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EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

Double victory weekend for Deceuninck – Quick-Step. All the results and video from Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, plus we round up the UAE Tour. New sponsor for Sky – Top Story. More cycling news: Nils Politt DQd from K-B-K, Dumoulin and Dowsett injured in UAE Tour, no Sagan for Strade Bianche, Zakarin and Mollema want to perform in the 2019 Giro d’Italia, new team for Bouhanni, Van Melsen fractures scapula, E3 BinckBank Classic dodgy poster and Van Avermaet gives CCC their first Classic podium. Monday EUROTRASH coffee read time.

TOP STORY: New Sky Sponsor to be Announced at the Giro?
If we can believe directeur sportif Matteo Tosatto, the Sky team will announce its new main sponsor at the Giro d’Italia. The Italian told the Spanish sports paper Marca that by then an agreement will be reached with a European sponsor.

Tosatto – who has been a DS at the British team since 2017 – spoke about the future of the Sky organization at the UAE Tour. “If all goes well, we have an agreement with the new sponsor by the Giro. This ensures the future of the team.”

“Initially the deal would have been completed in the run-up to the Tour, but we will probably be coming to the Giro with the good news. It is a European sponsor,” said Tosatto, who excludes a South American sponsor. During the Tour Colombia it had been suggested that the Colombian oil company Ecopetrol was ready to step in as the new main sponsor.

Team manager Dave Brailsford was in Colombia in mid-February, among other things to hold a meeting with the Colombian president Iván Duque. Ernesto Lucena – head of the Ministry of Sport – was also present at the meeting. During the meeting Ecopetrol was put forward as a new sponsor.

“However, that is very unlikely,” Brailsford said later. Tosatto admits that there had been discussions. “We could not agree, but it was certainly an option, since there is a lot of passion for cycling in Colombia.”

So all looks good for the future of the Sky team and in good time to keep the riders before the contract season opens. Teams come and go, even the big successful teams, Quick-Step had the most wins in 2018 and was only saved at the last minute by Deceuninck. The team of Patrick Lefevere wins races all year round and have riders and staff from all over the World, but are still very Belgian and concentrate on the Classics, maybe this is reflected in their sponsors. While on the other hand Sky are thought of as a British team, particularly by British fans, but have a more international pull for a big sponsor due to their overall wins in the Grand Tours. Who ever the new sponsor is…. It will be a big one.

All safe for Sky:

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2019
Zdebek Stybar (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) got his Spring Classics campaign off to a great start, winning the 74th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. With a perfectly executed attack from the breakaway group that emerged over the top of the Molenberg, the three time cyclocross World champion held the chasers off to win by a slender 9 seconds to beat Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).

The early break of the day; Roy Jans (Corendon-Circus), Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Gobert), Alex Howes (EF Education) and Tom Wirtgen (Wallonie-Bruxelles), had a gap of 14 minutes before the peloton decided to pull them back. The lead was reduced by the time they hit the slopes of the Leberg. Gradually, the gap came down to just a handful of minutes, and that was the cue for attacks to start flying from the peloton.

After the move was shut down by the charging bunch following a 20 kilometer chase, the elastic finally snapped on the Molenberg, where a 20 man group pulled away including Stybar, Wellens and Van Avermaet. On the Berendries there was a decisive move and Tim Wellens, Van Avermaet, Stybar, Daniel Oss, Dylan Teuns and Alexey Lutsenko were in the lead with 20 kilometers to go. Oss lost contact.

Van Avermaet led Zdenek up the iconic Muur-Kapelmuur with around half a minute lead. Without any shake-ups on Bosberg, the day’s final difficulty, it looked like the winner would emerge from the leading five in a sprint. Stybar had other thoughts and put in a late attack from the breakaway group and had 10 seconds going under the red kite.

Stybar held the chasers off for Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 12th victory of the season, and became the first Czech rider in history to win a cobbled Classic. Van Avermaet was the strongest rider in the race but had to be content with second place ahead of Wellens and the others.

PEZ race report HERE with more photos.

