EUROTRASH Monday: Euro Cross Champs And All the Latest News!
Big catch-up Monday
It might be November, but there is still a lot of EUROTRASH: European cyclo-cross championships and the Tour de France Saitama Criterium – Results, reports, rider quotes and video.
Patrick Lefevere has doubts about Remco Evenepoel’s chances of winning the Tour – TOP STORY.
The Soudal-Visma team: Patrick Lefevere looks back on failed merger.
Rider news: Mathieu van der Poel’s cyclo-cross schedule, Pogačar doesn’t want to focus only on the Tour, Sepp Kuss looks back on the final week of the Vuelta, Nathan Van Hooydonck searches for the cause of his heart problems, Arnaud De Lie sees contract extension as a logical choice in the hunt for success in the Classics, Adrie van der Poel critical of Wout van Aert & Johan Museeuw sees a problem for Wout van Aert, Tao Geoghegan Hart aims for revenge in the Tour, Laurens De Plus explains his choice to stay with INEOS, Kristian Sbaragli has a new team, Omar Fraile stays with INEOS Grenadiers for two more years, Guillaume Boivin to stay with IPT in 2024, Michael Schär moves to Lidl-Trek for a new role, fourth and final suspect in Mark Cavendish robbery still on the run and Jumbo-Visma’s Michel Hessmann has positive ‘B sample’.
Team news: Burgos-BH signs Greek national champion, Harold Tejada remains with Astana Qazaqstan, O’Brien and Stewart pen new deals with Team Jayco AlUla, Human Powered Health new riders for 2024, Danish Continental Leopard TOGT team to stop, Sébastien Demarbaix and Astrid Roekens complete Intermarché-Circus-Wanty performance team and Soudal Quick-Step devo team announce 2024 roster.
Big EUROTRASH Monday coffee time.
TOP STORY: Patrick Lefevere Has Doubts About Remco Evenepoel’s Chances of Winning the Tour
Remco Evenepoel will (probably) be at the start of the Tour de France for the first time in 2024. The big question is whether the Belgian will be able to compete for overall victory with Jonas Vingegaard Tadej Pogačar and Primoz Roglič next year. Patrick Lefevere, the Soudal Quick-Step boss, has his doubts.
Remco Evenepoel won his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, a year ago, but is he a candidate to win the Tour de France? The Walloon newspaper La Dernière Heure asked Lefevere. In the 2023 Vuelta a España, Evenepoel was able to compete with the reigning Tour winner Vingegaard for the first time, but lost 27 minutes on the stage to the Col du Tourmalet when he had a ‘day without’.
“As a result, we still have doubts about the exact level he can reach in the Tour de France, against guys like Vingegaard and Pogačar,” said Lefevere. “We would have preferred if he could enjoy the past Giro d’Italia for three weeks before discovering the Tour. But because of all the setbacks this year, he has to do that immediately in the Tour.”
After the presentation of the Tour route, Evenepoel announced that he is considering participating in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in 2024. Lefevere advises against it and no longer takes it into account. “It has never been discussed in concrete terms and I know that his trainer Koen Pelgrim and his sports director Klaas Lodewyck do not think it is a good idea either.”
Johan Bruyneel also doesn’t believe in Evenepoel’s chances for the upcoming Tour, he said on the THEMOVE podcast. “The Tour de France is a different game than the Vuelta a España. I don’t think he can be expected to compete for the podium. He still has to learn the tricks of the Tour. Especially if Vingegaard, Pogačar and Roglič remain fit and nothing happens to them, Evenepoel will not be able to threaten them,” said Bruyneel.
Lefevere has his doubts:
European Cyclo-Cross Championships – Men 2023
Michael Vanthourenhout can wear the European cyclo-cross champion’s jersey for another year. The Belgian defending champion attacked on the first lap and soloed to another European title in a wet and muddy Pontchâteau on Sunday. Cameron Mason was a good second at 7 seconds, top favourite Lars van der Haar was third.
The storm didn’t destroy the European cyclo-cross championships in Pontchâteau. The races that were originally scheduled for Saturday, now all took place on Sunday. After the juniors, U23 and elite women, the elite men were last to race in France.
The Belgian team looked very strong with Eli Iserbyt, Thibau Nys and Michael Vanthourenhout, but the danger came from the Dutch squad, with Lars van der Haar as the top challenger. Due to the heavy rain, the course in Pontchâteau was muddy, slippery and treacherous. Laurens Sweeck was the first on to the grass, but he was quickly overtaken by several other riders. Eli Iserbyt put in the first shot in the opening lap, but was unable to get away. The next Belgian to make a move was Michael Vanthourenhout. The defending champion attacked in the second lap and immediately had a gap. In the chasing group it was up to the Dutch to close the gap.
Vanthourenhout’s teammates mixed up the chase, so there was no well-organised pursuit. This allowed Vanthourenhout to get further and further away. The 29 year-old had a 20 second lead after the second lap. Then Cameron Mason jumped after him. The British cyclo-cross talent was riding well through the mud of Pontchâteau and cut into Vanthourenhout’s lead. The Belgian was still holding a good pace, but Mason came within 13 seconds of Vanthourenhout at one point. Pim Ronhaar and Eli Iserbyt followed and were hunting for a medal, or even the title. Van der Haar and Thibau Nys had now worked their way up to around 5th place, but Nys was not having a good day and would abandon early. Van der Haar was gaining speed. The Dutch favourite caught the pursuers: Mason, Ronhaar and Iserbyt on the fifth lap and quickly took command, hoping to catch Vanthourenhout. Van der Haar was making up ground on the Belgian and looked to be on his way to a battle for the title, like last year’s European championships in Namur.
Van der Haar slipped in the mud, which put Mason back in second place and Vanthourenhout was able to move further ahead. He had a good gap, but was not yet assured of victory. At the start of the sixth lap, the difference between Vanthourenhout and Mason was 15 seconds. Van der Haar was the next to cross the finish line, but he was at around 20 seconds. This turned out to be too much for Van der Haar. Vanthourenhout clocked solid lap times in the gruelling and rain-soaked conditions, extending his lead. Van der Haar had lost his momentum and, to make matters worse, the two-time European champion crashed. Vanthourenhout remained clear in the last two laps to hold his European cyclo-cross championship title for a second consecutive year. Cameron Mason finished off a very strong race with a silver medal. The battle for third place was between Ronhaar and Van der Haar. Van der Haar came out on top.
European cross champion, Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel): “My season didn’t go well, but I already felt very strong after the Koppenbergcross. Today was my day. I already had good legs at the beginning of the cross and I gave it my all right from the start. It was enough for the win. I am very happy with this new title. It is a shame that I cannot wear my Belgian champion jersey again, but a second European title is also very nice.”
2nd, Cameron Mason (GB): “This one is for my mum and also for my grandpa, who sadly passed away last Friday. I am very happy that I can do this for him. This is a dream come true. I rode my own race and made few mistakes. The fact that this ends in a silver medal is fantastic. The public wants to see the best riders and today I was one of them.”
