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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 17, 2023

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Vuelta Ciclista Andalucia-Ruta del Sol stage two reports

We posted the report from stage winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the report from Team Bahrain Victorious:

Two colours dominated the second stage of the ‘Route of the Sun’: blue, high in the clear skies, and the colours of Bahrain Victorious, high in the day’s results once again.

The day was most notable for the incredible speed ridden by the peloton; faster even than the quickest predictions of the race organisers. This ‘full gas’ attitude from the start in Diezma meant that no breakaway formed until ⅔ of the 156km had already been covered. Bahrain’s Matej Mohorič – reigning Milan-Sanremo champion – was one of a group of 9 to escape, including his former teammate and winner of last year’s Fleche Wallone, Dylan Teuns. As the gap grew quickly to over 2 minutes, it looked likely that those two would fight for the victory, but that was not to be …

Behind, UAE – without a rider up the road – started to pull, and before long the break was just 15 seconds ahead. At that moment, yesterday’s victor, Tadej Pogačar, bridged across and moved to distance his nearest rivals in the GC, Bahrain’s Mikel Landa & Santiago Buitrago. But our dynamic duo were not to be subdued, and soon they too had joined the leaders.

Pogacar, Buitrago & Landa riding in the front group late in the stage. Sirotti photo

Mohorič was the first to make a move, accelerating on the descent of the Puerto de la Hoya de Charilla. He kept the rest at bay for 6 of the remaining 19k but was caught in the approach to the final test of the day – a viciously steep, cobbled ascent to the 13th century Castillo de Alcalá Real. Only 1100metres, but averaging 9.9% and peaking at 20%, the stones were deep and jagged; this was a brutal denouement.

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After the stage the Slovenian reflected on his tactics and how the last part of the stage unfolded: “The problem was that some of the guys in the break were close in GC so we knew that UAE would keep the gap small and not let the race lead slip. In the end it exploded on the steep climb, the GC group came back to us, and I tried to anticipate in the descent but I couldn’t hold on”

Pogačar and Enric Mas (Movistar) went away as the Fortaleza de la Mota came into view, leaving our co-leaders fighting Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos) for the minor places. It was a fight they won, finishing 3rd & 4th on the day, and leaving Santi in 2nd overall, (48 seconds behind Pogačar), with Mikel just behind. Damiano Caruso crossed the line in 9th, and Jack Haig in 12th, meaning both keep their places in the top 10 overall.

Another strong performance from both the team and individual riders, which gives much hope for the next 3 days. As Mohorič concluded, “Today we focussed on defending the podium with Mikel and Santiago. The race is far from finished, we’re going well. I hope we can get a stage win before the end and be on the podium on the last day”

Stage 3 between Alcalá de Guadaira and Alcalá de los Gazules is largely flat 161km, but the finish at Alcalá de los Gazules is much like today’s … only steeper!

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Volta ao Algarve stage two team reports

We posted the report from winner Magnus Cort's Team EF Education-EasyPost with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Ilan Van Wilder's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

A great acceleration out of a select favourites group with a shade under 200 meters to go brought Ilan Van Wilder mere centimeters from what would have been a well-deserved maiden victory in the pro ranks, only for the young Belgian to be pipped by Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easy Post), who darted up the left side of the road 80 meters from the finish and threw his bike over the line as Ilan was preparing to celebrate his success.

Ilan van Wilder jumped the gun just a bit.

It was the 23-year-old’s second podium of the season, after the one in Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, and it came following a five-hour ride in the saddle on a day that comprised four classified climbs and culminated with Alto da Foia, southern Portugal’s highest point. Prior to the battle on Foia, where the favourites had to face a strong headwind inside the last 1500 meters, Kasper Asgreen was among those involved in the pace-setting, doing a top job in positioning his teammate in the run-in to the climb.

Despite the narrow defeat, Van Wilder was quite upbeat at the end of the stage: “I came short today, but when you are in the finale of a race which could bring your first pro win, these things can happen. Kasper was great to put me in a good position, and after he peeled off, I just followed the others and waited to make my move. I went with 200 meters to go and looking back I’m convinced it was the way to do it.”

“A good result in the general classification is my goal here, but it’s difficult to say how things will pan out over the next couple of days. For the moment, we will focus on helping Fabio on Friday, when there should be another opportunity for the sprinters. Then we will see how things will go during the weekend, when we have Malhão and the time trial”, added Ilan.

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And here's the Algarve race report from fifth-place Jai Hindely's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

The classical finish on the Alto da Foia was a first test for the climbers today at Volta ao Algarve. After an early break was caught before the last two climbs, the pace in the bunch was constantly high. BORA – hansgrohe were able to place Jai Hindley and Sergio Higuita well, ahead of the final and on the last climb Frederik Wandahl was still with them to assist. It was a group of around 30 riders who sprinted for victory and M. Cort proved to be the fastest today while Jai Hindley finished in fifth place.

“We wanted to go for the win with Sergio today, but he is not feeling 100% after arriving in Europe only a few days ago. Jonas and Frederik rode a strong race to keep Jai and Sergio in front on the decisive part. In the end Frederik launched the sprint for Jai which worked quite well. I think we can be happy with the result, but of course we are here to win a stage.” – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

“I think it was a solid day. The guys did a good job to bring us climbers without trouble to the finale. From the second last climb the race was full on and high pace all the time. We wanted to ride for Serigo, but he told me during the stage that he is not feeling super good. Therefore, I took my own chance. Jonas and Frederik have been important and worked hard to bring me to the foot of the last climb in front. In a sprint finish like this I still miss that last kick at the moment, but I am happy with the result in the end.” – Jai Hindely

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