The Dutch dominated the cyclocross World championships – TOP STORY, plus all the action from Oostende and on the road in the Grand Prix La Marseillaise with results and video. Lot’s going on out there. Race news: Vuelta a la Comunidad Valencia, Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux and Women’s RideLondon Classic canceled, Gooikse Pijl moves start, Clasica de Almeria will run, teams for the Trofeo Laigueglia and Tour Series moves to August. Team news: Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux looks forward to the season. Rider news from Marc Hirschi, Jonas Rutsch, Greg Van Avermaet & Oliver Naesen, Vincenzo Nibali, Giulio Ciccone, Kamil Malecki, Antwan Tolhoek and four year ban for Domingos Gonçalves. Big Monday EUROTRASH coffee time.
TOP STORY: Dutch Cross Domination
The big story from the weekend has to be the domination of the World cyclocross championships in Oostende by the Dutch national team. Of the four rainbow jerseys on offer, Holland won all of them, of course there were no junior races this year due to the corona virus. Of the 12 medals, Holland won 8. Second was Belgium on 3 and Hungary took 1 medal with Kata Blanka Vas. There will be tears in Belgium, Holland’s next-door neighbour has won the World cyclocross championships 30 times, Eric De Vlaeminck has won the rainbow jersey 7 times, and 75 medals in total. Second is France on 10 with 34 medals with the Netherlands on 9 and 28 medals.
This year’s races in Oostende had no fans, let’s hope we are all back to normal next year:
World Cyclocross Championships Men – Oostende 2021
Mathieu van der Poel defended his World cyclocross title successfully on Sunday pull on a rainbow jersey for the fourth time. The 26-year-old Dutchman was the best after an exciting sandy cross in Oostende. He managed to beat his big rival Wout van Aert after a big battle. The decision was made on the third lap, when Van Aert had a puncture. The bronze medal went to Toon Aerts just ahead of Tom Pidcock.
The best start came from Van der Poel, but it was Wout van Aert who was the first onto the sand after the first climb of the high bridge. After crossing the beach, only Laurens Sweeck, Toon Aerts, Quinten Hermans and Michael Vanthourenhout could follow. Van Aert and Van der Poel were already at each others throats, they were followed by the four Belgians at more than 10 seconds. On the second lap, Van Aert, unlike Van der Poel, did not have to get off the bike in the run-up to the second climb of the bridge. This allowed the Belgian to take a small gap. In his effort to close that gap, Van der Poel crashed hard. The defending champion went into a deep rut in the sand and went over the bars, this increased the difference between Van Aert and Van der Poel to 15 seconds. Toon Aerts was in third place after that.
Van der Poel did not give up. Due to a good run-up to the bridge, he closed a part of his deficit and managed to rejoined Van Aert at the end of the third lap. Not much later it became clear the win was possible: Van Aert punctured and had to change bikes, giving Van der Poel a lead of 11 seconds. At the halfway point, after four of the eight laps, the difference was reduced by Van Aert to 7 seconds. The race was now a real hand-to-hand fight between the two top men. Van Aert was starting to tire and made mistakes on the fifth lap, and Van der Poel managed to double his lead. On the sixth lap the lead had gone to 20 seconds.
The Alpecin-Fenix leader then expanded his lead even further. Van der Poel made no mistakes and put Van Aert at more than half a minute in the penultimate lap. The Dutchman made no more mistakes. The Belgian gave it everything to close the gap, but the difference remained at 30 seconds, partly because Van der Poel no longer took any risks. The battle for the bronze was won by Toon Aerts. The 27-year-old from Antwerp rode alone in third place for a long time, but saw Tom Pidcock come back on the sixth lap, but rode the young Brit off his wheel again. Pidcock sped up in the final lap, but his acceleration came too late.
In the finalé it also became clear that the World championship was going to last less than an hour; the jury had decided to do eight laps instead of nine. Normally an important race like this one should last longer than an hour. Van der Poel eventually finished after 58 minutes and 57 seconds.
World champion, Mathieu van der Poel (Ned): “I’m lucky that Wout punctured to come back, because I don’t know if I would have come back otherwise. The race was certainly not lost then. I was lap by lap better and mastered the course better and better. Then I felt like I was in control in the second half. Especially because I was surprised by the course I took there. Those tracks were pretty deep. I didn’t feel like I was sitting in the bloc at the time, but Van Aert took a good gap because I got stuck in the sand. I didn’t want to go too deep in the chase then. I was able to go on, just before the bridge. That was the most defining part. There you could really make a difference. In the beginning it was Wout who drove away from there, because I got stuck. That was really the most important part of the race. But it all feels a bit strange. I could stay home until yesterday and live there like a regular race. It is a pity that I have no family and friends here, but that does not mean that I am not satisfied with this World title. I am looking forward to Roubaix, because that will be my first time. But I also mentioned riding the Tour.”
