What's Cool In Road Cycling
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EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

The teams are showing off their new jerseys and new riders, Philippe Gilbert looks good! UCI President Brian Cookson says the WorldTour does not affect the smaller races. All the cyclocross results, reports and quotes with video from Baal, Loenhout and Bredene. Other cycling news: Gianni Meersman retires, LottoNL-Jumbo to the Tour Down Under, Wanty-Groupe Gobert team roster for 2017, Peter Sagan and his rainbow jersey, only two stages for La Méditerranéenne, Quick-Step Floors training video and Alberto Contador’s new kit for the first part of 2017. Happy New Year.

TOP STORY: ‘WorldTour does not damage lower-level races’ Brian Cookson
President of the UCI, Brian Cookson, has said that the WorldTour is not the reason so many smaller and older European races have disappeared from the calendar.

Talking to the French newspaper Le Figaro, Cookson said “As for the WorldTour, I do not accept the criticism arguing that it damages some lower-level races. Some traditional races in Europe disappear, but it is not because the WorldTour develops. It is the financial difficulties linked to the economic situation in these countries that are the cause. Cycling needs to change, to grow, but I also have to admit that we must not neglect the lower levels.”

Tell that to the organizers of the Italian, French and Belgian races that have disappeared or have no top riders on the start line.

The 2017 WorldTour has 37 events and the WorldTour teams will have to ride for the points. This forces the teams not to ride at lower-level races, like the end of season events in Northern Italy and France. If a team has to have riders in Australia, China and the Arab countries, it will spread their talents too thinly and so the European events will suffer.

His statement comes on the heels of the cancelation of the (new on the WorldTour) Tour of Qatar and the ongoing disagreements with the big race organizers ASO, RCS and Flanders Classics over team sizes. Brian Cookson stands for re-election as president of the UCI in September.

‘Oh, look a bike race!’

DVV verzekeringen trofee – GP Sven Nys 2017
Surprisingly European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea Lions) soloed to the win in the GP Sven Nys in Baal on Sunday the 1st of January 2017. World champion Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles) was not at 100%, making a couple of mistakes to finish second. Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) was third and Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) was fourth.

Toon Aerts and his teammate Tom Meeusen took the most risks on the frozen ground on the first lap and made the first break. Van Aert was at the head of the chase group, but he was losing ground on Aerts and Meeusen. By the 5th lap the two leaders started to attack each other and it was Aerts who gapped Meeusen when he skidded on the icy, hard ground. Then Meeusen was passed by Vanthourenhout when he crashed as Aerts powered away at the front.

Van Aert was not on his game, but still rode away from the others to pass Vanthourenhout but could only get to within 8 seconds of Aerts by the finish. The World champion, Van Aert, leads overall in the DVV verzekeringen trofee with the final event, the Krawatencross in Lille on the 4th of February 2017.

Baal - Belgium- wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea Lions) -   pictured during  DVV Trofee of Baal in Belgium - photo Anton Vos/Cor Vos © 2017

Race winner, Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions): “Brilliant to win in the GP Sven Nys, the race of my boss, is very important. That gave me wings, if you can start like this and have an edge in the cross of your boss, you can do that little bit extra. Besides, I had an ideal teacher in Tom (Meeusen), I only had to follow him in these difficult technical sections and he allowed me to know how I had to tackle it. Of course I was scared and I was nervous, but I never panicked. It was important to remain cautious in the technical sections and ride as hard as possible on the straights. I could not make any mistakes and I did not. It is great to win here in a race which is so important for our team. Along the way, you also felt the support of the public, the fans screamed me forward.”

2nd, Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice): “In the beginning I was riding with a little too much fear in the frozen corners. I did not take too many risks because of what is to come in the next few weeks, but that obviously cost me time. It took too long not to be afraid in my head and it took me too much time to get going. I did not have super day and that didn’t help me either. I hit the fence on the circuit. I hit it with my hip and had a lot of pain. But I do not use that as an excuse. It was not where I lost the race. I just had a tough day and I only got that good feeling in the very end. I also took the turns better when I got tubes with less pressure, but then it Tom and Toon were already gone. The feeling in the legs got better towards the end, but it was too close to the finish to close that gap. I tried, but I also knew it would be difficult.”

