As the dust settles on the 2020 Tour de France there has been a doping controversy concerning Nairo Quintana – TOP STORY. Results from the Belgian championships and Paris-Camembert. Tour and Vuelta bosses talk Covid-19, Remco Evenepoel motivated by the Tour, Carapaz, Roglič, Dumoulin and Kuss to the Vuelta, no Worlds for Sagan and Quintana, but TT for Dumoulin, Viviani to the Giro, Martin for the Vuelta. Race news: Will there be a 2020 Amstel Gold Race? Contract news from Lopez, Pidcock, Lotto Soudal and Movistar. Plus: Albasini to be Swiss National coach, Baloise extends sponsorship, Zoetemelk surgery, Bennett’s green jersey video and UAE emotional moments video. A very full EUROTRASH Thursday.
TOP STORY: Doping returns to the Tour: Two detainees in Quintana’s team
OCLAESP, a French unit that fights crimes against public health and the environment, searched the hotel in the Alpine town of Megève where the Arkéa-Samsic Tour team was staying on Wednesday. It is said that the search was aimed at the team’s leader, Nairo Quintana as part of an investigation opened by the Marseille Prosecutor’s Office on suspicions of doping in the Arkéa-Samsic team. The investigation was opened after the discovery of “numerous medical devices, including drugs and a method that can be classified as doping”.
The French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported that the search had taken place on Wednesday in Megève. Emmanuel Hubert, the team’s manager, confirmed the information. According to information from L’Équipe, the action was not aimed at the team and the staff, but at leader Nairo Quintana. The rooms of the Colombian riders; Nairo Quintana, his brother Dayer and Winner Anacona and of the masseurs were searched, along with the team cars.
According to the French sports-paper, the search was carried out without consultation with the French anti-doping agency AFLD and was part of a preliminary investigation.
The UCI has announced that it will follow the matter closely. In recent doping cases, saline solution has been used to lower the hematocrit level in the blood. According to the judiciary, the investigation focuses on “the administration and prescription of a prohibited substance or method to an athlete without medical justification” and “the transport and possession of prohibited substances”.
Two people have now been taken into custody. According to information from Le Parisien, it concerned two people from the Quintana brothers’ entourage: a doctor who works with the team and the physiotherapist of Nairo Quintana. The Quintana brothers were allegedly heard yesterday by the OCLAESP, the unit that fights crimes against public health and the environment. Arkéa manager Hubert nevertheless stated that the investigation was not aimed at the team or the staff. “We obviously support our riders, but if the existence of doping practices is finally confirmed, the team will immediately distance themselves from it. Measures are also taken to break the ties that link us to unauthorised practices,” said Hubert. “As a member of the MPCC, we have always put ethics first and taken a firm stance in the fight against doping for the past 20 years.”
The UCI confirms that it has already been in contact with the OCLAESP and anti-doping association CADF about the investigation carried out in the Tour de France. “The UCI welcomes and supports the action of all interested parties and will take appropriate action as soon as it is made aware of the information gathered by the French judicial authorities.”
Nairo Quintana has made it clear in a statement that the doping case in which a doctor and physiotherapist from Arkéa-Samsic are involved, does not affect him. Here is his statement in full.
“In the light of recent developments, I would like to make the following clear:
The French gendarmerie performed an operation in the hotel where my team Arkéa-Samsic was staying. This took place on Wednesday, September 16 in Méribel, after the sixteenth stage in the Tour de France. On that day, the authorities entered my room and confiscated fully legal vitamin supplements, although they may be less known to the French authorities. This is the main reason it took time to properly map out everything that happened.
To dispel all doubts, I want to confirm that no doping substances have been found.
In addition, I also want to eliminate a lack of clarity. During the recent Tour de France and all previous competitions, I have never enlisted the help of my own assistants or staff members that I missed within the team. I have and never had anything to hide.
Yesterday – summoned by the French authorities – I voluntarily reported to the public prosecutor and provided clear answers to all the questions that have been put to me, with a clear conscience. In this sense, it is necessary to emphasise that I am not the subject of the authorities’ charges. I am and will be willing at any time to clarify any doubts of the prosecutor, as I did earlier Monday and Tuesday.
I, Nairo Quintana, have been a clean athlete with a flawless blood passport throughout my top sports career. I want to make it clear to the general public, my fans and cycling followers that I have never used illegal means in my career – as a junior, promise and professional – to improve my sports performance and break the principles of the sport.
A preliminary investigation is currently underway and I have answered all questions and resolved doubts. I am also willing to keep doing this on a voluntary basis until this whole situation is cleared up. I have never used doping and none of the substances found by the gendarmerie are illegal. Without fear, I will stay strong, defend the truth, and follow my path, regardless of the opinion of the general public.
Nairo Quintana ”
Quintana, who looked like he might get on the podium for the fourth time in his career, although he was distanced by the top men after suffering three crashes. The Boyacá rider finished in 17th place overall, more than an hour behind Tadej Pogačar.
Nairo Quintana and Winner Anacona:
Belgian National Men’s Road Championships 2020
Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) is the new Belgian road champion, he crossed the line solo in Anzegem, after he managed to get away from a large chase group in the final. De Bondt succeeds his teammate Tim Merlier.
After 13 kilometres three riders managed to escape: Robbe Ghys, Jordy Bouts and Franklin Six started with more than 3 minutes ahead at the Muur van Geraardsbergen. On this well-known cobbled climb the leading group stayed together, but the peloton split into two parts after 30 kilometres of race. The fragmentation turned out to be short-lived, but just before the regrouping, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Declercq from the first group decided to cross over to the front riders.
