Wout van Aert is back in cyclocross, and doing quite well – TOP STORY. All the results and video from the weekend’s cross – Kortrijk and Tabor. Vincenzo Nibali to INEOS Grenadiers? Race news from Valencia, Switzerland and Andalusia. Pieter Weening’s future. Contract news from Qhubeka ASSOS, Alpecin-Fenix, UAE Team Emirates, Vini Zabù-KTM, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec and EOLO-KOMETA. Mads Pedersen and Brian Holm co-own new Danish Continental team. Enrico Gasparotto, Stijn Vandenbergh and Arthur Vichot retire. Monday EUROTRASH time.
TOP STORY: Wout van Aert Returns to Cyclocross
Wout van Aert made his comeback to cyclocross in Kortrijk on Saturday. Expectations were high, but the three-time world champion tempered expectations, but in the end finished a credible third in Kortrijk and Tabor.
“I start with a little hope for Kortrijk,” said the 26 year-old Jumbo-Visma rider before the race, in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws. “Not that I’m stressed about racing, I certainly haven’t thrown my hat at it in recent weeks, but I am very curious. If I have a really good day, I think I will have my place at the front, but it would make more sense if the others finished in front of me.”
Mathieu van der Poel won immediately when he returned last year. “I can imagine that Mathieu needs a little less adjustment than I do in terms of feeling and technique. But above all: I don’t know how he went about it in the preparation. I could have focused on cross training in recent weeks, but then the danger is that my base is not big enough for what comes later. Then I would be behind for a long time. No, Kortrijk will be a shock.”
Van Aert is currently negotiating a new contract with Jumbo-Visma. “There are good intentions on both sides. I still have a contract for a year, but I like that we are already talking. I may have enforced that myself with my performance, but I do appreciate the team.” If it is up to the rider, the negotiations will be concluded soon. “I have no reason to wait long.”
“If my contract is broken, it also benefits me. We are talking about a new contract for several years. That way I can pursue whatever goals I have. So rather ‘asap’ (as soon as possible) than postpone,” said Van Aert.
Not a bad start for Wout:
UCI World Cup Cyclocross Men – Tábor, Czech Republic 2020
Michael Vanthourenhout won round 1 of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Tábor on Sunday. The Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider got the better of teammate Eli Iserbyt in the Czech Republic. The entire podium was Belgian as Wout van Aert finished third.
The best start was from Laurens Sweeck, but he led a large group. Wout van Aert had to come from far back, but he managed to move forward in the opening lap. A group of a dozen was formed, including Tom Pidcock, who rode his first cross this season. Toon Aerts, Michael Vanthourenhout, Eli Iserbyt, Corné van Kessel, Wout van Aert, Lars van der Haar, Quinten Hermans and Daan Soete had the best legs on the second lap. Sweeck had dropped out after a crash on the logs. After some delay, the Belgian champion continued, but that was well down.
The course in Tábor turned out not to be difficult enough to make a difference. Vanthourenhout tried on the fourth lap. He took an 8 second lead and forced Van Aert to chase. Only Aerts, Iserbyt, Van Kessel and Van der Haar could follow, but that was 15 seconds behind Vanthourenhout. Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal played their tactic well: Iserbyt was able to rest and then jump out of the chasing group himself on the sixth lap. The European champion managed to cross to Vanthourenhout in one go, followed by Aerts and Van Aert at more than 10 seconds. The pair of Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal went together in the penultimate lap.
Vanthourenhout took the initiative in the final lap, but despite a mistake, Iserbyt remained on his wheel. After a second attack, Vanthourenhout was gone for good. Third place went to Wout van Aert, who shook off Toon Aerts in the last lap.
Race winner and UCI World Cup leader, Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal): “The fact that he returned (teammate Eli Iserbyt) hit my legs somewhere, but on the other hand it was perhaps my luck. That way I was able to sit another lap on the wheel, (thinking) maybe I will win the cross. That’s why I rode away when Wout was not so far off. It was difficult to process when Eli came back, but in the end I felt that I had something left.”
3rd, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “I had to chase at the beginning, I was quick but I didn’t get on my way. I was on my limit the entire race. At the end, a little content and persistence come out, and that’s how I still got on the podium. But to win there is still something to be done. This was more on character, it was real fighting.”
UCI World Cup Cyclocross Men – Tábor, Czech Republic Result:
1. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal in 1:02:43
2. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal at 0:05
3. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 0:12
4. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet-Baloise at 0:18
5. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet-Baloise at 0:21
6. Corné van Kessel (Ned) Tormans CX on 0:51
7. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans CX at 1:01
8. Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers at 1:05
9. Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans CX at 1:27
10. Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads at 1:42.
UCI World Cup Cyclocross Women – Tábor, Czech Republic 2020
Lucinda Brand had a very successful weekend. The Telenet-Baloise Lions rider won the Urban Cross in Kortrijk on Saturday and turned out to be the best in the first UCI World Cup round of the season in Tábor on Sunday. Brand soloed to victory, ahead of Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Denise Betsema.
Shortly after the start there was a big crash with several riders involved. Eva Lechner, Katie Compton and Loes Sels were some of the victims, they were unable to rejoin the front of the race after the opening lap. Shirin van Anrooij had to be taken to hospital with a very deep wound and broken arm. Perrine Clauzel had a good start and the 26-year-old Frenchwoman took the early lead. Clauzel – fifth at the European cyclocross championship in Rosmalen – was briefly ahead of the peloton, but was soon caught again by a few of the pursuers. Denise Betsema, who also had a good start for a change, pushed hard with a solid pace. World champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado saw the danger and went along with Brand, Annemarie Worst and Blanka Kata Vas.