2019 Het Nieuwsblad winner, Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Finally it happened and I could finish it off in a cobbled classic! The feeling is really nice, the form is good and the team has confidence in me, which is so important; everything fell into place today and I am so happy with what I achieved, that I can’t put it into words. The race was different from last year, because we had a tailwind in the second part and this helped. The real race started on the Molenberg and we worked well together, even on the Muur and Bosberg, believing we could make it to the finish line. Initially, I was waiting for the sprint, but with two kilometers left I felt it was the right moment to go and thus went full gas. I have the same motivation as last year, I have always kept believing I could come back and win big races, especially as my winter preparation went well. From the team car, Tom Steels told me how much confidence they had in me and that I had what it took to finish it off. The attitude of this team is unique, the support you receive is tremendous and nobody calls himself a leader; we all work together for the same goal, because we are the Wolfpack, and that’s why we are so successful.”

2nd, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC): “I’m super happy with how the race went. We went quite early, from the Molenberg, in a big group but then it was always the strong guys who stayed in front and this is the way I like to race, and what fits me the best. In the end, it didn’t work out as they started attacking but overall, I’m happy with my shape and I don’t think I could have played it a different way. I tried to directly close on Stybar [when he attacked in the final] but I had already done that to close on Wellens and you know in this kind of final that if you have five guys with you, it’s normally the fastest guy who has to close the gaps and this killed me a little in the end. Overall, I’m happy with how I raced. I tried to do good moves on the Muur and the Bosberg and in the end, I did one. But, what’s important is how the shape is. I saw some guys suffering and I was still feeling pretty fresh so I am super happy with how my shape is for the moment and hopefully I can keep it for as long as possible, first to Strade-Bianche next week and then as long as possible in the Classics.”

3rd, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “I think we have to be satisfied. The team did a perfect job as I was at the front at the right time. Then, the race really started and went on to the finish. I did not feel the strongest of the remaining riders. I had a hard time following them on the Bosberg and I just made it to the front. I thought that I chose the right moment to attack but Van Avermaet responded immediately. When Stybar counter-attacked, everybody was on the limit, and his move turned out to be the right one. The race was more open. The final 50 kilometers everybody was on the limit. There’s some more wait and see in the Walloon races, it was a nice experience today. The Ruta del Sol did go very well last week and so did the Omloop today. I’m looking forward to the Strade Bianche.”

4th, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana): “In general, I’m satisfied with my race and my fourth place. Of course, a win or a podium would’ve been better, but it was a good race for me. Honestly, I started this race thinking about the victory. Yesterday my first coach Vladimir Remyga passed away and today I wanted to win to dedicate the victory to him. Today’s race finished in Ninove, in this city we trained with our national team under the conduction of Vladimir Remyga. It was important for me to do a good race today. I think it was a great classic race, my team worked very well for me, I was always in a good position in every moment of the race. In the last 40 kilometers, I felt very strong, I worked hard in the breakaway. I knew Van Avermaet and Wellens were always watching me, but that was the situation. When Stybar attacked nobody wanted to chase him. At the end of the day, I have a fourth place, a good result anyway. It was not easy to adapt to these narrow roads, a lot of corners and the road up and down after Oman, where we had absolutely different conditions, but I managed to do a nice race. It was a bit dangerous because of the rain and slippery roads, a few times I almost crashed but everything ended up good. It was our first classic race, we could be happy with our performance.”

5th, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida): “I am really happy with my performance. I gave my everything today. It was hard for me to get to the podium at the end. I’m not sad about not getting to the podium, I’m happy to get to top 5. As planned, I’m not competing tomorrow at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. I will take a good recovery and get prepared for Paris-Nice.”

6th, Jean-Pierre Drucker (Bora-Hansgrohe): “To sprint for the victory would of course have been better, but I am happy with my result today. Unfortunately, Benoot’s crash caused a split in the leading group. But we were in a comfortable position with Daniel in front. My shape is good, especially taking into account that I missed two weeks of training around Christmas due to a broken collarbone. The Classics season has begun, and now we need to keep our focus and hopefully we can fight for a podium soon.”

13th, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “I did not have my best day today, but it certainly was not bad in my first game of the season. I could still race for a place of honor. It is never easy to immediately stand in your first race, but that I could go with the better classic riders gives me confidence in the coming weeks. On the Berendries I had to fit, but I could still connect. The Wall was too much. The team did drive a strong game. We never drove defensively. That proves that we have a strong team for this work. Too bad about the fall of Mike [Teunissen], Otherwise we would have sat with three in the front.”

