Is Chris Froome on the way back to yellow? Israel Start-Up Nation’s Rik Verbrugghe thinks so – TOP STORY. In other news: Wout van Aert is a father, Chris Froome to miss training camp, Marc Hirschi from DSM to UAE and Fabio Aru to ride the World cross champs. Rider news from Laurens De Plus, Fausto Masnada, Grega Bole and Marion Sicot. Team news: UAE Team Emirates, AG2R-Citröen, clothing for EOLO-KOMETA and Bingoal-WB, Qhubeka ASSOS, DSM, Lotto Soudal and Jumbo-Visma. Race news from Paris-Nice, Volta ao Algarve, Volta ao Alentejo and the Olympia’s Tour. The sad passing of Tour de France yellow jersey wearer Roger Hassenforder.
TOP STORY: Verbrugghe on the recovery of Froome
Since January 1, Rik Verbrugghe has been a sports director at the Israel Start-Up Nation team. It is his task to take the team to the next level, including four-time Tour winner Chris Froome. Verbrugghe told Het Nieuwsblad that Froome is on his way to becoming the froome of the past. “In the meantime he can again develop as much strength in the right as in the left leg.”
The Froome of the Tour of Spain is not last year’s Froome, according to the former Belgian national coach. “Due to the lockdown in Monaco in March last year and the racing with INEOS-Grenadiers, his rehabilitation was not perfect. And suddenly the competition came. In the meantime he has become so much stronger. In the meantime he can again develop as much strength in the right as in the left leg.”
Verbrugghe does not dare to say whether Froome can win the Tour de France for the fifth time. “The most important thing is that he returns to his old level with which he was able to win the Tour”, says the Belgian. “In the meantime, there are now really a lot of young guys who are knocking on the door very hard. It will be a very difficult thing to beat young wolves like Pogačar, Bernal and soon Evenepoel.”
Froome knows where he stands for this season. The Tour of San Juan – where Froome was announced as a big name – will not take place for the team, but there are still plenty of races on the program. Verbrugghe: “He will start in Portugal at the end of February, in the Volta ao Algarve. Then the Volta a Catalunya follows and Chris heads to the Tour via the Critérium du Dauphiné. Those are the broad outlines that have now been established.”
2021 will not only be about Froome, Verbrugghe told La Derniere Heure: “With the arrival of Sep Vanmarcke, we can nurture real ambitions in the Flemish classics. He has often been very close to victory in this area and we want to help him take the final step. Dan Martin, Michael Woods and Daryl Impey could shine in the Ardennes.”
Chris Froome in Israel colours:
Wout van Aert Father of Son Georges
Wout van Aert became the father of a son named Georges on Monday. The Jumbo-Visma rider announced the birth via social media. It is the first child for Van Aert and his wife Sarah.
Van Aert said last Sunday, after the World Cup race in Hulst, that he was mainly busy with the delivery of his baby with his wife Sarah. “Gosh, I really haven’t thought about that yet. I am now mainly busy with home,” when asked about the upcoming Belgian cyclocross championships in Meulebeke. “The Belgian champs are within a week, but still seems a long way off. I like to be in control, but unfortunately I cannot control that,” laughed Van Aert, referring to the delivery. Now that his wife has given birth to son Georges, Van Aert can prepare in peace for the Belgian title. Van Aert also hopes to become World champion in Ostend in a month.
‘GEORGES. que d’amour.’ 4/01/21 via Twitter:
Chris Froome to Miss Team Training Camp in Spain
Chris Froome will not be attending the training camp of his Israel Start-Up Nation squad in Spain later this month. The Briton, who made the switch from INEOS Grenadiers, is currently in California to prepare for the new season, and will stay there a little longer than planned.
“Chris has made great strides in his rehabilitation and strength training,” said Paulo Saldanha, Head of Performance of the WorldTour team. “Our consultation showed that we think it is important that he continues to train in his current environment in California. We think this is the most conducive to continuing his progress, both on and off the bike.”
Israel Start-Up Nation’s plan was to complete a training camp in Israel with the entire squad, but due to a new lockdown in the country, the borders are closed to foreigners. “That’s why we do our training camp in Spain,” explains team owner Sylvan Adams. “It was impossible to go to Israel like we normally do. But our intention is to complete a second training camp in Israel as soon as possible.”
