No racing during the week, but the EuroTrash office is still busy with other cycling news: Giro to start in Japan? We don’t think so. New jobs in different teams for managers and riders, plus the Lotto Soudal ladies report card, Simone Antonini’s first season, Holowesko|Citadel & Caja Rural-RGA for 2016, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio nominated for South African Sports Awards and golf lessons from Peter Sagan. Coffee time.
TOP STORY: Giro d’Italia to Start in Japan?
I know we have all heard it before; the Tour was going to start in the US one year and that didn’t happen and now the rumor is that the 2017 Giro d’Italia will start in the Japanese City of Shizuoka, plus four stages and would climb Mount Fuji. The rumor appeared in the Belgian website Sport/Voetbalmagazine, but has been denied by RCS director Mauro Vegni. The article says it’s a done deal; it would cost €35 million with €15 million going to RCS and the teams receiving €500,000 each for their troubles. The web-site also suggests that the UCI and RCS will come to an arrangement over an extra rest day.
If the start in Japan does happen it will be the first time Grand Tour has started outside of Europe, it will also be a big surprise. Just think of the logistic problems: Bikes, wheels and all the other equipment, plus all the riders, team staff and all the race and UCI officials. It has been a nightmare when the Vuelta and Giro have started in Holland and had to drive back overnight. There was chaos at the Vuelta when the accreditation truck didn’t turn up in Vinaròs for the first stage on Spanish soil after the start in Assen in 2009.
OK, so nice idea, but maybe not practical.
U23 Individual Time Trial World Champion Würtz decides on 2016 season
World under 23 time trial champion Mads Würtz will move to Team Trefor – Blue Water for the 2016 season. Despite numerous offers from WorldTour teams, the 21 year old has decided to stay at UCI Continental level to further his development.
“There’s been so much interest after the success Mads has had this season and we’ve decided its best for him to stay at this level for one more year,” CORSO Sports Marketing director, Ken Sommer, said. “The plan is for Mads to become even more consistent and grow step by step. We’ve seen many times what a rainbow jersey can do to young athletes and we always try to have a more long-term view on our plans.”
Sommer also added that the plan would be for Würtz to join a WorldTour team from August 2016. Team Trefor – Blue Water has been known for nurturing some of the best young Danish talent and it’s a perfect fit for Würtz who took the world title in Richmond in September.
The result was a culmination of a successful season, which includes stage victories in Tour de l’Avenir, Tour of Denmark, ZLM Roompot Tour and the Danish national under 23 time trial title.
“The World Championships was a great way to end off the season. It’s the biggest stage and to come out of there on top was great. I have had a good rest and now I can’t wait to start racing in 2016 as I build up to a professional career,” Würtz said.
Rolf Aldag to join Africa’s Team as Performance Manager
After announcing a number of new prominent rider additions to our African Team for 2016, we are now delighted to welcome Rolf Aldag to our management staff for the upcoming season.
Rolf joins Team Dimension Data with immediate effect, taking on the role as our teams Performance Manager. He is outspoken for his expertise both on and off the bike. In the past couple of years Rolf played a vital role in terms of success for teams like HTC-Highroad and Etixx – Quick-Step, where he now joins our African team from.
Rolf will be a familiar face to many of our riders and partners after already having worked and ridden with them in the past. He will be key to our African teams success going into the 2016 season.
Rolf Aldag – Performance Manager: “I am happy to join Team Dimension Data, as the outfit will be known from 2016. As a South African resident I have a good understanding of Qhubeka’s importance. I know how much impact the charity has on the lives of children and the future of the country. I am looking forward to play an active role for Qhubeka and hope to add some value to the team’s sporting success.”
Douglas Ryder – Team Principal: “I am really excited to have one of the most experienced individuals in cycling join our team. Rolf has helped teams in the past excel on a performance level and a technical level and we look forward to the contribution he can make in our team as we embark on the next phase of our journey.”
Simone Antonini Looks Back at his First Pro Season
Simone Antonini joined Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 2015. The young Italian neo-pro got to ride no less than seven WorldTour-races in his first season, including the Spring Classics and the Tour de Suisse. He proved to be a talented and hardworking rider throughout the year.
“It was a very intense year where I gained lots of experience because I got to do so many different races. The Spring Classics, both the cobbled and the Ardennes ones, were my season’s highlight. To me, those are the most exciting races: you are part of a big show with the strongest men in the peloton and you feel small next to those champions. But this also gives extra motivation to perform at your best. The best moment of the season was Paris-Roubaix. My father and some friends came to cheer for me at the Carrefour de l’Arbre and when I entered the Velodrome in Roubaix. I still have goosebumps just thinking about how thrilled I was to finish such a monumental race!