DVV verzekeringen trofee – GP Sven Nys Result:
1. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions in 1:02:51
2. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice at 0:08
3. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 0:13
4. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 0:31
5. Wietse Bosmans (Bel) Beobank-Corendon 0:50
6. Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice at 1:29
7. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:41
8. Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice
9. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus at 2:08
10. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts at 2:11.

Highlights from the GP Sven Nys:

DVV verzekeringen trofee – Azencross 2016
Wout van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) won the Azencross in Loenhout on Thursday from Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) in third. Mathieu van der Poel crashed out with over a lap to go and was taken away on a stretcher. After a hospital check-up he was allowed home, but will need to take a break from racing.

Van der Poel was the early protagonist and rode away from the others off the front. Van Aert eventually chased him down, but it was a hard job. Tom Meeusen, Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions), Corne van Kessel (Telenet Fidea Lions), Kevin Pauwels, Michael Vanthournhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games), also joined Van der Poel and Van Aert.

With just under two laps to go; Van der Poel went over the handlebars on a short downhill section, landing heavily. The Dutch champion didn’t move for quite a while and it took a while for him to be carried off on a stretcher.

Toon Aerts came past the bell with a lap to go with a slight lead, but it was Van Aert who made the decisive move to take yet another win to extended his lead in the DVV trofee.

Loenhout - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Wout van Aert    pictured during the men’s elite DVV Verzekeringen Trofee cyclocross race, the Azencross  in Loenhout - photo Anton Vos/Cor Vos © 2016

Race winner, Wout van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice): “I hope his injury is not too bad, but I am glad I won. The crash looked really painful and in the next lap he was still there. It won’t be good for our sport if he needs a long break. I think he took too much risk to pass Meeusen. That’s his style of riding. It also gives him a lot to be so aggressive and enthusiastic. Today he saw the flip side of the coin, and he crashed hard. That’s bad luck. I think he was just a little too eager to try to pass Tom on that section. We also had to close the gap. It’s a shame for him, but I hope his injury is not too bad.”

Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick-Step): “It was fun. The result is not super good, but also not really bad and I mainly enjoyed it. That is the most important. In the first lap I quickly went to the front. There was an opening and I took it. At the front, they went very fast. I was a little excited and I knew I would pay for that effort afterwards. For now, my body is not prepared to go so deep for an hour. It is still December and I am not at my best yet. Moreover, I had only ridden my new bike three times. That’s probably why I crashed in the second lap so I fell further back. If I ever want to return, I have a lot of work to do and I do not think about the Worlds. In 2014, I had six races in the legs, now I will have done two. I do not think that I can do much at the Worlds.”

DVV verzekeringen trofee – Azencross Result:
1. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice in 1:01:33
2. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:02
3. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 0:03
4. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:06
5. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 0:11
6. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:22
7. Clément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis at 0:41
8. Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice at 0:55
9. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:01
10. Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice at 1:12.

Azencross action:

Brico Cross – Bredene 2016
Wout van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) closed 2016 season with yet another victory in the Brico cross in Bredene. The World champion out-sprinted Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus) was second as Gianni Vermeersch (Team Steylaerts) got the better of Clement Venturini (Cofidis) for third. Mathieu van der Poel was unable to ride in Bredene after his crash in Loenhout as he has bruising on his neck.

Van Aert put the pressure on from the start, but he had Venturini, Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games), Tim Merlier (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) and European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) in tow.

Van Aert was not having a good day; crashing on the fifth and sixth laps both times on the sand. Both times he lost contact with the front group, but managed to regain after a hard chase. Sweeck attacked, but Van Aert made a big effort to join him. The World champ put the pressure on Sweeck, but was not strong enough after his chases to escape. On the final lap Sweeck tried to attack Van Aert, but it was of no use as the World champion held on and then put in a strong effort to the line holding off Sweeck. Vermeersch sprint in for third place. Triple cross World champion, Zdenek Štybar (Etixx – Quick-Step), was 10th.

