EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

World cyclocross champion Wout van Aert managed to win a race, the first since he took the rainbow jersey. Bahrain-Merida keeping their options open – Top Story. All the action in the mud from Diegem, Bredene and Loenhout. Spring race news from Lotto Soudal, Michał Kwiatkowski, Katusha-Alpecin, Astana, Egan Bernal, Steven Kruijswijk, Enric Mas, Gianni Moscon, Fabio Aru and Bob Jungels. Plus De Winter joins Wanty-Gobert, Terpstra for 2019, Meurisse and Doubey ride cyclocross, Boy van Poppel breaks collarbone, new sponsor for Kometa, Wellens defend in Andalucia, new bikes for Nippo, new clothes for Wanty and MPCC wild cards. Happy New Year.

TOP STORY: What is Going on at Bahrain-Merida?
It appears that contract discussions between the Bahrain team and their star rider, Vincenzo Nibali have been put on hold. This has been since the teams agreement with McLaren for 2020. Team manager Brent Copeland told Velonews that: “negotiations have been put on hold as a result of the agreement with McLaren. With this new partnership, we preferred to wait.”

With English based McLaren buying 50% of the Barhain-Merida team’s management company, it makes you wonder if they are holding off with any rider agreement to see what transpires with Team Sky. Tour, Giro and Vuelta winning Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas might be on the market come the end of 2019, as will quite a few other top riders. McLaren might just prefer the ‘home’ riders on their roster.

New men for Bahrain-Merida in 2020?

Telenet Superprestige – Diegem 2018
After a day off, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) won Sunday’s Superprestige cross in Diegem. The European champion crashed into a race steward around the half-way point, but still managed to win. Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal) fought hard to stay with Van der Poel and took 2nd place. Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) was 3rd and World champion Wout van Aert (Cibel-Cebon) could only take 5th.

At the start European champion Mathieu van der Poel messed up his start and ended up low down in the first 15 riders. This gave his challenger, Wout van Aert, you might think, the chance for the victory, but the world champion had even worse luck. Van Aert couldn’t get his foot in the pedal at the start and ended up around thirty places back.

After a quarter of an hour Van der Poel had worked his way back to the front and went with an attack by Michael Vanthourenhout. The European champion did not plan on taking Vanthourenhout with him, but the man from West-Flanders held his wheel for a while.

Van der Poel crashed into a steward who was picking up glasses dropped by a rider. Van der Poel hurt his neck, but was able to move on and in no time he rode back to Vanthourenhout and just a quickly dropped him.

In the second half of the race, Vanthourenhout was at 15 seconds from the solo European champion, but there was no threat. Van der Poel remains undefeated in Diegem. Toon Aerts came in just 4 seconds ahead of Lars van der Haar (Telenet-Fidea) with Wout van Aert at a further 13 seconds.

Race winner, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus): “A regrettable incident. I heard my neck crack. I just saw him standing, he stood on the right, but started to doubt. I then popped on top. It’s a pity that it happens, but I cannot blame him. My neck will be stiff tomorrow. It was an incident race here. If you drive at the limit, that can happen. In any case, I’m glad that I won here. I can be happy again into the new year.”

Telenet Superprestige – Diegem Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus in 1:03:56
2. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Bingoal at 0:14
3. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet-Fidea at 0:39
4. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet-Fidea at 0:43
5. Wout van Aert (Bel) Cibel-Cebon at 0:56
6. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Bingoal at 1:05
7. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet-Fidea at 1:12
8. Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Sunweb at 1:22
9. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice at 1:29
10. Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice at 1:34.

Brico Cross Bredene 2018
Wout van Aert (Cibel-Cebon) won his first televised cyclocross of the season in Bredene on Saturday. It has been a long time since he won the World championships in February, although Van Aert did win in Ardooie. Countrymen Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Jens Adams (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) sprinted it out for the lower steps of the podium, 23 seconds later.

The absence of Mathieu van der Poel offered Wout van Aert the opportunity to win in Bredene. The World champion pulled his foot out of the pedal at the start and dropped to 15 position. At the front, Quinten Hermans and then Daan Soete (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) took the lead in the opening lap. Soete set a high pace, but could not escape. Under the impulse of Adams a group of five riders split off the head of the race: Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice), Gianni Vermeersch (Steylaerts-777), Hermans and Van Aert.

Van Aert waited till just after halfway to take the lead for the first time. His first effort worked and he had the others in trouble. Van Aert was clearly stronger than the rest and went into the final lap with a gap of almost one minute, although he eased off in the finishing straight. This was Van Aert’s fourth win in a row in Breden, retaining his unbeaten record.

Race winner, Wout van Aert (Cibel-Cebon): “This victory does mean a lot to me. It’s been a long time since I won, so it’s fun to put your hands on the air again. I did not clip in well with my pedal, so I had a bad start. Fortunately that was not bad today. I also made a small fall when Adams went through, a small slip, but fortunately nothing was wrong. Coincidentally, I got a note from Sven (Vanthourenhout, 3 time Bredene winner) for the race, he had just received the news that I could break his record, and then I explained to him that I had never lost here.”

