Another week in and closer to seeing some racing. 2021 Olympic Games or cancel? – Top Story. More virtual racing with ‘The Challenge of Stars’. Lots of other news: Démare breaks hand, Roglic pre-Tour, Chaves wants to win the Tour, Verbrugghe on Evenepoel, CCC to ride the Sibiu, Van Aert’s cross season, Naesen two speeds, Zeeman talks training, Pellizotti and Contador talk Froome, Felline wants victory, difficult to work with Quintana, Lotto Soudal to reduce the risk, Dauphiné is a must, Bernal and Quintana fear Tour, Higuita for the Tour, Deignan to Giro Rosa and Ronde, Rebellin dreams of title, Ventoso doesn’t want to stop, Madiot needs a revolution, Plouay Euro Champs, no PostNord Danmark Rundt, Woman’s Vuelta 3 Stages, Pieters and Uneken extend and Landis no longer hostile to Armstrong. Stay safe out there.
TOP STORY: Further Postponement of the 2021 Olympic Games is Not Possible
If the Tokyo Olympics cannot continue in 2021 due to the corona virus, the sporting event will not be postponed again, according to IOC chairman Thomas Bach, speaking to the BBC. The Tokyo Games are then permanently canceled. “As I understand it,” said Bach.
“You cannot employ 3,000 to 5,000 people in an organising committee forever,” said the German President of the International Olympic Committee. The event in Japan will now take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021, which has brought a lot of changes to other sports calendars.
“You can’t keep updating those calendars of all major federations Worldwide every year. You can’t keep athletes in uncertainty for so long,” said Bach, who also looks at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China. “Then there would be too much overlap with the next Olympics.”
Bach says he takes multiple scenarios into account and consults and follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO). “We have a common goal to hold the Games in July next year. We look at what is needed for this. What does the organisation look like? What health measures are needed? Should athletes and other participants be quarantined?”
“We look at all those different options and alternatives. If we have a clearer idea of what the world will look like on July 23, 2021, we will make the right decision,” said Bach. He still speculates on an Olympic Games without an audience. He would prefer to see the fans in Tokyo, but that depends on the development of the corona virus.
Tokyo Olympics – Yes or no?
The Challenge of Stars Sprinters’ Competition
Fabio Jakobsen imposed himself, beating Filippo Ganna in the final to win the first knockout tournament on the BKOOL platform dedicated to the fastest wheels of the peloton.
Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) won the competition dedicated to the sprinters in The Challenge of Stars. The Dutch road champion defeated Italian ITT champion Filippo Ganna (Team Ineos) in the final, on a 1.2km course in the Tuscan countryside, with an average gradient of 0.97% and a maximum of 2.53%.
The sprinters’ challenge matches started with the quarter-finals, where Pascal Ackermann (BORA-Hansgrohe) beat Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkéa Samsic); Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick Step) beat Mads Pedersen (Trek – Segafredo); Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal) beat Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and Filippo Ganna (Team Ineos) out-sprinted Matteo Trentin (CCC Team).
In the two semi-finals, Dutch road champion Fabio Jakobsen beat Pascal Ackermann, while Italian ITT champion Filippo Ganna beat Belgian Jasper De Buyst, with Fabio Jakobsen eventually winning the final against Filippo Ganna.
The winner of The Challenge of Stars sprinters’ competition Fabio Jakobsen said: “I am very happy for this success. 1200 meters is longer than a normal bunch sprint and my legs are very painful right now! I tried to check the screen and stay close to my opponents and give everything I have in the last 500 meters. I have been training indoors a lot recently, especially when it’s bad weather, definitely a few hours. It’s fun to have a new format of race like this, I clearly miss the Giro d’Italia right now but have to admit I was a bit nervous approaching each of the challenges.”
Runner up Filippo Ganna said: “It was a nice day, a little bit unlucky in the finish as I had a mechanical, but well played to Jakobsen! I had a good feeling in my legs, this format with short explosive sprints suits my characteristics well, I have to admit it hurts even if it’s just 1200m. It’s clearly different from racing outside; in a normal race you know better what is happening around you, here you need to constantly check your screen but what is definitively similar is the pain in the legs at the end of the race.”
The Challenge of Stars Climbers’ Competition
Giulio Ciccone, winner of the King of the Mountains at the 2019 Giro d’Italia, imposed himself, beating Thomas De Gendt (winner of the 2012 Giro d’Italia stage atop Passo dello Stelvio) in the final to win the knockout tournament on the BKOOL platform dedicated to the best climbers of the peloton.
Giulio Ciccone (Trek – Segafredo) won the competition dedicated to the climbers in The Challenge of Stars. The Italian defeated Belgian rider Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) in the final, on a 2.9km ascent on the Stelvio climb, with an average gradient of 8.69% that peaked at 12.75%. Giulio Ciccone crossed the finish line first with a time of 7’44”, with runner up Thomas De Gendt stopping the watch at 8’03”.
