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Valence - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - KWIATKOWSKI Michal (POL) of Team SKY pictured during 70th Critérium du Dauphiné (2.UWT) - prologue - from Valence to Valence 6,6 KM - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

Michal Kwiatkowski has started well in the Dauphiné by taking the prologue. Results and video action from France and the Tour de Luxembourg. Are we any further on with FroomeGate – Top Story. Loads of other cycling news this EUROTRASH Monday: OVO Energy Tour Series, Madrid Challenge, La Course, Tour of Britain, Ben O’Connor renews with Dimension Data, Jimmy Whelan to join #PinkArgyle, USA National Champs, Lotto Soudal medical update and Sky Ocean Rescue Tour De France kit revealed.

TOP STORY: When and How Will FroomeGate End?
The easy answer is: Who Knows?

UCI president David Lappartient has changed his statements from “Chris Froome’s case will not be resolved before the Giro d’Italia” to “I hope and call for a decision before the Tour”, then it was: “Chris Froome decision unlikely to come during Tour de France” and for good measure a: “It would be difficult for Froome to ride the Tour de France without a verdict”.

Where do we stand on the Chris Froome salbutamol case then? It would seem we are still in the dark and there will be no decision before the most important stage race of the year rolls down the start ramp off the east coast of France.

In an interview with French newspaper, Le Parisien, Lappartient stated: “I see it as wrong if the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal and the court holds its meeting during the Tour, it deprives him of his ability to defend himself. So, I do not see a decision happening during the Tour de France.” Or before, one would guess.

The rumor mill and conspiracy theories have also been running on high speed. The most recent doing the rounds is that Froome will be cleared, but will leave Sky at the end of the year. Yeah and maybe men did go to the moon!

Will/can Chris Froome add another yellow to his wardrobe?

Critérium du Dauphiné 2018
One day after his 28th birthday, Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) clocked an unbeatable time of seven minutes and 25 seconds around the 6.6-kilometer opener in Valence, claiming victory by just over a second in the Dauphiné Prologue on Sunday.

The result saw him pull on the race’s opening yellow and blue jersey, during a day which saw Team Sky display plenty of strength in depth. Gianni Moscon impressed with a powerful ride to third spot on the stage, just three seconds back on his teammate. Moscon will don the white young rider’s jersey on Monday’s stage one, while Kwiatkowski also bagged the green points jersey for good measure. Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) was second at 1 second as European time trial champion Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal) was 4th at 5 seconds and Patrick Bevin (BMC) was 5th in the same time.

Geraint Thomas was the final Team Sky rider down the ramp but the Welshman endured a tough start to the famous stage race. Sliding out on a fast right-hand corner, Thomas crashed into a roadside fence but was able to quickly remount and finish. A gutsy effort saw him drop only 21 seconds at the line, bettering a number of general classification contenders despite hitting the deck.

Valence - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - KWIATKOWSKI Michal (POL)  of Team SKY   pictured during 70th Critérium du Dauphiné (2.UWT) - prologue  - from Valence to Valence  6,6 KM - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Prologue winner and overall leader, Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky): “After 40 days without racing of course it’s a bit of a surprise, but I know how hard I was training to be in good shape here in the Dauphine, as well as preparing for the Tour. You have to always be at the start thinking about the win, otherwise you are not able to perform well. It’s going to be difficult, the transition I have to make from spring and performing in the Classics, to getting ready for the Tour. I was training for more than two weeks at our altitude training camp getting ready for the climbing. Let’s hope I can find my legs, if not here then for the Tour.” And the crash of Geraint Thomas: “I know where it happened, it was a really fast bend. I know G can fight for the win in this race. Let’s hope he’s all right and there’s nothing serious. Both Geraint and myself we came here to see how the shape is growing before the Tour. It’s an advantage to win the prologue but the hardest stages are at the end of the race – four mountain finishes, four really hard stages and a team time trial. For sure we are looking forward to racing hard, but at the moment I just want to enjoy this victory. I had my birthday yesterday and as well this is maybe the last time trial in the national champion’s jersey. Of course I will try to defend it at the national championship in a couple of weeks, but it’s always a nice feeling.”

31st at 18 seconds, Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe): “After a period of training, I am back in race mode and I am satisfied with my result and my performance today. We will see what happens in the upcoming stages, but I look forward to the next days, and of course I will support our GC contender Emanuel as best as possible.”

Critérium du Dauphiné Prologue Result:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 7:25
2. Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:01
3. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Sky at 0:03
4. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:05
5. Patrick Bevin (NZ) BMC
6. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo at 0:06
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors at 0:07
8. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:09
9. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Sky
10. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:11.

Critérium du Dauphiné Overall After the Prologue:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky in 7:25
2. Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:01
3. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Sky at 0:03
4. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:05
5. Patrick Bevin (NZ) BMC
6. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo at 0:06
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors at 0:07
8. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:09
9. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Sky
10. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:11.

Dauphiné Prologue:

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg 2018
Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie) won the 2.3 kilometer Prologue of the Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg on Wednesday with a time of 3:16, beating Alexander Krieger (Leopard Pro Cycling) by one second to take the first overall leaders jersey. Jan Tratnik (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) took third at 3 seconds. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) crashed on the trick short course in Luxembourg – Ville.

