I never thought I would write a report on a virtual race, but here we are. The real Flanders roads were empty, the action was on the internet – Top Story. The cycling world is still busy: Astana’s Martinelli home deliveries, Dumoulin, Degenkolb, Van der Poel and Betancur talk 2020, French riders want to go outside, 21 stages for La Vuelta, CCC cut wages, B&B Hotels-Vital Concept unemployed, Rund Um Köln canceled, operation for Tchmil, Circus virtual Classics and Tour of Utah canceled for 2020. Stay in and stay safe.
TOP STORY: Greg Van Avermaet Won the Virtual Tour of Flanders
Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) won ‘The Tour of Flanders 2020: Lockdown Edition’. The CCC Olympic champion was the best in the virtual edition of Flanders’ Most Beautiful after an hour of racing, on Sunday afternoon.
The thirteen participants raced over the last 32 kilometres of the finalé of the Tour of Flanders course. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) was the first rider to attack, he was joined by last year’s winner, Alberto Bettiol (EF). Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) also crossed to the leaders.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) couldn’t follow the pace of the leaders. Just before Oude Kwaremont, Oliver Naesen (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Greg Van Avermaet made the crossing to the front runners. Evenepoel and De Gendt were making it hard on the Kwaremont, but couldn’t get a gap. A second push from Evenepoel had no result, because the other four were able to pull him back again. Bettiol was in trouble and Michael Matthews (Sunweb) had retired due to a technical problem.
The last climb of the race was the Paterberg, 12 kilometres from the finish. Greg Van Avermaet managed to ride away from the rest, he crossed the summit on his own, for a solo to the finish. Evenepoel had to let Roche, De Gendt and Naesen go, leaving the three to chase Van Avermaet. The three were at 10 seconds from Van Avermaet and struggled to close that gap.
The CCC leader extended his lead in the final kilometres to 21 seconds, averaging 435 watts over his 43:17 effort. A late attack from Naesen seemed to put him in second place, but Roche didn’t let it happen. In the sprint for second, Naesen was the fastest.
Virtual Tour of Flanders winner, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC): “I hope I can finish this in the same way in the autumn. It is strange to race from home, but I tried to do my best. In the beginning I was devastated by the speed but I put everything, as always, on the Paterberg and after that dying to the end. I was completely bloc. It was just like real. I’m starting to realise it was like the race. Unfortunately not in real life, but it was full-on until the end. Yesterday I panicked with my equipment, but I managed to get involved with the right gears. I think we’ve had a good time and my heart rate hasn’t been that high for a long time. I learned from the opposition. Thomas De Gendt had said that the difference is made here on the mountains and not on the flat, so I decided to go full on the mountains. I am not a roller rider, more of riding outside and the real cobblestones, but it was not bad.”
6th, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “It was really stomping. I found it quite difficult. The Paterberg… I suddenly saw Greg standing. It was super heavy and I couldn’t get 50 or 60 revolutions anymore. It was really stomping, and it’s not up to me. I still rode with 380-400 watts in the chase, but it was game over already. It went really fast for 45 minutes, I can see it as a good training session. I have only been back in training for a few days.”
De Ronde van Vlaanderen 2020: Lockdown Edition Result:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC in 43:17
2. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:20
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sunweb at 0:21
4. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:50
5. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 1:33
6. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:42
7. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:08
8. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 2:21
9. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 2:38
10. Zdenek Stybar (CZ) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 3:29
11. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 3:29
12. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling at 3:39
DNF. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb.
Astana’s Martinelli Delivers Shopping for Elderly Villagers
Davide Martinelli is using the compulsory corona lockdown to help the older residents in the Italian village of Lodetto. Martinelli does the shopping and picks up medicines to deliver them to their homes. “It makes me happy to be able to do something for those people.”
“It started during conversations with a group of boys from the village, including my cousin Stefano,” Martinelli told Tuttobiciweb. “Their stories touched me. There is no pharmacy or supermarket in Lodetto. The people in the risk group therefore have to go to neighbouring Rovato to buy groceries or medicines. But not everyone can do that.”
“Thanks to volunteers, these problems are solved. I saw this as an opportunity to make myself useful. I have received so much support from my community in recent years, but being away from home so often, I hardly had a chance to give back. Now I can.”
