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EuroTrash Cross Monday!

Load’s to pack into today’s EuroTrash Monday: Two cyclo-cross races, a life ban, nice profit for England during the Tour, race news from Portugal, Oman & Colorado, team news from IAM Cycling, Katusha, LottoNL-Jumbo, Giant-Alpecin & Colombia. Plus Stig Broeckx met Sinterklaas and Zdenek Stybar’s Cross season. Get that coffee!

TOP STORY: Life Ban for Luca Benedetti
Italian cyclist Luca Benedetti (Amore Vita-Selle SMP) tested positive for Darbepoetin after stage 2 of the Grand Prix Cycliste Saguenay in Canada, the drug is a form of EPO. A week after his positive test, the Italian took his best result of the season when he won a stage of the Tour de Beauce.

Benedetti gave the sample on the 6th of June during the GP Saguenay where he won the KOM competition. He stayed on in Canada to race in the Tour de Beauce, with his stage win and then through the Tour of Qinghai Lake, where he had three top ten finishes and then finished 14th in the UCI 1.1 the Tour of Toscana before being suspended. Benedetti is no stranger to doping bans as he was suspended for two years as an amateur in 2010 for a breach of WADA code in the Padua investigation during the 2010 GiroBio, the penalty was later reduced to one year. At 26 years old his cycling career is over.

The Tour de Beauce stage win:

header-vlaamscross14Vlaamse Druivencross – Overijse 2014
Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) was the fastest of a four-man lead group, including; Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), Mathieu Van der Poel and Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) on Sunday at the Vlaamse Druivencross in Overijse.

Meeusen, Vantornout, Van der Poel and Walsleben split off the front and were matching each other over the final laps, but when they hit the last lap Meeusen and Vantornout started to push each other for the win. Van der Poel and Walsleben were in trouble. Vantornout looked to be in control, but Meeusen shotpast and put in a strong effort which rattled Van der Poel who had been looking good. Meeusen stuck to the front, coming into the finishing straight first not allowing Vantornout to pass him in the sprint. Van der Poel managed to hold for 3rd ahead of team mate Walsleben.

Winner Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea): “When I can take the victory it’s always special because normally I have to do it in a sprint, and today it was as well. Mathieu van der Poel didn’t ride yesterday, so he was very fresh, and he attacked two times in [the second half] of the race, so I knew if I could hold his wheel I could compete for the victory. I had to be first in the last corner, and I was first there, and I could just hold it to the finish.”

2nd Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon): “You know it will be difficult when you enter the last lap together with Tom Meeusen. He’s also a very clever rider, who also knew he had to enter the last straghtaway as the first rider. I still felt power in my legs to do the sprint, I could keep going in the sprint, but it was not enough to beat Tom. It’s a bit disappointing, but it’s a confirmation I’m doing well and yesterday (in GP Hasselt) was only bad luck.”

3rd Mathieu Van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus): “It was a tough course, and I controlled the race, and I thought I was going to sprint for the win, but I made a little mistake the last lap. So I was not in for the win today. I’m happy and satisfied about my race, because it was really tough and I always was in the front, but now it’s a bit disappointing. You always want to win, and it’s a bit frustrating, but I have to think positive and look at the bright side of today. It’s difficult to win a cyclocross this year, and it’s been a while for me. So I look forward to next week already.”

Vlaamse Druivencross – Overijse Result:
1. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
2. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
3. Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus
4. Philipp Walsleben (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
5. Corné Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet-Fidea
6. Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon-KwadrO
7. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
8. Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace
9. Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan-AA Drink
10. Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon-KwadrO.

Here is the link to the race highlights on Sporza, well worth watching.

Vlaamse Druivencross in Overijse 2015

header-bpost-trofee14Bpost Bank Trofee – Hasselt 2014
Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) won round four of the Bpost Bank Trofee in Hasselt on Saturday and took the overall lead from Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink). Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) showed his form in second place. Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) finished fourth, losing the sprint to Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), 30 seconds down on Pauwels.

