The Vuelta a España is in full swing and there has been some surprise winners and a new overall leader, Rudy Molard? All the reports and results from Spain and the Druivenkoers Overijse. Goodbye AquaBlue Team – TOP STORY. In other cycling news: Mark Cavendish update, Tour of Britain teams and yet more rider contract news for 2019. Get the coffee.
TOP STORY: No More AquaBlue Team
The news that the Irish AquaBlue team would not be racing in 2019 was released by the team’s founder Rick Delaney on Monday leaving riders and staff looking for work next year. The announcement came on the heels of the news that a merger with Belgium’s Sniper Cycling was both premature and then not going to happen.
After a fairly successful first year, Delaney has been less than happy with the cycling World and made that clear in his statement: “Last year we had no history & got some fantastic invites. This year we have a positive history and get little or no invites. I invest millions in this sport and try to offer something different in terms of funding in order to keep the sport alive. All I have asked for is respect in allowing us to showcase the project for the sport. No races means no traffic to our site which means no sales and therefore no funding for our team. We ask the sport over and over again to allow us to race on the big stages, to support our project and in turn, support the sport. We don’t even get a courtesy call to say we’ve been overlooked. We, along with other teams, have to discover via social media if we are allowed to race. That’s it. We can’t get any race starts as a team who are trying to build and improve the sport. Yes I know, the sport will be around much longer than I, but it’s currently controlled by a ‘boys’ club’ mentality. We really need to question is this a real sport, is it giving real opportunities? Simply unbelievable! Over and out…”
Things have not been going well for the online bike company as they had started laying-off office staff from May the 25th due to moving from Cork in Ireland to England, the last of the staff were made unemployed last Friday. A new private limited company under the AquaBlue Sport LTD banner was created on the Companies House website earlier in summer with existing directors Jamie and Richard Delaney registering a new address in Bath for the business.
At the start of the year the UCI delayed issuing a ProTour license to the AquaBlue team due to concerns abound how the team was financed, they also audited the team’s financial accounts in July. Originally the team was to run for at least four years with two-year rolling contracts for their riders.
The team were meant to start the Tour of Britain on Sunday the 2nd of September as their final race together, but the riders and staff were told on Monday evening that the team would not race again. British Continental Team Wiggins will take their place on the start line in Pembrey Country Park.
The hope to “create a sustainable cycling team” seems to have been dashed:
Vuelta a España 2018
Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) carried into the Vuelta a España the superb form that propelled him to a well-deserved win at the Cyclassics Hamburg. Viviani comfortably sprinted to victory on Stage 3, from Mijas to Alhaurin de la Torre, 178.2 kilometers with a total of 2600 meters of climbing.
Quick-Step Floors did what they know best on Monday, controlling a six-man breakaway for the most part of the day, not panicking even with 40 kilometers to go, when five riders attacked from the bunch trying to stir things up, and bringing everything back together 10 kilometers from the finish, before taking Viviani to the front with the flamme rouge in sight.
Led out by Danish Champion Michael Mørkøv, Viviani made his jump inside the final 200 meters and put in a storming sprint, beating Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) by a bike length. The 29-year-old Italian, who is riding the Vuelta a España for the second time in his career, was eyeing this stage before the start of the race and at the finish in Alhaurin de la Torre.
Stage winner, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “This wonderful season continues with a beautiful and very special moment. First Vuelta win, first Grand Tour victory in the Italian Champion jersey, all these make up for a perfect day, but I couldn’t have pulled it off without this incredible team, who did again a marvelous job. It was difficult to control such a tough stage by our own for 90% of the time, but we prevailed again thanks to the Wolfpack’s fantastic spirit. There’s no such thing as an easy stage in a Grand Tour, and especially in the Vuelta, where he had a lot of climbing in store for what on the roadbook presented itself was a flat stage. We knew what to expect, because we did a recon last week, so Kasper and Pieter pulled at the front the entire day, then as we got closer to the finish, Dries kept a high speed, before Michael put me in an ideal position, from where I went immediately as I noticed Sagan making his move. With some tailwind, I felt that it was the right moment to go and I am happy for how things panned out in the end.”
Overall race leader, Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky): “It was pretty straightforward today. It was nice to be up there at the front of the bunch, out of trouble. It was a very nervous finish, a lot of guys tried to break [at the end}, with a lot of roundabouts and corners, short little climbs. It is always better to be on the front, also controlling Alejandro Valverde because I know he really wants this red jersey. I tried to stay behind him and not allow him to get any bonus seconds. Congratulations to Elia Viviani and the whole Quick-Step team because they did a really hard job all day. I’m so happy to have the jersey for another day, tomorrow is going to be a hard one – we’ll need to be very smart in the final climb.”
2nd on the stage, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo): “Yeah I am very happy to be back at this level. It’s been a few weeks that I have been feeling good again, since London really (Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic where he finished 3rd), but I can confirm that I am back again, at a good level. It’s a shame we missed the victory, but Viviani is having an unbelievable season – he was just stronger today. Today was a tough one, it was not a clear sprint day with a lot of altitude meters before the final sprint, and also the peloton raced full-on in the last 40kms. So the team did very well to keep me up there, and in the end, I could take the wheel of Viviani. I tried to start a bit earlier than him, but he was almost starting the sprint in the same time – it was head to head – and I got the second place. Of course, we will try again to get this victory.”
3rd on the stage, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was another hard and hot stage at the Vuelta. Although I’m not at my best yet, today I felt a bit better and took a shot at the sprint. The team did a great work all day and Lukas launched a brave attack in the last kilometers. I was brought by my teammates in the finale and gave my best in the sprint but Viviani was the fastest.”
Best Young Rider and 4th overall, Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors): “The goal was to control the stage and win it with Elia, and having accomplished that makes up happy. We are having a great start to the Vuelta a España, I feel good and I’m now curious to see how my legs will respond in the high mountains.”
5th on the stage, Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates): “I’m pretty satisfied, especially because I’ve had some tough days to contend with in these early stages. I did my best to avoid being dropped on the climbs today and had great support from my team mates. I succeeded in being in the peloton for the sprint and in achieving a 5th place, which is a good result for me as it’s my first sprint in a Grand Tour.”
9th on the stage, Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data): “Today was actually really hard with over 3000m of climbing. The break went quite early so it was controlled but with the heat and wind also made it a tough day out. The final was pretty treacherous, with 20km to go there were a few climbs and after that it was really fast to the finale. It was strung out in one line and with just one team leading it and no control behind. Coming into the home stretch it was pretty messy, the only proper lead-out here is Quickstep, so everyone else is just fighting for wheels. 500m to go a few guys came up my inside and chopped me, so I lost my momentum but sprinted to salvage what I could. I rolled in 9th which we’re not too happy about but the form is good and I’m feeling good.”