On the second lap, the race split. The Dutch riders dominated the race and Brand especially impressed by going at full speed on the fast sections. Betsema, Worst and Kata Vas couldn’t hold her wheel and Alvarado was also in trouble to hold the pace. The world champion tried to keep up with Brand, but lost more and more ground and the solo Brand started the penultimate lap with a lead of 12 seconds. Worst, Betsema and Kata Vas were already half a minute behind and Brand was on her way to her second win in two days. The Telenet-Baloise Lions rider managed to lengthen her lead even further and started the sixth and final lap with 20 second in hand. This turned out to be enough to win the first World Cup cyclocross of the season. Alvarado finished second in her rainbow jersey, Betsema managed to beat Kata Vas in the battle for third place. Worst had to settle for fifth place, Laura Verdonschot was the best Belgian in seventh place. Sanne Cant crossed the line in twelfth, more than two minutes from Brand, who is the first leader in the 2020/21 UCI World Cup.
Race winner and World Cup leader, Lucinda Brand (Telenet-Baloise Lions): “I felt very strong, but it hurt because yesterday still bothered me. I did make some small mistakes, but I think everyone here did. I felt strong and just tried, apparently everyone was struggling. That’s why I kept putting on the pressure, but it is still a tough course, even though it looks easy, but it also costs me a lot of effort. I do think that due to the lockdown in the summer I was able to sit a bit more on the cross bike, that makes a difference. In any case, I train more on technique, and if that goes better then you have energy left for the other bits.”
3rd, Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal): “I think that this will allow me to move up a few places in the UCI ranking and thus improve my starting position. Of course I am coming for the victory and this circuit must also suit me, but yesterday’s race was still there a bit in the legs. Technically I made more mistakes than usual, that’s how Lucinda and Ceylin also went, but the fact that I didn’t see them again after that proves that they were better. It’s great that I was able to win the sprint for third place.”
UCI World Cup Cyclocross Women – Tábor, Czech Republic Result:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Telenet-Baloise Lions in 53:43
2. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:24
3. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal at 0:32
4. Blanka Kata Vas (Hun)
5. Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777 at 0:50
6. Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 1:22
7. Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal at 1:31
8. Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita) 777
9. Anna Kay (GB) Starcasino CX Team at 1:45
10. Yara Kastelijn (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:53.
X²0 Badkamers Trofee Men – Urban Cross Kortrijk 2020
Eli Iserbyt won the Urban Cross on Saturday in Kortrijk. The European champion dropped Lars van der Haar and Wout van Aert in the final part of the race, after which he took his fifth victory of the season. Van der Haar was second, Van Aert third on his return to cyclocross.
Van Aert tempered expectations before his return to cyclocross. After a rest period and only two weeks of training, it would only make sense if others ended up ahead of him, Van Aert said before the race. The Jumbo-Visma rider did well in the Urban Cross Kortrijk. On the second lap, Van Aert, together with Lars van der Haar, Corné van Kessel and Eli Iserbyt, chased the leader Michael Vanthourenhout, who attacked on the first lap and immediately took a gap of a few seconds.
In the laps that followed, Vanthourenhout extended his lead to 20 seconds. Van de Haar and Van Kessel mainly did the work for the pursuers. As a teammate of Vanthourenhout, Iserbyt did not want to participate with the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal men, while Van Aert held steady on the wheel of Iserbyt. At the end of the fifth lap, Toon Aerts, Quintan Hermans and Ryan Kamp joined the select group of pursuers, but then Van Aert accelerated. Iserbyt could follow, Van der Haar got into trouble and Van Kessel was distanced.
Partly due to a flat tire from Vanthourenhout, the three pursuers managed to close the gap quickly. The rider of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal disappeared from the front and the battle for the victory would be between Van Aert, Iserbyt and Van der Haar. The European champion took off two laps from the end. Van Aert and Van der Haar had to leave a gap, which a little later became a bit bigger due to an error by Van Aert. With a lead of six seconds, Iserbyt started the final lap.
His victory was in no danger at the end. With a reassuring lead over his closest chasers, the European champion was able to celebrate his victory in the final straight. Van der Haar was second, Van Aert had to let Van der Haar go after another error in the final lap and finished third.
Race winner, Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal): “He was great (Wout van Aert). At the beginning he said he was sitting à bloc, but I didn’t believe much of that. I didn’t hear him breathing, so I knew he was in the right place. It is nice that he makes the race by leading so much. He doesn’t have to do that, but chapeau to him. I had to go immediately after handing over Van Aert. He does not yet have the recovery that we have. After that I heard that he had made a mistake and I went full throttle. I did not receive it as a present because Van der Haar was also very strong. Now quickly by plane to Tabor. Hopefully someone will bring a deck of cards.”
3rd, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “I didn’t expect to get third place already. I had signed for this in advance. I suffered well, I had made the decision to keep a low profile in the first half to be able to make a difference in the final. That was a good choice, although I quickly noticed the difference between following and making the race. I had to pay for my previous efforts in the last lap. Lars gave me some support in the last lap, but he was a little better. Of course, the flat tires of Michael Vanthourenhout and Toon Aerts also played a role in my podium place. Everything went pretty smoothly, I could hardly estimate where I was, but now a bit better. I am satisfied with my explosiveness. The corners could be a bit better, especially when I got to the limit. Moving around also felt a bit uncomfortable, but I bring a lot of positive things with me. Then I hope to reap the benefits of today. The course in Tabor should suit me even better. In any case, I am looking forward to it again.”
