Another ‘fun packed’ EUROTRASH Thursday. Loads of cycling news and even some racing: the Vuelta a Guatemala and the Taiwan national time trial championships.
Ian Boswell talks about the problems in the INEOS Grenadiers team – TOP STORY.
Rider news: Wout van Aert starts his cross training, Tom Pidcock’s cyclo-cross season, Van der Poel and Evenepoel training together in Spain, Nairo Quintana looks forward to his return in Valencia, Matteo Sobrero to Help Primoz Roglič, another year for Oscar Sevilla, Italian Federation banned Filippo Pozzato’s championship jersey, Michael Woods isn’t thinking about quitting, Antwan Tolhoek hopes to relaunch his career in Portugal, Arnaud De Lie starts his season in Spain in mid-February, Chris Froome starts his season later, Roger Hammond DS with Israel-Premier Tech, Tom Dumoulin learns ‘from the best’ on the athletics track and Nathan Van Hooydonck attended the Jumbo-Visma team day.
Team news: Tobias Foss signs with INEOS Grenadiers, AG2R Citroën Becomes Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale – New bikes, clothing, riders and a budget of 26 million, Jumbo-Visma receives trophy for ‘Best Cycling Team of the Year’, meet Tudor Pro Cycling’s 2024 BMC Teammachine R, Visma | Lease a Bike defends Jonas Vingegaard’s O Gran Camiño win and safety for Israel-Premier Tech riders.
Race news: 2024 Vuelta a España returns to steep climb in Asturias and Festival Elsy Jacobs will not be a stage race in 2024.
Sit back for your EUROTRASH coffee.
TOP STORY: Ian Boswell Talks About INEOS: “Riders Prefer to Ride for Much Less Money with Jumbo-Visma”
Team Sky was once the top team of the peloton, but this is no longer the case for its successor, INEOS Grenadiers. Ian Boswell, who raced for Team Sky until 2017, finds the current situation in the British team worrying. “I am friends with some riders who in recent years chose not to sign with the team and instead decided to go to Jumbo for a lot less money,” he said on The Cycling Podcast.
According to Boswell, Team Sky/INEOS Grenadiers has not been able to reinvent itself after the successful years in which it dominated the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal. “It was a British team with a very strong identity. They knew very well who they were and what they wanted,” said the 32 year-old former rider, who ended his career in 2019. “Afterwards, they never asked or determined the question again: who are we as a team? They have stuck to the idea: we are a team for the Grand Tours, we want to win the Tour. But if you look at the selection now: do they have someone who can theoretically do that? I do not think so.”
Boswell states that the team has not taken a different path for the Classics or the sprints, the team has not brought in any new riders. “It’s a bit worrying. I am friends with some riders who in recent years chose not to sign with the team and instead decided to go to Jumbo for much less money. Just because of what they have heard internally, because of what is happening at INEOS Grenadiers, because of the culture of the team, the dynamics… The riders I know want to race for a lot less money with a team where they can probably achieve more success, at a team that is more… I don’t want to say ‘more functional’, but a team that is currently higher, a team that is on the rise instead of a team that seems to take a step backwards every year.”
Ian Boswell not impressed with INEOS:
Crash for Overall Winner and his Teammates as they Celebrate Vuelta a Guatemala Final Victory
The Vuelta Ciclistica Internacional a Guatemala (2.2) finished badly for the overall winner and his team. The final overall victory went to Gerson Toc, at the end of the last stage he couldn’t be beaten, so he and his Decoba-ASO Quetzaltenango teammates celebrated as the were about to cross the finish-line. This didn’t go to plan as they crashed and crossed the line actually on the road.
The tenth and final stage of the Tour of Guatemala started and finished in Finca el Zapote. Sebastian Brenes (7C – Economy – Lacoinex) narrowly held off the sprinting peloton and won the stage. Behind the peloton, yellow jersey wearer Toc and four teammates from Decoba-ASO Quetzaltenango were celebrating the final victory. They approached the line arm in arm, but just before they crossed the line, one of them slipped and took all but one of his teammates with him.
Toc crossed the line while sliding and didn’t lose any time overall. The Guatemalan won his home tour, the biggest victory of his career.
Vuelta Ciclistica Internacional a Guatemala Final Overall Result:
1. Gerson Toc (Gua) Decoba-ASO Quetzaltenango in 34:39:27
2. Byron Guamá (Ecu) Movistar-Best PC at 1:42
3. Stalin Wladimir Puentestar (Ecu) Ecuador at 2:17.
Taiwan National Time Trial Championships 2023
Sergio Tu is the Taiwanese time trial champion for the next year. The 26 year-old rider, who races for WorldTeam Bahrain Victorious, put an end to the dominance of former professional Chun Kai Feng by 32 seconds.
Chun Kai Feng won the last three editions of the Taiwanese TT championships in 2013, 2015 and 2019, but the 35 year-old former Lampre-Merida and Bahrain Victorious lost out to Sergio Tu. Tu’s final time of 54:13 over 44.8 kilometres, was ridden at an average speed of 49.579kph.