2nd, Wout van Aert (Bel): “I am disappointed in myself, because I did not fight back as I normally can. Of course I am disappointed, because at one point I was in a favourable situation, but the puncture cost a lot of time. I think that happened near the pits, after crossing the finish. It wasn’t immediately flat either, but I think a slow. Anyway, I lost half a minute there. In the end I got closer to Mathieu, but then I exploded… I was in the situation I wanted, but the flat tire wasted my chances. I think after two laps you could see that I was great. Flat tire cost strength, but everything has to go well. I can only blame myself that I could no longer go through the wall after the flat tire. Something broke mentally and I am especially disappointed about that. He is the deserved champion. He raced strongly in the second part, while I didn’t get any closer.”
3rd, Toon Aerts (Bel): “I really needed this. This was a difficult season. I kept thinking: now I have it, but then there was either another accident or injury, or just a strong period of Iserbyt or Vanthourenhout, the team game… But now that I am here on the podium, all that has been forgotten. This is much nicer than any win in a smaller cross. I think maybe I got away a little too fast from the other guys who would be competing for third place. I was alone there almost the entire race and that took a lot of effort towards the end. Pidcock was still strong, but fortunately made a lot of mistakes in the sand, while I raced well through it. In the final lap it was a sprint between two dying swans, but I am happy to finish it. I think it is very nice to be on the podium with two World class rider like Wout and Mathieu. Not only World leaders in cyclocross, but throughout cycling. Then you can say that that third place is very nice.”
4th, Tom Pidcock (GB): “I felt good today. Some laps were good, some shit. I got close to Toon Aerts, but unfortunately not close enough. In the end I can say that I rode a good race. Only a few sections in the sand were less, that is not so good for us Brits. I could certainly have been on the podium, so in that area it is a big disappointment. But in the end… Within four or five years I know nobody was third, so it is not that bad now. Overall I can look back on my cross year with satisfaction. This gives me confidence for the road season. I think I will be even stronger next season. Wout and Mathieu are four to five years older than me, so I have a little more time to grow. Hopefully I can really put them to the test next year.”
World Cyclocross Championships Men – Oostende Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) in 58:57
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) at 0:37
3. Toon Aerts (Bel) at 1:24
4. Tom Pidcock (GB) at 1:37
5. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) at 2:05
6. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) at 2:14
7. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) at 2:18
8. Quinten Hermans (Bel) at 2:23
9. Lars van der Haar (Ned) at 2:41
10. Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) at 3:15.
World Cyclocross Championships Women – Oostende 2021
Holland’s Lucinda Brand is the new woman’s World cyclocross champion. The Baloise Trek Lions rider dropped Annemarie Worst and Denise Betsema in the last lap to cross the line alone to leave the other podium places to he county-women.
The top riders started fast and things went wrong at the first corner for Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Sanne Cant. The two rider hit the ground and lost time. The first lap was chaotic with many crashes and Betsema escaped and after only seven minutes of racing she had a 12 second lead on her first pursuer Brand. She tried to maintain the lead on the second lap. Initially that did not go so well as she had to run on the beach. At this time, Worst joined Brand to chase together.
A lap later, they joined Betsema just after the beach, but Worst crashed. Brand and Betsema were off the front together, until Worst reconnected before the start of the last lap. The three Dutch rider would be fighting for the world title on the last lap. Worst crashed again, but was able to catch the leaders again. After the last sand section, Brand managed to take a gap on Worst and Betsema. Betsema was then dropped and Worst was riding well on Brand’s wheel, but after another mistake where there was a bump of elbows, Brand rode away for the rainbow jersey.
World champion, Lucinda Brand (Ned): “I knew beforehand that I could never give up. You could already see that with the reserves. It was certainly a long-winded race. The last lap was very exciting. Unfortunately, Worst fell. We took different lines, but still touched each other in the end. The elbow was the weakest point to hit at the time. That is never fun and I would have liked it to be different. This is very special, I don’t quite realise it yet. After a few years, it is very cool to have it just now. After so many years of hard work, it has finally happened. I’m going to enjoy this first.”
2nd, Annemarie Worst (Ned): “I am less disappointed than last year. The season was less than last year, so my goal was to end the World championships well here. The World championships are always a separate race, so I put everything on it. That’s why you may have seen me less in the results in recent weeks, that was with today in mind. Something like that can happen in the heat of the battle (her crash on the last lap). We were well matched and it’s a shame it goes that way, but it can happen because it’s just really slippery on that race course I was shocked, did not expect her to pass there, but I am certainly satisfied with my race. It’s just a pity that I don’t win.”
