EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!
The weekend cycling news
All the action from the Tour de Romandie, the Vuelta Asturias and the GP Vorarlberg with results and video. Cyrille Guimard thinks Tadej Pogačar is better than Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx – TOP STORY. Teams for the Volta ao Algarve. Rider news: Chris Froome realises his recovery wont be overnight, Vincenzo Nibali to decide on the Giro, Kasper Asgreen extends with Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Yesid Pira to Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Atsushi Oka suspended for doping. Bahrain Victorious to wear Alé clothing. Monday EUROTRASH coffee time!
TOP STORY: Guimard Thinks Pogacar is Better than Hinault and Merckx
“Is Tadej Pogačar of the same caliber as Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx? Given what he has already achieved, I would even say that he is above them.” According to former sports director and former national French coach, Cyrille Guimard, in his column for Cyclism’Actu.
The 74-year-old Guimard, who won several stages in the Tour and guided Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon. Greg Lemond and many others to victories as a sports director, has no doubts to compare Pogačar with the greatest riders in history. “One of the things that struck me about Pogačar is that he seems like he is always riding his bike easily, whatever the circumstances. You never see him struggling.”
“Even when it goes full gas, it seems like it takes no effort. It’s all so smooth and easy. It’s actually fun to watch. We had Hinault, Merckx… Is he of the same caliber as these legends? In fact, given what he has accomplished, I would say he is above them. He is only 22 years old and has already won the Tour de France and Liège-Bastogne-Liège and at the age of 20 he was already third in the Vuelta a España, where he won three stages,” said the Frenchman.
However, according to him it is too early to say that Pogačar is the best rider in the world. “For that we have to wait for the return of Remco Evenepoel after his fall in the Tour of Lombardy last year. We must not forget that Evenepoel was unbeaten before that. He had won all the races he participated in. So let’s wait and see if Evenepoel returns to his best level. And if he returns to his best level, who can beat him?”
“He has the qualities in climbing and time trial…” Guimard continues. “But he has difficulty descending and I don’t think his fall in the Tour of Lombardy will help. But when he learns to descend and that is no longer his weakness, it becomes difficult to beat him. So Tadej Pogačar or Remco Evenepoel? We still have to wait. And let’s not write off Egan Bernal either.”
Guimard also has an eye on Tom Pidcock’s meteoric rise. According to the former sports director, the British rider can win several grand tours. “Why not? Let’s not forget that he is only 21 and has already built up quite a track record. He won Paris-Roubaix in the juniors and in the U23, which shows all the talent of this rider, but he also won the Giro d’Italia for the U23 by dropping everyone.”
“He is also a boy who comes right behind Van Aert and Van der Poel in cyclocross. He can do almost anything, now he even goes mountain biking for fun. The problem today is that the competition in the grand tours consists of Bernal, Pogačar and Evenepoel, who are also all very young. There are several guys from the same generation who can all win the Tour in the next ten years.”
Cyrille Guimard knows his stuff:
Tour de Romandie 2021
Sonny Colbrelli took his first win of 2021. The Bahrain Victorious rider was the fastest from a thinned group in a stage over six climbs. The Italian finished ahead of Patrick Bevin and Marc Hirschi. Rohan Dennis held the overall lead.
The peloton split on the first climb of the day, the 4 kilometre long Préles. On the flanks of this climb, several riders tried to jump away from the large group. Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain Victorious), Chris Hamilton (DSM), Davide Villella (Movistar), Rein Taaramaë (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Antwan Tolhoek (Jumbo-Visma) and Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-Nippo) escaped. These six managed to extend their lead to 3 minutes on the climbs of Chaumont (3.4km at 6.8%) and Les Bugnegets (6.4km at 5.3%). The peloton to increase the pace, so that the difference to the break on the run-up to the toughest climbs became smaller and smaller. After a second passage of the finish after 117 kilometres, the escape started on Les Pontins (4.1km at 8.4%), the fifth of six climbs. Taaramäe decided to accelerate in Saint-Imier and started the penultimate climb of the day with a small lead. The Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert rider had the peloton on his neck. At the foot, the lead had dropped to 1:30.
On the climb, INEOS Grenadiers decided to slow down. Taaramäe was not seen as a threat to the general classification and was given some more breathing space. The Estonian rode well to the top of Les Pontins and started the descent towards La Vue-des-Alpes, half a minute ahead of the others. Taaramäe didn’t look back and rode on to the 1,283 metre high La Vue-des-Alpes. At the bottom of the climb, he had a 1:30, but he was being hunted down. Four kilometres from the summit he was caught. The group of favourites had thinned out, but there was still no real selection. That only came after an acceleration from Sepp Kuss and Michael Woods, but leader Dennis was worth his weight in gold again for Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte. The Australian managed to catch all the breaks and then took care of the lead work, preventing further attacks.
With Dennis, Thomas and Porte on the front, a favourite group of about 30 men started the descent from La Vue-des-Alpes. Most of the fast-finishers had already been dropped, but Diego Ulissi, Patrick Bevin and a strong Sonny Colbrelli managed to hang on and had an excellent chance of winning the stage. Dennis and Hermann Pernsteiner kept the race together. The Austrian climber had been in the early breakaway, but had to do the work for his teammate Colbrelli in the last kilometres. With 2 kilometres to go, Ben O’Connor tried to surprise things, but the Australian was soon called back to order by Dennis, with Thomas on his the wheel. Then it was up to Damiano Caruso to pilot his teammate Colbrelli in the last hundreds of metres. Colbrelli, who was second in stage 1, started the sprint early. Bevin came up a lot in the last meters, but Colbrelli needed an ultimate jump to keep the New Zealander at bay.
Stage winner and 5th overall, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious): “I’m very happy, yesterday I was second and very close. Today it was a super team and a super lead out with Jack and Damiano and a super sprint. I’m very happy!”
