Loads of action on the road and cyclocross. Étoile de Bessèges, the Australian champs and cross from the Lille Krawatencross and the Noordzeecross – Reports and results. UCI bans the ‘Super Tuck’ – TOP STORY. Rider news: Michael Valgren breaks fingers, Peter Sagan has covid, Roy Jans stays with Alpecin-Fenix, Felix Großschartner Vuelta leader, Nacer Bouhanni wants to win Milan-Sanremo and Davide Rebellin not with Cambodia. Team news: INEOS Grenadiers Grand Tour teams, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec signs Andrii Ponomar, Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Tour de la Provence. Race news: Team selection for 2021 Tour de France, 2021 Giro d’Italia start in Piedmont, 2021 Ardennes Classics, 2021 Tour de Romandie Route, 2022 Vuelta a España start in Utrecht, Strade Bianche routes, Classic Loire-Atlantique postponed and the Eurométropole Tour rescheduled. Plus Ian Stannard DS at Trinity Racing, Patrick Lefevere on Tour Wildcards and Dave Brailsford on Tom Dumoulin. BIG EUROTRASH coffee time.
TOP STORY: UCI: Descending on the top tube can result in suspension
The International Cycling Union has announced new measures to improve the safety of riders. Now safety managers will be appointed, but the UCI will also be stricter if riders behave dangerously in the peloton. A number of measures will be in effect from Monday, other security measures will be introduced from April 1 or later this year. All measures can be found on the UCI website. An important step is that competition organisations must appoint and train a safety manager as soon as possible. The UCI will set up a certification system, so that it is easier for organisers to train such a safety manager. In addition, the UCI will better monitor roadside barriers and improve the indication of obstacles on and along the course.
With a view to future bunch sprints, there will be new special conditions for barriers placed in the finalé of a race. The UCI clearly indicates that from now on there should no longer be any space between crush barriers. However, the cycling union does not only look at “external obstacles” during a cycling race. From now on, the UCI will also look more strictly at dangerous behaviour in the peloton. Throwing away water bottles and rubbish on the road and adopting dangerous positions on the bike. A rider who descends on the top tube (super tuck) during a race will first receive a warning, but may even be suspended in the future (from April 1). Motorcyclists, car drivers and pilots of TV helicopters (which are part of the race) will also have stricter regulations. All riders will be notified of the new rules in the coming weeks prior to each race. A campaign will also be introduced to inform all concerned about the measures.
A day after the UCI announced new security measures, Michał Kwiatkowski addressed the union via social media. The Polish ex-World champion called for thought on “real dangers, such as oil on the road surface.” Kwiatkowski crashed on a patch of oil on the last descent to the finish of stage 3 of the Étoile de Bessèges on Friday. “Before the stage, I answered a few more questions about descending on the top tube. Please UCI, think about real dangers like oil on the road. Don’t accuse us of causing crashes.” According to Kwiatkowski, there is still “much work to be done in the field of safety and organisation in cycling. A maximum length for socks and a ban on the riding on the top tube: the perfect distraction from helplessness.”
You can read more in Ed’s rant HERE.
Descending like Froome to disappear:
Étoile de Bessèges 2021
Stage 2 of the Étoile de Bessèges was won by the Belgian Timothy Dupont. The Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles rider was the fastest in La Calmette, after a very chaotic finalé with a few crashed. Dupont beat Pierre Barbier and European champion Giacomo Nizzolo. Yellow jersey wearer, Christophe Laporte finished 5th to hold his overall lead.
For many sprinters the opening stage to Bellegarde was too tough, but on Thursday the fast men were presented with an ideal finish. The 150 kilometre stage took the peloton from Saint Geniès de Malgoirès to La Calmette. There were some short climbs, but none that would cause any problems. The break of the day included Alexandre Delettre (Delko), and the KOM managed to build a nice lead with Tony Hurel, Maximilien Picoux, Ludovic Robeet and Vojtěch Řepa. The presence of Řepa was surprising as the Kern Pharma rider broke three teeth in one of the many crashes on Wednesday.
The difference between the five and the peloton increased to a maximum of 4 minutes, but Hurel, Delettre, Picoux, Robeet and Řepa never had any chance of stage victory. Cofidis, for Christophe Laporte, and Total Direct Energie kept the difference within limits which suited the sprinter teams. At the front, Robeet turned out to have the best legs and decided to go on his own more than 40 kilometres from the finish. Robeet rode away from his fellow escapees and started the last 30 kilometres with a nice lead. Hurel, Delettre, Picoux and liedepa were swallowed up by the peloton. Robeet rode off the front for a little longer, but the Belgian was also caught by the sprinter’s teams. With 10 kilometres to go the race was all together for the first real bunch sprint of the race. Less than 4 kilometres from the finish, there was a bad crash, but the sprinters managed to avoid it.
This men of Arkéa-Samsic took control, but sprint leader Bouhanni was not involved in the final sprint. Giacomo Nizzolo looked to be going for victory, but the European champion was overtaken by a strong Dupont and Pierre Barbier (Delko). Dupont took a surprising, but very welcome victory for his Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles team. This is Dupont’s first stage victory in the Étoile de Bessèges. The leader’s jersey remained on the shoulders of Christophe Laporte. There was a heavy crash 500 metres from the finish. Several riders crashed at high speed at the last roundabout.
Stage winner and 2nd overall, Timothy Dupont (Bingoal WB): “I’m super happy. My last victory dates back to July 2019 in the Tour de Wallonie! The 2nd stage of the Etoile de Bessèges was very fast from the start. We had Ludovic Robeet at the front, who made an excellent job. The final was hotly contested. The whole team did a superb job and I thank my team-mates. In the final, I was very well placed until the last roundabout where the leader from Nizzolo had gestured, I don’t know why, but I almost fell. However, I was able to maintain a good position without getting too much into the wind. I was able to stay sheltered as long as possible. I knew when I had to start my sprint at the right time and it was successful. My experience was decisive, even though I know that a sprint always involves a great deal of luck. I am doubly happy with this victory after my stroke of bad luck. Wednesday when I was slowed down in the fall in the final, my derailleur was broken by a rider who hit me. I am in a positive spiral at Bingoal-WB, my new team. The team gave me complete confidence. Winning at Bessèges is very satisfying for me when I consider the quality of the field. I again thank my teammates for the work accomplished. I am ready to put myself at the service of our guys who are ready to play for the general classification.”
3rd on the stage and 6th overall, Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos): “I feel okay, obviously I’d like to win but I think perhaps we actually ended up doing the roundabout a bit too fast and then were at the front for too long and I had to start the sprint early. It was a long way to the line, especially as it was going slowly uphill but third place is not too bad and I think we can be confident for tomorrow.”
Étoile de Bessèges Stage 2 Result:
1. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB in 3:35:15
2. Pierre Barbier (Fra) Delko
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Qhubeka Assos
4. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
5. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
6. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
7. Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën
8. Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
10. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo.
Étoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 2:
1. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis in 6:49:37
2. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB at 0:02
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic at 0:04
4. Pierre Barbier (Fra) Delko at 0:06
5. Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB at 0:07
6. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Qhubeka Assos at 0:08
7. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
8. Tony Hurel (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93 at 0:09
9. Alexandre Delettre (Fra) Delko at 0:11
10. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM at 0:12.
Tim Wellens won Stage 3 of the Étoile de Bessèges on Friday and took the overall lead. On the descent of the final climb of the day, 16 kilometres from the finish, Wellens broke away from a strong leading group and held them off all the way to the line in Bessèges.
The 156.9 kilometre stage with start and finish in Bessèges included three categorised climbs in the first half, the Col de Portes, the Col des Brousses and the Côte de Tharaux. From the start there were attacks and the pace was high. Alexandre Delettre, wearer of the blue mountain jersey, Belgian champion Dries De Bondt and Lars van den Berg were involved in the first attacks, but after 6 kilometres they were caught. New attacks were not long in coming. At the Col de Portes there was an escape with Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, Tour winners Vincenzo Nibali and Egan Bernal, Tim Wellens and Alberto Bettiol. Before the summit, everything was together again.
The first 35 kilometres of this stage, with more than three thousand vertical meters, immediately took its toll. The peloton broke and a group of 45 riders were dropped, including sprinters Rudy Barbier, Giacomo Nizzolo and Jens Debusschere. There was no waiting at the front and after the Portes, Bauke Mollema was also involved in another escape attempt. This was canceled at the foot of the Col des Brousses. Bernal stirred again on this second climb, but the Colombian did not get much space. In the run-up to the Côte de Tharaux, a strong leading group with seventeen riders emerged. Lotto Soudal was best represented with three men, Philippe Gilbert, Tim Wellens and Stefano Oldani. INEOS Grenadiers had Bernal and Michał Kwiatkowski, Groupama-FDJ with Jake Stewart and Van den Berg and B&B Hotels with Bryan Coquard and Cyril Barthe were the best represented at the front. Greg Van Avermaet, Edward Theuns, Nils Politt, Mads Würtz Schmidt, Odd Christian Eiking, Michael Gogl, Clément Carisey and Marti Marquez were also there.
