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EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday

Young star Tadej Pogačar showed his class in hills of Valencia – All the reports, results and video from Valencia, Saudi, Bességes and the Krawatencross. Alejandro Valverde to retire eventually – Top Story. All the other cycling news: Colombia and the Deutschland Tour, John Degenkolb gets his Paris-Roubaix cobble sector, Bigla-Katusha launches 2020 kit, women’s Movistar team kick off, new association of women’s cycling teams, Czeslaw Lang and Emmanuel Macron together in Warsaw and Ryan Gibbons first UnClipped podcast of 2020. Monday EUROTRASH coffee time.

TOP STORY: The end is in sight for Valverde
Alejandro Valverde has confirmed his plans for the future, his professional career will end after 2021. The Movistar leader extended his contract until the end of 2021. “That is it,” Valverde told Spanish sports-paper AS. “I want to race at the highest level for two more seasons and then stop.”

With his contract extension, the Spanish champion also said that he intended to stop next year. “When I’m home, I have to enjoy the family. Then I’ll see what I’m going to do,” he said at the time. Valverde already knows what he wants to do after the end of his career. “I am really looking forward to joining the Movistar organisation after I have stopped. I want to contribute to this large family, in whatever position.”

Later this season, the man from Murcia celebrates his 40th birthday, and when he stops he will be 41 years old. “My age is a factor, but in the end it’s just a number. The cycling dream that I have remains. I have to be realistic, because I know that time passes. Because of my age and my fighting spirit I get some wear and tear. But if I didn’t feel at my best to participate and hunt for victories, I would have stopped already.”

His biggest goal for this season is clear. “I still miss an Olympic medal in my honours list,” he said. “I won stages and achieved podium places in all major races, in classics and at the World championships. An Olympic medal would be the icing on the cake in my fifth participation in the Games.”

The best of Alejandro Valverde 2019:

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2020
Stage 2 of the Tour of Valencia was won by Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on Thursday. The young Slovenian talent defeated Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) at his specialty – an uphill sprint. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) finished third at the summit of the sharp 3 kilometre climb to the weather radar in Cullera with its slopes of over 7%. Pogačar also took over the leader’s jersey from Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma).

Astana, Bahrain-McLaren and Movistar rode on the front of the peloton all day long, hoping to catch the escape in time for the explosive finalé. The early break consisted of five riders: Rémi Cavagna, Jos van Emden, Alessandro De Marchi, Álvaro Cuadros and Héctor Sáez. The peloton soon let them go and the lead increased to more than 6 minutes. This was the signal for Movistar to step up a gear and reduce the gap with help from Lotto Soudal and Astana. The Spanish team had plans for Alejandro Valverde and Marc Soler. No matter how hard Van Emden, Cavagna, De Marchi, Cuadros and Sáez rode, the peloton came closer and closer.

With 10 kilometres to go, the difference between the front runners and the peloton had shrunk to 30 seconds and before the foot of the climb the escape was caught. Cavagna tried for a while, but the French Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider couldn’t hold them off. Nervousness in the peloton caused crash. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) came off worst with what looked like a broken shoulder.

The peloton had already started the final climb, but the better climbers initially looked at each other. The first attack came from Gonzalo Serrano (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). The Spaniard managed to build a nice lead, but was caught by Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) before the last kilometre. Valverde seemed to have timed his sprint perfectly in the last hundred meters. The Spanish champion seemed on the way to victory, but Tadej Pogačar turned out to have an even better finishing burst.

Pogačar won the stage and also took over the leader’s jersey. Daniel Martin, Jack Haig and last years winner, Ion Izagirre, finished just behind Pogačar, while Greg Van Avermaet in 10th place was among the climbers.

Stage winner and overall leader, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “On paper I knew that today was a good finish for me but I didn’t expect the win. I wasn’t sure of my form after such a long time without racing so I surprised myself today. My teammates were key and they did a perfect job between them all and especially Jan’s attack at the end really set up the win perfectly. Tomorrow looks like a day for Kristoff with a bunch sprint so we’ll try for him, but also we’ll work hard now to try keep the leaders jersey until the end.”

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 2 Result:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 4:14:26
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
3. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start Up Nation
5. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
6. Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana
7. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion Euskadi-Orbea
8. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos
9. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Ineos
10. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC at 0:05.

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Overall After Stage 2:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 8:22:09
2. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
4. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion Euskadi-Orbea
5. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren
6. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos
7. Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana
8. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Ineos
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start Up Nation
10. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:02.

Valencia’20 stage 2:

Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) won the Stage 3 of the Tour of Valencia on Friday in Torrevieja. The fast Dutchman repeated his Vila-Real win of two days before, beating Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) in a bunch sprint. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) took over the leader’s jersey from Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

The third stage covered 175 kilometres from Orihuela to Torrevieja, where the 2019 Vuelta a España started. After the flat opening section the peloton had to climb the Hondón de los Frailes, the only climb of the day, but as the summit was 70 kilometres from the finish it wasn’t important. Six riders got together, the best placed being Ivan Moreno in 49th place at 1:51 to race leader Tadej Pogačar, Héctor Sáez, Manuel Peñalver, Julen Irizar, Petr Rikunov and Daniel Viegas joined him. Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma kept the lead between two and a half to three minutes.

Peñalver was dropped by the leading group, Rikunov and Viegas also lost contact. Moreno, Sáez and Irizar rode on, but they were easy prey for the peloton as several teams had set their sights on a bunch sprint. With 30 kilometres to go the three escapees were just over a minute ahead and the peloton left them out there. 20 kilometres out the peloton was getting nervous which caused a crash. Dylan Groenewegen was amongst the fallers, but he was able to return to the peloton with the help of his team. Eventually the race was all together 9 kilometres from the finish line.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step led the pack for Fabio Jakobsen, while Jumbo-Visma in the service of Groenewegen positioned him in the front. Michał Kwiatkowski and Lawrence Naesen tried to avoid a mass sprint in the last 3 kilometres, but the sprinters’ teams were not to be undone. Mitchelton-Scott (for Luka Mezgec) and CCC also moved forward in the final kilometre.

Iván García Cortina and Luka Mezgec started the sprint from far out, but Groenewegen came through the middle just in time to take his second stage win. Fabio Jakobsen, the Dutch champion, was second with Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-McLaren) third. Jack Haig took the leader’s jersey based on his stage finish, Tadej Pogačar is now in second place.

Stage winner, Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma): “The team did a fantastic job today. Because of the good communication and the fast reaction of the team after my crash, I could return in the front of the peloton quickly. They brought me in an ideal position for the sprint. I perfectly timed it, after which I could finish it off for my teammates. Because of the crash, I had some gear shifting problems that prevented me from sprinting on my biggest gears. I am very grateful to the team, because without these guys I would not have won here today. My shape is good, I have had a good winter and I am already looking forward to the final day. Then we will have another chance. For now, it is a hundred percent score. Two sprints, two wins: that gives a lot of confidence.”

3rd on the stage and 8th overall, Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-McLaren): “Today the finale was quite hectic and I together with Ivan Cortina had to try the sprint, but with 15km to go we both crashed but luckily we were back in the peloton 5km later. At the sprint I saw Ivan had found his way to Groenewegen’s wheel and I preferred to stay a little bit further back, and then in the last kilometre one rider opened up the sprint in front of me and I tried to start too. Then he slowed down and then with 50 meters to go they passed me, but I think it’s still a great result for me. Now I’m looking for the decisive stage and we will see how it goes.”

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 3 Result:
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma in 3:54:16
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-McLaren
4. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start Up Nation
5. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
7. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC
9. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start Up Nation
10. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates.

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Overall After Stage 3:
1. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott in 12:16:25
2. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
4. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion Euskadi-Orbea
5. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren
6. Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana
7. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Ineos
8. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:02
9. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 0:05
10. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC.