Feng finished in second place, just over half a minute behind the winner. The bronze medal went to 33 year-old Chih Hao Wu, who lost almost 3 minutes. Taiwan’s new time trial champion, Sergio Tu, has been riding for Bahrain Victorious this year. Before that, he rode for the training teams of Team Sunweb, CCC and the Spanish Equipo Kern Pharma team. This year, with Bahrain Victorious, Tu raced only 13 days.
In the elite women’s race, Ke Xin Zeng was the fastest, ahead of Ya Yu Tsai and Hsiu Ju Cheng. The other champions are: Shi Ru Xu (men’s junior), Ying Hsiu Lei (women’s junior), En Teng Zhang (junior men) and Ting Yu Yang (junior women).
Taiwan National Time Trial Championships Taiwan Result:
1. Sergio Tu (Tai) Bahrain Victorious in 54:13
2. Chun Kai Feng (Tai) Utsunomiya Blitzen at 0:32
3. Chih Hao Wu (Tai) at 2:46
4. Kuan Hsien(Tai) Li at 3:08
5. Yen Yi Ho (Tai) Galibier-Finisher at 3:37
6. Ting Wei Li (Tai) at 4:02
7. Shao Hsuan Lu (Tai) at 6:04
8. Hao Peng Shen (Tai) at 7:42
9. Min Ying Tsai (Tai) at 7:54
10. Cheng Yu Tsai (Tai) at 9:52.
Taiwan TT champs – Sergio Tu:
Wout van Aert Starts His Cross Training: “Annual Wake-Up Call”
Wout van Aert will return to cyclo-cross for the first time on Saturday, December the 9th, for the Exact Cross in Essen. The Jumbo-Visma rider was back on his cross bike this week for the first time since last year.
Van Aert calls it an ‘annual wake-up call’ on Strava. The 29 year-old rider had a training ride of just under 70 kilometres on Tuesday near his hometown of Herentals on his Cervélo R5-CX. Fellow cyclo-cross rider Eli Iserbyt responded to Van Aert’s post with: “Please don’t wake up too much.”
The three-time world champion will be in action for the first time in the Exact Cross of Essen (9/12), followed by Mol (22/12, Exact Cross), Antwerp (23/12, World Cup), Gavere (26/12, World Cup), Zolder (27/12, Superprestige), Hulst (30/ 12, World Cup), Baal (01/01, X2O Trophy) and Koksijde (04/01, X2O Trophy). There may be two more races, the World Cup races in Zonhoven and Benidorm. However, this is still subject to change. It is also certain that Van Aert will start the Belgian and World Championship.
“It is a conscious choice to ride a shorter program,” Van Aert said when announcing his cross program. “Last year I noticed that it was mentally difficult to really focus on the cross season and then move on to the spring. I have decided for myself that I no longer want to leave anything to chance when it comes to the spring Classics. That is why, with a heavy heart, I am running a more limited program.”
Van Aert back to cyclo-cross:
Tom Pidcock’s Cyclo-Cross Season Start in Herentals – No World Champs in Tábor
Tom Pidcock will not appear at the start of the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tábor, Czech Republic, this winter. This has been coming for some time, but has now also been confirmed by his team INEOS Grenadiers. The Brit will compete in ten races in the coming period, including six World Cups.
It is no surprise that the 24-year-old Pidcock will not participate in the global title fight in Tábor early next year. Yet his coach Kurt Bogaerts kept the door ajar for a long time. Last cross season, Pidcock started on November 19 in Merksplas, and after fourteen crosses ended in Benidorm in mid-January. He then also ignored the World Cup.
The versatile driver will not complete fourteen, but ‘only’ ten races this year. On December 16 we will see Pidcock in the field for the first time for the X2O cross of Herentals. This will be followed by three consecutive World Cups with Namur (December 17), Antwerp (December 23) and Gavere (December 26). In other words, Pidcock immediately starts with a double weekend of Herentals-Namur.
After three World Cup rounds, it is time for the Diegem Superprestige Cross (December 28), followed by the Hulst World Cup (December 30), X2O Koksijde (January 4), Cyclocross Gullegem (January 6) and the Zonhoven World Cup (January 7). His last cyclo-cross of the season is the World Cup in Benidorm on Sunday, January 21. In short, Pidcock will not participate in the Hoogerheide World Cup and – even more importantly – the World Cup.
Pidcock will cross swords with Mathieu van der Poel and/or Wout van Aert several times this winter. Cyclo-cross enthusiasts will be treated to a real three-way battle in the World Cups of Antwerp, Gavere and Hulst and the X2O-cross of Koksijde. This also seems to be the case in Zonhoven and Benidorm, Spain, although it is not yet certain whether Van Aert will participate in these races.
Pidcock’s 2023/24 Cyclo-Cross Programme:
16-12 X²O Bathrooms Trophy Herentals Cross
17-12 UCI Cyclocross World Cup #8 Namur
23-12 UCI Cyclocross World Cup #9 Antwerp
26-12 UCI Cyclocross World Cup #10 Gavere
28-12 Telenet Superprestige Diegem
30-12 UCI Cyclocross World Cup #11 Hulst
04-01 X²O Bathrooms Trophy Vlaamse Duinencross Koksijde
06-01 Hexia Cyclocross Gullegem
07-01 UCI Cyclocross World Cup #12 Zonhoven
21-01 UCI Cyclocross World Cup #13 Benidorm.
