Will there be fans watching De Ronde van Vlaanderen? – Top Story. COVID-19 still making the headlines: Bettini critical of the new calendar, Bouhanni dreams of Milan-Sanremo, Brabantse Pijl date, no Belgian champs in August, Italian calendar, Van der Poel to ride a Grand Tour in 2021, Bernal on the Tour, Colbrelli Giro or Classics, Kristoff unsure, Thomas to Monaco, Ulissi renews, De Gendt on the Tour, Benoot on Tour and Classics and Pozzovivo and Küng surgery. Keep well out there.
TOP STORY: Belgian Deputy Prime Minister: “No Tour of Flanders with public without vaccine”
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is convinced: “A Tour of Flanders with the public is unthinkable if there is no vaccine against Covid-19. Or the transmissibility of the virus should be close to zero.”
The National Belgian Security Council is meeting today on matters such as the relaxation of restrictions on sport. No final decision is expected as to whether major sporting events are to be held. But Alexander De Croo, as deputy prime minister member of the Security Council, is already certain: “A Tour of Flanders with the public is inconceivable if there is no vaccine. Or the transmissibility of the virus should be close to zero.”
“We will have to go to a model like in the Netherlands,” De Croo told Het Nieuwsblad. In Holland the government will only allow mass events only if there is a vaccine. The organiser, Flanders Classics, realise the problem and work is being done on an alternative Ronde, which can continue in an adapted form.
The Flemish love De Ronde:
Bettini Critical of the New Cycling Calendar
Paolo Bettini is not pleased with the new cycling calendar. The two-time World road champion has criticised the new schedule published by the UCI in an interview with RAI TV. Bettini believes that the international cycling union puts the Tour de France ahead of everything else.
“The Tour de France has priority and the rest has to adjust. That’s absurd,” said Bettini. “There is no respect for other races than the Tour.” Bettini understands that the Tour is the most interesting race from a publicity point of view, but emphasises that all races on the calendar generate interest. “The logic of this season had to be: little quantity and a lot of quality. You have a hundred days to let the best of the cycling calendar continue: the five Monuments and the three Grand Tours. And what does the UCI do? The Tour is given plenty of room and the other races must overlap.”
It hurts Bettini in particular that several classics are scheduled during the Tour of Italy. “During the Giro all Classics will be run and the race also overlaps with the Vuelta for six days. In addition, the final day also coincides with Paris-Roubaix. Then you have not valued those races. A missed opportunity as far as I am concerned.”
Bettini hopes that the full program will not be at the expense of the health of the riders. “A professional cyclist has sixty race days on average from January to October every season. Now there will be 40 to 45 in three months. I hope it won’t injure any riders.”
Paolo Bettini on the attack in Sanremo ’98:
CCC Pay Riders Half Wages and See Out the 2020 season
The riders of the CCC team have come to an agreement with the management that everyone will receive at least fifty percent of their wages this year. But as expected, the Polish shoe manufacturer will withdraw as main sponsor at the end of this year.
March wages are only half paid. April’s not at all. And for May and June it is also a matter of waiting. According to Het Nieuwsblad, the riders have a deal with the team management that they are guaranteed at least fifty percent of 2020 wages. Which is a lot better than having to hand back 80% of their salary, as was originally suggested.
About paying the overdue part of the month of March, the riders and management are not yet on the same wavelength, but that is a matter of . The bad news is confirmation of what was previously suggested. CCC will no longer be active as a main sponsor in 2021.
Because the main sponsor withdraws does not have to be the end of the team, but it becomes a hard job in these times to find a new sponsor. CCC could possibly still function as a co-sponsor, but that is unlikely. Bike manufacturer, Giant, is still willing to continue with the team, but not as main sponsor.
Can Jim Ochowicz keep the team together?
Nacer Bouhanni Dreams of Milan-San Remo
Nacer Bouhanni is currently waiting for the restart of the season, but has already circled Saturday, August 8 on his calendar. “I dream of Milan-San Remo,” he told Le Parisien.
The 29-year-old Frenchman has already finished 4th, 6th and 8th in San Remo, but has never won the Italian classic. Bouhanni hopes to be on the highest step in a few months. “It is important to start the second part of the season in top form, but I am mainly focused on Milan-San Remo.”
Bouhanni had a few difficult years with Cofidis, but seems completely reborn now that he is wearing the Arkéa-Samsic jersey. He already won in the Saudi Tour and Tour de la Provence this season. The sprinter is ready for some hard work now that riders in France can train outside again. “There is still a lot of work to be done.”
