The last EUROTRASH of 2021 and full of cycling news: Mathieu van der Poel might miss the World cross champs – TOP STORY. Cyclo-cross from Heusden-Zolder with video. Rider news: Amy Pieters update, Calf injury for Vermeersch, Dumoulin Thanks Roglič, Porte hopes to ride the Giro d’Italia, Alaphilippe Champion des Champions, Valverde with Movistar after 2022, Tolhoek wants to go to the Tour, Philipsen looks back, Bouwman realistic, team for Van Empel, Clarke’s future, Quarterman to French amateur team, Küng dreams of Paris-Roubaix and Rosa on Contador. Race news from the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and teams for the Challenge Mallorca. Team news: Jumbo-Visma, BORA-hansgrohe and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. Plus Johnny Carera released from hospital and Alpecin-Fenix raise €50,000 with #MerciPouPou. Happy New Year!
Possibly No Cyclo-Cross Worlds for Mathieu van der Poel
Mathieu van der Poel will not be at the start of the cyclo-cross races in Loenhout and Hulst on Thursday and Sunday. The Dutchman decided following his abandonment of the Heusden-Zolder race on Monday.
According to Het Laatste Nieuws, Van der Poel is again struggling with problems in his lower back. Caution is therefore advised, and that is why the Dutchman will not be at the start of the two crosses in Belgium and the Netherlands. In the coming days, the World champion will have his back treated, after which he will again make a decision about his further program in early January. The Dutchman may have to miss the cyclo-cross World championships in Fayetteville.
In a press release, Alpecin-Fenix provided more information about Mathieu van der Poel’s injury. His team says that the Dutchman is struggling with a swelling of his intervertebral disc. This is not a reason to panic, says Christoph Roodhooft. “Of course this is a setback, but the doctors say he will make a full recovery. That is now our priority.”
“Even if that means we have to postpone his World championships ambitions. In the short term, that is of course a shame, but 2022 has many more challenges in store for him that he must be completely healthy for.”
Mathieu van der Poel said in the press release that there is still time to recover, but also that the swelling is frustrating. “It is what it is. I am glad that the cause of my pain is now known and that I can start working on it. Everyone knows that the World championships are a big goal of mine, but it certainly won’t be my last goal. I don’t want to feel any time pressure in the near future, so I won’t resume competition until I’m fully recovered. If I can still go to the World champs, that will only be better. If not, I’m looking forward to the road season.”
What could have caused Mathieu’s back problem?
Superprestige Cyclo-Cross Men – Heusden-Zolder 2021
Wout van Aert won the Superprestige cyclo-cross in Heusden-Zolder on Monday. The Belgian champion dominated from start to finish and crossed the line more than a minute ahead of Eli Iserbyt and Tom Pidcock. World cyclo-cross champion, Mathieu van der Poel pulled out before the halfway point.
There was more than just the battle between Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert in Heusden-Zolder, there was also the duel between Eli Iserbyt and Toon Aerts as there was only 2 points between them on the Superprestige series standings.
Aert had a very good start and after one lap, the Belgian champion dropped Aerts and Quinten Hermans, after which he started his solo ride to the finish. A group with Pidcock and Van der Poel was already half a minute down on the Belgian after 20 minutes. The Alpecin-Fenix World champion was the first to let go of the group, which included Kevin Kuhn, Corne van Kessel, Laurens Sweeck, Aerts, Iserbyt and Pidcock. Van der Poel rode on, but didn’t look to be his usual self. He would eventually climbed off at the finish line after three laps.
Van Aert had continued to fly round the tough mixed course. Without any problems, he rode to victory in Heusden-Zolder. At the finish, his lead was more than a minute – a big difference on a fast course like the one in Heusden-Zolder. After five races, Van Aert is still unbeaten. The battle for the last two podium places was fought by Hermans, Pidcock and Iserbyt. The INEOS Grenadiers rider had the best sprint from Iserbyt at the line after the pair had kept Hermans at a distance. With his third place, Iserbyt helped his Superprestige advantage, because Aerts only finished fifth.
Race winner, Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “I felt the efforts of yesterday’s cross, I had to wait and see how I would feel in the race. Fortunately, I had a good feeling pretty quickly. I quickly made a gap and was able to keep my own pace. I made one small mistake. That put me on edge again. Fortunately, I was able to recover and ride to victory. I look back on the past two races with satisfaction. I need to rest well for two days and fill up the energy tank again. The next cross in Loenhout awaits on Thursday.”
2nd, Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers): “He was stronger today (Van Aert). Still I felt really good today. I was able to go deep. I’ve never felt so good on this course, because it doesn’t really suit me. It is a course for the big engines, so I had to be tactical to beat Iserbyt today.”
Adrie van der Poel on Mathieu’s DNF: “Normally I can explain it well, but now I don’t know either. I thought he made a very sharp impression, but suddenly that was gone. What happened? No idea. I stayed in the pits area until the cross was done. When I arrived at the camper, Mathieu was already on his way home. I don’t know more. He says he didn’t fall, then he probably did. His knee was doing a lot better. The back occasionally plays up, but normally Mathieu can handle that. Maybe he just didn’t want to take any chances. This doesn’t stick with him. There was no point in continuing.”