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Prologue Result:
1. Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie at 3:16
2. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling at 0:01
3. Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:03
4. Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie at 0:04
5. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie at 0:05
6. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan at 0:06
7. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:08
8. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
9. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Overall After the Prologue:
1. Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie in 3:16
2. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling at 0:01
3. Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:03
4. Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie at 0:04
5. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie at 0:05
6. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems Crelan at 0:06
7. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:08
8. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
9. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Luxembourg prologue:

The eleventh win of the season came as a ripe fruit for Cofidis Solutions Credits on the occasion of Stage 1 of the Skoda Tour of Luxembourg. And Christophe Laporte, still disappointed by his fall the day before in the prologue, left no one in doubt of his present form. In a massive sprint perfectly mastered with the help of his team-mates, the leader of the northern french team imposed himself on the race and take his 6th bouquet of the season.

Stage winner, Christophe Laporte (Cofidis): “Today is the victory of the whole team Cofidis Credits Solutions. I came on this competition with the desire to do well and ambitions. Wednesday, I made a mistake and I decided to erase it. The guys did a great job all day especially behind the breakaway and still managed to place me ideally in the final. So it’s mission accomplished with regard to our first goal with this stage success but we have a good group and we will not be far in the other arrivals. Even if the continuation will not be of the same ilk.”

Cofidis DS, Alain Deloeuil: “Once again, it was a great team race with a lot of collective work that has already taken place for several weeks. The guys have confidence in themselves. What makes me happy to see is the way things are done and set up with the automatisms acquired since the beginning of the season.”

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Stage 1 Result:
1. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis in 4:39:58
2. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
3. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
5. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling
6. Justin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
7. Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
8. Brenton Jones (Aus) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM
9. Jannik Steimle (Ger) Team Vorarlberg Santic
10. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan.

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Overall After Stage 1:
1. Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie in 4:43:14
2. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling at 0:01
3. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic at 0:02
4. Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:03
5. Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie at 0:04
6. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie at 0:05
7. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan at 0:06
8. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:08
9. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Luxembourg stage 1:

Andrea Pasqualon delivered Wanty-Groupe Gobert a fourth season victory on Friday’s Stage 2. Due to the bad weather and flooded roads the second stage of Tour de Luxembourg was shortened to 89 kilometers. Four riders accelerated immediately after the start. The peloton kept the lead limited and five kilometers from the line they were caught. In Schifflange a tough final kilometer was waiting for our Andrea Pasqualon.

He was ideally brought forward by his teammates. Pasqua followed the high pace on the climb and clearly was the strongest at the finish. After a third place in Thursday’s stage, it is the second victory of the season for our 30-year-old Italian. Last Saturday he already won GP Plumelec, also in an uphill sprint.

Stage winner and 3rd overall, Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “A few days ago I came to recon this finish in the car with our trainer Frederik Veuchelen. I like these kind of uphill finishes and wanted to go for the win today. The team worked very hard and put me in a great position at the foot of the climb. On the climb I did not want to go full gas, so I saved my legs for the sprint. That succeeded. A pretty good feeling! I feel very good, but not in top shape yet. After an altitude training camp in Livigno I feel the form is still growing. My next big goal is to ride Tour de France in top shape. My body and feeling has changed over the past times. Before 2017 I rode in smaller continental teams. In 2017 I joined Wanty-Groupe Gobert and over the past 1,5 year I rode a lot of big races. I feel that my body and legs are becoming stronger because of that. Now I hope to take another step in the near future.”

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Stage 2 Result:
1. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 1:57:29
2. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling
3. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
4. Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
5. Pit Leyder (Lux) Leopard Pro Cycling
6. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM at 0:03
8. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems Crelan
10. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias at 0:05.

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Overall After Stage 2:
1. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling in 6:40:38
2. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic at 0:03
3. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:05
4. Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:08
5. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:13
6. Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems Crelan at 0:16
7. Pit Leyder (Lux) Leopard Pro Cycling at 0:17
8. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:20
10. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:22.

Luxembourg stage 2:

Andrea Pasqualon also managed to win the Stage 3 of Tour de Luxembourg (2.HC). In a close sprint he was the fastest of a reduced leading group in Differdange. For Pasqua it is his second victory in a row, and his third win in only eight days. Because of his victory, he also takes over the leader’s jersey from Alexander Krieger (Leopard Pro Cycling).

Stage winner and overall leader, Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I have to enjoy these happy moments. These last days have been amazing. Today was a hard, hilly stage with a lot of attacks. But together with my teammates I stayed calm and focused. The mental game was very important today. The stage was very hard but I got a mental boost when I saw race leader Krieger and Kirsch (2nd in GC) having difficulties on the climbs. The team protected me excellent during the stage. In the final I was alone in the reduced leading group, but that was normal since my teammates were tired after all their efforts. Fabien Doubey was also present in my group but he was dropped after nice support. In the downhill sprint it was very close for the victory. The difference with Tulik was only 1 centimeter. But I was confident because I saw his wheel was just behind on the line. But tomorrow is another day. I will need the support of my teammates one more day to bring home the general classification in a difficult stage. I never won a stage race, so this a unique opportunity.”

