EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!
Il Lombardia and all the weekend's cycling news
2021 has given us some exciting racing and the final monument of the season, Il Lombardia, didn’t disappoint. All the news from ‘the falling leaves’, Paris-Tours, AJ Bell Women’s Tour and the Gran Piemonte with video. Tadej Pogačar makes history – TOP STORY. Rider news: Alberto Contador not making a comeback. Contracts for Gorka Izagirre, Dimitri Claeys, Adrien Petit, Joe Dombrowski, Louis Meintjes, Lorenzo Rota, Antonio Nibali, Coryn Labecki, Johannes Staune-Mittet and Tim van Dijke. Team news: BORA-hansgrohe to ride the Cape Epic, Astana Qazaqstan, UAE Team Emirates takes over Alé BTC Ljubljana and Cherie Pridham DS at Lotto Soudal. Race news: Dates for the 2022 AJ Bell Tour of Britain. Watch Jumbo-Visma Plan B on demand. Big EUROTRASH cappuccino time Monday.
TOP STORY: Pogačar Joins Coppi and Merckx with Victory in Il Lombardia
Tadej Pogačar follows in the footsteps of Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx with his victory in the Tour of Lombardy. The Slovenian is only the third rider in history to win a Grand Tour and two Monuments in the same season.
Pogačar won the Tour de France, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia. Only Coppi and Merckx have better results. Merckx managed to win at least one Grand Tour and two monuments four times. In 1972 he won two Grand Tours and three monuments: The Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Milan-Sanremo, Lombardy and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Coppi was the first rider in history to win multiple monuments and a Grand Tour in the same season. The Italian was able to add the Tour, the Giro, Lombardy and Milan-Sanremo to his palmarès in 1949. Like the Italian and the Belgian, the Slovenian won the Tour de France in his debut year. Pogačar shares that statistic with eleven others.
Winners of at least two Monuments and a Grand Tour in the same season:
Tadej Pogačar (2021)
Tour de France
Eddy Merckx (1969, 1971, 1972, 1973)
Vuelta a España
Tour de France
Tour de France
Tour de France
Fausto Coppi (1949)
Tour de France
Can you compare? They are all champions:
Il Lombardia 2021
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) attacked with more than 30 kilometres to go, local boy, Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), joined him for the two to battle for the win. The chasers had no chance. In the sprint Pogačar had the edge over Masnada. Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers) was third.
A leading group of 10 riders escaped and managed to take a lead of more than 5 minutes: Jan Bakelants, Victor Campenaerts, Tim Wellens, Thomas Champion, Mattia Bais, Domen Novak, Chris Hamilton, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, Andrea Garosio and Davide Orrico. It was on the Dossena that the race exploded for the first time. Andrea Bagioli and Eddie Dunbar attacked from the peloton, while Bakelants split the leading group. Riders were dropped from the front group and the peloton. Nobody managed to get away. In the peloton there were attacks from Neilson Powless, Michael Woods, George Bennett, Fausto Masnada and Pavel Sivakov, but the top favourites didn’t let this group go. A truce held to the Passo di Ganda.
In the leading group, Bais, Bakelants, Ghebreigzabhier, Hamilton, Novak and Garosio crossed the top of the Dossena, but their lead was now 1:30. With 55 kilometres to go they were caught by the peloton. Lorenzo Rota held out to the foot of the Passo di Ganda, but he couldn’t hold them off before starting this climb, with Tiesj Benoot leading the pack. The Belgian keep the pace high for Romain Bardet, who had good legs. Bardet jumped with attacks from Nibali and then Pogačar and was able to follow the Slovenian for a while, but eventually had to let him go. The Tour winner was solo with a lead of 30 seconds when he came over the summit.
Roglič was not having his best day. When Pogačar attacked, the Jumbo-Visma rider couldn’t follow. Before the top, Roglič was able to hang on and but he was struggling. On the descent Fausto Masnada counter-attacked. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider closed the gap to Pogačar after a long chase with 15 kilometres to go. The chasers failed to close the gap behind Masnada and Pogačar due to poor co-operation. Roglič, Vingegaard, Adam Yates, Woods, Bardet, Alejandro Valverde and Alaphilippe occasionally worked together, but the gap rose to 50 seconds. In Bergamo the chase group would be sprinting for the third place on the podium. In the final kilometres Pogačar and Masnada attacked, but they couldn’t shake each other off. After 239 kilometres a sprint would decide the winner. Without too much effort, the Slovenian Tour winner held off Masnada’s jump 150 metres from the finish, winning his second monument of the year after Liège-Bastogne-Liège. A minute later, Adam Yates won the sprint for third place.
# You can see the full ‘PEZ Race Report and Photo Gallery’ HERE. #
Il Lombardia 2021 winner, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “I’m speechless, it’s crazy to be here to celebrate this success at the end of a season like this. The race was very tough, even before I made my move. When I attacked, I was sure someone would come with me. Downhill Masnada joined me, I knew he would gain on me in the technical part of the descent from Passo Ganda, since he knows these roads very well, and I knew that he would not collaborate with me when he reached me, but I still had the legs and the drive to beat him in the sprint. In this second part of the season, my form was fluctuating, with some good days and others less brilliant days : but luckily my condition was very good today. Every victory is important to me, I particularly like today’s win because being at the start of Lombardia alongside the best cyclists in the world was a dream, and now winning on my debut was incredible.”
2nd, Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “I am happy, it’s my first Monument podium, and taking it in my hometown makes everything even more special. I know second is not a victory, but it sure feels as one as I got out-sprinted by one of the best riders in the world, who was impossible to beat today. During the race, I talked with Julian and he told me to try something if I felt that I had the legs, so I went full gas after Passo di Ganda, with my confidence boosted by the fact I knew the downhill and those roads. This season hasn’t been one of my best, with several injuries that made me miss a lot of races, so to finish it like this is amazing. It was the first time that I did the Colle Aperto in a race, and the atmosphere created there by these superb fans is something that will forever stay with me. It gives me goosebumps just to think about it. This place on the podium is for them and for the entire city of Bergamo, which has been hit so hard during the pandemic. I will never forget this incredible day.”
3rd, Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers): “Third is a pretty good result considering I was racing full gas since the start of the year in February in the UAE, so to go all season with quite good consistency, I’m pretty happy with that. It’s not a win, but at the end of the day I’ve been consistent throughout the year. I was thinking, ‘oof, this is going to hurt’. I tried to make one move, and we didn’t get across, so that was it. I was suffering already. It wasn’t just the climbs but also the descents. It was a really technical course this year and you had to always be in position to make sure you didn’t get caught out, and in the end that takes a lot out of you. We got to the climb and everyone was suffering quite a lot. I tried to go across but in the end the legs weren’t there. In the end, it was a bit of luck. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and today was the day. I was dropped with Primoz on the last climb but we came back with 400-500 metres to go and managed to get a good run-in. It’s nice to have a bit of luck and I’m just happy to finish the season well.”
4th, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma): “I didn’t have the legs. Wednesday I had better legs. We came here for the win, but in the end I wasn’t good enough. I hung on to the pursuers. It’s great that I can still get a result here. Pogačar was the strongest. This season was another one with ups and downs. We will take the good memories with us to next season.”
5th, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “I’m still participating and I can only be satisfied with that. I had a lot of fun riding today, although I was really bad at first. However, I was still there in the final, along with the other roosters. I have to thank the team, they played a fundamental role again. I always felt very well surrounded. Even before the Passo di Ganda we were in the first group with six riders. On the Passo di Ganda Pogačar then rode away, which was really unbelievably strong. We chased after the descent, but it turned out to be very difficult to catch up with them (Pogačar and Masnada). On the last climb to Bergamo, the group broke up and Roglič and Yates were dropped. However, we looked at each other in the final phase and so we were outflanked.”
