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Alto Colorado - Argentina - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - illustration - sfeer - illustratie pictured during 38th Vuelta a San Juan Internacional (2.Pro) stage 5 from Caucete to Alto Colorado (175.1KM) - Photo: Roberto Bettini/RB/Cor Vos © 2020

EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday

The long road of the 2020 season stretches before us. All the results and video from the cyclocross Worlds, Vuelta a San Juan, GP la Marseillaise, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Race Torquay and the Mallorca Challenge. Ferrari at work again – Top Story. Loads of other cycling news: Race news from Saudi, Etoile de Bessèges and Valencia. Rider news from Ineos and AG2R-La Mondiale. Monday coffee time.

TOP STORY: Astana working with Ferrari?
Jakob Fuglsang and Alexey Lutsenko are allegedly associated with the suspended doping doctor Michele Ferrari. Danish and Norwegian (Danish Politiken daily) media reports on the basis of a secret report from anti-doping organisation CADF. The report states that, despite his lifelong suspension, Ferrari still has active contact with riders.

The report states the following: “Information from CADF indicates that Astana rider Jakob Fuglsang is part of Michele Ferrari’s program. Teammate Alexey Lutsenko was also present, at least one meeting between the two in Nice or Monaco.”

Due to his lifelong suspension, Ferrari’s assistance is prohibited, on pain of a suspension of at least two years. According to the CADF (which performs all doping tests on behalf of the UCI, but will be replaced by ITA in 2021), information is available stating that the Italian sports doctor is involved with Astana riders. He is said to have visited several times, including during the 2019 Tour of Catalonia. Ferrari’s base is said to be in Lugano, Switzerland.

Apart from the CADF investigation, twelve insiders confirm that Fuglsang was seen with Ferrari during training. The testimony is said to have come from a specific “top cyclist” who is refusing to ‘come out’ for the time being.

It is also known that Alexander Vinokourov, the current team manager of Astana, was a Ferrari customer in the past. That would strengthen the link between his riders and Ferrari. In 2014, many Astana riders in the Padova report were linked to the sports doctor. In the end, nothing happened to that report, but according to the CADF report, it would be ten Astana riders.

Astana, Fuglsang and Lutsenko were confronted with the report. The Kazakh team and leaders want to “not respond to a report based on clues and rumours.” Dr. Ferrari also did not respond, as did his son and business partner Stefano Ferrari.

In connection with this case the UCI has sent Politiken, DR and VG a statement which underlines that CADF works independently and states: “As of today, the UCI has not received a report from the CADF in order to initiate proceedings against the individuals and the team mentioned. Our Federation is following this case closely and will take the appropriate measures in the interests of cycling.”

Alexey Lutsenko connected to Ferrari?

UCI World Cyclocross Championships 2020
Elite Men’s Championship:
Mathieu van der Poel is cyclocross World champion for the third time. The 25-year-old Dutchman made his move in the first lap and didn’t have any trouble in the mud Dübendorf. Van der Poel previously won cross rainbow jersey in Tábor (2015) and Bogense (2019). Tom Pidcock took silver and Toon Aerts the bronze.

Defending champion Van der Poel had an excellent start to his World championships, he was the first to hit the off-road with Toon Aerts and Eli Iserbyt behind him. Wout van Aert had to come from the third row, but managed to move up quickly. Van der Poel put considerable pressure on the difficult second part of the course. On the steep hills, only Aerts was able to follow him and Iserbyt had to leave a gap.

Van der Poel then dropped Aerts. The difficult mud sections were tailor-made for the Dutchman. After the first round, his lead over Aerts and Iserbyt was already 12 seconds. Michael Vanthourenhout, Wout van Aert, Tom Pidcock and Laurens Sweeck were not too far behind.

Van der Poel, who said himself, reached his top form on time to extend his World championship title run, and steadily extended his lead. The battle for silver and bronze became the most interesting, with Aerts, Iserbyt, Vanthourenhout, Sweeck, Pidcock and Van Aert the men for the fight. After two laps the difference had grown to 50 seconds, and that only increased. Behind; Tom Pidcock took the initiative in the battle for the silver. With an attack he broke the Belgian group apart. Iserbyt was able to follow at first, but had to drop off the Pidcock wheel.

Van der Poel made no mistakes in the mud, changed his bike every lap and held on to his lead of more than a minute. Pidcock saw Aerts and Van Aert approaching three laps before the finish. They were already a minute and a half behind Van der Poel. Just before the start of the final lap, the medals seemed to be decided. Pidcock was second and Van Aert had to let go his fellow countryman Aerts, who was in third place, due to a flat tire. The World Cup final overall winner could not close the gap to the young Briton alone.

The last time through the pits area, Mathieu van der Poel changed to a clean bike for the finish. As he won his third world cyclo-cross title he got off the bike on the finish-line and paid a final tribute to his Canyon bike. After that Pidcock was second and Aerts third.

For Van der Poel, the cyclocross season ends immediately after winning the World championship title. From now on, the leader of the Alpecin-Fenix ​​team will set his sights on the road season, and Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

World champion, Mathieu van der Poel (Ned): “That I won here is very special, because this was the only goal this winter. I had nothing else to ride for this season. Moreover, it was one of my best days of the season. I did expect that it would break-away very quickly, because the course was like that. It was one of the toughest races I ever rode. All those bridges at the end of the race, I was happy when I was up. Because of the difficulty, it also became a fair race. That is beautiful and must also be on a World Cup. When it stopped raining, the mud dried up somewhat. That makes it even more difficult. But I immediately had a gap and that gave me wings. I think I rode the perfect race. There is more euphoria than emotion now, but of course I am very satisfied. I told my team Alpecin-Fenix ​​that I wanted to be 110% in shape at the start here. During the last training camp I also trained specifically for this. I am not someone who can see why. Recently I felt that I was getting better and better. As a result, this was my best cross of the year. The way I win here, I am extremely proud of that. To make sure everything runs smoothly on the right day, it is a dream.”

2nd, Tom Pidcock (GB): “I am the second best in the world. This is unbelievable. Mathieu van der Poel is one of the best in the world, so this is really great. I wanted to attack there, because I had to get rid of those Belgians. I had strong legs and wanted to see what would happen. In the final laps I had to ride really fast. My legs were very good. That was strange, because I was sick almost all week. I have to be sick more often.”

3rd, Toon Aerts (Bel): “I think I blew up in the initial phase. It went really fast, I have to get rid of that effort. But we are dealing with three top talents, in the people of Van der Poel, Pidcock and also Wout van Aert. They don’t just show that in cross. I am therefore quite proud of bronze. Maybe I should adjust my summers a little more to the winter. Although I will remain more cross-minded. Hopefully there will be something beautiful in the coming weeks. Today was one of the toughest races of the season, also due to the fast pace. The fact that nobody was able to answer Pidcock’s attack means that everyone was at their limit. I could almost return to him later, but then got stuck. Pidcock really flew here and then it is great that he managed to grab silver.”

4th, Wout van Aert (Bel): “Maybe I should be satisfied, but I am very disappointed. It was a murderous cross. Everyone had to find their pace right away. There was therefore not much tactic. It was all about not having to go over your speed. Without that flat tyre in the penultimate lap, the stage might have been there. It is my first World championships off the podium after nine starts. I secretly hoped for it and lost it to Toon Aerts after an exciting final lap. But I no longer had it in my legs, even though I did a good cross.”