“The goal is to have fun as a cyclist. I want to be happy as a person. Then the victories will come naturally,” said Bouhanni. As to his image: “I don’t feel like changing my image, however. I am actually a shy boy and really sincere.”
Bouhanni winning in Provence:
Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday Between Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Amstel Gold Race
Wednesday, October 7 is the date that has been suggested to the UCI to allow the Brabantse Pijl to be run in 2020. Between Liège-Bastogne-Liège (4/10) and the Amstel Gold Race on Saturday (10/10) and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday (11/10).
The French and the Italians have already forwarded their calendar proposal to the UCI, Belgian Cycling put their suggestions forward on Tuesday. This concerns a number of canceled non-WorldTour races (Brabantse Pijl, Scheldeprijs, Dwars door de Hageland, Tour of Wallonia, etc.), international competitions in the other categories (women and U23) and the National championships. That proposal must be approved by the UCI and integrated into the European calendar, which is expected to be announced on May 18.
The Brabantse Pijl is scheduled on October 7 by the Belgians, which is a logical date when you view the WorldTour calendar. In the spring, the semi-classic forms the bridge between the Flemish and the Walloon races and in this case too, it will have a similar function. In the run-up to the weekend with the Amstel Gold Race on Saturday. That is, if the UCI accepts the proposal and if there is still racing this autumn.
Brabantse Pijl ’19 winner Van der Poel:
No Belgian Road Championships in August
It was already expected and now it’s for sure: there will be no Belgian road championships in August. According to Federation President Tom Van Damme, there will be a date later this year.
Jos Smets, director of Belgian Cycling, already stated this week that a Belgian championships in August was actually unfeasible. Chairman Tom Van Damme confirmed that and is talking about a new postponement. “It has been decided that there will be no mass events until the end of August. It is better to look for a different date in the following weeks,” Van Damme told the Belgian media.
“I am convinced that the Belgian championship will come this year. There is a Tour of Flanders and a Tour of France, so I don’t see why there will be no Belgian championship. We have discussed a number of options with the organiser. We will find a place on the calendar.” The last week of September would be an option. That is, if the World Championships are moved to the Middle East in November. The Belgian championships on the road should take place in Anzegem. Nothing has yet been decided for the Belgian time trial in Koksijde and negotiations are continuing. In the Netherlands, the decision was made to not organise a championships this year.
2019 Belgian champs went to Tim Merlier:
UCI Received Proposed Italian Cycling Calendar
Following the example of France, the Italians also had a national cycling calendar ready. The Italian cycling federation has now forwarded the calendar to the UCI. The most important changes: the Tour of Lombardy will now probably take place on August 8, Milan-San Remo will move to August 22.
It was already known that Strade Bianche (August 1) will be the first race on the Italian cycling calendar, followed by Milan-Turin and the Tour of Lombardy. The autumn classic was planned for Saturday, October 31, but the Italian authorities now want to organise the event almost three months earlier.
If you look closely at the calendar, you will see that Milan-San Remo has moved by two weeks to October 22. In the run-up to ‘La Primavera’, the riders can still finish the Giro dell’Emilia and the Gran Piemonte. The Italian federation does not want to postpone the dates of Tirreno-Adriatico (September 7-14) and the Giro d’Italia (October 3-25).
If it is up to the FCI, the national championships in Veneto will take place on the weekend of October 31 and November 1, one week after the Tour of Italy. However, the final word is up to UCI. Should the UCI agree to the new set-up, the national title battle will be the last race on Italian soil in 2020.
Proposed Italian 2020 Cycling Calendar:
Aug 1: Strade Bianche
Aug 5: Milan-Turin
Aug 8: Giro di Lombardia
Aug 18: Giro dell’Emilia
Aug 20: Gran Piemonte
Aug 22: Milan-San Remo
Aug 28: Trofeo Matteotti
Aug 29: Memorial Pantani
Aug 31-September 4: Settimana Internazionale Coppi i Bartali
Sep 5: GP Industria i Artigianato Larciano
Sep 7-14: Tirreno-Ariatico
Sep 16: Giro della Toscana
Sep 17: Coppa Sabatini
Sep 20: Giro dell’Appennino
Sep 22: Regione Lombardia (Trittico Lombardo only race)
Oct 3-25: Giro d’Italia
Oct 31-Nov 1: Italian championships.