Overall leader, Rohan Dennis (INEOS Grenadiers): “The team got no help from anybody else but we did a perfect job. There were a few people who wanted to have a bit of a crack on the final climb and we just controlled that. We put ourselves at the front to make nobody really want to do anything on the final descent to the finish. With three of us at the front they can tell I’m happy to sacrifice myself. On the slight downhill it’s quite fast and I don’t think anybody in their right mind would say they are going to go too far (off the front). So save their energy for another day. Tomorrow is another solid day and then Saturday is the queen stage and I’m sure there will be a lot of fireworks up there.”
3rd on the stage, 6th overall and best young rider, Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates): “The pace was hard today since the first climb of the day. It was up and down with rain which made it tough. On the final climb it was quite windy which made it tricky for any attacks to stick. Coming into the line we knew that a lot of the best sprinters were dropped but there was still a couple of really fast guys there, so 3rd was my best outcome and I’m pleased I could keep the white jersey and move up the GC.”
4th on the stage, Clément Champoussin (AG2R Citroën): “The stage was difficult and exhausting, with 3200 meters of climbing plus the rain. We ended up being a group of about 36 riders in the end, and so we were careful always to be well placed. I am not a pure sprinter, but I made the effort and it ended well. I went several weeks without racing between the Volta Ciclista Catalunya and Flèche Wallonne. I am still missing a little of the race rhythm, but it’ll come back. Saturday, the big mountain stage will be a good test before focusing on the Giro.”
6th on the stage and 9th overall, Wilco Kelderman (BORA-hansgrohe): “It wasn’t an easy day, with those climbs but I stayed in the front group and had a good finale. I tried to sprint, I gave it my all but I don’t have sprint legs. Sixth was probably the best I could achieve but it was a good result. We’ll take our chances in the next stages and see what we can achieve.”
Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “This morning I already knew that I would try to join the early breakaway. But that was far from easy. In the beginning we didn’t get much space and we all suffered to keep the advantage on the peloton as big as possible. Once we were definitely ahead, I started collecting KOM points. Davide Villella (Movistar) had the same plan but he weakened as the stage went on. Just like the other riders in our group. That’s why I went solo with still fifty kilometres to go. Some riders started playing tactical games and I don’t like those. Unfortunately I had the wind against me. Then it is almost impossible to stay ahead on your own. If I feel as good as today in Saturday’s queen stage, taking the mountain jersey might be possible.”
Tour de Romandie Stage 2 Result:
1. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious in 4:21:42
2. Patrick Bevin (NZ) Israel Start-up Nation
3. Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
4. Clément Champoussin (Fra) AG2R Citroën
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe
7. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) DSM
8. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
10. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar.
Tour de Romandie Overall After Stage 2:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) INEOS Grenadiers in 8:39:48
2. Patrick Bevin (NZ) Israel Start-up Nation at 0:08
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:09
4. Richie Porte (Aus) INEOS Grenadiers
5. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
6. Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates at 0:11
7. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis at 0:14
8. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:15
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) BORA-Hansgrohe at 0:16
10. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) DSM.
Romandie stage 2:
Marc Soler won Stage 3 of the Tour de Romandie in Estavayer. The Spaniard crossed the line solo, after riding away from the favourites group 10 kilometres from the finish. He also took the overall lead from Rohan Dennis, who crashed in the finalé.
After 30 kilometres the break of the day formed as seven riders got together in the wet weather. Sander Armée, Kobe Goossens, Stefan Küng, Johan Jacobs, Stefan Bissegger, Mathias Reutimann and Charlie Quartermann. In the run-up to the three local circuits around Estavayer, their lead grew to 4 minutes, but once on the climbs of Châbles and Les Granges the difference narrowed. INEOS Grenadiers, the team of yellow jersey wearer Rohan Dennis, had the break under control. On the second lap, Armée ran into problems and had to let the break go. Quartermann and Reutimann were also dropped, while Küng, Jacobs, Goossens and Bissegger only had 1 minute in hand. The foursome managed to extend their lead to more than 2:30 after the second passage of Les Granges with a lap of 34.5 kilometres over the two climbs to the finish line. Bahrain Victorious and BORA-hansgrohe, the teams of Sonny Colbrelli and Peter Sagan, also came to the front of the peloton.
On the run-up to the last climb of Châbles, the peloton increased the pace, reducing the difference with the leading group to half a minute at the foot. Küng did not want to let himself be caught and accelerated when the road started to climb. Only Goossens could stay with the Swiss champion. On the descent, Küng crashed spectacularly when he slid on the white lines on the soaking wet roads. His champion jersey was torn, but luckily he was able to continue. However, he had lost contact with Goossens who then started the last climb of the day, Les Granges with 30 seconds lead. Michael Woods and Ion Izagirre started the action in the peloton, after which Sepp Kuss also attacked. The lead of the Belgian disappeared and with 10 kilometres to go, the race was all together. Rohan Dennis, the wearer of the yellow jersey, crashed and sustained a major scrape on his upper leg.
Just after Goossens was caught, Marc Soler attacked the reduced peloton. The Movistar rider was 23rd overall after three days, 27 seconds down on Dennis. Soler brought home the victory. 22 seconds later Magnus Cort won the sprint from the group, ahead of Sonny Colbrelli, Gorka Izagirre, Diego Ulissi and Ilan Van Wilder. Thanks to his stage victory, the Spaniard also took over the yellow leader’s jersey from Rohan Dennis.
Stage winner and overall leader, Marc Soler (Movistar): “I’m so happy about this victory. I want to remember, first of all, our team doctor for so many years, Jesús Hoyos, who passed away during the stage. I want to dedicate this victory to him; sadly, we lost him in just few weeks due to a terminal illness, and it’s really sad for our entire team. Such a hard stage, especially because of the rain and cold conditions. I was saving my move for the precise moment into that last climb – Woods was going strong, there were several attacks into the group, and I wanted to try but not too early. I waited for those final 500 meters to make a real gap and hopefully take the stage win. In the end, it was stage and jersey – it always makes you happy to get a leader’s – and we will fight hard to retain it. INEOS is so strong, it’s a short gap, even more so with their TT skills, but we will fight – we’ve got a strong team and will give our maximum, only the road will tell. Sometimes people doubt about what you can do, but we’ve always gone step-by-step, and things are turning out well. It gives us hope for the upcoming challenges, but before the Giro, it’s all about this weekend.”