7th, Corné Van Kessel (Ned): “I’m satisfied with this 7th place, because I was never really lucky at the world championships. I often had troubles, like last year when I finished 17th. This time I was able to race regularly and I finish where I belong. Mathieu started really fast and behind there was no real surprise. I followed my rhythm and battled for the top 10. I achieved some good results at the beginning of January, so maybe I could pretend better at this world championship. But the top 10 was my goal and I achieved it.”

Elite Men’s Championship Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) in 1:08:52
2. Thomas Pidcock (GB) at 1:20
3. Toon Aerts (Bel) at 1:45
4. Wout Van Aert (Bel) at 2:04
5. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) at 2:32
6. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) at 3:12
7. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) at 3:52
8. Tim Merlier (Bel) at 4:32
9. Quinten Hermans (Bel) at 4:48
10. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) at 5:11.

Elite men’20:

Elite Women’s Championship:
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado is the new women’s World champion. The Dutchwoman fought with her teammates; Annemarie Worst and Lucinda Brand, but came out on top in the final meters.

On the first lap the four Dutch women had a very good start and immediately created a gap on the rest of the field. Katherine Compton, Ellen van Loy and Evie Richards were the first of the chasers at 15 seconds after the first lap, while Belgium’s Sanne Cant was at more than 30 seconds. There was going to be new world champion in the women’s race. But which of the four Dutch women would claim the rainbow jersey? After an acceleration by Alvarado on the second lap, Kastelijn had to drop off the group and Brand was in trouble. Kastelijn immediately lost 20 seconds as Brand was able to hang on.

Brand had a broken saddle, which forced her to change bikes on the third lap and close a 10 second gap to Alvarado and Brand. Thanks to an easing of the pace at the front, we had three together for the final part of the cross. In the last two laps Brand was hanging on, Alvarado and Worst were stronger, but as long as they had Brand in their wake, nothing was yet decided. The three of them were heading for the finish line. Brand left a gap on the last bridge, so Worst and Alvarado would be sprinting it out for the World title. Alvarado had strength left for the sprint, making her the new women’s World champion in Dübendorf. Worst and Brand completed the Dutch podium.

World champion, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned): “This is an incredible feeling. I cannot describe what it feels like to finally be a world champion. I am very tired. It is very nice to have a completely Dutch podium. But I still think the others will be disappointed. It was very exciting because the difference between us was very small. I am very happy to be the first.”

2nd, Annemarie Worst (Ned): “I don’t have much to say about it, actually. I don’t get anything for this. I just wanted to win. It went super well today, but I just didn’t come here for a second place.”

Elite Women’s Championship Result:
1. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) in 45:20
2. Annemarie Worst (Ned) at 0:01
3. Lucinda Brand (Ned) at 0:10
4. Katherine Compton (USA) at 1:00
5. Yara Kastelijn (Ned) at 1:26
6. Evie Richards (GB) at 1:44
7. Eva Lechner (Ita) at 2:25
8. Ellen Van Loy (Bel) at 2:46
9. Laura Verdonschot (Bel) at 2:52
10. Marlène Petit (Fra) at 3:06.

Elite women’20:

Junior Women Result:
1. Shirin Van Anrooij (Ned) in 38:34:00
2. Puck Pieterse (Ned) at 0:53
3. Madigan Munro (USA) at 1:18.

Junior Men Result:
1. Thibau Nys (Bel) in 38:50
2. Lennert Belmans (Bel) at 0:31
3. Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) at 0:38.

U23 Men Result:
1. Ryan Kamp (Ned) in 47:53
2. Kevin Kuhn (Swi) at 0:36
3. Mees Hendrikx (Ned) at 0:52.

U23 Women Result:
1. Marion Norbert Riberolle (Fra) in 48:31
2. Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) at 0:27
3. Anna Kay (GB) at 0:40.

Thibau Nys, just like his father:

Vuelta a San Juan Internacional 2020
Miguel Eduardo Flórez (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) won Stage 5 of the Vuelta a San Juan. On the race to the Alto del Colorado, the Colombian was the first to cross the finish line. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) defended his leader’s jersey taking 5th on the stage.

The Queen stage covered just under 170 kilometres from San Martín to the Alto del Colorado (14.4 km at 4.4%), where the finish was at 2,565 metres above sea level. In the run-up, there were three climbs, starting with the Alto de Villicum (Cat 3), the Baños de Talacasto and the Alto de la Crucecita (both Cat 2). In the first 10 kilometres, eight riders made their escape, including Daniel Juarez, the leader in the intermediate sprint competition. The Argentinian joined forces with Antonio Zullo, Nelson Andrés Soto, Gerardo Atencio, Facundo Matias Cattapán, Magno Nazaret, Emiliano Contreras and Francisco Montes. Nazaret was best ranked rider in 24th place, 2:20 from leader Remco Evenepoel.

The peloton let the group take a maximum lead of 4:30 in the run-up to the first climb of the day, the Alto de Villicum. Before the start of the climb, Cattapán had been dropped. Montes was first at the top, ahead of Atencio and Soto. With a 100 kilometres to go, the peloton had already reduced the lead of the escape to under 3 minutes. Montes also took the climb to Baños de Talacasto, after that Soto, Atencio and Nazaret joined him off the front. Montes eventually dropped back to the peloton, while Zullo and Contreras tried to cross to the leaders. On the next climb, Atencio was the first over the summit.

Soto, Atencio and Nazaret worked well together and after the Alto de la Crucecita, managed to hold off the peloton, which was being buffered by a strong cross-wind. After the peloton had climbed the Alto de la Crucecita, UAE Team Emirates and Bora-Hansgrohe put the pressure on and split the main group into echelons. The main victim was leader Evenepoel, who, with the help of Pieter Serry and Bert Van Lerberghe, had to chase. 3rd placed Óscar Sevilla, Evenepoel’s main opponent, had also been surprised.

Filippo Ganna, second overall, was in the front echelon, which distanced the Evenepoel group and got closer to the three escapees, who were caught 22 kilometres from the finish. Behind; Evenepoel only had Zdeněk Štybar to help and had to do the work himself. His deficit had gone up to more than a minute. Partly thanks to Sevilla and that Bora-Hansgrohe eased off at the front, Evenepoel got the front group back in sight shortly before the foot of the final climb. In the early stages of the climb, Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), 5th overall, rode off the front with Juan Javier Melivilo. Guillaume Martin and Miguel Eduardo Flórez managed to cross over to the leading duo, but the differences behind them were small.

9 kilometres out there was a regrouping. Evenepoel and Sevilla finally closed the gap using the echelons. In the finalé, the course was never really difficult with a maximum steepness 6.4%, the length and height were the main problem. Of the top five, only Nelson Oliveira was missing from the front nine riders in the last 3 kilometres.

2.5 Kilometres from the finish, Evenepoel gave the others a little kick for the first time and one kilometre later he tried another attack. That second effort form the young Belgian cost Ganna his seat in the front group. Although the Italian did manage to pull himself back to the group. Miguel Eduardo Flórez took the win with a strong jump in the last hundred meters. Óscar Sevilla was second and Brandon McNulty third.

