EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

The first cobble Classics of the season have rattled by: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne – all the news and video from Belgium, plus the shortened UAE Tour and Faun-Ardèche Classic. The men in orange are back – Top Story. Loads of other cycling news: Gianni Moscon in trouble, Denise Betsema and Laurens Sweeck extend with Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal, Alabama Cycling Classic and USA CRITS and Series Events.

TOP STORY: Euskaltel back as main sponsor
Euskaltel will return to the cycling peloton. According to several Basque media, Fundación Euskadi has announced that the Basque telephone provider will be the new main sponsor. Retuning to the old times in the Basque Country.

Euskadi-Petronor was founded in 1994, a cycling team with only cyclists from the Basque region of Spain and France. Soon after the telephone company, Euskaltel, became a sponsor. The characteristic orange kit worn by Samuel Sánchez, Joseba Beloki, Roberto Laiseka, Iban Mayo and Haimar Zubeldia are remembered by many.

In 2013, the Basque cycling team came to an end after twenty years, due to the loss of sponsors. In those twenty years, Euskaltel managed to achieve a total of 152 victories, including a total of twenty stage victories in the three Grand Tours and final victories in the Dauphiné, the Tour of Switzerland and the Tour of the Basque Country. Samuel Sánchez also provided podium places in the Vuelta a España (2007 and 2009) and the Tour de France (2010).

The Euskadi-Murias team has been active in the professional peloton in recent years, but it also failed due to the lack of money. Meanwhile, under the direction of Mikel Landa, an amateur team was under construction: Fundación Euskadi. In the recognisable orange jerseys, that team wanted to put Basque cycling back on the map. Fundación Euskadi was an amateur team since 2017, with support from bicycle brand Orbea and clothing brand Etxeondo, and has grown to become a professional team. Last winter the team received a ProTeam license from the UCI. With Euskaltel as the new main sponsor, the team can grow further.

Fundación Euskadi has now presented the Basque telephone provider Euskaltel as the new main sponsor. Mikel Landa is the standard bearer of Basque cycling and the force behind the Fundación Euskadi and is happy with the return of Euskaltel. “We want to return to the highest level as a team. It is moving in the right direction with the attraction of Euskaltel and the move to ProTeam level.” Xabier Iturbe – the man behind Euskaltel – is also happy now that the world has been informed. “We have a successful history with cycling and we want to achieve success again.”

The Orange Men back in the peloton:

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020
Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) took the victory in the first of the spring classics, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, he beat Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) in the final sprint. Soren Kragh-Andersen (Sunweb) was third.

The three were part of the winning escape of the day, along with Declercq (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma), Frison (Lotto Soudal) and Trentin (CCC), it formed 70km from the finish, in a race where the big favourites (Van Avermaet, Stybar, Van Aert, Naesen etc.) did not have their day.

The early break included Mas and Jorgenson (Movistar), Boaro (Astana), Leysen (Alpecin-Fenix) and Paasschens (Wallonie Bruxelles). A chasing group of 16 was formed with big names like Stybar, Pedersen, Pollit, Wellens, Stuyven and Declercq, they managed to reduce the gap to thirty seconds, with 120km left. The peloton was at 1 minute.

The three groups got together with 100km to go, 12km later and the wind split the race into echelons, Vanmarcke, Valgren, Van Aert and Van Avermaet were at the front. Stannard (Ineos) went at 76km and Van Avermaet (CCC) tried to get a break going, but failed. Eventually a group of eight, including Lampaert, Declercq, Teunissen, Stuyven and Trentin, managed to get away with the Ineos (Rowe and Stannard) trying to hold them. The effort of the British team was not enough, and the leading group had 1:20 at 58 km from the line. They worked well together and soon had 2 minutes. On the Molenberg (43km), Declercq and Frison suffered and a chase group formed, the peloton was at 2:46.