3rd, Denise Betsema (Ned): “I am satisfied, but have mixed feelings. On the one hand I am happy to take home a medal at the World championships for the first time, on the other hand I was close to a World title so it is also a bit sour. I knew after two laps that it was going to be long and tough. The running sections went slower than the others at one point. My knee that I injured last week came up again. I kept that knee injury a little quiet this week. I walked around with a thick knee for a long time, but today it went better. Only in the end it was annoying. The sand sections went well, but if you blow up hard while running, you will run into yourself. I don’t have the feeling that I started too fast, because I had my own rhythm. It’s great that there is an orange podium. I certainly wish Lucinda well. She is a beautiful winner.”
World Cyclocross Championships Women – Oostende Result:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) in 46:53
2. Annemarie Worst (Ned) at 0:08
3. Denise Betsema (Ned) at 0:19
4. Clara Honsinger at (USA) 0:52
5. Yara Kastelijn at (Ned) 1:04
6. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) at 1:12
7. Evie Richards (GB) at 1:13
8. Sanne Cant at (Bel) 1:43
9. Elisabeth Brandau (Ger) at 2:08
10. Christine Majerus (Lux) at 2:18
World Cyclocross Championships Men U23 – Oostende 2021
Holland started the 2021 World championships well with the first win going to Under 23 rider; Pim Ronhaar. In the coastal town of Ostend, the 19-year-old Dutchman rode away from the opposition just before halfway and managed to hold on to his lead. Ronhaar beat fellow Dutchman Ryan Kamp into second place and Belgium’s Timo Kielich finished third.
Ryan Kamp, the defending champion, had the best start as Pim Ronhaar and Mees Hendrikx were not far behind. After the first crossing of the high bridge, with a climb of up to 21%, Ronhaar was the first to hit the sand, where the North Sea was high and he was looking for the right track on the coastline. The Dutch riders determined the initial phase of the race, but the Belgians did not let them go. Kamp managed to stay away after his good start, but the differences were still small in the first lap. For Thomas Mein, one of the favourites, it became a race too quickly forget. The Briton slipped on the steps and got his leg stuck in the fence and soon had to let the others go. Hendrikx, Ronhaar and Kamp on behalf of the Netherlands and Timo Kielich, Anton Ferdinande, Toon Vandebosch and Niels Vandeputte on behalf of Belgium then started the second lap together.
Once back on the sand, Kielich and Vandebosch pulled the group into a thin line, but Ronhaar and Tim van Dijke, who had to catch up after a bad start, connected. Kielich tried to pull away at the end of the second lap, but the Belgian almost crashed due to his speed, but he was able to stay upright, but his lead was gone. A group of eight men started the third lap, while Kamp followed at a gap. The defending champion crashed a little later, just like Vandeputte. In the sand Ronhaar rode away from the others. At first Kielich was able to hold him, but on the bridge he had to let the Dutchman go. The second-year U23 rider started the fourth lap with a lead of 4 seconds on the first chasers, Kielich and Vandebosch. He managed to maintain his lead and even extend it to 7 seconds. In the chase, Emiel Verstrynge had taken the place of Vandebosch next to Kielich. Kamp, followed in fourth place.
Ronhaar, who never finished higher than fifth place in his previous three World championships in the U23 and Juniors, made few mistakes, except for a crash on the second lap, and increased his lead on the opposition. With a generous lead of 19 seconds over Kielich, Verstrynge and Kamp, who had rejoined, he started the sixth and final lap. The three pursuers got a little closer, but it was too late. Kamp rode away from the two Belgians for the silver medal. The bronze medal went to Kielich.
World champion, Pim Ronhaar (Ned): “I didn’t believe it until the last lap. I really thought what the fuck and when in the finish straight I also saw that Ryan finished second. That’s fantastic. The water was super high and that made it difficult to find your lines. I am not used to racing on the beach, but was able to find a good tactic for it. Each time I got off in time to run. There I could make a difference. I am going to try cyclocross for two or three years now, but then I also want to go mountain biking and do a road program. I also want to race a full season on the road, but those are concerns for later.”
2nd, Ryan Kamp (Ned): “I feel happy and I am happy for Pim. The disappointment is therefore not that great. This second place was the highest possible today. The first half of the race was not good. I had a cramped feeling and nothing went smoothly. Then my engine started, but by then it was already too late. I believed in it for a long time. Until I slipped on the stairs I thought it was in there. I am happy for the Netherlands. This is one of the best scenarios. There will be more clarity about this soon. In any case, today played a major role in the decision I made.”