3rd, Lars van der Haar (Ned): “The mud made it easier to run your own race on this normally fast course. I only went over the limit in the mud, but Michael (Vanthourenhout) is good at that. I knew immediately that he was the man to beat. I feel the pain of the falls afterwards. At one point I got to eleven seconds, but I made one too many mistakes. Pim and I kept each other in the race, but you race for the podium and then a duel follows. When he couldn’t shake me off with his specialty, running, I knew I could beat him in the sprint.”
4th, Pim Ronhaar (Ned): “I was hoping that Lars would give me third place, but this is not a place to give presents. I don’t have a European Championship medal, but I do think that this medal would have meant more to me than to him, given his honours list among the elite. I certainly didn’t feel inferior, but it is what it is. The national coach (Gerben de Knegt) told me that I had to race a bit more conservatively, but at a certain point we couldn’t let Michael Vanthourenhout get any further away. The British rider, Cameron Mason was with us, but Lars was missing. I wanted to wait, but Mason pushed on. Due to a flat tyre I had to let go and in the end even third place slipped out of my hands. I leave France with a good feeling. The podium place in Waterloo and this near-medal give courage. Although it is annoying that I am quite changeable, there are also very bad days. I’m having my blood tested this week. Let’s see if something comes out of that.”
6th, Eli Iserbyt (Bel): “I tailored my race to Michael. He gave a good impression. We discussed it in the first laps. We drew his full card. I’m glad he could finish it. He certainly didn’t steal it, because I quickly saw that Michael was the better one. Especially in these circumstances. The Belgian team has done a very good job, just like Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal.”
Sven Nys on Thibau’s bad day: “Thibau understands that it is a challenge to complete a race like the Koppenbergcross on Wednesday, especially at this age and recover from it in a timely manner. It’s not ideal. It could have easily worked, but that wasn’t the case today and there’s no shame in that. The riders who did well today were men with more scratches on the bodywork. I didn’t see the freshest Eli Iserbyt either. So you should not underestimate that race on the Koppenberg. Thibau came here to make the best of it. But if you feel that you just don’t have the legs, then you will fail, especially at this level. It does make sense in itself. I never put him on a list for this European Championship. It was two very tough races in one week and then this scenario could happen.”
European Cyclo-Cross Championships – Men Result:
1. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) in 1:02:13
2. Cameron Mason (GB) at 0:07
3. Lars van der Haar (Ned) at 0:19
4. Pim Ronhaar (Ned) at 0:21
5. Ryan Kamp (Ned) at 0:44
6. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) at 0:58
7. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) at 1:05
8. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) at 1:14
9. Felipe Orts (Spa) at 1:23
10. Witse Meeussen (Bel) at 1:39.
European Cyclo-Cross Championships – Women 2023
As expected, Fem van Empel won the European cyclo-cross title to go with her World’s crown. The top favourite rode away from the opposition in the first lap and soloed to the win. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado crossed the line in second place and Italy’s Sara Casasola finished in third.
Before the start, all eyes were on Fem van Empel. The World champion, who hasn’t lost a cyclo-cross race this season, could hardly lose, but of course anything can happen in a cyclo-cross race. Due to the recent heavy rain, the course in Pontchâteau was very muddy and slippy. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado had the best start and was first off-road. She was followed by Inge van der Heijden and Fem van Empel.
The Dutch team quickly took control of the race, with Alvarado, Van Empel, Van der Heijden, Aniek van Alphen and Annemarie Worst in the top five. Top favourite, Van Empel held her place for a while, but after around 7 minutes she put in an attack. With a fast acceleration she put Alvarado and Van der Heijden under a lot of pressure. The two didn’t immediately have an answer, but Alvarado didn’t give up. Alvarado tried to correct the situation on the second lap and cross to Van Empel. Technical, the two were evenly matched, but the reigning World champion had the advantage on the power sections. This was the deciding factor in the difference between Van Empel and Alvarado. The Wold champion took more and more time and after two laps was already 30 seconds up.
Alvarado was joined by Inge van der Heijden in the third lap, while Van Empel was thundering to the win. The leader doubled her lead to more than 1 minute and was able to coast in the last few laps. Alvarado had dropped Van der Heijden and rode in second place. The battle for third place was still on, because Van der Heijden had now been caught by the Italian, Sara Casasola. Casasola, who had been showing well in recent crosses, rode further and further away from Van der Heijden in the second half of the race. The battle for the podium seemed to be over. Van Empel had no problems and successfully completed her solo victory. Alvarado came in over a minute and a half later for second place. Casasola won the bronze medal, breaking the Dutch domination. Van der Heijden and Van Alphen completed the top 5. Belgium’s Marion Norbert-Riberolle, finished sixth after a good chase. The top 10 was filled by Anna Kay, Sanne Cant, Laura Verdonschot and Amandine Fouquenet.
European cross champion, Fem van Empel (Ned): “I made too many mistakes in the first lap. It was so hard to get into my rhythm. The plan was to attack on the first climb and luckily that worked out well. After that I was able to increase my lead. Physically I still feel very good, but mentally it is difficult to recharge every time. To always start as a top favourite. So now I’m taking some rest days.”
European Cyclo-Cross Championships – Women Result:
1. Fem van Empel (Ned) in 52:44
2. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) at 1:35
3. Sara Casasola (Ita) at 1:56
4. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) at 2:39
5. Aniek van Alphen (Ned) at 3:06
6. Marion Norbert-Riberolle (Bel) at 3:18
7. Anna Kay (GB) at 3:24
8. Sanne Cant (Bel) at 3:44
9. Laura Verdonschot (Bel) at 3:58
10. Amandine Fouquenet (Fra) at 4:15.
The Other Results:
European Cyclo-Cross Championships – U23 Men Result:
1. Jente Michels (Bel) in 52:16
2. Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) at 0:25
3. Rémi Lelandais (Fra) at 0:44
4. Ward Huybs (Bel) at 1:02
5. Victor Van De Putte (Bel) 1:19
6. Dario Lillo (Sui) at 1:29
7. Nathan Bommenel (Fra) at 1:30
8. Corentin Lequet (Fra) at 1:40
9. Yorben Lauryssen (Bel) at 1:49
10. Léo Bisiaux (Fra) at 2:04.
European Cyclo-Cross Championships – U23 Women Result:
1. Zoe Bäckstedt (GB) in 48:46
2. Marie Schreiber (Lux) at 0:34
3. Krystýna Zemanová (CZ) at 1:11
4. Leonie Bentveld (Ned) at 1:39
5. Lauren Molengraaf (Ned) at 2:36
6. Olivia Onosti (Fra) at 3:13
7. Xaydee Van Sinaey (Bel) at 3:46
8. Julie Brouwers (Bel) at 4:11
9. Katerina Hladíková (CZ) at 4:22
10. Giada Borghesi (Ita) at 4:30.
European Cyclo-Cross Championships – Junior Men Result:
1. Aubin Sparfel (Fra) in 43:49
2. Zsombor Takács (Hun)
3. Jules Simon (Fra) at 0:08
4. Stefano Viezzi (Ita) at 0:09
5. Barnabás Vas (Hun) at 0:30
6. Paul Seixas (Fra) at 0:38
7. Keije Solen (Ned) at 0:50
8. Louis Tanguy (Fra) at 0:53
9. Maxime Vezie (Fra) at 0:58
10. Mattia Agostinacchio (Ita) at 1:14.
European Cyclo-Cross Championships – Junior Women Result:
1. Célia Gery (Fra) in 41:06
2. Cat Ferguson (GB) at 0:26
3. Viktória Chladonová (Slovak) at 0:31
4. Amandine Muller (Fra) 2:12
5. Imogen Wolff (GB) at 2:23
6. Sofia Ungerová (Slovak) at 2:24
7. Amálie Gottwaldová (CZ) at 2:33
8. Katerina Douderová (CZ) at 2:37
9. Daniela Hezinová (CZ) at 2:48
10. Puck Langenbarg (Ned) at 2:54.
2023 Tour de France Saitama Criterium 2023
Tadej Pogačar wrote the epilogue of a success story and the prologue of a new one. Racing in his Tour de France Saitama Criterium debut, the Slovenian rider came out on top in the Japanese city, the end point of a record-breaking season in which he picked up a whopping seventeen victories, including two Tour stage wins in July. In his final appearance in the white jersey —he will age out of the best young rider’s classification next year— the world number one out-sprinted Sepp Kuss for the win, with Peter Sagan on the bottom step of the podium. A short while earlier, Pogačar and his UAE Team Emirates teammates had finished second in the team time trial, which went to Yukiya Arashiro’s Bahrain Victorious.
The champions of the Tour headed to the other side of the world for the last bout of the season, riding in summer-like temperatures under the watchful eyes of tens of thousands of Japanese fans. The ninth edition of the Tour de France Saitama Criterium roared to life as soon as the flag went down. Ten years after becoming the first winner of the race while clad in the yellow jersey, Chris Froome fired the opening salvo on the first of seventeen 3.5 km laps, right after the very first turn. His gutsy ride and relentless attacks throughout the race earned him the combativity award.
Cavendish and Ciccone hunting for points
The peloton reeled in the first breakaway shortly before the first intermediate sprint, where Mark Cavendish, a 34-time Tour de France stage winner racing alongside Froome in the Legends squad, took the first step in his ultimately successful challenge for the points classification. Meanwhile, Giulio Ciccone (Lidl–Trek) was determined to do justice to the polka-dot jersey he won last July. Mission accomplished for the Italian, who featured in multiple breakaways and grabbed enough points to become the king of the mountains.
Sagan and Kuss attack but Pogačar has the final word
Egan Bernal, second in Saitama in 2019, and Chris Froome were the driving force behind a new breakaway that was caught just before the last intermediate sprint, won by Peter Sagan (Legends). The Slovak kept the momentum going to charge full steam ahead. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Sepp Kuss (Jumbo–Visma) joined the three-time world champion a lap later, with 7 km to go. Cofidis set a frantic pace at the front of the peloton to close the gap, but it was not to be. Not fancying his prospects in a sprint, Kuss tried to outsmart his fellow escapees with an attack from 2.5 km out. Sagan had no answer to this and had to settle for third, but Pogačar held on and came around the American to ride to victory and into the gorgeous sunset.
Arashiro’s clique beats the clock
The day had got under way with a time trial that put the spotlight on homegrown talent and the stars of para-cycling, as well as giving the pros the chance to warm up and get a feel for the circuit, lined by massive crowds. “It was mind-blowing, there were spectators everywhere, not just at the finish”, said a happy Thomas Champion, third in the team time trial with Cofidis. Yukiya Arashiro’s Bahrain Victorious outfit took the spoils in 3:43:42:, three seconds faster than Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates. “In Singapore, we finished third, behind UAE Team Emirates and Cofidis. We were determined to win today”, explained the 39 year-old Japanese rider, who had planned the turns with his teammates Pello Bilbao, Matevž Govekar and Kamil Gradek in painstaking detail. It was Arashiro’s maiden win in the team time trial and his second overall in Saitama, following his triumph in the road race in 2019. The local hero, who has not missed a single edition of the event since its launch in 2013, has good reason to be proud. “Winning in front of the Japanese crowds means the world to me. Doing so once was already great, but doing so twice is even better!”
2023 Tour de France Saitama Criterium Result:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 1:23:03
2, Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma at 0:01
3. Peter Sagan (Slovak) Team Legends at 0:16.
Patrick Lefevere Looks Back on Failed Merger: “I Suggested Waiting Until 2025”
The proposed merger between Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step was the main talking point for several weeks. As team manager of Soudal Quick-Step, Patrick Lefevere was one of the key players, the Belgian looked back on the stressful time in more detail with La Dernière Heure.
The top teams, Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step were in merger talks for a long time, but in the end it didn’t happen. It was not a nice period for Lefevere. “It didn’t make me happy, no. But it was especially painful for the riders and all the other people who work for the team. All those people asked legitimate questions and I would have done everything I could not to disappoint them.”
“But there is a majority shareholder (Zdeněk Bakala) and if he decides to sell, you can’t do anything. When the bosses of the two teams met, I suggested waiting until 2025. But they wanted to do it very quickly,” said Lefevere.
Richard Plugge, Jumbo-Visma’s team boss, previously provided more information about the failed merger in an interview with The Outer Line. “There was talk between both teams about a merger, but in the end it did not happen. One of the reasons was that, after our discussions with the UCI, we came to the conclusion that there was no good solution for both teams. We didn’t want any team to be left in the dark.”
The merger plans with Jumbo-Visma were cancelled, but what does the future hold? “Jumbo-Visma has taken a different path, but there may be other candidates. Who says they don’t want to board from Saudi Arabia? There is always a lot of criticism, but I now conclude that they will organise the Football World Cup in 2034. Money has no smell in that regard.”
Lefevere wasn’t happy:
Alpecin-Deceuninck Unveils Cross Program for Mathieu van der Poel
Alpecin-Deceuninck has announced Mathieu van der Poel’s cyclo-cross races for this winter. The Dutchman will start with the Exact Cross Mol on December 22 and continue until the World Championships in Tabor on February 4. He will contest a total of thirteen cross races.
Last year, Van der Poel started his cross season on November 27 with a victory in the Hulst World Cup. He said earlier that he would start later this year. From December 22 onwards, the races come one after another in close succession. In the last ten days of 2023, the world champion will appear at the start of six cyclo-cross races. He will participate in the World Cup Gavere and the Superprestige Diegem and others.
On New Year’s Day, Van der Poel will make an appearance in the X2O Trophy Baal. It is one of the seven cyclo-cross races he will ride until February 4, when he ends his cross campaign with the World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic. Van der Poel will not race for two weeks between the Zonhoven World Cup (January 7) and the Benidorm World Cup (January 21).
Pogačar Doesn’t Want to Focus Only on the Tour: “I Like New Challenges”
Tadej Pogačar had a very successful spring this year with wins in De Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Amstel Gold Race, but in the Tour de France he had lost to Jonas Vingegaard. Was the problem the Spring Classics and the Tour de France combination?