Alto Colorado  - Argentina - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Miguel Eduardo Florez (COL - Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec) pictured during 38th Vuelta a San Juan Internacional (2.Pro) stage 5 from Caucete to Alto Colorado (175.1KM) - Photo: Ilario Biondi/RB/Cor Vos © 2020

Overall leader, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “When the peloton split, I couldn’t follow the best because I got closed between two riders and I must say that I had a moment of panic when the gap went to 1:30. With the help of my incredible teammates I closed in on the leaders and then worked together with Sevilla and made it back to the top group. I am happy that I could keep the jersey and didn’t lose any time. Now there are two more days left which are more open to sprinters than for climbers and therefore I feel more relaxed for the overall, but we will have to remain attentive until Sunday.”

3rd on the stage 4th overall, Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates): “We knew there was a chance it would split up in the crosswind so we were very attentive to that. The guys were in a great position and drove it on putting the other favourites in danger. It was quite hectic so Richeze and the other guys were really helping me, I knew there was a gap at that point but I was thinking more about the stage win. It’s still January so I think my sprint for that kind of finish isn’t quite there yet so all things considered I’m pleased with third.”

Vuelta a San Juan Internacional Stage 5 Result:
1. Miguel Eduardo Florez Lopez (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec in 4:36:23
2. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Team Medellin at 0:02
3. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates
4. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 0:04
5. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
6. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Italy
7. Cesar Paredes (Col) Team Medellin at 0:18
8. Juan Javier Melivilo (Arg) Municipalidad de Pocito at 0:36
9. German Tivani (Arg) Agrupacion Virgin de Fatima-Saddledrunk
10. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar at 1:05.

Vuelta a San Juan Internacional Overall After Stage 5:
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 16:19:05
2. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Italy at 0:33
3. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Team Medellin at 1:01
4. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates at 1:21
5. Miguel Eduardo Florez Lopez (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 2:11
6. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar at 2:27
7. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 2:28
8. Cesar Paredes (Col) Team Medellin at 2:36
9. Gavin Mannion (USA) Rally Cycling at 2:53
10. Juan Pablo Dotti (Arg) SEP de San Juan at 3:05.

San Juan’20 stage 5:

Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) created a thing of beauty on the penultimate Stage 6 of the Argentinean race, which rolled out from the Autodromo Villicum and saw the peloton take on 170 uncomplicated kilometres before returning on the anti-clockwise 4km-long motorsports circuit. The track is a high-speed one featuring 19 bends, and it was on one of these that the 34-year-old Czech sprang out of the pack and put in a huge acceleration, catching the others off guard and opening a hefty gap in the blink of an eye.

This savvy old-school move, which came with just 500 meters to go, left the sprinters’ teams incapable of responding as the first Czech rider in history to win a cobbled classic powered to the finish line, where he held off the charge of Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) and Rudy Barbier (Israel Start Up Nation), thus opening his 2020 account in style.

Stage winner, Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Before the start, we were training here and we thought about doing something different, so in the end we decided to anticipate the sprint. I’m glad that the team had confidence in me and I could pull it off. It’s my first time here in Argentina and at the beginning of the season you never know what your condition is, so this win is really nice and gives me a big morale-boost. Now we have one more stage and we are motivated to end on a high note, trying with Alvaro for the victory and securing Remco’s jersey.”

Overall leader, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “We are glad our plan paid off and we scored another victory. San Juan has been a good race for us so far and we look forward to Sunday, when we hope to bring it home and also to help Alvaro get in the mix for what would be a perfect conclusion.”

2nd on the stage, Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates): “With the rise towards the finish we knew there was the chance of attacks. The team was well positioned for the finish. I knew it would suit me and the legs felt really good today for the sprint but I couldn’t come around Stybar on the line.”

Maximiliano Richeze (UAE Team Emirates): “We had two options going into the final as it was an uphill finish and we knew that there would be attacks. The team was ready for a lead-out with Fernando while Molano was our man to follow the attacks. There was an attack from Stybar and Sebastian did his job well and came close to the win in the end. We will try again for the win tomorrow.”

Vuelta a San Juan Internacional Stage 6 Result:
1. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 3:56:51
2. Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates
3. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start Up Nation
4. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
5. Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (Col) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Nicolas Naranjo (Arg) Agrupacion Virgin de Fatima-Saddledrunk
9. Nelson Soto (Col) Colombia-GW Bicicletas
10. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling.

Vuelta a San Juan Internacional Overall After Stage 6:
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 20:15:56
2. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Italy at 0:33
3. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Team Medellin at 1:01
4. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates at 1:21
5. Miguel Eduardo Florez Lopez (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 2:11
6. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar at 2:27
7. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 2:28
8. Cesar Paredes (Col) Team Medellin at 2:36
9. Gavin Mannion (USA) Rally Cycling at 2:53
10. Juan Pablo Dotti (Arg) SEP de San Juan at 3:05.

San Juan’20 stage 6:

Remco Evenepoel won the final classification in the Vuelta a San Juan on Sunday. The leader of Deceuninck – Quick-Step seized power in the time trial and held it to the end. In the flat Final Stage 7 around San Juan, which was won by Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Evenepoel had no problems.

Of the original leading group of eight, Colin Joyce (Rally) was the last one left. The 25-year-old American had about 1:30 on the peloton when he started the penultimate lap on the San Juan ring road. The sprinter’s teams were already in control. During the stage, the organisation decided to record the times for the general classification after eight of the nine laps. This allowed Remco Evenepoel to celebrate the final victory after 125 kilometres. For the 20-year-old Belgian, it meant his second overall victory in his short career as last year he won the Baloise Belgium Tour.

The sprinters were allowed to play in the final lap of 15.7 kilometers after Joyce was caught. His lead – 20 seconds at the start of the final lap – had quickly disappeared. 12 kilometres before the end a general regrouping followed and the stage was set for Gaviria to take another stage win ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Stage winner, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates): “Today was a short fast stage. Bohli controlled the breakaway from the beginning, as he has done all week. Then the lead-out train came together well in the end and I had really good legs for the sprint so it was the perfect way to finish the week. To start the season like this is great for the team motivation and we hope to continue this way.”

Overall winner, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “First and foremost, I want to thank the entire team, it was a great week and with their help I could have this perfect start to the season, which serves as a big confidence boost. I am proud to win this race and be the youngest rider to sew up the general classification at the Vuelta a San Juan. It’s an amazing place, with superb fans, and it’s always a pleasure to be here, that’s why I hope to return in the future. I always try to be in good shape and give my absolute best, I am always motivated and ready for a new challenge. This is who I am. I am fortunate to have an extraordinary team around me and I want to stay with my feet on the ground and be the same Remco you know.”

2nd on the stage, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was a very fast sprint and, again, thanks to the excellent job of my teammates, I was able to position myself well in the finishing stretch. I think I got the best result I could have achieved today, Gaviria was very strong. Now that the Vuelta a San Juan has come to a close I’d like to thank the organisers and the public for this beautiful week of racing.”

