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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, February 4, 2023

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2023 Saudi Tour final team reports

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

Here’s the report from stage 5 third-place Pascal Ackermann's UAE Team Emirates:

Pascal Ackermann showed a return to sprinting form on the final of stage 5 of the Saudi Tour from AlUla Old Town to Maraya (142.9km) with the German taking 3rd place behind winner Simone Consonni (Cofidis).

Simone Consonni took the stage.

Davide Formolo and Felix Grossschartner sealed off an encouraging sweep of the overall top-5, taking 2nd and 4th place respectively, with Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar) taking the final winners title.

The team comes away from Saudi with the overall win in the teams classification which has spirits high ahead of the next objectives in Oman.

Davide Formolo: “It was a nice week of racing for us. We came close to winning a few stages and took second and fourth on the GC with me and Felix while also coming home with the team classification so it’s a solid start. We’re in action here again next week in Oman with the likes of Diego Ulissi coming into the squad so we look forward to trying for a big results there.”

Meanwhile in Vuelta Valenciana, Brandon McNulty rounded-out the top-10 with 10th spot on stage 3 from Betera to Sagunto (145km) with the breakaway seeing off the peloton and Simone Velasco (Astana) taking the victory. In the overall standings Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) holds the lead with McNulty just 18’’ back in 10th place.

Stage 4 tomorrow will likely see another GC shake-up with a hilltop finish from Burriana to Alto de la Cueva Santa (181.6km).

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Here's the Saudi report from GC third-place Santiago Buitrago's Team Bahrain Victorious:

Santiago Buitrago capped off a good week for Team Bahrain Victorious at the Saudi Tour by placing third in the GC while securing the Best Young Rider Classification. The five-stage race in the AlUla region of Saudi Arabia saw Bahrain Victorious finish on the podium on four stages, including one stage win from Jonathan Milan.

Santiago Buitrago commented on his first race of the season: “I’m really happy with my first race of the season and very happy with the 3rd place in the general classification. Today was a very fast day, and I was feeling good. The final was very tricky, starting with the last corner and a climb very fast. I’m very happy with the job the whole team put in this stage as well as the whole week.”

Jonathan Milan is optimistic about his form following his great performance in Saudi: “It was 5 fantastic days, our goal was to finish on the podium with Santi, and we made it. This is the fantastic beginning of the season, and it really means a lot to us. We started well in Australia and continue now here. We showed that we are really competitive and have a very strong team. I’m super happy about my result and the team’s result as well, and looking forward to the next race.”

Jonathan Milan (on left) winning stage two.

SD Enrico Poitschke was pleased with the performance of his young line-up: “We can be happy with the whole Tour. We won a stage, and we were on the podium on all but one stage, and we got 3rd place in the GC with a very young team. The whole team did a very good job to achieve those results. We saw that the guys are on a very good level and that the work at the last training camps paid out. We can comfortably anticipate upcoming races. The whole team did the job as they were asked, and from that point, it was a nice week.”

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And here’s the final Saudi report from GC 6th-place Cees Bol’s Team Astana Qazaqstan

6th overall and 6th in the final stage, Cees Bol can look back to a successful week of racing in Saudi Arabia.

“The guys helped me again so well today. We managed to survive that gravel section and in the final they brought me perfectly in position. In the uphill sprint I just missed the good legs, I was still in 2nd, 3rd position at 200 meters from the finish but it became a sprint of the dying swans. OK, I had to brake a bit just when we had to make speed, before the uphill finish, but that’s no excuse. Good result, but unfortunately not perfect.“ – said Cees Bol.

New teammates and new team atmosphere, but Cees Bol is positive about both.

“In five stages I finish four times in top ten, I obtain twice a podium spot and I take a 6th place overall. More important however is that we took every chance this week. No victory, but we got attuned to each other. We showed good team work and made progress day by day.” – ended Cees Bol.

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Here are the Vuelta a Valenciana stage three reports

We posted the report from second-place Bob Jungels’ Team Bora-hansgrohe with the results.

Here’s the report from Team Jumbo-Visma:

On a tough third day of the Tour of Valencia, Koen Bouwman sprinted to seventh place, and Tom Gloag maintained his position at the top of the general classification. But the day didn't start as well as it ended for Team Jumbo-Visma. The withdrawal of Lars Boven and Michel Hessmann was a major setback for the Dutch cycling team.

Simone Velasco took Valenciana stage three.

At precisely two o'clock, the starting gun sounded in Bétera, Spain, for the start of the third stage. The peloton set off without Boven. The talented rider was able to experience top-level racing in Valencia but was forced to withdraw due to illness. After a quiet start, five riders took a one-minute lead on the peloton. Barely two hours into the race, Team Jumbo-Visma suffered another blow. Michel Hessmann was also unable to continue. The German was suffering too much from a painful knee.

With five riders, the team continued in good spirits, but no one managed to break away. "We wanted to give it a go with Tosh, but unfortunately, he was brought back quickly. That left Thomas to attack, just like yesterday”, sport director Maarten Wynants said.

The attack came about thirty kilometres from the finish, just below the summit of the Port del Garbí. The 21-year-old Gloag tried to close the gap on the escapees but saw that he was not getting much help from the peloton. "Then he wisely held back and waited for Koen and Sam. He showed his good legs again”, Wynants said of the British rider.

In the final kilometres, the reduced peloton came within a few seconds of the three remaining leaders but couldn't close the gap. Wynants and his men had their plan for the sprint ready. "We knew it was going to be very difficult for Olav today. That's why we tried to get Koen in position for the sprint, and it worked well, but unfortunately, the three riders stayed in front.

Gloag finished in the same group as Bouwman. Tomorrow's queen stage in Valencia is on the agenda. "A very tough stage with more than 3500 altimetres and an uphill finish”, the sports director said. "The final climb doesn't seem to suit Tom, but with the form he's in now, anything is possible. Tomorrow we will do everything we can to give him the best support for the final climb.”

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