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EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

All the weekend cycling news

The first big weekend of racing was worth waiting for – Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne with results, reports and video, plus the final of the UAE Tour. UCI updates the corona protocol – TOP STORY. Other news: Teams for Le Samyn. Rider news from Elia Viviani, Hugh Carthy, Simon Yates, Marc Hirschi, Mikel Landa and DS Dirk Demol. Race news from the Tour de Suisse, Tour of the Basque Country and the GP Miguel Indurain. We finish with video of behind the scenes at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with Deceuninck – Quick-Step. Yes, Monday EUROTRASH coffee time.

top story
TOP STORY: UCI updates corona protocol for 2021
The corona protocol for all UCI races has been updated for 2021. The document broadly resembles the 2020 protocol, but contains adjustments in response to developments in the international health situation.

The most striking developments, according to the UCI, are scientific advances, such as the manufacture of vaccines, and new features of the pandemic (such as mutations of the virus and the rapid spread of variants).

The UCI has announced that, together with its partners, it is closely monitoring the development of vaccines. “In the vaccination programs that are currently running in many countries, top athletes are not given priority. In addition, we do not yet have scientific data on the reduction of virus transmission by vaccinated individuals. That’s why we continue to test all members of the ‘peloton bubble,’ including those who have received a corona vaccination.”

In response to the spread of the variants of the coronavirus, the UCI emphasises the importance of proper compliance with individual prevention measures. “That’s the most effective way to protect yourself from the risks. Any relaxation in the strict application of rules and regulations is unacceptable. For example, we want to remind everyone that the operation and use of face masks are monitored.”

UCI chairman David Lappartient notes that steps have been taken in the fight against corona. “Especially with the advent of vaccines, which have given us hope that we can soon gradually return to a more ‘normal’ life. As athletes and young adults are not a priority for vaccinations, we have decided, in the interest of all parties, to maintain the same high standards as last year.”

UCI chairman David Lappartient:
UCI chairman David Lappartient

 

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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2021
Davide Ballerini took Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s fourth Omloop Het Nieuwsblad win after the finish came down to a bunch sprint. The strong headwind kept the bunch together in the finalé and after an attack from World champion, Julian Alaphilippe, the Belgian team kept the race together in the last 15 kilometres for a group sprint.

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Thirteen climbs and nine cobblestone sections were on the menu in a damp Saturday in Flanders. Kenny De Ketele, Bert De Backer, Yevgeniy Fedorov, Matis Louvel and Ryan Gibbons made up the break of the day and reached an advantage of 8 minutes. Deceuninck’s Tim Declercq was on the front of the bunch for over 100 kilometres keeping the five escapees advantage catchable. Yves Lampaert took over and brought Julian Alaphilippe forward. The World Champion split the race with a strong attack to be joined by a dozen or so riders. The group’s gap hit a maximum of 30 seconds ahead of Berendries, where Alaphilippe went solo, building up a 25 second gap over the group. Alaphilippe was pulled back at the start of the Muur-Kapelmuur due to the headwind. That group was then caught by what was left of the peloton.

There were a few attacks after the Muur, but due to the headwind and Deceuninck keeping it together for Ballerini, the group was together all the way to the finish in Ninove. With 1 kilometre to go, Florian Sénéchal hit the front to give Ballerini a perfect lead-out for him to win by a bike length.

# You can read the full PEZ Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Race Report HERE. #

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2021 Het Nieuwsblad winner, Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick Step): “This is a dream! I can’t believe it, words aren’t enough to describe what this means for me and how I’m feeling after this victory. It’s my second time in Omloop, and to win it after crashing at my debut two years ago is so incredible. It wasn’t an easy race, but we kept going and believing in ourselves even when the break was eight minutes clear. Tim was huge again, and then Julian tried his chance and showed his panache, but the headwind worked against him. When he got caught, he told me that it would be my day and the entire team will work for me, and when the World Champion tells you this, it gives you extra strength. Everybody was so committed and believed in me, that the only thing you can do is take your hat off and say a big thank you! I remember watching this team crushing the cobbles when I was a kid, so to win now one of these races while wearing this jersey gives me huge pride, it’s a big dream that came true today. The Opening Weekend is a big deal for Deceuninck – Quick-Step and I’m glad we made a lot of people happy with this win. Today was important also from a technical standpoint, because we raced for the first time with our Hell of the North clincher tires from Specialized and it proved to be the right choice.”

2nd, Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ): “That is a small surprise, although I already felt good in the Étoile de Bessèges. It was tough from the Wolvenberg to the finish. It was just a matter of survival. I had a hard time on the Muur van Geraardsbergen, but once over that slope I just had to follow Stefan (Küng) and Kevin (Geniets) to the finish and let them work. Then it was up to me to sprint. I ended up alone, but with 500 meters to go I found the wheel of Geniets again. I coming fast in the sprint, but it was not enough to keep Ballerini from winning. A second place is a surprise, but we have a good group for the classics. I am still discovering where my limits are. I do have a preference for the classics, I love the Belgian races. I want to excel in these types of races. I hope to build on this now.”

3rd, Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation): “I surprised myself. In the final I actually worked for Tom Van Asbroeck, but he was stuck two kilometres from the finish after a crash. Alaphilippe turned the course on the Berendries upside down. He was impressive. No one could follow. But with that headwind it was impossible for him. If he waited for the Muur to attack, he would ride solo to victory. Now Deceuninck – Quick-Step also wins, but I thought it was a risky bet. Anyway, the winner is always right. I just kept moving until the wheel of Ballerini. Then I took advantage of his slipstream for as long as possible and that gave me third place.”

5th, Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal): “It’s not bad.I was still good, but couldn’t accelerate in the last straight. I predicted yesterday that there was a chance of sprinting. The headwind in the last 70 kilometres made it perfect to stay together. It was also a closed course with a small breakaway. This was also due to Tim Declercq’s fast pace. In a Flemish race, the pace is not always that high. I was just too far back, but I was not intimidated. There were many more teams without a rider at the front.”