Vuelta a España Stage 3 Result:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors in 4:48:12
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
5. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
7. Michael Morkov (Den) Quick-Step Floors
8. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
9. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
10. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale.
Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 3:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky in 9:10:52
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:14
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 0:25
4. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 0:28
5. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 0:30
6. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:32
8. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:33
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 0:35.
The first major mountain stage of La Vuelta’18 saw long range attackers succeed and especially Ben King, winner on Tuesday atop the Puerto de Alfacar. The 29 year-old American rider spent the whole of Stage 4 at the front and eventually got the better of Nikita Stalnov (Astana) and Pierre Rolland (Education First-Drapac) to claim his maiden Grand Tour victory. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) retains the red jersey but Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) are threatening his leadership.
A hard day in the mountains saw Polka-dot jersey Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) and his main rival for the KOM classification, Pierre Rolland (Education First-Drapac), attack again. The two men went from the start, as they did in the previous two stages. Ben Gastauer (AG2R-La Mondiale), Nikita Stalnov (Astana), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Ben King (Dimension Data), Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo), Oscar Cabedo (Burgos-BH) and Aritz Bagues (Euskadi-Murias) joined the move. Their lead was up to 4:30 as they faced the first slopes of the Alto de la Cabra Montés, 51km into the stage.
Luis Angel Mate summited the climb first and Ben Gastauer got in the mix, taking 6 points ahead of Pierre Rolland. Sky set a moderate pace in the peloton and the gap increased to 7 minutes at the summit, with 95km to go. No-one came to help Michal Kwiatkowski’s teammates and the attackers’ lead kept rising, up to 10 minutes as they entered the last 40 kilometers. It was still around 8 minutes when LottoNL-Jumbo accelerated at the bottom of the Puerto de Alfacar, the 12.4 kilometer final climb.
After several attempts, Ben King and Nikita Stalnov managed to get away from their breakaway companions 10km from the summit. They held off Pierre Rolland and at the summit King out-powered Stalnov. Among the favorites; Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked with 3 kilometers to go to gain, along with Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), 27 seconds on Michal Kwiatkowski who held the red jersey.
Stage winner, Ben King (Dimension Data): “I’m still in shock. It’s a dream come true. It’s been my goal for the last couple of years to win a grand tour stage. But even just to be here and have the opportunity to go in the breakaway today is an honor, for the faith that the team put in me. We have been working really well together as a team and I’ve also been working really hard for this at home, so it’s really affirming that it all worked out like this. I didn’t think that the break had a chance to stay away, until 40km to go, and even then, there were really strong riders in the break with me. I just did not know how to expect to stack up with those guys. I just put myself in the right position to have the best chance possible and I hit them early at the bottom of the climb and then time-trialed to the top. I was able to out-kick Stalnov at the finish. It’s no secret it has been a difficult season for the team this year but the atmosphere on the team is great. We believe in what we are doing and the potential of the team. We are motivated everyday by what the team is doing for Qhubeka, raising awareness and so to get a victory like this, I know that winning races contributes to more bikes being donated to Qhubeka so it’s an honor to be racing for such a noble cause and certainly extra motivation for us.”
Overall leader, Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky): “The stage might have looked easy until the bottom of the last climb, considering that breakaway had 10 minutes, but at the end of the day it’s always a challenge to race in 35 degree centigrade. As we expected fireworks came on the last climb from LottoNL-Jumbo setting a high pace. I think we did ok staying in red for another day. I’m not the biggest GC contender here to win La Vuelta so it’s up to [Nairo] Quintana, [George] Bennett, Valverde, Yates and others to use this stage to gain time. I’m happy about my performance on the last climb and I’m looking forward for another challenging stage.”
2nd on the stage, Nikita Stalnov (Astana): “Honestly, I gave my all today and I can’t complain. Of course, I would prefer to win this stage, I was so close, but anyway, I think, I did a great race. The final climb was really tough and we had to push hard to stay away from the chasers behind. I wanted to attack before, but I felt like I was on the limit inside the last few kilometers. However, this result bring me motivation for the next stages and for the whole Vuelta.”
8th on the stage and 3rd overall, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): “It wasn’t the plan (to attack), I got carried away but I felt good and I saw an opportunity there. Lotto-Jumbo were running a good tempo through the town but seemed to fall apart or slow down a bit and I thought I would keep going and that was it really. I don’t really know what I was doing. Maybe I was testing the guys and was thinking someone would come with me straight away but that was that. I didn’t mean to. I’m not trying to be cocky or anything, it was just one of those things and when I tried once, I got away. It looks like I have gained the time I lost in the other part of the race, in the prologue and the other day with the little kicker, so yeah, it was a good day.”
9th on the stage and 2nd overall, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “My legs were good again. I knew the last climb from training – that it flattened out at the top a little. In the finale, I still had something left in the tank and thought why not trying. I think a lot of guys still have their sights on Rafa and that was my advantage. However, the Vuelta will be decided in the last week and it’s then when you need to have some energy left.”
5th on the stage, Ben Gastauer (AG2R-La Mondiale): “It was very hot all day, the profile was very difficult with more than 3500 meters of climbing. The breakaway managed itself well in front, and the peloton let us go… Everything played out on the last climb which had a very irregular gradient. This is not the kind of climb that I particularly like. But I fought hard, and I’m happy with this fifth place, even if I was hoping for something else. Tony did a great climb, the team is in good shape, and we will try our luck again.”
Vuelta a España Stage 4 Result:
1. Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data in 4:33:12
2. Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana at 0:02
3. Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:13
4. Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis at 1:08
5. Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:39
6. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:57
7. Oscar Cabedo Carda (Spa) Burgos-BH at 2:24
8. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 2:48
9. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 2:50
10. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 3:07.
Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 4:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky in 13:47:19
2. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:07
3. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:10
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:12
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 0:25
6. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 0:30
7. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:33
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
9. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:37
10. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 0:42.
With the break staying away to the finish of stage 4, the riders sensed that there would once again be an opportunity for a successful escape on Stage 5 and as a result, a fierce battle began with all of the opening moves being chased down. The break of the day slipped away on the first Cat 2 climb, the Alto de Orgiva after 60 kilometers.
