EUROTRASH Pre-Lombardia Thursday!

The Giro di Lombardia finishes off the Classics season on Sunday, but we had the Tre Valli Varesine and the prologue of the Tour de l’Eurométropole on Wednesday to take care of first. Team news from Lombardy, plus results and video from Varese and l’Eurométropole. Did Vino buy Liege? Milano-Torino and Granpiemonte preview, contract and sponsor news and a little more of Sagan. A packed EuroTrash Thursday.

TOP STORY: Vinokourov and Kolobnev to Stand Trial?
Alexander Vinokourov and Alexandr Kolobnev are possibly to stand trial in Belgium on charges of corruption from the 2010 Liege-Bastonge-Liege. It is alleged that Kolobnev sold the race win to Vinokourov for €100,000 and Belgian authorities are soon to decide if there is enough evidence to go to criminal court. If found guilty the pair could face a prison sentence and a fine of between €300,000 and €600,000. Both deny the charges.

The buying and selling of a race is not new, but you have to be in the break to buy it. Once the split has come and you have a gap that looks like it will go all the way to the finish, then you can start bartering. Maybe it is unethical, but the race has been decided and the arrangement will suit everyone concerned, except maybe the losing team, unless they are in on the split. More often it can be an arrangement of; ‘you help me today and I’ll help you tomorrow’. Freddy Maertens and Roger De Vlaeminck even signed a contract that De Vlaeminck would work for Maertens in Paris-Roubaix and Maertens would return the favor in Liege. As they say, every man has his price.

Tre Valli Varesine 2015
Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali attacked on the last climb of the Tre Valli Varesine to take a solo win, 8 seconds ahead of Sergey Firsanov (RusVelo) who escaped near the finish. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) brought in the chasers 1 second later for 3rd.

A group of 20 riders broke away early, but the strong Astana team kept the speed high behind and the break was caught at the start of the nine 12.9 kilometer finishing circuits. Arnold Jeannesson ( and Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF) managed to take a lead of 2:30 gap with 50 kilometers to go. They were reeled in with just under 30 kilometers left to race. Diego Rosa worked hard for his Astana leader before Aru took over chasing down solo rider, Andrea Fedi (Southeast). With 3.5km to go Nibali attacked, but Nizzolo and Pinot came with him. The Italian champion made another attack and was on his own to the finish line.

Race winner, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): “The guys did a great job today, especially Fabio Aru, without them I wouldn’t have won,” Nibali said, revealing he arrived in Italy at lunchtime on Tuesday. “I was tired after the flight and because of the jet lag. I started and even thought of climbing off but I felt good and things worked out. I have to thank my teammates for this win. The only tactic I could use was to ensure the race didn’t end in a sprint. I managed to pull it off. I now want to do well at Lombardia and hope to recover quickly for Sunday.”

2nd, Sergey Firsanov (RusVelo): “The race followed a very classical scenario indeed: a breakaway kept on a tight leash, lots of hard work to keep every early move under control. Ideally we would have had a rider in an escape of the day, but as long as it didn’t materialize my RusVelo teammates had to grit their teeth contributing to the chasing efforts. The final part consisting of nine 12.8 km-long laps with rather demanding ascents was highly selective by itself; Astana train which started to set a leg-breaking pace didn’t make it easier, sure enough. By the ultimate lap they thinned the bunch down to some twenty five riders; I set my mind on not just sitting down and watching but actively playing my on cards, and it worked after all. To finish second in a race with such a star-studded line-up feels like a victory. With it I’m leaving behind two disappointing months, a period when the legs were empty and I suffered something like an intermittent fever, although the medical checkups didn’t discover anything seriously wrong. Today I finally felt like myself. Lots of thanks to the team, to all those who keep believing in me, but also to those who doubt my abilities, they greatly motivate me through this to prove they are wrong.”

6th, Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka): “The race was really hard and fast right from the start. On the last climb before the finish Nibali attacked and I was just behind him with Pinot and Rebellin. A bit further up the climb a small group came back to us and we would end up sprinting for 3rd on the day with one other rider also getting a small gap in the final meters. At 400m to go I was at the front of the group so a few guys come over me from behind and I couldn’t get the best result.”

Tre Valli Varesine Result:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 4:45:08
2. Sergey Firsanov (Rus) RusVelo at 0:08
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek at 0:09
4. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Southeast
5. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek
6. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
7. Kenny Elissonde (Fra)
8. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini
9. Antonio Parrinello (Ita) Area Zero-d’Amico-Bottecchia
10. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Southeast.

Tour de l’Eurométropole 2015
Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) won the 7.7 kilometer Prologue from Obigies to Mont-St-Aubert by 3 seconds from LottoNL-Jumbo’s Martijn Keizer to take the first leaders jersey on Wednesday. With four road stages to come he will have a battle on his hand to keep it.

2nd, Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo): “When you’re that close, it’s very annoying to finish second. Gougeard profited from racing the Vuelta, just as I did. I knew that he would be able to deliver a good prologue. I did the best I could over a very tough course. I spread my energy evenly as possible, but someone was faster. It’s a big disappointment. I was looking forward to this day since the Vuelta. This should’ve been my day, but I was the second best.”

3rd, Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling): “I felt good during the prologue, but I would still like to have won this stage, I suffered in the wind, but that is hardly an excuse since everyone had a similar experience. The last three kilometers were the most difficult for me because it was a slightly false flat leading into the finishing section on the steep slope of Mont Saint-Aubert. Given my size, this was clearly not an ideal course for me. But third place is motivating in view of the stages to come. I would like to keep my place in the general classification. I realize that this goal will not be easy to accomplish because other teams will be trying to control the race. But if we can, as a team, win a stage, and then I can stay within the top-5, I will be very happy.”

Tour de l’Eurométropole Prologue Result:
1. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale in 11:23
2. Martijn Keizer (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:03
3. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:12
4. Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling at 0:15
5. Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:17
6. Olivier Pardini (Bel) Verandas Willems
7. Johan Le Bon (Fra) at 0:18
8. Tom Bohli (Swi) BMC at 0:19
9. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:20
10. Anton Vorobyev (Rus) Katusha at 0:21.

Giro di Lombardia 2016
The 2015 Il Lombardia or the Giro di Lombardia is the last one-day classic of the season. 245 hard kilometers in northern Italy and it is one of the monuments of cycling. For many riders it’s last chance saloon where they can save their season, for others it’s a chore that has to be done before the rest period begins. Full coverage here on PEZ with the race report on Sunday, video and extra news in Mondays EuroTrash, plus Mr. Pez himself will be roadside.

Read ‘The PEZ Preview’ HERE.

Race website:

IAM Cycling for Lombardy
With the world championships barely finished, the classics specialists will turn their attention to northern Italy where they will find late season opportunities. IAM Cycling is among those determined to perform strongly after having digested the setback that the team suffered in the world team time trial championships due to an untimely mechanical problem. In any case, the Swiss professional team will have its work cut out if it wants to aim for podium places or a victory.

Martin Elmiger had a strong spring campaign where he finished in the top-10 for both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but was not chosen by Swiss Cycling to represent his country at the world championships. “We have not talked about the strategy or tactics that we will adopt. In principle, I expect to put myself completely at the service of the team because these races don’t really suit my strengths. They are much better opportunities for our pure climbers since the profiles are very difficult. In these kinds of classics, there are no miracles; the big guns are still right at the front for the finale. Those who were strong in the Vuelta will also be playing leading roles in Italy. I trained well, but training is never enough to replicate the rhythm you get from competition. However, we are certainly not going to the races just to show up. You can always surprise. Look at Jérôme Coppel who has made quite a name for himself in the best way by taking a bronze medal in the world championship time trial. He can surprise some people at the Lombardy finish in Como because that course is really suited to his qualities.”