Tom Meeusen and Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) led the race through the second lap with Pauwels in a large chase group at around 15 seconds. Meeusen allowed Van Kessel to move ahead for the bonus 15 seconds, Meeusen was 2nd (10 seconds bonus) and Pauwels 3rd (5 seconds bonus). Van Kessel lost his lead when he crashed and then Meeusen’s inability in the sand allowed Pauwels and Van Aert to take over the head of the race.

Sven Nys started to chase when the gap got to 10 seconds and from then on the race was a pursuit between Pauwels/Van Aert and Meeusen/Nys. The gap held at 10 seconds, but eventually Pauwels put the pressure on and the lead grew to 30 seconds by the finish. Van Aert was dropped but managed to catch Pauwels, then on the final lap; Pauwels was the better rider through the sand taking the win from Van Aert and clocking the fastest lap of the day.

Last years winner; Nys had to be content with fourth place as Meeusen took 1 second advantage from the Belgian champion, both chased hard, but at no time did the look like they would get back into contention as Pauwels and Van Aert were flying. Young Dutch champion Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano) was 5th, but his race was ruined by a puncture and a crash.

Race winner Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games): “I knew I had some margin to go faster in the corners. I went flat out through the sand. In the following corners I managed to increase my lead. No mistakes? That’s only possible when you’re really good. Today I had a really good day. I didn’t expect to make up as much time as I did. Maybe more is possible but not if Nys has a good day, like I did today. Things are going great. Maybe I’m even riding better than in my best years” Pauwels was also very complimentary about his break-away partner Van Aert: “At the moment we’re the two strongest riders.”

Second placed Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace): “I didn’t go well through the sand in that last passage. On the technical section he was much faster. I wasn’t feeling fresh so second place comes as a surprise to me.” He also had problems with tree trunks. “I didn’t dare to jump them. If I do it I’m so slow I’d better hop off the bike. Also the new disc brakes hindered my cornering.”

Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), third 1 second ahead of Sven Nys: “I blew up my engine early on and when they attacked I had a bad moment. Closing six seconds was possible but not more. A podium result in a series race is important for me.”

Belgian champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) was 4th: “I tried to lose as little time as possible. It was impossible to close the gap. You can go faster for 100 metres but not all the time. In the final lap they’re fighting for the win and I realized I was losing 10 more seconds. In the end it was half a minute and that’s too much. I didn’t expect too lose that much time. If it happens here then it can surely happen twice as much in Baal. It’s a fair competition. The strongest rider will win.”

Pauwels now has an overall lead of 1:07 from Nys with Van Aert third at 1:31. The next round of the Bpost Bank Trofee series is in Essen on December the 20th.

Bpost Bank Trofee – Hasselt Result:
1. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games in 1:04:11
2. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace at 0:03
3. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea at 0:30
4. Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-AA Drink at 0:31
5. Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 1:04
6. Corné Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet-Fidea at 1:30
7. Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan-AA Drink at 1:31
8. Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon-KwadrO at 1:53
9. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
10. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea at 1:57.

Action from Hasselt:

header-tdfTour de France earned £130 million for the UK
According to the economic evaluation report, the Grand Depart earned £130 million and it is believed by Welcome to Yorkshire’s CEO Gary Verity, that the total will rise over the coming months and years after Le Tour boosted Yorkshire’s tourism cache. Verity backed the official stats with numerous anecdotal reports from local businesses that have benefited, including local hotels having forward bookings for next year up 30% and even an ice cream vendor who sold almost a year’s worth of ice creams in eight hours during the stages.

The official statistics show that the Tour generated more than £102 million for Yorkshire and £30 million for Cambridgeshire, Essex and London. The expected overall economic benefit figure is expected to rise to in excess of £150 million as a result of that increased tourism profile. The Grand Depart was watched from the roadside by crowds of 4.8million. That total has been questioned by some cynical commentators, but the figure includes those that watched the event at multiple locations on different stages. The stats say that a total of 3.5 million individuals watched – 2.3 million in Yorkshire and 1.3 million on stage three, with around 600,000 in London.