Israel Start-Up Nation, which in addition to Froome also signed Sep Vanmarcke, Michael Woods, Daryl Impey and Alessandro De Marchi for 2021, has the service course in Girona. In addition, many riders live in the region.
Froome training in California:
Team DSM and Hirschi Part Ways
Team DSM has reached a settlement agreement with their rider Marc Hirschi to terminate their present employment before the original end date of 31 December 2021. It has been agreed that the agreement will be terminated with immediate effect and that no further comments will be made.
Marc Hirschi experienced in 2020 a breakthrough season with some amazing highlights. Hirschi and the team brought home some great wins; a stage in the Tour de France and Flèche Wallonne. An exciting 2nd place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a podium finish at the Road World Championships (3rd) were a further display of the great season which youngster Hirschi experienced in 2020.
Team DSM wishes Marc Hirschi all the best for the continuation of his career and expresses its gratitude for what Marc Hirschi has contributed to the team.
Marc Hirschi off somewhere new (UAE Team Emirates, see bellow)?:
Marc Hirschi Goes to UAE Team Emirates
Marc Hirschi will be racing for UAE Team Emirates in the 2021 season. According to WielerFlits the first contacts were made through the Swiss connection with team manager Mauro Gianetti. In recent weeks, a transition from Team DSM has become negotiable and UAE Team Emirates acted very quickly.
Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar’s team hasn’t signed many new riders for 2021. Only Rafal Majka and Matteo Trentin are new big names. Financially, the team is in a strong position. Hirschi’s salary requirements were obviously no problem. The Swiss connection between Marc Hirschi, his agent Fabian Cancellara and UAE Team Emirates boss Mauro Gianetti, played an important role in the negotiations. It became clear in recently that INEOS Grenadiers, Trek-Segafredo, Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma no longer had room for Hirschi this season. Qhubeka-Assos was also a serious candidate to recruit Hirschi. Hirschi’s salary would then be an additional contribution from the Swiss sponsors of the team ASSOS, BMC and Breitling. His agent Fabian Cancellara is an ambassador for the bicycle brand BMC. Hirschi is personally sponsored by the watch brand Breitling. And Hirschi is also a friend of Breitling CEO George Kern. Breitling announced in November that it is starting a collaboration with Qhubeka. During the 2019 Tour de France it was reported that Hirschi had already been offered by Cancellara to various other WorldTour teams, which indicated that he no longer felt completely at home with Sunweb.
In the Classics, Hirschi can form a strong group in the Ardennes with Diego Ulissi, Davide Formolo, Rui Costa and possibly Tadej Pogacar, who showed he can also rode in the one-day races. In the cobbles races, he can combine well with Matteo Trentin, Fernando Gaviria and Alexander Kristoff.
Off to UAE Team Emirates:
Fabio Aru to Ride the Cyclocross World Championships
Fabio Aru has really got the taste of racing. There is even a chance that the thirty-year-old Italian will make his appearance at the Cyclocross World Championships in Ostend at the end of January. Aru has hinted that he would like to start in La Gazetta dello Sport: “If the national coach wants me to join, I will be available.”
Aru, who has dived into cyclocross several times in Italy in recent weeks, does not hide his love for ‘cross: “Washing yourself with no more than a bowl of water: it is like being a child again. It’s beautiful. I have really rediscovered the pleasure,” he told the Italian sports-paper.
The new recruit of Qhubeka Assos will ride the Italian championship in Lecce this weekend, but if it is up to him, it will not stop there. The World championships in Ostend is still on the rider’s wish list. “If the national coach wants me to come along, I am available.”
Aru says participating in the World title fight can be combined with the team training camp: “We will start on January 19 in Girona and we will stay there until the end of the month. From Spain I could go straight to Belgium.”
At the end of last year, Italian national coach Fausto Scotti announced that he would like to speak with Aru about the World championships. So there is a chance that the winner of the 2015 Vuelta a España coule be in Ostend.
De Plus Ambitious for 2021
Laurens De Plus cannot wait to complete his first race in his new INEOS Grenadiers kit. The Belgian climber faces a lot of internal competition at the British team. “But I really have ambition,” he told De Tribune.
