The training camps and team presentations are in full (virtual) swing. Olympics to go ahead? – TOP STORY. All the action for Saturday’s Zilvermeercross. No juniors at the cross Worlds. Race news: Tour of Valencia route, Giro 2021 route and wildcards next week, teams for the UAE Tour, GP Marcel Kint and Kortrijk Koerse combine and Flanders Classics and Amstel Gold Race with Infront Sports & Media. Rider news: Tom Pidcock’s season, Egan Bernal for the Giro, Mauro Gianetti on Marc Hirschi, Annemiek van Vleuten’s race schedule, no Tour for Thibaut Pinot, João Almeida to the Vuelta, Nils Politt looks forward, Tour/Giro for Simon Yates, Sergio Higuita starts in Colombia, tests for Diego Ulissi, Benoît Cosnefroy injured and Jelle Vanendert riding Het Nieuwsblad. Team news: Canada Worlds cross roster, Astana-Premier Tech presentation, BORA-hansgrohe training crash, new partner for Qhubeka Assos and Shimano extends with Jumbo-Visma. Plus father and son ride Vuelta al Táchira, Davide Cassani gives Ventoux bike to Pantani’s mother, Dr. Schmidt gets five years in prison – WADA pleased. We finish with Mark Cavendish back with the Wolfpack video.
TOP STORY: Japanese minister: “Thinking about Plan B for the Games”
It is still uncertain whether the postponed Tokyo Olympics will run this summer. So says Taro Kono, the Japanese minister of administrative and regulatory reform.
“We have to prepare as well as possible for the Games, but it can still go in all directions,” Toro Kono said in an interview with Reuters news agency. The number of corona infections in Japan has risen sharply in recently, raising new doubts about the Games, which were postponed by a year last summer.
However, according to the Japanese minister, anything is still possible. “As the host of the Games, we have to do what we can, so that if the green light comes, we can have a good Olympic Games. But the Olympic Committee also has to think about a plan B and even a plan C. The situation is not easy.”
However, for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the Olympic Games are a top priority. Previously, he repeatedly stated that the decision about the Games lies with the International Olympic Committee and that their agreement to continue preparations stands. He said on Wednesday that there was nothing to indicate that the Games were canceled. The Olympic Games are on the calendar from July 23 to August 8.
Tokyo or not?
Zilvermeercross Men – Moll 2021
Wout van Aert lived up to his favourite status in the Zilvermeercross on Saturday. The Belgian champion fought with Laurens Sweeck for half an hour, but eventually soloed to victory. Behind Van Aert and Sweeck, Lars van der Haar and David van der Poel finished third and fourth.
The start of the Zilvermeercross was a surprise for many as while the riders were still taking off their jackets, the start gun fired. The misunderstanding did not bother the top men: Wout van Aert, Laurens Sweeck and the rest got off to a good start. A large group was still together at the end of the first lap. In addition to Van Aert and Sweeck, there was also Daan Soete, Vincent Baestaens, Jens Adams, Tom Meeusen, Van der Poel and Van der Haar still in a good position.
The first real selection was made a lap later. Van Aert took the lead for a while and had Sweeck and Soete with him. Little by little, their lead grew. Soete could only briefly follow the pace of Van Aert and Sweeck. After three laps he couldn’t hang on and pursuers Van der Haar, Van der Poel and Adams quickly caught him. He then slowly disappeared from the action. The two leaders stayed together for a while, but after the halfway mark, the Belgian champion showed his strength. Van Aert rode away from Sweeck on one of the sand sections and steadily built up his lead. With a lead of nearly a minute, Van Aert was able to celebrate his first victory in the Belgian national champions jersey.
In the battle for third place, Van der Haar and Van der Poel were evenly matched until the penultimate lap, when Van der Haar put in an attack. Van der Poel had to let the gap go and had to watch as Van der Haar disappeared. Fourth place behind Van der Haar was the highest possible for Mathieu’s brother.
Race winner, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “Of course I have little view of that jersey during the cross, but I am going to frame a nice picture. Although I only now notice how much snow there was during the cross. The wind was blowing well through the trees. If you ride alone, the true nature of the course comes to the fore. Sweeck was strong today, I had already put him under pressure a few times, but he kept coming back onto my wheel. In the end he had to leave a gap and I pulled firmly. In the end I still had a hard time.” New contract? “I haven’t signed anything yet. I leave for a team training camp, but nothing is final yet. I am not reassured until I see a signature. Then it is real.”
Zilvermeercross Men – Mol Result:
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma in 59:32
2. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:57
3. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek at 1:01
4. David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 1:23
5. Jens Adams (Bel) Hollebeekhoeve at 1:34
6. Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers at 1:42
7. Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads
8. Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans CX
9. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers at 2:16
10. Jelle Camps (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:48.
Zilvermeercross Women – Moll 2021
The victory in the Zilvermeercross women’s race went to Lucinda Brand. The Baloise Trek rider held off her closest competitor, Denise Betsema, after more than forty minutes of cross. Marianne Vos finished in third place.
As defending champion Laura Verdonschot knew that she had to try very hard to win the Zilvermeercross in Mol again this. With Lucinda Brand, Denise Betsema and Marianne Vos as competition, it would be an almost impossible task. This was obvious in the first lap, when Betsema, Brand and Manon Bakker escaped the others. Verdonschot knew at that moment that she would not be the winner in 2021. As usual the Dutch women were at the front. Not only were the first three riders at the front were from the Netherlands, but also the pursuers who were close behind: Yara Kastelijn, Marianne Vos and Puck Pieterse.
During the race they continuously changed position. Kastelijn was the first pursuer, then Pieterse and finally Vos. Meanwhile, Bakker dropped out at the front. In the last laps it was Brand and Betsema who were being chased at the front by Vos. The Jumbo-Visma star got within 10 seconds of the leading duo, but that was as close as Vos got to them.