2nd overall, Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers): “It was a crazy start. Everything is different when it rains. Because everyone is wearing heavy jackets, it is difficult to recognise someone. I was able to avoid him (Rohan Dennis) and stay upright. I ended up in the back of the group and because it split, I had to make an extra effort before the last climb to get back to the front. It was certainly a decent day. It should be clear that we do not have to work tomorrow and that is a bonus for the other guys in the team. We have Movistar checked and it will probably come to the last climb. We will see how the legs are. Of course we are in good shape with me and Richie in the rankings.”
3rd on the stage, Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe): “Thanks to all my teammates for their work today, they put in a very strong effort to bring back the break and shut the attacks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to catch Soler when he went off in the last climb, so the stage win got away today. I’m feeling better and I see my form improving, even under such awful conditions as the ones we had today.”
3rd overall, Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers): “If he (Rohan Dennis) had been there in the final, he could have kept everything under control as he always did. So it is very unfortunate that he fell. ‘G’ and I were there in the final and everyone was watching us. It is what it is. Today wasn’t a disaster, but it could all be just that little bit better. Tomorrow is a new day and I think it suits us.”
7th overall, Wilco Kelderman (BORA-hansgrohe): “To say it was a horrible day would be an understatement but it is on stages as hard as this that the team’s work stands out. Ben, Jordi and Burgi did a great job in controlling the race and catching the break while at the same time I was kept safe under these treacherous conditions and slippery roads. I finished with the select reduced group and will now focus on tomorrow’s queen stage.”
Tour de Romandie Stage 3 Result:
1. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar in 3:58:35
2. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo at 0:22
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) BORA-hansgrohe
4. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
5. Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
6. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) DSM
8. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
9. Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
10. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates.
Tour de Romandie Overall After Stage 3:
1. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar in 12:38:40
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:14
3. Richie Porte (Aus) INEOS Grenadiers
4. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
5. Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates at 0:16
6. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:20
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe at 0:21
8. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) DSM
9. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
10. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 0:24.
Romandie stage 3:
The Queen Stage 4 of the Tour de Romandie was won by Michael Woods. The Israel Start-Up Nation rider had to sprint it out with Geraint Thomas in the final meters, but the INEOS Grenadiers leader crashed in sight of the finish line. The Canadian took the stage and the overall lead. Thomas crossed the line 21 seconds behind Woods, 11 seconds down on GC. Ben O’Connor was second on the stage and moved into third overall.
An escape of seven riders was allowed to go up the road in the opening hour: Kobe Goossens, Josef Cerny, Mads Würtz, Matthew Holmes, Magnus Cort, Simone Petilli and Simon Pellaud. Cort was at 0:59 and Goossens at 1:24, were dangerously close on the GC. Movistar didn’t chase and after two hours, the early breakaway had a 6 minute lead. The peloton had already climbed the Anzère and Lens.
Gorka Izagirre crashed on the descent of Lens, was able to quickly reconnect, but then it start to rain and it didn’t stop in the last 100 kilometres. As a result, the organisers decided to neutralise part of the descent of the Suen, the penultimate climb of the day. For the leading group, on which Würtz had been dropped on the climb, it turned out to be good news. Due to the neutralisation, the lead increased again from almost 4 to 6 minutes. With this bonus they started the long final climb to Thyon 2000. Once there, the group quickly disintegrated and INEOS Grenadiers were riding on the front of the peloton. Petilli and Cort stuck it out at the front and kept pace with the GC riders in the first kilometres. Towards the last 10 kilometres of the climb, the Italian and the Dane lost more and more time, due to the increased pace of the INEOS Grenadiers.
Nine kilometres from the finish, Cort took off alone. His lead at that point was still 4 minutes and he could be looking at stage victory plus the yellow jersey. The attacks started to come from the group of favourites, 6 kilometres from the finish and it was the overall leader Soler. Due to Rohan Dennis’s high pace, Soler was quickly caught. More and more riders in trouble: Thymen Arensman, Wilco Kelderman, Marc Hirschi and Richie Porte. Next we saw Lucas Hamilton attack, followed quickly by Michael Woods and Ben O’Connor. Hamilton had to ease off, O’Connor cracked, and Woods soon joined Cort and Petilli, who had rejoined the Dane.
The Canadian was in the lead alone with 3 kilometres to go, followed by O’Connor, Fausto Masnada and Geraint Thomas. Behind them was Soler, Ion Izagirre, Damiano Caruso and the struggling Porte. Thomas was quick to connect with the Israel Start-Up Nation rider and the two front runners out fought a duel for the stage win and overall. In the closing metres, the Brit and the Canadian tried to jump each other, until Thomas crashed hard. Woods took the stage win and finished 21 seconds ahead of the battered Thomas. On Sunday he will start the final time trial with a lead of 11 seconds over Thomas.
Stage winner and overall leader, Michael Woods (Israel Start-up Nation): “You don’t want to take over the yellow jersey this way. I would rather not see Thomas hit the ground, but it is still special to wear the leader’s jersey in a WorldTour race. I am very happy with the race today, I am proud of the team and satisfied with the legs. The team dropped me off perfectly on the final climb and Mads Würtz Schmidt also rode in the early breakaway. He was also able to help me position at the end. I actually felt great. Hopefully I can finish on the podium.”
3rd on the stage and 2nd overall, Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers): “I lost feeling in my hands due to the cold and tried to shift gears, but lost control of my front wheel. I’m fine, but I am emotional. It is very frustrating to lose time this way after such a hard day. Luckily I still have something to ride for tomorrow, but today I really wanted to win. Then it’s annoying that this happens. I don’t know yet what the difference is with Woods, but I’m going to try to make up for the difference. Now I’m going to take a shower first and get fed. Then there is room to look at tomorrow.”
