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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, June 27, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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2022 Tour of Austria (Österreich Rundfahrt) is cancelled

I just discovered that the Tour of Austria, scheduled to start July 2, has been cancelled for the third year in a row.

Ben Hermans won the last edition in 2019.

Here's is a machine-translation of the organizer's statement:

Tour of Austria is cancelled

Definitive cancellation by Carinthia and the current great economic uncertainty make the 2022 tour impossible.

With great regret, the Austrian Cycling Association (ÖRV) informs about the postponement of the 72nd Tour of Austria planned for July to a later date. This unanimous decision was made due to the definitive cancellation of the state of Carinthia, which affects 2 of the 5 stages. Due to the short deadline, it was not possible for the Kuhn/Ziermann organization team to carry out serious and realistic planning of alternatives. In addition, the uncertain economic development in recent months has made financial planning for the tour more difficult. 

With great enthusiasm, the Austrian Cycling Association announced 2 months ago the comeback of the Tour of Austria for next July - a tour with 5 stages with the UCI category 2.1 was planned. Unfortunately, the presidium together with the organization team Werner Kuhn / Christoph Ziermann had to admit that this goal cannot be achieved for the time being. The argument of the state of Carinthia with regard to the hotel capacities that have not been prepared for a tour after two difficult years in tourism is absolutely understandable. The unprecedented wave of inflation and the currently very noticeable uncertainty in the economy also contributed to this.

"It hurts me personally a lot, but against the background of the definitive cancellation for 2 stages and the current major economic imponderables with enormous inflation rates, boxing through this tour, which we all long for so much, would be irresponsible and unrealistic. Hence the logical postponement to a later date. Nevertheless, on behalf of the Austrian Cycling Association, I would like to say a special thank you to all those who have tried to restart the tour over the past few weeks and months. Now the 'ARGE Österreich Rundfahrt' is to be created, which is to develop suitable structures for the re-staging”, says ÖRV President Harald J. Mayer

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Mark Cavendish wins British nationals and Florian Sénéchal is French road race champion

Here are the reports from their Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

Mark Cavendish:
Since turning pro more than 15 years ago, Mark Cavendish has amassed 161 wins and many of these have become the stuff of legend. There’s his Milano-Sanremo triumph in 2009, when an astonishing burst of speed on Lungomare Italo Calvino made him a Monument winner. There’s the sprint in Copenhagen, which two years later earned him the rainbow stripes. There’s also the victory in Aubenas, where he made it over a tough climb close to the finish, or the one in Brive-la-Gaillarde, ten years ago, when he came from behind to overhaul the last member of the breakaway just 50 meters from the line.

As of Sunday, his second victory at the British National Championships has made its way on this impressive list, after what can be easily labelled as one of the most inspirational rides of Mark Cavendish’s career. In wet conditions that made for a chaotic and unpredictable race, the Manxman produced an amazing performance, attacking from the off and going in the first breakaway of the day.

The 201km course around Castle Douglas was an undulating one, and together with the miserable weather conditions, it played into the escapees’ favour, as the peloton found things difficult to control. When the group was eventually caught, Mark was the only one from that original move to go again in the newly-formed breakaway, which this time turned out to be the decisive one. The 37-year-old showed again that age is just a number as he went on the offensive several times, trying to reduce the group and open a potentially decisive gap.

On the final lap, they managed to dispatch two men from the group, which left only three riders in contention for the victory. Victorious four times this season before Sunday, Cavendish made use of his vast experience, leaving his opponents to sprint first, before surging past them and winning by more than a bike length.

Mark Cavendish wins his second National Championship ahead of Samuel Watson & Alex Richardson. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix

“I am incredibly happy. To win my second National Champion jersey, nine years after the first one and again in Scotland, is amazing. The race was hard and full gas from the very beginning. I joined the break, then as soon as we got reeled in, I jumped again and did my best there, not sparing any effort. I had fire in the eyes the entire day and in the sprint I just my legs to do the talking. I am extremely happy with this victory and I can’t wait to wear with huge pride this jersey in the next twelve months”, said Mark after his fifth success of the year.

Florian Sénéchal:
Florian Sénéchal powered to the most emotional victory of his career Sunday afternoon, taking Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s 66th national title in Cholet. It was a win that fulfilled a career-long dream for Florian, who was congratulated straight after the finish by his Wolfpack teammates, Julian Alaphilippe and Rémi Cavagna, who came at the start of the 240km race as the defending champion.

