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Manizales - Colombia - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Egan Bernal (COL - Team Sky) pictured during the 2018 1st Colombia Oro y Paz stage 6 - from Armenia to Manizales (Torre de Chipre) (184.3KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

Good morning and it’s EUROTRASH Monday time! A full weekend of race action as Egan Bernal wins in Colombia, Elia Viviani in Dubai, Luis Leon Sanchez in Murcia and Caleb Ewan in Almeria – All the results and video. More disk brake chaos in the Top Story. In other cycling news: Team previews of the Tour of Oman, Volta ao Algarve and no Ruta del Sol for Tomasz Marczyński. Amgen Tour of California route announced, Tour of the Alps news and Fernando Gaviria and his tattoos. Coffee anyone?

TOP STORY: Those Disk Brakes (again)!
The use of disk brakes has hit the headlines again. US cyclocross champion, Katie Compton, has had to end her 2017/18 season due to a deep gash in her knee caused by a disk during the Krawatencross in Lille on Saturday.

Then we saw a rear wheel change for Quick-Step Floors’ Elia Viviani in the Dubai Tour. Lucky for the race leader that he managed to catch the peloton, but surly no one would take a chance during a Grand Tour or a Classic?

How long?

Dubai Tour 2018
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) won Stage 3 of the 2018 Dubai Tour, from Skydive Dubai to Corniche RD Fujairah (180km), in a bunch sprint finish, beating Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) to the finish line with Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) taking third. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) is the new race leader, wearing the Blue Jersey, sponsored by the Commercial Bank of Dubai. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) received a 20 second penalty on GC from the race jury after the finish line. He still wears the points leader’s Red Jersey.

More stage 3 photos in PeloPics.

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data): “I am really happy with the win and with how the team rode today. We had a plan to be in the front at the roundabout at 3km to go, that was our first finish-line. That was good, we had a full African lead-out into it, the lads were wicked. It was Bernie, Renshaw and I in the last 3km before I had to do my own thing in the final. I was lucky that Nacer let me in, in the last couple of hundred meters. After yesterday I realized I can’t really match Elia in a drag race, so I had to leave it late and wait until he passed his peak in the sprint. I then used the slingshot to pass. I am happy with that and with how the Dubai Tour has gone. I’m just a bit disappointed now that I sat up in the sprint yesterday. I let my team down because technically I could’ve been in the leader’s jersey now if I finished second and got the time bonus. I can only apologize to my team for that and make up for it on the other days going forward.”

6th on the stage and overall leader, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “The team did a perfect job once again. After the feedzone, we tried something in the crosswinds, splitting the field, but ten kilometers later it turned into a tailwind, so we decided to focus on the bunch sprint from that moment on. I accelerated early, with 200 meters to go, which probably was a mistake with the headwind we had, but I was worried that someone would come from behind. In the last 50 meters I lost speed and didn’t take any bonus seconds, which could have been important in the final outcome of the race.”

Bahrain DS, Gorazd Stangelj: “The team did a perfect job until the end, and Sonny was in top 2, with 20m to go. With this wind you need to be perfect, otherwise if you start to early or to late, the wind can punish you and that happen to Sonny. But we are satisfied, as we did a good job from the stage 1. We see that the team is working very well together, the sprints are crazy every day, and you also need some luck to win a stage. Tomorrow is little better stage for us with hard finish, but this is good for the moral for tomorrow.”

7th on the stage and 9th overall, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates): “Our lead-out train was perfect and we were at the front in the right moment, but we had no luck. We were boxed in to the left and couldn’t find any open road to accelerate. If we could have found some space, I feel I would have had a better chance of competing for the victory as my legs felt good today.”

Dubai Tour Stage 3 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Dimension Data in 3:53:46
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
4. Adam Blythe (GB) Aqua Blue Sport
5. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
8. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana
9. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana
10. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo.

Dubai Tour Overall After Stage 3:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors in 12:19:38
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) Dimension Data at 0:04
3. Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) BMC at 0:07
4. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana at 0:08
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
6. Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC
7. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:10
8. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana
9. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates at 0:14
10. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida.

