EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

The 2018 World Championships have rolled down the Innsbruck start ramp and Quick-Step Floors took the final team time trial gold medals. Reports, results and video from the men’s and women’s TTT, Tour de l’Eurométropole, Memorial Marco Pantani, Coppa Sabatini, plus win No.70 for Quick-Step in the GP d’Isbergues. Other cycling news: 6 days for the OVO Energy Women’s Tour in 2019, more contract news and we finish with a Worlds teaser video. Monday EUROTRASH coffee time.

TOP STORY: No Aru in Innsbruck
Fabio Aru has decided that he will not be on the start-line on Sunday for the World Championships road race. The climber of UAE Team Emirates was part of the national team selected by Italian manager Davide Cassani, but Aru thinks his form is not good enough to play a significant role on the hilly course of Innsbruck. This makes Vincenzo Nibali and Gianni Moscon the azzurri team leaders.

Aru’s 2018 season has been far from perfect. After a disappointing Giro d’Italia, the Sardinian tried to prepare for the World Championships by riding the Vuelta a España. A good overall place was not for the 28-year-old climber, who crashed badly and had to ride with torn clothing to the finish on the Balcon De Bizkaia, this after saying some not very nice things about his bike. On Saturday, Aru rode the Memorial Marco Pantani as part of the Italian national team, he finished in 54th place.

“In recent weeks and races I have tried to do my best and send the right signals for the World Championships,” Aru wrote on his Facebook page. “Unfortunately, my situation is not how I want it to be and I probably would not be able to show the best of myself in blue. I have reluctantly decided, in consultation with Cassani, to abandon my place on the team. It is a painful choice, but based on my love and respect for the blue of Italy. I think it’s good to give my place to someone who has better condition at the moment,” says Aru, who wishes his fellow countrymen success for the upcoming World Champs.

Probably for the best:

World Championships – Innsbruck 2018
World Men’s Team Time trial
The Belgian team Quick-Step Floors have won the Men’s Team Time Trial race at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships Innsbruck-Tirol in Austria. Team Sunweb and BMC Racing Team finished second and third, respectively.

Kasper Asgreen, Laurens De Plus, Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert, Maximilian Schachmann and Niki Terpstra put in a tremendous ride on Sunday afternoon in the last ever World Team Time Trial Championships for trade squads, stopping the clock in 1:07:26 after averaging 55.6km/h over the 62.8 grueling kilometers of the course and taking the gold medals in Austria, as well as adding the rainbow logo to their jerseys.

Victorious in 2012 (Valkenburg), 2013 (Florence) and 2016 (Doha), Quick-Step Floors were again one of the top contenders and rode with huge confidence as they left the start house in Ötzal, posting the third-fastest time at the first intermediate and using the 4.6km-climb averaging 5.6% which featured inside the last 20 kilometers to their advantage, pulling back time from the teams which were ahead on the leaderboard and blasting through the last checkpoint just hundreds of a second behind first place.

On the fast descent to Innsbruck, the team hit crazy speeds of over 100 kilometers on their trusted Specialized Shiv bikes and by the time they arrived at the finish, improved the fastest time by a mile, going into the hot seat. With three more squads left on the course, the waiting was long and tense, but as soon as the last outfit crossed the line, the Quick-Step Floors riders and staff erupted in joy knowing the victory was theirs and the result propelled the team into the history books, as the only one to have won the crown on four occasions.

Read Ed Hood’s full Team Time Trial Race Report HERE.

Quick-Step Floors CEO, Patrick Lefevere: “I can’t tell you how happy I am. The tension built up as we waited for the team to complete their effort and then to see if we’ll remain in the hot seat was really nervous, but now all this tension has evaporated and all we feel is tremendous joy and happiness. Knowing some of the riders we had today are leaving the team at the end of the season made things even more emotional and seeing how all of our guys together with this superb staff pulled it off brings a lot of satisfaction and makes up for a really beautiful moment.”

Quick-Step Floors DS, Tom Steels: “After the course was announced, we came at the beginning of the year to have a look and get more information. Then we made a preliminary selection and began testing the riders in the wind tunnel. Last month, we simulated the flat part of the route, knowing it was important to go as fast as possible without losing too much energy, and this week we did a recon several times.”

Winning team rider, Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors): “After eight years in the team, this is the best gift I can get and give to the squad. We suffered a lot today, but it was totally worth it. When we heard that we were just third at the first split, I thought how was that possible, because I couldn’t imagine someone could have rode faster, but we didn’t panic, because we knew there was still a long way to the finish and plenty of road left to gain time. We smashed it on the descent and I think that made the difference at the end of the day. A huge thanks goes to Tom and Koen, who made sure we had a great preparation for this event, which led to these gold medals. It feels incredible to win the last edition, but it’s a pity we won’t have this race anymore, because it’s really special.”

Winning team rider, Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors): “We’re so happy. The feeling is incredible. We’re a very strong team but with a lot of young riders. We didn’t panic after we got the first time check. We knew the climb was yet to come. All year long, we have won a lot of races but to take the world title as a team is something special.”

2nd team rider, Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb): “It was a long and hard TTT and we are both happy and disappointed with the performance. It would have been nice to win again but second is also a great result and we are happy about how we raced and proud of the achievement.”