6th, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “I’m happy with how we rode. We heard in the descent of the Passo di Ganda that Masnada was on his way to Pogačar. Fausto was at the front at one point, but he had already done a lot of work. So we didn’t know what else he had in the tank. In the end, it was decided to draw his card. Finished second behind Pogačar, that’s not bad. Maybe I just lacked that bit of confidence to take the plunge. I did have good legs. Ok, I was also driving at the limit at the time, like everyone in our group. I’ve only had some difficult days and so I wasn’t sure if I could keep up. Fausto took the honours and managed to cross to Pogačar. Finishing second in a monument is still a good achievement. No, I’m happy.”
19th, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “It went a bit too fast, after which I chose my own pace. I saw the group riding, but they just rode faster. I’m happy to finish in the top twenty, so no, I’m not too disappointed. It’s all about the legs. If you don’t have it, then you have to accept it. It’s okay to say I didn’t have the legs. Do I have an explanation for that? No. In Bergamo I even felt very good again. Maybe my legs had cooled down a bit after the long descent. But if you want to win, you have to be 100 percent all day and I wasn’t for a few minutes. It felt a bit strange in the beginning. My body was shaking a bit, but it got better and better. On the descents I didn’t feel comfortable at first, but after that it got better.”
Il Lombardia Result:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 6:01:39
2. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:50
4. Primoz Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
7. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
8. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM
9. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation
10. Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo at 2:25.
Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) won a thrilling 115th edition of Paris-Tours on Sunday ahead of Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo). The pace was relentless from the start, with a hard battle through the wind, and the attackers lit fireworks on the vineyard trails leading to Tours. Bonnamour was alone at the front with Stan Dewulf as they entered the last kilometre… But Démare, after a strong attack on the final climb of the day, produced a massive effort to bridge the gap and dominate the four-man sprint. He is the first French winner of Paris-Tours since 2006, when Frédéric Guesdon claimed victory. Today, Guesdon was in perfect position to enjoy Démare’s win, as a sports director for Groupama-FDJ.
The 152-man peloton rolled out from Chartres just before noon. With winds blowing from the North-East and riders battling for the early breakaway, it was a very fast start. Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) attacked in the first kilometre. He was quickly joined by Julien Duval (AG2R-Citroën) but they couldn’t open much of a gap. After 15km, Rune Herregodts (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), winner of Paris-Tours Espoirs in 2020, bridged the gap to the early attackers. The break eventually got away, with a lead of 2:30 at km 18. Groupama-FDJ put the hammer down through the wind and the peloton split in several parts. Calm returned at km 30 as the gap hit a maximum of 7:30 after a very fast first hour of racing (47.1kph). Several teams (DSM, Alpecin-Fenix, TotalEnergies, St Michel-Auber 93) work together to control the break. The gap came down to 3:30 when a new acceleration in the bunch turns the race upside down into the last 100km. Only 34 riders remain in the first bunch, including three former winners: Casper Pedersen and Soren Kragh Andersen for DSM, as well as AG2R Citroën’s Greg Van Avermaet. With such a battle through the wind, the breakaway was reeled in at km 124.
The 37 leaders hit the first vineyard track (51km to go) with a 30 second gap to the chasers. Arkéa-Samsic tried to make the most of their numbers at the front with a series of attacks. Connor Swift suffered a puncture with 43km to go, after he had managed to launch a new break. Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën), Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal) and Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) remained at the front. Riders previously dropped got back and Jasper Stuyven’s Trek-Segafredo control. Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) attacked again and again until a group of six chasers got away with 16km to go. Among them, Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), who drop their rivals on the final climb of the day, the Côte de Rochecorbon. With 10km to go to Tours, without any vineyard tracks left, they were only 8 seconds behind the leading duo. They held on… until Arnaud Démare produced a strong effort inside the last kilometre. Bonnamour and Dewulf were caught with 350m to go. Démare had enough energy to sprint to victory.
Race winner, Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ): “I never gave up despite a difficult run this season. I abandoned in the Tour, it wasn’t a good La Vuelta and then I was always up there but I didn’t get the win. We did everything well to keep believing and this time things went my way. To win the last race of the season, in this fashion, makes me really happy. When the route was more suited to sprinters, I came close, 2nd and 3rd… The vineyard trails have made it harder and I like it. We were two with Jasper Stuyven, and we quickly moved 10 or 15’’ closer. And then, we could see them just ahead of us, but we were really on the limit. They looked a bit at each other with one kilometre to go and we caught them. I also had to be wary of Stuyven because I know he’s fast in the sprint. Everyone was cooked so I wanted to launch from far away. I gave it everything, I really wanted that one.”
3rd, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo): “If I could do it over, I’d do it the same way. Démare was just faster. With all due respect, I expected Arnaud and I to close the gap to Bonnamour and Dewulf faster. After all, the difference was only ten seconds, but we didn’t get closer quickly. To be honest, we gave everything and then I thought I would finish fourth, just like in almost all my other races this year. Because we closed the gap so late, I didn’t have a chance anymore. I could no longer play on the attack because of that. But in the end I rode a good final, the way I like. That’s why I can’t blame myself much. In retrospect it’s always easy to look back and judge easily. But I wouldn’t have handled things differently. It was a good decision to stay with Démare. I tried to get over him, but he was simply the fastest.”
5th, Danny Van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “This 5th place in Paris-Tours is a nice conclusion of a long and busy period. The final started early because of crosswinds and I nicely managed to follow the first echelon. As it was the first time I raced through the vineyards in Paris-Tours, I didn’t really know how hard it would be in reality. I remarked that my competitors in the front kept very cool and luckily I copied them as the final was very hard indeed! But once we passed the final climb, I knew that this was a good opportunity to sprint for another place of honour. This Paris-Tours is the apotheosis of a fantastic period after the Tour de France, during which everything went so smooth and my confidence on both the mental and physical level never ceased growing. Despite a difficult start of the season, the team always kept believing and working hard. Therefore, I’m happy that I could reward them with a series of victories and places of honour. With these legs, and the good atmosphere in the team, it would have been a pleasure to continue the season. But of course I’m looking forward to enjoy some rest. I want to thank the team for the two seasons together!”
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 4:33:07
2. Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
3. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
4. Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën at 0:03
5. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 0:40
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
7. Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
9. Julien Trarieux (Fra) Delko
10. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic.
AJ Bell Women’s Tour 2021
DSM’s Lorena Wiebes claimed the first AJ Bell Women’s Tour stage victory of her career in Southend-on-Sea on Stage 4 on Thursday. The Dutch rider produced a dominant sprint finish along Westcliff’s Western Esplanade in front of a huge crowd to take victory ahead of Chiara Consonni (Valcar-Travel & Service) and Trek-Segafredo’s Chloe Hosking.
Wiebes’ compatriot Demi Vollering (SD Worx) finished 21st to retain her race lead with just two stages remaining. Vollering has 1-minute and nine seconds over Juliette Labous (DSM), with Joss Lowden (Drops-Le Col s/b Tempur) the top Brit in seventh overall. At 22 years old, and making her debut in the race, Wiebes becomes the third youngest stage winner in AJ Bell Women’s Tour history.