The climbers’ challenge matches started with the quarter-finals, where: Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) beat Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team), Simon Geschke (CCC Team) beat Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) beat Rafał Majka (BORA-Hansgrohe) and Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa Samsic) beat Chris Froome (Team Ineos).
In the two semi-finals, Giulio Ciccone beat Simon Geschke, while Thomas De Gendt beat Warren Barguil, with Giulio Ciccone winning the final against Thomas De Gendt.
The winner of The Challenge of Stars climbers’ competition Giulio Ciccone said: “It was a good competition with many important riders, Even if it is a virtual tournament, it was very difficult to achieve the victory. Thomas started very fast, he is a rider capable of producing great power. I had calculated how much power I would have been able to push on this climb so I climbed hard but with my pace, hoping he would have slowed down a bit: luckily all went well in the end. I liked The Challenge of Stars very much, it’s a unique format and it’s a real challenge, I had fun. Now it’s time to enjoy some relaxation.”
Runner up Thomas De Gendt said: “I was close and I thought I would have won because at some point I had 7 seconds lead over Giulio, but in the final I could not push the same watts I was doing at the beginning. When I saw Giulio bridging over to me in the second part and eventually overtaking me, I understood my dream was over. I know Giulio a little bit, so I knew I should have started very fast and I tried to do so, pushing hard from the start and trying to stay ahead: I was pushing more than 500 watts but I couldn’t keep it until the end. I lost to somebody who is a very good climber. He is an up-and-coming rider who was better than me today.”
Arnaud Démare Breaks Hand During Training
Arnaud Démare broke his carpal bone in his left hand during a mountain bike session. The Frenchman now has to rest for two weeks to recover. For a long time, Démare has not been able to enjoy the freedom to train outside, it has been less than two weeks since the French government granted French cyclists permission to train outside again.
It is a strange season for Démare, because after the UAE Tour the sprinter also had to remain in quarantine for a long time in the United Arab Emirates after some contamination cases during the WorldTour race.
Arnaud Démare winning Giro’19 stage 10:
Roglic Pre-Tour Program
Primož Roglič will ride the Tour de l’Ain and the Critérium du Dauphiné in the run-up to the Tour de France, he informed RTV Slovenija. He also hopes to complete two altitude training camps on his way to the Tour.
The Jumbo-Visma rider outlined his program towards the Tour de France. “I will be doing an altitude camp in July, while in August I will participate in the Tour de l’Ain (August 7-9) and the Critérium du Dauphiné (August 12-16). Finally, I want to finish a second altitude stage before the Tour,” said the winner of the last Vuelta a España.
The Tour de France starts on August 29 in Nice, southern France. Sport manager Merijn Zeeman hopes to organise things and get together again in July. Roglič looked ahead to the remaining racing months two weeks ago. “I look forward. We will have to improvise a lot, so we will see what it will be.”
“I hope there will be a Tour, but it is not up to me to determine if the race will go ahead. You should always assume the best. It would be nice if people could enjoy this event.” Roglič will have to share the lead in the Tour with Tom Dumoulin and Steven Kruijswijk.
Roglic on the attack:
Esteban Chaves Wants to Win the Tour Someday
Esteban Chaves has previously finished on the podium of the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, but has not yet been successful in the Tour de France. However, Mitchelton-Scott’s Colombian dreams of Tour win. “I also let the team know,” the rider said in an interview with Deportes W.
The now 30-year-old Chaves has only ridden the Tour de France once. In 2017, after three weeks of racing, he had to settle for a 62nd place in the final classification, but the climber was not in top fitness after a persistent knee injury and four months of inactivity. “I’ve experienced difficult moments as a rider, but I’ve always come back stronger.”
“From now on I hope to become even stronger. I want to ride the Tour again with the ambition to win,” said an ambitious Chaves. The winner of the Tour of Lombardy 2016 was known as a top rider for several years, but then suffered from Pfeiffer’s Disease. Since then Chaves has struggled.
Chaves hopes for a quick restart of the competition in 2020, however, the UCI is dependent on national governments. “The authorities ultimately decide whether cycle races will continue or not,” Chaves is realistic. “It is still too early to really plan ahead.”
Should the Tour de France (August 29-September 20) continue in the autumn, it is questionable whether Chaves will be at the start of the first stage in Nice. The Mitchelton-Scott team does not yet have a final selection and there is also the brothers Adam and Simon Yates to consider.
Giro’19 stage win for Chaves:
Verbrugghe: “Evenepoel has the qualities to shine in the Giro”
In October, Remco Evenepoel hopes to start his first Grand Tour. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider will participate in the Giro d’Italia in a few months. What does national coach Rik Verbrugghe actually expect from his younger compatriot? “I think Remco has the qualities to shine in the whole Giro.”