Brico Cross Bredene Result:
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Cibel-Cebon in 58:07
2. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:23
3. Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice
4. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice at 0:29
5. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Steylaerts-777 at 0:36
6. Thomas Pidcock (GB) TP Racing at 1:19
7. Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:01:20
8. Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:33
9. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:35
10. Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Bingoal at 1:43

DVV Verzekeringen Trofee – Azencross-Loenhout 2018
Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) won a fast Azencross in Loenhout on Friday. The European champion left the others on the first lap and rode to a win of 40 seconds over World champion, Wout van Aert (Cibel-Cebon). Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) took third place.

The European champion made short work of the race yet again. Van der Poel could not hold himself back from setting a high pace from the start line. The Dutchman rode hard through the succession of turns after the start and soon had a gap on his closest chaser – Wout van Aert. No rider could get near Van der Poel on the long finishing straight and he soon had a lead of over 10 seconds at the end of lap one.

On the following laps, Van Aert, along with classification leader Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal) chased hard, with Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice), Tim Merlier (Crelan-Charles) and Tom Meeusen (Corendon-Circus) not far behind. By the halfway point Van der Poel had nearly half a minute and was a threat to Toon Aerts’ overall lead. Van Aert and chased hard together to finish at 40 seconds with the World champion taking second place. Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) finished in 14th place, improving from his 21st in Heusden-Zolder last Sunday.

Van der Poel will gets his next chance to make up time on Aerts on New Year’s Day in Baal.

Race winner, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus): “I am very happy with the course today. I hope to succeed (in Baal), but you always have to make up for that backlog, of course. But I really did not expect to take back so many seconds. If you look at the other categories where each time the meet was sprinting, I can be very happy to get back here 40 seconds. It was sometimes slippery and that’s why I slipped. This is one of my favorite crosses, especially when there is mud. It is really great to be able to drive through such a public – time and again it amazes me. I think this is really something that I will continue to do for as long as possible.”

DVV Verzekeringen Trofee – Azencross-Loenhout Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus in 1:00:51
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Cibel-Cebon at 0:40
3. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:41
4. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Bingoal at 0:49
5. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Corendon-Circus at 0:52
6. Corne van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:00
7. Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Sunweb
8. Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Charles at 1:07
9. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Marlux-Bingoal at 1:17
10. Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice at 1:22.

The First Line-Ups of 2019!
In less than three weeks the new cycling season begins. The Tour Down Under (15 – 20 January) is again the opening race of the season for Lotto Soudal. One week later the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (27 January) is scheduled, the second WorldTour race of the year. At the end of January six other Lotto Soudal riders will be riding the Argentinian stage race Vuelta a San Juan (27 January – 3 February). On 31 January a team will be standing at the start of the first of four Trofeo’s of the Challenge Mallorca (31 January – 3 February). At the beginning of February the French stage race Etoile de Bessèges (6 – 10 February) will be taking place.

Lotto Soudal rosters for the first races of 2019.

Line-up Tour Down Under (15 – 20 January): Adam Blythe, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Adam Hansen, Roger Kluge and Tomasz Marczynski.
Sports director: Mario Aerts.

Line-up Tour Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (27 January): Adam Blythe, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Adam Hansen, Rémy Mertz and Tomasz Marczynski.
Sports director: Mario Aerts.

Line-up Vuelta a San Juan (27 January – 3 February): Tiesj Benoot, Stan Dewulf, Jens Keukeleire, Nikolas Maes, Jelle Vanendert and Jelle Wallays.
Sports director: Frederik Willems.

Line-up Challenge Mallorca (31 January – 3 February): Sander Armée, Frederik Frison, Rasmus Iversen, Bjorg Lambrecht, Maxime Monfort, Lawrence Naesen, Brian van Goethem, Harm Vanhoucke, Tim Wellens and Enzo Wouters.
Sports director: Herman Frison.

Line-up Etoile de Bessèges (6 – 10 February): Sander Armée, Rémy Mertz, Maxime Monfort, Lawrence Naesen, Brian van Goethem, Tim Wellens and Enzo Wouters.
Sports director: Bart Leysen and Kevin De Weert.

Tiesj Benoot starts his 2019 season in the Vuelta a San Juan:

Kwiatkowski Chooses Ardennes Over Flanders
Michał Kwiatkowski will focus on the Ardennes classics in the early season missing most of the cobblestone classics. The Polish all-rounder kicks off his 2019 road campaign in the Middle East with the UAE Tour.

The 28-year-old Kwiatkowski will concentrate on the climbing classics this year. The Sky rider did add much to his palmarès in the 2018 spring with 31st place in the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne 57th and Liège-Bastogne-Liège 29th.

After Liège; Kwiatkowski will aim at the Tour de France, where he will assist Chris Froome and/or Geraint Thomas in either a fifth or second Tour victory. In the autumn Yorkshire and the World championships and a course that should suit him will be his bog objective.

