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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, March 14, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us. - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Tour of Flanders: The Inside Story - The rocky roads of the Ronde van Vlaanderen 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 8 reports

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

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

Primoz Roglic has won the final classification of Paris-Nice. In the last stage, the Slovenian of Team Jumbo-Visma still had to work hard, but thanks to a strong Wout van Aert, Roglic managed to keep his leader’s jersey. Van Aert, in turn, won the green jersey.

Primoz Roglic enjoys his victory. ASO photo

The ‘race to the sun’ did not live up to its name in the last stage of this edition. In rainy conditions, the riders set out for a short but tricky ride around Nice. The pace was high from the start. Several riders tried to escape but could not get away thanks to Team Jumbo-Visma’s control of the peloton. Eventually, a select group remained, including four riders of Team Jumbo-Visma.

Led by Steven Kruijswijk and Rohan Dennis, the pace was kept high, but after INEOS increased the tempo, they had to let go as well. In this group, a very strong Wout van Aert maintained his position next to Primoz Roglic. After Martínez accelerated, five riders remained, including Van Aert and Roglic.

On the Col d’Eze, Simon Yates managed to break away from the group in front. Roglic and Van Aert stayed together and reached the top of the final climb with a gap of twenty seconds. The leaders of Team Jumbo-Visma then had to chase to the finish. Although the stage victory was no longer within reach, both riders could limit the gap, allowing Roglic to take the overall victory and achieve his second win of the season. It meant Team-Jumbo Visma’s seventh victory of the road season.

For Roglic, it was a bit tense. “It was a super tough day today. I wasn’t having my best day. The team was super strong again today. But we have Wout and Wout can do anything. I am very happy with him. We have had a great week. Everyone in the team had their part in this victory. It was tense at the end, but we reached our goal. I am happy and relieved with this victory.”

Van Aert again showed yet again that he is invaluable to his team. The winner of the green jersey guided his leader through the last difficult kilometres of the race. “I intended to stay with Primoz as long as possible. We tried to control the race, but the many climbs made it difficult. Towards the final, I thought we were in a good situation. I was hoping Primoz had the legs he always has, but he had a hard time today. I knew the second part of the climb would be a bit windier and it could be useful to be together there. From there, it was a matter of giving everything until the finish.”

For Van Aert, the green jersey was still waiting for him. “It was a nice goal to go for the green jersey. I was in good shape today and grabbed some more points, so I was sure of this classification. I am thrilled that we took the overall victory.”

Stage winner Simon Yates’ Team BikeExchange-Jayco sent me this report:

Briton Simon Yates soloed to a spectacular victory with an audacious late attack on the final stage of Paris-Nice today, securing second place overall, after eight days of hard-fought racing in France.

Simon Yates has left everyone else behind.

The 29-year-old stayed safe during the first three chaotic stages, before confirming his form with an impressive ride to fifth place on the time trial stage on day four. The Team BikeExchange-Jayco rider then tested the legs in the mountains, with a solid third-place finish atop the Col de Turnini, before heading into today's final stage with a 47 second deficit to race leader Primoz Roglic.

Giving everything he had to try and crack his rivals, Yates launched a damaging attack on the final climb of the explosive stage around Nice, the Col d’Eze, leaving race leader Roglic and the other general classification contenders in his wake.

Yates crested the top of the climb with a 25 second advantage over Roglic and his teammate Wout van Aert, with the chasing the duo working together to try and reel in the Brit on the run to the finish line. However, Yates dug deep and clung on to take the stage victory by nine seconds, his first win of the 2022 season.

After a brave display, Yates walks away with confidence in his early season form as he builds towards his main goal of the season, the Giro d’Italia in May, and with another stunning second-place overall finish at Paris-Nice.

Simon Yates (1st):
“I just wanted the stage win today, I think the GC was already too far away anyway. For me to take that much time back today would have been a really big ask, so I’m just really happy with the stage win.

"At the start of the climb it was Quintana who was making the pace, he was really setting a strong tempo and I was only really thinking about the stage win. I’m not going to win a sprint again Van Aert or Roglic, so I had to try something and I wasn’t feeling great either. I wasn’t confident to make an advantage, but if you don’t try you never know, so I tried, there was no real tactic.

"It’s always in the back of your mind (winning the overall), but I always knew on the downhill I would lose some time just because I’m not a very big guy and with the two guys working behind it was always going to be a difficult task.

"It was very difficult (with the weather conditions), but I’ve had some experience here in the past with the rain, so I was prepared for it. I was still prepared for it when I came across the line with my gloves on and everything! I was definitely warm today.

"Now I’ve had two second places overall, maybe one day I’ll come back and try and win again, but I’m happy with what I’ve done this week.”

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Daniel Martinez’ INEOS Grenadiers team posted this report:

Dani Martinez battled back from a final stage puncture to clinch third place overall at Paris-Nice.

The Colombian had enlivened the final run into Nice with an early attack, launching clear with 49 kilometres still to race. Blowing the race apart, Martinez had formed part of a five-man lead group before his puncture with 32km to go.

The time loss dropped him 45 seconds back, removing all hope of a stage win. Eventually recombining with teammates Omar Fraile and Adam Yates, the team were able to ensure an overall podium.

Yates also wrapped up fourth place overall as the Grenadiers duo finished together on the Promenade des Anglais. Fraile himself had put in a major turn on the front to help string out the race with 50km to go, providing the launchpad for Martinez’s move.

Out front Simon Yates claimed the stage win, after being hunted down late on by Jumbo-Visma duo Primoz Roglic and Wout Van Aert. The late charge ensured Roglic wrapped up the yellow jersey after eight exciting stages.