For the 25-year-old De Plus, 2020 is a year to quickly forget. The climber only raced for Jumbo-Visma on four race days, as De Plus was struggling with his health and during the corona break also suffered a nasty hip injury. “I am glad that I was able to do a few more races in the end.”
“This is how I was able to experience the team’s victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Thanks to Primož Roglič’s victory in Liège, I was able to say goodbye to the team in a nice way. Otherwise it would have been sour.” De Plus is now training pain-free again and is ready to shine for INEOS Grenadiers. “I have had a good winter. Last month I completed a good training camp in Gran Canaria and this week we left for Gran Canaria again. I was super happy when I got to wear the Ineos outfit for the first time on January 1. It gave me an adrenaline boost. I am really looking forward to being able to shine again this year as in 2019.”
However, internal ‘competition’ is fierce, with Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Adam Yates, Richie Porte and Pavel Sivakov among others. “My role will not be as everyone probably thinks, I really have ambition.”
“We have agreed with the team that I will still go for the Grand Tours and go with the top riders. In certain races I will be allowed to take my own chance. The plan is to be good at the Ardennes classics and to get a free role there. The other races? Of course I’m not retarded. We have a super team and it will be nice to race for victory with the team.”
Laurens De Plus:
Masnada Preparing for Giro/Vuelta Combination
Fausto Masnada will be at the start of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España in 2021. “And I hope to be even stronger this year and to help my teammate Remco Evenepoel to an overall victory in a grand tour,” Masnada told Tuttobiciweb.
The 27-year-old Italian rode the Tour of Italy for Deceuninck – Quick-Step last year and eventually finished ninth overall. He also finished sixth in Tirreno-Adriatico in 2020, after leaving CCC. Masnada hopes to take an extra step in his development this year. The climber will start the new season a little later. “We still have to make a few decisions now that the multi-day races in Argentina and Turkey have been canceled. What is certain is that I will contest the Giro and Vuelta this year. I hope to grow even further as a rider in the Grand Yours. I would like to help Remco to an overall victory.”
Evenepoel has not yet made a plan for 2021, but the chances are slim that he will make his Tour debut this year. “I first want to start in one of the other two Grand Tours and finish it before I go to the Tour,” the 20-year-old Belgian said earlier. “First see what the result is there. Then we can speak of more.” One thing is for sure: Evenepoel will be able to count on Masnada’s unconditional support by then. “The most important thing is to help a teammate to a victory in a Grand Tour. If during a stage I get the freedom to hunt for a stage victory, I am of course ready.”
Fausto Masnada with Davide Ballerini and Joao Almeida:
Team Travel to UAE for 2021 camp
Full squad depart to Middle-east to kick-off new campaign.
UAE Team Emirates will gather in the United Arab Emirates from 6-22 January for a training camp ahead of the 2021 cycling season. The team will arrive in Dubai on the 6th January before travelling to Abu Dhabi to meet with sponsors and participate in other team engagements.
The second half of the camp will be based in Al-Ain and focus more on training, where the riders will take in challenging terrain, including the Jebel Hafeet climb where Tadej Pogačar won a thrilling stage 5 of the 2020 UAE Tour.
Campagnolo Announces Partnership with BMC Switzerland, Supplying AG2R Citroën Team
Campagnolo is pleased to announce its partnership with premium Swiss manufacturer BMC, in supplying AG2R CITROËN TEAM, formerly Team AG2R La Mondiale, for the 2021 season.
The French WorldTour team, as well as its U23 squad, will ride with Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS disc brake groupset fitted to BMC’s Teammachine SLR01 throughout the upcoming 2021 racing calendar. AG2R Citroën Team’s BMC bikes will also benefit from Campagnolo’s full range of Bora WTO and Bora Ultra disc wheels, completing an all-Italian drivetrain and wheelset package for the team.
Pro team partnerships are a source of pride but also provide opportunities for valuable feedback from riders. BMC is a brand that shares a great deal with Campagnolo – a pursuit of innovation, a desire to produce distinctive and premium products, but most importantly, a passion and commitment to cycle racing.