The group grew to 25 riders: Hermann Pernsteiner, Franco Pellizotti (Bahrain-Merida), Alexandre Geniez (AG2R-La Mondiale), Davide Villella (Astana), Alessandro De Marchi, Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Simon Clarke (EF Education First-Drapac), Maurits Lammertink and Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha-Alpecin), Floris De Tier and Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jai Hindley (Sunweb), Bauke Mollema and Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo), Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), José Mendes (Burgos-BH), Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis) and Mikel Iturria (Euskadi-Murias). The Sky team controlled the peloton behind.
De Marchi and Rossetto attacked from the break, for the BMC rider to eventually push on solo and was one minute ahead of the chasing group with 65km to go. The break split behind and De Marchi was joined by Clarke and Mollema with 50km to go. The bunch was now at 6 minutes.
At the start of the second climb the leading trio had 1:30 on the chasers, but by the summit they only had 45 seconds with 27 downhill kilometers to go to the finish. On the descent and the run-in to the line the three pushed their advantage up to over 1 minute and so had time to finesse for the sprint.
De Marchi tried to jump Clarke and Mollema, but it was Clarke who was the fastest with Mollema and De Marchi finishing second and third. Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) finished with the chase group at 8 seconds and took the overall lead from Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) by 1:01 with Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in 3rd place at 1:08.
Stage winner, Simon Clarke (EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale): “It’s just amazing. I worked so hard since I last won a stage here, and I just couldn’t repeat it. It’s taken me so long to get back there and have my stars aligned. Even today I wasn’t sure it was possible. You’ve got to be willing to lose to win, and I was and I came out on top. I saw today as a breakaway stage before the Vuelta even started. I put a circle around this stage and stage seven. Today was definitely the priority of the two. I spoke to the team about having some freedom today, which they gave me, and I had to make that count.”
“Everyone knew it was a good breakaway day. We saw the breakaway go quite easily on the first four days, even yesterday, because the bunch didn’t think the breakaway could succeed. Normally Sky likes to keep the break under close control on the mountain stages, so yesterday was a bit of a surprise, but today was for sure a breakaway day. When you have such a big group, you cannot for one minute be complacent. There’s never very good cooperation in such a good group. I kept telling myself I needed to stay as close to the front of the group as possible because otherwise guys get in front of you and you just can’t catch them. The way the breakaway went, it was on a climb, so the nature of the breakaway was that it had some very strong climbers, I wasn’t going to be able to attack them on the climbs to get to the front of the race. Quite often on the descents, people relax and have something to eat and drink. Sometimes that’s an opportunity to get a bit of an advantage. On the first descent, I got away with a couple of other guys. We got brought back that time, but I saw it could work.”
“I thought: ‘This is good. I need to commit now.’ Unfortunately we couldn’t put on a good show on the climb, attacking each other, because it was such a strong headwind. We realized we just needed to cooperate and get to the finish line. When you come three-up to a final, there’s always going to be cat and mouse. Coming into the final 5km, I said to myself: ‘I need to keep one in front and one behind.’ That way I could keep an eye on both of them. Each time they attacked, it was really hard. It really hurt. It also gave me a lot of confidence that they felt like they needed to attack me and not come to the finish. I didn’t think I was necessarily faster than De Marchi or Mollema because they’ve won big races in small group sprints. I wouldn’t necessarily have backed myself as the strongest guy because they’re such strong guys, but when they started attacking, it gave me confidence. Maybe they’re not feeling good for the sprint? I’m going to back myself for the sprint.
“After I won my first stage in the Vuelta, I fell in love with the race. You fall in love with the races you can win in, and every year since I won my first stage, I’ve asked my teams if I can come back. Four times now I’ve done the Tour de France and every time I’ve come to the Vuelta after it. I don’t care how tired I am. I love the Vuelta. I’m so happy we were able to come away with the win. At the Tour, we had such a committed group, even throughout the whole year we’ve repeatedly shown a high level of commitment, and I don’t think our results have justified the quality of this team or how hard we’ve worked. I hope a stage win like this shows the effort, commitment and talent we have in this team.”
6th on the stage and overall leader, Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ): “The plans were not to take the breakaway of the day, but when we saw the turn of the race, I thought, why not take the advantage and try the breakaway”
2nd on the stage, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo): “I like racing like this, racing aggressive and going for the breakaways. I did this for the last 10 days of the Tour, and also here it was already my goal before the Vuelta to not go for the GC but fight for the stage wins. I was close today, and I am sure there will be an opportunity in the next two and a half weeks.”
3rd on the stage, Alessandro de Marchi (BMC): “These are the days when I would like to be a sprinter. In the end, I am happy. I took a risk going really far from the finish but honestly, I had nothing to lose so, why not? In the end, Clarke and Mollema were stronger and faster and I had to play a bit because a podium is better than nothing. So, this is my first try. Going on the front was the only option. Clarke was strong and ready to cover each attack, so it was difficult. At the beginning, it was crazy. It was a big battle to try and make it into the breakaway with a lot of groups, both big and small, trying and in the end, I decided that the best way would be to try alone or just with a few riders and try to stay away and see what happened because nobody was really working in the big bunch. At the moment I attacked on my own, I was feeling really good and there was a climb up ahead so it was a good place to do something. You never know what can happen and I had nothing to lose by trying. In the end, the two riders who bridged across to me were stronger and faster but as I always say, if you don’t try, you will never know. This is the first day that we really raced full gas and now I will try to recover and see what else I can do. I think for me, going in the breakaway is the best way to enjoy this race and I will keep trying to find not just a good day but a perfect day.”
3rd overall, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was a really tough start to the stage, especially after the effort yesterday. Our team worked really well and after the break was gone they always kept me close to the front to stay out of trouble. After a couple of kilometers I had good legs again and in the end, it was a day without any issues for us. Molard took the red jersey today, but I don’t think this will make any difference to the GC at the end of this Vuelta.”
10th on the stage, Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data): “It was another top 10 result today for us so I think the team is going really well at the moment. We have a good atmosphere in this group. Today was a super hard stage, everyone wanted to be in the breakaway but we expected that. Fortunately I was the one representing in the 25-rider breakaway, but the course did not suit me by constantly undulating with a headwind. The climb was also mid stage so I just tried to fight for position and it ended up being a good day, but I am looking for another opportunity to get a result.”
Vuelta a España Stage 5 Result:
1. Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale in 4:36:07
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
3. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC
4. Davide Villella (Ita) Astana at 0:08
5. Floris De Tier (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
6. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:58
8. Jonathan Lastra Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 2:00
9. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data.
Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 5:
1. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 18:27:20 + 20 second penalty
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 1:01
3. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 1:08
4. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 1:11
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1:13
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 1:26
7. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 1:31
8. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:34
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:38.