The battle for victory was to be fought out between Brand and Betsema. Betsema looked like she was the better rider in the sand, but she could not get rid of the ever-combative Brand. On the last lap put on some more pressure. In the end it gave her the victory: Betsema was unable to close a very small gap in the finalé. Vos finished third.
Race winner, Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek): “Every victory is fun and I always want to win, but this is of course extra nice in view of the World championships. You can take this positive feeling with you. We were very well matched. The last stretch through the sand was decisive in the end. It was a tough race. There was always little time to recover.”
3rd, Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma): “I am very happy with my first podium for the team. The feeling was very good. I made a mistake in the sand on the penultimate lap and as a result, I lost some time. That was a pity. But all in all, my form is getting better and I can work towards the world championship with confidence. It will not be that easy to get on the podium, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Zilvermeercross Women – Mol Result:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek in 42:39
2. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:04
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 0:29
4. Manon Bakker (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 0:45
5. Yara Kastelijn (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 0:53
6. Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 1:05
7. Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:01:20
8. Clara Honsinger (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld at 1:50
9. Aniek van Alphen (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:58
10. Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:04.
Zilvermeercross’21, no video to be found, yet:
Junior World Cyclocross Championship Races Canceled
The juniors will not compete this year at the World cyclocross championships in Ostend. Due to the current corona measures in Belgium, the UCI is forced to cancel the competitions for juniors. The U23 events will continue as usual.
For the juniors cyclocross riders it is a season to forget as most cross races have been canceled due to the corona virus. All the World Cup races and most organisers opt for a limited cyclocross program, with often only races for elite riders. The UCI hoped that the juniors could participate in the World Championships in Ostend later this month (January 30-31). It looked good more than two weeks before the World’s race, but the UCI has now come to the conclusion that it is impossible to organise the junior races.
Last year, the junior titles in Dübendorf, Switzerland, went to Shirin van Anrooij and Thibau Nys:
Tour of Valencia Presents 2021 Route
The organisation of the Tour of Valencia (3-7 February) has unveiled the stage schedule for the coming edition. The five-day stage race starts in Elche, ends in Valencia and the riders will be presented with a mountain stage and individual time trial.
The organisers have decided to announce the start and finish towns, but nothing between. Race director Ángel Casero hopes for a Tour of Valencia with as few spectators as possible at the side of the road in this times of covid-19.
The multi-day race starts on Wednesday 3 February with a tough stage from Elche to Ondara, with four climbs. On day two, the riders will race on flat roads near Alicante. The third stage is the Queen Stage with more than 4,000 meters climbing and a summit finish on the Alto de la Reina.
The penultimate stage is also very important for the classification riders. An individual time trial of 21 kilometres between Xilxes and Almenara. The final stage is flat again and traditionally goes from Palencia to the capital Valencia.
The organisers can count on many top riders this year, especially since many overseas races have now been canceled. Egan Bernal, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Enric Mas, Alejandro Valverde, Simon Yates, Greg Van Avermaet, Vincenzo Nibali and Arnaud Démare have been announced.
Route of the Tour of Valencia 2021 (3-7 February):
Stage 1: Elche – Ondara (166 km)
Stage 2: Alicante – Alicante (184 km)
Stage 3: Torrent – Alto de la Reina (160 km)
Stage 4: Xilxes – Almenara (21 km, ITT)
Stage 5: Paterna – Valencia (95 km).
More action in Valencia:
RCS to Present Giro d’Italia 2021 Route in February
We are still waiting for the Giro d’Italia 2021 route, but according to Il Messaggero Veneto, we will know what the Tour of Italy route will look like in early February.
According to Il Messaggero Veneto, the riders will be presented with a mountain stage after two weeks with a finish on the mythical Monte Zoncolan, this time from Sutrio. The Zoncolan is one of the toughest climbs in Europe, given the average gradient of over 10%, with peaks well above 20%. Chris Froome was the last winner on the Monte Zoncolan in 2018. If we are to believe the latest rumours, one day after the Zoncolan stage the organisers opt for a hilly ride from Grado to Gorizia. The sixteenth stage is one for the pure climbers, given the finish at Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
The first Grand Tour of the season seems to start in Turin this year. Furthermore, the 104th Giro d’Italia will cross the Tuscan coast and the Giro organisation is planning to visit Ravenna, as the famous Italian poet and writer Dante Alighieri died exactly 700 years ago in this city in north-east Italy.
Giro’20 winner Tao Geoghegan Hart:
Giro d’Italia Handing Out Wild Cards Next Week – Six Teams Eligible
The Giro d’Italia will announce next week which teams will receive a wildcard for the next edition of La Corsa Rosa. If we are to believe Tuttobiciweb, six teams qualify for only two wildcards.
Twenty teams are already certain of participation in the Giro d’Italia: all nineteen WorldTour teams and Alpecin-Fenix. The latter won the EuropeTour last year and is certain of all WorldTour races. This also means that the Giro organisation may only hand out two wild cards this year.
According to Tuttobiciweb, the following teams have a chance of winning a wild card: the Italian ProTeams Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, Bardiani CSF Faizanè, Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM and EOLO-Kometa, the French Arkéa-Samsic, the team of Nairo Quintana, and Gazprom-RusVelo. Vegni should also announce next week that the 104th Giro d’Italia will start in Turin.
Giro’21 wildcards out soon:
The UAE Tour Returns this February with Every WorldTeam Competing
The first UCI WorldTour race of the 2021 season, the UAE Tour will take place over seven stages from 21st to 27th February. Every WorldTeam will be attending, alongside Alpecin-Fenix – the top-ranked UCI ProTeam in 2020. Full route details, alongside more riders info coming soon.
Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the UAE Tour organisers and Dubai Sports Council are pleased to confirm that for the first time all 19 WorldTour teams have committed teams to the 3rd edition of the UAE Tour. The start and finish locations of the first WorldTour race of the season have also been confirmed, set to take place 21st to 27th February, as ratified by the sports world governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
This year’s edition will see the riders start and finish in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and compete over seven diverse stages that showcase the unique landscapes of the UAE. Fans across the globe can look forward to again witnessing a tremendously entertaining sporting spectacle. Twenty teams populate the provisional start list, with every WorldTeam competing, as well as Alpecin-Fenix – the top-ranked UCI ProTeam in 2020.
