The new UCI calendar seems to be taking shape and we might see the Strade Bianche on the first of August – Top Story. Race news from the Giro, Vuelta, Poitou-Charantes, Ladies Tour of Norway and a different problem for Paris-Roubaix. The riders have a lot to say: Evenepoel, Ulissi, Groenewegen, Keukeleire, Kristoff, Van Aert, Bouhanni, Lopez, Dumoulin, Quintana, Betancur and Bernal. The Colombians fly in, Jakobsen talks sprinters, teams for the Ventoux Challenge, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec to focus on Italian races, Lefevere funds team, transfer news, doping in Iran, Riis not co-owner of the NTT team and Bruyneel doesn’t need to see the Armstrong documentary. Loads to read, coffee time?
TOP STORY: RCS meet Italian government, optimism about Strade Bianche
Organiser RCS Sport will be meeting this week with the Italian Ministry of the Interior to discuss the restarting of cycling. RCS’s Stefano Allocchio told Lello Ferrara 3.0 on social media.
It seems certain that the Strade Bianche will be run on August 1. “We can confirm that the season will start with Strade Bianche,” said Allocchio. “I’ll go back to the office on Thursday. There will be a lot to do because we have been missed for a long time.”
The meeting with the minister and the chief of police will take place in Rome. “We’ll be at the Ministry of the Interior in a few days. We will then find out what the conditions are that are imposed on us for the execution of the races.”
Will the Strade Bianche be on August the 1st?
Giro d’Italia to Start With a Time Trial in Palermo
The first stages of the rescheduled Giro d’Italia course have been leaked. According to TuttoBiciWeb, the Italian stage race will start on October 3 with a time trial in Palermo, the capital of the island of Sicily.
As a result of the coronavirus, the Giro has been moved and the three opening stages in Budapest (Hungary) have been canceled. The solution seems to have been found in Palermo. It is not known whether there will be an individual time trial or a team time trial. The second stage would then go from Monreale to Agrigento, followed by the third stage with the finish on the Etna volcano.
From the fourth day, the peloton stays on the Italian mainland. Cities in the southern regions of Calabria, Abruzzo and Basilicata are said to be on the organisation’s wish list. RCS has ruled out Bergamo as the start or finish of a stage this year. The city has been severely affected by the corona virus. Bergamo may receive a stage in 2021.
Giro’20 stage 3 finish on Mount Etna:
Vuelta Finds Solution for Canceled Portuguese Stages
The organisation of the Vuelta a España has found a solution for the two deleted stages that would have gone through Portugal, according to Marca. The three-week stage race will remain on Spanish soil, but will stay in the border region.
For the first time in 23 years, the Vuelta should have visited Portugal, but because of the corona virus, the plug was pulled in early May. Originally two stages were to be in Portugal: a finish in Matosinhos, a suburb of Porto, and a start from Viseu.
The 15th stage will still start in Mos, but will finish in Puebla de Sanabria. The stage is likely to have a hilly character and be about 230 kilometres in length. Stage 16 will start from the university city of Salamanca and finish in Ciudad Rodrigo. This should take the course through the Sierra de Francia mountain range.
The Portuguese stages of the Vuelta would initially be stages 18 and 19, but because the three Dutch stages have been canceled, and the Spanish Grand Tour this year only has eighteen stages. The Vuelta is scheduled from October 20 to November 8.
No Portugal for La Vuelta:
Beet Season Could be a Problem for Paris-Roubaix
The beet season coincides with the rescheduled 2020 Paris-Roubaix, and that worries Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix – a group of volunteers who ensure that the cobblestones are well maintained.
“We are concerned about the beet season because it coincides with Paris-Roubaix,” said François Doulcier, chairman of Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix, in conversation with Het Nieuwsblad. “In the days leading up to Paris-Roubaix, many agricultural vehicles will be driving on these roads.”
Will the cobblestones in Paris-Roubaix get extra muddy at the end of October? If it is up to Doulcier, no. He has asked all municipalities to clean the roads of dirt and mud in time. That in combination with a sweeper, which ensures that the grass is removed from the cobblestones a month before the Hell of the North, should ensure that all roads are ready for the Classic.
Now that Paris-Roubaix has moved, there is also some extra time to fill in some gaps in the road “We are going to fill in some more gaps in the strips of Auchy-lez-Orchies, Tiloy and Sars-et-Rosières, but that does not take too much time,” said Doulcier. “Pont Gibus in Wallers, the strip next to the motorway, is also in need of a redesign, but that is too much work to get ready in time for the next edition. Those works are planned for 2021.”
Back to work — Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix (@A_ParisRoubaix) June 4, 2020:
Seven WorldTour Teams in Poitou-Charantes Despite Tour Clash
The Tour du Poitou-Charantes seems not to be affected by the clash with the Tour de France on the new calendar. The French four-day will have seven WorldTour teams on the start line from August 27-30, five more than last year.
