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EuroTrash Lance Thursday!

Even with no racing to report on, we have a full bin of EuroTrash. Lance and the police make the Top Story, plus race news from Mallorca, Oman, Qatar, Dubai, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, la Vuelta, Tour de France, la Marseillaise and Étoile de Bessèges. Lots of team news, photos, video and some music from Kraftwerk. Coffee anyone?

TOP STORY: Police to Handle Dope Controls
In Italy the Nuclei Antisofisticazione e Sanità, which is part of the Carabinieri, will work with the Italian Olympic Committee to carry out drug testing on athletes. They are also known as the “Carabinieri for Health” and have been involved in the investigations in Padova and the case against the ex-doctor Michele Ferrari and collected evidence in the US Postal case. CONI president Giovanni Malagò has said that Nuclei Antisofisticazione e Sanità will be very helpful with the out of competition testing, especially as recently there have been problems with the whereabouts system.

So, you are an innocent athlete and the police come banging at your door at 7am looking for a blood and urine sample, it seems a bit intimidating and on the strong side, but maybe it has come to that situation. Can we blame Lance Armstrong for this state of affairs, probably. The Armstrong case was the bottom of the pit for cycling and if it takes the police to enforce dope controls then so be it.

This week Armstrong has made the headlines again with an interview with the BBC, no apologies and he said under the same circumstances he would do it again. The doping was one thing, but we should never forget how he tried to ruin peoples lives. Maybe it’s best we look forward, not back.

Zaak Lance Armstrong case

header-mallorca15Challenge Ciclista Mallorca 2015
The collection of races in the Challenge Mallorca starts today (29th of February). The race is made up of four separate races, but with an overall prize. Teams can change the riders, missing out stages here and there, but to be eligible for the overall you have to ride all four races.

Stages Challenge Mallorca
Thursday January 29th: Trofeo Santanyí-Ses Salines-Campos (175.5 km)
Friday January 30th: Trofeo Andratx – Mirador d’Es Colomer (149 km)
Saturday January 31st: Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana. Valldemoosa-Deià (165.7 km)
Sunday February 1st: Trofeo Playa de Palma – Palma (168.2 km).

Challenge de Mallorca – Trofeo de Palma:

header_movistar-left2014 WorldTour no. 1 back in Mallorca
Alejandro Valverde starts 2015 season at Challenge trophies as Movistar Team gathers twelve riders in Balearic Islands, starts short training stage.
Following their great start to the season at the Tour Down Under and the Tour de San Luis, with two stage victories (Lobato and Malori), Nairo Quintana’s overall podium in Argentina and the team’s overall classification victory in Australia, Movistar Team will debut on European soil at the Challenge Ciclista Mallorca. The Spanish race will be held one week earlier than usual in 2015 (Thursday 29 – Sunday, February 1) and includes stages for both sprinters -Santanyí – Ses Salines – Campos and Playa de Palma, on days one and four- and climbers -Formentor and Deià, on Friday and Saturday- in its 4-day schedule.

The Challenge will be the first race for the UCI’s world number one in 2014, Alejandro Valverde, who leads a 12-man squad completed by Jonathan Castroviejo, Imanol Erviti, John Gadret, Jesús Herrada, Beñat Intxausti, Ion Izagirre, Javi Moreno, José Joaquín Rojas, Fran Ventoso, Giovanni Visconti and debutant Rory Sutherland, all directed by Chente García Acosta and José Luis Laguía. The group will land in Mallorca today to start a short training stage only missed by Dowsett -recovering from his collarbone injury-, Amador and Anacona -still to return to Europe, training in their respective home countries- as well as those ones who took part in the two opening events of the year.

header-sky-leftTeam Sky Rider Line-Up – Trofeo Mallorca
Team Sky has confirmed its rider line-up for the Trofeo Mallorca:

Ian Boswell, Bernhard Eisel, Andy Fenn, Christian Knees, Danny Pate, Ben Swift, Elia Viviani, Xabier Zandio

Ian Boswell, Phil Deignan, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Leopold Konig, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Ben Swift, Xabier Zandio

TROFEO MURO, 31 January
Ian Boswell, Phil Deignan, Bernhard Eisel, Vasil Kiryienka, Leopold Konig, Danny Pate, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Xabier Zandio

TROFEO PALMA, 1 February
Bernhard Eisel, Andy Fenn, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Danny Pate, Ben Swift, Elia Viviani, Xabier Zandio
*rider line-ups subject to change.

header-lottosoudal15Lotto Soudal to the Mallorca Challenge
The Challenge Mallorca is the first Europe Tour race of the season. The race consists of four individual races, four Trofeos. There is no overall classification. The teams can start each Trofeo with another selection.