3rd team rider, Rohan Dennis (BMC): “I think we could have maybe gotten closer to Quick-Step Floors at the finish but you never know. We thought that with Stefan being the bigger guy, it was important to use him over the flatter section before the climb. It would have been the perfect situation if we had got to the top of the climb with six guys who were all flying but, in reality, it was never going to happen and we thought that the best option was to use Stefan’s strength for our benefit and get everything out of him that we possibly could and keep the rest of us a little fresher for the climb and the final. Quick-Step Floors are always good. They don’t have Tony Martin anymore but one rider doesn’t win a Team Time Trial so, those guys have always been pretty solid as it is. They are always on our radar and we did think that they were top four definitely but in the end, we were thinking that Team Sky and Team Sunweb were the favorites to beat us. The flat part before the climb went really quickly actually. I think on that 40-kilometer stretch we were going around 60 kilometers per hour so it wasn’t really too bad. Then, the climb was ten minutes maximum and then there was some downhill which meant you got a little bit of recovery before the final flat part which also went pretty quickly. The distance itself wasn’t really an issue and the time ended up being quicker than we thought it would. It was a 50 to 54 kilometers per hour average. It was a good course and we just got beaten by a better team.”

World Men’s Team Time trial Result:
1. Quick-Step Floors in 1:07:25
2. Sunweb at 0:18
3. BMC at 0:19
4. Sky at 0:44
5. Mitchelton-Scott at 0:56
6. Movistar at 1:31
7. Trek-Segafredo at 2:03
8. Bora-Hansgrohe at 2:07
9. CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 2:37
10. Astana at 2:53.

World Woman’s Team Time trial
The German team, Canyon-SRAM won the Women’s Team Time trial at the 2018 World Championships in Austria on Sunday morning. Boels Dolmans cycling team and Team Sunweb finished second and third, respectively. Canyon-SRAM powered over the 55 kilometer course from the Area 47 waterpark in Ötztal to Innsbruck on the mostly downhill course at a speed of 53.8kph to post the top time of 1:01:46 beating Boels Dolmans by 21 seconds and Sunweb by 28.

Second team down the start ramp, Team Virtu, set the early best times with a time of 26:22 at the check-point and a final time of 1:04:00. Wiggle-High5 looked to be on a good day with a check-point time 48 seconds up on Virtu, but they lost two riders soon after. Sunweb were only in 5th place at 36 seconds to Wiggle-High5, they did lift the pace over the second pard of the race to push into 3rd place. Mitchelton-Scott were fourth at the checkpoint, but dropped to 5th at the finish.

Alena Amialiusik, Alice Barnes, Hannah Barnes, Elena Cecchini, Lisa Klein and Trixi Worrack came through the checkpoint in 2nd place behind Wiggle-High5, and then kept the tempo going with a full compliment of six riders to take fifth win in the TTT. Trixi Worrack has been a member of all those teams: Specialized-Lululemon in 2012, 2013 and 2014, Velocio-SRAM in 2015 and now Canyon-SRAM.

Winning team rider, Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM): “We’re trained very hard for this. It was really well and we’re just very happy. We’ve timed it very well. We can be very proud.”

Winning team rider, Trixi Worrack (Canyon-SRAM): “For sure, it’s nice to win the last team time trial contested by trade teams. We didn’t have a perfect season but we trained hard for this race. We knew we could make the podium on a good day. The length of the race played in our favor. It was 54km long. The key was to have as many riders together for as long as possible.”

Winning Team rider, Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM): “I started crying really hard after we won. We were very disappointed to finish fourth in Bergen last year but today we rode one of the very best team time trials I’ve ever taken part in. I want to thank all these girls and our staff who often believes in us more than ourselves.”

World Woman’s Team Time trial Result:
1. Canyon-SRAM in 1:01:46
2. Boels Dolmans at 0:21
3. Sunweb at 0:28
4. Wiggle-High5 at 0:57
5. Mitchelton-Scott at 1:29
6. Team Virtu Cycling at 2:06
7. BTC City Ljubljana at 3:08
8. Valcar PBM at 3:35
9. BePink at 3:36
10. Ale-Cipollini at 3:53

Grand Prix d’Isbergues 2018
Not only that he defied the doctors’ initial prognosis, who were skeptical we could even return by the end of the season, but on his first outing since suffering that frightening knee injury on stage 16 of the Tour de France, Philippe Gilbert returned with a bang, taking the victory at the 72nd Grand Prix d’Isbergues after a memorable ride, which served as confirmation of his never-say-die attitude and fantastic commitment of always being on the top and giving everything, regardless of the race and the conditions.

Fifteen years after making his first appearance at the French event, Philippe returned as part of a strong Quick-Step Floors squad and immediately animated the race which took place in heavy rain that forced the organizers to cut the course to 175 kilometers. The inclement weather didn’t stop the 36-year-old from attacking early and forcing an important selection, a strong 18-man group – which featured also teammate and Textielprijs Vichte winner Florian Sénéchal – emerging from the peloton after the first kilometers.

The gap between the leaders and the bunch hovered at all times around three minutes, but with the escapees working well together, that margin couldn’t be erased by the pack, who all that could do was reduce it to two minutes inside the final 40 kilometers. That was the cue for Philippe to accelerate again, taking just seven riders with him, before another surge, this time with 20 kilometers to go, that saw him get clear together with Christophe Laporte (Cofidis).