Departing from Shoeburyness’ East Beach, the opening hour of racing was run off at over 42kph before a breakaway could stick, with first Janneke Ensing (BikeExchange) going solo and then after she was caught Movistar’s Lourdes Oyarbide built almost a minute’s lead. The Spaniard was caught with 37 kilometres to go and with the pace high even a flurry of attacks on the short ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains climb of Hambro Hill with a little over 10 kilometres to go couldn’t prevent the sprint along Southend’s Western Esplanade. Initially latching onto Consonni’s Valcar-Travel & Service team lead-out, Wiebes opened her sprint with 150 metres to go, powering through for her first win since July’s Giro Rosa. Thanks to her fourth place on the stage Sheyla Gutierrez takes the Sigma Sports Points jersey while the standings in the other two classifications remain unchanged with Elisa Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) in the ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains jersey and Nina Kessler (Team Tibco Silicon Valley Bank) in the Eisberg Sprints jersey.
Stage winner, Lorena Wiebes (DSM): “It was a fast day of racing today but we rode really well together. We did a good job taking the bonus seconds during the day in the race for GC and overall we had it all under control today. It was a chaotic final and at one point before the downhill we lost each other but I found my way and was able to finish the teamwork off and win the stage. The win means a lot, we really went for this win. Pfeiffer Georgi was really close at stage two so I’m really happy for the team that we took it today.”
Overall leader, Demi Vollering (SD Worx): “My team stayed on the front and really controlled it, so that was nice. A lot of other teams wanted to sprint here so we were not the only ones who wanted to keep together so that was a bit more easy for us. We have a really strong team here so I think that we will be fine.”
AJ Bell Women’s Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM in 2:54:43
2. Chiara Consonni (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service
3. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
4. Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spa) Movistar
5. Marjolein Van’T Geloof (Ned) Drops-le Col Supported by Tempur
6. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing
7. Sarah Roy (Aus) BikeExchange
8. Alice Barnes (GB) Canyon-SRAM Racing
9. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé BTC Ljubljana
10. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx.
AJ Bell Women’s Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx in 9:40:44
2. Juliette Labous (Fra) DSM at 1:09
3. Clara Copponi (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 1:19
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx at 1:20
5. Aude Biannic (Fra) Movistar at 1:33
6. Leah Kirchmann (Can) DSM at 1:46
7. Joscelin Lowden (GB) Drops-le Col Supported by Tempur at 1:47
8. Alice Barnes (GB) Canyon-SRAM at 1:51
9. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned) SD Worx at 1:52
10. Pfeiffer Georgi (GB) DSM at 1:53.
AJ Bell Women’s Tour’21 stage 4:
Lorena Wiebes became only the second rider in AJ Bell Women’s Tour history to claim back-to-back stage victories when she produced another dominant sprint to win in Clacton-on-Sea Stage 5 on Friday. Wiebes (DSM) beat newly-crowned World champion Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Travel & Service) to the victory, while Drops-Le Col s/b Tempur rider Maria Van’t Geloof won a close-fought battle for third. Only Dutchwoman Wiebes’ compatriot Marianne Vos had previously won consecutive stages of the UK’s most prestigious women’s race, a run that coincidentally started when Vos also won in Clacton-on-Sea during the 2014 edition.
Race leader Demi Vollering (SD Worx) finished safely within the peloton to move closer to being crowned the race’s overall winner, although for a large part of the day British rider Hayley Simmonds (CAMS-Basso Bikes) was the virtual blue jersey following an audacious solo attack on the roads of Essex. Vollering retains a 1:09 lead over Juliette Labous (DSM) going into Saturday’s final stage, while Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine) reduced her deficit to 1:16 after picking up bonus seconds in the day’s two Eisberg sprints. The story of the day looked like being Simmonds’ performance, after the time trial specialist attacked 7 kilometres out from the start in Colchester. Having started the day 2:55 behind Vollering on GC, she amassed a lead of 4:30 with 50 kilometres remaining.
However, a mix of action in the peloton on the ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains climb at Manningtree combined with Simmonds’ fatigue saw her caught just 15 kilometres outside of Clacton. Wiebes again looked unstoppable once she had started her sprint along Marine Parade West and duly claimed her 12th victory of the season. Race leader Vollering finished out of trouble in 30th. Thanks to her victory, Wiebes moves into the lead of the Sigma Sports points jersey, two points ahead of Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo), who added a fourth-place finish to her second (Banbury) and third (Southend-on-Sea) already this week. Elise Chabbey (Canyon SRAM) and Nina Kessler (Team Tibco Silicon-Valley Bank) retained their ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains and Eisberg sprints jerseys respectively. The pair only need to finish Saturday’s final stage to secure victory in those competitions.
Stage winner, Lorena Wiebes (DSM): “We put Liane [Lippert] in the front for the chase and everything was under control actually so that was good. With the lead-out we were a bit too early in the front. It was a bit chaotic but in the last bend I found my way to the front and almost directly started my sprint. So I came with some speed from behind and it worked out pretty good we controlled the day.”
Overall leader, Demi Vollering (SD Worx): “My team were totally in control today, they went on the front and did a few turns and keep the speed a bit high and then bring back the break so that was good. Tomorrow we need to keep it together and make it a good race again. We don’t have a plan yet; we need to see first, look a bit better at the route and then we will see.”
AJ Bell Women’s Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM in 2:19:53
2. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service
3. Marjolein Van’T Geloof (Ned) Drops-le Col Supported by Tempur
4. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
5. Clara Copponi (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
6. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing
7. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé BTC Ljubljana
8. Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spa) Movistar
9. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx
10. Amber van der Hulst (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg.
AJ Bell Women’s Tour Overall After Stage 5:
1. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx in 12:00:37
2. Juliette Labous (Fra) DSM at 1:09
3. Clara Copponi (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 1:16
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx at 1:19
5. Aude Biannic (Fra) Movistar at 1:33
6. Leah Kirchmann (Can) DSM at 1:46
7. Joscelin Lowden (GB) Drops-le Col Supported by Tempur at 1:47
8. Alice Barnes (GB) Canyon-SRAM at 1:51
9. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned) SD Worx at 1:52
10. Pfeiffer Georgi (GB) DSM at 1:53.
AJ Bell Women’s Tour’21 stage 5:
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) clinched overall victory in the AJ Bell Women’s Tour, Britain’s biggest professional women’s race, as World road race champion Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Travel & Service) clinched the final stage – her first in the rainbow jersey. Balsamo headed home Lorena Wiebes (DSM) and Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) in front of packed crowds along Felixstowe’s seafront basking in the October sunshine, for the win in her final race of 2021.
Vollering finished safely within the main field to celebrate the overall victory by one minute two seconds over Juliette Labous (DSM), with Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) a further 3 seconds in arrears. The win is Vollering’s first UCI Women’s WorldTour stage race victory and comes in a season where she has also won the prestigious single day races Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Course. The day was marked by a five-rider escape started by Eugenia Bujak (Alé BTC Ljubljana), containing Ana Santesteban (BikeExchange), Dani Christmas (Drops Le Col s/b Tempur), Sofia Bertizzolo (Liv Racing), and Veronica Ewers (Tibco Silicon Valley Bank). The quintet built a lead of just over three minutes, making Santesteban the virtual leader on the road, but a combination of Vollering’s SD Worx’s squad and the other teams working towards the sprint pulled things back to set up the fast finish in Felixstowe.