The organisation of the four days has announced the 21 participating teams, including seven from the highest level. Besides the home teams of AG2R-La Mondiale, Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ, there will also be Astana, CCC, Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Lotto Soudal.
The ProTeams present are Alpecin-Fenix, Arkéa-Samsic, Bardiani-CSF, B&B Hotels-Vital Concept, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Circus-Wanty Gobert, Fundación Orbea, Nippo-Delko One Provence, Rally Cycling, Riwal Readynez, Total Direct Energy and Uno-X. With two continental teams; Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole and St Michel-Auber 93 at the start.
The route consists of five stages, on the third day there is a road stage in the morning and an individual time trial in the afternoon. Originally, the Tour du Poitou-Charantes was on August 25-28, but due to the corona crisis, the tour in the west of France has been postponed for a few days. However, the stage race clashes on August 29 and 30 with the Tour de France, which starts in Nice.
No Ladies Tour of Norway – Battle of the North in 2021 Uncertain
The women’s peloton has lost another race from the calendar. The Ladies Tour of Norway has decided not to run this year. The stage race will be moved to 2021. It is therefore highly uncertain whether the new Battle of the North, a stage race through the Scandinavian countries, will be run next year.
Due to the coronavirus current restrictions, the Ladies Tour of Norway will be canceled in August 13-16. In Norway, a distance rule of one meter applies and travel restrictions are also imposed. “That is why we had to take this step,” explains race director Roy Moberg.
Consultation with the ministries of Culture and Health has given the organisation a definite answer. “Of course we respect this decision. It is clear that health is the most important thing,” said Moberg, who is shifting the Ladies Tour of Norway to August 2021.
Moberg indicates that the ‘Battle of the North’ will continue to be worked on. This new ten-day stage race, devised by the organisers of the Ladies Tour of Norway and the Swedish Vårgårda competitions, should have been on the calendar for the first time through Denmark, Norway and Sweden. “It should start in 2021, but when is now uncertain due to the corona crisis.”
Marianne Vos winning stage 2 of the 2019 Tour of Norway:
Remco Evenepoel Hopes for an “Unforgettable Giro d’Italia”
Remco Evenepoel will be at the start of the 2020 Giro d’Italia in early October. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider is preparing for a Grand Tour debut, but has no intention of just riding. “I am working hard to make it unforgettable,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy.
The 20-year-old Evenepoel had to switch after the outbreak of the coronavirus: the Belgian will have to wait another year for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Furthermore, the rider will not ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège this season, as the Walloon classic is scheduled one day after the start of the Tour of Italy.
The talented rider will continue to focus on the Giro (October 3-25): “The Giro has been my goal since winter. However, because of the new calendar, I had to make a difficult choice: the Giro or Liège-Bastogne-Liège? For my development, riding the Giro is the best choice.”
Giro winner, Alberto Contador, sees Evenepoel as a future winner of the Italian Tour. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider is bursting with ambition. “I want to see exactly how far I can get.”
“I did a few tests in the run-up to the Giro and I gained strength. It will be up to me to be top. I go for the maximum,” said Evenepoel. Belgian national team coach Rik Verbrugghe expects Evenepoel to ride for the full three weeks.
Giro win for Evenepoel?
Diego Ulissi Has to Choose: Giro d’Italia or Ardennes Classics
Diego Ulissi will soon be faced with a difficult choice. The UAE Team Emirates rider wants to participate in the Giro as an Italian, but also has a preference for the Ardennes classics. “The races overlap on the new calendar,” said Ulissi in an interview with SpazioCiclismo.
The 103rd edition of the Giro d’Italia should no starts on October 3 and end three weeks later on October 25. Ulissi has won six stages in the Italian Grand Tour in the past, but he doubts whether he should be at the start this year, as he looks at the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Flèche Wallonne will be held on Wednesday, September 30, just a few days before the start of the Giro. Liège-Bastogne-Liège takes place on October 4, when the Tour of Italy is in full swing. Ulissi also wants to shine on Walloon territory, especially after his third place in the most recent edition. “I have been consulting with the team for several days,” said Ulissi. “It is important to participate in the Giro as an Italian rider, but then I have to put a line through Flèche and Liège. And I would also like to participate in these classics. I am curious about the team’s vision.”
Ulissi will not be at the start of another Grand Tour this year. “I will not participate in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España anyway, even if I decide to skip the Giro. I start my season quite early and the Vuelta is very late on the program.”
The experienced rider may focus on short stage races and one-day races. And then we also have the World championships in either Aigle and Martigny, or the Middle East because of the corona crisis. “I will probably ride the Canadian classics in preparation for the World championships.”
Ulissi in the UAE Tour this year:
Groenewegen with a Different Sprint Train at the Giro
Dylan Groenewegen will start the Giro d’Italia with a different sprint train than planned. Mike Teunissen and Amund Grøndahl Jansen miss the Giro because the Classics are being run at the same time. Christoph Pfingsten, Jos van Emden and Tony Martin form the new “train” for Groenewegen.