Valencia’20 stage 3:

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) took the victory in the Queen Stage 4 in the mountains of Alicante. On the inhuman slopes of the Sierra de Bèrnia, the young Slovenien was the strongest and he took the leader’s jersey back from Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott). Wout Poels (Bahrain-McLaren) finished second, ahead of Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos).

The climbers had the floor again in the Tour of Valencia. In the 170-kilometre stage, no fewer than five climbs were waiting for the peloton. In between the climbs, the roads would never really be flat. In short: A super hard day. Not long after the start from the famous cycling resort of Calpe, a group of seven riders escaped. On the well-known training climb of the Coll de Rates, Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, Nathan Van Hooydonck (both CCC), Tim Declercq (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren), Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Gonzalo Serrano (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Jorge Cubero (Burgos-BH) took their chance.

Cubero was soon dropped and he was soon swallowed up by the peloton, which kept the lead under control and nothing changed ver the many climbs until the summit finish. On the flanks of the very tough Sierra de Bèrnia (5K with 12% average), Van Avermaet was the strongest of the leading group and was the last to be caught. Just as Van Avermaet was caught by the peloton, led by Ineos, 3 kilometres from the finish, Tadej Pogačar made his winning move. The Slovenian, who also won the uphill finish on Thursday, immediately took a few bike lengths. Wout Poels managed to cross, but he could not cope with the climbing speed of Pogačar. In the final meters, Poels made a last effort, but he was still 5 seconds down on the victorious Pogačar.

Just behind Poels, Geoghegan Hart finished third, closely followed by Dan Martin (Israel Start Up Nation) and overall leader Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott), who lost his yellow jersey to the young Slovenian. Dylan Teuns finished sixth at 22 seconds. Alejandro Valverde had an off-day finishing at more than a minute and dropping to 10th overall.

Stage winner and overall leader, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “Today was a really hard day so we decided to work on the front near the end to get me in the perfect position approaching the climb. Jan made a really hard pull on the final climb and when he stopped I accelerated and went full gas until the end. I attacked on the steepest part of the climb as that’s where I was feeling good . It’s really something special and really satisfying after all the work done in the winter.”

2nd on the stage and 6th overall, Poels (Bahrain-McLaren): “It was a very good day a really hard stage with a lot of climbing, but the team worked very well, and Pello Bilbao on the break was a very good tactical move and help us a lot. The finish climb was very brutal, and of course, you won’t always to win but, in the end, second place was not bad.”

Break rider, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren): “We were really motivated to do a good job because we knew we were the strongest team today and so we tried to surprise the other riders to the final victory. It was difficult to arrive with only 40 seconds gap at the beginning of the last climb, but at least we tried.”

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 4 Result:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 4:22:03
2. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:06
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Ineos
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start Up Nation
5. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
6. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:23
7. Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana at 0:32
8. Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:42
9. Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Astana at 0:45
10. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion Euskadi-Orbea at 0:49.

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Overall After Stage 4:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 16:38:28
2. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:06
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Ineos
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start Up Nation at 0:13
5. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:23
6. Wouter Poels (Ned) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:25
7. Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana at 0:32
8. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion-Orbea at 0:49
9. Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Astana at 1:11
10. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1:14.

Valencia’20 stage 4:

Fabio Jakobsen won the Final Stage 5 on Sunday in the centre of Valencia. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider was the fastest in the mass sprint after 97.7 kilometres from Paterna to Valencia. The Dutch champion beat Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal). Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) had no problem holding his lead for the final win.

The final stage had an escape of four riders: Canadian Hugo Houle (Astana), the Italian Francesco Romano (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) and the Spaniards Sergio Samitier (Movistar) and Jon Agirre (Kern Pharma) attacked early in the stage. The peloton didn’t let the four get too far away. Due to Jumbo-Visma and Deceuninck – Quick-Step, the difference remained close to a minute, and the peloton was all together 8 kilometres from the finish line in front of the Valencia Town Hall.

The predicted bunch sprint was inevitable. Jakobsen was brought perfectly to the finish by his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates, Groenewegen was close, but could not get in front of the Dutch champion, giving Jakobsen his first win of the season.

Stage winer, Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Today was a short but fast stage, and in the end the speed was so high, despite the technical final which included that roundabout and some tricky corners, that positioning was paramount. The team worked hard again today and put me in a perfect position and I’m so happy that I could win for them and myself. We came to this race to win a stage and we are glad we have succeeded here in Valencia. The condition is good and so was the team, who worked hard for me on the three days that came down to a bunch sprint. I am very proud of these guys and very happy to be in this team. This win is an important confidence-boost and we want to continue like this.”

Final overall winner, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “This win means a lot to me, especially after all the hard work we did in the winter to prepare. To start my first race and win is incredible, my form is really good – not as good as when I was in the Vuelta a Espana obviously, but the season is still early. My first big goal of the year will be the UAE Tour at the end of this month before building up towards my first Tour de France.”

5th on the stage, Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain-McLaren): “It was a short stage finished in less than two hours – said Ivan – and so the pace was quite fast. In the last 10km, I fought to find a good position in the bunch and I finished 5th. It was my first race of the season, and with my double top ten finish. I’m happy with my performance.”

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 5 Result:
1. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 2:04:32
2. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
3. John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
5. Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-McLaren
6. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. Jaume Sureda Morey (Spa) Burgos-BH
8. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9. Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Kern Pharma
10. Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC.

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Final Overall Result:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 18:43:00
2. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:06
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Ineos
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start Up Nation at 0:13
5. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:23
6. Wouter Poels (Ned) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:25
7. Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana at 0:32
8. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion-Orbea at 0:49
9. Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Astana at 1:11
10. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1:14.

Valencia’20 stage 5:

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Feminas 2020
The Italian champion Marta Bastianelli honoured her position as a favourite and the number one she wore to score the victory in the VCV 2020 with start in Paterna and finish in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento de Valencia. The 97-kilometre route passed with a rapid pace and a succession of attacks. The hostilities between the 111 riders started from the first kilometres. The main teams wanted to impose their strength and place their leaders ahead to control the race. The first hour was run at an average speed exceeding 37 kilometres per hour.

After facing the toughest sections of the route, in the vicinity of the Serra Calderona, the speed intensified and the nervousness in the peloton increased. Skirmishes were happening, but none of the attacks stuck. The differences were minimal and barely a few meters away from the head of the bunch with Lotto, Movistar and Lubjana controlling the attacks.

The Spanish champion Lourdes Oyarbide was seen off the front, while the Italian Erica Magnaldi acquired a small advantage until she was captured on the climb of Godella, 12 kilometres from the finish line. Then, there was the attack of the German champion Kattrin Hammes and the Slovenian Urska Bravec, which was neutralised when the race rolled around the city of Valencia. Finally, the sprint of Marta Bastianelli arrived, who with a huge effort achieved the victory ahead of Barbara Guarischi and Teniel Campbell. The first Spanish cyclist to cross the finish line was Laura Asencio, who has been fifth.

The race took place with very favourable weather and with a large public presence in Valencia. The 2020 VCV Féminas raced on the same route as the men’s fifth stage of the VCV 2020 Gran Premi Banc Sabadell and has the same prize list as the men.

2nd, Barbara Guarischi (Movistar): “My team-mates worked really, really well if you consider it was just the first race. It’s just logical that we were lacking some cohesion, since we require to know each other well into the race and that’s something you learn only with experience. What we did together today, what they did for me, was brilliant, and I’m sure we will do even better throughout the season. We just have to keep working hard together and believe in what we do. It’s a very nice start. It was quite a nervous race, one where we had to keep an eye on every split into the bunch near the end, and a very long, difficult sprint. Aude helped me out getting into the final straight in a good place, but the sprint was launched with 400m remaining, so far from the finish, and I had to push for so long. All in all, a second place, which leaves me happy. We must keep pushing so we can reach that decisive step further in the near future.”