“As official bike partner for AG2R CITROËN TEAM, we’re delighted to be working with Campagnolo. Maintaining a strong presence at the highest level of road racing is integral to BMC’s brand vision so naturally we choose our partnerships very carefully. In Campagnolo, we have a manufacturer that shares our outlook, with a proven track record in delivering race-winning components. We look forward to the realisation of this ambitious sporting project.” added David Zurcher, CEO of BMC Switzerland
“We are very happy to have Campagnolo with us for 2021. Campagnolo is renowned in the cycling world for its performance products, its racing heritage and love for the sport. Combining such an excellent brand with our new bike partner BMC gives me great confidence as we head into a new chapter for the AG2R CITROËN TEAM.” added Managing Director Vincent Lavenu.
Gobik Presents the New Kit of the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team
The first project in the ProTeam category of the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team shows its new skin. After a small advance in the last days of 2020, the professional structure of the Contador Foundation presents what will be its new clothing, made by the Murcian firm Gobik.
New KIT In Town
Bingoal-WB Cycling Team is proud to announce its jersey for the 2021 season!
Thank you to all partners of the team! See the video HERE.
Grega Bole Does Not Want to Stop Yet
Grega Bole is still looking for a new team. The 35-year-old Slovenian had to leave Bahrain-McLaren after four years and started 2021 without a professional contract. Bole told WielerFlits that he has not stopped yet.
“I’m still hoping for a continuation of my career, but for now I don’t have a team yet,” said Bole, who became a pro at Lampre-Farnese Vini in 2010 and later raced for Vacansoleil-DCM, Vini Fantini-Nippo, CCC Sprandi Polkowice and again Nippo-Vini Fantini. The Slovenian knows that it will be difficult. “I don’t think I have much time left,” he said.
Bole currently has had no contact with teams and does not hear from his manager either. “I’m now in Dubai, and I’m looking for something to do cycling here. There will be another event for locals soon, The problem is that I can’t do anything in Slovenia because of the corona virus. That is why it is quite a risk to start something new there.”
Bole’s palmarès include victories in the GP de Plouay (2011), the final classification of the Tour de Korea (2016), the GP Costa degli Etruschi (2016) and a stage win in the Critérium du Dauphiné (2010).
Sicot Suspended for Two Years for EPO Use
Marion Sicot has been retroactively suspended for two years by the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD for the use of EPO. Sicot announced the ban via social media.
“I have been suspended for seventeen months, now I have finally received the verdict from the AFLD,” said the former Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport rider in a statement on Facebook. “I was suspended for a total of two years and I can resume the competition on July 19, 2021.”
Sicot was caught using EPO after the 2019 French Championship. Initially, Sicot advocated her innocence, but eventually confessed to ordering EPO online. According to the 28-year-old rider, she did this to show her then sports director Marc Bracke “a performance, which would make him consider me equal to the other girls.”
Bracke asked Sicot to send photos in underwear in November 2018, so that the manager could check the Frenchwoman for physical condition and weight. Sicot filed a complaint and the UCI ethics committee indicated in October last year that the cycling union’s code of ethics has been violated and that criminal proceedings have been started. “Marc Bracke obligated Sicot to humiliating activities with a sexual connotation, which had no sporting purpose whatsoever. Nevertheless, he was very well aware of the precarious situation of this young woman,” was part of the AFLD statement. “Marion Sicot was looking for a way to escape the intimidation of her sports director through a better sporting level. It is in these very specific circumstances that Ms Sicot took doping.”
Sicot says it is quite a relief that her story has been understood by the authorities. “I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to thank my family, friends and everyone who has supported me from the bottom of my heart.”
Marion Sicot in Flanders’19:
Missaglia and Vierhouten Complete Team Qhubeka ASSOS Performance Team
Team Qhubeka ASSOS has confirmed that Gabriele Missaglia and Aart Vierhouten will take on directeur sportif roles’ for the upcoming season, and in the process complete the makeup of our performance team.
Former professional, Missaglia (50), rode for 14 years and immediately made the enormously successful switch to the car in the role of Sports Director. His riding career included stage wins at Pais Vasco, Giro d’Italia, Tour de Suisse, Volta Catalunya, Grand Prix Hamburgo World Cup, the Tour de Langkawi GC, Tour of Quinghai Lake GC as well as placing third at the Amstel Gold Race (’99). His most recent role saw him spend nine years with the CCC team playing a crucial part in the development phase of the team right up to WorldTour level.