3rd, Timo Kielich (Bel): “I came here to win. I only had support from Emiel. Chapeau for what he has done. I couldn’t expect more from him. But I didn’t really have any support from the rest, I had expected more help at times. At the beach it might have been quite difficult to provide support, mainly running. But on the flat: sure. Of course it is mainly due to myself that I did not become a World champion. In a few hours I might think differently about the results.”
World Cyclocross Championships Men U23 – Oostende Result:
1. Pim Ronhaar (Ned) in 49:47
2. Ryan Kamp (Ned) at 0:08
3. Timo Kielich (Bel) at 0:14
4. Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) at 0:19
5. Toon Vandebosch (Bel) at 0:31
6. Mees Hendrikx (Ned) at 0:33
7. Anton Ferdinande (Bel) at 0:55
8. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) at 1:01
9. Ben Turner (GB) at 1:20
10. Tim van Dijke (Ned) at 1:21.
World Cyclocross Championships Women U23 – Oostende 2021
Fem van Empel is the first Women’s Under 23 World cyclocross champion. The 18-year-old talent made he winning move on the sand section of the final lap. The silver went to Aniek van Alphen also of Holland. The Hungarian Kata Blanka Vas took the bronze medal.
After the first crossing of the beach, Inge van der Heijden rode away from a leading group of five. She had Fem van Empel, Aniek van Alphen and Kata Blanka Vas chasing her. Anna Kay couldn’t follow the pace and was forced to chase. At the front, Van der Heijden held on to her lead and at the start of the third lap, the difference was 15 seconds, halfway through the race. Behind; the Hungarian Vas set the pace. The winner of the World Cup for U23 riders managed to close the gap on Van der Heijden on the third lap. Van der Heijden was unable to continue her effort. A leading group of four riders started the final lap: Van Empel, Van Alphen, Vas and Van der Heijden.
Van Empel seemed made a gap in the running section from the coastline to the road. Only Van Alphen could follow her, but after the big bridge Van Empel had made the gap even bigger. Vas finally dropped out on the grassy technical strips and eventually saw Van Empel win the gold, just in front of Van Alphen.
World champion, Fem van Empel (Ned): “When first-year U23’s become World champions right away, that’s incredible. I knew that my condition was good and that it could happen on the mental side. I was very relaxed before the race and always had faith in myself. She (Kata Blanka Vas) was very strong in the sand, but I was surprised that sometimes on the beach she changed line. I was not sure I should do that too, but I think that in the end I rode my own race. I can be more than proud of myself. I had in mind to attack on the big bridge on the last lap, that worked out well. I stayed cool and got off in time. During the run I made a gap. Aniek van Alphen came over for a while, but I think we did well as a team. I have just started and don’t want to force anything. I still have plenty of time and I can grow quietly.”
World Cyclocross Championships Women U23 – Oostende Result:
1. Fem van Empel (Ned) in 36:59
2. Aniek van Alphen (Ned) at 0:03
3. Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) at 0:09
4. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) at 0:27
5. Francesca Baroni (Ita) at 0:54
6. Puck Pieterse (Ned) at 0:56
7. Manon Bakker (Ned) at 1:04
8. Anna Kay (GB) at 1:10
9. Marthe Truyen (Bel) at 1:53
10. Marion Norbert Riberolle (Fra) at 2:11.
Grand Prix La Marseillaise 2021
Aurélien Paret-Peintre won the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise in the south of France on Sunday. The 24-year-old Frenchman of AG2R Citroën won the sprint from a thinned peloton after a race of 171.6 kilometres. He beat his fellow countrymen Thomas Boudat (Arkéa Samsic) and Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels p/b KTM).
A peloton of 118 riders started in Marseille for the first bike race on French soil of 2021. For the Spaniard Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), the race started disastrously. He crashed in the neutralised zone and was forcing to abandon. There was an early break of six riders: Kenny Molly (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Morne Van Niekerk (St Michel-Auber93), the Spaniard Jon Barrenetxea (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Vojtěch Řepa (Equipo Kern Pharma), were joined by Eliot Lietaer (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) and Jens Reynders (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). The six had a maximum lead of 4 minutes, but failed to stay away to the line. There was a regrouping with 35 kilometres to go.
