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Oscar Rodriguez takes third on the queen stage of La Route d’Occitanie – Astana

Oscar Rodriguez takes third on the queen stage of La Route d’Occitanie

After a solid performance on the one-day race Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, Oscar Rodriguez continues to deliver impressive results for Astana – Premier Tech. Today he took a strong third place on the queen stage of La Route d’Occitanie with the finish atop Le Mourtis climb (12.7 km, 6.3%).

Rodriguez counterattacked from a small chasing group trying to bridge to the solo leader Antonio Pedrero. It did not work as Pedrero was able to stay clear in front, taking the stage win and the race lead. However, Rodriguez did his best and finished third just behind Jesus Herrada, who claimed second.

“It was a hard day with some difficult climbs including Tourmalet and the final summit. My teammates worked really well protecting me and helping to bring the breakaway back. On the final climb I did my best, it was impossible to catch Pedrero, but I was still there in front fighting for a high result and finally I was able to take a third place which makes me happy”, – said Oscar Rodriguez.

Thanks to today’s result, Oscar Rodriguez moved up to the third position in the General Classification of the race, 49 seconds behind Pedrero.

Merhawi Kudus also did a very good race, finishing seventh today.

“The team worked very well today and the guys did a great job from the start and until the finish. Yevgeniy Fedorov spent a strong day in front of the peloton, helping the team to control the breakaway on Col du Tourmalet. Also, Yuriy Natarov and Merhawi Kudus stayed close to our leader Oscar Rodriguez until the very last kilometres. Well, we were hoping to fight for a stage win today, but there was a stronger rider in front, and we did not manage to catch him. However, Oscar was really strong today, he did a smart race and at the end he finished this day with a nice podium. We can be really happy with this result”, – added Dmitriy Fofonov, Team Performance Manager.

La Route d’Occitanie, Stage 3. Pierrefitte-Nestalas – La Mourtis, 191.8 km.

Stage Top-3: 1. Antonio Pedrero (Movistar Team); 2. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis, Solutions Credits); 3. Oscar Rodriguez (Astana – Premier Tech).

Astana – Premier Tech stage Top-3: 3. Oscar Rodriguez; 7. Merhawi Kudus; 18. Yuriy Natarov.

Photo credit: @Getty Images

— Vitalii to www.astanapremiertech.com

Mark Padun Victorious on Queen Stage at Dauphiné

Mark Padun secured his first WorldTour win on Stage 7 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, showing impressive climbing on La Plagne. Jack Haig also put in a strong performance finishing fourth on the stage and moving up into the top five in GC.

The Queen stage was set to be a decisive fight in the GC, with the riders taking on 3,980 vertical meters, including two Hors Categorie climbs. An early breakaway formed that included Marco Haller. The breakaway managed to stay away until the final climb, with around 10 kilometres remaining by a reduced peloton.

An attack from Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) sparked the GC fight, but it was Mark Padun who latched onto the move with Seb Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and Enric Mas (Movistar). Padun and Kuss pushed on, leaving the other two behind. It looked to be a battle between the two, but Padun kicked on one more time, dropping Kuss and riding up solo to take the victory on La Plagne.

Mark Padun: “It’s incredible and an incredible moment for me. First of all, it’s my first WorldTour victory and on one of the hardest stages of Dauphine when everyone is going so fast.

Also, in the last six stages, I felt so bad on the bike during the race, and I thought it would be impossible for me to finish the race, and today I arrived first. When I crossed the finish line, I had the feeling like I need to wake up now, but it’s not a dream.

Criterium du Dauphine 2021 – 73rd Edition – 7th stage Saint Martin le Vinoux – La Plagne 171,1 km – 05/06/2021 – Mark Padun (UKR – Bahrain Victorious) – Jack Haig (AUS – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

I thought I might arrive with the top 20 guys, and when Richie Porte attacked, I tried to close the gap as I had our leader Jack Haig in the group. I saw we had a gap with four riders, and I thought, why not, maybe they will show me on TV for my mother, and I attacked.

Then it was just me and Seb Kuss, and when I saw him drop, I just decided to go full gas to the finish and hope no one would catch me. Thanks to my team that believed in me.”

Criterium du Dauphine 2021 – 73rd Edition – 7th stage Saint Martin le Vinoux – La Plagne 171,1 km – 05/06/2021 – Mark Padun (UKR – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious)

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com

Damiano Caruso 3rd on Queen Stage and Moves up to 2nd in GC

Damiano Caruso displayed his resilience in harsh conditions that saw the Queen Stage shortened by 60 kilometres, removing the epic climbs up the Passo Fedaia and the Passo Pordoi. The conditions were so poor that spectators were left with no coverage of the riders for most of the race as helicopters could not take off.

The race eventually started 30 minutes later than planned, and on the descent of the first categorised climb, La Crosetta, a breakaway of six strong riders formed. The gap was just over five minutes to the peloton but was closed down by the key contenders in the GC on the Passo Giau.

