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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, March 19, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish. - Euripides

Tour de France: 2019

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2019: A Year of New Faces is available as an audiobook here. For the Kindle eBook version, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Bredene Koksijde Classic team reports

We posted the report from winner Pascal Ackermann's UAE Team Emiraes with the results.

Here's the report from fourth-place Sam Welsford's Team DSM:

A 200-kilometre long parcours with the Kemmelberg and the infamous Moeren awaited the peloton today as they rolled out of Bredene for the Bredene-Koksijde Classic. Starting with a young squad the team worked well together to protect fast finisher Sam Welsford. Guiding him over the cobbled climbs and through the crosswinds of the Moeren.

A five rider group managed to forge clear, getting a maximum advantage of more than four minutes over the bunch. After the hill zone, the peloton split in the crosswind but the move did not last long as everything got back together, when the sprint teams started chasing.

When the race hit the local circuit, the five leaders were well insight of the chasing peloton, with the last of the escapees caught in the final lap. Team DSM did a massive job and showed great commitment to get Welsford to the sprint in the best position possible. Niklas Märkl put in a big effort to launch the sprint with Welsford sprinting to his first top five in a 1.Pro race, taking fourth place for the team.

Pascal Ackermann takes the race.

Speaking after the finish, Welsford said: “It was a hectic day today with cobbled climbs and crosswinds after the cobbles. The guys rode really well protecting me in the crosswinds and giving it everything they had. Hats off to the team for putting me in a good position. I hit one of the barriers going into the final corner but we still kept going and I sprinted to fourth. It is a good result for the team and a good start for what is still to come in the season. If we continue to race aggressively and at the front, I think we have a really good season ahead of us.“

Team DSM coach Roy Curvers said: ”We went into the race focussing on staying together, communicating and fighting for position. The guys did really well and that is how we got to the final. The guys kept working on the basics and they kept fighting to bring Sam into the finish in the best position possible. In the last corner, Sam hit the barriers but he kept fighting and kept going till the line, resulting in fourth place. The story of the day is the fighting spirit of the guys, they proved that if you keep going that you will get close. I look back on a successful day and this result will be used moving forward and developing the sprint train further.”

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Here's the Bredene Koksijde Classic report from Gerben Thijssen's Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team:

After his third place in the GP de Denain, Frenchman Adrien Petit didn’t save his energy and joined the early breakaway in the Bredene-Koksijde Classic (1.Pro) this Friday. A double passage on the Kemmelberg and a crossing of the open fields in the Moeren were on the menu of the day.

Behind Petit, his teammates showed a strong cohesion by joining counterattacks in the hills zone. For example, Barnabás Peák was a in a chasing group of six riders. Then, the rest of the team united forces to catch a group of twenty riders who escaped in the Moeren.

Meanwhile, Adrien Petit continued his effort in the lead of the race for more than 180 kilometer. Immediately after being caught, the rider from Arras joined the sprint train of Gerben Thijssen. The Belgian sprinter, who suffered from back pain since a crash earlier in the race, crossed the line in fifth place. He took his second top five after his fourth place in the GP Monseré at the beginning of March.

"I crashed hard on my back and it took me quite some energy to close the 2 minute gap to the peloton with the help of Tom Devriendt. With perseverance I survived the hill zone and encouraged myself to believe in a good outcome in the sprint. After the preparation of our sprint train I gave all I had and sprinted to fifth place, which is satisfying giving the circumstances.

"Just like in the GP Monseré, a minor setback made the difference between finishing on or next to the podium which is rather encouraging for my next goal in De Panne next Wednesday. I feel faster and stronger than ever before, it is obvious that I made a step forward in the difficult spring classics. The confidence I receive from the whole team makes a world of difference. " - Gerben Thijssen

Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl posted this report:

The presence of the Kemmelberg twice on the 200.9km course of Bredene Koksijde Classic meant fireworks were expected Friday afternoon, and the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl boys delivered them, attacking there on both occasions, trying to shape things and open the race from the distance.

