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EUROTRASH Monday: White Roads Rumble, Paris-Nice and All the News!

The weekend action

Tadej Pogačar dominated the Men’s Strade Bianche and Lotte Kopecky won the women’s ‘White Roads’ race. We have all the action from Italy plus Paris-Nice stage 1, the Grand Prix Criquielion and the Grote Prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré – All with rider quotes, reports, results and video.

UCI opens investigation into safety of hookless rims and tubeless tyres – TOP STORY.

Rider news: Arnaud De Lie starts Paris-Nice after his Le Samyn crash, Movistar’s Oier Lazkano keeps options open for 2025, Lennert Van Eetvelt will start the Vuelta a España with GC ambitions, Tom Gloag out for months, Andreas Kron expected to return in Catalonia, Belgian police identify spectator who threw drink at Marianne Vos and 18 year-old rider of the Alejandro Valverde devo team died after training accident.

Team News: Bahrain Victorious, Soudal Quick-Step and dsm-firmenich PostNL to Tirreno-Adriatico, Bahrain Victorious welcomes Łukasz Wisniowski, Mewael Girmay joins Wanty-ReUz-Technord, Red Bull junior brothers returns for 2024 and Škoda Belgium partner of Alpecin-Deceuninck & Fenix-Deceuninck.

Race news: Paris-Nice includes a team time trial with different rules, 2024 Paris–Roubaix: Cobbles galore and Danilith Nokere Koerse has some changes to the route.

Monday EUROTRASH coffee time.

top story
TOP STORY: UCI opens Investigation into Safety of Hookless Rims and Tubeless Tires
The UCI has announced that it is launching an investigation into the safety of hookless rims and tubeless tyres, this is due to recent accidents involving this wheel and tyre combination.

It was Thomas de Gendt’s crash in the UAE Tour that brought the spotlight on the problem. It was said to have been caused by a tubeless tyre bursting off a hookless rim. This rim doesn’t have the ‘hook’ or ridge on the inside which give the beed of the tyre something to grip. The hookless rim is easier to manufacture and is lighter, so the rim companies are pushing the use of them.

Adam Hansen, chairman of the CPA riders’ union, was clear in his assessment of the crash. “If you look at images of Thomas de Gendt’s bike, you can see that his tyre came off, the safety foam got stuck between his fork and this stopped his front wheel. Some teams ride with hookless rims. This crash is why the CPA is 100% against hookless rims. Tyres should not come off rims. This will one day lead to a massive crash,” he said to Vélo.

The UCI will now investigate whether the safety of the peloton is actually at risk due to hookless rims and tubeless tyres. “Due to recent incidents in professional road cycling involving hookless rims and tubeless tyres, the UCI has decided to investigate that topic as a matter of urgency, with a view to rapid decision-making for the safety of riders.”

Urgency is therefore required in this investigation. “These consequences will be communicated as soon as possible. The UCI is working with cycling stakeholders and component manufacturers to ensure that the right measures are taken in both the short and long term. This investigation and the decisions that follow are part of the UCI’s policy to promote rider safety, one of the UCI’s greatest interests.”

Tyre manufacturer Vittoria also responded to the incident. In a statement, the company stated that the crash was not caused by tubeless tyres or by wheels with hookless rims. “It is crucial to clarify that the rim failure is caused by the impact of an object, in this case a stone, and is not related to the design of the rim. The intensity of the impact caused the wheel to break in such a way that the tire could no longer remain securely in place. The pressure was so high that the tyre insert tore. The accident was therefore not the result of an incorrect combination of wheels and tires.”

Tubeless tyres have a maximum pressure on hookless rims, which is fairly low and there has been cases of tyres blowing off the rim due to the heat under bright sunshine.

Thomas de Gendt on the UAE Tour after his crash due a tyre coming off a hookless rim:
UAE Tour 2024

 


Strade Bianche 2024 – Tadej Destroys Em!
UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogačar was the favourite to win the 2024 Strade Bianche, but no one guessed he would attack with 80 kilometres to go and solo to the finish in Siena. The Slovenian champion soon had a lead of 4 minutes and the others behind him were racing for the podium. Toms Skujiņš was second and Maxim Van Gils third, both at nearly 3 minutes. Last year’s winner, Tom Pidcock took fourth place.

Strade Bianche 2024

The past six editions of the Strade Bianche were fought over 186 kilometres, this year the route was 215 kilometres, with now fifteen gravel sections, an extra four, giving the riders 71.5 kilometres of white roads.

After a lot of early action, a breakaway of five formed. Dion Smith (Intermarché-Wanty), Mark Donovan (Q36.5), Lawson Craddock (Jayco AlUla), Nils Brun (Tudor) and Anders Halland Johannessen (Uno-X Mobility) built up a lead of 2:30. UAE Team Emirates and EF Education-EasyPost didn’t let the break get any more time and started to pull them back.

After Craddock and Brun had to let go due to mechanical problems, the others in the lead group were also caught 100 kilometres from the finish. Quinn Simmons and Magnus Cort then jumped off the front of the already thinned out peloton. When the two were brought back, the American champion attacked again through the heavy rain. Everything came together again on Monte Sante Marie, an 11.5 kilometre long gravel section. Quite a few riders had been dropped, including former winner Julian Alaphilippe, who had crashed earlier and abandoned. Tim Wellens led the peloton on Monte Sante Marie for Tadej Pogačar. The Slovenian champion attacked kilometres from the finish and no one could follow him, although Vuelta winner, Sepp Kuss, tried at first. Pogačar left the race behind him and soon had a large lead. At the end of that gravel section he had 1:15 on Maxim Van Gils, the first chaser. Around 30 seconds behind the Belgian, there was a group of about 20 riders. This included four riders from Visma | Lease a Bike: Attila Valter, Ben Tulett, Christophe Laporte and Sepp Kuss, plus Ben Healy, Matej Mohorič and Tom Pidcock. The British rider had Magnus Sheffield and Thymen Arensman with him. The Dutchman rode hard on the front for his leader, but Pogačar just gained time.

While Pogačar got to over three minutes, Van Gils dropped back to Pidcock group. Healy tried several times to get away from the chasers, but he could not get away alone and had no help. The group, which was now competing for a podium place, had thinned out more due to the Irishman’s attacks. Just before the first passage of the Le Tolfe, Healy crashed, just as the Lotto Dstny riders; Van Gils and Lennert Van Eetvelt pushed on, on this four-star section and Van Gils managed to take a gap. Van Gils couldn’t get closer to Pogačar, but he was taking time on the chase group. Skujins also attacked at that time. The Latvian, who had previously crashed together with his teammate Simmons, joined Van Gils 20 kilometres from the finish. It looked like these two would be joining Pogačar on the podium, as they soon gained 1:30 on the group with Pidcock. Pidcock also counter-attacked on the Colle Pinzuto, the penultimate gravel section of the day, but he would be racing for fourth place. This was all going on well behind Tadej Pogačar. The UAE Team Emirates leader, who was riding his first race of the season, kept his lead to solo to victory. He had plenty of time to celebrate his victory on the Piazza del Campo in Siena long before any other rider was in sight. This is the second time that Pogačar has won the Strade Bianche, he also soloed to the win two years ago. Behind Pogačar, Skujins and Van Gils fought it out for second place on the Via Santa Caterina, the last climb of the day. It was the Latvian who came out on top to take second place. Van Gils finished third. Tom Pidcock and Matej Mohorič took fourth and fifth.