Vierhouten (50) brings a unique skill set that includes the role of Sports Director as well as an exceptional ability as a coach. A prominent career on the road for the Dutchman with among others Rabobank, Skil-Shimano and Lotto, saw him feature as a lead-out man for Robbie McEwen for a large portion. His role as road captain at the Spring Classics as well as multiple participations at all the Grand Tours are testament to his leadership abilities that will be crucially important to our goals in 2021.
Gabriele Missaglia: “For me, working with Team Qhubeka Assos will be fantastic, and I’m so grateful for this new opportunity. So for this, I want to express my thanks to Doug and all of the team management. I look forward to finding a new family with whom to share many beautiful things in a project that I believe in. I’m sure we’ll be the surprise team next season! Of course, experience tells me that there will be difficult moments but I’m prepared and ready for anything. When I have free time I love to ride my bike for many kilometres just like when I was rider but now, of course, with different goals!”
Aart Vierhouten: “I am really looking forward to being on the road again and to help young sportsmen to fulfil their dreams, even through the tough times with Team Qhubeka ASSOS. I am excited to share my experience as a former race captain with the aim; to build a strong, committed team where passion and “Go-For-It” are the keywords. Together with the Qhubeka Charity, we also have a story to tell! I would like to contribute to this 100%. I still love to ride my bike and every year I have a + 400 km ride with some friends and former professionals. It is called ‘the Longest Day ride’ – normally around June 21st – so I’ll have to ask the team for that day off!”
Lars Michaelsen: “In Gabriele we have someone who has a wealth of experience both from his career as a rider together with that as a sports director. I think he has a great approach and way of thinking and he will be an important part of our setup with his experience across the board including the ability to lead us at Grand Tours. Aart will bring a very varied skill set that will be very valuable for our squad. His coaching expertise and guidance on offer to some of the young signings this year including the likes of Karel Vacek and Mauro Schmid will be very important. That, together with his upcoming ability as a director, is something that we are excited about to go with his wider experience and great network within the sport.”
Qhubeka support team:
Team DSM add Wilbert Broekhuizen to Coaching Staff
Team DSM are happy to announce that Wilbert Broekhuizen will join their coaching staff for the 2021 season.
Broekhuizen most recently worked at BEAT Cycling as a coach, as well as in an operational role for the track and road teams. Under his tutelage, he was part of successful road seasons for the Dutch based team, alongside their impressive displays on the track. Holding a Bachelors degree in Human Movements and Sports, alongside his masters in Educational Leadership, Broekhuizen aims to bring those organisational and learned qualities with him to Team DSM.
On joining Team DSM Wilbert Broekhuizen explained: “I’m really excited to join Team DSM in 2021, where I am looking forward to coaching at the highest level and working with a group of really motivated and committed people. I believe that with good cooperation you can achieve a lot more together than as an individual – something the team believes in and show through their performances on and off the bike. I think the structure of Team DSM will suit me well personally and I can’t wait to get started and achieve some good things together.”
Team DSM head of coaching Rudi Kemna added: “Wilbert joins us from BEAT Cycling where his coaching ability and organisational skills really caught our eye. As we have gotten to know each other he has really impressed us with both his ability and approach to his work, we think he will be a great motivator for our riders and staff. We are confident that he will be a great fit to the team and are looking forward to getting the season underway as we further strengthen our coaching team.”
Digitalum Partners Up with Lotto Soudal Ladies
Digitalum, a Belgian e-commerce specialist, becomes partner of the Lotto Soudal Ladies Team and their logo gets a place at the front of the shirt of the women. Digitalum had the specific intention to sponsor a women’s team. “With this partnership we want to emphasise that the ICT world doesn’t have to be a predominantly male environment.”
“We went looking for a women’s sports team and we immediately felt a match with Lotto Soudal,” says Diederik Bots, CEO of Digitalum. “The ICT sector mainly is a men’s world and we hope that more and more women find the way to our sector. That’s why we intentionally chose to become partner of a women’s team.”
John Lelangue, General Manager Lotto Soudal: “We are proud to welcome Digitalum as a new partner. We could immediately relate to each other’s philosophy and values. Digitalum guarantees a high-tech approach and with the Lotto Soudal Performance Department we also want to work with new technologies. We are especially very proud that Digitalum specifically invests in our Ladies Team. That perfectly fits the professionalisation we are striving for. Women’s cycling is booming and it’s wonderful that not only our existing partners invest in women’s cycling, but that there are also new partners who want to write this story together with us.”