At the top of the Col de Tharaux, the leading group had 2 minutes on the peloton, where EF Education-Nippo, which had missed the break, and the team of overall leader Christophe Laporte, Cofidis, set the pace. At that time there was still more than 70 kilometres to go. The difference fluctuated around 2 minutes for a long time. In addition to EF Education-Nippo and Cofidis, Total Direct Energie and Alpecin-Fenix also lent a hand in the pursuit. At the start of the last 30 kilometres, the lead of the refugees started to decline. At 17 kilometres from the finish line, on the last climb, Theuns tried to get away from the leading group. Kwiatkowski responded and immediately took over. However, Barthe and the others were able to catch them. On the descent, which was damp, Wellens rode away. The Belgian took a nice gap, while his teammates Gilbert and Oldani held back the chase. Due to the attacks at the front, the lead of the escape had increased.
Wellens started the last local lap of 6.8 kilometres around Bessèges with 24 seconds in hand. Coming through the line, he took a three-second bonus and in the last kilometres he fought for every second he could take for the overall. Bernal and Kwiatkowski tried to chase down the Belgian, but couldn’t. After a strong ride he crossed the line solo. In the sprint for second place, Theuns Würtz Schmidt took it. Wellens managed to take the leaders jersey from Christophe Laporte.
Stage winner and overall leader, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “I couldn’t imagine a better start of the season. Before the stage, I had already decided to go into the breakaway. We had a look at the course in the bus beforehand and noticed that the beginning of the stage was marked by hilly terrain, including several technical and wet descents. So, quite a tough stage. The level in this peloton is really high. A lot of riders would be interested in being part of the breakaway. So, I was really attentive to absolutely be up there. However, it took a long time before the right breakaway formed. A lot of good riders were in it, so it was immediately clear that we were going to battle it out for the win. I saw my chance in the descent. I took some advantage and teammate Oldani played it perfectly. Then, it was just a time trial to the finish. I also did the descent on the limit, I saw some oil on the road and the motorbike in front of me had a hard time keeping his line. Luckily, I was able to stay upright and I could further increase my lead. I now have a 48-second lead on Kwiatkowski in the general classification. Tomorrow, it will be difficult to further extend my advantage. But I will be happy if I can hold that lead going into Sunday’s time trial. If I feel good, I know it will be difficult to give away the overall victory. But you never know of course. Everyone can have a bad day, but we already did a recon of the time trial and the course suits me. First, it’s eight kilometres flat, followed by a short climb, which should be something for me. Hopefully, there won’t be too much chaos tomorrow and we can control things.”
2nd on the stage and overall, Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo): “I had the legs to win. I knew that my form is good, after I already had a good winter. I also felt quite strong in recent days and I was looking forward to today. It was a tough start to the stage, actually as hoped. I ended up in the leading group, as the only one of the team. I did as little as possible and tried to ride as much as possible at the back of the group. There were a few teams with two or three men. I waited for the last climb and tried to attack once. It may have been a bit optimistic, but I knew it wasn’t far to the top anymore. Wellens rode fast on the descent. There was some oil on the road. Kwiatkowski fell, we all actually slipped a bit. He had two teammates with Philippe Gilbert and Stefano Oldani who tried to stop the group. It was difficult to return to Tim, also because he was very strong. Then I concentrated on sprinting for second place, because I knew I was normally the fastest in the group. I had the legs to win, but sometimes you have to be lucky.”
4th on the stage and 7th overall, Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën): “The start was difficult, but the team knew how to be well positioned at the front. We rode well together. I was happy to be in the breakaway; it had been a long time since this had happened to me. On the last descent towards Bessèges, Kwiatkowski’s crash changed the situation and disorganised our group. Wellens was very strong. My takeaway from today is that the sensations were pretty good. It was important to make the first big efforts at the head of the race. Now we will see what is in store for us the next two days.”
Étoile de Bessèges Stage 3 Result:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:28:02
2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:37
3. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën
5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
7. Jake Stewart (GB) Groupama-FDJ
8. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
9. Michael Gogl (Aut) Qhubeka Assos
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) INEOS Grenadiers.
Étoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 3:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 10:17:38
2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:44
3. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation at 0:46
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:48
5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:49
6. Jake Stewart (GB) Groupama-FDJ at 0:50
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën
8. Michael Gogl (Aut) Qhubeka Assos
9. Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
10. Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal.
Filippo Ganna took the victory on Stage 4 of the Étoile de Bessèges. The Italian was in the early break, which he left in the finalé to solo to victory. Tim Wellens finish with the peloton to kept the leader’s jersey.
Early in the stage, a leading group including Filippo Ganna broke away. The Italian, who is the favourite for Sunday’s time trial, decided not to spare his legs. Ganna was accompanied by Anthony Perez, Alexys Brunel and the Belgians Ludovic Robeet and Dries De Bondt. The five had 4 minute lead at one time, but Lotto Soudal started the chase. In the last hour, the lead of the five at the front became so small that Pierre Latour, Anthony Turgis and Alberto Bettiol managed to get across to them. Robeet was dropped, so seven riders started the last 20 kilometres together.
Due to the good work of BORA-hansgrohe and AG2R Citroën, the seven riders looked like they would be caught in the last 10 kilometres, but then Ganna took off. They would not see the Italian again until after the finish. The chasers struggled in the final kilometres and were unable to avoid a bunch sprint. Christophe Laporte was second and Pascal Ackermann third.
Stage winner, Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers): “The legs were really good today and we’ll see if I am just as strong tomorrow. But today was a fantastic day. Everything went perfectly. Initially the goal was to stay with Kwiatkowski, but when there was an opportunity to get on the run he said that was no problem. I stayed motivated all day and was able to solo the last ten kilometres. I am very happy. In the future we will learn whether I can also go for rankings in other competitions. But at the moment I want to finish this race well. If we see that a race suits my qualities with fewer climbs, then I can certainly go for a classification.”
3rd on the stage, Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe): “That was an interesting stage today. With about 20 km remaining, it looked like the breakaway had a good chance of being caught, but following some attacks out of the peloton, the pace in the leading group increased and they gained significant momentum. The guys did a strong job to try to bring them back, but ultimately, the break managed to contest the win amongst themselves. After Ganna took the honours, we then fought for the rest of the podium places, and I ended up finishing the stage in third place, a satisfying performance which shows that my form continues to improve.”
4th on the stage and 6th overall, Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R-Citroën): “The feelings were good today after my breakaway yesterday (4th). Crossing the line, I thought I was third, I didn’t think Ganna was still in front. The team did a great job protecting me and positioned me perfectly for the final ascent. It was a good way to test myself on a finishing climb like we had today. I am happy with these results. It is not yet the victory we want, but I think I will be able to build on it for the weeks to come.”
Étoile de Bessèges Stage 4 Result:
1. Filippo Ganna (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers in 3:22:59
2. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis at 0:17
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën
5. Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
7. Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
8. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-Hansgrohe
9. August Jensen (Nor) Delko
10. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation.
Étoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 4:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 13:40:54
2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:44
3. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation at 0:46
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:48
5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:49
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën at 0:50
7. Jake Stewart (GB) Groupama-FDJ
8. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
9. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
10. Michael Gogl (Aut) Qhubeka Assos at 0:58.
Tim Wellens took the overall victory in the Étoile de Bessèges in the south of France. The Lotto Soudal rider kept his leader’s jersey in the 11 kilometre time trial, with start and finish in Alès. The Stage 5 victory went to World time trial champion Filippo Ganna for the second day in a row.
For a long time, Ethan Hayter was in the ‘hot seat’ with his time of 15:21. The British INEOS Grenadiers rider was pushed out of the top spot by Groupama-FDJ rider Benjamin Thomas with 15:10. At that time the World champion Filippo Ganna was on the road. Saturday’s stage winner thundered round the course, and went 10 seconds under Thomas’s time with 15:00. The Italian strongman of INEOS Grenadiers was the stage winner for the second day in a row.
Overall leader Tim Wellens defended a 44 second lead over fellow countryman Edward Theuns. Wellens finished 4th in the stage result behind Thomas and Hayter, 29 seconds behind Ganna. Wellens took the overall victory of the Étoile de Bessèges, after he won stage 3 on Friday solo in the hilly stage to Bessèges. In the final ranking, he was ahead of Michal Kwiatkowski (INEOS Grenadiers) by 53 seconds. Nils Politt (BORA-hansgrohe) finished third at 59 seconds.