2nd on the stage and 3rd overall, Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citreön): “The weather conditions were really difficult, with the rain and cold, but it’s the same for everyone. I like this type of mountain stage and I was really confident all day. The team did a great job for me. In the end, I gave everything to come back up to the front of the race, but it was not quite enough. Before the line, I just heard that the announcer was talking about a crash, but I did not realise at all that it was Thomas who fell. I am third in the general classification now, but the time differences between the riders are small ahead of the time trial tomorrow. I will do everything I can to defend my position.”
4th on the stage and 8th overall, Lucas Hamilton (BikeExchange): “I just rode my own pace really, when I attacked I just settled into my own pace, I didn’t worry about what was going on behind. It was one of those climbs, because you finish so high, if you made a little bit too much of an effort, you’d really pay in the end, so I just had to pace it. To be honest my TT has been my weak spot, so I’m hoping to just keep progressing in it and tomorrow is a good opportunity at the end of a tour to try and get better.”
10th overall, Wilco Kelderman (BORA-hansgrohe): “The first part of the race was quite bearable, despite the heavy rain, but the final part was extremely cold. I was really struggling in the descents but I tried to fight all the way to the finish. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the result I came here for but actually, for me, I would say it was survival mode and try to get the best out of it. Tomorrow is another day and we’ll see how this week gets to finish.”
KOM, Kobe Goossens (Lotto Soudal): “This mountain jersey is my first leader’s jersey as a professional, and to realise this in a WorldTour race, makes it even more special. In addition, the weather conditions and the long climbs made for a brutally tough stage. It is one of the most epic days on the bike in my career so far. From the start, there was a clear plan to go in the breakaway and it maybe was a little easier to be part of it, compared to yesterday. But I certainly didn’t get the mountain jersey for free, I had to fight for every point. Matthew Holmes as an extra teammate in the breakaway was of course also an additional asset. Yesterday’s stage really had its impact on me. I didn’t feel great all day and at the bottom of the final climb, I immediately chose my own pace. I felt that I had spent my best forces and I certainly wasn’t thinking about the stage win anymore. With the weather conditions and the course we had to endure the past days, I think nobody felt really fresh anymore. Tomorrow is the closing time trial, in which I only have to finish to secure the mountain jersey. Depending on how I feel, I will go flat out one last time. After that, the focus shifts towards my first Giro d’Italia.”
Break rider, Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “We had two goals today: to help Louis Meintjes for the GC and to get someone in the breakaway. I was allowed to try and attack in the beginning of the race. I knew this stage would fit me, precisely because it was so tough. Too bad we rode in weather conditions that I’m not made for. Way too cold and way too wet! In the beginning of the stage I felt like every rider in the breakaway was riding very hard. But the closer we got to the finish, the stronger I felt. Eventually it turned out me and Cort Nielsen had the most energy left in the final. He dropped me on the last climb but I closed the gap because I was better on the steepest parts. I know myself so I knew this would happen. I want to continue this level in the Giro d’Italia. To win a stage there would be a dream coming true! We have a great team so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Tour de Romandie Stage 4 Result:
1. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation in 4:58:35
2. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën at 0:17
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:21
4. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) BikeExchange at 0:34
5. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:37
6. Richie Porte (Aus) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:42
7. Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
8. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 0:52
9. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 0:53
10. Thymen Arensman (Ned) DSM at 1:57.
Tour de Romandie Overall After Stage 4:
1. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation in 17:37:35
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:11
3. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën at 0:21
4. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 0:33
5. Richie Porte (Aus) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:36
6. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:45
7. Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech at 0:48
8. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) BikeExchange at 0:49
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 1:04
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe at 1:58.
Romandie stage 4:
Geraint Thomas is overall winner of the 2021 Tour de Romandie. The INEOS Grenadiers rider finished third in the final time trial in Friborg and took the yellow jersey from Michael Woods on the final day. The Stage 5 victory went to the French time trial champion Rémi Cavagna of Deceuninck – Quick-Step.
In Friborg on Sunday, Michael Woods started the closing time trial as leader, but the difference with the much better rider against the clock, Geraint Thomas, was only 11 seconds. The INEOS Grenadiers rider was the favourite for the overall win. The final time trial of 16.19 kilometres was certainly not easy. The first target time was set by the promising Stefan Bissegger, fifth in the prologue in Oron on Tuesday, was faster than Filippo Ganna and Alex Edmondson with a time of 22 minutes. Ganna, the reigning world champion, was 30 seconds slower than Bissegger at the line. Bissegger took the hot-seat, but still had to wait for TT specialists Stefan Küng and Rémi Cavagna. The French champion Cavagna took risks on the descents, and raced like crazy to achieve a new top time on the line. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider was 6 seconds faster than Bissegger.
European champion Küng, who crashed hard on Friday in the rainy stage around Estavayer, was 20 seconds down at the first intermediate point. The Groupama-FDJ rider, partly due to the changing weather conditions, couldn’t make up the difference. Rohan Dennis won the prologue at the start of the race and was hardest worker for teammate Geraint Thomas. Dennis was unlucky as he was caught in a local rain shower, which meant for a tough ride. At the intermediate point, the 5 second difference was still surmountable, but Dennis also lost a lot of time in second part of the time trial. At the line Dennis was 35 seconds too slow to improve Cavagna’s time. The countdown had now been blown for the latter. Ilan Van Wilder was next and surprised with the provisional third best time, just 18 seconds slower than Cavagna.
The big battle would be between overall leader, Woods and challenger, Thomas. At the time check, the difference between the two men was already over half a minute. Thomas, who was clearly on his way to the overall victory, was faster than Cavagna’s time of 13:48, but he lost some time to Cavagna in the last kilometres. Thomas set the third fastest time, less than 20 seconds from the French stage winner, but this more than enough for the overall victory. Richie Porte and Fausto Masnada move up to second and third. Marc Soler held his fourth place in the general classification, while Woods fell to fifth place after an average time trial.