Dubai stage 3:

Italy’s Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) accelerated from a long way out in the spectacular uphill finish of Stage 4 at Hatta Dam to put a cruel end to the breakaway hopes of American rookie Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling). Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana) and Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo) rounded out the podium. Sixth across the line, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) retained the Blue Jersey with one day to go into the fifth edition of the Dubai Tour.

Stage 4 photos.

Foto LaPresse - Fabio Ferrari 09/02/2018 Dubai (Emirati Arabi Uniti) Sport Ciclismo Dubai Tour 2018 - 5a edizione - Tappa 4 - Dubai Municipality Stage - da Skidive Dubai a Hatta Dam - 172 km (106,9 miglia) Nella foto: Photo LaPresse - Fabio Ferrari 09/02/2018 Dubai (United Arab Emirates) Sport Cycling Dubai Tour 2018 - 5th edition - Stage 4 - Dubai Municipality Stage - Skidive Dubai to Hatta Dam - 172 km (106,9 miles) In the pic:

Stage winner and 3rd overall, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida): “I really wanted to repay my team for the excellent work they had done for me since the very beginning of the Dubai Tour. Vincenzo Nibali has had a decisive role in the finale today. It’s great to have him along. He’s the first who’s ready to disrupt the plans of the pure sprinters and I hope the work he’s doing here will help him reach his goals this year. I had a mechanical problem with 20km to go. But I chose to keep the same bike and ride on the 53 gear until the end but it was very difficult to finish it off. The last 50 meters were never ending. Four seconds deficit on Elia Viviani aren’t much but he’s a faster sprinter than me. However, I’ll try to win again tomorrow.”

4th on the stage and 8th overall, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates): “I’m pretty satisfied with fourth place. Whilst a podium position would have been a great way to end a great race, I prefer to focus my attention on the fact that I’m producing consistent performances in the top 10. My team mates were fantastic leading me to the approach of Hatta Dam, especially Sven Erik Bystrøm and Matteo Bono who both did a really impressive job. My legs were fairly good, but maybe the final few meters were too heavy for me.”

Race leader and 6th on the stage, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “At the end of the day, it’s better to have an advantage of two seconds on Magnus Cort Nielsen than four seconds on Marcel Kittel or Mark Cavendish ahead of the last stage. I think I’ll sleep well tonight because I have a great team to defend my leading position. My main goal tomorrow can be to win the sprint. It would be the ideal way to finish the Dubai Tour.”

Best young rider, 2nd on GC and stage, Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana): “We always prefer to finish first than second. But I have to be happy with my result. Hatta Dam is a brutal finish but I’m happy I arrived in the peloton and I still had some speed left in the legs. I’m sure Viviani will keep a close eye on me tomorrow but I’ll try to win the Dubai Tour.”

Intermediate Sprint leader 10th on the stage and 4th overall, Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC): “This final climb is very hard. The wind, coming into the last kilometers, made the race even harder. It’s not nice to lose the white jersey on the second last day but Magnus Cort Nielsen is a super good rider. I’ll try to break away tomorrow again to defend the Intermediate Sprint jersey but it won’t be easy.”

Last man to be caught, Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling): “With 1 km to go I thought I had won the entire race. With 500 meters to go I still thought I had won the race. Then with 200 meters to go I hit the steep part of the climb and the legs locked up. I looked back, saw the field…”

Dubai Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida in 3:40:50
2. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana
3. Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
6. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
7. Tom Bohli (Swi) BMC
8. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
9. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team
10. Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) BMC.

Dubai Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors in 16:00:28
2. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana at 0:02
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:04
4. Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) BMC at 0:07
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis at 0:08
6. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC
7. Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:10
8. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates at 0:14
9. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC
10. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC.

Dubai stage 4:

Elia Viviani reigned supreme on the Final Stage 5 of the Dubai Tour, netting Quick-Step Floors’ fourth straight GC triumph at the Middle East race, which has served the team well since 2015, the year of our first victory. For the impressive Viviani, it was the second overall win of his career, nearly five years after coming out on top in the Tour of Elk Grove, a short stage race in the United States.