2019 Italian champ Davide Formolo:
Alpecin-Fenix Wants Van der Poel to make his Grand Tour Debut in 2021
Alpecin-Fenix wants to stick to the plan to have Mathieu van der Poel make his grand tour debut in 2021. If it is up to the team, the postponed Olympics will not be a problem.
The original plan was for Van der Poel to shine in the 2020 Olympic mountain bike race in Tokyo, and then make a Grand Tour debut a year later. However, the coronavirus messed up those plans, and the Games were postponed. Van der Poel feared that he had to choose between Tokyo and his Grand Tour debut.
His team still has the hope that the Dutchman can still start a three-week Tour in 2021, team manager Philip Roodhooft told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Concrete plans cannot be made at the moment. We have to see which Grand Tour can best be combined with his Olympic ambitions: Giro, Tour or Vuelta. But we don’t want to postpone it another year. Because Mathieu will also be a year older in 2021.”
Big year in 2021 for Van der Poel:
Egan Bernal: “The leadership during the Tour will be decided in the opening week”
Ineos is facing a nice problem for the 2020 Tour with three Tour winners in the team all going for the final win, but this could lead to problems. Outgoing winner Egan Bernal said in an interview on Italian TV that he expects the first mountain stages in the south of France to make the decision about who will be the Tour leader.
“I don’t think there will be any problems. Ultimately, the course will bring the decision. It’s a tough Tour from the start and we’ll see which of us is the strongest in the opening week. The others will then have to work for him,” said Bernal about the position between him and his teammates Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas.
In the opening week, an uphill finish to Orcières-Merlette (7km à 6.7%) is planned on the fourth day. The sixth stage finishes at Mont Aigoual, including the ascent of the 11.7 kilometre long Col de la Lusette. Bernal makes no secret of his thoughts. “I’m still young and I’m going for my second Tour victory,” announced the 23-year-old Colombian. “The team management knows that, but Froome and Thomas know that too.”
Bernal has never been at the start of the Giro in his five years as a professional cyclist. Last season, a clavicle fracture prevented his first appearance in La Corsa Rosa. In 2021 he still wants to make his debut in the Italian stage race. “Before the coronavirus came up, I thought of combining the Tour and the Vuelta. Now I am not sure anymore, because next year I would like to ride the Giro d’Italia. I want to start there since I raced for Androni. I have raced a lot in Italy, but never rode the Giro d’Italia. So with a view to next season, it is better to do just one Grand Tour this year and be fresh for the Giro d’Italia in 2021.”
Bernal is currently in Colombia, where he has recently been allowed to train outside again. He is expected to travel to Europe a few weeks before the restart of the season in August to avoid quarantine issues. He will then probably ride a few races in Italy in the run-up to the Tour. “I would like to start in Strade Bianche myself, but I am waiting to see what the team thinks. They know what it takes to win a Grand Tour.”
More cups for Bernal:
Sonny Colbrelli: Giro or Classics?
Sonny Colbrelli will soon have to make a few decisions. The sprinter had originally planned to ride the Giro d’Italia, but that was before the corona pandemic. “I may now have to choose between the Giro and the Spring Classics. That’s a difficult choice,” Colbrelli said to SpazioCiclismo.
Colbrelli wanted to participate in the Tour of Italy again this year, but the Bahrain-McLaren rider also has a taste for the classics. The problem for Colbrelli is that during the Giro d’Italia (3-25 October) the Amstel Gold Race, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are also on.
“If I want to achieve success in the classics, I have to skip the Giro. I definitely want to participate in the Classics, but there are also other interests at play,” said Colbrelli, who also looks closely at the upcoming Tour de France. “However, the team has classification ambitions with Mikel Landa and Wout Poels. It is up to the team to make a choice.”
Colbrelli recently became the father of a son named Tomaso, but there was also bad news. “My parents were affected by the coronavirus, just like my 84-year-old grandmother. My grandmother ended up in hospital for a month, but luckily survived. My son was also born in Brescia, one of the hardest hit cities. It was not an easy period, but I was happy to change my mind and continued to train.”
Sonny Colbrelli winning the GP Berghelli:
Not all Bad News for Alexander Kristoff
Alexander Kristoff has just become a father and because the Giro has been postponed, he can be with his wife and experience the birth of the twins. “So that delay is not so bad to me,” said Kristoff in conversation with Sporza.
The corona virus in Norway seems to have been less severe than in many other countries. “Things are going in the right direction in Norway. The past few weeks I have been able to train outside normally. The schools are also open with us. There are some guidelines, such as keeping a distance, but there has been no real lockdown here.”
