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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, March 11, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. - George Eliot

Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle

David L. Stanley's book Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle is available as an audiobook narrated by the author here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Paris-Nice Stage 5 reports

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

Here's the report from new GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic is the new leader in Paris-Nice. The Slovenian took over the leader’s jersey from teammate Wout van Aert. Roglic was the only Team Jumbo-Visma rider to finish in a peloton with several favourites. The day’s victory went to an early breakaway rider.

Primoz Roglic is the new GC leader. ASO photo

The riders were served a grueling stage today, with the first altitude metres shortly after the start. Numerous attacks characterised the race’s early stages, though it took a while before the day’s breakaway took shape. On the first of five climbs, ten riders managed to get away. The Team Jumbo-Visma riders controlled the race all day and allowed the breakaway riders to battle for the day’s victory.

On the Col de la Mûre, the last categorised climb of the day, Christophe Laporte rode to support his leaders. Not much later, Van Aert decided to save his energy for the coming weeks. Subsequently, Rohan Dennis put himself at the head of the group to decrease the breakaway’s lead. After Dennis capitulated, Roglic was able to go at it alone, and after the finish, the Slovenian was awarded the yellow jersey.

“It was not easy today”, Roglic acknowledged. “Luckily my legs were good enough to ride with the best. Today was a tough day, but the team has done an excellent job. I am very grateful to them. Riding alone for a while was not ideal, but my teammates protected me very well all day. There’s a lot of climbing to come in the next few days.”

Van Aert finished more than 24 minutes behind the winner. “When the pace went up, I decided to switch to another chainring and finished the stage calmly. It was a difficult stage to control today. I didn’t waste much energy, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy day. I will have to work as a domestique for Primoz during the weekend. In the first four stages, I could ride for my own chances; now I will have to settle for a supporting role. My personal goals for Paris-Nice have been achieved. Everything now has to be about winning the GC with Primoz.”

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Here's the report from GC second-place Simon Yates' Team BikeExchange-Jayco:

Yesterday’s fifth place finisher Simon Yates jumped up the general classification today to second place on the fifth hilly stage of Paris-Nice, after race leader Wout van Aert dropped out of contention early on.

It was a day in the mountains with Jumbo-Visma taking the point and Team BikeExchange-Jayco right behind them. ASO photo

Yates tested the legs with an attack on the final climb, but no moves got away, with the day’s early breakaway staying away to the finish line.

The 29-year-old now heads into tomorrow’s medium mountain stage in second place overall, 39 seconds down on the new new race leader Primoz Roglic, with a hard and hilly weekend still to come.

Simon Yates – 2nd Overall:
“It was still quite a big group of GC guys left there in the final, the last little climb there wasn’t really selective at all and it was a massive headwind so it was hard to do anything.

"Jumbo-Visma actually controlled the race really well, they set a high tempo so that nobody could attack early, so they did a good job.

"We still have to get through tomorrow so we will see when we get to Saturday’s stage and then you never know about the final lap around Nice on Sunday.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“What we saw today was what seemed an invincible Jumbo-Visma, now has some chinks in their armer. Roglic was left alone in the final 20km, I think he will be able to handle tomorrow on his own, but Sunday is going to be tough. It is a short and intense mountain stage, and we know very well because we lost Paris-Nice on the last stage a few years ago. There’s still a lot to play for and there’s still a lot of guys in contention.”

And here the report from Aleksandr Vlasov's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Stage 5 of Paris-Nice was also the first mountain stage of the race. The 188.8 kilometre long stage from Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert to Saint-Sauveuer-de-Montagut included five climbs in total, three of them rated as first category climbs. B. McNulty attacked from an early breakaway and took a solo-win. Aleksandr Vlasov put in a strong performance and reached the finish line among the GC favorites. In the overall classification, he moved up to 5th with three stages to go.

Unfortunately due to a sinusitis Nils Politt was not at the start line today. The rider and medical team decided that he should abandon the race and focus on his next goals.

“Today was a long and hard stage here. I felt really good and made it to the line with the GC favorites. Saturday and Sunday will be the decisive days in the race for the overall classification. I think today was more like a test for the GC guys. I feel good and I’m looking forward to the next stages.“ - Aleksandr Vlasov

“After Nils Politt had to abandon the race we unfortunately have only four riders left here. But today those four riders did a great job supporting our leader Aleksandr Vlasov. Aleks showed another strong race today and was able to move up to 5th in the GC. We’re really happy about this - three more stages to go and we’re fully motivated!" - Torsten Schmidt, Sports Director

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Tirreno-Adriatico stage four reports

We posted the report from stage winner and new GC leader Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the update from second-place Jonas Vingegaard's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Jonas Vingegaard has given Team Jumbo-Visma another podium place in the Tirreno-Adriatico. The 25-year old Dane finished second on the climb of Bellante and moved up to sixth place in the general classification.

Jonas Vingegaard finishes second. Sirotti photo

After a furious start, ten riders succeeded in getting in he breakaway. They got a six-minute advantage but the leaders knew that the battle for the day's victory was not for them due to the peloton's high tempo. With just thirteen kilometres to go, the last remaining attacker was swallowed up and the final climb would decide the winner.