Superprestige Cyclo-Cross Men – Heusden-Zolder Result:
1. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma in 1:03:36
2. Thomas Pidcock (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:04
3. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal
4. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans-Circus at 1:21
5. Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions at 1:45
6. Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans-Circus at 1:57
7. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:04
8. Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans-Circus at 2:09
9. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 2:15
10. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions.
Superprestige Cyclo-Cross Women – Heusden-Zolder 2021
World champion, Lucinda Brand won again on Monday. She was the best in Heusden-Zolder with Fem van Empel and Annemarie Worst finishing second and third.
The Superprestige is the most exciting cross series for women this year. After five races, the difference between Lucinda Brand and second placed Denise Betsema is only 3 points. With only Heusden-Zolder and Gavere in February, the finalé of the Superprestige promises to be an exciting one. But there isn’t much time for Betsema to do something about Brand’s dominance.
In the opening lap, Betsema was looking good and after two laps, she even had a gap when she decided to push on. Kata Blanka Vas, who, like Betsema, had started well and was quickly on the Dutch wheel. Annemarie Worst, Fem van Empel, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Manon Bakker and Brand were not far off. A lap later, the World champion lifted the pace. That changed the face of the cross: within a few minutes Brand and Van Empel were ahead alone, with Betsema leading a group of pursuers. The Betsema group couldn’t make contact and Van Empel and Brand would fight for the victory. Brand made a number of attempts to shake off the young Dutchwoman, but failed. A long sprint turned out to be enough for the win. Behind Brand and Van Empel, Worst, Van Anrooij and Betsema completed the top-5. As a result, Betsema’s deficit in the Superprestige has risen to 7 points.
Race winner, Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions): “Fem (Van Empel) is very fast, so I didn’t want to take it to the sprint. If you look at her starts sometimes… Sometimes the starting signal is given and after three meters she is already one meter ahead. So I knew it was going to be difficult. Today, after a few laps, I wanted to see what would happen if I accelerated, but suddenly there were two with me, so I decided to move on straight away. I rode off alone for a while, but then I made a mistake and I couldn’t get her off. We shouldn’t teach them too much (the young riders), because this year we have seen that they learn quickly.”
2nd, Fem van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “I learn every race, take things with me every time. The mistake I made in the final phase will not happen again in the future. I hoped to sprint wheel to wheel with Brand. I wanted to take revenge. I lost my rhythm there because of someone else’s mistake. Today I had the task of not letting anyone ride and cling on to the end.”
Superprestige Cyclo-Cross Women – Heusden-Zolder Result:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions in 48:30
2. Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:02
3. Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777 at 0:21
4. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 0:22
5. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:30
6. Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus at 0:47
7. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) 777 at 0:55
8.Manon Bakker (Ned) IKO-Crelan at 1:27
9. Eva Lechner (Ita) at 1:34
10. Yara Kastelijn (Ned) IKO-Crelan at 1:37.
Doctors Keep Amy Pieters in Artificial Coma Longer
The Spanish doctors at the hospital in Alicante have decided in consultation with various Dutch doctors to keep Amy Pieters in an artificial coma for at least three more days. The doctors emphasise that extra rest at this stage gives a better chance of recovery. Initially, doctors thought they would wake Pieters up from her artificial coma on Monday.
The surgeons operated on Pieters head in the Alicante hospital on Thursday. During this operation, the doctors removed the pressure in her head that had been caused by the crash during sprint training, where she touched another rider. Pieters was near Calpe at a training camp with the Dutch national track team.
The doctors can only estimate the possible damage when they awaken Pieters. Earlier, Jan van Veen, head coach of the KNWU, indicated that the situation was stable. “It remains to be seen how she wakes up from her sleep. Hopefully, there will only be more clarity once she is out of that.”
Amy Pieters – Euro champ 2019:
Calf Injury Hampering Gianni Vermeersch
Gianni Vermeersch is not yet completely satisfied with his cyclocross season. Since his return to cyclo-cross two weeks ago in Essen, he hasn’t quite got the good cross feeling yet, partly due to an ankle and calf injury.
Vermeersch suffered an ankle injury in Essen, which prevented him from finishing the race. That injury has since healed. “The problem actually dates from a few weeks before, because I had a muscle tear in my calf, which was caused by walking,” Vermeersch told wielerstory.com.
“The problem in Essen was that it was very muddy, so unexpectedly I had to run too much. The first lap started with a long running lane which immediately gave me trouble. I tried to save one leg, but that caused me to skip my ankle a few times. That was the reason it no longer made sense, so I left the race there.”
After that, the Belgian finished 19th in Rucphen, 16th in Dendermonde and 16th in Heusden-Zolder. No top results, but the rider still has until the Belgian cyclo-cross championships, his main goal this year. “I have not yet had the feeling that my cross technique is top notch again and my condition is not yet what it should be. I hope to get it all right in the coming races. This is how I try to get out of the Christmas period in order to be ready for the Belgian Championship.”