The five breakaway riders were caught after 61 kilometres. Edward Theuns attacked and was soon joined by nineteen others. The lead quickly increased to more than 4 minutes. Deceuninck – Quick-Step had two riders in the front with Iljo Keisse and Pieter Serry, while Lotto Soudal had Jelle Wallays and Tosh Van der Sande, Circus-Wanty Gobert with Jan Bakelants, Alfdan De Decker and Xandro Meurisse, and Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise had Lindsay De Vylder, Aaron van Poucke and Dimitri Peyskens. Alpecin-Fenix had two riders: Dries De Bondt and Otto Vergaerde, as did Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal: Eli Iserbyt and Laurens Sweeck and Tarteletto-Isorex had Gianni Marchand and Michael Van Staeyen. With Theuns, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Ludovic Robeet and Mathias De Witte, there were also a few riders who had to do it alone.
Lotto Soudal could count on Wallays and Van der Sande at the front, but the team still decided to put itself on the front of the chasing group. The difference had risen to 5 minutes and so Lotto Soudal had to work hard to narrow the gap. The men of Lotto Soudal partly succeeded in their mission, because with 80K to go the difference had dropped to 4 minutes.
20 kilometres later the front runners still had a 3 minute lead, but in the peloton there was now serious acceleration by Lotto Soudal. The difference was reduced to 2 minutes and the door was wide open at the back: Laurens De Plus, who rode his first race in seven months, had to give up before the Tiegemberg.
Lotto Soudal managed to reduce the difference to 2 minutes, but went so fast that many were dropped on the Tiegemberg. In the last 50 kilometres, the top riders had to do it themselves, as there was no longer an organised pursuit. The difference between the first group and the now considerably thinned peloton continued to fluctuate around 1:30. At that time, the front riders still had to cover more than 30 kilometres, but the relationship was lost. Jan Bakelants tried to sneak away, but the Circus-Wanty Gobert rider was immediately caught.
In the last 20 kilometres there were more attacks from Keisse, Wallays and De Bondt, but these riders were also pulled back. The second group was now at 2 minutes and so the winner would come from these men. De Bondt, Wallays and Serry tried again, but did not get away. Theuns also tried to attack, but the Trek-Segafredo rider couldn’t get a gap. Serry tried on the climb of the Schernaai, but crashed after taking a corner a little too fast.
De Bondt managed to avoid Serry, and drove on and to take a nice lead. De Bondt started with a 15 second lead on the last climb of the Tiegemberg. Behind: Bakelants tried to cross to De Bondt, with Serry on his wheel.
In the final, De Bondt proved strong enough to stay out of the grip of the pursuers. The new Belgian champion had plenty of time in Anzegem to enjoy his victory. Keisse eventually won the silver, Serry had to settle for a bronze medal. Deceuninck – Quick-Step leaves the Belgian Championship with two medals, but the gold went to Alpecin-Fenix.
New Belgian champion, Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix): “It all happened in a moment of doubt. It was not a real breakaway. It was a real race until that moment. There was then a selection on the local circuit. All strong teams were represented. So the lead went up and then you know that the escape will go far. Racing in such a group does not cost any energy, but they have to keep going fast in the peloton. I heard in my ear that the domestiques were fed up and that the leaders had to do it themselves. Then I knew it was possible to do it at the front. I was on the wheel and after the crash I decided to keep going. I got a gap and I knew I could not have any more doubts. If they don’t get me, then I stay out of range. I have always fought to get to this level. I’ve had a few setbacks in the past. I didn’t go it alone, though. I have to thank several people, people who took care of me when there was no hope anymore. They then picked me up and gave me a chance. I’ll never forget.”
2nd, Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “We always ride to win and today was no different. The race was strange, full gas for 100 kilometres before a break finally managed to go clear. Having riders from all the strong teams we knew that we might have a chance to remain in the front and it happened. With two laps to go, we had a two-minute gap and I talked with Pieter about our strategy for the finale, which went really smoothly until that late crash. It’s a pity, but that’s cycling. Being on the podium is just a consolation, what we wanted today was the victory.”
3rd, Pieter Serry (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “I worked very hard in the past months and my condition was really good. I did an altitude training camp and then went straight to the Tour of Slovakia, where I felt good on the climbs and this gave me a lot of confidence going into this race. I was very focused before the start, found myself in the break with Iljo and sensing there was an opportunity, I attacked on a short climb. Unfortunately, I had bad luck and my front wheel slipped on that corner, so I hit the ground. Then, on the last hill, I tried one more time, but everybody was on my wheel. It was frustrating to see that no one was willing to work with us, just chase our every single move. I am disappointed after today, because without that crash, I would have been very close to my first victory.”
4th, Jan Bakelants (Circus-Wanty Gobert): “The race scenario was strange, with a fast start. On the Muur van Geraardsbergen there was a first good acceleration and the pace didn’t slow down until we arrived on the local laps. All teams were attentive and absolutely wanted to be in the breakaway. So I felt that probably a strong group would escape. I took me a lot of energy to join the 19 riders who escaped at the approach of Anzegem, but it looked liked this could be an important and successful move. On this rolling course, I felt that I was watched. After an attempt in the final, six others escaped. Xandro sacrificed for me, before Serry and De Bondt went. On the final passage on the Tiegemberg I tried a last time, but unfortunately I couldn’t surprise my breakaway companions on this course. A good race of the team, but unfortunately some frustration because of the missed podium.”
