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Friday, September 9, 2022

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Remaining Tour of Britain stages cancelled following The Queen's death

The organizers posted these two statements:

Statement: 10:30pm, Thursday 8 September 2022

Further to the earlier statement in relation to the cancellation of stage six as a mark of respect following the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, the organisers of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain can additionally confirm that stages seven (Dorset) and eight (Isle of Wight) will not take place.

This decision has been taken in consultation with stakeholders and partners in light of operational circumstances, including the understandable reassignment of police resource at this time.

Therefore, the final standings will be taken following the conclusion of stage five on Thursday 8 September. The winner of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain 2022 will be Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar Team).

Additionally, the respective classification leaders – Tom Pidcock (Dodl by AJ Bell points), Mathijs Paasschens (ŠKODA King of the Mountains) and Matthew Teggart ( sprints) – will also be declared the winners of those competitions.

The Tour of Britain organisation, alongside the teams, riders and officials involved in the event, send their deepest condolences to the Royal Family at this sad time.

Statement: 9pm, Thursday 8 September 2022

The Tour of Britain organisation, alongside the teams, riders and officials involved in the event, are deeply saddened by the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

We would like to send our deepest condolences to the whole of the Royal Family.

As a result, stage six in Gloucestershire on Friday 9 September, scheduled to take place between Tewkesbury and Gloucester, will not take place.

Further updates in regards to the status of stages seven and eight will be provided in due course.

Vuetla a España stage eighteen reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner and GC leader Remco Evenepoel's Team Quick-step Alpha Vinyl:

Remco Evenepoel strengthened his grip on the general classification after taking the victory atop Alto del Piornal and becoming the youngest Belgian rider in the last 38 years to win multiple stages in a Grand Tour. It was Remco’s second success at the Vuelta, following the stage 10 ITT in Alicante, and one that helped him extend his advantage in the overall standings.

Remco Evenepoel tightens his grip on the race lead. Sirotti photo

Leader of La Vuelta since the first week, Evenepoel did a flawless race, backed by a strong Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team, who controlled the complicated stage 18 and made sure of escorting the 22-year-old in a perfect position at the bottom of the last climb. There, many attacks came from a fragmenting group that featured all the GC contenders, including Remco, who could rely on Fausto Masnada in the first kilometers of the ascent.

Remco made his intentions known five kilometers from the finish, when he launched a big acceleration that dispatched all his opponents. His attack took many by surprise, but a regrouping eventually took place, although only for a brief moment, as Enric Mas (Movistar) piled on the pressure as the ramps became stiffer.

Evenepoel reacted with ease, shutting down the numerous attacks launched by the Spaniard, which resulted in the last member of the original breakaway being caught in the last 500 meters by the duo. Using his superior kick, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s leader bolted away with 200 meters to go, taking the victory – the Wolfpack’s 41st of the season – and making it almost two weeks in the red jersey, a first for a Belgian in the last 45 years.

“I am very happy with this victory, it’s another great achievement in my life to win a mountain stage in a Grand Tour. It’s an important success for my confidence and for the morale of the team, but also because it showed that I have good legs going into the last days of the race. It was a hard stage, with lots of attacks that came early, but we remained calm. If there’s one thing I have learned these past couple of weeks it’s to remain calm.”

“The Vuelta finishes only in Madrid, so I’m not thinking of the overall win at the moment. What I can say is that we will keep fighting and we’ll try to keep the jersey. We’ve had a successful race so far and we’ll do our best to carry red to Madrid”, said Remco, the first Belgian in almost half a century to take a summit finish victory clad in the leader’s jersey of a Grand Tour.

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Here's the report from third-place Robert Gesink's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Robert Gesink has come close to the win in the eighteenth stage of the Vuelta a España. After being in the leading group all day, Gesink decided to try his luck on the final climb with a nice solo. The number one and two in the rankings only passed the Dutchman in the last metres. The Team Jumbo-Visma rider crossed the line in third.

Robert Gesink headed for third place. Sirotti photo

“Those other riders are more explosive and can break away swiftly on the last climb. I attacked first because I understood I had to go at my own pace. The ride lasted two hundred metres too long”, Gesink concluded.