Vuelta a San Juan Internacional Stage 7 Result:
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates in 2:58:03
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (Col) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
4. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
5. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start Up Nation
6. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start Up Nation
7. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Amore e Vita-Prodir
8. Sebastian Mora Vedri (Spa) Movistar
9. Nelson Soto (Col) Colombia-GW Bicicletas
10. Marco Benfatto (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane.

Vuelta a San Juan Internacional Final Overall Result:
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 23:13:59
2. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Italy at 0:33
3. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Team Medellin at 1:01
4. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates at 1:21
5. Miguel Eduardo Florez Lopez (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 2:11
6. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar at 2:27
7. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 2:28
8. Cesar Paredes (Col) Team Medellin at 2:36
9. Gavin Mannion (USA) Rally Cycling at 2:53
10. Juan Pablo Dotti (Arg) SEP de San Juan at 3:05.

San Juan’20 stage 7:

Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise 2020
Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale) has opened the French cycling season with victory in the Grand Prix La Marseillaise. The Frenchman was the best of a leading group of four. He beat Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), Tom Devriendt (Circus-Wanty Gobert) and Jesús Herrada (Cofidis).

The leading group of the day consisted of six riders. They were more than 5 minutes ahead of the peloton, but they couldn’t stay ahead of the peloton in the difficult final phase of the one-day race.

The favourites came forward in the hilly final. Valentin Madouas, Benoît Cosnefroy and Tom Devriendt got together on the final climb of the Col de la Ginestre. Just before the summit (9 kilometres from the finish) they were joined by Jesús Herrada, creating a quartet up front.

The last kilometres were descending towards the line in Marseille. The foursome managed to hold onto the 25 second lead and sprinted in the streets of the coastal town for the win. Cosnefroy proved to be the fastest.

Race winner, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale): “We were always in the right moves. Collectively, we started the race exactly the way we wanted. We were in control. I attacked on the ridge road after Quentin Jaurégui and François Bidard set me up. Behind, the race was really heating up. I knew I had very good legs, and behind us we had Clément Venturini, able to control the situation in the pack. We had a lot of cards to play, so we might as well take the brakes off the race. I was maybe more concerned about Tom Devriendt than anyone. He’s a friend of Oliver’s (Naesen), and I ran into him this winter training in Spain, so I know he has a fast kick. I spent three weeks at a training camp in January, and though my main goals are more in the future, I definitely wanted to win in February. I wanted to start my season, and the team’s season, off well. Now we head to Bessèges where we can also be ambitious.”

3rd, Tom Devriendt (Circus-Wanty Gobert): “The season start voor the team is great! After two good days in Majorca, I was in the mix for the win today. We were still five riders of the team out of 25 on top of the Route des Crêtes. Jérémy Bellicaud and Jan Bakelants immediately started working behind some escaped riders. When I joined them, I saw there was a gap. I closed the gap to the leaders and reacted to an attack of Madouas. With Cosnefroy and Herrada also joining, I believed in the chance of success. My competitors knew that I could be dangerous in a sprint finish and tired me by attacking several times. So I came 3rd after this hard race. We’re motivated to continue our good start at the Etoile de Bessèges next Wednesday!”

Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise Result:
1. Benoît Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale in 3:49:51
2. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3. Tom Devriendt (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
4. Jesús Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
5. Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:17
6. Clément Venturini (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
7. Damien Touzé (Fra) Cofidis
8. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT
10. Anthony Maldonado (Fra) St Michel-Auber93


Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2020
Dries Devenyns proved that age is just a number as he powered to a memorable win at the sixth edition of the Australian race, on the back of a majestic ride that showcased his strength and experience. Usually a world-class team player, Dries saw his opportunity and immediately grabbed it, in the process helping Deceuninck – Quick-Step reach a jaw-dropping milestone of 750 UCI victories since the squad’s inception in 2003.

A brisk start to affairs meant that the peloton broke apart after just a couple of kilometres, with strong crosswinds also playing a role. Deceuninck – Quick-Step were at the right side of this cut and drove the tempo, but despite several teams’ concerted effort, a regrouping took place after 50 kilometres and things calmed down. Eventually, the bunch allowed two riders to go six minutes clear, but that gap didn’t help them too much and they were brought to heel on the penultimate lap of the finishing circuit.

The race was ignited with 26 kilometres to go, when the vicious tempo splintered the pack, leaving just 17 riders at the front. Dries Devenyns was one of them and made the selection when a searing attack, launched the last time up the Challambra Crescent, dislodged the remaining sprinters. Then, on a small climb with five kilometres to go, Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos) executed a late acceleration and put some daylight between him and the others.

Sensing that it was the right moment to go, Dries upped the tempo and bridged across inside the last four kilometres without ever looking back. With the gap between the duo and the chasers sitting at 7 seconds, it was a nail-biting final, and our rider played the scenario perfectly, coming around his opponent just before the last bend and punching clear with the finish line in sight. Beaming with happiness after his maiden World Tour win, Devenyns sat down and analysed Sunday’s 171.7km-long World Tour race.

Race winner, Dries Devenyns (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “It is a very special day for me. I like this race a lot, I like racing in Australia and I’ve always felt good here, so to win it after a couple of good results in the past gives me a huge satisfaction. It’s not only the victory that makes me happy, but also the fact that I could write history today for this amazing team. You could see it was very aggressive from the beginning, when it didn’t take long for the peloton to be in pieces. When this happened, I was at the back but I remained calm, knowing a regrouping should take place, which it did. With two laps to go, the race split again and this time I was at the front. I found myself outnumbered there as some teams had several riders, so more options, but I also knew I had good legs so I kept my confidence, even when they rode hard over the top of the climb. Then, when Sivakov attacked, I decided to go with him and we gave everything, I had no idea how good he was in a sprint, but I pack a good kick and I knew I had my chance, so I gave it my best. At the end of the day, I am happy I could bring it home for the Wolfpack!”

2nd, Pavel Sivakov (Ineos): “I saw everyone was on the limit, and when you’re racing for the win you have to attack. I knew I wasn’t the fastest guy in the group, so I had to try to go away if I wanted to win. I almost did it, I just missed a bit. I’m happy and disappointed at the same time. We didn’t really plan it to go like this but we knew there were some crosswinds from the start. We just wanted to keep it safe, and when all the team were on the front we did some damage. We put everyone under pressure. It was a really tough day throughout the whole race – really full on, stressful and hard for everyone. Then on every lap some guys were getting dropped. In the end it was a select group at the front. I’m happy to come second but a little bit disappointed not to win. It was pretty close but chapeau to Dries. The team was amazing. We were there from start to finish. Of course we wanted to get rid of the sprinters but we knew that the sprinters are some of the best guys in the crosswinds. It was more to make it hard before we came onto the laps, so everyone was tired and we could race aggressively again.”

6th, Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Over the past week, I tried to recover from the injuries I got at the Tour Down Under and today I felt that I had a chance to get a good result. I tried to concentrate on this goal and not let myself be influenced by what happened last week, but ultimately, I didn’t have enough strength left to fight for the victory. I don’t want to use the crash as an excuse, but it has been a tough week. Today the guys supported me well all day and put me in a good position on the final lap, but in the end I wasn’t able to ride right at the front of the race anymore. Of course I’m slightly disappointed with the way things have happened at the start of the season. We’ve had some bad luck here in Australia and that’s why we couldn’t achieve what we had planned.”