On the climb of the Route des Crête it was Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) who attacked. The Belgian had a gap, but was unable to stay away. Attacks by Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) and Lilian Calmejane (AG2R Citroën) were also unsuccessful. On the descent Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën) made an attempt, but he also could not stay out of the grasp of the peloton. On the way to Marseille there were many attacks. Eventually a leading group of four riders was formed. Benjamin Thomas (Groupama-FDJ), Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo) and Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal), but were caught 10 kilometres out.
In the final, B&B Hotels kept the pace high at the front of the peloton for their sprinter Coquard. A last attempt by Kron wasn’t going to prevent a sprint. The victory would be decided in a battle between three Frenchmen. Coquard took the lead early, but saw Boudat come alongside. On the right it was Paret-Peintre who came good in the last metres. By a half wheel, the third-year professional cyclist achieved his first professional victory.
Race winner, Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citröen): “It’s a tough race that I enjoy. Today, we had big team ambitions. When it all came together in the finale, I didn’t quite believe it. By sneaking into the final, I managed to win in this very special sprint. I won my first professional victory for this opening race, so I am happy. Today the group was super homogeneous. We took turns going on the offensive on the Route des Crêtes. After Clément Venturini’s victory in the French Cyclocross Championship, it was important to start the road campaign well. The dynamics are working for AG2R Citröen team.”
Grand Prix La Marseillaise Result:
1. Aurelian Paret-Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën in 4:24:29
2. Thomas Boudat (Fra) Arkéa Samsic
3. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
4. Francisco Galvan (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
5. Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles
6. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) AG2R Citroën
9. Julien El Fares Julien (Fra) EF Education-Nippo
10. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.
Vuelta Ciclista a la Comunidad Valencia Canceled
The organisers of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Comunidad Valencia Gran Premio Banc Sabadell has decided to postpone its 72nd edition, scheduled for next week, between 3 and 7 February.
Likewise, the 3rd edition of the VCV Féminas that was to be held on Sunday 7 February is postponed for the moment.
The reasons that have prompted this decision are based on the current health situation caused by COVID 19. Above sports interests, the health of all prevails.
The organisation of the VCV studies new dates for its celebration that will be communicated as soon as possible.
From the VCV we appreciate the understanding of this measure, which is adopted from a sense of maximum responsibility and, at the same time, we want to convey our desire for the best recovery to all those affected by the pandemic.
Finally, the VCV thanks our sponsors and collaborators for the support and trust they have always given us.
2020 Valencia winner Tadej Pogačar:
2021 Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux Canceled
The organisers of Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux has decided to put a stop to the 2021 edition. The Belgian stage race for U23 riders would have had its 25th edition this year, but the corona crisis has caused the cancelation this year.
Last year, Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux (2.2U) was also canceled. Now the new date in 2021, from April 2-5, has also been removed from the calendar by organiser Jean-Pierre Delitte. “At the end of December we still had hope that we could organise the race,” he told DirectVélo. “The infection figures seemed to stabilise then, but the number of cases has since increased again. The restrictive measures will not be lifted anytime soon,” said Delitte, who now focuses on 2022.
Delitte also addressed the critical situation for U23 riders. “What does their future look like? Those races are now being canceled quickly. The situation is alarming, and it is time for the UCI to reassess this category by setting up a system with more visibility for U23 races.”
The last winner of Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux was Mikkel Bjerg. The Danish rider, now racing for UAE Team Emirates, was then riding for Hagens Berman Axeon. The two years before, Jasper Philipsen won.
Women’s RideLondon Classic Also Canceled in 2021
The Prudential RideLondon Classique is canceled for the second consecutive year. The organisers ended the chance of the RideLondon Festival continuing on Friday, which includes the WorldTour race for women. The race was scheduled for Sunday, May 30.
In a statement, the organisers said: “It has been confirmed today that the RideLondon Festival, scheduled for the end of May, will be canceled due to the corona pandemic. This decision was taken by the London authorities after consultation with the partners involved in the organisation of the event”
The organisation were still looking for alternative data, but came to the conclusion that cancellation was the best option. “Given the traffic measures to be taken and the number of participants and spectators, we have decided to focus on bringing the event back in 2022.”
Lorena Wiebes was the last winner of the RideLondon Classique in 2019. The then Dutch champion crossed the line in second place in the sprint, but was awarded the victory after disqualification of Kirsten Wild, who was blamed as the cause of a big crash.
The men’s race, the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey, Classic, had already been remover from the race calendar. The organisers had not submitted an application to include the race in the WorldTour for 2021. Elia Viviani won the last edition in 2019.
Viviani won in London in 2019:
Gooikse Pijl Moves Start to Halle
The Gooikse Pijl (1.1) will start from Halle this year, the organisers announced during a press presentation. The one-day race, won by Danny van Poppel last year, always started in Gooik in the past.