20th, Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie): “I have raced a nice race, maybe I did not take a top result, but it went well. It was a restless race, but yes, that is always the case in classics. Those five riders raced away and unfortunately we did not rejoin them. They always picked up a few seconds when we stopped. In the end they raced on, I think, because we drove fast, but they stayed away. I was hoping that we would catch them, but not so.”

Break rider, Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Gobert): “I wanted to go in the attack because I know a breakaway can last for a long time, but we were only with four riders in the lead. Despite the fact that our lead was big, the peloton never lost control. When they accelerated in the back, our lead quickly dropped. I would have preferred a bigger leading group with a smaller advantage. I felt good and saved myself a bit. But when the race really started I felt that my companions had quickly used a lot of energy. I decided to accelerate on Wolvenberg. I waited for reinforcement from the back, but at the Molenberg I was eventually caught. At that moment I had used most of my energy. I will dispute Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday. The weather forecast is still uncertain. When there is wind and rain I expect a tough race. We will have to be alert in the front. Timothy Dupont is our leader tomorrow. I hope he is completely recovered after illness two weeks ago.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Result:
1. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 4:53:17
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC at 0:09
3. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
5. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida
6. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
10. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad’19:

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2019
The Deceuninck – Quick-Step team stamped their authority on the season’s opening weekend, taking another brilliant victory, twenty-four hours from Zdenek Stybar’s success at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Bob Jungels also soloed to victory in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday emulating the performance of his Czech teammate. Sky’s Owain Doull finished 12 seconds behind the Luxembourg champion for second place, ahead of Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie) in third.

The 71st Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne came to life on the Oude Kwaremont, where Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar blew the peloton to pieces and forced an important selection, which led to only 14 riders making the split and overhauling the seven-man breakaway ahead of the final three climbs. A strong contingent of Deceuninck – Quick-Step was present in the move and from there Jungels emerged on the Varenstraat to forge a gap together with four other riders: Naesen, Langeveld, Ballerini and Cort.

The final circuit, which the riders had to cover twice, didn’t play into the escapees’ advantage due to the open roads and strong headwind, but that didn’t prevent Jungels from attacking with just under 17 kilometers left and going into full time trial mode. Behind; his teammates made sure of disrupting the chase.

With one lap to go, the peloton was at half a minute to the 2018 Liège–Bastogne–Liège winner, and despite having his advantage reduced to less than 20 seconds two kilometers out, he managed to hold off the peloton. A late attack from Owain Doull and Niki Terpstra put them on the podium as sprinter Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) took fourth on their heels with the rest of the chasers.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step became the first team in 35 years to win both races of the Opening Weekend in the same season.

PEZ race report HERE with more photos.

Kuurne’19 winner, Bob Jungels (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Winning races like this is the hardest way to do it, but also really nice to look at. We had a plan today and we fulfilled it, but it’s a win I wasn’t expecting at all, as the original plan at the start of the classics campaign was to gain experience on the cobbles and adapt to the style of racing, which is so different and more nervous than that of the Ardennes races. The guys did an outstanding job protecting me from behind, we have a wonderful spirit in this team and it’s a real pleasure to be part of this squad. I knew it would be really close when we were five, especially with the headwind, but I felt I was the strongest in the group and decided that I had to try something when the bunch was coming closer. I thought it was a bit of a mission impossible, but I always say that you have to listen to your gut and that’s what I did today and it paid off handsomely in the end.”

2nd, Owain Doull (Sky): “With these races you believe you can do it, but until you actually do it you don’t know if you can. It’s a bit of a shock to be honest. I felt pretty good all day. The legs felt good and I was able to make that front split up the Kwaremont. Obviously that move came back and then the race was full gas chasing the front five. It was always looking like we were never going to bring Jungels back, and with about 3km to go I saw the lead-outs trains and the chase really started to die and it almost stalled. So I thought right, I’m going to go full gas now. I managed to jump away with Lampaert, Terpstra and a guy from Lotto Soudal came with me. We kept pushing and the gap looked good. I knew it was going to be tight, so I knew I had to go with 350m to go and I managed to hold on. I’m super happy. I’ve changed a lot of stuff over this winter and I’ve re-focussed a few things and it’s all really starting to pay off now. It’s just nice to get that confirmation that all the hard work you’ve done over the winter building up to this has paid off.”