Ten cross races for Pidcock:
Van der Poel and Evenepoel Training Together in Spain
World champions Mathieu van der Poel and Remco Evenepoel went on a training ride together in Spain on Wednesday. The leaders of Alpecin-Deceuninck and Soudal Quick-Step left Calpe together for a training session of more than four hours.
Van der Poel rode in his rainbow jersey as the reigning World road (and cross) champion, while Evenepoel, who is also the World time trial champion, wore his Belgian tricolore as national road champion. They were on the road with, among others, some of Van der Poel’s teammates and the Australian former rider, Freddy Ovett.
On Strava you can see that Evenepoel trained 123 kilometres in just over 4 hours. They climbed more than 2,000 metres. Van der Poel is in Spain to prepare for his cyclo-cross winter. The cross World champion will be at the start of his first cross of 2023 on December 22, the Zilvermeercross in Mol.
Photo by Freddy Ovett:
Nairo Quintana Looks Forward to His Return
Nairo Quintana has been without a team since October 2022, but the Colombian climber will compete again in the WorldTour next year. The 33 year-old has been given the opportunity to relaunch his career with his old team, Movistar. “Despite everything, I am in good shape,” he told Cyclingnews.
Quintana, who lost his 6th place in the Tour de France after a positive test for Tramadol, looked ahead to 2024 after his own Gran Fondo in Colombia. “It is important to be patient. I haven’t raced for a while. When other riders rode the Giro d’Italia, I was in Colombia. Some people told me I was crazy, that I should stop racing.”
Quintana had no intention of giving up and started a search for a new team. After several failed meetings, the Colombian was finally rescued by Movistar. Quintana rode for the Spanish WorldTour team from 2012 to 2019 and took his biggest successes, including wins in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.
The two-time runner-up in the Tour de France hopes to reach his old level again in the old and familiar team. “Despite everything, I am in good shape. I still achieve the same values in training as before, when I still took part in major cycle races. So I’m not worried about that, but racing is of course something else. I will have to continue training and have good legs.”
Nairo Quintana has been without a team since October 2022, but the Colombian will kick off his 2024 campaign in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (January 31-February 4). Quintana has not competed at international level since the 2022 World Cycling Championships in Wollongong, Australia. His last race was in February, the Colombian road championship.
Quintana has ridden the Tour of Valencia in the past. In 2017 he was the overall winner. That year Quintana defeated Ben Hermans and the now retired Manuel Senni. It is not yet clear what his further program for 2024 will look like, but there are rumours that he will participate in the Giro d’Italia again next year. In his two previous participations in 2014 and 2017, Quintana came first and second respectively.
Quintana back in blue:
Matteo Sobrero will Help Primoz Roglič at BORA-hansgrohe
Matteo Sobrero is moving from Jayco AlUla for BORA-hansgrohe for 2024. With his new team he will be a teammate of Primož Roglič. “It is the biggest transfer of the year,” Sobrero said to WielerFlits about Roglič’s switch from Jumbo-Visma to BORA-hansgrohe. “I’m really looking forward to racing with him, to see what that’s like and why not get some great results with him and the team?”“I hope to at least start with a good spring, including the Ardennes classics, and achieve some results for myself there. Then will follow the Grand Tours, where I will help the classification guys.”
Sobrero to BORA-hansgrohe:
Oscar Sevilla to Continue for Another Year
Óscar Sevilla may already be 47 years old, but the Spaniard certainly has no plans to hang up his bike just yet. The former rider of Kelme and T-Mobile, among others, will continue his 26th (!) cycling season with the continental Team Medellín-EPM.
For the start of his (professional) career we have to go back 25 years, to the year 1998, when Sevilla made his debut for Kelme-Costa Blanca. Sevilla quickly became one of the better climbers in the European cycling peloton. For example, in 2001 he finished second in the Vuelta a España and seventh in the Tour de France. He also won the white youth jersey in the 2001 Tour.
Sevilla’s career suffered a major blow in 2006, however, as he was suspended for his involvement in the Spanish doping case Operación Puerto, with doctor Eufemiano Fuentes at the centre of the doping scandal. Sevilla returned to the peloton after his suspension, but never got another chance with a top team. The Spaniard then began a long wandering through modest and exotic continental teams.
However, it turned out to be a very successful ‘ramble’, because Seville is still achieving good results today – despite his retirement age. Last season he was successful in, among others, the Vuelta Bantrab, Tour of the Gila, Tour de Panamá and the Clásico RCN. However, he achieved his biggest victory at the last minute with a final victory in the Tour of Hainan (2.Pro), ahead of Ben Hermans and Valerio Conti, among others.
In other words, Sevilla is still very successful and has no plans to give up just yet. “I have now started training again after a short rest period,” he told Revista Mundo Ciclístico. “I’m already thinking about the new season. I still enjoy cycling and I hope to have another good season next year. It will be difficult to match 2023, as I can look back on a very successful season.”
Óscar Sevilla – Still looking 16!