“The Giro remains my main goal,” confirmed the Jumbo-Visma sprint leader to NOS. But his usual helpers, Teunissen and Grøndahl Jansen, are missing. “Normally they are Classic riders who come with me, but they will ride the Classics. I should get other strong boys with me with Christoph Pfingsten, Jos van Emden and Tony Martin.”
“Training together is very difficult now, but everyone knows how strong Tony Martin is and I know that about Jos. I also know Pfingsten very well because I raced with him for a few years, and at the beginning of this year I also raced with him a lot,” explained Groenewegen. “I’ve already won three times this year, so I’m confident.”
Groenewegen does not yet know when he will resume his season. “That could be Milan-San Remo or the Tour of Poland. I wonder if I’m ready for Milan-San Remo, while there are more sprint opportunities in Poland. I can also race to San Remo in six months and then I’m a bit stronger.”
Milan-San Remo is provisionally on August 8 on the adjusted cycling calendar. The Tour of Poland lasts from August 5-9.
Groenewegen has been a winner already this year – Valencia stage 1:
Jens Keukeleire Had Corona Virus
Jens Keukeleire is feeling a lot better now, but the EF Pro Cycling rider was struggling with fatigue and fever. The Belgian had been infected with the corona virus. “My heart was worrying me,” said Keukeleire, who doesn’t seem to suffer from any permanent physical damage.
Keukeleire spoke to Sporza about the eventful period. “I got tested a few weeks ago and I had the virus. I also know more or less when I contracted it. I fell ill two to three weeks after the opening weekend. The lockdown was about to start then,” said the 31-year-old rider.
Keukeleire suffered from fever and symptoms of fatigue. “I had no corona symptoms, such as loss of smell or taste. However, the virus did catch me well. I had a fever for quite a long time and felt for a long time that there was something in my body that was not normal. I took it easy for a while.”
The former rider of Cofidis, Orica-GreenEDGE and Lotto Soudal had his blood checked again two weeks ago. “I tested positive for antibodies. I also had to have additional tests performed for my heart and lungs. Those results were good,” said Keukeleire, who has been concerned about his future. “My heart worried me. We see in many corona patients that their heart is affected. Many riders had to stop in recent years because of heart problems. You don’t want to think about that too much.” Keukeleire now looks forward to the restart of the season. “For three weeks now I have felt that everything is back to normal. My body reacts normally to the stimuli I give.”
Alexander Kristoff Explains Program
Alexander Kristoff announced his 2020 program to Norwegian TV2. As in previous years, the Norwegian will make his main goals the Tour de France, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Kristoff’s preparation for these races is completely different from previous years. To prepare for the Tour de France, the 32-year-old Norwegian not only rides the Criterium du Dauphiné, but also the mountainous Vuelta a Burgos and the Circuito de Getxo. A week later, Kristoff will start in Milan-San Remo.
The strong rider of the UAE Team Emirates has not much time to prepare for the Flemish classics after the Tour de France. Binche-Chimay-Binche will be ridden, followed by Gent-Wevelgem, the Scheldeprijs, the Tour of Flanders, Three-day Bruges-De Panne and finally Paris-Roubaix.
Alexander Kristoff 2020 schedule:
Vuelta a Burgos – July 28-August 1
Circuito de Getxo – August 2
Milan-San Remo – August 8
Critérium du Dauphiné – August 12 to August 16
Tour de France – August 29-September 20
Binche-Chimay-Binche – October 6
Gent-Wevelgem – 11 October
Scheldeprijs – 14 October
Tour of Flanders – October 18
Three-day Bruges-De Panne – 21 October
Paris-Roubaix – October 25.
Kristoff ready for the 2020 season, again:
Wout van Aert Wants a Training Camp as Soon as Possible
If it were up to Wout van Aert, he would leave for Livigno as soon as possible to ride an altitude training camp there. “But transport is still the biggest item for the time being,” said manager Jef Van den Bosch.
“When can you fly again? Where can you be flown to? Or could the car be driven?” He said to Het Nieuwsblad. “Actually, the Spanish Girona would be preferred, but traveling to Spain is currently not an option. So Wout is currently investigating several mountains and the Italian Livigno is certainly one of them.”
Jumbo-Visma wants to go on altitude with the Tour team at the end of July, but that altitude comes too late for Van Aert, he wants to be there before August 1, when the Strade Bianche is being held.
Van Aert wants to be at altitude:
No Tour de France for Bouhanni
Nacer Bouhanni, the Arkéa-Samsic sprinter, thinks the course of the 2020 Tour de France is too mountainous and has decided to set other goals for 2020. “I quickly realised that it was mainly aimed at climbers,” he explained. “If there had been seven or eight sprints, it would have been different. I quickly got used to the idea that I wouldn’t ride it when the route was unveiled. It’s a decision we’ve all made carefully, so it’s a collegial decision.”