Belgian National Men’s Road Championships Result:
1. Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix in 5:10:55
2. Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:06
3. Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
4. Jan Bakelants (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
5. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
7. Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC
8. Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles
9. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
10. Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix.
Belgian National Women’s Road Championships 2020
Lotte Kopecky has won the Belgian national championships on the road for the first time in her career. In Anzegem she was faster than Jolien D’Hoore and Shari Bossuyt after 131 kilometres in a sprint. Kopecky succeeds teammate Jesse Vandenbulcke. In addition to Belgian road champion the 24-year-old Kopecky is also the reigning national champion time trial.
Belgian champion, Lotte Kopecky Lotto Soudal: “I have been chasing this Belgian title for so long. This victory is very satisfying. Today was an awesome team effort. My teammates took control of the race right from the start. They made the race tough and reacted to many attacks. After all their work I had to finish it off today. I was not afraid to attack early. In the end that did not turn out badly. I was able to make it hard for Jolien and that also had an impact on her final sprint. At a certain point the peloton came very close and I tried to surprise Jolien with an attack on Tiegemberg. She didn’t really like that. But we kept the pace. When Shari joined us in the final kilometers, I quickly felt that she was satisfied with third place. In the final sprint I started at just over 200 meters from the finish. There was a moment of panic when my bike changed gear. Fortunately that didn’t cause much trouble. Jolien came next to me and I knew I had to go full until the line. I put my hands in the air because I felt that I had won. When Jolien did the same, I started to have doubts. Then we had to wait a long time for the official confirmation. Those minutes really seemed to last forever. When they announced me as winner there was a big relief. After my stage win in the Giro Rosa, this is a wonderful second victory in a week. I am in a great flow.”
Belgian National Women’s Road Championships Result:
1. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:24:18
2. Jolien d’Hoore (Bel) Boels-Dolmans
3. Shari Bossuyt (Bel) NXTG Racing at 0:06
4. Elise van der Sande at 0:10
5. Annelies Dom (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Kim de Baat (Bel) Ciclotel
7. Jesse Vandenbulcke (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. Mieke Docx (Bel) Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport
9. Fien Delbaere (Bel) Multum Accountants-LSK Ladies Cycling Team
10. Alicia Franck.
Belgian champs’20 podium:
Dorian Godon (AG2R-La Mondiale) won the 81st edition of Paris-Camembert. The 24-year-old Frenchman, together with Maurits Lammertink, managed to stay out of the grip of the sprinter teams in the final, and then floor the Dutchman in the sprint.
The riders were presented with a hilly race from Pont-Audemer to Livarot, covering just under 200 kilometres. Quentin Venner, János Pelikán and Nickolas Zukowsky soon managed to escape from the peloton and set up an early break. The lead increased to a few minutes.
Venner, Pelikán and Zukowsky managed to get into the spotlight as early attackers, but Pelikán and Zukowsky were joined by Lammertink, Dorian Godon, Jake Stewart and Kristian Aasvold. Venner had been released for some time. The peloton was half a minute behind at ten kilometres from the finish. However, there was still plenty of time for regrouping. Most attackers were caught a few kilometres from the line, but Godon and Lammertink had already left the front group and started the last 5 kilometres with a good lead. The sprinters came too late and so there was a man-against-man for the victory.
Godon turned out to have the fastest legs. Lammertink, also sixth in the Giro dell’Appennino last Saturday, had to settle for second. Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) won the sprint in the peloton for third on the podium.
Race winner, Dorian Godon (AG2R-La Mondiale): “After two wins racing prologues (Boucles de la Mayenne 2018-2019), I am happy to raise my arms in a road race for the first time among the professionals. I’ve been feeling good for a few weeks now, but both at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes and the Grand Prix d’Isbergues, the courses were not selective enough to make the difference in order avoid a mass sprint. Today the tactical game started fifty kilometers from the finish to get into the breakaway. Ten kilometers from the finish on the last climb, we managed to separate ourselves finally from the pack. And from that point I never worried about the peloton. This victory is good for morale before riding for the first time the Flèche Wallonne (September 30) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (October 4).”
2nd, Maurits Lammertink (Circus-Wanty Gobert): “With four riders, we closed the gap to the leaders. I remarked that Godon was the strongest, and I had to dig deep on the last climb to follow him. During the final 10 kilometre, we rode fast to stay ahead of the peloton. Usually I’m pretty fast, but because of my collarbone fracture I couldn’t train my sprint well recently. It’s a pity to miss the victory, but as my breakaway companion was stronger, I can live with the result. This hard race with small roads and steep climbs was a perfect preparation for next week’s classics. I’m confident, and it looks like the whole team is more than ready for it!”
1. Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale in 4:23:41
2. Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkéa Samsic at 0:08
4. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Eduard-Michael Grosu (Bel) Nippo Delko One Provence
6. Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&:B Hotels-Vital Concept p/b KTM
7. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
8. Anthony Maldonado (Fra) St Michel-Auber93
9. Axel Zingle (Fra) Nippo Delko One Provence
10. Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles.
Prudhomme: “Getting to Paris was a victory in itself”
That the Tour de France reached Paris was a victory in itself, according to Tour boss; Christian Prudhomme. “Every year journalists ask me if I am relieved at the end of the Tour. This year I will answer ‘yes’.”
