EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

The Strade Bianche is on Saturday and we have all the team news from Tuscany, plus Paris-Nice and race report from Le Samyn with video. Vampires return – Top Story. UAE Team Emirates have been in the wind tunnel, Adam Yates returns to the Tour de France, Victor Campenaerts and the Hour Record, E3 BrinckBank lose the frog, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA to ride the Hammer Series, Skoda and ASO and the best video moments from the UAE Tour 2019. Loads of EUROTRASH Thursday cycling news.

TOP STORY: Vampires Return!
Just as we were thinking the World of doping was on its way out of cycling, the blood-doping investigation in Austria. Originally concerning cross-country skiers, has pulled in pro cyclists Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl.

Denifl had a contract with the CCC team for 2019, but terminated the agreement before the start of the year for ‘personal reasons’. Denifl is mentioned in the Austrian doping scandal, which recently came to light. The main focus of the case centers on the German doctor Mark Schmidt, who in the past was a doctor with the Gerolsteiner team. In recent years Schmidt has worked in various branches of sport. Until recently he has been ‘helping’ athletes, footballers and swimmers. Several cross-country skiers have also been associated with the use of blood doping, Austrian Max Hauke ​​was recently caught during a blood transfusion.

Georg Preidler admitted to Austrian media that he has used blood doping during his pro career. Preidler went to the police on Sunday to confiscate doping use. “I had drained my blood, but never put it back. But just the thought and the fraudulent intentions are a crime,” he said to the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung. “The past few days have been a nightmare. I could not sleep or eat. I do not know if I am being convicted. I do not know if the doping doctor has coded everything. But I could no longer live with this secret.”

According to Preidler, he came in contact with the doping doctor because Schmidt made the first move. “All my successes, such as in the Giro, were clean. I was good without doping and never raced false. That makes you interesting.” They convinced him that there is always the pressure of performance and the worries about a new contract. “And then you hear that more athletes use it. That slowly takes away the pressure. They assured me that I would not be caught. You train day after day, but you never finish first. Then you want more. Blood doping does not require much effort either; they come to you and take it away.” In the end Preidler gave in. “That was my biggest mistake ever. I have to say sorry to anyone who feels cheated. I’m sorry! The coming weeks will be difficult. But I do not know the names of the other athletes. But I can imagine that there will be an international earthquake.”

As a result of the confessions of Preidler and Denifl in the Austrian doping scandal, the UCI has suspended both riders for the time being. The statements of both cyclists are also included in the documents from the current investigation in Austria into doping use in cross-country skiing. On that basis, the UCI issued provisional suspensions. The cycling union say they will help the Austrian anti-doping agency NADA in the upcoming proceedings against Preidler and Denifl. In addition, the UCI will help all other parties involved.

The doping scandal in Austria is taking a new turn. Forty blood bags have been found and the police have made an appeal to athletes to declare themselves. Will there now be a repeat of the ‘Operación Puerto’ and the hushing up of athletes from other sports?

Denifl and Preidler – Not much to celebrate:

Le Samyn 2019
Florian Sénéchal gave Deceuninck – Quick-Step its third win in the spring Classics, winning the 51st edition of Le Samyn on Tuesday. The Frenchman out-sprinted Aimé De Gendt (Wanty-Gobert) and 2018 race winner, Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie) after a tough race.

The pace was very high from the start, which was the signal for an early finish. The peloton broke in different groups. Defending champion Terpstra had initially been surprised, but the Dutchman gave his Direct Energie team their orders 70 kilometers from the finish. Adrien Petit worked the hardest for Terpstra and partly due to him, a new leading group of ten riders broke free. Terpstra was there with Brian van Goethem and Deceuninck Quick-Step riders Rémi Cavagna, Tim Declercq and Pieter Serry. This group did not succeed, and so there was a regrouping of about 60 riders with 50 kilometers left to race. Next to try was Pieter Serry and Aimé De Gendt, the two Belgians had a maximum lead of 30 seconds.

Serry and De Gendt were caught by five counter-attackers: Elmar Reinders, Jesper Asselman, Stijn Vandenbergh, Declercq and Rémy Mertz with 20 kilometers to go. Direct Energie kept the pace high in the chasing group, to give leader, Terpstra, another chance of the win.

Terpstra attacked on the Chemin de Wihéries, hoping to catch the leaders. He succeeded, but he brought Lars Boom and the Florian Sénéchal with him to have ten riders up front with 10 kilometers to go. Terpstra, Boom and Sénéchal all tried to go solo, but none could make it stick. Then on the cobbles of the Rue de Belle Vue, 4 kilometers from the finish, Sénéchal accelerated taking Boom and Terpstra with him. The three looked like they had the race, but De Gendt and Declercq managed to cross to them. As they all looked at each other, Declercq jumped away, but he was caught before the finish by a sprinting Boom. The Dutchman had made his move too early and was passed by Sénéchal, who won the sprint with De Gendt and Terpstra in his wake.

Le Samyn winner,Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Everyone was telling me I was going to win it, so I started believing it would happen. I had a great team around me, which worked the entire day and had confidence in me – Tim, Rémi and Pieter were all fantastic – and I didn’t do any reckless moves, unlike other years, when I came close of winning it. Despite that attack on the final cobblestone sector, the plan was to wait for the sprint, as I felt very strong, and it turned out great for me and the team. Le Samyn is such a beautiful race and I’m extremely happy I came out on top, especially as today is the birthday of my wife, Margot. She told me before the start that she wants me to win and I am glad I could make her such a gift and celebrate my first pro win together with her at the finish. It’s an extraordinary day that I will never forget!”

2nd, Aimé De Gendt (Wanty-Gobert): “The moment I attacked with Serry I was hoping for a few more companions. It was tough fighting against the wind with only two riders. But we kept on pacing until we got company in the final. When the eight riders joined us after 30 kilometers I decided to save some strength with an eye on the final kilometers. Sénéchal was the strongest in the sprint, but I was able to stay ahead of all the others. I had already used a lot of energy in my previous efforts. This podium spot in the opener of the Walloon cycling season is of course a very nice reward for our sponsors. I will be competing in GP Monseré in Roeselare on Sunday, followed by a short training camp in Spain. After that I will compete in most of the classics. Last year I was ill during this period, so I hope to really show my value in the upcoming weeks.”

3rd, Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie): “I am very happy, a new podium place is just right. I am happy with how the team has ridden. They managed to put everything aside for the cobbled sections, so I could ride to the leading group. Sénéchal was already one of the top favorites for the start, given his strong final sprint. It was really a tactical joust for the victory in the final. I am very happy indeed. A new podium place is just right. Remember, I am not a multi-winner. I sometimes win nice races, but I do not win much.”

Le Samyn Result:
1. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 4:38:20
2. Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
3. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie
4. Lars Boom (Ned) Roompot-Charles
5. Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step at 0:01
6. Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale
7. Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:06
8. Elmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Charles at 0:08
9. Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles at 0:14
10. Rémy Mertz (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:19.

Strade Bianche 2019
Saturday sees the pro peloton in Italy riding the ‘white roads’ of Tuscany in the 13th Strade Bianche. The weather forecast sounds to be dry, so no repeat of the 2018 mud bath, it will be dusty this year.

The PEZ Strade Bianche preview HERE.

2019 Strade Bianche: Everyone want to Emulate Benoot and Van Der Breggen
The Men’s and Women’s provisional entry lists are announced, with 21 teams each at the start of the “Northern Classic in the south of Europe”. 5,000 starters in Sunday’s Gran Fondo.

A great battle is expected on the course of Strade Bianche on Saturday 9 March. Last year’s winner, Tiesj Benoot, and many other champions are also announced at the start, including the 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, multiple Grand Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali, previous Strade Bianche winners Moreno Moser (2013) and Zdenek Stybar (2015) and his team mate Julian Alaphilippe, Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet and former Cyclocross World Champion Wout van Aert amongst many others. In the Men’s race the 21 teams are each made up of seven riders, while the 21 Women’s teams will be composed of six athletes each – with dossard no 1 to be worn by last year’s winner and UCI Road World Champion, Anna van der Breggen.