Stef Clement (Ned), Jérôme Coppel (Fr), Stefan Denifl (Aut), Martin Elmiger (S), Mathias Frank (S), Jarlinson Pantano (Col), Larry Warbasse (USA), Marcel Wyss (S).
Directeur sportif: Rubens Bertogliati.

Jérôme Coppel:

Il Lombardia
The BMC Racing Team has announced its roster for Sunday’s edition of Il Lombardia, the final WorldTour race of the season.

Philippe Gilbert (winner in 2009 and 2010) and Samuel Sánchez (runner-up in 2012) will be joined by Vuelta a España Stage 14 winner Alessandro De Marchi, Darwin Atapuma, Damiano Caruso, Manuel Senni, Dylan Teuns and Peter Velits.

The 109th edition of the race features a new course in the last quarter of its 245-kilometer route.

Darwin Atapuma (COL), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Manuel Senni (ITA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Peter Velits (SVK).

Sport Directors:
Fabio Baldato (ITA), Max Sciandri (ITA).

A third Lombardia for Philippe Gilbert?

Joaquim Rodriguez leads Katusha for in Lombardy
Team Katusha closes the 2015 UCI WorldTour with the monumental classic race Il Lombardia, which will be held on Sunday, October 4th, in Italy. Joaquim Rodriguez, double winner of this race in 2012 and 2013, will lead Katusha in Lombardia.

The full roster: Sergey Lagutin, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Joaquim Rodriguez, Iurii Trofimov, Angel Vicioso, Eduard Vorganov and Ilnur Zakarin.
Sports directors are José Azevedo and Claudio Cozzi.

Joaquim Rodriguez:

Finally, the curtain will fall at the most difficult Giro di Lombardia in years in terms of altitude gain. Eighth Escarabajos will leave Bergamo with the destination Como, in a 245 km-long adventure: Alex Cano, Camilo Castiblanco, Fabio Duarte, Daniel Martinez, Carlos Julian Quintero, Brayan Ramirez, Miguel Angel Rubiano and Rodolfo Torres. “Il Lombardia isn’t just a renowned race for its enormous prestige, a Monument, but also a race that’s very important for us, as it takes place near our headquarters”, Tebaldi explained. “We did a recon of the course, and it’s a very tough one, as always: for this reason, we selected the riders that give us the most confidence at this moment, and we wish to honor the last World Tour race of the season.”

Il Lombardia (October 4th) Line-up:
Alex Cano, Camilo Castiblanco, Fabio Duarte, Daniel Martinez, Carlos Julian Quintero, Brayan Ramirez, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Rodolfo Torres
Sports Director: Valerio Tebaldi.

Lotto Soudal’s Tim Wellens talks about Lombardia
The 109th edition of the Tour of Lombardy is held on Sunday, 4th of October. This race covers 245 kilometres and brings this WorldTour season to an end. The start will be held in Bergamo and the finish in Como, which is opposite of the last edition. After a year of absence, the steep Muro Di Sormano will once again be includedin the course, this time near the end, with only fifty kilometres to go. The finale will be characterized by the San Fermo della Battaglia, a 2.7 kilometre climb with the steepest section being 20% just before the top. Once on top, the riders descend five kilometres till the finish. Also this year the riders will have to find their climbing legs to shine one last time.

At 10.35h the start will be given in Bergamo. The riders will coil their way North to arrive at Lake Como after 200 kilometres for the last fifty kilometres of the race. In these last fifty kilometres they have to conquer four climbs.

The first of seven climbs is after only fifty kilometres. The honour goes to the Colle Gallo. With his 7.4 kilometres and six percent average rate of increase, it’s a tough start of this Spring Classic. After the Colle Brianza (kilometre 116), it goes straight to the climb where the finale traditionally starts: the Madonna del Ghisallo. On top of the climb sits the sanctuary of Madonna del Ghisallo, a “pilgrimage destination” for a number of cyclists and enthusiasts. The Ghisallo Sanctuary is also home to a cycling museum, featuring a wide range of valuable relics donated by cycling champions. The riders won’t get much time for recuperation after this nine kilometres long climb as the next climb, Colma di Sormano, followsright after . Especially the last two kilometres of this climb are brutal with an average rate of increase of 15.8%., with peaks of up to 27%

After this monster climb there is a break. The riders get twenty-five relatively flat kilometres. With twenty kilometres to go, the riders face the penultimate climb: Civiglio. After these four steep kilometres with an 9.7% average, the descent brings the riders towards the final ascent of the day: the San Fermo Della Battaglia. But the sting is in the tail, with a slope of 20% just before the top. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not we’ll see a real battle on this final climb,. One thing is for sure, for those riders who want to attack before the final climb , this is the right moment. Because after this hill it goes straight downhill towards the finish in Como.

Last year, the Irish Daniel Martin could just maintain his lead on the chasers, putting the race in his name. . Amongst the chasing group was Tim Wellens, who rode very attacking race which resulted in fourth place. Whether Wellens can do better this year, we will see on Sunday. For him, motivation definitely isn’t an issue

Tim Wellens: “After my fourth place last year, I can leave for Lombardy with confidence. The course is changed, but the race itself will still decide whether it will be harder than last year or not. The fact that the climbs are closer to the finish could lead to an earlier finale . Attackers will get more opportunities to give it a go. As in the past editions, the Ghisallo will be the first climb where the favourites show themselves. It’s a though climb followed by another short but steep climb. This will hurt the legs for a first time.”

“After my victory in Montréal, I travelled to Richmond with the team to do the WC team time trial. After that, I took the first flight back to start the recuperation as quickly as possible. On Wednesday, I had the last intensive training for this Sunday. I did need this time, it took me five days to fully recover from the jetlag.. I think this could be an advantage as opposed to the riders who did the Worlds last Sunday. Some riders can recover faster from a jetlag than others. Nibali for example, was already capable of winning a race this Wednesday. Together with Rodriguez and Valverde, he’s my top favourite.”

“I’m happy with my season. The victories in the Eneco Tour and Montréal have glorified my year. If I don’t put down a good result this Sunday I will be disappointed, but it won’t be a disaster. I’ll be at the start without too much stress. Personally, I want to play a role in the very final kilometres of the race. If this doesn’t work out, we still have two riders, Tiesj Benoot and Tony Gallopin, in the team who are capable of winning. I can return back home satisfied if we rode a good race with the team and took part in the battle for victory. I’m feeling good and motivated. Let’s hope we can finish this year with style .”

Sports director Bart Leysen: “The change of course is not a bad thing. The past few years, we saw that the race was locked between the Madonna del Ghisallo and the final climbs. This year, the Ghisallo is located further on the course after that the different climbs follow quickly. The heaviness of the course isn’t changed. The climbs are the same as last year, but they are closer to the final. This will make sure that the race won’t stand still from the Ghisallo to the finish line. This course suits our riders better.”

“Riders as Tiesj Benoot, Tony Gallopin and Tim Wellens are able to manage this succession of climbs. I’m expecting Tim to be the freshest of them all as he didn’t ride the Worlds last Sunday. After his win in Montréal, he could prepare himself quietly. Thanks to this victory, the pressure to perform is less. He already had a beautiful season and can start the race without too much pressure. Tiesj has a double feeling after the Worlds. He felt good but couldn’t show it due to a mechanical problem. He will be motivated and do everything he can to show how good he is. Also Tony is one of our riders who’s capable of putting down a good result. In Richmond, he was seventh and he showed that he’s in good shape. On this course, all three of them could make a shot. As usual, the Italians and Spaniards will be dangerous. Sunday, we need to keep an eye on Valverde, Rodriguez and Nibali.”

Sander Armée, Tiesj Benoot, Bart De Clercq, Gert Dockx, Tony Gallopin, Maxime Monfort, Louis Vervaeke, Tim Wellens.
Sportdirecteur: Bart Leysen.