As the gap came down to the breakaway, the race leader Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) put in an attack that dropped the rest of the contenders, which saw him win the stage. However, Damiano Caruso managed his losses best and moved up against the rest of the field, finishing third and moving into second in the GC.

After Stage 16, Caruso now sits 2:24 off the Maglia Rosa, with third place Hugh Carthy(EF Education Nippo) 3:40 down.

Damiano Caruso was excited with his performance and shared his thoughts on the eve of a deserved rest day: “Although the race was shortened, the intensity was high all day long, as we expected.
I felt good on the last climb. I was looking at the faces of other contenders, and I could understand at that moment that I was almost the strongest, except for Bernal, of course. I tried to follow the Maglia Rosa but I couldn’t. So I focussed only on my tempo and doing my best until the end. The morale now is high, for sure.
I want to say thank you to my teammates because they did a great job also today and to all the staff that helped provide extra clothing during the race, and with such bad weather, it’s something vital. Now, we will enjoy the rest day, and then after tomorrow, we will start again with the last fight.”

Gorazd Štangelj, Head Sports Director praised Damiano Caruso and the team: “Damiano did an amazing job today. He raced using his head and legs. We get out of these days at the maximum. Tomorrow is the rest day, and I wish that our guys have a quality rest. They faced difficult stages and bad weather, fast racing every day. It will be fundamental to recover well ahead of the last week of the Giro, which will be very brutal”.

(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @ChrisAuld @TeamBahrainVictorious)

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com

Giro d’Italia, Stage 16. Aleksandr Vlasov takes seventh on the queen stage, remains fourth in the GC – Astana

Giro d’Italia, Stage 16. Aleksandr Vlasov takes seventh on the queen stage, remains fourth in the GC

With three climbs all over 2000 metres above sea level, the 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia had been positioned as the queen stage of the race but extreme weather conditions on two out of three climbs, Passo Fedaia and Passo Pordoi, forced the race organizers to exclude them from the route. The revised stage profile featured just 153 out of 212 kilometres with only La Crosetta climb at the start and Passo Giau as the Cima Coppi (2233 metres above sea level) in the final before the descent to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The rain and cold all day long still made this stage challenging for all the riders, impacting the General Classification of the race significantly.

After multiple attacks, a group of 24 riders went away on La Crosetta, while later a new leading group of six counterattacked, finally, to create the breakaway of the day with Gorka Izagirre being one of the most aggressive riders up there. The group of Izagirre opened a six-minute gap, while Astana – Premier Tech leader Aleksandr Vlasov stayed well protected in the peloton, surrounded by his teammates.

At the bottom of Passo Giau, Vlasov suffered a mechanical incident when a jacket was caught in his wheel, forcing him to stop and lose time at a crucial point in the race. Vlasov tried to come back to the significantly-reduced GC favourites group, supported by Matteo Sobrero and then by Gorka Izagirre, who dropped back from the breakaway to help his leader.

“The team worked really well all day long. Despite last-minute change in the stage route we prepared a good plan both for the staff and the riders, so everything went in the right way. Gorka Izagirre was in the breakaway, while Aleksandr Vlasov was well protected by the teammates. Then, bad luck impacted us a lot when Vlasov got a jacket in his wheel at the bottom of Passa Giau. Matteo Sobrero gave his all to bring Aleksandr back to the group and they missed just a little to bridge to the front before the decisive attack of Egan Bernal. And also Gorka Izagirre did a phenomenal job coming back from the breakaway to lead Vlasov to the top of the climb trying to minimize our loses. At the end of the day, we lost two minutes to Bernal and around a minute and a half to the others. It is a lot, but we still saved our day and despite bad luck we are still in the mix for the podium. Let’s see what happens after the second rest day,” – said Giuseppe Martinelli, Sports Director of Astana – Premier Tech.

Bernal attacked from the GC favourites group, at the end of the day taking a solo victory in Cortina d’Ampezzo and increasing his lead in the overall standings.

Vlasov finished seventh, 2 minutes and 11 seconds behind Bernal while Gorka Izagirre was eighth.

Going into the second rest day, Bernal leads the race with a 2’24” advantage on Damiano Caruso and 3’40” on Hugh Carthy. Vlasov maintains fourth overall, 4 minutes 18 seconds behind the race leader.

“When I started to take off my jacket, somehow a sleeve touched my wheel, immediately blocking it. I had to stop to solve the problem but fortunately our car was not far behind, so I got help from our mechanic. Well, with support of my teammates I tried to come back to the group, but it did not work out because I was quite far behind. It’s a disappointing moment, but it was how it was, nothing I can do about it. We did our best to the finish line but I still lost time to my rivals. I felt really good today and my teammates did a great job for me, but the luck was not on our side today. However I am not going to give up and I will keep on fighting in the third week”, – said Aleksandr Vlasov.

