Mathieu van der Poel will start his 2021 road season in the UAE Tour, but he did win three cross races in a row – TOP STORY and results from Hulst, Gulligem and the GP Sven Nys in Baal. Other news: No quarantine at the Olympic Games. Team news from Team BikeExchange, Qhubeka Assos, Arkea Samsic, Movistar and Spekenbrink talks Giro. Rider news: Philippe Gilbert on Groenewegen, Nairo Quintana training, Luka Pibernik and Romain Le Roux retire. Race news from Ster van Bessèges and Giro d’Italia. New kit from Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Israel Start-Up Nation, Team SD Worx, Jumbo-Visma and UAE Emirates. Happy EUROTRASH New Year.
TOP STORY: No Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne for Mathieu van der Poel
We will not see Mathieu van der Poel next month at the start of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, according to Het Nieuwsblad, the Dutch champion will start his season in the UAE Tour, which is scheduled for 21 to 27 February.
After that, Van der Poel will race in Tirreno-Adriatico or Paris-Nice, depending on the course. For the rest, there is still a lot of uncertainty: the Alpecin-Fenix rider has only promised his participation in Dwars door Vlaanderen, the race he won two years ago.
Van der Poel will be riding cyclocross until January 30, when he closes his season at the World championship in Ostend. After that, he has twenty days to prepare for the WorldTour race in the Middle East. Last year, Van der Poel started his road season in the Tour of the Algarve, the year before in the Tour of Antalya.
Mathieu van der Poel has confirmed that he will start his road season in the UAE Tour. “I think that’s a better run-up to the classics that I’m aiming for just a bit more than the opening weekend,” he told Sporza.
Should Van der Poel choose Paris-Nice, he will miss Strade Bianche. The Italian gravel Classic is held a day before the start of the French stage race. “I hadn’t thought about that yet. I have to look at it all again. When it comes, I would love to ride the Strade Bianche. The rest of my program will be a bit the same as always. The main objective is the two monuments: the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Hell should be the highlight of my spring.”
No Belgian season start for Van der Poel in 2021:
UCI Cyclocross World Cup Men – Hulst 2021
Mathieu van der Poel won the World Cup in Hulst with a very strong showing on Sunday. The Alpecin-Fenix World champion got off to a good start, rode away on the second lap and finished solo an hour later. Wout van Aert started with difficulty, but took second place and retained the lead in the World Cup. Tom Pidcock was third.
The fastest start came from Toon Aerts and Mathieu van der Poel, who broke away in the opening lap. Early in the second round, World Cup leader Wout van Aert had some problems in the pits, losing precious seconds to Aerts and Van der Poel. The World champion seized the moment to ride away from Aerts on the technical sections. At the start of the third lap, Van der Poel was already 20 seconds ahead of Van Aert, Aerts and Michael Vanthourenhout. Van Aert wasn’t too sharp on the road in the early section, so he was always behind. He ended up in a group of four, with Tom Pidcock, about 40 seconds from Van der Poel. Vanthourenhout managed to wriggle free from the three after a fall by Aerts, but he was caught by Pidcock and Van Aert with five laps to go.
Van Aert changed tyres several times, but eventually managed to put pressure on his competitors on Grifos, but he was already at 1:30 behind the solo leader. Only Pidcock could keep up with Van Aert’s pace in the battle for second place. In the final lap, the Belgian dropped the Briton. It was important for Van der Poel to finish in safety. He rode at a strong pace and kept the one and a half minutes lead over Van Aert. Without fail, he won. After Baal and Gullegem, Van der Poel won third days in a row in 2021.
Race winner, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “I had my best day so far this season. I immediately had a good feeling on this course and I can only be satisfied after today. Last week I had to give half a lap to Wout, but I had a good day, had a good pace and had good lines. It was a nice afternoon. Toon Aerts did the forcing and I was on the wheel. The two of us had a good break and I tried to keep up the pace. As a result, I immediately opened a nice gap. It is pleasant to start the training camp with such a feeling, the focus will be on the endurance training. We have no answer yet whether there is a different quarantine arrangement for athletes. If we then know whether Spain is an option, we may go into quarantine for seven days after that. There are very few crosses in the Netherlands this year, so it’s nice that they have one here. This is about the shape of the day. I felt very strong today and I am happy that I was able to close my first race block in cyclocross like this.”