Once again the Valcar-Travel & Service team performed an excellent lead-out after having gone close in previous days, but this time the World champion was able to cap the team performance and round out the AJ Bell Women’s Tour with a win. Behind Wiebes took second to secure the Sigma Sports Points jersey thanks to her brace of stage wins, with Hosking taking another top three position. Elise Chabbey (Canyon SRAM) won the ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains jersey for the best climber in the race while having taken the Eisberg Sprints jersey on day one in Oxfordshire, Nina Kessler (Team Tibco Silicon Valley Bank) held on to the red jersey. Alice Barnes (Canyon SRAM) was the top British rider in seventh overall and one of three Brits in the top 10 with Pfieffer Georgi (DSM) in eighth, and Joss Lowden (Drops Le Col s/b Tempur) in tenth. There was further success for British riders with Hayley Simmonds (CAMS Basso) taking the Combativity Award after her tenacious stage five ride, while SD Worx clinched the team classification.
Stage winner, Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Travel & Service): “To win in this jersey is amazing – it was the perfect day. My team did a really great lead-out for me. We knew we were strong in the sprints but today was perfect. It’s wonderful. This was my first time at this race but I will definitely come here again!”
Final overall winer, Demi Vollering (SD Worx): “It feels great. It’s really nice to win a stage race for the first time. I made a big gap in the time trial and then the last three days were flat so we tried to sprint for Amy [Pieters] and then we only needed to control it. It was a good week and really nice with a lot of people next to the road. It is always nice to see so many people into women’s cycling.”
AJ Bell Women’s Tour Stage 6 Result:
1. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service in 3:53:51
2. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM
3. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
4. Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spa) Movistar
5. Amber van der Hulst (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
6. Clara Copponi (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
7. Marjolein Van’T Geloof (Ned) Drops-le Col Supported by Tempur
8. Sarah Roy (Aus) BikeExchange
9. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé BTC Ljubljana
10. Alice Barnes (GB) Canyon-SRAM.
AJ Bell Women’s Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx in 15:54:38
2. Juliette Labous (Fra) DSM at 1:02
3. Clara Copponi (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 1:05
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx at 1:07
5. Aude Biannic (Fra) Movistar at 1:26
6. Leah Kirchmann (Can) DSM at 1:39
7. Alice Barnes (GB) Canyon-SRAM at 1:41
8. Pfeiffer Georgi (GB) DSM at 1:46
9. Elise Chabbey (Swi) Canyon-SRAM at 1:47
10. Joscelin Lowden (GB) Drops-le Col Supported by Tempur.
AJ Bell Women’s Tour’21 stage 6:
Gran Piemonte 2021
Matthew Walls was the surprise winner of the Gran Piemonte on Thursday. The 23-year-old Briton from BORA-hansgrohe, who we mainly know from the track, turned out to be the fastest in the sprint in Borgosesia, ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo and Olav Kooij.
Two days before the Tour of Lombardy, the Gran Piemonte was held in northwest Italy, but the Italian semi-classic could not really be considered a final test for the ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’, given the mostly flat course. Riders like Primož Roglič, Tadej Pogačar, Julian Alaphilippe and Remco Evenepoel opted for a rest day and so it was a race for fast men like Elia Viviani, Vincenzo Albanese, Ethan Hayter, Giacomo Nizzolo, Olav Kooij and Sonny Colbrelli. For Colbrelli it was his first race since his heroic victory in Paris-Roubaix.
The start was in Rocca Cavanese, before crossing the undulations of the Canavese area. Manuele Boaro (Astana-Premier Tech), Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto Soudal), Marc Soler (Movistar), Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafredo) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù) formed the break of the day. The five leaders managed a maximum lead of just under 3 minutes, because Qhubeka NextHash were keeping the pace high in the peloton. Nizzolo was clearly keen on a second victory in Piedmont. After the only real climb of the day, the Serra na Ivrea (6.5km at 5.2%), the peloton descended to Biella, reached the valleys of Valsesia where the final was to take place. The lead of the four escapees (Frapporti had been dropped) decreased visibly and with 50 kilometres ridden they only had 1 minute. At 25 kilometres from the finish, they were caught. This was the signal for Txomin Juaristi to attack, but the brave Basque didn’t have anyone with him and was quickly caught by the peloton. Not much later, the race was startled by a crash by Olav Kooij. The young sprinter from Jumbo-Visma, who won two stages of the CRO Race, skidded on a bend and had to chase with a cut elbow. With 15 kilometres to go, Kooij was able to catch the peloton and then was brought forward by his teammates.
A bunch sprint in Borgosesia was on the cards. In the final kilometres the sprint trains of Movistar, Jumbo-Visma and Qhubeka NextHash came to the front and Luke Plapp (INEOS Grenadiers) also took a strong pull. In the very technical and treacherous final, the peloton was pulled into a long line, which disrupted the sprint. Walls was perfect, he jumped first and managed to hold Nizzolo and Kooij off. For Walls it is his second victory of the (road) season, after he previously won the final stage of the Tour of Norway. Walls also won the gold medal in the omnium at the Tokyo Olympics.
Race winner, Matthew Walls (BORA-hansgrohe): “It’s great to win Il GranPiemonte. It’s nice to be able to perform on the road. We knew it would come down to a bunch sprint. The boys worked for me all day. I’m really happy that I finished it off. It was worth it. I did the Tour of Norway a couple of weeks after the Olympics. It was a hard three days for me there, but on the final day I managed to find my legs and I won a stage. It was a nice transition back into road racing. It’s pretty big for me to win my second pro race here today. I was mostly watching Elia Viviani and Giacomo Nizzolo. I’m glad I was able to beat them.”
2nd, Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka NextHash): “To finish second while coming in a bit faster on the line is always a pity. I’m a bit disappointed, but that’s it. The guy who won was very strong and very fast. This was my last race of the year. At the start, I knew Matthew Walls and Olav Kooij could be fast. I did my best, congrats to them. As a cyclist, you have to be ready for everything: I was doing Paris-Roubaix on Saturday and the Coppa Bernocchi under the rain the day after. Today, luckily we had a beautiful day. It’s been a good season. I look forward to next year.”
3rd, Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma): “I don’t how I crashed. The front wheel slipped and I was on the ground. It’s never nice to crash, especially so close to the finale. Luckily, there’s nothing too bad and with the help of my teammates, I could still come back. I felt some adrenaline and not too much pain, so I tried to sprint for the win. It’s nice to make the podium but the crash is not what I wanted. I would have liked the sprint to keep going and take the win here. Third place is not bad at all. You never know what the future holds but hopefully I’ll make some nice steps in the coming years.”
5th, Biniam Girmay Hailu (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “I finally felt optimal again after a couple of race days in weather circumstances which don’t suit me. Thanks to the great support of Jan Bakelants and my other teammates I could shelter from the wind and approach the final kilometre with a lot of power. A narrowing of the street caused a move in the peloton and even though I managed to avoid a crash, I lost a lot of positions. Luckily I didn’t crash, so I could still sprint to 5th place. I’m satisfied to conclude the season with this result. I’m over the moon with my first two months in the World Tour. I knew that I was joining a good team, but I was surprised about the warm welcome within Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. The staff and riders immediately made me feel like home and created circumstances in which I can perform without pressure. This was beyond my expectations and I’m taking this good feeling home tomorrow, to Eritrea. I can’t wait to be reunited with my baby, who has really grown up those past three months, before returning to Europe for the preparation of the 2022 season with my other family!”
Gran Piemonte Result:
1. Matthew Walls (GB) BORA-hansgrohe in 3:34:47
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Qhubeka NextHash
3. Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Biniam Girmay (Eri) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
6. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Vini Zabù Brado KTM
7. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
8. Arvid de Kleijn (Ned) Rally
9. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Arkea-Samsic
10. Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal.