Prudhomme told French radio station Sud Radio that the organisation was afraid in the run-up to the start of the Tour in Nice. With two positive corona cases, an entire team would be sent home. “Ultimately, this ensured that we could continue to the end. The teams tightened the screw even more. All the measures that had been taken to race had reached everyone.”
Before the Tour, he was only asked questions about the corona virus, until the Tour had started. “On the first Saturday it rained, the road turned into an ice rink. The next day Alaphilippe won, there was the yellow jersey, the beautiful sun, the beauty of the landscape, the public at the side of the road with a mouth mask on for 90% to 95%. Now in September there were fewer people. But I was touched by the public and the decorated villages.”
He also said the stages after Lavaur, won by Wout van Aert, Lyon and Champagnole, both won by Søren Kragh Andersen, great. “Thanks in part to Peter Sagan, Sam Bennett and their teams. The battle for green was the best in a long time. But it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions. What is certain is that we have to reduce the number of kilometres in the flat stages. If they are long, the final phase is very difficult.”
Prudhomme did not set this edition at the same level as last year, despite the sensational climbing time trial. “It was livelier then, partly due to the performance of our French riders. For a moment we dreamed in Nice, but the crashes played a major role. Even though he continued bravely, Thibaut Pinot was eliminated from the standings, as were Romain Bardet and Nairo Quintana. Egan Bernal was the biggest surprise. I did not expect his spectacular loss.”
Lucky to get to Paris:
Vuelta boss Guillén: “The Tour Making Paris was Very Important to Us”
Javier Guillén, director of the Vuelta a España, has been following the Tour de France closely. The fact that the French three-week Tour reached the finish was a boost for the organiser of the Spanish race.
Javier Guillén said in an interview with Diario AS that the organisation of the Vuelta a España will continue unabated. A special protocol takes a key position in the continuation of the event. “We must closely monitor the development of the pandemic and hope that it will diminish. But within the organisation we do not assume that there is no race. We are not looking at a different scenario.”
Everyone has the will to have the Spanish Tour take place, says Guillén. “Also at the CSD (the Spanish national sports council), which presented a protocol for the resumption of races. And when it comes down to it, there are some good examples: The Vuelta a Burgos went on, the Dauphiné, the Tour of Poland, Tirreno, the Tour de France. Apparently we are not a sport that attracts or spreads infections.”
According to the Vuelta boss, it was very important that the Tour reached the finish in Paris. “Very important! The reality is that the Tour started and ended without incident. If you asked me what would have happened if the Tour had not ended or had ended badly, I would have answered that we would have a serious problem with the Vuelta. After all, the Tour is the wheel to follow.”
‘La Vuelta en casa’ (the ‘Vuelta at home’) is the slogan used in the Tour of Spain this year. “I even want to apologise to the fans in such an unusual and strange year, but I beg people to stay at home. We propose that crowds at points such as mountain passes are avoided and that restrictions apply. I can’t say what yet, but we want to avoid crowds at all costs in this edition.”
Although the Tour kept corona out of the peloton, President Christian Prudhomme did get infected. “I’d rather see the race director get infected than a rider, because the most important thing is the race. Of course I will do everything I can to prevent that, even if I am outside the bubble. We must compliment Prudhomme on this historic Tour and be grateful for their transparency. I was happy that he recovered, that he was up again and that he could make it to Paris.”
On a sports level, Guillén expects a strong field. “We can count on riders like Chris Froome, Enric Mas, with Richard Carapaz, Tom Dumoulin… I also hope for Marc Soler, a rider who can make a difference. We will see which line-up Jumbo-Visma has. That team, as we have all seen, has many high-level riders. I say this without knowing exactly who will eventually come, but everything indicates that the field is good.”
Vuelta boss, Javier Guillén with Chris Froome in 2018:
Remco Evenepoel Motivated by the Tour
Remco Evenepoel has complimented Tadej Pogačar for his overall victory in the Tour de France. For the 20-year-old Evenepoel, it is a good sign that the Slovenian, who celebrated his 22nd birthday the day after his Tour win, won the French Grand Tour. “The fact that riders of 22 years old win the Tour is motivating”, he said to RTBF.
“What he has shown is incredible. For Roglič, it was a shame that he had his bad day at the worst possible time, but the battle between the two was beautiful. And the time trial on Saturday, that was a spectacle, say. It is a good thing that there was still a battle for victory,” said the talented Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider.
Evenepoel himself is currently still recovering from his pelvic fracture in the Tour of Lombardy. Yet he is already thinking about next summer. In principle, the Tour de France is not on his program. “I should participate in the Olympics,” he said. “Combining them with the Tour is impossible, however. In December we should know whether the Games can go ahead or not. Then we will see which Grand Tour I ride.”
Remco Evenepoel in Il Lombardia before the crash:
Carapaz Focuses on the Vuelta
Richard Carapaz managed to finish his first Tour de France last Sunday, but the Ecuadorian is already looking forward to his next goals. The INEOS Grenadiers rider will participate in the World Championships in Imola on Sunday, before working towards the Vuelta a España.
Carapaz, who tried to win the polka-dot jersey in the Tour, will share the Vuelta leader position with the outgoing Chris Froome. “I am happy with the experiences gained in the Tour. I know that the people in Ecuador enjoyed my performance,” the 2019 Giro winner said to El Comercio.