Verbrugghe talked about the Giro with Walloon RTBF. “The idea was to let Remco ride for two weeks in the Giro d’Italia, but what is the plan now? Is the team still thinking of an early stop? The riders still have a lot of energy and want to race as much as possible. The motivation is there.”
“The riders have hardly raced this season because of the lockdown. They have only trained. Remco may now want to race for three weeks, hoping to test herself. I think he has the qualities to shine the whole Giro.” The question is whether the riders start with a prologue, now that the Giro start in Budapest is canceled.
Evenepoel previously announced that he would like to conquer the very first pink jersey. “If the Giro starts with a prologue, then it is certainly possible for Remco to take the pink,” says Verbrugghe, who won ‘La Maglia Rosa’ nineteen years ago after a prologue victory in Pescara. “He has the qualities to win a prologue.”
Evenepoel will skip Liège-Bastogne-Liège in favour of the Giro (3-25 October). “He will soon have many more race days in his legs, so that he will also learn more about himself as a cyclist.” The 20-year-old Evenepoel started the season with victories in the Vuelta a San Juan and the Volta ao Algarve.
Evenepoel in Algarve ’19:
CCC Team to Ride the Sibiu Tour
The Sibiu Cycling Tour will have at least two WorldTour teams on the start line this year. Israel Start-Up Nation announced on Saturday that it will participate in the Romanian stage race, but the Polish CCC will also be present at the beginning of July.
The tenth edition of the Sibiu Cycling Tour (2.1) will be held from July 2 to 5. Kevin Rivera was the last winner of the race, while riders like Iván Ramiro Sosa, Egan Bernal and Davide Rebellin have been past winners.
The Sibiu Cycling Tour is one of the first races on the revised calendar, which makes many teams interested in going to Romania.
CCC to Sibiu:
Wout van Aert’s Cyclocross Season
Due to the crowded second part of the season, Wout van Aert has been forced to make cancelations in his cyclocross season. The three-time world champion wants to make the switch after Paris-Roubaix and hopes to ride more crosses than last year, but does not expect to achieve his original plan of twenty cyclo-cross.
“Originally – without a corona crisis – the idea was to ride at least twenty crosses in November, December and January. That will not work now,” he said in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad. “November is literally a week after the last road race. So it will all move on. Let me just say that I hope to race at least more than last year.”
Van Aert came to seven races last cross season, after being sidelined for a long time due to the consequences of his crash in the Tour de France. In the Jumbo-Visma jersey, he immediately went to the front, so that he was even called up for the World championships in Dübendorf. In his last performance in Krawatencross, he was on the top step of the podium.
Due to the coronavirus, he has now had a long period of rest. “But I also already think about next season. After three months of riding full gas, you don’t just suddenly jump on your road bike. And it is not that they are going to postpone the road season of 2021. Olympic Games and a World Championships in Belgium: 2021 must be a gigantic year. I have to take this into account when planning my cross winter.”
World cross champ Van Aert:
Naesen Expects Cycling at Two Speeds
Oliver Naesen expects ‘cyclism à deux vitesses’ when racing starts again. According to the ex Belgian champion, the riders who have been able to train outside will show better than all the riders who were not allowed to go outside. “I’m not saying that the Belgians and the Dutch are going to win all the races, but we do have an advantage over the Italians, French and Spaniards.”
According to Naesen, the benefit will not only be physical, but also mental. “When I rest for two weeks in the autumn, I think after the first training: I will never reach this level again,” he told in De Morgen. “They have lost two months. Not allowed to go outside, do you know what that does to an athlete?”
“I saw them occasionally on Zoom, laughing with an aperitif glass in their hands, but I am sure there were some people who were chatting and they will worry for the season. They see on Strava how they only have 5,000 kilometres. Then they look at me: Oliver is already at 13,000. The idea that they will have to train against riders who can continue to train…”
Will this be the year of Naesen? Because in addition to the advantage of training outside, the Flemish rider also sees an advantage for himself: the packed cycling calendar. “I really like it, because I usually have something in the tank at the end. My type of rider will benefit most from it.”
Despite the prospects, it still remains a pity that the corona virus ruined the spring. “I’m 29, that’s when it should come out. It was easy to say that I was going to be good, but I was going to be good.”
Oliver Naesen winning BinckBank’19 stage 7:
Merijn Zeeman Hopes to Get the Team Together in July
The UCI has now published a revised calendar, which answers the question when the riders can race again. What does Merijn Zeeman expect as a DS at Jumbo-Visma? “We hope to organise and get things together again in July, June is still too early,” he told AD.