“Maybe the fact that I had to prepare for the Tour of Flanders and the Walloon classics this year cost me the Tour,” the Slovenian said to FloBikes. “It’s not an ideal combination, but I love racing and taking on new challenges. I would find it difficult to only focus on the month of July, while I know that I can also perform well in the first and last part of the season.”
This year, the two-time Tour winner had a far from the best preparation for the French Grand Tour. A broken wrist after a crash in Liège-Bastogne-Liège seriously disrupted his build up, and it became a race against time to get fit in time. “That certainly didn’t help. If you have to train on rollers for six weeks, you are not ready for three weeks of climbing and sprinting. You already have to do a lot in the two months after Liège and then there was that wrist injury. It was just too much. I didn’t have the necessary foundation.”
Pogačar hopes to be able to work towards the Tour next year without any problems. The UAE Team Emirates rider has already won a lot at the age of 25, but he says he is still making progress. “That is what I feel, but it is also reflected in my values. For example, I now have more experience, but I can always learn more. My body can still improve a lot in the coming years, although this is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. Now it’s all in the details and work ethic.”
Tadej Pogačar doesn’t want to focus only on the Tour:
Sepp Kuss Looks Back on the Final Week of the Vuelta: “I Hoped that Roglič and Vingegaard Understood How I Felt”
Jumbo-Visma dominated the Vuelta a España, but was faced with difficult choices. Primoz Roglič in particular initially found it a bit more difficult to put aside his own chances for Sepp Kuss, DS Merijn Zeeman said recently. Now the eventual winner Kuss, spoke to FloBikes about the eventful final week.
“It was unique that we occupied the podium places with three teammates and it is completely normal that all three of us thought differently about what should happen in the race,” said the American. “It’s top sport. In a big tour you don’t just ride around and not give it your all. It is completely reasonable that Primoz wanted to race, but it is also completely understandable that everyone wanted to support me because I had the red jersey.”
Zeeman previously announced that Roglič wanted to race for the red, but what did Jonas Vingegaard actually want? “Jonas also wanted to race, because if one of the three says ‘we’ll compete against each other and see who is the best’, then the others must also start racing for their own interests. It is understandable that guys who always race to win also want to do so in the Vuelta.”
Kuss himself did not want to call it ‘sour’ that his leaders did not immediately put themselves in his service unconditionally. He had a ‘unique perspective’ on the situation, he says. “I’ve seen both sides of the story. I know what it’s like to be a domestique, I know what it’s like to have a really good day and think: what if I could take my own chance and not just be here to help?”
“And I also know what it feels like to be the leader and to be in the lead, to realise how special that is and what it means to lose the leader’s jersey. That’s why I understood their perspective. They are among the best riders in the world and are used to winning. They always go for the win and always have a full team in support. For me it was a unique perspective, because I also know what it feels like to sacrifice my own ambitions and good days for them.”
Ultimately, Jumbo-Visma drew Kuss’s card, but that was not because the American had banged his fist on the table. “Not necessarily, I said I understood their position and why they wanted to go for it. But also that I hoped they understood how I felt and how I have felt over the years when I helped them. I never hesitated to help them, even though I also had to give up my own ambitions to assist them.”
Sepp Kuss explains Vuelta a España difficult days with Jumbo-Visma:
Nathan Van Hooydonck Searches for the Cause of his Heart Problems
Nathan Van Hooydonck had to stop cycling due to heart problems. A cause for these problems has not yet been found. “It has deteriorated rapidly,” said Van Hooydonck in conversation with NOS.
“My right ventricle is too big. This caused a cardiac arrhythmia. In December there was nothing to see during a check, but it has deteriorated quickly.” It is not yet known what the explanation for this is. “Maybe I trained too hard? I’ve always asked a lot of myself, but I don’t think that’s the reason.”
Van Hooydonck does make a link to the new way of racing in recent years. “The finals are opened earlier. While we used to race two hours on the limit, it is now three hours. In sometimes gruelling circumstances, that is not healthy. It’s hard to say whether it has anything to do with that. It is striking that there are more cases now that the way of racing has changed.”
Is the racing too hard?
Arnaud De Lie Sees Contract Extension as a Logical Choice in the Hunt for Success in the Classics
In August, Lotto-Dstny announced that De Lie had signed a new long-term contract that would keep him with the team until the end of 2026. It was the logical choice for De Lie, but the team had to convince him. “It was initially not my intention to extend my contract,” De Lie said to Cyclingnews.
Lotto-Dtsny’s CEO, Stéphane Heulot, was delighted in August after securing De Lie’s signature. The Belgian goldcrest is an important linchpin in Lotto-Dstny’s goals to regain WorldTour status. For De Lie, the team’s eagerness made the difference, among other things. “It was not my intention to extend my contract, but the team really wanted me to extend it and it has a very good project for me,” says De Lie.
In addition, De Lie will have a leading role within the team. A role that the 21 year-old Belgian likes. “After long discussions with him and my family, I think this was the best choice for me, because we have a very good group, with good teammates and staff. I’m also perhaps the leader of the team, so I have a lot of trust with teammates and staff. It was a logical choice.”
Although De Lie has already earned his status in the peloton, he only took his first WorldTour victory in Quebec in September of this year. Things weren’t running smoothly in the spring. De Lie hopes to change that in 2024, but is not going too fast. “Next year is a good opportunity to ride the Tour of Flanders, but winning this race next year is something else,” said De Lie. “When you do a big race you see that if you don’t have experience you lose the race.”
A participation in a Grand Tour is also on the horizon for De Lie. Heulot has already indicated that his team will not appear at the start of the Giro. A debut in the Tour or the Vuelta is therefore imminent. Yet the Classics remain the main goal for De Lie. “I would rather win a Classic than a stage victory.”
Arnaud De Lie for the Classics:
Adrie van der Poel Critical of Wout van Aert: “Biggest mistake he Can Make”
Wout van Aert said a while ago that he wants to be more careful in the future in races. Adrie van der Poel has now said that he does not think that is a good idea. The Dutchman said this in conversation with Greg Van Avermaet and José De Cauwer in the Het Nieuwsblad.
“When you see the attack Mathieu has on his best days, it doesn’t seem like a good tactic for anyone to run around with him because at some point you will be left behind. From now on, not only I, but also other leaders will watch the situation and let it be done. I have often had my enthusiasm punished by Mathieu,” Van Aert said to Het Laatste Nieuws recently.
Adrie Van der Poel (Mathieu’s father) has his opinion about Van Aert’s statements. “I have read that he wants to adjust his racing behaviour. That’s the biggest mistake he can make. Then he starts racing against his nature.” Van Avermaet agrees. “I wouldn’t change anything in his place. There will come a year when it will all fall into place.”