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Feminas Result:
1. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé-BTC Ljubljana in 2:18:04
2. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Movistar
3. Teniel Campbell (Trin) Valcar-Travel&Service
4. Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Lotto Soudal
5. Laura Asencio (Fra) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling
6. Emma Cecilie Norsgaard (Dan) Bigla-Katusha
7. Séverine Eraud (Fra) Charente-Maritime
8. Agnieta Francke (Ned) Belori Vipeq Team
9. Silvia Zanardi (Ita) Bepink
10. Bryony Van Velzen (Ned) Ciclotel.

Valencia Feminas’20 podium:

Saudi Tour 2020
Second on Wednesday’s stage, Phil Bauhaus got his revenge in Al Bujairi conquering an impressive bunch sprint. The German made the best of the final uphill straight suited to his power and a perfect lead out by his Bahrain-McLaren team mates Heinrich Haussler and Mark Cavendish. The 25-year-old eventually beat Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (NTT) and Youcef Reguigui (TSG) to the line. Despite being extremely active all along the day’s stage, previous race leader Rui Costa lost his green jersey to Bauhaus who now has a 3 second lead with two stages to go.

Stage 3 of the Saudi Tour was to be a rather short one starting from the King Saud University and heading south-west before returning to Al Bujairi after 119kms of racing. Short but extremely entertaining! The 116 remaining riders took off just before 1 o’clock for an intense battle. Indeed despite several breakaway attempts, it took over 20 kilometres for a breakaway to build a big enough gap over the pack. At 22km, Suter (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Ellsay (Rally Cycling), Batmunkh (TSG), Holler and Kangangi (Bike AID) powered away. Their lead reached 1:45 at 30km and then 2 minutes at the first intermediate active sprint won by Suter ahead of Batmunkh and Holler.

But on the long uphill portion heading to the second intermediate sprint, team UAE Emirates took command of the pack and chased hard, launching overall leader Rui Costa who took off on a counter-attack. The Green jersey made it first to the sprint with a 5 second advantage over the first chasing group. The Portuguese was eventually caught at 85km by the pack that had bunched together again.

The third active sprint was then claimed by Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) ahead of Madrazo (Burgos-BH) and Hailemicheal (Nippo-Delko Provence) with the last two insisting and managing to pull away from the pack. With 25kms to go the Spaniard and the Ethiopian could enjoy a slim 20 second advantage. They were to be caught at 100kms.

Again as the road started rising, Rui Costa powered away on his own. He went on to claim the bonus sprint and the all-important 3 seconds going with it. After having a 20 seconds lead with 7kms to go, the overall leader was caught by the hungry bunch before the final 5-km mark. The peloton remained bunched all the way to the final straight, the same as Wednesday’s stage 2. Beautifully led out by his team mates Heinrich Haussler and Mark Cavendish, Phil Bauhaus managed the perfect sprint, beating Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (NTT) and Youcef Reguigui. A winner last year of the Copa Bernocchi but also of stages on the Abu Dhabi Tour and Criterium du Dauphiné in previous seasons, Bauhaus wins his first race of 2020.

Thanks to the bonus seconds of his stage win, the German takes the lead in the general classification and will be wearing the green jersey on the fourth stage. He also leads the points classification while Kron (Riwal-Readynez) remains best young rider and Fuentes (Burgos-BH) the most active rider of the event.

Stage winner and overall leader, Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-McLaren): “Mark (Cavendish) gave me the space and I managed to finish it, great! It was a really tough day. We went full throttle from the first climb, but the team was really great. My teammates have been on the lead all day and came up with a great lead-out in the last three kilometres. I have never won a multi-day stage! I have never won a multi-day stage. The most important thing was to win the stage, the leader’s jersey is just a perk. Heinrich is still good in the rankings and has excellent form. We hope to finish on the podium as a team.”

Saudi Tour Stage 3 Result:
1. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-McLaren in 2:48:27
2. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) NTT
3. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Terengganu inc. TSG
4. Carlos Barbero (Spa) NTT
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
6. August Jensen (Nor) Riwal-Readynez
7. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
8. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
9. Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie
10. Lucas Carstensen (Ger) Bike Aid.

Saudi Tour Overall After Stage 3:
1. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-McLaren in 11:12:56
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 0:03
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic at 0:08
4. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Terengganu inc. TSG at 0:12
5. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:13
6. Carlos Barbero (Spa) NTT at 0:14
7. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:15
8. Andreas Lorentz Kron (Den) Riwal-Readynez
9. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:16
10. Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept-KTM.

Saudi’20 stage 3:

In the top five of the first 3 stages on this inaugural Saudi Tour, Nacer Bouhanni saw his consistency rewarded with victory on Stage 4 of the event. The French sprinter claimed his first victory of the season in his new Arkea-Samsic colours. The 29-year-old was the fastest in the bunch sprint in front of the Al Muzahimiyah King Saud University, beating Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie) and Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana) to the line. Thanks to the bonus seconds claimed at the finish, Bouhanni went to the top of the general classification and will be wearing the leader’s green jersey on final stage.

At the start of the stage in the Wadi Namar Park, the 116 riders were warmly welcomed by a part of the Saudi Arabian national cycling team. Seven Saudi riders were even honoured to ride ahead of the pack in the neutral zone on the way to km 0 before the official start. And a fast start it would be on the day’s 137km stage to Al Muzahimiyah King Saud University. Despite quite a few attempts in the opening section, the first decisive move happened after 18 kilometres when three men pulled away: Zukowsky (Rally Cycling), Kangangi (Bike AID) and Tipper (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling). They reached the first intermediate active sprint, led out by Zukowsky with a 30 second advantage over a group of four including Paaschens (Wallonie Bruxelles), Fuentes (Burgos-BH), Boev (Gazprom-RusVelo) and Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and 2 minutes over the pack led by team Bahrain-McLaren. At km 37 the front three were eventually caught by the chasing four.

The leading seven continued their effort and the gap grew and reached 3:10 at the second sprint won by Fuentes comforting his lead in the Most Active rider standings. In the battle for the polka dot jersey, Nicolau got his revenge at the third intermediate sprint beating Fuentes for the 3 points, while the gap reached 5 minutes over the pack. As expected the race got far more entertaining as the riders took on the Qiddiyah climb. On the final kilometre of the uphill portion, Nicolau took off on his own. The Spaniard made it first to the fourth sprint with a 10 second advantage over Zukowsky and 25 seconds over Paaschens. Behind the UAE Team Emirates of Rui Costa accelerated making life hard for their rivals. While polka-dot jersey wearer Fuentes was dropped and eventually caught by the pack, the eight front riders bunched up together again on the descent.

On the second climb, Green jersey Phil Bauhaus suffered a mechanical incident and was dropped from the peloton while again the UAE team powered to the front. Behind the leading riders, a group of 11 men took off including Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), Doubey (Circus-Wanty Gobert) and Garcia Sosa (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). At the bonus sprint (km 113), Nicolau captured 3 precious seconds and points ahead of Paaschens and Kangangi while Rui Costa was only 15 seconds adrift and the overall leader as well as Nacer Bouhanni over a minute behind.

On the long descent the pack finally bunched up again and the leaders were caught. At the bottom, Rui Costa once again powered away with 8 kms to go, taking with him Doubey. Both men could enjoy a 15 second lead with 5 kilometres remaining. Their efforts finally proved to be vain as all the strong men of the Saudi Tour bunched up together again. The decision would be made in a sprint between over 60 riders. Well led-out by his Arkea-Samsic team mates, Nacer Bouhanni flew to victory out-sprinting Niccolo Bonifazio and Yevgeniy Gidich. In the top 5 of the three previous stages (and the top 3 of the first two days), the Frenchman confirms his fine form claiming his first win of the year. Already a winner of three stages on both the Giro and the Vuelta, Bouhanni adds a victory in Saudi Arabia.