9th, Nils Politt (BORA-hansgrohe): “It was a difficult race in the end. It was the first Het Nieuwsblad with a bunch sprint at the finish for some time. There was a small bunch with a lot of fast guys there and it was really hectic race, especially in the finale. The team did a really great job – there was a bit of trouble on the Molenberg where there was nobody working on the front but in the end everyone did a really great job to pull it back and I’m happy with my top ten finish.”

World champion, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “With my attack I put Davide in the seat. I started today to help the team. It’s great that we finish it. I thought I should try it, but I did realise that it would not be easy at all to continue my effort to the finish. I also knew that the wind was a disadvantage in the final. But a man in front is always good for the rest of the team. We went to Gent with a strong team. We only had one goal and that was to win. We did a great job, I think. We took responsibility from the start, with Tim Declercq controlling the early break. When the race exploded, we were always well represented, despite the bad luck of Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar. In the final we did everything for Davide. How do I estimate Ballerini? He’s a machine when it comes to sprinting.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Result:
1. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick Step in 4:43.03
2. Jake Stewart (GB) Groupama-FDJ
3. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation
4. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious
5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Alex Aranburu (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
7. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
9. Kevin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
10. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe.

Omloop’21:

 

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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Women 2021
Anna van der Breggen started her season with a victory in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The World champion escaped on the Bosberg and soloed to victory in Ninove. Emma Norsgaard was second, Amy Pieters third.

After 4 kilometres, the early breakaway formed with three riders. Kylie Waterreus and Claudia Jongerius were joined by British rider Elizabeth Bennett. Their escape lasted more than 70 kilometres, but with Team SD Worx was in charge it was only a matter of time before they were caught. Just before the Molenberg it came to an end and the race could begin between the top favourites. Nothing much happened on the Molenberg, but the Haaghoek caused some action. When European champion Annemiek van Vleuten was in trouble, world champion Anna van der Breggen put in a hard effort. In her first race for Movistar, Van Vleuten was dropped early. At the front, there was a small group with most of the favourites.

Lotte Kopecky attacked on the Berendries, but did not get away. The same for Van der Breggen a few minutes later. Demi Vollering was successful with 25 kilometres to go and she quickly took 25 seconds, but she still had the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg to climb. Just as she entered Geraardsbergen, her escape came to an end. Elisa Longo Borghini and Kopecky saw their chance, and Jolien D’Hoore and Van der Breggen joined in. It all came down to the Bosberg. Van der Breggen put in a decisive jump at the bottom of the slope. The World champion rode the last 15 kilometres solo to the line in Ninove with a lead of 20 seconds.

There was little co-operation in the chasing group of fourteen riders in the final kilometres and so Van der Breggen knew she was on a winner. With a lead of more than half a minute she crossed the line in Ninove. Behind; the chasing group sprinted for the last two podium places. Norsgaard took it ahead of Pieters and D’Hoore.

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Het Nieuwsblad winner, Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx): “It was really great to be able to do it this way (Finish solo). I enjoyed it. We were at the start with six strong girls. Not so much on the climbs, but also on the flat. We wanted to use that early on in the game and I think it worked out well. It is nice when you see that everyone is in the front. Then you motivate each other. Demi (Vollering) Tried, but she was taken back. It was up to us to try until the sprint came. If it didn’t work out, we would also have Jolien (D’Hoore) on hand for the sprint. The last piece of headwind was really tough, but I knew that if it didn’t work out, it would be good too. It is really nice to race in this way. I am happy that I can do this for another year. I don’t think I am ready for my cycling pension, I am not working on it yet.”

2nd, Emma Norsgaard (Movistar): “I’m just over the moon – I feel a bit surprised about the result, but above all, really happy. I tried to remain as calm and focused as I could all day, since our plan was going on the attack with Annemiek or Leah and, in my case, try to save those legs for the sprint and play a second card for the team. When we got told on the radio that I was alone into a selected first group, it was time for me to ‘wake up’ and put all of my energies into trying to stay there until the sprint. They kept me so calm and well-informed from the team car, giving me all information that I needed to focus on the task ahead and give it my all. It’s sad it wasn’t for first place with Van der Breggen ahead, of course, but this result gives us all a lot of morale. Doing well here was a goal for me and the rest of the team and we’re even more excited for the upcoming races. The legs are there, my shape is good and we must keep doing our best.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Women Result:
1. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Team SD Worx in 3:21:00
2. Emma Cecilie Jørgensen (Den) Movistar at 0:23
3. Amy Pieters (Ned) Team SD Worx
4. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing
5. Hannah Barnes (GB) Canyon-SRAM
6. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé BTC Ljubljana
7. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Ceratizit-WNT
8. Grace Brown (Aus) BikeExchange
9. Marta Cavalli (Ita) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
10. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:26.

Omloop’21 podium:
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Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2021
Mads Pedersen won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2021, the Danish Trek-Segafredo rider was the best sprinter from a depleted bunch. Anthony Turgis was second, Tom Pidcock third. Dutch champion, Mathieu van der Poel, animated the race and was only caught 1,7 kilometres from the finish line.

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The break of the day: Maciej Bodnar, Patrick Gamper (both BORA-hansgrohe), Ludwig De Winter (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and Artyom Zakharov (Astana-Premier Tech) were joined by Tom Paquot (Bingoal-WB) and Jonas Hvideberg (Uno-X) had a maximum lead of around 6 minutes. Mathieu van der Poel attacked on the Kanarieberg and was joined by Jhonatan Narvaez (INEOS Grenadiers). Van der Poel and Narvaez caught them with 60 kilometres to go at the top of the cobbled climb of the Oude Kwaremont.

In the peloton, Jasper Stuyven put the hammer down on the Kwaremont to split the peloton. At the front, Van der Poel put the pressure on the Kluisberg, the last climb of the day. Narvaez and Hvideberg were able to follow the Alpecin-Fenix rider, Gamper and Zakharov caught them later. The chase group of about 20 riders, including Degenkolb, Asgreen, Stuyven, Søren Kragh Andersen, Anthony Turgis, Oliver Naesen, Greg Van Avermaet, Matteo Trentin, Tiesj Benoot, Dylan Teuns, Tom Pidcock, Nils Politt, Bryan Coquard and Ide Schelling were at 45 seconds. The big peloton, including Arnaud Démare and Alexander Kristoff, followed at 1:30. On the last cobbled section of the day, Beerbosstraat, the chasing group lifted their speed to cut the lead.