184km, 11 sectors and 63km on gravel roads (34.2% of the course)

UCI WORLDTEAMS – 21 teams of 7 riders each – 18 teams invited by UCI rules:
LOTTO SOUDAL (BEL) – Benoot, Wellens
AG2R LA MONDIALE (FRA) – Latour, Dillier
ASTANA PRO TEAM (KAZ) – Fuglsang, Lutsenko
BAHRAIN – MERIDA (BRN) – Nibali, Mohoric
CCC TEAM (POL) – Van Avermaet, Schaer
DECEUNINCK – QUICK – STEP (BEL) – Stybar, Alaphilippe
EF EDUCATION FIRST (USA) – Clarke, Kangert
GROUPAMA – FDJ (FRA) – Küng, Ludvigsson
MITCHELTON – SCOTT (AUS) – Juul Jensen, Scotson
MOVISTAR TEAM (ESP) – Landa, Bennati
TEAM DIMENSION DATA (RSA) – Kreuziger, Valgren
TEAM JUMBO – VISMA (NED) – Van Aert, Van Poppel
TEAM SKY (GBR) – Thomas, Moscon
TEAM SUNWEB (GER) – Roche, Arndt
TREK – SEGAFREDO (USA) – Mollema, Brambilla
UAE TEAM EMIRATES (UAE) – Gaviria, Rui Costa
UCI Professional Continental Teams – 3 wild cards

VITAL CONCEPT – B&B HOTELS (FRA) – Bagot, De Backer.

136km, 8 sectors and 31.4km on gravel roads (23.1% of the course)

UCI Women’s Teams – 21 teams of 6 riders each – 14 teams invited by UCI rules:
ALE CIPOLLINI (ITA) – Quagliotto, Yonamine
BIGLA (DEN) – Ludwig, Wright
CANYON / /SRAM RACING (GER) – Niewiadoma, Cecchini
CCC – LIV (NED) – Vos, Moolman-Pasio
MITCHELTON SCOTT (AUS) – Van Vleuten, Spratt
MOVISTAR TEAM WOMEN (ESP) – Biannic, Gonzalez
TEAM SUNWEB (NED) – Brand, Rivera
TEAM VIRTU CYCLING (DEN) – Bastianelli, Aalerud
TREK – SEGAFREDO (USA) – Longo Borghini, Neff
VALCAR CYLANCE CYCLING (ITA) – Balsamo, Confalonieri

7 wild cards:
BEPINK (ITA) – Guderzo, Medvedova
BTC CITY LJUBLJANA (SLO) – Pintar, Simmonds
LOTTO SOUDAL LADIES (BEL) – Van den Steen, Christmas
TOP GIRLS FASSA BORTOLO (ITA) – Tomasi, Dalla Valle.

Sunday 10 March – The Gran Fondo
On Sunday 10 March, over the very same course as the women’s pro race the previous day, the Gran Fondo will see 5,000 sportive riders taking on the Strade Bianche of the Terre di Siena. At the start of the sportive race, members of Team Sky will line up, including riders Gianni Moscon and Leonardo Basso and Sport Directors Matteo Tosatto and Dario David Cioni.

Race Headquarter
The Race Headquarter will be, as per the previous editions for both preliminary operations and race day, Palazzo Sansedoni, home of the Montepaschi Foundation and historic building facing Piazza del Campo.

Defending champion Benoot Previews Strade Bianche
On Saturday 9 March, the Strade Bianche takes place around the Tuscan city of Siena. The race on the white gravel paths is already being called a Classic although it is only the thirteenth edition. Since 2017, it is also a WorldTour race. Last year, Lotto Soudal rider Tiesj Benoot took the victory in a heroic way. Together with sports director Bart Leysen he estimates his chances this year.

Tiesj Benoot: “The Strade Bianche is one of the races which suits me the best. Last year, I won but also in the previous years I obtained a good result, so I am really looking forward to it. It will be special to start with number 1 in a race of that caliber. For me, the finish at the Piazza del Campo in Siena is one of the most beautiful ones, maybe together with the Champs-Élysées. It is thus a special place for me.”

“It will be very difficult to repeat last year’s performance but with the legs I had during the Omloop, I can certainly compete for the victory. I hope to have the same feeling on Saturday but the shape is already good. Of course, the crash was not ideal. My knee has been stitched and we will have to evaluate how it heals day by day.”

“There are a lot of heavy gravel roads but the biggest break-up will probably take place after the two long sections just before the feed zone. The area of Monte Sante Marie is very technical with some steep parts uphill and downhill. It is really a grueling race which is underestimated by many riders. Percentage-wise there is even more gravel in the Strade Bianche than cobbles in Paris-Roubaix. Moreover, there are around 3,000 altimeters to overcome. Last year, the cold weather also had an influence. The forecasts are better now but I do not focus on that since the course is tough enough to make the difference.”

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “After the Flemish opening weekend, the feeling within the team is good. The riders were alert during the two races and we are very satisfied with the podium place of Tim Wellens in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The unfortunate crash of Tiesj Benoot might not have consequences for the Strade Bianche. We will have to wait and see how he feels on the bike but he is certainly fit enough. With Tim Wellens, we also have a second candidate for the victory. For me, they are equal so I do not put one of them forward as the real leader. I am very glad that we can head towards a Classic such as the Strade Bianche with two irons in the fire.”

“The best scenario for us, is riding solo to the finish. However, I also dare to wait for the last climb in Siena. Tiesj and Tim can certainly handle that climb in a select group. After such a race, you never know exactly how strong the other riders still are. The influence of bad weather is also big because the chance of a setback is higher, which has often proved to be fatal. This year the circumstances will be better than the last edition, which is a significant difference for the evolution of the race. I expect that a rather large group will remain after the last gravel stretch. After that it will be a cat-and-mouse game direction Siena. It will especially be important not to end up on the defensive at that moment.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Tiesj Benoot, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Jens Keukeleire, Tomasz Marczyński, Lawrence Naesen, Tosh Van der Sande and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen, Mario Aerts and Kevin De Weert.

Tiesj Benoot solo in 2018 Strade Bianche:

Van Avermaet Returns to Strade Bianche Eyeing Podium Result
Following an aggressive ride and second place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Greg Van Avermaet is looking to carry his solid form to Italy when he returns to the start line of Strade Bianche on Saturday, 9 March.

CCC Team’s core Classics roster will support Van Avermaet at the race, which is famous for the iconic white dirt roads which make up more than 60 kilometers of the 184-kilometer race.

“We saw at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad that Greg Van Avermaet is really strong at the moment. He had a great race and with Strade Bianche suiting his characteristics very well, we are aiming for another good result on Saturday. Michael Schär and Łukasz Wiśniowski have lined up before, whereas Josef Černy, Gijs Van Hoecke, Nathan Van Hooydonck, and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck will all be discovering the race for the first time. Nevertheless, the team is strong and experienced on this kind of terrain, so we are confident in our selection for Strade Bianche,” Piva explained.

“At this stage, no rain is forecast, so it’s better for the riders when it is a dry Strade Bianche. As we saw last year, the conditions can make or break the race so if it stays dry, we should see a more open race.”

Van Avermaet is no stranger to the top ten at Strade Bianche but is yet to stand on the top step. “I always look forward to Strade Bianche as it’s one of the most beautiful races of the whole season. My performance at Omloop Net Nieuwsblad gave me a lot of confidence and confirmed that my form is good and where it needs to be at this point in the Classics season. I am always up there at Strade Bianche. I’ve finished in the top ten on all but two occasions and finished on the podium twice but never on the top step, so this is a big goal of mine,” Van Avermaet said.

“It will be another chance to race together as a team which is always good and this year, the weather looks a lot better than the conditions we faced last year so we should be in for a really nice race on Saturday.”

Strade Bianche (9 March)
Rider Roster:

Josef Černy (CZE), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Fabio Baldato (ITA).

Greg Van Avermaet in the 2018 Strade Bianche:

Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Strade Bianche
Julian Alaphilippe and Zdenek Stybar will lead the line for the team at Saturday’s race.

Famous for its up and down dirt roads, punchy hills, picturesque landscapes and one of the most stunning finish venues in the sport, Strade Bianche has turned into an instant classic ever since its inception, despite being one of the newest races on the block. With a terrain mixing gravel sectors and undulating roads, the Italian one-day race showed that it’s open to both Classics specialists and climbers, going down every year as one of the finest and most spectacular events of the season.

