple second places.

Rui Costa in his rainbow jersey racing the 2014 Coppa Agostoni. Sirotti photo

The palmares of the double Portuguese road race and time trial champion is richly filled with performances in difficult one week stage races. Costa won the Tour de Suisse three times in a row (2012-2014) and almost added a sixth stage win last season. He won the Abu Dhabi Tour (2017), finished on the podium of the Tour de Romandie (2012, 2013, 2014, 2019) and the Criterium du Dauphiné (2015) and finished fourth in Paris-Nice (2015). This spring, he challenged overall winner Jan Hirt in de Tour of Oman (3rd) after finishing third in the Saudi Tour.

Rui Costa, who discovered all Monuments and climbed on the podium of Il Lombardia (3rd in 2014) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (3rd in 2016, 4th in 2015), signed a contract of one season with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.

"I’m very happy to receive the chance to contribute to the success of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux next season. This new environment will offer me fresh opportunities and believes in my value as an athlete. Loyalty, trust and respect are values to which both Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux and I attach a lot of importance. I want to show fighting spirit to achieve collective goals and I dream about the possibility to conquer new victories.

"Riders like Rein Taaramäe or my former teammates Alexander Kristoff and Louis Meintjes are great examples, riders who converted their rich experience and great potential into fantastic results within Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux. Riders from the team also told me about their ‘super fast’ Cube Bikes. Material is one of the most important factors to be able to perform and when I think about my future bike, I feel like a kid receiving new toys. I really want to thank the team for the belief in me, I’m convinced that we will have a good time together!” - Rui Costa

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Vuelta a Burgos stage one team reports

We posted the report from fourth-place Jai Hindley's Team Bora Hansgrohe with the results.

Here's the report from winner Santiago Buitrago's Team Bahrain Victorious:

Santiago Buitrago put in a timely solo attack in the final 600m up to Alto del Castillo and broke clear from the competition crossing the line 3" ahead of runner-up Ruben Guerreiro (UAE Team Emirates), and will wear the Vuelta a Burgos leader jersey tomorrow.

Santiago Buitrago goes deep as he closes in on the finish line.

It’s the third stage win for Buitrago this season after winning Stage 2 at the Saudi Tour in similar fashion, and his first Grand Tour win at the Giro d’Italia.
After finishing fourth last year, Buitrago was set on victory this time round: “I’m really happy to win today. Last year I tried on this stage, but I have more experience and timed my attack well. I felt good and had great support from the team, and Yuki helped bring me to the front in a great position to attack. Now we go day by day and focus on the GC. We have a strong team here with Mikel and Gino, and we will look to keep the leader jersey.”

And while our boys were leading from the front in Spain, the same was true in Poland. On the 4th day of the 79th Tour de Pologne, Jonathan Milan secured the team’s 4th podium, meaning we have had a rider in the top 3 on every stage of the race so far.

With 3k to go, Milan had hit the front of the bunch with Pello Bilbao and Stevie Williams, chasing Quickstep’s Zdenek Stybar, but as usual he was working with the team’s overall success in mind, not his own.

Nonetheless, with a few hundred metres left, and with his main job done, the Italian – just as he had on stage 1 – found himself with a chance of victory. Pushed into the barriers on the left side, then boxed in on the right, the 21 year old had to take a wide path to chase eventual stage winner Pascal Ackermann (UAE), and finished in 3rd place, behind the German and Jordan Meeus (BOH).

It’s been an astonishing return to racing after over 4 months out, and the top step is surely beckoning, both for ‘Jonny’, and the team.

“My feelings are so nice right now, and the team did such a fantastic job again,” he said after his 2nd podium of the race. “Stevie in the last kilometre, but everyone, really. We had a great place in the group the whole time right until the end, when maybe I missed the positioning slightly. It was no surprise to see Ackermann at the front on the last corner; he was the strongest. I went full gas and I gave my best … it’s just experience and I will get better in these situations. I will grow up with this 3rd place; next time when I’m in a situation like that maybe I’ll know better how to move and where to go, but I’m pretty happy“

Stage 5 has a classics-style profile; 178 hilly kms from Lancut, ending with a flat finish in Rzeszow and a chance for the fast men before Thursday’s vital uphill Time Trial. Pello Bilbao lies second overall with 3 days left.

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