Tim Weellens win in Montreal:

LottoNL-jumbo, to Italian autumn Classics
Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start on 1, 2 and 4 October with an experienced and fresh team in the Italian autumn classics Milano-Turino, Gran Piemonte and Il Lombardia. The tricky classics are a great challenge for an even highly motivated team.

“I notice that the riders are looking forward to end the year with a good race,” said Sports Director Merijn Zeeman. “Robert Gesink finished in the past, twice in the top ten in Il Lombardia. Also Wilco Kelderman and Steven Kruijswijk achieved very good results in Italy. These races suites them well. ”

The Italian autumn classics have very tough finals. Milano-Turino will finish on top of the Superga a climb of 4.9 kilometers. Gran Piemonte is back on the calendar with a very difficult local circulation and Il Lombardia finishes again in Como. In short, three hard races.

“I want to see a team that is eager, and that wants to fight for each other,” added Zeeman. “Our focus will be mainly on the WorldTour-race Il Lombardia. In the form Robert Gesink currently is he can significant play a role in the final. Kelderman and Kruijswijk moreover have the qualities to play also an important role in these races.”

Steven Kruijswijk
“My last race was the Tour of Britain so I have to wait and see how it goes in Italy,” says Steven Kruijswijk. “I still feel good and I want to end the season well and not just finish it with an Italian ride. Then you head into the winter with a good feeling. The races are beautiful and I’m excited to race there.”

With the participation of Robert Gesink at the world championship in Richmond, he does not race in Milano-Turino and Gran Piemonte and joins the team later for Il Lombardia. Koen Bouwman is the man who will be replaced for Il Lombardie. The team continues to be unchanged.

Team line-up:
George Bennett, Koen Bouwman, Robert Gesink (only Il Lombardia), Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Timo Roosen, Bram Tankink and Dennis van Winden
Sports Directors: Merijn Zeeman, Louis Delahaije.

Robert Gesink:

Giant-Alpecin for Il Lombardia
On Sunday the last event of the UCI WorldTour calendar takes place with Il Lombardia, a 245km hilly race from Bergamo to Como in Italy. For many riders, Lombardia is the last race of the season before they enjoy a well-deserved holiday.

“Our plan will be to go for a top 10 with Warren,” said coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA). “He is still very motivated for this race, as it is one of his main goals for this part of the season. Of course, we hope for a surprise, but top 10 should be reasonable.

“Ending the season with a good result at Lombardia will be good for Warren.”

Warren Barguil (FRA), Lawson Craddock (USA), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Georg Preidler (AUT).
Coach: Christian Guiberteau (FRA).

Warren Barguil:

Etixx – Quick-Step to Il Lombardia
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in Il Lombardia (Giro di Lombardia), a 245km one-day race known as the last of five road “monuments” of the season, and one of the last days of the road racing calendar. The 2015 parcours, from Bergamo to Como, includes several climbs that can condition the race including the Madonna del Ghisallo, Muro di Sormano, Civiglio, and San Fermo della Battaglia. The descent of San Fermo della Battaglia could also be a decisive moment before the finish on Sunday, the 4th of October.

“After a few years we return to the parcours of a few years ago, including the very steep Muro di Sormano,” Sport Director Davide Bramati said. “As a team that loves to perform well in the monuments, of course we’d like to get a top result of such a beautiful and prestigious race in Northern Italy. As for the profile, it’s a demanding final with a few climbs in the last kilometers, which makes Il Lombardia unique and very difficult. But we’ve been riding well in the last races and want to continue to perform well on Sunday. We’ll be at the start with three ‘fresh’ riders: Michal Kwiatkowski, Zdenek Stybar, and Petr Vakoc. They come to this race after recovering from a strong world championship, where they were protagonists. They can do well again. We also have Gianluca Brambilla at the start. Gianluca rode well at Gran Piemonte today, after an impressive Vuelta. This is a race that can suit his skills. Also participating, after Piemonte, are Maxime Bouet, Lukasz Wisniowski, and Carlos Verona. The 8th and final rider will be Michal Golas, who crashed today at Piemonte. The medical examinations excluded major problems, but with a few abrasions on his face. Normally, if everything remains the same overnight for Golas, he will participate on Sunday.

Maxime Bouet (FRA), Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Michal Golas (POL), Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Petr Vakoc (CZE), Carlos Verona (ESP), Lukasz Wisniowski (POL).
Sports Director: Davide Bramati (ITA).

Zdenek Stybar:

The Milano-Torino and Granpiemonte Contenders
Provisional entry list announced for the two classics of the “trittico di autunno” organised by RCS Sport/La Gazzetta dello Sport held respectively on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 October. Part of the “trittico di autunno” – ‘the autumn triptych’ – their starting riders will come from 29 and 32 different countries, respectively, underlining the international importance of the events.

The Milano-Torino, the oldest classic race in the international calendar with its first edition raced in 1876 with the victory of Paolo Magretti, will be raced on Thursday 1 October starting from San Giuliano Milanese and finishing at the Basilica di Superga in Turin after 186km. Among the starter announced champions such as the recent Vuelta a España winner, Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team), the winner of the last edition of Il Lombardia, the Irishman Daniel Martin (Team Cannondale – Garmin), the Australian Richie Porte (Team Sky) and the Polish Rafal Majka (Tinkoff – Saxo).

Friday 2 October will mark the return of the GranPiemonte, starting from San Francesco al Campo and finishing in Ciriè after 185km. At the start there will be many stage winners of the last edition of Giro d’Italia such as Sacha Modolo, Diego Ulissi and Jan Polanc (Lampre – Merida), Beñat Intxausti (Movistar Team), Paolo Tiralongo (Astana Pro Team), Davide Formolo (Team Cannondale – Garmin) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky), among many other cycling aces.

Starting in San Giuliano Milanese, this year’s Milano-Torino route crosses the Pianura Padana on flat roads with a long progression through the areas of Vigevano and the Lomellina until the start of Casale Monferrato; here the route profile of the race undulates with smooth climbs that lead to the final circuit.

After San Mauro Torinese the route follows the river Po along Corso Casale before climbing towards the Basilica di Superga for the first time. The route then descends to Rivodora along a challenging descent (dropping 600m) that takes the riders back to San Mauro before they start the climb back to the finish line with an inclination that can go over 10%. A feed station is in Pozzo Sant’Evasio, shortly after Casale Monferrato (km 91-94).

Final kilometers
The last 5km (which are repeated twice with the exception of the final 600m) start in Corso Casale, Turin. Here, the climb to the Basilica di Superga starts. Its average inclination is 9.1% with a maximum inclination around the middle of the climb of 14% and long stretches at 10%. 600m from the finish line there’s a U-turn to the left to face a 8.2% ramp before the last bend, which is only 50m from the finish line (road is 7m wide).

The route is divided quite clearly into two parts. The first 110km run along the Canavese roads up to Ivrea. Here the second part begins and features quite technical climbs and descents that lead to the final 13.3km circuit in Ciriè.

Past Ivrea, the route takes in the Alice Superiore climb (7km with an average 5% gradient); then, after a short yet quite technical descent, it climbs again towards Prascorsano (8 km with a 4% average gradient, and sharp peaks over the first sector). A second tough descent leads to Rivara and Rocca Canavese. Here, the route descends slightly all the way to Ciriè, after 171.7km of racing, for the first passage to the finish line. The final 13.3km circuit is then covered once. The fixed feed zone is located in Piverone, on the SP. 228 (km 87-90).

Final kilometers
The final 13.3km circuit (to be covered once) rolls on virtually flat and relatively wide roads with just a 500m uphill stretch (with a 6% gradient) mid-circuit. The final kilometer features two 90-degree turns in the urban area; this leads to the 250m-long home straight (on a 7.5m wide asphalt road).

