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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, June 14, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

James Joyce was a synthesizer, trying to bring in as much as he could. I am an analyzer, trying to leave out as much as I can. - Samuel Beckett

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 Switzerland stage two reports

We posted the report from stage winner Andreas Leknessund's Team DSM with the results.

Here's the race organizer's report:

Andreas Leknessund finished his attack in style, celebrating a convincing solo victory in Aesch. His work today also jeopardises the yellow jersey of Stephen Williams. The peloton gave the breakaway considerable freedom for a long time.

Andreas Leknessund has left everyone else behind. Sirotti pnhoto

Andreas Leknessund is the jubilant winner in Aesch. The Norwegian celebrated his best win to date with great exuberance in the long ride to the finish line. “It’s exactly for days like this that you train all the time. The fact that it worked out today is wonderful. But I was never sure if we could make it. Many riders couldn’t keep up the pace in the last kilometres. That’s why I had to attack”. His attack has put Stephen Williams’ yellow jersey in jeopardy. The Norwegian was only 61 seconds behind in the overall classification before the stage. “I’m very happy that the other teams also pushed. Without this help I would probably have lost my jersey. I’m looking forward to wearing it for another day,” said Williams.

The race took off at a fast and furious pace. It was almost thirty kilometres before a breakaway could form. Five Swiss cyclists joined the charge: Michael Schär, Matteo Badilatti, Joel Suter, Claudio Imhof and Simon Vitzthum. The peloton was slow to react and the gap grew to over six minutes with 50 kilometres to the finish. The Norwegian Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) seized his chance. He attacked his colleagues in the breakaway on the last KOM at the Challpass, shaving 38 seconds on the peloton at the finish. The rest of the breakaway, including the Swiss contingent, were swallowed up by the peloton.

Preview of the next stage:
The Third Stage of the Tour de Suisse starts where it finished in Aesch and ends in Grenchen, after a mountainous loop through the Clos-du-Doubs and the beautiful canton of Jura. For the first time, the cyclists tackle a first-category KOM. However, the 5.5-kilometre-long climb with an average gradient of 8.3 percent Côte au Bouvier in the Jura, is still almost 100 kilometres away from the finish line. The route then undulates to Grenchen.

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Here’s the report from third place Michael Matthews’ Team BikeExchange-Jayco:

Australian Michael Matthews sprinted to third place on stage two of the Tour de Suisse as the breakaway held off the chasing peloton into Aesch.

The 31-year-old was left to fight for the runner-up spot as a lone rider took the spoils after another intense day of action in Switzerland.

The field sprint for second place. Sirotti photo

A strong 11-rider breakaway formed early in the stage with the peloton allowing the escapees a maximum advantage of more than six minutes. As the race reached the categorised climbs, the stage looked to be in the balance, with the break still holding a healthy advantage.

Eventually the bunch began to up the pace, and the time gap began to tumble, with Team BikeExchange-Jayco biding their time as they looked to tee up Matthews for the finale. However, a late attack from Andreas Leknessund on the final climb of the day saw the stage swing back in favour of the attackers with 12km remaining.

The peloton chased hard on the flat run to the finish, but it was too little, too late with Matthews sprinting to third place from the chasing pack, 38 seconds behind the solo winner.

Michael Matthews (3rd):
“Obviously, we came here to win, but today wasn’t really a stage that we we’re 100% targeting, there’s some better stages for us here. But we had an opportunity in the final there, I managed to get over the climbs and the boys put me in a good position all day to fight over that final climb.

"Then coming into the sprint, we just fell short of one rider solo, but after yesterday, today was much better and for the team going into the next stages it looks really good.”

Mat Hayman (Sport Director):
“It was a tricky stage and a very strong breakaway, a GC breakaway in many ways, went clear and it was a bit of a stand-off between GC teams. The gap went out to over six minutes, and we hung back for a bit.

"But hats off to the winner today, he didn’t steal it at all. The bunch didn’t get any closer on the final climb, and he won fair and square. Matthews showed some good form after yesterday to bounce back today, and tomorrow we have another real chance.”

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And here’s the Tour of Switzerland stage two report from fourth-place Andrea Pasqualon’s Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert:

Despite a difficult final, Andrea Pasqualon followed the peloton and sprinted for second place at the end of the second stage in the Tour de Suisse (2.UWT) this Monday between Küsnacht and Aesch.

The 200-kilometer stage contained the climbs of Gempen, Eichenberg and Challpass in the second race half and were climbed at a high intensity in the peloton, hoping to catch the early breakaway. But one of the escapees managed to stay ahead of the bunch and won solo.

Thanks to the pulls of Georg Zimmermann, Andrea Pasqualon took third place in the sprint of fourth place in the stage result. Domenico Pozzovivo finished in the same group and stays tenth in the general classification.

“The day after a selective opening stage, it didn’t look like many teams were convinced that their sprinters would be in the mix for the win today. The breakaway could benefit from a large advantage, so Georg Zimmermann sacrificed for me to reduce the gap with the leaders. I felt good, my condition is improving. It was only during the final kilometer of the last climb that I had to dig deep to follow the bunch. Unfortunately, one leader managed to resist to the peloton and we came too late for the victory. Tomorrow I expect a bunch sprint with the presence of all sprinters. We will work for Alexander Kristoff and at the same time continue to protect Domenico Pozzovivo. He makes a good impression and I think he has the capabilities to finish among the top five in the general classification.” - Andrea Pasqualon

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Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl to race Tour of Belgium

Here’s the team’s news post:

Nine overall victories, the most recent of which was brought by Remco Evenepoel last year, and a total of 20 stage victories – the Belgium Tour has been a rich hunting ground for the Wolfpack since the team’s inception, and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl will look to be again one of the main protagonists at the 91st edition, which will be held between 15-19 June.

Two stages for the sprinters, two hilly ones – where the numerous climbs will thin out the peloton and provide the ideal terrain to the attackers – and an undulating 11.8km individual time trial make up the route of this week’s race, which starts in Merelbeke and concludes in Beringen, a small town located in the province of Limburg.

Victorious last Sunday at Elfstedenronde, where he picked up his ninth win of the season, Fabio Jakobsen will target the two flat stages of the race, hoping to add to his already impressive tally. The “Hurricane of Heukelum” will rely on a strong team, consisting of Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert, Michael Mørkøv, Florian Sénéchal and Stan Van Tricht, while Mauro Schmid – also part of our roster – will have the freedom to go for the general classification.

Fabio Jakobsen winning Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne earlier this year. Sirotti photo

“The course follows the format we know from the previous years, consisting of two flat stages, two very hard hilly ones, and a short time trial. The Belgium Tour will be a good opportunity to fine-tune a bit how Fabio and Michael work, supported by the rest of the guys, who bring in a lot of experience. Concerning the GC, Mauro can try and get a good result there before going back home for the National Championships”, explained Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Tom Steels.

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