When entering Kuurne, the gap between the Van der Poel group and the Van Avermaet group had grown to 30 seconds. A group with Sonny Colbrelli and Mads Pedersen joined the pursuers just before the lap of the finish circuit. Fifteen kilometres from the end and the differences were minimal: The three front groups were within 30 seconds of each other.

Kasper Asgreen tried to jump across 4 kilometres from the line, he didn’t get away, but the attack brought the Van der Poel group into view. At 1.7 kilometres out from the finish, the attack from the Dutch champion was over. In the final straight the race came down to a bunch sprint that was won by Mads Pedersen. He finished ahead of Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energy) and Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers).

# You can read the Full PEZ Race Report HERE. #

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Kuurne winner, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo): “It was super nice to finish it off today and make a result after yesterday. What can we say? We fucked up pretty hard and it was pretty bad, so it’s nice to show that we are there. Always let the legs speak and not make silly excuses. I think we did it in the right way with the win today. We don’t want to see that team of yesterday, that’s for sure. So of course we were motivated to do better today after a shit result like yesterday. In a case like this, it’s always better to speak from the bike. I was actually sitting in Mathieu’s wheel when he went, but it was quite early, so I didn’t even want to follow. Then when the group went on the Kwaremont, my position was okay, but I was not quite good enough to follow. It was a good situation for us with Jasper in the first group. He can do a really good sprint, his chances were good too, so actually we were quite happy with the two groups. We knew it was a crosswind section before the final straight, and of course we didn’t want to get dropped there, so Jasper placed us well, not full in the front, but up there. And then it was just about waiting game, and in the finish straight Jasper timed it perfect. Yeah, super nice from Jasper today.”

2nd, Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie): “I went into battle and knew my legs hurt, but they did the job. In a sprint like this, this was the best I had in me. I chose the right side of the road to sprint and Trek-Segafredo threw it over that side too. I’m glad I took that side too. He’s a great rider (Mathieu van der Poel), but he’s still human. He also weakened a little. We knew we would get him back because we worked well behind. It wasn’t easy, that’s true, but it happened in the last kilometres. We couldn’t miss the battle. Mads Pedersen only came back on the last lap with a group of about fifteen riders. The day was already successful because we did not lose the race early. The result is a nice addition. The feeling is very good, also because there are many toppers here. It is not easy, but we did manage to show ourselves. We wanted to achieve a good result this weekend and I hope that we will also succeed in Le Samyn. My goal is to have a good level during the coming classics. Depending on the circumstances, every Flemish race suits me, but Paris-Roubaix is ​​also beautiful.”

3rd, Thomas Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers): “I played with the greats in both the Omloop and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. A bit unexpected, but it does give me a boost of confidence. Unlike yesterday, I raced head-on today. In the Omloop I was undoubtedly one of the best riders in the race. But I didn’t use my good legs the way I should. Today I took a completely different approach and thought more. And of course I could also use my energy more efficiently because I had a teammate in the front with Narváez. In a sprint with a smaller group I always have my chance. Although I must admit that today I did not know how to tackle that sprint. It’s been a while since I had to do that. I hesitated to take Pedersen’s wheel. That might have been better. But I am satisfied. All in all, this is an unexpected result.”

4th, Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates): “I’m quite happy with the performance today, I followed the right moves and tried to be in the right place at the right times. It’s a pity to miss out on the podium by such a small margin. The guys coming in the group behind were a bit fresher and I had been quite active throughout the race. After this first classics weekend we have a strong platform to build on and take confidence knowing that the physical condition is good.”

8th, Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën): “Looking at the results, we were not very good this weekend, but we were well ahead in the race. We have to take that with us to the next races. It was difficult to get into position for the Kwaremont. We were where we needed to be, because I was in the second group with Oliver Naesen. We did a lot of work to get closer, but there were only six or seven riders willing to participate. In the end we did, but the finish was immediately after that. Where we had to, we were in the race with the strongest riders. Achieving a result was not easy after that, but I still achieved a top 10 through my sprint. I think Nieuwsblad was atypical. Kuurne went as usual. A leading group that is retrieved and then a sprint. I was a little disappointed after yesterday, because normally I’m better on those days. But I have to get confidence from my shape this weekend. It’s pretty good, and I felt better at the end. That’s a good sign.”

12th, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “It was a pleasant introduction to this race for me, but it cannot always fall on my side. I went from a little further than I had planned, but I had hoped to get more men in front. It was not a bad attempt, it is just not that we made it. I wanted to go for the sprint afterwards, but the best was off. I had put the win out of my mind, but I was still hoping for a close place of honour. This is the best way to prepare for what is yet to come. I had a good time. The attack was a moment of inspiration. I was accompanied by Narvaez, who drove very strongly. I had hoped that a strong group of favourites would come after the Oude Kwaremont. But that did not happen. Then I had to decide whether I wanted to continue or not. The group continued to run well with us, which is why I did not choose the attack. I didn’t feel like I would go faster alone. Eventually we were caught in sight of the finish. It was certainly not a bad attempt. The difference remained for a long time at 20 seconds. I feel pretty good and had a good feeling today. That should be enough. I notice that I am in very different shape than last year. I have the flow right away, but the podium will certainly not be easy in Strade.”

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Result:
1. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo in 4:37:04
2. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
3. Thomas Pidcock (GB) INEOS Grenadiers
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
7. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën
9. Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
10. Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team.

Kuurne’21:

 

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UAE Tour 2021
Jonas Vingegaard won the mountain Stage 5 in the UAE Tour to Jebel Jais. The Danish Jumbo-Visma climber was the first to top the 20 kilometre final climb in the United Arab Emirates after a stage of 170 kilometres. In the final kilometre, he jumped past breakaway rider Alexey Lutsenko. Tadej Pogačar finished second and kept the leader’s jersey.