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Result:
1. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 4:05:49
2. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos
3. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:04
4. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education First
5. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos
6. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal at 0:25
8. Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain-McLaren
9. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
10. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott.

Cadel Race’20:

Race Torquay 2020
Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) is off to a flying start this season, already having two wins under his belt just ten days since rolling out his campaign in Australia. Most recent came Thursday, at Race Torquay, an event consisting of ten laps of an undulating 13.3km circuit following a clockwise direction.

The same riders who lined out last week for Tour Down Under were again in action for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, who lost Mattia Cattaneo early in the race, following a crash. Fortunately for the Italian, he didn’t sustain any injuries other than just a few grazes and will be at the start line of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, our last appointment in Australia for 2020.

The race was animated by Dries Devenyns, who launched an attack after six laps, being joined by Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), together with whom he worked well together, opening up a gap of 55 seconds which spread some panic in the peloton. Eventually, the sprinters’ teams took the front of the pack and narrowed down the advantage of the escapees, who despite their valiant effort, got pegged back with 15 kilometres to go.

A flurry of attacks on the final lap didn’t change the expected outcome and the first edition of Race Torquay culminated in a bunch gallop dominated by Deceuninck – Quick-Step. Michael Mørkøv delivered again a perfectly executed lead-out, rolling out the red carpet for Irish Champion Sam Bennett, who shot from the peloton and generated a whirring speed which brought him a comfortable win over Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT) and Alberto Dainese (Sunweb).

Race winner, Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “This success makes me very happy and feeds my confidence ahead of Sunday, when I hope to be again up there with a shot at victory. The credit goes to the team, who did again a great job and were always there for me. After an aggressive start, things became pretty controlled, so I asked the guys to make it harder and kick off the race again, and that’s when Dries went and forced the others to chase. It all came together later and I got an armchair ride to the line. I like the course and the length of the race, even though it was harder than advertised, as it has a bit of everything for everyone, and winning this event after being elevated to UCI status gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

Race Torquay Result:
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 3:01:26
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT
3. Alberto Dainese (Ita) Sunweb
4. Kaden Groves (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
5. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
6. Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
8. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
10. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis.

Torquay’20 with Mitchelton-Scott:

Mallorca Challenge 2020
Trofeo Ses Salines – Felanitx 2020
Trek-Segafredo kicked off their European season with the same class as Down Under as young Italian sprinter Matteo Moschetti exploited flawless teamwork to win the first day of the four-day Challenge Mallorca on Thursday. The Trofeo Felanitx, Ses Salines, Campos, Porreres expected to finish in a bunch sprint, and with noted sprinter Pascal Ackermann amongst other distinguished fast men in the field, it was going to be a big challenge for Trek-Segafredo and their budding sprinter.

The team took an early initiative in the 170-kilometre race with another new face to the team this year, Alexander Kamp, putting in some hard miles in keeping the breakaway in check. Trek-Segafredo had Moschetti, but they also had another proven finisher in Jasper Stuyven.

The team’s plan was two-fold: Stuyven would go for a late flyer with Moschetti ready for the sprint if that did not pan-out, but when the race wound up in the final kilometres, Stuyven, instead, was prominent on the front. The team made the tricky finish smooth for Moschetti, leading the young Italian fast man through a roundabout and last two corners.

Race winner, Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo): “Alexander Kamp did a real good job to control the race, and then, in the end, all the guys were amazing. They started with (Alex) Kirsch, (Quinn) Simmons, Ryan (Mullen), Jasper (Stuyven), and then Emils (Liepins) was a perfect lead-out. The victory of today, I have to say thank you to all the guys because they were perfect, and I just finalised their work. The final was tricky with the two last corners, and also the roundabout, but like I said, the guys did a perfect job – really perfect. We are a strong team, and today we proved this. To start the season with a win means a lot for me because last year it was not easy. I had two bad crashes, so I want to prove, first to myself, and then to all the people that I am at a good level and I can win some races, so… I am really happy. I am confident for Sunday, but now I would like to enjoy this victory with my teammates, my family, and all my friends.”

2nd, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was really difficult today to get the positioning right in the finale. It was quite nervous and in the end it was not enough to take the win. My legs were ok, but it is always hard in the first race to get back to this racing rhythm. For sure my sprint was not optimal today, but there is another chance for me here in Mallorca on Sunday.”

5th, Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert): “The first races of the season are always nervous, making it difficult to achieve a good sprint result. Another rider touched my front wheel during the final 5 kilometre, breaking three spokes. I succeeded to go through the last corner in the wheel of Pascal Ackermann and to finish 5th despite the mechanical. I’m satisfied with this top 5. There will be a lot more chances to do better this season, next Sunday for example. A good start is important for a team and for a rider, to get a confirmation about the efficiency of the hard work during the winter.”

Trofeo Ses Salines – Felanitx Result:
1. Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 3:41:29
2. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
4. Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
5. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Circus-Wanty Gobert
6. Emils Liepins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
7. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start Up Nation
8. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
9. Manuel Peñalver Aniorte (Spa) Burgos-BH
10. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo.


Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana: Soller – Deia 2020
After a first day for the sprinters, the second day of the Mallorca Challenge was leading the peloton for a first time into the mountains. An early break was caught on the climb up the Puig Major, where Lennard Kämna was the first to show the Bora-Hansgrohe colours at the head of the race. When Kämna was caught after being 20 kilometres in front, it was Emanuel Buchmann who launched an attack from the new leading quartet to ride to an impressive solo victory in Deja. At the first victory of the season for Bora-Hansgrohe, Gregor Mühlberger took third place in the sprint of the chasing group.

Race winner, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Big thanks to the team. We rode an offensive race and put a lot of pressure to the other teams. I just had to attack at the right moment to finish off all the work from our guys. My legs have been good, but I was surprised that on the final climb nobody was able to bridge across. My training went well the last weeks, but I didn’t expect to able to fight for the win here. Of course this result is a huge boost to the whole team and we look confidently forward to the next races now.”

Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana: Soller – Deia Result:
1. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe in 3:55:53
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:38
3. Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Diego Rosa (Ita) Arkea-Samsic
5. Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
7. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion-Orbea
9. Márton Dina (Hun) Kometa Xstra
10. Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal.


Trofeo Pollença – Port d’Andratx 2020
Marc Soler (Movistar) claims Movistar Team’s first 2020 win in Mallorca. Catalan completes 70km breakaway against big rivals, beats Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) into tough final slopes in Port d’Andratx; Blues with a double podium as Davide Villella takes 3rd. A sound display, yet another one in the last few years, of top class rewarded Marc Soler on Saturday with the second win of his career and the Blues’ maiden victory in 2020 at the Trofeo Pollença – Port d’Andratx (168km), crowning a long breakaway – one of his signature moves – with a solo victory in his first multi-day competition of the year.

More than three years after his first pro success at the 2016 Route du Sud, Soler rose his arms victorious again after creating, at the slopes of the Coll d’en Bleda (Cat-2), more than 70km away from the finish, a breakaway of nearly twenty riders which he initiated with a move alongside Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe). The group, which saw its advantage shrink and expand, rising to three minutes and later dropping to 50 seconds as Kometa and Burgos drove the pursuit, ended up taking the better from the bunch. A series of attacks by Bora with about 25km left saw Soler further away from the break with Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe). Meanwhile, the Catalan’s team-mate Davide Villella, also part of the initial move, kept all counter attacks in check into a six-man pursuit.