Stage winner, Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers): “This season start is really good for morale. The final climb was especially important. That really hurt the legs. I am mainly thinking about recovery now. I have about a week and a half to get back to this level, or maybe even a higher level. We’ve already had two wins, so we’re going to continue at this pace We’re now going to the UAE Tour, which also includes a time trial. We will especially support Adam Yates, because he is the leader there.”
Final overall winner and 4th on the stage, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “Of course, I’ve laid the foundations of my overall victory in stage three. It felt nice to start this closing time trial with a lead of more than 40 seconds. I had really good legs today, something I already noticed this morning. But most of all, I was really motived to give Vic Swerts, founder and owner of Soudal, a nice gift for his 81st birthday. The time trial suited me. I managed to push more watts than I had initially planned. That is also why I was able to take the overall victory. Of course, it also helped that I already did a recon of the course beforehand. Already before the start of the Etoile de Bessèges, we knew that the time trial would be decisive for the overall victory. That is also why the team especially sent someone today. Everything was really well organised. A big thank you to the entire team, they were so strong all week long. That is really promising for the rest of the season.”
3rd overall and 9th on the stage, Nils Politt (BORA-hansgrohe): “I’m very happy with my third place overall, especially with it being my first race with BORA-hansgrohe. We worked very well together all week and such a start to the new season by the team is to be applauded. The time trial itself was quite hard, especially with the climb up towards the finish, but I managed it well and I’m happy with the performance I delivered in the time trial. Overall, it was a successful race for us, which definitely creates the momentum to continue in this manner.”
6th overall, Michael Gogl (Qhubeka Assos): “I am very happy with my performance in the TT today and moving up to 6th place in the GC. It was a tough final stage with that ramp up the finish where you just needed to go as deep as you could. I can take this race as a good indication that my preparations over the winter were correct and went well. A big thanks to all of the riders and staff, they were excellent this week and I thoroughly enjoyed being back racing. Now I am looking forward to the next race.”
Étoile de Bessèges Stage 5 Result:
1. Filippo Ganna (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers in 15:00
2. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:10
3. Ethan Hayter (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:21
4. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:29
5. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis at 0:31
6. Michał Kwiatkowski (Pol) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:34
7. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo at 0:35
8. Owain Doull (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:38
9. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
10. Jake Stewart (GB) Groupama-FDJ at 0:41.
Étoile de Bessèges Final Overall Result:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 13:56:23
2. Michał Kwiatkowski (Pol) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:53
3. Nils Politt BORA-hansgrohe at 0:59
4. Jake Stewart (GB) Groupama-FDJ at 1:02
5. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-Up Nation at 1:19
6. Michael Gogl (Aust) Qhubeka Assos at 1:24
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën at 1:25
8. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 1:36
9. Clément Carisey (Fra) Delko at 1:41
10. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 1:45.
X2O Badkamers Trofee Men – Lille Krawatencross 2021
Laurens Sweeck won the X2O Badkamers Trofee cyclocross in Lille on Sunday. The Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider took two victories at the weekend, after he was also the best in the Superprestige race in Middelkerke on Saturday. Second place went to Michael Vanthourenhout, who shook off Corné van Kessel in the final section.
A large group came through the first lap. Eli Iserbyt, Toon Aerts, Quinten Hermans, Laurens Sweeck and Lars van der Haar, they all sat at the front in the tricky snowy cross. In the second lap, Sweeck seized his chance to ride away from the rest. Only Toon Aerts could follow the pace of the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider, but Aerts fell back into a chasing group. Van Kessel, Hermans and Van der Haar then raced together from there. The only one who could sustain that effort was Van Kessel, who rode in second place for a long time, but he was at half a minute from Sweeck.
At the start of the sixth lap of the seven, Van Kessel was with Iserbyt, who was not going to take over as a teammate from Sweeck. Sweek lost some of his lead, at the start of the final lap the difference to his two pursuers was only 19 seconds. Michael Vanthourenhout also joined Van Kessel and Iserbyt in the last lap, causing a fierce battle for the other podium places.
Iserbyt seemed on his way to a top three place, but the European champion made a mistake and had to forget a podium place. Due to an acceleration in the last snow section, Vanthourenhout managed to snatch second place from Van Kessel. This made it another one-two for Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal.
Race winner, Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “It has been really tough days. Sleeping is also not optimal, but I can now finish that. It was a course where you had to be constantly attentive. The course changed a little bit, here and there there were ice patches. I therefore tried to limit the risks, so that I did not run very far. They didn’t stop behind me either, but I had the feeling that I had it under control. I was also good at the World championships, but only came through well in the last laps. I think I have been able to continue that line over the past few days. I hope that by next weekend I will be back one hundred percent and have the same legs.”
3rd, Corné van Kessel (Tormans CX): “I had a long view of second place, right up to the sprint. That threw a spanner in the works (the snow and ice). I might have had to change again, but I didn’t have time for that in the race. I had prepared well for the World championships, but it didn’t go the way I wanted. I didn’t have a normal week before with the birth of our son Cyriel. Did that play a role? Maybe so, but I’m not going to hide behind it.”
X2O Badkamers Trofee Men – Lille Krawatencross Result:
1. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal in 59:06
2. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:00:09
3. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Tormans CX at 0:14
4. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:31
5. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans CX at 0:38
6. Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek at 0:42
7. Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Teika-BH-Gsport at 0:47
8. Lars Van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek at 0:55
9. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 1:03
10. Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers at 1:07.
X2O Badkamers Trofee Women – Lille Krawatencross 2021
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado won the X2O Badkamers Trofee cyclocross in Lille on Sunday. The European champion was just better than World champion Lucinda Brand in the tricky snow-covered cross. The win was decided in a sprint between the two champions. Sanne Cant rode a very strong race, but was stranded in fourth place, just behind Denise Betsema.
Betsema shot off the starting blocks and made a gap in the first lap with Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Sanne Cant and Lucinda Brand. Due to a crash, Alvarado lost her second place to Cant, who also started strongly. Annemarie Worst joined the front four after the first lap. Belgian champion Cant joined Betsema for a moment, but due to delay, the winner on Saturday was able to ride away. She then had to changed bikes, so Cant took over the lead. Betsema and Cant gave each other little space, while Alvarado, Brand and Worst were behind due to some mistakes. On the fourth lap, Alvarado made contact with Betsema and Cant. The Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal rider had a problem and lost her position. For a moment Cant seemed to ride away from her Dutch competitors, but she made a mistake at the logs.
At the start of the final lap the World champion Lucinda Brand attacked and took the lead. She put the rest under pressure, Cant took the initiative on the tough sections, but the Belgian could not make any difference. Brand and Alvarado then rode away from Betsema and Cant on the technical section. It then turned into a sprint from these two for the victory, in which the European champion narrowly beat the World champion. Behind, Betsema sprinted to third place, and Cant, who had a slow puncture in the final lap, finished fourth.
Race winner, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix): “I expected her to continue the sprint, but she had to sit for a while and then I grabbed my chance. The whole race was exciting I think, very exciting. Then that one was leading, then that one. I was in the chase the entire race. I kept losing contact when I got back to the front. I was already expecting the attack from Lucinda Brand and then I could go along. She set the pace and it eventually became a sprint. We were able to sprint cleanly and neatly. Our legs were full then and the person who managed to last the longest won. Although Lucinda did come back for a while. This is great, yesterday I also finished second. Today it is great that I can finish it.”
2nd, Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek): “Every second was important to me. It was a very long sprint, but for me every second was important. I sprinted as fast as I could. And if Ceylin gets past, she’s just stronger. It was sometimes very difficult to pedal. It is difficult to switch. Still, I made a change. Then I could close the gap.”
X2O Badkamers Trofee Women – Lille Krawatencross Result:
1. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix in 48:50:00
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek
3. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:13
4. Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko-Crelan at 0:20
5. Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777 at 0:32
6. Inge Van der Heijden (Ned) 777 at 1:44
7. Fem Van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 1:45
8. Manon Bakker (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:47
9. Yara Kastelijn (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:50
10. Eva Lechner (Ita) Starcasino CX at 2:08
Telenet Superprestige Men Noordzeecross – Middelkerke 2021
Laurens Sweeck won the Noordzeecross in Middlekerke on Saturday. The Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider dropped his teammates Michael Vanthourenhout and Eli Iserbyt, who was still in the race to win the Superprestige. Toon Aerts eventually took the overall victory.
Aerts’ lead over Iserbyt in the Superprestige was fairly large before the start, but the Baloise Trek rider had to remain vigilant as a coup by Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal was still possible.