# See the full PEZ ‘Race Report’ HERE for lots more great photos. #

Strade Bianche

2024 Strade Bianche winner, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “It was not the plan to attack from so far out but I found myself in a harder situation than expected. There was a storm with hails, the weather was horrible and not many riders were left at Sante Marie. I knew it would be hard to get away solo later, as the following climbs didn’t suit me so well. I decided to push. Nobody came from behind, I had two team-mates, Tim Wellens and Isaac Del Toro in the chasing group in case I’d run out of gas. I can’t say it’s my most beautiful victory because I’m so dirty at the end… But the atmosphere on the road was incredible. I have not seen so many people at a race in Italy before. I love Italy, not only for the good pasta and pizza. I’ve raced here all of my life and this win boosts my confidence for the Giro. I hope I have a good Italian year ahead of me, starting with Milano-Sanremo in two weeks. I got confirmation today that the consequences of my crash last year are behind me. I’m not the one to decide if I’ve made Strade Bianche the next Monument on the calendar, it’s definitely one of the most popular races at the moment. It’s one of the biggest in the world.”

2nd, Toms Skujins (Lidl-Trek): “It’s not a win but second to Tadej Pogacar is quite good. If someone had said I’d come second today I would not have believed but finishing on the podium is something I’ve been thinking of for a long time so I’m really happy. This is definitely a very special race with the finish here in Siena, with the people, the crowd, the noise… there’s no race that comes close to Strade Bianche. My legs were screaming but with the people on the road helped today. It kind of blocked the pain.”

3rd, Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny): “I was so nervous in the beginning of the race. We went so hard. At first, I tried to follow Tadej, then I could have stayed in his wheel. But there were some other riders before me and they didn’t have an answer to the attack. Tadej took off and was gone. He was just too strong. I was hoping to take some others with me, but no one was following. I knew Strade Bianche suited me, but this is the confirmation that I can compete with the big boys. It feels really good to know that I’ve taken a new step here. I’m completely exhausted now, but I’m super happy with this performance.”

4th, Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers): “Even before Tadej attacked it was full gas, when he attacked it felt like we were in the grupetto, there were just dead bodies everywhere and I waited too long, it was a case of too little too late. If I’d played it a bit better I could have been second so I don’t really have any words for that. It’s like we were racing like it was still on the old parcours, and it would have been fine, but when you add 40km on then everyone is dying, although I don’t think it would have changed the result. It was non-stop eating throughout the race, it was key today, I don’t feel like eating any more today. When you’re already going full gas for the first 80km you’re already eating full gas like it’s the final and then you have to continue it to the end. It’s pretty rough. I was just waiting and waiting trying with everyone else, there were a lot of attacks and people trying to jump, but I left it too late. Well no (expect Pogačar to attack), honestly everyone was looking at each other and we were all just thinking what the hell, it felt like we were in the grupetto. I don’t really know what to say to be honest. I was good today, but I waited too long. When Tadej went I thought there was no real point in going then, because there was still 80km to go and I was not wanting to go into the red, people were just going off like it was the old circuit, I waited too long in the end. If the race was increased by an extra 30km and it’s flat then ok, but when you add 30km more of the same type of racing then you’re not really racing anymore it feels more attritional.”

5th, Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious): “Pogačar is the number one in cycling. Unfortunately, there was a lack of collaboration in the chasing group, and the opportunity slipped away. Still, 5th place is a positive result, boosting my confidence for the upcoming Belgian campaign, and before that Milano-Sanremo.”

6th, Benoît Cosnefroy (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale): “I’m happy with my performance, and I’m delighted to have played a leading role in a WorldTour race. There’s a certain pride in coming back to play the first positions at the highest world level. The team’s work was great, Jaakko (Hänninen) and Paul (Lapeira) protected me from the start of the race. We were unlucky at times, but that’s what this race is all about. I think that collectively we can be proud of what we’ve done.”

14th, Francesco Busatto (Intermarché-Wanty): “My aim today was to push myself to the maximum of my capabilities, to see how far this could bring me. And we can say it is mission accomplished. Being present between all these champions, in my favourite race and my first one in the World Tour, that’s incredible. I wanted to stay in the front in the approach towards the sectors to spend minimum energy chasing and to avoid being positioned behind a gap. When I managed to follow the group of twenty riders on the sector of Monte Santa Marie, I started believing that a good result was possible. Being able to rely on experienced teammates such as Lorenzo Rota or Simone Petilli has been precious. With some extra maturity I can return the next years with the goal of even doing better.”

Strade Bianche Result:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 5:19:45
2. Toms Skujiņš (Lat) Lidl-Trek at 2:46
3. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny at 2:50
4. Thomas Pidcock (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 3:50
5. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain Victorious at 4:26
6. Benoît Cosnefroy (Fra) Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale at 4:39
7. Davide Formolo (Ita) Movistar at 4:41
8. Lenny Martinez (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 4:48
9. Filippo Zana (Ita) Jayco AlUla at 4:49
10. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Visma | Lease a Bike at 5:17.

Strade Bianche’24:

 

Strade Bianche 2024
Strade Bianche Women 2024
Lotte Kopecky won the women’s Strade Bianche on Saturday. The SD Worx-Protime rider won the sprint against Elisa Longo Borghini at the finish in Siena. Demi Vollering was third. This was Kopecky’s second Strade Bianche Donne win.

Strade Bianche 2024 w

This year’s Strade Bianche for women was raced over 137 kilometres, only 1 kilometre more than last year, but there was more climbing this year. There was 12 sections of gravel, about 40 kilometres. The rain of the past few days made the gravel sections wet and heavy.

There wasn’t an early break as Fenix-Deceuninck, Lidl-Trek and Uno-X Mobility took control. The first attacks came 60 kilometres from the finish. A group of 11 escaped. Their lead increased to 1 minute, but the peloton also didn’t slow down. Kraak, Markus and Alena Amialiusik looked to have the best legs in the leading group and broke away. SD Worx-Protime took the lead in the peloton together with Lidl-Trek. There were accelerations, but the thinned peloton stayed together for quite a few kilometres. The last gap was eventually closed, 21 kilometres from the finish, by Elizabeth Deignan and Amanda Spratt. Demi Vollering and Elisa Longo Borghini shook things up for the first time with 18 kilometres to go, causing the leading group to thin out further. Marianne Vos and Katarzyna Niewiadoma followed, but the foursome were pulled back. Niewiadoma put in an attack on Le Tolfde. The gravel World champion pushed hard and only Vollering, Kopecky, Longo Borghini and Shirin van Anrooij could go with her. The four didn’t work well, but the chasers wouldn’t catch them.

Van Anrooij was dropped after a jump from Vollering. The other three were able to follow, after which Kopecky tried again. This time Longo Borghini jumped on the wheel and Niewiadoma, with Vollering in her wheel, had to close the gap. Niewiadoma failed to close the gap, allowing Longo Borghini and Kopecky to fight for the victory. The lead was never more than 20 seconds. The duo rode together to the last kilometre. Longo Borghini set the pace, but Kopecky jumped off her wheel with 500 metres to go. The World champion was clearly the strongest and soloed to victory. Longo Borghini had to settle for second place. Vollering beat Niewiadoma 11 seconds later in the sprint for third place.