The Italian, whose previous best overall result at the Dubai Tour was a fifth place, went into the final day of the event with a two-second buffer over Magnus Cort (Astana) in the rankings, after putting in a brave fight on the Hatta Dam climb. Protected by the same infallible Quick-Step Floors six-man squad that marshalled the peloton since the opening stage, Elia didn’t need to worry when four riders escaped and established a 4:30-gap, as his teammates took it to the front and cut the deficit, before bringing the attackers back with ten kilometers to go.

As expected, other teams got in the mix to set up the final bunch gallop of the Dubai Tour, and the nervousness that ensued led to a crash on the last right hand corner of the stage, taking several riders to the ground, while others found themselves blocked behind the pile-up.

That incident also meant Viviani had to put in quite the effort to close the gap to the ones in the front, which he did thanks to the help of an impeccable Fabio Sabatini – who once again proved why he is one of the best lead-out men in the business – before opening the sprint with 100 meters remaining and overhauling Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) and Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) for his third victory of the season, one which landed him also the beautiful “Circle of Stars” trophy.

Final stage 5 PeloPics.

Foto LaPresse - Fabio Ferrari10/02/2018 Dubai (Emirati Arabi Uniti)Sport CiclismoDubai Tour 2018 - 5a edizione - Tappa 5 - MeraasStage - da Skidive Dubai a City Walk - 132 km (82miglia)Nella foto: Photo LaPresse - Fabio Ferrari10/02/2018 Dubai (United Arab Emirates) Sport CyclingDubai Tour 2018 - 5th edition - Stage 5 - MeraasStage - Skidive Dubai to City Walk - 132 km (82 miles)In the pic:

Stage 5 and overall winner, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “This morning I tried to stay relaxed, but now I must admit that I was very nervous, because my margin in the general classification was a slender one. Our tactic was to let join the break only riders who weren’t posing a danger in the overall, so we don’t have to pull all day long, because I needed all my six teammates for the closing part of the stage. In the final kilometer, Saba did an outstanding job, avoiding the crash, then closing the gap and leading me out. All I had to do was patiently wait, because we had a headwind, and it was important to leave it as late as possible. I came to this team in order to become one of the best sprinters in the world, and 90% of what I have achieved here in Dubai is Quick-Step Floors’ merit. The boys are extraordinary, they rallied around me and offered their huge support, while Brian Holm laid out a perfect tactic. The goal was to win the GC, but at the same time we decided to take it day by day and see what happens. Two stage wins and the general classification is a fantastic way to close out the week. I’m very happy with how I started the season and the good form I have, it gives me even more confidence for my future races.”

2nd overall and best young rider, Magnus Cort Neilsen (Astana): “I was hoping for a better stage result today but I’m happy to finish second in the Dubai Tour and winning the Best Young Rider competition. The crash in the last curve slowed me down a little bit but didn’t affect my result. We tried to organize a lead-out with the full team but we didn’t succeed. However, I’m more than happy with my week of racing in Dubai.”

3rd overall and 7th on the stage, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida): “Too bad for the crash at the last corner that involved Borut. Before the team worked very well, Cortina helped me to find the wheel of Borut. Because of his crash I lost some positions and tried to retrieve. The most important thing is that we take the overall podium at the Dubai Tour. It has been a great stage race for me and for the whole team and now we’ll looking forward next targets.”

4th on the stage and overall, Jempy Drucker (BMC): “I knew the finish from last year, so I knew the final corner, and I could tell from the speed that we were entering it that there could be a crash. So, I decided to stay on the inside and in the end, I found myself in fourth position. I launched my sprint with 200m to go but, there was a slight headwind, and in the end, three other guys were able to pass me. This has been a good first week of racing for me. It is always good to get into the race rhythm, and my shape seems good heading to Oman. We will have different priorities there, and the parcours is more hilly, but I think for me that will be a good way to fine-tune ahead of the next part of the season.”

Sprint jersey winner, Quentin Valognes (Team Novo Nordisk): “The team spirit since Stage 1 has been unbelievable. We’ve been in every single breakaway and aggressive on every single stage. Our mission is to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes. It wasn’t just my performance; it was the performance of the whole team that shows we are changing diabetes.”