Stage winner, Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “The parcours didn’t really suit me, as it had some technical parts and steep sections, but I was very motivated to do well and conclude the week on a high note. I am very happy because Romandie is a beautiful race and to get my first victory of the season here feels great. Today I gave 200% and I got a result that gives me a huge boost of confidence ahead of the Giro d’Italia, where I have some personal goals, but I also want to help the team. It was a very hard week, especially due to the weather, but I came here with a good condition after my altitude training camp and knew I could do something nice in the GC. I knew I had to do a solid race, so that’s why in the morning I went on a recon and later I even followed Ian from the car to have another look at the course, and when the time came, I went all-out. It’s my finest outing in a stage against the clock and it bodes well before Il Giro, which I look forward to.”
Overall winner and 3rd on the stage, Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers): “I’m very happy, especially after the little mishap yesterday – which wasn’t ideal! That definitely made it more of a challenge today but I felt good. To be honest it kind of reminded me of when I won the Tour back in Espelette, it was kind of like this, the last descent on the radio they were telling me to ‘take it easy’ and just ‘don’t do anything stupid, don’t crash on the corners’ and then obviously you overthink it a bit then. I’m really happy to finish it off and it’s been a great week with the team. Today was all about trying to take the jersey and get around safe. Obviously I would have loved to have gone for the stage, but that last descent it was a bit wet, so best to just take it steady and finish the stage rather than risk it all. At the start of the year, I said my goal was the Tour and every race was a build up to it and didn’t really put any pressure on myself to perform early, but I seem to have come into some good shape pretty soon. I’ve had a lot of good races building up, obviously Catalunya was really good for the team, I was third there behind two teammates, which was amazing to be a part of. I knew I was going well and myself and Richie wanted to come here and make sure one of us won the race. First and second – we can’t complain! I knew I was going well. I’ve done a lot of hard work and spent a lot of time away from the family. I really wanted to make it worthwhile – and I’ve certainly done that. As we all know bike racing is about winning but it’s not like I haven’t performed since I won the Tour. I was second in the Tour the next year, second in Tirreno, third in Catalunya. I’ve been up there but it’s nice to finally get the win.”
4th overall, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious): “I’d like to thank everyone, all the staff and the guys for this week. I’m very happy I kept hold of the Green Jersey. Now I will take some recovery time before focussing on the next target, the Tour de France.”
6th overall, Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën): “I lost the podium today but I am still happy with the final result. I have been racing in UCI WorldTour since 2017 and this is the first time that I have finished in the top ten in a stage race of this level. Since the beginning of the season, I have been feeling good with the AG2R CITROËN team and that just increases today. I feel that I have accomplished something, and it makes me happy. I will now take a little break before I head off to a training camp in order to prepare for my first Tour de France. I should return to competition on May 24th at the Mercantour Classic.”
10th overall, Wilco Kelderman (BORA-hansgrohe): “I think it was a good time trial and although conditions weren’t perfect, I finished the week in a good way. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my best GC and not what I was expecting in the Tour de Romandie. I had some problems with my body but in my view, we can be satisfied with the effort and work of the entire team here. I now look forward to the rest of the season.”
18th overall, Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “This 18th place in Tour de Romandie is my best result in the World Tour yet so I am really happy. Today’s goal was to stay in the top twenty and I managed to do so. The first part of the course was hard and I still felt the fatigue in my legs after yesterday’s breakaway. But the more the time trial progressed, the better I got. I’ve had a nice week without real off days. The only thing that bothered me this week was the weather. I love to race in the sun and but didn’t get a lot of sun here. Now I hope to make it to the Giro selection of the team. I would love to join the breakaways there too!”
Tour de Romandie Stage 5 Result:
1. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 21:54
2. Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo at 0:06
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:17
4. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) DSM at 0:18
5. Richie Porte (Aus) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:20
6. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:21
7. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:29
8. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 0:34
9. Rohan Dennis (Aus) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:35
10. Filippo Ganna (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:37.
Tour de Romandie Final Overall Result:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers in 17:59:57
2. Richie Porte (Aus) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:28
3. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:38
4. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 0:39
5. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation at 0:43
6. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën at 0:45
7. Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech at 1:08
8. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) BikeExchange at 1:22
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 1:30
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe at 2:20.
Romandie stage 5:
Vuelta Asturias 2021
Nairo Quintana won Stage 1 of the Tour of Asturias on Friday. The Colombian crossed the line solo in Pola de Lena. He also took the first blue leader’s jersey.
Before the Alto de La Campa, the first climb after 27 kilometres, the escape of the day formed. Daniel Viegas (EOLO-Kometa) and José Manuel Gutierrez, from the Gios continental team, managed to get away from the peloton. Mateu Estelrich also wanted to be in the breakaway, but after he had chased the leading group for some time, he let himself be caught. The two escapees managed to extend their lead to 4 minutes. On the descent of the Alto de La Colladona, with 60 kilometres to go, Viegas lost the contact with Gutierrez, who still had a long way to go alone. The Spanish rider was no match for the peloton and he was caught 30 kilometres from the finish. The peloton started the final in groups with the climbs of the Alto de Fresneo and the Carabanzo still to go.
Héctor Carretero rode away on the Carabanzo, after which Nairo Quintana and Pierre Latour chased the Movistar rider. Quintana managed to catch Carretero and then continue solo. The leader of Arkéa-Samsic didn’t look back and took his first victory of the season and also the overall lead.
Stage winner and overall leader, Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic): “I attacked with strength and the will to win, in order to complete the work of the team. The last climb was very short, but we had already seen it the day before the race. If you want to win, you will naturally find the energy to do it. The team has always worked for me. All my teammates knew what to do and then everything is a lot less difficult. We know tomorrow’s stage. Without wanting to discount our opponents, we know how to do it and we approach the stage with the calmness and unity that characterises us.”