As the duo opened a 20-second gap on the chasers, Florian rode away from the second group and pushed on until he could see the leaders under the flamme rouge arch. That allowed Philippe to play it cool in the finale, before launching the sprint and taking his first victory of the season, on a perfect day for Quick-Step Floors, which Sénéchal rounded off by finishing third.

Race winner, Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors): “I’ve worked so hard to get back here today. Honestly, there have been some difficult moments when I have been at home fighting to make this comeback. I have had a great team around me at home but you still have to do the work yourself, to put in the energy and focus. After my crash, some of the most positive opinions I heard were that I should be happy if I were back on the bike within four months. Now I am already back after two months and I took my first victory of the season. My goal was to get a win in this last part of the season. I know it was a bit crazy and 99% of the riders would probably just be happy to come back, but I really believed I could do it. The weather was really tough, especially in the final, when the temperatures dropped, but I actually felt good and was really confident. When attacking with Laporte, we took advantage of the slippery roads from the rain and some tricky corners by going to the limit a few times, and in the last kilometers, seeing that Florian was coming from behind, I could save a bit of energy. In the final, I just felt I couldn’t lose. I am just really happy that I got to taste the victory too in what has been a fantastic year for the team. Now I am looking forward to what the rest of the season can bring me. Nothing is impossible on this team, and you could see that today! What a day it has been for us, taking two victories, at the Worlds in Innsbruck and here. It’s just fantastic to be part of the Wolfpack!”

2nd, Christophe Laporte (Cofidis): “I have two feelings, because I had good sensations throughout the day. So there is a bit of disappointment because I didn’t win. And I had to fight in the final to take a 2nd place. On the other hand, I’m proud to have managed to compete against a guy like Philippe Gilbert. I had to work in the last three kilometers and Philippe was cooler for the sprint.”

Grand Prix d’Isbergues Result:
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors in 4:15:32
2. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis at 0:01
3. Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step Floors at 0:05
4. Mark McNally (GB) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:19
5. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0.29
6. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Hagens Berman-Axeon at 1:03
8. Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data
9. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:08
10. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 3:32.

Tour de l’Eurométropole 2018
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) sprinted to the win from a select leading group in the Tour de l’Eurométropole after superb teamwork and a great lead-out from teammate Jasper Stuyven. It was a tactical finale in a wet and chilly race, and with the combination of Stuyven and Pedersen in the leading group of 10, a perfect recipe for victory.

The race was not looking good for Trek-Segafredo in the first half with the rain wreaking havoc and a crash landing five of the team on the tarmac, including team leader Jasper Stuyven. But it all changed after Trek-Segafredo put the team on the front in the final 30 kilometers to help bring back the breakaway and when Stuyven attacked with 20 kilometers to go.

The peloton was never far behind the leaders, and when it looked like they would be caught with eight kilometers remaining, Pedersen exploded out of the bunch. Pedersen flew by the fragmented leaders like they were standing still and quickly caught up to Stuyven, who was alone in the front. But two Trek-Segafredo riders in the lead caused an immediate reaction behind, and three riders quickly bridged, while more attacks flew out of the bunch. A tired Stuyven fell off the pace as Pedersen continued ahead as a new leading group formed.

Stuyven made it back to the leading group with four kilometers to go and the bunch not far behind. He then went to work and threw everything he had into helping Pedersen. Benoot’s attack would have been successful but for Stuyven, who dug deep for his teammate. Stuyven pulled the final kilometers, drawing back Benoot while giving a lead-out for Pedersen, who jumped past the Lotto Soudal rider in the last meters to take the win. With Stuyven taking wins in the GP Wallonie and GP Jef Scherens and Pedersen the Tour de l’Eurométropole, it has been a good run so far for Trek-Segafredo in the fall classics. Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen both line up again Sunday for the GP d’Isbergues and will hope to add to Trek-Segafredo’s tally.

Race winner, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo): “Rain is okay for me, I am used to that in Denmark. Yeah, the motivation was not super high in the beginning of the day, but I felt good legs, and Jasper did a really good job, and I needed to support him. And then it changed in the final. I was there with good legs, and the [leading] group was quite close, so I thought if I could jump and help Jasper to keep the group away it would be perfect and then I came, and I saw Jasper had made a gap to the other four guys in the front. Steven (de Jongh, director) was fast on the radio to say that Jasper was chasing it back and then we just supported each other in the final and would see who had the legs in the last kilometers. Jasper was impressive… that was really nice. The spring was really good for me and then I had some bad luck in the BinckBank Tour and in the past few weeks, but now it is looking like a good late season.”

2nd, Jempy Drucker (BMC): “As a team, it was was good to have Danilo and Nathan in the breakaway. In the morning meeting, we said that it would be good to have a guy in the breakaway and we ended up having two, so it was even better. Especially with the weather conditions today as you never know what can happen on days like today. We didn’t have to chase or do anything behind them until around two laps to go when we saw that big attack which I was able to follow. We then caught the breakaway, and from there, it was full gas to finish line. I knew I was one of the fastest in a sprint, so I had to gamble a little bit. I tried only to follow when it was necessary for example going onto the last lap and on the climb. Then, in the end, I only moved when I had to, and I think I managed it well. I was simply beaten by somebody who was fastest. Mads closes the door a little bit for me, but I was still in an okay position. Of course, second is a good result but for sure, I am disappointed as I was so close to the win. I think that’s normal though when you are that close to the top step of the podium. I showed today that my condition is good and there are still some races to come so hopefully I can get a good result at one of those. Tomorrow is one of those opportunities and for sure today is a good confidence boost. We will see what happens as we have a strong team but we are also expecting bad weather like today.”