Both the first and second edition of the race – won by Primož Roglič and Adam Yates respectively – attracted an exceptionally strong roster of riders, making for exciting racing. The 2021 UAE Tour will, of course, be no different.
Expect to see big names battle for the general classification leader’s Red Jersey, won last year by British rider Adam Yates on fine form. Yates bested 2020 Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar by 1 minute and 1 second in the overall standings, despite an impressive display from the young Slovenian that saw him take victory on Stage 5 atop Jebel Hafeet – a 10km long ascent that peaks over 1000m above sea level. The varied climbs that have featured in the first two editions of the UAE Tour have provided world-class team leaders with exciting opportunities to showcase their form. The race’s flatter stages have proved to be a sprinter’s paradise meanwhile, offering fast finishes for the world’s best sprinters including: Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett, Pascal Ackermann, Elia Viviani and Fernando Gaviria. Cycling fans worldwide can look forward to watching their favourite riders again compete in the UAE Tour from 21st February.
Further details of the 2021 UAE Tour teams and riders will be announced in the coming weeks, closely followed by the announcement of the race route. Details of the strict COVID-19 protocols designed to ensure the safety of all riders, staff and everyone involved in the race will also be released shortly.
Provisional Team List:
AG2R CITROEN TEAM
ASTANA – PREMIER TECH
BORA – HANSGROHE
DECEUNINCK – QUICK-STEP
EF EDUCATION – NIPPO
GROUPAMA – FDJ
INTERMARCHÉ – WANTY – GOBERT MATÉRIAUX
ISRAEL START-UP NATION
TEAM QHUBEKA ASSOS
TREK – SEGAFREDO
UAE TEAM EMIRATES
UAE Tour 2020 stage 3 win for Adam Yates:
GP Marcel Kint and Kortrijk Koerse Together
The GP Marcel Kint and the elite criterium Kortrijk Koerse merge into one race: the Grand Prix Marcel Kint, which will be held on Friday 20 August. In this way the organisers want to take a step forward after a difficult year.
After a difficult 2020, the organisations behind the GP Marcel Kint and Kortrijk Koerse asked themselves whether it was feasible for both races to take place separately. The discussions showed that a merger was the best solution, writes Het Laatste Nieuws. The two associations involved merge into one organisation. By joining forces, they hope to form a better race.
The start of the Grand Prix Marcel Kint is planned in Zwevegem. The finish is in neighbouring Kortrijk. On the course, the riders will ride up the Kluisberg and Tiegemberg twice. The cobblestone sections of Beerbos and Varent will also be included. Initially, the event was planned for May 23, but due to the corona virus it turned out not to be feasible. The race will now be on August 20.
Bryan Coquard won the 2019 Grote Prijs Marcel Kint:
Flanders Classics and Amstel Gold Race Joining Forces
Organising agency Infront Sports & Media is further expanding its influence in cycling. From this year on, Infront will enter into an exclusive partnership with organisers Flanders Classics and the Amstel Gold Race.
It is an agreement of eight years. The various parties have decided to include the international media rights for the Flanders Classics events, including Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Gent-Wevelgem and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and those of the Amstel Gold in the agreement.
Philippe Blatter, the nephew of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, is very happy with the agreement on behalf of Infront. “Infront has a growing ambition to invest even more in cycling. We are very happy with the agreement with Flanders Classics and the Amstel Gold Race. We believe in a fruitful collaboration.”
Wouter Vandenhaute, the man behind Flanders Classics, is also a satisfied man. “Our spring classics already have an international image, but together with Infront we want to become even more popular in Europe and around the world. We want to achieve that with this new media deal.”
Leo van Vliet, the race director of the Amstel Gold Race, said in a press release: “The Amstel Gold Race is seen as one of the biggest races in the world. We share the same vision as our partners on how to continue to grow on a global scale. We look forward to developing these ideas with Infront.”
The media rights of the Tour of Switzerland were already owned by Infront Sports & Media. The company also cooperates with the Tour of Guangxi.
Leo van Vliet on the Sale of TV Rights
The sale of the international media rights of the Amstel Gold Race to agency Infront has no consequences for the Dutch and Belgian viewer, race director Leo van Vliet said to De Limburger.
It was announced that the Amstel Gold Race is working together with Flanders Classics, organiser of the Tour of Flanders and other races, in the sale of the international media rights to Infront Sports & Media. “Infront is a major player and by selling our TV rights to them, we hope that our marketing value will increase worldwide,” says Van Vliet. “This collaboration with Flanders Classics makes us a block and makes us more interesting for Infront.”
“It is a sign that we really belong now, partly because of the 2019 edition when Mathieu van der Poel won. It really had an impact.” The collaboration with Infront only relates to media rights, says Van Vliet. “Online reach is also becoming increasingly important, but that’s not what this deal is about. It mainly concerns channels outside Europe and our cooperation with NOS and VRT will not change anything.”
Tom Pidcock Wants to Make his Debut in la Vuelta
Tom Pidcock hopes to make his debut in a Grand Tour this year and preferably the Vuelta a España, the British talent announced in the Lanterne Rouge Cycling Podcast. Pidcock will make the switch to INEOS Grenadiers in February, after the cyclocross World championships.
His first race for the British team was to be a mountain bike race. Pidcock should have been at the start of the Mediterranean Epic (11-14 February) in Spain, but the organisers have postponed the event due to the corona crisis. They say it has been forced to postpone the event for more than a month. The next date on the calendar is now March 25-28. To be on the safe side, the board behind the MTB four days has also reserved a new date in September; from September 16-19.