Strade Bianche 2024

2024 Strade Bianche winner, Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime): “We had more control than last week in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The whole team did a fantastic job. On Le Tolfe, Demi Vollering and I were in the front, which allowed us to play the team game perfectly. Demi went on, but was caught back. I was actually almost at the limit, but I had to attack. It was my turn to go. I actually didn’t have the best day. I suffered the whole race. When I left this morning, I immediately felt I didn’t have the best legs. But I often have that in a race and usually they don’t really get worse as the race progresses. Again, my legs felt the same throughout the race. So I tried not to panic. On the Via Santa Catarina it was important not to attack too early. When I attacked, I went full speed until the last corner. Then I knew this win was in and that I could triumph in a very special way as world champion in the Piazza del Campo.”

2nd, Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek): “The quality of today’s race is incredible. The level was very high. We played our cards the best we could and we end up with the second place. We can be satisfied. Second to the world champion is not bad, we worked to beat her and I have honoured the tricolour jersey [of Italian champion] in my favourite race but somehow we have to work it out how to beat her in the next races. We always try to go for the win and anything could have happened until we crossed the line. It was a big fight with Lotte [Kopecky] and again she won the race, that’s cycling. I’m happy about how we fought today.”

3rd, Demi Vollering (SD Worx-Protime): “It’s been a very nice race again, a hard race, totally different from previous year. It was hard but not super hard. There was still a fairly big group and it took time before the real final started. It was a three gravel sections fireworks and everybody was scared of what was coming. With Lotte [Kopecky] at the front, I didn’t have any pressure any more. I knew Lotte could finish it off.”

Strade Bianche Women Result:
1. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SD Worx-Protime in 3:55:43
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Lidl-Trek at 0:04
3. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx-Protime at 0:26
4. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon//SRAM
5. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Lidl-Trek at 0:40
6. Kristen Faulkner (USA) EF Education-Cannondale at 0:41
7. Riejanne Markus (Ned) Visma | Lease a Bike at 1:01
8. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon//SRAM at 1:54
9. Marianne Vos (Ned) Visma | Lease a Bike
10. Évita Muzic (Fra) FDJ-SUEZ.

Strade Bianche’24:

 

nice
Paris-Nice 2024
Olav Kooij won Stage 1 of Paris-Nice after a sprint battle with Mads Pedersen. The young sprinter of Visma | Lease a Bike won after a hilly finale, where Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič were showing their form. Kooij beat the Dane on the slightly uphill finish by half a wheel. Kooij is also the first overall leader.

Paris-Nice 2024

After the undulating early part of the stage, there were three climbs in the last 60 kilometres: the Côte d’Herbeville (2.6km at 5.1%), the Côte de Bazemont (1.7km at 6.6%) and the Côte d’Herbeville for the second time. There was also an uncategorised climb to Montainville with a maximum of 10% gradient. After the last climb, there were 12 kilometres to the uphill finish.

Three riders attacked early: Jonas Rutsch and Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost) were joined by Mathieu Burgeaudeau (TotalEnergies). They soon had a 3 minute lead, but their advantage was cut by Lidl-Trek, Soudal Quick-Step and Lotto Dstny. Those teams were looking for a stage win with Mads Pedersen and Arnaud De Lie. At the first passage of the finish in Les Mureaux, with a 55 kilometre loop to the finish, the gap was down to 50 seconds. The escapees then started to attack each other. Bissegger was the first to be dropped, then Rutsch and Burgeaudeau were also caught by the peloton on the Côte de Bazemont. Rutsch managed to take the KOM points before he was caught and he would wear the first mountain’s jersey.

The race was quiet as it headed towards the hilly finale. On the climb to Montainville, Matteo Jorgenson of Visma | Lease a Bike took the 6 seconds bonus ahead of Remco Evenepoel, who took 4 seconds and Egan Bernal, 2. It looked like the race was on, but the peloton came back together again. On the last time up the Côte d’Herbeville (2.6km at 5.1%) it was Bernal who attacked. He was joined by a group including Evenepoel and the Belgian champion saw his chance. Primoz Roglič saw the move and had to chase down Evenepoel. At the summit there wasn’t any gaps and so there was around 50 riders together, including some sprinters, with 10 kilometres to go.

Turgis tried to surprise the sprinters, but his attempt was shut down 2 kilometres from the finish. In the last kilometre it was a battle between Visma | Lease a Bike and Lidl-Trek to put Olav Kooij and Mads Pedersen in the best possible positions. Stuyven led-out Pedersen on the uphill finish, with Kooij on his wheel. Pedersen was the first onto the final straight, but Kooij had the fastest sprint in the last 125 metres. At the line Kooij won by half a wheel from the Dane. Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ) was third, just ahead of Nils Eekhoff (dsm-firmenich PostNL). Kooij leads the overall classification, 4 seconds ahead of Pedersen and teammate Jorgenson. Remco Evenepoel is at 6 seconds and Egan Bernal at 8 seconds, due to their bonus seconds.

Paris-Nice 2024

Stage winner and overall leader, Olav Kooij (Visma | Lease a Bike): “It was tough, but we really wanted to go for it. I was in a good position because of the boys, but then it was tough on the climbs. Then we knew it would be about the stage victory. In the end it was difficult, but I’m very happy to win. We knew this finish suited Mads Pedersen and he is doing well this year. We also had great duels here last year and again now, but I am especially happy that I can win now. My victory last year in Paris-Nice was very nice and I am happy to come back here. Tomorrow’s stage also suits me in the sprint, so it is very nice to be able to ride in the yellow jersey. We aim for the highest possible every day.”

5th overall, Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step): “We did what we wanted to do. The intention was to get bonus seconds, which we succeeded. There was one a little smarter (Matteo Jorgenson). Plan A was to continue at the top, but they were all the domestiques of the sprinters who were there and they didn’t want to participate. Which is their right. Roglič is usually glued to my wheel, but I didn’t like it. That was why I pushed so hard. Just a few seconds, that’s something. No crashes, that’s something. The team is there, so that’s good for morale. This was probably the most dangerous stage of this Paris-Nice purely in terms of hectic pace and we survived it well.”

Paris-Nice Stage 1 Result:
1. Olav Kooij (Ned) Visma | Lease a Bike in 3:36:28
2. Mads Pedersen (Den) Lidl-Trek
3. Laurence Pithie (NZ) Groupama-FDJ
4. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) dsm-firmenich PostNL
5. Madis Mihkels (Est) Intermarché-Wanty
6. Michael Matthews (Aus) Jayco AlUla
7. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Tudor
8. Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Lidl-Trek
9. Sandy Dujardin (Fra) TotalEnergies
10. Kaden Groves (Aus) Alpecin-Deceuninck.

Paris-Nice Stage 1 Result:
1. Olav Kooij (Ned) Visma | Lease a Bike in 3:36:18
2. Mads Pedersen (Den) Lidl-Trek at 0:04
3. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Visma | Lease a Bike
4. Laurence Pithie (NZ) Groupama-FDJ at 0:06
5. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step
6. Egan Bernal (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:08
7. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) dsm-firmenich PostNL at 0:10
8. Madis Mihkels (Est) Intermarché-Wanty
9. Michael Matthews (Aus) Jayco AlUla
10. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Tudor.