“After the World Championships I will focus on the Vuelta, where I will share the lead with Froome. The first two stages already have a difficult final and take place in the mountains where I lived for years.” The 75th edition of the Vuelta a España starts on October 20 and ends on November 8. Carapaz wanted to defend his Giro title this year, but that was before the outbreak of the corona virus. Geraint Thomas will be aiming to repeat the team’s Giro victory, two years after Froome’s triumph.
Richard Carapaz – Vuelta next:
Peter Sagan Missing From the World Championships in Imola
Three-time world champion Peter Sagan will not start at the World Championships in Imola on Sunday. The Slovak will now focus on the Giro d’Italia, which starts on October 3 in Sicily.
It is the usually well-informed sports journalist Ciro Scognamiglio who announced Sagan’s absence. The World champion of Richmond (2015), Doha (2016) and Bergen (2017) announced earlier this month that the course in Imola would be too tough for him. “I’m waiting for the end of this Tour to decide whether to participate or not. But according to how I estimate it based on the information that has come through, that World championships will be too hard for me.”
Sagan was looking for his eighth green jersey in the Tour de France, but lost out to Sam Bennett in the fight. His next goal is the Giro d’Italia, where he will start for the first time in his career.
No Worlds for Sagan:
Quintana replaced with Muñoz for the Worlds
Nairo Quintana will not participate in the World Championships in Imola this Sunday. Since the end of the Tour de France, 30-year-old Quintana and his Arkéa-Samsic team have been in the middle of a doping case. Cristian Camilo Muñoz will replace Quintana.
Guilty or not, Colombia’s national coach had to find a replacement for Sunday’s World Championship road race in a hurry. Sebastián Henao, Iván Sosa and Brandon Rivera were not available and so the young Muñoz, who rides for UAE Team Emirates, will start his first World Champs with the pros.
Colombia Worlds Team:
Miguel Ángel López
Felipe Martínez (Plus TT)
Cristian Camilo Muñoz
No Worlds for Quintana:
Tom Dumoulin to Ride Worlds Time Trial
Tom Dumoulin will start next Friday’s World Championship time trial in Imola. The 29-year-old had doubts about participation after the end of the Tour de France, but according to NOS he has decided to start anyway.
Dumoulin should do well on the almost flat course of 31.7 kilometres, although defending champion Rohan Dennis and home rider Filippo Ganna are top favourites. The 24-year-old Italian talent of INEOS Grenadiers crushed the field in Tirreno-Adriatico in the traditional, final time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto. Ganna rolled the 10.1 kilometers in ten minutes and 42 seconds. Good for a dizzying average of 56.6 kilometers per hour. Dennis finished third there at 26 seconds.
Dumoulin finished second in the individual time trial of the Tour de France last Saturday, almost a minute and a half behind the winner Tadej Pogačar. According to Jumbo-Visma sports director Arthur van Dongen, his rider rode better values than during the World Championship time trial in Bergen, where Dumoulin claimed the world title. After the Tour ended last Sunday, Dumoulin said: “Friday’s time trial is still subject to change. I have agreed with national coach Koos Moerenhout that I will see how I get out of the Tour.”
The Dutchman feels good enough to win. Given his current form and his achievements in this discipline in recent years, he should also have a good chance. In 2014 he finished third in Ponferrada on his debut ride. Then there was Richmond where he was fifth, Doha eleventh and Innsbruck second, in addition to his rainbow jersey in Norway. Along with Dumoulin, Dennis and Ganna, Wout van Aert, Victor Campenaerts, Rémi Cavagna, Jos van Emden, Stefan Küng and Geraint Thomas also participate.
Dumoulin nearly won the Tour TT:
Roglič, Dumoulin and Kuss for La Vuelta
According to the Spanish sports-paper AS, Jumbo-Visma is planning to go to the Vuelta a España (20 October-8 November) with a strong team. Sources within Jumbo-Visma previously confirmed that Tom Dumoulin will participate in the Spanish Tour, but Primož Roglič and Sepp Kuss are now also preparing for the Vuelta.
The plan that Dumoulin would also ride the Vuelta a España was already decided this summer when the new calendar was presented. Jumbo-Visma thought than Dumoulin should ride two Grand Tours this year, after the problems of his knee injury, intestinal complaints and the corona lockdown. The team first wanted to see whether Dumoulin would come out of the Tour fresh.
AS now reports that Dumoulin can count on two very strong teammates with Roglič and Kuss. The Slovenian managed to win the Tour of Spain last year and this year just missed the Tour victory. Kuss also rode the Vuelta last year.
Dumoulin, Roglič and Kuss will have to compete against Chris Froome and Richard Carapaz leading INEOS Grenadiers and Enric Mas and Alejandro Valverde for Movistar. The names of Thibaut Pinot, Emanuel Buchmann and Guillaume Martin also appear on the provisional start list.
Kuss and Roglič to join Dumoulin in La Vuelta:
Viviani to the Giro, Martin For the Vuelta
Elia Viviani will be the leader of the Cofidis team in the Giro d’Italia, which starts next week on Sicily. The Italian must be looking for stage wins in his home country. Guillaume Martin is the top man in the team for the Vuelta a España.
