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A BIG Weekend of Racing on EUROTRASH Monday And All the Cycling News!

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More racing than you can shake a stick at in EUROTRASH Monday: Tour of Oman, UAE Tour Women, Muscat Classic, Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia Costa Cálida, Clasica de Almería men and women, Figueira Champions Classic, X2O Badkamer Trofee Lille and the Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross in Middelkerke – Reports, results and video.

Bauke Mollema thinks TV motorbikes influence races – TOP STORY.

Rider news: Rohan Dennis to retire at the End of 2023, Pello Bilbao to chase stage victories and Mark Cavendish the only Astana rider in Oakleys.

Team news: Trinity reveals new Specialized kit and L39ION of Los Angeles and Miami Blazers will not participate in the National Cycling League 2023 race series.

Race news: Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women routes & teams and Scheldeprijs will start in the Netherlands.

And the sad news of Spanish rider Estela Domínguez who died in a traffic accident.


top story
TOP STORY: Bauke Mollema Thinks TV Motorbikes Influence Races
Bauke Mollema is annoyed by camera motorcycles that ride right in-front of the peloton. Because the front riders of the group can use the slipstream, competition distortion occurs, according to the Dutchman. “It’s one of the biggest problems in cycling today,” Mollema told Cycling Weekly.

“It affects races and you see it happen in many races,” continued the Trek-Segafredo rider. “It changes races. It can even determine whether a leading group will make it or not, or how fast the peloton is racing.” Mollema noticed it himself in the second stage of the Tour of Valencia. “It was an uphill finish and the bike was five meters ahead of the peloton. You couldn’t come forward. In Italy and Spain it is worse than in other countries. In my opinion, the UCI is not doing enough to prevent motos from influencing the race.”

According to Mollema, the problem has become worse in recent years. “But of course I also pay more attention to it. Some scientific research was done a few years ago, which showed that you even benefit if the motorcycle keeps a distance of thirty metres. Today this distance is ten or fifteen metres. Thirty or forty metres would be better, but the images may not be as good for the people at home. In the future we have to come up with something else, such as drones, because at the moment it has a major influence on cycling.”

Just too close:


Tour of Oman 2023
Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) enjoyed a great start of 2023. He became a father last week and was able to dedicate a victory to his young son as he out-sprinted his rivals on Stage 1 of the Tour of Oman. The Belgian National champion took his first victory on the road since joining Soudal Quick-Step in the off-season, he did win a cyclo-cross in January. In front of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Center, he got the best of David Dekker (Arkéa-Samsic) and Axel Zingle (Cofidis).

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As soon as the peloton left Al Rustaq Fort, three riders escaped: Rodrigo Alvarez (Burgos-BH), Said Al Rahbi (Oman National Team) and Jeroen Meijers (Terengganu Polygon). Their maximum lead was 2:45 at 13 kilometres, but Tim Merlier’s Soudal Quick-Step quickly reacted to control the race for a sprint.

The attackers covered 42.7 kilometres in the first hour and Alvarez won the first intermediate sprint of the day at 60.1km. Astana Qazaqstan also worked at the front of the peloton as they try to deliver a first opportunity to sprint for Mark Cavendish, who came to Oman for his first races since he joined the Astana WorldTeam. The gap sat between 1:30 and 2 minutes on the road to Fanja and Meijers was first over the top of the only climb of the day (92km) to take 3 points in the most aggressive rider classification. The Dutch attacker kept going with a gap of 2 minutes to the bunch. His two breakaway companions were dropped.

Meijers took 3 more points in the intermediate sprint (101km), followed by Al Rahbi and Alvarez. The two chasers are quickly caught by the bunch, trailing by 1:50. BORA-hansgrohe also participated in the chase and Meijers was reeled in with 16km to go. AG2R Citroën try to control the finale but Soudal Quick-Step move up to the front positions and Tim Merlier delivers the victory for his new team, ahead of David Dekker (Arkéa-Samsic) and Axel Zingle (Cofidis).

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Stage winner and overall leader, Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step): “I couldn’t be happier! I’ve been a father for almost two weeks now, and this is what makes today’s result so special. This victory is for my son. Ok, I had already won that cyclo-cross race last month, but I was really eager to experience this feeling as fast as possible on the road, and I’m delighted that I did it here, in my very first stage race with the team. In the closing kilometres, I lost the guys a bit, but I could come back, and it was quite easy to follow Bert from that moment on. Then, in the sprint, I went a bit too early, but I had what it took to keep the speed, and this gives me a lot of confidence for the future.”

Tour of Oman Stage 1 Result:
1. Tim Merlier (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step in 3:31:00
2. David Dekker (Ned) Arkéa Samsic
3. Axel Zingle (Fra) Cofidis
4. Arne Marit (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
5. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X
6. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) UAE Team Emirates
7. Matthew Walls (GB) BORA-hansgrohe
8. Alexander Salby (Den) Bingoal WB
9. Max Kanter (Ger) Movistar
10. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Lotto Dstny.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 1:
1. Tim Merlier (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step in 3:30:50
2. David Dekker (Ned) Arkéa Samsic at 0:04
3. Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team at 0:05
4. Axel Zingle (Fra) Cofidis at 0:06
5. Rodrigo Alvarez (Spa) Burgos-BH
6. Arne Marit (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:10
7. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X
8. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) UAE Team Emirates
9. Matthew Walls (GB) BORA-hansgrohe
10. Alexander Salby (Den) Bingoal WB.

Oman’23 stage 1:


A ferocious attack in the final metres of the climb of Qurayyat saw Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) win Stage 2 of the Tour of Oman 2023 and take the overall lead. The Spanish puncheur made the most of his skills and his knowledge of the terrain to pounce at the perfect moment and get the best of Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates). Already a podium finisher in the Tour of Oman (3rd in 2019, a year that saw him finish 2nd in Qurayyat), Herrada wants to keep the red jersey all the way to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), the final summit on Wednesday.


The peloton left the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex and headed to the infamous climb of Al Jabal Street (3.5km at 9.2%), where the riders unleashed a flurry of attacks. Ivan Cobo (Equipo Kern Pharma) was the fiercest on the climb but the peloton did’t give him much space. Alone at the front he was caught at the bottom of the descent.

Attacks keep flying on the flat. Fredrik Dversnes (Uno-X) jumped ahead of the bunch after 15 kilometres. He’s quickly joined by Luca Van Boven (Bingoal WB), but Dvernes dominates the intermediate sprint at Al Amrat (20.1km). The two leaders were joined by four more attackers after 25km: Ivan Cobo, back on the move, Angel Fuentes (Burgos-BH), Kosuke Takeyama (JCL Team Ukyo) and the leader of the most aggressive rider classification, Jeroen Meijers (Terengganu Polygon), wearing the golden jersey after his breakaway on day 1. The gap was up to 4 minutes but UAE Team Emirates and Astana Qazaqstan reacted at the front of the bunch. Mark Cavendish participated in the chase for the Kazakh team and the gap sits between 2 and 3 minutes for most of the stage.

Cobo showed his climbing skills again as the attackers face the climb of Qurayyat (2.6km at 7%) for the first time, 52km before the uphill finish. Meijers couldn’t keep up and dropped back to the bunch. The peloton up the ante after the summit. As the gap dropped to 1 minute, Cobo, Dvernes and Takeyama also go back to the bunch. Van Boven and Fuentes remain at the front inside the last 30km. Soudal Quick-Step move to the front of the bunch and put the hammer down with 15km to go. The two attackers remaining at the front are brought in 7km out, just ahead of the final climb. UAE Team Emirates, BORA-hansgrohe and Arkéa-Samsic set a strong pace for their leaders. But nobody can hold Jesus Herrada’s acceleration in the final 200m. Maxim Van Gils and Diego Ulissi were the closest to the Spaniard.

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Stage winner and overall leader, Jesús Herrada (Cofidis): “It gives a lot of satisfaction to win here” “I feel very good” “I am very happy with this victory. Our team is in good shape this Tour of Oman. Today was a good final for me and the team did a great job. In the final I gave everything to win, for myself and for the team.” “I knew the course a bit. I already raced here in 2019, so it gives me a lot of satisfaction to win here now. We have achieved our first goal: stage win. We look at it day by day now and try to hold on to the leader’s jersey as long as possible.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny): “As a rider, you always want the highest possible result of course, but despite just missing out on the win today, I can be satisfied with my performance today. My fifth place at the Muscat Classic showed that the form is there and I am happy to continue that way at the Tour of Oman. This gives me confidences for the next stages. I love racing in the desert, but it wasn’t easy today. We knew this climb would suit me really well but it was a big fight to start the ascent in a good position. Luckily, my teammates did an amazing job and kept me at the front. Today I just missed out on the victory but there are some nice and tough stages to come. And I’m sure that the best young rider’s jersey will give me an extra boost.”

Tour of Oman Stage 2 Result:
1. Jesús Herrada (Spa) Cofidis in 4:21:07
2. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
4. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar
5. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step
6. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan at 0:03
7. Rémy Rochas (Fra) Cofidis at 0:05
8. Cristián Rodríguez (Spa) Arkéa Samsic
9. Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 2:
1. Jesús Herrada (Spa) Cofidis in 7:51:57
2. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny at 0:04
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:06
4. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step at 0:10
5. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar
6. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan at 0:13
7. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:15
8. Lennert Teugels (Bel) Bingoal WB
9. Niklas Eg (Den) Uno-X
10. Harold Tejada (Col) Astana Qazaqstan.