Vuelta Asturias Stage 1 Result:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic in 5:03:45
2. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar at 0:26
3. Pierre Latour (Fra) Total Direct Energie at 0:27
4. Gotzon Martin Sanz (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:49
5. Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6. Cristian Scaroni (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo
7. Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
8. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar
9. Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar
10. Julen Amezqueta Moreno (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.
Vuelta Asturias Overall After Stage 1:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic in 5:03:35
2. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar at 0:30
3. Pierre Latour (Fra) Total Direct Energie at0:33
4. Gotzon Martin Sanz (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:59
5. Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6. Cristian Scaroni (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo
7. Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
8. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar
9. Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar
10. Julen Amezqueta Moreno (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.
Asturias’21 stage 1:
Movistar’s Hector Carretero won Stage 2 of the Tour of Asturias. The Spaniard was the best on the road to Cangas del Narcea on Saturday. Nairo Quintana was second, teammate Einer Rubio third. Quintana kept the leader’s jersey.
Twelve riders made up the break of the day: Alex Molenaar, together with teammate Angel Madrazo, Daniel Viegas, Mathieu Burgaudeau, Alessandro Fedeli, Lucas De Rossi, Orluis Aular, Unai Cuadrado, Robigzon Oyola, Ibon Ruiz, Ander Okamika and Oscar Pelegri, they managed a lead of a few minutes.
On the run-up to the Alto del Acebo, their lead was canceled out by Arkéa-Samsic and Movistar. Once on the climb, it was Einer Rubio and Victor de la Parte who went for it early. They did not get much of a gap: six riders, including Quintana and Carretero, joined them before the top. On the descent to Cangas del Narcea it became clear that one of these eight riders was going to win and it was Movistar who had the upper hand. With Carretero and Rubio they finished in first, third and sixth in the stage result. Quintana was second and held on to his over all lead.
Stage winner and 8th overall, Héctor Carretero (Movistar): “I’m so happy to have claimed this first professional victory. It’s cleat to me what my job here is – I’m one to support my team-mates, I’m happy with that role in the team and want to keep improving on that. In days like today, you’ve got to make the most of those chances. This gives me massive morale, and huge relief to finally get that first win in the books. I remember Jesús Hoyos in this day, and since I turned pro, I always wanted to dedicate this first victory to my family, friends and the town of Madriguers. This goes for all of them. We knew that it was down to getting first to the final turn after the downhill, since, after that curve, only 200 meters were left and you would win. I told my team-mates to stay behind me – I actually spent most of the downhill pushing, and let them know I was feeling well, with that punch to finish it off. I made him realise that they only had to keep my wheel so we could secure the win; Einer went straight after me, Antonio also tried it, for our rivals to have a harder time at coming back, and with that punch I had, I could finish it off. We’ve got a ‘problem’ when it comes to the GC situation: Nairo Quintana is so strong uphill. In our case, there’s an advantage: it’s two riders versus one, with Antonio Pedrero and Einer Rubio. We will try to make things hard and hopefully, still stand a chance of success. We won’t leave without putting up a fight.”
Vuelta Asturias Stage 2 Result:
1. Héctor Carretero (Spa) Movistar in 5:30:57
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic
3. Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar
4. Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
5. Jose Manuel Diaz Gallego (Spa) Delko
6. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar
7. Victor de la Parte (Spa) Total Direct Energie
8. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:03
9. Pierre Latour (Fra) Total Direct Energie at 0:37
10. Gotzon Martin Sanz (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi.
Vuelta Asturias Overall After Stage 2:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic in 10:34:26
2. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar at 0:36
3. Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar at 1:01
4. Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma at 1:05
5. Victor de la Parte (Spa) Total Direct Energie
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 1:08
7. Pierre Latour (Fra) Total Direct Energie at 1:16
8. Héctor Carretero (Spa) Movistar at 1:38
9. Gotzon Martin Sanz (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1:42
10. Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.
Asturias’21 stage 2:
Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) has added the Tour of Asturias to his palmarès. The Colombian climber successfully defended his leader’s jersey on the Final Stage 3. The stage finished on the summit of the Alto del Naranco and was won by Pierre Latour (Total Direct Energy).
The Vuelta Asturias ended with a tough mountain stage. In the final, El Violea (3.6km at 8.4%) and the Alto del Naranco (5.4km at 7.5%) were on the menu for the peloton. Seven riders broke away early in the stage. Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Jokin Murguialday (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Ángel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), Luis Ángel Mate (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Xavier Cañellas (Gios), Alex Delettre (Delko) and Fabien Doubey (Total Direct Energy) made up the break of the day. Before Oviedo, they were caught, mainly due to the work of Arkéa-Samsic.
As expected, everything was going to happen on the Alto del Naranco. Quintana started the final climb with an overall lead of 36 second over Antonio Pedrero, second on GC. His overall victory was not in great danger. He kept a constant eye on Pedrero and when crossing the finish line, Nairoman was confident of the win. Pierre Latour showed everyone his rear wheel on the final climb. He rode to his first win of the season ahead of Alejandro Osorio (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Victor De La Parte (Total Direct Energy).
Overall winner and 5th on the stage, Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic): “I am happy with these successes for the team. This is very important to us. I knew how Movistar would race today and that was a bonus for us. I stayed calm and my teammates did not let themselves be fooled.”
Arkéa-Samsic DS, Yvon Ledanois: “The goal was to control everything. We didn’t want to give too many riders space. Nairo finally got the job done perfectly.”
Vuelta Asturias Stage 3 Result:
1. Pierre Latour (Fra) Total Direct Energie in 2:59:49
2. Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:02
3. Victor de la Parte (Spa) Total Direct Energie at 0:12
4. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic
6. Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar at 0:19
7. Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita) Eolo-Kometa at 0:59
8. Jhojan Garcia Susa (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
10. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Burgos-BH.
Vuelta Asturias Final Overall Result:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic in 13:34:27
2. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar at 0:36
3. Pierre Latour (Fra) Total Direct Energie at 0:54
4. Victor de la Parte (Spa) Total Direct Energie at 1:01
5. Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar at 1:08
6. Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:26
7. Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma at 1:52
8. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 2:00
9. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar at 2:43
10. Julen Amezqueta Moreno (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 3:03
Asturias’21 stage 3:
GP Vorarlberg 2021
Mick van Dijke won the GP Vorarlberg. The twenty-one-year-old rider gave his Jumbo-Visma Development Team a new victory. Teammate Rick Pluimers finished in third place.