The fifth World Tour appointment of the calendar in 2019, Strade Bianche will see the peloton set out on Saturday morning from the Tuscan city and head into the charming countryside for a 184km-long twisty and undulating route that includes 11 gravel sectors – many of which have double-digit gradients – totaling 62 kilometers.

After leaving all the sterrate segments behind, the riders will have to overcome one final hurdle, the steep urban climb pitching up to 16% on the Via Santa Caterina, which will take them to the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares, renowned for hosting the Palio since the Middle Ages.

Having amassed a hat-trick of wins so far this year in the southern hemisphere, Julian Alaphilippe is ready to make his first outing of the season in Europe, at an event he has never raced before: “I am very happy with the way my season started, with three victories in Argentina and Colombia. My condition is good and I can’t wait to be in action in Italy. It will be my first time in Strade Bianche, a race I have always followed on TV, and at the start of which I am glad I will be this year. The motivation and moral are there and I hope it will turn out to be a good race for me.”

Victorious in Siena four years ago, at his very debut, Zdenek Stybar has always finished in the top 10 at Strade Bianche, and the experienced Czech, now an Omloop Het Nieuwsblad champion, will look to be again in the mix, part of a strong Deceuninck – Quick-Step team which will include also Eros Capecchi, Dries Devenyns, Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert, Pieter Serry, who was ninth at the previous edition, when the snow and rain ended up playing a huge role in the outcome, and Petr Vakoc.

“It’s our first outing of the season in Italy, a race which has grown in stature and has become everyone’s favorite. We won here twice and are motivated to be again in contention. If you look over the team, you can see how solid it is, with many riders capable of making the difference and being there in the key moments of the race. Following last week’s results, we carry a bulletproof confidence into the race and hope to do well again”, said sports director Davide Bramati.

09.03 Strade Bianche (ITA) 1.UWT

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Eros Capecchi (ITA), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Pieter Serry (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Petr Vakoc (CZE).
Sports Director: Davide Bramati (ITA) and Wilfried Peeters (BEL).

Julian Alaphilippe:

Lineup: Strade Bianche
In only its 13th year, Strade Bianche has already been written into the history books as one of the most iconic cycling classics in the world. Taking place on Saturday, the Italian UCI World Tour Classic will once again head to the famous white Tuscan roads.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will line up at Strade Bianche on Saturday, intent on pulling off another strong World Tour result with a versatile line up.

Our Riders to watch
Ben King – With his European base only a little over an hour drive away from Siena, Strade Bianche is close enough to be a home race for King. Accustomed to taking his BMC road bike off rode, our double Vuelta stage winner will relish racing on the dirt come Saturday.

Michael Valgren – Having only raced Strade Bianche once before, Valgren’s capabilities at this race is somewhat of an unknown. That being said, if the Danish star is on a good day, he can probably win any single day race in the world.

“Strade Bianche is one of the most beautiful races of the year. It’s my first time racing it. I love training on gravel ans so I’m excited to try these sectors in a race. Not only that but it’s close to my European home, Lucca, so my wife and friends will be there to cheer. Our team is strong and hungry.”Ben King.

Key Point:
There are 11 sectors of white dirt roads to contend over the 184km route but sectors 5 & 6, which only have a kilometer of respite between, cover an astonishing 20km. Expect the biggest shake ups to occur over these two sectors.

To Strade Bianche with Great Determination
It’s one of the most fascinating routes in the rich cycling worldwide calendar. The 13th Strade Bianche is scheduled next Saturday on the traditional twisty and undulating course, with no long on the unpaved parts. Starting from the Siena’s fortress and ending in the famous Piazza del Campo in the center of the Tuscan city after 184k, the route also offers roughly 63k of gravel roads, appearing in 11 sectors. The last one, with a very punchy climb (max 18%) ends when only 12km separate the riders from the finish line.

Vincenzo Nibali comes back to Strade Bianche after last year unlucky edition when he was stopped by a puncture in a stretch of gravel road. Returned a few days ago from the UAE Tour, the Italian champion has shown a gradually growing condition and after the Tuscan race will be at the start of the Tirreno-Adriatico.

For SD Alberto Volpi: “the race fil rouge must be boys’s great determination. The Strade Bianche looks like a Belgium classic and the riders will have to be very concentrated all day long. Vincenzo will be our captain and I’m sure he can have a good race.”

TBM’s line-up for Strade Bianche:
Vincenzo Nibali, Antonio Nibali, Grega Bole, Andrea Garosio, Jan Tratnik, Luka Pibernik and Hermann Pernsteiner.

World Champion to Miss Strade Bianche
Alejandro Valverde will not start in the Strade Bianche on Saturday. The world champion came home sick from the UAE Tour, and has decided to miss the Tuscan classic.

The champion hopes to make his comeback in three weeks in the Tour of Catalonia, a race he has won the past two years. Teammate Daniele Bennati will also miss the party in Tuscany, the Movistar rider became sick in the Tour de la Provence and needs more time to recover.

Movistar will have other cards to play in the Strade Bianche on Saturday. Richard Carapaz will lead the team: he is supported by; Nelson Oliveira, José Joaquin Rojas, Eduard Prades, Carlos Barbero, Carlos Betancur and Eduardo Sépulvalda, all of whom have ridden previously.

Movistar for Strade Bianche:
Richard Carapaz (Ecu), José Joaquin Rojas (Spa), Nelson Oliveira (Por), Eduard Prades (Spa), Carlos Barbero (Spa), Carlos Betancur (Col), Eduardo Sepúlveda (Arg).

No Valverde this year:

Sunweb to Strade Bianche
Luke Roberts
– Team Sunweb coach: “On Saturday our Classics season continues in Italy with Strade Bianche. The race has 60 kilometers of dirt roads over 11 sectors and last year we saw a real race of attrition with the weather. We have a debutant to the race with Sam, who’s in good shape at the moment and will be there with Robert in the final, who finished 5th here last year. This is also the first race for Kragh Andersen brothers together on the team, so it will be a special day for them. Alongside them we have Nikias as our captain and Nicholas to bring his experience to support this captainship, with Marc also making his debut on the WorldTour. This is always an incredible race and we’re eager to get to the start line and make the most out of it.”

Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (DEN), Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Nikias Arndt (GER), Marc Hirschi (SWI), Sam Oomen (NED), Robert Power (AUS), Nicholas Roche (IRE).

Sam Oomen:

Mitchelton-SCOTT Head to the White Roads of Tuscany
After a difficult opening weekend of classics racing in Belgium, Mitchelton-SCOTT move onto Italy for another one-day classic as they tackle the ‘white roads’ of Strade Bianche.

Australian Luke Durbridge will be looking to build on the form that saw him at the sharp-end of both Omploop Het Nieusblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, while Dane Chris Juul-Jensen is also back in action after a hard couple of days racing in Belgium.

2019 signing Nick Shultz will make his European racing debut for the team after a strong start to the season that saw him claim a stage at the Herald Sun Tour. The team is completed by four more new signings, with American Brent Bookwalter and neo-pro Callum Scotson both returning from the UAE Tour, while Italian Edoardo Affini and youngster Rob Stannard both line-up for the squad after getting their first taste of classics racing last weekend.

Luke Durbridge: “I’m really looking forward to it, it’s a beautiful race, the Italian ‘white roads’ and you race along the hills of Tuscany and it’s one that I’ve gone well at in the past.”

“It’s a new race that hasn’t been around for very long, but I think it will be one of those big Monuments in many years to come.”

“It’s very hard, it’s quite hilly and very technical, but it’s a race that I really, really do enjoy, so I’m hoping we can do a good performance as a team there.”

“Opening weekend was good even though the team didn’t have the results that we would have liked, but we had some pretty bad luck, Trentin had two crashes over two days and we we’re just a little bit on the back foot when it really mattered.”

“But the team showed that we worked really well, and that’s the funny thing about these races, it’s really tricky for everyone to get together and everyone ride in good position and all ride as a team, it’s not as easy as other races.”

Gene Bates – Sports Director: “We’re not red-hot favorites coming into this race, which I think we can use to our advantage to a certain extent.”

“We’ve got a couple of guys in Durbridge and Juul-Jensen who have both run top 10 here before not that long ago, so they already know what it takes to achieve a good result here.”

“They’ve both had very good build-ups in the pre-season and already last weekend they were prominent at Omloop and Kuurne, so we’re confident we can have a really good ride with those two guys.”