Antonini turned 24 in February. He joined Wanty-Groupe Gobert with one big win under his belt: the overall classification in the Giro della Regione Friuli. Next to riding the big classics he also proved to have good instincts for the right breakaway. In the Bayern Rundfahrt he wore the mountain jersey for a two days.
“I see my first season as the foundation for next year, I learned many things especially during the Spring Classics. One of the most useful lessons I was taught by my colleagues is to pay attention to every turn because the risk of crashing is always behind the corner. The stage races are quite difficult. The atmosphere is very different from one day races. You always have to work hard all day, every day. Tour the Suisse was the most stressful for all the team, not just the riders. At the end I was totally empty but I finished!
This shows the tenacity of young Antonini. He finished 60 of the 70 race days he did for Wanty-Groupe Gobert this season.
“One of the most important things to work on are my climbing skills. Even if you aren’t a pure climber you need to manage your effort very well, so you are not completely empty when you reach the top. I also hope to improve in time trials (Antonini was 7th at the Italians championships this year). It’s the kind of race I love. Finally, my personal goal for next season is to play a main role in an important race.”
Molto grazie Nathalie Novembrini.
Louis Vervaeke stays with Lotto Soudal till 2017
Louis Vervaeke has prolonged his current agreement with the team till 2017. The 21-year-old climber signed a pro contract with the team in July 2014 and this year he completed his first full season as a professional cyclist. In his début year, Louis got a lot of bad luck and crashes to deal with. With this contract extension, Lotto Soudal shows its confidence in his capacities as a rider.
Louis Vervaeke: “I’m very happy that the team took the initiative to lay my current contract on the table, which ends in 2016, and to prolong it till 2017. It’s a sign of confidence and this gives me extra motivation to start the winter period. I would have liked to have another kind of début year. Due to crashes and bad luck, I couldn’t start the races in an optimal condition. Personally, this was very difficult because I like to perform well in every race. In total, I crashed seven times, one crash more severe than the other. During my first stage race of the season, Ruta Del Sol, I was involved in the massive crash during the first stage. I had a concussion and had to put a stop to my training for some time. In the next stage race, Volta a Catalunya, a new crash forced me to withdraw the race.”
“Mentally, it isn’t easy to process all these misfortunes. Due to the crashes, I couldn’t build up to a certain period as I wanted. During the whole season, I had to search for the good shape and also in my first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia, it didn’t go as I wanted. Because of my failed spring period, I started the Giro without the desired shape and that was frustrating. In my U23 period, I proved that the stage races suit me perfectly. Due to the fact that my condition wasn’t optimal, I couldn’t show my skills and because of this, the Giro was a long martyrdom. When I became ill during the sixteenth stage, I had to withdraw, unfortunately.”
“This year was very instructive mentally and I also learnt a lot about racing with the pros. I got to know my limits and learnt things that could help me in the future. Also the acquaintance with the pro peloton and the team staff went fluently. My contract extension is an example of how the team has confidence and believes in my capacities. Next year, my focus will go to the stage races and less to the Ardennes classics. We still need to discuss the details of my program, but it is certain that my future lies in the stage races. If the bad luck stays away next season, then I hope to show what I’m really capable of.”
The Hincapie Racing Team, returning for 2016 as the Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team presented by Hincapie Sportswear, has finalized it’s 12-man roster and set sights on key races.
Mac Brennan, Miguel Bryon, Robin Carpenter, Oscar Clark, Andzs Flaksis, Charlie Hough, Jon Hornbeck, Joe Lewis and Rob Squire return for 2016. New to the team are Andrei Krasilnikau, Travis McCabe and Brendan Rhim.
After a breakout season, Toms Skujiņš follows Hincapie alumni Joey Rosskopf to the WorldTour with Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team. Ty Magner and Dion Smith move to the Pro Continental ranks with United Healthcare and ONE Pro Cycling.
“I’m proud of Ty, Toms and Dion, and what we achieved together as a team,” said Chief Sports Director Thomas Craven. “Class riders moving to bigger programs has obvious drawbacks for us yet is a mark of success for what we’ve accomplished.”
Even with new faces joining the returning core group, Craven is confident team chemistry will be as strong as ever.
“We have talented guys but this team has never been built around one star rider,” added Craven. “We excel at tough races, work hard for teammates, and celebrate success together. Andrei, Brendan and Travis will fit well with our aggressive style and team-first approach.”
With NRC individual & team designations, a stage win & yellow jersey at AMGEN Tour of California, and USA Cycling’s Team Time Trial National Championship among 2015 palmarès, 2016 will yet again bring lofty ambitions. Craven named a few target races with added commentary:
Tour of San Luis: “We’ll open the year in Argentina, our first time doing this race.”
