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EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

National championship news: Mathieu van der Poel wins in Holland – Not bad for a cyclo-cross mountain biker! Champs reports and results from all over Europe. What next for the BMC Team – Top Story. In other cycling news: Tour for Chris Froome? Tour de France team announcements, Paris-Tours news, Jaime Rosón suspended, contract news, stagieres and Lennard Kämna looks at his future. Big Monday coffee Nationals time!

TOP STORY: The End of the Road For the BMC Team?
With the news that the bike manufacturer, BMC, will not be the main sponsor of the worldTour team, the rumors are rife. The riders are all in talks with new team: Richie Porte is said to be close to a move to Trek-Segafredo, Rohan Dennis in talks with Bahrain-Merida, Tejay van Garderen might go to EF Education First-Drapac and Classics-man; Greg van Avermaet has a battle going on over his head with Bahrain-Merida, Dimension Data and the new team of Marc Biver (see bellow) all wanting him, although Bahrain want to sign Wout Van Aert. Of course this is all conjecture until the 1st of August. Also with the Sunweb team riding Cervelo bikes, Dimension Data are said to be riding on BMC bikes in 2019.

Next to throw his hat in the team ring is Marc Biver, who is working on having a new team for next year. Beaver, previously a race organizer and rider agent, spoke to the Luxembourg paper, Wort, saying he no longer had anything to do with Jim Ochowicz and the current BMC team and his new team would not be sponsored by his brother, Jean-Claude’s watch company, TAG Heuer.

Biver stated in his interview: “I cannot say more about this new project, yet. I also have to keep the names of any riders a secret. In fact, according to the UCI rules, contracts may not be signed before August 1, and transfers can’t be confirmed.” He also said he didn’t know if the team would race in the top league of the WorldTour or in the second division ProConti.

The BMC Team issued this press release this week:

Ochowicz: “The Tour de France is the Priority”
We are one week out from the biggest race of the year so I would like to confirm that BMC Racing Team’s primary objective at the moment is to help Richie Porte reach the podium at the Tour de France. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that the continuation of the team beyond 2018 is of equal importance and a major focus.

We are excited about our chances of finding a new title sponsor. Within the last several days a range of highly credible opportunities have presented themselves and we are in discussions with these potential sponsors as we speak, as well as others currently still in the pipeline. We can feel the energy building as we discuss the exciting opportunities that they will find with us as their partners in the sport of cycling.

We plan to maintain our UCI WorldTour license in 2019 and a roster of 24 or 25 riders. We have incredibly capable staff who cover all the bases in support of our athletes on every occasion. It is understandable that everyone is sensitive about their futures as time goes by so quickly, but we are optimistic about our chances of keeping this organization in business and we hope to have more clarity very soon.

We have had great support from all our current sponsors, race organizers, and the loyal fans who follow our exploits week after week throughout the season. They have all encouraged us to stay the course and we will.

Jim Ochowicz
BMC Racing Team General Manager.

The BMC team were happy at the start of the 2018 season:

Outstanding Elia Viviani wins Italian Road Title
After a tremendous ride, the 29-year-old earned the right to wear the tricolore for the next 12 months.

Elia Viviani’s dream season in the Quick-Step Floors jersey continued in Darfo Boario, where the Italian crowned himself National Champion for the first time in his career, after claiming his 14th victory of the year, one that came just one month from Elia’s triumph in the maglia ciclamino classification at the Giro d’Italia.

Lining out at the start of the 233km-long event after a perfect outing at the newly-created Adriatica Ionica race, Viviani counted on three Quick-Step Floors teammates – Eros Capecchi, Davide Martinelli and Fabio Sabatini – who kept the five-man breakaway in check and protected Elia until the final two laps, when several surges split the peloton on the hilly and fast circuit around Darfo Boario.

As soon as the escapees got caught, eight riders emerged from the peloton and opened a gap on another group who eventually managed to rejoin them. Among the 16 men in the lead was also Elia Viviani, who didn’t wait for the race to follow its natural pattern, but instead decided to shape it, with a couple of probing attacks, which caught many off guard and thinned out the group.

Inside the last 15 kilometers, Daniel Oss (Bora-hansgrohe) powered away, but the same Elia chased him down and kept the status quo, before launching a move of his own, which saw the Quick-Step Floors rider being joined only by Oss and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida). The trio put some daylight between them and the five chasers, who bridged across only for a short moment, as Pozzovivo accelerated on the final climb, taking only Elia and teammate Giovanni Visconti with him.

In the sprint, Elia gave absolutely no chance to his rivals, winning the race by a clear margin and roaring across the line in delight after one of his finest ever displays.

2018 Italian road race champion Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “It’s a dream come true and I am extremely proud and honored to show the beautiful colors of Italy in the peloton over the next 12 months. On the podium I cried because I was overcome with emotion once things started to sink in. I can’t wait for my first race with this superb jersey. I never thought I could win a race like today, on such a hard route. We were only a four-man team but we did all the right moves and I have to thank my teammates for how they rode their hearts out for me today. In the final, when I attacked with Oss and Pozzovivo it was the right moment, and when Pozzovivo counterattacked, opening a short 10 second gap to Visconti, who closed us just at the top, I knew I was in a good position as I just had to jump on their wheels if they tried to jump. Usually, you don’t have more than one or two shots when you reach the final of such a long and tough race but today I really had the legs to do it. I am so excited for this victory!”

2nd, Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida): “I lost a moment before the last climb and maybe I lost there the race. Too bad, I would have liked to wear the Italian champion’s jersey, but in the end my performance I think was very good.”

3rd, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida): “Unfortunately, the sprint is not my specialty, but I think I did a good race. The path was nervous and the many attacks in the final made the selection, I wanted to find the race pace and understand how I am. All went well and I’m ready lo leave for the Tour de France.”

4th, Ivan Santaromita (Nippo-Vini Fantini): “Today I was feeling very well, I was in the good action to be in the battle for the victory. In the final km I knew that I had to look for Visconti in the last climb. I made my maximum reaching a very good 4th place even if it is a pity to not be on this wonderful podium.”

2018 Italian National Championship Result:
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) in 5:39:23
2. Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida)
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) at 0:05.

A happy Elia Viviani:

Anthony Roux Wins the French Championships
Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ) won the French national championships out-sprinting Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) from a six-man group at the finish in Mantes-la-Jolie near Paris on Sunday.

After the race had split and regrouped through out the day, the Groupama-FDJ were in control for most of the day. Eventually six riders made it to the front in the finalé: Molard, Roux, Turgis, Martin, Latour and Alaphilippe would contest the sprint. Molard led-out for Roux who went for a long sprint from 300 meters out to take his first blue, white and red jersey.

2018 French National champion, Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ): “I can’t believe it, for so many years, I’ve been close to winning, also in the time trial. I made the podium twice and once I was disqualified. I was afraid that I was not able to target the victory any more. I didn’t think the course would suit me. But the race went to perfection. I did everything to perform here after the Giro. If Alaphilippe hadn’t come across, Rudy Molard would have been the French champion. I wasn’t confident to beat Alaphilippe. When Turgis forced me to sprint from far out. You don’t become French champion by coincidence. It’s great to keep the title in the team.”

2nd, Anthony Turgis (Cofidis): “I tried my luck and it did not take much. I wanted to anticipate the sprint by knowing the qualities of Anthony Roux in this exercise. And when Guillaume Martin broke away, I decided to counter as soon as he was taken back while hoping for a lack of reaction from others. I went to block but when I raised my head when I saw the panel of 500 meters I told myself that the shot would be difficult to succeed. I had made a big effort to get back into the final loop. Luck is not yet decided to smile at me.”