“I was also good at the Belgian Championships in recent years, so I’m working towards that competition anyway. It’s also my only big goal this season because I won’t be contesting a World championships. I have not yet seen the course in Middelkerke, but there are quite a lot of sand sections in it,” he points out. “We normally go to the beach once in a while. I am not the biggest sand lover, but I am looking forward to it.”
Gianni Vermeersch not 100% yet:
Dumoulin Thanks Roglič
Primož Roglič has played a major role in Tom Dumoulin’s return as a cyclist, the Dutch leader of Jumbo-Visma told l’Equipe. “What Primož said will help me for the rest of my career,” the French sports newspaper quotes Dumoulin. The Slovenian advised Dumoulin to view his cycling career as an adventure.
After years of effort, physical and mental fatigue took its toll on the Dutchman in early 2021 and he announced a temporary break. He eventually had five months off the bike, before returning to competition in June at the Tour de Suisse. He also showed well in the Benelux Tour, but due to echelons in the first stage he was only ninth in the final standings.
The Dutchman was disappointed by missing out on gold during the Olympic Games. “If I had to choose who should have beat me, it would have been Primož. He’s kind of a role model for me. I like to talk to him. When you put your problems on the table, he really listens. I’ve never seen him judge anyone. He expresses his feelings, he talks about his own experiences. What he told me will help me for the rest of my career,” said the 31 year-old.
What he learnt from the Slovenian Jumbo-Visma co-leader was to race with a new perspective from now on. “I now want to think of my career as an adventure, a story that I write. For myself and for me alone. A professional career in cycling is something you should consider yourself lucky for. That is not for everyone, you only experience something like this once in your life. And in that career you have to accept the best and the worst,” Dumoulin explained. Dumoulin recently said that he is feeling good again and that he will start with classification ambitions in 2022 in one of the Grand Tours. At the moment it is not yet clear which one.
Dumoulin and Roglič:
Richie Porte Hopes to Complete His Circle in the Giro d’Italia
It seems very likely that Richie Porte is on the eve of his last season as a professional cyclist. The 36 year-old Australian has been told by his INEOS Grenadiers team to enjoy his final season as much as possible, Porte said in an interview with 7News in Australia. Next year, the Tasmanian will probably make his appearance in the Giro d’Italia.
“It is also my plan to enjoy the coming year,” said Porte. “My career has been a fantastic undertaking so far, but we are going to take it one more time. I just want to stay competitive… Otherwise it would be a waste of our time as a family,” said the father of a son and daughter. “It’s great to still be competing with all those young guys who are so extremely talented at 36 years old.”
In 2010, Porte finished seventh in the Giro d’Italia with the Saxo Bank team. He also took the best young riders jersey. Porte hopes to ride the Giro again next year. “If I can come full circle there, that would be a dream. I’ve always enjoyed the Giro,” he said. If he starts the 2022 Giro, he will race alongside top talent Tom Pidcock.
After his career, Porte may want to move back to Australia, as Mathew Haymen did earlier this month. He would then like to contribute to the transition of Australian talents to the European circuit. “If there are good young talents, then maybe I can help them find their way through the European contacts I’ve made. Helping the youngsters who have slipped through the cracks of the institutes, so to speak. I would like to play that role in cycling.”
Final season for Richie Porte:
Julian Alaphilippe Named Champion des Champions
For the third consecutive year, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s rider received the prestigious award.
A second World Title, Flèche Wallonne, and a stage apiece at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de France – it’s been another remarkable season for Julian Alaphilippe, who exuded panache every time he raced with the rainbow jersey on his shoulders. Of course, the cherry on the top was his astonishing victory in Leuven, where a massive show of strength, class and determination helped him become the first Frenchman in history to capture back-to-back World Championships.
Alaphilippe’s performances haven’t gone unnoticed, and after in December he received a third Vélo d’Or Français, now he made it a hat-trick of victories also in the Champion des Champions – which is awarded every year since 1946, thus joining Michel Lazy, Guy Drut, Bernard Hinault and Alain Prost as the only French male athletes to collect the prestigious accolade on at least three occasions.
“This trophy gives me a lot of pride and joy. It’s beautiful to get it just once, but now I have received it for each of the last three years and it’s really incredible. It comes after a season I will never forget, a season where I raced for the first time in my career as World Champion and felt how special it is to wear the rainbow jersey. At the same time, this award is something that motivates me a lot for next year, when I want to give my best again, regardless of the race, honour this iconic jersey and just enjoy every moment with it,” a happy Julian said.
Another award for Alaphilippe:
Julian Alaphilippe Thinks You Have to be a Masochist to Race
A few days ago, Julian Alaphilippe was named ‘Champion of Champions’. L’Équipe annually awards this to the best French athlete of the past year. In an interview with the French sports newspaper, the two-time World champion said: “You have to be a masochist to race.”