Zeeman spoke after the final stage of the Team Jumbo-Visma eCompetition. “We have gone through several scenarios, but we have to wait and see if we can travel soon.” The WorldTour team wants to organise a training camp as soon as possible. “But how does that work? What is allowed and what is not allowed?”
“It is just a little tricky at the moment. We also haven’t made up our minds yet. In June it is still too early to organise things together or to go to a training camp. At home, the riders continue with what they were doing. That is also going very well.” Zeeman hopes for clarity in the next month. “We hope to have a real view of the calendar in July. We hope that there will be races and that we can organise things again and come together again.” Zeeman does not expect his riders to start the season with any delay. “All riders are doing a test this week.”
“We are now looking at how everyone is doing. Our men in Andorra (Robert Gesink, George Bennett and Amund Grøndahl Jansen) Have really worked very hard. They may have been training for a little less hours, but they certainly haven’t stopped. I expect them to be in good shape. I think there are riders in the peloton who are now demoralised.”
Jumbo-Visma planning ahead:
Pellizotti: “Every team wants a rider like Chris Froome”
Franco Pellizotti thinks all teams wouldn’t mind having a rider like Chris Froome. The Italian former pro is now a sports director at Bahrain McLaren and wants to compare Froome’s situation with that of a fellow countryman of his. “I compare it to Vincenzo Nibali,” Pellizotti told Radio Sportiva.
“Every team wants a rider like Chris Froome, because he is a champion,” said Pellizotti. “He is a rider who comes from a serious injury and wants to return to his old level. But it is not easy to please a rider of his caliber.”
Pellizotti himself is looking forward to the relocated Giro d’Italia. Earlier, manager Rod Ellingworth and Mikel Landa already announced that Bahrain McLaren has all eyes on the Tour de France. “We have yet to determine the programs for the three racing months, but our goal is the Tour and we will line up the starting team there,” said the Italian. “In the Giro we start with an important team for a good classification. We now follow the riders daily via the internet, but we take some rest during this period.”
Pellizotti is impressed with the reorganised calendar. “We have to thank and compliment the organisations because it is not easy to organise those events. It’s going to be a special year, sacrifices have to be made in this shortened season. It was impossible to satisfy everyone, so we have to roll up our sleeves and meet the organisers. It is important that we can start racing again soon.”
Pellizotti before he got behind the wheel of the team car:
Contador Thinks a Froome Mid-Season Transfer ‘Unthinkable’
Alberto Contador doesn’t think Chris Froome will leave Team Ineos during this season. The Spanish ex-rider finds it inconceivable that the Brit would leave to ride the Tour de France with another team.
“Froome has more than enough experience,” Contador told Eurosport. “If you can win the Tour four times, it’s because you have the experience of previous years. He has managed to deal with difficult situations and setbacks. So it is unthinkable for me that he will switch teams this year.”
“If Froome is looking for the sporting challenge of winning the Tour, he sees at the start of the Tour de France that Egan Bernal is superior… Maybe he should consider a departure, but not now because of the team strategy. It is then a matter of his own ambition to win the Tour for the fifth time and make history,” says El Pistolero.
If Froome does not excel in the Tour de France, this can also have consequences for the Brit himself. His current salary (reportedly five million euros) is likely to be considerably lower. “Not all teams have such a budget that they can accept his salary. The major purchases will be made in October and November this year,” said Contador.
Alberto and Chris on Vuelta’17 stage 20:
Fabio Felline Wants Victory
Astana rider, Fabio Felline, has been waiting for a victory for more than three years. The 30-year-old Italian misses the win, he told TuttoBiciweb. “My dream is to be able to raise my hands in the air again at the finish line. I don’t care where. The last time it was possible was in 2017, and I miss that I can’t do that anymore.”
“Winning a WorldTour classic would be great,” said Italian. “Winning a stage in a Grand Tour would be great. It could change my image a lot if I can win a ride in the Giro d’Italia. I have achieved three second places in La Corsa Rosa (in 2012, 2013 and 2015), but never won. I did win the points jersey in Vuelta 2016, but I am disappointed that I have never won a stage.”
In January, Felline made his debut for Astana in the Tour Down Under. Then he raced in the Tour de la Provence and the Flemish opening weekend, after which the calendar came to a halt due to the corona virus. “The spring classics would be the highlight of my spring, followed by an altitude camp on Teide and then the Giro d’Italia. Unfortunately that has been canceled and I now have to decide with the team what to do on the new calendar.”
“The past period I have had weekly contact with my trainers, Stefano Zanini and Giuseppe Martinelli. We were kept informed in this way. A new program must be drawn up soon, provided that we can start again. I am convinced that June will be the crucial month. If it is confirmed that the health situation is really improving, cycling can start again.”