In the Giro, the Cofidis team will be built around Viviani, the team says. His participation in the Italian tour had a question mark for a long time, but the sprinter will be at the start in Monreale on 3rd October. Due to a foot injury, he initially rode a difficult Tour de France, but he has drawn confidence from his fifth place in the final stage on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Viviani is delighted to start in the Giro for the seventh time. “I have a special history with the Giro, such as my first victory in 2015 and the incredible Giro 2018 (when he won four stages). The form is now back, I am satisfied with the way I finished in Paris and I am very motivated to go to the Giro d’Italia, where the support is even greater.”
From October 20 Guillaume Martin will be the leader of Cofidis in the Vuelta a España. The Frenchman was in third place for some time in the second week of the Tour and was ultimately the best French rider in eleventh place in Paris. “I have the feeling that we are still at the start of the season. For me there are two important one-day races: the World Championships next Sunday and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. And I’m already planning for the Vuelta.”
We didn’t see much of Viviani in the Tour:
2020 Amstel Gold Race Decision this Week
This week it will become clear whether the Amstel Gold Race can take place on Saturday 10 October. Race organiser, Leo van Vliet has submitted all the papers and a decision will probably be taken by the South Limburg Region on Friday.
“We have submitted all plans, both to the UCI and at a national and local level,” Van Vliet told Tour de L1mbourg. “The safety commission will look at this in the coming week. On Thursday we will have another meeting and a decision will probably be made on Friday.”
Van Vliet wants to turn the Amstel Gold Race into a TV event this year. Together with NOS, it has been agreed to broadcast the race on the public broadcaster all afternoon, with first the women’s and then the men’s event. Van Vliet prefers to see as few people as possible along the course, because of the corona safety measures.
One of the measures taken by the Dutch classic is to move the start. It is no longer on De Markt in the centre of Maastricht, but at the football stadium of club MVV. “The start will be public-free and the climbs will all be blocked. We use a lot of people for that,” explained Van Vliet. “And the last kilometres, from Daalhemmerweg to past the finish, are also completely closed. We have also made good agreements about this with the businesses at Grendelplein in Valkenburg.”
Will we see MVDP win Amstel again this year?
López Off to AG2R-Citroën
Where does Miguel Ángel López will most likely leave his current team Astana. At the end of May, the Grand Tour rider was already linked to BORA-hansgrohe, but Tuttobiciweb now reports that López is on his way to AG2R-La Mondiale.
López, who recently won the Tour stage finishing on the Col de la Loze, may replace Romain Bardet at AG2R, as the Frenchman leaves for Sunweb. The French team will change next year to AG2R Citroën, after bringing in the car manufacturer as a new co-sponsor.
According to Tuttobiciweb, the move of López has not yet been completed, but the transfer is in a final phase. It would now be all about the final details. AG2R has already managed to attract Lilian Calmejane, Stan Dewulf, Bob Jungels, Marc Sarreau, Michael Schär, Damien Touzé, Greg Van Avermaet and Gijs Van Hoecke for 2021.
The 26-year-old López signed his first professional contract with Astana for the 2015 season and is currently in his sixth season with the Kazakh team. In recent years he has managed to take podium places in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España and won prestigious stage races such as the Tour of Switzerland and the Tour of Catalonia.
Is ‘Superman’ off to France?
Thomas Pidcock signs with INEOS Grenadiers
INEOS Grenadiers will soon announce the signing of Thomas Pidcock, who earlier this month won the U23 edition of the Giro d’Italia. He is said to have already signed a 2021 contract with Dave Brailsford’s team.
The twenty-one year old, Pidcock, is one of the most promising British riders at the moment. In addition to his victory in the Giro d’Italia U23, he won the World junior time trial championships in Mons (2017) and the junior and the U23 editions of Paris-Roubaix. He probably first came to everyones notice in Bieles (2017) when he became cyclocross world champion in the juniors and two years later in Bogense (2019) in the U23. He is also quite handy on a mountain bike.
It was The Telegraph who announced the news of Pidcock’s transfer to INEOS Grenadiers, he is currently riding for Trinity Racing. According to the British paper, bringing in the promising all-rounder is part of a new, young addition to the WorldTeam as team manager Dave Brailsford looks to take a new direction after a difficult season.
Tom Pidcock winning the junior Roubaix:
Vervloesem and Moniquet to Join Lotto Soudal
Team Lotto Soudal recruited two more young talents for their WorldTeam. Belgian riders Xandres Vervloesem (20) and Sylvain Moniquet (22) have signed for the Belgian team on a two-year deal. Both riders did excel in last week’s Ronde de l’lsard, a stage race in the French Pyrenees. In yesterday’s final stage, race leader Moniquet lost his yellow jersey to his future teammate Xandres Vervloesem. Four years after Bjorg Lambrecht, Lotto Soudal again won the overall in the Tour de l’Isard, as well as all other classifications.
“Honestly, I am pleasantly surprised”, explains Xandres Vervloesem. “I knew from my period as a junior that I can climb, but this was just my second race in the real mountains in two years as U23. I’ve ended the dream of Sylvain Moniquet, but that’s sport. For the moment Sylvain is still riding for Groupama-FDJ Continental Team. Henri Vandenabeele and me, we tried to isolate Sylvain in that last stage and we succeeded. Next year, Sylvain and I will work together, but now we don’t. To win this prestigious stage race is good for my confidence and a nice thank you towards my future team. They’ve contracted me, based on my good test results. Even before l’Isard…”
As a junior rider, Vervloesem won the Overall in the Ain Bugey Valromey Tour and finished 4th overall in the Giro della Lunigiana as well as in the Oberösterreich Rundfahrt, where he won the mountains classification as well. In his first year as U23 a kidney infection ruined his season. Corona thwarted 2020 until now.