The Dutchman was not the only Team Jumbo-Visma rider who showed himself in the front. Mike Teunissen and Sam Oomen also participated in the break of the day. “We still felt the disappointment of Primoz dropping out yesterday. Today we had to try to make the most of it. Sam’s presence in the front group after his hard crash early in the stage was incredible.”

“I never imagined I would compete for the stage win in this grand tour ever again”, Gesink continued. “In recent years, I have focused on working for the leaders. Our dream was to bring a fourth red jersey to the finish in Madrid, but that dream fell apart yesterday.”

The rider was aware that his advantage in the closing kilometres was dwindling. “Grischa Niermann kept me informed and suddenly I noticed a wheel appear behind me. In the end, I am ecstatic with a strong day and good legs, but less so about the final two hundred metres.”

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Here the Vuelta report from fourth-place Jai Hindley's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

The first 100km of today's 192km stage may not have been particularly demanding, but in the finale, two long climbs awaited the riders. Sergio Higuita, Danny van Poppel and Matteo Fabbro managed to make it into a 42-man group with some strong climbers and with the peloton letting them go at first, they were able to maintain a comfortable gap throughout the day.

On the first climb to Alto de Piornal, H. Carthy distanced himself from the breakaway group, but a little later Sergio Higuita, as well as four other riders, managed to close the gap to him. Sergio's 6-man group had a lead of about 1:30 minutes over the chase group and 2 minutes over the peloton. Back in the favorites group, Enric Mas and Remco Evenepoel attacked, but were immediately followed by the others, including Jai Hindley. Because of the high pace in this group, the leaders were eventually caught and then in the hard final the fight for the day's victory broke out, which was eventually taken out by Evenepoel. At 13 seconds back, Jai Hindley won the sprint from the group of favourites for fourth place, and maintained his 10th place in the overall

Jai Hindley (on left) climbing in stage 15. Sirotti photo

"Sergio, Matteo and Danny did a good job to all get into the large break. Meanwhile, back in the peloton, the rest of the guys looked after me very well. On the penultimate climb, there was a really solid tempo and we went full gas over the top with a reduced GC group. The final climb was incredibly hectic but our riders who were in the break did a good job to support me when they fell back. From that point, I just tried to follow the GC guys and in the end I was fourth. It's not too bad, but hopefully I can try again, as I'm feeling better and better day by day." - Jai Hindley

"We had three riders in the leading group, Matteo Fabbro, Sergio Higuita and Danny van Poppel. The race took many turns and there were a lot of tactics involved today. In the end we were in a very good position with Sergio in the six-man leading group. Unfortunately, they were caught on the last climb. So it was Jai's job then to take a good result on the stage and to do his best with respect to the general classification. He finished fourth, which is a strong achievement by the whole team, who really sacrificed themselves today." - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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And here's the report from sixth-place Thibaut Pinot's Team Groupama-FDJ:

On stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana this Thursday, Thibaut Pinot once again tried everything. However, the French climber was unable to conclude his great day up front with the victory that he and Groupama-FDJ have been so looking for. After making it to a reduced group from the initial breakaway, he was caught by the favourites less than three kilometers from the summit of the Alto del Piornal. He still hung on to take a very solid sixth place on the line. Along with him in the first breakaway, Rudy Molard took 21st place, two positions behind Sébastien Reichenbach, 19th. On a bad note, the team lost Bruno Armirail for sickness and Quentin Pacher after a crash.

Thibaut Pinot descending in stage 18. Sirotti photo

More than 3,500 meters of elevation gain were on the menu on the Vuelta this Thursday, but for the riders, the real climbing only began after a hundred kilometres. Before the double ascent of the Alto del Piornal, the fight for the breakaway was set to be contested on rather flat terrain. As usual, Groupama-FDJ tried to get involved, and this time, Thibaut Pinot and Rudy Molard were rewarded for their efforts.