Kwiatkowski will be joined in the UAE Tour (24th February-2nd March) by World champion Alejandro Valverde, Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Elia Viviani and Marcel Kittel.

Michał Kwiatkowski working at the Tour:

Katusha-Alpecin Team for TDU
Katusha-Alpecin was the first team to reveal their selection for the Santos Tour Down Under. The Swiss WorldTour team travels to Australia with a varied team. Jens Debusschere will make his debut in the Tour Down Under with his new team.

After nine years with Lotto Soudal, the 29-year-old Debusschere makes the switch to Katusha-Alpecin. The ex-Belgian champion will debut in the first WorldTour race of the year. Debusschere will be the designated sprinter, for the general classification the Australian Nathan Haas should be the man.

Besides Debusschere and Haas, the selection consists of the British rider Alex Dowsett, Portuguese Ruben Guerreiro, the Austrian Marco Haller and the Russians Viacheslav Kuznetsov and Dmitrii Strakhov. The Santos Tour Down Under runs from 15th to 20th January.

Katusha-Alpecin line-up for Santos Tour Down Under:
Alex Dowsett, Jens Debusschere, Ruben Guerreiro, Nathan Haas, Marco Haller, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Dmitrii Strakhov.

Jens Debusschere with Katusha-Alpecin 2019:

Pello Bilbao and Ion Izagirre to Ride for Migue Ángel López at the Giro’19
The Astana team will have Pello Bilbao and Ion Izagirre in supporting roles to leader Miguel Ángel López in next years Giro d’Italia. The Colombian recently announced that he would again focus on the Italian stage race, finishing last year in third place behind winner Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin.

SpazioCiclismo recently spoke to the riders: “I’m going to the Giro to protect Miguel,” said Izagirre, who has left Bahrain-Merida for Astana. “The third week is fought several times at two thousand meters altitude, which for a Colombian feels like home. If he is spared from problems in the transition stages, he is a title candidate after a very regular year – despite his young age.”

Bilbao may also prepare for the Giro, where he will compete on the side of López. “His time is coming”, the Bilbao commented. “Since I joined the team, I already had faith in that. He may still lack experience, but he is physically ready for the Grand Tours and to win them too.”

López announced earlier this month that he would again compete in the Giro d’Italia. For a while it seemed that he would be racing in the Tour de France, but the Colombian recently decided to choose the Giro and the Vuelta a España. He realizes that he has to be better. “I have to improve my time trial, as that is my weakness. I always lose a lot of time against the clock.”

Miguel Ángel López on the attack in the Vuelta’18:

Bernal’s Season Not Certain Yet
Egan Bernal is still not sure about his program for 2019. The Colombian climber wants to ride the Tour de France, but with two leaders, Froome and Thomas, he also has thoughts of the Giro d’Italia: “I’m going to race where the team sends me.”

After his victory in the Tour of California and his role as luxury domestique in the last Tour de France, Bernal would like to start a Grand Tour next year as a leader. “I’ve already talked to the team, but I still don’t have anything certain,” he told Ciclismo a Fondo. “I love the Tour de France very much. I dream a lot about that, but we go there with Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. That is why the Giro d’Italia is a good option for me.”

Bernal starts the 2019 season in the Tour of Colombia, his home race which he won last year. He has just started his build-up for the new season. “I did not cycle for five weeks. Currently I am very quiet and I come back little by little. I am focused and motivated, with full batteries.”

Egan Bernal on the attack in Catalunya’18:

Steven Kruijswijk’s Plans for 2019
If everything goes according to plan, Steven Kruijswijk will be the Jumbo-Visma team leader at the start of the Tour de France and his big goal is to finish on the podium in Paris. “For me it is a dream to get on the podium of the Tour or another Grand Tour. I do not care about which or how. If I do everything I can to achieve it.”

“The team first looked at who they wanted to bet on and then discussed it with the riders. I do not think it would have been a difficult choice for Primoz (Roglic). Had could also have gone to the Tour (as leader). If you look at the past year, you see that we complement each other well. Only the team has now chosen; Primoz to the Giro and then I can focus nicely on the Tour.”

For his preparation for the Tour, Kruijswijk has decided to skip the Ardennes classics. Last season he was at the start of Flèche Walloon Arrow (63rd), but next year he will be missing. “The classics are no goal for me and we now have other guys for that. It often interrupts my training period and it has no added value for me.”

Steven Kruijswijk 2019 Program:
Ruta del Sol (Spain)
Tour of Catalonia (Spain)
Tour of Romandy (Suisse)
Altitude Training
Critérium du Dauphiné (France)
Tour de France (France)
Vuelta a España (Spain).

Tour and Vuelta for Steven Kruijswijk:

Enric Mas Hopes to Ride the 2019 Tour de France
Young Spanish rider, Enric Mas has said he wants to ride the Tour de France in 2019, but it depends on his Deceuninck – Quick Step team, said on Spanish TVE. “I would like to ride the Tour. I’m also going to do everything to get to the start in good shape”, he told interviewer Alberto Contador.