6th overall, Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC): “There was a crash in the last corner, and I got caught behind that which was a bit of a shame. However, overall at this race, I have been feeling good, and I think that I have been able to show that my form is good for this early part of the season. There are a lot of positives to take away from this race, and I was happy to finish fourth overall. I think it is a good indication of how the rest of the season will go. Now, I am looking forward to heading to Oman and working for the team.”

7th overall, Loïc Vliegen (BMC): “I am a bit disappointed about the crash as I was just behind it and I had to put my feet on the ground to avoid it. But, for me, the most important thing at this race was that I showed that I am in a good condition. There is still room for improvement, but I think it has been a good start to the year and I can only build on my performance from here.”

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates): “I approached the final right handed bend in a great position ready to make my move, but unfortunately the riders in front of me crashed. I managed to avoid them, but I was forced to stop which meant I missed out on the sprint. We’ll now look to the next races in Oman and the UAE where we hope to achieve better results and showcase our talent to the fans – their support has been amazing.”

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data): “I am alright, I didn’t crash at all so I’m fine. I hope the guys who did crash are alright. I am pretty happy with how the week has gone. Today the team was wicked and I actually lost Mark Renshaw with a kilometer to go. Apart from that, the team did exactly what I asked of them, they were spot on. To see the difference from the first day to today, well I am very happy with the progress made this week.”

Dubai Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
2. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
3. Adam Blythe (GB) Aqua Blue Sport
4. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC
5. Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
6. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
7. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
8. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana
9. Andrea Peron (Ita) Novo Nordisk
10. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step Floors.

Dubai Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors in 19:05:46
2. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana at 0:12
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:14
4. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC at 0:24
5. Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
6. Nathan Van Hooydonck(Bel) BMC at 0:27
7. Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC at 0:28
8. Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:30
9. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC at 0:34
10. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:38.

Dubai stage 5:

Colombia Oro y Paz 2018
Fernando Gaviria consolidated his overall lead at the inaugural edition of Colombia Oro y Paz – to the delight of the home fans – capping off a flawless first half of the race after sweeping up all three flat stages with amazing ease, backed by a strong Quick-Step Floors team, which led him out with experience and precision.

After chasing down the five-man break that animated the 163km-long Stage 3 from the outset, the well-drilled Quick-Step Floors sprint train moved away from the spotlight for a brief period of time, before storming to the front in the closing three kilometers and stamping its authority on the bunch gallop in Buga, where Gaviria roared across the line victorious in front of a rapturous crowd for win number four since the start of the season.

Already one of cycling’s brightest stars, the young South American boasts an outstanding string of results in the last nine bunch sprints he was involved in – at the Tour of Guangxi, Vuelta a San Juan and Colombia Oro y Paz – taking eight victories (half of which came at WorldTour level) and a runner-up spot, which confirm his prowess and remarkable talent.

Cycling: 1st Colombia Oro y Paz 2018 / Stage 3 Arrival / Fernando Gaviria Rendon (COL) Pink Leader Jersey Celebration / Matteo Malucelli (ITA)/ Juan Sebastinn Molano Benavides (COL)/  Palmira - Buga (163,2km)/ © Maximiliano Blanco

Stage winner and overall leader, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors): “I worked hard during the winter and had a very good preparation, that’s the reason why I’m here today, enjoying all these wins. In San Juan I suffered a setback, but fortunately it wasn’t too serious and I could return here, in front of my family and these unbelievable fans, to whom I want to say a big thank you! Colombia proved that it can organize an international race and I’m proud to have been here for this first edition. The team was again fantastic, hats off to the way they controlled the stage and helped me claim another beautiful win. I get to sport the pink jersey for one more day, but tomorrow it will be all about returning the service to my teammates and helping them on this first mountain stage as much as I can.”

Colombia Oro y Paz Stage 3 Result:
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors in 3:30:05
2. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
3. Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) Manzana Postobon
4. Davide Vigano (Ita) Italy
5. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) UnitedHealthcare
6. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
7. Christian Leonardo Tamayo Saavedra (Col) GW Shimano
8. Manuel Peñalver Aniorte (Spa) Trevigiani Phonix-Hemus 1896
9. Nicolas Javier Naranjo Sanchez (Arg) ACA Virgen de Fatima
10. Adrian Gonzalez Velasco (Spa) Burgos-BH.