Druivenkoers Overijse 2018
Xandro Meurisse booked his first pro 2018 win in Druivenkoers Overijse. A crash caused a shake-up at the start of the race. Wanty-Groupe Gobert did not panic and controlled a breakaway group of seven riders. In the local laps around Overijse, Mark McNally, Wesley Kreder and Kévin Van Melsen brought the peloton closer each lap. At three laps from the finish Pieter Vanspeybrouck reduced the peloton on the Schavei climb.
Together with three-time winner Jérôme Baugnies, Van Melsen, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Meurisse remained in the front of the race. From that big group, Xandro Meurisse tried his chances with two laps to go. In a heavy downpour he had the company of Oscar Riesebeek (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) and Jimmy Janssens (Cibel-Cebon). In the final lap Riesebeek and Meurisse accelerated and in the sprint Meurisse was faster than the Dutch rider. Meurisse thus takes his first victory of the season, the 11th victory for Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 2018. After the three victories of Jérôme Baugnies, it is the fourth consecutive Wanty-Groupe Gobert win in Overijse.
Race winner, Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “In the past year and a half I have been close to the victory a few times. Last year I won the Geraardsbergen kermesse in the same period, and today I finally get that UCI victory! This is great. I think it’s a shame for my teammate Jérôme Baugnies that he did not win his fourth consecutive Druivenkoers. But the win stays in the team, so I think he will be happy with that. I checked Buienradar before the race and expected rain in the final. But I did not expect it to be such a downpour. I ride better in the rain since this year, which was rewarding at the European Championships in Glasgow (where Meurisse finished 6th) as well as today. In the last kilometer I felt myself sliding in the descent. Riesebeek put me under pressure, but I did not crash and could close the gap with him again. I can count on a strong sprint and could take the win in a sprint.”
“The whole team did a terrific job. After a crash at the beginning of the race we did not have a rider in the break. But we stayed calm and kept the gap all day long under two minutes. Wesley, Mark and Kévin controlled the pace in a perfect manner. Then Pieter took care of the selection and Guillaume also did his work. In the final it was up to Jérôme and me to finish it. This is more than a victory from me alone. Without my teammates, I could never live up to this. I am looking forward to the Tour of Britain, my next race. It is a much tougher race than last year. We are starting with a strong team, including Dion Smith and Andrea Pasqualon. To achieve a good final GC won’t be easy, but we have to aim for a stage victory! We are in the good flow.”
Druivenkoers Overijse Result:
1. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 4:39:49
2. Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:02
3. Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Cibel-Cebon at 0:11
4. Floris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:25
5. Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:34
6. Justin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
7. Sjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
8. Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
9. Mathias Van Gompel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic.
Wanty-Groupe Gobert in charge at the Druivenkoers Overijse:
Update: Mark Cavendish
Following medical examination we can confirm that Mark Cavendish will miss the upcoming immediate race schedule due to the presence of Epstein-Barr virus.
The medical results have indicated too that Cavendish will also have been unknowingly training and racing with EBV over recent months, and as a result of these findings he has been advised to rest in order to fully recover ahead of a return to training.
Cavendish said, “This season I’ve not felt physically myself and despite showing good numbers on the bike I have felt that there’s been something not right. Given this and on the back of these medical results, I’m glad to now finally have some clarity as to why I haven’t been able to perform at my optimum level during this time. Having received expert medical advice as a result of the findings I’ve been advised to take a period of total rest in order to fully recover. I’m now looking forward to taking the time necessary in order to get back to 100% fitness before then returning to racing again at peak physical condition. I’d like to thank everyone for the incredible support I’ve received and I look forward to seeing you all out on the road again soon.”
As and when there is a further update on Mark’s return to racing we will provide an update.
Team WIGGINS Added to OVO Energy Tour of Britain line-up
Team WIGGINS will take part in the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain, which gets underway in Carmarthenshire on Sunday 2 September from Pembrey Country Park.
The British UCI Continental team have been added to the line-up for Britain’s most prestigious race following the withdrawal of Aqua Blue Sport, and have named a roster featuring some of Britain and Ireland’s hottest talents.
Leading the team will be 19-year-old Tom Pidcock, current Junior World Time Trial Champion and multiple cyclo-cross champion, and 22-year old Gabriel Cullaigh, who won the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic this Spring, one of only two single-day UCI-level races in the UK.
Both riders have been in excellent form domestically, each taking a race win during the OVO Energy Tour Series, while Pidcock also claimed victory in the East Klondike GP round of the HSBC UK Spring Cup Series.
Irish pairing Matthew Teggart and Mark Downey (both 22) will arrive at the race having competed in the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir for Ireland last week. The latter recorded two top-10 stage finishes, including second on the hilly Stage Six to Cérilly.
Completing the line-up will be 20-year-olds Joey Walker, son of former Milk Race winner Chris, and New Zealander James Fouché, both of whom will be making their debuts in the race. The team have twice before participated in the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, with Owain Doull finishing third overall and winning the Points Classification in 2015.
Commenting on the news, Pidcock said: “I’m delighted to have an opportunity to ride in the Tour of Britain with WIGGINS. Obviously the team has a strong affiliation with the race, with Sir Brad being a former winner and Owain’s impressive ride in 2015. I am really looking forward to mixing it up against some of the big UCI WorldTour teams again. Riding in front of British fans is always a great experience and hopefully our team can give them plenty to cheer about over the course of the race.”
Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Tour of Britain
Our team returns to the eight-day race looking to add to the 21 stages won in nine previous participations.
For the first time since 2006, there’s a big chance the opening stage of the Tour of Britain (2-9 August) won’t come down to a bunch sprint, and that’s because the riders will tackle Belmont Hill, an 800m climb averaging 9%, inside the final ten kilometers of the leg to the Welsh city of Newport. Stage two, which features a first-category ascent, could again encourage attackers, before a reshuffling of the overall standings on the Clifton Down uphill finish in Bristol, last visited by the peloton in 2014.
Leamington Spa, a small town located north of Stratford-upon-Avon – where William Shakespeare was born 454 years ago – will host the finish of what should be another battle between the peloton’s fast men, a sprint royale which comes ahead of a 14km team time trial. Twenty-four hours after this demanding test against the clock, the climbers will feel at home and ready to go all-in on Whinlatter Pass, the uphill finish of stage six, where the general classification will be set in stone. The final weekend will include trips to Mansfield and London, giving the sprinters two more opportunities to fight for victories and the points jersey.