2018 French National Championship Result:
1. Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ) in 6:04:53
2. Anthony Turgis (Cofidis)
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors).

The French podium:

Mathieu van der Poel Takes the Dutch Championship
Cyclo-Cross star, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) added to his long palmarès on Sunday by taking the Dutch road race title in Hoogerheide. Van der Poel out-sprinted Danny van Poppel (LottoNl-Jumbo) and Ramon Sinkeldam (Groupama-FDJ).

Van der Poel along with Van Poppel, Dennis van Winden (Israel Cycling Academy) and Jan van Schip (Roompot) were part of a dangerous break that was pulled back in the finalé of the race with less than a lap to go. The race would come down to a bunch sprint. Sinkeldam started the sprint and van der Poel tried to come past, but had to push the Groupama-FDJ rider to one side to avoid crashing into the barriers. The cross expert then let fly with his speed for the win as Van Poppel got past Sinkeldam for second place.

2018 Dutch road champion, Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus): “This is a childhood dream come true. Despite a hard final, I kept believing that I could finish it in the sprint. And I also finished it. That I can get this title here in Hoogerheide makes it all extra special. I am going to celebrate this, but I will not be too foolish either, because Val di Sole is also coming soon.”

2018 Dutch National Championship Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) in 5:21:42
2. Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo)
3. Ramon Sinkeldam (Groupama-FDJ).

Another win for Mathieu van der Poel:

Ackermann and Pöstlberger take national road championships in Germany and Austria for BORA – hansgrohe
After a successful first weekend at the national championships and a road title for Peter Sagan, this Sunday BORA – hansgrohe did even better. Pascal Ackermann took the German nationals in a bunch sprint, while Lukas Pöstlberger won the title in Austria after an impressive solo, with Felix Großschartner taking silver. Also Alex Saramotins took silver at the Latvian road race after already coming in third at the time trial on Friday.

“Everything went really well today. I did a lot of motor training in the last weeks and focused really well on this Sunday. My first WorldTour wins this season gave me confidence, but also strong mentally. Yesterday, Marcus (Burghardt) said he would love to hand over the jersey to me. But it still feels a little surreal now wearing it. We knew that it was key to go into the last corner already in front. My team did a great job to deliver me in a perfect position, I still had Rudi (Selig) in front of me coming on to the home straight, basically I just had to roll over the line then.”Pascal Ackermann.

“I already had good sensations at the time trial on Friday. Therefore, I knew today could be my day. To start my first Tour de France, now wearing the Austrian Champions’ jersey, is really something special and means a lot to me. Congrats to my team mates, we had the race always under control and Felix finished off a perfect team performance coming in second. Now I am looking forward to the Tour, this win gives me a lot of confidence ahead of my travel to France.”Lukas Pöstlberger.

“We expected a bunch sprint today, like basically everybody. We tried to make the race hard with Marcus and Christoph, but there was no chance to form a proper group. As a result I told Rudi, Christoph and Schilli to concentrate on the sprint with Pascal. Emanuel and Schwarzi worked to control the breaks and in the end everything worked out well. We were in front were we had to be, and Pascal finished off all the teams’ work like a real champion. I am also really happy for Lukas. He will race his first Tour de France the next weeks, and now he can represent Austria even more prominent. All in all, the nationals were a huge success for us, taking four titles and nine medals in total.”Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director.

2018 German National Championship Result:
1. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in 4:57:36
2. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo)
3. Maximilian Walscheid (Sunweb).

Pascal Ackermann takes the German title:

Connor Swift Wins the British championship
Connor Swift took solo victory at the British road race championships, taking Madison Genesis’ biggest ever win in Stamfordham. Swift broke free of the lead group in the final 12-kilometers and finished alone, crossing the line in disbelief. Overcome with emotion, it was Swift’s first victory of the year after a string of second-places.

Swift’s win came as Madison Genesis placed three riders in a lead group of 17 early on in the race. Swift, along with George Pym and Matt Holmes were part of the defining move, which contained a mix of World Tour, Pro Continental and Continental teams. This combination stayed clear of the peloton and with 50-kilometers remaining and the gap over four-minutes it became obvious that the race-winner would come from this group.

As the race entered the final 20-kilometers the lead group split in two, with Swift at the front driving the pace. But a lack of cooperation at the front and a concerted chase behind brought the riders back together. With 12-kilometers to go, Swift made his own, solo bid for glory and quickly gained 10-seconds advantage. Behind, the five chasers behind sensed the danger and with five-kilometers to go, the gap had halved. But Swift persevered and the chase disintegrated. In the final three-kilometers Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue) launched a solo move in a bid to bridge, but could not finish the job. As the race entered the final kilometer, and after 15-minutes of dreaming, Swift could finally be confident that he would win the national title and take the biggest win of his young career. Behind, George Pym and Matt Holmes crossed the line as part of the chase group in 13th and 14th place.

2018 British National champion, Connor Swift (Madison Genesis): “This jersey is meant to be going to the Tour de France and looking at the names on the trophy is amazing. I’ve had a bit of bad luck in a few races when I’ve been up there, but Colin (Sturgess) told me that the win would come and when it did it would be big; and this is big. I felt so good on last lap and could tell others were struggling. There was nothing to lose, the worst result was top-10. It was a big risk and it paid off. It’s a dream come true to be national champion, there’s such pride having the jersey, and it’s amazing to do it for the team, who were underdogs for the race.”

2018 British National Championship Result:
1. Connor Swift (Madison Genesis) in 4:19:06
2. Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) at 0:22
3. Owain Doull (Sky) at 0:25.

Connor Swift wins the British champs:

Michael Mørkøv Sprints to Second National Title
In doing so, the experienced Dane became the 14th different Quick-Step Floors rider to take a victory this season.

Michael Mørkøv won the Danish National Championships for the second time in his career, five years since his maiden title, which came also in a bunch sprint. Vordingborg was the venue of Michael’s first success, this time around he came out on top in Nysted, after a stellar effort of teammate Kasper Asgreen, who kept everything together on the final lap, before Mørkøv powered through in the closing 150 meters to beat Niklas Larsen (Virtu Cycling) and Michael Carbel (Fortuneo-Samsic).

Up until that point, the day had been an action-packed one, with attacks and counterattacks, a four-man breakaway animating the first part of the race, followed by a dangerous trio taking the front and a 29-rider group setting off in pursuit of the leaders, who they caught before the final lap, just as everything was coming back together, with the peloton making the junction as well after a furious chase.

Not wanting for all to come down to a bunch sprint, several riders tried to blow up the race on the tricky and technical final kilometers, only for neo-pro Kasper Asgreen to superbly shut down all those moves, as the peloton approached the pointy end of the 217.5km-long race. Unsurprisingly, the fight for position was hectic, but Michael Mørkøv remained calm and expertly bided his time, relying on his experience and instinct, before blasting to his first victory of the year.