3rd, Oliver Naesen (AG2r-La Mondiale): “The plans were to make the race very aggressive and be very active, which is what we did. I tried my luck near the end of the race, and those efforts certainly cost me in the finish when it came time to sprint. Overall, I am pretty satisfied with this third place. It has been a good day. The weather was really tough, and it took me over an hour to get warm. The team is in excellent shape, and we will try to put that to good use tomorrow at the Grand Prix d’Isbergues.”

10th, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo): “After 60kms I think five of the team went down, and I also went down pretty hard, so it took a while to chase back. At the end, we decided to help FDJ to control the race and bring back the leaders, and then in the final, I attacked. It was a good group, but I was suffering quite a lot from my crash, and I didn’t feel super fresh anymore. And then Mads came from the back; from then on I tried to help him because he was really strong. With two kilometers to go (Tiesj) Benoot attacked, and I went behind, and I saw that they didn’t immediately follow so that was good for Mads as he could just stay in their wheels. When they came back, I just kept pulling and pulling. I was a little bit on the limit, but I knew that if I could continue until 250 (meters to go) it would be really good and then Mads just did a great sprint. It didn’t look good at the one moment when we were all on the floor and with the weather, so it was really good that we took responsibility and just went for it, and then still win. It was a nice victory.”

Tour de l’Eurométropole Result:
1. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
2. Jempy Drucker (Lux) BMC
3. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale
4. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Hagens Berman Axeon
5. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
8. Jan-Willem van Schip (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
9. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo.

Tour de l’Eurométropole’18:

Memorial Marco Pantani 2018
Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) won the 2018 Memorial Marco Pantani in Cesenatico on Saturday, out-sprinting eighteen riders in the front group. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) was 2nd ahead of Ballerini’s Androni teammate Francesco Gavazzi in 3rd. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) attacked 3 kilometers out but was caught by the leaders as they came to the final K.

The first break went after 10 kilometers: Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF), Alexander Evtushenko (Lokosphink), Samuele Battistella (Italy), Daniel Turek (Israel Cycling Academy) and Davide Gaburro (Amore e Vita-Prodir). They had a lead of 6 minutes before Bahrain-Merida started to chase after 50km and by the top of the first climb of Montevecchio the lead was down to 4 minutes. On the second climb of Montevecchio; Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), Eddie Dunbar (Sky), Dario Cataldo (Italy) and Marco Tizza (Nippo-Vini Fantini) broke clear, the reaction from the peloton pulled them and the earlier break back.

Dunbar forced the next split on the third climb, and again it was Nibali, Pozzovivo, Quintana, with David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Davide Brambilla (Italy), Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy), Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data), Davide Ballerini, Marco Cattaneo, Francesco Gavazzi and Fausto Masnada, (Androni-Sidermec), Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic), Ivan Santaromita, Marco Tizza (Nippo Vini Fantini), Franco Pellizotti (Bahrain-Merida), Guillaume Martin and Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) who joined the Irishman in what was to be the decisive split.

Quintana and Gaudu tried hard to split the head group on the climb of Longiano, which helped the lead gain 2 minutes on the peloton before the final circuit. Bahrain-Merida and Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec kept the speed high until Nibali’s attack with 3 kilometers to go, but Androni pulled him back. Ballerini came through with the best sprint.

Memorial Marco Pantani Result:
1. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec in 5:03:07
2. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
4. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
5. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Italy
6. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
8. Edward Dunbar (Irl) Sky
9. Marco Tizza (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic.

Coppa Sabatini – Gran Premio Città di Peccioli 2018
What a victory for Juan Josè Lobato, that as a true finisseur at the Coppa Sabatini, beating Colbrelli, Moscon and his #OrangeBlue teammate Marco Canola. Victory number ten for the NIPPO Vini Fantini Europe Ovini team.

Juan Josè Lobato won the Coppa Sabatini taking his first victory with the #OrangeBlue jersey and his 15th personal victory in his career. Victory No.10 for the team this season, but with a very special relevance due to the fact that it was an Italian race and that it comes in front of very important competitors such as Colbrelli and Moscon.

A fast race with a high level of competition in Peccioli. Six riders in the breakaway of the day. Many teams worked behind to close the gap and to stop attacks in the final, such as the one of Bardet, Henao and Visconti. In the last km a solo move from Vincenzo Albanese, but only 400 meters to go, the Spanish rider of the NIPPO Vini Fantini team jumped everyone with a strong sprint. Behind him; Sonny Colbrelli and Gianni Moscon came second and third with Marco Canola closing with a very good 4th place.

Race winner, Juan José Lobato (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini): “I’m so happy for this victory that comes at the end of a difficult year for me. My season began in late and then also an injury stopped me in the middle of the season. Now I’m feeling good and I’m happy to give back to the team the trust they gave me at the begin of the year, winning here in Italy for the team is very important and doing it in front of very important and strong competitors for me is a great satisfaction.”