Oman’23 stage 2:


UAE Tour Women 2023
Charlotte Kool out-sprinted her former team-mate Lorena Wiebes to conquer an historic First Stage of the UAE Tour Women, and also claimed the Red, Green and White Jerseys. Liane Lippert took the Black Jersey.

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Charlotte Kool made history by becoming the first ever stage winner of the UAE Tour Women. The DSM rider was the fastest finisher at the end of the 109km Dubai Stage, sponsored by Dubai Sports Council and Dubai Harbour, which took the peloton from Port Rashid to Dubai Harbour, she out-sprinting former team-mate Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) in top style.

That victory ensured Kool also became the very first rider to be awarded the Red Jersey as leader of the General Classification, four seconds ahead of Wiebes and third-placed finisher on the stage, Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ). For her efforts, Kool was also awarded the Green Sprint Classification and White Young Rider Classification Jerseys, with Movistar rider Liane Lippert took the Black Jersey for the Intermediate Sprint Classification.


Stage winner and overall leader, Charlotte Kool (DSM): “It’s amazing, I can’t believe that it happened. We trained really hard over the winter for this. To get such a nice sprint already even when everything didn’t go well, it’s amazing. We lost a lot of our strong lead-out riders in the crash and it was really chaotic in the finish but we switched the plan fast. Franzi then did really well positioning me towards the final and bringing me to the right wheel. I felt super and did a good sprint, so it went really well for us. I’m really happy that even with a lot of bad luck in the final we still took a beautiful win. I think overall we did a good job today too. In all of the key moments we were there together and throughout the stage the team showed a lot of confidence in me, which gave me wings and extra motivation. I think for the first race of the season we did really well as a team. We will definitely go for it again tomorrow.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx): “Of course I am bummed about that crash, because that always takes strength. I was brought perfectly, but came up just that little bit short. Tomorrow there will be another chance. A rider in front of me fell just in front of my front wheel. Dodging was impossible at that speed, so I was brought down. I don’t think I’ve ever been back on my bike so quickly. A fall like that always takes energy. I also feel now that I fell and it will be stiff tomorrow. The adrenaline might help me to still win a stage in the coming days. After the fall I was back in Barbara Guarischi’s wheel pretty quickly. The lead-out went fine. Femke Markus brought us nicely through the last corner and the timing of the lead-out was also good. Only I fell just that little bit short of strength. Overall, I look back on this stage with a good feeling. Of course, I’m a bit bummed about the crash, but as a team we had it well under control. At the important points we were there and we solved it well. I’m happy that the lead-out went well. That also gives me a lot of confidence. Tomorrow there is another sprint opportunity and then we will go full for the win.”

4th overall and sprints leader, Liane Lippert (Movistar): “Our team’s plan for today was to try and create some echelons initially, but the crosswinds weren’t really strong enough to do that. The final was also very hectic which meant we weren’t in a position to go for the sprint with Emma [Norsgaard Bjerg], so it is great that I could get this jersey for my team. I had targeted it because the bonus seconds on offer for winning the intermediate sprints are important to me as a General Classification rider. I will try and go for more bonus seconds again tomorrow and hopefully that will mean I can defend the jersey.”

UAE Tour Women Stage 1 Result:
1. Charlotte Kool (Ned) DSM in 2:47:14
2. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) SD Worx
3. Chiara Consonni (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
4. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Uno-X
5. Sarah Roy (Aus) Canyon//SRAM
6. Tereza Neumanova (CZ) Liv Racing TeqFind
7. Maggie Coles-Lyster (Can) Zaaf Cycling Team
8. Marjolein van ‘t Geloof (Ned) Human Powered Health
9. Valentina Basilico (Ita) Bepink
10. Roxane Fournier (Fra) St Michel-Mavic-Auber93.

UAE Tour Women Overall After Stage 1:
1. Charlotte Kool (Ned) DSM in 2:47:04
2. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) SD Worx at 0:04
3. Chiara Consonni (Ita) UAE Team ADQ at 0:05
4. Liane Lippert (Ger) Movistar at 0:07
5. Nina Kessler (Ned) Jayco AlUla at 0:08
6. Silvia Persico (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
7. Cristina Tonetti (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo at 0:09
8. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Uno-X at 0:10
9. Sarah Roy (Aus) Canyon//SRAM
10. Tereza Neumanova (CZ) Liv Racing TeqFind.

UAE Tour’23 stage 1:


Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) out-sprinted stage one winner Charlotte Kool to take her first win of the season on Stage 2 and claimed the Red, Green and White Jerseys. Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka took the Black Jersey.

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Lorena Wiebes emerged triumphant in a thrilling second day of action, the Al Marina Holding Stage, at the first-ever UAE Tour Women. The Team SD Worx rider went head-to-head with Charlotte Kool (DSM) once again in the final sprint of the day, and this time she came out on top in the battle with her former team-mate. That victory also ensured Wiebes took the Red Jersey in the process, and she sits level on time with Kool at the top of the General Classification heading into the Queen stage of the race, with Chiara Consonni (Team UAE ADQ), who finished fifth on the stage, 10 seconds behind in third. The Al Marina Holding Stage started from Al Dhafra Castle and took the riders on a 133km trip across the desert before the action culminated in the picturesque coastal town of Al Mirfa. A fast and furious start saw the peloton split into echelons from the start as strong winds made for a dramatic day in the saddle.

GC hopeful Marta Cavalli (FDJ Suez) was just one of the big-names that were initially distanced as a 15 strong group including Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), Wiebes and stage one winner Kool disappeared up the road and built a lead of almost 5 minutes. A lengthy and hard-fought chase ensued before the chase group eventually brought the leaders back with just over 20km to go. The tension didn’t stop there though, and Cavalli found herself on the wrong side of a split once again, loosing 31 seconds, on the fast run-in to the finish where Wiebes ruled the sprint.

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Stage winner and overall leader, Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx): “The wind played a big role today, but we were continuously where we needed to be. I was brought perfectly by our lead-out, after which I was able to finish it off. I am very happy with this. It was very windy today. Because of the crosswinds, the peloton was immediately broken into pieces. We didn’t let ourselves be surprised and were four in front. At 40km from the end, the second group came back, after which we had a continuous headwind and the last group could also return. We were anticipating, because we knew that there would be crosswind again. From there it was full speed to the finish. We showed again that we have a good lead-out train. Barbara Guarischi put me in the perfect position, I could sprint as I wanted. The lead-out went smoothly. I felt super good today. This gives a lot of confidence for the future. That first win always brings extra joy. I just felt super good today and I am happy that I could finish off the work of my teammates. Tomorrow I hope to help Anna Shackley and there will be another sprint opportunity on Sunday. I hope to be able to assist Anna Shackley as much as possible and then there will be a final sprint opportunity on Sunday, where I will again try to go full for the win.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Charlotte Kool (DSM): “I made a mistake just before the last corner. It pushed me out of Pfeiffer’s wheel and I was riding into the wind. That cost me some energy for the sprint. It’s a pity I couldn’t finish it, but tomorrow there’s another chance. I can’t blame the team, it was a hectic day, but as a team we were really super strong. The lead-out was even perfect.”

Black jersey, Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka (Canyon//SRAM): “It was a tough stage but I made it with my teammates. We rode in the front of the peloton since the start of the stage, I am happy with my performance and of the whole team. Now I am excited about tomorrow’s stage.”

UAE Tour Women Stage 2 Result:
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) SD Worx in 3:35:28
2. Charlotte Kool (Ned) DSM
3. Pfeiffer Georgi (GB) DSM
4. Marta Lach (Pol) CERATIZIT-WNT
5. Chiara Consonni (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
6. Mylène de Zoete (Ned) CERATIZIT-WNT
7. Georgia Baker (Aus) Jayco AlUla
8. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
9. Roxane Fournier (Fra) St Michel-Mavic-Auber93
10. Sarah Roy (Aus) Canyon//SRAM.

UAE Tour Women Overall After Stage 2:
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) SD Worx in 6:22:26
2. Charlotte Kool (Ned) DSM
3. Chiara Consonni (Ita) UAE Team ADQ at 0:10
4. Liane Lippert (Ger) Movistar at 0:13
5. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7. Silvia Persico (Ita) UAE Team ADQ at 0:14
8. Sarah Roy (Aus) Canyon//SRAM at 0:16
9. Mylène de Zoete (Ned) CERATIZIT-WNT
10. Roxane Fournier (Fra) St Michel-Mavic-Auber93.

UAE Tour’23 stage 2:


One-two triumph for Elisa Longo Borghini and Gaia Realini of Trek-Segafredo on the top of Jebel Hafeet on Stage 3. Silvia Persico in third rounds out the new GC podium. Tomorrow Stage 4 will close the race in Abu Dhabi and crown the first winner of the UAE Tour Women.