On the Leberg (36 km) the lead group had 1:25 on the chase and 1:58 on the peloton. Van Aert and Benoot came from behind and managed to reduce the lead a little. However, the main pack had not given up and was not far behind the chasers. On the Kapelmuur (18km); Declercq and Frison were in trouble as Stuyven and Lampaert were the strongest, followed by Kragh-Andersen and Trentin a at a few seconds. In the peloton; Naesen, Van Avermaet, Stybar, Benoot and Van Aert put the pressure on, but it seemed that it was already too late. Lampaert, Stuyven and Kragh-Andersen were off the front, followed by a solo Trentin at 15 seconds.

5K to go and the leading trio had 20 seconds on Trentin. Teunissen, Declercq and Frison were more than a minute back. The Italian did not give up, while Lampaert attacked 2K from the end to drop Kragh-Andersen, but still had Stuyven on his wheel. The victory was going to be decided between them. In the final stretch, Lampaert couldn’t get past Stuyven and knew well before the line he was beaten. The third place went to Kragh-Andersen.

Read the full PEZ race Report HERE.

2020 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo): “It is a great pleasure to show that I am standing in the opening classic right away. I told all the boys last night that we had to be attentive in front, especially in this weather. That certainly wasn’t lost energy. I think the focus was from start to finish. I think racing ahead has paid off today. This is the best, yes, anyway. I saw Yves sitting to the left of my wheel. I think I closed the door in a good way, and not completely. I think that’s a sprint. I don’t think there was an exaggerated error. I wanted to show the team today that last year was a mistake. That that was not the normal course of events. It is a great pleasure to immediately show in the opening classic that I have there.”

2nd, Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “My finish line was the Muur. I gave everything to make sure the group with Lampy would have the biggest lead possible there. Knowing the bunch was split, I kept going once I dropped out and tried to get a good personal result. It’s my first top 10 in the Classics and it feels very nice. I’m also happy I managed to do my job for the team. We took matters in our own hands again and showed a lot of character. I’m happy with my race, but I would have loved to win so I could repay the team’s effort, and especially Tim’s huge amount of work. He was phenomenally strong, raced with his nose in the wind and still finished fifth. In that sense I am disappointed, although I can be satisfied too, because finishing on the podium at the first Classic of the year isn’t that bad. Overall, it’s nice to get a good result in the Opening Weekend, and to see the team so committed and strong, physically and tactically.”

3rd, Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb): “Guys were starting to jump in the headwind and I followed a few attacks. After a few times I thought I would try to go myself as we wanted to be active in the front. Suddenly we had a gap and a good group, and we worked together so the gap got bigger and bigger. I felt my legs on the Muur and the Bosberg. The other two were slightly stronger than me on the climbs so I was gambling for a sprint against them, and hoping they were empty. They attacked and I had nothing left so just tried to come as fast as possible to the finish. I’m really happy to finish on the podium at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, it is a big race and everyone is in top shape. Also for the team to start the classics campaign with a podium is really good. We aim for the win in the future and of course would have liked to win today but we have to start somewhere so I’m really happy and the team is really happy with the result.”

8th, Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal): “I trained well. It was complicated today. On the one hand because I had no competition information at all, because my radio connection did not work. On the other hand, because this race came too early for me, as expected. And during the first race hours I was bothered by the cold. The rain in particular caused frozen hands. It took two hours for me to get warm again. Until then I had limited myself to following. I ended up in a group minutes from the group with Van Avermaet and Van Aert, but together with Teuns and Drucker, among others, we continued to race. It turned around well and the motivation grew when we saw the following cars in the distance ahead. That we could return is a good signal. This has been good training. The leading group was already too far away. And with Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Jumbo-Visma, CCC and Trek too many strong blocks were represented.”

11th, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “I had hoped to be good and that happened. We can continue to build on this course. I think there were a lot of fear of heading early so that way the leading group could stay ahead.”