Tour of California: “We won’t be underdogs like this year so we’ll have to show everyone why we deserve to be there again.”
Winston-Salem Cycling Classic: “This is in my hometown and we’re defending champs so it will be big.”
Tour de Beauce: “One of North America’s toughest races. Looking forward to taking it back.”
Tour of Utah: “America’s toughest stage race: meet Americas toughest team.”
The Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team will be registered with USA Cycling as a UCI Continental Team. For more information visit https://www.HincapieRacing.com/. Follow at Facebook.com/HincapieRacing, Twitter.com/TeamHincapie, Instagram.com/teamhincapie/.
Sport Director José Miguel Fernández said the get-together Thursday through Saturday will help set the tone for what he hopes is another successful year for the pro continental team co-title sponsored by Spanish banking group Grupo Caja Rural and its subsidiary, Seguros RGA.
“In this first meeting, we will get the opportunity to see everyone and start to shape the next season,” Fernández said. “It will be several busy days of meetings and work with some of our sponsors, like trying on clothing and testing new materials.”
Among the sponsors who will be on hand at the meetings in Tudela, Navarra, will be bicycle supplier Fuji, bicycle component company ROTOR, clothing sponsor Alé and helmet and sunglasses sponsor Spiuk.
Caja Rural-RGA won 17 races in 2015 among more than 50 podium finishes while also capturing the mountains classification at the Vuelta a España. Sprinter Carlos Barbero won a team-high five times: Stage 1 of the Vuelta a Burgos, Stage 2 of Vuelta Ciclista Comunidad de Madrid, two stages of the Tour de Beauce and the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic. The 24-year-old was also runner-up at the Spanish national road championships – one of his 21 top 10 results.
Also returning is Pello Bilbao, overall champion of the Tour de Beauce and winner of stages at Vuelta a Castilla y León and the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey. The 25-year-old Spanish climbing specialist won the mountains classification at Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol and the points classification at Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.
Other top returners include all-arounder José Gonçalves of Portugal and Spaniard Lluís Mas. Gonçalves won a stage of the Volta a Portugal and finished second and third on stages at the Vuelta a España. Mas was a stage winner at the Tour of Turkey and went on to represent Spain in the world championship road race in Richmond, Virginia.
“After a difficult start to the season due to several riders being injured, we were able to turn things around with Pello Bilbao’s victory at Vuelta a Castilla y León,” Fernández said. “From there, we were able to achieve several important victories, like at the Philadelphia Classic with Carlos Barbero, and Lluís Mas was spectacular at the Tour of Turkey. Our big goal was a stage win at the Vuelta a España. But after coming close several times, we came up just short.”
Newcomers to Caja Rural-RGA’s 20-rider roster include Spanish climber Alberto Gallego. The 24-year-old dueled with Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador at the Route du Sud before finishing seventh overall and third in the best young rider classification. Gallego was also third overall at Vuelta Ciclista Comunidad de Madrid and at GP Internacional Torres Vedras.
Other promising prospects include Spaniards Diego Rubio and Jaime Roson. Rubio, 24, was overall runner-up at Vuelta Ciclista Comunidad de Madrid and second and third in the race’s points and mountains classification, respectively. Roson, 22, is the reigning Under 23 national road champion and debuted with the team last year as a stagiaire at the USA Pro Challenge. He finished seventh on the race’s queen stage on the way to 12th overall.
2016 Team Caja Rural-RGA Roster
Javier Aramendia (ESP), David Arroyo (ESP), Carlos Barbero (ESP), Miguel Angel Benito (ESP), Pello Bilbao (ESP), Hugh Carthy (GBR), Fabricio Ferrari (URG), José Gonçalves (POR), Angel Madrazo (ESP), Lluís Mas (ESP), Antonio Molina (ESP), Sergio Pardilla (ESP), Eduard Prades (ESP), Hector Saez (ESP), Ricardo Vilela (POR).
Alberto Gallego (ESP), Domingo Gonçalves (POR), Jonathan Lastra (ESP), Jaime Roson (ESP), Diego Rubio (ESP).
Moolman-Pasio nominated for the SA Sports Awards
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has been nominated for the SA Sports Awards for the second year in a row. Last year the South African won the award for Sportswoman of the Year. This year, she has been nominated in the same category, as well as the only woman in the People’s Choice of the Year category.