Martinelli, who moved from Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Astana at the end of last year, signed up as a volunteer. “I have a bicycle, two legs and a backpack. Today (Wednesday), I drove to the pharmacy, getting medicines for an old couple. It took me half an hour to cycle those ten kilometres. That is nothing to me as an athlete. But the gratitude of those people was enormous. It makes me very happy.”
Davide Martinelli – Delivery boy:
Tom Dumoulin Not Sure When Racing will Resume
Tom Dumoulin is skeptical about the resumption of the cycling season. The Jumbo-Visma rider said in the podcast Live Slow, Ride Fast that he expects that it will take a while before competitions can be organised again. “Things are going well according to circumstances,” says Dumoulin, who lives in Belgium. “We can still cycle outside here. So frankly, I have to confess that I have been on the rollers very little. It is very nice outside again. So we are lucky in that respect.”
Dumoulin has adjusted his training schedule. “I train a little less now. I try to keep myself fit, but as healthy as possible. It is so uncertain when the races start again that there is no point in making 30-hour training weeks. So I don’t do that. We have to wait for more news. Whether there will be racing and when.”
Dumoulin is skeptical. “To be honest, I do have a bit of a hard head. It is probably slowly moving in the right direction. At some point, the measures will be relaxed again. Although that means somewhere that the virus will flare up again. But international events like the Tour, where riders, staff and guidance come from all over the world, people should be able to fly anyway. But do governments want to run the risk of the virus spreading again? Nobody knows how things are going now.”
According to him, a big race like the Tour will be quite a challenge. “A cycling event will only take place in the last phase of the measures. We must also be that honest. First, the catering industry will gradually open up again and people can go to work again. If all goes well, then major events may only take place. That is normally the timeline. Then we are at the back as a sport.”
Nevertheless, he expects that everything will be done to race this year. “Everyone will do their best to make something of the cycling season. It is very important to drive something and give sponsors exposure. However, we currently do not know whether this will be against our better judgment.”
Dumoulin unsure of the 2020 season:
John Degenkolb: “If necessary, I’d even ride a 5-week Tour”
John Degenkolb believes that there should be stricter political measures to combat the corona crisis. The 31-year-old German Lotto Soudal rider said in an interview with Der Spiegel.
Degenkolb emphasises the importance of the Tour de France for the cycling world. “I hope the Tour will continue in some way this year. That race is essential for professional teams to survive,” said Degenkolb. “If I have to, I will not only ride the Tour de France for three, but five weeks,” he joked. “It is important to find a solution so that we can start at all.”
Degenkolb has given back part of his salary. “At Lotto Soudal we have waived part of our salaries. If the sponsors are struggling, the light can quickly go out in cycling,”
Degenkolb, like his colleagues, is still unsure whether and how the Tour can take place. “I prefer to ride the Tour with supporters, but if it is without supporters, I am ready for it. We are prepared to make that sacrifice,” said Degenkolb, who believes that politics should take tougher measures. “It is important that a solution is found. Perhaps now, until a certain moment, politicians should take very strict measures. Then everything will be fine again afterwards.”
Degenkolb looking for a 2020 season:
Van der Poel: “If I can, I will make my debut in the Tour de France this year”
Mathieu van der Poel would like to ride the Tour de France this year, if possible. “If the Tour is ridden this year, we may be able to lobby to get in there,” said Alpecin-Fenix leader. The team didn’t receive a wildcard from Tour organiser, ASO.
“I think we would have an exceptional Tour de France, with a lot of other types of riders,” Van der Poel told Sporza. “I would certainly be open to that.” Initially, the all-rounder was to ride the Olympic Games on the mountain bike this summer, but that event has been moved to the summer of 2021. That is why Van der Poel is seriously thinking about the Tour de France, which is still on the calendar.
“It was a good time to do mountain biking this year and then make my debut next year in a Grand Tour, perhaps in the Tour. That would have been nice. Now we have to adapt, because that Olympic dream is certainly not gone yet. I will go mountain biking next year.”
Another goal for Van der Poel is the Flemish spring, that has now gone for the present. “I can’t say anything about it either. I also hear rumors about a Tour of Flanders in the autumn, but I don’t commit to anything. I wait until it is final and then we can rebuild again.”