2nd, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “It may not have been my worst day, but if Mathieu has his best, then you have to be top yourself. I had a better feeling before the start than in Baal. My mechanic was ready, but suddenly someone came to disturb our change. I wanted to grab my bike, but it was gone, and my momentum. But I also didn’t have the legs today. I was sure the hardest profile was needed, but the wind had dried it a lot. I thought it was the tyres and tried a less coarse profile, but that also did not go as hoped. Gosh, I really haven’t thought about that yet. I am now mainly busy with home. The Belgian championships are within a week, but still seems very far away. I like to have control, but that unfortunately I cannot control myself,” referring to the impending birth of his child.
3rd, Tom Pidcock (Trinity): “It was a lap too long for me to stay with Van Aert. I thought it was a very difficult course. It was fast, but also with a lot of deep mud. It was therefore very difficult to get into their rhythm. When I saw Van der Poel go, I knew I had to forget first place. I went for second place and had to refocus, because the three of us were driving for second place, but I’m not dissatisfied. I now only ride three crosses, with the focus on the World Championship in Ostend. So I can also do targeted sand training.”
UCI Cyclocross World Cup Men – Hulst Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix in 1:05:27
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma) at 1:31
3. Tom Pidcock (GB) Trinity at 1:49
4. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:41
5. Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise-Trek at 3:07
6. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise-Trek at 3:19
7. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans CX at 3:32
8. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 3:37
9. Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 4:12
10. Corné van Kessel (Ned) Tormans CX at 4:46.
UCI Cyclocross World Cup Women – Hulst 2021
Denise Betsema dominated the World Cup cyclocross in Hulst on Sunday. The leader of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal was by far the strongest, as she went solo on the second lap. Lucinda Brand grabbed second place, ahead of Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado in third.
The fast start came from Sanne Cant, but it was a little further into the first lap before there was a real difference. Denise Betsema set the pace with Annemarie Worst, Kata Blanka Vas and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado on her wheel. World Cup leader Lucinda Brand got off to a slow start, but joined the leading group on the second lap. Marianne Vos, in her first race with Jumbo-Visma, was distanced and would never get to the front.
On the second lap Betsema took a lead. Alvarado, Worst and Brand tried to close the 15 second gap, but couldn’t get any closer. Due to a bike change by Betsema, the chasers got a little closer, but Betsema still had a lead of 20 seconds. Brand was in second place and Alvarado and Worst were at 10 seconds. On the fifth lap of seven, the top three was obvious: Betsema was well away, followed by Brand and Alvarado. Worst fell behind due to a mistake in the technical section and had to settle for fourth place. The battle for second place behind Betsema was still exciting, but Brand turned out to be just a bit too strong for Alvarado, despite a fall in the mud on the last lap.
Race winner, Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “This felt a bit like home, with the dikes, the wind and also the cold. I was completely in my element. The fact that after the second lap I was able to keep going further and further, that was extra motivating. This is motivating. I think this says something, but the Dutch ladies are very close to each other. It will be a very exciting World championships.”
UCI Cyclocross World Cup Women – Hulst Result:
1. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal in 53:06
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise-Trek at 1:02
3. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix) at 1:09
4. Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777 at 1:26
5. Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) Doltcini – Van Eyck Sport at 1:57
6. Clara Honsinger (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld at 2:10
7. Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpen-Fenix at 2:22
8. Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko-Crelan at 2:23
9. Manon Bakker (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 2:41
10. Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:50.
The UCI don’t like you to watch for free, video as soon.
Hexia CX Men – Gullegem 2021
In the first ten races of his cyclocross season, Mathieu van der Poel had a winning rate of 70%. On Saturday, the Dutchman won his seventh race in Gullegem. Van der Poel needed a strong attack to stay ahead of Tom Pidcock and Jens Adams.
Pidcock and Van der Poel were the top-men in the Cyclocross Gullegem. Without Wout van Aert, Laurens Sweeck, Michael Vanthourenhout and Toon Aerts, it was more than likely that either the Brit or the Dutchman would take the victory. In the end it turned out to be the case, but it still took a while for one of the two to attack. Where Pidcock quietly watched the first part of the race from fourth place, Van der Poel had to fight back to the head of the race after a slow start and a crash. Meanwhile, it was Diether Sweeck and Jens Adams who were supplying the action at the front of the race. In the first two laps they rode away for a while, but at the start of the third lap a regrouping followed with those four riders and Felipe Orts, Gianni Vermeersch and Thibau Nys.