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Elisa Longo Borghini and Gaia Realini produced an incredible display of climbing to claim a one-two victory for Trek-Segafredo on top of Jebel Hafeet.

The Italian duo proved the strongest on the final ascent of the day, and crossed the line hand-in-hand with Longo Borghini just ahead of her teammate to take the stage win and Red Jersey. Realini’s efforts were also rewarded with the 21 year old being awarded the White Jersey. Longo Borghini now sits 7 seconds ahead of Realini at the top of the General Classification, with Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ), who finished 1:11 behind that pairing on the stage, in third overall. Stage 2 winner Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) meanwhile, stayed in control of the Green Jersey with one stage remaining.

The Abu Dhabi Sports Council Stage took the riders 107km from the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, and once again, the action took place at a frenetic pace. Five riders formed an early breakaway but they were caught as the peloton approached the final climb of the day. As the speeds ramped up, pre-race favourite Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez) was dropped before the road began to rise, and the peloton’s numbers continued to dwindle in the last 10km as the world’s best climbers came to the fore. Indeed, only Longo Borghini and Realini were still in contention on the final drag to the finish line, and celebrated their victory in fine style.

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Stage winner and overall leader, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo): “This is the way you always dream to win, together with your teammate! Today I owe a lot to Gaia, she was just incredible setting such a hard pace and when we found ourselves alone we decided to try to go to the finish and celebrate together. I wanted Gaia to win the stage, and me the Red Jersey, but the Team DS did some calculations and said I should go for the win and Gaia would get the White Jersey of best young rider. Gaia wanted to cry because of how happy she was. She was amazing, and she’s such a talented young rider. I’m really glad to have her on my team, and to see her growing as a rider and person.”

2nd on the stage, overall and white jersey, Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo): “Today was a very hard stage, but it was incredible for me. It’s my first season riding for a big team, and my first race for them, so I’m delighted to be on my first podium. Elisa and I had a good rhythm on the climb and it unbelievable to cross the line together. This has been a big day for us.”

Green jersey, points classification leader, Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx): “We expected some crosswinds and tried to do something with that and push it full gas until the start of the climb to try and put Anna Shackley in a good position, and she did a really good job finishing the stage in seventh. Once the climb had started, I could take it a little bit easier because tomorrow is another chance for a sprint and we will go again to try and win that.”

Black jersey, sprint classification, Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka (Canyon//SRAM): “It was a really hard race, right from the start. My teammates did a really good job in the final so I am really happy. I’m happy to be in this jersey, I feel good and am enjoying the race, and I hope to defend it to the finish now.”

UAE Tour Women Stage 3 Result:
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 2:48:24
2. Gaia Realini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
3. Silvia Persico (Ita) UAE Team ADQ at 1:11
4. Esmée Peperkamp (Ned) DSM at 1:13
5. Mikayla Harvey (NZ) UAE Team ADQ at 1:18
6. Eider Merino (Spa) Laboral Kutxa Fundación Euskadi at 1:19
7. Anna Shackley (GB) SD Worx at 1:22
8. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon//SRAM at 1:45
9. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon//SRAM at 1:53
10. Julie Van de Velde (Bel) Fenix-Deceuninck at 1:55.

UAE Tour Women Overall After Stage 3:
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 9:10:53
2. Gaia Realini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:07
3. Silvia Persico (Ita) UAE Team ADQ at 1:18
4. Anna Shackley (GB) SD Worx at 1:35
5. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon//SRAM at 1:58
6. Mikayla Harvey (NZ) UAE Team ADQ at 2:02
7. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon//SRAM at 2:06
8. Esmée Peperkamp (Ned) DSM at 2:22
9. Liane Lippert (Ger) Movistar at 2:35
10. Mareille Meijering (Ned) Zaaf Cycling Team at 2:37.

UAE Tour’23 stage 3:


Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) made history on Sunday by becoming the first-ever winner of the 2023 UAE Tour Women after Charlotte Kool sprinted to victory on the Final Stage 4.

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Longo Borghini took control of the Red Jersey by winning Saturday’s mountain stage at the summit of Jebel Hafeet, and made it safely around the 119km stage from Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy to Abu Dhabi Breakwater to seal her first race win of the season.

The Presight AI Stage belonged to Charlotte Kool (DSM) though, she timed her sprint to perfection to claim her second stage win in the space of four days and the Green Jersey, crossing the line ahead of Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) and stage 2 winner Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx). Also celebrating on Sunday were Gaia Realini, who finished second in the overall standings, seven seconds behind her teammate Longo Borghini, to claim the White Jersey, and Canyon//SRAM rider Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka, who won the Black Jersey.

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Stage winner and Green Jersey, Charlotte Kool (DSM): “The sprint was really hectic. I knew I had to be patient and wait for a gap to open up before I could launch my sprint. My team rode brilliantly every day here, I am very happy with our performances over the UAE Tour Women, we showed we are capable of achieving many nice things, and to finish it off like today is just a dream!”

Final overall winner, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo): “I am very happy with this victory at the UAE Tour Women! I am so proud of my team, we showed great togetherness here and are now confident for the rest of the season. This is a success for the whole team and now it is time for some celebrations with all the staff that helped me to achieve it!”

2nd overall and White Jersey winner, Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo): “I’m really happy to have finished second and won the White Jersey in my first race for Trek-Segafredo. Today was a fast, fast race and it was very nervous in the last kilometres, but I was able to sit towards the back of the peloton and my teammates were there to look after me.”

3rd overall, Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ): “To get on the GC podium at the UAE Tour Women is a great result for me. I am happy with that and with the performance of my team. I think we rode well every stage and I want to thank all my teammates and staff that helped me get this result. Now I am very confident for the rest of the season that has just started.”

Winner of the black sprint competition jersey, Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka (Canyon//SRAM): “I’m delighted to have ended the race in the Black Jersey and it’s the first one I have won at WorldTour level. I’ve really enjoyed this race and the weather has been really good, so I am very happy with how things played out.”

UAE Tour Women Stage 4 Result:
1. Charlotte Kool (Ned) DSM in 2:57:55
2. Chiara Consonni (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
3. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) SD Worx
4. Emma Norsgaard (Den) Movistar
5. Mylène de Zoete (Ned) CERATIZIT-WNT
6. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Uno-X
7. Georgia Baker (Aus) Jayco AlUla
8. Sarah Roy (Aus) Canyon//SRAM
9. Gladys Verhulst (Fra) FDJ-SUEZ
10. Ilaria Sanguineti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo.

UAE Tour Women Final Overall Result:
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 12:08:48
2. Gaia Realini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:07
3. Silvia Persico (Ita) UAE Team ADQ at 1:18
4. Anna Shackley (GB) SD Worx at 1:35
5. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon//SRAM at 1:58
6. Mikayla Harvey (NZ) UAE Team ADQ at 2:02
7. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon//SRAM at 2:06
8. Esmée Peperkamp (Ned) DSM at 2:22
9. Liane Lippert (Ger) Movistar at 2:35
10. Mareille Meijering (Ned) Zaaf at 2:37.

UAE Tour’23 stage 4:


Muscat Classic 2023
On Friday Jenthe Biermans (Arkéa-Samsic) powered to victory in the first edition of the Muscat Classic. At 27 years old, the Belgian rider claimed his first professional win, a couple of weeks after his first podium finish. And it had a very special meaning for Biermans: “Last year, my girlfriend’s father passed away. He always said in his last words that I could win. This is for him.” He narrowly got the best of Jordi Warlop (Soudal Quick-Step) and Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën) in the sprint from a reduced group.


The headwind faced by the peloton in sunny Al Mouj Muscat didn’t deter an early attacker: Manabu Ishibashi (JCL Team Ukyo) attacked after a couple of kilometres and gradually increased his lead, up to 16 minutes after 71km, just before he started the last 100km.

Kern Pharma, Movistar and Soudal Quick-Step were the first to react. At the bottom of the first ascent of the day, in Bousher Al Amerat (3.5km at 9.5%), on the climb the lead reached a maximum of 17:30. But Ishibashi lost 4 minutes to the peloton on the climb. The gap quickly decreases and two of the strongest teams in the field, UAE Team Emirates and Astana-Qazaqstan, set a stronger pace as they enter the final circuit and tackle the second climb of the day, in Hamriyah (900m at 10.1%). Over the top (108.8km), the gap was down to under 9 minutes.

Then BORA-hansgrohe put the hammer down and the bunch was reduced to 50 riders. But they got back together ahead of the climb of Al Jissa (1.1km at 10%), inside the last 5km of the circuit. Meanwhile, the gap to Ishibashi dropped to 2:10 with 35km to go and AG2R Citroën also worked at the front of the bunch. The Japanese attacker was eventually reeled in 30km from the finish. The peloton exploded on the penultimate ascent of the day, in Hamriyah (21.7km to go at the summit). Attacks kept flying, with Roger Adria (Kern Pharma) and riders from BORA-hansgrohe, Astana Qazaqstan and UAE Team Emirates among the most active. A group of 32 riders got back together ahead of the uphill sprint. Jenthe Biermans (Arkéa-Samsic) was not going let his chance pass with a long and powerful sprint to hold off Jordi Warlop (Soudal Quick-Step) and Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën).