“If it’s wet it’s a very tricky race to handle, the long-term forecast looks dry, but you just never know so we’ll go in prepared for either scenario.”

“It’s a particularly hilly race, so typically you see more climbers at the pointy end of the races as appose to the cobbled classics, but there is an element of crossover where you can get the classics guys going very well and also the climbers being competitive.”

The Past:
Mitchelton-SCOTT have twice finished sixth at Strade Bianchi, once with former rider Robert Power last season and the other with Durbridge in 2017. Juul-Jensen also had a strong ride in 2017, finishing just behind his teammate in eighth.

Mitchelton-SCOTT Team:
Edoardo Affini (ITA, 22), Brent Bookwalter (USA, 35), Luke Durbridge (AUS, 27), Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 29), Callum Scotson (AUS, 22), Nick Schultz (AUS, 22), Rob Stannard (AUS, 20).

Luke Durbridge:

Groupama-FDJ team for Strade Bianche
Stefan Küng will be the leader of the French team in Strade Bianche on Saturday, after being in the service of Greg Van Avermaet at BMC for two years. With his new team Groupama-FDJ, he gets complete freedom in the Italian one day race. “I only raced this course twice, but I’m already crazy about it. It is one of my favorite races, it makes me dream.”

For Küng 2019 started immediately with success with a win in the Volta ao Algarve time trial in Lagoa. In the Flemish opening weekend he took 18th place in the Omloop and 21st in Kuurne.

At first Küng thought the course would be too hard, he said in a team press release: “But later I realized that it is hard for everyone. I finished fifteenth and sixteenth and I did not make many mistakes. I was able to achieve these results while I supported Greg Van Avermaet. I think I can achieve a good result now that I am driving for my own chances.”

Even on training rides he sometimes takes gravel paths, he admits. “In all other classics you always have a point of reference, a moment when you know that the race will erupt. In Strade Bianche, that may at the beginning, in the first gravel sector. You never know.”

“If you get to the hardest part of the race, it is still seventy kilometers to the finish. It is extremely tiring. And on top of these difficulties are the climbs and the finish in the old city center of Siena. We finish one by one. We do not see that often in modern cycling,” says Küng, who is looking at the top-10 this year.

“The course can be open anytime, you have to be very attentive at the front. During Strade Bianche it is better to ride in the action rather than watch the action, like in other races.” Küng will be assisted by Tobias Ludvigsson and Matthieu Ladagnous, they also have raced on the Strade Bianche twice before.

Groupama-FDJ for Strade Bianche:
Bruno Armirail (Fra), Antoine Duchesne (Can), Stefan Küng (Swi), Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra), Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe), Romain Seigle (Fra), Léo Vincent (Fra).

Stefan Küng:

Astana with Fuglsang and Lutsenko to Strade Bianche
It is four years since the last time an Astana rider finished in the top-10 of Strade Bianche. Diego Rosa was 5th in 2015.

Fuglsang was successful on the mountain bike in youth categories, before he completely focused on road cycling. Those qualities can come in handy on Saturday when he makes his appearance in Strade Bianche for the second time. The Dane was 11th in 2016, his only participation. In the Vuelta a Murcia he finished sixth, after which the final victory followed in the Ruta del Sol. Astana still has an important asset with Alexey Lutsenko. In the run-up to his fourth participation in the Classic he won the Tour of Oman. He also finished fourth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Astana selection for Strade Bianche:
Davide Ballerini (Ita), Zhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz), Dario Cataldo (Ita), Omar Fraile (Spa), Jakob Fuglsang (Den), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz), Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz).

Jakob Fuglsang:

Sick Brambilla not in Strade Bianche
Gianluca Brambilla will not be on the start line of the 2019 Strade Bianche. The Italian was part of the Trek-Segafredo selection, but is ill. His absence is a setback for the American team, as in 2016 he finished third behind Fabian Cancellara and Zdeněk Štybar. Brambilla will be replaced on Saturday by Fabio Felline. In the selection is Bauke Mollema, the Dutchman is on the start line for the first time in the Italian one day race.

Trek-Segafredo for Strade Bianche:
Fumiyuki Beppu (Jap), Nicola Conci (Ita), Fabio Felline (Ita), Markel Irizar (Spa), Bauke Mollema (Ned), Matteo Moschetti (Ita), Toms Skujiņš (Lat).

Eleventh Participation for Visconti in Strade Bianche
Giovanni Visconti will be riding Strade Bianche for the ProContinental team Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM. Last year he was 5th in the Italian one day race. He also finished in the top 10 in 2009 and 2011, so the 36-year-old Italian knows what to expect. With his ten starts, he is also by far the most experienced man in the team. Fonzi, Pacioni and Velasco have race here before.

Neri-Selle Italia-KTM for Strade Bianche:
Liam Bertazzo (Ita), Guiseppe Fonzi (Ita), Luca Pacioni (Ita), Luca Raggio (Ita), Sebastian Schönberger (Aut), Simone Velasco (Ita), Giovanni Visconti (Ita).

AG2R-La Mondiale to Strade Bianche
Second last year, Romain Bardet earned the only podium place for the AG2R LA MONDIALE team at this event, which was first raced in 2007.

Quentin Jaurégui: “Make good use of my good condition. I had a great week with the whole team at the UAE Tour. It was really nice to be with this team for a week. My condition is good, and I am happy to have earned my best place in a UCI WorldTour race (4th on the 4th stage). Now, I want to take advantage of my form. I have already participated twice in Strade Bianche. I love this race, it is atypical, and we never get bored. My past cyclocross experience allows me to save energy on the downhill, but this is not where the race is won. I finished twelfth in 2017 and I would love to put in a good performance again. After this event, I will give myself a small break. I have already raced pretty well at the beginning of the season.”

UAE Team Emirates in Italy for Strade Bianche and the GP Industria e Artigianato
Rui Costa, Gaviria, Philipsen and Pogačar on the gravel; and a young team in Larciano.
The UAE Team Emirates looks ahead to the Tuscan weekend with the WorldTour race Strade Bianche, Saturday, March 9, and the GP Industria e Artigianato, on Sunday. Strade Bianche covers 136 kilometers over the famous white gravel roads, eight sectors totaling 31.5km, and finishes in Siena. The next day, the team lines up in Larciano.

Marco Marzano (Ita) and Bruno Vicino (Ita) will direct the following two teams:

Strade Bianche:
– Rui Costa (Por)
– Roberto Ferrari (Ita)
– Fernando Gaviria (Col)
– Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
– Simone Petilli (Ita)
– Jasper Philipsen (Bel)
– Tadej Pogačar (Slo)

GP Industria e Artigianato:
– Kristijan Durasek (Cro)
– Cristian Muñoz (Col)
– Ivo Oliveira (Por)
– Rui Oliveira (Por)
– Tadej Pogačar (Slo)
– Edward Ravasi (Ita)
– Aleksandr Riabushenko (Bel)

“We will line up at Strade Bianche with a team led by Rui Costa and two young talents trying the gravel, Philipsen and Pogačar. Don’t forget that Laengen has always shown well in this race,” said sports director Marzano. “In Larciano, Durasek can count on support from a young team. It’ll be good to see how our young talent handles themselves in this race.”

Sunweb to the Women’s Strade Bianche
Nicolas Marche
– Team Sunweb coach: “Strade Bianche is certainly one of the most exciting one-day races of the season and as the opening of the Women’s WorldTour, it’s set to be an exciting race. The unique gravel roads always provide a lot of good action which is exactly what we like as a team. We go to Toscana really motivated having various good cards to play with Liane, Lucinda and Janneke all riders that we expect to play a part in the final.”

Lucinda Brand (NED), Janneke Ensing (NED), Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Juliette Labous (FRA), Liane Lippert (GER), Coryn Rivera (USA).

Coryn Rivera:

Romain Bardet: “With Paris-Nice, the story is still to be written”
On the last two weekends of your return to competition, what is your current level and what are the lessons that you can learn from your preparation at this stage?
“On these races, the result is a bonus. I race them to finish my preparation and regain a good feeling on the bike. You have to be very clever during these races to go for a victory and it doesn’t always work out, but I was not too concerned about the results. However, I knew it was a very good weekend of racing.”