It is not yet known whether Pidcock will also participate in the Mediterranean Epic in late March. At that point, he will have started his road season with INEOS Grenadiers. From February he rides the Volta ao Algarve (17-21 February) and the Flemish opening weekend. It will be his debut in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
“I don’t have a break after the World cyclocross championships. I go straight to the road. After the first races I will ride Strade Bianche,” said Pidcock. It is not yet known whether he will also ride the Flemish and/or Walloon spring races. “Then I hope to insert a mountain bike block in June, hopefully followed by the Olympic Games. And then I want to ride the Vuelta and the World Championship on the road.”
“I would like to do a Grand Tour,” said Pidcock. “I’m not going there as a leader, but I can ride for myself and ride for the team. I am happy with that. There is no pressure and then it is easy to perform. And I sometimes enjoy working for others.” Pidcock will not ride Paris-Roubaix in 2021.
Pidcock WorldTour in 2021:
Egan Bernal Thinking About Giro Debut in 2021
Egan Bernal announced at the end of last year that he is aiming for a second overall victory in the Tour de France in 2021, but the INEOS Grenadier Colombian does not rule out that he will make his debut in the Giro this year in conversation with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I’m preparing for the Tour de France,” said Bernal in December after winning the Zipaquirá best sportsman award. “It is the most important race in the world, so I will have to train very hard for it.” The 24-year-old rider is now also talking about the Tour of Italy with La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I definitely want to make my debut one day. The Giro is the first major tour on the calendar and is therefore the first option in my mind. However, that does not mean that everything has already been arranged. I still have to coordinate it all with the team. It is also too early to talk about plans, given the corona crisis.”
Bernal had to leave the 2020 Tour after sixteen stages due to a back injury. The Colombian, who is still recovering from his lingering injury, hopes to take revenge this season.
Egan Bernal hoping for a better season:
Gianetti On Signing Hirschi
UAE Team Emirates manager Mauro Gianetti is very happy with the recruitment of Marc Hirschi. The Swiss rider decided to leave Team DSM immediately and sign a three-year contract with the Middle East team. Gianetti: “It was an opportunity that I could not pass up.”
“The first contacts took place just before Christmas,” Gianetti told RTS. “Fabian Cancellara, Hirschi’s manager, asked if I was interested in Marc. Who isn’t interested in such a talent now? It was an opportunity that I really could not pass up. I am happy that he is now part of our team.”
Gianetti expects a lot from his young fellow countryman. “He has talent, is a real pro and sees our team as the perfect environment for further development. His transition is one of the biggest transfers in cycling. Chris Froome has left for Israel Start-Up Nation, but Marc is much younger and his arrival will have a bigger impact.”
“He has the gift of winning races in an apparently easy way. That was already the case with the juniors and then also with the U23s with his World title on the road. He will remain a protagonist in the classics, but I think he can be competitive in all areas. He can also shine as a classification rider in a grand tour.”
Hirschi will test himself in a few short stage races next year. “I’m sure he wants to work hard and improve even more. It is interesting to see what we can do together,” said Gianetti. “In the Ardennes classics he gets the support of Tadej Pogačar, who is also good at those kinds of races.”
Annemiek van Vleuten’s Possible 2021 Schedule
Annemiek van Vleuten has a packed program in 2021. The European champion, who is riding for Movistar this year, starts her season on February 18 in the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana in Spain. This is followed by the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, the Tour of Flanders and the hill classics.
La Course, the Giro Rosa and the Olympic Games are also on her preliminary schedule. There is the large amount of Spanish races that Van Vleuten rides after the classics, although this is also a logical program given her new Spanish team.
Van Vleuten is currently in Almería, at a training camp with the Movistar women’s and men’s team. The camp lasts until January 22. Some days the 38-year-old Dutch will train with the men. “This will be with the sprinters and classic riders, because it is already a challenge for me to keep up with them,” she said.
Annemiek van Vleuten 2021 program:
Setmana Ciclista Valenciana (February 18-21)
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (27 February)
Strade Bianche (March 6)
Tour of Flanders (April 4)
Amstel Gold Race (April 18)
Flèche Wallonne (21 April)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 25)
Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar (May 9)
Emakumeen Nafarroako Women’s Elite Classics (May 11)
Navarre Women’s Elite Classics (May 12)
Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria (May 18)
Vuelta a Burgos Feminas (20-23 May)
Dutch Championship time trial (June 16)
Dutch Championships road (June 19)
La Course by Le Tour de France (June 27)
Giro Rosa (July 2-11)
Olympic road race (July 25)
Olympic time trial (July 28).
Annemiek van Vleuten:
Thibaut Pinot Focuses on Giro d’Italia, No Tour de France
Thibaut Pinot will not participate in the Tour de France this year, radio station RMC Sport reports. The 30-year-old Groupama-FDJ climber is aiming for the Giro d’Italia, while Arnaud Démare will probably be the sprint leader in the Tour.
Pinot was still on the final podium of the Tour in 2014, behind overall winner Vincenzo Nibali and runner-up Jean-Christophe Peraud, but since then has had a lot of bad luck in the Tour de France. For example, in 2019 he had to give up in tears with a muscle injury and last year he never reached his usual level due to back problems.
According to RMC Sport, Pinot will opt for the Giro again this year. For the Frenchman, it will be his third appearance in the Tour of Italy. In 2017 he finished fourth. A year later he seemed on his way to a podium place, but he had to abandon before the finish due to exhaustion.
Démare had to miss the Tour de France for the past two years, but seems to be starting the French tour as sprint leader this year. “We will see how it turns out, but I can certainly see myself in the Tour de France. It has also already been discussed within the team,” the French champion said at the end of last year.
João Almeida to Focus on the Vuelta a España
João Almeida fought for the overall victory in the Giro d’Italia for a long time last year. The Portuguese all-rounder eventually finished fourth in the final classification. This year he can show in the Vuelta that it was no flash in the pan.
In 2021 Almeida will ride as the leader in the Vuelta a España. “The focus is now on the Vuelta,” Almeida said on an online press conference of the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team. “I did a great job in the Giro, but that is already behind us.”