Mark Cavendish signs with Africa’s Team
Ryder Cycling also announces Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel as new arrivals
Ryder Cycling, the owner of MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, the team soon to be known as Team Dimension Data, today announced it has signed Mark Cavendish, Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel. The addition of the three new members further strengthens and add depth to the team – the first African team to ride in the Tour de France – not only at races, but also as global ambassadors for Qhubeka.

Cavendish has raced for teams including HTC Highroad, Sky, and Etixx – Quick-Step and has built a stunning palmarès. Some of his major achievements include becoming World Champion in 2011, and notching up 26 Tour de France and 15 Giro d’Italia stage wins on his account. Not only has Cavendish gained credibility as a sporting icon, he also shines off the bike.

The Team will announce further arrivals and its 2016 roster in the next few days.

Mark Cavendish – Rider
I’m super excited about becoming a part of the Team for 2016. It is a team that I have watched closely as it has grown, especially over this season and been really impressed with the spirit, strength and dynamics of the group. It’s fair to say that most of the peloton has seen how incredible the Team raced this year. To join it with the target of helping to win even more races with other strong, experienced household cycling names like Mark Renshaw, Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Tyler Farrar, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Steve Cummings and of course Bernie Eisel is going to be real special, as well as assisting the talent of the young, African riders to top level success. Also, for me personally, one of the biggest incentives is riding for a greater cause in the Qhubeka charity. I’m really looking forward to having a successful year on the road alongside the other guys and helping directly to get more bikes in the hands of people who need them.

Douglas Ryder – Team Owner
Mark Cavendish joining our Team is a huge step forward for the team as we strive to get to the next level in world cycling. To also integrate Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel is a game changer in terms of performance and experience, which, added to the incredible talent we already have in the team opens up many possibilities for us. We have seen how success has brought fantastic new partners to our team in Dimension Data and Deloitte and the impact that it has had on our current bike partners like Cervelo. It is even more meaningful to tie that all together to achieve bigger impact for Qhubeka, the charity we ride for. Qhubeka, provides bicycles for African schoolchildren, enabling them to conquer distance every day to get to and from school. As the team’s visibility and success has increased, we are grateful for sponsors and individuals coming alongside to support our goal to provide 5000 bicycles for African schoolchildren via the #BicyclesChangeLives campaign. We look forward to working closely with Mark and the other riders to accelerate the growth of the team’s contributions on and off the bike in 2016 and beyond.

Anthony Fitzhenry – Founder Qhubeka
We are excited at the impact that riders of Mark Cavendish, Mark Renshaw’ and Bernie Eisel’s stature can have on lives throughout the African continent This years riders have all been great ambassadors for the team, the African cause and the charity. It would be wonderful to see this community of support grow in 2016. We hope Mark and his fans will bring their support not just to the team, but also to Qhubeka’s mission and help make a difference for African schoolchildren and families.

Brett Dawson – Dimension Data Group CEO
Dimension Data welcomes Mark and his fellow riders to the Team. We’re very excited to be part of the squad’s next steps on its journey to accelerate their ambitions, and look forward to helping the Team to compete at the highest levels in world cycling, both on the African continent and across the world.

Mark Cavendish:

Kenny Dehaes signs with Wanty-Groupe Gobert
Kenny Dehaes continues his cycling career with Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The 30-year old Belgian signed a two-year deal with the team from Wallonia, Belgium. Dehaes was part of Lotto-Soudal and its predecessors for seven seasons.

“Everything will be new but that’s good. It’s a new impulse for my career. I expect to meet a motivated group of riders to work together with. I look forward to help the younger guys with my experience so we can go for success together next year,” Dehaes explains.

In the Tour Down Under Dehaes severely injured his fingers in January. It kept him from racing for a month. A mere three weeks after his comeback he broke his arm in Handzame Classic. Despite all the adversity he managed to win three races with his fast legs: GP Stad Zottegem, Heusden Koerse and Borsbeek. “I had a very bad year which I want to leave behind as soon as I can. Next year I want to get back to the level I had in 2013 and 2014. Races like Handzame Classic, Three-Days West-Flanders or Nokere Koerse suit me perfectly. I prefer these over the Tour Down Under or a grand tour because I already did those. At Wanty-Groupe Gobert they have the race program I like.”

Dehaes already won some nice races in his career: Schaal Sels, Handzame Classic, Nokere Koerse, GP Stad Zottegem, Halle-Ingooigem, Ronde van Drenthe, Trofeo Palma and stages in the Tour of Wallonia, Tour of Belgium and the Four-Days of Dunkirk.

Sports director Hilaire Van Der Schueren has known Dehaes since he was an U23-rider and thinks he is a good match for Wanty-Groupe Gobert. “Kenny is a smart rider and will be a great road captain. He reads the race well and has lots of experience after riding with and for guys like André Greipel, Jens Debusschere and Kris Boeckmans at Lotto-Soudal. He brings that experience to our team when he rides with Roy Jans for instance. In his races, the 1.1’s he will ride for his own chances. I am sure he’ll win a few races again next year,” Van Der Schueren explains.

After signing Thomas Degand, Robin Stenuit, Gaëtan Bille and Antoine Demoitié, Kenny Dehaes is the fifth new rider for Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Marco Marcato, Roy Jans, Jérôme Baugnies, Kévin Van Melsen, Lander Seynaeve, Simone Antonini, Frederik Backaert and Tom Devriendt already had a contract for 2016.

Kenny Dehaes:

Sven Reutter signs with CULT Energy-Stölting Group
The 2016 CULT Energy-Stölting Group roster continues taking shape and today we’re happy to announce the signing with the German rider, Sven Reutter who is currently riding for Team Stölting. The only 19 year-old German allrounder delivers a solid time trial and he has signed a contract lasting two seasons.

Sports director Jochen Hahn states: “This season, Sven has convinced me of being able to take the next step. He has proven to be extremely versatile, always useful during the races and a reliable teammate. Although he is still very young, he has a well-developed tactical understanding compared to more experienced riders. It’s an early step for him but I think that he will live up to our expectations.”

Sven Reutter says: “It is a huge opportunity for me to turn professional after the first year as a U23 rider. Of course, I’ve been in doubt whether or not the step-up comes too soon. But even though there will be a lot of changes, many things will remain somewhat familiar. I have full confidence in the team, and I’m really looking forward to the full-time professional life and I’m happy that the sporting management has confidence in me”, Reutter concludes.

Sven Reutter:

Claeys joins Wanty-Groupe Gobert
Dimitri Claeys will join Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The 28-year old from Flanders knew a very successful season with Veranda’s Willems this year. The two-times Omloop Het Nieuwsblad U23 winner, joins Jean Francois Bourlart’s team for one season.

“The Flemish Spring Classics really appeal to me with the Tour of Flanders as the absolute dream race. I never got the chance to ride it and Wanty-Groupe Gobert always has the privilege to ride there. I hope I’ll have a role to play in those races next year,” the rider from Gent explains his decision.

Jean-François Bourlart, Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s general manager, is very happy to welcome Claeys to his team.

“Claeys has shown that he is one of the strongest riders of his generation on the cobbles. At the moment he is the number three on the individual Europe Tour ranking. The next step in his career is to discover the Classics and I am very happy he chose our team to do so.”

Claeys was part of a procontinental team before when he was with Netapp in 2011. Between 2012 and 2014 he was riding for smaller Belgian teams. With Veranda’s Willems he won no less than five races this year and impressively finished on the podium of semi-classics like Primus Classic Impanis, Ronde van Limburg and the GP Jef Scherens despite the fact he doesn’t call himself a sprinter.

“I was working a regular job next to cycling between 2012 and 2014 but still won my races. I wanted to try one last time to get everything out of my career because I really felt I had the level needed. I am very regular as a rider and get good results from February until the end of the season. Of course WorldTour races are a much higher level but I am not afraid. If you ride and train with better riders, like with Wanty-Groupe Gobert, you improve as well. I have only started to fully develop my potential in the last year and have some progress left to make. I am only 28, after all.”