In the Austrian race, Van Dijke crossed the line solo after a late attack. Pluimers also managed to secure a podium place in the sprint of the chasing group. It is the fourth victory of the season for the Team Jumbo-Visma Academy.
Race winner, Mick Van Dijke (Jumbo-Visma): “We had Michel Hessmann in the early breakaway, but unfortunately he had a puncture. Then the team went in pursuit for the rest of the race and they did an excellent job. Rick would eventually sprint, and I wanted to make one last all-or-nothing attempt. Two kilometres before the finish I went full speed up the last hill. When I got to the top, there was no one in my wheel anymore. I did not dare look behind until twenty metres before the finish line. Then I knew I was going to win. That was amazing. I have been waiting for this for a long time and it is so nice to be back in a racing period in such a way.”
Jumbo-Visma sports director, Robert Wagner: “The team did really well today, especially the way they rode as a team. The guys carried out all the agreements we had made in advance. It was already a very nice race and this victory is the icing on the cake.”
GP Vorarlberg Result:
1. Mick Van Dijke (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Dev in 3:41:57
2. Matevz Govekar (Slov) Tirol KTM at 0:05
3. Rick Pluimers (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Dev
4. Asbjorn Hellemose (Den) VC Mendrisio
5. Christian Koch (Ger) Lotto-Kern Haus
6. Adrià Moreno Sala (Spa) Team Vorarlberg
7. Sascha Weber (Ger) Trek Vaude
8. Fabio Christen (Swi) Nippo-Provence-PTS Conti
9. Michiel Stockmann (Bel) SKS Sauerland NRW
10. Davide Botta (Ita) VC Mendrisio.
AG2R Citroën to Algarve
This year the AG2R CITROEN TEAM returns to the Volta ao Algarve, which it has not raced since 2012.
Cyril Dessel: “We were originally slated to do the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque, but now that it has been cancelled, we have been forced to change our plans, just like we had to last year. This event will mark the return to racing of the group of guys who were mostly at the cobbled classics like Oliver Naesen, Gijs Van Hoecke and Julien Duval, but the profile of the Volta ao Algarve, is more difficult than the Quatre Jours, so we have also included riders like Mathias Frank and Nicolas Prodhomme who can handle the climbing. We hope to be competitive even though a number of our riders are just coming off their breaks, so we will be aiming for stage wins.”
Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Volta ao Algarve
Sam Bennett returns to action at the five-day Portuguese race
Two stages for the sprinters, two summit finishes and a 20.3km individual time trial will be in store next week, when the riders will line up at the start of the 46th Volta ao Algarve, a race our team has won on four occasions, most recently in 2019, when Remco Evenepoel took home the glory after a dominant ride.
This time, our squad will be built around Sam Bennett, the most successful sprinter of this season, who so far has captured a total of five victories, all on World Tour level. Winner of the Tour de France green jersey last year, the Irishman will count on a strong team consisting of Shane Archbold, Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini, Fabio Jakobsen, Michael Mørkøv and Bert Van Lerberghe, who will replace Tim Declercq. “El Tractor” was scheduled to race Algarve, but had a training accident and damaged his wrist, and while he could still have raced, the team decided to give him extra time to heal.
“It’s the parcours we know, with a bit of everything for everyone. We will aim for good results with Sam in the bunch sprints. These will be technical, but we are confident in him and his solid lead-out. We are curious to see Kasper in the time trial, but also how Fabio will fare. After Turkey, this race will be another important step in the right direction for him”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels.
05.05–09.05 Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta (POR) 2.Pro
Shane Archbold (NZL)
Kasper Asgreen (DEN)
Davide Ballerini (ITA)
Sam Bennett (IRL)
Fabio Jakobsen (NED)
Michael Mørkøv (DEN)
Bert Van Lerberghe (BEL)
Sports Director Wilfried Peeters (BEL) & Tom Steels (BEL).
UAE Team Emirates line-up named for Volta ao Algarve
Rui Costa leads on home ground in Portugal
As the team prepares to embark on the first Grand Tour of the season at the Giro d’Italia , another block of riders and staff will head to Portugal to race Volta ao Algarve from 5-9 May.
The five-day stage race features four road stages and one time trial on stage 4. Local favourite Rui Costa will lead the squad while fellow Portuguese talents Ivo and Rui Oliveira also keen to impress on home soil.
Sports Directors Allan Peiper (Aus) and Aurelio Corral (Spa) will lead the team:
-Camilo Ardila (Col)
-Rui Costa (Por)
-Ryan Gibbons (RSA)
-Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
-Ivo Oliveira (Por)
-Rui Oliveira (Por)
-Oliviero Troia (Ita).
Froome: “It’s not like I wake up one day and then suddenly win”
Chris Froome has said that he realises that the recovery process after his fall in the Dauphiné, now two years ago, is taking a long time and does not expect to suddenly win again overnight.
“The fall taught me a lot,” he said in an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. “I am now a lot more grateful for the moments when I was injury-free and I did not have to deal with such setbacks. Events have made me look at life differently. I still feel hungry to race and do everything I can to get back to my top level.”
“It is a long process, longer than I expected. But I don’t want to miss my chances. In a few years’ time I want to be able to say to myself that I have done everything I can,” said Froome.
Froome spent the winter in California, where he did a lot of fitness training at the Red Bull High Performance Center. With that he corrected the imbalance in his legs, but it also created extra muscle mass that is now bothering him. His legs are thin, but the muscle mass in his upper body has been developed. “I’m still two to three kilos too much,” he explained. “I know my injuries and I don’t expect miracles. It’s not like I wake up one day and then suddenly win. I start from the base and have to work myself up again.”
Froome not expecting miracles:
Nibali 2021 Giro?
Vincenzo Nibali will decide at the end of his training camp in Livigno whether he will participate in the 2021 Giro d’Italia. The Italian Trek-Segafredo GC rider said in a team video.
“The first phase of my rehabilitation was not easy,” says Nibali. “I couldn’t cycle and I had to take into account the recovery of my hand. Of course I’m still in some pain, but the determination to keep going and think about the Giro is stronger than anything. I am in a position to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at the end of this short training camp in Livigno.”
