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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 3, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. - Michael Jordan

Story of the Giro d'Italia volume 2

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy, Vol 2: 1971 - 2011 is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Saudi Tour stage four team reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here’s the report from second-place Davide Formolo's UAE Team Emirates:

UAE Team Emirates climbed the podium on stage 4 of the Saudi Tour with Davide Formolo and Felix Grossschartner taking 2nd and 4th place respectively on the stage behind winner and new race leader Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar).

Davide Formolo is obscured in the photo of the leading trio of Guerreiro, Sanchez Buitrago, and Formolo.

The Queen stage of the race from Maraya to Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid (163.4km) featured a decisive climb in the final 12km.

After some great teamwork from their teammates in the run-in to the foothills of the climb both Grossschartner and Formolo worked as a duo to try and work-over Guerreiro and Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) who were the last men standing.

Formolo came within a wheel length of victory in the final sprint, though UAE Team Emirates do take the lead in the teams classification.

Davide Formolo: “It was a short and steep climb near the end. The conditions were good: not too hot and not too windy but it was very hot. The pace on the climb wasn’t enough for so I tried to push it on but we couldn’t get rid of the other guys, but that’s cycling. We came away with god results even if we really wanted the victory. We will try again tomorrow for the last day.”

The Saudi Tour concludes tomorrow with Stage 5 from AlUla Old Town to Maraya (142.9km).

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Here’s the Saudi Tour report from third-place Santiago Buitrago’s Team Bahrain Victorious:

Santiago Buitrago finished 3rd on the Queen stage of the Saudi Tour, which took the riders from Maraya to the Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid. The first 150km of the stage went by quickly, with the peloton not giving much away to the day’s breakaway, with the main GC contenders focused on the brutal 2.9km climb averaging 12% gradients up to the Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid.

Ruben Guerreiro was the first rider across the finish line.

As soon as the climb started, the peloton broke into three small groups, with many riders falling behind. Buitrago was in the first group, and at the halfway point up the climb, there were only 3 riders with him. Santiago attacked twice, but Guerreiro (Movistar), Formolo (UAE), and Grossschartner (UAE) followed. They all reached to top with a 35-second gap to group 2 and managed to keep them away for the last flat 8km stretch to the line. In the sprint Guerreiro and Formolo edged Buitrago to the finish line, putting Buitrago in third place in the GC and moving into the best young rider jersey. Jonathan Milan put a valiant effort up the climb and is 5th overall and leads the points classification.

Santiago Buitrago: “I would like to thank the whole team for a very good job today. I really felt good on the climb, and in the sprint, I got 3rd place. I’m very happy with the young jersey and the podium in GC. Tomorrow is the last day. We’ll try again, as always. One more time, thanks to all the guys; they did a really good job today.”

SD Enrico Poitschke: “The queen stage was a big fight, and we tried everything to win the stage with Santi. He did it well, he was with the best riders on the climb, trying to catch 3 bonus seconds on the top of the hill, but Guerreiro was stronger. In the finish he did right, he didn’t work too much, and was concentrated to win the stage. In the end, the two guys were stronger, and he finished 3rd. He’s also 3rd in the General Classification. He gave everything as well as the whole team, but some riders were stronger, and we have to accept that.”

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Here’s the Saudi Tour report from fourth-place Aleksandr Vlasov’s Team Bora-hansgrohe:

With six categorized climbs and the first of two mountain finishes of the race, stage two at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana was set to be a test for the climbers. The stage covered a distance of 178km and took the peloton from Novelda to Alto de Pinos in south-east Spain. A breakaway of five riders was up the road for most of the day and was brought with 6km from the finish line. On the 3km final climb the GC favorites formed up, but the decision was only made in the sprint. While G. Ciccone took the win, Aleksandr Vlasov crossed the finish line in 4th and moved up to 5th overall.

“I think it was a good day for me and the team. My team mates did a great job supporting me all day. There have been some attacks on the final climb but I just kept my rhythm and so we were able to close the gaps again. The finale was maybe a bit too punchy for me but to be honest I also didn’t have the freshest legs anymore.” - Aleksandr Vlasov

“We expected a tough day and we definitely got a tough day! As the gap of the breakaway went up to almost 7 minutes, we decided to start pulling in the peloton. Anton Palzer did a great job and together with Bahrain-Victorious we were able to reduce the gap to 3min. Unfortunately Bob Jungels had a mechanical just before the final climb and we only had Lennard Kämna and Matteo Fabbro left to support Aleksandr Vlasov. Aleks performed very well in this punchy finale. We’re happy with the result and how we raced as a team today.” - Enrico Gasparotto, Sports Director

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Iljo Keisse looks back on his first race week as a Soudal Quick-Step sports director at the Challenge Mallorca

Team Soudal Quick-Step posted this piece:

“How was my first experience in the team car during a race? Well, there was a bit of stress, but I had two good guides by my side. I learned a lot and made a few mistakes, but I think it’s normal in the beginning. I experienced both driving the race car and guiding the riders and speaking in the car. At this moment I think driving is more stressful, especially in Mallorca with the bad weather and never straight roads. Also, there’s the fact that you feel powerless in the car, sometimes you have something in mind, but now I experienced that it’s not always that easy to execute it.

His last year as a racer: Remco Evenepoel and Iljo Keisse finish Binche-Chimay-Binche.

"The first days at the training camp I had already made the switch in my mind. In Mallorca I really felt like a sports director, as before I still sometimes thought as a rider.

"I feel something has changed, which is normal in the end. As a rider I also looked differently to sports directors than I do now. That was one of the most difficult parts when I arrived at the training camp, it’s weird that something like that can change in one day. It’s normal, I don’t have any problems with it, but it just takes some time to adapt. I also feel like it wouldn’t be good if I still were the guy making atmosphere in the team, you can’t do it as a sports director, that’s why I’m trying to find a good balance in that.”

“Tom and Klaas really helped me last week, I’m grateful for that. Not only in the race, but also outside of it. There are a lot of things that you don’t know as a rider. I was also surprised of how long the days are. Early mornings, lots of stuff to do during the day, and you are still busy until late in night. You are constantly busy, after spending hours in the race car you feel really exhausted. You don’t do anything physically, but still, you are very tired after a whole day at the race.

"It’s completely different in the car than on the bike. But the way you feel the race is a bit the same, I think. Last week sometimes we had car number 19 or 20, which means you don’t see anything from the whole day. You don’t see the riders or you don’t have any connection, and then you know a lot less as a sports director in the car than the people see on TV.

"The bar is always set high here. It doesn’t matter which race or when, we always want to win. The team was really strong in Mallorca, maybe even the best team most times. We only won one time, but we were also close in all the other races. I think everyone is at a good level, with a bit more luck maybe we could have taken some more wins home. I don’t miss the life of a rider yet; at a certain point you just don’t enjoy it anymore as you used to. Last year that was the case for me, as I wasn’t riding well. I enjoy again what I do now, I feel the stress and have that feeling of a neo-pro. That’s important. I miss riding my bike a bit, but the racing itself not.”

“My next races will be in Portugal, the Figueira Classic and the Volta ao Algarve. Then I’m heading to Belgium for the Classics, as third sports director. I’m really looking forward to that. Just to be there and learn, as the one-day races are still something different, if you ask me. The plan is to do La Vuelta at the end of the year; I think this season I need to learn as much as possible and gain experience.

"The role of a sports director is definitely what I expected. Last week you felt the tension building up when we hadn’t won yet, then on Sunday everything changed, as we took the victory and this gave back that special feeling. That feeling when the team wins is still the same, even if it’s not anymore on the bike.”

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