After signing Thomas Degand, Robin Stenuit, Gaëtan Bille, Antoine Demoitié and Kenny Dehaes, Dimitri Clayes is the sixth new rider for Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Marco Marcato, Roy Jans, Jérôme Baugnies, Kévin Van Melsen, Lander Seynaeve, Simone Antonini, Frederik Backaert and Tom Devriendt already had a contract for 2016.

Dimitri Claeys:

Core team renews as Nathan Haas and Omar Fraile will join Africa’s Team for 2016
Further depth to Africa’s Team

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, which is set to race as Team Dimension Data next season, is happy to announce the addition of two new riders; Nathan Haas and Omar Fraile. Moreover, the team will keep its core line-up.

Norwegian national road race champion Edvald Boasson Hagen will remain with the South African team, as will Steve Cummings, Tyler Farrar, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus, and Serge Pauwels. The eight have been part of the successful Tour de France team in July. They will be joined by the likes of La Vuelta stage winner Kristian Sbaragli and Eritrean national road race champion Natnael Berhane among others.

Australian Nathan Haas was the first new rider to sign a contract for our South African registered team. Over the last four years the 26-year-old has been riding for Cannondale-Garmin, with two wins at the iconic Japan Cup being his major results. He also showed strong performances in shorter stage races. He will be a valuable rider when races come down to small bunch sprints.

Spaniard Omar Fraile makes the move from Caja Rural-Seguros RGA. He comes off a strong season that saw him taking wins at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque and the Giro dell’Appennino. He also managed to climb onto the final podium of the Vuelta a España in Madrid as winner of the King of the Mountain classification. The 25-year-old will be a strong addition to the teams climbing group.

Nathan Haas – Rider
I’m incredibly excited to join the team because I feel it on the most inherent level represents the true Global and Worldwide reach that professional cycling is moving in. Not only does the team compete at the highest level of the sport, it translate our love of sport across all aspects of cycling, weighing equal importance on the bike as a necessity of transport, environment, and sport.

The team has shown to be a team that races – and truly races, not rides – at every event they participate in, and they do so with their hearts and pride on their sleeves. I’m proud of the opportunity to get to be a part of this team, and hopefully create opportunities for my teammates and myself that further demonstrate that racing from the hearts can win the hearts of the world. And to be back with Tyler, what can I say, he’s one of my best friends in the sport and I’ve missed racing with him. So to be back together is just huge! He’s a great captain and moral booster for any team so we are all lucky to be riding with him.

Omar Fraile – Rider
I am very excited to get the chance to ride for such a well-established and international team. I have had a great year and I only can thank my current team, Yet, for my development as a rider I feel like it’s time to move on. This team will help me stepping up.

I will do my best to live up to the team’s expectations. It would be great to get some good results in stage races and On the personal side, I want to achieve good results in stage races and help to put more children in rural areas in Africa on bikes through my performances.

Brian Smith – General Manager
Nathan is just the type of rider this team is all about. Great personality and willing to race aggressively. This type of visibility in races is very important to our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign. I think his style of racing will compliment another couple of our team riders and elevate them to more success together.

Going into La Vuelta I thought we should look out for Omar Fraile. It did not take long for Omar to shine as he obtained the King of the Mountains jersey after stage 3 and kept it all the way to the end. Having met Omar in Andorra during La Vuelta I could see a young talented rider with a great passion to succeed. We look forward to developing his talent even further and look forward to integrating Omar into our climbing group.

Nathan Haas:

Kamp signs two year deal with CULT Energy-Stölting Group
Alexander Kamp, currently riding for the Danish Continental Team, ColoQuick has signed a two year contract with CULT Energy-Stölting Group. Friday, Kamp finished 5th in the U23 road race World Championships representing the Danish national squad. The only 21 year-old talent is a powerful allrounder with a significantly strong finish, which has secured him a handful of victories this season. In Tour of Denmark on home ground, he finished 9th overall while taking bronze at the Danish nationals.

DS, André Steensen says about signing the 21 year-old talent: “Alexander is a huge talent who has a bright future in the classics campaign if he gets the right coaching and if he can avoid injuries. For years, he has proved that through hard work and talent, he can make it at a higher level. This year by taking the victory in the 1.2 race, GP Horsens and his 3rd place in the queen stage in the Tour of Denmark. He has the ability of reading the race so he knows where to be and he seizes the opportunities with dedication and winner instinct. It’s his fierce quest for victory that makes him a solid card in our roster for the next two seasons,” concludes Steensen.

Alexander Kamp states: “Like everyone else, I have noticed the development of a rider like Rasmus Guldhammer this season and I know how well the CULT Energy-Stölting Group team coaches their riders so this was the obvious choice for me. It’s a good match for both parties as I like the way they always ride aggressively and I’m looking forward to participating in an exciting race program with a bunch of good and talented teammates,” says Kamp.

After having participated in the U23 World Championships, Kamp is now taking a break from training before starting the preparation for the 2016 season.

Alexander Kamp:

A golden boy in Lampre-Merida: Matej Mohoric
In the project of evaluation of the young talents, LAMPRE-MERIDA did not stop at the Under 23 silver medal of Florence 2013 (Louis Meintjes) and signed for 2016 and 2017 the gold medal Matej Mohoric.

The young Slovenian cyclist, born in 1994, won the Under 23 World Championship in Florence, after that in 2012, in Valkenburg, he had obtained the rainbow jersey in the junior road race and the solver medal in the time trial. He became pro in 2014 and, after two seasons, he’s now ready to achieve interesting goals, as Matej explained: “I’m happy the team trusts in me: the management and the sponsors invested on me, I’m aware I’m ready for achieving my tasks. I the past two years I collected interesting experiences, I became a better rider and I reached an important level of cycling which, I think, will allow me to achieve the goals I’ll fix with the technical staff of LAMPRE-MERIDA. It will be great to be in the same tame with so many young guns, such as Meintjes with whom I share the memories of Florence 2013: Lampre-Merida traditionally pays a special care for the young riders, I’m sure they’ll help me in demonstrating my qualities.”

The team manager Brent Copeland welcomed Mohoric: “He’s only 20 years old and he has already won two World titles and he lived two years in the World Tour: his profile is full of quality and experience, that’s why Matej is a precious transfer for us and we’re happy he’s going to join our team.
We believe the qualities of Mohoric will grant him important results and will give to the team satisfactions: in our group he’ll demonstrate his talent.”

Matej Mohoric:

Rüdiger Selig joins BORA – ARGON 18
BORA – ARGON 18 strengthens its sprint train with the signing of Rüdiger Selig. The 26-year-old German will move from the WorldTour to the German team in the coming year. Having ridden for Katusha the last four years, he was part of the team’s sprint trains, e.g. the one of serial winner Alexander Kristoff. This season, Selig showed his own speed with a 2nd stage place at the Tour of Bavaria and a 3rd stage place at the Volta ao Algarve. As a member of BORA – ARGON 18 he will mainly support the sprint leaders Sam Bennett and Phil Bauhaus as well as using his own chances to score results.

Team Manager Ralph Denk on the signing: “We focused our search specifically on a fast rider who strengthens our young sprint train with his experience from the WorldTour. Rüdiger owns these qualities, and being a German rider is of course a great fit to our team. Especially for a young sprinter like Phil Bauhaus, who is just 21 years old, the lead-out experience of Rüdiger can make the difference in a race. We will use the first training camp to test the right positions in the sprint train and to put together the race program.”