“You have to suffer to win races and you have to be able to descend deep into the pain to do great things. Whoever says he doesn’t like pain isn’t going to have a great career. Today, at a time when everyone is training hard and all teams have everything in order, it’s the head that makes the difference,” Alaphilippe further elaborates on the mental aspect of cycling.
Bernard Hinault, who also joined the conversation, also has something to say about Alaphilippe’s psychological strength. “We are of the same kind. In the modern peloton, you are one of the riders with real grinta, someone who doesn’t think and seizes even the smallest opportunities. You, Mathieu van der Poel and Remco Evenepoel are making a huge difference. For a long time the big guys ruled and others were not allowed to move. You decided to turn that around completely, and that’s beautiful to see.”
Also there was talk of Alaphilippe’s GC chances in the Tour de France. Hinault said he finds this ambition risky, if Alaphilippe is not sure of his form. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider fully agreed: “That’s exactly right. And the problem that you are never sure. Why risk an entire season for just one goal? If I get sick or fall after two days, everything is gone. You cannot plan the Tour.”
In addition, a new generation has arisen after Alaphilippe surprised in 2019 with a fourth place in the final standings. “I’m still motivated to do the Tour, but I’m almost thirty. Now there are twenty-two riders on the podium in their first three-week tour. Riders like Pogačar, who win anywhere, anytime.”
What Alaphilippe’s program will look like in 2022 is not yet known. He has already announced that he will skip the cobbled classics this year. Instead, he focuses on the Ardennes in the spring. Later in the season, the Tour and the World championships in Wollongong are on the program.
Alaphilippe is not thinking about Australia for the time being. “At the team training camp, everyone said to me, ‘Have you seen the World Championship course? There is a climb in the final lap!’ I replied that they had to give me a few seconds, I still have to digest my last title… There are still plenty of other races to win beforehand.”
Another World title for Alaphilippe?
Alejandro Valverde Will Remain Involved with Movistar after 2022
41-year-old Alejandro Valverde will remain involved with the Movistar team after his cycling retirement in 2022. The Spaniard still has a two-year contract, meaning he will take up another position with Spain’s WorldTour team in 2023.
“I still have a contract with the team until 2023,” he said in an interview with AS. “I will mainly be an ambassador for the team. I will also be in the car for a few days as sporting director. My calling is for the future? I do not know yet.”
Valverde previously announced his program for 2022, which includes the Ardennes classics, the Giro and the Vuelta. A busy year for the Spaniard, who is happy that after this year he can spend more time with his family. “I find it hard to be away from my family for weeks or months. The mental and physical exertion takes its toll, which is why my cycling retirement can no longer be reversed.”
“I am excited to enter a new phase in my life after 2022. Maybe I’ll shed a tear, but I think I feel more satisfied. And I certainly don’t leave the people around me, I just leave the pressure to always have to perform.”
Alejandro Valverde’s final season:
Antwan Tolhoek Wants to Go to the Tour de France
Antwan Tolhoek will be a Trek-Segafredo rider in a few days, but the Dutchman has already been to a training camp with the American team. Tolhoek liked it very much. “My feeling is very good, so bring on 2022. I hope to be at the start of the Tour de France this year,” he told Omroep Zeeland.
“I thought it was quite exciting to go to training camp with my new team, because I was out of my comfort zone for a while. But the first impression of my squad and teammates is good. It is also nice that Bauke Mollema has a compatriot of course.”
Not only Tolhoek’s team will be new next year, so is his hometown. The 27-year-old rider recently moved from Yerseke to Andorra. “The altitude training camps always do me good, so it seemed better to me to move to the mountains. On average, I’m about three percent better when I’ve trained in the mountains,” said the Dutchman.
It is not yet fully known what his program will look like next year. It is certain that Tolhoek will be at the start of the Etoile du Bessèges and the UAE Tour in February.
New team and home for Antwan Tolhoek:
Jasper Philipsen Looks Back on 2021
Jasper Philipsen had an excellent season. The Alpecin-Fenix sprinter had a good time in the Tour de France, despite the fact that he was left without a win. Looking back at 2021, the Belgian says that he had a hard time with that: “Mentally it was very tough. You focus for weeks on a win that you don’t get, while you have been on the podium six times.”
Perhaps because of that Tour de France, Philipsen had a great post-season, in which he won two stages in the Vuelta and then scored four times in a row in one-day races: The Classique Paris-Chauny, Grand Prix de Denain – Porte du Hainaut, Eschborn-Frankfurt and the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen. “I slowed down after the Tour, to lower the emotions and to get new motivation. My best memory eventually came from that: winning four times in a row,” he said in a team video.
He doesn’t say exactly what he is aiming for in 2022. “Sprinting and winning are my big goal. I want to do as well as this year. But if I book fewer victories, but I do have the feeling that I have become better as a cyclist, then I can also be satisfied with my year. I want to see how much stronger I can get, push my limits.”