Race winner, Jenthe Biermans (Arkéa Samsic): “This team fully believes in me. I said in advance that this is my race and the whole team worked hard for me. I earned that trust after the second part of last year. First there was my second place in the Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana and now my first victory. It’s fantastic. Faith, that’s important. So many big names rode at Israel-Premier Tech that I kept sacrificing myself. They picked me up to ride top 10 in these kinds of races, I get opportunities for that. I already took the podium in Valencia and I am happy to confirm it today. I had two more guys with me on the climb, with Michel Ries and Anthony Delaplace. We had first ridden away with 25 men and I was also one of them. In the end Ries and Delaplace were with me on the last climb, after which Anthony did the perfect lead-out. I was on Jordi Warlop’s wheel, but we got boxed in. Then the pace stopped and I had enough left for a sprint of 200 meters. In the end, no one came over.”

2nd, Jordi Warlop (Soudal Quick-Step): “I am super happy with this opportunity and now I can confirm that I was good. On the one hand it is super nice for me, but of course I would have liked to win for myself and for the team. I was always in the lead in the first group, but on the limit. Just before the last climb it all came together through Movistar. It was for me to climb over the mountain. After that I knew top-10 was in it, but it got even better. I am very happy with that. It was certainly exciting. I had a bad fall at the BK in June, so I had to lie flat in bed for six weeks and then we got the bad news from B&B that the team stopped. That was a moment of panic, especially with my results, because they were not good. Because I had a lot of bad luck. I did do beach races to get the engine going. And then I went looking for a team. But everything was full, or there was no budget or teams didn’t believe in me… Then I took the plunge and called Patrick Lefevere myself with the question: ‘Can I join the Devo Team?’ I’m super happy for the opportunity I was given, and also for Patrick for giving me the opportunity. I hope to go more often. I kept working and hope I can stay pro again next year.”

3rd, Andrea Vendrame AG2R Citroën): “I am happy with this podium. After taking fifth place in my return to racing at the Classica Comunitat Valenciana this is another good result for me and for the team. We were well represented in the final and the guys worked well. I started my sprint a little early but with the headwind, I was afraid that those behind would come with more speed. In any case, this proves that the form is there. I did not expect to be placing so well at the start of the season. I have changed the way I train, and it is paying off. However, I know that I still have room to progress, so only positives can be drawn from that. The goal will be to get a win quickly and why not start at the Tour of Oman. Two stages there definitely suit my strengths.”

4th, Francesco Busatto (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty): “It is fantastic to start my season in this way! This fourth place is thanks to the advice of my teammates. With all his experience, Rein Taaramäe tempered my enthusiasm in the final, saying that I could focus on the sprint whilst he and Louis attacked. For my first race with Intermarché-Circus-Wanty, the main lesson that I will keep in mind is the importance of a good communication to be able to pretend to a good result. It was a privilege to spend so much time with the pros last winter and grow alongside them. I learned a lot during the many performance activities such as the bike fittings, the effort tests, the aero tests on the track in Amsterdam and of course the two winter training camps in Alicante. I consider these experiences with the World Team important for my future. During the training camp I received valuable advice from my roommate Simone Petilli, with who I built a strong bond now. Tomorrow I’ll participate in the Tour of Oman, aiming to help the team in the best possible way. I’ll follow the instructions of our sports director Valerio Piva, which might be very varied so I can learn from all different tasks. I’m satisfied about my form at this period of the season. I’m especially looking forward to the first and fourth stage, which correspond best to my profile of puncher-climber.”

Muscat Classic Result:
1. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Arkéa Samsic in 4:27:48
2. Jordi Warlop (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step
3. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën
4. Francesco Busatto (Ita) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
5. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny
6. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7. Roger Adrià (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
8. Ide Schelling (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe
9. Lennert Teugels (Bel) Bingoal WB
10. Carlos Verona (Spa) Movistar.



Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia Costa Cálida 2023
Ben Turner won the Vuelta a Murcia. The Spanish one-day, shortened by snowfall on one of the climbs, ended in a sprint from a thinned peloton. Turner was too fast for Simon Clarke and Jordi Meeus in the slightly uphill finish.


Vuelta a Murcia was supposed to be a little longer this year, but in the end the distance was exactly the same as last year. Again 183 kilometres had to be covered. Due to snowfall, the Alto Collado Bermejo (17.2km at 5.3%) was removed from the race and replaced by the lower Cola del Caballo. Also on the route: the Alto Cresta del Gallo (4.4km at 6.5%) and the Alto de Cedacero (5.4kilometres at 5.4%). From the top of that last climb it was still about 20 kilometres to the finish in Cartagena.

Before the first climb, the Alto Cresta del Gallo, a leading group of 17 riders was formed. This included Florian Vermeersch, Marco Haller and Matteo Trentin. They started with more than 1 minute ahead of the large peloton on the climb. At that time, there was still a group of about 35 riders between the two groups. They joined on the climb, so we had more than 50 riders at the front. However, the co-operation at the front was not too good, so that the second group could return to the Cola del Caballo. Five riders took advantage of this new situation: Iván Romeo (Movistar) and Harry Sweeny (Lotto Dstny) opened a gap and were later joined by Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies), Jose Maria Garcia and Mateu Estelrich (both Electro Hiper Europa).

The five started the Cola del Caballo with a lead of just under 3 minutes. For a while the difference decreased, but later it went up again. After the climb, the front riders had 3:30. That was the signal for Cofidis and UAE Team Emirates to increase the pace in the peloton. Romeo, Sweeny, Ourselin, Maria Garcia and Estelrich still had around 3 minutes at 50 kilometres from the finish. On the way to the Alto de Cedacero, the last climb of the day, the leading group was thinned out. Estelrich dropped out about 40 kilometres from the end, 10 kilometres later it was over for Maria Garcia.The race started the climb with three escapees, but they lost their power when it started to rise. At the top, Sweeny, who had first dropped Ourselin and then Romeo, had a margin of less than 5 seconds. He would be caught on the descent.

There had been some attacks in the peloton on the Alto de Cedacero, including from Ben Turner, Clément Champoussin and Andreas Kron, no one managed to get away. No one escaped on the descent either, despite several attempts. With 11 kilometres to go, everyone realised that attacking was pointless and they started to prepare for the sprint. Jordi Meeus, Matteo Trentin and Bryan Coquard were still in the thinned peloton. The last kilometre in the finish city of Cartagena was slightly uphill. UAE Team Emirates, with defending champion Alessandro Covi in the lead, took the initiative. Trentin started early, but could not hold his effort to the finish line. Ben Turner was one of the riders who passed the Italian in the winding final. The 23 year-old British rider of INEOS Grenadiers held off Simon Clarke and Jordi Meeus to take his first professional win.

murcia 23

Race winner, Ben Turner (INEOS Grenadiers): “It split at the beginning and there was a group with me and Rowey. I didn’t really expect that either to be honest, to be at the front. It was hard from the start and nice ‘British’ weather. I think that helped. We settled in and then the boys did a fantastic job. Unfortunately we lost Kim and Brandon. But I don’t know what to say really, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near the win without them today. I just didn’t want to get boxed in (On the final climb). We did the recon yesterday and I knew I had to go early. I managed to be on the right wheel and it came off really well in the end. I still had the legs. It’s the biggest win of my career as it’s the only one! It’s hopefully not the last. It’s good to start in February with a win and let’s see what the rest of the season brings.”

2nd, Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech): “When I saw the final I thought this is my finish. I meant it was a little bit dangerous coming into the final there but finding good position like that is my thing so, I just made sure I picked the right side of the corners and lined myself up for the finish. Turner just had a better turn of speed than me in that last 100m. But it was great to be there contesting for the win. It was great to bring some form from the races in Australia, and it’s good to get on the podium and get some results for the team. Hopefully I can get some more strong finishes in the races to come.”

Jordi Meeus (BORA-hansgrohe): “We had a clear plan, if I felt good, the team would work for me for the sprint. We raced very well together as a squad, which motivated me even more. I struggled a bit on the climb at 15km remaining, but the guys did an amazing job to keep me in the first group. Then it was all about positioning in the finale. I’m happy with my form after my crash in Australia, and overall I’m pretty happy with my third place today.”

Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia Costa Cálida 2023
1. Ben Turner (GB) INEOS Grenadiers in 4:22:10
2. Simon Clarke (Aus) Israel-Premier Tech
3. Jordi Meeus (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe
4. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
5. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Tim Wellens (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
7. Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Lotto Dstny
8. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
9. Milan Menten (Bel) Lotto Dstny
10. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar.



Clasica de Almería Women 2023
Emilie Fortin is the first winner of the Clásica de Almería for women. The Canadian won the opening edition of the Spanish one-day race by escaping in the final and successfully staying solo to the finish. Alison Jackson was second and Floortje Mackaij finished third.

almeria23 w

Just like the Clásica de Almería for men, the new women’s event looked like it was for the sprinters… on paper. Although the riders had to climb to 609 metres in the first part of the race, the riders never faced really steep slopes. The second part was mainly dowhill. The last kilometre was at 2 to 3%, something for the fast-finishers to take into account.