Bredene - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -    Van Aert Wout (BEL) of Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace celebrates the win in front of Sweeck Laurens (BEL) of Era - Circus during the men’s elite Bingoal Brico cyclocross race of Bredene on December 30, 2016 in Bredene, Belgium  - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2016

Race winner, Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice): “I had the feeling that it was going to be difficult. I wanted to use the first half of the race to find out how the wind was. However, I made a mistake and so I made it hard for myself. I was glad when Sweeck accelerated. Then I had to push to get in the lead. In the sprint I already accelerated to put Laurens under pressure. The sprint went well.”

2nd, Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus): “I thought that I still could go on after the turn, but when I took the corner, I felt that Wout just had something extra. Here and there I could make a difference, but in the sections that required strength, Van Aert came back. I got a bad start and it took a lot of time before I could join the leaders. I have the feeling that I can go into the championships with the right level.”

10th, Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick-Step): “I knew it was too fast for me. I enjoyed it greatly and wanted to focus on the end. I received a lot of support from the fans, it was really incredible. I want to thank everyone.”

Brico Cross – Bredene Result:
1. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice in 59:18
2. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus
3. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts at 0:14
4. Clement Venturini (Fra) Cofidis
5. Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice
6. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games
7. Jim Aernouts (Bel) at 0:30 Telenet Fidea Lions
8. Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice at 0:58
9. Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 1:22
10. Zdenek Štybar (Czech) Etixx – Quick-Step at 1:32.


Gianni Meersman Retires
Gianni Meersman, who had been with Etixx – Quick-Step and was to be riding for Fortuneo-Vital Concept in 2017, has decided to end his career.

During a routine medical check-up, a cardiac arrhythmia and scar tissue was found. Additional tests have confirmed that they pose a serious danger to his health if he continues to race at the top level of the sport.

Meersman said: “When this abnormal cardiac evaluation was discovered a few weeks ago, it was obviously like a real shock. In the meantime, I had additional tests and scans, but they confirmed that this health risk will remain if I continue to do high-level cycling so the specialists advised me to end my active career. Because of my wife and daughter who have put everything aside during my career, I cannot and will not take such a risk. The bike was not only my profession but also my passion, and it is with much pain that I made that decision.”

Fortuneo manager Emmanuel Hubert commented: “It is of course a blow to the team but it is primarily a huge blow to him. Gianni is an engaging guy and a great rider who quickly joined the team. He will not have the opportunity to wear our jersey and I think he is the first to be sorry. I had him on the phone yesterday for a long time and he was very affected. Being a high-level sportsman is a special job and you have to know how to listen to your body. Cycling was putting his life in danger and it is obvious that he cannot take any risk. I’ve known Gianni for six months. He’s a fighter, he’ll bounce back and I’ll of course think about what we can do to help him. He had been unanimous in our training, and I wish him the best in the future.”

Gianni Meersman wins in Hansame:
Handzame - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -   Antoine Demoitie of Wallonie - Bruxelles, Gianni Meersman of Etixx - Quickstep and Tiesj Benoot of Lotto Soudal during the UCI Handzame Classic cycling race in Handzame, Belgium   - photo JDM/PN/Cor Vos © 2015

Robert Gesink leads ​Team LottoNL-Jumbo in Australia’s Tour Down Under
Dutchman Robert Gesink will lead LottoNL-Jumbo into the new 2017 road season in the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia. Along for support, Gesink will have Bert-Jan Lindeman, Enrico Battaglin, Alexey Vermeulen, Robert Wagner, Koen Bouwman and Paul Martens. Addy Engels will be the sports director in Australia.

The event kicks off with the People’s Choice Classic, two days before, on January 15. The Tour Down Under starts on January 17 in Unley and after six stages, the race ends in Adelaide. The same group will travel to Melbourne afterwards for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race on January 29.

After some cyclo-cross races in Spain and in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, Lars Boom will ride for the first time in the Team LottoNL-Jumbo colors in Surhuisterveen, the Netherlands, on January 4. He follows that with the Dutch cyclo-cross national championships in Sint-Michielsgestel. Boom also hopes to ride the World Cup race in Fiuggi, Italy, and the World Championships in Belvaux, Luxembourg.

Rotterdam, Bennett & training ​camp
Gijs Van Hoecke and Dylan Groenewegen will pair on the track in January for the Six Days of Rotterdam, January 5 to 10.