“Of course it is clear that I am still dreaming of the Tour de France, because it is still my big goal to win a stage someday. I have never had the opportunity to go for it, but that will inevitably happen in the future. It is a competition that certainly inspires me.”
It seems more likely that Bouhanni will go for it in 2021 when the Tour de France kicks off in Denmark. “The sprinters will undoubtedly have a better chance, because there will be two sprints in the first three days.”
The Frenchman was also working on an excellent first season at Arkéa-Samsic, in which he managed to win in the Saudi Tour and also the Tour de La Provence.
Stage 1 in Provence’20:
Egan Bernal Want to Win All Three Grand Tours
Egan Bernal made history last season by being the first Colombian to win the Tour de France, but his ambitions go further. He wants to extend his title in the Tour this year and make a bid for the Giro d’Italia in 2021 and eventually win all three Grand Tours.
To date, seven riders have managed to put all three Grand Tours to their name: Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Felice Gimondi and Vincenzo Nibali. If it were up to Bernal, his name would eventually be added. “I want to win the three Grand Tours,” he said in the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
First he wants to defend his title in the Tour this year and in 2021 he aims for the Giro. “It is a Tour that is very close to my heart and if I participate it is to win. And then I want to do the same in the Vuelta a España. I think it would be great to win all three of them and be part of the history of my sport.”
In the interview, Bernal also speaks about his relationship with Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, his teammates at Team Ineos but possibly also his main opponents in the Tour. “I have an excellent relationship with Froome and Thomas. We behave honestly and sincerely, like real professionals. As always, the course will be decisive. I have a lot of confidence in the team and in the strategy that should bring us the victory.”
Three leaders at Ineos:
Colombian Riders Fly to Europe in July
Colombian cycling stars Egan Bernal, Nairo Quintana and Fernando Gaviria will make the flight to Europe in time for the start of the news season, according to sports paper AS. The intention is to send a charter flight – arranged by the Colombian cycling federation – to Europe in the first two weeks of July.
The Colombian government recently extended the international flight ban to August 31. Initially, that was not good news for the Colombian riders who are currently in their home country. The cycling federation quickly got busy finding a solution for riders who have to travel to Europe for the Tour de France, among others.
At the end of May, it emerged that the Colombian cycling federation was trying to arrange a charter flight for all riders who have to travel to Europe in July. The president of the federation tried to apply for special permits from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Sports. In the ideal scenario, the riders will travel to Europe in mid-July.
There is not only room for the most famous cyclists on the plane. The cycling federation also thinks of the riders who compete at continental level and of the U23 riders. The first WorldTour event start in August, with the Tour on August 29 in Nice.
The Tour Grand Depart:
Miguel Ángel López Has Been Working Hard on His Time Trial
Miguel Ángel López was on the podium of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España two years ago, but the Colombian climber still hopes to improve as a tour rider. “I am now focusing more on time trial and it is clearly paying off,” said López at a news conference.
The Astana rider will make his first appearance in the Tour de France at the end of August and wants to show off as well as possible. López has been trying to become a better time trialist for a while. In the previous Volta ao Algarve he managed to ride an excellent time trial, finishing 5th after 20 flat kilometres.
The difference to the stage winner, Remco Evenepoel, was only 38 seconds at the finish. “Still, it was not a surprise, since I managed to set good time trials in the past. A few years ago I rode a strong a time trial in the Tour of Switzerland. I have been making some progress lately. The idea is to approach the World’s top riders as close as possible.”
López hopes to provide a spectacle this year in the Alps and Pyrenees. “The Tour cannot be compared to the Giro or Vuelta alone. Some events are simply more spectacular. In the Giro and Vuelta there is a good atmosphere and the spectators are often presented with a nice race. That is less in the Tour.”
The leader of Astana says he will start the Tour de France without high expectations. The climber expects a lot from his compatriot Egan Bernal, Primož Roglič and Chris Froome. “I have never defeated these riders before. Much will depend on the first week. I hope for a surprising course of the race.”
López has recently been associated with the Bora-Hansgrohe team. The rider would like more security after the financial problems with his current Astana team. “At the moment I just want to race and not think about a possible transfer. I haven’t thought about it and I don’t care. That is something for the future.”
Lopez – Vuelta stage win 2019:
Can Quintana and Barguil Turn the Tour Upside Down
Nairo Quintana started the season spectacularly for his new team, Arkéa-Samsic. Team boss Emmanuel Hubert is now looking forward to the Tour de France. “I think we can turn the Tour upside down with Quintana and Warren Barguil,” stated Hubert in conversation with Velonews.
Quintana started the season with some victories. For example, the 30-year-old climber was the best in the Tour de la Provence and the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var. The former winner of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España also won the seventh and last stage of Paris-Nice at Valdeblore La Colmiane.