Italian Federation Banned Filippo Pozzato’s Championship Jersey
The first version of Filippo Pozzato’s 2009 Italian champion’s jersey was banned by the Italian cycling federation because it showed the Moscow skyline. “With the Kremlin on it indeed.” The former cyclist told RIDE Magazine fourteen years later.
At the end of June, Pozzato won the national title in Imola, beating Damiano Cunego and Luca Paolini. Katusha then made a tricolor jersey with the design of the then kit of the Russian team. That was a blue and white shirt with the Moscow skyline on it. The champion’s jerseys used the same basic design.
A week after his Italian title, ‘Pippo’ Pozzato appeared in the Tour de France, wearing the special Italian champion jersey. “Of course, the idea for the sweater didn’t come from me. Team boss Andrei Tchmil was behind it, but I was confronted about it. Italian journalists shouted: “That’s really not possible!” Compatriots in the peloton of course also reacted and that was usually not positive. “What a shit jersey!”, those kinds of comments,” said Pozzato.
The Italian federation also got involved and sent an angry letter to Katusha. “I only wore this jersey for a few days, because after that letter the team designed a new jersey. There was no other outfit ready. They had to produce that immediately,” the Italian remembers that Tour de France.
The banned jersey on Tour’09 stage 2:
Michael Woods Isn’t Thinking about Quitting
Michael Woods celebrated his 37th birthday last month, but the Canadian is certainly not thinking about quitting just yet. The explosive climber is certain who he will race with: “I have made an agreement with Sylvan Adams that I will end my career working for Israel-Premier Tech.”
Woods has been racing for the Israeli team since 2021 and will not change team at the end of his career. “I am really lucky that I can fall back on Sylvan Adams,” he praised the Israel-Premier Tech boss. “He is one of the main reasons why I am a professional cyclist. Sylvan has supported me since 2013 and has played a major role in my career.”
“A little over a year ago we sat down to discuss an extension of my contract. We finally agreed that I will finish (my career) working for Israel-Premier Tech. I stop when I feel I have nothing left to offer. I don’t want to race if I am no longer able to perform at the highest level. I am still enthusiastic about racing.”
At 37, Woods still feels the drive to perform, to get better. “Life is about pushing yourself, discovering and doing new things. To challenge yourself. If that is no longer the case, it is time to turn the page. But I feel like I’m still making progress. There are also a number of things I would like to achieve. There are still a few victories missing from my list of achievements.”
Woods mainly looks at the Giro d’Italia. “I won my first stage in the Tour de France this year, but I have not yet won a stage in the Giro. After two stage victories in the Vuelta and one stage in the Tour, I would now like to triumph in the Giro. That’s really something that motivates me. I realise that I am in a luxurious position, and how lucky I am to have Sylvan’s support.”
Woods to race with IPT to the end of his career:
Antwan Tolhoek Hopes to Relaunch his Career in Portugal
Antwan Tolhoek has found a new team for 2024. After a year and a half of injuries, the 29 year-old could not count on a contract extension with Lidl-Trek. Tolhoek couldn’t get a contract with a professional team and is about to sign a contract with a Portuguese Continental team, according to WielerFlits.
He will be joining the Sabgal-Anicolor team, which was Glassdrive Q8 Anicolor in 2023. Before that, the team was called Efapel for many years. Efapel is still in the peloton as it is now the sponsor of José Azevedo’s new team. Azevedo was previously team manager of Katusha-Alpecin for many years. The team for which Tolhoek will race is run by the Pereira family. It has been agreed with new sponsor, Sabgal Foods, that the team will have a more international program.
With Sabgal-Unicolor Tolhoek will try to relaunch his career. Tolhoek was with Roompot-Oranje Peloton in 2016 after Rabobank’s training team and a stagiaire with Tinkoff-Saxo. He made an impression in his first season, after which LottoNL-Jumbo took him on. After several promising years he end up in a domestique role the Dutch WorldTeam, after which he decided to leave. He should have had more opportunities with Lidl-Trek, but he was never able to take them due to a knee injury.
In recent years, his new team only rode races in Portugal and very occasionally a race in Spain. Annual highlights were the Volta ao Algarve and the Tour of Portugal. Last season, Uruguayan Maurico Moreira managed to win the Portuguese tour. He will also be part of Sabcal-Unicolor next year, along with Gabriel Baptista, Duarte Domingues, Frederico Figueiredo, Luís Mendonça, Artem Nych and Rafael Reis. Sabgal-Unicolor will have fourteen rider in 2024, with British, Danish and Spanish riders.
The Portuguese team will work with a larger budget and a different vision and maybe they can say goodbye to the a shadowy past. Efapel was a haven for ex-dopers more than once. In recent years, André Cardoso, Domingos Gonçalves and Carlos Iván Oyarzún have had contracts with the Portuguese team, who in the more distant past also had riders such as David Blanco, Santiago Pérez and David Bernabéu on their payroll.
Antwan Tolhoek off to Portugal:
Arnaud De Lie plans to Start his Season in Spain in Mid-February
Arnaud De Lie will start his 2024 season in mid-February. Sports director Kurt Van de Wouwer of Lotto Dstny told La Dernière Heure. According to Van de Wouwer, the Vuelta a Murcia and the Clásica de Almería are on De Lie’s programme.