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Stage 3 Result:
1. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 3:53:36
2. Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie
3. Nick van der Lijke (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
4. Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan
5. Olivier Pardini (Bel) Team Differdange Losch
6. Julien El Fares (Fra) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM
7. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
8. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Pit Leyder (Lux) Leopard Pro Cycling
10. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM.

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Overall After Stage 3:
1. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 10:34:06
2. Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:07
3. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling at 0:23
4. Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie at 0:24
5. Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems Crelan
6. Pit Leyder (Lux) Leopard Pro Cycling at 0:25
7. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic at 0:28
9. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:30
10. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias at 0:32.

Luxembourg stage 3:

Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) finished third in the Final Stage 4 of Tour of Luxembourg. That was amply sufficient to win the final classification. In the last stage between Mersch and Luxembourg the Belgian team started with one mission: to defend the leader’s jersey for Pasqualon. All day long birthday boy Boris Vallée, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Kevin Van Melsen, Fabien Doubey and Yoann Offredo controlled the pace and the attacks. In the tough local laps a group accelerated with the dangerous Angelo Tulik, in the GC only 24 seconds behind Pasqualon.

The lead of the group fluctuated around 20 seconds, but on the final climb Pasqualon impressively closed the gap. Anthony Perez (Cofidis)took the stage victory with Eduard Prades (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias) in second. With third place Pasqualon more than guaranteed the overall win. For 30-year-old Italian it is the fourth victory in only nine days. For Wanty-Groupe Gobert it is the sixth win of the season. Pasqualon is also the final winner of the points classification.

Stage winner, Anthony Perez (Cofidis): “The tactic was to dynamite the race from the start, everyone put on theirs and we always stayed on the lookout by putting a guy in the breakaway every time. I managed to slip into the good move and I focused on the final that I knew well. When I saw the first guys come back, I pulled myself out and I gave everything to pass this line first.”

3rd on the stage and final overall winner, Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “Today I realized my dream. I hoped that the bunch would arrive all together in the final. But that was not the case! The first part of the race we were attacked by a lot of teams. We stayed calm and then I put my teammates to work because I heard in the radio that in the breakaway two dangerous guys for the GC were present. The team worked very, very hard. I have to be grateful for Boris, Guillaume, Kevin, Yoann and Fabien. In the end I tried to save some energy for the final sprint on the climb. But on the final climb I had to go full gas to close the gap with the leaders. I finished in third place, but the stage victory was not important today. The only mission was to bring home the yellow jersey. This is an amazing moment for my team and me because it is my first overall victory in a stage race. I feel fantastic. This is a victory for my baby daughter Joyel. These efforts were all for her.”

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Stage 4 Result:
1. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis in 3:57:31
2. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
3. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Pit Leyder (Lux) Leopard Pro Cycling
5. Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie at 0:04
6. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM
7. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan
9. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling
10. Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice.

Skoda – Tour de Luxembourg Final Overall Result:
1. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 14:31:33
2. Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 0:15
3. Pit Leyder (Lux) Leopard Pro Cycling at 0:29
4. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias at 0:30
5. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling at 0:31
6. Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie at 0:32
7. Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan
8. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:33
9. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis at 0:36
10. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM at 0:40.

Final stage 4:

Canyon Eisberg and Team Breeze Win OVO Energy Tour Series Titles in Salisbury
Canyon Eisberg and Team Breeze were crowned champions of the OVO Energy Tour Series as the unique team-based Series reached a thrilling climax amid packed crowds in the heart of Salisbury.

The Wiltshire city embraced the Grand Final of the OVO Energy Tour Series with crowds lining the 1.2 kilometer circuit to cheer on the men’s and women’s fields as both Series titles came down to the final round.

The enthusiastic support was rewarded with individual wins for Ed Clancy and Nikki Juniper, as both Series team leaders held on to their five OVO Energy Green Jersey, despite strong challenges to their authority.

Canyon Eisberg took the win on the night, with challengers Madison Genesis coming second to miss out on the title by two points. The win was made especially emotional by previous Tour Series Champion Chris Opie announcing his retirement before the racing, before helping his team to the title, his third Series crown.

In the women’s OVO Energy Tour Series, Team Breeze clinched the title by three points from Storey Racing who took the win in Salisbury on the night.

A seven-rider group contested the finish, with Nikki Juniper (NJC-Biemme-Echeleon) taking the win to add to victories in Aberdeen and Durham during the 2018 Series, heading home Jess Roberts (Team Breeze) and Ejay Harris (Storey Racing). With Harris’ team-mates Neah Evans and Rebecca Durrell in the front selection, the win went the way of Storey, putting them second overall, with NJC-Biemme-Echelon a further point in arrears.

Juniper also took the Eisberg Points jersey, while the final Brother Fastest Lap went the way of Jess Roberts.

Despite not racing in Salisbury, JLT Condor’s Matt Gibson kept hold of the men’s Eisberg Points Jersey, although Harry Tanfield did close the gap to a solitary point during the race, while Wembley Park winner Tom Pidcock took the final Brother Fastest Lap of the 2018 OVO Energy Tour Series.