Varied route
On Thursday 29th January, the peloton kicks off the Challenge Mallorca with the Trofeo Santanyí. The first stage is 175 kilometres long and has five bonus sprints and five climbs of the fourth category. This can’t be a problem for the sprinters, so a bunch sprint is expected at the finish line in Campos. The second day is a bit harder. Along the coast line the peloton rides 149 kilometres from Andratx to Mirador d’Es Colomer. Four intermediate sprints, two third category climbs and a climb of second category at sixty kilometres from the finish should cause a decimation. Although the final decision will be at the finish line. That finish line is drawn at the top of a steep climb with gradients over 10 %.

Stage three is full of climbs and descents. Only the best climbers will survive two fourth category and third category climbs, and three climbs of second category. The last twenty kilometres is a long descent which makes it possible for finishers to rejoin the leaders and battle for the victory in Deià. On the last day of the Challenge Mallorca the peloton only has to deal with the Coll des Grau. It’s a third category climb at fifty kilometres from the finish line. After 168 racing kilometres a bunch sprint is expected in Palma.

Goals for the Challenge Mallorca
Bart Leysen, sports director: “It would be nice to get our first victory of the season in Mallorca. The riders know the Spanish roads well because of their training camps. The first and last day are suited for our sprinters André Greipel and Jens Debusschere. Greipel didn’t start his season, for the first time in seven years, in the Tour Down Under. So he is extremely motivated to get his first victory of the season in Mallorca. Debusschere was already second in a stage last year. It’s possible that we decide during the race that our leading man for the bunch sprint will be the Belgian champion.”

“The second and third Trofeo will suit our climbers, an ideal moment to test their legs. Especially the third stage is very hard. We have got Tim Wellens and Jelle Vanendert to take their chance and strive for the win. Besides that, youngsters Tiesj Benoot and Louis Vervaeke can show themselves. They race at a high level and hopefully they can get good results. Because there is no GC, the riders can look at the Challenge Mallorca day by day.”

Selection Lotto Soudal:
Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, Bart De Clercq, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

header-MTN14-leftMTN-Qhubeka to Mallorca
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will begin its racing season at the Challenge Mallorca starting on the 29th of January. The Challenge Mallorca is comprised of 4 separate one day races (UCI 1.1) taking place over 4 days on the island of Mallorca. Teams are allowed to select new rosters for each race, alternating riders to suit the parcours.

The Challenge Mallorca brings back fond memories to the MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders as both Kristian Sbaragli and Edvald Boasson Hagen enjoyed multiple top 10 placings last year, including Edvald’s 2nd place finish on the 3rd day of racing. This year MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will have a strong line-up of riders at its disposal for each of the races. The Challenge Mallorca will also complete the final 4 days of our 15 day training camp on the Spanish island.

17 riders in total will be available for selection with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Gerald Ciolek, Theo Bos, Kristian Sbaragli and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg providing the team with multiple sprint options. Louis Meintjes, Merhawi Kudus, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Natnael Berhane will all be available for the more undulating routes. Adrien Niyonshuti, Andy Stauff, Jaco Venter, Jay Thomson, Johann van Zyl, Steve Cummings and Youcef Reguigui will complete the Challenge Mallorca squad.

Jens Zemke – Performance Manager: “We will take part in the in the Mallorca Challenge as the final part of our training camp. We will rotate our riders for each race so that everyone will get a start and have the chance to show off their stripes for the first time. Our riders have really high ambitions in these first few weeks of the year and they are wanting to show their strengths and that the winter training has paid off early on.”

Kristian Sbaragli – Rider: “I think there are 2 races where we can do really well because they should finish in a sprint after quite a hard race and we have a really competitive team for this type of race. Personally I think I am ready to do well in these first races of the year but we will just have to wait and see how the legs feel on race day.”

The MTN-Qhubeka team training in Mallorca:

header-bmc15-rosterRace Roster: Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Rider Roster:
Silvan Dillier (SUI), Cadel Evans (AUS), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Michael Schär (SUI), Peter Stetina (USA), Danilo Wyss (SUI).
Sport Director: Fabio Baldato (ITA)
Chief Communications Officer: Georges Lüchinger (LIE)
Staff: Mechanic: Antonio Biron (ITA). Therapists: Matt Excell (AUS), Stefano Rubino (ITA).

header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step To Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in the Cadel Evans Ocean Race, a 179km in distance, held on Sunday, February 1st.