The two one-day races in Spain will be held on Saturday, February 10 and Sunday, February 11. De Lie will start his season later than in 2023, when he won the Clásica Comunitat Valenciana at the end of January.
“Arnaud starts three weeks later, in Murcia and Almeria,” acknowledges Van de Wouwer. “Last year, after his first Valencia race, he was already very strong in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Maybe he’s a little less good this year, but that’s not a big problem. You can still win if you’re not in top form, and Arnaud is still young. At his age he can quickly reach his top form.”
Lotto Dstny wouldn’t elaborate on the rest of the season for De Lie yet. “We do have his program in mind, but we will wait a little longer, especially because of the Tour de France. Only when we know the route of the Vuelta will we make a choice about it.”
Arnaud De Lie’s Early Race Programme:
11-02 Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia “Costa Calida”
12-02 Clasica de Almeria
24-02 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Early win for De Lie:
Chris Froome Starts his Season a Little Later
Chris Froome will start his sixteenth season as a pro a little later. Kjell Carlström, general manager of Israel-Premier Tech, informed GCN.
The now 38 year-old Froome started his 2023 campaign early. The British rider, winner of the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, started his first race of 2023 in January in the Tour Down Under (17-22 January). Froome only raced 39 days last season, partly due to injuries and his non-selection for the Tour de France. The Briton will approach the coming season differently and, according to Carlström, will start his cycling campaign a little later than normal.
Froome still has a contract with Israel-Premier Tech until the end of 2025, but they don’t seem to be a happy together. Sylvan Adams, the boss of Israel-Premier Tech, has not held back on his thoughts. At the beginning of November, Chris Froome said he had been riding with the wrong bike position for years. “Does it make sense for someone who has won seven Grand Tours to claim that his saddle position is off by an inch or whatever he says? Does that sound credible for someone who is not even released on the last climbs, but on one of the first climbs? He can talk about his cycling position until the cows come home, that still won’t get him selected for a Grand Tour,” Adams pointed out.
Later start for Froome in 2024:
Roger Hammond to be DS with Israel-Premier Tech
Roger Hammond may be behind the wheel of the Israel-Premier Tech team car next year? The 49 year-old former rider is lined up to become a new DS with the Israeli team. In recent years, Hammond has been with INEOS Grenadiers as Head of Racing.
Kjell Carlström, the general manager of Israel-Premier Tech, told GCN that Hammond is in the picture as the new team DS. “But we have polled and interviewed even more candidates. We are now in the final stages, but we have not made a decision yet. Roger is certainly one of the candidates to become team DS in our formation.”
Hammond himself was a professional with Discovery Channel, T-Mobile and Cervelo Test Team and others. The Briton was known as a fast Classics rider, in his best years he finished second in Gent-Wevelgem and third in Paris-Roubaix. After his professional career, he started working as a DS with Dimension Data, Bahrain Victorious and then INEOS Grenadiers.
“Roger is one of the candidates, but we still have five or six,” emphasised Carlström. “I hope we can make the decision within a week.” With Steve Bauer, Rik Verbrugghe and Sam Bewley, the team already has several well-known former riders on board. Sep Vanmarcke, who retired this year, will also work as a DS with Israel-Premier Tech in 2024.
Hammond to IPT:
Tom Dumoulin Learns ‘From the Best’ on the Athletics Track
Tom Dumoulin stopped racing more than a year ago, but the 33 year-old Dutchman is still keen on sport. He proved that he is a jack of all trades last month by completing a half marathon in a time of 1:10:04.
He may be even faster in the future, now that Dumoulin has received running tips from Sifan Hassan. The reigning Olympic champion in the 5000 and 10,000 metres shared a photo on Instagram, showing her with Dumoulin on the Nijmegen athletics track. “I found my new workout buddy,” the caption reads.
Dumoulin shared the same photo on his Instagram and wrote: “Learning from the best. Thank you Sifan Hassan! Soon at Studio Sport,” referring to a program soon to be shown on NOS with Dumoulin and Hassan in the leading roles.
Last month, Dumoulin had a very fast time in the Amsterdam half marathon. The 2017 Giro winner ran the 21 kilometres in a time of just over one hour. “This was a really cool experience. I was aiming for a good time under an hour and fifteen minutes, but I found a nice group that went a little faster,” he said after his half marathon.
Tom Dumoulin getting running tips:
Nathan Van Hooydonck Attended the Jumbo-Visma Team Day
Nathan Van Hooydonck had to end his career immediately after suffering cardiac arrest earlier this year. However, he recently attended a Jumbo-Visma team day (Visma | Lease a Bike from January): “It was very nice to see everyone again, but also very confrontational and very painful,” the Belgian said in the podcast De Rode Lantaarn.
“It’s always about next year,” explained 28 year-old Van Hooydonck. “No one hears it, but I do. Then they say: the riders have started training again, next month the riders will go on a training camp. That’s not me anymore.”
Fortunately, many people came to Van Hoondonck to support him. “They show a lot of understanding for the situation. And how I understood it is that I might get a chance from Merijn Zeeman if I asked him next year if I could become a team DS. It’s a sweet team.”