3rd, Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie): “I’m happy with my condition and the podium spot today. Overall it was a good weekend. It was a tough race. I’m not really fast but after a tough race I have the same speed as at the beginning. There’s still a lot of Classics but I’m happy to race for Direct Energie and the team is happy to race for me and that gives me confidence. I’m looking forward to the next races already. We still need to get used to each other, but day by day it’s getting better.”

4th, Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma): “It was a tough race, but a nice fight. The boys gave it their best, but Jungels was simply the strongest. It was a hectic final. Jungels is a good time trialist, so you know that it is going to be difficult to close the gap. In the end, there were a few more who attacked and you also have to gamble a bit. We rode a very strong race, but we had come here to win. That did not work out. The legs felt good and the feeling in the sprint was good too. That gives confidence for the coming weeks.”

16th, Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Gobert): “I am very disappointed of my sprint. I felt that I really had power in the legs and sprinting top 5 was certainly possible. I was well placed in the wheel of Groenewegen and Ackermann. But someone suddenly stopped spinning his legs and I lost a lot of positions. I feel that I have become stronger in these Flemish races, especially compared to previous years. That is positive. With some additional course knowledge, I feel ready for races such as Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders.”

17th Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was a brutal race today, incredibly fast from the beginning. The boys did an amazing job the entire day, and when we approached the last lap it looked promising for us. But the final was really nervous. I waited long, too long, and when I wanted to start my sprint there was no place to go. I think I could have done better, because I still had relatively good legs. But there are enough races ahead of us to prove that.”

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Result:
1. Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 4:42:54
2. Owain Doull (GB) Sky at 0:12
3. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
5. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
6. Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
7. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. André Greipel (Ger) Arkéa Samsic
9. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10. Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar.


UAE Tour 2019
The 181 km Stage 5 took a route that crossed from the coast at Sharjah, along a mainly flat course to the tips of the Indian ocean at the other side of the peninsula at Khor Fakkan. There they were greeted with a fast and mainly straight run-in that had caught the attention of the sprinters in the field.

As has become customary during this year’s UAE Tour the day’s breakaway consisted of members of both the Gazprom-RusVelo and Team Novo Nordisk, with Tepan Kurianov, Anton Vorobyev, Sergey Shilov and Charles Planet and Fabio Calabria representing the respective teams. With the peloton aware that the group would be looking to pick up enough points defend the green and black jerseys of Planet and Kurianov, they were allowed to build a steady lead that never threatened the impending dominance of the sprinter’s teams, and were reeled in with relative ease at the 30 km to go mark.

The pace was then kept steady in the peloton and Mikkel Honore could be seen policing the front of the peloton for long periods of time in the lead up to the final run in. After a roundabout with 3.5 km to go, Dries Devenyns put in a turn that would pull Deceuninck – Quick-Step into a strong position. Viviani had a slingshot towards the finish, after being policed by Michael Mørkøv and Fabio Sabatini. For an agonizing few seconds he looked to be short of the pace of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) again. However, Viviani stayed patient and a late burst saw the Italian take the win.

Stage winner, Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “After the successful season I had last year and Fernando [Gaviria] not being our teammate anymore, it’s great to still win because he’s the world’s best sprinter and the hardest to beat. So I’m glad we did it as a team today after losing stage 2 to him. My lead-out train worked really well in this chaotic finish. We took the right decision to not spend more energy than needed yesterday and focus exclusively on today. I came close on the second stage, but Fernando was too good then. But I was really focused on today as I knew it was a good finish for me. I am really happy. I am really proud of the team and myself because my lead out train worked really well. We were thinking about our tactics after the last few days, because after losing the first sprint in stage 2 we wanted to win and today was our first chance. I am feeling good and we made a decision not to spend too much energy and focus on today, the proper sprint stage. Today we did the perfect job, thanks always to my teammates.”

Overall leader, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma): “As expected, it was a long day in the saddle but I didn’t really get bored because we always had to be attentive in the desert with the crosswinds. Again, our team did a great job, who protected my [leading] time. For sure, we’re ready for tomorrow’s decisive stage. All stages here are new to me. It’s my first time everywhere and it’ll be my first time [at Jebel Jais] tomorrow. But we’ve shown with the team that we’re ready try to defend the jersey again. We can be confident. Looking at the start list, there are very strong riders in contention, but we don’t need to attack or do something on the climb.”