Rüdiger Selig:

Jelle Wallays about his transfer – Gert Dockx and Sander Armée extend their contract
It isn’t a surprise that Jelle Wallays will join the Lotto Soudal team for the next two seasons. The oldest of the Wallays brothers will make the switch to the WorldTour after being part of Topsport Vlaanderen for the last five years. In those years, he proved that he’s ready for the next step in his career, with wins in Dwars door Vlaanderen, Paris-Tours, Omloop van het Houtland and the World Ports Classic.

Jelle Wallays: “Joining a WorldTour team is a dream coming true. The past five years I rode for Topsport Vlaanderen. A period where I built up a good relation with the staff and riders. I achieved some good results and everyone grants my transfer to Lotto Soudal. I already had some contact with Lotto Soudal, but after this spring the interest became serious. Already at the first meeting I had a good feeling, because my expectations and their vision matched. Obviously, I will help the team leaders every now and then, but I also get the chance to ride a Grand Tour, so I can become stronger. When the opportunity comes, I am allowed to take my own chances in a team that showed that an attractive way of racing pays off.

Off course, the World Tour will be a step higher. I already raced some one day races on this level, but when it comes to stage races I only raced the Eneco Tour. This certainly will give me some new experiences, but the fact that I signed for two years gives me the opportunity to get used to the new situation and find my place in the team. I will strive to be meaningful in every race and it will be a pleasure to support riders like Jens Debusschere or André Greipel.”

Marc Sergeant: “When we searched on the Belgian market to find some strong riders who fit well in a WorldTour team, Jelly Wallays quickly grabbed our attention. Topsport Vlaanderen is anyway an important development team for young talented riders, but in the past years Jelle evolved into a rider who can ride finals. It will be quite logical that his role at Lotto Soudal will be different then his role at Topsport Vlaanderen, but his style of racing can remain the same. He rides with a lot of doggedness, is a go-getter and this is essential in the types of races he likes. He will certainly get the time to adjust himself. If he feels good, he will be there, I’m sure.”

Two riders who are already part of the team, will extend their contract. Sander Armée and Gert Dockx will try to confirm the trust from the team in 2016. For Dockx, it will be his sixth season with the team. Armée starts his third year in January.

Sander Armée: “I am already two years part of Lotto Soudal and I didn’t regret it for one moment. That’s why I’m very happy with this contract extension. The Grand Tours are races where I always look forward to. Thanks to Lotto Soudal, I already rode three Grand Tours in my career, which are my favorite races. My body recovers quick and without many problems I can fulfill my role in the team. Next to the Grand Tours, I really like the Walloon races. As a U23 rider, I rode my best results in these races. Also as a pro, I can assist the team leaders in the final of the hilly races. I don’t make myself any illusions. Also in 2016 I will be a helper. My objective is to assist the team leaders as long as possible. I will do everything I can to make sure that I am in top condition in April and May. If there is a chance for me to do my own thing, than I will go for it. This year I managed to win the Heistse Pijl. Winning is always nice and I hope to do it again in 2016.”

Gert Dockx: “I can describe this season in two words: bad luck. The first races went perfect. I started the season in the Tour Down Under. In Australia and also in the Flemish races, the feeling was good. Everything went perfect till the E3 Harelbeke. There I crashed and bruised my tailbone. Because of this bruise, my spring campaign was over. When I got back to racing, I crashed again, this time in the Dauphiné. This was both mentally and physically a big blow: I broke my collarbone and elbow. Now, four months later, I still feel some pain. After a long period of doubt I finally received a “go” to race again. In the last races, I started to feel better. I would like to finish off my season with a good feeling before going into the winter. Next season, I would like to show what I’m really worth. A whole season without bad luck would be nice. I would like to show myself in races like the Dauphiné and the Flemish classics. This contract extension is a sign of confidence from the team. It’s nice to hear some good news after all these setbacks.”

Jelle Wallays:

Team Sky Announces Full Squad for 2016
Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Principal, today announced the Team Sky squad for the 2016 season. He said:

“January 2015 marked the start of the next chapter for Team Sky with our ambition to be indisputably the best team in the world by 2020. We have taken the first steps on that path and I am proud of what we have achieved this season. However we can never be complacent and must always look forward.

“Today I am announcing the full Team Sky line up for 2016. It’s a strong team – led by Chris Froome – that will ensure that we can be even more competitive in all the major races – from Grand Tours to Classics.

“We have recruited some of the best young talent from around the world in Michal Kwiatkowski and Mikel Landa for example. At the same time we have been able to keep the nucleus of this year’s successful team together by re-signing riders of the calibre of Vasil Kiryienka – the new time trial world champion.

“Cycling is a global sport and Team Sky will always look to recruit the best riders from around the world. But we remain a British team with a strong British core. I’m pleased that the five British riders who were such a big part of this year’s successful Tour de France team will all be riding for us again in 2016 – along with new signing Alex Peters. Britain has become a cycling nation over the last decade. We want more and more people to love the bike and Team Sky will continue to play its part in this cycling revolution.

Michal Golas, Benat Intxausti, Michal Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa, Gianni Moscon, Alex Peters & Danny van Poppel

Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan, Sebastian Henao, Peter Kennaugh, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Mikel Nieve, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard & Xabier Zandio

Andrew Fenn, Chris Froome, Sergio Henao, Leopold Konig, David Lopez, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Wout Poels, Salvatore Puccio, Nicolas Roche, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas & Elia Viviani.

“Of course some riders will be leaving us. They have all made a massive contribution to the team on and off the bike. We will miss them and look forward to the opportunity of thanking them properly later this year for everything they have done for Team Sky.”

Nathan Earle, Bernhard Eisel, Danny Pate, Richie Porte, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Chris Sutton


Ian Boswell is among the new wave of up-and-coming stage race riders and 2016 marks his fourth year as a professional. Team Sky identified Ian as one of the world’s best young all-rounders in 2012 after he followed up his runners-up spot at the under-23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege with impressive climbing displays at the Tours of Utah and l’Avenir.

After making the step up to the seniors in 2013, Boswell helped Team Sky to victories at both Paris-Nice and the Tour of Norway, and in 2014 played his part in four further race wins. It is in the mountains where Ian feels most at home, but his selfless attitude and unwavering work ethic make him a key team player on any terrain.

Philip Deignan became the first Irishman to ride for Team Sky in 2014 and immediately established himself as a key member of the squad. Now in his 11th year as a pro, Phil has amassed an enviable stage race record including eight Grand Tour appearances and a host of impressive results. His career highlight came on the 18th stage of the 2009 Vuelta a España when he battled to a hard-fought win, and that result helped him claim a top-10 overall finish in the process.

Andrew Fenn joined Team Sky after an assured first three years in the professional ranks. In 2012 – his debut season – he claimed back-to-back victories at the Trofeo Palma and Trofeo Migjorn, and sealed seven further podium spots in the process. Winner of the junior Paris-Roubaix in 2008, Andy is a powerful rider with a fast finish and is well suited to the Classics. He provided strong support in spring’s toughest one-day races whilst also packing a punch in the sprints.

During his time with Team Sky, Chris Froome has grown to become arguably the best stage race rider in the world. Chris shot to prominence by finishing runner up at the 2011 Vuelta a España and backed that up the following season when he and Sir Bradley Wiggins earned a remarkable one-two triumph for Team Sky at the Tour de France.

Froome then embarked on an incredible 2013 campaign which saw him take four race victories before winning three stages en route to his first Tour de France yellow jersey. Further successes at the Tours of Oman and Romandie followed in 2014 before a fractured wrist forced him to abandon his Tour de France defence. Reinvigorated, Chris returned to take victory in the Tour de France in 2015 and will be hoping to add to his Grand Tour tally in 2016.

The Polish rider has joined Team Sky from Etixx – Quick-Step where he has impressed, serving as a domestique for the last four years. He won the National Road Race Championships in 2012, finished 9th overall in the Tour of Britain in 2013 and 2nd in the Classic Sud-Ardeche in 2014. Winning Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen just days before being announced as a Team Sky rider, his fighting energy and combative team spirit will be crucial in helping the team progress as we move into next season.