So, are you close to your ideal condition to take on Paris-Nice?
“The month of March will be very important. This is when we will see if the work put in during winter pays off. I am not worried because physically, I feel that I am at a good level. But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee a result, because you can always have an off day on a key stage of Paris-Nice. I can’t take anything for granted, but I think I am in good shape.”

This year you are making your return to Paris-Nice, a race in which you have never shown your full potential. How do you explain this?
“It’s a race I’ve never managed to handle properly, so I’m going with a lot of caution. I never know what to expect. The format suits me a little less than that of the Dauphiné, for example. There are one or two hard stages on Paris-Nice, versus four on the Dauphiné. I am a rider who loves the heat and I feel stronger when after I have put in a good amount of racing. In Paris-Nice, up until now I have never managed to find this level of performance, but we’ll see if I get there this year.”

What are you expecting from Paris-Nice, what can be your goal in these conditions?
“I see the season as a linear progression just until the Tour de France. And what I’m looking for in races like Paris-Nice are moments when I’m taking a new step forward. I realize that with Paris-Nice, the story is still to be written. Up until now my best memory is the Brioude stage when in my second year as a professional, in 2013. On that day I was the protagonist of the race, that Andrew Talanski won (editor’s note: Bardet was 6th). But as the French calendar is very important to me, I want to shine on Paris-Nice before the end of my career.”

Does the route of the 2019 edition give you thought of aiming this time for a spot on the podium? How do you intend to take on the marquee stage that will finish on the Col de Turini, for example?
“The Turini is a rather long ascension, but I don’t think it is tailor-made for the pure climbers. It is quite consistent, conducive to an elevated and very linear pace. It is a nice climb, but there are not many gradient changes. It will be a 40-minute climb, in the month of March, which could be interesting. There will also be a quite significant time-trial compared to the difficulties in the mountains and that does not work in my favor. And among those who will race for the general classification, I think that I am one of the few that has not yet ridden in a time-trial this season. I will be very serious and committed. But I mostly target the Dauphiné and the Tour. Of course, I want to do well, to get a positive result and move the team forward. In fact, we will have another contender with Tony Gallopin.”

Key points:
Following an encouraging start to the season in France (2nd on the Tour du Haut-Var, 4th in the Classic de l’Ardèche, and 7th in the Drome Classic), Romain Bardet is heading into his sixth participation in Paris-Nice, where he has just one top 10 result (9th in 2016).

Ø Aware of the importance of the race on the French calendar, the leader of the AG2R team carefully assumes his status as an underdog, while he keeps his focus on his main objective of the season: the Tour de France.

Romain Bardet:

Paris-Nice 2019: The Col de Turini Awaits…
The col du Turini pass is the season’s first high point. Ask any rally driver, and they will tell you the same. Since the 1960’s, it has been a fixture on the Monte Carlo Rally to open the World Championships and the special stage raced on its slopes has become one of the most decisive. Indeed, the “Turini Nights” stand out as one of the most fun and atmospheric on the international circuit, despite the negative temperatures. However, this year it will be the cyclists’ turn to climb up to the pass, powered by their calf muscles and in the opposite direction to the speedsters boasting 400 horsepower. An eight-time winner of the Monte Carlo rally and a keen amateur cyclist, Sébastien Loeb has expert knowledge of the site and admits that he “definitely prefers climbing it in a car”, which means he can do it at an average speed of almost 90 kph. On 16th March, for the queen stage of the 2019 edition of Paris-Nice, the speeds will obviously be much more moderate all along the 14.9 km climb, with an average gradient of 7.3%.

Yet, this overall topological data only tells part of the story of just how difficult this challenge will be for the riders on Paris-Nice, according to race director François Lemarchand: “It’s a very irregular climb, with very steep sections and others that are less demanding. It’s also a route with very tight hairpin bends, which makes it so spectacular for the rally. In actual fact, the hardest part at this point of the season is that the riders are not yet used to such long climbs, especially after six days of competition which are set to be intense. Will the very best climbers already be able to draw on all of their qualities by that day? You would think so, because in general they undergo increasingly better preparation for races at the start of the season, but nothing can be certain”.

Warren Barguil: “It’s harder than La Couillole and harder than La Madone d’Utelle, like a genuine stage from Le Tour”.

Speaking of prior preparation for this major battle, Warren Barguil is among those who have applied themselves to it diligently. The climber from Brittany has even achieved the best time up the climb among riders equipped with Strava timing equipment, ahead of Romain Bardet who visited the site several days earlier. “It’s important to reconnoitre it. I also did the entire approach, because we will have to tackle the Côte de Pélasque slope beforehand and in total there will be 4,600 meters of gradient during the stage,” explained the Polka Dot Jersey winner on the 2017 Tour de France. “It’s a genuine high altitude pass, because we’ll be finishing above 1,600 meters”. Well aware of the decisive status that this stage assumes, Barguil is counting on the Col de Turini to launch his season in the best possible way: “In comparison to previous years, I think it’s harder, for example, than La Couillole and harder than La Madone d’Utelle, where I’ve also ridden again recently. It’s irregular, but there aren’t many moments of respite. It’s like a genuine stage from the Tour de France”.

Naturally, all the specialists will be aiming to put their name on the roll of honor at the Col Turini, as Richie Porte did at the Col de La Couillole pass two years ago with an amazing show of strength. The Australian, who will again be riding not far from his home on the final weekend of Paris-Nice, could be in ideal shape to pick up a third title on the event. In any case, the new leader of the Trek team is not ruling anything out even if he is remaining cautious: “Seeing as I live in Monaco, the Col de Turini is one of my regular climbs at several points during the year, but not really in winter because it’s often covered in snow. It’s a fine climb and I’m glad that the battle for Paris-Nice will be taking place there. In actual fact, I think that the Col de Turini is better suited to me than the climb up La Couillole. It’s long and never easy, even if the last five kilometers are fairly regular. That said, on Paris-Nice, you never know if the pretenders for the general classification will arrive intact for the queen stage”. Clearly, Porte remembers that he was not in the reckoning for victory on the morning before the climb up La Couillole, after having lost more than 14 minutes on the second day of racing. Paris-Nice can be lost at any point during the week… and is likely to be won on the Col de Turini.

Key points:
Following finishes at altitude contested at La Madone d’Utelle (2016), the col de la Couillole pass (2017), the Colmiane resort (2018) or a little further away at the Montagne de Lure climb (2009, 2013), this year the pack will take part in a titanic battle on the slopes leading to the Col de Turini pass, the day before the end of the race.
Ø With their eyes on this queen stage, the most meticulous climbers have already reconnoitered this brand new climb for the race, on which the title for the 77th edition should be decided. In training, Warren Barguil has been the quickest so far!

The Col de Turini on the Tour de France
The pass has been climbed three times by the pack on the Grande Boucle.
. 1948: San Remo > Cannes (L. Bobet led at the summit and won the stage)
. 1950: Menton > Nice (J. Robic led at the summit, but F. Kubler won the stage)
. 1973: Embrun > Nice (V. Lopez-Carril led at the summit and won the stage)

2019 paris-Nice route:

UAE Team Emirates heads to France for Paris-Nice
Team with multiple options, including past winners Kristoff and Henao

The Paris-Nice or ‘Race to the Sun’ from March 10 to 17 will include plenty of diverse terrain for UAE Team Emirates. Sports Directors Simone Pedrazzini (Swi) and Neil Stephens (Aus), with help from Paolo Tiralongo (Ita), will guide these seven riders:

– Fabio Aru (Ita)
– Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor)
– Sergio Henao (Col)
– Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
– Marco Marcato (Ita)
– Rory Sutherland (Aus)
– Diego Ulissi (Ita)

The first three Stages don’t include any serious climbing, but the riders will need to pay attention to the wind and possible bad weather. The fourth stage undulates, the individual time trial covers 25.5km. And three mountains stages back to back with the summit finish on the Col de Turini should sort the overall classification.

Sergio Henao already won the race in 2017. He will form part of the team with Alexander Kristoff, winner of the stage in Contres in 2015.

“We’ll be at Paris-Nice with Henao, already an overall winner. It’s his first European race of 2019 after he began in the Tour Colombia,” general manager Matxin said. “Diego Ulissi, who rode well in the UAE Tour, will ride at his side and Fabio Aru will compete without pressure to perform in the classification. The team is balanced. We can count on a good group of riders to support Kristoff, who will aim for the first three stages that suit sprinters.”