Thanks to his stage success, the sprinter takes command of the general classification and will be wearing the Green jersey in final stage with a slim 2 second advantage over Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-McLaren) and 5 seconds over Rui Costa. Bouhanni also leads the points classification while Kron (Riwal-Readynez) remains best young rider and Nicolau conquers the Most Active rider’s jersey.

Stage winner and overall leader, Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic): The last two years have been difficult. I have done a hard reset this winter and started from scratch. Eventually I was able to prepare myself in peace with Arkéa-Samsic, my new team, where they trust me completely. I know that I have great teammates around me, who can completely ignore themselves. That’s why we win together. The victory comes to me today, but it is a success for all of us. The boys, with the exception of none, did a great job all day. I want to thank them one by one for what they have done. This is what motivates me, just as the confidence of Emmanuel Hubert and my team leaders Sébastien Hinault and Yvon Caër keeps propelling me. I have won many competitions since the start of my professional career, but this success tastes extra special.”

9th overall, Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates): “Today was the most complicated day of the race and also the hardest. The tactic was to break the group and to try and make it as hard as possible on the climbs. When we caught the break we were lacking a few more strong guys up front and the group behind was motoring along. We’re happy with the results this week, the guys have done fantastic work to support me. Tomorrow looks like a sprint finish so it looks like the GC is decided and I’m pleased with my podium. I’m content with my condition heading into my next race which will be Volta Algarve.”

16th overall, Fabien Doubey (Circus-Want Gobert): “I showed my good form in today’s hilly stage, although we also had to be alert for crosswinds. We stayed at the front with the team, and I followed the moves on the climbs in the final. We didn’t join the early breakaway before the bonus sprints, but I continued the effort with Rui Costa until we were caught with 2,5 kilometre to go. Two riders against three teams leading the peloton with a headwind, it was a difficult mission. There’s one stage left tomorrow, suited for sprinters. We’ll again have to be attentive for crosswinds and the battle for bonus.”

Saudi Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic in 3:21:55
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
3. Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana
4. Damiano Cima (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo
5. Ivo Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
6. Adrien Garel (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept-KTM
7. Orluis Alberto Aular Sanabria (Ven) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
8. Stephen Bassett (USA) Rally Cycling
9. Vladislav Kulikov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
10. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-McLaren.

Saudi Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic in 14:34:49
2. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:02
3. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Terrenganu-TSG at 0:14
4. Carlos Barbero (Spa) NTT at 0:16
5. Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:17
6. Andreas Kron (Nor) Riwal-Readynez
7. Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie at 0:18
8. August Jensen (Nor) Riwal-Readynez
9. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 0:20
10. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Nippo-Delko-Provence at 0:28.

Saudi’20 stage 4:

Thanks to his second stage success this week after an impressive sprint, Phil Bauhaus made history by becoming the first ever overall winner of the Saudi Tour. The Final Stage 5 was indeed decided in a bunched sprint in Al Masmak. Led-out in style by his prestigious Bahrain-McLaren team mate Mark Cavendish, the German conquered the win ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) and Arvid de Kleijn (Riwald-Readynez). Bauhaus took the overall with a 2 second advantage over Bouhanni and 13 seconds over Rui Costa.

The 114 remaining riders of the Saudi Tour had the huge honour of being welcomed at the impressive Princess Nourah University for the start of the fifth and final stage of the event. On the day’s menu: 144kms with a first loop in the desert north of Riyadh before heading back towards Al Masmak.

As expected the wind had a strong effect on the first part of the race. Several groups of riders tried their luck never however managing to build a big enough gap over the very fast pack. Even Mark Cavendish (Bahrain-McLaren) was part of an 11-man group that enjoyed a 30 second lead before being gobbled up by the hungry peloton after 40km. The first intermediate active sprint (km 46) was claimed by Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH) taking with him three other riders on a breakaway: Ellsay (Rally Cycling Team), Jones (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) and Irisarri (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). The advantage of the four men grew to 5:45 at km 55. From then on, team Arkéa-Samsic of race leader Nacer Bouhanni started chasing. The front riders entered the feed zone with an advantage that had dropped to 2:15. The gap even went down to 20 seconds, but with no real danger within the front group, it started growing again.

Indeed with 25kms to go, the courageous four could enjoy a 2:40 advantage, but there was not much they could do against the pack led by teams Arkéa-Samsic, Bahrain-McLaren and Circus-Wanty Gobert. Jones was the first of the front men to be dropped and eventually the pack got together again with just under 5kms to go. Time had come for the expected sprint finish. Like on stage 3, Bahrain-McLaren took command on the final straight with Mark Cavendish beautifully leading out his young sprinter Phil Bauhaus. The German flew to the line beating his main rival Nacer Bouhanni after a spectacular battle. Third place went to Arvid de Kleijn (Riwald-Readynez).

In the final general classification, Bauhaus wins with a slim 2 second advantage over Bouhanni and 13 seconds over Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates). The German wins his first ever stage race at 25 years of age in the first ever edition of the Saudi Tour. The points classification was also won by Bouhanni while Andreas Kron (Riwald-Readynez) finishes best young rider and Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) conquered the most active rider’s jersey.

Final overall winner, Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-McLaren): “It’s just an awesome feeling. I’ve never experienced to win a GC. It’s really something special for me. And win straight at the first race it’s fantastic. Yesterday I was very unlucky with the flat tyre and today we showed again how strong we are. I’m super happy with today’s stage win. I couldn’t have done it without the team. They were super strong in every situation to help me. They worked all day. Also, the former World Champion Mark Cavendish did a great job for me today. It’s my first ever overall win.”

3rd overall, Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates): “The whole team was amazing this week. In the end it became a race dominated by the sprinters but we made the most of it whenever we got a chance. To start the season like this is great for the confidence and to see the success of the team in Australia and now in Vuelta Valenciana we can be really happy with this start.”

Saudi Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-McLaren 3:18:57
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
3. Arvid De Kleijn (Ned) Riwal-Readynez
4. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
5. Imerio Cima (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo
6. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Terengganu inc. TSG
8. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) NTT
9. Carlos Barbero (Spa) NTT
10. Jetse Bol (Ned) Burgos-BH.

Saudi Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain McLaren 17:53:38
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic at 0:02
3. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 0:13
4. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Terengganu inc. TSG at 0:22
5. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-McLaren at 0:23
6. Carlos Barbero (Spa) NTT at 0:24
7. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:25
8. Andreas Lorentz Kron (Den) Riwal-Readynez
9. Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie at 0:26
10. August Jensen (Nor) Riwal-Readynez.

Saudi’20 stage 5:

Etoile de Bessèges 2020
Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education First) won Stage 2 of the Etoile de Bessèges. The Dane beat fellow Scandinavian Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT) in a close sprint. Tom Devriendt (Circus-Wanty Gobert) was third. Alexys Brunel (Groupama-FDJ) held the leader’s jersey.

The second stage from Milhaud to Poulx took place around the city of Nimes, but they did not enter the historic city centre. The peloton finished slightly south of Nimes, in Milhaud, after a hilly final of the 156.1 kilometre stage.