Paris-Nice’24 stage 1:

 

criquielion
Grand Prix Criquielion 2024
Alec Segaert won the Criquielion Grand Prix on Saturday. The young rider of Lotto Dstny just held off the sprinting peloton. The Czech rider, Pavel Bittner (dsm-firmenich PostNL) was second and Jenthe Biermans (Arkéa-Samsic) was third.

GP Criquielion 2024

in the Grand Place of Ath, Walloon, the peloton started the 200 kilometre race. The GP Criquielion takes place largely in the Lessines area, a town in the province of Hainaut close to the Flemish border with Geraardsbergen. Lessines was the home of the late Claude Criquielion.

From the start, there were five relatively flat circuits of 24 kilometres, there were two cobbled sections in each passage; the Rue Saint Géréon, only 100 metres, and the Rue de la Blanche which is 500 metres of slightly uphill cobbles. For the finale, the organisers had two circuits of 35 kilometres, each containing the Côte du Mont (2.2km at 2.5%) and the Côte des Planchettes (1km at 5.8%). The first attempt at forming the break of the day succeeded. Intermarché-Wanty took control of the peloton. When the race hit the hilly circuit, the leading group split. Azparren of Q36.5 dropped the others in the break. Going into the final lap, his lead was only 30 seconds as heavy rain started to fall.

The last time on the Côte du Mont, Azparren was passed by Stan Van Tricht (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Fabio Christen (Q36.5). They soon had 35 seconds, but that lead quickly shrank to 10 seconds on the final climb. There was some panic in the peloton, but eventually Intermarché-Wanty and Arkéa-B&B Hotels took on the work. With 4.5 kilometres to go it was all together. The race was uncontrolled in the final kilometres. First Axel Huens (Tour de Tietema-Unibet) took his chance, and at the start of the final 2 kilometres it was Henri Uhlig (Alpecin-Deceuninck) who tried his luck. Alec Segaert (Lotto Dstny) followed, but refused to work, because he had his leader Milan Menten behind. Uhlig continued to ride hard, with Segaert on his wheel. The Belgian put in his effort at the right time, just enough to stay ahead of the peloton.

GP Criquielion 2024

Race winner, Alec Segaert (Lotto Dstny): “It was quite a closed race. The peloton controlled the breakaway, so the lead stayed around 3 minutes. At 70 kilometres from the finish, there were a few climbs. Although sometimes the race broke open, the differences remained small. Until about 15 kilometres from the finish, two riders had a small gap. The plan originally was to go for Milan Menten in the sprint. I would bring him into the best position or react to late attacks, as was happening now. Someone from Alpecin-Deceuninck jumped away after the cobbles. I was able to react and play the game. He took me to the last uphill straight. I had to start early to stay ahead, so at 500 meters I attacked. I went full to the finish and didn’t look back. Luckily, that was enough for the victory. This shows that we were ready for this race. We had several ways to win the race. This was strong work from the team.”

Grand Prix Criquielion Result:
1. Alec Segaert (Bel) Lotto Dstny in 4:40:27
2. Pavel Bittner (CZ) dsm-firmenich PostNL
3. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Arkéa-B&B Hotels
4. Pierre Barbier (Fra) Philippe Wagner/Bazin
5. Milan Menten (Bel) Lotto Dstny
6. Arne Marit (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty
7. Luca Mozzato (Ita) Arkéa-B&B Hotels
8. Jensen Plowright (Aus) Alpecin-Deceuninck
9. James Fouché (NZ) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10. Pau Miquel (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma.

GP Criquielion’24:

 

monsere
Grote Prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré 2024
Jarne Van de Paar won the GP Monseré on Sunday. In a very wet edition of the Lotto Cycling Cup Series, the 23 year-old of Lotto Dstny was the fastest sprinter from a thinned out peloton. He held off Timothy Dupont (Tarteletto-Isorex) and David Dekker (Arkéa-B&B Hotels).

GP Monseré 2024

After the start in Ichtegem, the peloton rode 25 kilometres to the circuit in Roeselare, there they had three laps of 57.8 kilometres to cover. On each circuit there was the Hoogledeberg (600 meters at 3.2%), the Ruidenbergstraat (1km at 2.1%), the Lookhuisstraat (1.2km at 1.5%) and the cobbles of the Gitsberg (400 meters at 3.2%).

The first break of the day consisted of Victor Vercouillie (Flanders-Baloise), Mathias Vanoverberghe (Philippe Wagner-Bazin), Tom Bohli (Tudor) and Gianni Marchand (Tarteletto-Isorex), they were joined by Dutchman Meindert Weulink of Parkhotel Valkenburg. Their lead was never more than 3 minutes, mainly due to the work of Intermarché-Wanty and dsm-firmenich PostNL. There were attacks from the peloton with more than 80 kilometres to go. Baptiste Planckaert and Pierre Thierry jumped away when the early break was caught, but their attempt didn’t last long either. The next attack came from Hartthijs de Vries (TDT-Unibet), who had crashed earlier in the race. He took a lead of 45 seconds on the peloton, where Uno-X Mobility had taken the control.

The weather didn’t make the race any easier and there were many crashes on the narrow and wet roads. Pre-race favourite, Arne Marit dropped out early in the finale, partly due to hypothermia. De Vries’ attack attempt failed 23 kilometres from the finish, due to Arkéa-B&B Hotels. Together with Uno-X Mobility, the French team wanted a sprint finish. There were no attacks the last time on the Gitsberg, so there would be a sprint by a thinned peloton. Jarne Van de Paar had the fastest legs at the finish. After his stage victory last year in the Tour of Taihu Lake, it is the second professional victory of his career.

GP Monseré 2024

Race winner, Jarne Van de Paar (Lotto Dstny): “This is crazy. I really wanted to win in Belgium this year. It’s my first race here and I won it straight away. Most of them were extremely cold, but I felt good. It wasn’t too bad. It was also a tough race, with many falls and slides. It was really a spectacle. It turned out beautifully, we were always at the front with Joshua Giddins and Lionel Taminiaux. In the final we had to wait and see how the race went. The sprint was hectic. I mainly wanted to wait, remain calm and trust my teammates. I couldn’t get a better lead-out.”

2nd, Timothy Dupont (Tarteletto-Isorex): “The conditions were truly appalling. I had a bad fall in the beginning, on my hip and knee, but I was able to continue and I am satisfied with my second place. Van de Paar had the perfect lead-out from Taminiaux. I was on his wheel and was beaten on value, that’s why I’m satisfied.”

3rd, David Dekker (Arkéa-B&B Hotels): “I felt so strong today, but in the sprint I was behind the crash. That’s why I’m disappointed, because the team was so strong. We rode so well together. We were collectively very strong and decided to use this on one of the toughest cobblestone sections. In the sprint I lost the boys a bit and then they also rode for me. That is mainly due to myself.”