Tour’20 for VDP:
Betancur Wants to End his Career with the Movistar Team
Carlos Betancur hopes to finish his career at Movistar, the Colombian told Ciclismo Internacional. “Then I finish in peace with a team that wants to bring out the best in you. I would like to continue until I am 38 and then want to return to Colombia.”
“I feel good at Movistar, so if I can I would like to finish my career at Movistar.” Betancur, now 30, would like to continue for eight more years. “Nowadays riders stop at the age of 42 or 43, so I don’t think that’s old.”
The coronavirus has also had an affect on Betancur and Movistar. “The corona virus frightens me. I think a lot of teams will feel the canceled races,” he said. The Colombian, who should be riding the Giro d’Italia, is at home. “In the morning I do an hour on the rollers with an empty stomach, then I do strength training and in the afternoon I ride another two hours. I take it easy on the rollers, because I dry out quickly if I put in too much effort.”
Movistar has not yet cut the rider’s wages, unlike Astana, Bahrain-McLaren and Lotto Soudal. “I don’t hear many problems with us,” said Betancur. “It is a telephone company and the internet is also not standing still, because people make a lot of calls and contact each other online. We have not yet heard from the team about economic consequences.”
Betancur has had nine seasons as a pro since he made his debut with Acqua e Sapone in 2011. Since then, the ‘enfant terrible’ of yesteryear has seen a lot change. “Respect has disappeared in the peloton. Riders don’t even respect Alejandro Valverde anymore. Some young riders speak badly about him. I think respect comes from home, but at the moment it is no longer there. Valverde is a monster, a very good person and a good teammate. I myself have also calmed down.”
French Rider’s Union Requests Government Exemption for Riders
If it was up to the French cyclists’ union UNCP, riders in France will be able to go outside again from April 15 to train. UNCP has asked the French government to grant a dispensation from this date, as the lockdown will then be reviewed.
The union has written an extensive letter to the French Ministry of Sport to achieve their goal so that riders can quickly resume their profession.
“At the moment we fully respect the lockdown,” Chairman Pascal Chanteur told Ouest France. “That is perfectly normal, but in recent days I have heard the Minister of Agriculture say that people who work on the land should be helped. I also see that construction companies can return to work if they respect health instructions. We, the cyclists, are also workers who want to exercise their profession.”
The French government’s biggest argument for keeping riders in is to relieve care in this way. Injured cyclists would put extra pressure on the system. Chanteur disagrees entirely. “There are 400 work accidents per day, while we only have between four and seven work accidents per year. Now there are even fewer risks, as there is less traffic on the streets,” he explained.
The letter from the cycling union can count on support from the French cycling federation FFC as they also signed the letter.
French champion, Warren Barguil, must be wanting to get out on the road:
Vuelta Not to be Shorter
The Vuelta a España does not intend to shorten its event. Race director Javier Guillen told the Spanish sports-paper AS, that he wants to stick to 21 stages.
Earlier this week, the president of the Italian cycling federation suggested that the Vuelta should move up to make way for the Giro. In addition, there are various scenarios for rearranging the cycling calendar, for example by shortening or merging the Grand Tours.
Guillen does not want to know about this and does not intend to make concessions. “Currently, the Vuelta is still being raced from August 14 to September 6,” said Guillen. “We don’t think about a race of less than 21 stages.”
He is not interested in the suggestion of the Italian federation. “These are only speculations, which moreover come from Italy and are not in line with the realistic approach currently being considered.” Guillen does indicate that continuing the Tour has priority for him. “The Tour is an indispensable event for cycling,” he says. Both the Vuelta and the Tour are owned by the French company ASO.
Although moving his race is not yet an issue, Guillen does keep the option open. “We understand that it is a complex situation when competitions have to get a place again and this has to be combined with competitions in that period, such as the Vuelta. We will have to be generous in this,” said Guillen.
Javier Guillen with Vuelta winners Zoetemelk and Jansen:
CCC Team Forced to Restructure Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic
CCC Team has been forced to suspend the majority of team support staff contracts due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, while all rider salaries will be heavily reduced for the rest of the season.
In order to allow the team to operate at a minimum level during the non-racing period, a very small number of support staff will retain their roles. CCC Team President Jim Ochowicz said the team has been forced to take these measures in the hope that racing will resume this year.