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Mathias Frank was the first to make an escape. The Swiss AG2R Citroën rider was joined by Giacomo Nizzolo, but he changed his mind and dropped back to the peloton. After 60 kilometres eight riders crossed to him: Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech), Thomas De Gendt, Roger Kluge (both Lotto Soudal), Larry Warbasse (AG2R Citroën), Alex Dowsett, Omer Goldstein (both Israel Start-Up Nation), Kevin Colleoni (BikeExchange) and Lasse Norman Hansen (Qhubeka Assos). INEOS Grenadiers were in control of the peloton with Deceuninck – Quick-Step helping, the lead of the nine leaders didn’t get more than 3 minutes. Thomas De Gendt won the second intermediate sprint after Frank won the first sprint, David Dekker claimed second place to reinforced his points jersey lead.

Thanks to Filippo Ganna, the difference between the leading group and the peloton at the foot of Jebel Jais (21.1 km at 5.4%) was only 2 minutes. De Gendt, Lutsenko, Frank and Goldstein remained out front the longest, the Kazakhstan champion had the best legs. In the peloton, UAE Team Emirates put the pressure on, but INEOS Grenadiers kept then under control and the favourites group remained quite large. Ten kilometres from the finish, the difference between Lutsenko and the peloton was more than a minute. INEOS rider Brandon Rivera was unable to close the gap quickly, leaving Lutsenko hoping for the stage win. An attack from Ben Zwiehoff (BORA-hansgrohe) was countered by Daniel Felipe Martínez. The Colombian lifted the speed, after which Vincenzo Nibali took advantage of a quiet moment. Harm Vanhoucke saw his chance to join the Italian, but he was unable to close the gap. A counterattack by a group including Wout Poels was countered by João Almeida which pulled Lutsenko closer.

The favourites group then all looked at each other, so Jonas Vingegaard put in an attack. The Jumbo-Visma climber was 10 seconds behind Lutsenko with 1 kilometre to go, but quickly caught the Kazakh. 300 metres from the line, Vingegaard caught Lutsenko and then dropped him and then Astana rider was passed by the chase group in the last metres. Tadej Pogačar won the sprint for second ahead of Adam Yates.

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Stage winner, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma): “It was a very emotional win for me. It’s been almost two years since my last victory. I came here to try and do well in the GC. Unfortunately, I happened to not be in the first group on Stage 1, so it was already gone and I suffered a bit on the first mountain stage as I found the heat difficult to deal with. Our tactic this morning was for Sepp Kuss to attack within the last three kilometres while I was supposed to wait for the sprint. However, it became clear that it wasn’t going to finish with a sprint as the finale unfolded, and I saw an opportunity to go. I’m just really happy that I took the opportunity and now I have the stage victory. I don’t know if this win will open up more opportunities for me. We have a very strong team. Quite often I’ll be racing to help Primož [Roglič] or Steven [Kruijswijk] or whoever is the leader at a race. Of course, I’ll get my chance as well, but I’m still young, so I’m not stressing about that. In the future, I want to be a GC contender myself and I’ll ride for GC occasionally, as I was supposed to do here, but for now, my main job is to help the top leaders we have. I’m scheduled to ride La Vuelta again this year. I enjoyed doing it for Primoz last year. He’s a really good captain and a very nice guy. I want to ride for him.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “For me, it was a hard day. The most important thing was to defend the jersey and I really managed that. The team did that too. It was ‘possible’ to win the stage, but now it’s ‘impossible’ to change the results, so I’m happy with the outcome. Getting second place today was good. In the next two days, we need to stay focused, because anything can happen. We need to be careful and hold the Red Jersey safely all the way to the finish line. We’re going to Dubai with some nice memories from previous years and I’m super happy to go there again. I have a feeling they are like family there. They really respect me.”

Black jersey leader, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal): “In the beginning, I wasn’t particularly interested in getting into the breakaway. But after 40km, other riders started to play around again and, suddenly, there were more riders keen to go clear. I saw it was a strong group, so I felt it was good to be in it and I jumped. Lutsenko was the strongest rider there. I was hoping to have good legs to follow him but he was a bit too strong. I didn’t believe in the victory for myself, but now that I realise that Lutsenko was only brought back in the final kilometre, it feels like a bit of a lost chance. I knew that Tony Gallopin had 17 points and I had 10 points, so if I took the intermediate sprint, I’d have 18. It meant having a jersey. I always collect jerseys, so it’s nice to have one. Now that I have it, it becomes a goal to keep it and defend this lead as much as possible.”

UAE Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma in 4:19:08
2. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 0:03
3. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers
4. Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo at 0:05
5. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:06
6. Nicholas Schultz (Aus) BikeExchange
7. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma at 0:08
8. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
10. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën.

UAE Tour Overall After Stage 5:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 17:09:26
2. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:45
3. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:12
4. Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma at 1:54
5. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo at 1:56
6. Mattias Jensen (Den) Trek-Segafredo at 2:47
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 2:49
8. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 4:03
9. Ruben Fernandez Andujar (Spa) Cofidis at 4:23
10. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 6:40.

Stage 5:

 

Sam Bennett won his second stage victory in the UAE Tour. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider crossed the line first in Stage 6 on Palm Jumeirah Island, ahead of Elia Viviani, Pascal Ackermann and David Dekker.

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Alexey Lutsenko was in the early break again on Friday and was joined by Tony Gallopin (AG2R Citroën), Luis León Sánchez (Astana-Premier Tech) Matthieu Ladagnous, Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) and Iñigo Elosegui (Movistar). With Lutsenko/Sánchez and Ladagnous/Valter working hard, the lead of the six increased to about 4 minutes. In the peloton, it was mainly up to Thomas De Gendt to keep the difference within limits, as sprinter Caleb Ewan was looking for the win. In the pursuit, De Gendt was helped by Deceuninck – Quick-Step for Sam Bennett and BORA-hansgrohe for Pascal Ackermann.

After 70 kilometres BORA-hansgrohe put the hammer down and the large group was split in two by the crosswind, but the top GC men and sprinters were in the first group. The dropped riders were soon able to reconnect. With that the danger of echelon was over and there was going to be another bunch sprint. With 25 kilometres to go, the early break was caught. Dmitriy Gruzdev tried to surprise the sprinter’s teams, but his attempt was short-lived.