Quintana is still in his home country of Colombia. Hubert: “We do not yet know exactly when Nairo will make the crossing, but we hope that he can continue training at altitude and with his family for as long as possible. We also have to take into account the different corona measures in Colombia and France.”
“We need to learn more about a possible quarantine upon arrival in France. We now have to wait until June 15, when the French government will provide new information. However, we do see that the Colombian government has pursued the same corona policy. They were even stricter in Colombia,” said Hubert.
“In Colombia, the policy has had a desired effect. This may also mean that Nairo can travel to France more easily.” Quintana wants to prepare for the Tour de France via the Tour de l’Ain and the Critérium du Dauphiné. Hubert expects a lot from his Colombian leader, who can also count on Barguil. “Warren is able to attack in the most unexpected moments, while Nairo is still one of the best climbers in the world. The riders will not have to climb a lot of high mountains in the next Tour, but Nairo just makes the difference uphill this season. Furthermore, with his experience he can benefit from other teams.”
Quintana winning 2020 Paris-Nice stage 7:
Tom Dumoulin Ready for the Tour Via French Races
Tom Dumoulin will prepare for the Tour de France in the earlier French races, he told the radio program De Persstribune. Jumbo-Visma will announce Dumoulin’s program on June 17.
“What I know anyway is that I will ride a number of preparation races in France before the Tour de France. And then we have to see what I’m going to race,” said Dumoulin. “It will probably be a number of classics after that. The World championships are also scheduled in the week after the Tour. Then I would immediately go from France to Switzerland to ride the World champs there.”
Dumoulin previously announced in WielerFlits that he will go to altitude in the Alps towards the Tour de France. “I believe that it is not possible to train properly without altitude training. You can get close to a good shape, but not the top shape to turn for the podium in the Tour de France.”
Teammate and co-leader Primoz Roglic previously announced that he will ride the Tour de l’Ain and the Critérium du Dauphiné before the start of the Tour. The Slovenian therefore also opts for a completely “French” build-up towards the main goal of Jumbo-Visma this season.
We’ve not seen Dumoulin in a Jumbo-Visma jersey much yet:
Carlos Betancur to Focus on Italian Races
Carlos Betancur will complete an Italian tinted program this season. The Movistar rider starts on August 1 with the Tuscan gravel classic Strade Bianche and will also participate in the Giro d’Italia.
The 30-year-old Betancur focuses after Strade Bianche on Milan-Turin, the Giro dell’Emilia, the Gran Piemonte, the Trofeo Matteotti, the Memorial Marco Pantani, the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, the Giro dell’Appennino and Tirreno-Adriatico . Then Betancur will ride his only non-Italian race with the Flèche Wallonne.
In the Walloon classic, Betancur will normally work for Alejandro Valverde, who has already won five times on the Muur du Huy in the past. After that Betancur will be at the start of the Giro d’Italia, where he will have to assist Marc Soler in the mountains, as the Catalan will be the leader of Movistar.
After the Tour of Lombardy, Betancur ends his season. The Colombian has been successful in Italy in the past, he won the U23 Giro d’Italia in 2010 and triumphed as a neopro in the Giro dell’Emilia a year later. In 2013 he also finished fifth in the Giro, when he rode for AG2R-La Mondiale. Movistar announced a few days ago that Enric Mas and Alejandro Valverde will share the lead in the Tour de France. After the Tour, both riders will also be at the start of the Vuelta a España.
Betancur to ride in Italy:
Jakobsen on the Fight Between the Sprint Trains
Fabio Jakobsen has had to earn his spot on the team at Deceuninck – Quick-Step. The 23-year-old Dutchman has in his three years with the team of Patrick Lefevere had to deal with various competitors, within the team. “It is a monkey world. We pulled the chairs away at training camps. And those weren’t kidding, hey.”
Iljo Keisse and Fernando Gaviria continuously played “bad things” with Fabio Sabatini and Elia Viviani, and vice versa. “They are competitors of each other,” said Jakobsen candidly in Podcast De Polder. “They are just bullying each other. Then someone peed in someone else’s laundry bag or put a shrimp in it.”
Jakobsen himself had the biggest competition with Viviani and Sabatini. It emerged from one of the Dutchman’s first training camps with Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in which he was regularly in charge of Viviani. “I just knocked him on half a bike,” he says. “I didn’t realise I was a competitor because I thought Viviani was not fit, but later Yves Lampaert came to me asking if I had seen Viviani’s face, haha.”
“From that moment on, I was his competitor. I never had much contact with him, but they didn’t say much anyway because they were Italian. I never really had any problems with Viviani, but I did with his lead-out Sabatini. Because Sabatini was not good, I had proposed to switch Sabatini with Michael Mørkøv. I did that with good intentions, but I can’t recommend it to anyone. Sabatini did not say a word to me for half a year. In the end I just sent him a message.”
