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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, February 26, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Nothing endures but change. - Heraclitus

Tour de France: 2020

Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2020: The Tour During Covid-19, Better Late Than Never is available as an audiobook here. For the Kindle eBook version, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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UAE Tour stage six news

We posted the report from stage winner Mathias Vacek's Gazpro-RusVelo team with the results.

Here's the report from Team Jumbo-Visma:

Olav Kooij has not been able to sprint for the stage win in the sixth stage of the UAE Tour. Five breakaway riders fooled the peloton and made it to the finish in the stage to and from Expo 2020 Dubai.

Mathias Vacek of Gazprom-RusVelo wins the stage.

The breakaway was quickly formed and initially, the sprinters' teams seemed to be able to keep the time difference manageable. However, the breakaway riders continued to ride hard. They kept the gap above one minute for a long time and tremendous efforts by Team Jumbo-Visma and others proved not effective.

Sports director Frans Maassen was disappointed. "All sprinters’ teams miscalculated. The leading group did well. The peloton rode quite a high average speed but in the last part, we had a tailwind and we misjudged it. At twenty kilometres we tried to take back the breakaway riders with Koen Bouwman and Jos van Emden. By then, it was too late.

Lotto-Soudal: Medical update Jarrad Drizners

This arrived from Lotto Soudal:

Jarrad Drizners was involved in a crash on Friday, during the final kilometer of the sixth stage of the UAE Tour. The Australian rider suffered an abdominal trauma. Further examinations have to indicate whether he will need surgery. He is stable, conscious and able to speak. A doctor of Lotto Soudal and the doctor of the UAE Tour are with him at the hospital.

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Here's what Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl had to say about UAE Tour stage six:

For the first time since the Middle East’s only World Tour race was created in 2019, a breakaway managed to hold off the peloton, and the most surprising fact is that it did so on a flat stage, which took place on a 180km loop around Dubai, the largest city of the country and the host of the World Expo.

Six men jumped from the bunch immediately after the start and enjoyed a three-minute maximum advantage which looked more than manageable for the bunch, but somehow the breakaway – despite losing a rider in the final hour of racing – held off the chasers by a handful of seconds and battled for the win, which was scored by Mathias Vacek (Gazprom-RusVelo).

Olympic Madison Champion Michael Mørkøv Christensen rolled over the line as Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s best placed rider, 18th. The race is set to conclude Saturday afternoon, with the summit finish of Jebel Hafeet.

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Team EF Education-EasyPost previews the start of racing in Belgium

Here's the team's post:

The classics are here: EF Education-EasyPost is ready for Belgium’s Opening Weekend

It is a ritual in Flanders. Each year, as winter begins to turn to spring, large crowds head to the fields to watch the first of their favourite bike races.

For weeks, the newspapers have been full of speculation, analysing changes to the courses, checking weather forecasts, and scrutinising the riders’ form. Races before Opening Weekend are just preludes. At Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the cycling season begins for real. Every moment can be decisive.

That is what makes Belgium’s classic one-day races so exciting. There is no mountain in Flanders where the lightest, strongest rider can simply ride away from the pack. Instead, the peloton has to contend with flurries of short, steep climbs, cobblestones, and hundreds of corners on narrow farm roads. The odd forest or red-brick town offers little respite from the wind, which whips in off the North Sea, and can split the peloton at any second. It often rains and sometimes snows in Belgium in February and March.

There are countless ways to win a classic—and even more ways to lose one.

You can ride a perfect race and be the strongest rider left in the peloton, and then go the long way around one roundabout, reach the bottom of a hill a few spots too far back, and watch your chances disappear up a tractor track, as the riders in front of you come to a standstill. Maybe you do make it back, but after 200 kilometres of racing, every mistake you have made earlier will cost you. To have the strength you will need to win in the end, you need to stay in front, and to do that you need to throw caution to the wind from the moment the red flag drops and race into every corner like it’s your last one.

That takes guts, strength, and smarts. No one makes it to the finale of a classic on luck. The best riders are there time and time again. The champions sense what is going on at all times in the race and have the strength and savvy to drop their rivals at the exactly the right moment.

EF Education-EasyPost sports director Andreas Klier was that kind of rider. He won Belgian classics such as Gent-Wevelgem and finished on the podium at the Tour of Flanders.

“I loved when it was finally time to get things started in Belgium,” he says. “Getting to the start line, fighting in the cross winds, seeing the rain rush down on those narrow roads with the knowledge that if I was not in the top five going into a certain corner, the race was over… all gave me an extra kick, so I could go over my limits.”

Michael Valgren wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2018. He'll be on the start line on Saturday.

Jens Keukeleire, Michael Valgren, Owain Doull, Ben Healy, Tom Scully, Julius van den Berg, and Łukasz Wiśniowski love the classics too. Michael won the Omloop in 2018. Łukasz was second that year, just behind him. Jens has won Nokere-Koerse and the Memorial Samyn. Owain finished second at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in 2019. And we can always count on Tom and Julius to be there to take big pulls during the crucial moments of a race. They are our team for Opening Weekend.

Out in Flanders’ fields, the thwack, thwack, thwack of the TV helicopter’s rotors will signal that they are coming. Thousands of fans will push forward to the side of the road, singing and cheering and waving their yellow Lion of Flanders flags. Spring is on its way. The classics are here!

Go buy a case of your favourite Belgian beer or make a rice tart to enjoy during this weekend’s races. Watch out for our guys in pink.

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Team Bahrain Victorious will be in Belgium this weekend

Here’s the team’s update:

The 2022 Belgian cycling season kicks off this weekend and with that brings the experienced Classics specialists to town, who will all be vying for glory on the cobbled surfaces of Belgium.

Time for cobbles and hills in Belgium. Sirotti photo

The Bahrain Victorious team taking on the Opening Weekend includes Sonny Colbrelli and Phil Bauhaus, who are both ready to make their season debut. Alongside Colbrelli, we have Tour de France stage winner Matej Mohoric, Kamil Gradek, Luis Leon Sanchez, Fred Wright and the veteran Heinrich Haussler.

Sports Director, Enrico Poitschke has full confidence in the leadup to the two races: “The Opening Weekend is always hard and especially Omloop is a stress and challenge for every rider. We are here with a very strong team and they show already that they are in great condition with some [of our riders] starting their season this weekend. The goal for both races is to obviously fight for victory and we have the leaders that we will work for in order to try and grab the win!”

On Saturday 26th February, the 77th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks the beginning of the ‘cobbled classics’ in Belgium and will offer a fantastic insight into the conditioning of teams, albeit this early into the road racing calendar. Het Nieuwsblad takes us from Ghent, Flanders all the way to Ninove – where the elements and surfaces are, as usual, likely to have a strong impact on the overall standings.

Only last year, the experienced Heinrich Haussler finished fourth on the Saturday in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and so will be hoping to make a repeat appearance in the top five this time around.

On Sunday 27th February, the 74th edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne starts where the riders will embark on a challenging 195km route around the Western region of Belgium. The race is, per tradition, run on the last Sunday of February or first one of March and formally concludes the opening of the Belgian cycling season.

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