Grote prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré Result:
1. Jarne Van de Paar (Bel) Lotto Dstny in 4:51:09
2. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
3. David Dekker (Ned) Arkéa-B&B Hotels
4. Francisco Galván (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
5. Emilien Jeannière (Fra) TotalEnergies
6. Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Lotto Dstny
7. Henri Uhlig (Ger) Alpecin-Deceuninck
8. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Arkéa-B&B Hotels
9. Thimo Willems (Bel) VolkerWessels Cycling Team
10. Vito Braet (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty.

GP Monseré’24:

 

lotto
Arnaud De Lie Starts Paris-Nice After his Le Samyn Crash
Arnaud De Lie has resumed racing after his crash and abandonment in Le Samyn. He said he is pain-free. “But for me it is also a question about the condition and feeling on the bike,” the Lotto Dstny sprinter told Het Nieuwsblad.

“I no longer have any pain, but it is certainly not a nice feeling to ride after a crash,” De Lie said before the start of the hilly first stage. “Without my crash I might be one of the top favourites, but we’ll see how the race goes. If I feel 100%, I will sprint, but at 90% I will not take any risks.”

De Lie does have a lot of confidence for Paris-Nice. “It would be a relief to get my first win of the season here. In the Omloop I was already one of the stronger riders in the race,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure on me, but I don’t lose sleep over whether I win today or any other day. The condition is there, so the first victory will follow soon.”

De Lie before he crashed out of Le Samyn:
Le Samyn 2024

 

movistar
Movistar’s Oier Lazkano Keeps Options Open for 2025
Oier Lazkanko is now one of Movistar’s most important riders, but will he be racing for the Spanish team in 2025? The national champion’s contract ends this year and, according to the Spanish sports-paper AS, he is keeping his options open.

Lazkano started his professional career in 2020 with Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and moved to Movistar after two seasons. In his first year with the WorldTour team, he won a stage in the Tour de Wallonie and came second at the Spanish time trial championship. A year later, the 24 year-old rider won the Boucles de la Mayenne, a stage in the Tour of Burgos and the Spanish road champion. Lazkano also finished second in Dwars door Vlaanderen, after a day on the attack. This season he took the win in the gravel Clásica Jaén race and a third place in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

Lazkano is the new leader that Movistar needs, but his contract expires this year and according to AS there is a lot of interest in the Spaniard. Lazkano has not yet made a decision on his future, but is said to be keeping his options open.

Where will Oier Lazkano be in 2025?
Jaen 2024

 

lotto
Lennert Van Eetvelt Will Start the Vuelta a España with GC Ambitions
Lennert Van Eetvelt impressed last week with his first WorldTour victory in the UAE Tour. A performance that was not expected and now his Lotto Dstny team is looking to the future. Sports manager Kurt Van de Wouwer spoke with WielerFlits.

The Flemish media were already saying he should ride the Tour de France. Van Eetvelt had the Vuelta on his schedule before the start of the season. “You can make a plan in advance, but during the year circumstances sometimes arise that make you want to adjust that plan. Especially if evolution goes faster,” Van de Wouwer explained.

“Currently the plan with Lennert is to ride the Vuelta this autumn. At the beginning of the year we weren’t sure yet whether we would go there to compete in a classification or not. That depended on his evolution. Now we are a few weeks further, and I think we have to dare to say: we have to go to the Vuelta with classification ambitions with Van Eetvelt. We want to see how he does in a three-week stage competition. We will evaluate this further in the coming weeks.”

The 2023 Vuelta was the first Grand Tour for the 22-year-old climber. He had a strong final week, including a third place on stage 14 behind Remco Evenepoel and Romain Bardet. At the start of the season he indicated that he would not aim for an overall place in 2024, but now maybe has to change his mind.

What next for Van Eetvelt?
Mallorca 2024

 

visma
Tom Gloag Might Not be Able to Return to the Peloton for Months
It will be a long time before we see Tom Gloag in action again for Visma | Lease a Bike. The 22 year-old British rider was hit by a car while training at the end of August 2023, sustaining a serious knee injury. He was operated on immediately, but since then there has been no news about Gloag and he will be ‘on the bench’ for some time.

His return to competition will have to wait at least three months, the team confirmed to WielerFlits. During the team planning, it was proposed that he would aim for a return in June. The French media outlet, Cyclism’Actu wrote last week that the British climber will return at the earliest in the Tour of Switzerland (9 to 16 June). His team says that this is in accordance with the winter plan. This brings Gloag’s absence to almost ten months.

Visma | Lease a Bike makes no statements about the injury suffered by the British talent. “Fortunately, Tom is getting better and is on his way back,” a team spokesperson said. He only rode six races for the team in 2023: He took a 6th place in the Tour of Valencia and an 11th place in the Tour de Romandie. He then was a last minute addition to the Giro d’Italia team.

When will we see Tom Gloag?
Thomas Gloag

 

lotto
Andreas Kron Can’t Race Due to Concussion, Expected to Return in Catalonia
Andreas Kron was missing from the Lotto Dstny team for the Strade Bianche. The 25 year-old Dane would have been one of the team leaders on the white roads. The team spoke on X (Twitter) about a ‘minor injury’, but that requires some clarification. Especially since Kron has not raced all season.

“Andreas suffered a mild concussion while training and is not allowed to race for the time being. His debut has been postponed until the Tour of Catalonia,” explained the team’s sports manager, Kurt Van de Wouwer to WielerFlits.

“Normally, Andreas would start his season on the weekend of the Faune-Ardèche and Drôme Classic. For example, he had to work towards the Strade Bianche via the Trofeo Laigueglia. We have to postpone that, because he was not ready to race yet. We had to re-examine his program and sent him back for an altitude training period. There he can prepare himself to be fully healthy again in Catalonia.”

Kron was 10th in the Strade Bianche last year and took 4th place in the Amstel Gold Race, plus a stage victory in the Vuelta, which was the first WorldTour victory of the year for the Belgian ProTeam.

Kron still out of action:
vuelta 23 st2

 

belgium
Belgian Police Identify Spectator who Threw Drink at Marianne Vos
The spectator who threw drink and the cup at the winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Marianne Vos, during the climb of the Muur van Geraardsbergen has been identified and has been asked to come for questioning, according to the local police in Geraardsbergen/Lierde.

A video on X (what was Twitter), showed that the riders didn’t seem bothered much, but the incident has a negative impact on the ‘cup thrower’. After the incident, the police decided to draw up a report for assault and battery. “Unfortunately, this wonderful sporting event was overshadowed by an incident in which Marianne Vos had a cup of drink thrown in her face by a spectator,” the local police said. “This incident sparked outrage within the cycling community. Immediately after the incident, we took all necessary steps and acted decisively,” added Chief of Police Patrice De Mets. “The perpetrator has now been identified. We have invited this person for questioning to take responsibility for his behaviour.” The criminal assessment will be made after the interrogation by the public prosecutor’s office, the police stated.

Earlier this year there was also bad behaviour of supporters in cyclo-cross. Mathieu van der Poel had to deal with provocative supporters several times, after which he spat at them in the Hulst World Cup.

It didn’t seem to bother Marianne Vos too much, but it’s not what we want to see:
Omloop 2024

 

spain
18 Year-Old Rider of the Alejandro Valverde Devo Team Died After Training Accident
18 year-old cyclist, Juan Pujalte, died on Wednesday as a result of a training accident, his team announced. Pujalte rode for Valverde Team-Ricardo Fuentes, the Alejandro Valverde development team.