TBM – Prêt et fort pour la Paris–Nice 2019!
The 77th edition of Paris-Nice will take place from Sunday, 10th March to Sunday, 17th March 2019. Beside the Grand Tours, it is one of the most famous and important stage races on the UCI cycling calendar.

Paris-Nice will tackle a terrain more familiar to very skilled riders than just to climbers when the race goes up to the Turini pass on the penultimate day of the 77th edition.. The Pelasque climb, training ground for the many pro cyclists who live in the area, could be a launch-pad for the main contenders in that last stage before the finale around Nice.

The 2019 edition of Paris-Nice sets off in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on Sunday 10 March to arrive in Nice on the 17th. The final weekend is, in theory, spectacular. A huge mountain stage with summit finish at the Turini Pass and the last day serves an explosive out-and-back race in the hills above Nice.

Following a number of chances for the fast men, Paris-Nice is testing more demanding terrain in the 4th stage. The race starts in Vichy, moves through the vineyards of Condrieu, and concludes with a bumpy circuit around Pélussin. The Côte de Chavanay – 3.1 kilometers at 4.9% – is crested just before the finish line.

Supposedly, one of the possible key moments in terms of the GC-battle will be Stage 5, which is an 25.5 kilometers individual time trial in the heart of the Massif de la Montagnette. The route features an intermediate climb to the Abbaye de Saint-Michel de Frigolet, while the last meters are also uphill.

Stage 6 is far from just a flat one, but a bunch sprint is a likely outcome. The finish in Brignoles will trigger many sprinters for their fireworks at the same finish like here atTour de France in 2009.

Stage 7 takes in five intermediate climbs to conclude on the spectacular Turini Pass. It is the first time the peloton confronts this pass in the Race to the Sun, although the Tour de France included the climb to an elevation of 1,607 metres in 1948, 1950 and 1973. The final haul up is 14.9 kilometres and the average gradient sits at 7.3%, while the ascent features 3 kilometres at over 10%.

The last stage is identical to last years’. So it is a short and explosive race with six intermediate climbs. Col des Quatre Chemins is the ultimate ascent – 5.5 kilometres at 5.5% – before the finale is a 9 kilometres descent into Nice.

A strong team with two of our GC leaders; Domenico Pozzovivo and Dylan Teuns and our strongest sprinter, Sonny Colbrelli had all shown a very high form at the first part of the season. Domenico Pozzovivo at Tour of Down Under and GC podium in Oman and Sonny Colbrelli a victory in Oman. Dylan Teuns had shown us few days ago at Het Nieuwsblad Omloop by reaching 5th place and Ivan Cortina at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne by good performance reaching that their form is uprising as well. Two experienced and skilled riders as Heinrich Haussler and Kristijan Koren worked hard on a high level at all races so far and at the training camps and our young rider, Domen Novak is prepared well and ready to show his big potentials and support at the climbs and descents of the upcoming race “Paris-Nice”.

Franco Pellizotti, TBM Sports director said: “It is a very important race for our team. We aim to run like a really strong team all the way to Nice. Our abbitions are to have stage victories with Sonny Colbrelli at easier and flat stages and we see Domenico Pozzovivo and Dylan Teuns as our contenders for podium in the general classification. All other riders from our lineup will play important role at every stage. Their hard work may be of a big importance for the final classification of one of our leaders.”

Rik Verbrugghe shares same thoughts as his sports director colleague: “We see Domenico Pozzovivo and Dylan Teuns to run for GC and Sonny Colbrelli for the sprint stage victories. It is a hard race with hard stages and various weather conditions and I believe that our team is ready for all these challenges that are ahead of us.”

TBM lineup:
Heinrich Haussler / Kristijan Koren / Dylan Teuns / Sonny Colbrelli / Domenico Pozzovivo / Ivan Cortina / Domen Novak

AG2R-La Mondiale team in Paris-Nice
Benoit Cosnefroy will race Paris-Nice for the first time. The 2017 U23 World Champion has completed 15 days of racing since taking the start at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Julien Jurdie: “The first three stages of Paris-Nice will be fairly traditional, and we will certainly expect to invest a lot of effort in keeping our two leaders, Tony Gallopin and Romain Bardet, well placed. Starting on Wednesday, the crossing of the Massif Central with the arrival in Pélussin, can create the first surprises. The time trial around Barbentane will be interesting as a test with a view to the next Tour de France. Of course, the attraction of the week will be the climb of Turini on Saturday. It will be the first long pass of the beginning of the season, climbing more than fifteen kilometers. The guy’s bodies are not yet accustomed to this kind of effort. For several years, we have also seen that the short stage on Sunday can tilt the race. Throughout this past weekend, whether in Belgium or on the roads of the Drôme Ardèche, we were playing a big part in all of the races. We hope to continue in that direction.”

Sunweb to Paris-Nice 2019
Marc Reef – Team Sunweb coach: “We head to Paris-Nice with both GC and sprint ambitions, with Wilco our guy for the overall and Michael our leader on the flat and hilly stages. We bring a well rounded team here to support our goals with Roy bringing a lot of experience as our captain. We expect to see three possibly hectic and windy stages early on in the race where we directly have to be sharp and look day by day to the best possible plan to reach our goals.”

Jan Bakelants (BEL), Roy Curvers (NED), Wilco Kelderman (NED), Michael Matthews (AUS), Casper Pedersen (DEN), Martijn Tusveld (NED), Louis Vervaeke (BEL).

Wilco Kelderman:

Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Paris-Nice
Philippe Gilbert and Bob Jungels will be in action next week at the first big stage race of the season (10-17 March).

Located in the western suburbs of Paris, some 19 kilometers from the center of France’s capital, Saint-Germain-en-Laye will become the tenth town in the Yvelines department to kick off Paris-Nice, on Sunday, when the riders will head out for a 138.5km-long route which should end in a mass gallop. Over the next two days, in Bellegarde and Moulins, the fast men will get two more opportunities, before the terrain will tilt toward the puncheurs in Pélussin, where four climbs jammed in the last 60 kilometers are guaranteed to make things more interesting.

Barbentane, a town which in the Middle Ages was invaded by a plethora of Germanic tribes, will play host to a 25.5km individual time trial held on lumpy roads which should seriously reshuffle the general classification ahead of the final three days, which include a trek to Brignoles, where the baroudeurs will hope to shine, and two mountain stages.

The first of these will take the peloton atop Col de Turini (14.9km, 7.3%), a climb never before used in Paris-Nice, but tackled on three occasions at the Tour de France, in 1948, 1950 and 1973, when Louison Bobet, Jean Robic and Vicente Lopez-Carril were the first at the top. Turini, known also from the iconic Monte Carlo Rally, will take the riders to 1,607 meters, where precious bonus seconds will await the top three.

Starting and finishing in Nice, on the beautiful Promenade des Anglais, site of a TTT at the 2013 Tour de France, and where the 77th edition will conclude, stage eight will see the bunch go over six classified climbs, including Col d’Èze (1.6km, 8.1%) and Col des Quatre Chemins (5.5km, 5.5%), which tops out with nine kilometers to go, thus giving the GC contenders one last opportunity to tilt the balance in their favor.

For Philippe Gilbert, Paris-Nice will be the first stage race of the season, one which the 2012 World Champion will tackle with a strong morale following a strong showing last weekend at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Luxembourg Champion and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner Bob Jungels returns after four years at the French event, where the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team will be rounded out by Tim Declercq, Volta ao Algarve stage victor Fabio Jakobsen, Iljo Keisse, Fabio Sabatini and Florian Sénéchal, who on Tuesday notched up his first ever pro win, at Le Samyn.

“After the first stage, where the wind could end up influencing the outcome, the race will become harder and harder, favoring the puncheurs and the breakaway specialists. We hope to win a stage with Fabio, but he is recovering from sickness, so it remains to be seen how he goes. Paris-Nice is a step-up for him against a quality field, but regardless of how he fares, it is going to be a good experience for him. Philippe can also be in the mix on some of the days, while Bob will look to continue his fine form, do a good time trial and be a factor in the general classification”, said sports director Tom Steels.