2nd on the stage, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates): “I’m disappointed because I always ride to win. But that’s sprinting, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Today I thought the wind was less strong and I started a bit early. However, Elia was really fast and he deserved the win. Now there’s one sprint stage left in the UAE Tour and I hope to take it.”

4th on the stage, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Today we made a plan and stuck by it. We did everything to the best of our abilities and that’s all we could do. I had the legs, the backing of the team, and a great position in the final. The level is so high and some very small things have a big impact. Unfortunately I didn’t get the win today. I’d like to thank the team for their efforts.”

UAE Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 4:48:59
2. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
4. Sam Bennett (Ire) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
6. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
7. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Sky
8. Kjakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC
9. Cees Bol (Ned) Sunweb
10. Max Walscheid (Ger) Sunweb.

UAE Tour Overall After Stage 5:
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma in 18:54:09
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:21
3. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:38
4. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:46
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 0:54
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates at 1:01
7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 1:04
8. Victor De La Parte (Spa) CCC at 1:12
9. James Knox (GB) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:14
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 1:15.

Stage 5:

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) put the icing on the cake in the Queen Stage 6 of the UAE Tour on Friday. The overall leader won the stage to the summit of the Jebel Jais, the highest point of the United Arab Emirates, after impressive team work.

For Roglic, it is his first individual win of the season. Earlier this week he won the team time trial. For Team Jumbo-Visma it is the fourth victory this year.

Team Jumbo-Visma controlled the stage all day. On the final climb, the team took the initiative and was well-represented in the front with Jos van Emden, Tony Martin, Koen Bouwman, Laurens De Plus and Roglic. With five kilometers to go, De Plus took over. The Belgian’s pace was high up to the last 500 meters, after which Roglic finished it off in the sprint.

Stage winner and overall leader, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma): “It’s always nice to win a race. I fell short [regarding stage wins] before today and I finally won; that’s why I looked happy when I crossed the finishing line. I’m not really a sprinter, so I was afraid to go on the side to pass the other riders immediately, but it was still quite far from the finish and I had some power left, so I could brake and start again. Winning the first race of the year is a big motivation to improve my racing before the Giro d’Italia.”

Best Young Rider, 3rd on the stage and overall, David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ): “I was on the wheel of the Sunweb rider [Tom Dumoulin] who launched the sprint from very far out. I couldn’t get out of his slipstream but Roglic managed to do that on the left-hand side. He was one leg above everyone today. I’m third again on the stage and I keep my third place on GC and best young rider so the end of the race today was just a bonus. It feels strange to go elbow to elbow with these great champions. I thank my team for the confidence they’ve put in me since the start of the week. Tomorrow in the streets of Dubai, I’ll have to avoid any pitfalls, crashes and splits in the peloton in the finale.”

4th on the stage and 7th overall, Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates): “It was a really nervous day in the peloton and my guys did an amazing job of protecting me. The climb was really fast, not like a typical climb in Europe so we had to be very tactical. I feel that I slightly mistimed my sprint at the end and didn’t have the legs to go again. That said, I think I rode a better race today than on Jebel Hafeet so I am happy about that, even if I am just lacking a little bit of punch at the end. Tomorrow is another day so we’ll look forward to that and focus on supporting Fernando.”

8th on the stage, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “A 20km long climb sounded good, but the ascent today was actually too flat for me. The tempo in the last few kilometers was incredibly high, and because of the wind there was no point in attacking. I am satisfied, that I was up there at the front, and my form is good. It’s a bit disappointing that I only missed out on the podium by a few seconds, but in general I’m satisfied with how the week went.”

UAE Tour Stage 6 Result:
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma in 4:15:39
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb
3. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb
7. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
10. James Knox (GB) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:05.

UAE Tour Overall After Stage 6:
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma in 23:09:38
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:31
3. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:44
4. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:56
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 1:04
6. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 1:08
7. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates at 1:11
8. James Knox (GB) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:29
9. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 1:45
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 1:49.

Stage 6:

On the Final Stage 7 of the UAE Tour, the riders took on 145km of racing between Dubai Safari Park and Dubai Walk. The flat course was tailored to the sprinters and was capped off, as expected, with a thrilling bunch gallop. Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sam Bennett got the better of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal). Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) finished in the bunch to take the final overall win.