Mas was 2nd in the 2018 Vuelta a España. “I will have to win the Tour in short, I want to do even better. That will be very difficult, but it is not impossible.” As to the course of the Tour: “With many stages at altitude and relatively little time trial kilometers. I certainly have a team for the flat stages, where I can also use the most support.”

Enric Mas 2019 Program:
Volta ao Algarve (Portugal)
Altitude Training
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (Spain)
Vuelta al País Vasco (Spain)
Flèche Walloon (Belgium)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Belgium)
Altitude Training
Tour de Suisse (Suisse)
Tour de France? (France).

Enric Mas – Vuelta 2nd overall, stage win and Best Young Rider:

Moscon Wants to be a Tour Rider
Gianni Moscon will not only focus on the one-day classics in 2019: “I also want to test myself as a GC rider. Starting in Tirreno-Adriatico,” the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Moscon is known as an all-rounder and has excelled in the one-day races, but he also impressed on the climbs in the service of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. Now the 24-year old rider is curious how far he can go as a Tour rider. “That is why I will go for the classification in Tirreno-Adriatico.”

Moscon will also make his debut in the Giro d’Italia next season, he had said he did not want to go for the GC, but to focus on stage victories. Now the Italian has changed his mind a little: “I will try to hang on as long as possible. It’s time to explore my limits, to test myself.” This does not mean that Moscon will skip the classics. “In fact, I will be the main leader in the spring. A great honor and responsibility.” The young Italian will start his season in the Middle East with the UAE Tour.

Gianni Moscon for 2019 Program:
UAE Tour (UAE)
Strade Bianche (Italy)
flag-it Tirreno-Adriatico (Italy)
Classics to Paris-Roubaix (Belgium/France)
Giro d’Italia (Italy).

Moscon working hard:

Giro Or/And Tour for Aru?
Will Fabio Aru ride the Giro or the Tour, or both? The Italian has said nothing, but his UAE Emirates team has. “We hope he can start the Giro in top form”, says team manager José ‘Matxin’ Fernández. However he does not exclude a Tour Participation.

“The Giro remains special for an Italian, but if I only look at my qualities, then the Tour is better for me”, said Aru last week. The last time the climber rode the French Tour was in 2017 where he won the first mountain stage finish on La Planche des Belles Filles. Aru also wore the yellow jersey for two days, finishing 5th in the final GC. UAE Team Emirates want’s their 28-year-old Italian leader in the Giro d’Italia. “From the Tour of Catalonia he will work specifically towards the Giro,” Fernández said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. This does not mean that a Tour participation is excluded. “We will talk later about his wish to participate in the Tour,” said Matxin. There is the chance that Aru will do the double Giro/Tour for the first time in his career. He will probably start the French Tour as the second leader behind Irishman Dan Martin.

Giro or Tour for Aru, maybe both?

Giro d’Italia for Jungels
Bob Jungels rode the Tour de France in 2018, but the Luxemburger will focus on the Italian Tour in 2019. Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported at the weekend.

In 2016 Jungels finished in 6th place in the final classification and took the young rider’s jersey, that was his very first Giro appearance. In 2017 he finished 8th and repeated his win in the best young rider competition.

In 2018 Jungels started the Tour de France, but did not make much of an impression in the French race, finishing 11th on the overall. According to Het Nieuwsblad, at the Deceuninck – Quick-Step training camp it was decided that the Luxemburger would participate in the Giro, with a chance that he would also start the Tour in a domestique role.

The Giro d’Italia has already announced the participation of Tom Dumoulin, Simon Yates, Vincenzo Nibali, Mikel Landa, Alejandro Valverde, Miguel Ángel López, Primož Roglič, Bauke Mollema and Ilnur Zakarin.

Bob Jungels – Liège’18 winner:

Ludwig De Winter Joins Wanty-Gobert
Ludwig De Winter signs a one-year contract with Wanty-Gobert. The 25-year-old Walloon rider was formed at Wallonie-Bruxelles. The rouleur’s origins lie in Binche, home of our main sponsor Wanty. The offensive rider finished 6th in Schaal Sels in 2017. In addition to Vliegen, Van Melsen, Degand and Valleé he will be the fifth Walloon representative at Wanty-Gobert.

Ludwig De Winter: “I am very attached to my city of Binche, just like the Wanty-Gobert team. Thus I always dreamed of riding for Wanty-Gobert, a team that grows from year to year. It is an honor for me to defend the colors of Wanty and the city of Binche. The Tour de France in Binche will be a great moment, in the hope that Wanty-Gobert will receive a new wildcard.”

“I did not rest the past few weeks. I have always taken my preparation seriously. I decided not to go on a foreign training camp in December, but I am ready to work hard in January. I can’t wait to join the group in Spain in mid-January to meet my new teammates and staff members. I already know several riders, like Boris Vallée and Loïc Vliegen, with whom I rode together in the youth categories.”