“It sounds like a cliché but it really is an honor to be nominated again,” Moolman-Pasio said. “I’m especially happy to be in the People’s Choice of the Year category. I’m the only woman in the category alongside some of South Africa’s premier sports men. A big part of my career is always to inspire girls to take up sport and this is another great opportunity to show young people in South Africa that with hard work and determination you can achieve what you set out.”
Team Manager, Thomas Campana added, “I personally believe that the achievements of Ashleigh in Europe and the rest of the world needs to be recognized. I believe that nobody is really recognizing her great work she is doing for equal rights in women’s cycling while representing the African continent in such an inspiring way. People all over Europe listen to her messages. Besides being such a great ambassador for her country and women in sports, she is continuously developing her cycling abilities to perfection. She has a great vision and we should help her give more people the chance to listen, we need to realize this.”
The People’s Choice of the Year category has a voting element to it. People in South Africa have been asked to text the letter “B” to 45210 to vote for Moolman-Pasio, with each text costing R1-50. Voting closes on the 22 November.
Review of the 2015 season by Dany Schoonbaert
The past weeks you could already read a season’s review of the WorldTour team and U23 team of Lotto Soudal, through the eyes of manager Marc Sergeant and head of the sports department Kurt Van de Wouwer respectively. Now also Dany Schoonbaert, head of the sports department of the Lotto Soudal Ladies, looks back on the 2015 cycling year.
Dany Schoonbaert: “It was a huge loss for us that Jolien D’hoore left the team. Before the season started I told this would be a transition year, with a lot of young riders in the team. Still, we had a good season, with a lot of great results, although it would have been nice to win more. Our riders often animated the races, but couldn’t always finish it off. There was a fantastic team spirit, the girls were really close.”
The team had a lot of wonderful moments thanks to Italian champion Elena Cecchini. This year she successfully defended her national title and won a stage of the Festival Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg. The Italian rider performed very consistently this season, with among other the sixth place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the third place at Durango, two podium places during the Giro Rosa and the third place overall at the BeNeLadies Tour. At the Ronde van Vlaanderen she surprised by finishing on the fifth place.
Dany Schoonbaert: “Elena Cecchini was a blessing for the team, she also scored in international races. Elena performed on a high level throughout the season, from the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to the race in Madrid in September. She conquered a beautiful victory at the Festival Elsy Jacobs. And of course her second national title was a highlight as well. Apart from that, she gathered a lot of top ten places. Her fifth place at the Ronde van Vlaanderen was something we hadn’t dare to dream about, this was an impressive performance. At the Giro Rosa Elena finished two times on the third place in a stage, also that are great memories.”
In his analysis Dany Schoonbaert indicates that the team needs to be stronger in general, so the team leader doesn’t get isolated too soon. For next year he already looked for reinforcement. Dany also looks inside the team, where he saw that 24-year-old Anisha Vekemans set a big step forward.
Dany Schoonbaert: “In the finales Elena Cecchini was often alone, we weren’t always strong enough as a team in general, just like it was the case when Jolien D’hoore was part of the team. Unfortunately, Elena won’t be riding for our team anymore next year. We already looked for some reinforcement. Claudia Lichtenberg will join the team. Her teammate Willeke Knol has signed with us as well, she already worked for Claudia in their current team. Claudia is a GC rider and has to make sure we play a role in international stage races. We are also pleased that Sofie De Vuyst will come to our team, she’s a rider for different terrains. With Lotte Kopecky we get to welcome another Belgian rider in the team. Elise Delzenne, who we will ride for our team as well, is known for her aggressive style of racing. This is all promising for next year.”
“Jessie Daams had bad luck this season, she hurt her knee at the Ronde van Drenthe and didn’t return on the level we can expect of her. Hopefully this will be better in 2016, because she does have the capacities. At the Giro Rosa we saw some demonstrations of it. Anisha Vekemans had a wonderful season, with her first UCI victory at the Trophée d’Or. She also won some national races. She has set a step forward, her selection for the Worlds was an acknowledgement of it. I know what Anisha is capable of and am happy to see that she’s developing into the rider she can be. Of course the women need the time to adjust when they join the elite category. Anouk Rijff did it well in her first year as elite. Next year it’s up to Fenna Vanhoutte. We gladly keep investing in young riders.”
Cycling Trivia Monday Challenge
It is November and time for CyclingRevealed’s 2015-16 Winter Trivia Challenge. The quiz draws on the rich history of elite professional racing to take you on a journey through our fascinating sport. There are the Grand Tours, the classics, great champions and domestiques, famous climbs and much more.
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The PEZ NEWSWIRE!
Don’t forget to check the “NEWSWIRE” section, you can find it on the homepage, just above the EuroTrash section. The bits of news that missed the EuroTrash deadline are in there, plus any news as-it-happens will be added there too.