2nd, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida): “When he moved, Visconti couldn’t catch him. I felt good, but didn’t want to risk to open up the sprint too early. Then it was too late to bridge that gap. I’m disappointed because the team worked very well and hard today and only a victory could reward it. It’s a bitter second place.”

Coppa Sabatini – Gran Premio Città di Peccioli Result:
1. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini in 4:41:40
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
3. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Sky
4. Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
5. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
6. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
7. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
8. Dion Smith (NZ) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic.

OVO Energy Women’s Tour Expands with Sixth day in 2019
The 2019 OVO Energy Women’s Tour will feature six stages for the first time in the event’s history, giving cycling fans in Britain an extra chance to see the world’s best riders racing on UK roads.

The prestigious event, launched by SweetSpot Group in 2014, will grow from its present five days and once again forms part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, which comprises the world’s top races. Dates of the 2019 event, alongside details of the six stages, will be revealed in due course.

Today’s announcement comes nearly two weeks after the successful conclusion of the men’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain (2 – 9 September), also organized by SweetSpot Group, that saw Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) claim victory after eight days of enthralling racing in front of over 1.5 million spectators.

As well as inspiring women to lead healthier, more active lifestyles, the OVO Energy Women’s Tour has challenged gender inequality in sport by notably matching the prize fund of Britain’s flagship men’s race. The 2018 edition of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour attracted 14 of the world’s top 15 teams and a field of 120 riders, featuring Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European champions aplenty.

Commenting on the announcement, Race Director Mick Bennett said: “We are delighted to have been granted a sixth day of racing for the OVO Energy Women’s Tour to build upon the success of the first five editions. Teams and riders have been asking us to extend the event and to broaden the range of stages, which the flexibility of a sixth day will enable us to do.”

Chris Houghton, CEO Energy Retail at OVO Energy, said: “The OVO Energy Women’s Tour is already one of the highlights on the global cycling calendar and adding a sixth day opens up new opportunities for the race and its riders. As title sponsor of the race and supporters of women’s cycling, OVO Energy is thrilled at the prospect of showcasing the race in new regions and to new audiences.”

Heath Harvey, Chief Executive of SweetSpot Group, added: “We have worked closely with British Cycling and the UCI to grow the OVO Energy Women’s Tour in a sustainable fashion and after the success shown by the first five editions it is only right that the event can visibly grow.

“We are immensely proud that Britain is at the forefront of the growth in women’s cycling and the addition of a sixth stage will enable us to take the event to more people than ever before, to showcase women’s sport and inspire more people to be active and get on their bikes.”

Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of British Cycling, said: “This is fantastic news, both for the event and for women’s cycling as a whole. We have been very open about our determination to close our sport’s historic gender gap, and this is yet another step towards that. Our ambitious target to get one million more women on bikes by 2020 is well on schedule, and the increased opportunities for women and girls to watch the world’s best female riders racing on British roads can only help us towards that goal.”

This year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour was won by Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) and featured stages in Suffolk, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire before finishing on the North Wales coast in Colwyn Bay.

The full calendar for the 2019 UCI Women’s WorldTour will be confirmed on Friday 28 September at the UCI World Road Race Championships in Innsbruck, Austria.

Laurens ten Dam to Bring Wealth of Experience to Continuum Sports
Laurens ten Dam is the latest rider to join the growing Continuum Sports roster in 2019, bringing a wealth of experience with 16 years as a professional to his name.

The 37-year-old will be the team’s sole Dutch rider, adding to the long list of nationalities that contribute to the international composition of the team.

“Laurens ten Dam is one of the most experienced riders in the peloton so he will be an asset to the team when he joins in 2019, particularly as a mentor for the younger riders in the roster. Ten Dam has proved himself to be a valuable domestique at Grand Tours and stage races and it is this selflessness that is crucial to establishing a strong team dynamic. We are looking forward to welcoming Laurens in 2019,” General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

“Laurens has raced 17 Grand Tours, finishing in the top ten at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, and has lined up at 15 Monuments throughout this career, so his experience at the biggest races in the WorldTour calendar will be invaluable. As well as supporting the team’s leaders, Laurens will also have the chance to take his own opportunities throughout the season.”

Ten Dam is excited to add a new chapter to his cycling career after spending the last three seasons with Team Sunweb.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking to change teams but I’m not afraid to change, I’ve done it quite a few times in my career, and this was a good opportunity that presented itself. I really welcome the chance for a carte blanche, a clean slate, and to join Continuum Sports with some new goals and opportunities, as well as having some more freedom,” ten Dam said.

“Although we haven’t yet discussed my program, I really like racing in the United States so I hope to be able to race there next year and of course, line up at some of the Grand Tours. I want to get the best out of myself and help the team, especially with a leader like Greg Van Avermaet as I can help him in some of the hillier races. For now, the team doesn’t have a clear General Classification rider but you never know how the team will develop in the coming seasons so I look forward to seeing the team grow and playing a part in this.”

In keeping with team policy, no other details of the contract were released.