2018 Danish National champion,Michael Mørkøv (Quick-Step Floors): “It feels fantastic to be able to contribute to the winning stream of Quick-Step Floors. We have won nearly 50 races this year already and I am really proud to bring another National title to the team and represent Denmark on the best cycling team in the world. I must say that I was hoping to be in the mix today but it still feels like a dream come true to don this beautiful jersey. I had a good sensation all day, in fact in the last week leading up to the Nationals I have felt really good so I knew I could do it but it is never easy at the Nationals, everything needs to come together in the right order, you can’t just count on good legs. In the end, I used my experience to find the right position and when Larsen opened the sprint in the last corner I could jump on his wheel and pass him before the line. He (Kasper Asgreen) was really important, especially in the last kilometers. We are working well together and stayed together the whole day. He sacrificed himself and his own chances for me in the closing part of the race, keeping the pace high and closing all the moves, which came in left and right, so a big thank you goes to Kasper for his amazing effort.”

Michael Mørkøv on the podium:

Sunweb’s Liane Lippert Wins German Road Race Championships
Team Sunweb’s Liane Lippert (GER) has won the German road race championships, after attacking and taking a select group to the line to win the sprint.

Lippert said: “I’m the new German road race champion and I can’t believe it! At first it was a slow race with a group in front. I was chasing really hard with the other pro riders to bring the group back, then I just attacked because I know I’m not the best sprinter. I was in a smaller group and then gave everything in my sprint and then I won, I really can’t believe it.”

Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert (GER) said: “This is a great win for Liane and our women’s program’s fourth gold during our nationals campaign. Liane rode really smart, she attacked from the bunch and closed the gap to the front. She was there with some of the riders from the original break and carried on working to stay away. She did an amazing job and sprinted the fastest, it’s an incredible win for her and great for the team after Max Kanter took the gold in the German U23 road race.”

Liane Lippert on the podium:

Aude Biannic Becomes French Road Race Champion!
Breton rider from Movistar Team claims surprise victory in Mantes-la-Jolie against dominant FDJ with intelligent race, crowned with splendid solo attack at 5km before finish
Aude Biannic (Movistar Team) offered this Saturday at Mantes-la-Jolie, venue of the women’s French road race championships for pros, elite and under-23 competitors -104km, five laps into a rolling circuit- the best display of talent and powerful yet from one of the most solid rouleurs in the Telefónica-backed squad and the entire WorldTour peloton.

The Breton cyclist, riding alone into a peloton with 125 contenders and a dominant lineup from FDJ (eight members), always rode on the attack. Being able to stay into the selected, 25-woman selection after the third lap, Biannic played her cards intelligently by waiting for the final turn. She firstly went after a dangerous attack including Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (CSR) and Audrey Cordon-Ragot (WHT), winner of Thursday’s ITT champs (where Aude finished 4th). She then tried to go alone with 10km remaining, being caught by Anabelle Dreville (LTS) and the entire peloton afterwards. And finally, with 5k left, she went on a third, decisive attack, which the pace by FDJ couldn’t bring back.

Biannic’s victory is the 13th in 2018 for the Jorge Sanz-led squad, which had claimed impressive results over the National Championships held for the last two weeks in Europe: five titles in six races, with double titles in Poland (Jasinska) and Spain (Merino -RR- and García -TT-) to be added to Aude’s success, as much unexpected as brilliant. All of that, before the Blues’ biggest stage race of the year: the Giro Rosa, starting next Friday.

2018 French road race champion, Aude Biannic (Movistar): “I’m so happy and full of emotions with this victory! I’m going to enjoy this so much, because such great feelings aren’t something you go through everyday. I had already been French champion as a junior ten years ago, but today’s victory is another completely different thing. Being able to wear this jersey for the next 12 months in the biggest races of the calendar will be a huge pride for me.

“I’m what you’d call a ‘domestique’, one who always works for a team-mate, and I’m neither a great climber nor a real sprinter; I’ve got some speed in my legs but I knew that I’d stand less of a chance into a sprint, and I needed to reach the finish alone. It wasn’t easy for me, either, because I was racing alone against the whole bunch, especially FDJ, which proved to be really strong. I played all cards I held, and I think this strategy paid off really well! (smiles)

“Ferrand-Prévot went strong on the attack and built a gap before the final lap, and I held some doubts about her being caught, but FDJ did a massive job at the front of the peloton to bring her back. It was a pretty flat course and that might have hurt her chances. I had chosen to save all energies for the final lap and left everything on the road into those attacks. I just didn’t want to leave the race with a feeling of not having done everything I could. I jumped again with five kilometers to go, into a technical section after getting caught from a previous attack, and even if FDJ pushed hard to lead Roxane Fournier out, I didn’t hesitate to continue pushing, gave it my all and was able to reach the finish solo.”

Lotta Lepistö wins seventh consecutive national road title
Lotta Lepistö backed her time trial title up with a win in the road race on Saturday. The Finnish sprinter said the win was made more special because the race took place just 1 kilometer from her family home in Noormarkku.

Lepistö was able to handle the pressure of racing on home roads as well as being the overwhelming favorite to take an impressive seventh win of the title.

“Even though I’ve had the jersey for a long time, I don’t take it for granted. I always have to earn it, it’s just very special to have it,” a cheerful Lepistö said.

The championships route took place on a 12,5km loop raced 8 times.

“The race was a little stressful because everyone watches my every move. There was some wind but no climbs so it was difficult to make a hard race which is what I like. We eventually were a small group coming to the line and the straight to the finish line was uphill so I decided to go early with 400 meters to go and dropped everyone.”

“I want to say thanks to everyone who kept cheering me in the race. I just kept hearing ‘Go Lotta.’ It’s nice to have the local support,” Lepistö concluded.

Lotta Lepistö:

Bob Jungels Solos to Fourth Career Double in Luxembourg
After a stunning ride, the 25-year-old extended his reign in the national jersey for twelve more months.

Three days after claiming the victory in the individual time trial, Bob Jungels produced another dominant show of strength, surging to his fifth national road race title, one that ensured the fourth double at the National Championships for the 25-year-old Luxemburger, who next weekend will be at the start of the 105th Tour de France.

A furious double-pronged attack of the Wirtgen brothers stole the show in the first 40 kilometers, especially as the duo managed to leave the peloton two minutes in arrears, before Jungels decided to take the matter into his own hands and chase down the leaders, who he caught with incredible ease. Instead of taking a moment of respite, Bob accelerated one more time, dropping Luc Wirtgen; then, together with Tom, nudged their advantage to four minutes, at which point he decided to drop his countryman and go solo, with more than 50 kilometers left.

The circuit around Redange was peppered with eight short hills, but these couldn’t stop Jungels from stamping his authority on the race and increasing the advantage over the chasers, who soon realized they will fight for the minor podium places, which were seized by Alex Kirsch (WB Aqua Protect) and Tom Thill (Team Differdange). Bob arrived solo at the finish, having plenty of time to celebrate, 14 minutes to be more precise, this being by far the most dominant of his five wins in the road race.

2018 Luxembourg National champion, Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors): “I am happy that I get to show this great jersey for 12 more months on some of the biggest races in the world, starting with the Tour de France, next week, for which I am extremely motivated. I felt very strong today, that’s why I didn’t get worried when Tom and Luc opened a two-minute gap, and remained calm, just following my plan, which culminated with this nice solo win. Every victory is important and brings you a certain degree of satisfaction, and today isn’t any different.”

Bob Jungels wins again:

Tony Martin Takes 8th German Elite TT Championship
The 45 km circuit course in Einhausen provided a serious challenge for Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’S Tony Martin. In his first race after the Giro d’Italia the German champion was up for a repeat performance and claimed with a clear lead to his rivals his seventh consecutive and eighth career national time trial championship on Friday.