X²0 Badkamers Trofee men – Urban Cross Kortrijk Result:
1. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal in 1:01:22
2. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet-Fidea Lions at 0:07
3. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 0:27
4. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal at 0:41
5. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans CX at 0:50
6. Ryan Kamp (Bel) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal at 0:51
7. Corné van Kessel (Bel) Tormans CX at 0:56
8. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Lions at 0:58
9. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal at 1:08
10. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 1:12.
X²O Badkamers Trophy Women – Urban Cross Kortrijk 2020
A week after her victory in Merksplas, Lucinda Brand also won the Urban Cross in Kortrijk on Saturday. The Telenet-Fidea Lions rider finished ahead of Denise Betsema and Yara Kastelijn in a sprint.
A month after the Koppenbergcross won by Annemarie Worst, the second round in the X²O Badkamers Trophy was scheduled for Saturday. The city centre of Kortrijk formed the backdrop for the second edition of the Urban Cross. In the opening section, Fem van Empel boldly took the lead. There were no gaps yet, although Brand was absent one at the front. The Telenet-Fidea Lions rider had a bad start and had to chase to join the leading group that was reduced to ten riders on the second lap.
Besides Van Empel and Brand, there were also Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Betsema, Annemarie Worst, Kastelijn, Manon Bakker, Sanne Cant, Aniek van Alphen and Ellen van Loy. The latter two had to leave a gap at the end of the second lap. Alvarado, Betsema and Worst then moved on firmly. Bakker and Cant lost contact, while Van Empel, Brand and Kastelijn were down by a few seconds. A crash by Worst and Alvarado on the third lap changed the race.
Suddenly Betsema was riding alone, with five riders in pursuit. The Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider was unable to hold on to her lead for long. Brand made the crossing first, but she quickly let go after a small crash. Alvarado was then next on the wheel of Betsema. The two leading riders now kept their lead until the last lap, when Kastelijn and Brand returned to the front. Worst was no longer there due to a flat tire. The battle for victory would be between these four riders. Brand and Betsema put on a lot of pressure in the final lap, forcing Alvarado to make a mistake. The world champion couldn’t return and Brand won the race in the sprint.
Race winner, Lucinda Brand (Telenet-Fidea Lions): “I had a really bad start. Due to a small mistake I was actually behind. It is very difficult to come back here, so I didn’t really get into the game. When I did come up front in the fourth lap, I made another mistake. After that I tried to get others to work, but that also took a lot of energy. I’m glad to come back at the end. I was counting on my sprint, yes. I didn’t want to try anything in the last part. I was the first to start (the sprint) and assumed my own strength. Today we will drive as far as possible by car, the last part we will do tomorrow morning. I am going to rest for a while, want to lie in bed before twelve, but I am certainly not fresh.”
2nd, Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal): “I am very happy with second place. That second place keeps you sharp for the next race. I have gained another experience and a good result. Also, looking at the final classification, I’m doing good business. I would have waited a little longer in the sprint. I am just happy with the form. I am now going there with the camper. I hope to chill a bit and then be at the start well-rested tomorrow.”
X²O Badkamers Trophy Women – Urban Cross Kortrijk Result:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Telenet-Fidea Lions in 45:43
2. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal at 0:01
3. Yara Kastelijn (Ned) Credishop-Fristads
4. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:14
5. Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal at 0:40
6. Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777 at 0:43
7. Manon Bakker (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:07
8. Sanne Cant (Bel) IKO-Crelan at 1:27
9. Aniek van Alphen (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:34
10. Clara Honsinger (USA) at 1:58.
Nibali to INEOS Grenadiers?
According to Italian media, Vincenzo Nibali will move to INEOS Grenadiers in 2022 to act as a mentor for the young riders. However, his manager was quick to tone down the rumours. According to him, there have been no talks with the British team.
Nibali, who turned 36 earlier this month, has an ongoing contract with Trek-Segafredo until the end of 2021. According to the Italian cycling journalist Beppe Conti, the rider may then remain active in the peloton for another season. In a cycling program on RAI Sport he claimed: “It may not seem true, but my sources are very good. Nibali has received an offer for 2022 from INEOS. It seems that the offer comes through Pinarello.”
Conti pointed out that Nibali started his pro career with Fassa Bortolo on a Pinarello bike. “And the idea is that he will end his career on a Pinarello, mentoring riders like Egan Bernal, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Richard Carapaz and Aleksandr Vlasov, who will also be linked to INEOS for 2022. Now that Froome is no longer in the team, they need a leader to accompany the young riders.”
“I understood that it is an attractive offer. Everything has yet to be decided, but we will see how Nibali reacts,” said the cycling journalist, who has a controversial reputation for high-profile transfer news. Sometimes it is true, sometimes not…
Nibali to INEOS?
Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 – Gran Premio Valencia
The professional men’s road season will start in 2021 from the Valencian Community. The Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 – Gran Premi València, resurrected this year by the La Marina Cycling Club and SLT Sport, will kick off the season in Europe on 24 January with a test 1.2 that will start from the Alicante town from La Nucia and will end in the capital of the region, València.