Mauro Schmid and Jannik Steimle were the main instigators, and soon a small but strong group formed around them, setting off in pursuit of the original five-man breakaway. At one point, they had almost half a minute over the peloton, who upped the tempo on the flat roads to Bredene and chewed into that gap before making the catch inside the final 70 kilometers.

More attempts followed on the exposed roads of De Moeren, but to no avail, and the race came down to a bunch sprint, which was won by Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates). Bert Van Lerberghe, fourth in Nokere Koerse two days ago, was again in the mix and finished the day as the highest-ranked Wolfpack member, in tenth place.

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Volta a Catalunya team updates

Three-time winner Alejandro Valverde's Team Movistar posted this:

Alejandro Valverde’s farewell tour makes a logical, famous stop at the Volta a Catalunya, a race he’s been so happy at -three overall victories- and another chance to receive the support from Spanish fans over seven stages that return to the original format from this race in previous years: no ITT / TTT and the Pyrenees as big protagonist.

Alejandro Valverde last wn the Volta a Catalunya in 2018. Here he's winning stage four of that edition.

Two sprint stages finishing at Sant Feliu de Guíxols (Monday 21st) and Perpignan, France (Tuesday 22nd), the latter probably one to keep an eye on for crosswinds, will be followed by the traditional mountain stages of the Volta. Wednesday 23rd, riders will take on the Mont-Luis (Cat-1), the Collada de Toses (Cat-1) and finish up La Molina (Cat-1), while Thursday 24th will see them tackle Boixols (Cat-1), Creu de Perves (Cat-1) and end atop Boi Taüll (Cat-1).

The stages on Friday 25th (Vilanova i la Geltrú) and Saturday 26th (Cambrils) offer routes for sprinters or breakaways, as GC contenders keep an eye on each other before Sunday 27th’s decisive Barcelona stage. Six laps over the Montjuïc mountain, usually full of attacks, will crown the overall winner of the Volta.

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Michael Wood's Israel-Premier Tech team posted this Catalonia preview:

Woods wants to shine in Volta a Catalunya: “Some interesting stages in the Volta”

For the resident of Andorra and Israel – Premier Tech rider Michael Woods, the Volta a Catalunya is a special race. The Canadian has not missed a single edition of the stage race in the last six years.

Woods says he does indeed like the Volta a Catalunya, and not only because it is so close to his home. IPT’s team leader for the week says:

“There is always lots of climbing. That is obviously to my liking, especially when we are doing climbs that I know from training.”

La Molina
The third stage in the 2022 edition is one of the stages that Woods knows very well. It finishes uphill, in La Molina, a skiing resort in the Catalan Pyrenees.

“La Molina is a tricky climb, that is actually pretty easy but has a very challenging finish, where positioning and timing can be very important.”

It’s not the first time the organizers decided to finish the Volta on La Molina. From 2014 to 2019, the climb was featured in every edition of the Volta.

Woods finished in the top-10 twice on this climb.

Boí Taüll
The day after La Molina is another stage to Woods’ liking, with the finish on Boí Taüll, a climb that is featured in the Volta for the first time since 2002.

Woods: “I have reconned this climb with sports director Zak Dempster. It is hard at the beginning and eases off a bunch. What will make it challenging is the altitude (2000m) and potentially the weather.”

The last stage, on Montjuïc in the city centre of Barcelona, is classified as ‘medium mountains’, but Woods knows better.

“The final Barcelona circuit is always a super challenging one, especially given all the hard days of racing before the final stage. Every year there is a GC shakeup on this stage as it is hard and also very technical.”

For the pure sprinters and the time trialists, Catalonia does not have too much to offer. The flatter stages are better suited to the punchers and sprinters that can also climb well. This is why Israel – Premier Tech is bringing Daryl Impey, a stage winner in the 2017 Volta, Simon Clarke, and Danish champion Mads Würtz Schmidt to the stage race.

There will be two special jerseys visible in Catalonia, as Canadian champion Guillaume Boivin will also make his appearance. Alessandro de Marchi and Corbin Strong make it seven for Israel – Premier Tech.

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