13th, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC): “I was fine, but with Matteo Trentin in the front, I was trapped in team tactics. That’s racing. That’s what they call team tactics. That’s just a race. Somehow that situation wasn’t bad for me either, because that way I could save myself in case everything came together again. But that has not happened. A minute on such a course is still a lot. I had known for a long time that it would be extremely difficult. At the back there were not many boys able to correct anything. Then you realise that the birds are flying.”

12th, Jean-Pierre Drucker (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I lost so much time after my puncture, I didn’t even want to continue the race that moment. But I gave it a try, rode my own race and managed to catch group after group. My shape is pretty good already, but of course I spent a huge amount of energy in that chase. In the finale I managed to stay with the favourites and contested in the sprint for 7th place. But on the final stretch I didn’t have enough power left.”

19th, Aimé De Gendt (Circus-Wanty Gobert): “I was hoping to finish in the top 10. On the Muur in Geraardsbergen we escaped with eight riders behind, but the chase behind the leaders wasn’t smooth because of team tactics. I tried on my own on the Bosberg, but it was still 10 kilometre to go. I planned a last attack in the final straight, but the pace of our group was too high. I performed well thanks to the help of Pieter Vanspeybrouck and Boy van Poppel. Last year I finished 2nd in Le Samyn, so I hope to use my good form for a good result next Tuesday as well.”

Attacker, Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished 20th: “For a long time the race went well for us. When the initial break was caught, I was part in every dangerous group. I think everybody was able to see that my shape is pretty good. Unfortunately, I missed the decisive move and also when I attacked later, there was no real cooperation in the group. I don’t know if the others couldn’t, or didn’t want to push, but as a consequence we have been caught with around 25 km to go. After that my race was basically over. We’ll see how the race goes tomorrow, but if there is a chance, I’ll go for it again.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020
1. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo in 5:03-24
2. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb at 0:06
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC at 0:39
5. Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:28
6. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
7. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
10. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step.

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2020
Kasper Asgreen notched up Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s eighth victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne after a towering effort which saw him attack with more than 30 kilometres to go, catch and drop the members of the breakaway and hold off an entire furious peloton, thus leaving an indelible impression on the Opening Weekend.

Twenty-four after an untimely mechanical took him out of contention at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Asgreen was one of the prominent riders on Sunday, drilling the pace for the Wolfpack and getting himself involved in several moves that went clear on the challenging course comprising eleven hills. Crosswinds contributed to these skirmishes, with attacks happening everywhere inside the last 100 kilometres, and our squad always had at least one man in every single one of these groups.

Riding just his second Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Asgreen married imagination and adventure in attacking with 44 kilometres to go, swiftly opening a small gap and catching the escapees, of whom two latched onto his wheel. Fully committed to pulling at the front of this newly-formed group, the 25-year-old single-handedly took the gap to 45 seconds, before riding the remains of the break off his wheel, with 16, respectively 9 kilometres to go, and going into time trial mode, tucked over the handlebars of his Specialized machine.

When the gap dropped to ten seconds inside the last kilometres, it looked like the catch would be inevitable, but Kasper gritted his teeth and kept pushing through the pain, going under the flamme rouge with the smallest of margins. The bunch drew closer in this nail-biting finale, but there was nothing else they could do, as the Dane finally eased up and stretched his arms to celebrate an incredible victory that came as testament of his bravery and determination.

Read the full PEZ Race Report HERE.

Kuurne’20 winner, Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “It’s definitely the biggest victory of my career! Taking a classic is so important, because when I turned pro, I had the goal of developing myself into a classics-type of rider, and to win this hard but beautiful race, just two years into my pro career, means so much to me! We had such an incredible start of the season and we hope to rack up many more solid results. Bob told me in the bus this morning to do what he did last year, when he too attacked and claimed a solo victory here, so I just followed his advice, knowing the small and narrow roads would play into my favour. I jumped to counter an attack after the Kluisberg, joined the guys in the break and then dropped them one by one. It was really tough, my legs were screaming and I really suffered out there, but I kept going and began believing only at the 300-metre-to-go sign. The Opening Weekend was very good for us, we showed incredible teamwork and these results cement our confidence before the next Classics, when we want to be again up there.”