Five riders broke away: Fumiyuki Beppu, Robbe Ghys, Alexander Richardson, Morne Van Niekerk and Marti Marquez Roman, they managed a maximum lead of 3 minutes. The peloton saw Trek-Segafredo and Groupama-FDJ lead the chase. The American team wanted to win with Matteo Moschetti, who is full of confidence after two victories in the Challenge Mallorca. The work from Trek-Segafredo reduced the lead of the five, but Richardson, Van Niekerk and Ghys wanted to stay out front a bit longer. Beppu and Marquez Roman had to sit up and were swept up by the peloton. The three front runners were joined by Alexis Gougeard, Dimitri Claeys, Benjamin Thomas, Kamil Malecki and Michael Gogl. The peloton was too close and the race was all together with a few kilometres to go.

Coming into the finish; Sebastian Langeveld, Benoît Cosnefroy, Kevin Geniets and overall leader, Alexys Brunel, tried to surprise the peloton, but it all came down to a sprint in the streets of Poulx. It was Moschetti who was the first to start his sprint, but the Italian proved unable to cope with the two faster Scandinavians: Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen and the Danish Magnus Cort Nielsen. A photo finish had to decide the winner, as the difference was so close, but the Dane took the decision.

Etoile de Bessèges Stage 2 Result:
1. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) EF Education First3:47:46
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT
3. Tom Devriendt (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
4. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
5. Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Naturaever-Roubaix-Lille Metropole
6. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix
7. Pierre Barbier (Fra) Nippo-Delko Provence
8. Clement Venturini (Fra) AGR-La Mondiale
9. Roy Jans (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
10. Biniam Hailu (Eri) Nippo-Delko Provence.

Etoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 2:
1. Alexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 7:08:18
2. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AGR-La Mondiale at 0:03
3. Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:10
4. Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo at 0:16
5. Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ at 0:17
6. Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC at 0:19
7. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Total Direct Energie
8. Scott Thwaites (GB) Alpecin-Fenix
9. Arthur Vichot (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept-KTM
10. Flavien Maurelet (Fra) St Michel-Auber at 0:24.

Bessèges’20 Stage 2:

Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) won Stage 3 of the Etoile de Bessèges after an exciting finalé De Bondt finished ahead of his break companion Georg Zimmermann and the peloton. Alexys Brunel (Groupama-FDJ) remains the overall leader.

Raymond Poulidor, who died last year, was central to the third stage of the French stage race. The winner would receive the ‘Souvenir Raymond Poulidor’ at the finish. The route of 162 kilometres including the Col de Trélis and a short slope about 15 kilometres from the finish.

Track specialist Robbe Ghys was the first to attack and saw Georg Zimmermann, Dries De Bondt and Marti Marquez join him. They were also the first riders at the top of the Col de Trélis after 6.4 kilometres. At the first passage of the finish, after 42.9 kilometres, their lead had already risen to 7 minutes, and eventually 9 minutes.

Georg Zimmermann, the best classified rider off the front, was in the virtual leader’s jersey. After 60 kilometres the peloton gradually began to reduce the time differences. At half way, the lead was reduced to 7:30, mainly by Groupama-FDJ riders for leader Alexys Brunel, EF Education First and Nippo-Delko-One Provence.

At the start of the last 20 kilometres, the escape still had a nice 3 minute lead. There was another climb at 16 kilometres from the finish and Zimmermann and De Bondt attacked there. Ghys and Marquez were dropped, but a little later they were able to connect again. The peloton behind was rapidly approaching. At 6.7 kilometres, the lead group passed the finish line for the penultimate time for a short final lap. The time difference had shrunk to under a minute. De Bondt once again attacked, which was the end for Marquez. It was De Bondt who took the sprint from Zimmermann, who finished second. Ghys was swallowed up by the peloton, where Magnus Cort, Roy Jans and Clément Venturini completed the top five. Alexys Brunel crossed the line in the peloton to retained the lead. Benoît Cosnefroy follows in second place, Edward Planckaert third.

Etoile de Bessèges Stage 3 Result:
1. Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix in 3:54:56
2. Georg Zimmermann (Ger) CCC
3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) EF Education First at 0:02
4. Roy Jans (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
5. Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
6. Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Naturaever-Roubaix-Lille Metropole
7. Tom Devriendt (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
8. Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles
9. Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Nicolo Parisini (Ita) Beltrami TSA Marchiol.

Etoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 3:
1. Alexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 11:03:16
2. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:03
3. Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:10
4. Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo at 0:16
5. Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ at 0:17
6. Scott Thwaites (GB) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:19
7. Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC
8. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Total Direct Energie
9. Arthur Vichot (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept-KTM.

Bessèges’20 Stage 3:

Ben O’Connor (NTT) won the Queen Stage 4. The NTT rider joined the early break at the start of the stage, which started the final climb with enough lead. There the Australian got rid of Simon Clarke (EF Education First), who finished in second place. Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale) is the new leader in the general classification.

The decisive closing weekend in the Etoile de Bessèges started on Saturday with a mountain stage to the top of the Le Mont Bouquet, which with its average slope of 9.1% could cause a differences. Seven riders wanted to be at the foot of the climb with a head start in order to have a chance to take the overall win. Dimitri Claeys, Kamil Malecki, Ben O’Connor, Maxime Cam, Lionel Taminiaux, Damien Touzé, Jose Goncalves left the peloton early in the stage. Their maximum lead was 3 minutes.

At 50 kilometres from the finish, there was only a minute of the lead. It was a sign for Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Gogl and Michael Valgren to make the crossing from the pack to the leading group. A tactical move by NTT, as climber O’Connor was able to save his strength for the final climb. With 40 seconds on the peloton, the leading group started the final climb. Malecki, Valgren, Touzé, Clarke and O’Connor stayed together for a long time, but Clarke and O’Connor turned out to be the strongest. They went in the last kilometre, after which O’Connor managed to break Clarke with a final attack. The victory was then for the Australian.

The overall classification riders didn’t get involved in the battle for the win, but Benoit Cosnefroy finished in 5th place and was close enough to grab the leader’s jersey. The best placed rider in the group was Alberto Bettiol, he finished in fourth place.

Stage winner, Ben O’Connor (NTT): “We got the stage win! It was awesome teamwork from the boys, they really took the race on. I was upfront early and then Michael (Valgren), Eddy and (Michael) Gogl came across and really took the race on. We gave it our best shot and blew it to pieces. In the end, I was able to finish off their work so it was a team win today. It was absolutely perfect, what we were able to do. It gives us confidence for the upcoming races, that we can be up there with the best in the world.”

Overall leader and 5th on the stage, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale): “In the final climb, I had to manage my effort as much as possible. I had never made a fifteen minute effort like that in racing. Aurélien (Paret Peintre) rode the whole climb with me. We know each other very well and it was really perfect. We wanted to influence the race and my teammates did a great job. I sincerely thank them! We were aiming for the stage victory today, but the main thing now is that we have the leader’s jersey. Now it’s my turn to play tomorrow. My teammates have managed the race all week, now it’s my turn tomorrow. Perhaps the hardest part is yet to come, but I am focused and I will not give up. I’m calmly looking forward to the time trial.”

Etoile de Bessèges Stage 4 Result:
1. Ben O’Connor (Aus) NTT in 3:20:29
2. Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First at 0:16
3. Kamil Malecki (Pol) CCC
4. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First at 0:26
5. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:29
6. Diego Rosa (Ita) Arkea-Samsic at 0:33
7. Laurens Huys (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles at 0:36
8. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis
9. Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:38
10. Daniel Alejandro Mendez Norena (Col) Kern Pharma at 0:41

Etoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 4:
1. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale in 14:24:17
2. Alexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:24
3. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First at 0:40
4. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Total Direct Energie at 0:45
5. Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
6. Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 1:12
7. Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:25
8. Laurens Huys (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles at 1:28
9. Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis at 1:29
10. Daniel Alejandro Mendez Norena (Col) Kern Pharma at 1:33.

Besseges’20 stage 4:

The Final Time Trial Stage 5 in the Etoile de Bessèges was won by Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First). The 26-year-old Italian shot round the 10.7 kilometre course in Alès with a time of 15:13. Teammate Magnus Cort finished second and 9 seconds.