“I cannot remember that I was so motivated for a German TT championship. After the first few meters, I quickly realized that the legs are really good. Because before the race I did not know how my condition is. After the Giro I was pretty tired and I took a longer break. After all, this was my first competition since finishing in Rome. But I’m happy about this good performance”, said Tony Martin.

Joining Tony on the podium was Jasha Sütterlin (+01’02“, Movistar) in the silver position and Nikias Arndt (+01’31“, Team Sunweb) wearing the bronze medal. Teammate Nils Politt took the fifth place (+02’06“)

“I am going now to the Tour de France with a good feeling and confidence. After a short, fast analysis of the performance data, I was able to keep constant from the beginning to the end of the race my power. This is very important for a rider like me”, concluded Martin.

As part of the 8-man team racing for Team KATUSHA ALPECIN, the German time trial specialist will support his teammate Marcel Kittel in the anticipated sprint finish in stage 1 in the 105th of Tour de France.

German TT Champ again:

French Time Trial Championships: Victory for Pierre Latour
Pierre Latour’s victory in the French time trial championships is the 11th of the season for the AG2R LA MONDIALE team.

French TT Champion, Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale): “I had a lot of fun on the bike, I did not expect to be as good. Even so, I did have a bit of a fright there when I thought I was going to crash. In the end, I had been getting the information over the radio and I knew that I had a bit of a lead. It’s not everyday that you have enough time in hand to be able to raise your hands at the end of a time trial. I just wanted to enjoy it! And with Tony (Gallopin) in second place, we really had a great day.”

2nd, Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale): “I did not expect to be on the podium, and I enjoyed sharing it with Pierre. He was in another dimension today! It makes me want to say that I am champion of France in my category! Since joining the AG2R LA MONDIALE team, I have seen that there is a common desire to progress against the clock, and today’s result proves it. This pulls everyone up.”

AG2R-La Mondiale team manager, Vincent Lavenu: “We were hoping to repeat our performance last year. The team is doing well, we have seen that Pierre has progressed since the beginning of the season. But I did not imagine he could do a ride like today. He was way above the rest. And Tony’s second place crowns all that pleasure. We have worked well and the efforts that we have made for several months with all the riders on the team are now starting to bear fruit.”

Bob Jungels Regains Luxembourg ITT Crown
The 25-year-old finished on the podium for the sixth consecutive year, a record for a Luxemburger.

Twelve months from coming over the line in second place at the National ITT Championships, Bob Jungels claimed the top spot following a strong and composed ride over the 23.8km-long course in Redange, in western Luxembourg, near the border with Belgium. The race consisted of two laps of an undulating 11.9km circuit, which took the riders through Beckerich and Noerdange, before returning to Redange, where they concluded on an uphill drag which had a 5.2% maximum gradient.

Last rider to start Thursday’s race against the clock, Jungels moved into the virtual lead before reaching the intermediate point and continued to put time into his opponents, as he stormed to a more than convincing victory. The Liège–Bastogne–Liège winner stopped the clock in 29:15, 1:09 clear of Alex Kirsch (WB Aqua Protect), who came second, ahead of Tom Thill (Team Differdange).

The victory was Bob’s fourth at the ITT Nationals (after the ones of 2013, 2015 and 2016), just one shy of the record held by Christian Poos, and served as confirmation for the 25-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider that he is on the right path ahead of his second career appearance at the Tour de France, which starts in just eight days.

“The course was beautiful and I had good legs, riding full gas from the beginning, so overall I am satisfied with my performance and with getting back into this nice jersey. I did a perfect race and at the end of it I am very happy, because it shows that all the efforts of the past weeks are starting to pay off, just as I am approaching this very important part of the season. Everything is in its place at the moment, which gives me even more confidence now that Le Tour is getting closer and closer”, said Bob after capturing the 44th UCI victory of Quick-Step Floors this season and the 45th national title in the history of the team.

Lotta Lepistö wins Fifth Consecutive Finnish Time Trial Title
Lotta Lepistö continued the Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team’s winning streak in the national championships by winning the Finnish time trial title for the fifth consecutive year.
Lepistö’s victory comes after the team already picked up national time trial titles in Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland over the past week.

The Finnish star lined up for the 28-kilometer race against the clock and finished in 37 minutes 26 seconds.

“It was really windy,” she said. “There was a tailwind to the turning point. I caught the rider in front of me at the turning point then focussed on keeping the pace steady to the finish.”

“We don’t have too many long time trials in the year so I was a little nervous. This one was almost 30 kilometers. It doesn’t matter where you’re doing a TT, the effort always hurts. I did good preparation for this and I hope my improvements in the TT will pay off in the bigger races to come.”

When asked if she’s become accustomed to wearing the national colors, Lepistö said, “It’s always nice to wear the national championship kit. I bring the flag to Europe and the world. I always hear people saying it’s the best jersey in the peloton, not just from Finnish people. Finland isn’t a common cycling country in the world so it’s nice to go abroad and show off the jersey and show that Finnish people can get to the highest level in the sport if they have the passion for it.”

5th title for Lepistö:

Sunweb’s Ellen van Dijk Wins Dutch Time Trial Title
Team Sunweb’s Ellen van Dijk (NED) is the new Dutch time trial champion, finishing the 25.8 kilometer course with the fastest time of 33 minutes and 15 seconds. Lucinda Brand (NED) and Floortje Mackaij (NED) also put in strong rides, finishing 3rd and 6th respectively.

Van Dijk said: “I’m super happy to finally take the Dutch title again. I was very close for the last couple of years, but it’s been five years since I last took it. The competition in the Netherlands is super high and a podium at the Nationals can be the same as a podium at the Worlds as well. That’s why this title means a lot to me. The course suited me well with long straights and I had great coaching from the car and in the last 3 kilometers my boyfriend shouted me to the line which made it really special. It was great to stand on the podium together with Lucinda, and also Floortje had a very good time trial. It shows how advanced this discipline is within the team and how high our level is at the moment.”

Team Sunweb coach Adriaan Helmantel (NED) said: “This was our first big time trial goal for this year and it’s always hard to be a competition here with a strong field, such as the world- and Olympic champion. She delivered and she won after her mind and body were completely in sync and focused on the plan. We started really fast and then brought it back on the last part which worked out really well. She was really tight on the corners and of course her strength is on the long straights. She was like a machine and it’s great to see this effort rewarded with the win.”

Küng Crowned Swiss National Time Trial Champion for the Second Year in a Row
A dominant performance saw Stefan Küng claim the gold medal and the title of Swiss National Time Trial Champion for the second consecutive year today with teammate Tom Bohli rounding out the podium after securing bronze.

Bohli, who finished fourth in 2017, quickly settled into a good rhythm and posted the provisional fastest time of 53’11” as he crossed the line in Schneisingen.

As defending champion, Küng was the last rider to roll off the start ramp, and his intentions were clear as he powered around the 37.38km course before stopping the clock at 49’37” to claim an impressive victory, 1’26” ahead of Silvan Dillier (AG2R-La Mondiale) and 3’34” ahead of Bohli.

Stefan, congratulations! How does it feel to win the Swiss National Time Trial Championships two years in a row?
“It feels great. I’ve had a good twelve months in this jersey and I was able to take some wins in it so I suppose it is sort of a good luck charm for me. It makes me proud that I can wear the Swiss cross around the world so, it’s nice to defend it.”

“Once again, this race was a good test for me. It was a long time trial and it was hard with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy with my performance. Swiss Cycling made a great effort to make a nice course. I was holding back a little bit in the technical parts but I was confident in my shape and that I could really make a difference in the power sections and that worked really well.”