The strong wind was a factor that turned out to have a lot of influence on the race. As a result, none of the riders felt like an attack and everything stayed together for a long time. It wasn’t until half way through the race that the first attack came. Lucy Gadd (Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime) gave it a good try, but she showed it was pointless. The British rider was soon back in the peloton. Later there was another solo by Lucía Ruiz (Eneicat-CMTeam-Seguros Deportivos). Her attempt was also unsuccessful. In the final, Canadian Emilie Fortin was the third rider to try a solo and this time she succeeded. The chase group was too late. Fortin’s countrywoman, Alison Jackson (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) won the sprint ahead of Floortje Mackaij (Movistar).

almeria 23 w

Race winner, Emilie Fortin (Cynisca Cycling): “The race was a long drag with a strong headwind. The goal of our team was to focus on the QOMs, where we thought we had the best chance to score points. This did not go as planned, as we were caught out on the first one and went a bit too early on the second. I had a flat towards the end but managed to come back. During that time a girl (Lucia Ruiz of Eneicat-CM Team-Seguros Deportivos) went away and not long after Pauline was chasing. I managed to ride up to her and together we made it over to the lone leader. As our gap grew, Pauline told me to save my legs and at 2 to go, I went without looking back. Pauline did a lot for me in the final and she told me when to attack. I just had to push on the pedals and bring it to the finish.”

Clasica de Almería Women Result:
1. Emilie Fortin (Can) Cynisca Cycling in 4:19:53
2. Alison Jackson (Can) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB at 0:16
3. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Movistar
4. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Movistar
5. Aurela Nerlo (Pol) Massi-Tactic
6. Lucie Jounier (Fra) Zaaf Cycling Team
7. Silvia Magri (Ita) Israel Premier Tech Roland
8. Letizia Borghesi (Ita) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
9. Iurani Blanco (Spa) Laboral Kutxa Fundación Euskadi
10. Sylvie Swinkels (Ned) Coop-Hitec Products.



Clasica de Almería Men 2023
Matteo Moschetti won the Clásica de Almería. The Italian was the fastest in a chaotic bunch sprint in Roquetas de Mar and delivered Q36.5, new to the peloton this year, their first victory. Jordi Meeus was second, Arnaud De Lie third.


The Clásica de Almería has been a sprinters’ race for years. Also this year there were again the fast-men at the start, including Fernando Gaviria and defending champion Alexander Kristoff. The big favourite was Arnaud De Lie. This could be the young Belgian’s fourth victory of the season.

Soon after the start of the 190 kilometre race, a leading group of three riders formed. Sander De Pestel (Flanders-Baloise), Eugenio Sánchez (Equipo Kern Pharma) and Luis Angel Maté (Euskaltel-Euskadi) had at the top of the Alto de Celin (7km at 4.6%), the toughest climb of the day, a lead of about 7 minutes. However, when the sprinter’s teams increased the pace in the peloton, that lead disappeared. With 60 kilometres to go and all the hills of the day behind, everything came together again. It was restless in the peloton, because there was a danger of echelons due to the wind. It also split for a moment, but at the front it eased off again, allowing everyone to return.

Not much happened until the last 20 kilometres. At this point the wind started again. The peloton went on a long line and groups of riders blew off the back. Most of the dropped were able to return, but with 12 kilometres to go, INEOS Grenadiers and UAE Team Emirates continued to put the pressure on. The shelter in the area of the finish of Roquetas de Mar ensured that the damage was not so bad. Despite the fact that the group was somewhat thinned, there was going to be a bunch sprint. In the run-up to the sprint, top favourite De Lie came under pressure. That was not the case for Matteo Moschetti, who surprised the rest of the field with a powerful attack for his first win of the season and the first win for the new Q36.5 team. Third place went to Jordi Meeus and De Lie was second after he had to swerve in full sprint due to a manoeuvre by Max Walscheid to avoid a crash.


Race winner, Matteo Moschetti (Q36.5): “This brings a lot of joy. We are still at the beginning of the season. For me it is the second race of the team, which is a new project. I am very happy with the confidence they gave me and that I can repay this confidence with this great victory. The final was certainly not easy, there was wind, many corners, many roundabouts… It was not easy to stay, but my teammates helped me a lot. I knew I had to hold my own in the last kilometre. Then I think I made it a fairly long sprint, but I felt that I had good legs and kept it up to the finish line. It will be a big challenge, but I am going for it with confidence. Last week I already felt good in the GP Valencia, but that race was very tough. I’ve given up on a lot. But maybe that just gave me that little bit more today.”

2nd, Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Dstny): “A solid plan was made up before the race and we executed it almost to perfection. We didn’t let us be surprised by the echelons and rode an attentive final. Everything went great until just under two kilometres from the line, where a small mistake caused us to lose each other a bit. The guys still did everything they could to get me to the front but I had to start my sprint from a bit too far. I still rode a strong sprint but need to settle for second place today. Of course it is a pity to just miss out on the win in a nice race such as Clasica Almeria but it is equally important to see that the team is there and again delivered a strong performance. We are a tight group with a nice atmosphere, which is also important towards the next weeks.”

3rd, Jordi Meeus (BORA-hansgrohe): “It was a very hectic finale with all the roundabouts and the headwind, but my teammates did a great job to put me in a good position. My sprint was good, but when I had to accelerate I just didn’t have enough power. Probably the effort of yesterday’s race affected me a bit there. But overall it’s a pretty good result and I’m happy with my performance here.”

Clasica de Almería Men Result:
1. Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Q36.5 Pro Cycling in 4:43:16
2. Arnaud De Lie (Bel) Lotto Dstny
3. Jordi Meeus (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Uno-X
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Israel-Premier Tech
6. Max Walscheid (Ger) Cofidis
7. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Movistar
8. Jason Tesson (Fra) TotalEnergies
9. Paul Penhoët (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
10. Juan Sebastián Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates.



Figueira Champions Classic 2023
Casper Pedersen became the latest rider to add his name to the Soudal Quick-Step winners’ circle, sprinting to victory out of a select group at the inaugural edition of the Figueira Champions Classic and racking up the team’s 899th win.


The most important one-day event ever held in Portugal, Sunday’s race took the peloton along the stunning Atlantic coast over a hilly terrain that comprised a total of six classified climbs. The testing route proved to be too much for the sprinters, who were taken out of contention with more than 50 kilometres, leaving a depleted bunch in the mix in what was slowly but surely turning into a race of attrition.

Rémi Cavagna tried to take advantage of that, launching one of his trademark attacks from the distance, a move which only five other riders could follow. The “engine” of that newly-formed group, the Frenchman dug deep to help the sextet gain almost a minute over the chasers, putting in a spirited effort that saw him remain off the front until with 17 kilometres to go, when the combined effort of several teams brought him back. After being caught, Cavagna continued to stay in the group together with teammates Casper Pedersen and Ilan Van Wilder, the latter countering some potentially dangerous attacks on the final climb and keeping things together. A strong headwind awaited the riders on the finishing straight, and Casper Pedersen timed his acceleration to perfection, hitting out with just 100 meters to go on the left side of the road – an acceleration that put his opponents into the rearview and netted him his first victory since 2020.

Figueira Champions Classic 2023

Race winner, Casper Pedersen (Soudal Quick-Step): “The course was difficult, and we knew that already from the training that we had here on Saturday, but each time we did the climbs I felt better and better and managed to remain in the front group. I didn’t expect to arrive with this select group and fight for victory, but I did it with the amazing support of Rémi and Ilan, they made it possible, and I am very grateful for that. For me it’s incredible to be part of the Wolfpack. It’s just my third race with the team and every time we raced for the win, which tells you a lot about the mentality everyone has. I love it here. The fact that this victory brought Soudal Quick-Step closer to another milestone just shows what a long, incredible and rich history this squad has. It’s incredible and I don’t have the words to describe it.”

Figueira Champions Classic Result:
1. Casper Pedersen (Den) Soudal Quick-Step in 4:35:54
2. Rune Herregodts (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
3. Marijn van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-EasyPost
4. Rui Costa (Por) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
5. Natnael Tesfatsion (Eri) Trek-Segafredo
6. Kevin Vermaerke (USA) DSM
7. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-EasyPost
8. Mathias Vacek (CZ) Trek-Segafredo
9. Nicola Conci (Ita) Alpecin-Deceuninck
10. Kobe Goossens (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty.



X2O Badkamer Trofee Lille – Men 2023
The X2O Trophy Lille was won by Laurens Sweeck. The Crelan-Fristads cross rider, rode almost the entire race off front together with Lars van der Haar and then defeated the Dutch champion in the final lap.


After Eli Iserbyt defeated Lars van der Haar in the Superprestige Middelkerke on Saturday, the two riders were at the start of the X2O Trofee Lille on Sunday. Michael Vanthourenhout and Laurens Sweeck were also there again. Sweeck got off to a good start. He pulled hard in the first lap, while Iserbyt and especially Vanthourenhout were distanced.