Also Sylvain Moniquet is a climber. Last week he excelled in the Ronde de l’Isard on Port de Balès, Hospice de France, Col du Chioula, Ax-3-Domaines and Col de Latrape and wore two days the leader’s jersey. “Just a bad day on the last day. I really wanted to win, but that’s sport. I can live with Xandres as overall winner. We know each other from the national team”, said Sylvain Moniquet.
Earlier this season, Sylvain Moniquet finished 8th overall in the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc. Last year he won the Triptique Ardennais and was 6th overall in the Tour de la Paix.
“After my third year as U23, I had the opportunity to join a UCI ProTeam but I preferred to wait one year longer, hoping that a WorldTeam would have faith in me, which happened. I am ready for this new step in my career and I am really happy to join Lotto Soudal. I know the other young riders, I speak some Dutch and I am prepared to work hard for the big guns of the team. My time will come later. It’s an exciting opportunity and one that I feel has come at the right time.”
“We plunged into our own market to sign talented young riders”, said Lotto Soudal General Manager John Lelangue. “It’s a deliberate choice to rejuvenate the team and to focus not only on the classics but on stage races as well. We needed some more climbers. With Harm Vanhoucke, Viktor Verschaeve, Filippo Conca, Sylvain Montiquet and Xandres Vervloesem we aim to get results in the medium term. Earlier we’ve recruited Sébastien Grignard as well. It’s nice to see that the Lotto Soudal Development Team of Kurt Van de Wouwer functions extremely well. Now we savour the fruits of his hard work.”
Vervloesem and Moniquet:
Gregor Mühlberger: Movistar Team Further Reinforces its Potential
Austrian, 26, to bring his climbing and all-around abilities, good attitude for teamwork to Telefónica-backed squad for WorldTour’s top events starting next season.
The Movistar Team announced Tuesday that Gregor Mühlberger (Salzburg, AUT; 1994), a rider currently part of the Bora-Hansgrohe squad, has signed a three-year contract (2021-23) with the organisation managed by Eusebio Unzué.
Mühlberger, who has built his entire WorldTour career (2016-20) at the German outfit – where he shared teams with the current Movistar Team head of performance, Patxi Vila – after three years of formation at Austrian teams (Tirol Cycling Team [2013-14]; Felbermayr ), is a great climber and a strong all-rounder, with experience in all three Grand Tours – he’s finished one Vuelta, one Giro and two Tours de France, taking 25th place in 2019- and good teamwork skills, while taking good advantage from every individual chance he’s got.
Winner of the 2020 Sibiu Tour, the first pro stage-race post-pandemic, plus as a stage of the 2018 BinckBank Tour and the Austrian road race title in 2017, Mühlberger shared podiums this 2020 with two of his future team-mates, Alejandro Valverde and Marc Soler, at two events of the Mallorca Challenge – he was 3rd in Deià, behind ‘Bala’, and 2nd in Andratx, following a late break against eventual winner Marc.
Gregor Mühlberger: “I’m super happy to have been given this chance by the team to sign with them and profit from all the opportunities that lie ahead in the next few years. It’s a good chance to improve my skills and get better in the future, chase some results on both the toughest one-day races and some mountainous one-week races like Dauphiné or Itzulia, but also try to help the leaders as much as I can in the Grand Tours. I feel like some of my best performances in previous seasons have come at the third week of GTs, where I feel pretty strong, and I hope I can be there for our team leaders, put my current experience at the team’s service and also learn a lot from the veterans, such as Alejandro Valverde, José Joaquín Rojas and many others. There’s still a lot for me to improve and learn, and I’m so happy to have this chance with the Movistar Team to grow with them and continue to get better in the next few years.”
Eusebio Unzué: “Gregor’s arrival will bring some extra experience to next year’s team, thanks to his already vast experience in the WorldTour despite being still really young. He’s a polylvalent rider, something which is becoming increasingly important in modern cycling, and even if he’s proven to be a great team rider, which is a big reinforcement in itself, I think he’s more than qualified to lead the team in relevant events.”
Sara Martín Signs as Movistar Team Continues to Support Spanish Cycling Growth
Allrounder from Aranda, Burgos (21 years old) to ride for Telefónica-backed squad in 2021-22 after great progression this year, conquering both Spanish U23 road titles and becoming national ITT vice-champion with the elites.
The Movistar Team announced Wednesday that Sara Martín (Aranda de Duero, ESP; 1999), a current member of the Sopela Women’s Team, will be part of the WorldTour outfit managed by Eusebio Unzué starting January 1st, 2021, and for the upcoming two seasons (through the end of 2022).
A graduate student in Chemistry at the Valladolid University, a degree she will finish already as part of the Blue squad, Martín is a strong allrounder – great rouleur, solid climber, reasonably fast – who has taken the key step towards the top in her career with impressive results in the last few months, right after the return of racing.
Martín, winner of the Spanish Racing Series’ round in Villasana de Mena in 2019, notched up last August in Jaén both titles up for grabs at the Spanish U23 Championships, in the road race and the individual time trial. At those events, Sara also hobnobbed with the best elites in the country: she was 2nd overall in the TT, ahead of future team-mate Sheyla Gutiérrez, and 5th in the road race. The Burgos native finished in 16th place at the European U23 Championships in Plouay, as part of a Spanish national team she’s been a regular of in the last five years, at European (U23) and World (junior) Champs. She will be racing her first ever Worlds as an elite this week at Imola, Italy, both the TT (Thursday 24) and the road race (Saturday 26).