Sebastian Henao joined cousin Sergio on the Team Sky roster in 2014 and quickly marked himself out as a precocious climbing talent. The Colombian showed no fear as he embarked on his neo-pro season and helped Team Sky to victories at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali and Vuelta al Pais Vasco before going toe-to-toe with the world’s best riders at the Giro d’Italia.

Sebastian gained huge respect when he took eighth place on a brutal 16th stage, and proved that was no fluke by claiming the exact same position on a mountain time trial up the Cima Grappa. The youngest rider on the squad will look to continue that upward trajectory in 2016 and gain yet more experience along the way.

Sergio Henao is one of the stars in a new generation of Colombian climbers and has been a revelation since bursting onto the European scene in 2012. Sergio hit the ground running during his debut season with Team Sky and achieved a top-10 finish in his first Grand Tour appearance at the Giro d’Italia, as well as enjoying a spell in the best young rider’s jersey.

Henao’s progression continued into 2013 and saw him claim his first stage victories at the Volta ao Algarve and Vuelta al Pais Vasco before demonstrating his one-day prowess with second place at Fleche Wallonne. 2014 was a year to forget after a bad crash at the Tour de Suisse threatened to end his career, but Henao battled back to winning ways in 2015 and will be looking to progress further next season.

A professional cyclist since 2007, the 29-year-old Spaniard has widespread experience to call upon. In 2012, he won the Vuelta a Asturias and finished 10th overall in the Vuleta a España despite working for his team leader, Alejandro Valverde. In 2013, Intxausti won stage 16 in the Giro d’Italia after being part of a breakaway and later finished 8th overall. He also had the leader’s jersey for one day. In the Tour of Beijing, Intxausti won the only mountain stage and the general classification.

He had a very successful season in 2015, holding the leader’s jersey at the Giro d’Italia for multiple stages before an impressive 4th place finish at the Critérium du Dauphiné. We hope his great form will continue with Team Sky as we head into 2016.

Peter Kennaugh came of age as a road cyclist in 2013 by helping Team Sky secure a second consecutive Tour de France victory. After committing fully to the road following his gold medal-winning performance on the track at London Olympic Games, Kennaugh was an integral part of the team which saw Chris Froome sweep all before him on his path to the yellow jersey.

2014 saw Kennaugh claim the first of back to back national titles and the Manxman quickly notched up an impressive selection of victories, including overall success and the Tour of Austria and a stint in the race lead at the Criterium du Dauphine after winning the opening stage.

Vasil Kiryienka has become a cult hero since joining Team Sky and is best known for his power, consistency and machine-like riding style. ‘Kiry’ made his name with solo stage victories at the 2008 and 2011 Giros d’Italia, and his all-round credentials were highlighted further when he took the bronze medal at the 2012 World Time Trial Championships.

He became the second Belarusian to join Team Sky in 2013 and hit the ground running by helping achieve five race victories during the first half of the season. After aiding Chris Froome’s Tour de France win in July, Vasil then claimed an epic stage win himself at the Vuelta a España. His career got even better last year with a victory in the individual time trial at the Giro d’Italia before his greatest achievement to date, winning the 2015 World Time Trial Championship in Virginia, USA.

Since his arrival at the start of 2011, Christian Knees has been one of Team Sky’s strongest domestiques and has helped achieve no less than 11 race victories. The highest-profile of those came during his seventh consecutive Tour de France appearance when he aided Sir Bradley Wiggins to an historic yellow jersey success.

Knees turned professional with Team Wiesenhof in 2004 but made the switch to Milram in 2006 and took the Rund um Koln title in his first season with his new team. The Bayern-Rundfahrt crown would follow in 2008, and Knees also claimed the German national champion’s jersey in 2010 before making his switch to Team Sky.

Leo marked himself out as one to watch in 2011 when he finished runner up at the Tour of Austria, and achieved his first pro triumph the following season when he climbed to victory on the sixth stage of the Tour of Britain. Further successes were to follow at the Czech Cycling Tour and Tour of California in 2013, but his stage win and ninth-place finish at the Vuelta a España demonstrated his burgeoning Grand Tour potential.

The Czech rider continued to progress in 2014, and consolidated his place among the world’s top riders when he achieved a seventh-place finish at the Tour de France – a remarkable feat given he was riding for a pro-continental team. His superb climbing and time trial abilities make König an elite all-rounder. In 2015 Leopold joined Team Sky. He became the team’s race leader after Richie Porte’s withdrawal at the Giro d’Italia, finishing a superb 6th overall.

The Polish rider joins the team for the start of the 2016 season as a celebrated all-rounder with strong sprinting, time-trialling and climbing abilities enabling him to win stage races and one-day classics. His talent was shown during his early career winning the World Junior Time Trial. In 2014, Kwiatkowski became the world champion in the elite men’s road race at the age of 24. During the 2015 season, his talent continued to show itself, with a victory at the Amstel Gold Race the culmination of a very successful season.

Mikel joins the team from Astana where has shown real potential across multiple terrains during the past two seasons. Having worked as a domestique for Fabio Aru during the Giro d’Italia in 2014, Landa really came into his own during the same race a year later where he won two stages, came close to the overall victory and ended up finishing third in a tight race. At the Vuelta in September, Mikel managed to win another stage at a Grand Tour. He has shown he can compete at the highest level and will look to continue to do just that during the 2016 season for Team Sky.

Since his arrival in 2013, David Lopez has become one of Team Sky’s most valued domestiques and an integral member of the squad. The Spaniard turned professional in 2005 and worked his way up the ranks before helping Caisse d’Epargne to victory at the 2009 Vuelta a España. It was in that race the following season where David earned the biggest win of his career, escaping to victory on a tough ninth stage and earning himself a whole host of plaudits.

After making his move to Team Sky, David played his part in three race triumphs before forming part of Chris Froome’s Tour de France-winning squad. He then earned himself another solo stage win at the Eneco Tour before the season was out. With 13 Grand Tour appearances under his belt, David remains a strong and reliable rider who is happy infiltrating breakaways as well as working tirelessly on the front of the bunch.

The Italian U23 Road Race Champion, Gianni has picked up a number of impressive wins and marked himself out as one of the world’s best young talents. The 21 year old will be joining the team for next season. He had a fantastic season in 2015, claiming victories at the Trofeo Citta si San Vendemiano, Trofeo Almar and Palio del Recioto. Let’s hope for more of the same as we move into 2016.

Mikel Nieve hit the ground running when he joined Team Sky in 2014 and is rightfully regarded as one of the strongest riders in the squad. Mikel turned professional in 2009 and has tackled eight Grand Tours since then, completing three of them inside the top 10. His first major triumph came at the 2010 Vuelta a España where he produced a fine solo triumph, and the Basque rider followed that up in 2011 with and equally-impressive Giro d’Italia stage win.

Mikel tasted victory again with a brilliantly executed ride on the final stage of the 2014 Criterium du Dauphine before finishing 8th in the 2015 Vuelta a España and 10th in the Tour of Poland. Happy to ride for his team-mates or target individual success, Mikel brings explosive climbing prowess and is one to watch when the road ramps upwards.

The Londoner only recently joined Team Sky in July 2015, initially as a stagiaire. The former Madison Genesis rider showed good form during the 2015 season, finishing 2nd in the Tour of Normandy before winning a stage in the Tour de Bretagne.

Lars Petter returned to Team Sky in 2015 after two seasons away. A founding member of the squad, the Norwegian is an accomplished climber and his attacking style invariably sees him battling it out for victory at the business end of races. Nordhaug started out as a mountain biker but made the switch to road racing in 2005 and scooped a national title and several high-profile victories by the time Team Sky snapped him up in 2010. His career in black and blue got off to the perfect start by forming part of the triumphant team time trial squad at the Tour of Qatar, and since his return he has also won the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire.