Clearing the head
The owners of Digitalum love to cycle too. Cycling as a sport and cycling in general are perfect for meeting new people and for exchanging ideas. That’s why they are member of the business network Voka Fietst (Voka Cycles). “But most of all it helps to clear the head,” says Diederik Bots. “It’s the diversion we all need, especially in times like these when it’s all the more important to think of one’s mental and physical health. Now and then we also try to organise a cycling activity among colleagues in the digital world (Zwift). At Digitalum we are all looking forward to next season to cheer on the entire Lotto Soudal team by the side of the road, when that’s possible again, and hopefully we see many victories from the Ladies.”
Diederik Bots founded Digitalum together with some partners in August 2018. The company offers expertise and solutions for e-commerce and online customer experiences. Immediately, you think of the standard web shops, but Digitalum focuses more on the online B2B portals and online customer experiences. Digitalum has large international players as well as local companies amongst its customers. They work together with Yamaha, Bose, Firestone, Atlas Copco and Jaga, among others.
Diederik Bots: “We help our clients to make the entire process of online transactions as efficient as possible. Therefore we mainly work with local talent, so without the apparently cheap but often inefficient offshore models. We now work with 30 people. Most of them are senior profiles with tons of experience in the matter, so we can immediately offer the right surplus value to our clients.”
“At the moment we have only one woman in our team, but that definitely is not because women are not welcome or because women could not offer a surplus value in a mainly technical company. On the contrary. And we want to emphasise that again with this partnership with the Lotto Soudal Ladies. We can perfectly relate to their winner’s mentality, combined with friendly professionals. It matches the ambition of Digitalum. Our company is expanding and I want to do another call to women in the ICT sector to take a look at our vacancies.”
New Hygiene Sponsor for Jumbo-Visma
Jumbo-Visma has a collaboration with a hygiene sponsor from this season. The cycling team has signed a deal for the next four years with MTS Euro Products from Maassluis, which will provide the riders and staff with various hygiene products and tips in the field of hygiene.
MTS Euro Products is a supplier of products such as toilet and towel paper, dispensers, cleaning paper, cleaning rags, non-wovens, soaps and absorption materials. Reason enough for team director Richard Plugge to conclude an agreement. “The topic of hygiene has always received special attention within our teams, which are on the road almost all year round,” said Plugge.
“In the present times, the importance of good hygiene has only grown. We are very excited to have found a partner with MTS Euro Products who will help us even further in this area, by sharing knowledge, innovations and supplying high-quality products,” says the director of Jumbo-Visma.
“The Dutch roots of Team Jumbo-Visma, in combination with the international exposure generated by the team, tie in very well with our international strategy for the coming years,” adds Sander Ekhart (commercial director of MTS Euro Products). “I am proud that with Jumbo-Visma we have a partner that is among the absolute best in the world. This ties in closely with the vision and position of MTS Euro Products. Just like the team, we strive for the highest possible every day.”
Jumbo-Visma staying clean:
Paris-Nice 2021: An Exceptional Vintage?
Since 1933 Paris-Nice has come of age but by remaining faithful to its traditions while bringing in new ideas, the Race to the Sun has remained the reference stage race of the early season. The 2021 vintage will look to the hillsides of Maconnais and Beaujolais for added flavour in an extremely bumpy 4th stage which should be one of the highlights of the edition. “We needed a hard-fought stage early in the race,” said race director François Lemarchand. “The riders tend to have their habits and it’s our duty to try and unsettle them a little.” The peloton will ride the Hill of Solutré, then will twice climb Mont Brouilly, made famous by Julian Alaphilippe’s time trial victory in 2017, before reaching a tough new finale in Chiroubles with a 7.3-km ascent at 6 pc. In all, the riders will have to swallow 3,500 metres of elevation.
Overall positions, already established by a 14.5-km individual time trial on flat terrain around Gien the day before, should become even clearer before the final weekend around Nice, where the race will return to its traditional playground. The Colmiane pass, in the Valdeblore Valley overlooking Nice, is becoming a regular fixture of Paris-Nice after the victories by Simon Yates in 2018 and Nairo Quintana in 2020 and the peloton will have a thought for the populations of the Vesubie, Tinee and Roya valleys, badly hit by storms and landslides last October. “Unfortunately, we cannot go back to the Vesubie Valley for now, but we had to return to La Colmiane to pay homage to the population,” said François Lemarchand.