It is not surprising that Jakobsen thinks that these kinds of scenes occur at Deceuninck – Quick-Step. “We are a team full of roosters,” he laughs. “And even the servants want to test every now and then whether they can also be the head cock. It is really a man’s world. I myself am not really a rooster, I think. But I would like to be.”
“I’ll give an example,” he concludes. “At training camp we competed and I was divided into a group with João Almeida, Remco Evenepoel and Bob Jungels. I knew that Evenepoel and Jungels would ride behind each other because they are the same type of rider. They don’t let Almeida go either because he is a freshman. And then, as a smiling fourth, I will take the win.”
Fabio Jakobsen – 2020 Algarve stage 1 win:
Mads Pedersen Hoping for a World Championships Move
Mads Pedersen took the World road title in Yorkshire last year, but the Danish Classic specialist has had few races as World champion this season. “The curse of the rainbow jersey? At the moment no one is able to race,” he said to Velonews.
Pedersen started his season in Australia with the Tour Down Under, the Race Torquay and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, followed by the Flemish opening weekend with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Paris-Nice. The 24-year-old rider was in full preparation for the spring classics, but then the corona crisis broke out. Now almost three months later and Pedersen is still waiting for the races to restart. The Dane hopes to finish a few more events in the rainbow jersey, but will probably be replaced as World champion at the end of September. “That’s just the reality,” said Pedersen, who will probably compete in the Tour de France.
“I was still hoping for a move of the World championships, in order to contest the classics as World champion. I will now try to defend my title in Switzerland, although it is almost impossible to become world champion again.” Pedersen refers to the difficult course in Aigly and Martigny. “I want to honour the rainbow jersey.”
It is still questionable whether the World championships will actually take place in Switzerland, a decision may not be made until the end of June. Pedersen will focus on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in October. “I hope to win these races someday. I want to show people that I can achieve good results in such races.”
Pedersen in the 2020 Het Nieuwsblad:
Astana to Ride the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge
The organisation of the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge can count on the presence of the Astana team, although the Kazakh WorldTour formation has not yet chosen the riders for the climbers race. The Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge is scheduled for Thursday, August 6.
Last year some WorldTour teams rode the French race, but Astana was not one of them. The organisation of the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge previously announced that UAE Emirates will also be present.
The riders will climb the iconic Mont Ventoux twice in early August. After more than eighty kilometres, the riders start the first ascent of the Mont Ventoux, but from Chalet Reynard they make their way back to the valley. Once down, it goes via Sault and Villes-sur-Auzon back to the foot of the Ventoux. The finish line is at the top after a climb of more than twenty kilometres.
Last season, the first edition of the French one-day race, Romain Bardet started as a top favourite, but had to give best to the Spaniard Jesús Herrada.
Jesús Herrada – 2019 winner:
Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec to Focus on Ciclismo Cup and Giro d’Italia
Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec hopes to win the Ciclismo Cup again this year, team manager Gianni Savio told TuttoBiciWeb. Plus the Italian also looks at the Giro d’Italia (3-25 October).
The Italian formation started the new season very well with no less than eleven victories in the months of January and February. The experienced Jhonatan Restrepo won four stages in the Tour du Rwanda, Miguel Eduardo Flórez triumphed in the Queen Stage of the Vuelta a San Juan and Kevin Rivera was successful in the Tour de Langkawi.
Savio hopes for more wins soon. “Of course we mainly focus on the Italian competitions. We have always had a special feeling about the Ciclismo Cup (an important series in Italy), and we hope to win the final ranking again this year.”
“We also focus on the Italian championships and the Giro.” Savio is now mainly busy getting his South American riders to Europe. “Flórez, Restrepo and Daniel Muñoz are currently in Colombia, as are Simon Pellaud. However, the latter has a Swiss passport, which means he may be able to make the crossing sooner.”
“We also have two riders with Jefferson Alexander Cepeda and Kevin Rivera who reside in Ecuador and Costa Rica, respectively. In short, as a team we have to deal with different protocols. It is a difficult situation. Ecuador, for example, has been severely affected by the corona virus,” said Savio.
Flórez took the Queen Stage the Vuelta a san Juan:
Patrick Lefevere Had to Intervene
Patrick Lefevere had to intervene to keep Deceuninck – Quick-Step alive in this race-less period. To what extent are the financial consequences, the team boss leaves open. “Other teams have pulled the plug on all self-employed workers. I made a compromise. Everyone immediately agreed to everything,” he said in Het Laatste Nieuws.
Lefevere does not talk about savings. He does know that it is worse with other teams than his. “I will never talk about numbers,” he says. “Let the others talk. Those who say sponsors are there in good and bad days have cut a lot more than anyone else. And at the same time they have continued to pay themselves. I will not mention names.”