“My program has yet to be worked out, but the classics are always my favorite races. I am a perfect rider for the long break, but I also want to do my work for the team. I hope to be there from the beginning of the season. I want to perform strongly in tough races such as GP Samyn. Of course Binche-Chimay-Binche is an important race at the end of the season.”

Jean-François Bourlart: “I am very pleased with the arrival of Ludwig De Winter in our team. We were following Ludwig’s performances already since last season. It is a rider who likes to serve the collective, by attacking or protecting his teammates. I am convinced that he will be an important element in our group. Adding a Walloon rider from Binche to our collective is in line with the philosophy of our project.”

Ludwig De Winter to Wanty-Gobert in 2019:

Niki Terpstra Looks Forward to 2019
Niki Terpstra hopes to win a stage in the Tour de France. It would complete his career, he said in conversation with the Algemeen Dagblad. “After my career I will not be too disappointed if I have not succeeded. I’ve been trying it for ten or twelve years. So how big is the chance that it will happen now?”

After having worn the Quick-Step Floors jersey for 8 years, Terpstra made the switch to French team Direct Energy for 2019. The man from North Holland makes the switch because of a good financial offer and a new sporting challenge. “But not only that. Of course I had a very good offer at Direct Energie, but I also sat down with Ramona. What if I had ridden at Quick-Step again for a year? Where would the challenge lie? Then it would be a bit more of the same again.”

For Terpstra it is not only a new team, but also a new language. “I have textbooks on my phone. I mainly use it when I’m in the car. I want to integrate into the team and do my best for them. That is also necessary with French people, because they still think that the World revolves around France. But it is difficult to hear. At school, I was able to drop the subject of French as quickly as I could. I always thought: I’ll never need that.”

Niki Terpstra at the Vuelta a España presentation:

Meurisse and Doubey Dive into Cyclocross
In preparation for the 2019 road season Xandro Meurisse and Fabien Doubey will make a short passage in cyclocross in the upcoming weeks. Both Wanty-Gobert riders have a history as a cyclocrosser. The 26-year-old Meurisse will start in four Belgian races: Bredene (29/12), Gullegem (05/01) the Belgian Championships in Kruibeke (13/01) and Zonnebeke (26/01). The 25-year-old Doubey chooses Desnes (30/12), the Swiss EKZ-cross in Meilen (02/01) and the French Championships in Besançon (13/01).

Xandro Meurisse: “On Tuesday I rode in the forest with my new Cube Cross Race C:62 bike and on Thursday I rode around for more than two hours. On Thursday I also worked on my position on the bike. You see, I am really working for it. I do not just want to ride a few laps and see where I will finish.”

“I was motivated when I saw my competitors from the past riding around in the field. That is why I want to get the most out of it. With the rollers in the morning, track recon, warming up and the cross itself, you quickly have 3-4 hours on the bike a day. The four races I contest fortunately are not too technical races. For the time being the drought also plays to my advantage.”

“This is particularly a good way to bridge the period between two training camps. In Spain I laid a good base in mid-December and now I can train more on intensity in the cyclocross. In the winter of ’14 -’15 I rode three races as an elite without a contract. Apart from those three my last cx races date from back in the winter of ’11 -’12 as an U23 rider. So I have nothing to lose.”

Fabien Doubey: “When I arrived at Wanty-Gobert in 2017, I decided to concentrate on the road alone. This winter, while maintaining my priority, I wanted to immerse myself once again in cyclo-cross for the French championships that take place at my home in Besançon. This was in line with the philosophy of the team and the technical partners, while it was perfectly integrated in my preparation schedule. It also allows me to share moments with my family, typically the spirit of the cross!”

“My training resumption in November was somewhat delayed because I got married at the end of the season, afterwards I went on honeymoon. I already rode three regional races at the beginning of December, with three podiums: a victory, a second and a third place. I also raced one UCI cross in Spain, during a training camp in Benidorm. Over there I punctured on a bad moment, otherwise a podium spot was possible for sure. Since my return from Spain I often think of the French championships.”

“My technique is slowly coming back. There are still two preparation races left, but Stybar’s performance in Zolder gives me hope. If I can find my old level, I dream of a podium spot in Besançon, mainly because I will have a decent starting position. But I do not know if I will perform physically strong. But no matter what, I want to have fun before I focus for 100% on the road again.”

Cross for Meurisse and Doubey:

Van Poppel Breaks Collarbone at Home
Roompot-Charles’ Boy van Poppel has to close the year in minor. The 30-year-old rider broke his collarbone on Boxing Day during the mountain bike ride in his home town of Poppel.

Van Poppel wrote on Instagram: “I risk my life in sprints and break my collarbone during the tour of Poppel ha ha.” It is unknown how long he will be side-lined. Van Poppel moved from Trek-Segafredo to Roompot-Charles for the 2019 season.