Next season 2021 the European and Spanish UCI calendar will open with the special rebirth of a 16-year-old race. The Luís Puig Trophy – between Valencia and Benidorm and vice versa in alternate years – was a professional race that was held annually in the Valencian Community at the beginning of the cycling season and prior to the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Each year it was the starting gun for professional men’s calendar in Europe. The one-day race ran from 1969 to 2005, before it was discontinued. A continuation has been born, but with a different name: Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 – Gran Premio Valencia.
In its half century of life, the event has had great winners such as Domingo Perurena, Noël Dejonckheere, Mathieu Hermans, Sean Kelly, Laurent Jalabert, Mario Cipollini, Erik Zabel, Alesandro Petacchi and Óscar Freire.
“Since the UCI gave the go-ahead to the event, we have not stopped receiving many requests from teams that want to come and participate. We are very satisfied with the trust they are placing in the organisation. 2020 has been a very complicated year for many teams and riders and there is a desire to race,” said former professional cyclist from Alicante, Antonio Molina.
If the coronavirus allows it – cycling fans “will once again enjoy the 52nd edition of a Valencian classic,” said the official statement, although they are totally different races and organisations. “It consisted of a flat race, very often finishing with a bunch sprint. That is why the great sprinters of the international peloton put their names on the list of Valencian winners,” recalls Molina.
Behind the organisation of the Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 – Gran Premio Valencia is the Club Ciclista La Marina and SLT Sport, led by the Olympic rider Rubén Donet. Not surprisingly, in 2017 he launched the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana-Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana femines, an international stage race that in 2021 will reach its fifth edition and will be promoted to UCI 2.1 category.
Tour de Suisse 2021 Route
The organisation of the Tour of Switzerland is ready for the next edition in 2021. In the 84th edition, the riders will be faced with two time trials and several tough mountain stages. The organisation had hoped to organise the 84th edition this year, but was forced to cancel the competition due to the corona crisis. The organisation is now fully focused on 2021. The Tour of Switzerland should take place from 6 to 13 June.
Next year’s race will have eight (instead of the usual nine) stages and the organisation has chosen to use most of the 2020 route. The tour starts with a short individual time trial in and around the small town of Frauenfeld. The second stage from Neuhausen am Rheinfall to Lachen isa stage for the puncheurs and strong sprinters, with two climbs in the last 15 kilometres. The third stage to Pfaffnau has the character of a spring classic, as it goes up and down all day. For the fourth stage, the riders will head to Gstaad from the start in Moudon.
From the fifth stage onwards, it is up to the climbers with a treacherous mountain stage to Leukerbad. The finish is after a first category climb. In the following stage, the riders will cross the Nufenenpass to 2,478 metres and the Lukmanierpass to the finish in Disentis-Sedrun. In the penultimate stage it is for the classification riders “make or break” with a climbing time trial to Andermatt. The final stage of the 84th Tour of Switzerland takes place again in and around Andermatt. You could call it the Queen Stage, with the Furkapass, Grimselpass and Sustenpass to climb.
The last edition of the Tour of Switzerland was won by Egan Bernal. The Colombian climber took the leader’s jersey on the mountain stage that finished on the Flumserberg, then one day later a stage victory on the Gotthard pass and managed to answer an attack by Rohan Dennis in the final stage to Goms.
2021 Tour de Suisse (6-13 June):
Stage 1: Frauenfeld – Frauenfeld (ITT)
Stage 2: Neuhausen am Rheinfall – Lachen
Stage 3: Laugh – Pfaffnau
Stage 4: St. Urban – Gstaad
Stage 5: Gstaad – Leukerbad
Stage 6: Fiesch – Disentis-Sedrun
Stage 7: Disentis-Sedrun – Andermatt (ITT)
Stage 8: Andermatt – Andermatt.
Egan Bernal in 2019:
Ruta del Sol 2021
The organiser of the Ruta del Sol is hoping to run their stage race in February. “Although it is difficult to work in these conditions,” Joaquín Cuevas told the EFE news agency.
The Spanish stage race will be held in 2021 from 17 to 21 February, if the health situation allows it. “Let’s hope that by then it will be even better and that we can organise a flawless edition. We hope to get several top riders at the start,” said Cuevas.
With the Tour Down Under, Tour de Langkawi, Herald Sun Tour and Tour de Yorkshire, several races have already been canceled for next year, but Cuevas emphasises that the Ruta del Sol can count on the support of the local government. The race will celebrate its 67th edition next year. The last edition was won by Jakob Fuglsang at the beginning of this year. The Danish Astana rider beat Jack Haig and Mikel Landa after five stages.
Fuglsang in the Ruta del Sol 2020:
Pieter Weening to be a Sports Director
More than a week ago it was announced that Pieter Weening was putting an end to his professional career. After retiring as a rider, the Dutch climber sees himself returning to cycling as a sports director in the future.
When announcing his retirement, Weening already announced that he hopes to return to cycling one day. “I love the sport and this world, but not in the near future. After being on the road for nearly twenty years, I now just want to rest and enjoy my life at home in Neerharen with my wife and our two children. I have some thoughts and ideas for the future, but now is not the time to make any announcements.”
In an interview with De Telegraaf, the Dutchman stated again that he sees himself doing something in cycling again. “There is nothing concrete and I don’t have to do anything special now, but at some point something will come my way. Sports director? That is something I would like to try. I know it is not for everyone. And even then you are away from home a lot. But I am certainly open to that.”