Pujalte was found seriously injured and unconscious by a passer-by on Wednesday. The cyclist, who was in his first year as an U23, was taken to hospital, but died from his injuries. The Guardia Civil has opened an investigation to clarify what happened and determine whether Pujalte had been hit by a car, who then left the scene.

“I am devastated by the death of Juan, a young man who was in love with cycling and was part of our team since last winter,” said Alejandro Valverde, who also works as sports director for his own team, on social media. “A big hug and my deepest condolences to family and friends in these difficult times.”

Juan Pujalte – Taken too young RIP:
Juan Pujalte

 

bahrain
Bahrain Victorious to Tirreno-Adriatico
Bahrain Victorious eagerly anticipates a week of intense racing, where they will take on two prestigious WorldTour stage races. With Paris-Nice already underway, the team is poised to tackle the Tirreno-Adriatico, from March 4th to March 10th on the Italian roads.

Known as the “Race of the Two Seas,” Tirreno-Adriatico spans the diverse landscapes of Italian regions, from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic Sea. The race opens with the traditional time trial in Lido di Camaiore, tailor-made for specialists, and poised to set the tone for the week ahead, with every second crucial in the battle for the coveted Trident trophy.

The flat 10km TT, is followed by stages designed to test the mettle of both sprinters and climbers. The traditional sprint stage from Camaiore to Follonica sets the stage for a bunch sprint, while the following day’s route from Volterra to Gualdo Tadino, spanning 220km, offers opportunities for daring attackers with its undulating terrain and uphill finish.

The excitement continues with stages featuring challenging climbs, including the wavy course around Siena and a mountainous spectacle in Torricella Sicura-Valle Castellana. However, the real battleground for the GC is expected on the penultimate day during the queen stage, Sasso Ferrato-Monte Petrano, which promises a mountainous showdown with demanding climbs.

Bahrain Victorious, approaches the race with a lineup to tackle the diverse terrain, led by the time trial specialist Antonio Tiberi, supported by road captain Damiano Caruso and climbing star Wout Poels, with the aim to make a significant impact on the GC. Phil Bauhaus, a proven sprinter with a previous Tirreno-Adriatico victory, leads the charge on sprint stages, supported by Nikias Arndt and Andrea Pasqualon for the lead-out. Moreover, helpful and strong support will be as always offered by Yukiya Arashiro.

Gorazd Stangelj, TBV Sports Director, acknowledges the significance of the opening time trial, recognising its potential to influence the overall standings, and remarks, “The General Classification will likely unfold on the penultimate day, but the opening time trial could set the tone. Our team is well-equipped for the challenges, with an eye on both GC and sprint victories. The bonus seconds will play a crucial role, and we are prepared to seize every opportunity.”

Bahrain

 

soudal quick-step 2024
Soudal Quick-Step to Tirreno-Adriatico
Tim Merlier makes his first European outing of the season in Italy

It’s one of the most important races of the season, an event where our team has won a total of 18 stages, the general classification once and several jerseys. This year, for its 59th edition, Tirreno-Adriatico will put on the table a parcours with something for everyone, but especially for the climbers, who at the end of the day should be the ones fighting for general classification glory.

A short individual time trial on the opening day in Lido di Camaiore will establish an initial pecking order, and things are likely to remain more or less the same until the fifth stage, when a trip up the San Giacomo climb could bring significant changes. But it will be the hard ascent of Monte Petrano – which returns in a race 15 years after featuring at the Giro d’Italia – that should play a decisive role in the final outcome, as it comes at the end of the penultimate stage, just before the peloton makes its way back to the coast for a flat finish on the streets of San Benedetto del Tronto.

Soudal Quick-Step will travel to the start in the province to Lucca with a strong team capable of going for a good result on all terrains: Julian Alaphilippe – the most successful Frenchman in the history of Tirreno-Adriatico – Kasper Asgreen, Josef Cerny, Fausto Masnada, Tim Merlier, Bert Van Lerberghe and Jordi Warlop.

“This is a race we like and where we had many nice victories in the past, and also this year we’d like to get something out of it. Our main focus will be on Tim – who’s had an excellent start to the season and will rely on a strong lead-out – to go for a stage victory. For the rest, we’ll just take it day by day and see how it goes”, said sports director Davide Bramati.

04.03–10.03 Tirreno-Adriatico (ITA) 2.UWT
Riders:

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)
Kasper Asgreen (DEN)
Josef Cerny (CZE)
Fausto Masnada (ITA)
Tim Merlier (BEL)
Bert Van Lerberghe (BEL)
Jordi Warlop (BEL).
Sports Director: Davide Bramati (ITA), Dries Devenyns (BEL) and Wilfried Peeters (BEL).

Tim Merlier looking for stage wins:
UAE Tour 2024 stage 4

 

dsm postal
Tirreno-Adriatico – Mar 4
Matt Winston – Team dsm-firmenich PostNL coach: “The “Race between the two Seas” will offer a lot of different challenges for us. Everything will kick off with the traditional time trial, where we will start focused, to make sure that we have a good start to the week. We will also see a couple of sprint finishes and we will look to set up Casper, who has proven to be in good form this season. For the GC we will look after Romain and Max as our finishers, with some nice support around them.”

Line-up:
Romain Bardet (FRA)
John Degenkolb (GER)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Max Poole (GBR)
Casper van Uden (NED)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)
​Bram Welten (NED).

Bardet to Tirreno:
Strade Bianche 2024

 

bahrain
Bahrain Victorious Welcomes Łukasz Wisniowski
Bahrain Victorious is delighted to announce the newest addition to our cycling team, Łukasz Wiśniowski. The 32-year-old Polish rider brings a wealth of experience ahead of the cobbled classics after 9 seasons of racing in the WorldTour.

Wiśniowski, who is set to debut with the team in the Belgian classics, will also play a pivotal role in sprint lead-outs.

Wiśniowski commented, “I’m delighted to join this team, and I really like the way this team races. I hope to be helpful during the classics and help with the lead-outs. It will be an exciting new challenge, and I’m looking forward to meeting all my teammates and the staff members.”

Bahrain 2024

 

intermarche wanty 2024
Mewael Girmay Joins Wanty-ReUz-Technord
Wanty-ReUz-Technord welcomes a new African talent with the arrival of Mewael Girmay. The 18 year old Eritrean rider joins the Continental Development team directed by Kévin Van Melsen, for which he will make his debut in competition on Sunday 3rd of March.

Mewael Girmay is one of the younger brothers of Biniam Girmay, member of Intermarché-Wanty World Team since 2021 and first Sub Saharan African rider to win a classic in Ghent-Wevelgem 2022 and a Grand Tour stage in the Giro d’Italia of 2022. He thus becomes the fourth African rider of the Walloon structure, alongside his compatriot and teammate Aklilu Arefayne, his brother Biniam Girmay and South-African climber Louis Meintjes.

The tall rider, grown up in Asmara, has a profile for the sprint and the classics. He participated in his first race in Europe last Saturday in the GP Raygeo in Villers-le-Temple. This Sunday 3rd of March, he will join his teammates of Wanty-ReUz-Technord for the first time on the occasion of the GP de Lillers, a UCI 1.2 event.

