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Monday, February 20, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Tour de France: 2021

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Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Haut Var stage three reports

We posted the report from stage winner Aurélien Paret-Peintre’s Team Ag2r-Citroën with the results.

Here’s the report from race winner Kevin Vauquelin’s Team Arkea-Samsic:

Third in the last stage, Kevin Vauquelin wins the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, his second professional success in three days.

Winner Kévin Vauquelin on the final day's podium. Sirotti photo

Kévin Vauquelin:
“I have been under pressure all day and I still don’t fully realize what I have just done. I am happy to win this general classification and during the three stages I could count on a very solid team around me and I really thank everyone.
When I arrived on this race, I wanted to achieve a good general classification, at least win a stage. The result is beyond my expectations. This Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var allows me to approach Paris-Nice with confidence.
This will be my first week-long UCI WorldTour race and I know that the level will be even higher.”

Roger Trehin:
“We had a stressful day with a scenario that we had imagined from the start. The whole Arkea-Samsic team showed great teamwork. Kevin was well supported during the three stages and he was able to show his self-control to take his first two professional victories. We showed great things during this race, and it’s up to us to continue on this path.

And here’s the report from stage three’s fourth place, Romain Bardet’s Team DSM:

The third and final day at Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var saw the peloton faced with the queen stage, that included several climbs jam-packed into the 130 kilometre long parcours. The stage was more front loaded though, with the riders immediately tackling the tough Col d’Èze climb straight out of the neutral zone and as expected it was a blisteringly fast start.

The Col d'Eze came almost at the start.

After some good positioning work by the team, Romain Bardet made his way into a group of six, which then swelled to ten, and although they built up a 45 second gap at one point, a relentless chase eventually saw them brought back and a counter attack go clear. Henri Vandenabeele and Marco Brenner offered more early support, before Max Poole took over as the race headed towards the finale, once again positioning Bardet at the front as the race hit the last ascent in the closing ten kilometres. Following the moves, one lone attacker managed to escape the clutches of the bunch and hold on for the win while behind Bardet showed a good turn of speed to take fourth place.

Bardet said: “As expected it was full gas racing from the start. I used the first climb to race it hard and found myself in a good break with some strong riders but unfortunately we got caught on the valley roads after. The guys then came back and did a really good job, especially Max who was impressive on his full debut with the Men’s program. I missed a bit to go for the win on the last climb, but I definitely finish this first stage race better than how we started and it’s nice to get back into the racing rhythm. On to the next ones!”

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Volta ao Algarve stage five team reports

We posted the report from the GC winner Daniel Martinez's Team INEOS Grenadiers with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Stefan Küng's Team Groupama-FDJ:

The Groupama-FDJ cycling team took its first win of the 2023 season on Sunday, and it came thanks to its Swiss rider Stefan Küng on the roads of the Volta ao Algarve. On the fifth and final stage of the Portuguese race, a 24.4-kilometre time trial, the vice-world champion proved superior to some of the best time trialists of the bunch, including Filippo Ganna and Tobias Foss, to snatch the stage victory just like in 2019. He took advantage of this superb performance to move up to fifth position overall. The Lusitanian week did end in style.

Stefan Küng showing how to ride a time trial.

A time trial well-known by the riders was set to put an end to the 2023 Volta ao Algarve this Sunday. Around Lagoa and over twenty-four kilometres, the event kind of returned to its traditional course. Stefan Küng was also on familiar ground since he took the victory on these roads in 2019 and grabbed third place both in 2018 and 2020. A lot was therefore expected from the Swiss man.

“Stefan knew the route, but he still went to do a recon on Tuesday first, and again this morning”, explained Frédéric Guesdon. “I really like this route because there are many rhythm changes, and you have to push all the time”, also said Stefan. On the other hand, his teammate Valentin Madouas was unable to start this last stage due to illness.

Before Stefan Küng got underway at 3:48 p.m., Lewis Askey, Paul Penhoët, Jake Stewart, Miles Scotson and Olivier Le Gac all covered the course as well as they could. When the World Championships’ runner up then left the launch pad, the provisional best time belonged to Rémi Cavagna. Stefan Küng beat him by four seconds on the first time check, was beaten by three seconds on the second one, and the power struggle eventually turned to his advantage over the last kilometres, as the Swiss rider crossed the finish line in 29’34, meaning four seconds faster than his French competitor.