The Tour Facts:
The race was watched in person by approximately one in four people in the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber region.
· The event attracted 113,000 visitors from outside the UK, generating £33m into the UK economy.
· The Tour provided £24.3m benefit to the accommodation sector in the host areas.
· 18.6million people followed the race on television or on other devices in the UK.
· 92 per cent of spectators who watched the Yorkshire stages felt the Tour had been positive for the region, as well as 79% of those who attended stage 3.
· The Yorkshire Festival 2014, the first of its kind, saw more than 800,000 people attend more than 2,000 performances of arts and culture in the 100 days leading up to the Grand Départ.
· The official website letouryorkshire.com received two million visits during the week of the Tour starting, with over eight million page views.

Grand Départ 2014 – Made in Yorkshire:

header-algarveTeams for 2015 Volta ao Algarve
The organisers of the Volta ao Algarve have announced that five WorldTour teams will line up in Portugal for the 2015 edition of the stage race. Sky, Ettix – Quick-Step, Cannondale-Garmin, Lotto Soudal and Katusha are said to have signed up. The 2015 race will be run from the 18th to the 22nd of February and will include a 20km time trial. In 2014 Michel Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-step) beat Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) by 19 seconds and the then World champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) by 32 seconds overall after five stages.

2014 Volta ao Algarve the final stage 5:

header-Giant-Shimano14Responsibility for German Cycling Sees the Team Take on a German Licence from 2015
After the addition of a German title sponsor for 2015, Team Giant-Alpecin will continue this coming season under a German licence.

The change is part of the continuous widening of the team’s international orientation. France is and remains strategically important, while at the same time the team is reaching out to Asia and the US. The core of the team is Dutch, with the Office & Warehouse in The Netherlands. The German heart of Team Giant-Alpecin is part of its commitment to help take responsibility for the development of German cycling, and the team will become the first German licensed team in the WorldTour since 2010.

“We are continuing to build the team by feeding in international talent and providing these riders with all the opportunities to progress and develop into world class riders,” explained Team Giant-Shimano general manager Iwan Spekenbrink (NED). “As part of this we will also have a focus on the development of German talent to give them the opportunity to find their way to the highest level of the sport.

“Our sponsors have international interests and part of their involvement in the team is to have a global marketing platform to help grow their ambitions across the world, which fits very well with the international set-up that we have aimed to build from the very start. But in addition to this, they also see the importance of and are committed to bringing cycling back to the people in Germany, a goal that aligns itself with what we have started to work towards over the past years. Meanwhile, cycling in Germany is already getting back on track in a better way than people expect.”

Team Giant-Shimano will be called Team Giant-Alpecin from 1st January 2015. Team Giant-Shimano Women’s Team will become Team Liv-Plantur, named after the women’s brands of Giant (Liv) and Alpecin (Plantur), and will race under a Dutch licence.

Caleb Fairly Joins, Cheng Ji Renews, and Fredrik Ludvigsson Steps Up
Two more riders are to join the newly branded Team Giant-Alpecin from the start of 2015. Caleb Fairly, 27, comes on board, bringing three years of WorldTour racing experience with him. The next rider to bolster the 2015 line-up is young Swede, Fredrik Ludvigsson, stepping up from Development Team Giant-Shimano.

Team Giant-Shimano’s Cheng Ji made history as the first Chinese rider at the Tour de France, and he has renewed his contract with the team, seeing him stay for another two seasons.

Ji said of the news: “Firstly I have to say thanks to the team for their long-term support, help and confidence in me. I am very glad to be able to continue working with the staff and riders for the next two years and to continue our cooperation.

“I am really looking forward to the challenges ahead and I hope that I can continue the progression of my career, working hard for the benefit of the team.”

American rider Fairly has spent the past two seasons with US outfit, Garmin-Sharp where he has carved out a strong domestique roll for himself. He moves across from 2015 as the team look to strengthen the depth in support for certain races over the course of the season.

“Caleb is a rider we have identified who can work well in our team and with the structured way we work,” explained coach Marc Reef (NED). “You have to look at the way a rider will fit into the structure, and we see Caleb as a good support rider for the hilly classics and in stage races, something that is becoming increasingly important for us now.”

