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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, June 7, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk. - Stephen King

Marcus Aurelius: Meditations

Marcus Aurelius' Meditations is available in both Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Critérium du Dauphiné stage two team reports

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

Here's the report from Wout van Aert's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Wout van Aert has had to give up the lead in the Dauphiné. In the second stage, the leading group stayed ahead by a narrow margin. Because of this, the yellow jersey went to one of the escapees. Van Aert won the peloton’s sprint and finished sixth.

Wout van Aert leads in the field. Sirotti photo

After yesterday's victory, the eyes were on Team Jumbo-Visma’s Belgian champion again. After the six riders had broken away, Team Jumbo-Visma took the initiative. Chris Harper did a tremendous job controlling the front of the peloton for a long time.

However, closing the gap proved difficult on the hilly course. Even with the help of other teams, the peloton was unable to catch the breakaway in time. This group ultimately crossed the line with a five-second lead. Van Aert won the sprint of the depleted peloton.

Van Aert was disappointed after missing out on the stage win. "You should always try to sprint for the victory first. Logically, the pressure was on us in the race. We put Chris in the lead. The leading group was strong on the long climb. After that, it went downhill a lot and you couldn't make up much. We underestimated that. In the last thirty kilometres they only lost one minute. Everyone on the team did his turn, even Primoz in the final. I would have preferred to keep the yellow, but I am especially disappointed to miss out on the stage win. In the sprint, I won quite easily, but it's a shame it wasn't for the victory."

A tricky uphill finish awaits the riders tomorrow. "We are going to see how we will handle it tomorrow. It's an important day for Primoz. If not for the stage win, then at least for the GC. It will be a tricky finale in any case”, Van Aert said.

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Here's the report from third-place Olivier Le Gac's Team Groupama-FDJ:

Olivier Le Gac, usually a loyal domestique, almost experienced his day of glory this Monday in the Critérium du Dauphiné. In stage 2 towards Brives-Charensac, the man from Brittany managed to join the day’s breakaway which, after a thrilling finale, managed to stay away from the bunch.

In the home straight, the rider from Groupama-FDJ started his sprint from afar in order to surprise his breakaway’s companions, but two men eventually caught him with twenty metres to go, including winner Alexis Vuillermoz. A frustrating conclusion to a great day in the front.

Olivier Le Gac leads the break to the line. Sirotti photo

Through an undulating terrain, accumulating nearly 3,000 meters of elevation gain, stage 2 of the Critérium du Dauphiné was quite unpredictable. Like the previous day, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team had therefore decided to give it a go at the start. “We planned at the briefing to fight for the stage win through the breakaway”, said Olivier Le Gac. “Given Sunday’s scenario, we knew that some teams would not collaborate with Jumbo-Visma”. “We had this breakaway scenario in mind for yesterday and today”, recalled Thierry. “This scenario of a victorious breakaway was possible, and it often happens in the Dauphiné since there are not many sprinters and because it is difficult to control”.

The fight to get in the front eventually lasted for about twenty kilometres, and Olivier Le Gac then managed to take a gap together with Kevin Vermaerke (DSM), Anthony Delaplace (Arkéa-Samsic), Anders Skaarseth (UnoX), Xandres Vervloesem (Lotto-Soudal), while Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies) joined the group a bit later. The six men were able to enjoy a four-minute lead before Jumbo-Visma, defending the yellow jersey, set the pace in the back. At the bottom of the main climb of the day, the Col de Mézhilac (12 km at 4%), the gap was still four minutes between the two groups.

There were certainly still seventy kilometres to go, but the leading men really believed in their chances. “We had a good group in front, we spoke well between each other, and we accelerated in the long climb, which allowed us to put a little pressure on the pack”, explained Olivier.

Therefore, despite a clear chase in the peloton, the breakaway still had a 3’30 lead when reaching the top. The road did not immediately go down, however, and the five remaining riders at the head of the race eventually tackled the long descending section with just 1’30 of a gap. “They managed their lead well, although it was never very substantial”, said Thierry. “Then, they gave everything in the final to play for the win”. For about twenty kilometres, the gap then did not fluctuate much before slightly reducing in the two small climbs featuring in the last fifteen kilometres.

At the top of the final one, Olivier Le Gac and his four mates still maintained a thirty-second lead. “We all worked well together, and there were riders in good shape in front,” added Olivier. “The guys behind also encouraged Olivier on the radio and gave him small tips”, added Thierry. “In front, they kept believing in it and they did well because they eventually fought for victory”.