Laurens ten Dam:

Giacomo Nizzolo Signs for Team Dimension Data
Team Dimension Data is delighted to announce that Giacomo Nizzolo has signed a two-year deal commencing 1 January, 2019.

The 29-year old Italian sprinter will join us from Trek-Segafredo where he’s been since the start of his professional career in 2011.

Crowned the Italian road race champion in 2016, Nizzolo has 18 career victories to his name. Typically he has shown his consistently good form in 2018 with 24 top-10 finishes and is now looking at taking the next step in his career to achieve even bigger goals.

The man from Milan has raced seven Grand Tours (six Giro d’Italia’s as well as the recently concluded Vuelta a España) and finished on the podium for a stage in every single one of those.

Nizzolo becomes the latest in a raft of signings announced by Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka since the opening of the transfer window on 1 August including the likes of Danilo Wyss, Michael Valgren, Lars Bak, Enrico Gasparotto, Stefan de Bod, Rasmus Tiller, Roman Kreuziger, to go with a host of renewals.

Giacomo Nizzolo – Rider: “It’s an emotional moment for me, as I am changing teams for the first time in my pro career. Coming off two seasons in which physical issues have affected the chances to pursue my goals, I chose the project that showed me the greatest trust and that could put me in the best position to go for the big targets.

Since talking to the Head of Performance, Rolf Aldag, I was impressed with the ambitions and vision that drive Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka has and I was sure that I wanted this team to be the next exciting step in my career.

I have been racing with Trek in all my eight pro seasons, and of course I have met many people there – teammates, managers, sports directors, performance staff… – who were instrumental in my development as a rider. I am very grateful to Trek and Manager Luca Guercilena for the trust and opportunities they have given to me over this long period. They will always represent a big part of my career, and who I am as a rider, and I am looking forward to write exciting new pages with Dimension Data for Qhubeka.

One of the big motivations behind my choice is the fact that Team Dimension Data will put me in the ideal conditions to pursue my ambitions in the sprints, showing complete confidence in me and providing the backing of an impressive lead out squad, that will get even better in 2019.

I have been among the most consistent performers in the World Tour for years, I feel that ‘fast men’s Classics’ and GT stages are within my reach and I want to unleash my full potential with Team DD. The level in the sprints is crazy-high in the World Tour and I am sure this strong line-up will make a huge difference in what we will manage to do together.

I was born in Milan, and Milan-Sanremo is the race of my dreams: it would be awesome to fulfill them in a DD jersey.

Looking in from the outside I’ve been impressed by the huge impact that the Team and Qhubeka are having in cycling (not only professionally) in Africa, I hope to be able to see in person how #BicyclesChangeLives, and contribute to it.

I can clearly recall some of the Team’s standout wins like Steve Cummings’ TdF success on Mandela Day where you could really appreciate that the guys were racing for something more than just the day’s standings. Team Dimension Data will also get back to having Italian riders on its roster after several years, and I am looking forward to act as ambassador for the Qhubeka project both in Italy and beyond.”

Douglas Ryder – Team Principal: “We are delighted that Giacomo agreed to come and join our team as we look to achieve our collective goals in 2019 and beyond.

What’s struck me over the years is his consistency as a bike rider and his ability to get results perhaps when things haven’t always been in his favor. With the squad that we have we will be looking to him to now take those opportunities and feature more regularly on the top step of the dais.

His arrival, along with the other outstanding blend of youth and experience that we’ve recently announced, together with the current members of our squad that are staying, illustrates how ambitious we are heading into the 2019 season.

Giacomo’s already outlined the admiration that he has for Qhubeka and the role that he sees himself playing in our continued mission to change lives across the world through bicycles. We look forward to having him on board with us to not only realize his own dreams but the aspirations of the team and the change that we’re hoping to effect across the world.”

Hugh Carthy to Return to #PinkArgyle
The EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale team is proud to announce that Hugh Carthy has re-upped with EF Pro Cycling, extending his contract for another two seasons. Carthy recently finished third overall at Colorado Classic, where he also won the mountains classification, took fifth overall at Tour of Utah and has recorded top 10 finishes on climbing stages at Tour of Britain, Tour of Utah and Volta Catalunya.

“I’m happy here,” said Carthy. “I’m happy that I have been allowed to grow and develop without significant pressure. The development process varies in length between different riders, so it’s important to have belief and trust behind you.”

“We’re proud of the steps forward Hugh has taken within the team,” said EF Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “We certainly believe we’re still in the foundation-laying stage. Week-long stage races seems to be his sweet spot presently, and we’re looking forward to nurturing his talent further in this area in the seasons to come.”

Carthy attributes his tangible success during the 2018 season to a number of factors, notably changes made in the off-season.

“I made great progress last winter,” said Carthy “I made some changes with my training and lifestyle and added that to the experiences I gained last season. Sometimes progress isn’t always visible on TV. I’ve made steps forward all year and grown in confidence as a result.”

The 24-year-old has expressed pride in riding for a team with a sponsor and owner that has shown an uncommon level of investment and commitment to the team.

“Exactly a year ago, the future of the team was uncertain,” said Carthy. “EF stepped in and their involvement has changed the team in many ways. The way they activate their sponsorship is like nothing we’ve seen in the sport previously. Their employees and students are a good example of positive spirit, passion and commitment. It’s easy to forget who we’re racing for sometimes, but with EF, their presence and encouragement is a constant reminder.”