“The decision to make widespread cuts has been a painful process and one that we did not foresee even a matter of weeks ago. The economic implications of the Covid-19 pandemic have had a drastic effect on business for our title sponsor CCC and like other professional cycling teams, we are now faced with a lack of cash flow due to unforeseen reductions in our sponsorships. This aspect of our business is beyond our control. We know there will be no racing until June at the earliest but the situation is constantly evolving and right now, we can only act on a short-term basis. In order to have the budget to race should the season start again, we have had to temporarily suspend all but a handful of staff and heavily reduce rider salaries. As soon as racing can resume, we hope to be in a position to reinstate as many support staff as possible and reevaluate our budget,” Ochowicz said.
“This is a difficult time for everyone and we will continue to represent our sponsors and fans to the best of our ability while we eagerly wait to get back to what we love doing; bike racing. We will do everything possible to keep the team going during this period and hope to bounce back once the Covid-19 situation improves.”
Jim Ochowicz at the start of the season:
Greg Van Avermaet Open to a Salary Reduction
Greg Van Avermaet has responded understandingly to the news that his team’s sponsor is in trouble. He told Sporza that he and his teammates are open to a salary reduction. “If you are sponsored by a supermarket, you may not have to worry about a salary cut. But our sponsors CCC and Giant are relinquished by this crisis.”
The riders of the team are open to a salary reduction. “It is normal in these times. I don’t do my job 100 percent because I can’t race. We must be loyal to our sponsors and support them in this crisis.” Van Avermaet was one of the participants in the virtual Tour of Flanders on Sunday. However, he is not a fan of cycling inside. “It must have been snowing before I get on the rollers. That is usually for half an hour,” he confessed. “Riders who have a good short time trial in their legs can have the advantage. Then I think of De Gendt and Evenepoel. But they are not all suckers. Hopefully I can show something myself.”
Lotto Soudal, Astana and Bahrain-Merida previously announced that riders would have salary cuts (voluntary or compulsory).
Greg Van Avermaet:
47 Employees of B&B Hotels-Vital Concept are Technically Unemployed
Since Friday, the employees of the French B&B Hotels-Vital Concept are technically unemployed. Team manager Jérôme Pineau is at the heart of it. “I am also afraid. As a citizen, but also as manager of the team. If this situation continues, I may be forced to say to fifty people: it’s over, we’re closing the doors.”
Team manager Jérôme Pineau opened his heart to France-tv.sport, and is concerned about the future of his team. “It is a painful period,” he said. “This situation frightens me. I don’t sleep much. As a citizen, I am of course very concerned about our public health. We live in an unreal world. No one has seen this health catastrophe coming. But I’m also a team manager, and if this situation continues, I may be forced to say to my fifty people: it’s over, we’re closing the doors. Which team has enough money today to last eight months without doing anything? At least not mine.”
“Three years ago I sold a project to my partners with high visibility, with hours of television. But at the moment I cannot offer them anything.” Pineau now focuses his hopes on continuing in the Tour de France, as finally Christian Prudhomme invited B&B Hotels-Vital Concept. The team yearns to participate in the biggest cycling event in the world. “The Tour is the cornerstone of our economy. If it is canceled, we are heading for an outright disaster. I trust to spoil my sponsors during that period, to seduce any new partners.”
He still admits that he believes that the Tour will be run. “I especially believe in a delayed start in July, or even in August. But then a Tour in normal circumstances. We all need it: riders, partners and the public.” In May, Pineau had planned a long training camp for his riders in Argeles Gazost, in the heart of the Pyrenees. That is, if life returns to normal by then.
Rund Um Köln Early Cancellation
The Rund Um Köln (UCI 1.1) has asked for an early cancellation. The organisers informed the participating teams that the German one-day race will now not be held on June 14.
“We couldn’t have imagined this four weeks ago,” the race organisation said in a message to the teams. “Unfortunately we have to cancel our annual cycling race, Rund Um Köln. A decision we take with a heavy heart and of course the corona pandemic is at the basis.”
The organiser has opted for a final cancellation and does not look for a new date. “We are now fully aiming for the 2021 edition, an edition in which we hope for a high-quality field of participants.” Last year Baptiste Planckaert won the 103rd edition, beating Christoph Pfingsten in the sprint.
Baptiste Planckaert winning in 2019:
Tumour Operation for Andrei Tchmil
Ex rider and DS, Andrei Tchmil had a tumour removed this weekend. On social media, 57-year-old Tchmil said that twenty years after his victory in the Tour of Flanders, he has to fight again, namely that against cancer.