Adrie also had reservations about two moments. Firstly about Gent-Wevelgem, where Van Aert gave the victory to teammate Christophe Laporte. “Everyone can do what they want, but it didn’t look good for cycling,” said Adrie. Finally, the former rider had also tackled the European Championship final on the VAM mountain differently. “If Wout pulls there for De Lie, he wins the race by fifteen lengths. Then as a national coach I would dare to gamble: I take all the shit on myself, but we turn the tables: Van Aert for De Lie. Whatever the opposition does not expect.”
Don’t change anything Wout:
Johan Museeuw Sees a Problem for Wout van Aert
After Adrie van der Poel, Johan Museeuw is also critical of Wout van Aert’s performance. The former World champion, who also won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix three times, sees an important explanation why Van Aert only has one monument on his list of achievements.
Museeuw said to GCN: “Wout has been close, but not close enough. He has already achieved top five and top three finishes, but every year you miss is a year too late. For example, Peter Sagan retired this year, but actually he was a rider who should have won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix a few times, and Milan-San Remo. Maybe Van Aert lacks some killing spirit to win a race. I mean, you don’t give away a race like Gent-Wevelgem. It’s not a criticism, and it highlights his kindness that he does that, but at the end of your career the most important thing is how much you won. It is not about what you have given away.”
The ‘Lion of Flanders’ doesn’t see those character traits in World champion Mathieu van der Poel. “He is more of a killer than Van Aert,” says Museeuw. “Van Aert is willing to work for another rider, like in the Tour. Van der Poel does not work for other riders. Sometimes he does the lead-out for Jasper Philipsen, but that’s it. He doesn’t work for another rider for three weeks.”
If Van Aert really retrains as a tour rider, with the aim of reaching the top 5 in the Giro, as La Gazzetta dello Sport already suggested, Museeuw sees even more problems emerging for Van Aert. “You have to focus on what you are good at. Van Aert is good at one-day races. That’s where his focus should be. Of course he can do well in the Tour de France and get a top ten in a Grand Tour, but what’s the point? It is clear that he cannot win a race like the Tour de France.”
“I don’t think he can win the Giro and I wouldn’t adjust my program for a Giro in which I might have a 50 percent chance of winning. Not when I have a 95 percent chance of winning in the classics. If he wants to win the Giro, he must lose one or two kilos and follow a different program. That means he won’t be as strong in the spring classics.”
Museeuw has his thoughts:
Tao Geoghegan Hart Aims for Revenge in the Tour: “These are Things I Want to Change”
Tao Geoghegan Hart had a short season due to a hip fracture he sustained in a crash in this year’s Giro d’Italia, the Briton has moved to the American Lidl-Trek team for 2024. Geoghegan Hart wants wins in 2024 and wants to be at the start of the Tour de France next season, he told The Times.
“It felt like a moment to try,” talking of his change of teams. “I was very open with INEOS and I think they understood. Cycling is becoming more competitive every year. You want to be at the big races and have a chance. I think I would regret it if I didn’t try this.”
The 2020 Giro winner signed a three-year contract with Lidl-Trek in August. The competition for leadership of INEOS was strong, but Geoghegan Hart should be the GC man in his new team. Lidl-Trek was mainly chasing stage victories in 2023 with men Mads Pedersen. The team now wants to make a bid for the overall victory in the Tour next season. The British rider doesn’t have good memories of the Tour de France. Geoghegan was involved in the crash caused by a spectator on stage 1 in his debut and only Tour in 2021. Any chance of final victory was lost. “Those are the things you want to change,” said Geoghegan Hart.
The new addition to Lidl-Trek can finally look ahead after a long rehabilitation. The crash also makes him realise that he cannot take anything for granted. “Cycling at this level is finite. I’ve been a professional for 10 years and it’s flown by. And I certainly don’t have ten years left in front of me. It’s about getting back to the level of May and doing the most I can.”
Tao Geoghegan Hart back and looking for wins:
Laurens De Plus Explains his Choice to Stay with INEOS
Laurens De Plus will race for the INEOS Grenadiers team next season and now the Belgian rider has explained about his contract extension. “The interest of Soudal Quick-Step? I quickly indicated that I would rather stay with INEOS,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.
De Plus has a contract with the British WorldTour team until the end of 2026. “I am very pleased with that. Of course I worked for it too. Everyone knows what place I have within the team and what qualities I add. I fit in well there and hopefully I can become a permanent fixture for the Grand Tours. This will be the main focus in the coming years. I would like to ride several Grand Tours a year. Maybe not all three like Sepp Kuss, but I would like to have two on my program every year.”
“After the Giro it became clear quite quickly. The handshake was already there somewhere in mid-June. I don’t remember exactly whether I signed just before or after I left the Vuelta. I feel so good in the team that I didn’t feel like leaving. INEOS is my third team. I receive the ideal support as a person and as an athlete. Everything is reasoned and how you feel as a person comes first. This seems like a promotional talk, but it’s true. Things are sometimes different for other teams when injuries occur.”
The interest from Soudal Quick-Step has not made De Plus hesitate, he says. “I knew about the interest and I thought about it, but I quickly indicated that I preferred to stay with INEOS. Did Remco try to bring me in? Anyway, but everyone charts their own path. I feel at my best with this team. I had enjoyed myself so much in the Giro that my decision was made quite quickly. Remco called and texted me regularly. It was also discussed sometimes when we went for coffee together. One day it will happen that we will race together in a team, but not yet.”
De Plus also gave an update on his current physical condition. “I returned from a week’s holiday in Dubai this week and I was eager to start training again. The fire is burning. I started it straight away on Thursday, despite storm Ciaran. Although, just to be on the safe side, I turned back in time. A week earlier than usual. Normally I start around mid-November, but I still have some catching up to do compared to the rest and I might want to start my season a little earlier.”
Laurens De Plus wanted to stay with INEOS:
Kristian Sbaragli has a New Team
Kristian Sbaragli has started his preparation for 2024. The 33 year-old rider has signed with Team Corratec-Selle Italia. The Italian had to look for a new team after he didn’t receive a new contract from Alpecin-Deceuninck.
Last month, Alpecin-Deceuninck announced the team line-up for 2024. There was no place for Kristian Sbaragli, but the former rider of Dimension Data and Israel Cycling Academy had known for a long time. “We have spoken a lot in recent months. The team’s project will be slightly different in the coming years,” Sbaragli told WielerFlits.
“I have really enjoyed the last four years here. I am going to leave the team, but with a good feeling and beautiful memories. That is true on both sides, but that is also cycling. I haven’t signed anything yet, but I hope to find something acceptable for my future. I’m also still relatively young, or at least not super old. Stopping is always an option, but I would like to prevent that.”
Sbaragli now knows his future, as he has signed with the Italian Team Corratec-Selle Italia. “I can’t wait for the coming season. I have to thank the team for their trust and belief in my potential. I hope to pay this back with results next year,” Sbaragli said on the team website.
Sbaragli is the fourth new rider to join Team Corratec-Selle Italia for 2024. The team previously announced Niccolò Bonifazio, Mark Stewart and Alessandro Monaco, plus Dutchman Etienne van Empel extended his contract.