“I think I also get these opportunities because as a rider I have always done everything for the team. I really saw it as my team, more than the other teams I rode for. That was really about winning together. That’s a slogan, but it’s not something the marketing department just came up with. It is something we really stand for. There are a lot of people who don’t believe that, but it is true. We do it together. I receive the same treatment and facilities as Wout (Van Aert) and Jonas (Vingegaard). That’s how you become the best team in the world.”
Nathan Van Hooydonck to be a DS?
Tobias Foss Signs with INEOS Grenadiers
We’re delighted to announce that Tobias Foss has joined the Grenadiers on a three-year deal. Follow the link to hear from the former World Time Trial champion on moving to the team he followed as a youngster as well as his hopes for 2024 and beyond.
The 26-year-old Norwegian from Lillehammer, who turned professional in 2020, has signed a three-year contract until the end of 2026.
In 2022, Foss scored the biggest result of his career capturing the World Time Trial title in Wollongong, Australia. His palmarès also includes an impressive victory at the Tour de l’Avenir in 2019, as well as twice being crowned Norwegian time trial champion as well as road race champion in 2021.
In celebrating the news of his move, Foss said: “When I was 14 years old and started cycling, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Team Sky became my idols and my favourite team. After that Chris, Bradley and Geraint inspired me as I dreamt of the Tour de France. All of this made the INEOS Grenadiers my dream team so this was a big factor in me signing, together with my belief that this team can help me further my career.”
Foss has ridden at the highest level for four seasons and established himself as one of the biggest talents in the pro peloton.
“I know some of the guys on the team a bit from before, and my impression is that it is a great group of people within the team. So, I am looking forward to meeting everyone and creating good memories on the bike together. I would like to have a season where I can be consistent with the best. I don’t have any specific goals, but I want to take my chance, contribute to the team getting good results and go for a medal at the Olympics,” he said.
Foss will join a team boasting significant experience in the likes of Tour de France champions Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal alongside some of the sport’s most exciting young talents.
“I really think there are some proper role models within this team. I am extremely excited to race with these guys and grow in my own experience. The future of the INEOS Grenadiers is very exciting; we have good mentors that we can learn from, so that we, the young riders, can maintain the culture and make this team greater every year. I still can’t believe that this is happening, it’s funny as I was the biggest ‘fanboy’ ever of this team and now I am actually in the team!”
John Allert, Managing Director, INEOS Grenadiers said: “Tobias is an exciting and established talent and someone who we believe will reach his full potential with our team. He has clear ambitions for 2024 including the Paris Olympics and the team are looking forward to supporting him in what could be a big year ahead. We’re very pleased to welcome him and wish him every success as a Grenadier.”
Steve Cummings, Sport Director, said: “Tobias is renowned for his time trialling ability, but with what he’s achieved in the past he has also shown he can really climb too. he’s achieved a range of very good results and we fully believe he has the versatility to play a key part in a GC team. We’re all looking forward to working with him and our current group of riders, who are all as motivated and hungry for success as he is in 2024 and beyond.”
Foss with INEOS Grenadiers:
AG2R Citroën Becomes Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale – New Bikes and Clothing
From 2024, the AG2R Citroën team will be knowns as Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale. It has been known for some time that Decathlon would join the team, now it has been confirmed by the team in a presentation in Lille.
Decathlon is committed to the WorldTeam for 5 years. The team is also changing bike suppliers. AG2R has been riding BMC since 2021, but is now switching to Van Rysel. This brand is part of Decathlon and will also supply the helmets and glasses.
Decathlon is an international sports store chain based in France. The company, which was founded in 1976, has recently invested even more in cycling. Now it is taking the next step by co-sponsoring a professional cycling team. It replaces Citroën. Since 2021, the French car manufacturer has been a co-sponsor with the team.
At the presentation in Lille, Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale also announced the riders for 2024. This includes six newcomers: Sam Bennett, Victor Lafay, Bruno Armirail and the Belgians Dries De Bondt, Sander De Pestel and Gianluca Pollefliet.
New bike for AG2R:
Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Confirms the Arrival of Sam Bennett and Victor Lafay
Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale confirmed the arrival of several riders during the team presentation in Lille on Monday. Victor Lafay and Sam Bennett will strengthen the team in 2024. The Belgians Gianluca Pollenfliet, Dries De Bondt and Sander De Pestel are also joining the team. Another newcomer is Bruno Armirail.
Lafay had previously announced that he would exchange Cofidis for AG2R, but the news had not yet been confirmed by his new team. The rumour that Bennett would sign with the French team has also been around for some time. “I was very happy when I got this opportunity,” said the Irish sprinter, who rode for BORA-hansgrohe for the past two years, in Lille. “I think this is the best environment for me. As a child I also looked up to Nicholas Roche, who rode in this team. That makes it extra nice.” Lafay and Bennett have both signed contracts until the end of 2025.
Dries De Bondt, Gianluca Pollefliet and Sander De Pestel have also been associated with AG2R for some time. De Bondt, like Lafay and Bennett, will remain with Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale until at least the end of 2025. He comes from Alpecin-Deceuninck, where he had been for a long time. In 2019 he was with Corendon – Circus. A year later, De Bondt became Belgian road champion. In 2022 he won a stage in the Giro d’Italia.