Nys dropped out on the third lap, just when Van der Poel was putting pressure on in the leading group. The World champion quickly managed to drop all his competitors, including Pidcock. The Briton had to let a gap go, but returned to the wheel of the World champion after halfway. Pidcock couldn’t make things difficult for Van der Poel. A lap later, the Brit was finally dislodged by the Dutchman. Van der Poel kept his pace and with a lead of nearly a minute over Pidcock, he crossed the line after an hour of racing.
The last podium spot would be fought for by Orts, Vermeersch or Adams. All three had some good periods during the race, but in the end it was Adams who would take third spot. Adams fought back to Vermeersch two laps before the finish, which he left behind in the last lap.
Race winner, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “I had a nice afternoon. It was quite a difficult course. The course was very technical because the grass had been cut. That is why I had little grip and made a lot of slips. Pidcock returned at a certain point. He put a strong effort to that. Fortunately, the second attempt was the right one. I didn’t consciously let him come back. I’ve never ridden three crosses in a row, so I’m curious how I will feel tomorrow. I have to see how that goes with quarantine when I return home. I can use that period in Spain, because it has been a while since I did some endurance training.”
Hexia CX Men – Gullegem Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix in 1:00:35
2. Tom Pidcock (GB) Trinity at 0:45
3. Jens Adams (Bel) Hollebeekhoeve Cycling Team at 0:53
4. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Credishop-Fristads at 0:57
5. Felipe Orts (Spa) Teika-BH-Gsport at 1:27
6. Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads at 1:45
7. Joran Wyseure (Bel) Kon. Balen BC vzw at 1:51
8. Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) Tormans CX at 2:03
9. Thibau Nys (Bel) Baloise-Trek at 2:17
10. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Baloise-Trek at 2:23.
Hexia CX Women – Gullegem 2021
Blanka Kata Vas took her second consecutive victory. The talented Hungarian was the best in Gullegem three days after her victory in Bredene. Inge van der Heijden and Sanne Cant finished 30 seconds behind Vas in second and third place.
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Denise Betsema, Lucinda Brand and Yara Kastelijn did not ride the Gullegem cyclocross on Saturday. Three days after the Bredene cross, won by Vas, the top Dutch riders were also absent, it was again a case of names such as Vas, Cant, Van der Heijden, Anna Kay, Clara Honsinger, Rebecca Fahringer and Aniek van Alphen who would energies the race. A few riders immediately took off from the start line. Marion Norbert Riberolle took the lead and had Vas, Van der Heijden, Kay and Cant chasing. The French champion only enjoyed her lead for a short while, because after a little attack from Vas, the Hungarian champion quickly got back on and passed her.
Riberolle then fell further and further back, while Cant again, as in Bredene, became the main pursuer of Vas. The Belgian champion couldn’t catch-up and the gap was getting bigger and bigger. Behind; Van der Heijden managed to catch Cant. For the rest of the race, the battle was over and the 19-year-old Vas took the victory. The fight for second place was more exciting, but in the end Van der Heijden won the sprint from Cant.
Race winner, Blanka Kata Vas (Doltcini Van Eyck Sport): “I think I have taken a new step at training camp in Spain, after Tabor I went there. I really wanted to win because it was the first race after the new year. It was a technical course, but the mud wasn’t too difficult today. The mud was difficult in Dendermonde.”
Hexia CX Women – Gullegem Result:
1. Blanka Kata Vas (Hun) Doltcini – Van Eyck Sport in 45:47
2. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) 777 at 0:30
3. Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko-Crelan
4. Anna Kay (GB) Starcasino CX at 1:15
5. Marion Norbert Riberolle (Fra) Starcasino CX at 1:28
6. Aniek van Alphen (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 2:05
7. Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) Iko-Crelan at 2:29
8. Rebecca Fahringer (USA) Kona at 2:55.
9. Susanne Meistrok (Ned) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini at 3:03.
10. Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Bike Advice CT at 3:12.
X20 Badkamers Trofee Men – GP Sven Nys Baal 2021
Mathieu van der Poel won the GP Sven Nys in Baal on Friday. The reigning World champion attacked three laps from the finish and then stayed out of the clutches of his chasers. Wout van Aert was second at 8 seconds.
In a sunny Baal, it was Quinten Hermans who took the initiative from the start line. The Tormans rider set the pace without actually escaping in the opening lap and would claim the bonus seconds on the first passage of the finish. Tom Pidcock then took over command, he had Hermans with him. Shortly afterwards, Van der Poel started chasing the Briton, who had now left Hermans behind. Eli Iserbyt held up well between the pursuers and in the battle for the X²O Badkamers Trofee, he managed to take time on his closest attacker, Lars van der Haar.