Fabio Felline at the TDU’20:
Sutherland Found it Difficult to Work with Quintana
38-year-old Rory Sutherland has worked for many leaders in his career. This is also the case in his three-year period with Movistar for Nairo Quintana, whom he labels as a demanding leader. “It was very difficult to work with Quintana.”
“I don’t want to say that he is a bad person, since he has a very big heart,” the Australian told Marca. “But he was demanding and lived in his own world, despite his great ambition. He had no confidence in the team. We always had to tell him that we knew what we were doing and that he should have confidence.”
The comparison with Alejandro Valverde, who shared the leadership with the Colombian during this period, was quickly made afterwards. According to Sutherland, Quintana and Valverde differ from one another day and night.
“That also made it interesting in the end. When I had to work for Valverde in the 2016 Giro d’Italia, he trusted me and never had to tell me anything. He knew I would never hurt him. I think it’s all about that trust in the end.” Adding: “Quintana has always been guided by his passion for cycling. I think that makes you a good rider, but in the end you lose a lot of time by making emotional decisions.”
Sutherland working for Movistar:
Lotto Soudal Splits Team to Reduce the Risk of Infection
The Lotto Soudal team thinks it has found the solution for a corona-proof restart of the cycling season. The team has divided its riders and staff into three clusters so that the same people always work together. The less rotation, the lower the chances of contamination, the team reasons.
The Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España are the common thread in the distribution of the riders and the staff, because the Grand Tours fit together or even overlap on the redesigned UCI calendar. “Each group gets a different colour and follows its own racing agenda,” explains team doctor Jens De Decker in Het Laatste Nieuws.
“The aim is to keep the contact between the (so-called) bubbles as limited as possible. The less rotation, the less chance of mutual contamination. We are even thinking of storing the necessary material for a short time in one place, in one country, by bubble. That would make it practically easier,” said De Decker.
It is important in times of the coronavirus that the medical staff can closely monitor riders and staff. “This system makes it clear for us. Per group, we can also subject each member to serial tests, daily questionnaires and/or medical check-ups,” said De Decker, who hopes the plan will be taken by other teams.
According to the team doctor, the bubbles are not cast in stone and riders can switch from one cluster to another. “We have to remain flexible. An important condition is that the rider in question is retested. Exactly how we will do that remains to be seen in detail.”
Dauphiné is a Must for the Tour
Samuel Bellenoue, one of the trainers of Cofidis, has said that the Critérium du Dauphiné on the new calendar is a must in building towards the Tour de France at the end of August. “It is essential to have raced at least a stage race before the Tour,” he said at DirectVélo.
“The advantage of the Dauphiné (August 12-16) is that the race now only lasts five days, so I think that is a must. I imagine you can intensify the preparation with another short stage race, such as the Route d’Occitanie (August 1-4) or the Tour de l’Ain (August 7-9). So you can already have raced a tour and then to the Dauphiné,” said Bellenoue.
“Another idea is to go to the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge (August 6) and ride the Dauphiné the week after. In addition, you must not forget that medical precautions can be taken. I’ve heard there might be some sort of quarantine between games. Then you have to exclude certain things,” said the coach.
“In contrast to the start of the lockdown, we are no longer in the dark anymore. We have received some guarantees and can start on August 1. So riders have time to prepare. Until the end of May, riders can recover from the past period,” said Bellenoue. According to the coach, altitude training camps from the end of July are possible in the run-up to autumn. “But once the season starts, there is little time for camps.”
Bellenoue is one of the confidants of the French climber Guillaume Martin, who has been the leader of Cofidis since this year. The two had been working together for some time when Bellenoue was a trainer at AG2R-La Mondiale. After a transfer for Martin to AG2R failed, Bellenoue switched to Wanty-Groupe Gobert and later to Cofidis.
Guillaume Martin at Cofidis:
Should Bernal and Quintana Fear Tour?
The 107th edition of the Tour de France should start on August 29 in Nice, southern France, but the question is whether riders such as Egan Bernal, Nairo Quintana and Fernando Gaviria will be on the start line. The Colombian government plans to extend the international flight ban until August 31, two days after the Tour starts.
President Iván Duque said in a news conference that the state of emergency in the South American country has been extended to August 31, and there is also a plan in place to scrap all foreign flights until the end of August, according to Angela María Orozco as Minister of Transport. The national borders will also remain closed.
“We are making this decision given the health emergency. We do not expect to reopen airspace before August 31, with the result that international air traffic will restart on that date. We will continue to focus on protecting our citizens,” the minister explained.
It is unclear whether top athletes will receive a dispensation from the Colombian government. It is therefore questionable whether reigning Tour winner Bernal, Quintana, Gaviria, Rigoberto Urán and Miguel Ángel López will be at the start of the upcoming Tour de France. It has been possible for these riders to train outside in Colombia in recent weeks.