Fairly added: “I’m really excited to be riding with Team Giant-Alpecin and I’m grateful for their confidence in me. Since the team began I have been impressed with how they work to develop riders, and for the first time in my career I had more than one option so it gave me the opportunity to look at what I value in a team. Iwan [Spekenbrink – general manager] has developed a well-structured and organised team, and these are very important qualities to me, so I couldn’t be more positive about the opportunity.”

Twenty-year-old Ludvigsson takes the step up from the continental ranks of the Development Team to join his older brother, Tobias, after impressing the coaches and staff over the course of this season. He raced with the WorldTour team as a stagiaire in the latter part of the year but will officially join the WorldTour squad from 2015.

A strong all round talent, Ludvigsson’s season highlights include fifth overall at Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux (2.2), best young rider at the Circuit des Ardennes (2.2), as well as seventh at Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23.

“Fredrik showed in 2013 and 2014 that he was able to compete at the highest level in the U23 category, having just made the step from junior to elite, directly challenging for the victory in Normandie before winning the Boucle de l’Artois,” explained Team Giant-Shimano coach Dirk Reuling (NED). “These results signalled a strong talent to us and he continued to develop well in 2014 before some issues in the second half of the season. We discovered that he had a complication with an artery in his leg but following a successful operation, and a decent rest period under instructions from the team’s medical experts he can start to work back up to his best. In the future we hope to develop him into a good GC rider as he has these qualities – he time trials well and his climbing is already at a very good level.”

“It was already a real achievement to ride for the Development Team, but now I am stepping up to the highest level and I must thank the team for their faith in me despite the problems I have had this season,” admitted Ludvigsson. “I’m really looking forward to riding with and learning from the team, with some of the best riders in the world. To ride with my brother will also be very nice and I look forward to racing alongside him and all the others in 2015.”

Meanwhile, the contracts of Brian Bulgac (NED) and Sea Keong Loh (MAL) have not been renewed and the team wishes them the best of luck with their futures.

Giant-Shimano’s Cheng Ji rides the Tour:

header-colombiateamFabio Duarte extends with Team Colombia
Fabio Duarte will once again wear Team Colombia-Coldeportes’ colors in 2015. The 28-year-old former Under 23 World Champion travelled to Italy to meet General Manager Claudio Corti and sign the new contract that makes him the 18th rider in a significantly renewed line-up for the UCI Pro Continental outfit.

In 2014, Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Facatativa, June 11th, 1986) grazed a Giro d’Italia uphill stage win twice, grabbing the runner-up spot in stage 15th, finishing in Montecampione, and in stage 18th, to Panarotta. In 2013, Duarte went close to a Giro win as well, finishing 2nd in Tre Cime di Lavaredo snowstorm.

After Team Colombia’s signing of riders like Alex Cano and Brayan Ramirez, Fabio Duarte will be part of a strong field of climbers, whose ambition will be to live up to Colombia’s tradition and to the expectations of the fans, that in Team Colombia see much more than merely a cycling team: as officially confirmed by UCI Press Release of December 4th, the Escarabajos will once again be the only Colombian and South-American team in the Pro Continental circuit.

“I believe the Team line-up grew stronger for 2015 – Duarte commented after signing – and I wanted to be part of it once again. Even while considering other opportunities, Claudio Corti and I have always kept in touch and talking, so in the end we mutually agreed that we wanted to go on together. Over the years, I have developed a special relationship with Claudio and the fellow people in the team, so I am happy to be year again to go for a better season in 2015.”

“Even though he probably did not manage to give his best in 2014, you can’t downplay Fabio’s talent and the results he showed he is able to get – Claudio Corti commented – and he will be another significant card for us in 2015. This is the strongest Team we have had in four years, and I can’t wait for the season to start.”