During his time at Roompot, Weening was already a mentor to the young people. “That’s where I actually rediscovered the fun in sport,” he now looks back. “When I came to Roompot, I thought it was great to be part of that new project. You immediately noticed that many of those young guys were very eager to learn and then it is nice to share your experience. A number will have benefited from it.”
Dlamini and Barbero Sign-On with Team Qhubeka ASSOS
Team Qhubeka ASSOS is delighted to announce contract renewals for Nicholas Dlamini and Carlos Barbero.
Dlamini, 25, continues his journey with our organisation having made the step up from our Lucca-based Continental team into Africa’s only UCI-registered WorldTour outfit in 2018, and subsequently firmly establishing himself as a household name. A previous King of the Mountains classification winner at the Tour Down Under as well as the Tour of Britain, the South African’s 2020 season got off to the worst possible start as he spent time recovering from a broken arm, which ruled him out of all competition prior to the season being halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Following the season’s restart, Dlamini’s focus was on the build-up to his second grand tour appearance at the Vuelta a Espana and included the World Championships in Imola. He unfortunately was forced to withdraw from the former due to illness, and will consolidate a comprehensive off-season programme in full preparation for 2021 which includes a major goal of representing Team South Africa at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Barbero, 29, has made an incredibly positive impact on the team since joining at the start of 2020. An effervescent character, he had a very good start to the year at the Saudi Tour finishing sixth on the general classification. The Spaniard unfortunately crashed while training in late July and his resultant preparations for the Vuelta a Espana were impacted, although he did manage excellent top-10 finishes at the Memorial Marco Pantani and Coppa Sabatini-Gran Premio citta di Peccioli.
These renewals follow-on from the confirmation earlier in the week that European and Italian champion Giacomo Nizzolo remains with the team, together with new signings in Simon Clarke, Dimitri Claeys and Kilian Frankiny. That’s in addition to Victor Campenaerts, Domenico Pozzovivo, Michael Gogl, Andreas Stokbro, Max Walscheid and Dylan Sunderland who were all already under contract for 2021.
Nicholas Dlamini: “To re-sign with the team, now as Team Qhubeka ASSOS, is a big relief as it means that the African dream stays alive. Having Qhubeka back as part of our name is very special and I’m really looking forward to seeing the kit design with the Qhubeka hand on our back, they have always been part of our DNA and very close to our hearts. The focus is of course on winning but also importantly on putting children on bicycles, so I know that my teammates and I are suffering out there for a great purpose.”
“I really look forward to getting the season underway and I’ve already started my planning for it including training camps and looking at some of the races that I really want to focus on. 2021 is a big year for me and the team, and I really want to showcase my talent and show the team colours prominently in races, so I really look forward to getting the season underway. Doug has worked really hard to keep the team alive and we all appreciate his incredible efforts. We now need to give the absolute maximum back to the team; to try and score the best possible results for next year and hopefully we can keep the dream alive for another couple of years.”
Carlos Barbero: “I am delighted to continue in this great family. I have felt very comfortable during this strange year in the team and my desire was always to renew.”
“I’d like to extend my thanks to the incredible work Doug has done to keep the team alive in 2021, as riders this provides us the platform to continue to educate the world that “bicycles change lives” and so I cannot wait to ride next season as Team Qhubeka ASSOS.”
Douglas Ryder – Team Principal: “In Nic and Carlos you couldn’t have two more different stories in terms of their background but who epitomise exactly the power that our team, and sport has, in bringing people together. Both are exceptional individuals and core to the fabric of our team going into next season. Nic’s continued development is something that we are very proud of. He’s someone that we’ve supported ever since he first dreamed of becoming a professional rider. To come through our Continental team, and then to establish himself at WorldTour level, speaks to exactly what we are as an organisation.”
“2020 though has been a very difficult year for everyone, and Nic had additional challenges in that he was injured for the first quarter of it. At 25 he is now in a crucial part of his career as a rider and knows that he now needs to kick on as part of that, not just for himself but also for the team. Carlos came in at the start of the season and immediately made such a big impact. His personality away from the bike makes him an incredible team man and he’s ambitious on it too, so he’s the perfect mix. He also had some misfortune this year getting injured just prior to his “home race” – the Vuelta a Burgos – but we know that he will take on the challenge that next season will bring head-on.”
New contract for Nicholas Dlamini:
Bayer strengthens Alpecin-Fenix
Talented Tobias Bayer has signed for the Alpecin-Fenix team. The 21-year-old Austrian comes from the continental Tirol-KTM team, which helped the transition of Bayer. As a neo-pro he signs with Alpecin-Fenix for two seasons. Bayer is known as a fast rider who can also time trial well. He is the reigning U23 time trial champion of Austria and also managed to finish four times in the top-10 of stages of the U23 Giro d’Italia. Bayer finished the season with a 7th place in the Giro della Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia (2.2), won by Sunweb’s Andreas Leknessund.
At Tirol-KTM they are happy to say goodbye to Bayer. “Tobias has earned this step in his career,” said team manager Thomas Pupp. “His talent, his offensive attitude and his results have made him very interesting for scouts of the big teams for the last two years. We look forward to the coming years, when we will see Tobias racing alongside Mathieu van der Poel.”
Tobias Bayer to join Van der Poel:
Marcato with UAE Team Emirates
Marco Marcato will ride for UAE Emirates next year. The 36-year-old Italian has not renewed his contract. “The media says that my contract will expire after 2020, but I signed for two years in 2019, so I have one more season to go. After that we will see,” Marcato told BiciSport.