Boy van Poppel with Lars Boom, Maurits Lammertink and Michael van Staeyen at the presentation of the Roompot-Charles team:

Openjobmetis, New Sponsor of the Kometa Cycling Team
The sports structures of the Fundación Alberto Contador reinforce their strength with the arrival of a new sponsor. Openjobmetis, Italian company leader in the temporary work sector, will support the continental, sub23 and junior teams of the Kometa Cycling Team from next season. Openjobmetis Agenzia per il lavoro was born in 2011 as a result of the merger of Openjob and Metis, bringing together the experience of two leading firms in their market and creating with their union a network that has more than 130 branches throughout the transalpine territory. At the end of 2015 Openjobmetis became the first temporary employment agency to be listed on the Italian Stock Exchange, segment STAR.

The Italian company enters the world of cycling thanks to this sponsorship, although the world of sport is not at all strange to it. Since 2014 Openjobmetis is the main sponsor of Pallacanestro Varese, one of the most important basketball clubs in Europe, ten times winner of the Italian league and a pentachampion of the European Cup during its most successful continental years, back in the 70s. Without forgetting the support for the volleyball sector in Italy, which still lasts. But the influence of physical activity goes even further and connects with the very existence of society. Specifically thanks to tennis. Rosario Rasizza himself, its managing director, remembered how the creation of Openjob, the embryo of the current company, matured during his summer experience as a coach in a sports club in Varese.

“Cycling is a unique sport that connects with passion, commitment and dedication to colors,” says Rosario Rasizza, CEO of Openjobmetis. “It is a sport that conveys important values and, because of the way it is structured, it allows us to create a dynamic of belonging to a team that I find really interesting and very similar to the world of work. Although sport and work may seem like distant universes, in reality they are not so distant: they share a passion, to carry it forward, to overcome negative moments, or also to rejoice in victories or successes. These are aspects that belong to both areas. Support the Alberto Contador Foundation and the sports project of two great champions such as Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso, represents for us another opportunity to be at the side of young people and talent, which we always try to promote and strengthen day by day in our professional environment”.

Ivan Basso, sports manager of the continental Kometa Cycling Team: “The agreement with Openjobmetis goes beyond mere sports sponsorship. It is an agreement that is the result of the personal trust that we have had for more than two years. We are from the same area and we also share a passion for sport and its values. Openjobmetis is the sponsor of Varese basketball, a team of which I am a great fan. This agreement makes me very happy, I’m excited that cycling enters into this great company’s passion for sport. I trust that our cycling team can give it the same excitement that brings the Openjobmetis basketball”.

“We are very grateful to Rosario Rasizza for her confidence in the Fundación Alberto Contador’s project”, says Francisco Javier Contador, his general manager. “The support of Openjobmetis not only helps us decisively to consolidate the good health of all sports structures, but allows us to look towards future challenges with ambition and determination. We share his vision of the proximity of two a priori universes that are not as close as the business world and the world of competition. That his entry into the world of cycling is through our team not only deepens our appreciation, but also intensifies our responsibility and strengthens our commitment”.

Tim Wellens Will defend Title in 2019 Tour of Andalucia
The Belgian Lotto-Soudal cyclist, winner in 2018, confirms his participation in the 65th edition of the Ruta del Sol.

Tim Wellens, who won the Tour of Andalucia 2018, will participate in the Ruta del Sol, to be held from 20 to 24 February 2019, to revalidate the title achieved last season with the team Team Omega Pharma-Lotto in which it will be accompanied by cyclists Sander Armee, Tomasz Marczynski, Remy Mertz, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Harm Vanhoucke.

The experience and great form last year conspired for the Belgian rider, who will add seven starts in the Andalusian round, climbed to the top of the podium. Wellens had sheathed red leader’s jersey after victory in the fourth stage, which exceeded by Mikel Landa few seconds at the finish line in Alcala de los Gazules. He defended the leader’s jersey in the fifth and final stage of 2018, an individual time trial of 14.2 kilometers with start and finish in Barbate (Cádiz).

Tim Wellens will captain the team Lotto-Soudal, that this participation will be 25 which makes the Tour of Andalucia. Since 1991, and for six years, participated with the name of Lotto, to then do it under the names of Lotto-Mobistar, Lotto-Adecco, Lotto-Domo, Predictor-Lotto, Silence-Lotto, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Lotto-Belisol and the last three seasons has participated as Lotto-Soudal.

Lotto in its history has won a total of 944 victories, 32 of them in the Tour de France. Last season the team won 25 individual victories, desatacando a stage in the Giro and one in the Tour of Spain, and the final victory in the Tour of Andalusia, with Tim Wellens, which this year will again participate with the number 1 .