In the first lap Iserbyt, Vanthourenhout and Sweeck rode hard. Aerts was a few seconds behind the three, but then lost more and more ground. With five points ahead of the European champion, Aerts’ overall victory in fourth position was not immediately in danger. When the Superprestige leader was also caught in the third lap by Lars van der Haar, Corne van Kessel, Ryan Kamp and Kevin Kuhn, his lead was now in danger. If teammates Sweeck and Vanthourenhout let Iserbyt win, Aerts had to finish fifth.
Sweeck and Vanthourenhout did not give the victory to Iserbyt. With two laps to go, they rode away from the European champions. Meanwhile, Aerts moved up a place. With only Van der Haar still ahead, fifth place was up for grabs. Before the final lap, Van der Haar waited for Aerts, so now the Superprestige leader was back in fifth position, the position of the three Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal men at the front no longer mattered and so Aerts secured the overall victory in the Superprestige.
Sweeck was clearly the strongest of the three riders at the front. The sand specialist won the Noordzeecross beating his teammates Vanthourenhout and Iserbyt. It was an emotional victory for the winner as his father-in-law passed away this week.
Race winner, Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “I don’t have many words for it. I don’t really have the feeling that I suffered much. We raced with the team and we were three. If it had been necessary to win the classification, we would have succeeded.”
Superprestige winner, Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions): “It has been a tough hour. I had a difficult week and I started with a small heart despite a tailor-made course. I immediately felt that the pace was a bit too much, too high. I rode for every place. When I saw Van der Haar (in fifth place), I also got more confidence.”
Telenet Superprestige Men Noordzeecross Result:
1. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 59:49
2. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:01
3. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:52
4. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Tormans CX at 1:23
5. Lars Van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek at 1:51
6. Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek at 2:07
7. Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Teika-BH-Gsport at 2:19
8. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans CX at 2:37
9. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 2:42
10. Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans CX.
Telenet Superprestige Women Noordzeecross – Middelkerke 2021
Denise Betsema won the final Superprestige cross of the year, the Noordzeecross in Middelkerke. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado was second and Lucinda Brand was third. Her third place was enough to win the Superprestige.
In her first race in the rainbow jersey, Brand was on the start line to ensure her final victory in the Superprestige series. She had to defend a three-point lead over her closest rival Alvarado.
After a strong start, the Baloise Trek World champion lost her place at the front due to a crash and a bad ride on the sand section. She had to catch up with the strong starter Manon Bakker and Betsema, with Alvarado just behind them. Because Brand was more than three places behind Alvarado, she looked to be losing her overall victory in the Superprestige. Especially when Alvarado caught up with Bakker and started to chase Betsema. Betsema rode a careful race to stay out of harm’s way for the victory.
In the final laps, Brand worked her way back up through the field. First she left Sanne Cant, Marion Norbert Riberolle and Puck Pieterse behind, then she got back to Bakker, then rode away on the penultimate lap. With two points advantage on Alvarado, Brand won the Superprestige.
Race winner, Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “It was slogging. I have never ridden here as wet as today. The course suits me, so it’s nice that I can win here. I made some mistakes in the final, but I could afford them. I am very happy to be the first to cross the line here. I had to chase on the first part of the course, but luckily I was able to advance quickly. I lingered behind Manon for a while, but was able to quickly regain my own pace. My nephew was born last night. I want to dedicate my victory to him.”
Superprestige winner, Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek): “That excitement was fun for the audience, but not for myself. It really didn’t go well. I was overtaken by many riders. The line in the sand that I chose was not such a success. At one point I was able to keep up the lines for a long time. The only thing you can keep doing is stay calm. It’s great to win another series classification. This is the crowning glory of my season.”
Telenet Superprestige Women Noordzeecross – Middelkerke Result
1. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal in 49:28
2. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:32
3. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek at 1:08
4. Manon Bakker (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:31
5. Yara Kastelijn (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:53
6. Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko-Crelan at 2:26
7. Marion Norbert Riberolle (Fra) Starcasino CX at 2:35
8. Inge Van der Heijden (Ned) 777 at 2:47
9. Aniek Van Alphen (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 2:52
10. Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 3:40.
The two champions:
Australian Men’s Road Race Championships 2021
2019 champion Cameron Meyer pulled off a stunning win to retain the Australian Road Race Championship in a thrilling race in Buninyong.
Team BikeExchange started the race on the front as Damien Howson headed down the road in the early breakaway. He was later joined by teammate Kaden Groves as the group grew to 12 riders, before Alex Edmondson jumped across in a small chase group to take the teams numbers to three at the head of the race.
The breakaway eventually broke down as newly crowned time trial champion Luke Plapp (Inform TMX MAKE) went solo with 60km to go. The 20-year-old opened up a gap of over two minutes with Luke Durbridge leading the chase behind with five laps remaining.
With the gap holding steady, Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma) made his move, and the attack spelled the end for Plapp out front as he was caught with 19km to go. The remains of the peloton weren’t far behind, but both Durbridge and Meyer were distanced over the top of the climb.
Meyer eventually clawed his way back to the chasing group before Durbridge reappeared and drove the chasing group heading onto the final lap. The Durbridge-led chase managed to reel all but one rider back in before the top of the climb, but as fresh attacks began to fly, Meyer and Durbridge were distanced once again.
The duo managed to make it back to the head of the race as the group began to look at each other and despite several attacks, the race came down to a reduced bunch kick for gold. Kelland O’Brien (Inform TMX MAKE) was the first to open up his sprint, but Meyer timed his late charge to perfection, stealing the victory on the line to retain the jersey for another year.
Australian men’s road champion, Cameron Meyer (Team BikeExchange): “Luke Durbridge is unbelievable, somehow we just pulled off a miracle! We thought we were all gone, buried. I don’t know how to explain that! That is a nail-biting race, somehow it panned out. They committed to me, I didn’t feel that good with four to go, but we just dug deep and somehow, we pulled off a miracle. That finish is one of the hardest to get right. Everyone’s legless, I’m legless, I probably sprinted at the lowest watts I ever have, but I just picked the right wheels, ran at the right time and the line came at the right moment. To keep the jersey another year! I can’t believe it! I thought there was a chance [with 150 metres to go], I know how much it hurts, I’ve been there out front with 200 to go, Frieberg came past me in the final a couple of years ago. So, you just have to keep going to the line, everyone is legless and somehow I’ve pulled it off. I actually messaged Kell O’Brien a couple of days ago, we’re good friends and he asked for some advice, I said ‘bad laps are just as important as your good laps’, and I had to bring everything out there because I had some shocking laps in there, I was hurting, but you never know what you can pull off.”
Australian Men’s Road Race Championships 2021 – Results:
1. Cameron Meyer (Team BikeExchange) in 4:39:12
2. Kelland O’Brien (Inform TMX MAKE)
3. Scott Bowden (Tasmanian Institute of Sport).
Australian Women’s Road Race Championships 2021
Team BikeExchange took a famous one-two at the Australian Road Race Championships, after a dominant performance saw Sarah Roy solo to victory ahead of teammate Grace Brown in Ballarat.
Roy made it into the five-rider breakaway on the opening lap of nine, before attacking her fellow escapees on Mount Buninyong with 55km to go. The move split the break into pieces, with only Lauretta Hanson (Trek-Segafredo) able to stick with the 34-year-old as the duo headed across the line with three laps to go.
The gap back to the peloton stood at four minutes, with Team BikeExchange teammates Brown and Lucy Kennedy marking the counter attacks behind. Roy then made her decisive move with 30km to go, once again attacking on the climb to drop Hanson and go solo.
As the bell rang out for the final lap, the gap back to Hanson was 55 seconds, with Roy on course to take her first national road race title. Back in the peloton, Brown made her bid for the silver medal as she jumped across to the group ahead before attacking them inside the final five kilometres.
There was no catching Roy and the victory began to sink in as she crossed the line to take a dominant win, while Brown proved to be the strongest in the two-up sprint for second place, making it a one-two for Team BikeExchange.
Sarah Roy (Team BikeExchange): “I can’t believe it, I did not expect this coming into today. I’ve never won the green and gold before, so I’m super stoked. Thanks to my awesome teammates, Grace got second too. We just had to play to our strengths today and my strength is being in a break and the best chance that I have. So that was one card, and I knew I could trust my teammates behind to follow anything from the likes of Sarah [Gigante] coming from behind. I felt pretty confident that we would have a good race today, I didn’t think it would be me across the line first, but I think as a team ride we can be super proud of that. I never get confident enough to think that I’m going to win it on this course, anything can happen, even in the last 500 metres. With one kilometre to go my team car came up and said ‘you’ve got it, you’ve got it’, but still with 500, 200 metres to go I kept checking my shoulders to see if anyone was going to do a late flyer, you never know! I wasn’t super confident until I crossed the line actually, I had to play the tactics and when there was a group coming from behind I attacked on the QOM. I just thought ‘this is my only chance’, push this out a bit further, so I think tactically we can be really proud.”