At the Mon Port area, over the decisive, 2km climb with slopes up to 20%, Soler left Mühlberger behind with a sharp acceleration, and was able to celebrate while Villella claimed a fine podium finish (3rd) and Valverde led the main group home in 10th place. An excellent icing on top of a solid 2020 Challenge so far for the Movistar Team, the opening Spanish event of the season coming to its close on Sunday with the sprint at Palma’s Paseo Marítimo (159km).

Race winner, Marc Soler (Movistar): “I’m so happy with this first victory of the year, both for the team and myself. It was such a hard day, a very chaotic race and one where we all struggled a lot, yet with a great ending for us. At the descent of the Puigmajor, where Buchmann left us behind yesterday, the peloton split and we were ahead with a gap. At the Bleda climb there were some attacks which helped form that twenty-rider group from which we went to chase the victory. It was a tough course, with lots of ups and downs, and so the breakaway got selected one rider at a time, rather than real splits. At some point, Mühlberger and I could open that gap ahead of the riders still resisting, and we soon found great cooperation. My team-mates and I came here to train near Andratx a couple of days ago, and so I knew the final climb more or less – I knew where I wanted to attack in case I had the legs to do so, and fortunately, I could finish it off. We’re happy to see things going this well in Mallorca, with Alejandro’s podium finish yesterday and my win plus Davide’s 3rd here today. Now it’s on to Valencia next week – we’ll be tackling a similar finish to today’s, though on a longer climb, in Bernia next Saturday. Let’s see if we can do well also there.”

2nd, Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Our goal was to avoid coming into the final climb together with Valverde today. Therefore, Lennard and I attacked relatively early, while Emu and Rafal stayed with him. We were in a comfortable position when Lennard attacked. But I have to say that after racing already the third day in a row, I was not really fresh enough anymore. I followed Soler in a counter, which proved to be decisive. At the end I gave it my all, but I didn’t have enough power left and Marc was stronger in the final stretch today. Still, with another podium result but also how we rode today, we can be very satisfied.”

Trofeo Pollença – Port d’Andratx Result:
1. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar in 4:17:56
2. Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:11
3. Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar at 1:04
4. Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Diego Rosa (Ita) Arkea-Samsic at 1:10
6. Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal at 1:22
7. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion Euskadi-Orbea at 1:39
8. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert at 1:40
9. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 2:55
10. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 2:57.

Port d’Andratx’20

Trofeo de Palma – Playa de Palma 2020
Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) started the new cycling season very well. The Italian sprinter won the Trofeo Ses Salines-Felanitx a few days ago, but on Sunday he was also the fastest in the Trofeo Palma. Moschetti once again defeated Pascal Ackermann with Andrea Pasqualon in third.

After victories by Matteo Moschetti, Emanuel Buchmann and Marc Soler, it was time for the fourth and final round: the Trofeo Palma. In this sprinters race everyone was looking to Moschetti, Ackermann, Jon Aberasturi and Bram Welten for the win.

Brian van Goethem, Lluis Mas and Álvaro Cuadros were in the lead for a long time, but Trek-Segafredo and Bora-Hansgrohe – the teams of Moschetti and Ackermann – had no intention of giving the escapees a lot of room. With 40 kilometres to go, the lead of Van Goethem, Mas and Cuadros had shrunk to a minute.

A bunch sprint was the expected finish, but in the finalé eight riders tried to surprise the sprinter’s teams. Loïc Vliegen (6th in the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana and 8th in the Trofeo Ses Salines-Felanitx), Jasper Stuyven and Jempy Drucker were on the attack, but there was still a bunch sprint in the streets of Palma a few kilometres later.

The 23-year-old Moschetti once again proved to be the fastest sprinter, ahead of Ackermann and Pasqualon. This is the fourth victory for Trek-Segafredo in 2020, including Richie Porte’s success in the Tour Down Under.

2nd, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Segafredo): “First of all, thanks to the whole team for supporting me really well. Everything went perfect until the last kilometre. Our lead-out was strong, but we hit the front a little too early and I launched my sprint simply from too far away. Moschetti took advantage of that and passed me on the last 100m. Credit to him, he did everything right. We still have some homework to do but there are plenty of opportunities ahead of us.”

3rd, Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert): “I have a good week in Majorca behind the back, with a 3rd and 5th place and two good training days working for Loïc Vliegen. Vliegen in turn, helped me today after his breakaway in the final. He protected me and guided me to the slipstream of Moschetti, so I could sprint to 3rd place. This week I learned that my form is good, so I can keep on working the same way next week during my training camp in Girona, before attacking a busy race programme!”

Trofeo de Palma – Playa de Palma Result:
1. Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 3:46:29
2. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Circus-Wanty Gobert
4. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5. Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal
6. Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Juan Jose Lobato del Valle (Spa) Fundacion-Orbea
8. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Emils Liepins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
10. Giovanni Lonardi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane.


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UAE Team Emirates Set for the Inaugural Saudi Tour
Mix of youth and experience for first Saudi Arabian race.

UAE Team Emirates have confirmed their team for the Saudi Tour (2.1) with young debutants and veterans in equal mix in the squad. Leadership will rest in the hands of Rui Costa with Valerio Conti also set to be dangerous when the road peaks upwards. Meanwhile Alessandro Covi will make his debut in UAE colours.

The new stage race will comprise of 755km of racing over five stages running from Feb.4 to Feb.8. The start-list will feature 18 teams from 13 countries and will mainly be focused around the capital city of Riyadh. The open and rolling roads are set to favour the punchers and classics riders with the possibility of crosswinds on several stages.

Sports Directors Marco Marzano (Ita) and Andrej Hauptmann (Slo) will lead the following 6 riders in Saudi Arabia:
Valerio Conti (Ita)
Alessandro Covi (Ita)
Rui Costa (Por)
Marco Marcato (Ita)
Yousif Mirza (UAE)
Ivo Oliveira (Por)

Rui Costa: “We expect a top quality field there in Saudi Arabia. It’s the first edition of the race and shows the big expansion of cycling in the middle east. I’ve been training at altitude for the past two weeks in Sierra Nevada, Spain and my condition is quite good. I’m very excited to start my season.”

Lineup: Saudi Tour
The inaugural Saudi Tour gets underway on Tuesday in Riyadh, spanning five stages, and will provide the opportunity for two debutants to make their first outing for NTT Pro Cycling.

Our seven-rider lineup features the exciting Italian youngster Matteo Sobrero, who makes his bow having stepped up from our UCI Continental team while Carlos Barbero, who joined at the start of 2020 from Movistar, will showcase his wealth of experience and finishing power for a first time in NTT colours.

They’re joined by the uber-experienced and motivated duo of Roman Kreuziger and Enrico Gasparotto who will play leading roles in guiding the team over the course of the race. Barbero’s horsepower will be complemented by South Africa’s Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, who misses the SA National Championships in order to support his teammates at this event.

The USA’s Ben King and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier from Eritrea round out the selection, and will be looking at playing not only crucial supporting roles but both have the experience to grab any opportunity that they may arise.