Jasper Philipsen looking forward to more wins in 2022:
Koen Bouwman Being Realistic for the Tour
Koen Bouwman surprised in the 2021 Giro d’Italia with a final 12th place on GC. He expressed his hope of riding the Tour de France in 2022, but now he is more realistic: “At the moment that is not the case. It is too ambitious for me,” said the Jumbo-Visma rider in conversation with De Gelderlander about a possible Tour participation.
“The chance is less than one percent, I think. That’s where the best eight riders of our team go and I’m not one of them. I don’t think they will leave Steven Kruijswijk at home for me. I have to be that realistic. I do have a nice self-image, yes. In the future, a participation in the Tour de France will hopefully be possible again.”
For that reason, Bouwman has now set his sights on the Giro again. “I hope to be able to ride the Giro d’Italia again in 2022. Or the Vuelta a España. I rode it this year too. In both tours I also really enjoyed the atmosphere with all the crowd there. You get a kick out of that. We would have missed that a year earlier because of corona.”
Giro again for Bouwman?
Etienne van Empel with Global Cycling in 2022
Etienne van Empel’s future is still uncertain. His Italian Vini Zabù team appears to be doomed and the 27-year-old Dutchman is without a contract for 2022. “Every year in the spring there are still last minute opportunities for teams and I hope for that,” he told CyclingOnline.
“Normally I will ride my first races of the new year with the Global Cycling club team,” said Van Empel. “And then I hope that there will be another team at a minimum Continental level. I’ve hoped for a while that my current team would continue at that level, but there doesn’t seem to be an opening.”
Van Empel, who made the switch to the Italian ProTeam after four years as a professional at Roompot, will not find a place with a Continental team in his own country for the time being. “Also because I’m not really a rider for the Ster van Zwolle. Every year in the spring there are still last minute opportunities for teams,” he said. “And I hope so. But I can’t afford to race for a few hundred euros, I’m honest about that.”
Last road season Van Empel only had sixteen race days with Vini Zabù. His best result was 44th in Nokere Koerse in March.
Etienne van Empel:
Simon Clarke: “It’s Not NextHash’s Fault that we Can’t Continue”
Simon Clarke looks like he will become one of the victims of Qhubeka NextHash’s disappearance. The 35-year-old rider is preparing for a new season as a pro, as if nothing is wrong, but realises that it will be difficult to stay in the peloton. “It will be difficult to find a team,” the winner of two stages in the Vuelta admits in conversation with Cyclingtips.
“The first difficulty is to find a WorldTour team that still has a spot at all, because of course there are the UCI limits. As a result, a large part of the teams are already full, so even if they are interested, they do not have the opportunity to take on another rider,” Clarke explained.
“And then there is of course the financial part, because a team still has to have some money to pay for an extra rider,” continued the Australian, who is currently in full training. “I have told myself that I will ride the Bay Criteriums, the national championship and the Tour Down Under (Santos Festival of Cycling). Then I travel back to Europe. So I set a deadline for myself at the end of January to find another solution.”
Clarke also focuses on the cycling itself at other times. He says that he has not been too concerned with the vicissitudes surrounding the team and sponsor NextHash in particular, even when he signed last year. “As riders we interfere with that as little as possible. I know NextHash was a bit controversial, but I also know that they never signed with a commitment to keep the team afloat next year. So it’s not NextHash’s fault that we can’t get through. A sponsor was simply needed.”
However, this does not alter the fact that he is not a bit concerned at the moment. “I’ve had people come up with offers for post-career positions, but I don’t feel I’m done with cycling yet. I still have enough in me. For myself, but also to pass on to the younger generation. I would like to do that for a few more years, if I get the chance.”
From a WorldTeam to the French amateur level, that is the path that Charlie Quarterman is taking this winter. According to the French website L’Est Republicain, he will start working for Philippe Wagner Cycling. The 23-year-old Briton had to leave the American professional team after two years.
Quarterman raced for Leopard for two years and after a successful 2019, in that year he also became British U23 time trial champion, he join the Trek-Segafredo WorldTeam. As a neo-pro he was given a two-year contract. Quarterman didn’t get many opportunities for himself, partly due to a concussion that kept him sidelined for a long time at the beginning of this year.
“I thought they’d give me another season to show what I’ve got, but pro cycling and sports can be like that and there’s nothing you can do,” Quarterman said at the end of November. “Unless you deliver a performance that is visible on television and you get credit for it like a Tim Declercq, it will only be noticed among your teammates. Relying on the gratitude of a professional sports team is not always the most reliable.”
He has now found an ambitious new employer in Philippe Wagner Cycling. That team has Breuches in the Haute-Saône as its base and will compete at the highest amateur level in France in 2022, just below the level of the French Continental teams.
Charlie Quarterman back to amateur:
Stefan Küng Dreams of Paris-Roubaix
Stefan Küng has had a strong 2021. “When I look back on the past year, I am very satisfied,” the Swiss rider said in conversation with SpazioCiclismo. However, there were also disappointments. “I won six races, I kept my European title in the time trial, I was the best in the opening time trial in the Tour de Suisse and I wore the leader’s jersey there for several days. I also did the latter in the Benelux Tour and I won the Tour of Valencia. Another thing that was good was that I performed at a high and constant level throughout the year,” the 28-year-old rider stated positively.