Alberto Contador Considered a Comeback
Alberto Contador retired from professional cycling for four years, but the Spaniard seriously thought about a comeback last year. “At one point I thought about returning for one race: the 2020 Giro d’Italia,” Contador made the revelation to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The now 38-year-old Contador toyed with the idea of returning to the peloton during the corona times. “During the lockdown I was on my bike a lot. I was in the same condition as when I stopped. There were a few more kilos, but I would have got rid of them by training. At one point I thought about returning for one race: the 2020 Giro, but in the end I put it out of my mind.”
The man from Madrid will not return to the professional peloton, but is still very closely involved in cycling. The multiple Grand Tour winner is currently the manager of Italy’s eolo-Kometa. The team made its first appearance in the Giro this year and managed to win a prestigious mountain stage with Lorenzo Fortunato, finishing on the Monte Zoncolan. Contador is also an analyst and commentator with Spanish Eurosport. Contador has won the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España several times in his career.
No return for ‘La Pistolero’:
Gorka Izagirre Returns to Movistar
Basque allrounder, a WorldTour stalwart with more than a decade’s experience, will wear the Blues’ colours again as of 2022 and for the next two seasons.
The Movistar Team announced Thursday it has reached an agreement for the next two seasons (2022-23) with Gorka Izagirre (Ormaiztegi, Gipuzkoa; 1987), a current member of the Astana – Premier Tech team, who will come back to the Telefónica-backed squad after being a member of Eusebio Unzué’s team between 2014 and 2017. His signing is the fifth for the men’s team’s 2022 roster, after previous confirmations of Óscar Rodríguez, Max Kanter, Alex Aranburu and Oier Lazkano.
Gorka’s 13-year pro career has seen him becoming one of the most resilient competitors and best allrounders in the whole WorldTour peloton, other than a rider respected by team-mates and rivals alike. His palmarès features nine victories, including a stage win in the Giro d’Italia, which he notched up in Movistar Team colours, in Peschici (2017), the 2018 Spanish Championships and races like the Tour de La Provence (2019) or the Gran Trittico Lombardo, currently the Tre Valli Varesine, in 2020.
Above all, however, Gorka Izagirre is especially known for his tremendous consistency, ability to give it his all for his team-mates and adapting himself to all terrains, from the biggest classics to one or three-week stage races, taking care of others or offering strong individual performances.
Gorka Izagirre: “I’m so happy to come back to the Movistar Team! The four years I spent with this team were the best of my career, both from a sporting point of view and as a group of team-mates who become best friends. These last few years for me have been just like when a young kid leaves his home and travels elsewhere: I’ve known other places in the world, other environments, but in the end, I wanted to come back at some point. I hope to bring back all of my experience, everything I’ve been taught, to give everything for this team once again.”
IWG Reinforces For the Classics with Dimitri Claeys and Adrien Petit
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert reinforces its team for the classics for next season with two experimented assets, authors of several top 10 finishes in Monuments. Belgian rider Dimitri Claeys and French rider Adrien Petit respectively signed for one and two seasons with the Belgian team directed by Jean-François Bourlart.
Dimitri Claeys is a known face within Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert as he was part of the structure in 2016. That year, the 34 year old rider from Ghent impressed in the roads of the Tour of Flanders by taking 9th place. Later during the season he won an Ardennes stage in the Tour de Wallonie and the GP Jef Scherens. The powerful Flandrien added the GC of the Dunkirk Four Day (2018) and the Famenne Ardenne Classic (2019) to his palmarès, before improving his personal best in the Tour of Flanders (6th in 2020). The double Belgian U23 champion also distinguished himself in the Tour de France and La Vuelta and aspires to continue animating the finals of the main spring classics in the colours of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert.
At the age of 31, Adrien Petit is joining a foreign team for the first time in his career. The powerful rider can present an impressive list of great performances in difficult classics, for example a victory in the Two Bro Leon (2014), 6th in Ghent-Wevelgem (2019) and two top 10 finishes in Paris-Roubaix (10th in 2016 and 9th in 2017). The rider from the north of France also showed fast legs by winning stages in the Dunkirk Four Day, the Tropicale Amissa Bongo, the GP de la Somme and Paris-Troyes or the prologue of the Tour of Luxembourg. The rider born in Arras is also known as a loyal team player, contributing to the victories of Nacer Bouhanni or Bryan Coquard. It is in this way that he brilliantly entered in the pro peloton, by becoming vice World Champion U23 behind Arnaud Démare, for who he did the lead-out (2011).
Dimitri Claeys: “I didn’t have to think for a long time before making the decision of returning to the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert family. Even though the structure changed a lot since I was part of it in 2016, I know that I’ll feel good and that I’ll have the opportunity to show myself in my preferred classics and other Belgian races. I remember that in 2016, thanks to Jean-François Bourlart and Hilaire Van der Schueren, I got the opportunity show my abilities in the main classics. I look back to it as my breakthrough on the highest level. Since then, I followed the progress of the team year after year. A first participation in the Tour de France, the development of Guillaume Martin in a true leader, the growing importance in the performance of the equipment etc. More recently, I was really impressed by the collective performance at the Tour of Spain. I can’t wait to be a part of this growing history again! It is true that I already achieved nice results throughout my career, but I’m really motivated to accompany a leader who can finish on the podium in all classics!”
Adrien Petit: “After years of observing its progression, I couldn’t resist to the temptation to join Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. I finally feel ready to step up to a foreign World Team after eleven years within French teams. The good contacts with the team and strong interest from Alexander Kristoff in my qualities persuaded me. I will follow the Norwegian rider in most of his races and I can’t wait to be a part of his success. I feel good in this role of loyal team-player, after having built my own palmarès in the beginning of my career in races such as Binche-Chimay-Binche or Le Samyn, races close to the heart of myself and the team. I can’t wait to start this new chapter and to pin a number on a shirt of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert!”
Jean-François Bourlart (CEO): “We have the intention to reinforce our squad for the classics and with the addition of Dimitri Claeys and Adrien Petit, we add two solid and experimented elements. Both men battled with the best riders in the world on the cobbles of Flanders and Roubaix, and they will play an important role for our leader Alexander Kristoff, but they will also share their experience with our young riders who want to progress in the classics. We know the abilities of Dimitri quite well, he already showed our jersey in 2016 and we’re looking forward to welcoming him back in the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert family. Thanks to Adrien we’ll have an important element for the classics and the sprint train, to which he can add his rich experience.”
Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager): “I’m pleased that we can add a lot of experience to our classics squad next season thanks to the recruitment of these two riders. Both showed their leadership qualities on World Tour level and will play a role in the final of the most important classics in our colours. The addition of Claeys and Petit reinforces my conviction that we can surround Alexander Kristoff with a strong team. Both Dimitri Claeys and Adrien Petit are ambitious to scale up their level, and it is the progression of riders like Quinten Hermans, Louis Meintjes and Lorenzo Rota that stirred up their interest in the team. For the French rider it was a conscious decision to make a new step in his career with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. Adrien Petit will be an important element in de lead out for Alexander Kristoff, who can also rely on Dimitri Claeys in the classics. The Belgian rider followed the team’s progression in terms of performance since he left the structure at the end of 2016 and is looking forward to return to the family which he knows so well.”
Joe Dombrowski Signs with Team Astana for Two Seasons
US rider Joe Dombrowski is set to join Team Astana. The 30-year-old climber, who turned pro in 2013, is going to spend the two following seasons of 2022 and 2023 in the Kazakh team.
“Astana is a big team with a long history and this team has had great successes in the sport for many years, and I am excited to become a part of that. I am looking forward to meeting the team and to sitting down with the management at the training camps this off season and to establishing my objectives. Whether that’s to help the team or the opportunity to ride for my own results, it is going to be a great new challenge for me,” – said Joe Dombrowski.