Kristian Sbaragli to Team Corratec-Selle Italia:
Omar Fraile Stays with INEOS Grenadiers for Two More Years
Fraile has a contract extension with INEOS Grenadiers. The British team will have Omar Fraile racing for them in 2024 and 2025. The 33 year-old Spaniard has been with INEOS Grenadiers since 2022.
Fraile started his professional career ten years ago with Caja Rural and also rode for Team Dimension Data and Astana for several years. The Spaniard has been racing for INEOS Grenadiers since 2022. Fraile is a very important worker for the team leaders, but occasionally he has also shown he can win, like in the final stage of the Ruta del Sol last season.
“The fact that I race for one of the best teams in the world makes me proud. There is also a lot of pressure involved, but it still gives a special feeling. I am very happy that I can stay with INEOS Grenadiers for another two seasons,” Fraile said on his team’s social media.
“I have been able to experience many special moments with the team in recent seasons. The most striking thing is my stage victory in this year’s Ruta del Sol. But also that I was allowed to participate with the team in the Tour de France, with a start in Bilbao. It was truly incredible that I was able to race in the Tour on my home roads. I look forward to more great cycling moments.”
INEOS Grenadiers recently announced that Carlos Rodríguez, Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift, Laurens De Plus, Luke Rowe, Kim Heiduk, Brandon Smith Rivera and Salvatore Puccio have re-signed. Several have also left, including Pavel Sivakov, Daniel Felipe Martínez and Tao Geoghegan Hart. Andrew August and Óscar Rodriguez are new signings for 2024.
Two more seasons for Omar Fraile:
Guillaume Boivin to Stay with IPT in 2024
Guillaume Boivin has raced with Israel – Premier Tech since the early days of the team and he will continue to do so in 2024 after prolonging his contract with IPT for another year.
As an experienced lead-out rider and an important part of the IPT Classics roster, Boivin is eager to continue with what he describes as his second family.
He said: “This will be my ninth season with the team and I’m very grateful and excited to stay with my second family at Israel – Premier Tech. We’ve achieved great success over the last years and I’m looking forward to achieving more with old and new teammates in the future.”
In 2021, Boivin finished ninth in Paris-Roubaix, and the 34 year-old Canadian is, once again, especially looking forward to taking on the Spring Classics next season. “For me, it’s the most beautiful time of the year and those are my favourite races on the calendar,” he explains.
Boivin has four victories and 14 podiums to his name during his time with IPT.
Michael Schär Moves to Lidl-Trek for a New Role
Michael Schär will be a DS with Lidl-Trek next year. The 37 year-old Swiss rider, rode his last season as a professional with AG2R Citroën this season. “I really like the team’s philosophy,” said Schär.
“It feels good to make the transition to life as a team DS. I have ridden as a professional in the WorldTour for eighteen years and I think it is the right time to make the switch to the other side. I’m looking forward to it,” said the former rider on the Lidl-Trek website.
Schär says he joined Lidl-Trek after general manager Luca Guercilena contacted him. The two already know each other, because they worked together at the Swiss federation, Schär as a rider, Guercilena as a coach. “The way Luca treated and motivated us at the Olympic Games made a big impression on me. I rode my best race ever there.”
New job for Michael Schär:
Fourth and Final Suspect in Mark Cavendish Robbery Still on the Run
It has been two years since Mark Cavendish and his family were robbed. The British rider was threatened at knife-point, after which two watches worth £700,000 were stolen. On Wednesday, November 1, the third suspect was sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, British police are still looking for a fourth suspect, Cycling Weekly reports.
Earlier this year, two other suspects in the robbery, Romario Henry and Ali Sesayin, were sentenced to long prison sentences. For Cavendish and his family, some form of justice was finally served. Although the third suspect, Jo Jobson, has now also been convicted, the fourth suspect is still missing.
The person in question is George Goddard from Loughton in Essex. Chief Inspector Tony Atkin said in a statement: “We know from the evidence that four masked men entered the house with weapons. Our last suspect is still on the run, but I know the net is closing in on him. He will know and feel this too.”
The preliminary conviction of three of the four suspects is little consolation for Cavendish’s family. Mark Cavendish’s wife Peta said: “It was harrowing, disturbing and heartbreaking for our family. I am glad that two of the people were sent to prison for a longer period of time. But whatever the punishment, every parent, I am sure, will understand that no amount of time in prison can make up for what they did to us that night.”
‘Cav’ and family:
Jumbo-Visma Rider Michel Hessmann Has Positive ‘B Sample’
Michel Hessman will be facing a long suspension for a doping violation. The German newspaper Badische Zeitung reports that the ‘B sample’ shows that the Jumbo-Visma professional had taken doping-related substances. The 22 year-old German has already been suspended by the Jumbo-Visma team.
Michel Hessmann’s ‘B sample’ has confirmed the positive ‘A sample’ from the summer. The National German Anti-Doping Agency (Nada) announcement was reported by Badische Zeitung. This is sufficient evidence of a violation of the anti-doping rules, wrote Nada press officer Eva Bunthoff. Nada doesn’t want to provide any further information at this time. Nada has also not yet announced which specific substance it concerns.
Hessmann, who is in his second year with the WorldTeam Jumbo-Visma, tested positive for a diuretic contained in a medicine during an out-of-competition check on June 14. The same drug has also been found in the second sample. In Germany a doping law passed in 2015 criminalises the use and administration of doping. Athletes caught using banned substances can receive a maximum prison sentence of three years and a fine. To date, no athlete in Germany has been jailed for doping.
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) in Germany has started a preliminary investigation last summer after Michel Hessman’s positive doping test. A search took place at the cyclist’s home and his “data carriers” were seized. The Public Prosecution Service in Freiburg confirmed this to the NOS. Hessmann was suspended by his cycling team Jumbo-Visma in August.
Diuretics and masking agents can hide the use of doping. Diuretics ensure more urine production and faster excretion of doping substances. Masking agents, such as probenecid, reduce the excretion of doping substances. In addition, substances that increase the plasma volume of the blood belong to this category, such as hydroxy ethyl starch (HES). The use of diuretics and masking agents is prohibited both inside and outside of competition. (Source: Dopingautoriteit.nl).
Michel Hessman facing a suspension:
Burgos-BH Signs Greek National Champion
The Spanish Burgos BH team has signed Greek national champion, Georgios Bouglas from Matrix Powertag, a Japanese Continental team. The 32 year-old sprinter can show himself at a higher level for the first time in his career. He has ridden for Continental teams his entire career.
Georgias Bouglas has been racing at Continental level since 2009. He has been part of Greek, Chinese, Japanese and Turkish teams. Over the years, the sprinter has had some victories. In addition to winning the Tour of Japan and the Tour of Qinghai Lake, he has also been national road champion three times, in 2014, 2022 and 2023.
The Greek champ is pleased that his performances have finally led to a professional contract. “Becoming a professional is something I have been striving for over the past few years, so I am determined to make the most of it. Over the past two seasons I was always present in the sprints of the races in which I participated, but I lacked some help to be more of a protagonist. With the help of my future teammates, I am sure we can achieve some victories.”