George Bennett is suffering from mononucleosis. He took a few weeks rest and began to ride easy again in consultation with the medical team. His comeback date is still unknown and he probably won’t be riding the New-Zealand nationals.

The rest of the LottoNL-Jumbo team will leave on January 16 for the second training camp in Alicante, Spain. There along the Costa Blanca, they will prepare for their first 2017 races.

Robert Gesink:
Tour de France 2015 - stage 10

Team Roster Wanty-Groupe Gobert for 2017
Time has come to prepare the new cycling season 2017. Wanty – Groupe Gobert will begin this season with 22 riders from 5 different nationalities. Nine new riders will strengthen our squad in 2017. The staff remains unchanged with four sports directors.

The team will set sail to Benidorm (Spain) from 9th till 21st of January. We hope to benefit from the good weather alongside Costa Blanca to optimize the condition of our riders on this training camp. Our first race of the new season will take place on Sunday 29th of January with GP La Marseillaise, followed by Étoile de Bessèges.

Team Roster 2017:
Simone Antonini (IT), Frederik Backaert, Jerome Baugnies, Thomas Degand, Kenny Dehaes, Tom Devriendt, Fabien Doubey (FR)*, Wesley Kreder (NL)*, Guillaume Levarlet (FR)*, Guillaume Martin (FR), Mark McNally (UK), Xandro Meurisse*, Marco Minnaard (NL), Danilo Napolitano (IT), Yoann Offredo (FR)*, Andrea Pasqualon (IT)*, Robin Stenuit, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck*, Kevin Van Melsen, Pieter Vanspeybroeck*, Frederik Veuchelen, Lieuwe Westra (NL)*.
*Incoming transfers.

Sports directors:
Sébastien Demarbaix, Steven De Neef, Jean-Marc Rossignon, Hilaire Van der Schueren.


The year of the rainbow starts for BORA – hansgrohe
Besides the UCI World Champions jersey of Peter Sagan, the team reveals three national Champions jerseys: Rafal Majka (Pol), José Mendes (Por) and Juraj Sagan (Svk).

Like usual, the rainbow is the well-known key visual of the official World Champions jersey. Next to this, the logos of the team’s main sponsor, BORA and the title sponsor, hansgrohe are in the centre of attention in the 2017 edition of the jersey. As a little surprise Peter Sagan’s own logo is represented on the backside of the jersey – a tribute to the UCI double World Champion.

“I am proud to wear again the rainbow jersey, now in the lights of BORA – hansgrohe. But with the new year also the records start from zero again, now again hard work will be the basis for success. With my new team, I am sure, we are on track so far.” – Peter Sagan, double UCI World Champion

“Obviously, it is a special moment in the life of a team manager to present a World Champions jersey. I am very proud and thankful that I am awarded this honour now. Peter is once again the “eye catcher” in the peloton, this is also important for our sponsors. We decided to put Peter’s own logo on the backside of the jersey as a special “thank you” for his outstanding performances the last years.
But I must admit, that I am also very proud to have three national Champions in my team. At some races, there will be more white than black in our line-ups.”
– Ralph Denk, Team Manager


La Méditerranéenne – Only Two Stages in 2017
The organizers of La Méditerranéenne have announced that the race will only have two stages, a road stage of 163 kilometers between Rians and Roquebrune sur Agens on Saturday the 11th of February and a 17.9 kilometer time trial in Saint Remy de Provence on Sunday.

The two stages initially planned for the Occitania region had to be canceled due to the Republican Guard being unavailable due to a lack of manpower.

The teams for La Méditerranéenne 2017
World Tour Teams:

AG2R-La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
UAE Abu Dhabi.

Professional Continental Teams:
Delko – Marseille Provence – KTM
Direct Energie
Fortuneo-Vital Concept
Nippo-Vini Fantini
WB Veranclassic – Aqua Protect
Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Continental Teams:
Armee de Terre
HP BTP – Auber 93
Roubaix Lille Metropole

Teaser La Méditerranéenne:

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team – Denia 2016
New clothes for the Quick-Step team and a photo shoot, plus a bit of a bike ride in Spain for the Belgian team.

Contador Toast to 2017
Alberto Contador shows off his new Trek-Segafredo jersey for 2017. It is only his training kit, the race clothing will be announced on January the 13th.

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