Mewael Girmay: “I started cycling around three years ago, inspired by my brother Biniam and the Tour de France. Since then, I try to watch as many races as possible on television and I was hoping to follow Biniam to the European cycling scene. Last week I arrived in Belgium and my dream came true. I was immediately invited to accompany the pro riders of Intermarché-Wanty during their recon of Omloop het Nieuwsblad. It was a warm welcome and I really appreciated discovering the Flemish cobbles. I then met the staff and my teammates of Wanty-ReUz-Technord in Brussels-Opwijk, where I witnesses the second place of Zeno Moonen from the sports director’s car. By leaving my country for the first time, I immediately understood that the adaptation to life in Belgium would contain many challenges. I will have to adapt to the cold and wet weather circumstances, for example. I went hypothermic during my first race. But I’m very motivated to succeed and I can rely on the support of the team to get there. I have daily contact with my trainer Christophe Prémont and Kévin Van Melsen. Meanwhile, I already did some quality training sessions with my teammates Willam Graff and Tim Rex. I’m also looking forward to the arrival of my housemate Aklilu Arefayne in Belgium. My aim is to learn as much as possible this season, hoping to obtain results for Wanty-ReUz-Technord from next year.”

Kévin Van Melsen (Sports Director): “Mewael Girmay has an interesting profile for the classics and he’s got fast legs in the sprint, he has exactly the same physical characteristics as his brother Biniam. Rein Taaramäe had the opportunity to train a lot with him the past month in Asmara, he was clearly impressed by his capabilities. So I can’t wait to see him racing with the team for the first time this Sunday and then define the steps that have to be taken in his development. Taking into account that this is the first time he’s staying out of his country, he logically has a lot to learn and will need time to adapt. I’m thinking of the weather, with temperatures he isn’t used to at all. Just like for Aklilu Arefayne, we’ll offer him the best conditions to help him adapt to Europe. He is welcomed by the same family, closely surrounded by several team members. By offering a good structure to several young African talents, we wish to contribute to the development of cycling on this continent, which has so much to offer. Aklilu Arefayne quickly obtained results with Wanty-ReUz-Technord one year ago and I’m convinced that Mewael Girmay will be able to do the same on the long term.”

Intermarche 2024

 

bora
Red Bull Junior Brothers – Returns for 2024
Global road talent scouting program launched by Red Bull and BORA – hansgrohe sets the stage for future cycling stars

Red Bull Junior Brothers, the global road talent scouting program launched by Red Bull and BORA – hansgrohe, announces its highly anticipated return for the 2024 season. Following the success of its inaugural year, the program continues in its search for the future stars of professional road cycling, with applications opening on March 1st until April 30th.

Initiated in 2023, Red Bull Junior Brothers offers a pathway for young, unsigned talent to take their next step in their cycling career. In collaboration with BORA – hansgrohe’s U19 team, GRENKE – Auto Eder, the program provides opportunities for promising cyclists to realise their dreams. The 2023 season concluded with the selection of two talents, Patrick Casey from Ireland and Anatol Friedl from Austria, who have since secured contracts with BORA – hansgrohe’s U19 team, GRENKE – Auto Eder, along with Red Bull athlete partnership deals.

Both Patrick and Anatol have started their journey with Team GRENKE – Auto Eder and attended their first training camp with their teammates at Lake Garda in February.

Reflecting on his selection, Patrick Casey said, “It’s hard to believe how much has changed since last year when I first heard about the Red Bull Junior Brothers scheme. A goal of mine has always been to turn pro, but I never quite knew how to get there. Joining GRENKE – Auto Eder and embarking on this journey feels surreal but it’s the culmination of years of hard work. I can’t wait to see what this season has in store for me”.

Anatol Friedl echoed similar sentiments, remarking, “I’ve dreamed of this moment since I first hopped on a bike as a kid. I’m beyond excited to learn from the best, push my limits, and chase my dreams on the biggest stages of cycling. Winning Red Bull Junior Brother is just the beginning, and I can’t wait to see where this path takes me”.

Ralph Denk, founder and team manager of BORA – hansgrohe, comments: “Developing cycling talents has always been of great importance to us at BORA – hansgrohe. Last year, we embarked on a very innovative path with the Red Bull Junior Brothers Program to find the best cycling talents worldwide. By casting a wide net, we ensure that every aspiring junior cyclist, regardless of location, can showcase their abilities. Thus, after the program’s successful launch in 2023, relaunching it this year was a logical step. I am looking forward to the outcome.”

As the search for the next generation of cycling stars continues, Red Bull Junior Brothers invites aspiring young cyclists to participate in the 2024 edition of the program. Open to individuals born between 2007 and 2008, the program encourages participants to compete for a coveted spot on GRENKE – Auto Eder by signing up at redbull.com/juniorbrothers and riding on the program’s dedicated Zwift work out.

To participate, visit redbull.com/juniorbrothers and begin logging rides between March 1st to April 30th, 2024. Top performers will then be invited to the performance camp, where selected riders will undergo intensive testing in June. Ultimately, two successful applicants will be chosen to join Team GRENKE – Auto Eder and receive exclusive Red Bull athlete contracts.

For detailed entry information and updates, please visit redbull.com/juniorbrothers.

© Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

 

Alpecin 2024
Škoda Belgium Partner of Alpecin-Deceuninck & Fenix-Deceuninck
Alpecin-Deceuninck and Fenix-Deceuninck are proud to announce their partnership with Škoda Belgium. The Belgian importer supports both our men’s and women’s team.

Cycling is in Škoda’s genes. The brand of Václav Laurin and Václav Klement started producing Slavia bicycles in 1895 but switched to car production as early as 1901. 123 years later, that passion for two- and four-wheelers is still alive and kicking, which has promoted Škoda Auto to the engine of the pack. The green wing (which stands for technical progress) and the arrow of the Škoda emblem (which symbolises progressive production methods) is impossible to imagine the cycling world without in 2024, and with the new partnership between Škoda Belgium and Alpecin-Deceuninck & Fenix-Deceuninck, it gets an extra boost on the national and international cycling stage.

Philip Roodhooft, team manager of Alpecin-Deceuninck, sees a perfect match in the partnership with Škoda. “Their high-quality and reliable vehicles will play a crucial role in the logistical support of our team and the guidance of our riders. The brand built an excellent reputation in the world of cycling. Moreover, Škoda’s characteristics -technical progress and progression- are also things that are in our DNA.”

The new partnership provides no fewer than 35 fleet cars: 22 Škoda Superb Combi’s, 8 Octavia Combi’s and 5 Kamiqs delivered through car rental company LuxAuto, our long-standing partner. With their fuel-efficient engines, generous interior space and extensive cycling accessories, all models are cut out for the job.

“Working with a top Belgian team like Alpecin-Deceuninck & Fenix-Deceuninck is a dream come true for us,” says Thierry De Vleeschouwer as Director of Škoda Belgium. “It is a new chapter in our Škoda We Love Cycling story, which ties in perfectly with our brand’s rich history within cycling. In addition, the partnership also ties in with our bike-loving target group as well as our ambition to encourage multi-modal mobility (the car combined with the bike). That Alpecin-Deceuninck & Fenix-Deceuninck is also known for its excellent youth work and the opportunities it gives to young riders to grow, is just Simply Clever – just like their innovative race tactics and feet-on-the-ground mentality.”