Joe Dombrowski is a well-known climber and stage race specialist, a strong helper for team leaders at the Grand Tours and an attacking rider, who is always looking for a stage win.
Most notably, this year Dombrowski took a very beautiful victory on Stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia. Other impressive results in his palmarès include overall victory at the Tour of Utah in 2015, fourth place at the Amgen Tour of California in 2015, fifth place at the Colorado Classic in 2018, and 12th place in the overall standings of the Giro d’Italia in 2019.
“First of all, in Joe Dombrowski we see a strong climber and an experienced helper for team leaders at the Grand Tours. Our team is going to change a lot in the upcoming season, and we are happy to strengthen our Grand Tour group with such a reliable and versatile rider like Joe. But, of course, we understand that with the experience he gained during the last years, Dombrowski could be a rider we can count on looking for a stage win or going for the General Classification in a small stage race. It is still early to talk about his goals in his first season in our team, but I am quite sure this move can be successful for both sides, our team and the rider,” – said Aleksandr Vinokurov, 2022 Team Astana General Manager.
Meintjes and Rota Stay Loyal to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux is happy to announce the contract extensions of South-African climber Louis Meintjes and Italian puncher Lorenzo Rota. Both men, who joined the team in 2021, signed a contract until the of season 2023.
The leader of the team in the latest Tour de France, Louis Meintjes (29) finished in 14th place in Paris and achieved his best Grand Tour result in four years. Meintjes is always among the strongest when the road goes up and finished 9th in the stage towards Quillan thanks to taking a breakaway initiative. The climber achieved a top 20 in the general classification of the UAE Tour, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné before starting the Tour. Meintjes also contributed to the fantastic collective success of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at the Tour of Spain, and only a crash two days before the finish in Santiago de Compostela deviated him from his way to a top 10.
The Lombard Lorenzo Rota (26) emerged on the highest level in the colours of the Belgian team this season, particularly in one day races. He excelled in his home country, at the Trofeo Laigueglia (10th), the Giro della Toscana (4th), the Coppa Sabatini (5th), the Tre Valli Varesine (7th) and he even distinguished himself in World Tour stage races by finishing first rider of the team in Tirreno-Adriatico (22nd) and the Tour de Pologne (12th). In August, Lorenzo Rota was among the strongest riders in the Clasica San Sebastian (4th) even though he was eliminated for the sprint for the victory because of a crash. For the first time in his career, the Italian rider discovered the Tour de France and made it to Paris with a 10th place in the stage towards Saint-Gaudens.
Louis Meintjes: “My results speak for themselves. Within Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, I found an environment in which I feel good and perform well. The atmosphere and mentality make me happy. I want to reward the team for the risky bet they’ve taken by giving me an opportunity after a couple of difficult years, because thanks to them, I managed to get back to my best level. So I’m pleased to extend the adventure for two more years. In addition, the progress made by the team gives me a lot of confidence. Between our first meeting and today, I noticed a lot of incremental changes in terms of organisation or equipment, which shows the willingness of the team to keep improving. Race after race, I feel like steps have been made and this motivates me a lot. So I hope that we continue growing together the next seasons!”
Lorenzo Rota: “I’m going to each race with the joy of being reunited with the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux family, a team in which I feel good. Extending my contract was a logical step for me. I remember that, when the structure obtained the World Tour license after my recruitment, I was in doubt whether I had the level to compete in the World Tour. With the help of the team, I exceeded my expectations by far. I progressed each race, especially in the Tour de France during which I’ve grown as a rider. I’m proud about the road we have travelled so far and I’m very motivated to continue our common adventure. I want to thank the sports direction and all staff members who facilitate the progress of riders and enable them to develop on the highest level.”
Jean-François Bourlart (CEO): “We gave our confidence to Louis Meintjes to battle in the general classification of Grand Tours, knowing that he had a couple of difficult years behind the back but also achieved several top 10 results in the Tour and Vuelta before. Therefore, we offered him an adapted race schedule. Thanks to a friendly and quality work environment, he could race freely and he achieved a high level. His performances in 2021 augur well for the next two years, because I’m convinced that more great achievements are possible with him, for example in the Grand Tours.”
“Lorenzo Rota, who discovered the highest level with our team, quickly emerged as a leader in the most prestigious races. He’s a perfect fit for our offensive race style, he’s shown it for example in the Amstel Gold race or Tour de France. He’s a rider with a great potential who has already proven that he can compete with the best punchers and that he has fast legs on top of that. So we are confident that we will experience more nice moments together in the upcoming seasons.”
Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager): “We are proud that the work of the performance team and the family atmosphere also had a positive outcome on Louis Meintjes and Lorenzo Rota. Lorenzo started a journey of discovery in the World Tour, with Louis being confronted to the challenge of reinventing himself. Both succeeded brilliantly. The South-African reached his best level within our structure, both mentally and physically. We thoroughly analysed his previous seasons and together with Louis we established a new strategy which he executed with much enthusiasm and ambition. His professionalism also helped him to achieve a 14th place in the Tour de France, and we are very proud about it. The crash preventing him from a top 10 in the Vuelta motivates us more to come back next year with renewed ambitions.”
“I remember the ninth stage of the Tour de France towards Tignes, during which Lorenzo was of great value for Louis, despite his rib injury. The perseverance of the Italian rider was put to a difficult test during the Tour and he managed to find resources to be helpful for the team in spite of his physical condition. He stood out this season thanks to his offensive and intelligent racing. He really grabbed his chance at the highest level and progressed well thanks to an excellent preparation and perfect follow-up. I’m persuaded that he’s able to achieve big things, the proof of it is his performance in the Clasica San Sebastian where a crash prevented him from sprinting for the victory.”
Antonio Nibali Leaves Trek-Segafredo
Antonio Nibali extended his contract with Trek-Segafredo in August until the end of 2022, but both parties have decided by mutual agreement not to continue the contract extension. The 29-year-old rider is now free to go. His older brother Vincenzo recently signed a contract with Astana.
Nibali has been riding for Trek-Segafredo since 2020 and mainly rode for his brother Vincenzo and other leaders such as Bauke Mollema and Giulio Ciccone. The Italian was this year at the start of Strade Bianche, the Tour of Switzerland and the Vuelta a España. In the Tour of Switzerland he fought for the mountain jersey, but had to give way to Canadian Michael Woods.
A move to Astana seems likely, as Antonio was previously contracted to Bahrain Merida at the request of his brother Vincenzo. After three seasons with Bahrain Merida, the brothers moved to Trek-Segafredo.
Team Jumbo-Visma Women Signs Coryn Labecki for Two Years
Coryn Labecki (29), formerly known by her maiden name Rivera, makes the switch to Team Jumbo-Visma Women next season. The rider from California signs for two years with the black-and-yellow women’s formation.
As the first American, Labecki won the Tour of Flanders in 2017. In addition, her palmarès include a victory in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the Women’s Tour and the RideLondon Classique.
Despite her experience, Labecki is convinced there is still much to learn. “This season I won my first Giro stage and qualified myself for the Olympic team. In addition, podium finishes in the Tour of Norway and the Vuelta, among others, and a top ten place at the recent World Championships confirmed my consistency in the second half of the year. After a difficult start to the season, I turned the switch in the second half and was still able to achieve my goals. I am thrilled with that. I am now looking forward to a new year, a new chapter, and a new me. My goal for next year is to enjoy every moment with the new team. Learning how a new team works and being open to a new way of working.”