Colombia Oro y Paz Overall After Stage 3:
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors in 9:26:07
2. Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) Manzana Postobon at 0:17
3. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:23
4. Rafael Aniba Montiel (Col) Orgullo Paisa at 0:24
5. Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Coldeportes Zenu Sello Rojo
6. Brayan Stive Ramirez (Col) Colombia at 0:26
7. Juan Esteban Arango (Col) Colombia at 0:27
8. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors at 0:29
9. Simon Pellaud (Swi) Team Illuminate at 0:30
10. German Nicolas Tivani Perez (Arg) Trevigiani Phonix-Hemus 1896.

Oro y Paz stage 3:

The Quick-Step Floors fiesta continued on Stage 4 of the South American race, where Julian Alaphilippe landed the team’s fourth consecutive victory on Mirador Tambo, a 4.7km-long climb averaging 5.6% which came at the end of the fourth stage, one that saw Fernando Gaviria, Alvaro Hodeg and Iljo Keisse join a huge breakaway.

Helped by his two teammates, Gaviria took all three intermediate sprints on the course, further extending his lead in the points classification, on which he already had a firm grip after blasting to victory on the previous three stages. With the climbers eager to grab with both hands their first opportunity of the week and to make inroads in the general classification, the lead of the twenty men up the road was always kept in check and didn’t go north of three minutes at any point.

On the penultimate climb on the route, a third-category one, Fernando Gaviria attacked and opened a gap, crossing the summit first, but eventually his day at the front came to an end, and with it, his tenure in the pink jersey. Then, a furious pace of the GC favorites’ teams in the peloton made a big selection, leaving only 25 riders in the elite group, which included also Quick-Step Floors’ Julian Alaphilippe and Jhonatan Narvaez.

The champion of Ecuador – racing only his second event since turning pro with our team at Vuelta a San Juan – showed maturity and tactical acumen well beyond his age, responding to several attacks and closing the gaps into the business end of the race. That allowed Alaphilippe to stay fresh and monitor his rivals, who after their previous attempts came to an abrupt end, tried to move decisively with 500 meters to go.

Both Sergio Henao (Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) surged off the front, but Julian comfortably responded before blasting past them inside the final 300 meters and opening his 2018 account with a spectacular win, his first in South America. The two Colombians rounded out the podium, while Narvaez still had enough in him to finish fifth and jump into the top 10 overall, 13 seconds behind Alaphilippe, the new race leader.

Cycling: 1st Colombia Oro y Paz 2018 / Stage 4 Arrival / Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) Celebration / Sergio Henao Montoya (COL)/  Buga - El Tambo 1770m (149,5km)/ © Maximiliano Blanco

Stage winner and overall leader, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors): “I can’t tell you how happy I am with this win. When I arrived here last week, I didn’t expect to take a stage victory, so having won one gives me big satisfaction, especially as it came against some of the best climbers in the world. This makes the victory even sweeter. It wouldn’t have been possible without this great team and the help of our sports director Davide Bramati, who told me before the start to anticipate on a short downhill section right before the final bend, which I did. Right after the finish, I thanked Jhonatan Narvaez for his work, because he played a big part in my success. This is the spirit of the Wolfpack that we’re always talking about. We never give up and always stay together, helping each other, the 25-year-old Frenchman, who sits also at the top of the mountain classification, explained. “To keep the pink jersey in the team is fantastic, but at the same time I know that the next two stages will be more difficult. The plan is to take it day by day and see where we’ll stand on Sunday afternoon.”

Colombia Oro y Paz Stage 4 Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors. 3:17:36
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky
3. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
4. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:03
5. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu) Quick-Step Floors
6. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky
7. Ivan Sosa (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
8. Danny Alberto Osorio (Col) Orgullo Paisa at 0:08
9. Diego Antonio Ochoa Camargo (Col) EPM
10. Aristobulo Cala Cala (Col) Bicicletas Strongman Colombia Coldeportes at 0:11.