“At the second time check, we thought Stefan was starting to struggle, but he bounced back, and he then had to ride at 60 km/h over the last three kilometres, which was doable”, added Frédéric. “It was really tight. Also, Cavagna is a good time trialist, but we thought better ones were still to come…”

A first fight was won at that point, but many competitors, and not the least, took the start while Stefan Küng settled into the “hot seat”. Yet, one after the other, Filippo Ganna, Tobias Foss, or even Dani Martinez, did not manage to match the marks of “King Küng”. The reigning world champion lost 29 seconds, the Italian finished ten seconds behind, and the Colombian, although becoming the overall winner, was beaten by sixteen seconds. The last men on the road did not threaten the Groupama-FDJ rider, who was thus able to celebrate his victory after about half an hour of waiting.

“It’s really nice”, he commented shortly after the official end of the stage. “I knew this course suited me, I felt good, I had power until the end, but I also knew it was going to be close. It’s really great to take the victory, which is also the first for our team this season. It was tricky because it was my first time trial of the season with a new position. We worked a lot on it during the winter after the UCI’s rules changed, so I want to say a big thank you to the performance department and to my mechanic. Without the team, it wouldn’t have been possible to win here, and it’s great to have a first payback”. “It’s good to finish with a victory, which was far from granted because there was a great line-up of specialists,” added Frédéric. “There was the European champion, the world champion, Filippo Ganna… The victory means even more because of it, and it proves once again that Stefan deserves to be world champion one day”.

Thanks to this first win of the season, Stefan Küng also climbed thirteen places in the general rankings (!), thus finishing the event in fifth place, two positions higher than in 2022. “It’s always nice to do a good overall result in Algarve to start the season, and overall, it was good preparation for the classics”, added Stefan. “I definitely feel more ready for the Classics today than I did before the race”. With six top-10s and one win, a successful week of racing comes to an end for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. “We were a bit disappointed yesterday, but in the end, it turned out well today”, concluded Frédéric. “We couldn’t have hoped for more. It shows that the guys have worked well, and it bodes well for the future. We are ready but everyone is ready, so we must not rest on our laurels. We have to continue like this and stay calm”.

And here's the Algarve report from third-place Ilan Van Wilder's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Ilan Van Wilder became the seventh different rider in the history of the team to climb on the final podium of the Volta ao Algarve – a stepping stone in the career of the 22-year-old Belgian, who took his first ever top 3 in a stage race at the end of a hard week of racing during which he produced a solid all-round display.

Going into the final day of the Portuguese event – a 24.4km individual time trial – Ilan knew he had to ride a strong time trial in order to defend his place on the podium, where he was sitting courtesy of an impressive ride on the Alto do Malhão, and didn’t disappoint. Riding against many pure specialists, World and European Champions of the discipline, Van Wilder demonstrated his ITT capabilities as he navigated the course around Lagoa handsomely, rolling over the line in seventh place, a result which helped him conclude third overall.

“I did a good time trial. There’s still room for improvement, of course, but that comes with more training. I was a bit nervous, but remained focused and I am happy with what I achieved, especially seeing how many strong opponents were here. If you had told me before this week that I would end on the podium at the end of the race I wouldn’t believe it. I already knew that this kind of stage races suit me and I love riding for the general classification. I am happy with this result after two difficult years. Now I will recover and enjoy some time at home, before heading to France for the Ardèche and Drôme Classic.”

It was a good day also for two other members of Soudal Quick-Step: Kasper Asgreen took home the mountain classification, a confidence-boosting result before the start of the Classics, while Rémi Cavagna came close to his first victory of the year, finishing runner-up for just a handful of seconds.

Kasper Asgreen climbing a dirt hill at the 2022 Strade Bianche. Sirotti photo

“I came to Algarve to try to do well in the GC and to try to win the time trial. I trained a lot in the mountains so I thought trying for the overall would be possible. Saturday I went for the stage win but got caught before the final climb, so I moved my focus to the ITT. The course was nice and pretty technical, and although it didn’t suit me, I had fun and went again for a good result. I’m happy to be back at this level and already looking forward to the next races”, Rémi explained.