Van der Poel joined Pidcock on the third lap. Shortly afterwards, Iserbyt and Van Aert also joined them at the front. Van Aert took the lead and set the pace, but Michael Vanthourenhout also managed to join the four leaders. With a strong jump, Mathieu van der Poel tried to leave his four fellow escapees with three laps to go. The leading group splintered, although it took some time before Van der Poel could make a serious gap. Van Aert lost his place due to a fall.
Pidcock counter-attacked, but could not catch Van der Poel. Van Aert rejoined Pidcock and went past. He could see Van der Poel, but the Dutchman had too much of a lead. Van Aert got within 10 seconds of the World champion, but had to settle for second place. For the fourth year in a row, Van der Poel celebrated the victory in Baal on the first day of the new year. This is his sixth win of the season.
Eli Iserbyt finished fourth, increasing his leading position in the ranking for the X²O Bathroom Trophy. The next heat is scheduled for January 23 in Hamme.
Race winner, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “It was a tough race. I didn’t have the best legs today, I didn’t feel great and I had the impression that Wout wasn’t having the best day either. That may be an explanation. I knew there were a few pieces where I could take the upper hand. That’s what I tried. It’s a course that I like to visit. Since they have a fixed route here, the surface has become a bit harder. It is still super technical but you can still achieve speed. That is something that suits me.”
X20 Badkamers Trofee Men – GP Sven Nys Baal Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix in 1:00:18
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 0:08
3. Tom Pidcock (GB) Trinity at 0:32
4. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:41
5. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:45
6. Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise-Trek at 1:10
7. Lars van der Haar (Bel) Baloise-Trek at 1:59
8. Corné van Kessel (Ned) Tormans CX at 2:20
9. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:35
10. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans CX at 2:41
X20 Badkamers Trofee Women – GP Sven Nys Baal 2021
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado won the woman’s GP Sven Nys in Baal. The Alpecin-Fenix rider beat her compatriots Lucinda Brand and Denise Betsema on the first cross of the new year. Betsema got off to a good start. In the opening lap, she separated herself from the others, but had Alvarado on her wheel. Brand had a slow start and followed at a short distance. At the end of the opening lap, she took a 15 second bonus, which means she got 10 seconds closer to leader Brand.
On the second lap Brand was able to join the two riders in the lead. On a slippery course, Alvarado briefly lost her place, but the World champion managed to rejoin. The leading trio was well matched, but after a mistake on a sloping section by Betsema on the third lap, Alvarado was able to distance herself. Brand closed the gap and immediately took over the lead. However, Betsema fought back.
In the final lap, there was going to be a three-way battle between the three ladies in the lead. An unleashed Brand put her competitors under pressure. Alvarado was able to follow and managed to take over shortly after. She briefly left Brand behind, but the Baloise rider fought back. Alvarado, however, did not let it come to a sprint. The World champion made the difference on a descent and managed to stay out of the grip of her pursuer in the finalè. Alvarado was the first to cross the finish line for her sixth victory of the season. Brand was second at 4 seconds. The Dutch rider increases her lead in the battle for the X²O Badkamers Trofee.
Race winner, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix): “It was a very tough, exciting battle. I’m glad I was able to finish it. We’ve all worn each other out a bit. On the last lap my shoe came loose. I didn’t have time to fasten it. I was afraid that if it came to a sprint, I would shoot out of my shoe. So I did everything I could to gain time on my own. I knew my form was getting better and better in recent weeks. I got closer and closer to the shape of Lucinda. Today confirms for me that I am on the right track.”
X20 Badkamers Trofee Women – GP Sven Nys Baal Result:
1. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix in 39:52
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Telenet Baloise at 0:04
3. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:19
4. Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 1:04
5. Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko-Crelan
6. Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777 at 1:24
7. Clara Honsinger (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld at 1:36
8. Yara Kastelijn (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:53
9. Manon Bakker (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 2:05
10. Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:34.
No Quarantine Obligation for Athletes at the Olympic Games
The cycling world was shaken up last week with the news that cyclists must be quarantined for two weeks before the Olympic Games. A combination of Tour and Games was ruled out. According to TuttoBiciWeb, it is slightly different: there would be no quarantine obligation.