Colombia Oro y Paz Overall After Stage 4:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors in 12:44:06
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky at 0:04
3. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:06
4. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky at 0:13
5. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
6. Ivan Sosa (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
7. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu) Quick-Step Floors
8. Danny Alberto Osorio (Col) Orgullo Paisa at 0:18
9. Diego Antonio Ochoa Camargo (Col) EPM
10. TJ Eisenhart (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources at 0:21.

Oro y Paz stage 4:

Following his 3rd place on Friday’s explosive finish up El Tambo, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) again showed his excellent form coming into only his first race of the 2018 season at the Colombia Oro y Paz. The ‘Cóndor’ from Boyacá and the Movistar team took over the GC lead after Stage 5 – 163km from Pereira to a difficult, narrow climb in Salento – where he placed 2nd behind fellow countryman Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale).

Quintana only had to play his cards inside the last three kilometers after the Movistar Team completed an excellent job, following the moves before the first ascent with Dayer Quintana and pushing with Pedrero, Anacona and De la Parte before the dangerous descent leading the bunch to the last climb, a downhill Nairo covered within the first five of the GC group of 20 riders, including the Blue leader and a notable Richard Carapaz. A flurry of attacks, including Quintana himself, eventually dropped back then-GC-leader Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) and left only four local riders at the front heading into the final kilometer: Nairo, ‘Rigo’ and Sky’s Egan Bernal (3rd) and Sergio Henao (4th).

The GC remains incredibly close, with Quintana, Urán (at 3 seconds), Henao (at 4 seconds) and Bernal (at 9 seconds) all within a win-bonus’ reach before the toughest, decisive stage in the Oro y Paz race. 184km await the riders from Armenia to Manizales, with the climb of Boquerón (Cat-3) prior to the long showdown -19km uphill, with slopes up to 9% near the finish- towards Torre Chipre.

Stage 5 PeloPics.

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale): “The team did a great job today from the beginning of the race. We knew that I could do a good finish. Dani was strong on the last climb, but all the guys did important work that helped me take a very nice stage win. Winning in Colombia gives me great joy, I have not done a proper race here in 11 years. To see so many people at the starts and the finishes fills me with deep appreciation for the fans and the sport. It was a very short final climb but very explosive, I knew the finish, and I knew that it was very narrow. I was ready for it. It was to my advantage that the pace was so high. Dani did a phenomenal job to position me, and fortunately I was able to finish off his work. The summit finish tomorrow will be quite hard, but I have a strong team that is ready to fight for the win,” said Uran. “The level here at this race is very high. It will be an interesting race.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “Our idea was completing the first climb with only a small bunch at the front, so it could be less dangerous as we took on the descent. After that, the only thing we had to do was keeping an eye on our rivals’ move, play our cards well and try and go for the win. Salento was a climb more for ‘puncheurs’, it didn’t really suit my conditions, and it’s quite different to the finishing one tomorrow – but still, we had to give it a try. As I always say, every time I line up for a race, I’ve got an excellent team by my side, and the boys did an amazing job from start to finish, all the way to that final climb. We had to chase the win to pay them back. At the sprint I thought Sergio would launch his move earlier, but he was a bit boxed in against the barriers. I was maybe a bit too optimistic with my sprint, though Rigo is a more powerful rider for such finishes anyway, and he bested me by a bit. Happily, those bonus seconds got us to the GC lead. Tomorrow? We all, myself and the team, will have to make a great compromise to defend that jersey. We’ve seen Egan’s great work to help Sergio out today, so one would expect that Sky won’t make things easy for us tomorrow, and neither will the other teams. The break will also try go get close to the finish with a chance; plus, there are many teams who haven’t got a win and there’s only Sunday’s stage left – we just can control the race until we run out of energy, keep a good pace on the climb and watch those attacks to defend ourselves and keep this jersey with us at the end of tomorrow.”