The WIGGINS youngster took second in the race behind Clancy, with the retiring Opie in third, Tanfield and McEvoy completed the final top five.

For full results from the men and women’s races and final Series standings, please click here.

Highlights of the women’s race from Salisbury will be on ITV4 at 23:00 on Monday 4 June at 23:00 (with a repeat the following morning, Tuesday 5 June, at 08:20) while highlights of the men’s event will be shown in a separate program at 23:00 on Tuesday 5 June, with a repeat at 07:15 on Wednesday 6 June.

Highlights from every round of the 2018 OVO Energy Tour Series are also available on demand via the ITV Hub catch-up service.

The WNT Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta Becomes a Stage Race
This September, the streets will once again be crowded with fans who wish to enjoy the very best of both men’s and women’s cycling. For the second consecutive year, some of Madrid’s most emblematic avenues will be the setting for the WNT Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta. The novelty this year is that, for the very first time, the women’s race organized by Unipublic will consist of two stages.

The first attack will take place on Saturday, the 15th of September, with a 14-kilometer team time trial in the Madrid locality of Boadilla del Monte. This first stage and its fight against the clock will take place in a totally unprecedented, closed circuit. The second stage will take place on Sunday, the 16th of September, and will be the traditional linear stage along the circuit that runs through the centre of Madrid. The riders will pedal through the Paseo de la Castellana, the Plaza de Colón, the Gran Vía and the Plaza de Cibeles and will pass by Atocha Station and the Prado Museum, currently finalizing the preparations for its second centenary celebration. The WNT Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta’s usual route will now feature two more finish-lines, thus increasing the trial’s difficulty and length by 11.6 km.

In this way, Unipublic continues to reaffirm its commitment to women’s cycling and the WNT Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta becomes consolidated in the international calendar as a standout race, and also as one of the last events in the UCI Women’s World-Tour season.

For the second year in a row, the main sponsor is WNT Ibérica, a company that belongs to the CERATIZIT Multinational Group, and specializes in the manufacture and sale of precision metal cutting tools for machining purposes. The company also takes one step further in its commitment to supporting women’s cycling and is very proud of having contributed to the trial taking place in Boadilla del Monte, where its Iberian market headquarters is located. The first stage’s time trial circuit will pass by the Technical Centre that the company has in said locality.

The essentials:
· The 4th edition of the WNT Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta will take place over two stages on the 15th and 16th of September.
· Boadilla del Monte will host the 14-kilometer team time trial, in an unprecedented closed circuit.
· WNT Ibérica renews its commitment to the women’s race and will be its main sponsor for the second consecutive year.

Jolien D’Hoore, winner of the WNT Madrid Challenge 2017:

2018 La Course by Le Tour de France with FDJ: From the Lake to the Mountains
Today’s best female riders will race on a stage tailor-made for champions, Tuesday July 17, in edition 5 of La Course by Le Tour de France. As was the case last year with the col d’Izoard serving as the finish line, this will be a mountain race between Annecy and Le Grand-Bornand. However, this year there will be just one stage. The 112.5 kilometers will be anything but a Sunday morning stroll. The Bluffy, Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, Romme and the Colombière climbs will count for the best climber category.

La Course by Le Tour de France will be contested on 78 kilometers of the men’s stage, which will be run the same day, with 28 kilometers between Annecy and Thônes then the final 50 kilometers between Bonneville and Le Grand-Bornand. While the opening kilometers will be picturesque as the peloton riders along the shore of Europe’s purest river, the road will rise in the first 20 kilometers with the col de Bluffy (1.5 km at 5.5%). This could be the first opportunity for a breakaway. Something new this year is the award for the most combative rider of the day that will be rewarded after the race. After passing through Thônes, a category 2 climb will be the next challenge for the peloton with the Côte de Saint-Jean-de-Sixt (5.5 km à 4.9 %). La Course by le Tour will then use the same road as the men that heads to the col des Glières, but will continue straight towards Bonneville to arrive in the Arve valley. At this point the peloton will be back on the Tour de France route and will head to the Romme and Colombière climbs, where no doubt, the top climbers will try to attack on the steep slopes of these climbs in the Haute-Savoie. From there it will be a fast downhill run to Le Grand-Bornand, where La Course by Le Tour de France will be decided.

Key points:
La Course by le Tour de France will this year be a one stage race between Annecy and Le Grand-Bornand. The first 28 kilometers and final 50 kilometers will be the same used on stage 10 of the men’s race.
Ø In addition to the race win, a prize for the best climber and most combative rider will be awarded at the arrival. Like in years past, the best riders will battle for the win just a few hours before the Tour de France peloton arrives.
Ø Twenty teams have been chosen by the organizer, representing the best female cyclists in the world.

The organizers of La Course by Le Tour de France have selected 20 teams to participate in edition 5:
Ale Cipollini, Astana Women’s Team, Bepink, Boels Dolmans Cycling Team, BTC City Ljubjana, Canyon // SRAM Racing, Cervelo – Bigla Pro Cycling Team, Cylance Pro Cycling, FDJ Nouvelle – Aquitaine Futuroscope, Lotto Soudal Ladies, Mitchelton Scott, Movistar Team Women, Team Sunweb, Team Tibco – Silicon Valley Bank, Team Virtu Cycling, Trek – Drops, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, Valcar PBM, Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team, Wiggle High5.