2nd, Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT): “It’s never nice to win the sprint for second place, but I felt good today, so I can be happy with my performance. Someone was stronger today, but we will continue to go for it. I am already looking forward to the next rates.”

3rd, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates): “When I made the first selection over the Kwaremont climb I knew the legs were good. I went a bit early in the sprint but it’s still a good result for me. Yesterday didn’t go to plan so to get on the podium today is really nice. Bjerg had a strong ride too but had some bad luck with the puncture. With the high level here I think a podium is a good result for the opening weekend.”

4th, Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Kasper is really a beast, that is not normal. He does it like Bob Jungels last year. I knew that if he were caught back, I could win. We deliberately did not lead-out because we saw that he could win. I was locked up for the podium myself, but it’s all about a place and that is a profit. If Kasper wins, then I win too. I sometimes miss him. Fortunately, we quickly decided to put it right, then we do it with strong men. We could see him in the final and made sure we checked everything. I was ready for a sprint if it was for the first place. I would like to come back here to win.”

25th, Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix): “I am very satisfied with my race, but unfortunately I have not been rewarded with a good result, thanks to Fabio Jakobsen. Only thanks to my experience from the cross did I stay upright. I got a huge push from Fabio Jakobsen 300 metres from the finish. My shoe plate is completely broken. Fortunately I have some experience of cyclocross. I had to do a world saver not to crash, but sprinting was no longer possible. A pity, because I rode a good race, I think. There was a fear that I would not survive. I was greatly encouraged on the climbs. Goosebumps! I got ahead with a nice leading group. However, the fact that Deceuninck – Quick-Step only had Stybar was to our disadvantage. That’s how the peloton came back. Nothing to be done about it. I hope that this spring I will get another chance to get a good result. My condition is fine already.”

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Result:
1. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 4:47:18
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT at 0:03
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
4. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
5. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-McLaren
7. Ben Swift (GB) Ineos
8. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar
9. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) EF Pro Cycling
10. Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ.

UAE Tour 2020
Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) won Stage 5 of the UAE Tour, finishing in Jebel Hafeet. The Slovenian was the best from a group of five favourites who fought it out for the stage win. He beat Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) by the slimmest of margins. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) matched the attacks of Pogacar on the long final climb to finish third was close to the stage win.

Five riders escaped early in the stage: Larry Warbasse, James Knox, Tosh Van der Sande, Cristian Scaroni and Andrea Garosio, they had a maximum lead of 6 minutes. After 80 kilometres before, the peloton was led by Ineos and UAE Team Emirates as the wind caused echelons. This halved the lead and the peloton broke in two parts. Many of the top men had been surprised, including Alexey Lutsenko, third overall. The Kazakh was able to return to the main chase group because the pace in the peloton eased up. A few other attempts to cause echelons were disrupted by the Mitchelton-Scott team.

With a two-minute lead, the front riders started the 10-kilometre long climb of Jebel Hafeet. Knox was by far the best climber, and dropped the others within a kilometre. UAE Team Emirates took the lead in the peloton, with Tadej Pogacar hoping to be able to attack the overall leader, Adam Yates. Davide Formolo picked up the pace for Pogacar, and little by little Knox’s lead was closed down by the thinned-out group of GC men. Pogacar put in his first attack at 4.5 kilometres with little effect. Yates had no problem and then continued the move, with Pogacar, Lutsenko and David Gaudu in his wheel.