Athletes at the Olympics would not be welcome in the Olympic village until five days before the competition, provided they can provide a negative PCR test. Once in the village, they are then tested every two to three days. They must leave within 48 hours of their events. It would mean that a combination of Tour and Games is possible. After the Tour de France, which ends on July 18, there are six more days until the Olympic road race on July 24. The riders then have 24 hours to arrive in Japan. The final stage of the Tour de France may have to be brought forward to give the peloton more leeway.
Mathieu van der Poel previously indicated that he would probably opt for the Olympic Games if there would be a quarantine obligation.
Olympics and Tour for Van der Poel?
Mitchelton-Scott Continues as Team BikeExchange
BikeExchange is the new main sponsor of Mitchelton-Scott. The online sales platform for bikes and bike accessories was already the main sponsor of the development team in the past, but will now become title sponsor of both the men’s and women’s teams. Both parties signed an agreement for a season, according to a team press release.
Founded in 2007, the company has been a partner in the team since 2015 and was already a named partner of the development team affiliated with the WorldTour team in the past. Just before the Tour de France, not long after the infamous non-deal with Manuela Fundación, the BikeExchange logo was added to the kit. In 2021, the Australian marketplace for everything related to bikes will take it one step further by acting as the main sponsor.
The fact that BikeExchange is the main sponsor of the men’s and women’s team this season makes the CEO of the company happy. “We have always been proud of our partnership with the team. It suits us well as an international company,” said Mark Watkin. “Despite the fact that 2020 was a difficult year, the team achieved excellent results. We look forward to the team’s successes in 2021.”
Darach McQuaid, President of GreenEDGE Cycling, is also delighted with the deal. “We are entering our tenth season with BikeExchange as a naming partner. We do this with ambition and hungry for success.”
The team’s 2021 kit was presented by Teniel Campbell and Simon Yates. Giordana, Jayco and Bianchi are also on the jersey, which is a complete change from previous years.
Team BikeExchange 2021 – Simon Yates and Teniel Campbell:
Qhubeka Assos Sign Ex-Pro Missaglia as a Confidant for Aru
Fabio Aru will be racing in 2021 for Team Qhubeka Assos. The South African team hopes to look after the Italian climber as much as possible and has decided to include Gabriele Missaglia in the technical staff.
According to Tuttobiciweb, the ex-professional rider is a new DS with Qhubeka Assos, but above all he will be Aru’s confidant. “Missaglia will follow Aru closely and assist Aru in his return to the highest level.” Missaglia was a DS at CCC in recent years, but the Polish team is now no more. The 50 year-old Italian raced for Mapei, Lampre-Daikin and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli, among other teams when he was a rider. In 2008 he ended his career.
His honours list includes stage victories in the Giro d’Italia, Tour of Catalonia, Tour of Switzerland and Tour of the Basque Country. He also won the HEW Cyclassics in 2000 and was on the podium of the Amstel Gold Race and the Clásica San Sebastián.
Quintana Wants to Start the 2021 Giro d’Italia
La Gazzetta dello Sport is certain that Nairo Quintana wants to compete in the Giro d’Italia again this year. Arkéa-Samsic’s Colombian climber, who is still recovering from a knee injury, last rode the Italian tour in 2017. His team still has to get a wildcard.
The now 30 year-old Quintana has only raced the Giro d’Italia twice in the past, but was very successful in the first (in non-covid times) Grand Tour of the season. In 2014 he made his Giro debut and won overall, ahead of his fellow countryman Rigoberto Urán and Italian Fabio Aru. Three years later he took another shot at the final victory. Quintana rode in the pink jersey for some days and was leader in the all-deciding final time trial to Milan, but the Colombian was beaten by Tom Dumoulin and finished second at 31 seconds.
It is unclear when Quintana will be able to race again, but the Arkéa-Samsic leader is back on the bike two months after his knee surgery. Arkéa-Samsic manager Emmanuel Hubert is counting on a comeback from Quintana at the end of February. The preliminary investigation into possible doping use by the brothers Nairo and Dayer Quintana is still ongoing. The Quintana brothers, whom the French authorities are targeting, are free to race pending further investigation. Authorities are currently not releasing anything about the case.
Nairo Quintana in pink 2017:
Soler Hopes for Giro Debut
Marc Soler wanted to make his debut in the Giro d’Italia in 2020, but Movistar decided the Spanish climber would ride the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. Soler hopes to contest the Tour of Italy for the first time this year, he said in conversation with Marca.