The Brignoles to Biot stage on the Friday is identical to the stage held in 2011 on the same course, with the ascent of Col du Ferrier halfway through, while the short and intense finale in the Nice hinterland on the Sunday, which the riders were forced to shun in 2020, will follow the same route as in 2019, with Côte de Peille and Col d’Eze among the main climbs. Everybody knows how close this last stage can be as the victories by Geraint Thomas in 2016, Sergio Henao in 2017 and Marc Soler in 2018 were all won by margins of under four seconds.
The race starter will be held for 12th time in the Yvelines department, outside Paris, for a Grand Depart in St Cyr l’Ecole, through which the Tour de France rode in September. Like last year – and it will also be the case for the second stage between Oinville-sur-Montcient and Amilly – weather conditions and especially sidewinds could be damaging and prevent sprinters to have the final say. A bunch sprint looks likely however in the 5th stage in the Rhone Valley between Vienne and Bollene.
Ø Paris-Nice 2021 stages
Sunday, March 7th, stage 1: Saint-Cyr-L’École > Saint-Cyr-L’École, 166 km
Monday, March 8th, stage 2: Oinville-sur-Montcient > Amilly, 188 km
Tuesday, March 9th, stage 3: Gien > Gien, 14,4 km (individual time trial)
Wednesday, March 10th, stage 4: Chalon-sur-Saône > Chiroubles, 188 km
Thursday, March 11th, stage 5: Vienne > Bollène, 203 km
Friday, March 12th, stage 6: Brignoles > Biot, 202,5 km
Saturday, March 13th, stage 7: Nice > Valdeblore La Colmiane, 166,5 km
Sunday, March 14th, stage 8: Nice > Nice, 110,5 km
Ø 23 teams selected
In accordance with Union Cycliste Internationale rules, the following nineteen UCI WorldTeams are automatically invited to the race:
AG2R Citroën Team (Fra)
Astana – Premier Tech (Kaz)
Bahrain Victorious (Brn)
Bora – Hansgrohe (Ger)
Deceuninck – Quick-Step (Bel)
EF Education – NIPPO (USA)
Groupama – FDJ (Fra)
Ineos Grenadiers (GB)
Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux (Bel)
Israel Start-Up Nation (Isr)
Jumbo – Visma (Ned)
Lotto Soudal (Bel)
Movistar Team (Spa)
Team BikeExchange (Aus)
Team DSM (Ger)
Team Qhubeka Assos (RSA)
Trek – Segafredo (USA)
UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
Furthermore, the team Alpecin-Fenix, leader in the 2020 classification of UCI ProTeams will take part by right in Paris-Nice 2021.
The organisers have invited the following teams:
B&B Hotels P/B KTM (Fra)
Team Arkéa – Samsic (Fra)
Total Direct Energie (Fra)
Ø For the 12th year in succession, Paris-Nice will start from the Yvelines department. St Cyr L’Ecole will be the start of this 79th edition after Plaisir a year ago.
Ø The Paris-Nice peloton will tackle the Colmiane climb for the third time in four years. Simon Yates was first at the top of the ascent in 2018 while Nairo Quintana won last year’s final stage year there as Maximilian Schachmann was crowned overall.
Ø For the 79th edition of Paris-Nice, Century 21 will sponsor the best young rider’s white jersey. Antargaz also becomes an official partner of Paris-Nice as the sponsor of the most aggressive rider classification.
Record Number of WorldTeams in Volta ao Algarve
The organisation of the Volta ao Algarve has announced the teams who will start in the five-day race next month. There are fourteen WorldTeams, which is a record for the Portuguese event. Last year, Remco Evenepoel took the overall victory.
It was already known that the Volta ao Algarve could count on a lot of interest from the peloton. No fewer than thirty non-Portuguese teams had indicated that they wanted to ride the stage race. The organisation will have fourteen WorldTeams in February, two more than in 2020. Jumbo-Visma and Movistar will return to the race after one and two years respectively. Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Rally Cycling are the only ProTeams at the start. The field of participants is completed with all nine Portuguese continental teams.