Then he lists the less good moments. He names second place in the first time trial of the Tour de France, but also points out that he only just missed a medal at the Olympic Games. “That was incredibly frustrating. I had a great day and was really at the appointment. But you have to accept such things: you should not get mad at yourself and set new goals again,” he says about his fourth place in the time trial.
The goals that the Groupama-FDJ rider is talking about are similar to previous years. “There are still many races I want to win. If I have to name three, they are: Paris-Roubaix, a time trial in the Tour and the World time trial championship.” The upcoming Tour seems to offer, especially the opening time trial in Copenhagen, opportunities for Küng.
Küng will not only focus on the time trials next season, but also on the spring Classics. “My heart is with the races from the first part of the season, I want to continue to grow in those Classics. I hope it goes better than in 2021. In these races you have to be very explosive and be able to repeat maximum efforts several times. You have to have a good attack, but also freshness. We try to improve this in training, but the equipment also plays a role. This year we will be better equipped in that regard, with the new Lapierre Xelius SL3. Finally, there is also the mental aspect. I work with a mental coach for that.”
Stefan Küng – Crash in Flanders 2021:
Diego Rosa on Alberto Contador: “He was my nightmare”
Diego Rosa, who has ridden for Arkéa-Samsic for the past two years, will ride for EOLO-Kometa next year. Here he will meet an old acquaintance: Alberto Contador, the co-founder, along with Ivan Basso, of the Italian ProTeam. In the past, Rosa had the task of neutralising the attacks of the Spanish climber. “He was my nightmare,” Rosa said in an interview with Bici.pro.
“We fought big battles with Alberto. First at Astana, when I rode for Landa and Aru during the Giro, and later at Sky, when I had Froome as leader in the Vuelta. Alberto always attacked us and really became my nightmare during those tours. To have him as boss now feels a bit like a shock,” said the 32 year-old rider.
In those years, however, Rosa not only raced as a domestique, but also achieved successes himself. In 2016 he finished second in the Tour of Lombardy. Today, Rosa sets herself more modest goals. “I’m happy when I can ride with pleasure again. When I can ride in front again and hurt others. Play the game. Because if you’re having fun, the results will come naturally.”
“I’m not going to deny that competing has been a bit of a burden for me in recent years. Always chasing, always riding infront of your leader. I existed – by the way – only to protect the leader. Even at Sky they looked at me strangely when I said I wanted to attack before the start of the Strade Bianche. But why should I stay in the pack until I’m knocked off? I tried to anticipate, attacked and had fun. In the end I just finished fifteenth.”
As far as recovering that pleasure, Rosa feels he is in the right place now. “We have a group of guys who really want to. A group of young people, who also give me enthusiasm and motivation. I saw that they were having a good time and had a great time as well,” the Italian said about the recent team training camp in Spain.
“I have the feeling that there is a different atmosphere than with my previous team. You notice that in the little things. Last year, for example, everyone went straight to their room after dinner, here people still have a nice chat. We organised a FIFA tournament on the PlayStation and spent time in groups,” he said enthusiastic.
Diego Rosa helping Aru in the 2016 Tour:
No VIP tents at the Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
Don’t look for the VIP tents in Ninove and Kuurne at the Flemish opening weekend at the end of February. There won’t be any. Due to the corona virus, organiser Flanders Classics has decided not to have VIP tents this year. “We’re taking it safe to say the least,” said Tomas Van den Spiegel of Flanders Classics.
“Since there will probably be uncertainty until the end of January about whether or not VIP events at sports competitions may continue, after consultation this seemed to us a sensible decision,” said Van den Spiegel.
It is not yet known whether spectators will be allowed to stand at the side of the road. That will depend on the developments of the corona virus. However, the organisers thinks and hopes that this should work out: “Of course we hope for that and we also cautiously assume that.”
Will there be spectators in Flanders in February?
Teams for the Challenge Mallorca 2022
The organisers of the Challenge Mallorca has announced the teams for 2022. From 26 to 30 January, five one-day races are scheduled on the largest island of the Balearics, in which the different teams with a varying selection can start.
Up to and including 2009 a ranking was also drawn up with riders who had completed all races. For the first time since 2011, the Challenge Mallorca consists of five races: Trofeo Calvià, Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, Trofeo Pollença, Trofeo Alcúdia and the Trofeo Playa de Palma. Last year the competitions were held in May due to the measures taken in response to the corona pandemic in January. Then there were four Trofeos on the calendar; Calvià, Serra de Tramuntana and Alcúdia and the Trofeo Port d’Andratx-Mirador des Colomer. They were won by Ryan Gibbons, Jésus Herrada, André Greipel and Winner Anacona.
Challenge Mallorca teams 2022:
Israel Start-Up Nation
UAE Team Emirates
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli
Electro Hiper Europe
Java Kiwi Atlántico
Work Service Vitalcare Vegan.