Quintana and Bernal:
Sergio Higuita has Doubts about Ardennes classics, Focus on the Tour
Sergio Higuita has a penchant for the Ardennes classics, but the Colombian has doubts whether he will participate in the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year. “All plans have been messed up due to the corona crisis. The focus is now entirely on the Tour de France,” said the climber in conversation with cycling website Demarraje.
The 22-year-old Higuita started the cycling season with the necessary victories. In February he became Colombian champion on the road and the rider of EF Pro Cycling won the final classification of the Tour Colombia 2.1. In Paris-Nice, only two riders were better: final winner Maximilian Schachmann and runner-up Tiesj Benoot.
Higuita wanted to shine in April in the Flèche and Liège, but these races have now been moved to September 30 and October 4. “I don’t know if I will still participate now. I focus entirely on the Tour de France (August 29-September 20). The Tour is the big goal in the autumn,” says the climber.
Higuita also looks ahead to the World Cycling Championships. “I would like to participate when the world championships take place in Switzerland, but I am less enthusiastic about a World Cup in the Middle East. Then we really have to look at the course and whether I am still able to perform well.”
One thing is certain: Higuita will not contest a Grand Tour after the Tour. “I am still only 22 years old. It is still too early to combine two Grand Tours. The team is really busy with my career.” This means that Higuita will not participate in the Vuelta a España. Last year he made an impression in the Spanish tour by winning the stage to Becerril de la Sierra.
Sergio Higuita winning in Colombia:
Lizzie Deignan Focuses on Giro Rosa and Ronde van Vlaanderen
Lizzie Deignan hopes to shine this season in the Giro Rosa and the Tour of Flanders for women. “I am especially looking forward to the classics. It does not matter when these races are held,” said the rider in a press release from her Trek-Segafredo team.
The UCI recently published the new Women’s WorldTour calendar. The riders will race this season in Italy (Strade Bianche and the Giro Rosa), France (La Course by Le Tour de France), Belgium (Walloon classics and the Tour of Flanders), the Netherlands (Boels Ladies Tour and the Amstel Gold Race) and China.
The 31-year-old Deignan is especially looking forward to the Tour of Flanders and the Giro Rosa. “I hope to win a big spring classic for Trek-Segafredo. I dream of it and that provides the necessary motivation to continue training during this period. The Tour of Flanders in particular has a special place in my heart.”
The Giro Rosa starts on September 11 and finishes eight days later on September 19, while the Tour of Flanders will take place on October 18. Deignan once won ‘Flanders Most Beautiful’ four years ago. She previously decided to continue for one year longer now that the IOC has decided to move the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.
Looking forward to the season:
Davide Rebellin Dreams of Italian Title at 48 Years-Old
The now 48-year-old Davide Rebellin is still active and he does not want to say goodbye to cycling due to the pandemic. In fact, Rebellin is bursting with ambitions, he said on the radio program Ultimo Chilometro.
“I don’t want the coronavirus to decide when I stop,” said Rebellin. “I want to choose that moment and would like to do that during an important race. My dream is to end my career with a team with which I can ride important races, so that I can finish in style. I prefer to participate in some Classics and end my career there.”
Rebellin does not know what to expect from himself in the current professional peloton. “I don’t know what results I can achieve in classics, since – in addition to my age – I haven’t participated in that kind of competition for several years. And my program hasn’t been like WorldTour teams for years.”
The Italian championship is also high on the wish list of the former winner of the Amstel Gold Race. “Will I stop immediately if I win the championship? No, because I would like to race with the tricolore. It’s a kit I’ve never worn before. It would be a dream.”
Rebellin announced in February that he would race for Meridiana Kamen, a Croatian team with a Continental license, this year. “I hope that as a smaller team we also get opportunities to race. I am thinking of the sponsors who want to continue investing next year, and also of the different young riders of the smaller teams.”
Davide Rebellin – Not getting any younger:
Ventoso: “I don’t want to stop this way”
Francisco Ventoso plans to extend his career by a year. The 38-year-old Spaniard from CCC is in his seventeenth season as a pro, but says he does not want to stop after this strange season. “I don’t want to end my career this way,” Ventoso told Radio Marca.
“In theory, it would end after this year. But if it is not possible to race this season, then I will have to think again,” said the winner of two Giro stages. The critical situation of his team CCC also plays a role. “We have negotiated a less contract in recent weeks to finish the year and keep the structure alive,” said Ventoso. “The CCC company had to send a resignation letter to fifteen thousand people, so I know it was very difficult.”
Marc Madiot Thinks Cycling Requires a Revolution
If cyclists want to change something in cycling, they will have to start a revolution, is the opinion of Marc Madiot, the boss of the Groupama-FDJ team. “The riders must then protest. They can send a clear signal by, for example, not starting in the Tour,” the Frenchman told L’Equipe.