The 103rd edition of the Giro d’Italia (won by Tao Geoghegan Hart) was supposed to be the big breakthrough for Marc Soler, but during the corona break the plans were changed and so the Spaniard rode the Tour and Vuelta. In la Vuelta he won the second stage, finishing in Lekunberri.
In both Grand Tours Soler was given the space to attack, but he also regularly led for GC leader Enric Mas. This year Soler hopes to be at the start of a three-week stage race as the leader. “The plan is to go to the Giro, where I will be leader for the overall standings,” said Soler. “I want to test myself as a classification rider in a Grand Tour. I therefore know whether there is a future as a Tour top man. I believe in my qualities as a rider. The team also has confidence and so I can probably show it in the Giro. I can’t wait and will give everything to ride a good classification.”
“I have always been employed by a leader, but now I want to perform as consistently as possible and lose as little time as possible. I’ve never ridden the Giro before and I want to discover it all, but we still have to put together the final programs. That will happen at a training camp in Almería in January.”
In 2021, Movistar will have four (potential) classification leaders, with in addition to Soler also Enric Mas, newcomer Miguel Ángel Lopez and veteran Alejandro Valverde. According to the regional newspaper Diario de Navarra, Mas and López share the leadership in the Tour. In the Vuelta, Movistar counts on Valverde.
Marc Soler – Movistar’s only winner in 2020:
Gilbert on Groenewegen
If Dylan Groenewegen is allowed to race again in May, it will take a while before the sprinter will be accepted in the peloton again, according to Philippe Gilbert in a podcast with Sporza. Gilbert does, however, think that Groenewegen will return to the top level in the future.
When asked for his opinion on the incident, Gilbert says he sees two things happening: “It was a mistake by Groenewegen and an error by the organisation. I also did that descent a few times, but I’m not in the sprint. They sprint there at 80 kilometres per hour, that’s just not necessary. You can also finish slightly uphill. That finish must be adjusted. There has been a lot of reaction and it is also one of the discussions of this winter.”
The ex-World champion also agrees with the punishment that the Dutch sprinter received. “Groenewegen has been suspended for nine months and he will always carry those images, I think that punishment is severe enough.”
When his suspension ends on May 7, 2021, Groenewegen may go into action again. Gilbert thinks that the return of the Amsterdammer will not be easy: “The riders will not just accept him again. But I think he will be able to turn that switch. A sprinter has that in them. Groenewegen will reach the top level again.”
Eleven WorldTour Teams in Ster van Bessèges
The organisers of the Ster van Bessèges can count on a strong start list in 2021. The French stage race will have eleven teams from the WorldTour from 3-7 February. Last year, seven teams of the highest level competed in the South of France. In addition to home teams AG2R Citroën, Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ, BORA-hansgrohe, EF Education-Nippo, INEOS Grenadiers, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, Israel Start-Up Nation, Lotto Soudal, Qhubeka Assos and Trek-Segafredo will also be at the start of the Star of Bessèges.
From ProConi level, B&B Hôtels, Delko, Arkéa-Samsic, Total Direct Energie, Alpecin-Fenix, Bingoal-WB, Equipo Kern Pharma and Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise have been invited. The start list is completed by three continental teams: St. Michel-Auber 93, Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Métropole and Cambodia Cycling Academy.
The Ster van Bessèges (UCI 2.1) already presented the five stages in December, including the familiar closing time trial around Alès.
Bettiol in the Bessèges TT:
Law Change in Italy Offers Giro Organisation Many Advantages
An amendment of the law by the Italian senate will have been received with applause at the offices of RCS Sport. The change makes it possible to relax the organisation of sports competitions, such as the Giro d’Italia and other Italian races.
The amendment has been proposed by the Italian Cycling Federation and RCS. Until now, an organisation had to get approval from all local authorities that a race would pass, but that is no longer necessary. If a race crosses multiple regions, only authorisation from the starting place authorities is required to make a decision on behalf of all local authorities.
The work of organisers is considerably simplified by the new law. RCS no longer has to apply for permits in all regions or cities concerned to organise a race or stage race. “With this new law, the race start region will be the sole intermediary between the organisation and the local authorities,” Italian politician Roberto Pella told BiciTV. “I am delighted that it has now been approved, as the people behind events like this have been asking for it for a long time.”
“I hope that for 2021 the games can be scheduled quickly on the usual dates, with the possibility to receive fans again. Of course with due observance of the measures to protect the health of society,” says Pella.