Right from the start three riders escaped from the peloton and managed a maximum lead of 4:30. The race progressed in a fairly calm manner and the peloton did not appear to be in any particular hurry to reel in the leading trio. It was only in the latter part of the race that the escapees’ lead began to be whittled down. In the last 10km, Bora-Hansgrohe took over a large portion of the chase work and the breakaway was soon caught. The sprinter’s teams began to jostle for position. After the last corner, in a fast-paced sprint finish in Dubai, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) opened up his sprint, but was passed by Alexander Kristoff and Fernando Gaviria (both UAE Team Emirates). After an excellent lead-out by his teammates, Sam Bennett was able to push past the sprinters in the final meters, and cross the line in first position to take his second win of the season.

Primoz Roglic was the final overall winner of the inaugural UAE Tour. The Slovenian from Team Jumbo-Visma led the race from start to finish and capped it off with an individual stage victory atop Jebel Jais. World Champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and best young rider David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) rounded out the final podium.

Stage winner, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Our lead-out train worked perfectly today. The guys supported me the whole day and helped me to save extra energy. On the last sprint stage, I didn’t have good legs in the finale, but today I felt very good. The field is full of top notch sprinters and to pick up a win against these guys is a great achievement. My win today gives me confidence heading into the next races, and I’m excited to see what I can do there.”

Overall winner, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma): “It was windy from the start but as a team we finished the job the same way we started. We showed again that we are a very strong team. It’s nice to have started with a Team Time Trial victory and kept the jersey till the end. As my first race of the year, it’s great to begin with a stage race victory. Results show that we’re ready for a promising season.”

2nd overall, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “The most important thing today, after all the efforts we made and the difficulties we endured during the week, was simply getting to the finish in one piece. My stage victory on Tuesday and the second place overall are very decent results, I think, really important to continue to work in the upcoming weeks and hopefully get to my best form. On the one hand, I want to thank all of my team-mates’ work for the last seven days, because they never let me down and supported me wherever I needed to; on the other, I must congratulate Roglic, because he was the strongest on course and had a very solid team by his side. The future for me? Now it’s time to think about the Volta a Catalunya. Hopefully I can keep the results coming and even make it again onto the podium, as in all other stage races this year!”

2nd on the stage, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates): “The sprint was made very difficult by the strong headwind. I tried to stay as much as possible in the slipstream and I waited until the final meters to go: when I launched, I immediately realized that Bennett was faster. It’s a pity I did not get a second victory, but I think it’s important to thank all my team-mates for the great job they’ve done today.”

3rd overall, David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ): “I’m very proud of finishing third in the overall ranking of the UAE Tour and win the White Jersey at the same time. This is my first podium in a WorldTour race. It was very stressful today because of the wind so none of the GC contenders tried to attack. Now my ambitions will be on the up when I’ll get to participate in WorldTour races, but the main goal of the year is to race with Thibaut Pinot and we’ll try to get the best possible result at every race we’ll do together.”

5th on the stage and points winner, Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “I’m a bit disappointed after today, because we were a bit too far back going into the final corner and this ended up costing me in the sprint. On the other hand, coming into the race, winning the green jersey was one of my goals and we did everything to get it, the team was very strong, I won a stage and all these things please me. Tirreno-Adriatico is next for me and I will be fully focused on this event and racing in front of my countrymen with the beautiful Italian National Champion jersey.”

UAE Tour Stage 7 Result:
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe at 3:17:51
2. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
3. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
5. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
6. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
7. Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Sunweb
8. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
9. Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
10. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Sky.

UAE Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma in 26:27:29
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:31
3. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:44
4. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:56
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 1:04
6. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 1:08
7. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates at 1:11
8. James Knox (GB) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:29
9. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 1:45
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 1:49.

Final stage 7:

Politt Disqualified for Riding on the Footpath in K-B-K
Nils Politt, the German in the Katusha-Alpecin team, took to the footpath next to the cobblestones of the Varenstraat. He was spotted on TV and was deemed to have put fans in danger, so he was taken off the race.

The UCI has for years said they would take a hard view of riders who use the footpaths instead of the cobblestones. The video commissar, a member of the jury who watches the TV images, can issue punishments based on what he sees. Throwing away a bottle can also be punished in this way.

Nils Politt winning stage 4 of the 2018 Deutschland Tour:

Dumoulin Injured in UAE Tour
Tom Dumoulin did not come out of the UAE Tour completely unscathed. The Dutch captain of Team Sunweb crashed on stage two, extending his hip-lumbar muscle. For a moment, Dumoulin even thought about abandoning.