Fabio Duarte 2008 World Under-23 Men’s Road Race Champion:

header-iamcyclingIAM Cycling Join the WorldTour
The WorldTour ceased to be a distant dream for IAM Cycling. The Licensing Board responsible for allotting the sought after tickets to the top league, gave the green light to the Swiss Pro Continental team after examining its case for promotion. The UCI then endorsed this decision. As of January 1, 2015, IAM Cycling, which joined the professional ranks as a Pro Continental team when founded in 2013 by IAM Funds CEO Michel Thétaz, will join the cycling elite as the 18th team in the World Tour. This promotion, was the icing on the cake of the team’s second season which was marked by great performances such as Matthias Brändle’s Hour Record, as well as 38 podiums and 17 victories including WorldTour wins by Matteo Pelucchi and Sylvain Chavanel.

At the official announcement regarding the change in status for his team, which will now be obliged to race all events on the WorldTour calendar including the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta, team founder Michel Thétaz welcomed the hard work accomplished behind the scenes in recent weeks. “We have completed our second season as among the very best teams in our class and we are ready to continue to progress. However, I realize one thing: I could never have explained to our high-quality riders and motivated staff my reasons if I had refused to go into the WorldTour for 2015. The circumstances were favorable and to have had to tell my riders that they would not be going to the Giro again through a lack of an invitation would have pained me. Since only idiots refuse to change their minds, I decided to make the jump. We worked hard to be able to present a strong case to the Licensing Board, in spite of the fact that it was at pretty short notice. We are ready to play in the big leagues with an increase in numbers for both riders and support staff. Under these conditions, I am keen to talk with people who wish to help a team advocating a new cycling. Next year, IAM Cycling will have increased visibility in the WorldTour. With our jersey that was elected the best design of any 2014 squad, the riders will be ready to make even more sparks. I have already been convinced of that after my interviews with them during our first team meeting in October.”

Paris-Nice stage-5

header-lottonl-jumboFuture Team LottoNL-Jumbo Proud of New WorldTour Licence
The Future LottoNL-Jumbo Team received a new WorldTour licence by the UCI today. The team is proud to be able to be active at the highest level of international cycling over the next years under the new name Team LottoNL-Jumbo.

“It feels good to be part of the Champions League of cycling for next couple of years,” said general manager, Richard Plugge.

“We can continue to develop young talent, and both our sporting and commercial vision over the next few seasons. Innovation remains an extremely important focus within our organisation. The collaboration with the athletes and staff of Jac Orie’s ice-skating team is a great challenge, which we would like to expand.”

Rider Robert Gesink reacted with delight after he heard the news. “I’m very pleased that our team is given the chance to achieve beautiful things at the highest level with our new backers Lotto and Jumbo over the coming years. I’m looking forward to the adventure. This licence shows that our team is world-class and that we belong at that level.”

Strict requirements
To qualify for a WorldTour licence a cycling team must meet the strict requirements of the UCI. Teams are sharply tested by the international cycling federation on financial, sporting and ethical levels. Because of that, the team is very proud of the licence.

Big races
With the WorldTour licence the future Team LottoNL-Jumbo is assured of starting in all the WorldTour races on the cycling calendar, like the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España and classics like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders.

presentation skating and cyclingteam Lotto.nl - Jumbo 2015

KAT14_Logo_624_317Team Katusha presents its 2015 line-up in Calpe
Today in the Spanish town of Calpe on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the official presentation of the 2015 Russian WorldTour Team Katusha was held.

During the presentation the 2014 season was summed up, the main aims and goals for the upcoming season were outlined, as well as the presentation of the full line-up of riders for the Russian team.

– The last season was full of bright and unforgettable events. Indeed, in some moments of the year we had some bad luck, but first of all we remember our beautiful victories and great successes. Milano – Sanremo and the Tour de France, Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de Romandie, Volta a Catalunya and Vattenfall Cyclassics, the Russian Championships and the Norwegian races – these are the memories of Katusha’s 2014 season. We spent a solid year in the WorldTour, and now we are working hard to prepare for the new and 7th season of our team. We have set up some ambitious goals and we are looking forward to reaching them. Among the main purposes of the team, first of all we have to mention the successful performances of our Russian riders in the WorldTour races. The 2015 season is a pre-Olympic year and we will do everything possible to earn Olympic quotas for Russia. In addition, among our other goals – we hope to see successful performances from our riders in the classics races, and in stage races as well as the Grand Tours. The Katusha roster has been strengthened significantly and I am sure we can realize our plans, – said general manager of Team Katusha, Viacheslav Ekimov.