One of the most successful riders of the season, with eight victories to his name – two of which came at the Tour of France, where he powered to a dominant win in the KOM standings – Julian Alaphilippe will resume competition after a break he took five weeks ago, following his triumph in Clasica San Sebastian. Luxembourg Champion Bob Jungels, who hasn’t raced since the same Spanish World Tour event, will also make his comeback at the Tour of Britain, where Maximilian Schachmann will line out after claiming a win and third overall at the revived Deutschland Tour.
For Fernando Gaviria, this will be the third appearance in four seasons at the Tour of Britain, where he made his debut in 2015, as a stagiaire for the team. At each of the previous editions, the now 24-year-old Colombian has picked up a stage victory and he’ll try to repeat this performance backed by the experienced Iljo Keisse and Maximiliano Richeze.
“There aren’t a lot of races outside the Tour de France with so many spectators, but the Tour of Britain is one of them and fans are always making a very special atmosphere for all the riders and staff members”, said Quick-Step Floors sports director Brian Holm. “The parcours is really challenging, but we are going there motivated and with a strong line-up, ready to show why we are the Wolfpack. With Gaviria, who’ll count on Richeze, we have a fair chance in bunch sprints, while for the hilly part of the race we will look to Alaphilippe, Jungels and Schachmann. Last but not least, we are glad to have Keisse on the team, always an important rider and an amazing road captain.”
Ovo Energy Tour of Britain
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Fernando Gaviria Rendon (COL), Bob Jungels (LUX), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Maximiliano Richeze (ARG), Maximilian Schachmann (GER).
Sports Director: Brian Holm (DEN).
Canyon Eisberg Tour of Britain Line-Up
Canyon Eisberg boss Tim Elverson has announced his six-man squad for the Tour of Britain: Dexter Gardias, Alex Paton, Max Stedman, Andrew Tennant and Rory Townsend will be joined by Kiwi Ryan Christensen for the eight-day stage race, which begins on Sunday. And Elverson hopes he has struck the right balance to ensure another impressive performance from his team.
Tim Elverson said: “I am excited to be on the run in to the Tour of Britain now. The guys have finished the British calendar well with Max producing a superb ride in the Ryedale Grand Prix. All that’s left is the Tour of Britain and we can’t wait to get started. We are really, really looking forward to it. I’ve picked a team with the balance to get the most out of the stages which best suit us and the most out of the race. Hopefully, that is what the selection reflects and we will see what we can do from there.”
A total of 120 riders, from 20 teams, will roll out of Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire for the opening 174.8km stage of the UCI 2.HC race on Sunday. But only one member of the peloton (at the time of writing) will have started the Tour of Britain more times than Tennant, who is set to begin his ninth appearance. The 31-year-old, from Wolverhampton, made his debut in the race in 2006 – when he went on to finish 33rd overall. He rode the next five editions, collecting six top-20 stage finishes and a best general classification result of 20th in 2010. Tennant missed the event in 2012 but made an impressive return in 2013 when he sprinted to 11th spot behind Elia Viviani, then of Cannondale, at Drumlanrig Castle. While racing in the colors of Team Wiggins, the former world and six-time European track champion has missed the past two renewals. But he is champing at the bit to be back in the saddle this season, with only ONE Pro Cycling’s Peter Williams (nine) boasting more previous appearances in the race.
Gardias, 27, made his debut last season – starring in the breakaway on stage seven as the riders negotiated his home roads between Hemel Hempstead and Cheltenham.
Townsend also had his Tour of Britain bow in 2017. The 23-year-old dug deep to spend almost 190km up the road on stage two from Kielder Water & Forest Park to Blyth. That stage finally came back together for a bunch kick, which was won by Edvald Boasson Hagen only for the Norwegian to be relegated as Viviani was handed victory.
Paton, 28, and Stedman, 22, will be making their first appearances in the race. As will 21-year-old Christensen. The Kiwi joined the team midway through the season from Australian outfit Oliver’s Real Food and on Monday was named in the New Zealand squad for the under-23 World Championship in Austria next month.
The eight-stage Tour of Britain will climax on Sunday, September 9 with a 77km crit, starting and finishing on Regent Street in London. For the second year running, ITV4 will broadcast every stage of the race live from start to finish. They will also air hour-long highlights programs at 8pm each night.
Eurosport will also be screening live coverage, while Christensen’s Kiwi fans will be able to watch the race on Sky.
More info on the Canyon Eisberg website.
OVO Energy Tour of Britain
Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS): “This weekend we will cross the channel start at the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, it will be quite a challenging route over the eight days. It will be highlighted by the queen stage finishing up the Whinlatter pass on stage six and the interesting concept on stage five of a 14 kilometer team time trial also finishing atop the pass. We will have options for the GC with the talents of Louis and Chris. Edward will be looking to the opportunities to sprint, with Phil in support, who is returning from unfortunate illness and missing the Vuelta. Lennard will take the reins as captain and rounding out the team is trainee Nils, who steps up from our Development Program and will be aiming to impress.”
Tour of Britain
Phil Bauhaus (GER), Nils Eekhoff (NED), Chris Hamilton (AUS), Lennard Hofstede (NED), Edward Theuns (BEL), Louis Vervaeke (BEL).
Coach: Luke Roberts.
Ion and Gorka Izagirre Join Astana Pro Team
Astana Pro Team announces two-year agreement with two Spanish riders, Ion Izagirre and Gorka Izagirre, who will join the Kazakh team from January 1st, 2019.
“We are happy to come to Astana Pro Team, a team, which stays already many years in the WorldTour. Me and Gorka, we know very well a part of the team, the riders and some staff and this is important for us, because it will help us to accommodate quickly inside the team. I know Astana as a very strong team, which works hard and year by year put new high goals. With Gorka we hope to bring into the team the new forces and to do Astana even stronger with our presence. Of course, our main goal is victories, we are ready to help the team on the way to its big goals as well as to work for our personal successes in stage races,” said Ion Izagirre.
Ion Izagirre (29) is a well-know stage race specialist with some great skills in time trial races. Ion has a number of impressive results in his career, among them could be named a stage at the Tour de France (2016) and a stage at the Giro d’Italia (2012), the general classification of the Tour de Pologne in 2015, individual time trial (2016) and road race (2014) titles of the Spanish National Championships and a second place in the overall classification of the Tour de Suisse (2016). This season Ion Izagirre was 3rd at the Itzulia Basque Country, 3rd in the individual time trial of the Spanish National Championships and 4th at the Paris-Nice.
Gorka Izagirre (30) – is the older brother of Ion, he is also a very strong stage race rider, who can perform very well in the TT races. Gorka is the current Spanish Champion in road race and silver medalist in the individual time trial. In 2018 he has scored some high results as a third place in the GC of the Tour of Oman and the Paris-Nice. Last year Gorka Izagirre won a stage at the Giro d’Italia.