Pogacar tried a few times to drop Yates, but it didn’t work. Yates put in his attack 2.5 kilometres from the finish, which was too much for Lutsenko and Gaudu, Pogacar managed to jump to Yates’s wheel with a big effort. Yates and Pogacar eased off the pace, letting Lutsenko and Gaudu return. Ilnur Zakarin (CCC) managed join them from behind, for a five man sprint for the stage victory. Lutsenko was the first through the last corner, but was still overtaken by Pogacar. Third place on the day was for Yates, who retained the lead and only has to survive two more flat stages to win the 2020 UAE Tour.

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “It was an amazing win. On the climb I tried to attack over five times but I saw Yates was strong so I played it smart and waited for the sprint. I started the sprint quite early because I knew the last corner was crucial. We took the corner side by side but I kept fighting and pushing until the line. I saw the gap in the last metres and I threw the bike and won in the end. The whole team worked perfectly today. This was my first big goal of the year and a home win for the team is really incredible.”

Overall leader and 3rd on the stage, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): “I felt good. For sure two days ago I got a big advantage but today all I did was stay with other key guys and out of trouble. That’s what it is. It’s all good. For sure I don’t want to lose the lead of this race any time soon. The next two stages are fairly flat but we’ll have to pay attention to the wind. Today it was windy and there were a lot of nervous guys, so we’ll just have to keep calm. Hopefully in two days’ time I’ll be here again to comment on the overall victory. It would be nice to get the first win in the first race of the season. I’ve been training well and the condition is there, so I wanna try and win the UAE Tour.”

2nd on the stage and 3rd overall, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana): “Of course, I feel disappointed because I was really close to a stage win today. But, in the same time I know that I did not do any mistake in the final and I gave my all in that sprint, so I have no regrets. I’ve never experienced that before, but today after crossing the finish line I fell down completely exhausted. I did my maximum today. It is a pity I did not win, but I can be proud with my performance on this climb. I felt much better today than two days ago, when I suffered from the heat, so I could show a better result on the climb. I’ve got some record numbers on the climb and I feel like I am improving in this start of the season. The stage was not easy because of the wind and in a moment I had to stop to change my bike after a mechanical, and later I had to spend some energy to come back in the group. I would like to thank my team for a huge support both today and during the whole week. We have a climbing roster in this race, but notwithstanding this the guys day by day are doing a fantastic job for me. Also today, my teammates were always next to me helping in the most difficult moments. At the bottom of the climb they moved me up there in front, placing on a good position. Indeed, a stage win was a goal, but in the same time I had to protect my podium place, so I had to keep an eye on Gaudu and Majka. Gaudu was very strong today and I had to answer to many attacks to protect my position in the general classification. I am happy to keep my third place after this super hard day. Well, the race is not over yet and for sure we will have stressful stages in the next two days. But with the help of the team I hope to reach the final podium here in UAE.”

The UAE Tour had two more stages to run, but due to ‘suspected’ coronavirus cases, the organising committee cancelled the remaining stages.

“The decision has been taken to ensure protection of all the Race’s participants,” said the Higher Organising Committee, adding that em>”safety comes at the top of all priorities.”

The Ministry of Health and Prevention said that all the Race’s participants, administrative staff and organisers will be examined through the continuous periodic screening being conducted, and all needed procedures, including quarantine measures, will be taken to ensure viral suppression and curb the spread of its outbreak in coordination with all health and other authorities concerned in the country. The ministry added that all the necessary precautions to ensure highly efficient preventive measures are being taken, including check-ups and observation of people in contact with patients, to guarantee the protection of the society and its safety and preserve public trust.

Following the decision by the relevant local authorities to cancel the last two stages, the final result of the race are those at the end of stage 5.

Up Date on Saturday
Laboratory tests confirm 167 quarantined contacts free of COVID-19

Abu Dhabi, 29 February 2020 – The Higher Organising Committee notifies the following statement from the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi:

The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH-AD), affirmed that laboratory tests conducted for 167 cases of quarantined contacts of two cases of Coronavirus, COVID-19, announced on Thursday, have returned negative.