Team BikeExchange tried to launch Kaden Groves in the last kilometre, but it didn’t work. Sam Bennett hit the front at the right time and turned out to be by far the fastest. Elia Viviani finished second, ahead of Pascal Ackermann and David Dekker. There was no change in the overall and Tadej Pogačar would start the final stage in the leaders jersey.

bennett

Stage winner, Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “It’s down to my teammates and the very fast bike that I’ve won two bunch sprints out of two. The guys are very experienced and the more sprints we do, the more it’s becoming like second nature. We started the run-in really smooth. I’m delighted I could finish the job. In the finale, I saw Ackermann on the right then I knew I had a strong guy behind me. So I said to myself: ‘don’t leave it too late’. Then I realised it was the green jersey behind me. But I just focused on my own sprint. I came out at the right time. Tomorrow, a hat trick would mean a lot. I really wanted to start the season well. Now I have the confirmation that what I was doing at training was just right. I’m really proud to get two stages here. I don’t have any plans for [Irish celebration] St-Patrick’s Day. There’s not much we can do at the pubs at the moment. Looking ahead, Milan-Sanremo is always at the back of my mind. This time, I really want to be good, to get over the Poggio and sprint for victory. Before that, we’ll have Paris-Nice which is another race with a lot of history. I really want to perform there also.”

Overall leader, Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “There were some hard moments with the crosswind, but our team did a good job keeping me safe. We were together throughout the stage. I’m happy this is over. We did the sprint [together] with Fernando Gaviria. I’m not that kind of guy that gives orders around, but we have a lot of riders who are still more experienced than me and I trust them completely. I don’t have to worry about anything, I just ride my bike. It’s a good team.” Speaking about Fernando Gaviria’s fifth place he added: “This is a sign that he’s coming back. Tomorrow he has one more chance and will feel more confident he can do a really good sprint again. 5th is quite good among really good sprinters, so I think he’s coming back.”

Black jersey wearer, Tony Gallopin (AG2R Citroën): “We have to do something because we don’t have a sprinter here and no real hope for the GC at this stage. So the Black Jersey for the intermediate sprints was something I could target. Once I was in the breakaway, it was easy to take the points. I spoke to Thomas De Gendt yesterday, and he said ‘you can go, no problem’. He had to work for his sprinter Caleb Ewan instead of defending the lead in the intermediate sprints. It’s nice to have a distinctive jersey in this race.”

Green jersey wearer, David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma): “My positioning was good, but I had to come from a bit too far. But then in the end the sprint for me, personally, was not strong enough to beat Bennett from his position. I’ve learnt that especially in the last few kilometres you want to position yourself as best as possible, and then you watch what your rivals are doing with their teams. You try and follow them if you are not yourself in the best position yet. Today I took some points again, and now it’s definitely a goal for me tomorrow to be able to keep the Green Jersey. It would be a really great outcome to win a classification jersey in my first race for this team, Jumbo-Visma.”

UAE Tour Stage 6 Result:
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 3:32:23
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. David Dekker (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
5. Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates
6. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Qhubeka Assos
7. Kaden Groves (Aus) BikeExchange
8. André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
9. Cees Bol (Ned) DSM
10. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step.

UAE Tour Overall After Stage 6:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 20:41:59
2. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:35
3. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:02
4. Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma at 1:44
5. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo at 1:46
6. Mattias Jensen (Den) Trek-Segafredo at 2:37
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 2:39
8. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 3:53
9. Ruben Fernandez Andujar (Spa) Cofidis at 4:13
10. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 6:30.

Stage 6:

 

Caleb Ewan won the Final Stage 7 of the UAE Tour. In Abu Dhabi, the Australian was the fastest in the bunch sprint, beating Sam Bennett and Phil Bauhaus. Tadej Pogačar finished safely in the peloton to take the overall victory.

uae21st7

Early in the race three men escaped; the Astana duo Samuele Battistella and Matteo Sobrero joined forces with Alexys Brunel from Groupama-FDJ. With Battistella as the best overall rider, at more than 14 minutes down, this early break was not dangerous. They were given a maximum of 3 minutes. David Dekker took the last point at the first intermediate sprint to strengthen his lead in the points classification. The pace in the peloton was high, so that the lead decreased. 65 kilometres from the finish line and the peloton split due to the pressure of INEOS Grenadiers. The large group broke into echelons, with Tadej Pogačar and Adam Yates, first and second overall, on the right side of the split. Third overall, João Almeida, missed the boat and had to chase.

Due to the echelons, the three escapees were caught 60 kilometres from the finish. The first group with Pogačar, Yates and sprinters Sam Bennett, Caleb Ewan and Fernando Gaviria had a gap of more than 20 seconds, but with 40 kilometres to go, everything came together again. There was a big crash with Adam Yates as the main victim. The INEOS Grenadier’s rider was able to quickly get back on his bike and, after visiting the doctor’s car, rejoin the pack. It was not the first crash of the day, as Gino Mäder and Kaden Groves had crashed earlier. When the break had been pulled in, the sprinter’s teams Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Lotto Soudal and BORA-hansgrohe took over in the run-in to the final intermediate sprint at 16.3 kilometres from the finish.

EF Education-Nippo tried with Neilson Powless, fifth in the standings, to surprise Jumbo-Visma and Chris Harper, in fourth place, in the battle for the bonuses, but the Dutch team was on the job and contained the move. Dekker was the first to cross the line, ahead of his teammates Harper and Powless. With those eight points, the 23-year-old secured the green jersey, while his teammate secured his fourth place overall. INEOS Grenadiers led the peloton into the final 3 kilometres, after which the sprinter teams took back the lead. Caleb Ewan was well piloted by his team, after which he was dropped off on the rear wheel of first Pascal Ackermann and then Sam Bennett. At the right time, the Australian came off the Irishman’s wheel for the win.

Tadej Pogačar beat last year’s winner, Adam Yates, for the final overall win in the 2021 UAE Tour. He also became the second Slovenian winner of the stage race after Primož Roglič in 2019. For the 22-year-old rider, this is his fifth overall victory in a stage race after he won the Volta ao Algarve, Tour of California, Volta a Valenciana and the Tour de France.

uae21 st7

Stage winner, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal): “We came here knowing that it was gonna be four sprints and we’ve done three. And, obviously, the first stage, I wasn’t there, the second stage I was there, but I had to do too much of an effort before the sprint to really be competitive. We had one more chance, today. And there’s been a lot of pressure on me from the team to get the victory here. I felt it today, but I tend to perform well under pressure and I’m happy I got a win today. I think I’m stronger now than I have ever been. My climbing should be better… my sprint is better. I have two grand tours in my legs now. I should be better than I was the previous year. This is also my first victory as a father of two. And seeing my family tonight will be really nice.”