“There will be more pressure now and I also expect more from myself.” Almeida was one of the stars at Deceuninck – Quick-Step last year. The Portuguese rider especially impressed in the Giro d’Italia. The 22-year-old rider wore the pink jersey for more than two weeks and finished fourth in the final GC.
In 2020, Almeida also finished second in the Giro dell’Emilia, third in the Tour of Burgos, third in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali and also finished in the top 10 in the Tour de l’Ain and Volta ao Algarve. His full road schedule for 2021 is still unknown.
Almeida in the pink:
Politt In a Strong Classic Team
Nils Politt cannot wait to make his debut for BORA-hansgrohe. The 26-year-old rider didn’t have a great season with Israel Start-Up Nation in 2020, but feels reborn as a rider of the German WorldTour team. “It is professional here.”
Politt, who is training with his teammates on Lake Garda this month, told his story during a virtual press presentation with his new team. The strong German is looking forward to working with classic comrades such as Peter Sagan, Daniel Oss and Maciej Bodnar.
“This is the first time I race for a team with a strong classic core. It is a professional business here and that will help me further in my career. We can also count on Specialized and they produce the best bicycles,” said Politt, who cannot say too much about his program.
One thing is certain: the classic specialist will again focus fully on the cobblestone classics this year. Politt will participate in the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders, the Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix. In that last race he finished second behind Philippe Gilbert. Politt is also on the long-list for the Tour de France.
Nils Politt 2nd in Roubaix
Yates to Ride Giro, Tour and Olympics
Simon Yates will “most likely” start in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France before competing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. That’s what his manager Matthew White says. It is not yet known in which role the British rider will go to the Grand Tours.
Yates and his BikeExchange team are still waiting for the route of the Giro, before it is decided in which tour the Briton will go for the GC. “We know where he will be riding next month. He does Valencia and Tirreno-Adriatico and once we know the Giro course, we make a decision. Most likely he will do both the Giro and the Tour, but we will only announce in which role he will do that at a later time.” An important goal for Yates this season is the Tokyo Olympics. “I don’t think we will see anyone in both the Giro and the Tour go for a classification and then also participate in the Games for a result. Landa, Nibali and Mollema have already indicated that they want to do both tours and there will be more boys this year. I think all those guys, like Simon, will focus on one of the two tours as soon as the details of the Giro are known.”
Simon Yates and the Giro trophy:
Ulissi to Undergo Electrophysiological Study
Following the findings of an abnormal rhythm during his routine medical evaluation, Diego Ulissi will undergo an electrophysiological study on January 19. The test will be carried out by Professor Antonio Dello Russo, at the Riuniti hospital in Ancona.
The procedure will involve an in-depth analysis of the electrical mapping of the heart with possible removal of arrhythmias.
Further updates will be released pending the results of the study.
Higuita Starts in Colombia and Then the UAE Tour
Sergio Higuita kicks off his season next month in his home country of Colombia with the national championships. In the road race, the EF Education-Nippo climber is the title defender. He then mades his debut in the UAE Tour.
According to Zikloland, Higuita will try to defend his title from last year. After 217 kilometres, he crossed the line solo, after his break companion Iván Ramiro Sosa crashed. The UAE Tour will then be his first race outside the Americas. In the seven-day tour, the Colombian starts for the first time. Last season Higuita shot off the starting blocks. After the national championship, he also won the Tour Colombia. In Paris-Nice he then took the white jersey and finished third overall. In the second part of the season he made his debut in the Tour de France, but in the fifteenth stage he had to abandon after a crash. He still raced the World championships and Flèche Wallonne, and then ended to his season.
Cosnefroy Misses Season Start Due to Knee Injury
A big setback for Benoît Cosnefroy as the Frenchman of AG2R Citroën Team cannot race for the time being due to a knee injury. The 25-year-old puncheur should start his season in the Ster van Bessèges, but the French stage race comes too early.
Cosnefroy does not suffer from a fracture in his right knee, as it turned out after a medical scan, but has been struggling with knee problems for more than a week. “I especially suffer during long efforts. Better to wait now. I will continue to train and hope to be competitive again in March,” said the Frenchman.
Cosnefroy will have to adjust his training in the coming weeks. The Ster van Bessèges (3-7 February) comes too early for the climber. Last year he was the best in the multi-day race. The AG2R Citroën Team rider hopes to shine this year in the Ardennes classics and the Tour de France. “In the Tour I go for the yellow jersey, I don’t have to hide that. It may seem like a crazy ambition, but it is definitely a dream. I will try to be in top form at the start.”
Benoît Cosnefroy – KOM:
Gaudu to Lead Groupama-FDJ in Paris-Nice
David Gaudu leads his Groupama-FDJ team in Paris-Nice. The first European WorldTour stage race on the calendar is the French climber’s first goal of the season. Gaudu starts the new season in France. First he will start in the three-day Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, followed by the Drome Classic and the Faun-Ardèche Classic. His first big goal is then Paris-Nice, where he wants to go for a good classification. The French stage race starts on Sunday 7 March.
He wants to continue his success in the Vuelta a España, where he won two stages and finished eighth overall. He spoke to Le Télégramme: “We want to avoid getting into problems in the first stages, where there are often echelons. Then I have to let the pedals speak in the mountains. It will be quite a challenge, because I have not often raced in echelons.”
David Gaudu’s Preliminary Schedule for 2021:
Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var (19-21 February)
Royal Bernard Drome Classic (February 27)
Faun-Ardèche Classic (28 February)
Paris-Nice (March 7-14).
David Gaudu Vuelta’20 stage winner:
Jelle Vanendert is Thinking Riding Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Jelle Vanendert is thinking of making an appearance in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. It would be the first time that the now 35-year-old rider would start the cobbled race. “Why shouldn’t I take on the adventure? Just to change something,” he said on the Bingoal-WB team website.