Overall leader, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale) finished seventh 27 down on Bettiol. But, it was sufficient to keep the lead and take the overall win in the 50th edition of the French stage race. Last year’s winner, Christophe Laporte finished third in the TT.

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First): “I am in good shape, but I am not yet satisfied with my condition. I still have to improve and train a little extra. If I had won the classification, I would have been a little happier. But it has been a good week. My preparation was not too good, because I have just returned from a training camp. This week in France was very useful, despite the fact that the preparation was not super. I am happy to win a stage here. We came to Bessèges as a team to win a stage and to ride a good classification. In the end we won two stages and we are on the final podium. The goals have therefore been reached. I have a month to prepare myself well. I can also win other major competitions in the future. I already won the toughest ever, so I don’t understand why I can’t win the others.”

Overall winner, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale): “The week was very tense but the team was able to handle the situation perfectly. Everything could have been lost in the first stage if the guys hadn’t taken care of me so well in the echelons. It is a great achievement to win the Etoile de Bessèges. I owe a lot to my teammates, and I really want to thank everyone. Last year I won the general classification at the Tour du Limousin, but the stress and the emotion is not the same when everything depends in the end on a time trial like today. I knew this time trial having raced it two years ago, so I knew what to expect. I stayed focused in my effort. I had confidence in myself and I knew that the climb would be my strong point. The season is off to a good start, and now I will be starting the Tour du Haut Var in two weeks. But my first big goal is in Paris-Nice.”

3rd on the stage, Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale): “I am happy to finish the Etoile de Bessèges with this third place at the time trial, but I am especially happy about Benoît’s victory. I came to the race to work for the team, and we really enjoyed it all together. I feel that the sensations are getting better day by day. And I hope this will be confirmed during the Ruta Del Sol (February 19-23).”

Etoile de Bessèges Stage 5 Result:
1. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education Firts in 15:13
2. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) EF Education First at 0:09
3. Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:16
4. Alexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:17
5. Michael Valgren Hundahl (Den) NTT at 0:25
6. Ben O’Connor (Aus) NTT at 0:25
7. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:27
8. Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:29
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT at 0:29
10. Kamil Malecki (Pol) CCC at 0:31.

Etoile de Bessèges Final Overall Result:
1. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale in 14:39:57
2. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First at 0:13
3. Alexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:14
4. Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ at 1:02
5. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Total Direct Energie at 1:05
6. Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:26
7. Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis at 1:45
8. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert at 2:14
9. Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 2:17
10. Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 2:19.

Besseges’20 stage 5:

DVV Verzekeringen Trofee Krawatencross 2020
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) took a big step in completing his comeback on Saturday. The Belgian took his first win since his crash in the Tour de France last year. Van Aert soloed to victory in the Krawatencross. Second was Quinten Hermans (Circus-Wanty Gobert-Tormans), third Toon Aerts (Telenet Lions).

In the absence of Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert was a top favourite on Saturday. Last week Van Aert narrowly grabbed a podium place at the World Championship also, the Krawatencross is a home cross for Van Aert. Like in previous crosses, the Belgian had to start from the third row and it was difficult to move up on the technical course in Lille. Van Aert had to watch as Laurens Sweeck took the lead. The Belgian champion immediately went off the front and was joined by Wout van Aert, Quinten Hermans, Eli Iserbyt, Toon Aerts, Michael Vanthourenhout, and Tom Pidcock.

Sweeck had a fall, which made Hermans the surprising leader. The Belgian from the Tormans Cyclocross Team immediately took a gap and nobody was capable of following him, except Van Aert. It took a while for Van Aert to get across to Hermans, but then Van Aert quickly put on the pressure. In the final laps, Van Aert gradually expanded his lead over Hermans. Behind; the pursuers began to look at each other, Van Aert looked to be the winner at the start of the final lap. Van Aert had plenty of time to celebrate his victory, a victory with a lot of emotion, because it is the first victory since his heavy crash in the Tour de France.

Race winner, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “This is the confirmation that I can still do it. Due to mistakes made by others, I only started the pursuit of Quinten Hermans. I knew that then came the moment of the race where everyone was on the limit. I then pushed on and tried to make a difference. It’s not my biggest win. But this is for my own people. Finishing here is a very nice reward for myself. It makes me emotional. I think I made a lot of fun for the people. Yes, the football in Belgium has been canceled. But there is a difference between sport and play, so they won’t just cancel a cross.”

2nd, Quinten Hermans (Circus-Wanty Gobert-Tormans): “A good start was important on this course, but I missed my pedal. However, I was soon at the front, and I was even leading the race after a crash of Laurens Sweeck. I continued my effort, hoping for my competitors to hesitate one moment. All was going well, until my shifter touched a barrier. I continued half a lap with small gear, and it was a nice feeling to drop the group for a second time and take my first podium for the Tormans Cyclo-Cross Team. I’m already looking forward to the race in Merksplas tomorrow!”

Corné Van Kessel (Circus-Wanty Gobert-Tormans): “From the start I felt that it would be a difficult day for me. I wasn’t good and I made mistakes. It’s a pity that I missed the final podium of the DVV Trophy because of this bad day. Hopefully I’m feeling better again tomorrow.”

DVV Verzekeringen Trofee Krawatencross Result:
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma in 57:57
2. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert-Tormans at 0:21
3. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Lions at 0:40
4. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal
5. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:46
6. Thomas Pidcock (GB) Trinity Racing at 0:48
7. Lars Van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Lions at 0:50
8. Daan Soete (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal
9. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers
10. Jens Adams (Bel) at 0:52.


Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Tour Colombia
Julian Alaphilippe and Bob Jungels headline our six-man squad for next week’s event.

Our second and final race in South America will be one that has witnessed seven Deceuninck – Quick-Step stage victories in two previous participations, netted by four different riders. One of these is Julian Alaphilippe, the only European rider to finish in the top 10 at each of the past editions and winner of the points classification last year.

After a bout of illness cut short his first outing of the season, the Vuelta a San Juan, the Velo d’Or recipient is ready to return to action at the race which is taking place between 11-16 February and venture into some of the country’s highest terrain. Joining him will be 2019 stage winners Alvaro Hodeg and Bob Jungels, together with Mikkel Honoré, neo-pro Jannik Steimle and Bert Van Lerberghe.

For the second year in a row, Tour Colombia will start with a team time trial, followed by two stages which should end up in a bunch sprint. A punchy finish on stage 4 will signal a change of terrain, which will become more and more demanding, taking the riders in the weekend on the rolling roads to Zipaquira, where the general classification will take shape, and Alto Verjon (18.1km, 5.1%), the tough summit finish that will crown the overall victor.

“For some guys, this will be the first race of the year, and we hope to continue our tradition of winning stages in Colombia, especially as we have several cards to play. We can get a good result as early as the opening day, when we’ll have a TTT, a discipline which we are very fond of. Concerning the GC, it will be difficult as there’s a lot of altitude meters this year and many Colombian riders on the start line, but this doesn’t mean we won’t try. We love racing in Colombia, the crowd is fantastic and they always give us a warm welcome there, and we hope to give them something to cheer for next week”, said sports director Wilfried Peeters.

11.02–16.02 Tour Colombia 2.1 (COL) 2.1

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (COL), Mikkel Honoré (DEN), Bob Jungels (LUX), Jannik Steimle (GER), Bert Van Lerberghe (BEL)
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL).

Bernal Excited for Colombia Test
Watch Egan Bernal’s exclusive video preview as he looks forward to the start of Tour Colombia and discusses what it will mean for him to race in his homeland again.

header uae
Aru to make season debut in Colombia
After a successful start on South American soil, with three victories in the Vuelta a San Juan, UAE Team Emirates will now turn their attention north of the continent for the Tour Colombia 2.1 which takes place over 6 stages from 11-16 February. The race opens with a team time trial with ample opportunities for climbers and sprinters over the six days.