Final overall winner, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “It was not an easy stage, the wind made a difference and it was quite a nervous day. Thanks to the team I managed to stay in the first group. Then there was the crash of Adam Yates. We thought it was best to lower the pace to allow him to rejoin the group. The UAE Tour was the first big goal of the season for the team: I am very happy to have achieved the win in the home race and I am proud of how the team has performed. I would be happy to return to the UAE Tour in 2022 to defend the title I have just won, while as regards the short-term goals, I hope to be able to count on a good condition also in my next race: Strade Bianche.”

3rd overall, João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Starting the season on the right foot is always good, something every rider desires. I am really satisfied with the result and the race we did: two stage wins and three guys in the top 10 is great, a top performance of this incredible team to whom I am extremely grateful for all their help and work. To finish third in a race of such calibre is a morale-boosting result, which I will carry into my March races.”

Green jersey winner, David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma): “There was a bit of everything today. The biggest goal for me was to maintain the Green Jersey. I was in the first group in the echelons, which was important. After it came back together I had a little crash, but I managed to win the intermediate sprint after that and secure the Green Jersey. It was also a way to protect Chris Harper’s fourth place as EF Education – Nippo was fighting for it. It’s really cool to win the Green Jersey. One or two weeks ago I wouldn’t have imagined that. I’m very happy to achieve this.”

UAE Tour Stage 7 Result:
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal in 3:18:29
2. Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
4. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
5. Cees Bol (Ned) DSM
6. André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
7. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën
8. Luka Mezgec (Slo) BikeExchange
9. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
10. Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech.

UAE Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 24:00:28
2. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:35
3. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:02
4. Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma at 1:42
5. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo at 1:45
6. Mattias Jensen (Den) Trek-Segafredo at 2:37
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 2:39
8. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 3:53
9. Ruben Fernandez Andujar (Spa) Cofidis at 4:13
10.Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 6:30.

Stage 7:

 

deceuninck
Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Le Samyn
The 53rd edition of the Belgian race takes place on March 2nd.

Le Samyn is not part of the World Tour calendar, but it always ends up being one of the most spectacular races of the season. The 205.4km-long course between Quaregnon and Dour has everything you could wish for from a one-day race: cobblestones, hills, and small and narrow roads – all ingredients for an exciting race.

Victorious here in 2019, when he sprinted from a small group to become the fourth different Deceuninck – Quick-Step in the space of ten years to win Le Samyn, Florian Sénéchal will return at the start, hoping to be again in contention. The Frenchman will be joined by Mark Cavendish – who is set to make his first appearance in 14 years at the race – Tim Declercq, Alvaro Hodeg, Stijn Steels, Jannik Steimle and Bert Van Lerberghe.

“GP Samyn is a very nice race in which the weather can play an important role. It’s very important to know where the race will be brought to life and where the most dangerous parts will be. We’ll start with a loop, then after 100 kilometres we will enter on the local parcours, where the cobbled sections can make a big selection.”

“It will be very difficult for the race to come down to a bunch sprint. We have a good team, with whom we can play an important role. Florian of course has his eyes on this race, which he won two years ago, but we also have other options with Jannik, Alvaro and Mark. Cav is very motivated and really looking forward to it. In the end, we’ll decide during the race which card we’ll play,” explained Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Rik Van Slycke.

02.03 Le Samyn (BEL) 1.1
Riders:

Mark Cavendish (GBR)
Tim Declercq (BEL)
Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (COL)
Florian Sénéchal (FRA)
Stijn Steels (BEL)
Jannik Steimle (GER)
Bert Van Lerberghe (BEL).
Sports Director: Rik van Slycke (BEL).

le samyn

 

ag2r cirtoen
Le Samyn (March 2nd)
Our team has won the Samyn only once, in 2006, when Renaud Dion beat Philippe Gilbert

Damien Touzé: “I am happy with my debut with the AG2R Citroën Team and my first races in Béssèges and Almeria. We have a good group for the classics and the atmosphere is great. We are lucky to be able to rely on riders like Oliver Naesen and Greg Van Avermaet who teach us a lot. They know the races by heart, the key moments, when to move into position.
I’m in good shape even though I haven’t raced a lot. I will do the Samyn for the first time. It’s a race that can have a lot of different scenarios, whether it’s a big group sprinting for the win, or a small group. I like these kinds of very open, aggressive races.”

ag2r

 

dsm
Le Samyn
Bennie Lambregts – Team DSM coach: “After two nice team camps with lots of training kilometres in the legs, we’re excited to head to our first race of the year with the Development program. Le Samyn takes place on a tricky course and usually sees a hard race, with lots of strong opposition, but we bring a nice group of riders. Our main goal is to reach the finale with strength in numbers, after riding well collectively over the selective course. If the race comes down to a small sprint, then we’ll look to set up Marius or Casper for the finish. However, our main goal is to be there as a group so we can take advantage with good collective racing.”

Line-up:
Gianmarco Garofoli (ITA)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Enzo Leijnse (NED)
Marius Mayrhofer (GER)
Tim Naberman (NED)
Casper van Uden (NED)
Hannes Wilksch (GER).

Casper van Uden:
dsm

 

dsm
Le Samyn des Dames
Hans Timmermans – Team DSM coach: “Le Samyn is an unpredictable race with a lot of cobbles and false flats, where the weather plays a large part in the outcome of the day. The narrow, twisting roads and cobbles offer the perfect opportunity for a group to go clear, and if there is a lot of wind then the riders often come in one-by-one but if it is calmer then there is a chance that it could be controlled. We have options for different scenarios with Lorena as our sprinter, while Susanne, Pfeiffer, Leah and Franziska should give us multiple cards to play in the finale. We want to be aggressive and put riders in the important breakaways so that we’re able to dictate the race and depending on how the race unfolds, we’ll ride for a result from the breakaway or look to set up a sprint.”