Last season, RCS had to adjust various courses because local authorities on the route did not want to cooperate with that route. There was a lot to change on the route of Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Lombardy.
RCS’s Mauro Vegni:
Sunweb’s Spekenbrink Speaks About the Giro
For Team Sunweb, 2020 was a year of many facets. After the team was able to celebrate three stage successes in the Tour de France, then in the Giro d’Italia they were looking for overall victory in the final week. The controversial decision not to support leader Wilco Kelderman in the mountain stage to Laghi di Cancano has been a point for discussion. Team manager Iwan Spekenbrink told De Telegraaf that he still stands behind his team’s decisions.
“It was all discussed in advance. Everyone was committed to acting like that if that unfortunate scenario were to arise,” he recalls. The team based the choice on Kelderman’s declining form. “Given the form curve that Wilco and the riders went through, we had to send Jai with Hart. If you decided to keep Jai with Wilco, you wouldn’t have kept anyone in the standings if Wilco kept losing ground in those and subsequent stages. Wilco could not follow and it was therefore uncertain whether he would be able to do that in the final mountain stage. That is a shame for Wilco and for us, because if he had been able to do that, it would have been very different.”
Two months later, Spekenbrink is of the opinion that the team has acted correctly. “We still support the choices that have been made. If Wilco were to crack, we had another trump card with Jai and if he didn’t crack, that would be the best position.”
Kelderman still took the pink in the stage to Laghi di Cancano, but would lose the leader’s jersey to teammate Jai Hindley two days later. On the last day, INEOS-Grenadiers rider Tao Geoghegan Hart rode into the overall lead in the final time trial, which meant Sunweb had to settle for second and third place on the final podium.
Kelderman was in trouble on stage 20:
Nairo Quintana Resumes Training After Knee Surgery
Nairo Quintana is back on the bike two months after his knee surgery. “We are back in action,” wrote on social media. “It starts with feeling the fresh air in your face.”
Quintana underwent surgery on his left knee in late October as he was riding around with severe knee pain after the corona break. The result of an accident during the summer in Colombia, when he was hit by a motorist during training. Quintana completed the Tour de France with a fractured kneecap.
The winner of the Tour de la Provence and the Tour du Haut-Var hoped to be able to start again in the Tour Colombia in 2021, but that stage race in his own country has now been canceled. Arkéa-Samsic manager Emmanuel Hubert is counting on a comeback from Quintana at the end of February. “Why not? His rehab appears to be going very well. He now cycles a bit on the exercise bike. Fifteen minutes, maximum thirty minutes,” said Hubert two weeks ago. Still, he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on Quintana. “We just have to be a little patient. It’s important not to rush anything.”
The crash that started the problems:
Former Slovenian champion Pibernik Ends Career
Luka Pibernik has decided to end his career as a professional cyclist. The 27-year-old Slovenian announced on Instagram.
Pibernik is a two-time Slovenian champion. He won the national title in 2013 and 2015. He first rode in the WorldTour with Lampre-Merida in 2015, after three years with the Slovenian continental Radenska team. In 2016 he won a stage in the Eneco Tour. In the Giro of 2017 he crossed the line in Messina thinking he had won, but he did not realise that there was another lap to be ridden. Fernando Gaviria eventually won the stage. Last season he rode in the colours of Bahrain-McLaren, but did not get a new contract.
Luka Pibernik in the Vuelta’19:
Le Roux Retires at the Age of 28
Romain Le Roux’s cycling career is over. The 28-year-old Frenchman didn’t get a new contract with Arkéa-Samsic and was unable to find a new team for 2021. “That’s why it’s time to announce the end of my career.”
Le Roux has been a professional for six years. He raced for three years for Armée de Terre (the continental cycling team of the French army), after which he was picked up in 2018 by Fortuneo-Samsic, the team that is now Arkéa-Samsic. “Cycling has allowed me to meet great people and travel to many countries, but it also opened my eyes,” Le Roux said on social media. “Still I am bitter, because the desire to keep racing was still there. But it has been decided otherwise. The role of helper is not easy to exercise if your work is not recognised and appreciated in the team.”
Le Roux never had a victory in a UCI race. He was also didn’t start a Grand Tour. The only Classic he rode was the Tour of Lombardy in 2018, but he didn’t finish. What Le Roux will do in 2021 is not yet known.
Romain Le Roux:
Deceuninck – Quick-Step 2021
Deceuninck – Quick-Step Team’s CEO shared his thoughts about last year and the hopes he has for this season.