Despite the new start in Halle, the race will not change its name. “It is and remains the Gooikse Pijl, starting in Halle,” said Danny Sketch, chairman of the board of Gooik Sportief. Also, Gooik Sportief will start working together with the futsal team Futsal Project Halle-Gooik from this year on. “Both parties are working hard on a major project of national and international resonance,” they announced. The Gooikse Pijl will be held on Sunday 19 September, exactly one week before the World Championship road race, and finish in Leuven. The 1.1 race could be an ideal test for the championships.
The riders will start from Halle and then race to Gooik. Eight more local laps are scheduled in the vicinity of the finish. The organisation has already received applications from the following teams: Jumbo-Visma (with Dylan Groenewegen), Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Israel Start-Up Nation, Lotto Soudal, BORA-hansgrohe and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. Alpecin-Fenix, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles should also be present. Last year the victory in the Gooikse Pijl went to Danny van Poppel. The Dutch sprinter won ahead of Gerben Thijssen and Arvid de Kleijn.
Gooikse Pijl’19 podium:
Clasica de Almeria To Take Place
The Clasica de Almeria has been given the green light by the relevant health authorities. The organisers of the Spanish one-day event, which is on the calendar for Sunday, February 14, announced on Friday.
The organisers held an important meeting with the authorities on Friday to discuss all the details. In recent months, the health situation in Spain and the province of Almeria has been closely monitored and efforts to keep the event within the strictest safety criteria have been redoubled. After the meeting, the race was given the green light, allowing the race to continue on February 14.
“It will be a very special edition, in which we take extreme precautions. We ask all fans to follow the event at home and not get close to the race bubble, the start, the finish or at the side of the road,” said organiser José Manuel Muñoz. “The race finish can be seen live on television via Eurosport and GCN, so fans can still follow the spectacle.”
The Clasica de Almeria will announce the route for this year in the coming days. Eleven WorldTeams and eleven ProTeams have agreed to participate.
Clasica de Almeria’19 went to Ackermann:
Eight WorldTour Teams for the Trofeo Laigueglia
The Italian UCI.HC Classic will have eight WorldTour teams on the start line at the beginning of March. Seven more than in 2020, when only AG2R La Mondiale came to Laigueglia.
Trek-Segafredo, Bahrain Victorious, Movistar, Astana-Premier Tech, Cofidis, Intermarché-Wanty Gobert, AG2R Citroën and Groupama-FDJ are the WorldTour teams traveling to Italy. As in previous years, there will also be an Italian National team. Giulio Ciccone, the 2020 winner, will not be defending his country’s colours, he will be riding for his Trek-Segafredo team.
Giulio Ciccone – 2020 winner:
The Tour Series Moves to August 2021
The Tour Series, the unique town and city centre televised race series, will this year take place in early August 2021.
Organisers SweetSpot have confirmed the move from the series’ traditional May date following the cancellation of the 2020 event due to the global health situation.
Tour Series events will be held over the first two weeks of August with each round featuring both a men’s and women’s race.
Highlights of the Tour Series will remain on free-to-air ITV4 in the UK with more details about the broadcast package for the series to be announced during the year.
The confirmed dates and locations of the rounds will be announced in the coming months alongside more details on the 2021 Tour Series.
As part of their long-standing efforts to promote Britain’s leading domestic teams and riders, SweetSpot are also actively exploring the possibility of staging the first-ever virtual Tour Series to fill the void in the road racing calendar triggered by ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
The company successfully staged a three-day Women’s Tour on the online RGT platform last June after the prestigious UCI Women’s WorldTour race was postponed. The SKODA V-Women’s Tour, which was shown live on BBC Sport and generated 1.5m video views on social media, was won by Welsh rider Leah Dixon (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank).
Hilaire Van der Schueren Weighs Up Uncertainties Ahead of the New Season
Heading to the traditional Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux pre-season training camp in Alfas-del-Pi (Alicante) this January, Hilaire Van der Schueren is preparing his 37th season as sports director. He welcomed new colleagues in his team this winter with the arrival of Valerio Piva and Frédéric Amorison, in addition to Steven De Neef, Jean-Marc Rossignon and Bart Wellens, and was also joined by Aike Visbeek as Performance Manager. Van der Schueren, who has been supporting the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux riders in the DS car since 2014, weighs up the expectations on the team ahead of its first year in the World Tour.
Hilaire Van der Schueren (Sports Director): “During our pre-season training camp, I discovered a tight group, a collective, a family. Despite our entry into the World Tour and the associated change in status, we were able to keep this identity, making our nine new recruits and our new staff feel very welcome. 2021 will be a year of transition for us. We have a lot of assets to play with already this season and will remain keen to reinforce this solid core with top riders or young talents in the years to come.”