Line-up:
Susanne Andersen (NOR)
Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Franziska Koch (GER)
Esmée Peperkamp (NED)
Julia Soek (NED)
Lorena Wiebes (NED).

Julia Soek:
dsm

 

cofidis
Viviani Want’s to see Fabio Jakobsen Back
Elia Viviani hopes that his former teammate Fabio Jakobsen will return to the highest level, the Italian sprinter said in conversation with Ciclo 21. Viviani still thinks Jakobsen is one of the most talented sprinters in the peloton. “I hope he can get back to his level after his crash in Poland.”

At 32 years old, Viviani is one of the most experienced sprinters in the peloton, he said there are plenty of up-and-coming sprinter talents who will dominate for years to come. “Caleb Ewan for example. But if I have to stay away from the names we can all think of, that’s a tough question. Maybe Jordi Meeus could be one of them.”

“But Fabio Jakobsen and Dylan Groenewegen are of course also on that list. I am thinking mainly of Jakobsen,” the Italian said. Viviani expects that Groenewegen will be well received in the peloton after his suspension. “Certainly. I think things like that can always happen in races.”

“Every sprinter has deviated from his line at some point. It is true that Dylan’s manoeuvre was too aggressive, but it is a situation we see more often. The accident happened while they were going down at 80 kilometres an hour. And we have to be honest, the security of the barriers was also very bad.”

Elia Viviani:
viviani

 

ef nippo
Hugh Carthy is Focusing on Giro d’Italia
Hugh Carthy will be at the start of the Giro d’Italia this year, the Spanish website Zikloland reports. The 26-year-old EF Education-Nippo rider started his season with the Faun-Ardèche Classic and the Royal Bernard Drôme Classic.

Carthy was one of the protagonists of last year’s Vuelta a España. He won a mountain stage in the last Grand Tour of the season, finishing on the Alto de l’Angliru. He finished in third place overall behind overall winner Primož Roglič and Richard Carapaz.

According to Zikloland, Carthy will focus first on the Tour of Italy this year. Carthy rode the Giro in 2019, finishing in 11th on the general classification. He had previously participated in the Italian stage race in 2017 and 2018.

Hugh Carthy, Vuelta’20 stage 12 win:
carthy vuelta20st12

 

bike exchange
Simon Yates Confirms his Return to the Giro d’Italia and Quest for Pink
In light of the 2021 official Giro d’Italia route announcement yesterday, Team BikeExchange are pleased to confirm that Briton Simon Yates will return to the Italian Grand Tour for the fourth consecutive year, vying for the elusive overall victory.

With the 2021 edition accumulating to a total of 47,000 metres of climbing courtesy of six major mountain top finishes, seven significant hilly stages and just 38.4 kilometres of time trialling, Yates returns to the Italian race older, wiser and with unfinished business.

“The 2021 Giro route looks really nice, there’s a good mix of stages and there’s even some gravel roads thrown in for good measure.” Yates explained. “As always with the Giro, the final week looks hard and with only a small amount of time trial kilometres I think that is where the race will be decided.”

Yates holds a love/hate relationship with the event after numerous triumphs and tribulations in his quest for pink over the years. The 28-year-old, who finished eighth overall in 2019, had previously worn the Maglia Rosa for thirteen stages in 2018, claiming three stage wins along the way, before conceding time on stage 19 and ending his bid for overall victory agonisingly close to the finish.

“The last two or three years haven’t gone as I would have hoped with a combination of bad luck and some mistakes along the way,” Yates admitted. “All I hope for is to have a clean run in 2021 without these things and that I can show myself in the best way possible.”

This year’s Giro d’Italia is no different to any other in terms of unpredictability, with the organisers adding an interesting stage to Montalcino in Tuscany which features 34km of gravel roads in the finale. With this, Yates will tailor his build-up and leave no stone unturned in his preparation ahead of the grand depart in Turin.

“I remember watching the gravel stage from the 2010 Giro d’Italia and I expect a similar battle for this year’s race,” continued Yates. “I will start my season at Strade Bianche, which will be the first time at that race for me, in order to gain experience of racing on the white roads and I hope that puts me in good stead for the Giro come May. Along with Tirreno Adriatico and the Tour of the Alps, I will have a full Italian programme in the lead up to the big dance and I can’t wait to get started.”

With the wide variety of stages, Team BikeExchange Head Sport Director Matt White believes the winner will need to be a ‘complete, all-round rider’.

“It’s a well-balanced Giro route,” White explained. “We have a real variety of stages with the epic white roads of Tuscany, some tricky hilltop finishes on dirt and of course the historic, brutal climbs of Northern Italy in the last week. The low time trial kilometres are certainly an advantage for the pure climbers, but the rider that wins the 2021 Giro d’Italia will have to be a complete all-round athlete.”

2021 Giro d’Italia 8th – 30th May – Key Facts:
Total distance: 3450.4km
Average stage distance: 164.3km
Longest stage: Stage 18, 228km
Shortest stage: Stage 1, ITT 9km
Total time trial kilometres: 34.8km
Total climbing metres: 47.000m
Number of summit finishes: 6
Start Location: Turin
Finish Location: Milan
Edition: 104th

Simon Yates after pink:
Simon Yates

 

uae
Marc Hirschi Starts Season in Volta a Catalunya
Marc Hirschi will probably start his 2021 season in the Volta a Catalunya at the end of March. It will be his first appearance in the UAE Team Emirates kit since he transfer from Team DSM to the Emirate team.

Hirschi shared his program via social media, it will start on 22 March with the seven-day Tour of Catalonia. The 22-year-old Swiss rider will then start in the Tour of the Basque Country, just before the hilly classics; Amstel Gold Race, the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He may try to defend his title from last year in the Flèche Wallonne. After more than 200 kilometres, he was the strongest on the Muur du Huy five months ago. Four days later he finished second in Liège-Baskenaken-Liège. UAE Team Emirates has yet to confirm his program.

Originally Hirschi was going ride the UAE Tour, but he was not on the start list. Despite an announcement from the organisers, he was also not at the Boucles Drôme-Ardèche. According to the Aargauer Zeitung, the Swiss rider had a difficult pre-season because he had a tooth pulled.