One of the reasons that Vanendert wants to ride the Omloop is his new coach. “As a result, I discovered a new way of working,” he says. “My goal is to be in better shape from the start of the season. I wanted to look for something different with a new coach. He thinks it is good for me if I also compete in the classics from the start.”
The idea is to start in the Tour du Var, says Vanendert. “After that I might want to ride the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, or the combination Drôme Classic and Ardèche Classic. I have never taken part in the Omloop, and why should I not take on the adventure? I’ve always wanted to change my start to the season, but I often got stuck in the same program. But I think that I should also be able to conquer the cobblestones.”
Last year, Vanendert was 12th in the Flèche Wallonne, 23rd in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and 22nd in the Brabantse Pijl.
Cycling Canada Announces Roster for 2021 UCI Cyclocross World Championships
Cycling Canada has selected three athletes to compete at the 2021 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Ostend, Belgium on January 30-31. Leading up to the championships, the riders will also compete at the final UCI Cyclocross World Cup of the season in Overijse on January 24.
“We’re really excited about the calibre of riders representing Canada at the World Championships in Ostend this year,” said Scott Kelly, Cyclocross Program Manager for Cycling Canada. “We are incredibly grateful to each rider’s respective professional teams for their support throughout the season and at this year’s World Championships and we’re hopeful that this will serve as a springboard to greater success, when Worlds return to North America next year.”
The team will be led by the current Pan American and Canadian champion Maghalie Rochette, who will be heading into the competition ranked among the top-5 in the world. She will be joined by the U23 Pan American champion Ruby West, as well as the U23 Canadian champion Sidney McGill.
“I haven’t had my best season this year; I got injured at a key point in the season and had several disappointing races as a result,” said Rochette. “However, I am now healed and motivated to end this season on a high note. It’s definitely possible for me to finish in the top-10 at Worlds, possibly even the top-5 if I have a good day.”
Due to travel advisories during the pandemic, athletes were only eligible for selection if they were already in Europe as part of their competition program. Canadian athletes will be supported by their trade teams and Europe-based Cycling Canada staff.
Our national cyclocross team is extremely grateful to our partners Paris to Ancaster, the CX Fever Fund and our generous donors and volunteers. As a non-Olympic sport, Cycling Canada’s cyclocross program does not receive government funding and our partners’ support affords us the ability to develop the next generation of world-class Canadian cyclists. If you would like to make a difference, you can donate to the program here.
Sidney McGill (Edmonton, AB) – U23 Women
Ruby West (Dundas, ON) – U23 Women
Maghalie Rochette (Ste-Adèle, QC) – Elite Women.
Astana – Premier Tech Presents Co-Owner and Goals for 2021
On Sunday, Astana – Premier Tech presented the team’s co-owner as well as their goals and leaders’ calendar for the upcoming season during an official team presentation online during their team camp in Benidorm, Spain.
Starting its 16th season at the highest level of the sport, the team is delighted to announce that Premier Tech not only stepped up as co-sponsor but also, the Canadian company became the co-owner of the team, in equal parts with Kazakhstan. For Premier Tech it was the next step in its long-standing commitment towards professional cycling.
“This new co-ownership strengthens our involvement and our support towards the riders and the entire Astana – Premier Tech team. Our commitment also allows Canada to strengthen its presence as an important stakeholder at the highest level of road cycling. Our co-ownership with Kazakhstan really paves the way for the next generation of Canadian professional riders,” says Jean Bélanger, president and chief executive officer of Premier Tech.
“I am very excited to start our collaboration with Premier Tech as our co-owner. It is something special, as it is the first time in the team’s history to welcome an international company as a stakeholder in equal parts with our Kazakh stakeholder. Having these two parties on board, gives me, and the team, strength and confidence about our long-term future as well as the possibility to both once step up to the professional UCI WorldTeam level and, at the same time, progress our business model, which will give us a chance to provide the best conditions for our athletes to shine on the podium.” – Yana Seel, Managing Director of Astana – Premier Tech
To underline the new union the team changed its design to represent the Kazakh-Canadian combination.
Furthermore, the Kazakh-Canadian team announced its goals of the season.
As in the previous years the main focus will be victories at the Grand Tours as well as the stage races.
Kazakh Champion Alexey Lutsenko will start his season in France at the Tour de la Provence followed by the UAE Tour and Milano-Sanremo. One of his season highlights will be Belgium, with the Cobblestone Classics, E3, Gent-Welvegem and Tour of Flanders, where the young Kazakh rider will try to find his place at the iconic Northern Classics before also riding Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Lutsenko’s second season highlight will be the Tour de France followed by the Olympic Games, representing Kazakhstan in Tokyo.
“I will start the season with Tour de la Provence and the UAE Tour. Later, we will see if I take part at Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. My goal is to already be in good shape when I start the season, as the last season showed us that we cannot always wait for the right moment, and there is always the possibility that the race gets canceled or postponed. Therefore, I want to use every race to achieve the best possible result. But, if the season returns back to one we all are used to, then my focuses are the Classics, the Tour de France and the Olympic Games.” – Alexey Lutsenko.
Teammate Jakob Fuglsang will start, as in the last years, at the Ruta del Sol, targeting a hat-trick of overall victories. The Danish rider will take to the start line of the Italian spring races, Tour of Flanders and Itzulia Basque Country as preparation towards his first season highlights, the Ardennes Classics before returning to the Tour de France. He will use the Tour de France as preparation for his main goal of the season, the Olympic Games.
“My first highlight of the season will be the Ardennes Classics, with the Italian spring races as preparation. After that, and an altitude camp, I will take on the Tour de France to get ready for the Olympic Games, where I hope to change Rios Silver into Tokyo’s Gold medal. Of course, it will be great to collect at least one stage win at the Tour de France, but my main focus will be the Olympic Road Race. I am happy with my calendar and think the Tour route, like the parcours in Tokyo, suits me to achieve something great.” – Jakob Fuglsang.
