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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, March 8, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made. - Groucho Marx

TDF volume 1

Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, Vol 1: 1903 - 1975 is available as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Paris-Nice Stage 2 reports

We posted the organizer's stage two report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Fabio Jakobsen's Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team:

Fabio Jakobsen powered to his first World Tour win of the season with another phenomenal sprint at the end of a stage battered by ruthless crosswinds and broken into numerous echelons just 70 kilometers from the start.

Fabio Jakobsen takes stage two. Photo: ASO/Alex Broadway

After leaving behind Auffargis, the peloton allowed three men to open a gap, but things quickly changed shortly after passing through Dourdan, the site of two Eddy Merckx victories back in the ‘70s. The wind picked up and soon the bunch splintered, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl being one of the teams that decided to spread chaos. This spelled the end of the breakaway, and despite a brief regrouping with 60 kilometers to go, the field was again chopped to pieces once the wind intensified.

Having four members in the newly-formed front group, the Wolfpack made sure of controlling every attempt and setting a pace that prevented the chasers from rejoining the group that numbered around 30 men. As they entered Orléans, which returned as a stage finish for the first time since 2012 – when Tom Boonen won – Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl took over the reins again and stormed to the front with Yves Lampaert, Zdenek Stybar and Florian Sénéchal, who dominated the finale, providing another outstanding lead-out to Fabio Jakobsen.

The Dutchman – who less than ten days ago came out on top at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – blew past his opponents with an incredible rush to the line inside the last 100 meters, taking his maiden Paris-Nice win and the team’s 12th success of the season.

“We knew that today would be a day of echelons and we love them, so we were prepared for what was to come. It wasn’t easy and there was a lot of nervousness the entire stage, but we remained confident and very motivated. Being in four riders meant we could control things at the end, where Yves did a huge pull over the bridge until the last kilometer, then Styby took over and Florian sheltered me until I could launch my sprint. I like winning and I’m happy I could take my first victory here and continue this good start to the season”, explained Jakobsen after notching up Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s 17th stage success at Paris-Nice.

Here's the report from GC leader Christophe Laporte's Jumbo-Visma team:

Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte have both finished on the podium in the second stage of Paris-Nice. In the streets of Orleans, Van Aert narrowly lost to Fabio Jakobsen. Laporte catapulted Van Aert before sprinting to third place, ensuring another day in the yellow leader's jersey.

Christophe Laporte will start stage three in yellow. Jumbo-Visma photo.

The riders started in Auffargis on what will go down in the books as an ultra-fast stage. A group of three riders quickly escaped from the peloton. Those who expected the race to have the traditional course that fits a flat stage were wrong. Nervousness was noticeable in the peloton early in the stage and Van Aert was one of the victims of a crash. He suffered a few abrasions but the Belgian champion was able to continue.

After more than sixty kilometres, the east wind created echelons in the peloton. Team Jumbo-Visma was alert and was in the first group with almost the entire team. The small groups that had now emerged broke up even further and Van Aert, Laporte and Primoz Roglic were on the front row for the black-and-yellow formation. Because the riders regrouped a little later, Nathan Van Hooydonck returned to the front. The Belgian helped Van Aert and Laporte prepare for the sprint, and Laporte sacrificed himself in the final kilometre for the later runner-up Van Aert.

Although the Frenchman had been riding in the lead for some time, he still managed to finish third. As a result, he will also be riding in the leader's jersey on Tuesday.

"It was an unnecessary crash, as is the case with every crash. Fortunately, I got away without too much damage", Van Aert said. The Belgian indicated that Jakobsen had been too fast. "Together with Christophe we were positioned well in the sprint. He attacked at a good moment and helped me very well. I was riding on my limit. Fabio deserved to win. He is the strongest sprinter of the moment. As a team, we rode a strong race today and we did well in the general classification, with regard to Primoz's ambitions."

Classification leader Laporte spoke of a good day for Team Jumbo-Visma. "The nervousness was noticeable in the peloton throughout the stage. But we constantly rode at the front and did well today."

Besides Van Aert, Rohan Dennis and Steven Kruijswijk also crashed. At first glance, the injuries are not too bad. If all goes well, the trio will be at the start of Tuesday's third stage.

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Tirreno Adriatico stage one reports

We posted the report from stage winner Filippo Ganna's INEOS Grenadiers team with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Remco Evenpoel's Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team:

The 57th edition of the “Race of the Two Seas” got underway from Lido di Camaiore with a flat, fast and non-technical 13.9km stage against the clock. A debutant at the Italian event, Remco Evenepoel was the last Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider to roll down the start ramp in what was just his second ITT this season, following the one he convincingly won at the Volta ao Algarve, and the Belgian youngster produced another impressive ride to confirm his credentials in the discipline.

Remco Evenepoel turning in an excellent ride. Sirotti photo

Stopping the clock in 15:27 – just 11 seconds off the winning time of Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) – after averaging close to 54km/h, brought Remco his fifth podium of the season and a visit to the podium, where he got in possession of the white jersey rewarding the best young rider of the competition.