Patrick Lefevere: “As we start a new year – our 19th in the peloton – I want to thank everyone who has been involved in another strong and consistent season of our team, which we concluded again at the top of the victory classification despite the many unexpected hurdles along the way. Riders, staff, sponsors – they’ve all put in a tremendous effort in some really challenging and never-before-seen conditions, and for this they deserve all the respect.
Unlike other years, there have been just a few changes in our roster and this makes me happy, as in our 30-man squad we possess the right combination of experienced riders who can take on the responsibility and live up to the very high expectations and pressure, and young and promising talents who improve continuously and have the desire of helping the team whenever possible.
We hope 2021 will be a much better year, not just for us, but for the entire world, and that life as we know it will get back to normal. We miss our fans, we miss interacting with people, but if we continue to do the right thing, I am confident it will happen soon. Concerning us, we start with the same enthusiasm, ambition and determination that have brought and kept the Wolfpack in the elite, hoping to entertain you and deliver many other unforgettable moments on the road.
On behalf of the Deceuninck – Quick-Step Cycling Team, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and all the best to you and your families!”
Israel Start-Up Nation New 2021 Kit
Israel Start-Up Nation has revealed their cycling kit for 2021. The WorldTour team of new signing Chris Froome opts for a new design with less white and light blue, but more dark blue.
Clothing sponsor Katusha has disappeared from the shirt. Israel-Start Up Nation bought the WorldTour license from Katusha-Alpecin in 2019, after which the name of Katusha was on the chest of the shirt for a year. Jinga, the company that makes the apparel for Israel Start-Up Nation, has replaced the ‘K’ on the jersey. At the bottom of the shirt is now also a second star.
Israel Start-Up Nation has many new names for the upcoming season. In addition to Froome, Sep Vanmarcke, Michael Woods, Patrick Bevin, Alessandro De Marchi and Daryl Impey made the switch for 2021.
Chris Froome 2021:
Team SD Worx Presents Their 2021 Kit
Team SD Worx also presented their new clothing on new year’s day. SD Worx takes over the main sponsorship of the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team, ensuring the future of the Dutch women’s team for the next four years. After years of racing in orange, the team is now turning purple and red. The team leader is two-time world champion Anna van der Breggen.
Sports manager Danny Stam describes the team as a team with many top riders. “As a result, we must be able to race for the victories on all fronts. Then of course I think of Anna van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak, Amy Pieters and Jolien D’Hoore, among others. In addition, we have registered a number of super talents, which means that we are already building for a top team in the years 2023 and 2024.”
“That is the big advantage because we now have a sponsor with SD Worx who has offered us security for the next four years. And this team is unprecedentedly strong in width. The second line has really gotten much better. Then I think of riders like Ashleigh Moolman, Demi Vollering and Elena Cecchini. As a result, we should be more widely represented in the finals and we have more tactical assets to play out.”
For 2021, Team SD Worx will have fourteen riders:
Anna van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak, Amy Pieters, Lonneke Uneken and Demi Vollering come from the Netherlands. Furthermore, Jolien d’Hoore (Belgium), Christine Majerus (Luxembourg), Elena Cecchini (Italy), Roxane Fournier (France), Anna Shackley (Great Britain), Ashleigh Moolman (South Africa), Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic), Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada) and Niamh Fisher-Black (New Zealand).
Team Jumbo-Visma New Kit and Bikes for 2021
Team Jumbo-Visma also presents its new kit and equipment on new year’s day, with a photo of Tom Dumoulin (WorldTour Team), Rick Pluimers (Jumbo-Visma Development Team) and Jip van den Bos (Jumbo-Visma Women).
The AGU made jersey has few changes. The arms are now black instead of yellow, with bike supplier Cervélo’s signature é on the shoulders, which makes the honeycomb motif stand out better. The logo of the team is a reference to a beehive, where collaboration is central. The shirt can be ordered from the team’s on-line shop.
The team has changed from Bianchi bikes to Cervélo for 2021. In the photo Tom Dumoulin shows the bike’s colour scheme for the first time. Black with a yellow front fork and white lettering on the down tube. The bike is built-up with Shimano Dura Ace and Vittoria Corsa tyres.
Dumoulin, Pluimers and Van den Bos:
UAE Team Emirates present 2021 jersey
New year, new design! We are proud to team up with GOBIK who will be our official kit supplier for the next two seasons.
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