Carmarthenshire and Newport to Host Opening Stage of 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain
The 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain will begin in South Wales for the first time as Carmarthenshire and Newport host the opening stage of Britain’s national Tour on Sunday 2 September.

It will mark the first time that the race has visited Carmarthenshire with the county set to welcome 120 of the world’s top professional cyclists next September for the start of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race.

The city of Newport last hosted the Tour of Britain in 2004, while the final stage of the 2017 race passed through the city on its way to the overall finish in Cardiff.

Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “Hosting the start of this iconic professional race and having an all Welsh stage is fantastic news for Wales. Since hosting the Tour of Britain for the first time in 2010, the event has established itself in the Welsh sporting calendar with the race visiting various locations across Wales almost every year since – and I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to support the event.

“The Tour of Britain is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase Wales’ unique and beautiful landscape to the world, as well as highlighting our ability to host a variety of major events. The event gives cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step and spectators in Wales have always given the cyclists a real warm Welsh welcome and have created a fantastic atmosphere. I hope that people from across south Wales come out to support the cyclists as they travel from Carmarthenshire to Newport on the first day of the race in September.”

More details of Stage One, including the exact Start location in Carmarthenshire, details of the route and where the race will finish in Newport will be announced at the national launch of the 2018 route on Tuesday 5 June.

Councillor Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “This is the largest professional road cycling event in the UK and we are proud that organizers have chosen Carmarthenshire as the starting venue for the race.

“As a televised event this is a wonderful opportunity to show our county’s beautiful scenery to the world. No doubt it will also be a massive boost to the local economy with thousands of people involved in the race and turning out to watch.”

Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said; “We are very excited to again be involved in the Tour and promise to give competitors the warmest of Newport welcomes as they cross the first finish line in the heart of our city.

“Newport boasts such a diverse landscape which lends itself perfectly to events such as the Tour – from flat, urban routes to challenging climbs and descents through beautiful countryside – we are sure the cyclists, supporters and spectators alike will enjoy the leg and their time in our city.”

Commenting on the announcement, OVO Energy Tour of Britain Race Director Mick Bennett said; “We have been working with our partners at the Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire County Council for some time to put together this plan for the opening stage and visit the area for the first time, and are delighted to be able to confirm plans so spectators can begin to make their plans now for the 2 September to join us for our opening leg.

“As the home of Welsh Cycling and the Wales National Velodrome it is fitting that the OVO Energy Tour of Britain will finish its opening stage of 2018 in the city and we look forward to working with Newport City Council and their partners to deliver the event.”

Commenting on the announcement Nick Smith, Chairman at Welsh Cycling said: “It is absolutely fantastic news for Wales to play host to the opening of Britain’s biggest international cycling race.

“Beginning the entire race in Carmarthenshire is truly fitting to the county’s commitment to cycling, as they strive to become the cycling hub of Wales following the recent refurbishment of the Carmarthen Velodrome as well as the current construction work on the Pembrey Closed Road Circuit.

“Locals and fans in Wales will not only have the opportunity to cheer on the best cycling talent on their very own door steps as they begin the first stage of the competition in Carmarthenshire; but also congratulate the riders as they cross the finish line at the home of Welsh Cycling at the Wales National Velodrome in Newport.”

The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step, taking place between Sunday 2 and Sunday 9 September 2018.

Ben O’Connor Renews with Team Dimension Data – Young Aussie talent Commits Future to Africa’s Team
One of the brightest talents on the UCI World Tour, Ben O’Connor, says that he’s “excited” to have committed his future to Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka which has been a “great fit” for him thus far in his professional career.

The 22-year-old Australian, in his second year with Africa’s Team, has renewed his contract until 2020. The good news comes just days after his heroic efforts at the Giro d’Italia, which saw him sadly crash out within sight of the finish in Rome but make headlines with a hugely impressive Grand Tour debut.

While for Team Principal, Douglas Ryder, O’Connor’s commitment is an integral part of the team’s goals over the course of the next three years and their ‘Vision 2020’ campaign.

Despite crashing out on stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia, O’Connor was one of the biggest revelations of the race. The Australian was riding high, challenging for a top-8 GC placing, when the race summited the Col delle Finestre but his inspired ride came to a crashing halt, ending with a broken collarbone on the descent of the Sestriere.

O’Connor’s Giro exit was heartbreaking, for both rider and Team Dimension Data, but showcased the rapid progression he has made over the course of the last 18 months.

After top-10 GC finishes at Langkawi and Austria in 2017 he took a major step forward in 2018 as he claimed 11th at the Vuelta Catalunya as well as a stage win, the white jersey and 7th on GC at the Tour of Alps, confirming his status as one of the most exciting emerging talents in the sport.

Now in the week following the Giro, as Ben recovers from his injuries and first half of the season efforts, we are delighted to confirm he has committed his racing future to Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.

Douglas Ryder – Team Principal
We’re really happy to have Ben continue his career and development at Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. He has been such an amazing addition to the team. Ben is a rider who knows what he wants, pays incredible attention to the detail in the races he rides, leverages the mentorship we have in our team both on and off the bike and takes a leadership role when the opportunity presents itself. His maturity is way beyond his years and he sets an example of what is possible when you embrace all at your disposal whilst having fun doing it. Bicycles change lives.