Australian Woman’s Road Race Championships 2021 – Result:
1. Sarah Roy (Team BikeExchange) 3:01:52
2. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) +01:16
3. Lauretta Hanson (Trek-Segafredo) +01:18
Valgren Breaks Two Fingers in Bessèges Crash
Michael Valgren didn’t have a great debut with the EF Education-Nippo team. The Danish rider broke two fingers in a crash in the opening stage of the Étoile de Bessèges.
Valgren was involved in one of the falls in the fast finalé of the stage to Bellegarde. He broke the metacarpals of his index and middle fingers of his left hand. Valgren still made it to the finish, but did not start in the second stage on Thursday. He will go under the knife to repair the fractures. How long Valgren will be out of action due to his broken fingers is not known. The Dane, who made the transfer from NTT Pro Cycling last winter, is one of EF Education-Nippo’s strongmen for the spring Classics.
Two broken fingers for Valgren:
Peter Sagan Infected with Covid-19
At a training camp in Gran Canaria, Peter Sagan, his brother Juraj, and Erik Baska tested positive for Covid-19. All three are well and in quarantine.
“Peter, Erik and Juraj tested positive for the SARS-Cov-2 virus several times via independent PCR tests. All three are exhibiting mild, general symptoms of illness and at this time are able to remain in domestic quarantine in accordance with state guidelines until they recover. There remains close communication with the medical team. Once quarantine has been completed, further comprehensive medical evaluations are planned.” – Christopher Edler, MD, Head of Medical
“For a few weeks now, my brother Juraj, our teammate Erik Baska, and I have been training in Gran Canaria. On January 29th, we had a PCR test done in a local laboratory in order to be able to fly back home. Unfortunately, the results weren’t what we would have hoped for and all three of us tested positive for Covid-19. We are all feeling well but, obviously, since that day, we have remained in quarantine. From the moment we received the positive test results, we have had the full support of the team and I’d like to thank our manager Ralph Denk and our medical department for this. Although we are thousands of kilometres away and in isolation, we always felt as if we were right next to them. We are kept under continuous remote supervision and will remain here for as long as required. Hopefully, our next test results will be negative so that we can resume our normal training schedule as soon as possible.” – Peter Sagan.
“The timing is certainly not ideal, but then again, there is no good time to become ill with Covid. Peter was – and is – extremely motivated, and that’s why he was already quite far along in his preparatory build up for the season. But the most important thing now is that all three are well and not displaying any severe symptoms. Our medical department is in very close contact with them, and the care that they are receiving is as optimal as is possible. What this means for the start of the season cannot yet be exactly known. First, all three must be fully healthy again and receive medical clearance, and then we can consider what the next steps will be.” – Ralph Denk, Team Manager.
Sagan in quarantine:
Roy Jans to UAE Tour and GP Monseré
Roy Jans was missing from the Alpecin-Fenix team list on the UCI site. He is now there. “I never left, though,” Jans told Het Belang van Limburg.
“As early as August, I received the verbal promise that I could stay. After which I signed for one year. I know there has been a lot of speculation about my future, even though I was on a team training camp in December. For example, the outside world thought it knew that I would stop or be transferred to the continental training team. But for me it was crystal clear: I have always remained a member of the ProTeam,” he said.
His first race of the season will be the UAE Tour, where he will ride for Mathieu van der Poel and Jasper Philipsen. “A nice gesture from the team, because if the Tour of Valencia had not been postponed, I would already have been racing. Instead, we will go to Benicassim, Spain on February 10, to hone the lead-out for the sprint before traveling to the Emirates.”
Because Jans is riding the UAE Tour, he misses the Flemish opening weekend. “I will ride my first race kilometres on Flemish soil on March 7, when the GP Jean-Pierre Monseré is scheduled. I hope that race can continue, as I hope that everything can take place as much as possible. I am on schedule.”
Roy Jans waiting for the peloton:
Großschartner Vuelta a España Leader
Felix Großschartner will be BORA-hansgrohe’s GC leader for the Vuelta a España in 2021. The 27-year-old Austrian finished 9th overall in the last Tour of Spain. Großschartner will – just like in 2020 – ride two Grand Tours next season. In May he will race in the Giro d’Italia for Emanuel Buchmann. The 28-year-old German was 4th in the 2019 Tour de France, less than 2 minutes behind overall winner Egan Bernal, his team aims for the final podium.
After that, Großschartner will prepare for the Olympic Games road race in Tokyo, and then the Vuelta. “There are riders with us who won opportunities for themselves last season for 2021,” said Head of Performance Dan Lorang about BORA-hansgrohe. “Then you should especially look at Patrick Konrad and Felix,” he explained. “They delivered solid performances last season. They will certainly get opportunities, including the top team in one of the Grand Tours.” In the Tour de France, the German team will probably back newcomer, Wilco Kelderman as the leader.
INEOS Grenadiers Take Thomas, Carapaz and Hart to the Tour, Bernal Rides Giro
INEOS Grenadiers has their plans for the 2021 Grand Tours. Team manager, Dave Brailsford, announced that the British team would take Geraint Thomas, Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart to the Tour de France. Egan Bernal would focus on the Giro d’Italia and Adam Yates and Tom Pidcock would head for the Vuelta a España.
“We asked ourselves if we wanted to line up all the top riders in the Tour. Or do we spread them out over the three Grand Tours? I think this is a nice balance,” said Brailsford. “The fact that we didn’t win last year’s Tour and are now the challengers, gives us the freedom to think differently. We can come up with a new, creative strategy to win the event.”
With Thomas, Carapaz and Hart, INEOS Grenadiers has three Grand Tour winners. According to Brailsford, the Tour route, with two time trials, is tailor-made for Thomas. Carapaz must in turn ensure the attacking style within the team. For Hart, riding the Tour is the “best step” in his career after his Giro victory last autumn.
In addition to the three leaders, Richie Porte, Laurens De Plus, Michal Kwiatkowski, Jonathan Castroviejo, Luke Rowe and Rohan Dennis are also on the shortlist to be at the start of the Tour in June. In the Giro d’Italia, Bernal will have support from Pavel Sivakov, Daniel Felipe Martínez and Filippo Ganna. It may be that Bernal will also ride the Tour afterwards, but that depends on how he comes out of the Giro. The Vuelta a España is also an option for the Colombian.
Bernal is currently riding his first race of the season in the Étoile de Bessèges. Sports director Servais Knaven spoke about Bernal’s form: “He has been able to train well and is ready to participate in races, but he is not ready to ride in results yet. The main thing now is that he has a good engine where he can do some races.”
Geraint Thomas to the Tour:
Bouhanni Wants to Win in Sanremo
At the age of 30, Nacer Bouhanni still dreams of winning Milan-Sanremo, but realises that winning ‘La Primavera’ is no easy task. “It’s even more difficult to win Milan-Sanremo these days, as there are so many puncheurs.”
The Arkéa-Samsic sprinter has finished fourth, sixth and eighth in Sanremo in the past. “It’s a great race and a race that suits me too, the final is of course very difficult with the climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio. I think it has become even more difficult in recent years to compete for the win, as there are so many puncheurs. They all hope to ride away on the Poggio. That makes it a lot more difficult for the sprinters. It is really important to stay with them and survive, but that is very difficult.”
Bouhanni hopes to perform well again this year in the Italian spring classic. The sprinter will contest the Tour de La Provence and Paris-Nice in the run-up to Milan-Sanremo. In the summer Bouhanni hopes to be at the start of the Tour de France, but the Frenchman does not want to get ahead of things yet. “I want to win races this season, that’s the main goal. I have not thought about the Tour yet, there is still a long way to go. I now just focus on the upcoming races, starting with the Tour de La Provence. I was able to improve my condition in the Étoile de Bessèges.”
Nacer Bouhanni looked good in Bessèges:
Davide Rebellin is Not Racing for Cambodia Cycling Academy
Davide Rebellin was seen two months ago wearing a Cambodia Cycling Academy jersey, but according to Eurosport France, the 49-year-old Italian will not compete for the Continental team this season. Rebellin has still not signed a contract.
The experienced Rebellin confirmed his transfer to the Cambodia Cycling Academy at the end of December. “Passion is my motivation. The preparations for the races and the feeling I experience during races, that makes me live better. And then I am as happy as a child,” said the Classic specialist.