Labecki is a fan of the spring classics. “I like the classics. They fit well with my physical abilities. In the tougher races, I am often able to make it to the final. Still, whenever possible, I also want to be as good a teammate as possible. I will partly take on a leadership role, but I am open to learning – anything to support the team. From the first year, Team Jumbo-Visma has gone in the right direction with the women’s program. It’s a great group of girls, and there’s also excellent support from the team. I look forward to learning a lot from the team and Marianne Vos, among others. And also to ride together with Anna Henderson, who was my teammate before. I think it’s a strong team with the right composition to achieve many successes next year.”
Team manager Esra Tromp sees Labecki playing a vital role within the selection. “Coryn is a strong all-around rider with good tactical abilities. She is a tremendous team player and very eager to learn. Despite her impressive list of honours, Coryn wants to keep learning and developing. With the arrival of Coryn, the team will be strengthened, so we will be able to compete for the win in different scenarios. We are convinced that she will be of great value to us in 2022.”
Coryn Labecki, (née Rivera):
Team Jumbo-Visma Invests in Future with Contract Extensions Staune-Mittet and Van Dijke
Team Jumbo-Visma has entered into multi-year agreements with Johannes Staune-Mittet and Tim van Dijke. As part of their new contract, both talents will first be part of the Development Team of the Dutch team after which they will transfer to the World Tour squad.
Staune-Mittet, who recently won a beautiful stage of the Ronde de l’Isard, will ride for the Development Team for the next two years and then ride for the Team Jumbo-Visma flagship from 2024. The coveted Norwegian signed until 2026. Dutch champion Van Dijke, who triumphed in the final stage of the CRO Race last week, sees his dream of turning pro come true a year early. The twin brother of Mick van Dijke has signed with Team Jumbo-Visma until 2024, so he will first ride for one year in the U23 team.
Nineteen-year-old Staune-Mittet looks back on his first year in the Netherlands with a good feeling and is happy to keep riding for Team Jumbo-Visma in the coming years. “I had a contract for next year with the Development Team, but this new contract is next level. I am thrilled and very proud of it. It will be a great journey together and this commitment gives me confidence for the future. The fact that I will be riding with Team Jumbo-Visma for the next five years also gives me the opportunity and space to develop as the team and I have envisioned. This construction fits in perfectly with that. I feel at home with this team and look forward to the coming years.”
Van Dijke, who is two years older, is also pleased with his new contract. “The past few months, things have gone very fast and my development has accelerated. Six months ago I would not have thought to sign a professional contract so soon. The confidence of the team does me a lot of good and is very important for me. I think I’m creating a good foundation for myself by finishing my period among the U23 riders and then transferring to the pros. That way we create peace. I thrive on that because I haven’t been racing on the road that long. This is actually my first full road season.”
According to sportive director Merijn Zeeman, Team Jumbo-Visma is investing in the team’s future with these contract extensions. “In our view, Johannes is an up-and-coming talent. He is very eager to learn and has an open attitude. His personality closely matches the qualities we think are necessary to be active at the highest level. I think we fit well together. The last few weeks, you saw that he started to display a serious competitiveness. The same goes for Tim. He became champion of the Netherlands in the U23 category and recently took his first professional victory. That says enough about what he is capable of. Tim is a rider with great motivation and he is willing to work hard for it. It is suitable for him to ride in the U23 team for one more year because he can steadily grow to the World Tour level. Thanks to our strategy of occasionally racing together with riders from the WorldTour team, that growth goes very smoothly. Our youth route is hugely efficient and it keeps improving. That is very inspiring. The future of Team Jumbo-Visma is looking very bright.”
Head of Development Robbert de Groot is proud that Team Jumbo-Visma’s development programme once again delivers riders to the professional ranks. “In the long term, we try to create an organisation in which young riders get the time to develop themselves. For each athlete, we provide customised development. Within the team trajectory, there is an individual trajectory to advance as a rider. Such an individual trajectory provides safety and trust and that is very important for a young athlete. Riders within our Development Team are given the space and opportunities to become professional cyclists. Tim and Johannes seized that opportunity and we are proud of that.”
BORA – hansgrohe Begins a New Chapter in the Team’s History: With Ben Zwiehoff and Lennard Kämna, the Team Will be Participating in the 17th Edition of Cape Epic
For the first time, BORA – hansgrohe is in action off the road. At the renowned multi-stage MTB race, which will take place from 17-24 October in South Africa, Zwiehoff and Kämna will not necessarily be aiming for top placings. Rather, the experience they gain there will come first and foremost to show fans a new side of the team.
“First of all, it has to be said that our participation in Cape Epic was actually only made possible by its postponement to October. I know the race from the time when I still had a MTB racing squad. In casual conversations, I noticed that there was a lot of interest within the team. The important thing is that we are not at all concerned with obtaining results. Rather, having fun and gaining experience are put into the foreground. But we also want to have the race out in the media and show our fans a new side of BORA – hansgrohe. For us, this will be a little adventure trip of sorts. We would also like to tackle a couple of projects off road in the future. We don’t have any concrete plans yet, but I think it’s important to give the riders the chance to experience something different from their daily professional routines. Sports tend to become more and more professional and you have to work harder and more meticulously. So it’ll be good to see something different for a change, to clear the mind. We want to support that.
I am especially happy that Lennard is, in a way, making his return to racing. He was enthusiastic about the idea from the very beginning and I think that the timing is also very good for him, because afterwards we’ll start preparing for the upcoming season. With Ben, he’ll have the right man at his side, who comes from the sport of mountain biking and can therefore certainly support Lennard with a few tips and tricks here and there.” Ralph Denk, Team Manager.
“This will be a journey back to my roots in a way. The last time I was on a MTB was pretty much exactly a year ago, and now I’m able to go back off-road for an anniversary of sorts. I’m also looking forward to experiencing this together with Lennard. I want to support him with a few tips and also give back a bit of the help that I received from him at the beginning of the year. It will also be cool to see my former colleagues again and have a good time together. The courses have become technically quite demanding over the past few years. It’s going to be fun shredding the trails on Specialized bikes for sure.” – Ben Zwiehoff.
“For me, this is a completely new challenge. I come from the north of Germany and only sat on a mountain bike for the first time this year. Of course, I have a lot of respect for Cape Epic, and I’m also looking forward to it. There is a general tendency for some riders to ride more often in different disciplines, but I don’t have that goal at the moment, it will remain a one-off for now. But I can completely understand the attraction of seeing and experiencing something different. My preparation was okay, but I definitely have some technical deficits, which doesn’t matter so much in the end, because it’s more about having fun.” – Lennard Kämna.
Astana – Premier Tech Becomes Astana Qazaqstan Team in 2022
The UCI WorldTour team Astana – Premier Tech is set to get a new name in 2022. The Kazakh cycling project will step into the upcoming season as Astana Qazaqstan Team.
Qazaqstan is the most accurate and correct name of Kazakhstan in its English transcription. Qazaqstan is a kind of new brand of the state on the international stage, which is combining centuries-old traditions, language, culture and strategy of the country’s development in the today’s world.
“Starting from 2022 our cycling team will go on under the new name Astana Qazaqstan Team, a name which is very important to our country. The name of our state will appear on the cyclists’ jerseys and in the new team logo, and it will become a kind of sign of the continuation of traditions and, at the same time, a moment of change and renewal for the sake of two important goals: promotion of the image of our country all around the world and development of domestic cycling. The project is getting a second wind and is preparing for a new turn in its development. I would like to express my special gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan as well as to the Professional Sports Club Astana, which actively support the team. I am happy with the fact that Kazakhstan Cycling Federation is going to play an important role in the development of the renewed team and the implementation of ambitious plans, which will be announced in the nearest future. Also, I am happy that our federation will be presented both in the Board of Directors and in the management of Astana Qazaqstan Team. We envisage strengthening the team’s work with the federation in the transfer of professional skills to domestic athletes and specialists as well as deeper participation of Astana Qazaqstan Team in the life of Kazakhstan cycling”, – said Nurlan Smagulov, President of Kazakhstan Cycling Federation.