Riders, one by one
Tim Wellens
, at age 27 will compete for the tenth year in the Lotto-Soudal. His first successes as a professional were four seasons ago, when he won two stages of the Tour of Holland. That same season was second in two stages of the Giro d’Italia and runner-up of Belgium against the clock. Three seasons ago again won two stages in the Tour of Holland, besides winning the GP Montreal. He was second in a stage of the Challenge de Mallorca and at one stage of the Tour of the Basque Country. He scored five podiums, being the winner of a stage in Paris Nice, in front of Alberto Contador and Richie Porte; another stage in the Giro d’Italia, Roccaraso, and the Tour of Poland, won the Prize of the Mountain, a stage and the overall classification. Two years ago he won two stages in Mallorca, one in the Tour of Benelux, the final stage and overall at the Tour of Guangxi in China, the GP Wallonie and the last stage of the Tour of Andalusia, disputed between Setenil and Coin. He was the winner of the Tour of Poland with stage victory included, plus get another stage win in the Giro d’Italia, Arrow Brabançonne, Trophy Sierra de Tramontana in Mallorca, and was the green jersey of the Paris Nice.

Sander Armée, Belgian rider 33, celebrates its twelfth season as a professional and his sixth year at the Lotto, having competed in the previous four years Topsport Vlaanderen and two in Profel Prorace. Last year there were 86 days of competition days and 13,492 km made. His personal record he did in 2014, when competing 99 days, carrying 26,429 km. He added a stage win in the Tour of Spain, disputed between the towns of Suances and Santo Toribio de Liebana. He has also won the mountain in two editions of the Tour of Normandy. It will be his second partition in the Tour of Andalusia since six seasons ago and ran, still eighth overall.

Tomasz Marczyński, Polish rider 34, will fulfill his fourth year on the team. He turned professional with Ceramiche Flaminia, having played for CCC Polsat and Vacansoleil. He later competed with the team Torku-Şekerspor where he reached the Lotto-Soudal after a good season 2015. He has won stages in the Tour of Asturias and Tour of Seoul; Mountain Award twice in the Tour of Poland, the year in which he won three stages and the overall in the Tour of Morocco. It was Polish champion five times, four and one time trial route. Two seasons ago won two stages in the Tour of Spain, which ended in Sagunto and Antequera. Last year was scheduled to participate in the Andalusian round, but a week before the start of it was hit by a car in Granada, a town where he has his residence. This will be his fifth appearance in the Tour of Andalusia, having competed in 2010 and 2014 with CCC Polsat and in 2016 and 2017 with Lotto-Soudal.

Remy Mertz, Belgian rider 23, will fulfill his third season in the team. As U23 had different outstanding performances as a win in a stage of the Tour the Carpathians in Poland. Has already been released in a large, it was in the Tour of Spain in 2017, and this year made his debut in the Tour of Andalusia.

Tosh Van der Sande, 28 year old Belgian rider and fulfill its eighth year, all professional sporting life in the Lotto. In the beginning, as a junior, he got multiple victories in track events happening later to go slowly, testing route. He won the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège the same year he won a stage victory in the Vuelta a Navarra, in the Alto de San Adrián. Four years ago he was second in the Paris-Tours and third in the stage of the Tour of Spain ended in Lerida. In 2016 he won a stage in the Tour de Ain and participated for the first time in the Andalusian round, having managed to qualify twice in the top-10, seventh in the stage that ended in Córdoba and ninth in the sprint Sevilla. Last year, in its third presence in the Tour of Andalusia, it was fifth in the first stage, which ended in Granada.

Jelle Vanendert, 32, turned professional with the team La Française des Jeux and will be both its tenth season in the Lotto-Soudal as the Ruta del Sol. As continental managed 8 wins, highlighting the Flemish Arrow, GP Waregem and the second stage Round lsard. The year 2011 was uncovered with a stage win in the Tour de France in Plateau de Beille; It is having been second in the stage that ended in Luz Ardiden. It has also been second twice in the Amstel Gold Race. His best finish in Andalusia has been a fifth in 2012, in the stage that ended in La Guardia de Jaén. Last year was one of the great bastions in which Tim Wellens leaned to achieve the final victory.

Harm Vanhoucke rider 21, this will be his second season as a professional in the team and opens in the Andalusian tour. Last year he won the bronze in the Belgian Championship U23, having been second for Belgium in the team time trial of the Tour de l’Avenir. Two years ago he earned the Arrow of the Bulge and previously climbed the podium at the Piccolo Giro di Lombardia; addition to winning a stage Return to Savoie.

Nippo Vini Fantini Faizanè: De Rosa Bike in White Color for the #Orangeblue Riders
Officially presented the 2019 bike of the NIPPO Vini Fantini Faizanè team. The team will ride on the bikes of the historic Italian brand also in 2019 season. The big news is the white color together with the introduction of disc brakes and the Campagnolo Super Record 12v transmission. 4 models supplied to the team: Protos, Protos Disk, SK Pininfarina Disk and King.

The NIPPO Vini Fantini Faizanè team will keep riding on De Rosa bikes in 2019 and specifically on 4 models, deriving from 3 different bike frame, depending on the most congenial characteristics of each #OrangeBlue athlete. If the brand is a confirmation, the design is a real novelty, with a white color designed to stand out in the group, combined with the #OrangeBlue jersey.