“They can say it a hundred times, with Jumbo and all those other teams, that the sponsors are there in good and bad days. If we no longer race this year, I want to see how many good and bad days remain. Then I am the first to say: we stop. And next year we will start from scratch again, with the budget we have,” said Lefevere.
Lefevere has not received a salary in the past four months. “I can afford that. I would be doing very badly if I couldn’t afford not to pay myself at the age of 65 for four months.”
“We must always be vigilant, but what has been imposed on us we have been doing – with the exception of wearing mouth masks – for three years now. Wash hands, use handles before and after eating. It is not because of that,” continues Lefevere, who does not see an enemy behind every tree. “If you become paranoia, you now have to drive to a bunker and lock yourself up. If you are not prepared now, now that society is opening up again, to give up some bans, you have to become a hermit.”
Lefevere had to dip into his own pocket:
Weening Transfer to Trek-Segafredo
Pieter Weening is looking forward to the coming months, in which he can prove himself for Trek-Segafredo. “I am very happy with this opportunity and I will give 150% in the rest of the year to help Trek-Segafredo as much as possible,” said the 39-year-old.
Weening hopes and still thinks he can help with any successes of his new team. “Hopefully I can contribute to that when the season resumes. I know I can still do it at WorldTour level and I still have a lot of motivation, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.” Weening’s career hung by a thread, Trek-Segafredo only contacted him in February. “I kept training all winter because I still had hope to find a new team. When Trek-Segafredo contacted me, I told them I needed four to six weeks to race.”
“I got a proposal from them, but then Corona came to a head,” he said to the Trek-Segafredo team website. “However, I had no doubts afterwards that the team would keep its word. It is quite special that a team attracts a new rider in these difficult times. I am therefore grateful to them for that. It is a great opportunity for me to show what I can do and I am very motivated to help the leaders in any race.”
Trek-Segafredo announced the transfer of Weening on Friday, but the contract had been widely known a month ago.
Weening now at Trek-Segafredo:
Team Sunweb Wants Romain Bardet
Sunweb has made an offer to Romain Bardet, according to De Telegraaf. The German WorldTour team sees a new GC leader in the 29-year-old Frenchman and Bardet’s contract ends with AG2R-La Mondiale this year.
Team manager Iwan Spekenbrink says that transfers are not yet an issue at Team Sunweb. “When the season starts again, talks about new riders for 2021 will start,” he explains. Reportedly, Sam Oomen, one of the current climbing leaders, may not stay with the team.
Bardet’s agent admits that his rider is about to switch teams. “But nothing has been completed,” Joona Laukka tells De Telegraaf. “Not with Sunweb, nor with other teams. It is quite easy to write down the names of teams where he could go. Those are teams with a strong ethic, even though you can never be 100% sure of all riders.” Trek-Segafredo and Mitchelton-Scott were also previously linked to Bardet. The French rider has been riding for AG2R-La Mondiale since 2012.
A French Tour winner?
Deceuninck-Quick Step wants to continue with Lampaert, Jungels, Keisse and Devenyns
Deceuninck – Quick Step seems to consist for the most part of the same riders in 2021 as this season. Only Yves Lampaert, Bob Jungels, Dries Devenyns and Iljo Keisse will be out of contract, but the team would prefer to keep them on board.
At 37, Iljo Keisse is the oldest of the foursome and the longest associated with Deceuninck – Quick-Step. He is currently in his eleventh season with the team of Patrick Lefevere. Dries Devenyns, winner of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in February, will turn 37 in July and will ride his ninth season with the team. Yves Lampaert (29) and Bob Jungels (27) have been with the team for six and five years respectively.
“I will play an open card: never change a winning team,” Lefevere wrote in his weekly column in Het Nieuwsblad. “So I prefer to keep all four of them. Keisse and Devenyns will also be able to renew for one year under the same conditions. Iljo is still an old school rider who does it without a manager. Next week at our training camp in Kaster I will take him aside to talk.”
Lefevere has already contacted Lampaert. And for the time being, there was only informal talk with Jungels through financial manager Geert Coeman, who knows the Luxembourger’s father. “The cards are the same for both: they want to stay, we want to keep them. But they are good riders, for whom a big offer can come from another team. Do we go along with it or not, that is always the question.”
A new deal for Keisse?
Bouchard, Godon and Paret Peintre Prolong Contracts
Geoffrey Bouchard (28) professional since 2019, Dorian Godon (24) professional since 2017 and a member of our team since 2019, and Aurélien Paret Peintre (24), professional since 2018, have all extended their contracts with the AG2R LA MONDIALE team for two years. The team has extended the contracts for 5 riders in recent weeks.They are Geoffrey Bouchard (2 years), Dorian Godon (2 years), Oliver Naesen (3 years), Aurélien Paret Peintre (2 years), and Alexis Vuillermoz (1 year).