Six Etixx – Quick-Step riders who also participated in Tour Down Under, including Australian Mark Renshaw, have trained in Geelong during the last week in preparation of the one-day race.

“I’m very excited to compete in another professional race in Australia one week after the Tour Down Under,” Renshaw said. “It gives the opportunity of improving form and to race over in Victoria down in Geelong will be quite magical as the crowds will be spectacular.”

BMC Racing Team rider Cadel Evans will be retiring from cycling after this self-titled race.

“Cycling in Australia is getting bigger every year,” Renshaw said. “Of course with Cadel Evans retiring it brings a lot of attention to the race, and he’s put a lot of input into the race. So, for sure it is going to be a success and who knows, if I can fight for the win it would be nice to add this one to my palmares.

“I think the circuit will be pretty difficult,” Renshaw continued. “The World Championships were on the same circuit a few years ago where a sprinter won, but I think it will be a little different for this race as they changed things a little bit to make it more difficult. I think as we go along the coastline, south of Geelong, there will be a chance that the crosswind changes the race and I think everyone is also forgetting that it isn’t flat along the coast line either. There are a lot of up and downs.”

Etixx – Quick-Step Riders:
Maxime Bouet (FRA), David De La Cruz Melgarejo (ESP), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Gianni Meersman (BEL), Mark Renshaw (AUS), Pieter Serry (BEL).
Sports Director Rik van Slycke (BEL).

header-katusha15Team Katusha for Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
The Russian Team Katusha is ready to start in the Australian one-day race Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (February 1st, UCI 1.1) which will be organized for the first time in Geelong, Melbourne. A part of the race will be held on the course of the UCI Road World Championships 2010.

The Team Katusha roster:
Sergey Lagutin, Maxim Belkov, Alexey Tsatevich, Rudi Selig, Giampaolo Caruso and Vladimir Isaychev, all directed by Gennady Mikhaylov.

More race details on the web site: https://cadelevansgreatoceanroadrace.com.au/

2011 - Tour de France 21e etappe

header-lottosoudal15Lotto Soudal to la Marseillaise and Étoile de Bessèges
On Sunday 1st February the Grand Prix la Marseillaise is being contested, a Europe Tour race. In this first French race of the season the peloton faces three climbs in the second half of the 140 kilometres long race, which ends in front of the vélodrome of Marseille.

Three days later, Wednesday February 4th, the Étoile de Bessèges starts. This is a French five-day stage race which is also part of the Europe Tour. Last year, Tony Gallopin finished on the seventh place in the GC. The 45th edition is comparable to the past years: four flat stages with some small climbs along the route and Sunday February 8th a closing time trial of twelve kilometres.

Aim for a stage win
Mario Aerts, sports director: “Frenchman Tony Gallopin will strive for the win in the GP la Marseillaise. The European cycling season starts with the Challenge Mallorca, but for the participants in Marseille this will be their first race on European soil. Everybody will be motivated to show themselves so I expect a very fast race, as usual. The wavy route will cause a certain decimation but it’s likely to end with a bunch sprint.”

“In the Étoile de Bessèges we go for a stage win. The first four stages are traditionally bunch sprints. Tony Gallopin and Kris Boeckmans are fast finishers. But also Tosh Van der Sande and Pim Ligthart can finish strongly. Gallopin and Maxime Monfort want to ride for a good result in the overall standings. The GC will be decided in the final stage: the individual time trial. A time trial in which also Sean De Bie can get a good result.”

Debut of Frederik Willems
It will not only be a new start of the season for the riders. Frederik Willems will go to the French races for the first time as Lotto Soudal sports director.”
Mario Aerts: “I’m starting my fourth year as sports director. So I hope to give him some tips and tricks of the profession. In the GP la Marseillaise we share the same team car. I’m sure things will go well!”

Selection Lotto Soudal:
Sander Armée, Kris Boeckmans, Vegard Breen, Sean De Bie, Tony Gallopin, Pim Ligthart, Maxime Monfort and Tosh Van der Sande.
Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Frederik Willems.