Cambodia Cycling Academy has, however, had negative news in recent months. Several stakeholders reported to Eurosport that within the team there are problems with the equipment, circumvention of the regulations and internal conflicts. Manager Samy Aurignac denies everything. The UCI was already aware of “possible internal problems” within the team.
According to Eurosport France, the international cycling union has still not issued a license to the team management of Cambodia Cycling Academy. Nevertheless, the team was allowed to start in the Étoile de Bessèges. However, Rebellin seems to be in talks with several teams.
Where for Rebellin now:
Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec Signs Top Talent Andrii Ponomar
Andrii Ponomar will be racing for a professional team this season. The 18-year-old Ukrainian has signed a two-year contract with Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, the team of manager Gianni Savio. Ponomar will by-pass the Under 23 category.
The versatile Ponomar impressed in the junior category, becoming European road champion in 2019 in Alkmaar, after a successful solo, ahead of Maurice Ballerstedt and Andrea Piccolo. He also won a stage in the Trophée Center Morbihan that year and finished sixth in the Junior Peace Race.
The promising rider also won the Grand Prix Rüebliland last year, a prestigious junior race in Switzerland, but after that most youth races were canceled due to the corona crisis. However, Savio, the man behind Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, is there to sign the Ukrainian for 2021 and 2022.
Andrii Ponomar – Junior Euro champ:
Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Tour de la Provence
World Champion Julian Alaphilippe will be in action next week.
Taking place between 11-14 February, the sixth edition of the Tour de la Provence will be the Wolfpack’s debut race this year. The four-day event will stick to the script, with the first two stages (finishing in Six-Fours-les-Plages and Manosque) suited to the puncheurs before a trip up Chalet Reynard (14.6km, 7.6%), some six kilometres shy of Mont Ventoux’s summit. On Sunday, despite some rolling roads between Avignon and Salon-de-Provence, there’s a fair chance the fast men will get their opportunity, as the race will prepare to bring down the curtain.
World Champion Julian Alaphilippe will be at the start of the Tour de la Provence for the first time since 2016, when the race held its first edition. The Frenchman, who in the past two seasons kick-started his campaign in South America, will be making his first appearance on home turf since last year’s Tour de France, when he was again in the spotlight thanks to a spectacular stage win, followed by a three-day spell in the yellow jersey.
Danish National Champion Kasper Asgreen will be as well on Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s seven-man squad, which is set to contain also Davide Ballerini, most combative rider of the 2020 La Vuelta Rémi Cavagna, Mauri Vansevenant, and Paris-Roubaix podium finishers Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar.
“With so many races cancelled or postponed, we had to make some changes in our line-up, that’s why we have a Classics-orientated team for next week. We’re happy to get the season underway and to have Julian show his rainbow jersey for the first time this year in France. The guys are feeling good, they are all motivated, and we are confident that this solid squad is capable of fighting for some nice results. Our main goal is to give our best there and get back that racing feeling that we love and have missed so much”, said sports director Geert Van Bondt.
11.02–14.02 Tour de la Provence (FRA) 2.Pro
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)
Kasper Asgreen (DEN)
Davide Ballerini (ITA)
Rémi Cavagna (FRA)
Yves Lampaert (BEL)
Zdenek Stybar (CZE)
Mauri Vansevenant (BEL).
Sports Director: Geert Van Bondt (BEL) and Rik van Slycke (BEL).
Team Selection for 2021 Tour de France
The organisers of the Tour de France have chosen the teams that will take part in the 108th edition (June 26-July 18).
In accordance with Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) rules, the following nineteen UCI WorldTeams are automatically invited to the race:
AG2R Citroën Team (Fra)
Astana – Premier Tech (Kaz)
Bahrain Victorious (Brn)
Bora – Hansgrohe (Ger)
Deceuninck – Quick-Step (Bel)
EF Education – NIPPO (Usa)
Groupama – FDJ (Fra)
Ineos Grenadiers (Gbr)
Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux (Bel)
Israel Start-Up Nation (Isr)
Jumbo – Visma (Ned)
Lotto Soudal (Bel)
Movistar Team (Esp)
Team BikeExchange (Aus)
Team DSM (Ger)
Team Qhubeka Assos (Rsa)
Trek – Segafredo (Usa)
UAE Team Emirates (Uae)
Furthermore, the Alpecin – Fenix, the leader in the 2020 classification of UCI ProTeams will take part by right in Tour de France 2021.
Following the decision of the Union Cycliste Internationale’s (UCI) directors’ committee to increase the maximum number of riders allowed at the start of Grand Tours from 176 to 184, the organisers of the Tour de France extend invitations to the following three teams:
B&B Hotels P/B KTM (Fra)
Team Arkéa – Samsic (Fra)
Total Direct Energie (Fra).
104th Giro d’Italia: Piedmont to host the Grande Partenza, with an opening ITT in the streets of Turin
On Saturday 8 May, the Corsa Rosa will begin from Turin, the Piedmont capital. Stage 2 from Stupinigi (Nichelino) to Novara – one for the sprinters – and Stage 3 from Biella to Canale will also be hosted by the region. The Giro will return to Piedmont in its final week with a never-before-seen summit finish at Alpe di Mera (Valsesia) and stage departure from Verbania. Watch Filippo Ganna’s video message below.
On the 160th anniversary of Italian unification, Turin and the Piedmont region is set to host the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia, 10 years since it last did so. Stage 1 will see riders tackle a 9 kilometre-long individual time trial through the streets of Turin. Stage 2, from Stupinigi (Nichelino) to Novara (173km), will best suit the sprinters before an undulating Stage 3 from Biella to Canale (187km) that’s likely to attract the interest of the race’s finisseurs. Following the Grande Partenza, the Piedmont region will again be in the spotlight during the Giro’s final week as Stage 19 will play host to a summit finish at Alpe di Mera in Valsesia, followed by a departure from Verbania the next day.
THE 3 STAGES OF THE GRANDE PARTENZA
Stage 1: Turin – Turin ITT (9.0km)
An entirely urban stage. Stage 1 starts from Piazza Castello and follows the Po River, passing through Turin’s Valentino Park. After crossing over the Po, the route continues along the Corso Casale and remains straight until it reaches the Gran Madre church at the foot of the Superga hill to finish.
Stage 2: Stupinigi (Nichelino) – Novara (173km)
A mainly flat stage. Riders will depart from the Palazzina di Caccia in Stupinigi before reaching another Savoy castle in Racconigi a few kilometres later. The route then passes through Santena, the city where Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour rests (a leading figure in the Italian unification movement), 160 years after his death. The peloton will then face some gentle undulations as they cross through the Monferrato area and enter the Po Valley.
Stage 3: Biella – Canale (187km)
An undulating stage, suitable for finisseurs. The stage is initially flat from the city of Biella before the riders reach the slopes of the Apennine Mountains. After Asti, a succession of climbs begin, some of which are classified as GPMs. Once the peloton has passed by Alba, a few short but steep ramps will greet the riders before the finish, presenting an ideal opportunity for an attack.
For the third time in its history, Turin will host the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia. The city previously did so in 1961 (the centenary of Italian unification) and 2011 (the 150th anniversary of the event).
The Giro has never started a stage from Stupinigi before (Stage 2). The town of Novara (also Stage 2) last hosted a stage finish in 1968, won by Eddy Merckx who took his first Maglia Rosa that day.
Biella will host a stage start for the sixth time (the first was in 1963, most recently in 2007), while the race has never finished a stage at Canale.
The Giro has also never finished a stage at Alpe di Mera in Valsesia.
Verbania is set to host a stage start for the fourth time in its history, having previously done so in 1952, 1992 and 2011.
2021 Ardennes Classics Back with a Spring in Their Step
The newly crowned World champion was the only one left with a bitter taste in his mouth after the exceptional autumn editions of the classics, held at the tail end of the 2020 season. Marc Hirschi and Anna van der Breggen’s wins in the Flèche Wallonne, followed by Primož Roglič and Lizzie Deignan’s victories in Liège–Bastogne–Liège, were in line with the character of the Ardennes classics, coming at the end of gruelling races in which only the strongest and toughest riders stayed in contention until the finish. Six months later, it is time for the pretenders to the crown of the Flèche Wallonne to reset their clocks to the usual dates. The men will roll out of Charleroi, which hosted the start of the race from 1998 to 2012. The road to Huy will follow the traditional east-west trajectory and pit the peloton against the Côte d’Yvoir for the first time, but the Côte de Gives, another addition to the course, is where things will really get serious. Following two 32 km loops with a profile that looks like the serrated edge of a saw blade, the final showdown will take place on the unique Mur de Huy, the ultimate litmus test for punchers. The women’s race will merge onto the course of the men’s race for the final 90 kilometres. Will Anna van der Breggen, the undisputed master of the Chemin des Chapelles, with six victories to her name, be able to extend her dominance on this beefed-up course?