Team manager, Vincent Lavenu: “Geoffrey, Dorian, and Aurélien are riders who are part of the spirit of the AG2R-LA MONDIALE team. Geoffrey turned professional late but quickly adapted to the pros by showing great abilities, as his King of the Mountains jersey at the Vuelta a España demonstrates. Dorian is a puncher who has a very good spirit and a lot of enthusiasm. He is able to win races. Aurélien is a pure product of our training squad. He comes from a family of cyclists and Valentin, his brother, is currently part of the Chambéry Cyclisme Formation. He demonstrated great potential at the start of the season which will allow him to obtain interesting results in the future.”
Geoffrey Bouchard: “I am delighted to extend my contract for two seasons. I turned pro late and I have had an atypical career profile. This renewal is confirmation that I have my place in the peloton. It took me time to adapt to the rhythm of the races, the calendar and, today, I am reaching physical maturity with still a lot of mental freshness to invest myself enormously in my work. Since May 11th, we have had favourable conditions for training, and I approach the upcoming few months of competition with enormous motivation.”
Dorian Godon: “I am pleased to have been shown this mark of confidence from the AG2R LA MONDIALE team. This opens up longer-term prospects for me. We are a good group and there is good cohesion among the riders. I dream of winning a stage in a grand tour and of being able to support Oliver Naesen in the Flanders classics. I can’t wait to get back to racing. I’m sure that from August onwards, there will be many opportunities to express ourselves if we have the freshness. I don’t mind training, but racing is the most important thing.”
Aurélien Paret Peintre: “I’ve been on the team for two and a half years and I’m happy to continue my career with the AG2R-LA MONDIALE team. Extra continuity comes also from my years at Chambéry Cyclisme Formation. I’ve made good progress and I hope I can still have bigger responsibilities like I had at the start of this season. I managed to notch up some interesting performances, particularly in support of Benoit Cosnefroy at the Etoile de Béssèges and at Paris-Nice. I hope to continue with this good momentum over the rest of the season. I am looking forward to it.”
New contracts for some:
Triple Olympic Champion to Collaborate with Uno-X
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo will collaborate with the Norwegian ProContinentale team Uno-X. The three-time Olympic champion in cross-country skiing announced on his Instagram.
Uno-X will become a private sponsor of Klaebo, who will exchange knowledge in the field of training and nutrition with the cycling team. “I look forward to working with the Uno-X Development Team for five years. I think we can share our experiences to become even better athletes.”
Contrary to previous reports, Klæbo has not signed a professional contract with the team.
Uno-X’s Markus Hoelgaard wins stage 4 of the 2019 Arctic Race of Norway in Narvik:
Iranian Cyclists Suspended for Four Years
The UCI has given four-year suspensions to two Iranian cyclists. Fatemeh Hadavand (22) and Maedeh Nazari (21) both provided positive tests two years ago for steroids.
Hadavand and Nazari came into the spotlight in February 2018, according to documents from the International Cycling Union. At that time they were active in the Asian track cycling championship. The tournament took place that year in Nilai, Malaysia.
The suspensions of the young riders will take effect retroactively from the date of the positive test, so they can start to race again in February 2022.
Bjarne Riis Not Co-Owner of the NTT Team Yet
Bjarne Riis still intends to become a co-owner of NTT Pro Cycling. The Danish former cyclist has been general manager of the WorldTour team from South Africa since January, Riis told Ekstra Bladet.
The NTT team is currently still owned by Ryder Cycling, the company of present owner Doug Ryder. Riis – who is working with business partners Lars Seier Christensen and Jan Bech Andersen – previously stated that he is interested in part of the shares. “It is not yet that far. We still intend to take over part of the team,” said Riis.
“We still have to find out which direction the team is heading,” Riis explains. “It was difficult to discuss such a thing under the recent circumstances. We hope to organise a meeting soon in which we can fix everything. After all, nothing has changed in what we want to do with NTT and what Doug Ryder wants to do.”
In early January, Riis was presented as a team manager at NTT. According to Danish media, a partial takeover by the former rider was already an issue at that time, but because of the time it was initially decided to write a letter of intent. The actual agreement was not signed after that, partly due to the corona outbreak and the handling of Riis with his previous Virtu team.
Riis want’s more of the NTT team:
Bruyneel Doesn’t Need to See a Documentary About Armstrong
Johan Bruyneel has not yet seen the new documentary about Lance Armstrong and does not intend to do so. “I already know what happened,” he said. “Besides that, I don’t feel like listening to bleaters like Jonathan Vaughters, Tyler Hamilton or Betsy Andreu again,” Bruyneel said to Het Laatste Nieuws. “I haven’t seen a documentary or film about Armstrong anyway. So much has already been said or written that everyone can now form their own opinion.”
Bruyneel, like Armstrong, is suspended for his role in the doping scandal. Bruyneel was suspended for life in 2018. “I have now accepted it. I take responsibility for what happened and I regret it. But I should never have been suspended for life… “
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