Burgos-BH is also pleased with the arrival of the experienced sprinter. “Georgios Bouglas is a rider with a lot of experience in Asia and with great potential for bunch sprints. His arrival will allow us to boost the team in the opportunities that arise in the sprint. We had to strengthen the sprinters’ field, a highly needed position among all teams. That has now been achieved,” said technical director David Cantera.
Bouglas is the seventh addition to the Spanish team. The team previously announced the arrival of the Australians Aaron Gate and George Jackson, the Spaniards Sinuhé Fernandez and David Delgado, the Guatemalan Sergio Chumil and the Mongolian Jambaljamts Sainbayar. The team did lose Pelayo Sanchez to Movistar.
Greek champ, Georgias Bouglas, goes to Spain:
Harold Tejada Remains with Astana Qazaqstan Team
Colombian rider Harold Tejada (26) renewed his agreement with Astana Qazaqstan Team for another season of 2024.
“After four years in the team, I feel that the moment has come when results appear. And this season everything started to work out – I spent a good second half of the year and achieved the first podium at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey. But, for me this is just the beginning, and I don’t want to stop – I am seriously preparing for the new season and will strive for the main goal – winning races. I thank the team for the support, for believing in me and my talent as a rider. The last seasons have been difficult for the whole team, but I see that we are still moving forward, and the victories will not take long. I am very happy that I can continue my career in this wonderful team, where I feel a lot of support, where I know that everything can work out. The project is developing, continues to grow, and I am sure that the new season will be successful,” said Harold Tejada.
Harold Tejada turned pro in 2020 with Astana Qazaqstan Team, immediately showing himself at the Challenge Mont Ventoux and the Tour de France. Since that moment Tejada took part in five Grand Tours where he was always supporting the team leaders.
This season Harold got some serious results: he became 10th in the General Classification of the Tour de Suisse, finished 8th in the Gran Piemonte and took his first professional podium in the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, becoming third after the race winner and his teammate Alexey Lutsenko.
“After several tough years, which it took Harold to gain experience and become a professional rider, this season he began to achieve his first serious results. We see him more and more often in the Top-10 at important mountain stages, he had a solid Tour de Suisse and spent the Tour of Turkey wonderfully, where he supported Alexey Lutsenko but also achieved his own podium. We hope that progress will continue in the new season with not only some good results but also with the victories. Harold is a great team rider, but he also has everything he needs to win races,” said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Astana Qazaqstan Team.
Harold Tejada with Astana Qazaqstan in 2024:
O’Brien and Stewart Pen New Deals with Team Jayco AlUla Through to 2025
Australian rider Kelland O’Brien and New Zealander Campbell Stewart have both signed new deals with Team Jayco AlUla ahead of the 2024 season. The powerful duo are set to focus on the track for the upcoming 2024 Olympics before switching their priorities back to the road after the games.
O’Brien has shown his great potential in the spring classics in his first two years with the team, claiming impressive top-10 placings in some of the hardest classic races amongst star riders, and the Australian outfit believe that here is a lot more to come from the man from Melbourne.
Stewart has proven to be a selfless teammate since joining the squad in 2022, with the Kiwi playing a vital role in his debut Grand Tour this year, as he helped Michael Matthews to a special victory at the Giro d’Italia. The 25-year-old has also demonstrated his track speed can be transferred over to the road, with an impressive debut professional sprint victory at the recent CRO Race.
With the power and strength of the two riders from Oceania, GreenEDGE Cycling is thrilled to have the duo onboard to develop further with the team over the next two seasons.
Brent Copeland – Team Jayco AlUla General Manager: “Kell has been developing very well over the past two years and it is very promising seeing what he can do in the spring classics, he has been up there with the best riders. Next year he will have the Olympics that he’s concentrating on, but after that he’s going to be fully dedicated to the road once again and we are confident he will make great progress. Campbell is part of our sprint group, he has that experience from the track, like Kell, he knows how to move around in the bunch, and we can use him in a good way in that area of the team next year whether it is with Blake, with Dylan’s group or now with Caleb, he fits in very well. At the same time, we want to give him his own opportunity to go for some punchy races where the others aren’t racing, he has shown what he can do with his great win in Croatia recently. Both these riders add a lot of value to the team roster, so it was important for us to see them continue to grow with us over the coming years.”
Kelland O’Brien: “My first two years in the WorldTour peloton have been amazing, obviously I’ve looked up to the older guys on this team for years so it’s a dream come true to be racing for the team now. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone on the team, the races over in Europe and generally how the team operates. I have learned a lot so I’m very excited to carry that on for another two years with GreenEDGE Cycling.”
Campbell Stewart: “I’ve had an amazing two years so far with the team, and it’s been awesome to be a part of the success and I have learnt a lot racing all types of events from one-day classics to a Grand Tour. I’m super excited to be staying for another two years and I’m really looking forward to what’s to come.”
Date of birth: 22nd May 1998 (25)
1st Australian Criterium Championships (2023)
3rd Australian Time Trial Championships (2023)
9th Ruund um Koln (2023)
7th Dwars door Vlaanderen (2022)
4th Tour of Estonia – Prologue (2022)
Date of birth: 12th May 1998 (25)
Nationality: New Zealand
1st CRO Race – Stage 6 (2023)
4th CRO Race – Stage 1 (2023)
10th Giro d’Italia – Stage 21 (2023)
6th Schwalbe Classic (2023)
7th Tour of Oman – Stage 2 (2022)
5th Tour of Turkey – Stage 6 (2022).
Human Powered Health New Riders for 2024
Human Powered Health has presented three new riders. Katia Ragusa, Silvia Zanardi and Linda Zanetti will race for the American team from 2024. Ragusa finished second in Paris-Roubaix Femmes last season.
The 26 year-old Ragusa, who comes over from Liv Racing TeqFind, was in the early break in the cobbled Classic, which sprinted for victory on the Roubaix velodrome. In that sprint, the Italian was beaten by Alison Jackson. For Raguso it was the highlight of her career, so far. In 2020 she also finished second at the national championships, eighth in both the Santos Tour Down Under and the Brabantse Pijl and fifteenth in the Giro Donne.
With Zanardi, Human Powered Health brings in another Italian. The 23 year-old all-rounder, who is also successful on the track, won a stage in the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche in both 2022 and 2023. She also won the Gran Premio della Liberazione this year from a bunch sprint. She comes from the Bepink team.
Linda Zanetti is the youngest at 21 years-old. The Swiss rider was with UAE Team ADQ in 2022, but took a step down to the UAE training team in 2023, but will ride in the Women’s WorldTour again in 2024. Zanetti had a quite successful season. She soloed to victory in the EPZ Omloop van Borsele, won her U23 national title on the road among and, in a bunch sprint, won the first road stage of the Tour de l’Avenir Femmes, she was also third at the U23 European Championships.