Aleksandr Vlasov starts his second season with the Kazakh-Canadian team like teammate Lutsenko, at the Tour de la Provence followed by Paris-Nice before turning his attention to his season highlight, the Giro d’Italia. The young Russian rider will try to reach the Top 5 of the general classification at the Corsa Rosa.
“Like last year, I will start my 2021 season with Tour de la Provence followed by Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice. After those races, I will start to prepare with an altitude camp, and my participation at the Tour of the Alps, for my main goal of the season, the Giro d’Italia. I already got a taste of Grand Tours at last year’s Giro, which was not the Grand Tour start I was hoping for, and the Vuelta. I am really motivated to return to Italy and try to give my best. Beside the Giro d’Italia, the Olympic Games are an event to focus on.” – Aleksandr Vlasov.
The Basque Country rider Ion Izagirre rolls off the start ramp at Valenciana and Ruta del Sol, before focusing on his home race, Pais Vasco. After the Ardennes Classics and the Critérium du Dauphine, Izagirre will start at the Tour de France, targeting at least one stage win.
“I am going to start my season here, in Valencia, with the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana, followed by the Ruta del Sol and Paris-Nice. It is a good way to start the season before one of my main goals Itzulia Basque Country. The Ardennes Classic aren’t decided yet, we are expecting our third child so my priority is my family at that time.
In summer I will take on the Tour de France, which I am looking forward to it but main goal of the season will be my home race, Itzulia Basque Country. We won the race in 2019 and I would love to repeat it.” – Ion Izagirre.
“It was a difficult season, but I think we can be happy with our results. We managed to achieve 15 victories, three at the Grand Tours and one monument. I think, we represented our team in the best way possible. For the upcoming season, we signed eight new riders. All are quite young, but we believe in our young talents and we will carefully include them into our UCI World Tour calendar after a good start with us at the team camp. Our goal is to win a Grand Tour again, maybe we can realise this aim already this year at the Giro d’Italia, we will see.” – Alexandr Vinokurov.
31 riders roster of Astana Premier Tech:
Alex ARANBURU; Samuele BATTISTELLA; Manuele BOARO; Gleb BRUSSENSKIY; Stefan DE BOD; Rodrigo CONTRERAS; Yevgeniy FEDOROV; Fabio FELLINE; Omar FRAILE; Jakob FUGLSANG; Yevgeniy GIDICH; Jonas GREGAARD WILSLY; Dmitriy GRUZDEV; Hugo HOULE; Gorka IZAGIRRE; Ion IZAGIRRE; Merhawi KUDUS; Alexey LUTSENKO; Davide MARTINELLI; Yuriy NATAROV; Benjamin PERRY; Andrea PICCOLO; Vadim PRONSKIY; Oscar RODRIGUEZ; Javier ROMO; Luis Leon SANCHEZ; Matteo SOBRERO; Nikita STALNOV; Harold TEJADA; Aleksandr VLASOV; Artyom ZAKHAROV.
Dmitriy FOFONOV; Steve BAUER; Bruno CENGHIALTA; Giuseppe MARTINELLI; Dmitriy MURAVYEV; Sergey YAKOVLEV; Stefano ZANINI
BORA-hansgrohe Training Accident
Several BORA-hansgrohe riders were hit by a car on Saturday on the last day of their Italian training camp. “The motorist had a stop signal, but did not look at all and drove the whole group over,” Ide Schelling told NOS.
The 22-year-old Schelling was on the road together with Wilco Kelderman, Rüdiger Selig and Andreas Schillinger, and others. “We had finished the training and then some guys decided to do a bit more. They wanted to complete the six hours and decided to ride for another twenty minutes. Then it happened.”
“I had had enough myself, I was done with it. For me it is a happy decision that I was not there. No one really saw the accident except for the boys, but it turned out to be a serious accident. It’s also not easy if you ride thirty or forty kilometres per hour on a flat road and then a car comes running towards you at speed.”
“In the Netherlands, you are lucky to have beautiful bike paths, but abroad you just ride on the public road with cars next to you,” says Schelling. “So there is traffic from the right and left. Of course you pay attention to that, we often also have a car behind us that keeps traffic at a distance. Today, however, was completely the driver’s fault.”
The atmosphere within the team is now depressed, says Schelling. “It was a very nice training camp, but to end like this is really a downer. It’s never nice to hear that your teammates and friends are in the hospital.” According to the latest reports, Kelderman is struggling with a serious knee injury, although he is still awaiting confirmation from the BORA-hansgrohe camp.
Not a good start to the year for Ide Schelling:
Qhubeka Assos is Aiming for €45 million in Sponsorship with New Partner
Qhubeka Assos has signed an agreement with Sport Endorse, a sports agency specialised in signing sponsorship contracts. The goal is to raise €45 million in sponsorship money within three years.
Sport Endorse is based in Dublin and should attract commercial partners and sponsors for Qhubeka Assos in the coming years. The two parties hope to raise €15 million every year. The South African WorldTour team hopes to grow financially and also to achieve more successes in the sporting field.
“As a small cycling team from Africa we have made enormous strides, but we are now progressive in the field of technology,” said team principal Doug Ryder. “We have a busy schedule and so it is necessary to have the financial resources. We are happy that we can now work with Sport Endorse.”
“The goal is to attract sponsors who believe in our vision. Sponsors who want to join our adventure and who are also willing to support us.” Sport Endorse also represents more than 500 athletes from Great Britain and the United States.
Shimano Extends Sponsorship with Jumbo-Visma
The Japanese company Shimano has extended the sponsorship contract with Jumbo-Visma. With the renewed sponsorship agreement, Shimano supplies components for the men’s team of Jumbo-Visma, Jumbo-Visma Development and the new women’s team.
This agreement continues the 25-year collaboration between the component manufacturer and the team. It is extra memorable for the two brands thanks to the start of the new women’s team. The formation of Marianne Vos, among others, will ride with Shimano’s Dura-Ace drivetrain and pedals.