Under the flamme rouge, the breakaway still had more than a ten-second gap. There was therefore a bit of gambling before the final battle. “I was in the first position after the corner with 600m to go, I moved aside and Anthony Delaplace launched”, said Olivier at the finish. “I left a small gap to gain momentum and try to surprise them. I think I managed to do that, but I just struggled in the final 100 meters, and I got caught at the very end”. Despite this smart attack, he did not benefit from a wait-and-see attitude among his rivals. He was then overtaken in the last twenty meters by Alexis Vuillermoz and Anders Skaarseth, who prevented him from getting a huge victory.

“We’re a bit frustrated that he did not put his hands in the air today, but there is nothing to blame Olivier for, because he did everything he needed to”, greeted Thierry. “He did a nice attack, at the right time, but he missed a little something. He is a generous rider who works for his leaders all year round, and when given the opportunity, he knows how to seize it. It would have been a great reward for him to take this victory”. “It feels good to be part of a breakaway that makes it, but of course I’m disappointed not to win”, concluded Olivier. “I’ll have to try again”. In the meantime, he sits in third place in the general classification of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Monday evening, four seconds behind the yellow jersey.

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And here's the Dauphiné report from fourth-place Kevin Vermaerke's Team DSM:

The second day of racing at the Dauphiné saw the peloton tackle another intriguing stage, with a hilly parcours that would tempt the breakaway riders but also those who would want a reduced bunch sprint finish. As expected, it was a fast start to the stage with several unsuccessful attempts made before a break of six eventually established itself out front, with Kevin Vermaerke riding well to make the move for the team.

Vermaerke and his breakaway companions rode a smart race, building up a gap of around four minutes and 30 seconds but not pushing too hard to save something for the long climb and rolling final 50 kilometres. Cresting the summit of the climb, their lead had been more than halved, sitting at one minute and 30 seconds with 30 kilometres to go but the now quintet worked really well together, rotating turns at the front all the way to the finish town.

As a result, they headed into the final kilometre with a 20 second gap over the bunch. Vermaerke followed the wheels after several attacks were made in the finale, digging deep and giving everything he had to the line, taking a strong fourth place – his first top five at WorldTour level. With bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint combined with the gap to the chasing bunch, Vermaerke moves into the lead of the best young rider classification – a fine reward for a strong ride.

An exhausted Kevin Vermaerke (in the black DSM jersey) finishes the stage. Sirotti photo

“It was a big day out in the break,” expressed Vermaerke. “Our team plan was to get me in the move today and if it was a big break then we also wanted Mark in there with me. The guys did a great job at the start, especially Mark, setting me up to get in that break: perfect teamwork. I made it and it was a strong group. We were all committed to making it to the finish, we all kept taking strong pulls and no one skipped any. In the last ten kilometres the gap was about a minute and was a bit touch-and-go but we all kept riding. Coming into the last kilometre I found myself a little maybe too far at the front but after a big day out like that my legs were pretty empty and I didn’t have much of a sprint left. Usually it’s a good situation for me and I was hoping for more out of myself. It’s not every day you get that close to winning a stage at the Dauphiné and I think it’s left me hungry to come back and get a better result, but the white jersey is something we can take out of the day and is a nice reward to wear it tomorrow. There are still six more chances to get a result this week where we can try and do even better.”

Team DSM coach Pim Ligthart added: “The goal today was to be in the break and we had hoped for a big move, where we could ideally get two guys in. We wanted to get Kevin in the move and the guys did well to do that but it was only a group of six in the end. We had a plan though where we wanted to have one minute and 30 seconds in the long downhill going into the final 15 kilometres – which is exactly what they had. The break could sprint it out for the win with Kevin finishing fourth in the end. I think we had a nice stage, making an opportunity for ourselves and Kevin moves into the white jersey now as a reward – so I think it was a good day for us.”

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Judge orders Park Service to conduct environmental study on e-MTB impact

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News posted this:

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — A District of Columbia federal judge ruled that the National Park Service can continue to allow e-bike access on non-motorized trails but needs to conduct its own environmental review followed by a public comment period to gauge the impact they have on park resources and other users.

U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras' opinion last week was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and a coalition of conservation groups in 2019 against the National Park Service for allowing e-bikes on non-motorized trails.

"Judge Contreras ruled that the Park Service's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, when it allowed e-bikes into the system, was defective and ordered the agency to do it over again," PEER attorney Peter T. Jenkins told BRAIN. "That should be a win for Park users. We are disappointed that he did not block e-bike use in Parks immediately, but the battle is not over."

The NPS, which declined to comment on the ruling, manages 423 national parks in the U.S. and its territories, ranging from wilderness areas to urban historical monuments.

You can read the entire story here.

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