Wout Poels became the first Dutchman to ride for Team Sky when he signed before the 2015 campaign. Wout turned professional with Vacansoleil in 2009, and after a season learning the ropes he pushed on and achieved stage successes at both the Tour de l’Ain and Tour of Britain.

His all-round abilities were highlighted over the next two years when he topped the young rider classification at the Tours of the Mediterranean, Luxembourg and Tirreno-Adriatico, and the talented climber bagged more stage wins in the process. Wout achieved two stage wins for Team Sky at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Britain, and was an integral member of the successful Tour de France-winning team.

Salvatore Puccio has grown to become a valuable cog in the Team Sky machine. The Italian first caught the eye as an amateur after racking up wins in the Toscana-Coppa delle Nazioni and Firenze-Viareggio, but it was his fantastic solo victory in the 2011 under-23 Tour of Flanders which prompted Team Sky to snap him up for the 2012 season.

Since then Salvatore has developed his talents and grown into a seasoned Classics campaigner – representing Team Sky in all five of cycling’s monuments. The highlight of his career came during the 2013 Giro d’Italia when he enjoyed a day in the Maglia Rosa after helping Team Sky to victory in the team time trial. Numerous other top-10 finishes have proved ‘Salva’ can hold his own on a variety of terrain, and he will look to continue his progression in 2016.

Son of cycling legend Stephen, ‘Nico’ was practically born on the bike and lived up to the weight of expectation by turning pro in 2005. Since then the affable Irishman has bagged two national titles, won two stages at the Vuelta a España, and triumphed the 2014 Route du Sud. His fifth place finish in the 2013 Vuelta proved he is capable of competing over three weeks of action, and when he is not riding for himself, Nico is more than willing to ride hard for his team-mates.

The Welshman rose through the ranks at British Cycling and had several national and European titles to his name before he stepped up to the seniors with Team Sky in 2012. Far from being overawed by that transition, Luke settled in quickly and had achieved a stage victory at the Tour of Britain – and a spell in the leader’s jersey.

Five top-10 finishes followed in 2013, proving Luke could hold his own at the pinnacle of the sport, and in 2014 he aided the team’s successes at Het Nieuwsblad, the Tours of Romandie and California, and Bayern-Rundfahrt. As well as being a highly-adept domestique, Luke is a talented lead-out rider, and his robust displays mean he is on course to become a Classics specialist.

Stannard is at home when conditions are at their toughest, whether fighting for position at a one-day race or riding on the front at a Grand Tour. An integral part of Chris Froome’s Tour de France victories in 2013 and 2015, Stannard is rightly regarded of one of cycling’s most versatile and hard-working talents. The Englishman finished 4th in the Tour of Qatar and he had two consecutive wins at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2014 and 2015.

The 27 year old was one of the team’s founding riders back in 2010. In 2014, demonstrating what he can do when injury free, the Yorkshireman took a magnificent third place at Milan-San Remo before rounding out the year as Great Britain’s team leader at the World Championships in Ponferrada. Ben will be looking to progress further as we move into the 2016 season.

Few riders in the peloton possess the all-round ability of Geraint Thomas. As prolific in a time trial as he is on the climbs, the Welshman is also one of the best Classics riders in the world. Since turning pro in 2007, Thomas has developed with every passing season. With two Olympic gold medals under his belt on the track, a full switch to the road has paid dividends with a string of promising results, including two overall victories at Bayern Rundfahrt.

2014 saw him add a Commonwealth Games road race title to his name, as well as a long spell in the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice. In 2015, he was instrumental in helping Chris Froome win his second Tour de France, showcasing his exceptional talent once again. 2016 looks set to be another exciting year for ‘G’.

The young Dutchman is the son of former professional cyclists Jean-Paul van Poppel and Leontien van der Lienden. His older brother Boy van Poppel is also a professional cyclist. Danny won the 12th stage of the Vuelta a España as well as two stages of the Tour de Wallonie this season and will join the Classics group for 2016. The 22-year-old sprinter from Utrecht made history in 2013 when he became the youngest rider to compete in the Tour de France since World War II.

Elia Viviani is one of the most accomplished sprinters in the peloton, having claimed an impressive 36 victories to date since turning pro in 2010. Viviani joined Team Sky in 2015 and wasted no time in settling in, taking his first stage victory at the Dubai Tour. After helping seal a team time trial win at the Tour de Romandie, Elia achieved a landmark triumph by winning his first Giro d’Italia stage, and before the season was out he’d also won a stage at the Eneco Tour and a hat-trick of victories at the Tour of Britain.

One of the strongest domestiques in cycling, Zandio has devoted a career to helping his team mates. With 15 years’ experience as a professional, the Spaniard is an expert hand and happy to pass on that knowledge to the next generation of riders. A winner in his own right at the Vuelta a Burgos in 2008, Xabi is most at home when the terrain rises upwards, making him a valuable asset to any team. He will again look to play a valuable role in 2016.

Etixx – Quick-Step Teams Up with Lidl
30-Sep-2015: From January 2016 supermarket chain Lidl will adorn the race outfit of Etixx – Quick-Step Cycling Team. The Belgian retailer has signed a two-year contract as sponsor of the team. The chain and team have just released this information. From next season the striking yellow, blue and red logo will be present on the shoulder and back of the pants of important riders such as Tom Boonen, Tony Martin and Zdenek Štybar.

“Team Etixx – Quick-Step Cycling is one of the biggest cycling teams in the world. The motivation for our sponsorship is to use cycling and the team to spread awareness of Lidl as a key supplier for fresh products,” Lidl Belgium Purchasing and Marketing Director Jeroen Bal said. “The partnership is good news for cycling, as it benefits from a new injection of funds with the arrival of the largest European supermarket chain. Lidl has almost 10,000 stores, spread across 26 countries. In 2018 the chain plans to open its first store in the United States. Bal: “This is primarily a collaboration with Lidl Belgium, but of course we will be offering the possibility to all other countries to join in. Cycling and Team Etixx-Quickstep Cycling are also extremely popular outside of the Belgian borders.”

“Naturally we are delighted with the arrival of Lidl as a sponsor. I’m really happy that they chose our team for their sports sponsorship,” CEO of the team Patrick Lefèvere said. “The fact that we participate in the biggest cycling races and have some of the top names in cycling is certainly a bonus for global brands such as Lidl. We are looking forward to seeing how they use the team and our platform creatively, to tell their story as a fresh-food specialist.”

“I’m looking forward to the next year,” Etixx – Quick-Step rider Tony Martin said. “I’m curious what the future will bring. I think Lidl will be a strong partner, and they will support us really well. I also think we can give back to them, and we will be a good investment like we also are for the current sponsors. I think it will be a nice combination. As a German rider I am proud of this partnership with a German company. It will be a pleasant, new experience for me. I have a lot of personal experience with Lidl. I shopped there a lot as a child with my parents, and I shop there currently. Having them as a partner is special. The last years have not been so easy in cycling. A world brand like Lidl as a partner in cycling is a really good sign for the sport, and also for German cycling that a German brand has entered the fold. It’s a really good moment for us, and I am excited to see what the 2016 season will bring.”

“Tony and I are both excited about this announcement today, that Lidl is now one of the partners of Etixx – Quick-Step,” Belgian rider Tom Boonen said. “It’s great news for the team and I am thrilled about it. It’s a big company joining the cycling world, so it’s not just important for our team, but also the sport in general.”

Peter Sagan’s 2015 Season
It’s been a bit of an up and down season for Sagan, lost of 2nd placings and then the BIG win last week in Richmond. Here are the highlights of his year:

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