“As long as I get up in the morning and want to make sacrifices, and especially as long as I can do what the team asks of me, I will continue. Without looking at my age,” said the former rider of Vacansoleil, Cannondale and Wanty-Groupe Gobert, among others. He has been riding with UAE Team Emirates since 2017.
Marcato himself hopes to be successful in the classics again next year. The team has strengthened the spring squad, which also includes Alexander Kristoff, with Matteo Trentin. “We have a good group ready to show us on the cobblestones. I would also like to mention the names of Ivo and Rui Oliveira. They have grown enormously this year and in my opinion they can also have their say in these types of races.”
Last summer, Marcato experienced Tadej Pogačar’s Tour de France victory first hand. The Italian thinks the Slovenian is a special talent. “There are young riders who are strong and who know it. But they also know that they have to observe and listen in order to grow. Tadej is one of them. We knew he was a talent, but slowly and respectfully he asked us for advice.”
“He is someone who wants to learn and who races with respect,” he continues. “During the Tour he was often in my wheel, because he knew I had experience with that, because he saw how I drove around in the peloton and because he had confidence in it.”
Marco Marcato in Lombardia:
Kamil Gradek to Vini Zabù-KTM
CCC rider Kamil Gradek has found a new team for 2021. The Polish time trial champion has signed with the Italian Vini Zabù-KTM team for one year.
With the ProTeam of manager Angelo Citracca, Gradek will help sprint leader Jakub Mareczko. “I look forward to this new chapter in my career. I am happy that after such a difficult year I have found a team and that I am able to continue my career at the highest level,” said Gradek.
“There are new challenges and adventures, and in my case many opportunities to show my potential,” he continues. “I want to show my best side and pay off the confidence of the team with good results. I also want to thank CCC for the last two years.”
The 30-year-old Gradek rode at WorldTour level for CCC for the last two years. In that period he won the Polish time trial championship (2020), finished fourth in the final classification of the Tour of Slovakia (2019) and ninth in the final time trial of the Giro.
Young Colombian signs with Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
Gianni Savio, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec’s team manager, has once again managed to attract a young Colombian climber. This time it is Santiago Umba, who finished fourth in the U23 Tour of Colombia last year.
“It really is a dream come true,” Umba told Ciclismo Internacional. “I received advice from someone and was referred to Giuseppe Acquadro (rider manager) and he contacted Gianni Savio. I especially want to learn a lot next year and I will carry out my tasks.”
Umba will make his debut for the Italian formation in the Vuelta al Táchira (January 17-24) in Venezuela. “More, I don’t know yet,” the young climber concluded. The Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec team and Savio follows South American cycling with much interest. It was Savio who had Egan Bernal debut as a professional in 2016. Iván Sosa, who now rides for INEOS Grenadiers, José Serpa and Iván Parra also rode for Androni and others in the past. Savio also managed to scout several riders from Venezuela (José Rujano) and Ecuador. In 2021 there will be several South American riders for the team.
Androni’s Gianni Savio:
Exciting Trio to Bolster Team Qhubeka ASSOS
Team Qhubeka ASSOS is delighted to confirm the arrivals of Lukasz Wisniowski, Sean Bennett and Karel Vacek to Africa’s only UCI-registered WorldTour team in 2021. All three riders will offer a wide variety of skills that will be crucial as part of our team’s performance ambitions in the future, alongside our continued purpose in changing lives together with the Qhubeka Charity.
28-year-old Wisniowski is an excellent addition who will bring a wealth of experience into the team. A career highlight thus far undoubtedly was his second place finish at the 2018 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and his performances at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, where he’s twice finished in the top-10.
In his role as a crucial support rider, Wisniowski’s 2020 season started at the Tour Down Under and finished at the Vuelta a Espana in early November highlighting his wide-ranging skillset. He will look to build on that in 2021, forming an integral part of the lead-out train for the European and Italian champion Giacomo Nizzolo.
Californian Bennett joins us from EF Pro Cycling and follows on from the announcement of Simon Clarke’s move earlier in the week. The 24-year-old American is a rider brimful with potential and entering a crucial next phase in his career.
He’s previously secured top-10 stage finishes at the Giro d’Italia, as well as placing second on a stage at the Tour of California, and in 2020 was an impressive 8th in tough conditions at the Royal Drome Classic which was won by Clarke.
His time previously spent with the US National team in the Netherlands sees his eyes drawn firmly to the Amstel Gold Race as one that he would like to excel at, as he looks to take the big next step in his career.
For Vacek, who hails from Prague, his arrival is seen as one for the future. Having only just turned 20, the Czech neo-pro hails from both a cycling and cross-country skiing background. Previous teams include the excellent programme at Hagens Berman Axeon, and more recently Team Colpack Ballan, and the youngster has his future sights sets on developing into a GC contender in some of the biggest races on the calendar.
This announcement follows on from the confirmation of Giacomo Nizzolo, Simon Clarke, Dimitri Claeys, Kilian Frankiny, Nicholas Dlamini and Carlos Barbero all securing their places in our squad next season.