The UAE rider asks a lot of questions about the restart of cycling, scheduled for 1 August with the Strade Bianche. “I don’t know if August 1 is realistic. Not really. It is going in Norway, but what is the situation in Italy? And will there be a period of quarantine when you travel to another country? Then as a rider you may have to choose one country to race. It’s a matter of not being stuck for a while.”
The fear of getting infected after all is also something for the former Milan-San Remo and Tour of Flanders winners. “Bringing people together makes it more dangerous. If one rider is infected, the rest will quickly contract the virus. A rider sneezes and spits and you ride close together. You can test everyone and check whether everyone is healthy, but you are never 100% sure. In any case, I don’t want to endanger my family.”
Kristoff in Kuurke ’20:
Geraint Thomas Moves from Wales to Monaco Due to Lockdown
Geraint Thomas has chosen to continue his preparation for the Tour de France in Monaco. The 2018 Tour winner said in a Q&A with Wiggle that he can prepare better for the Tour de France there than in his home country of Wales, where strict measures apply.
In Wales, cyclists can go out once a day, but the advice is to stay close to home. Thomas has used his exercise bike a lot in the past week. “I will return to France on Monday. There I will be able to train outside on the road at the moment.”
In addition to his home base in Wales, Thomas also has a house in Monaco. He is allowed to cross the border to France, so that he can also train in the hills around Nice. The measures have been relaxed in France since Monday. For the first time since March 17, cyclists can go outside again, as long as they stay within a distance of 100 kilometres from home.
The past few weeks have been different for Thomas. “Until now, my training has mainly focused on maintenance. It was a matter of staying fit and trying not to get too heavy. Everyone is locked up at home. You can get a little bored and eat more and gain weight. Especially when not training as hard as normal.”
33-year-old Thomas is one of the leaders of the Ineos team for the Tour de France, which is planned to start on August 29. He expects to have enough time to sharpen his condition for the Tour. “It will be another 15 weeks until the Tour. It’s now more about staying mentally fresh and getting started over the next three to four months.”
Thomas, France bound:
Ulissi Renews with UAE Team Emirates New deal to run until 2022
Diego Ulissi has put pen to paper on a new deal that will keep him at the Emirati squad until the end of 2022.
The 30-year old Italian got off the mark quickly in 2020 with second place at the Tour Down Under and a top-10 at the UAE Tour, while also helping teammate Tadej Pogačar to a stage win. His versatility and consistency has been a great asset to the team in the past few seasons and is of great value to the team looking forward.
Mauro Gianetti (Team Principal): “Diego is a very important element for our team. He has shown an amazing consistency performing at the highest level and has proved very reliable in that regard. On and off the bike he is proving to be a good leader, which is important for the team environment and the growth of the group as a whole.”
The six-time Giro d’Italia stage winner has been involved with the UAE Team Emirates project from the very beginning and is keen for the opportunity to continue his successful relationship with the team.
Diego Ulissi: “I am very happy with this renewal. For years now I have been part of this team which has become a second family for me. I am looking forward to continuing to work together on the UAE Team Emirates project in the next few years and as always giving 100%. We are working well together and the results of the last few years back this up.I want to say thank you to Mauro Gianetti and Matxin for always believing in me and all the staff who allow me to always give my best.”
Thomas De Gendt Thinking of the Tour
The Tour de France is still more than three months away, but Thomas De Gendt has already set his sights on the first section of the French Tour. In the stages through and around Nice, the race attacker sees opportunities.
De Gendt spoke to Het Nieuwsblad. “You will not yet find all complete stage profiles online. But the first stages are the most important to me. The first stage is a big goal right away. A typical Paris-Nice stage in which you can stay ahead of the pack.”
On the new 2020 calendar, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España overlap, which means that, like last year, De Gendt will not be able to ride the three Grand Tours in one season. “Physically I could have done that, but the team wouldn’t have allowed it. Rightly so too. Because if I had claimed a place in every Grand Tour, it would have been really selfish. Everyone on the team would like to do a Tour. I like the combination Tour-Vuelta.”
However, the Lotto-Soudal rider finds it a problem that the Vuelta course is located completely to the north. The route travels through the Basque Country, Asturias and Galicia. “Even in September the weather can be changeable. It will be cold there in November. Maybe they just have to revise the entire Vuelta course and rather head towards the warmer Calpe, Valencia and Andalusia.”