“Ion and Gorka are very strong riders and their results a well-known. This year Gorka became the Spanish road race Champion, while Ion showed some high performances in stage races and at the Tour de France. In Astana we are ready to help the brothers to do another step ahead in their career and to lead them to new, higher results. I believe that their potential has not yet been fully disclosed and we are ready to do everything necessary for them to be fully realized in Astana Pro Team,” said general manager Alexandr Vinokurov.
Ion and Gorka Izagirre:
Nice Birthday Present for Jens Debusschere
The 28th of August has always been an important day for Jens Debusschere. In 2019, on his 29th birthday, this date will once again play an important role as his transfer to Katusha-Alpecin is made official.
Jens Debusschere: “I am not just happy; I am extremely happy. I come to a team that has always been interested in the spring classics and putting someone in the finales. I also arrive in a team where I find some other Belgian riders and staff, plus this team uses super good bikes. I look forward to it. After eight years in the same team, it was time to make a new move in my career. I will focus on the classics, but I will still remain a sprinter as well. I have proved I can be a good lead-out man and in the smaller races I can go myself for the win. It all looks nice.”
General Manager José Azevedo added: “The reason we have signed Jens is because he’s a rider who can get a good result in the one-day Belgian classics. He’s a rider who can finish top ten in the classics. Also, while we have a good group of riders for these races, we want to make this group stronger, especially a guy with more experience, like he has. He’s shown in the past years that he can be in the front in the classics. Plus, he’s a fast rider; he can also be one of the sprinters on our team and we can look to him to be in the lead-out for Marcel Kittel as he did for Greipel in the past.”
Debusschere turned professional in 2011 and has steadily built on his palmarès throughout his career. Notable wins include his 2014 Belgian national championship victory, a stage win in the 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico, a first overall in the 2013 Tour de l’Eurométropole, first in Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2016, GP Wallonie 2015 as well as a stage 5 victory in this year’s Tour de Wallonie.
Azevedo concluded: “He understood from the beginning what we were looking for and was eager to come to the team. I think we’re what he is looking for too – a team who will give him opportunities and some freedom in the classics, as well as a team who will give him a race program that can be for his sprints. We feel we are a good match for him.”
Gijs Van Hoecke to Strengthen Continuum Sports’ Classics Team in 2019
Continuum Sports’ classics team will be bolstered by the addition of Gijs Van Hoecke to the 2019 roster, a move that will see the 26-year-old Belgian act as a key support rider for Greg Van Avermaet.
General Manager Jim Ochowicz highlighted Van Hoecke’s classics experience as well as his ability to develop further.
“Gijs Van Hoecke in an excellent addition to our 2019 roster, particularly for our classics team as these are the races where he has showed great potential. As a Belgian, Gijs is of course familiar with all of the roads and knows how to position himself on the cobbles which means he will be an asset to the team. The fact that he and Greg often train together is an added bonus,” Ochowicz said.
“Gijs made his Grand Tour debut this year at the Giro d’Italia and has gained a lot of experience at stage races in the past few years. We are looking forward to seeing Gijs develop further as a rider and believe Continuum Sports is a great fit for him. With our focus on time trials, we have the experience and knowledge to help Gijs improve in this discipline as well. At 26-years-old, Gijs has a long career ahead of him and a lot of potential, so we are looking forward to welcoming him in 2019.”
Gijs Van Hoecke, the 2012 Madison World Champion, signed his first professional contract in 2012 and initially combined track and road racing, before solely focusing on road racing and progressing to the WorldTour in 2017.
The opportunity to ride with Van Avermaet was what attracted Van Hoecke to Continuum Sports.
“I am really excited to join Continuum Sports next year. Although I wasn’t really looking for a change, I was charmed by the offer I received from Jim Ochowicz. With BMC Racing Team, Jim has proven that he can make one of the best teams in the World, and I am convinced that he can do the same with the continuation of team, sponsored by CCC. I’m honored that I can be a part of this team,” Van Hoecke explained.
“Greg Van Avermaet is my daily training partner and a good friend of mine, so it’s needless to say that I want to help Greg and the team to continue their top results in the classics, which are my favorite races. I am looking forward to working hard with the team in the coming years and to make the next step in my career.”
In keeping with team policy, no other details of the contract were released.
Gijs Van Hoecke:
Roger Kluge to Reinforce Lotto Soudal in 2019
Roger Kluge moves, together with his current team leader Caleb Ewan, from Mitchelton-SCOTT to Lotto Soudal in 2019. The past two seasons the 32-year-old German played a vital role in the successes of teammate Ewan and sprinted to a stage victory in the 2016 Giro d’Italia himself. As the reigning World Champion in the Madison and medal winner in the Omnium, Roger Kluge is a top track cyclist. He signs with Lotto Soudal for two years and is very happy to join his teammate.
Roger Kluge: “I’m really looking forward to riding for Lotto Soudal in the next seasons. I’ve been a professional cyclist for quite a while now as I’ve signed my first contract with a WorldTour team in 2010. Next year will be my ninth season as a pro, but becoming part of Lotto Soudal feels like an entire new chapter. It’s very special to be riding for a Belgian team with such a big history. Cycling is really big in Belgium and there are always many spectators alongside the road of the Classics. Of course, I’m also very happy to keep racing in the same team as Caleb. At Lotto Soudal he will be given new chances to prove he’s one of the fastest men of the peloton and I will definitely help him with achieving his goals.”
“My main role in the team is to position Caleb well in the sprint. Whether I am the last or second last man in the lead-out, I have to make sure he’s in the best position to sprint. I can look back with great satisfaction on the things he achieved and my part in those achievements. There are, of course, the many victories in the Tour Down Under, but there’s also this year’s Milan-San Remo. Though he didn’t win, he was the fastest man of the peloton, which came just a bit too late to reel in Nibali. I managed to position him well at the foot of the Poggio and Caleb eventually sprinted to a nice second place. That impressive sprint really showed off his strength and talent. Furthermore, at Lotto Soudal we’ll also be given new opportunities to compete for those Grand Tour stage victories again.”
“I’m also looking forward to the Classics. I really love those races, and – as I will be riding for a Belgian team – they will become even more special. At my age, I assume to be a bit more experienced than the other guys in the team, so that I can help the Classics riders in the team as well, besides my role in Ewan’s lead-out. As I’m probably also the heaviest one of the team, Classics like Paris-Roubaix and Gent-Wevelgem suit me the most: tough races, in which a rider of my type or a sprinter can still cheer at the end. It’s not really a goal to win such races myself. I could obtain a place in the top 20, but that doesn’t prove much at my age. Helping teammates to finish on the podium is worth just as much than winning myself. Of course, I won’t say no to another Grand Tour stage victory, but only if there’s no other teammate there and the opportunity presents itself.”