Lukasz Wisniowski: “I’m incredibly happy to be a part of team Qhubeka ASSOS for 2021 and can’t wait to get to know all of the team members – staff and riders. 2020 was a very hard year for everyone but I’m convinced that next year will be much better and I’ll be able to help the team to achieve some excellent results across the calendar – from the Spring Classics to the Grand Tours. Also, at this point in my career I believe that I’m still developing as a rider and this environment will provide the perfect conditions for that.”
Sean Bennett: “I’m really excited to join the team and be a part of something that’s so much more than bike racing. I can’t wait to find out more about the Qhubeka Charity and the huge difference it’s making in people’s lives. After a couple of great years, I’m really excited looking to the future now as I think some of my best on the bike are still to come.”
Karel Vacek: “When I was 15 I moved to Italy with a view to one day in the future becoming a professional cyclist. I finished my schooling there despite not being able to speak the language when I arrived, something I’m very proud of. I spent one year with Hagens Berman Axeon and then returned to my roots in Italy and Team Colpack Ballan. I’m super happy that I can now be a part of Team Qhubeka ASSOS, which is amazing. It is incredible to be a part of such a team and an organisation like Qhubeka which is providing incredible support and opportunities, it’s a project with huge importance in the world and that makes me proud. I’m now looking forward to getting into the best shape for next season and of course one of my biggest dreams would be to race the Tour de France or one of the Grand Tours, and to target a good GC result (in the future). That’s my career goal but firstly I’m glad and grateful to be part of this superb team, and I hope that I can make the team happy and proud with my performances.”
Lars Michaelsen – Head Sports Director: “Lukasz is a rider who has gained a lot of experience from his first six years with WorldTour teams starting out with two years at Quick Step, two at Team Sky and then most recently at CCC. His experience lies in the cobblestone Classics but also his capabilities to look after our race leader and pulling for our sprint opportunities, are going to be crucial. His result at Omloop in 2018, where he sort of won the run-in behind Michael Valgren, demonstrated his ability among the best Classics riders in the world. Sean is a different rider having had the experience of Axel Merckx in the Hagens Berman Axeon team, where he was once second in a hard stage at the Tour of California.”
“His move then on to the professional ranks with EF was notable, securing some good results and performing well; at the Giro he showed he’s a fast guy too being in the mix in the top-10 a few times. Actually we don’t consider him purely as a sprinter but somebody like a semi-classic rider who can assist on climbs but also be aggressive. He was 8th at the Drome classic where Simon Clarke won, so he’s a rider who can persist and can be an asset in the both Grand Tours and the Ardennes Classics. He lives in Girona and will be part of a group that we create in that area.”
“Karel’s a very interesting young rider and it remains to be seen where his real strength lies. He considers himself as someone who climbs well and has a strong TT but at this level we don’t know just yet. But he’s a talented neo-pro so we will unearth all of those talents. We’ve spoken to people who think he has real potential so we will spend some time with him to see how to unlock that and see exactly where his true capabilities lie before we can expect something big from him.”
The EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team roster is completed by Lorenzo Fortunato, Francesco Gavazzi and Luca Wackermann
The squad with which the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team will face its first season in the ProTeam category in 2021 is definitively closed with the additions of Italian riders Lorenzo Fortunato, Francesco Gavazzi and Luca Wackermann.
Fortunato (1996) comes from the Vini Zabu-KTM, a structure with which he has been linked for the last two seasons, although in previous campaigns he had enjoyed a couple of experiences as a stagiaire: in 2016 he had the opportunity to ride some races with the Tinkoff, while a year later he did so with the Bardiani-CSF.
“I think I have grown a lot in these last two years with the structure of the Vini Zabu. I am a cyclist who climbs well and defends himself in the stage races, but I still have a lot of room to grow and I am confident that I can do so in this beautiful project. And personally I also hope to have the opportunity to compete more in Spain.”
Gavazzi (1984) is one of the most experienced riders in the category, with fifteen seasons in which he has competed in both WorldTour and ContiPro formations. The cyclist from Morbegno lands in this project after five seasons in the Androni Giocattoli. His list of achievements includes stage wins in the Tour of Spain (2011), the Itzulia (2010, 2011) and the Volta a Portugal (2011, 2016).
“This year I have competed little. It has been a very strange year for the COVID. In mid-September Ivan spoke to me and showed me his interest in me joining this project regardless of my age. He believes that I still have a lot to give and that in these fourteen racing seasons I have shown it. Ivan wants me to bring my experience to the young people, that we all fight for results. Personally, it is a real pleasure for me. This recognition by the project is very stimulating. It is a very balanced team. There is a lot of experience, young riders with a lot of quality who can grow even more, there is a lot of talent. Cycling also needs patience and with this combination of experience and youth it is possible.”
Wackermann (1992) won this season’s overall final and one stage of the French Tour du Limousin and finished fifth in the second stage of the 2020 Giro d’Italia, which ended in Agrigento. The Lombard finished sixth in a major mountain race such as the Romanian Sibiu Tour and has been involved in the finishes of the Tour of San Juan, the Tour of Antalya and the Settimana Coppi e Bartali.
“I have known Ivan Basso for a long time. Already at the last Tirreno-Adriatic we talked a little about the project he was working on and at the Giro that opportunity opened up in a more definitive way. Obviously it was an immediate yes. It is a dream come true to be able to work for Ivan and Alberto Contador. I’m really happy, excited, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Mads Pedersen and Brian Holm Co-Owners of New Danish Continental Team
Mads Pedersen has been a successful cyclist for several years now, but also hopes as co-owner of a cycling team to contribute to the development of Danish cycling. Pedersen, together with former pro and sports director Brian Holm, will be involved in a new Danish Continental team.