“I am happy that our team will continue its development under the new Astana Qazaqstan Team brand, and it is an honour for me to return to the leadership of this team as a General Manager. For the past 16 years the Astana Cycling Project has been the hallmark of our country in the world of sports, and I would like to thank the leadership of Kazakhstan for many years of support and trust. Astana Qazaqstan Team is not just a new team name, it is an updated project philosophy emphasising closer integration of our sports brand and promotion of the Republic of Kazakhstan as a major international partner. In the current period, preparations for the new season and the registration of the team in the top division are in full swing. Beside this we are working on an additional project, which we will announce soon”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Astana Qazaqstan Team.
UAE Team Emirates Takes Over Alé BTC Ljubljana Women’s Team
UAE Team Emirates is about to take over women’s Alé BTC Ljubljana team. According to a British cycling media outlet, the women’s team will be registered as a WorldTeam in 2022 and race in the same colours as the men’s team and continue with more or less the current roster.
The initial plan was to start with its own women’s team in 2023, but the bosses of the UAE Team Emirates don’t want to wait longer and so Alé BTC Ljubljana is being taken over. UAE Team Emirates is following in the footsteps of Jumbo-Visma, Lotto Soudal, DSM, Groupama-FDJ and BikeExchange, who now have a men’s and women’s team.
The current team line-up of Alé BTC Ljubljana currently has twelve riders, the most famous names being Marlen Reusser, Marta Bastianelli, Maaike Boogaard, Tatiana Guderzo and Mavi García. Strong holder Reusser will leave the (at the moment) Italian team after this season: the Swiss rider will compete for SD Worx from next season. Many riders of the current selection will also remain on board for 2022.
Bastianelli won stage 1 of the Women’s Tour:
Cherie Pridham Becomes Sports Director at Lotto Soudal
Cherie Pridham will join the group of Lotto Soudal sports directors in 2022. This season, the 50-year-old Briton was sports director at Israel Start-Up Nation. After a successful 15-year career as a pro rider, Cherie Pridham pivoted her career towards managing and directing.
“If you can’t beat the Belgians, join them”, were Cherie Pridham’s first words after the announcement. “It was absolutely not on my radar to direct a Belgian team, but when the Lotto Soudal project was presented to me, I was immediately charmed by it. I raced a lot in Belgium. I know how much cycling means for Belgian people. I am not afraid, I am ready to make a positive contribution to the team’s future.”
As an athlete, Cherie Pridham was a world class bike rider, completing no less than eight editions of the Tour de France Féminin and two of the Giro Rosa. After her career she went into management.
“And I only heard good things about her”, says Lotto Soudal general manager John Lelangue. “I spoke with some five other candidates for this job, but then some riders suggested me Cherie. After our first interview I was immediately convinced. She was by far the best sports director. She really can and will bring something new to the team. Earlier she already brought other teams to a higher level. For the dynamics of the team she is a surplus. She is strong in organisation and works well with people, riders and staff. Whether you’re male or female doesn’t matter at all to do this job. First and foremost, she’s a director, not a female director. Cherie is just the person we need.”
Cherie Pridham is indeed the first female sports director in the top tier of modern male cycling.
“As long as I do my job, then it is not important to be a man or a woman. In 2021 I always got respect and appreciation. I really want to thank the owners of Israel Start-Up Nation. They gave me the chance to develop my skills. That was an invaluable experience which I can use to help making Lotto Soudal a more exciting team. If I just can bring some small touches, some more modern things into the organisation, that could make already a big difference. The important thing is that all riders and staff feel that they are part of a successful team. We will have fun with Lotto Soudal, but with the riders we need to go to war as well. And we can win the battle”, concluded Cherie Pridham.
Dates Confirmed for the 2022 AJ Bell Tour of Britain
The dates for the 2022 edition of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain have today been confirmed, with the 18th edition of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race scheduled for Sunday 4 to Sunday 11 September.
Already confirmed for the 2022 route is an overall start hosted by Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, following the success of the final stage of this year’s race, and a final stage on the Isle of Wight for the first time.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “The Tour of Britain is a key part of EventScotland’s annual portfolio of world-class events and it is great to have it returning to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in 2022 after the success of this year’s final stage. Scotland is the perfect stage for events and our long-term partnership with the Tour of Britain is the ideal platform to showcase what Scotland has to offer as we build towards host the first-ever UCI Cycling World Championships in 2023.”
Aberdeen City Council leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “As a city we look forward with great anticipation to providing the starting point for next year’s race. The excitement of this year’s event is still being felt across the region – and the economic and cultural benefits will carry long into the future. It was a thrilling experience to be present for this year’s finish on the Beach Esplanade, among thousands of cheering spectators, savouring world-class sporting competition up close. As a council we have been building our events offering and investing in supporting infrastructure, so we can expect next year’s Tour of Britain to enjoy a flying start in Aberdeen.”
Cllr Andy Kille is the leader of Aberdeenshire Council. He said: “Aberdeenshire got behind the riders at the 2021 event in huge numbers and the positivity that the Tour of Britain created will have had lasting impacts on cycling, wellbeing, and tourism for this area. It is great to see the momentum being maintained, with work already starting to make 2022 just as spectacular. We are all looking forward to welcoming the riders and the teams back here next year, and I feel sure they will also be looking forward to making a return.”
Isle of Wight Councillor Julie Jones-Evans, Member for regeneration and tourism, said; “This is a great opportunity to showcase the Island and everything we have to offer on live national and international TV through the power of sport. The Isle of Wight is well known for its sailing heritage and it’s also a brilliant place to ride a bike thanks to the unique and distinctive coastline and scenery. As well as providing a welcome boost to the local economy, the Tour of Britain is a fantastic sports event that inspires more people to get out on their own bikes, which is great for everyone’s health and wellbeing. We will be working closely with the Tour organisers and other partners over the coming months to prepare for the event.”
Nottinghamshire will also host a midweek stage of the race as the AJ Bell Tour of Britain returns to the county for the first time since 2018. More details of the 2022 event will be announced in the coming weeks ahead of the launch of the route in spring next year.
Commenting on the news, Mick Bennett, Race Director of organisers SweetSpot said; “This year’s race will live long in the memory but work is already well underway on the 2022 Tour. With the overall start in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and our first ever Isle of Wight stage to conclude the race it will be another memorable edition of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain.”
British Cycling’s Head of Sport and Major Events, Jonathan Day, said: “This year’s AJ Bell Tour of Britain will be fondly remembered for many years to come, with its fantastic route, buoyant crowds and a nail-biting GC battle showing off the very best of our sport. We’re incredibly excited to work alongside the team at SweetSpot to make the 2022 race even better still, taking it to more of Britain’s communities, supporting our ambition to lead the sport and inspiring the next generation.”
The AJ Bell Tour of Britain is sponsored by AJ Bell, one of the UK’s leading online investment platforms, helping people invest for the long term via ISAs, pensions and general investment accounts. It has a rich history of supporting elite level sport including badminton, cricket, rugby, squash and triathlon.
2021 AJ Bell Tour of Britain in 60 seconds:
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