Pollefliet makes the switch from the Lotto Dstny training team. The 21 year-old rider, who won the U23 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this year, will start his professional career with Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale. He has signed a contract until the end of 2026. The 25 year-old rider turned professional with Flanders-Baloise in 2020 and is now making the step to the WorldTour.
Bruno Armirail was already in the WorldTour, with Groupama-FDJ. The 29 year-old Frenchman, who is mainly known as a strong time trialist, wore the pink jersey for a few days during the Giro d’Italia this year. His contract also runs until the end of 2025.
Despite the arrival of the six riders mentioned, there are also several departures. Greg Van Avermaet, Mikaël Cherel and Michael Schär are all retiring, Clément Venturini continues his career with Arkéa-B&B Hotels and Marc Sarreau is switching to Groupama-FDJ. It is not yet known what the future of Lawrence Naesen and Antoine Raugel is.
Budget of Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Grows to 26 million
The budget of the Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale team will increase considerably in the coming years. With the sports chain Decathlon joining as main sponsor, the French team will work with an annual budget of 26 million euros. According to L’Équipe, this is three million euros more than this year.
Due to the announced departure of Citroën as name sponsor, which reportedly caused a gap of six million euros in the budget, team boss Vincent Lavenu had to look for a new sponsor. He found it in Decathlon, which also brings bike sponsor/supplier Van Rysel. “This is exceptional, a historic moment,” Lavenu said during the team presentation earlier this week.
“There was a risk that the team would disappear, so the first goal was to ensure that most of it would be preserved. And now we certainly continue through 2028, with encouraging prospects,” Lavenu said. “With a budget of 26 million euros, we are positioning ourselves at a good level.”
L’Équipe reported that Decathlon AG2R is now in the top 5 of the WorldTeams in terms of financial capabilities. “But it is important to remember that, unlike several other teams, our riders are employed and that we also pay social security contributions,” said the sports manager.
More money for Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale:
Jumbo-Visma Receives Trophy for Best Cycling Team of the Year
Jumbo-Visma has been voted the best Cycling Team of the Year. The Dutch team is the first winner of this new trophy. 2023 was a great year for Jumbo-Visma, including overall victories in all three Grand Tours.
The Dutch team achieved a unique performance this year by winning all three major tours with Primoz Roglič in the Giro, Jonas Vingegaard in the Tour and Sepp Kuss the Vuelta. Never before has another team won all three Grand Tours in the same year, they also won 69 races in 2023. Jumbo-Visma was also very successful at the beginning of the year. Richard Plugge’s team won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Tirreno-Adriatico, E3 Saxo Classic, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of the Basque Country, and more.
Jumbo-Visma received the most votes from the members of the Dutch Union of Professional Cyclists (VVBW) and the public, who voted via WielerFlits. The other nominees in this category were SD Worx and the national track team. Richard Plugge, Jumbo-Visma’s team manager, accepted the award. “This is a wonderful prize. We now have to see if we can at least equal this year’s successes, but that will be difficult. We must ask ourselves: what do we want to achieve? For us, it’s all about working together and winning together. Everyone within our team is equally important.”
Top team Jumbo-Visma:
Meet Tudor Pro Cycling’s 2024 BMC Teammachine R
We are excited to show you the fast and superb BMC Teammachine R that Tudor Pro Cycling will be riding in 2024.
The frame, developed by BMC and RedBull Advanced Technologies, has been tested successfully by the team throughout the 2023 season and won on five occasions already with Arvid De Kleijn.
The team will be riding a special edition frame equipped with SRAM drivetrain and brakes, DT Swiss wheels, Schwalbe tyres, Wahoo pedals and computers and Selle Italia saddles and bar tape.
We were there as the first frame was built at Tudor Pro Cycling Service Course in Sursee. Lay back and enjoy this stunning bike build video:
Visma | Lease a Bike Defends Jonas Vingegaard’s O Gran Camiño Win
Visma | Lease a Bike, the new name for Jumbo-Visma, will participate in O Gran Camiño again in 2024. The WorldTeam was at the start of the second edition of the Spanish stage race last year. Jonas Vingegaard took the overall victory.
O Gran Camiño is a four-day event in Galicia, which has been on the calendar since 2022. The first edition was won by Alejandro Valverde. Next year the event will run from February 22 to 25. The route of the race will be presented soon.
Last year, the first stage of O Gran Camiño was canceled due to extreme weather conditions. The remaining three stages and the final classification were won by Jonas Vingegaard. It was the Dane’s first race of an extremely successful season. It is not yet known who of the Visma | Lease a Bike will travel to O Gran Camiño in 2024. Along with Visma | Lease a Bike, there is only Groupama-FDJ and Movistar on the provisional start list.
Vingegaard winning the O Gran Camiño 2023:
Safety for Israel-Premier Tech Riders
Israel has been attacking the Gaza Strip for almost two months. The Israel-Premier Tech team claim they experiences the consequences of this every day, so they are taking measures. The team confirmed this in a statement to WielerFlits.