Ben O’Connor – Rider
I am excited to have signed a new contract with Team Dimension Data. I have made some good friends here, with the riders and staff, and I really get along well with everyone. When you already have that trust established, I don’t think it’s a great idea to just jump from one team to another.

Dimension Data is a great fit for me. Here we have the ability to actually race the race, and that freedom allows you to learn and grow in a professional environment. This system really works for me so it is a great fit. I’m also happy to be able to show loyalty to the team that believed in me initially, and gave me that opportunity.

The Giro was massively disappointing for me, in the end, but it opened my eyes to more defined goals. I am a GC rider, and a grand tour white jersey is definitely right up there on top of my list of goals now, a goal I look forward to chasing with Team Dimension Data.

Learn more about the team at www.africasteam.com.

Ben O’Connor:

U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen Winner Jimmy Whelan to Join #PinkArgyle
EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale is proud to announce the signing of 2018 U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen winner James Whelan. The 21-year-old will pull on #PinkArgyle as a stagiaire in 2018 before his neo-pro contract begins at the start of the 2019 season.

“This has all happened so quickly,” said Whelan, who began racing less than two years ago. “If someone had told me six months ago that I would be signing a three-year WorldTour contract now, I wouldn’t have believed it. I would have been delighted, but I would have thought: ‘Well for that to happen, everything is going to have to go perfectly.’ And I’m fortunate enough to have had the right people around me and the right form to get the right results at the right time.”

“Jimmy is obviously a talented young rider and one we’re excited to bring on board, and that’s not only because we see his potential as an athlete,” said EF Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “He’s passionate about racing and about education and thinking outside traditional cycling norms. He’s a great fit for us all-around.”

An Achilles injury in March 2016 saw Whelan swap running, his first passion, for cycling. Six months later, in September 2016, Whelan pinned on his first number at a local criterium in Kew put on by Melbourne’s Hawthorn Cycling Club. Sixteen months later he finished second to Drapac-EF p/b Cannondale’s Cyrus Monk in the U23 National Road Championships. The result earned him a spot on the holistic development team alongside Monk.

“After Road Nationals, I caught up with Michael Drapac in Adelaide during the Tour Down Under. He and Vasanta Iyer, who is the general manager of the development team, offered a contract opportunity, essentially a scholarship position, to be on their team,” said Whelan.

“From a rider point of view, I was interested because it’s one of the few teams in Australia with any link, let alone a direct link, to a WorldTour team in Australia, and from a study point of view, I still have one year left of my study. It was very important to me to find a team that would support my endeavors off the bike. To have a team that not only supported but encouraged academic pursuits alongside athletic ones was really appealing.”

“I knew that Jimmy was a special talent when he challenged Cyrus for the win at Nationals,” said Drapac Capital Partners Chairman and development team owner Michael Drapac. “I was certain that Drapac-EF would be a perfect fit for him in terms of support both on and off the bike, due to him being a student, especially in urban planning, which is a degree that aligns well with any future job opportunities he may have with Drapac Capital Partners.”

Three months after Whelan signed with the development team, he and Monk self-funded a trip to Europe in April to race for the Australian National Team at several of the U23 spring classics. The pair joined EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale on their recon on Ronde van Vlaanderen. One week later, Whelan won the U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen.

“To have the opportunity to go over to Europe and win my first European race, I know how fortunate I am,” said Whelan. “Most guys don’t have the chance to race in Europe as quickly as I did, and a lot of guys have three, four, five years of racing over there before they can bag a big win. I happened to get my result in one of the biggest U23 races on the calendar. It’s a reflection of my hard work, I guess, but I really see it as a credit to the support network I had. Drapac-EF helped me get that trip.”

Being so new to the sport, Whelan appreciated the win but didn’t understand the magnitude of his accomplishment until he spoke with his coach Stephen Lane post-race.

“Stephen told me that nine of the last 12 riders who have won that race have gone WorldTour the next year,” Whelan said. “That was a big moment.”

“Watching Jimmy’s progression in this last two years has been truly amazing,” said Lane. “He not only possesses the unique physiological traits to compete at a world-class level but has also proven time and time again that he has the mindset and dedication to go along with it. I have learnt just as much from him about goal setting and positive reinforcement as I hope he has from me about structuring training and pushing the limits of performance.”

The choice to join #PinkArgyle was an easy one for Whelan.

“Being a part of the WorldTour team’s development team, it was a no-brainer to follow the pathway that’s already set up,” said Whelan. “The development team has put so much into me and my cycling, and I’ve enjoyed the experience there, so it made sense to me to be a part of what’s essentially the team above it.”

Whelan will travel back to Europe in mid-June with the Drapac-EF Education First p/b Cannondale Holistic team to compete in several one-day UCI races and kermesses before moving to Girona, Spain, where he will base himself throughout his staigiare period.

“I’m in discussion with Charly [Wegelius] about my race program,” said Whelan. “We haven’t finalized anything yet. The program for the WorldTour team needs to work alongside the Australian team program. I’m hoping to get selected for Tour de l’Avenir and Worlds.