Van der Haar was alert in third place, behind Kevin Kuhn. The Dutchman moved up and at the end of the lap he was in the lead. He took 15 bonus seconds and came a bit closer to Eli Iserbyt, the leader of the X2O Trophy. However, the difference was still more than 2 minutes. Sweeck was a few metres away at the start of the second lap, but was able to make the connection after the line. The rest followed a little further back. A lap later, the differences were still limited, but the chasing group had grown. Vanthourenhout had also returned to the group, which also included Iserbyt, Daan Soete, Joris Nieuwenhuis and Pim Ronhaar who tried to cross to Sweeck and Van der Haar.

Ronhaar tried on his own for a while, but he couldn’t close the gap to the front riders. He fell back to the group that now consisted of Iserbyt, Nieuwenhuis, Vanthourenhout and Niels Vandeputte. Later only Ronhaar, Vanthourenhout and Iserbyt remained, where Iserbyt accelerated a few times to close the gap with the two at the front. Van der Haar and Sweeck continued to work well together. The two were together at the start of the last lap, 13 seconds ahead of the three pursuers. It would be a duel between the Belgian and the Dutchman. Sweeck put in an attack on the sand and made a small gap. At the beams, where Van der Haar had to get off the bike, the Crelan-Fristads rider expanded that even further. It turned out enough. Despite a frantic sprint from Van der Haar, the Baloise Trek Lions rider fell short of victory. That went to Sweeck.


Race winner, Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads): “I think I had the ideal companion in him. Lars was also leading the classification and I think we worked well together. It wasn’t easy, because we were on the attack from the start. That made it a long cross, but I’m happy to finish it. Lars didn’t jump and I was able to grab that one second there. I knew I had to be in the lead there because it was hard to keep the wheel. After that I raced full to the finish. We didn’t talk much, but we understood each other. So we took turns leading a lap. I place this victory next to the other victories. For me it is the confirmation of a very good season. But it’s not done yet.”

2nd, Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions): “I think he had the forcing foot just in front of the beams, but the beams themselves were not decisive. I liked racing too much and thus lost the victory. It was great fun racing, but maybe I let myself go a bit. Laurens also really wanted to set the race. In the last lap I knew where I had to be in the lead, but I let it happen… Lately the finishing seems to fail. I was no less than Laurens, but he raced just a bit faster towards the end. I have no explanation for it.”

X2O Badkamer Trofee Lille – Men Result:
1. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Crelan-Fristads
2. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions
3. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal
4. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal
5. Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions
6. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck
7. Felipe Orts (Spa) Burgos-BH
8. Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions
9. Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal
10. Daan Soete (Bel) Deschacht-Hens-Maes.



X2O Badkamer Trofee Lille – Women 2023
Fem van Empel won the X2O Trophy Lille. The world champion was ahead for a long time together with Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, who fought bravely, but had to settle for second place. Annemarie Worst was third.


Fem van Empel previously announced that she would end her season after the World champs in Hoogerheide, but she came back after winning the world title and would show off her rainbow jersey in the final rounds of the X2O Trophy. The first appointment was in Lille, where the Jumbo-Visma rider competed against Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Lucinda Brand. Brand was second in the X2O Trophy and was Van Empel’s closest opponent in the overall classification.

Brand and Alvarado got off to a good start, unlike Van Empel. She was not in the top ten when they left the road. However, the World champion soon moved up. Together with Manon Bakker, she had to close the gap to Brand, Alvarado and Annemarie Worst, who took the lead in the first lap. That worked, but after the connection Alvardo pulled hard. She came through first after one lap and took 15 bonus seconds. Van Empel followed close behind in second, with Brand in her wake. Van Empel was 5 seconds ahead of Brand in the X2O Trophy.

In the second lap there was more group formation at the front: Worst, Alvarado, Brand and Van Empel came together, for a moment, at least. When it threatened to go silent for a while, Van Empel accelerated. Alvarado was able to go with her. Brand and Worst had to pass and were 10 seconds behind at the line.

Worst didn’t give up yet. While Brand was left behind after a technical error, the 777 rider made the leap on the third lap. The following lap she took the initiative, but that didn’t work out well. After a slip, she had to let the other two go. In the last laps, Van Empel put Alvarado under constant pressure. She quickly gained a few metres, but the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider didn’t break. In the final, she seemed to come dangerously close to Van Empel, but she had everything under control. She crossed the line first and then made a victory salute à la Tom Pidcock.


Race winner, Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma): “I am looking forward to wearing the rainbow jersey for the first time in competition. I am also starting here with the ambition to win and do well in the GC. This is a nice victory, it was the first time I got to ride around in this beautiful rainbow jersey. That makes this victory extra beautiful. I had to work hard for it today. I noticed that I skipped the training this week. The feeling on the road was far from good, but the taste of victory is very sweet. I really wanted to show this jersey to the public. Also because I live very close to the course. It was great to ride here. The conditions were fantastic. As I said, the feeling on the bike was far from good, but I wasn’t stressed for a moment. I think I finished the race well and did well in the standings. Next week in Brussels, I will try to finish the season well.”

X2O Badkamer Trofee Lille – Women Result:
1. Fem van Empel (Ned) Jumbo-Visma in 42:18
2. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Deceuninck at 0:02
3. Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777 at 0:21
4. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise-Trek Lions at 0:42
5. Lauren Molengraaf (Ned) Tormans at 1:20
6. Laura Verdonschot (Bel) De Ceuster-Bonache at 1:29
7. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:06
8. Manon Bakker (Ned) Crelan-Fristads at 2:23
9. Francesca Baroni (Ita) Pissei-Groep T.O.M. at 2:32
10. Marion Norbert-Riberolle (Bel) Crelan-Fristads at 2:36.



Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke – Men 2023
Eli Iserbyt won the Noordzeecross in Middelkerke. The Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider defeated Lars van der Haar, who secured the overall victory in the Superprestige with his second place. Laurens Sweeck was third.

noordzeecross 23

Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock have all finished their cross season. The expectation was that in the Superprestige Middelkerke it would be between: Laurens Sweeck, Michael Vanthourenhout, Eli Iserbyt and Lars van der Haar. Van der Haar was defending his lead position in the final round of the Superprestige. He had a 7 point lead over Vanthourenhout, his closest rival.

Van der Haar was clearly motivated, after an excellent start. Only Niels Vandeputte could stay on his wheel. Soon Van der Haar was alone at the front, although the pursuers, with Iserbyt in front, were not far away. At the first pass, the differences were still limited to a few seconds. In the second lap, Sweeck also gained steam. While Vanthourenhout seemed to be having a less day, the Crelan-Fristads rider was able to connect with Van der Haar just before the line. Iserbyt was still a few metres away, but returned a little later. However, that did not last long. After a mistake in the third lap, he saw the other two pull away again. Sweeck had taken the lead and continued strongly.

Iserbyt, however, didn’t give in and rejoined Van der Haar and Sweeck at the end of the fourth lap. Joris Nieuwenhuis, the first pursuer at that moment, came through 18 seconds after five laps. Then he slowly but surely crept closer. On lap seven, the Baloise Trek Lions rider was back among the front riders. Gerben Kuypers also had the leaders in sight again. At the start of the eighth lap, Van der Haar had another go. In the sand, which the Dutch champion always came through well, he made a gap on the other three. Iserbyt made the jump, but a lap later he lost a few metres in the sand again. However, he did not break. Iserbyt returned, after which the two eventually started the final lap together. But the Belgian was the better at the finish.


Race winner, Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “I grew in the race. I saw that I was always the lesser in the sand. I wanted to pass them every time, but Lars always drove a very tight pace. As a result, I kept hanging at one or two meters. He made a mistake on the last lap. That was the signal for me to keep going. After a fall you always have to recover yourself. I made a gap there. I felt that I was better in the parts after the sand. I really lost my power there. I noticed that maybe I could make the difference there on the last lap, so it was biting until the last lap to stay in the wheel. I was a bit lucky then that Lars made a mistake. Then it was full throttle to the finish. I was disappointed at the time, so I was determined to put in a good performance today. But everyone drives at a very high level after the World championships. So it certainly wasn’t easy.” Iserbyt passed teammate Michael Vanthourenhout in the Superprestige overall. “We were still laughing about it beforehand. Michael that he had super legs, I told him that we (the prize money) could split. In the end it worked out well for me.”

2nd and overall Superprestige winner, Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions): “I rode the first part of the cross with only one goal: to get away from as many men as possible to secure that top six. After that I felt I was maybe the best in the race, especially in the sand. But Eli was still very good today. If he doesn’t want to race then, it’s very difficult to get rid of him. Maybe I pushed a bit too early. As a result, my front wheel slipped. That was very sour, because I didn’t really want to put any pressure there yet. I just wanted to get through first to put pressure on later. Now Eli got that chance. I was a bit broken myself. I am very disappointed that I was not able to win today. The last laps I really believed in it, but maybe I wasted a bit too much power in the first laps. But yes, I was riding for the overall. I said in advance that I would go on the attack and I think I made a good race out of it. There will be a few more races first, then we will celebrate with the team. Then we make something beautiful out of it.”

Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke – Men Result:
1. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal in 1:02:45
2. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 0:07
3. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Crelan-Fristads at 0:29
4. Joris Nieuwenhuis Baloise Trek Lions at 0:40
5. Gerben Kuypers (Ned) Proximus-AlphaMotorhomes-Doltcini at 0:51
6. Kevin Kuhn (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team at 1:06
7. Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) Crelan-Fristads at 1:22
8. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck at 1:28
9. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 1:35
10. Felipe Orts (Spa) Burgos-BH.



Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke – Women 2023
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado won the Superprestige Middelkerke on Saturday. The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider made all the difference in the first lap and then soloed to victory. Lucinda Brand came second, Annemarie Worst finished third. Alvarado is also the overall winner of the Superprestige.

noordzeecross 23

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Denise Betsema and Lucinda Brand were the top riders in the women’s cross in Middelkerke, the last round of the Superprestige. However, the best start was for Leonie Bentveld. She was the first off road. Alvarado, however, was with her and soon took over. Brand followed quickly, while Betsema was slower to get off the mark. The Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider immediately had to chase.

In the first sand passage, Alvarado made a gap with Brand, who fell back to Annemarie Worst and Inge van der Heijden. At the first crossing, this trio was seven counts behind Alvarado. Betsema followed in a group behind, including Marion Norbert-Riberrolle. In the second lap, Brand made another mistake, so she had to get off her bike and also let Van der Heijden and Worst go. The duo of 777 also slowly but surely lost more ground to Alvarado. Halfway through the race, after three of the six laps, the difference was already almost 30 seconds. At that time, Brand rejoined Van der Heijden and Worst.

The Baloise Trek Lions rider started to gain speed and almost immediately left her two companions behind. On her own, she went hunting for Alvarado. However, she didn’t get any closer, after four laps the difference was still more than half a minute. When the bell rang, Brand was already looking at a deficit of almost 40 seconds. Alvarado held on in the final lap without any problems. This was her fifth Superprestige victory of the season and she is also the overall winner of the overall classification. Behind her, Brand had to give it all to stay ahead of Van der Heijden and Worst, but she succeeded. She took second place. Worst defeated her teammate Van der Heijden in the battle for third place.


Race winner, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck): “That feels really good. It is very nice that I can go home with the overall victory today and also finish with a victory. I did have the plan to get rid of them pretty quickly, but it happened a bit sooner than I expected. It was a bit of the frustration of last week, when things weren’t going so well. I did that today. Now it feels good again. I think my form just keeps going up and I’m fine again. I expect to be at the top again next season.”

Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke – Women Result:
1. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Deceuninck
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions
3. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) 777
4. Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777
5. Laura Verdonschot (Bel) De Ceuster-Bonache
6. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal
7. Marion Norbert-Riberolle (Bel) Crelan Fristads
8. Anna Kay (GB) 777
9. Francesca Baroni (Ita) Pissei-Groep T.O.M.
10. Rebecca Gariboldi (Ita) Cingolani Specialized.



Rohan Dennis Will Retire as a Professional cyclist at the End of 2023
Rohan Dennis will not be a professional cyclist after this season, the 32 year-old Australian of Jumbo-Visma announced on Instagram. Dennis, who won a stage in the Tour Down Under last month, is working on his last year of contract with the Dutch WorldTeam.

“Thank you, Melissa, for supporting me throughout my professional career,” Rohan Dennis said publicly his wife. “All while raising the two best kids. Cycling, you have given me a lot and I will be eternally grateful. It is still a long season ahead of us, but it will certainly be my last season as a professional cyclist,” wrote the Australian, who was World time trial champion in 2018 and 2019.

Dennis, who celebrates his 33rd birthday in May, indicated that he is open to new adventures. It is not yet known what those will be from 2024. In 2013 Rohan Dennis made his debut as a pro with Garmin-Sharp. He then also raced for BMC, Bahrain Merida, INEOS Grenadiers and since 2022 for Jumbo-Visma. Dennis is one of the best time trialists of recent years, as witnessed by his two world titles. He also won stages in the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. That stage victory in the Tour, in Utrecht, earned him the yellow jersey.

Rohan Dennis to retire:


Pello Bilbao Prefer to Chase Stage Victories
Pello Bilbao will ride the Tour de France again this year. It is a special edition of the Tour de France for the Bahrain Victorious rider, as the start will take place in his home Basque country. However, Bilbao does not intend to chase a good final overall result this year.

The 32 year-old rider has excelled in shorter stage races and has also achieved good final placings in Grand Tours. He finished fifth twice and sixth once in the Giro d’Italia and in 2021 he was ninth in the Tour. This year will be different. “I am not going for a good ranking in the Tour this year. I’ve already tried that once,” he said in the Escapa podcast.

“I couldn’t count on the team’s full support at the time, as we had multiple goals. We then won three stages and also the team classification. I was given the freedom to do my thing and ended up ninth. It only takes a lot of energy and it is a difficult task. I also think you should have the ambition to finish on the podium. There is no point in sacrificing an entire team for fifth place in the standings,” Bilbao sees his own shortcomings. “I prefer to chase stage victories. Wearing the yellow jersey would also be nice.”

The Basque climber will also have to take into account the overall ambitions of fellow Basque Mikel Landa in the Tour. However, Bilbao does not expect any problems. “When I joined the team, there was real belief that Mikel could win the Tour. Now the situation has changed a bit and I have been given a more important role. At times I work, without any problems, for Mikel, but in other races we are on an equal footing or I can count on his support.”

Stage victories for Pello Bilbao in 2023:
basque22 st3


Mark Cavendish is the Only Astana Rider Allowed to Race Wearing Oakley
Mark Cavendish started his season in Oman. The British sprinter makes his debut for Astana Qazaqstan and did wearing glasses from his private sponsor, Oakley. All his teammates are racing with glasses from Scicon, the official glasses sponsor of the Astana team.

At the presentation of Cav at Astana Qazaqstan he still drove around without glasses, but in the Muscat Classic in Oman he appeared at the start with a golden Oakley Kato.

According to Cyclingnews, there was a discussion between Scicon and Oakley about this issue and the contract negotiations between Cavendish and Astana Qazaqstan have been delayed partly because of this. Now that the 37-year-old sprinter has appeared in Oman with an Oakley, there seems to be an agreement between all parties.

Cavendish has been privately sponsored by Oakley for many years and was heavily involved in the design of some models. During his time with Bahrain Victorious, he was also the only one who had his own eyewear sponsor.

Oakley’s for Cavendish:


Trinity Reveals New Specialized Kit – Finding Calm Amongst the Chaos
Specialized is proud to continue its partnership with Trinity Racing in 2023. The team has become one of the world’s premiere development squads, while disrupting what it means to be a ‘race team’. With riders that blur the lines between disciplines, stories and personalities that extend beyond race day, our design team has been inspired to create a kit that reflects this energy and passion.


Thomas Perren, Specialized’s Leader of Apparel Design puts it this way, “It’s a representation of getting into game mode – “PLAY” and “PAUSE” or “CALM” and “CHAOS” – there are times in racing that you need to be relaxed and calculated and moments when you need to hit ‘go’ and take a risk or lose the chance. More importantly it is about having fun on the bike and crushing it as a team. Like in a game, there are usually charismatic individuals with interesting back stories, themes, and goals.”

Specialized Leader of Brand Concepts, Kayla Clarot, has been a driving force behind Trinity Racing’s disruptive look and feel for the last two seasons. The idea of finding calm amongst the chaos of racing is a core ideal for Trinity and became a building block for the team’s identity.

“We really wanted to give this illusion of chaos through the textures and layers and loud colours, but every choice was very intentional on how it either wrapped on the body or showed up on bike or helmet. We’re tying into this idea of the ‘butterfly effect’ and the seemingly chaotic nature of something that really is full of intent and pattern.”


In addition to on bike apparel, Trinity Racing will be wearing Specialized lifestyle apparel off-bike as well.

Trinity Racing relies on a complete family of Specialized race bikes and equipment – led by the World Championship winning S-Works Tarmac SL7 and S-Works Epic – as well as Roval Wheels and components.



L39ION of Los Angeles NCL Statement
L39ION of Los Angeles today announced they will not participate in the National Cycling League 2023 race series.

“L39ION of Los Angeles will not be participating in the NCL, but we’re glad to see the
investment in American cycling and share the desire to increase participation and grow our
sport. We look forward to sharing more shortly about our exciting plans for 2023 and beyond.”
Hunter Grove, L39ION of Los Angeles Team Manager.


Miami Blazers NCL Statement
The Miami Blazers today announced they will not participate in the National Cycling League 2023 race series.

“The Miami Blazers have no plans on participating in NCL races. We wish the best for them and all participating riders, and look forward to our upcoming race season.”Dennis Ramirez, Miami Blazers Team Manager.

armed forces


Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite Routes Confirmed. The 24 Teams to Compete in the Women’s Race are Announced
On Saturday 4 March, the men’s and women’s professional races will take place on the traditional route, starting from the Fortezza Medicea and finishing in the iconic Piazza del Campo. The 24 women’s teams competing in the Strade Bianche Women Elite are also announced today.


‘Europe’s most southern northern classic’, organised by RCS Sport, is drawing close and today, with less than one month to Saturday 4 March, the routes of the 17th Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole and of the 9th Strade Bianche Women Elite Crédit Agricole have been officially confirmed. The two races, as per recent tradition, will start from the Fortezza Medicea in Siena and finish in the unique setting of Piazza del Campo in Siena, after 184km and 136km of riding for the male and female competitors respectively.