To Watch
The organisers say “the route aims to highlight the cultural history and the modernity of the Kingdom, outlined by its sporting facilities” and those who watched the recently completed Dakar Rally will note some familiar sites and terrain.

The fast men will have their opportunities but highlights include the uphill finish at Jaww on stage one, possibilities of echelons on stage two while stage three is arguably the race’s hardest day out as it finishes in Al Bujairi. The fifth and final stage ends at the Masmak fort having traveled through downtown Riyadh.

Throughout the race, the opportunity to secure crucial time bonuses could play a deciding factor in the final result which will ensure exciting racing every day.

Carlos Barbero: “I’m delighted to finally get my season underway with NTT Pro Cycling. We’ve worked really hard in our two training camps and now I just want to compete, help the team wherever is needed and take any opportunities that present themselves for me; so I’m hoping for a great week!”

Enrico Gasparotto: “It’s a new race so it’s going to be a new experience for everybody, as nobody can claim to know the route at all. I think it’s going to be pretty interesting, a fast race with the forecast for the next few days for fairly strong winds, so I expect that it’s going to be a fight for echelons and a fight for bonus seconds. For many guys it’s the first race of the year so let’s see how it goes, we will never give up, that’s for sure. we have two fast guys that can survive the punchy climbs – Reinie and Carlos – who are our arrows; our motto is “one team” and we will do everything to support them.”

Polish Champion Paluta Ready For His CCC Team Debut
Polish road race champion Michał Paluta will make his CCC Team debut at Etoile de Bessèges, the five-stage race commencing on 5 February.

With a solid roster, including sprinters Jakub Mareczko and Jonas Koch, and two Polish debutants, Kamil Małecki and Paluta, the team will aim for a strong start to the season, Sports Director Fabio Baldato, who won this race in 2003, said.

“When you look at the route of Etoile de Bessèges, you will see that our fastest guys, Mareczko and Koch, will definitely have the opportunity to show off. That’s why we are bringing a young but experienced squad to support our sprinters from the first to the last kilometres. As well as looking for success, we also would like to see what shape they are in at the beginning of the season. The last stage is an individual time trial, so here we are counting on Kamil Gradek, who is a solid time trialist. Even though this stage finishes on a climb, which is usually demanding for Kamil, I am sure that he can perform well as he is in good shape.”

“This will be also a special race for us as we have two debutants, Małecki and Polish champion Paluta. Both riders are extremely motivated and they are looking forward to starting their journey at the WorldTour level. Etoile de Bessèges is a perfect race to start with and I’m sure that they’ll perform well.”

After a busy off season, including January’s training camp in Denia, Paluta is excited to make his debut after stepping up from CCC Development Team.

“It’s almost the same feeling I’m used to having every season, before the first races. But this time, it’s a bit different. First of all, I’m interested to see how my legs will react, whether the work I’ve done during the off season period will bring the intended results. In addition, this will be my first season in the WorldTeam and this gives me a lot of motivation. I’m trying to stay calm and do my best to be prepared for racing. We have a strong roster for this race, so we will definitely try to fight for stage wins. I want to check my legs and do everything for my teammates, so one of them could raise their hands at the finish line. And of course, I also want to show what I can do as well,” Paluta explained.

“The route is varied and the race is often accompanied by difficult weather conditions, so this can also affect the way the stages are raced. The final time trial will be a great test of how our bodies will react after a few days of regular racing. I’m really looking forward to the start of the season in new but “’old’ colours.”

Etoile de Bessèges (5 – 9 February)
Rider roster:

Kamil Gradek (POL), Jonas Koch (GER), Kamil Małecki (POL), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Michał Paluta (POL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Georg Zimmermann (GER).

Polish road race champion Michał Paluta:

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UAE Team Emirates’ begin European season in Vuelta Valenciana Spanish stage race key early calendar tester
With Fernando Gaviria having claimed the first wins of 2020 for UAE Team Emirates in Vuelta San Juan, attention will soon turn to Europe where the team will begin their season at the Vuelta Valenciana (2.1) in Spain.

The race will run from 5-9 February starting in Castellón before finishing on the final day in the centre of Valencia.

With such a balanced team the aim will be to seek opportunities both in the hills with the group of strong climbers as well as in the sprints with Alexander Kristoff.

Sports Director Neil Stephens (Aus) is based in Spain and knows the Valencia region well, he will lead the following riders:

-Tadej Pogačar (Slo)
-Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
-Joe Dombrowski (USA)
-David de la Cruz (Spa)
-Eduard Ravasi (Ita)
-Jan Polanc (Slo)

Neil Stephens: “All of the boys have trained well and are in great shape. This will be the first race for all of them, so we may be lacking a bit on race kilometres. We are looking forward to some hard racing to get in to top shape for the important races that are soon on our calendar.”

Tadej Pogačar: “I’m looking forward to starting the season in Valenciana. I’m coming into the race after 3 weeks training at altitude and it went really well. Some of the stages here should suit my characteristics and the goal will be to get the race feeling back in the legs.This race will serve as good preparation for the first big goal of the year which is the UAE Tour.”

Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Dutch Champion Fabio Jakobsen will roll out his season at the Spanish race.

Known in its early years as Vuelta a Levante, Vuelta a Valencia or Vuelta a las Tres Provincias, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana will run its 71st edition this year, one that will mark Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s first outing of the season in Europe. Three flat stages, one for the puncheurs and another one putting on the table four classified climbs, including a summit finish to Sierra de Bernia, promise to deliver plenty of excitement this week.

One of the standout sprinters of last year, just his second season in the pro ranks, Fabio Jakobsen will kick off his campaign at the Spanish race, where the Dutch Champion will count on a strong team ready to control the race and put him in a good position on the final straight, where he’ll look to enhance his palmares, which counts 14 victories so far. Fellow Vuelta a España stage winner Rémi Cavagna, Tim Declercq, James Knox, 2018 Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert, together with new recruits Davide Ballerini and Stijn Steels, will be the ones joining Jakobsen at the start.

“All the guys present in Valencia will kick off their season there after three training camps. We have two new riders on the team and we are eager to see them in action: Stijn, who will control the race together with Tim and maybe also Rémi, and Davide, who together with Yves will be part of Fabio’s sprint train. We’ll try to win a stage with him, but with two uphill finishes, one of which is very steep, we will be looking to see also the condition of James, and why not, maybe go for a good general classification”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels.

05.02–09.02 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (ESP) 2.Pro

Davide Ballerini (ITA), Rémi Cavagna (FRA), Tim Declercq (BEL), Fabio Jakobsen (NED), James Knox (GBR), Yves Lampaert (BEL).
Stijn Steels (BEL)
Sports Director: Brian Holm (DEN) and Tom Steels (BEL).

Fabio Jakobsen:

Van Avermaet and Trentin to Make 2020 Season Debut at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin will make their 2020 season debut at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana next week (5 – 9 February) with the pair, who both secured stage wins at last year’s edition of the race, headlining CCC Team’s rider roster in Spain.