After an hour or so of racing, the two men were able to join a group of around forty riders. “The breakaway went after forty kilometres on a small road”, said Thibaut. “It went ten kilometres after the very big crash that occurred in the peloton and which, I think, discouraged some a little”. “It was kind of special, because the guys had to remobilize after the crash”, added Philippe Mauduit. “They were a bit shocked by the images when they especially saw Quentin’s return to the peloton. It took them a little while to get back into the fight and then the breakaway went in 3-4 waves. Thibaut followed the first one, Rudy the third”. While Quentin Pacher, badly hurt, resumed the race, his two teammates found themselves with serious contenders in the front, and the breakaway was able to take a nine-minute lead. “Breakaways with 40 riders are never easy to manage”, explained Thibaut. “The pace is never really high and there is not much cooperation. For that reason, we lost a lot of time to the peloton when they started to move behind”.

Around halfway through the race, UAE Team Emirates and Joao Almeida indeed took advantage of the steepest slopes of the day to launch a long-range attack. In just a few kilometres, the race changed, and the gap was reduced by half. “Everything was then uncertain, as a time trial started for the bunch”, said Philippe. At the start of the first climb of the Alto del Piornal (13.6 km at 5%), the leading group only had a margin of three minutes.

“In the penultimate climb, I made the effort to go with the fewest possible riders, precisely to go faster and work well together”, explained Thibaut, who powered out in the lead with Hugh Carthy, Richard Carapaz, Sergio Higuita, Elie Gesbert and Robert Gesink. “It was absolutely necessary to try to break away with riders who were strong enough and who had the same interest to avoid the favourite’s return”, confirmed Philippe. At the top, the gap was made on the other members of the breakaway, but the GC contenders were still just as threatening. Therefore, despite a relatively good cooperation, the leading group saw its lead reduced to less than two minutes at the bottom of the final ascent of the Alto del Piornal, climbed from another side but also very steady (13.3 to 5.6 %). “We had very little margin”, added Thibaut, “At the bottom, we also looked a bit at each other with Carapaz. Gesink and Gesbert took advantage of it”.

With the slope not being ideal for an attack, Thibaut Pinot then remained in a chasing group for most of the climb, together with the Ecuadorian. “Having already won two stages, Carapaz may have gambled a bit and was counting on Thibaut to bring him back to the front,” Philippe assumed. The red jersey group, after catching Almeida, continued to close the gap. Three kilometres from the summit, Thibaut Pinot and Richard Carapaz were therefore caught while only Gesink was left in the lead. The Dutchman stayed away until the last 500 meters before Remco Evenepoel and Enric Mas overtook him in the very end. As for Thibaut Pinot, he kept on going all the way to the top with the other favorites and grabbed sixth on the line.

“There is no doubt about Thibaut’s physical condition, but the race circumstances were not on his side”, decided Philippe. “It’s a shame because it’s almost the only breakaway that doesn’t make it on this Vuelta,” commented Thibaut. “I have no regrets. The legs were okay, but it’s just frustrating not to compete for the win until the summit. We will try again, I am motivated. There are two nice stages left, and today’s stage will leave its mark on the peloton. The negative point about today is losing Quentin. We will be five to finish the Vuelta, but we will do everything to finish well”.

Groupama-FDJ indeed lost two riders this Thursday. Bruno Armirail did not start the stage, and Quentin Pacher was forced to abandon following his crash. “Bruno was sick and very tired,” explained Philippe. “He already had to make an incredible effort yesterday to arrive within the time limit. Today, it would not have been reasonable to make him start. As for Quentin, he brought a fighting spirit and a lot of enthusiasm to the bus. He really gave momentum to this team for three weeks, and even when he was sick, he was an important member for the group. We also saw what he was capable of on the field. He was back to a very promising shape for the last 3-4 stages. So, losing him after such a bad crash today is a big disappointment for him and for us, because we would have liked to be able to fight with him until Madrid. But we’re not going to give up. Obviously, we have fewer chances mathematically, but we still have in-form, courageous, and motivated riders. Seb, Rudy and Thibaut are back in shape after small problems last week. We will keep fighting until Madrid”.

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