Despite a barrage of attacks on the way to Bellante, no one was able to create a gap. Later, Tadej Pogacar managed to do so when he launched his final sprint in the final kilometre and outsprinted all his competitors. The closest rider to the Slovenian was Jonas Vingegaard, who finished second at two seconds.

"I'm pleased with my perfomance", Vingegaard said. "Pogacar was incredible in the sprint, so hats off to him. After all, it was a tough day today. The fact that I finished second gives me a good feeling."

GC second-place Remco Evenepoel's Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team posted this report:

An action-packed stage and an action-filled finale unfolded on the roads of Abruzzo, where the Wolfpack showed its intentions with 40 kilometers to go, when Josef Cerny and Kasper Asgreen softened up the peloton and paved the way for a sharp acceleration of Julian Alaphilippe, whose cunning move was soon speculated by Remco Evenepoel.

The winner of this year’s Volta ao Algarve took off from the bunch the first time up the Bellante climb and drew a response from just three riders, together with whom he established a lead that forced the other teams to chase hard in order to bring back this dangerous move that ended up cutting the remnants of the breakaway’s gap to a mere 40 seconds.

It was a day in the mountains. Sirotti photo

At the bottom of the last ascent, the rainbow jersey paced Evenepoel, who waited for the last two kilometers to try an attack that reduced the group to some 20-odd riders. More riders showed their offensive intentions as the road kept tilting uphill, but it was only with 500 meters to go that someone managed to get away. Remco didn’t panic and rode at his own tempo, limiting the losses to Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and rolling over the line in fourth place just two seconds down, keeping hold of his second place in the general classification.

“We tried to make the race hard but there was a lot of headwind in the descent so you couldn’t really do anything significant. But I’m happy we tried. I notice I still lack a bit of punch against those guys on a climb like this, which we rode full gas. Pogacar had everything under control and he’s definitely the deserved winner. I was in the sixth or seventh position with 100 meters to go and I had to make up some ground, but I have no regrets, as the best man won. I’m still second in the GC, and as I said before, I’m here to give my best and try to be on the podium, and so far things are looking good. I’m looking forward to the next days”, said Evenepoel after the hilly stage 4.

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Thibaut Pinot's Groupama-FDJ team posted this report:

On Tirreno-Adriatico, the sprinters left the scene to the punchers/climbers on Thursday, in Bellante. On the final four kilometre climb, Thibaut Pinot fought all the way to place eighteenth on the line, twelve seconds behind the winner and new leader Tadej Pogacar. Another uphill finish is on the menu Friday in Fermo.

The day had a lot of climbing.

For the second and penultimate time, the peloton had to cover more than 200 kilometres on Tirreno-Adriatico on Thursday. There were exactly two hundred and two between Cascata delle Marmore and Bellante, through a hilly course. Unlike the first online stages, the breakaway did not establish itself straight away. More than twenty kilometres were needed for Lilian Calmejane (AG2R-Citroën), Jasha Sutterlin (Bahrain-Victorious), Jhonatan Restrepo (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), Diego Rosa (Eolo -Kometa), Einer Rubio (Movistar), Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic), Tsgabu Grmay (BikeExchange-Jayco), Chris Hamilton (Team DSM) and Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) to go away.

“The first thing for everyone was to get through this tough start to the stage, which we did well overall”, said Sébastien Joly later. “Once the breakaway was gone, it was calmer”. The peloton granted up to six minutes to the leading men and the chase then gradually got under way. After quite a long descending false flat around halfway, the gap was reduced to three minutes with sixty kilometres to go. Soon after, the riders arrived on the Bellante circuit including one climb (4.2 km at 5.7%), and the stage immediately got crazy. “The first lap was extremely fast”, testified Sébastien Joly, speaking about the attack of Tadej Pogacar, Remco Evenepoel and Filippo Ganna following the first downhill.

The attempt was still neutralized a few minutes later while Simmons eventually was the last man standing from the breakaway. At the second time up the climb, twenty kilometres from the finish, he still had a forty-second lead.

Behind him, however, it got lively again within the bunch. Still there at this point, Arnaud Démare fully took part in this aggressive race for a handful of kilometres. Everything finally got back to normal with ten kilometres to go and the former French champion took on a domestique role.

“Today’s goal was to see where Thibaut was physically speaking”, added Sébastien. “In the end, everyone gave a hand. Antoine and Arnaud did a great job in particular to position Thibaut in the best possible way at the bottom of the last climb”. The French climber then tried to follow as much as possible in the final, where many attacks occurred. However, the decisive one happened just a few hundred metres from the line by Tadej Pogacar, who got another win. After a solid effort, Thibaut Pinot netted eighteenth place just twelve seconds off.

“I still miss a bit of power to try to gain some places, but I’m still satisfied,” he said. “It was a real punchy effort and I still lack a bit of race rhythm, but I’m happy with my day and I feel that I’m improving as the race progresses. I hope it will continue this way until Saturday. I would like to finally be able to show myself on a real climb and I hope that the legs will be good as they were today”.

“When you see the speed in the last climb and when you look at the rankings, I think it’s a good top-20 at WorldTour level”, added Sébastien Joly. “He looked quite satisfied on the bus, and he made a good step forward today. There are still two good days for him. It will be steeper tomorrow, and it will be a real climb to do twice after tomorrow. In just three days, he has the chance to test himself on three terrains and we will take stock at the end of the week”.

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