Hugh Carthy in Colorado:

Nikolas Maes Extends his Contract by 2 Years
Nikolas Maes has signed a new two-year contract with Lotto Soudal and will be riding for the team until the end of 2020. The now 32-year-old Belgian joined the Lotto Soudal team in January 2017, after he had ridden seven years for Quick-Step.

Nikolas Maes: “I feel good in this team, as a sportsman and as a person. That’s why I wanted to extend my contract. I can do my job for the leaders of the team. I love the challenge of aiming for victory in the big races with a leader like Tiesj Benoot or Tim Wellens. When we achieve a good result, it gives me satisfaction. I can enjoy a victory of a teammate in a big race as much as winning a small race myself. As a person I also feel good in this team. I have a good bond with my teammates and I can be myself. That’s important because you are so often away from home.”

“I had a rough start in 2017 because I got ill before the Spring Classic began and it took a while before I was fully recovered. This year I could perform as I wanted. Unfortunately I missed the Ronde van Vlaanderen due to illness, but I could participate in Paris-Roubaix and the Amstel Gold Race. The highlight of the spring was of course Tiesj Benoot winning Strade Bianche. I hope to continue on the same path the next two seasons. I mainly race in function of the team’s leaders and that role suits me. I will also work for them in the following two years and support them in the big races. Caleb Ewan will also give a new boost to the team and I am looking forward to that new cooperation. I am very excited to keep contributing to the success of Lotto Soudal.”

Nikolas Maes:

Trek Announces Worrack and Cordon-Ragot Will Join in 2019
German Trixi Worrack and French cyclist Audrey Cordon-Ragot are the two latest additions to the new Trek women’s team bringing the total riders to 11.

Trixi Worrack, 38, is currently racing for Canyon-SRAM and is an established all-rounder who will bring heaps of experience to the Trek team. She has been racing since her junior years and first jumped into the elite ranks in the year 2000. With her talent it did not take long for the results to come: In 2001 she won a stage in the Women’s Challenge (USA), claimed third overall in Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt, and a podium in La Flèche Wallonne Féminine.

Over the next years, Trixi continued to shine, winning numerous stages, and netting podiums in some of the biggest stage races and one-day races. She finished second in the Tour of Flanders in 2004 and a year later won Milan-Sanremo (Primavera Rosa).

Trixi can climb, sprint, and time trial netting her results over a variety of races. Some of her most significant accolades include sprinting to the silver medal at the 2006 World Championships from a small elite group, winning the overall classifications at Gracia-Orlová (2009) and Tour of California (2015), and taking home four successive World Titles in the Team Time Trial with her respective teams (2012-2015).

2016 boded well for Trixi – she won the Tour of Qatar and finished on the podium in the Ronde van Drenthe – but everything came to a nearly career-ending halt when she fell on a descent in the WorldTour race Trofeo Alfredo Binda in March and underwent emergency surgery to remove her left kidney.

Unknown if she could, or even would come back from such a serious injury, Trixi returned to racing a few months later and astonished everyone by winning the National Time Trial title. It was not her first National title – she had already won the TT in 2009 and twice was road champion – but it was the most meaningful; a win she considers the best moment of her career.

Trixi again won the National time trial title in 2017 and finished second this season, but she knows that the crash has changed things. She admits she now needs more recovery days with one less kidney and no longer views success by victories- she’s just happy to be able to ride.

Trixi is in the twilight of her career and has altered her goals to be less result-oriented and more about mentoring teammates, something she really enjoys. Trixi’s leadership and experience will be a massive asset to Trek – there’s no doubt she will make the Trek team much better.

“After some years in the same team, it will be a great challenge joining Trek. I am very excited.” said Worrack. “I am really looking forward to working again with Ina (Teutenberg), who I have raced with for many years and of course know very well. Trek has put together an incredible roster, with experience and young talent together, and I am excited and motivated to help this team and see what we can accomplish.”

Trixi Worrack on the right on the Euro champs podium:

Audrey Cordon-Ragot will join Trek alongside Wiggle-High5 teammate Elisa Longo Borghini. Audrey first turned pro in 2008 with Vienne Futuroscope, riding with the French team for six years. After one year with Hitec Products, she joined Wiggle High5 in 2015 where she has proved to be an invaluable teammate.

Audrey, 28, is a dominant rider who excels in the time-trial, winning the French National Time Trial title for the fourth consecutive time in June, and also won the prestigious Chrono des Nations in 2017.

Audrey has been an indispensable member for her teams over the years, working selflessly in a support role as a super-domestique, but she has also netted a few of her own respectable results: she won the overall in the Tour de Bretagne Féminin (2013), stage wins in the Tour de Bretagne and La Route de France (2014), third in the Omloop van het Hageland (2014) and has won the one-day races Grand Prix of Plumelec (2014) and twice the Cholet Pays de Loire Dames (2012, 2015).

On Sunday, Audrey finished on the podium in the Madrid Challenge, a race won by future teammate Ellen van Dijk.

Cordon-Ragot: “Obviously it’s really exciting to be part of this new project. Trek has put together a real professional team, something I have missed in women’s cycling from the beginning of my career. This will allow me to do my job and not have to think about other things other than just riding my bike. I would like to be as good as I can for my teammates and to promote an excellent picture of women’s cycling which is really important for me. I want to help grow it.