Sports Director Valerio Piva said that CCC Team is lining up with a strong and motivated group of riders that has had success at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana previously. “The first race of the season is always a test to see where everyone is and what their condition is like. The parcours is a bit different this year and it has a very difficult mountain stage, the final climb of which we have been able to recon at training camp. This is definitely where the General Classification will be won. I think Greg and Matteo, who both won stages here last year, will be our two biggest cards to play and I think we can use the strengths of both riders on the different stages. Overall, we can be confident with the riders we have on the start line. This will also be the first time that the core members of our Classics group race together so we also want to use this opportunity to test how they can work with one another, which will be important as we look ahead to the bigger objectives that we have this season,” Piva explained.

Van Avermaet is happy to return to Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana for a fourth consecutive year and will be looking to test his early-season form. “It is always nice to line up at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana because we are already here for our training camp and we know the region and the roads well. Last year, I was able to win a stage here so, it is always good to go back to a place where you have won before and I think it is one of the best races to start the season in Europe. We are all motivated and, as always, we will try to race to win but even though that is important, the main goal will be to test my shape and to see where we all are after the winter,” Van Avermaet said.

“This year’s stages are not completely in my favour with some sprint stages and one really hard stage but we will try to do our best and hopefully I can be up there and get close to the victory on one stage. Our Classics group knows each other really well and it’s just Matteo joining us this year but obviously he is a strong rider and a good addition to our group so it will also be good to start working with him early in the season and see what we can do together.”

Trentin is motivated about lining up in CCC Team colours for the first time at the five-day stage race. “I am really looking forward to making my debut with the team and I can’t wait to show off my new orange jersey. Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana is always a good way to start the season as there is a little bit of everything. Although there won’t be a time trial this year, there is still a couple of hard stages, a couple of sprint stages and a middle mountain stage so it is a good race to get back into the swing of racing. I won a stage of this race last year so, if I can try and do that again it would be perfect but, the main goal is definitely to make myself feel like a bike racer again because training is always different from racing. I want to get back into the rhythm of things at this race and start working with my new teammates because, for me, the most important thing will be to create a nice group atmosphere that will allow us to work towards the biggest goals of the season,” Trentin explained.

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (5 – 9 February)
Rider roster:

Víctor de la Parte (ESP), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Piotr Wadecki (POL).

Greg Van Avermaet training in Spain:

The Kometa-Xstra Tour of the Valencian Community
71ª Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana From 5 to 9 February

The traditional start of the continental team of the Alberto Contador Foundation in its first two seasons of existence, the debut in the Challenge of Mallorca has turned the Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana into the second competitive commitment of the Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team in 2020. And therefore, consequently, an appointment to which the team arrives with an always important rate of competition.

Vasil Kiryienka to Retire
Vasil Kiryienka has today announced his retirement from professional cycling, following medical advice regarding a cardiac issue.

The 38 year-old Belarusian, who joined the team in 2013, missed the start of last season owing to a cardiac anomaly, only to return to competitive racing at the Tour de Romandie in 2019 – the team’s first race as Team INEOS.

He went on to enjoy success at the European Games time trial in his home country of Belarus, before rounding off the year at the Vuelta a Espana, his 11th and final Grand Tour race with the team.

Kiryienka said: “It’s a really sad day for me, but it’s the right decision based on the advice I’ve been given by the medical team. I’ve had a wonderful career and enjoyed every minute racing with this team. It’s been an incredible journey and I am so grateful for all the support I’ve received throughout my whole career.”

A hugely experienced rider and well respected amongst his peers, Kiry’s record speaks for itself with five team successes in his 20 Grand Tour appearances, a 2013 Vuelta a Espana stage victory and three Giro d’Italia stage wins, including a famous solo win to Sestriere in 2011.

The Belarusian also won the individual Time Trial at the World Championships in 2015 and has recorded overall victories at Route du Sud (2011), Chrono des Nations (2015, 2016) and GP Citta di Camaiore (2008).

Team Principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, added: “It is disappointing for Kiry and for us as a team. He is a true one-off and one of the greatest team riders of his generation. When a rider in a breakaway looked back and saw the open shirted Kiry on the front of the peloton driving the chase they knew their days were numbered. He had a unique hallmark style of maintaining a rock solid upper body whilst generating enormous power, hour after hour. The only thing that changed during his metronomic efforts was his grimace would grow as he dug to the very depths of his energy giving his all to the team, day after day. We have been lucky to have him ride with us over the last seven years and are proud to have supported him to some incredible victories: the time trial rainbow bands, his breakaway win at the Vuelta and all of his TT victories in our colours. While this is a tough decision to take it is obviously the right one and we support him fully in it. We wish him every success and the team will continue to support him in the future.”

Axel Domont Fractures his Hip Joint
Axel Domont crashed at the Race Torquay (Australia) on Thursday. He suffered a non-displaced fracture of the socket portion of the right hip joint (acetabulum), Doctor Eric Bouvat, head doctor of the AG2R-La Mondiale team, explained. He will be flown back to France in the coming days. He will be unavailable to race for several weeks.


World-class triathlete Cameron Wurf joins Team INEOS
Team INEOS can confirm the signing of world-class triathlete Cameron Wurf, who will make his debut in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Sunday.

The world-record holder of the bike leg in the Ironman World Championships, Wurf will fill the vacant spot on the Team’s roster following the forced early retirement of Vasil Kiryienka. He will be ready to race for the Team across the first part of the season, before his focus switches back to Ironman in the months leading up to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in October.

Coached by Tim Kerrison, Team INEOS’ Head Coach, Wurf is targeting an improvement to his fifth place finish last year. The Australian is on an upward trajectory in the discipline, having finished 17th (2017), ninth (2018) and fifth (2019) in Kona.

Wurf, 36, started his sporting career as a rower and competed for Australia at the 2004 Olympics. He transitioned to professional cycling and rode at WorldTour level for Fuji Servetto (2009), Liquigas (2011) and Cannondale (2013-14), before taking up Ironman in 2016. He has been coached by Kerrison since 2017.

Wurf first trained with the Team in early 2017 and is renowned as one of the hardest trainers in sport. He has become a regular training partner for the Team’s riders, particularly Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Pavel Sivakov.

Wurf said: “We’ve tried a number of different approaches to my training and racing over the past few years and I’ve been getting better and faster as a result. This is an evolution of that approach. Since I’ve been competing in Ironman, everyone has started riding a lot faster, but they’re also still running just as fast. This move will allow me to stay on the front foot because the bike is my strongest discipline. I’m focused on Kona in October but there’s also an opportunity to be of use to the Team when needed before that. I know lots of people in the team and have trained with many of the riders, and I feel like I fit in with the culture here. This is an organisation I’ve dreamt of being part of since it started and it’s amazing to officially pull on the colours. I am really excited and proud to represent Team INEOS.”

Kerrison said: “Cameron will be joining the Team to continue to pursue his Ironman career. The combination of his physical strength and versatility on the bike, his flexible schedule, and past experience racing at WorldTour level makes this an interesting and unique proposition for the Team and for Cameron. For the first part of the season he will be always ready and available to race as required, while for the months leading into Kona his focus will shift back to Ironman, with the aim of improving on last year’s fifth place with the full support of the Team. For the past three years he has been supported by many of our main sponsors – Pinarello, Kask, Castelli, Fizik, and often trained with our riders. He has developed into one of the top performing and most consistent Ironman triathletes in the world.”

Cameron Wurf:

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