10.03–17.03 Paris-Nice (FRA) 2.UWT

Tim Declercq (BEL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Fabio Jakobsen (NED), Bob Jungels (LUX), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Fabio Sabatini (ITA), Florian Sénéchal (FRA)
Sports Director: Klaas Lodewyck (BEL) and Tom Steels (BEL).

Bob Jungels:

CCC Team to Target Stage Wins at Paris – Nice
CCC Team will be targeting stage wins at Paris – Nice (March 10 – 17) with a motivated and versatile seven-rider roster heading to the start line of the UCI WorldTour stage race on Sunday.

Sports Director Piotr Wadecki said CCC Team is taking a diverse rider roster that provides multiple opportunities to go for stage wins, while also keeping an eye on the General Classification.

“Our first objective at Paris – Nice will be to target stage wins and on the opening three days, which will likely end in a bunch sprint, Jakub Mareczko will be our leader. Around him, we will have a strong and experienced group of riders who can not only help get him in the right position but who can also take any opportunities to go in breakaways and fight for their own success over the rest of the race,” Wadecki explained.

“For the key summit finish, Amaro Antunes and Víctor de la Parte will be our protected riders. Both of them have shown strong form recently and I think they can be contenders for that stage. The pair can also time trial well so we will look at how the General Classification stands after stage five and plan our tactics around that. Of course, our first goal is to win a stage but, after that, I think we could look to go for a top ten finish on the General Classification.”

Mareczko will be targeting the opening three stages of the eight-day race.

“The first three days are, of course, the ones that suit me the most. I had a couple of nice top ten results at the UAE Tour but, I definitely wanted more so I am really motivated for Paris – Nice. I think you can learn something from every bunch sprint so this race will be another opportunity to test myself and to go for that elusive WorldTour stage win,” Mareczko said.

Antunes and de la Parte will both look to test themselves at Paris – Nice after solid performances on the summit finishes at Volta ao Algarve and the UAE Tour respectively.

“I was happy with my performance at Volta ao Algarve and I am confident with where my form is at the moment. I feel good and I hope to be able to improve further at this race. I’m really motivated for Paris – Nice and my main goal is to try to be in contention for a stage win. This will be my first UCI WorldTour race of the year and my first with CCC Team so, I am interested to see how I will perform at this level of racing,” Antunes said.

“I felt strong at the UAE Tour and I was really motivated so, it was disappointing to miss out on a top ten finish after the crash on the stage to Jebel Jais. I was happy with my performance there though and I feel like I’m going into Paris – Nice with good form. It is a tough race but, I think we have a strong team and with each rider able to take their own individual motivation to the start line every day, I am confident that we will have a good week,” de la Parte added.

Paris – Nice (10 – 17 March)
Rider roster:

Amaro Antunes (POR), Will Barta (USA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Víctor de la Parte (ESP), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Laurens Ten Dam (NED), Francisco Ventoso (ESP)
Sports Directors: Piotr Wadecki (POL), Gabriele Missaglia (ITA)

Laurens Ten Dam:

Richie Porte to Race at Volta a Catalunya
A last-minute change in Richie Porte’s program has been announced by his team, Trek-Segafredo, today. Porte is now set to race at Volta a Catalunya instead of the earlier announced Paris-Nice.

Team physician, Scott Major: “A bronchitis sustained after the Jayco Herald Sun Tour has caused a setback in Richie’s build-up to the spring races, and his performance in UAE Tour confirmed this. Given these circumstances, Paris-Nice unfortunately comes too early for Richie.”

Richie Porte: “Paris-Nice was an important early-season goal for the team but also for me personally. I’ve won this race in 2013 and 2015 and I was really looking forward to go back there and try to win it for the third time. I am very sorry that that is not going to happen this year and I would like to thank the team for their understanding. I am confident that with a good block of solid training between now and the end of March, I will be ready to compete at the highest level in Volta a Catalunya.”

Line-up for Paris-Nice: Julien Bernard (FRA), Giulio Ciccone (ITA), Koen de Kort (NED), John Degenkolb (GER), Alex Kirsch (LUX), Jarlinson Pantano (COL), Edward Theuns (BEL)

The final line-up for Volta a Catalunya will be announced later.

Richie Porte winning Down Under:

Aru and Martin Testing in the Silverstone Wind Tunnel
Day dedicated to aerodynamic tests for Fabio Aru and Daniel Martin.

The two UAE Team Emirates riders visited the Silverstone wind tunnel facilities, within the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub adjacent to the British motor racing circuit. The work focused on perfecting their movements on the Colnago K.One time trial bikes under the direction of the wind tunnel staff, the supervision of Iñigo San Millan (head coach of UAE Team Emirates) and the materials advice from Lars Teutenberg. They carefully tested the various configurations offered by the team’s technical materials suppliers.

“It feels good working in a state-of-the-art facility, where the fastest cars in the world are also tested,” Aru said. “We examined a range of time trial positions, looking for those that guarantee the best combination of aerodynamics and comfort. The work was worth it, an excellent opportunity offered by the team.”

“It is very important to be able to add the wind tunnel test to the research work already carried out in winter on the track,” added Martin. “The wind tunnel offers a neutral environment, which allows technicians to collect useful data for the choice of materials. For a cyclist facing a race against the clock, it’s essential he knows he’s riding a bike that’s expressing its maximum potential.”

Adam Yates Returns to the Tour de France to Turn the Tide
2016 best young rider Adam Yates will line up at the Tour de France in July, motivated to impact the top-end of the general classification battle.

Having finished fourth that same year, things didn’t go to plan for the 26-year-old when he returned in 2018, settling for 29th place, a result he’s determined to turn in his favor this year.

The 2019 Tour de France route, released last year, features limited time trialling in the form of one team time trial and one individual individual time trial, a surprising number of climbs at high altitude and some extreme stage lengths, both long and short.

Adam Yates: “I’m super excited to go back to the Tour this year. Last year we made some mistakes that cost us and it was a big disappointment, so it’ll be good to go back and rectify that.”

“Even though I’ve got earlier races/targets coming up, in the back of my mind everything I’m doing is build up for the Tour”

“Already this year the team has been really committed in all aspects and it just goes to show because the results are flowing. Even though the Tour is a long way away at this moment in time and there’s a lot of races before we get there, it’s a good feeling to see the team working so well so early in the season.”

“Obviously 2016 was a highlight for me personally, riding almost two weeks in the white jersey and eventually finishing fourth on general classification was an amazing experience and confirmed to myself that I can ride at the highest level for three weeks.”

Matt White: “The challenge for any athlete is repeating a breakthrough performance. Adam showed in 2016 that he can mix it with the big boys at the Tour de France, he had a very solid Giro in 2017 and even though last year didn’t go as we had planned, we are heading back this year with ambitions of Adam challenging for a spot on the podium come July.”

“Adam will have a great team supporting him and I really believe he is going to show what he is capable of. He is one of the best climbers in the world and helping him to put it all together for three weeks on the biggest stage is an exciting challenge.”

“We are also continuing to learn as a team and we are going through that process with different groups of riders at different races and that will only continue.”

“It is an interesting course with limited time trial kilometers and some very high passes, which have not been seen before in the Tour de France. I like the route and avoiding Western France makes that first week a little less tense. We are in the mountains quite early and with a team time trial day two we will certainly see the lay of the land quite early in proceedings.”

NOTE: All riders subject to final selection process.

Adam Yates winning in Valencia:

Campenaerts Talks About Hour Record Attempt
Last week, it was officially announced that Belgian Lotto Soudal rider Victor Campenaerts will attempt to set a new UCI Hour Record timed by Tissot at the Velodromo Bicentenario (Aguascalientes, Mexico) on 16 or 17 April this year. For this project, Lotto Soudal is partnering with Golazo – specialist in sports marketing – who will bring their expertise and funding to help in setting the event up.

Victor Campenaerts looks back on the altitude training camp in Namibia and also looks ahead to his Hour Record attempt. Also general manager John Lelangue and sports manager Marc Sergeant discuss the planned attempt.

Victor Campenaerts: “I arrived in Belgium today (4 March) and at the moment, there isn’t much of a shock. I had a perfect training camp in Namibia. For two months, I only had to concentrate on doing my training schedule and I didn’t have to worry about anything else. If you are able to train in such a way, the return you get from the training camp is really big. Besides specific time trial sessions, I also did a lot of endurance rides. Those still are the basis. I feel that I’ve improved a lot between the start and the end of the training camp. Now I understand the choice of GC contenders to have such long altitude training camps.”