“I am really defending that every men’s team should have a women’s team, in particular in France where I would like to develop this concept. So for that, I am looking forward to learning a lot from Trek and from my teammates. Let’s see what we can all do!”

Audrey Cordon-Ragot:

Former Olympic canoer, Elise Chabbey Joins Cervélo Bigla
Elise Chabbey will ride for the Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team in 2019. The Swiss rider is relatively new to cycling but comes from a high-performance sports background.

She represented Switzerland in the 2012 Olympic games as a canoer. “I started cycling only two years ago so I think it’s an amazing opportunity to join Cervélo Bigla already. The team has so many good riders and I think I will progress here in this professional environment they’ve built,” Chabbey said.

Chabbey says she is happy with her progression in the sport and feels the transition to cycling is a successful one. This year she’s won two Swiss cup races and managed to stay with the front group in Emakumeen Bira and Tour de l’Ardèche.

“I like these kinds of stories,” team manager, Thomas Campana said. “She’s a proven Olympian in a completely different sport. In the past, I’ve been lucky enough to have rowers and athletes who worked with the upper body before turning to cycling because they are well-balanced athletes. Elise is a big talent coming from canoeing and extreme running. She reminds me a bit of Emma Pooley. We saw her in Bira where she did really good ride for someone who hasn’t been riding consistently in the World Tour. In La Course, she was not happy with her performance but for me, it was a great result. She’s Swiss and we’re a Swiss-based team and I think she will have a great future with us. After becoming a doctor in June next year, she will focus full time on cycling.”

Chabbey says she wants to keep progressing to the level of winning a big race one day. “But first I want to do a good job for the team. I’m still a beginner in cycling, I have a lot to learn with regards to how to be in a group and how to work in a team. This is the perfect team for a rider looking to develop and better themselves.”

Elise Chabbey:

Svein Tuft Signs with Rally Cycling
Rally Cycling is excited to announce the signing of WorldTour veteran Svein Tuft for the 2019 season. Currently living in Pal, Andorra, the 41-year-old Canadian spent the last seven seasons with WorldTour squad Mitchelton-Scott (formerly Orica GreenEDGE) as well as a two-year stint with Team Garmin. During his career, Tuft has anchored team time trial squads that claimed stage wins at the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Eneco Tour, and Tirreno Adriatico.

Tuft was the oldest rider to take part in this year’s Giro d’Italia and announced in May that it would likely be his last Grand Tour, an admission that many took as a retirement announcement.

While visiting Girona, Spain this summer, Performance Manager Jonas Carney met with Tuft to discuss working together for the first time since they were teammates back in 2002 on the US-based Prime Alliance squad. Discussions progressed quickly and the two came to an agreement at the beginning of September.

“The chance to ride for a North American team with a bunch of Canadians came along in Rally Cycling and I couldn’t refuse,” said Tuft. “Sharing all that I have learned is what motivates me these days and I couldn’t imagine a better team to do that with. One of the aspects I’ve really enjoyed on my current team Michelton-Scott has been sharing my years of experience with the younger fellas. The chance to do that with my fellow North Americans making that jump to Europe was very appealing to me.”

Tuft has established himself as a veteran leader in the WorldTour thanks to his time spent on Australia’s team.

“Michelton-Scott has been my family for seven years,” said Tuft. “I’ve been part of the evolution of a team that was focusing on one-day races and stages and is now winning grand tours. It has been an amazing journey with them and I thank everyone for the incredible support and experience of my time there.”

First joining the WorldTour with Garmin-Slipstream in 2009, Tuft brings an extraordinary amount of experience not only racing in Europe but living there.

“My role with Rally Cycling will really be about support,” said Tuft. “I’ve done pretty much every WorldTour race on the calendar and understand the difficulties of transitioning from North America to Europe. The biggest difference is not in physical ability but it’s in all the other details of European racing. Distance, pace, technical ability, reading the race, lifestyle and time are really the main factors. So, my goal will be to share as much of my knowledge that I can and then within the race help them through positioning and navigating the European peloton.”

For Performance Manager Jonas Carney, signing Tuft was an integral part of building a successful roster for 2019. “We have a lot of talented young riders on our team who are capable of making the transition to Europe and it’s important that we have a veteran rider with lots of European experience to mentor those guys,” said Carney. “For three years Danny Pate filled that role but with Pate retiring and our European schedule expanding, it was more important than ever that we fill that position. Svein was the perfect fit for us. He knows all the races, is well respected in the European peloton, can operate as a road captain, and sets a great example off the bike.”

Team Manager Jake Erker along with Team Director Eric Wohlberg were both teammates with Tuft on the Canadian Symmetrics squad from 2005 – 2008. Erker saw first-hand Tuft’s strength and character as he ascended the professional ranks.

“Svein is a perfect example of a North American athlete that evolved from conquering the America’s Tour, to captaining a WorldTour program in Europe,” said Erker. “He ticks off all of the boxes in seeking a guide through the European peloton and I’m thrilled to have him as a part of our growing program.”

Svein Tuft:

Road World Championships 2018 Teaser
If you are looking for some inspiration to get you out on the bike, then look no further than this World champs teaser video:

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