“I won the race of my dreams twenty years ago. Twenty years later, I had to fight another competitor, one who seemed unbeatable and who quietly eats you: cancer,” wrote Tchmil. “Life is a race that doesn’t stop.” The operation was performed in a hospital in Brescia, Italy.
Andrei Tchmil on the attack in Flanders 2000:
Win up to €100 with Circus by Participating in our Virtual Classics with BKOOL!
The spring classics are in full swing… on the BKOOL platform. Our team Circus-Wanty Gobert-Tormans made its debut on the virtual Spanish training programme this Wednesday, on the occasion of Dwars door Vlaanderen. BKOOL, coupled to an Elite Smart Trainer, gives our riders the opportunity to accomplish the final of each of the spring classics, until Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
On Sunday April 5th, the unmissable Tour of Flanders was presented to our riders. The Kruisberg, followed by the Old Kwaremont and the Paterberg were covered by Wesley Kreder, Jérémy Bellicaud, Maurits Lammertink, Tom Devriendt, Jasper De Plus and Andrea Pasqualon. They rode the final 32 kilometre of “Flanders’ finest.”
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* 8/04 : Scheldeprijs (10AM CET – 4PM CET)
* 12/04 : Paris-Roubaix (10AM CET – 4PM CET)
* 15/04 : Brabantse Pijl (10AM CET – 4PM CET)
* 19/04 : Amstel Gold Race (10AM CET – 4PM CET)
* 22/04 : Flèche Wallonne (10AM CET – 4PM CET)
* 26/04 : Liège-Bastogne-Liège (10AM CET – 4PM CET)
Tour of Utah Pro Cycling Stage Race Canceled for 2020
International Event Originally Scheduled for Aug. 3-9 before Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah announced today the cancellation of its 2020 professional cycling stage race due to public health concerns from the coronavirus pandemic.
“With the best interests of our host communities, riders, cycling fans and partners at heart, the Tour of Utah is focusing on the health and safety of all its participants and has made the difficult decision not to hold its race this August,” said Steve Miller, chairman of the Tour of Utah. “For the past 15 editions, this international cycling event has traveled the scenic byways of Utah, and we will miss gathering communities together to enjoy the race this year.”
The Tour of Utah, the only multi-day men’s cycling stage race in North America on the UCI ProSeries, had been scheduled for Aug. 3-9 with nine host venues and communities, featuring Herriman City at the Zions Bank Real Academy, dōTERRA headquarters in Pleasant Grove, Provo, Payson, Woodward Park City, Snowbird Resort, Ogden, Canyons Village at Park City Mountain and Park City.
“The Tour of Utah was peaking this year with commitments from 17 teams to race in Utah, including five WorldTour teams, its first-time international designation as a UCI ProSeries event, and a tremendous lineup of communities to host the daily start and finish lines of each stage,” said John Kimball, managing director of the Tour of Utah. “We are hopeful to renew many of these partnerships for 2021.”
This fall, the world governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) will announce the 2021 race dates for the men’s professional stage race. The seven-day Tour of Utah has earned the reputation as “America’s Toughest Stage Race.”
“The Tour of Utah has always been one of our marquee statewide sports events and is one of the most respected races in the cycling world,” said Jeff Robbins, president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission. “With its international field of riders and worldwide digital and television reach, it is a wonderful showcase of the people and places in our state. We look forward to seeing the race return in 2021.”
The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah is free to all spectators, making professional cycling one of the most unique professional sports in the world today. The 2019 event crowned Belgian Ben Hermans of the Israel Cycling Academy as its champion, and EF Education First captured the team title after covering 477 miles of racing and 37,882 feet of elevation gain. Last year’s race attracted 400,000 spectators during race week, featured 21 hours of national television coverage and reached more than 400 million homes via broadcast around the world.
The one-day, non-competitive Ultimate Challenge citizens ride set for Aug. 8 has also been canceled in 2020. The Ultimate Challenge, as part of the Summer of Cycling program, featured the opportunity to ride the same road course as the Tour of Utah professionals from Canyons Village at Park City Mountain.
More information about the Tour of Utah and host venues can be found by visiting www.tourofutah.com.
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