The Belgian was one of the two Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl riders in the top 5 Monday afternoon, alongside Kasper Asgreen, who held the fastest time before eventually concluding in fourth place – their results putting the Wolfpack at the top of the Tirreno-Adriatico team classification.

“I think I could maybe go a little faster but at the end of the day I think I took the maximum out of my legs, so second is maybe the best result. I wasn’t interested in how much time I could put into the other riders, my sole focus was to do a strong time trial. I would have liked to be in the blue jersey today, but white is also nice. Now I’ll recover after my effort and continue to take it day by day, while helping the team go for some nice results at this beautiful race”, said Remco after the podium ceremony.

And here's the report from third-place Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

It was a good performance by Tadej Pogačar in the inaugural time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico, 13.9 km in Lido di Camaiore.

Just two days after the efforts that allowed him to achieve a memorable feat on the Strade Bianche, the Slovenian talent managed to shine even on the long straights of the Versilian coast, completing the time trial in 15’35 “(average of 53.497 km / h), a performance that earned him 3rd place on the stage, 18” from the time of the winner Filippo Ganna (Ineos-Grenadiers) and 7” from that of Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), 2nd.

Tadej Pogacar riding to third place. Sirotti photo

Pogačar judged his energies well on the roads of Lido di Camaiore: after the first time check (which came after 6.2 km) which had seen him in 5th place, 12 “ from the time of Ganna, the UAE rider from Team Emirates his pace, climbing two positions and limiting the gap to the winner to 18 ”.

Pogačar: “It was a very intense time trial, on a very fast course. I am happy with my performance and the power I put out: these are sensations that make us look forward to the next few days with confidence. A very busy week awaits us, every day we will have to work hard ”.

The sprinters will be expected in Sovicille, finish line of the 2nd stage (departure from Camaiore, 219 km).

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Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this Tirreno-Adriatico report:

The "race between the two seas" commenced today with a flat individual time trial of almost 14km around Lido di Camaiore. The course, which took the riders along the Ligurian Sea, was pancake flat and apart from its turning point, was not technically demanding. Filippo Ganna proved to be the fastest rider, taking the win in 15:17 minutes. The best placed BORA - hansgrohe rider was Wilco Kelderman in 42nd place with a time of 16:20 minutes, followed by teammate Jai Hindley, who finished 47th in the race against the clock, 1:05 minutes in arrears of the winner.

Jai Hindley on his way to 47th place in the time trial. Sirotti photo

"That was the first time trial of my season, and honestly, I'm glad I'm back racing again now. I had Covid and my preparation wasn't optimal either, but I did my best and I'm pretty satisfied. I'm sure we can build on my performance today in the coming months. It was a solid start to the race and we can only improve from here onwards." - Wilco Keldeman

"To be honest, we were hoping for a bit more than finishing in the middle of the field. But realistically, in relation to the other GC riders, not much has been lost as of this point in time. The situation is now rather that you have to attack instead of just defend. So one can't simply watch proceedings from behind, one has to be active in the race. Now let's see how we get through the sprint stages. And when the terrain becomes hillier, there should be more for our climbers ahead, because today's time trial was not ideal terrain for them." - Rolf Aldag, Sports Director

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Framemaker flees Russia, asks industry for support

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

TEL AVIV (BRAIN) — Dmitry Nechaev, the owner of Sochi, Russia-based Triton Bikes, is asking industry suppliers and customers to continue to do business with his company, which he is planning to re-establish outside of Russia.

Nechaev, a frequent exhibitor at the North American Handmade Bike Show, is well-known in the U.S. custom bike community. He holds Russian and Israel passports and flew from Moscow to Israel this week. His family plans to join him in Israel this weekend.

He left while he could as western countries impose sanctions in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. From pouring out Russian vodka to ending the sponsorship of Russian cycling teams, many organizations and individuals are making statements against the country.

He said he had received some "bad" messages from outside Russia, but also more supportive messages. He said Russia has become increasingly oppressive and it had become practically impossible to run Triton from there.

“They are locking the ability to receive payments from outside of Russia. PayPal and all that won’t let you withdraw to a bank account. The exchange rate is so bad it makes no sense to work,” he said on a Facebook video (below).

He said Triton depends on sales of its titanium frames to cyclists outside of Russia.

“I haven’t received a single order from outside Russia for about 12 weeks, which is extremely weird. This has never happened before,” he said.

He did not announce publicly where he intends to set up a permanent shop. “Somewhere else that is free and democratic,” he said. “Any other place is, right now, better.”

He emphasized repeatedly that he doesn’t support the invasion of Ukraine.

"I don't know anyone who supports it," he said. “We are making bikes. We love people riding our bikes or any other bikes, and we can’t support any aggressive action against any people of the world.”

Members of the U.S. industry said they will do what they can to support Nechaev as he reestablishes the business in a new country.

You can read the entire story here.

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