Stages Étoile de Bessèges
Stage 1: Wednesday February 4th: Bellegarde – Beaucaire (153.9 km)
Stage 2: Thursday February 5th: Nîmes – Les Fumades (157.1 km)
Stage 3: Friday February 6th: Bessèges – Bessèges (152.6 km)
Stage 4: Saturday February 7th: L’Ardoise – Laudun (147.2 km)
Stage 5: Sunday February 8th: Alès – Alès (11.9 km) (ITT).

header-europcar15Europcar to Étoile de Bessèges & la Marseillaise

Europcar riders for Étoile de Bessèges:
Giovanni Bernaudeau, Thomas Boudat, Bryan Coquard, Jérome Cousin, Jimmy Engoulvent, Cyril Gautier, Pierre Rolland and Thomas Voeckler.
Directeurs sportifs: Dominique Arnould & Ismaël Mottier.

Europcar riders for la Marseillaise:
Giovanni Bernaudeau, Jérome Cousin, Antoine Duchesne, Cyril Gautier, Yohann Gene, Romain Guillemois, Brian Nauleau and Pierre Rolland.
Directeurs sportif: Ismaël Mottier.

2014 Étoile de Bessèges:

header-dubai15Paul Smith Designs the Dubai Tour 2015 Leaders’ Jerseys
World renowned fashion designer, Paul Smith has designed the Dubai Tour 2015 leaders’ jerseys. The jerseys will be produced by Castelli, one of the world’s leading cycling apparel brands.

The race, organized by the Dubai Sports Council in partnership with RCS Sport, will be held from 4th – 7th February.

Sir Paul Smith himself, founder of the luxury brand, was behind the decision to partner. He has been a cyclist for many years and has a passion for the sport, its heritage and its culture. He has chosen the Dubai Tour as a partner and the brands share many values, including excellence, quality and performance.

Paul Smith’s iconic style is clearly evident in the design of the four jerseys and Sir Paul Smith’s signature will be very evident on the back of the jerseys.

To ensure the jerseys are perfect for the warm Dubai climate, Castelli has used a lightweight high-tech fabric supplied by SITIP that is both UV-protective and allows for a very rapid rate of heat dissipation.

The Dubai Tour 2015 jerseys will be:
Blue Jersey

General Classification: worn by the overall winner, the one who has proven themselves to be the fastest and most consistent rider over the course. The inaugural, 2014 blue jersey was won by BMC’s Taylor Phinney.
Sponsor: Commercial Bank of Dubai

Red Jersey
Points Classification: worn by the fastest sprinter, the one who has arrived before the others. Last year the jersey was won by Giant Alpecin’s Marcel Kittel, winner of three of four stages.
Sponsor: Emirates

UAE Flag Jersey
Intermediate Sprint Classification: worn by the rider who has struggled along the entire course to gain more Intermediate Sprint Points than any other rider. Last year’s winner was Willem Jakobus Smit from South Africa.
Sponsor: Dubai Sports Channel

White Jersey
Young Rider Classification: worn by the best young rider, the personification of the power and of the future. Tailor Phinney also won this classification in 2014.
Sponsor: RTA (Roads and Transport Authority)

Additionally, Dubai Eye 103.8 will also sponsor the race. The Official Partners of the Dubai Tour 2015 are Castelli, Vittoria, GL Events, Dolomia Mineral Water and Novo Nordisk. The Stage Sponsors are The Westin Dubai, Nakheel and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority. The race’s Official Suppliers are EP – The Italian Catering Company and SITIP. Its Official Licensees are Castelli, Kask and Wolfi’s Bike Shop. The event’s Official Supporters are Wolfi’s Bike Shop Dubai, The Cycle Hub, Revolution Cycles Dubai, Flywheel Sports and Ride Bike Shop.

The Dubai Tour 2015 is only one week away, and the excitement is mounting. The hospitality village will be open each day of the race at the Dubai International Marine Club from 9.00 to 15.30, allowing fans to meet the champions and enjoy the local sponsors’ hospitality.

header-tinkoffsaxo14-leftTinkoff-Saxo sends versatile team to Dubai Tour
Dubai Tour is coming up and Tinkoff-Saxo has the lineup ready. The fast-paced stage race taking place in and around the largest city of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, is comprised of four stages, which mainly suit the sprinters. However, stage 3 to Hatta Dam featuring a very steep finish could very well mean that the general classification will go to a lighter rider.

Tinkoff-Saxo sends a versatile squad to Dubai in search of early season success. Robert Kiserlovski, Michael Valgren, Matteo Tosatto, Evgeny Petrov and Juraj Sagan will be joined by Michael Kolar, Manuele Boaro and Oliver Zaugg coming straight off the back of Tour Down Under. Tristan Hoffman, Tinkoff-Saxo’s leading sports director at the race, comments on the race and team ambitions:

“We’re heading to Dubai with a very motivated team but without a designated absolute leader. Kiserlovski, Valgren and Zaugg all have a chance at aiming for the GC, but we’ll keep their roles free and evaluate after the first two stages. Zaugg has already raced in Australia, which means that he’s at race speed, while Valgren and Kiserlovski have both prepared meticulously at our training camps in Gran Canaria and Sicily”.