The team will aim to build on the stage win of Sebastian Molano in 2019 where he claimed the bunch sprint on stage 3.

Joxean Matxin Fernandez (Spa) and technical assistant Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) will take charge of the following 6 riders in Colombia:

-Fabio Aru (Ita)
-Camilo Ardila (Col)
-Sergio Henao (Col)
-Cristian Muñoz (Col)
-Sebastian Molano (Col)
-Maxmiliano Richeze (Arg)

Fabio Aru said: “Last year my teammates spoke very highly of this race and since then I have been keen to come and compete here. We came here almost two weeks in advance to get used to the altitude and everything has been great since we arrived. I’ve had a complicated couple of seasons but now I’m feeling good and fresh so I’m excited to get the season started. Obviously there is a big Colombian influence in the team and we are all motivated to do a good race.”

Stuttgart and the Stuttgart region host the finals of the Deutschland Tour 2021
When the overall winner of this year’s Deutschland Tour is chosen in Nuremberg on August 23, the handover of keys is certain. The successor to the Franconian metropolis will be the state capital of Baden-Württemberg and the Stuttgart region. August 2021 will be a reunion on well-known roads for German pros and many amateur cyclists. They can already refresh their memories of the Deutschland Tour 2018 at the German Championships this year, which will be held in Stuttgart and the Stuttgart region from June 19 to 21. Part of the Rad-DM 2020 is also the “Brezel Race”, a race for ambitious amateur athletes.

The return to the southwest was a clear wish of the fans, who asked for an encore of the Deutschland Tour already after the premiere in 2018. Back then, an enthusiastic audience celebrated the German stage winner Nils Politt on the Theodor-Heuss-Strasse. “We look forward to returning to Stuttgart and the region. We still have fond memories of the great pictures from 2018. Stuttgart was the culmination of a successful premiere of the new Deutschland Tour. Here, the bike was celebrated with great enthusiasm,” says Claude Rach, Managing Director of the Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Radsports, the organiser of the Deutschland Tour.

“This day left an impression on everyone involved. The final of the Deutschland Tour in Stuttgart and the region was the kickoff for the implementation of a cycling strategy including the German Championship 2020, annual amateur races and our reunion next year. It is precisely these sustainable effects that we want to trigger with the Deutschland Tour. This is a good example of the promotion of cycling in Germany, which we have committed ourselves to,” continued Rach.

“Three years after its first big finale in Stuttgart, the new Deutschland Tour is coming home,” says Dr. Martin Schairer, Mayor for Security, Order and Sport of the state capital Stuttgart. “For us, the heart of the event is the Jedermann Tour. With this event, the people of Stuttgart will have the opportunity to get into the saddle of an amateur race, for the third time in 2021. In the following years, the Brezel Race will continue to be a race for everyone,” continued Schairer. “This sustainable promotion of cycling in breadth and top is made possible by the good cooperation with the Region Stuttgart Association,” added the sports mayor.

Regional Director Dr. Nicola Schelling confirmed: “We are very happy to have won the Deutschland Tour 2021. The final stage in 2018 was already a great win for the Stuttgart region. The cycling event impressed thousands of spectators as well as participants nationwide and conveyed the beauties of our region in an ideal way. We would like to continue this and are therefore happy to support the next two major sporting events with their amateur races. This is the best advertisement for cycling in our beautiful region.”

Key points:
Baden-Württemberg will be a cycling stronghold again in August next year. After the state capital Stuttgart and the Stuttgart region had already hosted the closing day of the premiere edition of the new Deutschland Tour, Germany’s largest cycling festival 2021 is celebrating its grand finale in the southwest again.
Ø In addition to the pros of the Deutschland Tour, 3,000 amateur cyclists are expected to take part in the Jedermann Tour starting and finishing in Stuttgart.

Deutschland Tour 2020:

John Degenkolb Gets his own Paris-Roubaix Cobble Sector
Lotto Soudal rider John Degenkolb will be the first active rider having a Paris-Roubaix cobblestones sector that will bear his name. Next Monday, 10 February, John Degenkolb will be present on the famous section “D130 Château d’eau 59171 Erre”, for the official inauguration.

Degenkolb is the winner of the 2015 Paris-Roubaix as well as the winner of the Tour de France cobbles stage in 2018. The German rider is also a prominent Ambassador of Les Amis du Paris-Roubaix. Last year Degenkolb successfully launched a fundraiser campaign for the preservation of the Paris-Roubaix junior race.

Paris Roubaix – Best of 2015:

Bigla-Katusha Launches 2020 Team Kit
After years of partnership in the men’s World Tour, Katusha Sports has brought their expertise in technology paired with design and style to the Bigla-KATUSHA women’s team.

The 2020 race kit is fully bespoke for each rider, with every item being made to measure, for a perfect fit, to meet each rider’s individual needs. The design process paired the technological and performance needs with a stylish design that works seamlessly over the seasons to create a continuity from the past whilst updating some elements and working in cohesion with all of the team partners.

Alexis Schoeb, CEO of Katusha conveyed his satisfaction with the process and the end result: “Working with an open brief we were able to design a truly stand out kit, different and unique in the peloton. To be able to bring our technology driven methodology in, and balance it with a bespoke design has been a great experience. I love this kit, I really do.”

The aqua blue colour is carried over from the 2019 season, now paired with a salmon pink and navy blue. Light patterning is reflected on the collar and back of the jersey, to add a premium touch. The CHAPTER2 bikes, Tacx water bottles and Endura helmets all play on this colour scheme as well to create a strong solidarity.

In late 2019 the team riders visited the Katusha Sports head office in Geneva, Switzerland, for the custom fitting process, with each item being made to measure for the season ahead.

Clara Koppenburg expressed her opinion about the Bigla-Katusha kit: “I am very excited to have Katusha as our kit partner, because they produce products of such high quality and also original design. My expectations of our new team kit were accordingly quite high, but they were exceeded when I saw the design and tried it on. I absolutely love our new kit. The colours and the small details, combined with the superior tech and quality is a perfect balance, and I can’t wait to wear this at the races and training all year long. I anticipate that every time I will put it on, I’ll fell such pride, excitement and power on the bike, which will motivate me to give everything in training and racing, and represent our team as well as possible.”

The pro riders from Bigla-KATUSHA will be the first in the world to use the new Katusha Sports women’s winter range, as well as many of the new products that will be available over the coming months. The replica kit is available to the public via www.katusha-sports.com.

Women’s Movistar Team Set to Kick Off its 2020 season
Vuelta CV Féminas (Sunday 9th), nine-day ‘stage’ (10th-18th) in Alicante and aero / material testing in Navarra (ends Friday) mark busy calendar of events for Blues this month.

The women’s Movistar Team will be starting their 2020 season this week as they pin their numbers for the first competition of the year, the Vuelta CV Féminas (Sunday 9th; 97.7km from Paterna to Valencia), and some key activities for the whole, 11-woman roster managed by Sebastián Unzué and Jorge Sanz.

The Blues have spent two days TT testing, adjusting biomechanical profiles and trying out new materials, at the Tafalla velodrome in Navarra, some adjustments which the men’s team underwent in Mallorca at last week’s training camp. Following the testing, the Movistar Team will head south to Valencia, where Aude Biannic, Jelena Erić, Alicia González, Barbara Guarischi, Lourdes Oyarbide and Alba Teruel will be representing the Blues.