Dumoulin hopes that the injury will soon heal. “It will take a few days before it recovers, but I hope it is good again,” he told NOS. His next goal is Tirreno-Adriatico. Strade Bianche, in which Dumoulin finished fifth in 2017, he will not ride.

“I fell and stretched my leg,” explains Dumoulin. “To be precise, I extended my iliopsoas, which was really painful. Still is a bit, but it really hurt at the beginning. So I thought: maybe it’s better to stop, because I did not want to take any risks for the rest of the year.”

An hour after the fall, Dumoulin was about to give up on the stage to Jebel Jais. “But then I thought: shit, this is not really bad enough to end a race straight away. Then I thought: I can also go for the stage win. That almost happened as well”, said Dumoulin, who eventually finished second behind stage and final winner Primoz Roglic.

Dumoulin, second on UAE Tour stage 6:

Alex Dowsett Breaks Thumb in UAE Tour Crash
Alex Dowsett had to leave the UAE Tour early with a broken thumb. On stage 6 the five time British time trial champion crashed and had to abandon the race. A medical investigation brought his thumb injury to light, reported his team Katusha-Alpecin. He also sustained multiple abrasions and bruises.

Alex Dowsett:

No Sagan in Strade Bianche
Peter Sagan is traditionally one of the protagonists in the Italian race, Strade Bianche, but the Slovak will not be at the start of the Tuscan gravel Classic this year. Why? “Peter focuses on Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix”, his personal coach Patxi Vila told Velonews.

Vila emphasized that Sagan has gone for a different preparation for the spring monuments. The leader of Bora-Hansgrohe has started the season quieter, to be in top form later on. Participating in Strade Bianche therefore does not fit into the planning.

“Strade Bianche is – in terms of fatigue – perhaps the toughest one day race of the season. It can still be done during a dry edition, but if it’s a wet issue… Then you really have to have a lot of power to ride the gravel climbs. You have to overcome almost four thousand altitude meters “, says Vila.

“Last year, Strade Bianche was really the toughest race for Peter. The impact was a bit too big.” The triple World Champion will not be at the start in Siena. The 29-year-old rider said earlier that he will participate in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, for the first time in his career.

However, Villa. “We have to wait and see how the condition is by that time. Then we will make a decision. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a very tough race, especially after an intensive and stressful classic period. It is also a mental story.”

Sagan in the 2018 Strade Bianche:

Zakarin Wants a Podium Place in the Giro d’Italia
The news around Russian star Ilnur Zakarin has been pretty quiet lately. In 2017, the Russian climber finished on the podium of the Vuelta a España, an accomplishment that he has not managed to equal. “But I hope to finish this year with the first three in the Giro d’Italia,” Zakarin told Spanish sports paper, Marca.

Zakarin was riding the UAE Tour, but didn’t star the final stage 7 on Saturday. The 29-year-old Russian was 7th on stage 3 to Jebel Hafeet. “I feel that I have good legs”, he said after the finish. “I have been able to train very well in Tenerife over the past period. That seventh place is a boost. On Friday there will be a new test”, Zakarin was 33rd on stage 6 to Jebel Jais. The climber is looking forward to the Giro, his first main goal of the 2019 season.

“I hope to finish on the podium”, Zakarin is ambitious. “It will not be easy, since the Giro is an open race. It is the Tour that suits me best. I love the course: little time-trial kilometers and lots of climbs. I think the Giro is just as hard as the Tour this year. Maybe even harder.”

Zakarin will – in the run-up to La Corsa Rosa – start in Paris-Nice, the Tour of Catalonia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In 2016, the Russian seemed on the way to a top 5 place in the Giro, until he crashed on stage 19 to Risoul. The following year he took revenge by finishing fifth in Milan.

Ilnur Zakarin:

Giro Top Ten for Mollema
Bauke Mollema has been able to show himself several times this season with podium places in Mallorca. For the Dutchman of the Trek-Segafredo team, the Giro d’Italia is his first big goal of the season. He hopes to be able to finish in the top 10 and chase stage wins in the Tour de France.

After the races on Mallorca, Mollema rode the Etoile de Bessèges where he finished in 4th place in the final classification. “I take a rest after Strade Bianche, so that’s the first part of my preseason”, he told De Telegraaf. “Then I’m really going to build up to the Giro, that’s my first big goal.”