In a statement the DoH-AD said, “It is still monitoring the condition of the remaining cases of contacts, whom lab test findings will be available within the next few hours”.

UAE Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 3:48:53
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
3. Adam Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott
4. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:04
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) CCC at 0:07
6. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:23
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
8. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 0:24
9. Victor De la Parte (Spa) CCC
10. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:27.

UAE Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Adam Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott in 20:35:04
2. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 1:01
3. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana at 1:33
4. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 1:48
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 2:11
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 2:34
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) CCC
8. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 2:39
9. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 2:47
10. Victor De la Parte (Spa) CCC at 2:51.

Faun-Ardèche Classic 2020
Rémi Cavagna became the seventh different Deceuninck – Quick-Step to notch up a victory this season, after a bold breakaway which saw him attack from the gun, drop his companions with 50 kilometres to go in inclement weather conditions and soldier on all the way to the finish in Valence, where he won by a huge margin of three minutes over the closest chasers.

Grey clouds and cold temperatures greeted the peloton at the start of Saturday’s Ardèche Classic (184.4km), which soon was battered by the rain, making things even more complicated and whittling down the peloton, several riders deciding to call it a day in the first hour of the race. At that point, Cavagna – who had launched the first attack of the day – was already at the front with four other guys, enjoying a four-minute lead, that at least on paper, looked manageable for the bunch.

As always when going into the break, Rémi had other plans and was determined to not go down without a fight, setting the tempo unfazed by the short but stinging climbs and putting in an awesome amount of effort which helped the five-man group extend their advantage to six minutes midway through the race. Sensing an opportunity was up for grabs, the 24-year-old pushed the pedal to the metal again, only Ben King (NTT) being capable of joining him, but not even this pleased the Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider, who threw caution to the wind and went again with 50 kilometres to go, opening up a small gap.

What were ten seconds turned into one minute on Côte de Toulaud, and the advantage kept creeping out over the up-and-down course, while from behind, several riders got out of the saddle, stirring things in the peloton, where cracks began to appear. For his part, Cavagna continued to build time, powering over Saint-Romain-de-Lerps and Val d’Enfer climbs, not even the wet descents being able to slow down the “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand”, who remained in beast mood until the finish in Valence. There, he was greeted by a big round of applause as he sealed his fourth career victory in the race two more Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders – Mikkel Honoré and neo-pro Andrea Bagioli – concluded in the top 10.

Race winner, Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Today was chilly and wet, thus adding to the difficulty of the race, but I felt good, gave everything and did my own race, and I’m really happy of how things panned out. I love breakaways, it motivates me a lot when I’m at the front, and to take a victory for the Wolfpack so early in the season feeds my confidence. I know these two races, but to be quite frank, I initially wanted to try something on Sunday, because I thought today would be too hard for me. I attacked on the first climb because I didn’t want to spend the entire race in the bunch with all this rain. I felt strong, did my turns and then dropped the others. Once I got a gap, I kept a solid tempo and I remained confident that I was capable of going all the way to the line, especially after my break in La Provence, when I got caught only on the Ventoux. Ok, the final was different here, but still very tough, so to pull it off after such a long breakaway feels great!”

Faun-Ardèche Classic Result:
1. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 5:13:10
2. Tanel Kangert (Est) EF Pro Cycling at 2:51
3. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 2:55
4. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkea-Samsic at 3:24
5. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis at 4:35
6. Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Vini Zabù-KTM at 5:07
7. Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 5:22
8. Benjamin King (USA) NTT at 5:36
9. Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 5:38
10. Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 5:43

‘Bad Boy’ Moscon in Trouble Again
Ineos rider Gianni Moscon was disqualified by the race jury in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday, because of “aggressive behaviour towards other riders.” The Italian was involved in a crash and then threw the bike of another rider.