Henrik Egholm’s Restaurant Suri-Carl Ras team will be at Continental level for the first time in 2021, in the hope of becoming a training team for Danish cycling talents, reports cycling website Feltet.dk. Denmark currently has only two Continental teams and one professional team with Riwal Securitas. “That is not enough and it is a problem,” the team says. “We will feel it in a few years. We offer a helping hand, in the hope that promising Danish cyclists can continue to develop to a high level.”
Egholm has succeeded in making Pedersen, Holm and Jan Bech Andersen (the new co-owners of the team) enthusiastic about the project. Egholm will probably continue to operate as a team manager in 2021, while ex-pro Nicolai Bo Larsen will start as a sports manager. Holm, who will also remain sports director at Deceuninck – Quick-Step, will also actively scout for Restaurant Suri-Carl Ras in Denmark. The continental team starts the new season with a selection of eleven riders.
Restaurant Suri-Carl Ras team for 2021 (all Danish):
Rasmus Lund Pedersen
Julius Nowak Dainer
Gasparotto Hangs Up His Race bike
Enrico Gasparotto will no longer be part of the cycling peloton in 2021. The 38-year-old rider, who now has Swiss nationality, has announced his retirement as a professional cyclist.
“It has been a long journey and it gave me the opportunity to travel the world,” Gasparotto said on Instagram. “To come into contact with different cultures and to compare these cultures. To met fantastic people and made intense friendships. I have grown as an athlete and a person. I want to thank all the teams I rode for. I had the opportunity to experience personal growth. Thanks to Liquigas, Barloworld, Lampre, Astana, Wanty, Bahrain-Merida, Dimension Data and NTT. It has been a pleasure and an honour. I feel the time has come to spend more time with my family and relatives.”
“I always wanted to achieve sporting success, but I also wanted to be myself and make a lasting impression on the people I could work with. I have the feeling that it worked, given all the reports from younger teammates, masseurs, mechanics and team leaders over the years. It fills me with pride. Finally, I would also like to thank all cycling fans, sponsors, teammates and friends for their enthusiasm, which makes this trip truly unforgettable. I have always loved cycling and will continue to do so in the future. Thanks! GASPA,” wrote Gasparotto.
Gasparotto started his career in 2004 with the small Tenax team. Cycling fans will especially remember him as a two-time winner of the Amstel Gold Race (2012 and 2016). He also won stages in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya and wore the pink jersey for two days. He also became Italian champion once in 2005.
Nizzolo and Gasparotto:
Vandenbergh Puts a Stop to His Career
Stijn Vandenbergh has ridden his last race as a professional cyclist. The 36-year-old Belgian was already pessimistic about his future as a cyclist a week ago, but has now made the decision. “The last deadline has passed. I turned the switch in my head: it’s done,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws.
Vandenbergh, who raced for Katusha, Quick-Step and AG2R-La Mondiale after his professional debut at Unibet, now wants to enjoy his free time. “Free time that I never had. I definitely want to see my daughter more often. Victoria only comes to me for a weekend every fortnight, but during the season even that didn’t always work.”
“I would also like to make a few trips: Thailand is on my list. And I want to take a mountain bike tour through Morocco. Nowadays I enjoy my mountain bike even more than my road bike: you really cycle in nature instead of next to it. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I give myself six months to a year to think about it.”
Vandenbergh is thinking about organising tours in the future. His palmarès includes a stage win in the Tour of Valencia and a stage win and the overall victory in the Tour of Ireland, also a fourth place in the Tour of Flanders and a second place in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Arthur Vichot’s cycling career is over. The 32-year-old Frenchman will hang his race bike up, he announced via Twitter. Vichot has been struggling with his health recently and hardly raced this year. “After eleven years in the professional peloton, it is finally time to turn the page. I choose to park my bike, after all the memories, encounters and exceptional emotions gained. I will continue to cherish them. I am a privileged person and I have to thank the (cycling) sport and all the kind and caring people,” Vichot wrote.
“They gave me the space to become the athlete and person I am today. A ‘new life’ now awaits me with other projects and goals. I wish my future ex-friends the best of luck! Thanks and see you soon, AV.” Vichot started his career ten years ago with the Francaise des Jeux team, now Groupama-FDJ.
The now 32-year-old Vichot, as a Groupama-FDJ rider, won stages in the Critérium du Dauphiné and Paris-Nice and multi-day stage races such as the Tour du Haut Var and the Tour de l’Ain. The one-day specialist was also French champion on the road twice, but suffered a viral infection at the end of 2018. “It all started in September 2018, after the Grand Prix de Québec in Canada. I crossed the line seventh in that race, but then I got very tired. In the end, that fatigue never went away,” Vichot said earlier this year. The rider was looking for answers, even after countless doctor visits and medical tests. In his first year for B&B Hotels-Vital Concept, the Frenchman struggled to reach the finish of any race. This year, Vichot seemed to have found his way, but the Frenchman still did not feel like before and was not selected for the Tour de France and raced for the last time at the end of February.
Vichot, said earlier this year: “I can sometimes train for five hours a day, but then the next day I was completely destroyed. I can’t breath, that is not normal for a sportsman. What do I actually suffer from? I just don’t know and that makes me sad. The problem is that there are so many viruses.” Vichot has now decided to listen to his body. He won fourteen races since his professional debut in 2010.
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