Liège–Bastogne–Liège moved its finish line back downtown in 2019. An audacious solo move earned Jakob Fuglsang the win that year, while last October it was a group of five attackers that vied for victory in a messy sprint. This time round, the home straight on Quai des Ardennes will come after almost 260 kilometres of racing on a course featuring the brand-new Côte de Desnié, a nasty climb (1.6 km at an average gradient of 8%) that comes shortly before the decisive Côte de la Redoute, the point where lactic acid starts to reach agonising levels. The riders will have to leave something in the tank if they want to use the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons as a springboard to try and win the Old Lady. The same holds true for the ladies, who will start this year’s edition in Liège and tackle another gruelling 141 km course: the fifth running of the women’s race will take the peloton to the Côte de Desnié, Col du Rosier and Côte des Forges for the first time.
Three new partners and a renewed commitment
· In 2021, the Ardennes classics are delighted to welcome AG on board as the new “Major Partner” of the four Belgian races. Cycling has been part of AG’s DNA for a long time. Through its partnerships, AG seeks to promote cycling as a sport and as part of everyday life. This partnership is a long-term commitment, running until the end of 2024.
· As announced a month ago, Shimano is now an “Official Partner”. The Japanese firm will leverage its experience and know-how in the field of neutral technical support.
· Decathlon is now an “Official Provider”. Its focus will be on young fans and bicycle safety.
· Finally, Cofidis, which has been at our side since 2012, is extending its commitment to the Ardennes classics as an “Official Partner”.
Amaury Sport Organisation is proud to have the support of all the partners of the Ardennes classics and acknowledge their strong commitment.
Ø The men and women’s versions of the Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège have been scheduled for 21 and 25 April, respectively, after returning to their usual slots on the calendar.
Ø The Flèche Wallonne is bringing back the traditional start in Charleroi, with a course steeped in the history of the race all the way to the final climb up the Mur de Huy, while Liège–Bastogne–Liège will have an extra sting in the tail thanks to the addition of the new Côte de Desnié.
Ø The women’s two races have also been backloaded by the organisers. The men and women’s courses will converge in the final 90 kilometres in the Flèche Wallonne and the final 80 kilometres on the road to Liège.
Ø New partners are stepping up to the plate, including AG, Shimano and Decathlon, while Cofidis has renewed its commitment to the Ardennes classics.
2021 Tour de Romandie Route
The Tour de Romandie has revealed the stage schedule for the next edition, April 27-May 2. The organisers of the multi-day race has decided to largely use the route of the canceled edition in 2020.
At the end of 2019, the organisers had already came up with a stage schedule for the 75th edition of the Tour de Romandie, but the stage race was canceled last year due to the global corona crisis. This year they hope to organise the event as usual, albeit under strict ‘corona conditions’.
The race starts on Tuesday, April 27 with a short prologue of 4 kilometres through the streets of Oron. On day two there is a stage from Aigle to Martigny on the program, followed by a stage finish in Saint-Imier. The Queen Stage is planned to be the penultimate stage, where the riders complete the mountain stage to Thyon 2000.
The tour has its climax in the streets of Friborg, where an individual time trial of 16 kilometres has been designed. The last edition of the Tour de Romandie was organised in 2019. The overall victory went to Primož Roglič, ahead of Rui Costa and Geraint Thomas. Roglič also won the Swiss stage race in 2018.
Tour de Romandie 2021 Stages:
27-04 – Prologue: Oron – Oron (4 km)
28-04 – Stage 1: Aigle – Martigny (168 km)
29-04 – Stage 2: La Neuveville – Saint-Imier (164 km)
30-05 – Stage 3: Estavayer – Estavayer (172 km)
01-05 – Stage 4: Sion – Thyon 2000 (162 km)
02-05 – Stage 5: Friborg – Friborg (16 km, ITT).
Three wins for Primož Roglič?
Money for the Vuelta a España start in Utrecht is Almost in Place
The money needed for the Vuelta a España to start in Utrecht in 2022 is almost in place. If the city council of the Domstad agrees to an extra contribution, all that remains is to wait for the approval of a subsidy application from the government. AD reported on Friday.
The Tour of Spain should have started in the Netherlands in 2020, but the corona crisis put a stop to that. Because the start had already been assigned to Burgos this season, the municipality of Utrecht, together with the business community, the province and the Brabant authorities, is now aiming for 2022. An additional €2.1 million is needed to be able to secure the race.
The business community, the province of Utrecht and the Brabant partners have already allocated extra money for the postponed Vuelta start and the Utrecht alderman for Economic Affairs Verschuure proposed to the city council to do the same. If the council, where a large majority is in favour of the extra contribution, agrees, €1.9 million in extra money has been received.
A subsidy application for the last €200,000 is submitted to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. A ‘promising application’, according to Alderman Verschuure. It is expected that the Vuelta organiser will decide around Thursday 1 April which city will get the start of the tour in 2022.
Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite Routes Confirmed
On Saturday 6 March, the men’s and women’s professional races will take place on the traditional Strade Bianche route, starting and finishing in Siena. Read on for a message from Wout van Aert below.
The routes of Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite, set to be raced on Saturday 6 March, have been officially confirmed. The two races, as per recent tradition, will start from Siena and end in the unique setting of Piazza del Campo in Siena, after 184km and 136km of riding respectively.
15th STRADE BIANCHE – 184km, 11 sectors and 63km on gravel roads (34.2% of the course). Race start at 11:40 CET, finish around 16:30 CET.
“Europe’s most southern northern classic”, part of the elite of world cycling since 2017, is now a key race on the UCI WorldTour calendar. The last winner to triumph in Piazza del Campo was Belgium’s Wout van Aert, who also won the 111th edition of Milano-Sanremo that same year – a feat matched only by Julian Alaphilippe in 2019, Michał Kwiatkowski in 2017 and Fabian Cancellara in 2008.
7th STRADE BIANCHE WOMEN ELITE – 136km, 8 sectors and 31.4km on gravel roads (23.1% of the course). Race start at 9:10 CET, finish around 13:15 CET.
Strade Bianche Women Elite is set to be one of the most spectacular of the year, a unique event on the global cycling scene thanks both to its special course character including Tuscany’s famous gravel roads, and to the high level of participants. The previous two editions were both won by Annemiek van Vleuten.
The winner of the 2020 edition of Strade Bianche Wout van Aert said: “That week in Italy with my victory in Strade Bianche and shortly after in Milano-Sanremo was the most special period of the year for me. It was a very intense time, after the restart of the season, and it was a unique experience to go from one success to another. After the Cyclocross World Championships I’ve taken a short break and since then I have started my preparations for the new season. In the beginning, my main focus will be on the one day races. I’m very much looking forward to my Italian block. Not only because of Strade Bianche, but this time also because of Tirreno-Adriatico.”
THE ROUTE OF STRADE BIANCHE
It’s a twisty and undulating course, with no long climbs but punchy hills, most significantly on the unpaved sections of the route. There are roughly 63km of gravel roads, across 11 sectors, eight of which are shared with the Women Elite course.
Starting from Siena, the initial undulating kilometres are on asphalt before reaching the 2.1km-long gravel Sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill. After a few kilometres the riders then face Sector 2 (5.8km), the first real challenge with a short descent followed by a long climb with sections of over 10% gradient. The course then goes through Radi, where gravel Sector 3 starts (4.4km long; the second part of what was gravel Sector 1 in the race’s first edition) shortly followed by Sector 4 – named “La Piana” – and one of the race’s classic gravel sectors (5.5km in length, and featured in the course ever since the first edition) with no significant gradient, leading to Buonconvento.
A few kilometers later, the second climb of the day begins: the Montalcino (4km at 5%). Following Torrenieri the riders face Sectors 5 (11.9km) and 6 (8km) with only 1km of tarmac in between. Both are hard, hilly and very punchy, with many challenging bends, climbs and descents. After the second passage through Buonconvento, the route reaches Monteroni d’Arbia, which marks the beginning of Sector 7 of San Martino in Grania (9.5km) in the middle of the Crete Senesi. It’s a long sector with continuous ups and downs in the first part, ending up with a twisting climb before meeting the tarmac again.
In Ponte del Garbo (Asciano) gravel Sector 8 begins. At 11.5km it’s the hardest of the race, mostly uphill and characterised by tough hills, the most important being those close to Monte Sante Marie, with steep gradients on both climbs and descents over short distances. After Castelnuovo Berardenga there’s a very short, flat section of gravel (300m) before facing, after Monteaperti, Sector 9 – it’s only 800m long, but greets the riders with a double-digit gradient ramp before they rejoin the tarmac in Vico d’Arbia and then a paved road through Pieve a Bozzone.