Florian Sénéchal after winning stage 13 of the 2021 Vuelta a España. Sirotti photo

The course wasn’t particularly hard, but a short climb and some rolling roads on each lap made it more difficult to control by the sprinters’ teams, and despite not having the numbers, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl moved boldly and decisively on this terrain. With two laps to go, Cavagna took off together with two other riders, and although they were brought back by the peloton with 16 kilometers to go, his action showed that it’s possible to open an important gap in the key part of the course.

Having returned to racing for the first time since April, Julian Alaphilippe turned into domestique de luxe in the final lap, working for Sénéchal, who got out of the saddle and bolted away from the bunch. Only Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) could stay in his wheel as they navigated the technical descent where the duo managed to increase their advantage over the peloton.

Just ahead of the flamme rouge, three riders joined them, but Florian remained calm and patiently waited for the right moment to make his move. This happened on the slightly uphill final 150 meters, where the 28-year-old unleashed a rapid acceleration, coming past his opponents and beating Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) for an unforgettable victory.

"It’s unbelievable! To be the French Champion and hear La Marseillaise on the podium is something that will forever stay with me.

“I worked a lot, I made a lot of sacrifices, and to get this reward after a difficult part of the season is incredible. The mere thought that I will have this superb jersey on my shoulders for the next twelve months and race the Spring Classics makes me emotional.”

“We knew it would be difficult in three, so we decided to wait for the last two laps. We wanted to try something there, as in the bunch sprint we wouldn’t have had a chance. Rémi was the first to attack, then as soon as he was brought back Julian brought me to the front and I went the final time up the climb, giving everything. When the other riders bridged across with one kilometer to go, it was the perfect scenario for me. I knew I was the fastest in the group, had a good feeling and the legs were strong, so I stayed calm and made my sprint. It hasn’t been the best season for me until now, but this totally makes up for everything”, concluded Florian after becoming the third different Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider to win the French Road Race Nationals.

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Team Bora-hansgrohe wins four national titles

Here’s the team’s announcement:

In outstanding style, Nils Politt took the national road title in Germany today.

After a tough 190km race, he was able to break away from Nikias Arndt on one of the last climbs and ride solo into the jersey of the German champion.

New German champion Nils Politt riding Paris-Roubaix earlier this year. Sirotti photo

Today the Austrian championships also continued, which were held over eleven difficult laps and 195 km around Judendorf-Strassengel in Styria. With Patrick Konrad, Lukas Pöstlberger and Marco Haller, BORA - hansgrohe had three former road champions in its ranks. The team from Raubling was further strengthened by Patrick Gamper and Felix Grossschartner. In the end, it was Felix who became the new national champion, while Patrick Gamper took second and Lukas third. Teammates Patrick Konrad and Marco finished fourth and fifth respectively.

In Belgium, the title was decided in a fast finish, with Jordi Meeus narrowly missing out on victory. The young Belgian sprinter finished second behind Tim Merlier.

On Thursday, the Austrian national time trial championships were also held together with the Slovenian cycling federation in Novo Mesto. Felix Grossschartner put in a strong performance right from the start, and was able to win his first time trial title. Over in Germany on Friday, it was Lennard Kämna who took the national time trial title, and Nils Politt the bronze medal.

For BORA - hansgrohe these were a successful national championships with four titles and eight medals in total.

Podium places:

Road race GER: Nils Politt (1st place)

Road race AUT: Felix Grossschartner (1st place), Patrick Gamper (2nd place), Lukas Pöstlberger (3rd place)

Road race BEL: Jordi Meeus (2nd place)

Time trial GER: Lennard Kämna (1st place), Nils Politt (3rd place)

Time Trial AUT: Felix Grossschartner (1st place)

From the Finish Line:
"To win today, we had to make the race difficult early on and reduce the peloton. After Emanuel Buchmann's mechanical, there were four of us in the leading group. Lennard Kämna, Simon Geschke, Nikias Arndt and me. Nikias and I then got away, Lennard and Emu controlled the back and with an attack shortly ahead of the finish I was able to break away. Everything just worked out - I had great legs and the guys did a perfect job. I'm now looking forward to spending a year in this special jersey!" - Nils Politt

"That was an unbelievably super team performance today and there is nothing else to really say other than a huge thank you to the whole team. Without them my win wouldn't have been possible and I can really only emphasise that. It was a really special day and I'm very happy to be able to race in the Austrian road as well as time trial champion's kit at my next race." - Felix Grossschartner