The incident happened on the run-up to the Oude Kwaremont on a grass sided narrow road. Moscon was amongst the fallers with a B&B Hotels-Vital Concept rider. The Italian grabbed a bike and threw it at Jens Debusschere, the French team rider. After studying the race images, the jury intervened immediately. It was not Gianni Moscon’s day. The Italian was not only thrown out of the race, afterwards he received an additional fine of 200 Swiss francs for malicious behaviour. In addition to the exclusion, the 200 Swiss franc fine and the loss of 10 UCI points, he also received a further 500 Swiss franc fine for disposing of waste outside the designated area.

Debusschere spoke to the media after the race: “It’s a series of incidents and it’s always the same guy. It’s not only this incident, there’s many more incidents. If you ask around in the peloton about how their relation is with him, then ninety per cent will react negatively.”

Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal Extends Betsema and Sweeck Contracts
Denise Betsema and Laurens Sweeck will continue to compete for Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal in the coming years. Betsema has extended her contract until the end of 2024, while Belgian champion Sweeck continues to defend the colours of the team until 2022.

The 27-year-old Betsema only came into action late last cyclocross season due to a doping suspension. She came second on her return in the Kasteelcross of Zonnebeke. She also took the podium in Middelkerke, Hulst and Oostmalle. But the high point was in Leuven, when she won the Grand Prix of Leuven after a long solo for Annemarie Worst and Sanne Cant. “How Denise came back shows how much talent, motivation and willpower she has”, team manager Mettepenningen said. “My faith in her is very strong.”

“I wanted to give Denise the certainty and confidence that it can continue to grow in peace.” Betsema is also happy with the extension. “Mutual trust is huge. Jurgen has continued to support me in the difficult period that I have had. I really experienced that support as special. I also feel very much at home here. That gives peace.”

Sweeck had the best year of his cyclocross career at Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal, with the Belgian title in Antwerp and the overall victory in the Superprestige. “It has always been my intention to keep my strongholds together. Together with Eli and Michael, Laurens forms a perfect and complementary trio,” said Mettepenningen.

Sweeck did not hesitate to put his signature at the bottom of a new commitment. “I came to Jurgen as a result of the merger of the two teams, but I have since noticed that everything is going perfectly here. I feel fine here and that is why a contract extension is a logical step.” The team also extended Eli Iserbyt’s contract earlier.

Denise Betsema:

National Spotlight for Criterium Racing Returns in April at Alabama Cycling Classic
Registration Open for Bicycle Races; Vendor Applications Available for Noble Street Festival.

The speed and prestige of national bicycle races for amateur and elite athletes returns to Calhoun County April 18-19 for the Alabama Cycling Classic. The spring weekend begins Saturday with the 18th annual Sunny King Criterium, held adjacent to the popular Noble Street Festival in downtown Anniston. On Sunday, the doubleheader of two-wheeled racing will feature the new Piedmont Criterium, held in downtown Piedmont, Ala.

Now in its 18th year, the Sunny King Criterium attracts top talent from across the country as part of USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour (PRT). The Sunny King Criterium is the first of nine national criterium events (single-day criterium or multi-day criterium omnium) on the PRT racing calendar. Saturday offers 20 categorised events for men and women, from junior to elite racers. The one-kilometre, four-turn course will begin and end at E. 11th Street near Noble Street in downtown Anniston.

This year marks the first time in seven years that a pair of criterium events will be featured at the Alabama Cycling Classic. Located in the northern region of Calhoun County, Sunday’s Piedmont Criterium will provide eight categorised races for juniors, men and women. A new one-kilometre course will be located in downtown Piedmont.

The total prize purse for the Alabama Cycling Classic will exceed $29,000, with equal payouts for women and men. For the Sunny King Criterium, elite women and men will split the $25,000 prize purse and vye for PRT points. The online broadcast for the Sunny King Criterium will be provided again by sponsor Alabama Power from Noon to 9 p.m. CDT. Racing action will be called by professional sports commentators Brad Sohner and Frankie Andreu.