Tour plans for Thomas De Gendt:
Tiesj Benoot Focuses on Tour and Classics
Tiesj Benoot wants to ride the Tour de France and then cash his good legs in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Flanders. The WorldTour calendar should resume on August 1 with Strade Bianche, the gravel classic that Benoot won two years ago. He hopes that the race will fit into his schedule just like the previous four years, even if he doesn’t want to race too much before the Tour de France because he also wants to be good in the classics afterwards. “But I think it should work,” he said in conversation with Sportwereld. “It is normally 35 degrees in Tuscany during that period, so it will be a real dust edition. But I will not be put off by that.”
“It will be a challenge for everyone, very special. I am looking forward to it, as I am one of the riders who want to combine Liège-Basque-Liège (October 4) and the Tour of Flanders (October 18). They are now close together after a Grand Tour, which is something new. Plus more chance of bad weather, which means that it can turn out well.”
His route to the classics will be the Tour de France, if it is up to Benoot. “If you want to do the classics, only the Tour is an option for a Grand Tour. The Giro falls in the middle of the classic period, so you cannot ride Liège and the Tour of Flanders. And the Vuelta is very late. So the Tour is the most logical choice.” In the French Tour he normally does not go for a classification position, so stage success remains the goal. “Especially now that the classics are after, it is a matter of not coming out of the Tour wrung out.”
After the Tour, one classic follows the other in rapid succession and the 26-year-old rider is therefore wary. “You shouldn’t want to do too much, which is very tempting because we haven’t raced for so long. If you start counting from the start of the Tour to Paris-Roubaix, that’s eight weeks. That’s really a lot to stretch top condition. So it becomes dancing on a tightrope to keep that condition high. I leave that to the team, because they also made a very nice program for me before corona.”
Between the busy calendar is also the World championships, which is currently planned for Aigle-Martigny. “I’m looking forward to it,” said Benoot, “it will be a difficult World championships. In Paris-Nice I showed in a stage, with more than four thousand meters climbing, that I belonged there among the world’s top. I hope to be there at the World championships and then be in good shape. It is a week after the Tour and in my first Tour in 2017 I had a really good feeling six days later, in San Sebastián. And two weeks later in the BinckBank Tour also. So I am not afraid of that.”
Tour and Classics for Benoot:
Pozzovivo Had Pins Removed
Domenico Pozzovivo had surgery on his right shin, which he broke in August in a training collision. The pins have been removed from the Italian, which were inserted to give the broken bone extra strength.
The metal rod and four titanium screws, which stabilised the fracture of his shin, were removed on Tuesday in Lugano, in the same hospital where he went under the knife five times nine months ago. “The surgery was performed under spinal anaesthesia, so I was conscious during the two hours when everything was removed,” he told Tuttobiciweb.
In the evening the Italian NTT rider, who has been out of competition for six months after the training accident, was already home. He is now prescribed absolute rest and physiotherapy by the doctors. “All attention is focused on the repair of the surgical wounds and the patellar tendon, which, as usual, has shifted slightly during the removal procedure.”
On August 12, Pozzovivo was hit at a crossroads near Laurignano while training. The motorist involved stopped and immediately called the emergency services. They took the Italian to the hospital, where an arm and leg fracture was initially diagnosed. Later the damage turned out to be greater than initially thought, because he also appeared to have broken his collarbone and shin.
Pozzovivo, who was still under contract with the Bahrain-Merida team at the time, had to go under the knife no less than five times. More than three weeks after his major accident, he was allowed to leave the hospital, after which a long rehabilitation awaited him. The Bahrain team said goodbye to the climber, who went to NTT Pro Cycling. In the colours of that team, he made his comeback in the Tour de La Provence in the first part of this season.
Pozzovivo in Provence ’20:
Two Years After Paris-Roubaix, Stefan Küng has Metal Plate Removed
Stefan Küng will have to stay off his bike for a few days. The Swiss rider has had a metal plate removed, which was fitted two years ago in his jaw during surgery after a fall in Paris-Roubaix.
Two years ago, Küng crashed before the first cobblestone section of Paris-Roubaix, breaking his jaw. The Swiss rider had to go under the knife, where a metal plate had to be fitted, and he couldn’t race for almost seven weeks. With the resumption of the season still some time off, due to the corona pandemic, he decided to take the opportunity to have the metalwork removed.
He said on Twitter: “There is a silver lining on the horizon. The new UCI calendar has been announced, so we know when the important dates of the 2020 season will be (hopefully). I’m having a little break off the bike right know, as I had to remove a metal plate from an accident in @parisroubaixcourse 2 years ago. So soon I will start the build up to be ready when the races start.”
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