“Without competition rhythm, it is always difficult to tell how the shape is. In order to still improve that one percent, I will be at the start of Tirreno – Adriatico next week. If I could set a good performance in the closing individual time trial, that would of course be nice. I also look forward to joining the team again and – for example during the team time trial – to contribute to a nice GC result for one of the Lotto Soudal riders.”

“Thanks to Jens Voigt, who attracted fresh interest with his attempt in 2014, I first started to think about the Hour Record. But at the time, I wasn’t the rider I am today. Last year – during the start of the Vuelta – Dion Beukeboom attacked the record and the Dutchman came pretty close. The only difference is that he – contrary to myself – is not riding at WorldTour level. During that Vuelta, Thomas De Gendt tried to raise my interest for the Hour Record. After the world championships in Innsbruck, I travelled to Grenchen to do a test on the track and that’s where things really started to become concrete. At the moment – as the attempt is coming closer – not a single day passes without thinking about the Hour Record.”

“I will travel to Mexico on the 27th of March. I will have another three weeks’ time to do some really specific training sessions in order to start the attempt in the best possible way. I’ve already got the complete planning until the attempt in my head. With a two-day timeslot, we still have the possibility to await the most optimal conditions. Personally, I would prefer to attack the Hour Record on the 16th of April, but if the air pressure would not be ideal, it will be an easy decision to wait another day. I assume – with normal air pressure conditions – that I can break the record.”

John Lelangue, general manager Lotto Soudal: “It is a unique, overarching project. It is about one rider who is supported by the complete team. We are lucky that our main partners – like the Nationale Loterij and Soudal – are fully behind this project. Also our technical partners such as Ridley, Vermarc, HJC and Gaerne are doing everything they can to make it something special. Besides, the sports department also played an important role in shaping Victor’s training and racing schedule. We are grateful to Golazo for providing us with the financial and organizational support.”

“To bring Victor in the best possible conditions at the start, takes a meticulous planning. In the first place, it needed to be decided how the training camp in Namibia would fit into his race schedule. That way, it was decided that Victor will participate in Tirreno – Adriatico, an important WorldTour event that starts with a team time trial and ends with an individual time trial. Besides, staff is also needed in Mexico to prepare the attempt in a very specific way.”

Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “It all started in 2017 when we contacted Victor. We had a really good conversation in which we promised to grant him the freedom – through altitude training camps and positioning tests – to further develop himself as a time trialist. Then, the Hour Record attempt was still out of the question but we informed him that we were open for that challenge. Since Victor has been part of Lotto Soudal, he already showed what he is capable of. He won the European time trial championship twice and also took the bronze medal during the world championships last year. That moment, the idea became more realistic. The Hour Record is something unique and would be something big for our team. Of course, we hope that he breaks the record, but beating the time of Bradley Wiggins will for sure not be easy.”

Victor Campenaerts:

Update – E3 BrinckBank Organization Pulls Poster and Reacts Sensibly
The organization of the E3 BinckBank Classic has withdrawn the poster with the posing women with bodypaint. This in response to an admonition from the UCI, which found it unfriendly. On social media, the E3 asks followers if they have suggestions for a new expression. “In your opinion, what new image should/should be on our new banner in the coming weeks? Suggestions?” The ‘frog’, which was formed by the two women, was changed for a question mark.

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA will Take Part in the Hammer Series
For the third consecutive year, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA will participate in the Hammer Series, a competition developed by Velon. During the next months, the Spanish team will travel to Hammer Stavanger (Norway, May 24-26) and Hammer Limburg (Netherlands, June 7-9).

This new and innovative race model rewards the team as a whole and not just the individual riders. The winning team is the one that collects the most points after three different races; Hammer Climb, Hammer Sprint and Hammer Chase. Each team will select a total of seven riders for each Hammer event and then pick five riders for each of the three disciplines.

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA has already taken part in the Hammer Series on three occasions in the past: twice in Limburg (2017 and 2018) and once in Stavanger (2018). We are one of the few Professional-Continental teams invited to this competition.

José Miguel Fernández (sports director): “We are very happy and excited to compete in the Hammer Series once again. It’s a very attractive race format and we really want to be part of. I especially like the Hammer Series because it represents the maximum expression of teamwork. Often in this sport, the individual performances outshine those of the team. Working together for a common goal, as we do in the Hammer Series, is not only a great initiative but also great training for the rest of the races during the season. We will try to fight with the top teams and, why not, try to be protagonists amongst them.”

Jon Irisarri: “The Hammer Series is a completely different experience compared to the rest of the races on the calendar. I was lucky enough to participate in the first edition that was held in Limburg and I really liked it. The races are shorter but very intense. The communication between the riders on the team is the key in order to be able to distribute the efforts properly. This year, I will take part in the Hammer Series once again and I hope to be able to contribute with my experience from the previous editions. I’m really looking forward to it.”

ŠKODA Extends Sponsorship Deal with A.S.O. Until 2023
ŠKODA AUTO is extending its commitment to the Tour de France as the official main partner and vehicle partner until 2023. The car manufacturer and the sports event organizer are thus laying the foundation for further joint success after 15 years of successful partnership. The extensive cooperation will include not only the Tour de France partnership but also other cycling races.

In addition to the Tour de France, the partnership with the sports organizers includes the La Vuelta, Paris-Nice, Critérium du Dauphiné, Paris-Roubaix, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and L’Etape du Tour. ŠKODA is also broadening its commitment to support the Paris-Tours and Volta Catalunya cycling races, as well. During the Tour de France, La Vuelta, Paris-Nice and Critérium du Dauphiné, ŠKODA sponsors the Green Jersey for the rider with the highest number of points.

During the 2018 Tour de France, between 10 to 12 million cycling enthusiasts flocked to the circuit, not to mention that the race is broadcast in 190 countries around the globe, making the traditional tour of France the third largest sporting event in the world. The event app powered by ŠKODA AUTO was downloaded to around 1.5 million devices in 2018.

An important part of the ŠKODA’s Tour de France commitment is supporting the event as the official vehicle partner. From the outset, the ŠKODA excels with maximum reliability. Individual teams, as well as race officials and organizers, are also provided vehicles from the traditional Czech manufacturer. For example, the ŠKODA SUPERB serves as the Red Car – a command centre with a retractable glass roof, allowing tour director Christian Prudhomme to stand up in the back for an optimal view of the peloton before the start of a stage.

Also, ŠKODA is present with large-format advertising slogans and broadcasts the event on many different channels. For the 2019 Tour de France, ŠKODA AUTO will be launching a new marketing campaign that TV, online and social media viewers can follow.

ŠKODA’s close relationship with cycling goes far beyond sponsorship activities; ŠKODA runs its own cycling-related website,, and bicycles and accessories have been part of ŠKODA‘s extended product range for many years.

Alain Favey, ŠKODA AUTO Board Member for Sales and Marketing, says: “ŠKODA and cycling go hand in hand. The extension of our long-standing partnership with the Tour de France organizer A.S.O. emphasizes the ŠKODA brand’s close connection to cycling, and supporting the Tour de France as well as other renowned cycling events is an expression of our 125-year company tradition. Indeed, our brand’s success story began with the production of bicycles in December 1895.”

Christian Prudhomme, A.S.O. cycling director: “ŠKODA is an essential partner for the Tour de France as well as for the races that we organize. During the Tour de France, the red number 1 ŠKODA is more than just a car, it is a control tower, an office, and a valued and trusted friend. We are thrilled to extend this cooperation with an efficient, reliable and dynamic partner.”

Key points:
ŠKODA AUTO and Tour de France organizer A.S.O. extend partnership until 2023.
Ø Czech automobile manufacturer has supported Tour de France for 15 years.
Ø Extensive cooperation with A.S.O. will be expanded to include additional cycling highlights.

Video: The Best Moments from the UAE Tour 2019
The emotions and the charming atmosphere of the UAE Tour 2019 in the eyes of the UAE Team Emirates.

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ASOCaja Rural-Seguros RGAcampenaertsCatalunya19Col de TurinidenifldopingE3 BinkBank19EuroTrashlatest newsle samyn19lotto soudalparis-nice19preidlerromain bardetSkodastrade bianche19tdf19uae team emiratesWorld Hour Record