“Obviously I can’t do any WorldTour races, but hopefully I can start Tour of Britain, Japan Cup and some of the other one-day races in Italy in October,” Whelan added. “Those are all looking possible.”

Learn more about Whelan in a Q&A on efprocycling.com.

Jimmy Whelan:

Live Webcasts Confirmed for Women’s and Men’s Road Races at USA Cycling Professional National Championships
Television Coverage Provided by ABC Affiliates in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville.

A record eight-plus hours of live broadcast and webcast coverage will be provided this year for the 2018 USA Cycling Professional Road, Individual Time Trial and Criterium National Championships in Knoxville, Tenn. Event partner WATE-TV, the ABC-affiliate station based in Knoxville, will oversee all production for the broadcasts, including live webcasts for both the women’s and men’s road race events, from start to finish, on Sunday, June 24.

Three days of competitions for the 2018 USA Cycling Professional Road, Individual Time Trial and Criterium National Championships will take place June 21-24, 2018. The U.S. Pro Championships award Stars-and-Stripes jerseys for the best professional cyclists in the nation.

Cycling fans across the U.S. and around the world will have free access to webcasts on Sunday via USA Cycling’s YouTube and Facebook channels, showcasing the elite men’s and women’s road race. Sports announcer Brad Sohner will provide commentary for both races, beginning with the elite women’s 72-mile contest at 9 a.m. ET. The elite men’s 120-mile race begins at 1:15 p.m. ET.

Support from the WATE Six On Your Side partnership will expand regional television coverage this year for the men’s road race on Sunday to include stations in Memphis (WATN ABC) and Nashville (WKRN GRIT) viewing areas. The WATE-TV audience includes Knox County and 21 surrounding counties in East Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky. By adding live coverage in two other Tennessee markets, the broadcast will be available to more than 2.2 million households. Highlights from the ITT and Criterium championships and interviews with the winners will be included as part of the regional television programming.

“USA Cycling is extremely pleased that live coverage of both the men’s and women’s road races will be provided on Sunday. The Professional National Championship is a very special event where we get to see the best American cyclists compete for the coveted stars-and-stripes national champion jersey. Sharing that excitement with fans across the country is an important part of the work we are doing to support the growth of cycling here in the U.S.,” said Derek Bouchard-Hall, President and CEO of USA Cycling.

Racing begins on Thursday, June 21 with the Individual Time Trial, referred to as the “race of truth”, in Oak Ridge, Tenn. This is a new 7-mile course along the banks of Melton Lake and the internationally acclaimed Oak Ridge Rowing venue. The U.S. Pro Criterium Championships will take place in downtown Knoxville for the first time on a 1.1-mile circuit. Racing will take place under the lights Friday evening in downtown Knoxville, featuring the start/finish line, expo activities and award ceremonies along the iconic Gay Street corridor.

Joining hundreds of communities across the U.S., Knoxville and USA Cycling will celebrate Olympic Day on Saturday, June 22. Several U.S. Olympians will be present to sign autographs and there will be free children’s races along Gay Street from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. to celebrate the birth of the modern Olympic Games in 1894, which included road cycling.

The U.S. Pro Road Race Championships on Sunday are the signature events of the three days of competitions. The Road Race course will use the same start/finish line on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville as the Criterium. The women will race the 8-mile route for nine laps, and the men will complete 15 laps.

“If you experienced the USA Cycling Pro Road Championships in Knoxville last year, you know what an amazing event this turned out to be. I am confident that this year’s event will be even better for the athletes and the fans,” said Chad Culver, Visit Knoxville Sports Commission Senior Director. “Increased exposure from WATE and a spectacular start/finish line set-up on Gay Street in the heart of downtown are just a few of the many things we’re excited about. This is something you simply cannot miss.”

Four types of VIP Hospitality Access Passes will be available for purchase, including VIP Access for Individual Time Trial, Criterium, and Road Race, as well as a 3-Day VIP Fan Experience Package to encompass the entire event. The official Expo for the championships is free for spectators and will be open on Friday night for the Criterium and all day Sunday, located near the start/finish on Gay Street.

Broadcast and Social Media:
· The U.S. Pro Road Race Championships for women and men will be webcast on Sunday, June 24 on the USA Cycling YouTube Channel (youtu.be/t5VvWxLcYFI), and Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/usacycling/)
· The men’s road race on Sunday afternoon will be broadcast live by WATE-TV in Knoxville, WATN-TV in Memphis, and by WKRN-TV in Nashville. Highlights and interviews from the women’s race will be included in this programming.
· Follow race updates on Twitter @usacyclinglive #USPro #CritNats
· Follow other event updates on Twitter @usacycling and @knoxrocks

More Information:
· For access to PDF maps and schedule of events – usacycling.org/2018/pro-road-crit-time-trial-nationals
· For information on Knoxville accommodations, VIP Hospitality and volunteer opportunities – www.visitknoxville.com/usa-cycle-knox/

Lotto Soudal: Medical Update
Lawrence Naesen suffers from mononucleosis. Because the recovery time from this illness varies individually, it is unsure how long Naesen will be out of competition. His blood levels, which will be evaluated weekly, have to be normal before he can restart training.