The 47th Volta ao Algarve starts on Wednesday, February 17. The five-day race ends on Sunday, February 21.
Teams for the Volta ao Algarve 2021:
Astana-Premier Tech (Kaz)
Deceuninck – Quick-Step (Bel)
INEOS Grenadiers (GB)
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux (Bel)
Israel Start-Up Nation (Isr)
Lotto Soudal (Bel)
Team DSM (Ger)
UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (Spa)
Rally Cycling (USA)
Atum General-Tavira-Maria Nova Hotel (Port)
L.A. Aluminios-L.A. Sport (Port)
Louletano-Loulé Concelho (Port)
Radio Popular Boavista (Port)
W52-FC Porto (Port).
Evenepoel on the attack in Algarve 2019:
Volta ao Alentejo Postponed
The Volta ao Alentejo has been temporarily postponed by the organisers. The Portuguese sports newspaper A Bola reports that the five-day stage race (UCI 2.2) will not be held from 17-21 March as a result of the corona crisis.
A new date for the Volta ao Alentejo has not yet been found. “At the moment, more than two months in advance, there are no conditions for us to let the race go ahead,” Carlos Pinto de Sá, president of the Alentejo administrative region, told A Bola. “The event in the first quarter of the year is impossible.”
“If the situation develops favourably, we can race, but on different dates,” said Pinto de Sá, who emphasises that the race has not yet been canceled. At a later time in the year, the organisation and the local and regional authorities will have to decide on the course of the Volta ao Alentejo. Last year, the Portuguese stage race, was canceled at the last minute due to the corona virus. João Rodrigues the last overall winner.
Enrique Sanz (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias) wins stage 2 of the Volta ao Alentejo 2019:
Eight Continental Teams for the Olympia’s Tour
Olympia’s Tour will have at least eight Continental teams on the start line this year. The oldest stage race in the Netherlands has unveiled the first eighteen teams for the 2021 edition. Among the participating teams are eight UCI Continental Teams and ten club teams. From the Netherlands, Metec-Solarwatt, SEG Racing Academy, VolkerWessels CT and A Bloc CT agreed to start.
These home-grown continental teams compete against the Uno-X Dare Development Team, Ringeriks-Kraft (Norway), Tirol-KTM (Austria), Lotto-Kern Haus (Germany). The club teams Lotto Soudal U23, Home Solutions-Soenens and Steeds Vooraan Kontich also come from Belgium. Seven teams come from outside Holland.
As the oldest Dutch stage race, Olympia’s Tour is also a very suitable podium for the best club riders to ride in the shop window. Allinq-Krush-IJsselstreek, John Deere-NWVG, Sensa-Kanjers voor Kanjers, Van Uitert-De Jonge Renner, Dutch Food Valley Cycling Team, Paddlers/Kannibaal and TWC Tempo Hoppenbrouwers-Viro provide the strongest input from the club teams.
Olympia’s Tour 2021 is on the calendar for March 9-12. The 2020 edition could not take place due to the corona measures.
Former Yellow Jersey Wearer Hassenforder Passes Away
Former cyclist Roger Hassenforder passed away on Sunday at the age of 90. The Frenchman was a professional cyclist for 12 years in the 1950s and 1960s. In those years he won, among other things, eight stages in the Tour de France.
Roger Hassenforder wins stage 5 of the Tour de France 1955 in Colmar
Hassenforder died on January 3 in the Colmar care centre, located in his home region of Alsace. The former cyclist had been living in the home since last summer. His family confirmed his death to the newspaper L’Alsace.
In 1953, Hassenforder wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France for four days. In the fifth stage to Caen he finished second, but he took the leader’s jersey. After the ninth stage, Bordeaux-Pau, he lost the yellow jersey to the Swiss rider Fritz Schär. The former rider’s palmarès also includes the final overall win in the Circuit du Provence, a stage victory in the Vuelta a España 1957 and a stage victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné 1953.
Roger Hassenforder owned a hotel-restaurant in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France:
Matt Stephens Gets to Know the Grenadiers: New signings
Beer or coffee? Neighbours or Home and Away? And who would win a Yates v Yates arm wrestling contest? Kickstart 2021 by getting to know a trio of new Grenadiers as Matt Stephens grills Laurens De Plus, Richie Porte and Adam Yates with a host of typically hard-hitting questions.
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