Next comes the penultimate section of gravel (Sector 10, 2.4km) on the climb toward Colle Pinzuto, with gradients of up to 15%. After a few kilometers, the riders then face the last gravel section (Sector 11, 1.1km) which features a sequence of demanding descents followed by a very punchy climb (with a maximum gradient of 18%) that ends at the Tolfe. From there, only 12km separate the riders from the finish in Piazza del Campo, Siena.
The demanding final kilometers, with gradients up to 16%, approach the city of Siena along broad, straight sections of road, connected by sweeping curves, first descents and slight climbs. At 2km from the finish line, the route joins Via Esterna di Fontebranda; here the gradient touches 9%.
With 900m to go to the finish line, the race route passes beneath Fontebranda Gate where the road surface becomes paving slabs. The gradient then exceeds 10% until 500m from the finish, reaching its steepest gradient of 16% along Via Santa Caterina. A sharp right-hand turn leads to Via delle Terme, and then Via Banchi di Sotto. With 300m to go, the road continues to climb slightly then, 150m from the line, a right turn leads into Via Rinaldini. The route enters the Piazza del Campo just 70m from the finish line. The final 30m descends at a gradient of 7% to the finish line itself, which is flat.
THE ROUTE OF STRADE BIANCHE WOMEN ELITE
A twisty and undulating course, with no long climbs but with punchy hills – most significantly on the unpaved parts. There are more than 31km of gravel roads across eight sectors (all shared with the Men’s course). Starting from Siena, the initial undulating kilometers take place on tarmac before reaching the 2.1km-long gravel Sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill.
After a few kilometers the riders then face Sector 2 (5.8km), the first real challenge with a short descent followed by a long climb with sections of over 10% gradient. The course then goes through Radi, where gravel Sector 3 starts (4.4km), shortly followed by Sector 4 – named “La Piana” – and one of the race’s classic gravel sectors (5.5km in length, and featured in the course ever since the first edition) with no significant gradient, leading to Buonconvento.
After the passage through Buonconvento the route reaches Monteroni d’Arbia, which marks the beginning of Sector 5 of San Martino in Grania (9.5km) in the middle of the Crete Senesi. It’s a long sector with continuous ups and downs to start with, and ends with a twisting climb before meeting the tarmac again. After Castelnuovo Berardenga there’s a very short, flat section of gravel (300m) before riders face, after Monteaperti, Sector 6 – it’s only 800m long, but greets the riders with a double-digit gradient ramp before they rejoin the tarmac in Vico d’Arbia and then a paved road through Pieve a Bozzone.
Next comes the penultimate gravel section (Sector 7, 2.4km) on the climb toward Colle Pinzuto, with gradients of up to 15%. After a further few kilometers, the riders will face the last section of gravel (Sector 8, 1.1km) which features a sequence of demanding descents followed by a very punchy climb (with a maximum gradient of 18%) that ends at the Tolfe. From here only 12km separate the riders from the finish in Piazza del Campo, Siena. The final kilometers are the same as the men’s course.
2020 winner Wout van Aert:
Classic Loire-Atlantique Postponed Until Early October
The Classic Loire-Atlantique has been postponed due to the corona crisis. The French spring race was supposed to be held on Saturday, March 27. The organisers now wants to move the race to Saturday, October 2.
Jean-Luc Chaillot, chairman of the organising committee, informed Ouest-France: “This is the most sensible given the current health situation. We hope that the situation will have improved towards the end of the year and that we will be able to welcome spectators again. This also gives us more time to prepare for the event as well as possible.”
Last year, the Classic Loire-Atlantique was also canceled due to the corona crisis. Rudy Barbier was the last winner of the spring race in 2019. After 182.8 kilometers and just under four and a half hours of racing, the French rider was the fastest in the final sprint. Marc Sarreau was second in La Haye-Fouassière.
Eurométropole Tour Rescheduled for 2nd October
The Eurométropole Tour has been moved on the UCI calendar to Saturday 2nd October. The request from the organiser of the Belgian ProSeries race has been approved by the UCI. According to DirectVélo, the Eurométropole Tour, on August 28, the original date, received cancellations from Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Lotto Soudal. Organiser Louis Cousaert did not agree, but his first proposal to move to August 21 was rejected by the French teams as the race would then coincide with the Tour du Limousin.
As a result, the one-day race has been moved to Saturday, October 2. That is a week after the World Championships road race, which is scheduled for September 26 between Antwerp and Leuven. The Eurométropole Tour for can be combined with the Famenne Ardenne Classic (UCI 1.1) on Sunday 3 October. The last winner of the Eurométropole Tour was Piet Allegaert, who was the strongest in 2019. Last season, the race was not organised due to the corona crisis.
Ian Stannard to be Sports Director at Trinity Racing
It looks like Ian Stannard will stay active in cycling after his retirement. The 33-year-old will start a new job as sports director with Trinity Racing, the British continental team thatTom Pidcock raced with last season. Stannard was forced to stop last season due to rheumatism.
Stannard, who turned pro with Landbouwkrediet in 2008, has spent the past eleven seasons riding for Sky and INEOS Grenadiers. He was British champion once in his career, but also a two-time winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2014 and 2015. He also finished third in Paris-Roubaix in 2016.
From 2021, Stannard will be a sports director. “Trinity Racing has quickly become one of the leading development teams in Europe, and I look forward to starting in my new role,” he said. “We have an impressive squad, including Ben Healy and Thomas Gloag. They can build on the success they had in a number of major U23 races last year.” It is not surprising that Stannard choose Trinity. The team is in the hands of Trinity Sports Management, which was Stannard’s manager when he was a rider, and Andrew McQuaid (son of former UCI chairman Pat McQuaid) is the director. “The fact that we can welcome someone with his experience to our squad is a great addition to Trinity Racing,” said McQuaid.
Stannard on the road to Roubaix:
Patrick Lefevere Not Happy at the Tour Extra Wildcard
This week the UCI announced that the organisers of the Grand Tours, at the request of the ASO and RCS Sport, can hand out an extra wild card. “A blow in the face of the riders,” said Patrick Lefevere, manager of Deceuninck – Quick-Step.
Just like last season, the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) and the UCI executive committee want to meet the parties involved who have been hit hard by the corona crisis in 2021. With this in mind, the maximum number of participants for the Grand Tours has also been increased from 176 to 184 riders. The UCI has fulfilled the wish of the race organisers ASO and RCS Sport to give an extra team from their own country the opportunity to participate in difficult times for public health and the economy.
“What I blame the UCI is that they just go along with the ASO’s proposal to race the Tour with 23 instead of 22 teams,” Lefevere wrote in his column in Het Nieuwsblad. “While they still agreed in 2018 that the peloton had to become less numerous in order to reduce the number of crashes. Suddenly, only eight instead of nine riders were allowed to go to the Tour. Now that safety aspect is suddenly no longer important. A blow in the face of the riders.”
“The ASO wants to be able to hand out its wild cards for the Tour itself and so ‘more riders’ now fits in that bill. The political agreement on this with the UCI is then sold as ‘a corona measure’ to accommodate the smaller French teams that have ‘been unable to compete’. I can only be cynical about that,” said Lefevere.
Brailsford: “Everyone should hope that Dumoulin returns with a smile”
Dave Brailsford hopes that Tom Dumoulin will return to the peloton soon. The INEOS Grenadiers team boss said: “Everyone in cycling should hope that one day he returns to the peloton, with a smile on his face,” in an online press conference.
Dumoulin would have been a rival at the Tour, not now, but Brailsford doesn’t want to talk that. “This is not about Tom Dumoulin the rider or Tom Dumoulin the rival, but Tom Dumoulin the human being,” he said. “To be able to perform, it has to be right in the head and I hope he regains his balance.” In that light, Brailsford also looks at Egan Bernal, who has had difficult months after his abandonment in the previous Tour. “Although he is still very young and has already achieved a lot, I want to see the old Egan again. What struck me the most when Egan first came to race in Europe was not his enormous talent, but the constant smile on his face. He attacked and won, but always with a smile: a smiling assassin. Last season I saw that smile too little.”
INEOS Grenadiers was also in talks with Wout van Aert last winter to take him after 2021. The manager acknowledges that talks took place. “If a rider of that caliber is out of contract with his team, I would be an ass not to speak to him. But you also have to look at such matters through realistic eyes. Wout was happy with the team he raced for, so it is good that he stays there. We look forward to fighting him,” said Brailsford. Van Aert eventually extended his contract with Jumbo-Visma until the end of 2024.
Will we see Tom Dumoulin in the peloton again?
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