The presentation was attended by honored guests of the team, sponsors and partners of the Russian Global Cycling Project, as well as representatives of the Russian and European mass media (and PEZ).

For Team Katusha the 2015 season will be the 7th season in the highest league of world cycling.

The line-up of Team Katusha in 2015 will be the following:
Maxim Belkov, Sergei Chernetckii, Vladimir Isaychev, Pavel Kochetkov, Alexander Kolobnev, Dmitriy Kozonchuk, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Sergey Lagutin, Aleksandr Porsev, Egor Silin, Iurii Trofimov, Alexey Tsatevich, Eduard Vorganov, Anton Vorobyev, Ilnur Zakarin (all – Russia), Joaquim Rodriguez, Daniel Moreno, Angel Vicioso, Alberto Losada (all – Spain), Jacopo Guarnieri, Giampaolo Caruso, Luca Paolini (all – Italy), Alexander Kristoff, Sven Erik Bystrøm (both – Norway), Tiago Machado (Portugal), Gatis Smukulis (Latvia), Simon Špilak (Slovenia), Rüdiger Selig (Germany) and Marco Haller (Austria).

Sports directors of the team in 2015 are: José Azevedo, Dmitry Konyshev, Torsten Schmidt, Gennady Mikhaylov, Claudio Cozzi and Xavier Florencio.


header_OPQS_PRNo cyclocross for Zdenek Stybar in December and January
Zdenek Stybar will not be racing in any cyclocross events for the months of December and January 2015. The decision was made in agreement with the team’s technical staff yesterday.

“I’m very disappointed that I won’t be lining up for the start of the cyclocross season,” explained Stybar. “When I took the decision I was almost emotional because it’s the first time in years I have to give up cyclocross. But to be honest, right now the conditions for taking on this type of competition just aren’t there. I’m still recovering from the shoulder injury. The rehabilitation is going well, but the pain in my shoulder isn’t entirely gone. I can work out on the road if I avoid holes and rough asphalt, but I still can’t carry the bike on my shoulder or perform other essential technical maneuvers necessary for a cyclocross event. Cross races are very skill dependent and you need complete control of your bike. Because of the injury, my training also got off to a late start and on top of it all, I still can’t exercise at the gym or do the core stability sessions. This is why, with a heavy heart, I have to give up cyclocross.

“I’m really very sorry, especially for the fans who always support me in the races, and for my cyclocross crew, for years with whom I’ve been sharing the joys and the efforts of the races,” Stybar continued. “Everybody knows how much I love this sport, but obviously the risk of compromising my rehabilitation and winter training is too big.”

“It wasn’t an easy decision for Zdenek,” said team doctor Yvan Vanmol. “But we also have to be realistic and the fact is that right now Zdenek is not physically ready for cyclocross. An injury of this type requires three months of rehabilitation before you can reacquire complete functional mobility and strength in the muscles of the shoulder cuff. We don’t want to run the risk of the shoulder problems coming back. The first priority is Zdenek has to recover 100 percent mobility in his shoulder, and then we’ll begin laying down the base for next season. One of his goals is to be on his top level in the cobblestone classics, which requires strength in the muscles of his shoulder cuff.”

Stybar also commented on the possibility of his presence at the World Championships, which are to be held in Tabor on the 1st of February. “I think it will be very difficult for me to be at the start,” Stybar said. “If the race had been held in another country I would have already withdrawn. The fact is that the race will take place in Tabor, in my own Czech Republic. That is where I became a World Champion for the first time and I have the most extraordinary memories from that circuit. It’s the pick of my career so far. However, the decision is being postponed until the middle of January, and will depend a lot on how I feel and how my shoulder is doing. At this moment the chance to be at the start is very small.”