“First and foremost, I’m a road cyclist. Though, track cycling has always been a big part of my life as well. I grew up with the track and took part in many competitions when I was younger. I achieved some nice results as a track cyclist, like my current title in the Madison. I’m extremely proud of my rainbow jersey, but my focus remains on my career as a road cyclist. If there’s a possibility to win more races on the track, I’ll definitely take my chance. But, like I said, my role and results at Lotto Soudal are my main priority.”
“During the past two seasons and thanks to the many races Caleb and I rode together, we established a good relationship. He became a true friend and I hope to be racing in the same team as him for a long time – maybe even until I quit cycling. Of course, we’re nowhere near that yet and I’m looking forward to helping him win other races and to support all the Lotto Soudal riders in the next seasons!”
Dani Navarro to Ride for Katusha-Alpecin in 2019
Dani Navarro returns to the WorldTour in a two-year agreement with Team Katusha-Alpecin after riding for pro-continental Cofidis for six years. Navarro, 35, specializes as a general classification rider and is known for his strong climbing abilities.
“It was time for me to move to another team, just to give myself a new impulse. The fact that Katusha-Alpecin was interested in me and that I know many people in that team makes me look forward to this transfer. I am not a winner, but I have proven my value in all my previous teams. I will work with pleasure for Ilnur Zakarin, knowing that I will get my chance, too, from time to time. This season I proved I am not too old for this. I have already ridden many Grand Tours in my career, but not many times more than one per season. That’s why I am sure I still have some years left to ride at the highest level of cycling. In my head I still have a lot of freshness. Now already I look forward to 2019,” said Dani Navarro.
Asturian rider Dani Navarro rode much of his career in the service of Alberto Contador before heading up his own team in 2013. Top career results include a ninth place in the Tour de France (2013), tenth overall in the 2014 Vuelta a España after winning Stage 13 and participating in 17 Grand Tours.
General Manager José Azevedo looks forward to working with Dani Navarro: “We know he will help make the group around Ilnur Zakarin stronger. He’s a rider with a lot of experience and he’s already raced much of his career riding support for big riders, like Alberto Contador. His level is still good – this year he finished top 10 in the Dauphiné and in La Route d’Occitanie he was second. He has shown us he’s a good climber where we expect him to be with Ilnur. But his work will not be 100% for Ilnur. In certain races he will have chances for himself, especially in the mountains. I’ve known Dani for more than 10 years and he was one of the first persons who came to mind when thinking of possibilities to work with Ilnur.”
Amador, Bennati and Erviti to Stay with Movistar Team
All three Blue riders to remain with Telefónica-backed squad in 2019 after remarkable work for Eusebio Unzué’s outfit in the Grand Tours.
The Movistar Team confirmed Monday that Andrey Amador (San José, CRC; 1986), Daniele Bennati (Arezzo, ITA; 1980) and Imanol Erviti (Pamplona, ESP; 1983) have all signed contracts that will see them staying with the Eusebio Unzué-led squad through the end of the 2019 season. All three Blues have been part of the Tour de France roster last July, and decisively contributed to yesterday’s brilliant Vuelta a España stage win by Alejandro Valverde atop Caminito del Rey.
Amador, 4th-placed finisher in the 2015 Giro d’Italia and ‘Corsa Rosa’ GC leader in 2016, has completed an excellent 2018 season, with outstanding teamwork -most notably in the Tour de France, where he became a crucial helper for the team’s references- and good individual results that include a victory (Klasika Primavera) and a second place (Vuelta a Andalucía TT). Andrey will be starting his 11th season in Blue, almost his entire professional career, when he joins the rest of Unzué’s team at their kickoff meeting later this year.
Erviti is a legend of the Abarca Sports organization, where he has contributed to dozens of victories for the fifteen consecutive years he’ll be reaching as part of the Blue squad in 2019. A very smart rider, a true powerhouse who defends himself well in hillier terrains when the team asks him to do so, Imanol is also an expert cobbled classics specialist, having obtained consecutive top-ten results at both the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix in 2016. Imanol’s extension will keep alive a long tradition of respected road captains forged in the Telefónica-backed squad.
In turn, Bennati, will be staying for a third season with Unzué’s team in 2018, his 18th since he turned pro back in 2002. Daniele’s 54 pro victories as a sprinter, in lots of different races and situations, have granted him the experience needed to value what’s needed as a domestique. A sensational support for his team leaders for the past few years, he’s always expressed his pride about working for the likes of Quintana, Landa and Valverde, all of which have enjoyed his expertise during the 2018 season.
Amador, Bennati and Erviti:
Antonio Nibali Renews with Team Bahrain-Merida
Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team is happy to announce the contract renewal of Antonio Nibali for one more year.
The 25-year old younger brother of Vincenzo is in his fourth season as a professional, two of which in the WorldTour with Team Bahrain-Merida. Recently he took his first victory as pro (a stage win at the Tour of Austria) confirming his qualities of a complete rider with a strong predisposition for the climb.
“I’m very happy to stay with the team, that brought me into the WorldTour. When I look back on the last two years and see how I’ve grown as a rider, I’m confident that this is the right place to be for improving further” comments the Italian rider. “Here I feel at home and not only because of my brother Vincenzo is a teammate. The team put a lot of confidence in me and let me acquiring more and more race experience. My focus for next season is to still growing, both as a helper for the team leaders and as a rider, that can play his chances for a stage victory. I will work hard also to achieve my wish to ride another Grand Tour together with my brother Vincenzo.”
Team Bahrain-Merida General Manager Brent Copeland says: “It is fantastic for us at Bahrain Merida to be able to renew the contract of Antonio, he is a rider who dedicates an immense amount of work to his job. He is a rider who has continuously developed into a true professional which we saw during his first pro victory he achieved this year. We feel he has matured to a level where we can benefit from him in many of the most important races in the world, we looking forward to a great future together.”
Enrico Battaglin Joins Katusha-Alpecin
Italian rider Enrico Battaglin and Katusha-Alpecin have reached an agreement for the next two years. Battaglin, 28, comes to the team with three stage wins in the Giro d’Italia, the most recent in 2018 (also 2013 and 2014).