Were you confident coming into the race that you could match your performance from 2017?
“I was pretty confident coming into the race after a really great Tour de Suisse. That race really boosted my confidence and I knew that if I was able to perform today how I believed I could, I had a pretty good shot of winning. I was on it from the beginning and had good feelings all the way through and in the end, when it was slightly uphill, I could see Dillier in front of me so I knew I was on track and that it was just about finishing off a really good performance.”

Looking ahead to the Tour de France, what does this win mean to you?
“Unfortunately for me, there is no prologue but there is a nice time trial on the penultimate day that I am targeting. If everything goes perfectly, I will be able to stand on the podium with the Swiss National Champion’s jersey there. This definitely gives me extra motivation as it means I get to represent both BMC Racing Team, my trade team, as well as where I come from.”

Tom Bohli: “I am really pleased with how I performed today and especially because this is my first time on the podium at the Swiss National Time Trial Championships as a pro-rider. Long time trials like today’s are not necessarily my specialty. I am more of a prologue rider and my last time trial over a distance such as this was this time last year at the Swiss Championships. I finished fourth there so to be able to come here and see improvement is important for me. I think I paced myself well and I had a lot of help and support from the team. It was a solid performance for me and it definitely gives me a lot of motivation. I’ve made progress and that’s what I need to do.”

Swiss National Championships Time Trial: Schneisingen > Schneisingen, 37.38km
1. Stefan Küng (BMC Racing Team)
2. Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale)
3. Tom Bohli (BMC Racing Team).

Stefan Küng:
Bellinzona - Swiss - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Stefan KUNG (Swiss / BMC Racing Team) pictured during the 82nd Tour de Suisse (2.UWT) stage 9 from Bellinzona to Bellinzona 34KM - ITT - Time Trial Indidual - photo Heinz Zwicky/Cor Vos © 2018

Hanselmann Storms to Swiss National Time Trial Title
Nicole Hanselmann won a gold medal in the Swiss national championships for the second year in a row. The 27-year-old won the national time trial title earlier today after winning the road race title last year.
Hanselmann is the second Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team rider to win a time trial title after Ann-Sophie Duyck successfully defended hers in Belgium last week.

The hilly course took place over 18,6 kilometer. Hanselmann completed it in 29 minutes 20 seconds, 37 seconds faster than the silver medal winner.

“It had a lot of climbing with over 400m of climbing and it was important to get a good rhythm, especially to keep the pace high over the last 5 kilometers,” a delighted Hanselmann said. “It was a tough one but I was in good shape after coming out of the Women’s Tour in England. My last TT was about a month ago so you’re not sure where to stand against the others but I’m really happy to come out on top. This title means a lot after winning the road title last year. It also removes the pressure for the road race this weekend.”

Nicole Hanselmann:

The Achievement of a Lifetime: Seamus Elliott
Far behind riders of the stature of Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Mark Cavendish, in the history of the Tour de France there have been almost three hundred men who only got a fleeting taste of glory. As the countdown to the start of the race on 7 July continues, letour.fr is retracing the steps of 10 champions who clinched a single stage win. Back in the 1963 Tour, the Saint-Raphaël team conquered the stage to Roubaix with an Irishman who had put down roots in France. The velodrome gave Seamus Elliott his greatest victory… and a sense of closure.

Everyone called him a friend. Seamus Elliott, always wearing a grin on his plump face, spoke fluent French with just a hint of an accent from the Emerald Isle. Even more importantly, he rode his heart out for leaders such as Jean Stablinski and Jacques Anquetil, happy to sweep his own ambitions under the rug without a word of complaint. Although Elliott and his friend “Stab” had been racing for different teams in the 1962 Worlds, he had done everything he could to slow down the chase in the small group fighting for victory, resulting in the rider from northern France winning gold and the Irishman having to settle for silver. In 1963, the stage from Jambes to Roubaix was well-suited to “Shay”, who had narrowly missed a victory in the Hell of the North due to a broken saddle. The Irishman’s tactics dovetailed with the plans of his leader at Saint-Raphaël. “Maître Jacques” urged his teammates to control the breakaway, which had good odds of making it to the finish.

Mission accomplished
Stablinski and Elliott —the team’s best assets on this sort of terrain— slipped into the leading group. Elliott was forced to dig deep after suffering two punctures on the cobblestones, the last one just 20 km before the line. Fortunately for the Irishman, the world champion shepherded him back to the escape group on both occasions. Once again, smart tactics and powerful feelings all pointed towards the need to work together in such a tricky finish, particularly with Stablinski seeing an opportunity to return the favor. Stablinski was godfather to Elliott’s young son. The Irishman took a leaf out of little Pascal’s book to hang on alone at the front for the final six kilometers before the velodrome. “Shay” finished 33″ ahead of a small group of chasers led by none other than Stablinski —good enough to pull on the yellow jersey. Antoine Blondin hailed this double whammy, which no other Irish rider had accomplished, in a piece in L’Équipe titled Ça fait Dublin par où ça passe, where he outlined his vision of an international peloton ahead of his time: “He belongs to a migratory species of cyclists who feel at home anywhere as long as there is bread and a saddle. He is a citizen of the roads, and a race number is his passport.” Decades before Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche pulled off even greater victories in the 1980s, Elliott kept the yellow jersey for four days, until Angers. Once in Paris, the jersey was safely on Anquetil’s shoulders. Mission accomplished.

More information on https://www.letour.fr/en/

No Tour de France for Chris Froome?
ASO, the Tour de France organizers, have told team Sky that multi-Grand Tour winner, Chris Froome is not welcome at this years race. Under their own rules, ASO “reserves the right to refuse participation in – or to exclude from – the event, a team or any of its members whose presence would be such as to damage the image or reputation of ASO or the event.” Sky have made an appeal to the National Olympic Committee of French Sport which will be heard on Tuesday, July 3. The timing of the move is critical as it is unlikely that the case would be heard by CAS before the Tour starts on Saturday.

WADA and UCI have now dropped the case, read their statements HERE.

Is Chris Froome’s battle with the monster over?
Monte Zoncolan - Italië - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Christopher - Chris FROOME (GBR / Team Sky) - Wout Poel and an alligator pictured during the 101st Giro d’Italia 2018 - stage 14 from San Vito al Tagliamento to Monte Zoncolan (186 KM) - photo TdW/GI/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

#PinkArgyle for the 2018 Tour
The conventional wisdom of racing tells us it will be hard to top the 2017 Tour de France. Second place, with a dark horse coming in to the biggest race on the calendar. It was a result few outside the team could see coming, and certainly one of the team’s proudest moments.

And yet.

The Tour’s 21 stages provide ample opportunity to dream. For stage hunters, for sprinters, for climbers, for yellow-jersey contenders. Everything is possible, and it’s on the sport’s biggest stage.

“The objective is quite simple,” Jonathan Vaughters, the team’s CEO, says. “We start the race trying to win the Tour de France. Is that optimistic and is that pushing the limits of our team? Absolutely. But we were second place last year. We have a little bit stronger team this year, and we have a parcours more suited to Rigo than last year. We have Rigo, who is stronger than he was last year. So we’re going in with the idea of trying to win the race.”

Rigoberto Uran (COL)
“The importance of the Tour is easy to explain. Everything in July is top level – every rider, every stage, every second. It all matters. I need to focus for 21 days. It’s important to focus in the race, at the dinner table, for the sleep. From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, it’s like the World Championships every single day for three weeks.”