"It was such a close finish, so I'm disappointed to not take the win. In the race, it was somewhat hectic with echelons, and I managed to eventually make it to the first group. But ultimately it all came back together for a sprint. I was right up there and fought it out to take the win, but in the end it wasn't enough, by the smallest of margins. That's what makes it that extra bit disappointing, that I came so close. But we'll have to take this disappointment and we can only move forward from here." - Jordi Meeus

"Our five riders, Luis Lührs, Lennard Kämna, Emanuel Buchmann, Nils Politt and Ben Zwiehoff put in a really strong team performance today right from the start. We had to cope with some technically challenging sections on the course, and the boys did a great job here to always be in a good position and also to be represented in the pre-deciding group. We wanted to actively shape the race and not just react, and we definitely succeeded in doing that. Nils had an incredibly strong day. With us finishing in places 1 to 5 in Austria, taking the win in Germany, and collecting silver with Jordi Meeus in Belgium, plus our titles in the time trial, it's been a more than successful week for BORA - hansgrohe. And now we're looking ahead to July and the Tour de France." - Rolf Aldag

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Trek-Segafredo: Wrapping up Nationals Week with three more titles

Here’s the team’s report:

Elisa Balsamo and Emīls Liepiņš keep it in the family in Italy and Latvia respectively while, Alexander Kamp leads a Trek-Segafredo 1-2 in Denmark.

World champion, Elisa Balsamo has now added Italian Champion to her already impressive palmarès, succeeding Elisa Longo Borghini to claim the tricolore jersey following a bunch sprint finish.

Elisa Balsamo after winning the World Championship Road Race in 2021. Sirotti photo

“My first thought is about the pride of winning this title. The tricolore jersey is unique, as is that of the World Champion. Having both in a single season is a huge honor.

“Next, there is the consideration about the performance, which, like the jersey, leaves me satisfied. These last few weeks have served to recharge my batteries after a long and busy spring. I had rest and then went to altitude to prepare for the Giro-Tour double. The Tour de Suisse was encouraging and then at the Italian Championships  I was looking for confirmation of my form and signs of competitiveness. I am happy to have found them.

“I was expecting a more animated race, more attacks, especially from teams like the Fiamme Oro which numerically could play more options. Honestly, despite the perfect course for a bunch finish, I thought more teams would want to avoid this outcome. For me it was a bit of a surprise. The sprint is always an option with so many unknowns and variables. For me, of course, it was better this way.

“Being alone, I had to make my choices in the finale. In the group we know each other, I knew which wheels to follow. Then, as in any sprint, instinct and eye contact play a crucial role. In the last kilometer, I followed the movements, like a wave. I was following the Fiamme Oro team because it was the best-equipped train. Then I saw another train coming up strong on the right, and I jumped on the wheel. My instinct told me to do that and it turned out to be the winning choice.

“Now, I’m going to enjoy this victory and then throw myself head (and legs) first into the Giro. This success is a very useful boost of morale and confidence for such an important race. The hopes of having a good Giro are strong. Starting with the first stages that, on paper, are very interesting for me.”

Emīls Liepiņš also kept his respective national title in the Trek-Segafredo family, inheriting the Latvian champion’s jersey from Toms Skujiņš.

“The race was really hot! At one point my Wahoo was showing 39 degrees and the day’s average was about 35 degrees. Adding to the difficulty of the day was the way, like always, we raced. It was a full-on day with a lot of attacks early on. Around kilometer 50, they group split with me in front and Toms behind. At the start of the day, Toms and I had a plan that we wouldn’t chase each other so he stayed in the second group with who you could say were our ‘biggest rivals’.

“The race was made up of two big laps and then eight city laps and on the last lap, it became clear that I was the strongest of the front group and that the race was mine to lose. The group also understood that I was the fastest guy and that they needed to try to come to the finish without me. However, I was always on the wheels and in the end, I was able to go alone to the finish. It  was a really good race, I had really good legs and I am really really happy that I will get to wear this jersey for the next year.”

Alexander Kamp was crowned Danish national champion for the second time his career after a consistently attacking performance throughout the race which also saw Mads Pedersen take the silver medal to complete a Trek-Segafredo one-two.

“I’m just happy to take the jersey. I was in the breakaway from early on and fighting the whole day. I’m really proud and happy that I could become national champion and to be on the podium with Mads. To have two Trek-Segafredo riders on the podium is great and we can be proud of that.”

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