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Here's the Algarve report from Tobias Foss' Team Jumbo-Visma:

Tobias Foss has finished fifth in the final stage of the Volta ao Algarve. The world time trial champion rode a solid race against the clock, but his time of 30:03 left him just off the podium. However, Foss moved up to fourth place in the final standings.

Tobias Foss on his gold medal ride at the 2022 World Championships.

Tim van Dijke was the first Team Jumbo-Visma rider to start the time trial. The 22-year-old Dutchman rode a solid race and finished just outside the top twenty with a time of 31:16. With Milan Vader also finishing his Portuguese campaign, it was time for the top of the standings. Foss rode the fifth fastest time at both checkpoints. The Norwegian could not accelerate on the final section and finished 28 seconds behind winner Stefan Küng.

"It went well”, Foss said. "I didn't have the best feeling, but it was my first race of the year. I have to be patient. I had a good start, but there is room for improvement. That is normal at this stage. We did our best as a team, and we have to be happy with fourth place and keep working hard.”

"We did everything we could”, sports director Marc Reef said. "Tim and Milan rode a good time trial. After that, it was all about Tobias. He gave everything. With Tobias, you hope for more. He just rode a very strong time trial. It's a shame to miss the podium by a few seconds. It has not been an easy week with all the crashes. Yesterday there were only three of us in the race, which took more energy than usual. The team, and especially Tobias, fought well this week.”

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Vuelta a Andalucia final team reports

We posted the report from stage five winner Omar Fraile's Team INEOS Grenadiers with the results.

Here's the report from GC winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

UAE Team Emirates took another win in a stage race with Tadej Pogačar taking the overall title at the Vuelta Andalucia in Spain.

Alessandro Covi came close to closing the race with a stage with with a 2nd place sprint behind Omar Fraile (Ineos-Grenadiers) on the uphill rise to the line.

The team closes out the week with four victories at the race: three stage wins for Pogačar and the GC along with a solo stage victory for Tim Wellens.

Tadej Pogacar rode a careful final stage, cementing his victory. Sirotti photo

Pogačar: ”It was really great. We did a perfect job throughout the week. I’m super happy with my shape and with the shape of the team. With the result, I’m maybe a little bit surprised, but I knew that my level is good. In this race, I felt really strong, and I hope I can feel as strong in the next races.My plan now is to just continue the season as it has been until now and hope it goes as smoothly.”

The attention will now turn to the home race of the season with the UAE Tour getting underway tomorrow with a flat parcours on Stage 1 from Al Dhafra Castle to Al Mirfa (151km).

And here's the Vuelta a Andalucia report from Andreas Kron's Team Lotto Dstny:

Lotto Dstny rider Andreas Kron once again showed himself in the Vuelta a Andalucía closing stage. In Alhaurín de la Torre, he sprinted towards a fourth place on a finish suited for punchers. After five days of full on racing in the south of Spain, Kron ends the Ruta del Sol (UCI 2.Pro) on a ninth place in the general classification. The 24-year-old Dane looks back to an intense, but promising start to his third season at Lotto Dstny.

Andreas Kron: “I’m really glad to finish off the Vuelta a Andalucía in a good way with a 4th place in the reduced bunch sprint. Today was a new experience for me, doing the sprint from a group of that size but I felt good and we decided to go for it. A 4th place in this kind of sprints is really promising and maybe it could have been a bit more. The final kilometres were really fast and chaotic and I really have to thank my teammates for all the work they have done for me. Not only today but they supported me perfectly the past week.”

With also a fifth place at the past Clasica Jaen, Kron will head into the next races – Faun Ardèche and Faun Drôme Classic – with confidence.

“I am really happy to finish the Ruta del Sol on a ninth place overall because this race was on a really high level. This result shows that the shape is good, which is promising. With seven days of racing since Clasica Murcia past Saturday, it was an intense start to my season but hopefully this will pay off in the weeks to come”, concludes Andreas Kron.

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