Dubai Tour presents the riders with a majority of flat race profiles, making stages 1, 2 and 4 an ideal battleground for the sprinters. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Kolar is intended to represent Tinkoff-Saxo in the final bunch sprints, but Tristan Hoffman underlines that the fast Slovak still needs time to recover from the illness that affected him at Tour Down Under.

“Kolar is our sprinter on the flat stages, but he’s still in a recovery mode after his illness in Australia. I don’t want to push him too hard and we’ll have to adapt according to how he’s recovering in the days leading up to the race. But if he’s ready we will support him in the final sprints”, comments Tristan Hoffman.


2015 Dubai Tour Promo:

header-qatar15Tour of Qatar 2015: They Can’t Wait to be There
Cycling stars are impatient to shine at the Tour of Qatar (February 8-13). Boonen, Kittel, Sagan, Wiggins, Gilbert, Cancellara and Valverde are looking forward to struggling against the wind to start the season the best way. The very attractive start list features world champions, sprint specialists, kings of the classics and a Tour de France winner.

Belgian cyclists are usually great promoters of the Tour of Qatar. Philippe Gilbert describes the event as “an important part of the lead up to the season”. “Stages are short and nervous, which is ideal at this time of the year”, the 2012 world champion explained. “The high speed and the permanent battle force us to fight for positioning the same way we do it at the Classics. We love the weather in Qatar and we appreciate to stay in the same hotel in Doha during the whole race.”

Professional cyclists already have in mind the world championship set to take place in Doha in 2016. Therefore, some established champions have asked for discovering Qatar this year. “I like a fast race to resume competing so I can quickly get back into the rhythm”, said one of them, Alejandro Valverde, who will make his way to Qatar for the first time in his 13-year long career.

Marcel Kittel will also be a first timer at the event but at the difference of most of his rivals among the sprinters, he already tested his legs at the Santos Tour Down Under. He won the inaugural criterium in Adelaide but left the Australian event without any stage victory as he got caught in a crash on the last day prior to the final sprint. “I came out of this race with better feelings than one year ago and I’m looking forward to the Tour of Qatar where I expect a very high level of sprinting”, said the fast German who has been the most successful sprinter of the Tour de France in the past two years.

Besides the specialists of Flemish classics, Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara and defending champion Niki Terpstra, big names of sprinting have entered indeed: Peter Sagan, Alexander Kristoff, Arnaud Démare, Nacer Bouhanni, Theo Bos, Andrea Guardini and the recently crowned Australian champion Heinrich Haussler who is back to his best level (2nd in the Tour of Qatar in 2009 and 2011). “I’ve always loved this race and I’ll return with ambitions”, said the captain of IAM Cycling.

However, Bradley Wiggins is expected to make the most significant come back to Qatar. The winner of the 2012 Tour de France is gearing up for his last campaign as a road rider. He’s set to quit and focus on track events after Paris-Roubaix in April this year. In 2010, he led the newly created Team Sky to their first impressive collective victory at the team time trial of the Tour of Qatar. This time around he’ll wear the rainbow jersey at the individual time trial (10.9 km) scheduled on the third day of racing in the area of the new Lusail Sport Arena.

18 teams, the leading riders:

Orica GreenEDGE: Blythe (Gbr), Hayman (Aus)

Etixx – Quick Step: Terpstra (Ned), Boonen (Bel)
Topsport Vlaanderen Baloise: Wallays (Bel)

Cofidis, Solutions Crédits : Bouhanni, Petit (Fra)
FDJ : Démare, Ladagnous, Offredo (Fra)

Bora – Argon 18: Bennet (Irl), Voss (Ger)
Team Giant – Alpecin: Kittel (Ger), Sinkeldam (Ned)

Great Britain
Team Sky: Wiggins, Stannard (Gbr)

Bardiani CSF: Battaglin (Ita)
Lampre – Merida: Pozzato, Modolo (Ita)

Astana Pro Team: Boom (Ned), Guardini (Ita)

Team Katusha: Kristoff (Nor), Guarnieri (Ita)
Tinkoff – Saxo: Sagan (Svk), Breschel (Den)

South Africa
MTN – Qhubeka: Boasson Hagen (Nor), Bos (Ned), Ciolek (Ger)

Movistar Team: Valverde, Rojas (Esp)

IAM Cycling: Haussler (Aus), Brändle (Aut)

BMC Racing Team: Gilbert, Van Avermaet (Bel)
Trek Factory Racing: Cancellara (Sui).