Pierre Rolland (FRA)
“It’s always a pleasure to race the Tour, but the main thing isn’t only to participate in the race but to be a main actor. I want to be present in the mountains with Rigo, and if the chance presents itself, to win a stage, but first and foremost, I want to arrive without any problems to the first rest day, to pass all the complicated stages of the first week in the best condition possible.”

Dani Martinez (COL)
“Being selected for this Tour team is a great achievement. There are a lot of deserving riders on this squad. Being chosen to race, to help Rigo as much as possible, makes me incredibly proud. To start the Tour is to fulfill a piece of my dream.”

Simon Clarke (AUS)
“My role is to take leadership on the road, and this becomes more and more important the better Rigo is riding, which became really evident last year in the Tour. When a Tour de France podium is at stake, every decision takes on a new sense of importance. I had a massive learning curve last year, riding in a team where a bad decision could impact our ability to achieve a great result. I learned a lot last year that I’ll bring into this year’s race, behind the scenes, to try to provide Rigo with the best opportunity to ride to an even better result than last year.”

Harelbeke - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Sep VANMARCKE (Belgium / Team EF Education First - Drapac P/B Cannondale) pictured during Record Bank E3 Harelbeke 2018 (1UWT) a one day men’s elite race from Harelbeke to Harelbeke (206.5KM) 23-03-2018 - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Sep Vanmarcke (BEL)
“In theory the cobble stage would suit me perfectly, but I go to the Tour to help Rigo, so there are no personal goals except to help him as best I can. I’ve had five Tour starts, and this is the first time I’m going with a team fighting for the podium. It’s also the first time I do the Tour with #PinkArgyle, so that’s exciting.”

Tom Scully (NZL)
“It’s the race that everyone knows. If you ask someone about cycling, they say ‘Oh like the Tour de France?” so everyone can relate to it, cyclist or not. I’m there to ride the wind, get the bottles or whatever – domestique duties. I’m taking my first Tour day-by-day, ready to do whatever they need me to in support of our general classification ambitions.”

Taylor Phinney (USA)
“I think my role is chief vibration officer. I have to keep the vibes up, make sure the frequencies are calibrated. Mostly I’m there as team player, looking after Rigo and the rest of the guys on the flat stages. If there’s some sort of a window where I can go for something myself, I’ll take that opportunity but that’s not what I’m going to the Tour to do – but you never know what can happen over three weeks.”

Lawson Craddock (USA)
“Racing the Tour in 2016 was a huge learning experience for me. There’s a ton of things that I was able to take away from the race that I can bring to this year’s Tour. My role will be to help out Rigo to put him on the top step of the final podium in Paris. He’s a great leader that instills confidence in the people around him. Being a part of a team that has a legitimate chance to win the Tour de France is not an opportunity that comes around very often.”

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for the 2018 Tour de France

Rigoberto Uran (COL), Pierre Rolland (FRA), Dani Martinez (COL), Simon Clarke (AUS), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL), Tom Scully (NZL), Taylor Phinney (USA), Lawson Craddock (USA).
Sport Directors: Charly Wegelius (GBR), Andreas Klier (DEU), Tom Southam (GBR).

Mark Cavendish Spearheads Team Dimension Data Tour de France Challenge
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is delighted to confirm our 8-rider team to compete at the 105th Tour de France starting on 7 July.

The team was released via a special video announcement featuring Qhubeka beneficiaries in conjunction with media partner Supersport, at the headquarters of Dimension Data in Johannesburg on Friday.

Mark Cavendish, who has won 30 stages of the event and 48 stages across the Grand Tours, makes his 12th start and will be hoping to add to that tally having tasted success for Team Dimension Data in 2016 winning four times.

“I’m so excited to be able to ride the Tour de France again in my career, for the third time in
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.

The 33-year-old comes into the race after most recently featuring at the Adriatica Ionica Race and will be in Northumberland on Sunday competing at the British Nationals before heading to France.

“The Tour de France is not only the biggest cycling event on the planet but it’s one of the biggest sporting events on the planet; and it’s the best platform to get across what we as Team Dimension Data do for our charity Qhubeka, to get people in rural parts of Africa on bicycles.

“I’m excited to be part of a strong team and I’ll be looking at getting closer to that record (34)
of Eddie Merckx.”

Alongside Cavendish will be long time teammate Australian Mark Renshaw who will be riding the race for the 10th time. Renshaw’s experience, along with Belgium’s Julien Vermote, who has ridden the last three editions of the race, will be crucial in the first week in particular that sees a number of opportunities to contest sprint finishes.

Edvald Boasson Hagen who was the team’s standout performer in 2017, securing a handful of podium finishes including victory on stage 19, starts his eighth Tour de France. The current Norwegian time trial champion adds significant depth to the team’s experience once again.

“I’m really excited to be named in the team for the Tour de France this year. I look forward to the start and am feeling fully prepared for the event ahead,” he said.

South Africa’s Reinardt Janse van Rensburg returns to the race for a fourth time. This comes after a lengthy injury lay-off having only made his return to racing in mid-May. In 2017 ‘Reinie’ was hailed among the best lead-out proponents in the peloton and will be looking to build on that reputation in 2018.

“I am very excited to be selected as part of this strong team. I had serious doubts about whether I will be back in time from injury for this year for the Tour de France. It’s been a difficult journey, but also gave me a chance to grow stronger as a cyclist and as a person, and now I feel ready to give it my all once more in the Tour,” he said.

“I am confident that with this team we can achieve some stage wins, and I hope to play a key part in that. I will also be looking to be ready for any opportunities that come my way.”

Serge Pauwels rides his 4th consecutive Tour de France having finished in the top 20 twice in the last three years. The 34-year-old Belgian’s been in strong form this year having finished 3rd at the Tour de Yorkshire. While Dutchman Tom-Jelte Slagter will ride the Tour for the 1st time for our team having produced strong performances at the Tour de Suisse, La Fleche Wallonne and early in the season at the Tour Down Under.

Completing our line-up is South Africa’s Jay Thomson. The 30-year-old makes his Tour de France debut and his selection comes off the back of a very strong 2018.

An emotional Thomson said of his selection: “Ever since I can remember I’ve spent hours and days in front of the TV watching heroes being made and guys fighting it out for glory on the roads of France. I’m honored and proud that this year I’ll be part of the 105th edition of the Tour de France.”

“I’ll be proudly riding with the South African bands on my arm as a previous champion of South Africa, as we look for stage wins throughout this tour, while representing Qhubeka in making lives better for people back in South Africa.”

Full line-up:
Mark Cavendish, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Mark Renshaw, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Serge Pauwels, Julien Vermote, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Jay Thomson.

Douglas Ryder – Team Principal
“Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is really looking forward to starting our 4th Tour de France with an incredible team that will chase stage wins and try to realize a dream. This year’s tour reminds me of our 1st tour in 2015 with tough stages that will require strong teams to succeed and our 2018 team is totally focused on achieving the maximum we can. With 8 rider teams this year it is imperative to get the right combinations together to achieve the big bold goals we have. After all, we do race ForQhubeka and our success will change more lives with bicycles.”

Rolf Aldag – Head of Performance
“We picked eight riders with the clear goal to be very present right from the start, with cross-wind stages for the selected 8, and a Paris-Roubaix stage for the likes of Edvald (Boasson Hagen) who is a Classics expert.