Enrico Battaglin: “For sure I am happy and enthusiastic. This is a great opportunity for me. I have no bad words for my former team; on the contrary, this is just a step upwards in my career. I want to do more than I have done in the past. I will get more chances in the future and I will do everything not to disappoint Team Katusha-Alpecin. The team really wanted me and this, of course, gives me wings. I hope to show nice things in the Ardennes classics and of course I want to win in stage races. I cannot wait to show what I am able to. I also love the international character of Katusha-Alpecin. In that sense I am an atypical Italian.”
Already before turning professional in 2012, Battaglin – as a trainee – quickly won the Coppa Sabatini, and has continued winning races in most seasons. General Manager José Azevedo sees even more potential for Enrico. “He is a rider who I think can win races. He showed us this year in the Giro when he won a stage that he can take on a hard stage in the hills. He’s a good climber and in some stages he can be a good helper for our leaders, especially in the medium mountains. He can work in the medium mountains and he can win in the same so this shows he’s a winner to us. There are many races on the calendar that can be good for him, both stage races and the classics – something like Amstel Gold Race. When you see the type of rider he is, I think he can do well.”
Trek-Segafredo Recruits Young Colombian Talent Iván Ramiro Sosa
Trek-Segafredo has signed Colombian climbing sensation Iván Ramiro Sosa to a two-year contract, a promising young rider who has shown an impressive palmarès this year.
Sosa, 20, just completed the Tour de l’Avenir where he won stage seven, but it has been his previous results that has him being billed as the latest revelation to come out of Colombia – the most significant was his victory in the Vuelta a Burgos (Spain) after he bested some proven WorldTour climbers while also securing the mountain and youth classifications.
Earlier in the year, he won the Sibiu Cycling Tour and the Tour of Bihor (Romanian stage races) and again topped WorldTour teams in the Adriatica-Ionica Race, taking the overall victory after he impressed friend and foe by winning the summit finish of the iconic Passo Giau.
He is currently racing for the Italian Pro Continental team Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec and is very excited about his transfer: “I am a man of few words, but I am really, very happy to join Trek-Segafredo as of next year. I have always wanted to race on the highest level, in the WorldTour. I believe that’s a goal for every young professional cyclist. So, I am very motivated to race in the WorldTour in 2019! I believe Trek-Segafredo is the perfect team for me, to keep growing and learning. I hope to get some really good results for this team in the years to come.”
General Manager Luca Guercilena: “Without a doubt, Iván will bring a lot to the team. He’s an exceptional climber, who has made a big progression since he turned pro in 2017. We’ve had him on our radar for a while now, and I am excited we could sign him for 2019 right away. Despite his young age, he has proven already to be competitive at a high level. I believe that a part of his racing attitude has been shaped by his current team, that is well known for their aggressive racing. I am happy that we could find a mutual agreement to give Iván a new opportunity to take the next step in his career, and to develop his talent further at Trek-Segafredo.”
Iván Ramiro Sosa:
Nikola Nosková Joins Cervélo Bigla in 2019
Nikola Nosková will join the Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team next season. The 21-year-old is the U23 European road race champion and a bronze medallist in the time trial.
Last year she also won both the road race and time trial titles at her national championships. Nosková hails from the Czech Republic and has shown great potential as a climber and time trialist. The foundation of the Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team is to develop young riders for the future and this makes her a perfect fit, team manager, Thomas Campana said. “Nikola has been on our radar for two years,” Campana added. “She put up a strong battle against Cecilie [Uttrup Ludwig] for the white jersey in the Giro d’Italia last year and was very impressive. It was always our vision for her to join the team because there’s a big opportunity to develop her when you look at the potential she has. We’ve identified points in the time trial and on the climbs that we can work on and when we had a discussion we discovered that was exactly what her personal goals are so it’s a perfect fit.”
Nosková says her decision to join the team was made up of a number of factors with progression of her career being the biggest one. “I decided to join the team because I believe this is the next steps to grow in my career. I think that I’m very good during the climbs and I see this as the perfect team to help me improve there. My long-term goals are to get to the World Championships and Olympic Games and Cervélo Bigla has a great track record. I would like to continue to target a good position in youth ranking in the Women’s WorldTour races and I also want to help the team in their GC ambitions during big races.”
Nosková is the latest announcement following the signing of Sophie Wright and the contract extension of Uttrup Ludwig. More announcements can be expected soon.
Trek Announces Lotta Lepistö Will Join New Team in 2019
Trek continues to build an impressive and well-rounded team for 2019 with the addition of Lotta Lepistö, an explosive sprinter, and seven-time Finnish national champion. Lotta excels in technical courses and is also proficient in the time trial, winning five National championships alongside her road titles.
Lotta first began racing in her teenage years, but it was a slow progression over the next decade. Despite winning her first National road title in 2012, she struggled in other elite races. At the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen, Lotta was dropped in stage two and finished out of the time limit. But testament to her tenacity, three years later she came back with a vengeance to win stage four. She also sprinted to second in stage one, finished a strong fifth in the time trial, and claimed seventh overall.
Lotta’s first significant results came a year later with two bronze medals at the UCI World Championships in the road race and team time trial, but it was 2017 when Lotta had a season to behold: first in Gent–Wevelgem, first in Crescent Vårgårda (Sweden), first in the semi-Classic Dwars door Vlaanderen, and a stage six victory in the Giro d’Italia Femminile.
Lotta is currently in her fifth season with Cervélo-Bigla, initially joining the Swiss-based professional team in 2014. Cervélo-Bigla has helped tremendously in her development, but Lotta decided that taking a fresh start in a new team, that will include working under two legendary sprinters – sport directors Ina Teutenberg and Giorgia Bronzini – was what she needed to make another step forward in her career.
“I am super excited to join the Trek team! I’m looking forward to working with a new team setup. I’m happy I can work with such a strong squad, especially Ina and Giorgia, they are some of the best sprinters, and I’m eager to learn from them. I want to help the team to be on top and really excited to take on the new challenge,” said Lepistö.
While 2018 has not been as lucrative with wins, Lotta did capture her seventh consecutive National road title, fifth successive time trial title, and sprinted to victory in stage five at the Ovo Energy Women’s Tour (UK). She also reached the podium for the third straight year in the WorldTour one-day race Crescent Vårgårda, finishing in third place amongst a who’s who of sprinters.
Lotta, 29, is now reaching her prime years, and only hungry for more. “I want to win as many bike races as we can, as a team,” she added. “For me, it would be super cool to win one of the Classics in the spring and have a good race at the World Championships in Yorkshire.”
Humble goals for a proven sprinter who has yet to reach her peak.
Vuelta a España 2018: Stage 5 Snapshot
Inside the peloton on Stage 5 of the Vuelta a España on a fast descent:
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