Stage 7: Daniel Martinez leads Primoz Roglic. ASO photo

Dani Martinez:
"Today was a hard stage. The plan was to try and win the stage and stay on the podium, or move further up on the podium. Until the last climb it was good as we were in a group of five guys. But I punctured a rear wheel and that changed everything. I lost time, and in my head I had only one goal, which was to catch Nairo Quintana, as he put my podium at risk.

Tirreno-Adriatico also saw a strong GC finish, with Richie Porte confirming fourth place on the final day.

Stage seven was a test for the sprinters, and with Elia Viviani unable to start the finale due to illness, all the focus was on getting the Tasmanian safely to the finsih.

Fourth represented a strong result in Porte's first stage race of the season,  2:44 back on runaway winner Tadej Pogacar.

And here's the Paris-Nice report Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me:

With 115.6 kilometres, the 8th and final stage of Paris-Nice was the shortest stretch of the race this year. The profile of today’s circuit around Nice featured a series of famous climbs before reaching the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais.

In rainy, cold and windy conditions it was Simon Yates who took the stage win today. Unfortunately Aleksandr Vlasov had to abandon the race after a crash, in which he suffered multiple abrasions and contusions. Primoz Roglic sealed the overall of this years edition of Paris-Nice. After eight days of racing only 59 riders made it to the finish line in Nice.

“It’s been a week with mixed feelings for me. We’ve had our troubles this week pretty much from the first day, but for me things were still going quite well until yesterday. The stage yesterday wasn’t easy for me but having to abandon the race after a crash today is really disappointing. But I’m trying to build upon the positive things of this week, hoping to recover quickly and am focusing on the next goals. After a few days of recovery I’m heading to Sierra Nevada for an altitude camp.“ - Aleksandr Vlasov

“What a week here at Paris-Nice! In 30 years of cycling I haven’t experienced a race with so much bad luck. The race started with tough luck and several problems for us and ended with yet more bad luck. The crash and DNF of Aleks today marked the low point of a super tough week for us. With their next goals in mind we also took Sam Bennett, Ryan Mullen and Danny van Poppel out of the race as was a super tough, windy, rainy and cold day. Paris-Nice is done and from now it’s important to fully focus on our next goals.“ Torsten Schmidt, Sports Director

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Tirreno-Adriatico stage seven reports

We posted the report from stage winner Phil Bauhaus' Team Bahrain Victorious with the results.

Here's the stage seven report from overall winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

After a dominant display on Stage 6 which he won solo, Tadej Pogačar cemented his overall crown at Tirreno-Adriatico for the second consecutive year.

Tadej Pogacar enjoys his victory. Sirotti photo

On a final day for the sprinters, Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious) was the winner in San Benedetto del Tronto, but the overall crown belonged to Tadej Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates.

Pogačar: “I enjoyed the stage today and in general it was a great week . I was focussed right up until the end, as you have to be, as it’s never over until you cross the finish line.

The two stage victories were very beautiful. Any race where you can get a victory is amazing. I’m delighted to get my second win here at Tirreno-Adriatico. I’ll take a couple of days rest now and look ahead to Milan-San Remo which will be the next challenge”.

At Paris-Nice Joao Almeida secured 8th place overall and the white jersey as best young rider of the race. Simon Yates (Bike-Exchange) took the final stage honours, while Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) won the overall title.

UAE Team Emirates also climbed the podium for winning the team classification after what was a memorable week for the Emirati squad.

Almeida: “It was a short but hard day out there with tough terrain and rainy weather. I lost contact on the last climb so took the final descent at my own pace, not risking too much.

"I gave my best this week and the whole team showed themselves in a good way.
We fought to the end and came away with a stage victory and a jersey so we can be satisfied.”

Second-place Giacomo Nizzolo's Israel-Premier Tech team posted this short update:

Israel-Premier Tech finished off this year’s Tirreno Adriatico on a good note with a strong team performance, which saw Giacomo Nizzolo take second place on the final stage.

It was Phil Bauhaus who got the stage win. Sirotti photo

Confident in their own abilities and determined to deliver a textbook leadout, the IPT riders were eager to take on Sunday’s stage 7. Everybody knew what they needed to do in the pursuit of the perfect finish to the Italian race and at the end, the team came very close to pulling it off.

“We really wanted to finish off this race with a victory”, Nizzolo said after the finish. “The guys did a really good job with the difficult run-in. At the end, we ended up a little short with the headwind but I went for it and I did my best.”

“It’s a pity we couldn’t get the win because I really wanted us to celebrate after such a good team effort today. In any case, the guys were great and we can be confident for the upcoming races.”

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Here’s the report from third-place Kaden Groves’ Team BikeExchange-Jayco:

Australian Kaden Groves capped off Tirreno-Adriatico with his second WorldTour podium of the week, after a blistering sprint to third place, despite launching from far back on the final stage in San Benedetto del Tronto.

The 23-year-old demonstrated his strong early season form once again in a fast and frantic dash for the line, backing up his third-place finish on stage two and establishing himself in the sprint field even further.

The seventh and final stage was always destined for a bunch sprint finale, with the three-rider breakaway safely swept up inside the final 10km as teams began the fight for position. Team BikeExchange-Jayco left their run late, with Michael Matthews tasked with guiding fellow countryman Groves through the technical run to the line.

Groves appeared to be boxed in on the left as the sprint opened up before he switched to the opposite side of the road with a blistering acceleration. However, despite seeming to have the speed, the line came too quickly for Groves as he took third place behind stage winner Phil Bauhaus.

Kaden Groves (3rd):
"There were some tired legs out there today but the guys did a really good job, especially Michael to position me in the final.

"I pretty much just got unlucky in the dangerous chicane and I lost some positions. After the week of racing here I can definitely take confidence in my form and take confidence in my speed in the final and I believe the win is coming."

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