We also have the Mur de Bretagne where Tom-Jelte Slagter can hopefully shine for us and Edvald’s showed in the past that he’s capable of getting up there.

And then of course we want to compare this to the 2016 Tour where we came in as one unit with the day-to-day approach that we’ll try to win stages. We also clearly want to be present later on in the race with Serge Pauwels too so we’ll approach the event from the point of view; that there is no tomorrow. It’s all about today, being one united team.

We know what our responsibilities are to support Qhubeka and the best way to do that is of course by trying to win, by trying to be a big factor during the Tour de France, one of the biggest sports events in the world.”

UAE Team Emirates for the Tour de France
The Emirates team will be at the Grand Boucle, starting July 7 in Vendée, with a team led by Daniel Martin for the overall classification. The Irish cyclist, already a stage winner in the Tour, placed sixth in the 2017 edition even while racing 12 stages with a broken vertebra.

The European champion Alexander Kristoff will lead UAE Team Emirates’s sprint charge.

The team will therefore be competitive on more than one front and will be supported by riders with major experience like Marco Mercato, Rory Sutherland and Roberto Ferrari, and a young rouleur Oliviero Troia and two climbers Darwin Atapuma and Kristijan Durasek.

Team Manager Matxin Joxean Fernandez will manage the team with help from directors Philippe Mauduit and Simone Pedrazzini.

“Since I signed for Team UAE the big goal has been the Tour de France.” Martin said. “I plan to take the race day by day, stage by stage and try to achieve the best results possible. It’s really a race of 2 halves and the first 9 days will be very tricky bringing different challenges each day, but I’m confident we have a great team that can get me to the mountains in a good position to have a bit of fun. Everything has gone well since the Dauphine and I’m just looking forward to getting started.“

“This is the biggest race in the world.” Kristoff said. “The event where you get all the best cyclists, the best sprinters. I am going to France determined to get the best result possible and, if possible, a stage victory.”

Paris-Tours 2018 Evolves!
Past winners of Paris-Tours are equally split between sprinters and attackers capable of surprising the peloton with a powerful late-race charge. Nothing is written in stone, but there will be more possibilities for the strongest attackers starting in the next edition of the race. The start will take place in a familiar setting after the large turnouts in Chartres in 2015 and 2009. The race will then head to Bonneval, which has been the long-time start city of Paris-Tours Espoirs and the windy plains of Beauce. However, the changes made in the final 60 kilometers will be ideal for a lot of movement and plot twists, with the addition of several roads through vineyards to the route. The peloton will negotiate the narrow trails through the vineyards and cope with the discomfort of the calcareous trail surface. This will make for more strategic possibilities… provided power accompanies finesse!

The race will still be decided on the avenue de Grammont in Tours, but this year riders will arrive after the new Kilometer de Paris-Tours women’s race.

The details will be announced on September 5th during a press conference in Tours.

Key points
The city of Chartres will host the start of the next four editions of Paris-Tour, beginning on Sunday October 7, 2018.
· Before reaching Tours and the avenue de Grammont, the riders will have new opportunities to shake up the most predictable of scenarios and vineyards roads will be included on the race-route.

More information about Paris-Tours on: www.paris-tours.fr/en/

Jérémy Roy (Groupama-FDJ) and Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) scouting out the new vineyards that the riders of Paris-Tours 2018 will cycle on:

Provisional Suspension for Jaime Rosón García
The Abarca Sports organization received yesterday evening, Wednesday 27th June 2018, an official communication from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) where it was notified of the provisional suspension of its rider Jaime Rosón García, due to an adverse analytical finding in his biological passport, dated January 2017, nearly one year before joining the team.

Given this communication, we would like to present the following qualifications:

1. – Since he joined the team during the current 2018 season, the rider’s behavior, health analytics and biological passport values have been irreproachable.

2. – Because of that, our team will cooperate with the rider to try and find an explanation to this case, whose resolution we abide by and understand, by virtue of the UCI’s rules and regulations.

3. – As an advocate of cycling’s credibility and fair play, and following the UCI’s Anti-Doping Rules, our team provisionally suspends its working relationship with the rider.

Jaime Rosón in 2017:

Hermann Pernsteiner extends contract with Team BAHRAIN MERIDA
BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team is happy to announce that Hermann Pernsteiner has prolonged his contract by two years through 2020 season.

“I’m really excited to renew my contract with Team BAHRAIN MERIDA” says the 27-year-old Austrian rider, who made his debut at the World Tour with our team in 2018, definitively moving from mountain bike to road racing. “The team believes in me and this high confidence gives me a lot of motivation to continue to work hard and to improve for bringing some great results. Here it’s like a second family to me and I’m very pleased to extend my contract for two years more.”

Pernsteiner showed his promise in his first races with the team and impressed with the win at the GP Lugano, that followed the outstanding performance in the hardest stage of Tour of Japan, where he took second atop Mount Fuji and finished second overall.

BAHRAIN MERIDA General Manager, Brent Copeland: “Hermann really impressed us so far. When we signed him, we knew that he was a talented climber, but we dare say that his performance and results exceeded all of our expectations. Now we’re proud to give him further opportunities to continue to gain experience and to show his potential. We believe that he will give his great support to the captains in mountain stages, but above all we are sure that he can still surprise us in the years to come.”

Herman Pernsteiner:

Monk Returns to #PinkArgyle for Second Stagiaire Period
University of Melbourne student Cyrus Monk will join Drapac – EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team trade teammate Jimmy Whelan in #PinkArgyle in August. Monk, like Whelan, will race as an EF Education – First Drapac p/b Cannondale stagiaire during the final three months of the season. It is Monk’s second stagiaire period in argyle.

“I’d like to thank EF Education First and the #PinkArgyle family for the opportunity to race at this level again,” said Monk. “It was an enjoyable experience for me last year.”

Until last week, Monk, like most of his teammates on the holistic development team, had split his focus between cycling and university. His final exam was last week. He’ll officially graduate with a Bachelor of Science, having majored in physiology, when he returns to Australia in November.

“It’s great to see Cyrus be given the opportunity to stagiaire with our WorldTour team again this year,” said Drapac Capital Partners Chairman and development team owner Michael Drapac. “On top of his impressive cycling results, he has also just completed his science degree from one of Australia’s most prestigious universities. Cyrus’ #wholeathlete perspective has prepared him well for this next phase in his life, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this remarkable young man can achieve.”

Monk, who is the reigning U23 Australian national road champion and defending world university champion, is currently in Europe with Drapac – EF p/b Cannondale.

“I’ll race in Belgium with the holistic development team until the end of July,” Monk explained. “The plan at this stage is then to race the World University Championships, which happen at the very start of August, and go into racing with the WorldTour team after that.”

During his 2017 stagiaire period, Monk was part of three stage wins at Tour of Alberta and Rigoberto Uran’s podium at Giro dell’Emilia.

“My main strength is my versatility,” said Monk. “I can be useful to the team over different terrain and in several different sorts of race scenarios. I managed to do the sprint lead-outs successfully with the team last year at Tour of Alberta and also play a supporting role to our climbers in the medium mountain days.”

Monk’s race schedule has yet to be solidified.

“Last year I gained a lot from the more experienced riders on the team that I was lucky enough to race with across three different continents,” said Monk. “I got experience racing at a higher level than I had before. Now that I’ve finished my university coursework and I’m in my final year of U23, I’m hoping to cement my place at this level.”

Now that Monk has finished his coursework, he hopes to earn a spot on the team.