“We talked at length about planning for the season, but current health circumstances force us to constantly rethink. In these uncertain times, we must be able to anticipate. The cancellation of races worries me, but I am relived to see that the riders are mainly focused on their preparation. They suppose that the races for which they have been selected will take place, and don’t jeopardise their form. Behind the scenes, we provide them with perspective through sharp and detailed planning. It’s only after the first few races that we will really find out where we are. I know everyone has worked well. Like us, a large number of teams came to Alicante in January, and it was certainly not for a vacation. We will soon find out who prepared well for the start of the season. I expect our riders to perform at their best from the Belgian opening weekend, with the Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. I’m hoping for excellent results in the classics in April.”
Hilaire Van der Schueren:
Marc Hirschi’s Salary Increases From €70,000 to 1 million a Year
Marc Hirschi is not allowed to comment on his much-discussed transfer from Team DSM to UAE Team Emirates this winter. However, according to L’Équipe, there were several reasons for the promising Swiss rider to leave the team of manager Iwan Spekenbrink.
Unsurprisingly, UAE Team Emirates is willing to pay Hirschi well for his services. At Team Sunweb, the classic specialist earned €70,000 per year, but according to L’Équipe, he will earn €1 million per year from his new team. That’s fourteen times more than he earned at Team Sunweb.
Furthermore, Hirschi no longer felt at ease within the structure of Team Sunweb. “Sometimes he had the feeling that he was suffocating within an organisation that was too strict,” a family member of Hirschi told the French sports newspaper. The 22-year-old rider also believed that his achievements were not appreciated.
“I can’t say much about it,” Hirschi answered when asked about the background of his much-discussed transfer. “That has been established in the agreement. I can only say that the opportunity arose to leave. And now I am here and I look forward to the future.”
Hirschi focuses this year on the Ardennes Classics, the Tour de France and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. He will start his season in the UAE Tour in a few weeks. “And the World championships? I have not yet taken a good look at the course, but it is the plan that I will start there.”
Jonas Rutsch Missed GP La Marseillaise Due to Positive Corona Test
EF Education-Nippo started without Jonas Rutsch in the GP La Marseillaise on Sunday. The 23-year-old German tested positive in a corona virus on Saturday and had to stay in self-isolation in the hotel in Nîmes, the American team announced via Twitter.
There were also doubts about the test result of a staff member of EF Education-Nippo, so he was also isolated. On Sunday, Rutsch and the staff member did a retest for corona and it came back negative. Despite this, they both remained in quarantine.
On Monday, the entire EF Education-Nippo ‘bubble’ will be tested again and Rutsch will be included. On Wednesday, the WorldTour team will start the Ètoile de Bessèges.
Van Avermaet and Naesen Start the Season in France
Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen start their season in the Étoile de Bessèges (3-7 February), the AG2R Citroën team announced on Friday. The Classic specialists had to return to the drawing board after the cancellation of the Tour of Valencia and the Ruta del Sol.
The Tour of Valencia has been postponed and the organisers of the Ruta del Sol is now also looking for alternative date. For many riders, an alternative race program must now be planned before the first cobbled Classics. Van Avermaet and Naesen now opt for a start in France.
“Greg and Olivier are now starting their season in Bessèges,” AG2R Citroën said. “Then they go to the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var (19-21 February) to get ready for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.”
The provisional list of participants of the Étoile de Bessèges also includes Michal Kwiatkowski, Geraint Thomas, Bauke Mollema, Rigoberto Urán, Tim Wellens, Nacer Bouhanni and Giacomo Nizzolo. The organisers have announced that the race will continue as usual for the time being.
Van Avermaet ready for 2021:
Nibali Starts the Season in the Ètoile de Bessèges
Due to the cancelation of the Tour of Valencia, many riders have to switch their schedule at the last minute. The Ètoile de Bessèges (3-7 February) is a good alternative for several riders. Vincenzo Nibali is now also starting his season in France.
Trek-Segafredo has a strong selection for the French race. The American team will also have Bauke Mollema and Mads Pedersen. Edward Theuns, Ryan Mullen, Alex Kirsch and new signing Mattias Skjelmose have also been selected.
“The desire to race is great, despite the latest changes,” said Nibali. “Unfortunately, we are still living in uncertain times and we have to take that into account. We can only hope that things will get better soon.” The riders will ride five stages in the south of France next week. Last year, the overall victory went to Benoît Cosnefroy, but the Frenchman of AG2R Citroën will not be riding due to a knee injury.