Frederik Frison contracted a severe respiratory infection after the Giro d’Italia. He had to go really deep to finish his first Grand Tour. At the moment, Frison is recovering but it’s still unclear when he will be able to race again.

Jasper De Buyst underwent dental surgery, which was necessary due to the consequences of his crash after the fifth stage of the 4 Jours de Dunkerque. Thanks to the surgery, he should be able to function normally again.

Harm Vanhoucke, who will turn pro at Lotto Soudal as of 1 July, suffers from anaemia. At the moment, his physical activities are on hold and his situation is being constantly monitored. Because caution should be exercised, it is still unclear when he will start training again. Full recovery is necessary before he can return to competition.

Lawrence Naesen:
Grimstad - Norway - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  NAESEN Lawrence  (BEL)  of Lotto Soudal pictured during Tour des Fjords 2018 - stage 1 from Lindesnes to Grimstad (191KM)- photo Davy Rietbergen/Cor Vos © 2018

Sky Ocean Rescue Tour De France Kit Revealed
Team Sky has joined the Sky Ocean Rescue journey by unveiling a new kit design for the upcoming Tour de France – and pledging to remove all single-use plastic (SUP) packaging from its business operations by 2020.

The new kit design will be worn by Team Sky at the Tour de France (July 7th-29th). It has been designed to help Team Sky stand out in the peloton, with orcas featuring on the back of the jersey.

Team Sky riders will also wear a bespoke version jersey, exclusively developed from ocean plastic material, at the Team Presentation.

Team Sky is aiming to raise awareness of this important issue and inspire people in the cycling community and beyond to make simple, everyday changes to stop our oceans drowning in plastic.

Forming part of Team Sky’s ‘Race to 2020’ campaign, the Team’s pledge to #PassOnPlastic is inspired by Sky’s commitment to eliminate all single-use plastic from its operations, products and supply chain by 2020:

• Team Sky aims to remove all SUP packaging in its business operation by 2020
• Team Sky will work with its partners to remove SUP from the Team Sky supply chain by 2020
• Team Sky will work closely with Sky to share best practice and learnings
• Team Sky has already started work with logistics experts and Sky Ocean Rescue partner, Unipart, to help reduce the use of plastics across the Team and are developing plastic-free packaging solutions to fulfill the team’s logistical requirements

Steven Smith, Brand Manager, Castelli, said: “The Sky Ocean Rescue project has been an impetus for us to find new ways to reduce our use of single-use plastic and to look at our sustainability in new ways.

“We’re testing new packaging with the Team Sky Tour de France kits that will make its way into our collection and potentially save four million polybags per year.

“We hope that the daily reminder during July will help other companies re-think what they can do to reduce their impact.”

Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Principal, Team Sky, said: “Sky Ocean Rescue has been at the forefront of a global campaign on single-use plastics over the last year – and it is making a real difference. We are proud to join this important fight to change behavior and help save our oceans.

“Like all parts of society, cycling must do more to reduce its reliance on single-use plastic at every level. The nature of our sport means we have a special responsibility to the environment and at Team Sky we want to take a lead.

“At the upcoming Tour de France, the Team will be wearing a striking new kit design to highlight the issue to a global audience of millions.

“We want to encourage people across the world to think about their own use of plastic and make changes in their everyday life. We are all in a position where we can make a difference.”

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Group CEO, said: “Team Sky’s Race to 2020 pledge, combined with its special Sky Ocean Rescue Tour de France jersey design, is a fantastic commitment to save our oceans. I am so pleased that Team Sky and its riders are getting involved to build on our campaign.

“Today, we’re calling upon the cycling community to make simple changes and join us to help stop our oceans from drowning in plastic.”

Drawing upon learnings from Sky’s own experience reducing plastic within the business, Team Sky will identify where SUP is used across all operations and suggest alternatives – from implementing ocean friendly washing solutions, through to effective recycling or reusable product alternatives.

Team Sky will also be encouraging fans to change their behaviour towards SUP through a fan-engagement initiative that uses a specially designed Sky Ocean Rescue bidon, and other tips to reduce SUP whilst enjoying the sport from home or out on your bike.

Chris Froome, speaking in the wake of his record-breaking Giro d’Italia victory that saw him claim a historic Grand Tour treble last weekend, has backed Team Sky’s ‘Race to 2020’ pledge, commenting: “It’s great that the team are getting behind such an important issue – one that is having a huge impact in the world we live in today.

“The special-edition kit is fantastic and will really help to raise awareness at the Tour de France, but it’s important that the legacy continues after that, as we look to build on the amazing work Sky have done so far with their Sky Ocean Rescue campaign with our own ‘Race to 2020’ commitment.”

This collaboration is one of the first of its kind in cycling and with the help of Sky Ocean Rescue, Team Sky will look to work with more partners to help address the impact that single-use plastic is having on the oceans.

• Team Sky launch campaign with Sky Ocean Rescue
• New #PassOnPlastic kit design to be worn at the Tour de France
• ‘Race to 2020’ is Team Sky’s pledge to remove single-use plastic packaging and inspire change in the cycling world
• Team Sky to encourage fans to change their behaviour towards single-use plastic

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