Ryan Gibbons won in Calvia in 2021:
Tim van Dijke Makes Early Switch to Jumbo-Visma Main Squad
Tim van Dijke will become a professional cyclist at Team Jumbo-Visma as of January 1. The Dutch U23 champion would initially be riding for the Jumbo-Visma Development Team next year before transferring to the World Tour team. Due to the departure of Dylan Groenewegen and the rapid development of Van Dijke, he will already become a rider of the main force of the Dutch team in 2022. Van Dijke recorded his first professional victory in the Cro Race at the end of last season.
The 21-year-old U23 rider has a good feeling about his early transfer. “Of course I was already proud and happy that I would be part of the World Tour team in 2023 and 2024, but it is great that I am now switching a year early. I expect to gain a lot of new experiences from which I will learn a lot. Last season was already one with good learning moments, and it won’t be different next year. At times I will, of course, have a hard time, but that will help my development. It feels good to take a step up again. In addition, it is nice that my brother Mick and I switch to the World Tour formation more or less at the same time.”
For sportive director Merijn Zeeman, bringing forward Van Dijke’s switch fits within the philosophy of Team Jumbo-Visma. “At Team Jumbo-Visma, there is no hard line between the World Tour team and the development team. Each rider gets a personal program that suits him the best. Tim is developing at lightning speed. That’s why we think he needs a challenging program, alternating races between the World Tour team and the development team. Next year, the development team will still guide Tim, but he will also take his first steps in the World Tour.”
Tim van Dijke joins the WorldTour:
BORA – hansgrohe Presents a Completely New Design for 2022
It’s not only the jersey design, but also the bikes and accessories which have been completely redesigned for the 2022 season. In so doing, Specialized and Le Col took inspiration from U.S. sports. The result is visually compelling, yet also enables BORA – hansgrohe to set new technical standards.
“The design that Specialized and Le Col developed with us is a winner. We’ll definitely stand out in the field in 2022. The starting point was U.S. college sports, particularly baseball. I have to admit that at first, I may have been a little sceptical, but the results ended up being very convincing. For us, however, the focus is not only on looking smart, we also want to be fast. During our wind tunnel tests in winter, we compared our new kit with competitors’ products, and I can say that we will be fast, very fast. The name of the collection is ‘No Off Season’ and relates to the camaraderie within the team. Because true camaraderie takes no hiatus.” – Ralph Denk, Team Manager.
“The design was inspired by the raw athleticism among riders and their immense respect for each other as teammates. We look at historical moments within professional sports to draw our aesthetic. Moments where bold colour contrast and beautiful typography stood the test of time for teams that will always be known as the greats. It’s about confidence and control to create a look that boldly states for BORA-hansgrohe, there is no off season.” – Kayla Clarot, Specialized Senior Concept Designer.
“Over a decade’s worth of research has gone into the package of kit we have pulled together for the BORA – hansgrohe team. Hours spent in the wind tunnel have perfected the layup of tripping fabrics and breathable, fast wicking materials used in all our kits to ensure we provide the best technical apparel to help the team go faster and further. Every single detail from team jerseys, skinsuits and bib shorts to socks and baselayers have been designed to perform through a tough WorldTour race calendar, and we are delighted to partner with such an exciting team for the season.” Yanto Baker, Le Col Founder and CEO.
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Expands the Performance Team
After the arrival of Pieter Vanspeybrouck as a new sports director, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert can now also rely on the expertise of sports dietitian Jana Camphens and trainer Ioannis Tamouridis within the performance team which is directed by Aike Visbeek. Both reinforce the team behind the scenes in the prolongation of the collaboration they started with the World Team at the beginning of 2021.
Nutrition is an increasingly important part of the team’s performance strategy and therefore Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert reinforces the collaboration with sports dietitian Jana Camphens, who teams up with nutritionist Adam Plucinski. During her career, Jana worked with high-level athletes at the Centre for Sports Medecine of UZ Ghent, the Bakala Academy and EnergyLab. Together, Jana Camphens and Adam Plucinski establish individual nutrition strategies for all riders, aligned with the goals and race calendar which are defined by the performance team. The riders of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert already took advantage of this expertise in 2021 and a more narrow collaboration has been set up in the approach of next season.
Former professional rider Ioannis Tamouridis is the most decorated Greek rider in history thanks to multiple national titles, two World Championship medals on the track and participations in the Olympic road races in London and Rio de Janeiro. In the colours of Euskaltel-Euskadi he was the first rider of his nation to participate in several monuments or to finish a Grand Tour. After his career as a rider, Tamouridis became coach of the Cypriot national team and the SEG Racing Academy. In 2021 the habitant of Thessaloniki was already involved and will henceforth be a part of the team of trainers directed by Frederik Veuchelen.
Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager): “All of us have been working very hard last season to step up to the World Tour and I’m proud on what we achieved with our resources during our first year. Our successes the past months and our 14th place in the team ranking were only possible thanks to the devotion of all. Our goal is to become a stable element of the World Tour in the future. In order to reach this, we continue to build the team. Not only by strengthening our line up, but also by extending the team in support of the riders. I’m very happy that we got a jump on this and that we could expand the performance team, so we can focus our energy on details which can make a difference. Ioannis Tamouridis joined Frederik Veuchelen as a trainer and we now work intensively with sports dieticians Jana Camphens and Adam Plucinski. Pieter Vanspeybrouck is our new sports director with experience in sprint trains. He will join the performance team which is redesigned to make sure that the qualities and experience of all members come into their own and connect seamlessly. Also our close connections with our technical partners are growing and these interactions yield marginal gains. I’m convinced that we’re on the right way for season 2022!”
Frederik Veuchelen (Head Trainer): “I witnessed an incredible evolution since I was first connected to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert as a rider in 2014 and as a trainer afterwards. The step to the World Tour was probably the most important one and required a scale-up of the support team. The hard work of all involved people and the expansion of the performance team clearly bore fruit past season. So I’m pleased that we continue to invest in a more extensive coaching of our riders in the future. After last year’s excellent collaborations it was a logical consequence to involve Ioannis Tamouridis and Jana Camphens more in the project. Ioannis and I are on the same wavelength in terms of training methods and Jana has already reached clear results with her valuable input about nutrition. It is interesting that the contributions to the performance team come from an increasing number of different angles, so we complement each other better and better. Also our riders are enthusiastic about the fact that they can rely on a large team behind the scenes!”
Jana Camphens (Sports Dietitian): “It is a pleasure to be a part of this growing project! The riders are developing an in-depth knowledge of sports nutrition after going through the basics last year. We can definitely say that our work bore fruit as several riders performed better thanks to the adaptation of their eating patterns. Furthermore, we saw a better digestion of the drinks and energetic products thanks to our collaboration with our hydration partner Maurten, without forgetting our long relationship with our nutrition partner 3Action. The focus on nutrition is progressively intensified, so all riders henceforth receive an individual guidance. This means that Adam and I follow all of them from nearby and dovetail their eating patterns and the strategy of the performance team. Furthermore, we individualise the race nutrition strategies and test new recipes with the chefs and paramedical staff. The eagerness to learn and great enthusiasm of the riders and staff learned me that it will be an interesting season!”
Ioannis Tamouridis (Trainer): “I’m pleased with the confidence of the performance team after a first collaboration last year, during which I contributed to the preparation of the altitude training camps and coached four riders. I experience the opportunity to train all riders of the World Team on a full time basis as a great compliment and I especially want to thank Aike Visbeek for relying on me for building his projects since we first worked together within the SEG Racing Academy. Striving for success with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert’s line up is the perfect outlet for my ambition after my active career as a rider. It is probably thanks to our similar vision about training that Frederik Veuchelen and I are working well together from day one within Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. We combine our expertise and both follow the scientific development of training methods thanks to the support of the Centre for Sports Medicine of UZ Ghent in order to make the best decisions for our riders. In addition, the great atmosphere between staff and riders makes it unique to work in this environment!”
Johnny Carera, Pogačar and Nibali’s manager, Released from Hospital
Johnny Carera, the manager of Tadej Pogačar and Vincenzo Nibali, and others, is recovering. He was released from hospital a month after the traffic accident that left him in a coma. He even celebrated Christmas with his family in Sorisole.
The Italian is not allowed to go home permanently, yet. From Thursday, he will be taken to the Casa delg Angeli, a rehabilitation center, in Mozzo to continue working on his recovery. It is not yet known how long the recovery will take there.
Carera was in bad shape after the traffic accident. The Italian struggled with a number of broken ribs and a punctured lung. “Every breath is painful, but his mind is clear. His voice is slowly coming back and he was also asking about work,” his brother Alex Carera said about his situation last week.
Johnny Carera with Pogačar:
Alpecin-Fenix Raise €50,000 with MerciPouPou
Alpecin-Fenix has raised €50,000 by launching #MerciPouPou. The Belgian ProTeam appeared at the start of their first Tour de France in a purple-yellow kit, to honour Raymond Poulidor – the late grandfather of David and Mathieu van der Poel. The team is now donating that amount to non-profit organisations that are committed to helping children play sports.
Alpecin-Fenix speaks of an overwhelming success of the campaign. At the same time, the large demand for the purple-yellow shirt resulted in extremely long delivery times. This had everything to do with the scarcity of materials due to the corona pandemic. Now that these have all been resolved, the Belgian team will divide the money raised among five non-profit charities that help children with sports.
This includes creating an environment in which children have the opportunity to discover cycling or another sport, facilitating medical rehabilitation and organising youth events. The condition is that the organisation already exists and that it functions almost entirely on the basis of volunteers. All five charities will receive €10,000 as a gift from Alpecin-Fenix.
The team wants to enter into a long-term collaboration with the five parties, whereby they will also try to draw attention to the organisations in the future. The team will announce which five these are at a later date.
#MerciPouPou at the Tour:
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