Trek-Segafredo for Ètoile de Bessèges (3-7 February):
Alex Kirsch (Lux)
Bauke Mollema (Ned)
Ryan Mullen (Ire)
Vincenzo Nibali (Ita)
Mads Pedersen (Den)
Mattias Skjelmose (Den)
Edward Theuns (Bel).
Vincenzo Nibali to start 2021 in France:
Ciccone Close to Contract Extension Till End of 2023
Giulio Ciccone is close to a contract extension until the end of 2023 with Trek-Segafredo. Allegedly, only the final details need to be written in ink.
La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that for Ciccone, his third season with Trek-Segafredo has yet to begin, but he already seems close to an agreement for a longer stay with the team. His planned start to the season was to be in the canceled Tour of Valencia, which means that he will be action for the first time in the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. His main goals in 2021 are the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España.
The climber has been racing for Trek-Segafredo since 2019, after coming from Bardiani-CSF. His performances in the Giro, where he won a stage in 2016 at the age of just 21, had not gone unnoticed by the American team. In his first year in the team, he won another stage in the Giro and took the victory in the KOM classification. In the Tour he then wore the yellow jersey for two days, after which his contract was extended until the end of 2021.
Giulio Ciccone in Tour’19 yellow:
Kamil Malecki Home After Two Months in Hospital
Kamil Malecki, who suffered a serious fall during training at the end of last year, was in a hospital in Poland for no less than two months. However, the rider is now back home, where he can continue to work on his rehabilitation.
25-year-old Malecki, who played for CCC last year, broke his collarbone and pelvis in a fall during training. “There are a lot of small fractures. It is difficult to perform surgery. The doctors came to the conclusion that I should just rest now, because there is a chance that the healing process will take place on its own.”
“I will eventually undergo a scan to see if the fractures heal by themselves,” Malecki said after the crash. The Pole is happy to have been released from hospital almost two months later. “This is such a huge relief. I am so happy that I can now be with my family again. My rehabilitation process can now really begin. The goal is to return even stronger.”
“This is without a doubt the best news of the day,” his team Lotto Soudal tweeted. The rider managed to impress his own people in 2020. Małecki finished sixth in a heavily occupied Tour of Poland. He also finished 68th in the Giro d’Italia.
Tolhoek Recovering from Groin Surgery
The recovery of Antwan Tolhoek, who underwent surgery on his femoral artery last autumn, is progressing well. Despite the fact that such an operation has a long recovery time, the climber was already on the bike and on the Jumbo-Visma training camp. In March he hopes to make his return to the peloton.
Tolhoek had been suffering from loss of strength in his leg while racing for years, he told PZC. However, he always postponed the operation. “It’s not nothing, quite a radical operation. Of course, something can always go wrong. For a long time it went well in terms of performance despite the ailment, but at one point I had to plan this operation, because cycling longer was simply not an option.”
After the Giro, where he and his teammates stopped in the second week after a positive corona test by Steven Kruijswijk, the climber shifted his focus to the long-planned operation. The recovery is now going well. “I am ahead of schedule and I am eager to race. They say it takes about six months for you to fully recover, but I hope sooner. I already cycled a lot and went to a training camp. The outlook is bright.”
Tolhoek hopes to return to the peloton in March. “I have a nice program, but no Giro or Tour. They will probably come too soon. But I am on the longlist for the Vuelta. It would be nice if I could end the year there in a nice way. That pinched artery has limited me for years. I jokingly said to my teammates that now is the time for the Antwan 2.0. It’s going well, but I don’t want to be too cocky.”
“Let’s first see how it will translate into the races,” he added. The Volta a Catalunya, which starts on March 22, should be his first race of the season. After that, the Volta Limburg Classic, the Tour de Romandie, the Tour of Norway and the Tour of Switzerland are also on his provisional program.
Antwan Tolhoek in the Tour du Suisse’19:
Gonçalves Suspended for Four Years
Domingos Gonçalves has been suspended for four years due to fluctuations in his blood passport. The Portuguese rider has not been in action as a cyclist for a while. The ex-rider of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA has been suspended until December 12, 2023.
The fluctuations date from the 2016-2018 period. During those years Gonçalves rode for Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and the Portuguese Radio Popular Boavista team. He was successful in the Volta a Portugal and won three national titles. These victories have since been taken from him.
The 31-year-old Gonçalves – the twin brother of Delko rider José Gonçalves – had already been temporarily suspended by the UCI. He started his career in 2012 with the modest Onda team and then raced for several continental teams. After four seasons, he had a chance to race with the larger Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team.
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