2014 Cyclo Cross World Championships:

header-oman14Tour of Oman 2015: Nibali Tops Provisional Favourites List
In its sixth edition from 17 to 22 February, 2015, the Tour of Oman will again feature some of the biggest names among the Grand Tours and Classics contenders with Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali topping the provisional list of the race favourites.

The Tour of Oman holds a special place in Nibali’s cycling memories as he ended a 17-months drought following his first overall victory in a Grand Tour [the 2010 Vuelta a España] when he claimed stage 5 to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain) and carried on to his successful campaigns of the past three years at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. Since he made its debuts in the Sultanate in 2012, he hasn’t missed an occasion to test his legs against the other stage race specialists in the event that has attracted the winners of the past six Tour de France since its inception in 2010.

Grand Tours podium finisher Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) who has competed in all Tour of Oman since 2011 and won atop Green Mountain one year after Nibali, will return to Muscat as well as Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran at the helm of Etixx – Quick-Step, while a duel of the new generation is expected to take place with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Fabio Aru (Astana), the best young rider of the Tour de France and the Vuelta in 2014 respectively, crossing path for the first time with their new status in a high profiled stage race.

As well as Astana with Nibali and Aru, FDJ has put together a very interesting line up with their climbing corps formed of Kenny Elissonde, Steve Morabito and Arnold Jeannesson along with sprinter Arnaud Démare. Philippe Gilbert and Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Tom Boonen and Niki Tersptra (Etixx – Quick-Step), Warren Barguil (Alpecin-Giant), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) and hour world record holder Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) are among the other big names expected to turn up in Oman in mid-February.

Oman ProMo:

header-usaprocHost Cities Announced for 2015 USA Pro Challenge
Colorado’s largest sporting event is back for 2015, and today race officials unveiled seven of the host cities that will be highlighted as starts and finishes for the 2015 USA Pro Challenge. Taking place Aug. 17-23, the race will feature several dramatic changes for 2015, including a new overall start in beautiful Steamboat Springs, new host communities Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain and a challenging individual time trial course in the scenic town of Breckenridge. And with six of the seven stages set, organizers are looking to fans to help determine the location of Stage 6.

After drawing more than 1 million fans each year and generating $130 million in economic impact to the State of Colorado in 2014 alone, the USA Pro Challenge will make its return with an overall start in Steamboat Springs. Over the course of seven days of intensely competitive racing, the world’s best riders will return to iconic Colorado cities that have been key parts of the race in previous years, such as Aspen and Denver.

In a mix of new and prior host cities, the stages of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge include:
Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 17 – Steamboat Springs Circuit Race
Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 18 – Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin
Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 19 – Copper Mountain Resort to Aspen
Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 20 – Aspen to Breckenridge
Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 21 – Breckenridge Individual Time Trial
Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 22 – ???
Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 23 – Golden to Denver

Last year, fans weighed in on the final stage and ultimately determined a route that took the riders from Boulder, through Golden and finished in Downtown Denver. Due to overwhelming fan interest and support, organizers are again letting people have a say in the course. Fans will be able to help shape the race by logging on to www.prochallenge.com/2015stage6 before 11:59 p.m. MT December 12, and giving their opinion on what part of the state Stage 6 should visit.

In one of the most significant changes to the 2015 route, Breckenridge will host the individual time trial. Located 9,600 ft. above sea level, this course will test the riders with challenging, hilly terrain. With these additions combined with new host cities Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain Resort, the 2015 course will create dramatic moments for the riders and fans.

Additional details regarding the exact start and finish locations of the 2015 race, as well as the specific, detailed route will be announced in the spring.

More information can be found online at www.USAProChallenge.com and on Twitter at @USAProChallenge.

Face To Face With The Pro Challenge: Course Marshals:

header-lottobelisolAn Early Christmas Present for Stig Broeckx
Stig Broeckx has received his present from Sinterklaas this week; his new Lotto Soudal jersey. He might be a little disappointed as it’s not that much different from the old Lotto Belisol kit.

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