Second in Roubaix, Katia Ragusa to Human Powered Health:
Danish Continental Leopard TOGT Team to Stop
Leopard TOGT stops as a team. The Danish Continental team could not find an additional sponsor and is forced to put an end to the team. In 2023, Nick van der Lijke, Tim Torn Teutenberg and Andreas Stokbro, next year TDT-Unibet, rode for Leopard TOGT.
Leopard TOGT merged with Riwal for 2023, but that merger could not ensure that the necessary sponsors could be found for the coming year. CEO Mogens Tveskov explained: “We had high hopes of finding a third major sponsor. We hoped to become a Danish-Luxembourg springboard between the Continental and WorldTour levels, but unfortunately there were insufficient starting points to realise this.”
“The lack of financial resources is the only reason why the team has decided to quit and say goodbye to the cycling world,” said Tveskov. Manager Markus Zingen adds. “Of course it wasn’t easy to merge two established teams, but we did it. From day one, the Danish and Luxembourgish cores were on the same page, which led to the great season we had. We can say that the merger was a great success, which did not make the decision to pull the plug any easier.”
Leopard TOGT no more:
Sébastien Demarbaix and Astrid Roekens Complete the Performance team
In season 2023, the structure Intermarché-Circus-Wanty reinforced its pyramid with the launch of the Continental Development Team Circus-ReUz-Technord and was broadened with the first two women with a professional contract within the cyclocross project.
During its third season at the highest level, the World Team won twenty races with ten different riders. Among them, four were victorious for the first time since they turned professional.
Under the direction of Kévin Van Melsen, nine riders of Circus-ReUz-Technord collected more than twenty victories, among which ten in UCI races, an exceptional result in its first year of existence.
On the same line, the UCI cyclocross team directed by the brothers Bart and Geert Wellens started season 2023-2024 with success, achieving five UCI victories in the first competition month already.
These results are the fruit of a narrow interaction between the different projects of the structure, overseen by a common performance team. More than ever, the focus is on transversal development, a vision which stays central in the preparation for road season 2024. To support the young talents and experienced professionals, the performance team welcomes new faces.
In addition to the arrival of Dutchman Adriaan Helmantel in the trainers team, Sébastien Demarbaix from Lessines will reinforce the sports direction, returning to the Walloon structure in the same role he occupied from 2013 to 2020. The former professional cyclist (1996-2002) led the team to success in the Tour de Wallonie 2019 (Loïc Vliegen) and the Circuit de la Sarthe 2018 (Guillaume Martin).
Nutrition has a central role in the performance strategy within the structure of Jean-François Bourlart, that’s why Astrid Roekens joins Jana Camphens as sports dietitian. Roekens has degrees in Commercial Sciences, Sports Management and Dietetics and Nutrition and currently works with professional athletes in the Bakala Academy and Energy Lab.
After 50 seasons in the peloton as sports director, among which ten with Intermarché-Circus-Wanty, Hilaire Van der Schueren retired at the end of season 2023. Valerio Piva and Ioannis Tamouridis will also start a new adventure after accompanying the Walloon structure during its first seasons in the World Tour.
Sébastien Demarbaix: “I still remember my first years with Intermarché-Circus-Wanty. Back then, our riders wanted to show themselves, aiming to reach a higher level in cycling. In my eyes, the victories of Guillaume Martin in the Tour du Gévaudan 2017 and the Circuit de la Sarthe 2018 were turning points. With these successes we reached another level on the tactical level, because for the first time we established a detailed strategy to conquer the final victory. The way we supported Loïc Vliegen to win the Tour de Wallonie 2019 confirmed this trend.”
“The evolution of the structure of Jean-François Bourlart enabled all of us, both riders and staff members, to grow in our careers. In 202″, the performance team guided the riders of the World Team and Devo Team to more than 40 victories. This results from personalised annual plans for all riders and carefully composed selections. For each race, the role division is clear and the strategy focuses on the victory. It is for these tactical games that I return with double motivation to Intermarché-Circus-Wanty.”
“I’m looking forward to return to the big family Intermarché-Circus-Wanty and to support our riders to achieve their collective goals, that’s my nicest mission. I was very honoured by the interest of Jean-François Bourlart, who I know since my childhood, and who shared his confidence in my capabilities to guide the team in the most prestigious races. This confidence is a great motivating factor for me.”
Astrid Roekens: “After a sports career of twenty seasons as basketball player, I decided to fully concentrate on my professional career as sports dietitian and accept this nice challenge with Intermarché-Circus-Wanty. I’ll work alongside Jana Camphens, who played a role in my education the past years. Her methodology, her rigor and her close follow-up led to fantastic results with the riders. We share the same vision in our professional practice. We aim to give the riders the best possible nutritional advice to enable them to exploit their full potential.”
Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager): “We’re pleased with the return of Sébastien Demarbaix to our structure. He will add his organisational talents and his experience in climbing races to our performance team. Sébastien will play an important role in this field. Moreover, he knows our structure and he has shown his capabilities in talent development in the past. He had a major influence on the evolution of Guillaume Martin, who joined our team after his U23 years and learned to win and climbed to twelfth place in the Tour de France in our jersey. This experience is precious within our team, alongside talents such as Francesco Busatto or Alexy Faure.”
“We also welcome Astrid Roekens as second Belgian sports dietitian alongside Jana Camphens. She reinforces our performance team after concluding a sports career in basketball. Astrid has an interesting theoretical and practical background and made progress in her career of dietitian the past couple of years.”
PERFORMANCE TEAM 2024
Steven DE NEEF
Kevin VAN MELSEN
Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team Announce 2024 Roster
Eight riders will join the squad for the new season
The team, which is entering into the second year of its venture with Soudal Quick-Step, will have a total of 15 riders. They will be hoping to mirror its successful 2023, which saw it take an amazing 29 victories, and has overseen Warre Vangheluwe, Gil Gelders, William Junior Lecerf and Jordi Warlop earning a place in the full men’s team for next year.
Five Belgian – Niels Driesen, Jelle Harteel, Gauthier Servranckx, Lars Van den Heede, Viktor Soenens, one Frenchmen, Gabriel Berg, one Italian, Renato Favero, and the Brit Cormac Lisbet with join the team, with seven riders retained for their second year with the squad: Belgians, Senne Hulsmans, Jan Kino, Leander Van Hauthegem and Jonathan Vervenne, Dutchman Pepijn Reinderink, and Andrea Raccagni and Federico Savino from Italy.
The squad will again take on some of the best races available to them, in an attempt to nurture this talented group of young riders to be the best cyclists that they can be individually, as well as teach them how to work and thrive in a team environment similar to that of the World Tour outfit.
Speaking of the make-up of the squad, Devo Team manager Bart Roosens said: “We have 15 devo riders next year, eight of which will be joining us for the first time and it will be a big challenge to see how they will go at the Under 23 level. There are some huge talents amongst the group, and I have trust in our scout Johan Molly, who has researched them all. It will be hard to have as good of a year again as we did in 2023, where we had a splendid season with so many wins and saw six of our riders move to become professionals, something which we are very proud of. The intake for this year is quite a young group, which makes it a harder challenge but one we are looking forward to taking on.”
Soudal Quick-Step Devo team:
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