After the end of Sunday’s Vuelta CV, the whole Telefónica-backed outfit – Katrine Aalerud, Sheyla Gutiérrez, Eider Merino, Paula Patiño and Gloria Rodríguez complete the 11-rider roster will get together at the Hotel Cap Negret in Altea (Alicante), holding their second training camp after last December’s meeting in Calpe. Training programs, physical and technical tests, internal organisation meetings and sponsor duties will be the Blues’ agenda through Tuesday 18th February.

After the training camp, the Blues will resume racing with the Setmana Valenciana (Feb 20-23), with their national teams; the new Vuelta a Castellón (Feb 28 – Mar 1st), back in regular Movistar Team kit; and the opening weekend of Belgian classics: the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Saturday 29th), the Omloop van het Hageland (Sunday 1st) and Le Samyn (Tuesday 3rd).

Exciting New Association of Women’s Cycling Teams Launched
UNIO launched with great excitement after over a year of hard work behind the scenes. UNIO is a new association which aims to safeguard and promote the interests of Professional Women Cycling Teams worldwide.


One of UNIO’s main missions is to represent the interests of all Professional Women Cycling Teams registered with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and to work together with all stakeholders for a better and united future for women’s cycling.

The slogan Better Together has been adopted as an ethos to grow the sport by uniting all stakeholders for a sustainable future. UNIO will seek to represent 100% of all Professional Women Cycling Teams competing at the UCI level and is inviting all the concerned teams to take up membership by visiting www.unio.team

UNIO’s Objectives:
● To contribute to the healthy development of women’s cycling and advocate for fairness and equality by all stakeholders;
● To promote the members towards the public and interested third-parties (sponsors, service providers, etc.);
● To develop grassroots women’s cycling;
● To increase the popularity of Women’s Professional Cycling in any field;
● To provide assistance to all members in any field of interest, such as the development of the sport of cycling, technical improvements, good practices in medicine and health, economic development, labour relationships, legal and contractual assistance, insurances, etc.;
● To improve economic opportunities for all members.

UNIO’s Activities to Include:
● The representation of the interests of every member before the cycling governing bodies;
● The provision of expertise to all stakeholders;
● The provision of a platform for all members and the development of various services for them;
● The development of strong marketing and communication tools;
● The provision of legal services to all members.

Ronny Lauke – CANYON//SRAM Racing – UNIO President: “I’ve been involved in women’s cycling for 12 years and what we’ve missed until now is a united voice where all the teams can share their interest in the sport and cooperate with the UCI and race organisers for the better of the sport. In the work we’ve done behind the scenes, we’ve learnt there is a clear demand from all teams looking for an organisation to grow the sport. We presented the idea to the UCI and received positive feedback immediately.”

“The sport cannot grow while everyone tries to hold onto their little piece of the sport, we have to unite all our interests which in turn will be to the benefit of all. So today, we’re very proud to present UNIO, the vehicle to ensure a sustainable future for all Professional Women Cycling Teams and cycling in general.”

Esra Tromp – Parkhotel Valkenburg – UNIO Vice President: “I think it’s really important to have a voice that represents the teams and to work together with all the stakeholders to develop women’s cycling. If we don’t work together, some of the stakeholders won’t be as happy as it’s possible to be. If everybody works together, we can develop women’s cycling into a really great product.”

“Women’s cycling has so many opportunities because it’s still underdeveloped. The potential is endless. We have to look at other sports, like football for example, and see their structures to learn from them and see how they’ve grown their business and equality levels. We have to study other business models outside of cycling to grow the sport. But, first things first, UNIO is here and the time is now to do something.”

“We’re inviting other teams to become members of UNIO because the slogan Better Together, is really what we believe in. We have to have input from all kinds of teams to have representation across the board. Joining UNIO means you can have an impact on the sport. We’re working to be better every day, and we have to do it together.”

Thomas Campana – Bigla Katusha Pro Cycling – Founding Member: “UNIO is the result of one and a half years of work and it’s great to see it being realised now. The formation of UNIO is an important day for all UCI women’s teams. This is the first time in history all women’s teams have a united voice in front of all stakeholders. We want to develop women’s cycling to the next level and I’m very confident that all people involved will do the best to have the most professional set up in the future. Many of us have been in the sport for a very long time and this is an exciting time to see the evolution of the sport into a modern product that society will be proud of.”

Danny Stam – Boels Dolmans Cycling Team – Founding Member: “For a long time, we’ve all lived on our own small islands, moving in our own directions. Now we’re coming together to form one voice. The formation of UNIO is to work with everyone to take women’s cycling to a higher level. Women’s cycling is not a short-term project, it’s a long-term project and we’ll only make an impact together with one voice. What we’re creating is on trend with what’s happening in the world and something that transcends cycling. I believe the time is now to build something special and fight for equality for professional women’s sport.”

More info at www.unio.team soon.

A Common Love for Cycling Brings Czeslaw Lang and Emmanuel Macron Together in Warsaw
Yesterday Czeslaw Lang met President Emmanuel Macron at the French embassy in Warsaw. The President has always been passionate about cycling and he has always been a guaranteed spectator at the Tour de France, despite the numerous commitments that his role imposes.

Poland and France definitely share a passion for this incredible sport, which never fails to stir strong emotions. In fact, Frédéric Billeta, the Ambassador who made this meeting possible, is not only a fan of the race; he also plans to participate on a French team in the 2020 Orlando Tour de Pologne Amatorów.

“I was extremely happy to learn that the French President knew about the Tour de Pologne. It made me very proud, not only because this confirms that the hard work that my team and I constantly put in to improving the race has led to results which resonate all over the world. It also proves that cycling truly unites people, regardless of the flag they ride under.” declares a sincerely excited Czeslaw Lang.

Gibbons Opens Up for the First Episode of the UnClipped Podcast Series in 2020
South Africa’s Ryan Gibbons kicks off the first episode of 2020 as the guest in our team’s feature podcast series: “Unclipped”.

The highly rated 25-year-old from Johannesburg sat down with Jean Smyth at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, and lifts the lid on the pressures he’s faced as a young rider of whom so much is expected, and how, if it’s possible, to manage that weight of expectation.

It’s a must-listen for any young, aspiring sportsperson; and will allow for yet greater context for when Ryan does win his first race!

As the only team on the UCI WorldTour producing its own podcast series, the eight episodes in 2019 proved hugely popular with our fans, riders, staff and partners, who all loved contributing.

The series intends to hone in on some of the sport’s big talking points and in doing so offer unique insights and access in a way that hasn’t been widely available in the peloton before.

The feedback dictates that it has lived up to that billing with the probable highlight being a very special recording of Bernie Eisel, Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw picking over the Australian’s career on his penultimate night as a professional. That was at the Tour of Britain in 2019, and brought down the curtain of one of sports great trios.

The year concluded with a thought-provoking discussion with Nicholas Dlamini, whose incredible story has been well documented, but saw new ground being covered in his interpretation of the cultural differences among his colleagues and the dynamic that brings to the team, the role his mother has played in his life in the absence of a father figure, as well as his hopes for the future.

How to get it?
Go to your favourite podcast application to search for series or follow the links below. Make sure that you subscribe to the series, as well as sharing and downloading all the episodes that catch your eye – these pieces are all timeless so can be listened to whenever.

Please also leave a rating, and share your feedback via our social media channels.

The series has included: Bernie Eisel, Scott Davies, Julien Vermote, Michael Valgren, Mark Renshaw, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Dlamini and most recently Gibbons.

You can find the series on any of your favourite podcast applications, or via our website.


About the image
‘UnClipped’ was chosen as the series title for a number of reasons using the iconic toe clip as the perfect representation of what the series hopes to achieve.

The toe clip firstly reminds us about the rich history of the sport as well as being a visual metaphor related to being off the bike and having a conversation. It also reflects the intended unscripted candour of the content while also mirroring the innovation and technological advantages so important to our team.

Plus, ‘old school’ is simply cool.

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