The Noble Street Festival returns with food, music and family activities adjacent to the bicycle course on Saturday. Spectators will find many free activities and live music for the entire family along Noble Street between 9th and 11th streets. Hours for the Noble Street Festival have been extended this year from 11 am to 7 pm favourites returning for 2020 will be the Sunny King Kids Zone, YMCA Kids Bicycle Races and Mad Dash 1K (ages 12 and under), and the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA) Fat Tire Crit.

Admission is free to the festival and bicycle races for all for spectators. Online registration is currently open until April 15 for racers, with fees ranging from $10 for juniors to $50 for elite riders. Applications for festival vendors are being accepted online until April 3, 2020. Registration for YMCA Kids Bicycle Races and Mad Dash 1K will be available at area schools and the day of the event, with the fees ranging from $6 per event or $10 for both.

Sunny King Criterium registration –
Piedmont Criterium registration –
Noble Street Festival vendor application, information –

A portion of proceeds from all race registration fees will be donated to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life chapter of Calhoun County. Since 2002, more than $120,000 has been raised for cancer research and patient support. In addition to Sunny King Automotive, sponsors for the Alabama Cycling Classic include Sunny King Automotive, Alabama Power, Visit Calhoun County, Webb Concrete & Building Materials, B.R. Williams Trucking, Regions Bank, Regional Medical Center, Consolidated Publishing Company, Eastman Chemical Company, Multimetco, Wakefield’s/Martin’s Family Clothing Co., Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, State of Alabama Tourism Department – Sweet Home Alabama, Calhoun County Commission.

For information about race registration, calendar of events and downtown activities, visit the Alabama Cycling Classic website ( Follow the Alabama Cycling Classic on Facebook (AlabamaCyclingClassic), Instagram (AlabamaCyclingClassic) and Twitter (@AlabamaCycling #AnnistonCycling). Follow the Noble Street Festival on Facebook (NobleStreetFestival). Follow the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour on Twitter (@USACycling).

USA CRITS and Series Events partner to support Ronald McDonald House Charities
For the 2020 season, in partnership with the eleven Series races, USA CRITS will be offering fans of the sport the opportunity to give back. Funds will be raised around each event to help support the local market Ronald McDonald House, while also supporting the athletes competing in the Series. The Give Back Prime will take place near the end of each female and male D1 race. Primes are cash awards given to the winner of a designated lap, adding more excitement to the race.

Throughout the week leading into the event, fans will be able to contribute online at and During the race, fans in attendance and watching the live broadcast will be able to text-to-give their contributions. Donors will be recognised during the live stream broadcast. 50% of the funds raised will go directly to athletes and 50% will stay locally with the area Ronald McDonald House.

Ronald McDonald Houses reduce the financial burden on families with sick children and allow them to stay together close to the child’s medical care. Families from each house will be invited to the race as VIP guests, D1 teams will visit with children to lift their spirits, and live stream watch parties will be hosted. “We want to continue to find ways to give back to the communities that put on these great Series events,” said Scott Morris, USA CRITS Director of Development.

“We are really looking forward to some national companies who want to see American cycling succeed to step up with matching pledges while fans kick-in to support their team and this great cause,” said Mike Cooley, ASWD Twilight Criterium Director/Boise Development Cycling Foundation Chair. $10,000 toward the effort has already been raised with contributions from Boise Development Cycling and all eleven of the 2020 USA CRITS Series events. “My family spent an extended time in a Ronald McDonald House while my sister went through a bone marrow transplant. The support of the house and resident families truly helped us get through a challenging time,” said Scott Morris, USA CRITS Director of Development.

Links will be provided on each event website as well as on to allow fans to show their support and give back to a wonderful cause.

USA CRITS – Partnering toward a sustainable, watchable, team-based format for the sport of criterium racing in America.

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