Protos Disk:

Design and Technology
The color choice was made in honor of NIPPO Corporation, while the “scratch” given to the frame with the inserts Orange, Blue, and light blue, are in honor of the social colors of the team and the new third name. This is explained by the CEO of Cusano Milanino’s brand, Cristiano De Rosa: “For the fifth consecutive season at the Professional level and for the seventh consecutive season in absolute terms our bikes will be the one of the Italian-Japanese team. We have “dressed” them in white to celebrate this marriage. In fact, we wanted to dedicate a color to the team’s Japanese partner, who has always been present on the team’s shirt on a white background. The OrangeBlue scratch reflects the colors of the team, with the blue that is a tribute to the other great historical partner of the team: Vini Fantini. The addition of the light blue was made in honor of an equally important new partner that guarantees continuity to the project, the brand Faizanè.” Not only design, the news are also present in the technological field. “Beyond the colors, the two most important innovations are represented by the 12-speed Campagnolo Super Record gearbox and the introduction of the disc brake models on Protos frames and on the Pininfarina SK frames.”

The Top of the De Rosa Range for the Team
There will be 4 models supplied to the team, based on the 3 top range frames of the Cusano Milanino brand. The main racing model will remain the Protos, which from 2019 will also be available in the Disk version, with the introduction of disc brakes.
The SK Pininfarina Disk model is also available for the team’s athletes, while for the pure climbers the supplied bike will be the King model.

All bikes will be equipped with Campagnolo Super Record 12v, Selle Italia (in the SLR, Flite and SP-01 Boost models), Bora Ultra wheels, IRC Tire tires, FSA handlebars and look pedals.

Sk Pininfarina Disk:

Wanty-Gobert Reveals a Sparkling 2019 Outfit!
The magic of the Christmas holidays often comes together with the arrival of the outfits for the new road campaign. In the final festive days of 2018 the boxes with the new Wanty-Gobert clothing and accessories for the upcoming season arrived. The riders can start wearing their new outfit from January 1st, but Xandro Meurisse already presents you the colors that the team will wear in 2019.

The shirt, still manufactured by our Chinese clothing supplier Santic, gets a more white color. On the side of the partners we welcome the Belgian bubbles of Ruffus, a range of sparkling wines produced in the Vignoble des Agaises, just a few kilometers from Binche. Our new collaboration with Wallonie Belgique Tourisme is displayed on the trousers. We use the bicycle to bring the tourist sites in the Walloon Region in the spotlight.

Xandro Meurisse: “I think our outfit for 2019 looks great. The new white design is chique. The shorts look almost the same as last year, but I think the adjustments to the jersey are really nice. The whole of helmet, glasses, sweater, trousers and shoes fits well together. Hopefully there won’t be too much mud in the cx rides that I am going to ride, because then the white uniform will get dirty a little faster (laughing).”

Fred Hou (CEO Santic): “We have established a great partnership with the Wanty-Gobert cycling team. I am confident that our partnership will continue to grow in the future. We listened to the feedback from the riders to make the most appropriate outfits to achieve great performances. I am sure that the Wanty-Gobert riders will once again perform at the highest level with their Santic equipment, starting with the Tour de France.”

Wanty-Gobert 2019 kit:

Wild Cards: 100% is the Target for MPCC
This year, 89% of the wild cards were granted to MPCC teams.

To make this datavisualization, we took the 37 World Tour cycling races of the year and had a look at the wild cards that were granted on them. Among them, we separated the ones granted to continental professional teams part of the MPCC and those given to the other teams.

There is one figure to highlight: 89% of the wild cards were issued to MPCC teams. As a reminder: on these 37 races, around 3 or 4 teams are invited on stage races, and up to 11 wild cards can be given on the one-day races.

Among the 187 wild cards issued throughout the season, we isolated the ones concerning the 3 grand Tours and the 5 Monuments of the season to observe whether there is a pattern when it comes to the big and powerful organizers.

Here are the results: on two of the grand Tours (Tour de France and Vuelta a España), as well as the two monuments organized by A.S.O. (Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège), all of the Wild Cards were given to MPCC teams.

When it comes to the other grand Tour (Giro d’Italia) and two of the 5 monuments (Milan-Sanremo) organized by R.C.S., there is not as much satisfaction on our part: all of these events had non-MPCC teams starting the race.

Finally, there is a clear trend concerning the World Tour races organized on Belgian soil: all of them are 100% committed to MPCC, which is not the case in France or Germany, even though these are countries very involved in the ethical topics.

MPCC would like to highlight the outstanding commitment from some organizers which fight to strengthen the credibility of our sport. We also would like to lament the behavior of those which do not wish to go the same way, especially given that their action is essential to the future of cycling. Thus, MPCC requests that all of the wild cards issued in 2019 be granted to teams part of the movement, and encourage teams and federations which are not part of the MPCC to commit to stricter rules.

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