The Development team is racing with the Ultegra drivetrain and pedals, and the male WorldTour squad chose the Dura-Ace drivetrain, wheels and pedals. Thanks to this deal, the entire Jumbo-Visma squad will use Shimano disc brakes (Dura-Ace ST-R9170 or Ultegra ST-R8070) on all bikes.
In addition, the men’s team will also use Shimano’s R9100P Dura-Ace power meter to monitor effort during and after training or races. “I am extremely proud and grateful that we are continuing our longest-running partnership and even being able to expand to our new women’s cycling team,” said team manager Richard Plugge.
“Quality is our top priority and we know that this is also very important for Shimano. Continuing to build together thanks to the many innovations we have developed over the years, that is characteristic of our collaboration. Hopefully we can achieve many more successes with Shimano products in the future.”
Myron Walraven, Shimano sports marketing manager, said: “Jumbo-Visma is aligned with our goals, but also very strategically involved in the development of our company and the representation of our brand. That is why I am very happy to reach a new level of collaboration within our long-term partnership.”
A week ago Škoda and Jumbo-Visma joined forces from this season. As of January 1 – and for a period of three years – Škoda will provide the cycling and skating team with an extensive fleet of cars.
Jumbo-Visma on Shimano:
José Rujano Rides Vuelta al Táchira With Son Jeison
A special moment for the Rujano family: former professional cyclist José Rujano will be at the start of the Vuelta al Táchira on Sunday, with son Jeison Rujano by his side. It is the first time that father and son participate in a UCI race together and in the same team.
Veteran José Rujano is now 38 years old. In the past he raced for teams such as Quick-Step, Unibet, Caisse d’Epargne, Androni Giocattoli and in 2013 for a short time for Vacansoleil-DCM. Rujano senior’s palmarès includes three stage victories in the Giro d’Italia, a third place in the Giro final classification and overall victory in the Tour de Langkawi.
The pocket climber from Venezuela has been riding the continental circuit for years, races like the Vuelta al Táchira (UCI 2.2) in his own country has already been credited to his name four times: in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2015. Rujano has also produced offspring. Son Jeison José Rujano is 19 years old and a great talent. He won the U23 time trial champion of Venezuela last November. In the Vuelta al Táchira 2021 (January 17-24), cycling team Osorio Ciclismo will bring the two Rujano’s together. The team calls it an ‘unprecedented event’ for the stage race. “I want to thank my trainers, but of course I am also here to race with my father, who is the greatest cyclist ever in our country,” son Jeison said.
Cassani Gives Ventoux bike to Pantani’s Mother
Davide Cassani handed over Marco Pantani’s Bianchi bike to the mother of the Italian cycling legend on the day ‘the Pirate’ would have turned 51. This was the bike Pantani rode when he beat Lance Armstrong in the 2000 Tour de France on the summit of Mont Ventoux.
Pantani and Armstrong fought a memorable duel on Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France of 2000. In the end, the American from US Postal left the victory to the Italian, who had only come to the Tour that year to achieve stage victories. However, the stage took a turn for the worse, as Pantani felt humiliated by Armstrong’s ‘present’. He then announced that he would never again give a victory to anyone.
Pantani’s bike went under the hammer in December, after Mercatone Uno, the sponsor the Italian has been riding on for years, ran into serious financial trouble. Davide Cassani, the Italian national coach, thought that the bike belonged in the Pantani museum in Cesenatico and so participated in the auction together with the businessman Carlo Pesenti. In the end, they placed the winning bid of €66,000.
After the auction, Cassani promised to bring the bike to Cesenatico as soon as possible. On the day that ‘the Pirate’ would turn 51, the time had come and the bicycle was handed over to his mother Tonina. On his social media Cassani wrote: “With tears in her eyes and with a beautiful smile on her face, she thanked us with beautiful words. We are convinced that she has found some peace.”
Another Pantani bike:
Doping Doctor Mark Schmidt Gets Five Year Prison Sentence
Mark Schmidt, pivotal in the doping case Operation Aderlass, was sentenced by the Munich court on Friday to a prison sentence of 4 years and 10 months for administering doping to dozens of athletes. He is also not allowed to practice as a doctor for three years.
The prosecutor had demanded a five-year and six-month jail term and a five-year professional ban. Schmidt, who was previously a team doctor for Gerolsteiner, among others, was suspected of providing athletes with blood doping between 2011 and 2019. Schmidt mainly served cross-country skiers and professional cyclists with doping.
The case came to light in early 2019 through a statement by cross-country skier Johannes Dürr and a raid on Schmidt’s hometown, Erfurt. Since then, the doctor has been in custody. More than a hundred criminally relevant cases were established by the judicial authorities. Schmidt is also alleged to have been guilty of physical injury by administering an as yet untested drug to a mountain biker.
Earlier this week, former professional cyclist Stefan Denifl was sentenced to two years in prison, of which 16 months suspended. The Austrian was part of Operation Aderlass and confirmed early last year that he has used blood doping during his career. Denifl had to appear in court on charges of doping and commercial sports fraud. The UCI previously suspended him for four years because of his involvement in Operation Aderlass.
Two years for Stefan Denifl:
WADA Welcomes Operation Aderlass Verdict
WADA, the international doping authority, is pleased with the court decision in the Operation Aderlass case. Doctor Mark Schmidt was sentenced by the Munich court to a prison sentence of four years and ten months.
WADA, which was closely involved in Operation Aderlass, is pleased with the outcome of the case and “commends all involved who have brought this case to a satisfactory conclusion. We support the authorities in using their legal powers to strengthen the global anti-doping system. This is a clear example of strong legislation in the protection of a clean sport and clean athletes.”
Mark Cavendish: “It’s incredible to be back with the Wolfpack!”
From Spain, where he is training on the Costa Blanca together with his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates, the most decorated sprinter of all time talked of how he and the team share the same philosophy and love for cycling and how this motivates him ahead of his 15th season in the pro ranks.
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