The riders and staff say that they do not like bing in cars and clothing with Israel printed on it. They fear retaliation. In some cases, riders pass protests or pro-Palestine demonstrations while training. The greatest fear is that someone would track down riders or staff. Team DS’s would prefer not to have team cars in their driveway with Israel on them and riders would prefer to no longer train in the team’s kit.
WielerFlits understands that a special training jersey has been made, without print. The team confirmed this through an official statement: “2024 is our tenth season in the professional peloton and we continue to proudly race as Israel-Premier Tech. The safety and security of our team members is of the utmost importance to us. That is why we have taken a number of measures. This includes the use of a training kit. Our riders can put these on when they are outside the racing bubble or are only training, if they feel compelled to do so.”
The safety of riders is at stake. According to a number of them, this became noticeable during the last races of the season in Veneto, Italy. The team bus was accompanied by heavily armed police escorts and at the start and finish, team vehicles were checked several times to make sure there wasn’t any explosives put in or on them. Inquiries with the team revealed that the escorts have been the norm for Israel-Premier Tech at every race in Italy for a few seasons. According to a spokesperson, this is nothing new as a result of the conflict in the Gaza Strip.
The team owner is the wealthy Canadian businessman Sylvan Adams. He is Jewish and emigrated to Israel in 2015. He recently spoke to Radio Cycling about the war, but his statements would only have increased the concerns of riders and staff. “Should we be intimidated by genocide terrorists? When ISIS threatened the World, did It Stop Turning? Should we be afraid then? No, we are not going to bow down to that. We continue with our daily work. We expect a normal season and are not going to hide,” said Adams.
There are several races in the Middle East in February. Israel-Premier Tech did not participate in the AlUla Tour, Muscat Classic and Tour of Oman last year. The team has a guaranteed ‘WildCard’ for the WorldTour UAE Tour race, but they don’t have to ride, if they choose not to.
No writing on the Israel-Premier Tech training kit:
Vuelta 2024 Returns to Steep Climb in Asturias
Local website CiclismoenAsturias knows that the Vuelta a España will finish again next year on the steep climb to Cuitu Negru. Eleven years ago, in the 2012 Vuelta, the race tackled this climb for the first time, with percentages of up to 24%. Dario Cataldo won the stage to Cuitu Negru from the early break, beating Thomas De Gendt after an exciting battle, but the real story was going on behind. Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodríguez were involved in a battle for the final victory in Spain that year.
Contador tried to crack his rival with several attacks on the final climb of Cuitu Negru, but Rodríguez managed to follow. In the last metres, with ramps well above 20%, Purito started his sprint and managed to gain a few more seconds. Contador had the last word as he took the overall victory.
Since then, the organisers of the Vuelta a España has ignored the climb in the Asturias region, but the race will return to this location in 2024. The climb to Cuitu Negru is an extension of the Puerto de Pajares. In the last 3 kilometres it hardly drops below 15%, with percentages well above 20%.
The riders will have to be ready for a double mountain battle in Asturias, because the climb to Lagos de Covadonga also looks to be in the 2024 Vuelta. The 12.5 kilometre climb, at an average of 6.9%, with peaks of up to 16%, is a true Vuelta classic. The Tour of Spain has finished on this iconic climb 23 times.
The presentation of the route of the 79th edition of the Vuelta a España will take place on Tuesday, December 19.
Festival Elsy Jacobs Will Not be a Stage Race in 2024
In 2024, the Elsy Jacobs Festival will not be a stage race, but two separate one-day races. Race director Claude Losch announced this in conversation with the daily newspaper Le Quotidien. The race will also no longer be part of the UCI Pro Series next year.
Due to various factors, the organisers have been forced to change the existing format. “The idea is to reduce costs. We are also dealing with fewer and fewer volunteers, especially young volunteers. Organising a three-day competition is becoming increasingly difficult. It is becoming an increasing challenge to secure the budget.”
And according to Losch, there is even more going on in the background. “At our last edition we could not count on the participation of all professional teams. The field of participants was somewhat disappointing. And on top of that, the UCI suddenly decided to move the Vuelta to our week. As a result, several top riders decided to pass for our race. Teams that registered with us ultimately did not participate.”
Losch, however, does not intend to give up, although there will be some changes. “Why should we continue to pay for a place in the UCI Pro Series? We can also organise the competition at a lower level. We will then continue to broadcast the race, even though we are no longer obliged to do so. An additional advantage is that we can now also welcome regional teams.”
Losch and his committee will organise two one-day competitions in 2024; on April 27 there will be the Festival Elsy Jacobs in Garnich and April 28, the Festival Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg. “The race with a finish in Garnich will largely correspond to previous years. The idea is to slightly adjust the course in Luxembourg, but we are still in discussions with the municipality about this.”
New Zealand’s Ally Wollaston was the last winner of the multi-day Elsy Jacobs Festival. Wollaston was too strong for Marta Bastianelli and Anouska Koster earlier this year. With Bastianelli, Emma Norsgaard, Lisa Brennauer, Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Anna van der Breggen (twice) and Marianne Vos (three times), the race has had some big winners.
Three time winner of the Festival Elsy Jacobs – Marianne Vos:
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