The Italian, who won the Corsa Rosa in 2013 and 2016, will also had a medical examination and a scan. “Then I have to carefully evaluate with the doctors whether it is a good idea to start in the Giro or whether I should postpone my return. I hope I don’t have to. Fingers crossed. I’m doing my best, we keep hoping.”
Kasper Asgreen Extends with Deceuninck – Quick-Step
The Ronde van Vlaanderen winner has signed a new contract until the end of 2024
A member of Deceuninck – Quick-Step since 2018, Kasper Asgreen has inked a deal that will keep him with the Wolfpack for three more years. Since turning pro with us, the Dane clocked up eight wins, becoming something of a specialist in the cobbled Classics. After a breakthrough victory at last year’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, he continued to hit new heights this season, riding to the prestigious double of E3 Harelbeke and Ronde van Vlaanderen and thus becoming one of the few riders in history to win both races in the same year.
“Staying here was a no-brainer for me. Deceuninck – Quick-Step is the most successful team in the world, and ever since I was an amateur, I dreamed of joining them, as I loved how they always developed young riders into winners. Three years on, I still believe it’s the best environment for me and signing an extension so early into the season makes me happy and motivates me even more to perform. I want to thank everyone for their support and what they did and continue to do for me”, Kasper said.
The 26-year-old from Kolding also looked back on his first race with the Wolfpack and talked about his future goals: “I remember debuting at the Scheldeprijs, and how my job that day was supposed to end at the feed zone, but I felt really good and kept going, pulling at the front and closing gaps until three kilometres to go. Everyone in the team was happy with what I did and I was delighted I could contribute to a victory. This is one of the great things this squad does for you, it gives you a huge vote of confidence that makes you trust even more in yourself. I feel at home here and I would like to continue improving, add some more Classics to my palmarès, win a Grand Tour stage at some point and fight for a good result at the World Championships whenever the route will suit me.”
To this, Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere added: “We are happy to have Kasper continue with us until 2024. He is a great rider, but also someone who has always kept his feet firmly on the ground, and this, doubled by a huge ambition, has helped him record an incredible progress in the last three years. You could see him grow season after season, and this spring he joined the Monument winners club, which is a testimony of his talent. We are confident he can still improve and help us win many other races. Retaining Kasper’s services for three more years is another building block in helping to secure the future of the team”.
Flanders winner Kasper Asgreen:
Colombian Pira to Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
Yesid Pira will switch to Caja Rural-Seguros RGA next year, his trainer told Colombian media. The 21-year-old Pira, who finished fifth in the Tour of Colombia last week, will first join the training team of Caja Rural, before making the switch to the pros. According to his trainer, there is also interest from the WorldTour.
Alexander Soler, Pira trainer at Alcaldía de La Vega, released the news about Pira to Blog Deportivo. “This year he will race in Europe for three more months, then he will play for two seasons for a professional team and the following year he will choose a WorldTour team,” said Soler. “This fall and for the next two years it will be at Caja Rural in Spain.”
Some WorldTour teams have already asked about the young Colombian, who won the mountain stage to the Alto de la Línea in the Vuelta a Colombia (UCI 2.2) and then wore the leader’s jersey for two days. INEOS Grenadiers and UAE Team Emirates are rumoured to be interested in Pira.
Yesid Pira in yellow:
Atsushi Oka Suspended after Positive Doping Test
Atsushi Oka has been suspended by the UCI for four months after a positive test for acetazolamide, a substance on the list of banned diuretics and masking agents. The positive test dates from Sunday, December 13, 2020, according to information from the UCI this week. The union imposed a four-month suspension on Delko’s 25-year-old Japanese rider, which expires on Monday, May 24. Oka is in his second season with Delko after coming from the continental Utsunomiya Blitzen team as second in the Japanese time trial championships. At the time, he was described by the team as “one of the most promising riders in his country”. Atsushi Oka has commented on his suspension on social media. “It is important to emphasise that the doping control took place four days after an eye operation,” he said. According to him, acetazolamide was administered during the procedure to prevent pressure peaks during the operation. This could lead to partial or total loss of vision. Oka says that he has not taken the forbidden substance intentionally. Because the UCI recognised that the rider did not use the prohibited substance intentionally, but for an operation, the penalty has been reduced to four months. Oka agreed to that. “I will come back stronger on May 25 and I am determined to race again.”
Earlier on Wednesday, it was announced that Delko is in dire straits financially. The French team cannot employ several staff members. The team will also ride fewer races to save money.
Hard times for Delko:
Bahrain Victorious Partner with Alé
From May 1st 2021, the team will ride in ALÉ, debuting with the new kit on Stage 5 at the Tour de Romandie.
ALÉ has been producing cycling kit for over 30 years, with its foundation built on obsessive Italian craftsmanship. The partnership signals ALÉ’s continuous innovation in the production process from materials, design, functionality, comfort and performance. With our riders’ feedback, ALÉ will continue to push the boundaries in cycling apparel.
ALÉ products have been developed in their new research laboratory that has carried out several wind tunnel tests to push the boundaries in aerodynamics and performance. The garment that the team will be wearing is part of its PR-S (Pro Race System) collection developed in collaboration with the Pro teams. This line offers the leading textile technology currently available, meeting the demands of pro athletes during competition. It’s this approach that makes ALÉ the perfect partner for Team Bahrain Victorious.
Team Bahrain Victorious Technical Director, Vladimir Miholjević: “We are delighted about the partnership with ALÉ. They are at the top of pro cycling when it comes to producing the highest performing and comfortable cycling kit. This partnership signals our commitment to continuously improve every aspect of performance for our riders.”
Alé CEO, Alessia Piccolo: “We’re very happy to announce our partnership with Team Bahrain Victorious, the third World Tour men’s team that will wear our ultra-technical, high-performance garments that use the best textile technology available today. We will dress the team with our particular, unmistakable style. This partnership represents a lot to us and allows us to close an important circle with regards to our communication and sponsoring activities.”
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