Although Mollema hinted several years ago that he would not focus on the Giro overall standings, he is now going to try again. “Two years ago I was really broken in the last week. I was not really super happy and it did not go all the way to my liking. But this year I told the team that I wanted to ride the Giro again. And maybe I want to make up for something or try to get more out of it than two years ago, when I was seventh.”

He is motivated and already looking forward to La Corsa Rosa, of which he has already reconnoitered some stages during the winter. “I really want to make it a nice goal and to look good. I think I still have a chance in the Giro to ride to top 10 in the standings. That could also be in the Tour, but in the Giro I see that opportunity a bit bigger.” In the coming years, he also wants to continue to try to score a good classifications in the Grand Tours.

After the Giro he will also ride the Tour, in which Richie Porte is the leader at Trek-Segafredo. Mollema normally has a serving role there, as he had with Alberto Contador two years ago. “That worked out well and I won a stage. That also played a part in my choice for the Giro, giving me some more freedom and opportunity in the Tour to go for a stage victory. I thought that was very nice then. And hopefully Richie will be so good for the day that we can join him on stage. That is the goal, so those are two beautiful goals side by side.”


New Team for Bouhanni in 2020?
The French sprinter, Nacer Bouhanni, has an expiring contract with his ProContinental team, Cofidis, and is therefore keeping an eye open for a new position. “I am talking to several teams,” Bouhanni recently said.

“I have had contact with a few French ProContinental teams, but also with some foreign WorldTour formations,” the French sprinter confirmed. But Bouhanni has not yet made a choice. “It is too early to say where my future lies.”

“There are certainly conversations going on, but at the moment I do not know yet. I am not in a hurry either. Although I think that the knot will be cut quickly. Above all, I want to make an informed choice, so that in the future I will not regret my decision.”

Bouhanni may be in conversation with other teams, but the 28-year-old sprinter does not rule out a longer stay at Cofidis. “It can change quickly in cycling. But I am mainly looking for the confidence of the past. It is not just about the sport. I also have to have fun on the bike.” Hedging his bets?

Nacer Bouhanni was close to the win in Valencia:

Kévin Van Melsen Fractures Scapula
Kévin Van Melsen is out for a few weeks with a scapula fracture. The Walloon Wanty-Gobert rider crashed heavily last Saturday during the fourth stage of the Ruta del Sol (2.HC, 20-24/02). The first examinations after his crash in the hospital of Granada (Spain) revealed no fractures. After continuing pain, Van Melsen let carry out further tests in Belgium with Dr. Claes in the AZ Herentals. He diagnosed a scapula fracture. Van Melsen is out for a few weeks. His return to competition is estimated at the beginning of April.

Kévin Van Melsen: “I crashed heavily in a descent at a speed of more than 80 km/h. I had pain in my finger, but also in the back. The additional tests confirmed my unavailability. Surgery is not possible because there is no displacement. I will have to rest in the hope that my situation will quickly improve.”

“It is annoying that I might miss all the classics, but I have to rest in order to fully heal. I hope to get back on the rollers in the middle of the week, and then to be back in the saddle within two or three weeks. In early April I hope to resume competition, but I have to be careful not to force my scapula. I really hope to be fully fit for Paris-Roubaix, a classic that I want to start in the best condition.”

Kévin Van Melsen:

UCI Ask E3 BinckBank Classic to Change Poster
The UCI is not happy with the poster of the upcoming E3 BinckBank Classic. The international cycling union urges the organization to withdraw the poster and threatens to take steps.

It states in a press statement that it regrets the organizer’s choice and strongly rejects it because of the woman-unfriendly nature of the statement. On the poster you can see two women in an embrace as part of a frog.

The UCI reminds the organizer of its responsibilities with regard to the image of cycling. It has instructed the organization to withdraw the poster. If this is not answered, the UCI is considering starting an internal procedure. E3 BinckBank Classic has caused trouble in the past. In 2015, the race organizers decided to adjust the poster after persistent criticism.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Van Avermaet Secures CCC Team’s First Classic Podium
It was an almost-perfect day out at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Go behind the scenes of the first Classic of the season, where Greg Van Avermaet secured second place and CCC Team’s first podium this spring. #RideForMore

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