Marc Hirschi’s possible 2021 schedule:
Volta a Catalonia
Tour of the Basque Country
Amstel Gold Race
Flèche Wallonne
Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Marc Hirschi:
Marc Hirschi

 

bahrain
Mikel Landa Starts his Season in Trofeo Laigueglia
On Wednesday Mikel Landa will ride his first race of the season in the Trofeo Laigueglia, according to the Spanish sports-paper AS. The Bahrain Victorious rider had to change his plans after the postponement of the Ruta del Sol.

After the Trofeo Laigueglia, the 31-year-old Landa will take a look at some of stages of the Giro d’Italia, before taking part in the GP Industria i Artigianato on Sunday 7 March. In April he will ride the Tour of the Basque Country.

Landa, who focuses on the Giro and the Tour de France this season, is not the only big name on the provisional start list of the Trofeo Laigueglia. Nairo Quintana, Bauke Mollema, Thibaut Pinot, Egan Bernal, Michal Kwiatkowski and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Davide Ballerini are also on the provisional start list.

Giro and Tour for Mikel Landa in 2021:
landa

 

israel
Israel Start Up Nation DS Dirk Demol False Positive Test
The PCR positive test of Dirk Demol, sports director at Israel Start-Up Nation, turns out to be a false positive. The team doctor of the Israeli WorldTour team, Dag Van Elslande, told WielerFlits. In a rapid test and a second PCR test, the result was negative.

Demol had to leave the team bubble for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, he was joined by sports director Eric Van Lancker and two riders who had been in contact with Demol. Guillaume Boivin and Reto Hollenstein could not start the Omloop and so Israel Start-Up Nation had to make do with five riders on Saturday.

After the positive corona test, Demol and his team decided to perform some new tests and the former classics rider turned out to be negative in a new PCR test and a rapid test. If Demol, who does not show any symptoms of the virus, tests negative again today, he will be able to work as a sports director in Le Samyn on Tuesday.

Boivin and Van Lancker were both at the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. Hollenstein was not going to ride Kuurne. Team doctor Van Elslande also announced that the entire team bubble in Belgium was tested again after the (false positive) test by Demol: all test results were negative.

“The science is not entirely conclusive,” explains the team doctor. “If one percent is false positive, and there is so much testing, that can happen. We are of course very careful and take absolutely no risks. But trust me, our team directors’ hearts were bleeding. Luckily Sep took a podium place in Ninove. That makes up for something.”

Dirk Demol:
demol

 

suisse5 20
Tour of Switzerland Wildcards to Rally and Total Direct Energie
Rally Cycling and Total Direct Energie will be riding the 2021 Tour of Switzerland. The ProTeams from the United States and France have received wildcards from the organisers for the stage race, which will be held this year from 6-13 June.

Alpecin-Fenix is also present, the Belgian team won the UCI Europe Tour last year and is therefore assured of a place. In the case of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Alpecin-Fenix has rejected it, but they want to ride the Tour of Switzerland.

In addition to the three ProTeams mentioned, all nineteen WorldTour teams are also at the start of the Swiss tour. That brings the total number of teams to 22. Last year the Tour de Suisse was not held due to the corona crisis.

Egan Bernal was the last Tour de Suisse winner:
bernal

 

basque
Tour of the Basque Country 2021 Starts with Individual Time Trial in Bilbao
The Tour of the Basque Country has unveiled the stage schedule for the coming edition. The riders will start on Monday April 5 with an individual time trial in Bilbao.

The introductory time trial of 13.9 kilometres in and around Bilbao is one for the climbers, as the riders are presented with a climb of more than 2 kilometres from the start, with ramps of up to 11%. After a lightning-fast middle section, there is a very steep last kilometre, with a maximum of 19%.

Stage two takes the riders 154.8 kilometres from Zalla to Sestao, with two third category and a second category climb. The finalé in Sestao has steep uphill finish. In the third stage there will cause more differences in the overall classification. The finish of the stage is after a first category climb: the final climb to Ermualde is particularly challenging with percentages close to 20%. Stages four and five also have a lot of climbing, but the finish is relatively flat, by Basque standards. The final day is short but an extremely tough Queen stage to Arrate.

Tour of the Basque Country 2021 (5-10 April):
April 5 – Stage 1: Bilbao – Bilbao (13.9 km, ITT)
April 6 – Stage 2: Zalla – Sestao (154.8 km)
April 7 – Stage 3: Amurrio – Ermualde (Laudio) (167.7 km)
April 8 – Stage 4: Vitoria-Gasteiz – Hondarribia (189.2 km)
April 9 – Stage 5: Hondarribia – Ondarroa (160.2 km)
April 10 – Stage 6: Ondarroa – Arrate (Eibar) (111.9 km).

Basque stage win for Alaphilippe in 2019:
basque19

 

indurain
Nine WorldTour Teams to the Start the GP Miguel Indurain
The Gran Premio Miguel Indurain on April the 3rd can count on nine WorldTour team starting this year. Last year, the race was canceled due to the corona crisis, in 2019 four WorldTour teams were present.

Astana-Premier Tech, Bahrain Victorious, Cofidis, INEOS Grenadiers, Israel Start-Up Nation, Movistar, BikeExchange, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates will all be at this year’s GP Miguel Indurain. B&B Hotels p/b KTM, Burgos-BH, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, EOLO-Kometa, Equipo Kern Pharma, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Arkéa-Samsic and Total Direct Energie are the ProTeams with an invitation. Continental teams Electro Hiper Europe and Efapel will also ride the one-day race.

The riders will be presented with a difficult course of 203 kilometres in the Spanish region of Navarra on Saturday 3 April. The start is in Estella and the finish in Lizarra. The riders will have to tackle the climbs of Erául, Guirguillano, Lezaun and Ibarra. This last steep climb will be ridden up three times.

GP Indurain 2018:
indurain

 

deceuninck
Behind the Scenes at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Deceuninck – Quick-Step kicked off the 2021 Classics campaign with a bang, putting on a dominant display on Flanders’ ruthless cobbles and perfectly delivering Davide Ballerini to the biggest victory of his career so far.

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