Niki Terpstra Qatar TT:

header-qatar15Ladies Tour of Qatar 2015: Who Will be the New Queen of the Desert?
The Ladies Tour of Qatar, a not-to-be missed event at the start of the cycling season, will be holding its 7th edition this year. In the absence of Kirsten Wild, a four times winner of the race (in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014), the competition seems more open than ever, all the more so since most of the leading lights of the women’s pack have already announced their presence in Doha from 3rd to 6th February to do battle on the windy roads of the Qatari emirate…

With one year to go before the world road cycling championships that will take place for the first time in Qatar, 90 riders (15 teams of 6) will be arriving in Doha in several days’ time. The race represents an opportunity to test their legs during pursuits over terrains blasted by the wind before the sprinters take centre stage on the final straight. With four stages on the menu, there will be plenty of opportunities for the riders to lay down a marker to the competition, pick up a stage win or even try and conquer this prestigious stage race. The battle for the leader’s jersey promises to be especially open this year in the absence of the formidable Kirsten Wild, four times winner of the race and nine times winner of stages in the emirate. There are many pretenders to the Dutchwoman’s crown this year, which promises a titanic struggle and suspense that will last right up until the last day on the Doha corniche!

Led by British rider Lizzie Armitstead, the UCI world cup winner and a gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games last year, as well as Dutchwoman Ellen Van Dijk, winner of the Ladies Tour of Qatar in 2011, the Boels Dolmans Cycling Team has especially good chances of success, as does the Wiggle Honda team led by Italian sprinter Giorgia Bronzini, a two times world champion and runner-up on this race in 2009 and 2010, who will be supported by Australian Chloe Hosking, twice the leading young rider on the event (in 2012 and 2013) and always well placed in the most recent years (5th in 2012, 2nd in 2013, 3rd in 2014). However, they will have to keep a watchful eye on the riders of the Orica-AIS team, one of the biggest in the women’s pack and best team on the Ladies Tour last year, which boasts in its ranks none other than Sweden’s Emma Johansson, world number 1 in 2013, and Italian Valentina Scandolara, winner of the Santos Women’s Tour (the women’s Tour Down Under) just several days ago. Also, strong individual talents should not be forgotten, like Amy Pieters (2nd last year), Lisa Brennauer (world time-trial champion and world championship runner-up in 2014) or Lucinda Brand (Plouay Grand Prix winner in 2014), who all can legitimately lay claim to the status of pretender to become queen of the desert…

15 teams: the leading riders:

Australian national team: Wells (Aus)
Orica – AIS: Johansson (Swe), Elvin (Aus), Scandalora (Ita)

Topsport Vlaaderen Pro-Duo: Druyts (Bel)

French national team (FRA): Jeuland (Fra)

Velocio SRAM: Brennauer (Ger), Cromwell (Aus), Worrack (Ger)

Great Britain
Wiggle Honda: Bronzini (Ita), Hosking (Aus), Longo Borghini (Ita)

China Chongming Liv – Champion System Pro: Jiang (Chn)

Ale Cipollini: Tagliaffero (Ita)
Italian national team: Cecchini, Ratto (Ita)

Boels Dolmans: Armitstead (GB), Van Dijk (NL)
Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team: Brand (NL), Gillow (Aus)
Team Liv Plantur: Pieters (NL), Garner (GB)

Hitec Products: Kitchen (Aus), Guderzo (Ita)

Bigla Pro Cycling Team: Olds (USA)

Team Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies: Kirchmann (Can).

The stages of the Ladies Tour of Qatar 2015:
Stage 1, Tuesday 3rd February: Museaum of Islamic Art – Dukhan Beach (98.5 km)
Stage 2, Wednesday 4th February: Al Zubarah Fort > Madinat Al Shamal (112.5 km)
Stage 3, Thursday 5th February: Souq Waqif – Ah Khor Corniche (93.5 km)
Stage 4, Friday 6th February: Sealine Beach Resort – Doha Corniche (85 km).

Ladies Tour of Qatar 2014 – Final Km’s Stage 1:

header-giantalp15Liv-Plantur in Qatar
Team Liv-Plantur heads to the opening race of the women’s season on February 3, the Ladies Tour of Qatar, a race which the team has experienced success at in previous editions.
The line-up for the ladies team’s opening race of the season features a young selection, with five of the six riders aged 24 or under. Amy Pieters (NED) returns to Qatar after finishing second overall, together with a stage victory in 2014.