Sara, the Movistar Team’s third signing for 2021 after the confirmed additions of Emma Norsgaard and Annemiek van Vleuten, continues to reinforce the Spanish core of the country’s only top-tier squad, carrying the flag in events around the world.
“It’s really exciting for me to take this step forward,” explains Sara Martín. “Already taking the step from junior to a UCI elite team with Sopela, where some of my references, the Spanish riders who were taking the step towards the Movistar Team, were cutting their teeth, was really important. Now, having the chance to join them in the WorldTour, sharing teams with them, or even with world-class athletes such as Annemiek van Vleuten, is such a big opportunity for me. Ever since I took the step towards full-time cycling I’ve been progressing every year, and this leap forward will be huge for my career.”
“I hope to be able to support the team wherever I’m needed, learn as much as possible and squeeze every bit of experience from every team-mate I come across. Riding the best events in the world will help me progress from a technical and tactical standpoint, which is the thing I’m looking forward to improving the most, even if I’m aware it’s still a long way for me towards my best physical level. I’ve always given great importance to my Chemistry studies, looking towards the future, and balancing them with professional sport requires focus and discipline – which has also helped me with cycling. I’m quite exigent with myself and I want to give my best for the team from the very start, and once I finish my studies, progress even more as a rider and person. All in all, ‘giving it your all’ (my motto) in everything.”
“Sara’s arrival reinforces our commitment to relying on Spanish up-and-coming talents for our future success,” underlines Sebastián Unzué. “She’s a rider who, despite her youth, has already shown to be able to do great things already in the present. She performs well in all terrains, and the best is that she’s got great room for improvement in all of them, which makes us really excited to be able to give them all opportunities to keep growing, improving and hopefully become a reference in Spanish cycling. Her signing is a confirmation of our gamble on Spanish cycling, while it will be really positive for women like Sara to ride alongside a big leader like Annemiek.”
Michael Albasini Takes Over from his Father as Swiss National Coach
Michael Albasini has been selected as a rider for the World Championship in Imola on Sunday, but next year the Mitchelton-Scott rider will be choosing the riders. He succeeds his father Marcello as head coach of the Swiss national team.
Albasini, who turns 40 in December, is in his last season as a cycling pro, but he has a new job as the national team coach waiting for him. “For me it is a fun challenge at the right time. I look forward to passing on the knowledge I have gained in more than twenty cycling seasons.”
His father Marcello (63) will remain involved in the Swiss federation and will assist his son with advice. The intention is that they jointly oversee the selection of the Swiss team in the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Switzerland. In addition to being a national coach, Albasini is also continuing as a professional trainer.
Michael Albasini winning stage 2 of the Tour des Fjords’19:
Baloise Insurance Extends Sponsorship with Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
Good news for the Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise cycling team. Insurer Baloise Insurance has extended its partnership with the UCI ProTeam by at least 2 years until the end of 2022. Baloise Insurance has been a sponsor of manager Christophe Sercu’s team for 12 years now.
The team said in a press release that it can continue to count on their long-term partner, even in these uncertain times. In addition to sponsoring the cycling team, the insurer is also the main sponsor of the Baloise Belgium Tour, the Telenet Baloise Lions, the Baloise Ladies Tour and Lotto Six Days Flanders-Ghent.
Despite the uncertain times of the corona crisis, Baloise Insurance confirms its confidence in the cycling team and its leadership with the contract extension. “As a progressive employer, Baloise Insurance attaches great importance to the development of young talent and we are consistently extending this into our sponsorship policy.”
“We continue to support the mission of Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise to give talented young riders the opportunity to gain experience in a safe professional environment. And with success, because they are now numerous, the riders who have progressed to WorldTour teams thanks to the guidance of Christophe Sercu’s team. We are very proud of that.”
Piet Allegaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) stage win during Eurometropole’19 in Tournai:
Joop Zoetemelk Undergoes Surgery
Joop Zoetemelk had a successful operation after he sustained multiple fractures in a collision with a car during a bike ride on Sunday. His wife informed De Telegraaf that the 73-year-old Zoetemelk has no organ or brain damage from the fall.
“Joop was operated on an arm and a leg on Sunday. In any case, there is no organ damage or head trauma,” said Zoetemelk’s wife, Dany Pouille. “He will have to stay in the hospital for a while, but he is doing well under the circumstances.”
On Sunday morning, Zoetemelk (winner of the 1980 Tour de France) was hit while on a bike ride in the Paris area, after which he was taken to hospital by helicopter.
1985 World champion, Joop Zoetemelk:
Sam Bennett’s Journey to the Tour de France Green Jersey
Helped by a very strong Deceuninck – Quick-Step team over three relentless weeks, the 29-year-old Irishman wrote history in Paris and took home the prestigious green jersey (as well as two stage wins) thanks to a combination of unbelievable consistency, resilience and an extraordinary fighting spirit.
Sam’s story, seen through the eyes of his teammates, was captured by La Pédale in this touching video:
Emotional Moments of the 2020 Tour de France
From Saturday 29th of August to Sunday 20th of September 2020 – We wrapped up another Tour de France – our most successful yet, with four stage wins and the overall leader’s yellow jersey in Paris. Share the joy and the best moments of the Emirati Team at this unforgettable Grande Boucle!
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