There is much to be said about the business model of cycling. The big question is: can the sport survive without ticket revenues, television rights and transfer fees? Madiot goes back to the very beginning. “The situation would be completely different if the Tour de France was founded a hundred years ago by a cycling federation, instead of a newspaper.”
“The major cycling races are now in private hands. Cycling currently has no control over these races, with the result that cycling federations and other bodies are struggling. So it is important to change things, but then we need a revolution. The riders must take action,” said Madiot.
The former winner of Paris-Roubaix is thinking about a possible revolution. “For example, the riders can decide not to participate in the Tour. We used to protest against the introduction of the helmet obligation. I’m not saying it was the best decision, but we were listened to at the time.”
“There is no competition if the riders don’t want to race.” Yet Madiot thinks that there will be no protest. “It is in our nature to choose the safe path, to go back to basics. Small changes may take place, but no more than that.”
Marc Madiot catching up on the news:
Plouay Approached to Organise European Championship
The European Cycling Union needs to find a venue for the European road Championship. According to L’Equipe, the European Cycling Union has approached the French city of Plouay to organise this year’s event.
The municipality have put the European Cycling Union into contact with Jean-Yves Tranvaux, organiser of the Bretagne Classic and the GP Plouay-Lorient. These are scheduled for August 25 and 26. The European Cycling Union had earlier announced that it would prefer to hold the European Championship from 24 to 28 August.
Tranvaux is enthusiastic about organising the European Championship, but wants his two events not to be pushed off the calendar. “We have already submitted the race declarations to the mayor and are now waiting for news,” he confirms. “We should know more in early June.”
The European cycling Championship should have been held in Trento this year, but due to the corona crisis, it was postponed by a year.
Flippo Ganna European U23 TT Championships in Plumelec 2016:
No PostNord Danmark Rundt, Despite Place on UCI Calendar
PostNord Danmark Rundt (the Tour of Denmark) has been canceled despite having been relocated on the rescheduled UCI calendar last week. The uncertainty due to the corona virus has forced the organisation to remove the event from the ProSeries.
Originally, PostNord Danmark Rundt was scheduled for August 12-16, but moved three weeks ahead to September 1-5 after rescheduling the UCI calendar. However, it has now been decided not to keep the tour. The uncertain health situation and the corona measures are cited as the main reasons for the cancellation.
Danish cycling union president Martin Elleberg Petersen said it was a tough decision. “This has a major impact on Danish cycling and has an impact on everyone involved, but the safety and health of our riders, volunteers, fans and the public always comes first for us.”
Last year Niklas Larsen succeeded Wout van Aert as winner of the PostNord Danmark Rundt. The 22-year-old Dane took the leader’s jersey in the third stage, which he then managed to hold for the last two days.
2018 winner Wout van Aert:
The CERATIZIT Challenge by La Vuelta 2020 Will Consist of 3 Stages
The CERATIZIT Challenge by La Vuelta 2020 will consist of three stages and will take place between the 6th and 8th of November. The race, which closes the women’s World Tour season, will feature an additional day of competition, thus consolidating its position as one of the professional calendar’s most important women’s races.
Unipublic, the race organiser, and CERATIZIT Group as its main sponsor, consolidate their commitment to women’s cycling at its highest level. For this reason, the race will extend beyond the borders of the Autonomous Community of Madrid – the territory that has hosted every single edition of the race in its entirety since its foundation in 2015.
In its three first editions (2015, 2016 and 2017), the CERATIZIT Challenge by La Vuelta, consisted of one linear stage through Madrid’s city centre. In 2018 and 2019, the race added a new time trial stage that took place in the locality of Boadilla del Monte. In 2020, following the uninterrupted growth dynamic that it has maintained since its creation, the race will add one more day of competition, resulting in a total of three stages and will change its name in order to break ties with its geographic location, therefore, expanding its horizons.
Ramiro Bengochea, General Director of CERATIZIT Ibérica, wished to highlight that this is “the next logical step for a race that has experienced consistent growth”. At CERATIZIT, “we have been supporting women’s cycling for years. It would make no sense not to make this extra effort now, when the discipline needs us most”, he explained.
On his part, Javier Guillén, General Director of Unipublic, pointed out that “we are currently living in very uncertain times in every aspect, even in sports. This health crisis has affected cycling at every level: men’s, women’s and grassroots cycling alike. With that in mind, we feel it is our responsibility and our obligation to do what we can to help the sport that has given us so much. We believe in this race and we wish to continue to grow together”, he concluded.
With the dates now confirmed by the International Cycling Union’s new calendar, the organisation is now working on designing the race’s itinerary, which will be revealed in the coming weeks.