She is joined by Lucy Garner (GBR) for any sprint opportunities, together with a strong support team for the race where riding as a unit is of high importance with the constant threat of crosswinds splitting the peloton to pieces.

With all the riders working to individually designed training plans for their different targets over the year, each rider’s preparations have been slightly different but the team is coming into this first race in good shape and ready to show off the new jersey.

“We have a strong, young team for the opening race of the season here with Amy and Lucy as leaders,” confirmed coach Hans Timmermans (NED). “Lucy’s chances could depend on the wind conditions and we will look to support her through these testing moments. Qatar is never an easy race with the crosswinds but we will look to be in the first echelons.

“The team are heading to Qatar off the back of a good training camp in Spain, where we worked specifically with the performance team to fine-tune preparations for the season and to prepare both physically and mentally for the coming races.”

Liv-Plantur Qatar Line-up:
Lucy Garner (GBR), Willeke Knol (NED), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE), Amy Pieters (NED), Julia Soek (NED).
Coach: Hans Timmermans (NED).

Lucy Garner:
Cambrils, 25-012015, Liv Plantur

header-oman14Tour of Oman 2015: Nibali Targets Victory
The winner of the 2014 Tour de France Vincenzo Nibali tops the list of the favorites ahead of the coming Tour of Oman (February 17-22). He’ll take part in the event for the fourth time in a row and doesn’t hide his ambition to leave Muscat with another win under his belt.

To be held for the sixth time, the Tour of Oman has the incredible record of being the only event out of Europe to have welcomed the past six winners of the Tour de France. Following the path of Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali will make his way to the sultanate after being awarded the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysées in Paris last July but it won’t be anything new to him. He hasn’t missed any Tour of Oman since he first took part in it in 2012 and won stage 5 atop Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain). That’s where he kind of re-launched his career after one year and half year without any victory.
“That’s why I’ll return to Oman with great pleasure again this year”, Nibali explained. “I like this race. I’ve had great satisfactions in Oman in the past, like my win at the Green Mountain in 2012. I hope to win there again even though I know I’ll face a fierce competition.”
During a training camp in Spain in mid-January, his coach Paolo Slongo warned: “Vincenzo has prepared for the season better than last year. This time around, he won’t wait for the month of June and the Italian championship to grab his first victory. It might as well happen as early as at the Tour of Oman.”

As Nibali foresees, his competitors will be of a high quality and ready to roar. Tejay Van Garderen and the overall winner of the 2012 Tour of Oman Peter Velits (BMC Racing Team), Roman Kreuziger and the King of the Mountain of the 2014 Tour de France Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Leopold König (Sky), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Matthias Frank (IAM Cycling) will be the other climbers in contention.
Classics specialists and sprinters Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Arnaud Démare (FDJ), Fabian Cancellara (Trek), Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) will also increase the prestige of the field of champions lining up in Oman.

18 équipes : the leading riders:

Orica GreenEDGE: Blythe (Gbr), Weening (Ned)

Etixx – Quick Step: Boonen (Bel), Terpstra (Ned)
Topsport Vlaanderen Baloise: Wallays (Bel)

Cofidis, Solutions Crédits : Bouhanni, Petit (Fra)
FDJ : Pinot, Démare, Jeannesson (Fra)

Bora – Argon 18: Bennet (Irl), Nerz (Ger)
Team Giant – Alpecin: Barguil (Fra), Arndt (Ger), Sinkeldam (Ned)

Great Britain
Team Sky: König (Cze), Poels (Ned)

Bardiani CSF: Colbrelli (Ita)
Lampre – Merida: Costa (Por), Pozzato, Modolo (Ita)

Astana Pro Team: Nibali (Ita), Fuglsang (Den), Guardini (Ita)

Team Katusha: Rodriguez (Esp), Kristoff (Nor), Guarnieri (Ita), Moreno (Esp)
Tinkoff – Saxo: Sagan (Svk), Kreuziger (Cze), Majka (Pol)

South Africa
MTN – Qhubeka: Boasson Hagen (Nor), Bos (Ned), Goss (Aus)

Movistar Team: Valverde, Rojas (Esp)

IAM Cycling: Frank (Sui), Brändle (Aut), Elmiger (Sui)

BMC Racing Team: Van Garderen (USA), Van Avermaet (Bel), Velits (Svk)
Trek Factory Racing: Cancellara (Sui), Arredondo (Col).