Giro d’Italia, Stage 16, Sacile – Cortina d’Ampezzo, 153 km.

Stage Top-3: 1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers); 2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM); 3. Damiano Caruso (Barhain – Victorious).

Astana – Premier Tech stage Top-3: 7. Aleksandr Vlasov; 8. Gorka Izagirre. 26. Matteo Sobrero.

Photo credit: @Getty Images

— Vitalii to www.astanapremiertech.com

Brown wraps up Vuelta a Burgos Feminas with 7th overall & a stage win with Spratt going on the offensive for 10th on the final Queen stage – Team BikeExchange

Team BikeExchange wrapped up the four-day Vuelta a Burgos Feminas today with stage one winner Grace Brown taking seventh place overall, after a strong ride on today’s Queen stage summit finish in Lagunas de Neilas where she climbed to ninth position. Teammate Amanda Spratt showed her cards, riding on the offensive all day by jumping in to a large breakaway, before attacking up the final ascent and eventually claiming a respectable 10th place after a huge effort throughout the 121km stage.

The day began with a rapid pace with the peloton not allowing any breakaway groups to form. Eventually, a large group of 30 riders was given freedom with Spratt and Georgia Williams represented in the move for Team BikeExchange. 

The gap opened up to over one minute 40 seconds with Spratt winning the first GPM sprint before the group reduced to 14 riders on the approach to the final ascent to Lagunas de Neilas. Spratt then went on the attack, taking with her one Movistar rider, before being joined by two more riders as they passed the 4km to go mark.

The race then suddenly lit up, with a surge from behind as the GC favourites quickly charged towards the leaders as they began the climb. By the time they started the final two kilometres, the quartet were swallowed up and only a trio of Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten and Demi Vollering remained at the head of affairs as the road gradient increased.

Behind, Brown and Spratt fought hard all the way to the line to finish the brutal stage in ninth and tenth position respectively, securing a top-10 placing overall and a stage win, which concludes a successful four-days of racing for the squad.

Amanda Spratt
“I was so disappointed with yesterday and I knew I had to refocus and come out today and have a good ride. The girls were so amazing at the start, especially Sarah Roy and Georgia Williams, and I was able to sneak into that move and really thanks to Georgia. She killed herself for me and we knew that I had a good chance in that group as one of the strongest climbers.

I just had to be patient and I attacked on the second to last climb and then again on the last climb a few times to try and shake the others. Maybe I was a little too keen at the start with the hard final, but honestly I’m really happy with my ride and it’s nice to be a part of the race again. It was great to take a stage win with Grace here and she’s also finished 7th on GC.”

Alejandro Gonzales-Tablas – Sport Director 
“It wasn’t really planned, but we ended up with a group of over 25 riders going away and Spratty was in there and it was a really good move for us and we had Georgia there to support. 

We took the opportunity, it was an opportunity that came and in the end it came up a couple of kilometres short, but it was a really good move.

I think the whole race has been pretty positive, we came with two goals, to get a stage win and get a good general classification position, and we got a stage on day one with Grace and a good general classification result, so all the boxes are ticked.”

2021 Vuelta a Burgos Feminas – Stage 4 Results:
1. Anna van der Breggen 3:24:15 
2. Annemiek van Vleuten ST
3. Demi Vollering +0:20
9. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) +1:09
10. Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange) +1:17

Final General Classification:
1. Anna van der Breggen 11:23:55
2. Annemiek van Vleuten +0:03
3. Demi Vollering +0:23
7. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) +1:07

Photo Courtesy of Getty Sport.

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com

Tour de Hongrie Queen Stage the decider ahead of Sunday’s finale in Budapest

Head sports director Massimo Podenzana

“Everyone was waiting for today to see the race explode for the GC battle on the climbs and it happened. After the early break was caught the main contenders started to move. We wanted to try and stay with the front group with David and Peter, but after Mehdi not starting due to a broken collarbone and Andrea feeling the effects of yesterday’s crash, it was difficult to give them full support.”

“Nevertheless, the guys gave it everything and it was only on the last climb that they lost contact with the leading group as the race split apart. Those moves by the overall contenders all but decided the GC and tomorrow’s short stage in Budapest will be a fast one, over pretty quickly and certainly end in a sprint.”

“It was hard for our guys today and Andrea went deep trying to help Peter on the last climb, so we will see if he can recover a little to try again tomorrow in the sprint.”

Peter Kusztor

To be completely open and honest…I couldn’t go with the last attacks. It was super-fast and aggressive. We were there going into the last 10 kilometers, but as soon as the gradient stiffened and the accelerations got stronger, we fell back.”

“I have to thank the guys, because they worked for me today, especially Andrea as he was there with me right until the end and our teamwork was very good, but we couldn’t do more.”

— tnn to www.teamnovonordisk.com