The Route of the Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole
The Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole has become one of the most awaited races of the UCI World Tour calendar. The last rider to win in Piazza del Campo was the Slovenian Tadej Pogačar.

The course is twisty and undulating, with no extended climbs but with a quite few punchy bits, especially on the unpaved sections of the route. There are roughly 63km of gravel roads, across 11 sectors, eight of which are shared with the Women Elite course.

The race starts near the Stadium/Fortezza Medicean in Siena. The first undulating kilometres on tarmac lead to the 2.1km-long gravel Sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill. Sector 2 (5.8km) is just a few kilometres away; this will be the first tricky bit of the race, with a short descent followed by a long climb featuring sections over 10%. Upon reaching Radi, the route takes in the third gravel sector (4.4km long; namely the second part of the first gravel road stretch of the race’s first edition) shortly followed by sector 4 – named “La Piana” – and one of the race’s classic gravel sectors (5.5km in length, and featured in the course ever since the first edition) with no significant gradient, leading to Buonconvento.

The Montalcino ascent, the second climb of the day (4km at 5%), is just few kilometres away. Sectors 5 (11.9km) and 6 (8km) begin just past Torrenieri with only 1km of tarmac in between. Both are hard, hilly and very punchy, with many challenging bends, climbs and descents. After the second passage through Buonconvento, the riders will reach the feed zone, located around Ponte d’Arbia. Shortly after, the route reaches Monteroni d’Arbia, which marks the beginning of sector 7 of San Martino in Grania (9.5km) in the middle of the Crete Senesi. It’s a long sector marked by a sequence of gentle undulations in the first part, and ending with a twisting climb that leads back to paved road.

Sector 8 begins in Ponte del Garbo (Asciano). At 11.5km it’s the hardest of the race, mostly uphill and marked by major slopes, especially near Monte Sante Marie, with steep gradients on both climbs and descents over short distances. Past Castelnuovo Berardenga there’s a very short, flat unpaved section (300m) followed by the ninth dirt road sector, after Monteaperti. It’s only 800m in length, it greets the riders with double-digit gradients. The route goes back on tarmac in Vico d’Arbia and then to paved road through Pieve a Bozzone.

The penultimate gravel section (sector 10, 2.4km) comes next, on the climb toward Colle Pinzuto, with gradients peaking as high as 15%. After a few kilometres, the route features the eleventh and last gravel sector (1.1km) marked by a fast-running descent followed by a very punchy climb (with a maximum gradient of 18%) that ends at the Tolfe. From here, the finish in Piazza del Campo, is a little more than 12 km away.

Final kilometres
The demanding final kilometres, with gradients up to 16%, approach the city of Siena along wide and straight roads, initially downhill, and further on and slightly uphill climbs. With 2km to go, the route takes the Via Esterna di Fontebranda; here the gradient touches 9%.

The stone pavement begins 900 m before the finish line, just past the Fontebranda Gate. The gradient is over 10% until 500m from the finish, reaching its steepest gradient of 16% along Via Santa Caterina. A sharp right-hand turn leads to Via delle Terme, and then to Via Banchi di Sotto. Starting 300m to the finish onwards, the road is a slight, continous ascent. With 150mt go, a right turn leads into Via Rinaldini. The route enters the Piazza del Campo just 70m from the finish line. The final 30m descends at a gradient of 7% to the finish line, which is on level road.


The Route of Strade Bianche Women Elite Crédit Agricole
Strade Bianche Women Elite will be held in Siena, a few hours before the start of the men’s race. The race is set to be one of the most spectacular of the year, a unique event on the global cycling scene thanks both to its special course character including Tuscany’s famous gravel roads, and to the high level of participants. The previous edition was won by Lotte Kopecky.

The course is twisty and undulating, with no extended climbs but with a quite few punchy bits, especially on the unpaved sections of the route. There are more than 31km of gravel roads across eight sectors (all shared with the Men’s course).

The race starts near the Stadium/Fortezza Medicean in Siena. The first undulating kilometres on tarmac lead to the 2.1km-long gravel Sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill. Sector 2 (5.8km) is just a few kilometres away; this will be the first tricky bit of the race, with a short descent followed by a long climb featuring sections over 10%. Upon reaching Radi, the route takes in the third gravel sector (4.4km long; namely the second part of the first gravel road stretch of the race’s first edition) shortly followed by sector 4 – named “La Piana” – and one of the race’s classic gravel sectors (5.5km in length, and featured in the course ever since the first edition) with no significant gradient, leading to Buonconvento.

After passing through Buonconvento, the riders will reach the feed zone, located around Ponte d’Arbia. Shortly after, the route reaches Monteroni d’Arbia, which marks the beginning of sector 5 of San Martino in Grania (9.5km) in the middle of the Crete Senesi. It’s a long sector marked by a sequence of gentle undulations in the first part, and ending with a twisting climb that leads back to paved road.

Past Castelnuovo Berardenga there’s a very short, flat unpaved section (300m) followed by the sixth dirt road sector, after Monteaperti. At only 800m in length, it greets the riders with double-digit gradients. The route goes back on tarmac in Vico d’Arbia and then to paved road through Pieve a Bozzone.

The penultimate gravel section (sector 10, 2.4km) comes next, on the climb toward Colle Pinzuto, with gradients peaking as high as 15%. After a few kilometres, the route features the eleventh and last gravel sector (1.1km) marked by a fast-running descent followed by a very punchy climb (with a maximum gradient of 18%) that ends at the Tolfe. From here, the finish in Piazza del Campo, is a little more than 12 km away. The final kilometres are the same as the men’s course.


The Teams of the Strade Bianchi Women Elite Crédit Agricole
13 UCI Women’s Worldteams


11 Wild Cards

The Teams of the Strade Bianchi Crédit Agricole
18 UCI WorldTeams


7 Wild Cards

Ride Green Strade Bianchi
For this 2023 edition of the Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole, RCS Sport and Sei Toscana (the sole manager, of the integrated urban waste service in the provinces of the Toscana Sud, geographical area as of 1 January 2014) are launching the Ride Green Strade Bianche project (for both the Pro race and the Gran Fondo), based on separate waste collection, which aims at making the race increasingly sustainable, environmentally and territorially aware, in line with the objectives of 2030 Agenda. This initiative is linked to the Giro d’Italia project called Ride Green, which starts in May. Being able to measure the impact of the event in environmental terms and, consequently, devising and implementing compensation systems for the CO2 emissions produced, is one of the best ways to make this green project virtuous and concretely sustainable.



Scheldeprijs Will Start in the Netherlands
The Scheldeprijs will start in the Netherlands in the future. Organiser Flanders Classics, the municipality of Terneuzen and the province of Zeeland have expressed this intention in an official press conference.

The Scheldeprijs has been starting in Terneuzen since 2018. After 2023, the intention is to extend the collaboration for at least three years. “We are of course very pleased that Terneuzen and Zeeland, like us, are positive about this story,” responds Flanders Classics CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel. “Terneuzen and Zeeland have contributed to the identity of the Scheldeprijs with their unique character.”

“Wind and echelons have been inextricably linked to the oldest Flemish spring classic since 2018. With the traditional finish in Schoten, we are therefore very much looking forward to continuing to write this exceptional sporting story together.”

The Scheldeprijs is on the calendar this year for Wednesday 5 April. Ten WorldTour teams, ten ProTeams and a continental team are on the start list.

Kristoff won in 2022:


Spanish Rider Estela Domínguez Dies in Traffic Accident
The Spanish cycling world is in mourning after the death of promising rider, Estela Domínguez. The eighteen year-old died on Thursday after she was hit by a truck while training. Domínguez is the daughter of former cyclist Juan Carlos Domínguez.

The fatal accident happened in Villares de la Reina, which is in the province of Salamanca in the region of Castilla y Léon. Around 6.30 pm, the emergency services received a report of an accident between a cyclist and a truck at the intersection, near the exit of an industrial estate. The driver of the truck may have been blinded by the sun. However, the emergency services couldn’t do anything for Domínguez.

Domínguez was brought up with cycling. Her father Juan Carlos was a professional for many years, with Kelme, iBanesto.com, Phonak, Saunier Duval and Unibet.com. He ended his career in 2006. In 2002, Domínguez won the Giro prologue in Groningen and wore the pink jersey for a day in the Netherlands.

His daughter also took to bike racing. She combined road and track cycling with mountain biking and cyclocross. This winter she rode many Spanish crosses and a fifteenth place in the national championship earned her an invitation to the World Cup in Benidorm. There she was 45th with the elite women.

After the cyclocross in Benidorm, Domínguez put an end to her winter, because she would make her debut on the road in 2023 with the Spanish UCI team of Sopela. Last year she put herself in the spotlight by finishing fifth in the Spanish junior road championship and fourth in the time trial.

On social media, Sopela Women’s Team spoke about their extreme sadness: “It is with great pain that we have learned that our rider Estela Domínguez has passed away. She was the victim of a collision during training. We support the family in these terrible times. Rest in peace.”

All at PEZ send our condolences to her family and friends:
Estela Domínguez


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