Tour of Oman 2014 – Peter Sagan bunny hop:

header-vuelta-leftEBU to Broadcast la Vuelta up to 2020
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Unipublic have reached an agreement to broadcast La Vuelta up to 2020.

Offering the broadcasting rights to the largest number of broadcasters is the goal shared by the EBU and Unipublic.

The terrestrial networks of Belgium (VRT), the Netherlands (NOS), Norway (TV2), Denmark (TV2), the United Kingdom (ITV) among others and Eurosport covering 54 countries, will enable millions of fans to follow the exploits of champions competing in one of the major Tours in the cycling calendar.

Produced and broadcast by TVE in Spain, La Vuelta will also enjoy media coverage on digital channels, as the event will also be broadcast on all the digital platforms run by the above partners (internet sites, social networks, and mobile applications).

“The EBU is delighted to prolong its long-standing partnership with Unipublic and to provide extensive coverage of La Vuelta, through its Members and Eurosport, in countries throughout Europe. The public’s growing enthusiasm for cycling is further support for the EBU’s mission to offer major sports events together with a variety of Olympic sports to the broadest possible audience,” declared Stefan Kürten, EBU Director of Sports & Business.

“The EBU is already partner of the Tour de France and others major cycling events. Through this agreement La Vuelta will be guaranteed maximum exposure over the next few years, reaching a growing number of Europe cycling fans, both on the major general-interest channels and on Eurosport,” stated Yann Le Moenner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Unipublic.”

The 2015 Vuelta a España route in 3D:

header-tdfKraftwerk 3-D concert during the Tour de France in Utrecht
TivoliVredenburg fulfills long-cherished wish of German electro pioneers

Le Grand Départ, the opening weekend of the Tour de France, will take place in Utrecht. During this weekend, the multimedia project Kraftwerk plays one of their legendary 3-D concerts including all their classic compositions and featuring their “Robots”. As a tribute to this major international cycling event they will also perform their complete Tour de France album. This 3D performance will take place in TivoliVredenburg in the evening on Friday July 3rd. This performance during the Tour de France is a long-cherished wish of Kraftwerk founder and cycling enthusiast Ralf Hütter.

Long-cherished wish
Ralf Hütter and all other members of Kraftwerk are avid cyclists themselves. This cycling fanaticism has led to the creation of the widely acclaimed album Tour de France in 2003. The story of the album goes back twenty years. In 1983, the same-titled single was released as a tribute to the Tour de France. The album was recorded in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Tour and includes song titles like ‘Prologue’ and ‘Tour de Etape 1’.

When Kraftwerk recently played their concert series “The Catalogue – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8” in Amsterdam, they were informed that the Tour de France starts in Utrecht this year: reason for an enthusiastic Ralf Hütter to visit TivoliVredenburg in the city of Utrecht. This will be the first time that Kraftwerk performs this album during the Tour de France.

Hailing from Germany, Kraftwerk has, since its inception in 1970, been of major influence in the development of electronic music. With origins in the avant-garde, the quartet has continued to experiment for decades while also exploring the possibilities of the genre. Musicians and producers from around the world have been influenced by the sound of Kraftwerk. Their compositions have had a major international influence across a wide range of music genres from Electro to Hip Hop and from Synth Pop to Techno.

Tour de France & Grand Depart
The Tour de France is a monument in the history of sports. The biggest sporting event in the world in 2015 starts on Saturday, July 4th. The official kickoff is in Utrecht, the number one bicycle city par excellence. After five years, the Tour de France returns to the Netherlands for the sixth time: a record.

TivoliVredenburg opened its doors in June 2014 and is unique in the world. With four new halls surrounding the old hall of Vredenburg, the new venue offers stages for all genres of the musical spectrum: classical, pop, dance, jazz and everything in between. Previously, Kraftwerk performed at the old Vredenburg in ’81 and ’91. This year’s performance takes place in the brand new pop hall, Ronda, which is known for its intimate setting.

General information
– Kraftwerk – 3-D concert for the start of Tour de France
Friday July 3 2015 in TivoliVredenburg, Ronda
Start: 20:00, tickets: € 64, – plus service.
Presale starts Friday January 30th 01:00 PM via: www.ticketmaster.nl/kraftwerk
More info: www.kraftwerk.comwww.tivolivredenburg.nlwww.utrecht2015.com

header-sky-leftTeam Sky: The First Five Years
Here is a great video for all the Sky fans out there. I know there are a lot of you, so enjoy this look back over the five years of the Sky team:

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