● The CERATIZIT Challenge by La Vuelta will feature an additional stage in 2020 and will be held over three days: from the 6th to the 8th of November.
● Ramiro Bengochea, General Director of CERATIZIT Ibérica, the race’s main sponsor, accepts that this is “the next logical step for a race that has experienced consistent growth since its creation in 2015”.
● Javier Guillén, General Director of Unipublic, emphasised the organisation’s commitment to its women’s race: “We believe in this race and we wish to continue to grow together”.
More information about the CERATIZIT Challenge by La Vuelta: www.challengebylavuelta.com
Pieters and Uneken Extend Boels-Dolmans Contracts
European road champion and world madison champion Amy Pieters and the 20-year-old talent Lonneke Uneken have extended their contracts with the Boels-Dolmans women’s cycling team. For the next two and four years respectively, Pieters and Uneken will sport the colours of the best women’s cycling team in the world. Starting from 1 January 2021, this team will continue as the SD Worx Cycling Team.
Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen and former world champion Chantal Blaak already announced earlier that they, too, will remain loyal to the team going forward. “With the addition of Amy Pieters, we hope to also score big on the track at the Tokyo Olympics next year,” stresses sports director Danny Stam. “She and Kirsten Wild are the ones to beat in the madison. Amy’s road cycling has also shown strong growth in the last two years. She isn’t just an ideal team player, her fast sprint means she is also capable of finishing the race. She already triumphed at the Tour of Drenthe, the GP Plouay and the Healthy Ageing Tour. Last summer, her excellent performance on the road culminated in the European road title in Alkmaar. I am convinced that over the next two years she will continue to hold her own among the world’s best road cyclists.”
In 2021 Pieters (28) will concentrate primarily on the Olympics, of course. “I’ve seen in recent years that combining track and road cycling works well for me,” Pieters says. “Precisely because of this combination, my performance has improved in both areas. I will certainly also be riding road competitions in 2021, but if I have to choose, Tokyo will always be my main focus. Besides, I consciously signed up for two more years to give me another full season to concentrate on road cycling in 2022. For two years the team gave me the freedom to optimise my focus on the track. I hope to repay them with a strong road season in 2022.”
Stam calls Lonneke Uneken the biggest talent in women’s cycling in the Netherlands: “She is only 20 years old, but in the two spring races in February she immediately showed her ability to keep up with the best riders on the team. She contributed to an interesting finish at both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and GP Samyn. I think she may become the ‘new’ Chantal Blaak. She has the same qualities and is also highly driven. She is a rider who, despite her young age, really knows what she wants.”
Uneken is pleased with the level of confidence the future SD Worx Cycling team has in her. “My contract of no less than four years serves as proof,” says Uneken enthusiastically. “Ever since the first training camp last winter, I’ve felt right at home with this team. The first competitions went well, and certainly promised more. When Danny Stam made me this offer, I didn’t hesitate for a second. My first major goal is the 2024 Olympics in Paris. It gives me peace of mind to know that I can work towards it in this familiar environment. It is also a huge advantage that Anna van der Breggen and Chantal Blaak are remaining active in the team leadership and coaching after their careers. It is very special to have such great champions as mentors.”
“The fact that Amy and Lonneke have extended their contracts gives us, as the main sponsor, a lot of confidence that we will be enjoying a glorious future with this wonderful team. That they are staying with us, as are Anna and Chantal, indicates that the atmosphere in the team is good and that the professional support is top-class. Together with the riders and many fans, we are looking forward to the moment when it is safe to race again,” says Kobe Verdonck, CEO of SD Worx.
Pieters and Uneken:
Landis No Longer Hostile to Armstrong
Floyd Landis no longer feels hostility when it comes to Lance Armstrong. The now 44-year-old American, who lost his Tour victory in 2006 because of a positive doping test, told ESPN Radio. Landis talked about statements by Armstrong in his new documentary.
“My situation could have been worse. I could have been like Floyd Landis, getting up every day as a piece of shit,” said Armstrong in the two-part documentary ‘LANCE’ that premieres next week. According to Landis, these statements would have been from before and possibly Armstrong, former teammate of Landis, may have changed his mind since then.
Landis says he can empathise with Armstrong. “I am really humiliated publicly and it hurts,” he recalls his positive doping test in 2006. “You want to blame someone and sometimes it is easier to choose the most obvious person for that. Lance can blame me.”
The former Phonak leader does not hold a grudge against Armstrong, but the 2010 whistleblower case against the Texan still plays a major role in his head. “It took a lot of time and that should be fine, but I still don’t know. It was a very traumatic experience for me, because the public humiliation was very difficult,” says Landis, who Armstrong still calls “an extremely good athlete and the best rider I’ve ever raced with.”
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