“That’s ideally what I’d like to get out of the stagiaire period this year,” he said. “Hopefully I can show in the rides I get this year that I’m ready to take this next step.”

Cyrus Monk:

Harm Vanhoucke Turns Pro on 1 July
Harm Vanhoucke turns pro at Lotto Soudal as of 1 July. The 21-year-old Belgian is a product of the U23 team which is led by Kurt Van de Wouwer. The young climber already showed his talent by winning the Piccolo Giro di Lombardia in 2016 and he already took stage victories in prestigious U23 races such as the Giro della Valle d’Aosta and the Tour de Savoie Mont-Blanc. Vanhoucke is currently recovering from anaemia, but he started training again.

Harm Vanhoucke: “I have been training for a couple of weeks now, but there is still a long way to go. I look very much forward to becoming pro, it is like a dream come true. It wasn’t a difficult decision to stay at Lotto Soudal because I have been part of the team since I first raced in the U23 category. Of course, I hope to learn a great deal from the riders who have been pro for years and who already have a lot of experience.”

“Especially the races which include a lot of climbing, like those in the high mountains suit me. I think that I’m not really fit for the one-day races, although I already won the Piccolo Giro di Lombardia. I will primarily focus on the shorter stage races, where I hope to be able to take the victory one day. But I would like to go once in my career all out for a Grand Tour and see where that takes me. But you have to sacrifice a lot for that. Let’s first see what I can do in the one-week stage races.”

“First, I will go on a training camp at altitude in Livigno together with some teammates. The Tour de Pologne will be one of my first races as a pro. That will be tough, especially because I haven’t been racing for quite a while now. Afterwards, I will participate in some races with the national U23 team as a preparation for the U23 World Championships in Innsbruck. I would like to make a goal of that race and battle for the victory. But it’s a one-day race, so it will all depend on how the legs feel that day.”

Kurt Van de Wouwer, head of Lotto Soudal U23: “Harm Vanhoucke had to take some rest before he could begin his pro career. There is of course some uncertainty when you’re out of competition for a while, but I am convinced that everything will be fine.”

“Vanhoucke is a pure climber, which his list of victories already proves. In the future, stage races such as the Tour de Romandie, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Volta a Catalunya should suit him very well. Not yet for the general classification, but he can select some stages to show himself. That’s a first step before targeting the GC. He also has to improve his time trial skills.”

“It is always a nice feeling to pass on a rider to the pro team of Lotto Soudal. In the case of Harm, it quickly became clear that he would be a nice candidate for the WorldTour. The first part of his season didn’t go as planned, but now he fully gets the opportunity to further develop himself within the pro team. I think a rider such as Jelle Vanendert could play an important role for Harm. Vanendert already has a lot of experience in the races which should fit the profile of Vanhoucke.”

Harm Vanhoucke:

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale signs neo-pro Julius van den Berg
EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale is excited to announce the mid-season signing of Julius van den Berg. The 21-year-old’s two-year neo-pro contract begins with immediate effect as he makes the leap up to the WorldTour with #PinkArgyle.

“Julius is one of the top U23 riders in the world,” said team co-founder and CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “He’s won a few impressive races and finished second at the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs. As we look forward to reinforcing our cobbles squad and strengthening our TTT operation, Julius is a natural pick.

“We expect Julian to be most useful this summer at the Binck Bank Tour and Worlds TTT,” Vaughters added. “We anticipate successfully racing him in those two events. If he were a stagiaire with us first, we wouldn’t be able to have him in either race, so this is a better way for us to approach his contract.”

Van den Berg comes to the American-registered squad from the Dutch development program SEG Racing Academy. Asked what he considers his specialty, Van der Berg simply notes: “Attacking!” He came to cycling due to his father’s love for riding.

“I’m really excited to race with such a great team,” said Van den Berg. “It’s crazy how fast it all went. It’s a dream come true, and it is really special for me. I strongly believe this is the best step I can do in my cycling career right now. The team environment is great, so it will be easy to fit in and be useful on the road, especially in the classics.”

Notable results for the young rider include a victory in the U23 Dutch national time trial championships, a stage win at Tour de Normandie, along with best young rider and fourth overall, and wins at lesser-known one-day classics, including Ronde van Noord-Holland and Midden-Brabant Poort Omloop.

Van den Berg dreams of winning Omloop het Nieuwsblad.

“He seems to have a really good nose for getting into breaks,” said Vaughters. “He’s not a pure time triallist. He’s a good one, but he’s also a great attacker. There was a stage of the Tour de Bretagne where he single-handedly disassembled a bunch of French Pro Conti teams that were trying to bring him back. It was really impressive.”

“I consider myself really lucky to have close to four years within the SEG Racing Academy’s development program,” said Van den Berg. “That allowed me to grow as a rider and keep improving each year. This season has been the confirmation of all the hard work.

“Now it is time to move on, and I’m really looking forward to starting my run with the team,” Van den Berg continued. “With high profile riders like Sep Vanmarcke and Sebastian Langeveld in the classics team, it will be nothing but helpful for me. I want to learn a lot from them and be a better rider in the future, so I can target goals like Flanders or Roubaix for myself.”

Van den Berg joins Kim Magnusson and Logan Owen on #PinkArgyle’s 2018 neo-pro roster and Cyrus Monk and Jimmy Whelan, both from Drapac-EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team, as late-season additions. While it’s unusual for a U23 rider to jump straight into the WorldTour deep end mid-season, Van den Berg has what it takes to swim.

“He’s ready,” said Vaughters. “A lot of U23 kids, you have to bring them along slowly, but we expect Van den Berg to make quick work of the acclimatizing to the WorldTour.”

“I can’t wait to get started with EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale,” said Van den Berg. “It is a very unique opportunity to start in this way, and I will work really hard in order to make the most of it.”

Julius van den Berg:

Sunweb’s Lennard Kämna Amidst Temporary Break From Racing
Team Sunweb’s Lennard Kämna (GER) is amidst a temporary break from racing whilst reflecting on his long-term career goals. The decision is made mutually between Lennard and the team as a precaution – to allow the 21-year-old to take some time to review his situation as an athlete and set long-term goals before getting back into racing again.

Team Sunweb’s philosophy is to develop young and talented riders using a gradual approach, step-by-step, with no pressure on short term results. Part of this development process is to continuously evaluate and adjust plans to find the best route on an athlete’s road to success. Lennard’s situation is being closely monitored, with Team Sunweb’s coaches and trainers having created a plan for the upcoming period.

Kämna said: “I turned professional at a young age and my career progressed quite rapidly. My first year with Team Sunweb at WorldTour level went very well and I was able to learn a lot. The first part of the 2018 season wasn’t what we had hoped for, due to some sickness and a few infections. Many things have come together over the recent months and after conversations with the team we decided that a short break was necessary to re-orientate and re-set our long-term goals. The understanding and patience from the team helps me a lot and I am very thankful for that.”

Head of coaching, Rudi Kemna (NED) said: “Along the years we’ve gained a lot of experience developing young talents, as athletes and as humans. We realize that at some point in everyone’s life people need to take a step back and re-evaluate their career. Together with Lennard the right decision was made for him to take a break from racing. He continues training and at the moment we’re creating the race plan for the second part of the season, without pressure for a fast return. We always put long term focus at the top of our priorities and with Lennard we recognize that he needs this precautionary moment to reconfigure and avoid future challenges, before continuing the focus on growing as a rider.”

Lennard Kämna:

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