Alpecin Skoda 2024

 

nice
Paris-Nice Includes a Team Time Trial with Different Rules
This year there will again be a team time trial in Paris-Nice (March 3-10). And it promises to be a special chrono test. Just like last year, the organisation opts for different rules than we are used to.

The 26.9 kilometre Paris-Nice team time trial, starting and finishing in Auxerre, is scheduled for the third day. The time will not be taken on the fourth finishing rider, as is usual, but that each rider gets his own time. A team leader who still has some energy left in the last kilometres, can ride away from his teammates can gain some time.

Article 2.5.014 in the UCI regulations indicates that this method of timekeeping is not permitted in team time trials, but in specific cases it is allowed, as long as it is clearly indicated in advance which rider’s time will be taken.

Last year, ASO experimented with these rules for the first time in Paris-Nice. It was a 32.2 kilometre TTT, which started and finished in Dampierre-en-Burly. Visma | Lease a Bike took the day’s victory, but the difference to EF Education-EasyPost was only 1 second. Leader Jonas Vingegaard’s victory over his major competitor and eventual winner Tadej Pogačar was 23 seconds.

Vingegaard finished together with two teammates, Jan Tratnik and Nathan Van Hooydonck, while Pogačar crossed the line alone. The Slovenian had gone solo in the final kilometre and lost time to Visma | Lease a Bike.

Pogačar finished solo in the Paris-Nice TTT last year:
Paris-Nice 2024

 

roubaix
2024 Paris–Roubaix: Cobbles Galore
They will be shaking at the mere thought of it, namely the programme reserved for the riders on Paris-Roubaix after one hundred kilometres, when they will encounter the first cobbled section of the day on exiting the village of Troisvilles (# 29, after 96.3 km). It is a traditional starter to the day’s menu of cobbles, but its familiarity makes it no less dreaded, often giving the riders a fright, or sometimes worse: Peter Sagan can testify to this, having seen his career on the race come to an end last year at this very spot. This sequence on which the race toughens up continues at the entrance to Quievy on one of the longest sections (3.7 km), followed this year by another tricky portion measuring 3 kilometres (# 26, Viesly Briastre), which has not featured since the 2019 edition. A little further on is where the race makes its return to the upwardly inclined section of Le Hameau du Buat (# 24, Capelle Ruesnes), which is the second change made by Thierry Gouvenou this year: “The influence on the race scenario will not be immediate, but having long and difficult sections to start with makes the race tiring and the consequences may be felt later on”. Indeed, it is vital to stay as fresh as possible for as long as possible before tackling the trickiest cobbled sections, including before the Trouée d’Arenberg (# 19, after 164.6 km), because the sorting of the wheat from the chaff got off to a very tough start last year on the section at Haveluy (# 20, after 156.4 km) due to an acceleration by Wout van Aert. The Queen of the Classics is also the one with the longest finale, because the pretenders for the crown will have to battle and struggle over almost 100 kilometres for those who have got past the Trouée d’Arenberg in a good position. They will still have 18 sections to cover (and why not several portions of tarmac to test each other?), including the “five-star” sections at Mons-en-Pèvèle (# 11, after 211.3 km) and Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (# 4, after 242.8 km), on which the decisive moment of the 2023 edition took place with a puncture for Van Aert, allowing Mathieu Van der Poel to claim victory alone at the velodrome.

Paris-Roubaix 2024
2024 Women’s Paris Roubaix map:

The route that the women’s pack will be tackling has not undergone any major alterations, but bypassing a section deemed too risky has increased the total distance by more than three kilometres without disrupting the day’s essentials. It turns out that the part prior to the cobbles is usually used by daring riders to break away from the rest, a tactic which bore fruit for Alison Jackson in 2023. The attackers could be under much tighter control this time, as it is risky to rely on a regrouping or a counterattack when facing a series of cobbled sections. For the fourth time, or more simply since the creation of Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift, the women riders will be tackling the last 17 sections of the men’s race, over a total of 29.2 kilometres of cobbles, including the sections at Mons-en-Pévèle and Le Carrefour de l’Arbre.

Key points:

  • The 121st edition of Paris-Roubaix, scheduled for Sunday 7th April, will start in Compiègne and cover a distance of 259.9 km to the velodrome in Roubaix. In the meantime, the return to the sections at Briastre (after 111.5 km) and Le Hameau du Buat (after 129.5 km) will increase the amount of cobbles to 55.7 km (compared with 54.5 km in 2023), the highest total on the race for the last 30 years.
  • The 4th edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift will take place the day before, on Saturday 6th April, on a very slightly modified route which will now total 148.5 kilometres. However, the amount of cobbles remains unchanged, accounting for 29.2 km of the distance, spread over 17 sections that correspond to the finale of the men’s race.
  • The weekend’s grand festival of cobbles includes five races, because on Saturday, amateur riders will be able to choose from three distances as part of the Paris-Roubaix Challenge. It will also witness fierce contests among young riders. On Sunday, the U18s will do battle over 111 kilometres from the start in Lécelles, while, for the first time, the U22s will be riding on the same day as their elite counterparts, over a distance of 163 kilometres between Le Cateau-Cambrésis and Roubaix.

2024 Men’s Paris Roubaix map:
Paris-Roubaix 2024

 

nokere koerse
Danilith Nokere Koerse has Some Changes to the Race
Danilith Nokere Koerse’s route for 2024 has been revealed. The race starts in Deinze and finishes at Nokereberg, as usual, but there are ‘some novelties’ on the route, the organisers announced in a press release.

On March 13, the men will ride 188.1 kilometres and the women 127 kilometres. After the start in the Markt in Deinze, the men will go to Nokere via a 94.2 kilometre loop. While the Wolvenberg and Tiegemberg were on the route last year, there are now joined by some other climbs and cobbles. After 25 kilometres there is the Lange Munte, the first cobblestone section of the day. Fifteen kilometres later, the Kattenberg, followed by the Holleweg and Jagerij. The cobbles of the Varent and the climbs of the Hellestraat, Holstraat and Petegemberg (500m at 7.6%) are also included in the route. This is followed by a new climb: the Fabriekstraat (600m at 5.4%).

After thirteen climbs, the riders hit the Nokereberg (350m at 5.7%, maximum 7%). After they have climbed it for the first time, there are 3 more local circuits of 31.1 kilometres. The circuit contains many cobbled sections: the Herlegemstraat, the Lange Aststraat, the Kloosterstraat, the newly renovated Doorn, Lededorp and the Huisepontweg.

The women ride this circuit twice, with a total of 24 cobbled sections, covering 17 kilometres. For the men there are 26 kilometres of cobbles, over 31 strips.

Danilith Nokere Koerse’s organisers will have a strong field for both the men and women’s races. For the men, Jasper Philipsen, former winner Fabio Jakobsen (2018) and two-time winner Tim Merlier (2022 and 2023) will be at the start and could become the first rider to win the one-day race three years in a row. In the women’s event; last year’s winner, Lotte Kopecky will be there, as will her teammate Lorena Wiebes, who won the Danilith Nokere Koerse in 2019 and 2022.

Danilith Nokere Koerse 2023 – Last 10K:

 

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