KOM, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors): “It’s a real pleasure to ride in such a team! I am very proud of the guys, they worked hard to put me in the best position and deserve a big-shout out for their effort. Was a hard day out there, as everyone attacked me. I responded the first time, I responded also the second time, but then I couldn’t follow the moves anymore. I did everything I could, but it was very hard”

Colombia Oro y Paz Stage 5 Result:
1. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale in 3:42:33
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
3. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky
4. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky
5. Ivan Sosa (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:17
6. Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
7. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu) Quick-Step Floors at 0:29
8. Oscar Sevilla Rivera (Spa) Medellin
9. Aristobulo Cala Cala (Col) Bicicletas Strongman Colombia Coldeportes at 0:34
10. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar at 0:37.

Colombia Oro y Paz Overall After Stage 5:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 16:26:39
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:03
3. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 0:04
4. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky at 0:09
5. Ivan Sosa (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:30
6. Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:38
7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors at 0:39
8. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu) Quick-Step Floors at 0:42
9. Aristobulo Cala Cala (Col) Bicicletas Strongman Colombia Coldeportes at 0:55
10. Danny Alberto Osorio (Col) Orgullo Paisa at 0:57.

Oro y Paz stage 5:

Egan Bernal (Sky) won the Colombia Oro y Paz overall with a stunning late attack on the Final Stage 6 in Manizales. The 21 year old attacked 3 kilometers out from the finish and, helped by Tao Geoghegan Hart and Sebastian Henao, stayed clear of the chasing favorites to seal the title by just 9 seconds. Bernal finished second on the stage, behind Dayer Quintana (Movistar).

Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) led the favorites home 11 seconds later to confirm Bernal’s victory. Sergio Henao finished with Uran and fellow contender Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to wrap up fourth overall, while Bernal also claimed the young rider’s jersey.

PeloPics from the final stage 6.

Manizales - Colombia  - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Dayer Quintana (COL - Movistar)  pictured during the 2018 1st Colombia Oro y Paz stage 6 - from Armenia to Manizales (Torre de Chipre) (184.3KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Overall winner and 2nd on the stage, Egan Bernal (Sky): “I felt very good all day long and I kept telling the guys: ‘I feel good, I feel good!’ but I had to keep calm and wait for the tougher last kilometers. The last three or four kilometers were tougher and I decided to attack. I was fourth on GC so I didn’t have a lot to lose but I had everything to gain. I tried, I gave everything and finally I got a little advantage. I had two teammates in the break and they did an amazing job! I was telling Tao: ‘Tao, Tao, it’s so hard, you have to slow down!’ He helped me almost until the last meters. The most important thing was to win the GC and not the stage. Of course, it would have been better to win both but the idea was to win the GC. So, my teammates waited for my attack. That’s why I feel so proud and happy with this team. They supported me and did incredible work. I felt very good, the Tour Down Under was warm and fast and ended well. Then the national time trial title gave me a bit of confidence. I also felt good during the road race that Sergio won. I think that everything was going in the right direction. I came here with the idea to do the best I could. This race gave me the opportunity to race in my country, in my homeland, in front of my fellow Colombians. It’s an honor. This race is very positive for the country and I hope that more teams will come in the future.”

Stage winner, Dayer Quintana (Movistar): “Our plan was to get into all big breaks, and we succeeded when Pedrero and I joined that 30-rider group. The dangerous riders on the GC weren’t that really close, but we knew we had to keep an eye on Sevilla and Sebastián Henao specifically in case they wanted to try a move. At the final kilometers, Pedrero was asked by the team to drop back and help Nairo out in the bunch. My task was remaining at the front and wait for my brother, but at the latter part of the stage there was no radio communication available, and I didn’t know what to do. I was so close to dropping back myself to wait for Nairo, but I didn’t get a response and continued following the wheel of Sevilla and Henao, who helped me approach Contreras. At the end, I sprinted with everything I had to win the stage, because we had to take something out of the day. My daughter is turning one year old tomorrow, so there’s no better way to celebrate than offering her this present!”

2nd overall, Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “The team worked really great, we kept the race under control as we wanted to, but at the end, we got a bit too optimistic because of the time references we were given. There was an issue with time bonuses, too, because we thought that the breakaway wouldn’t be reached down and they would take those seconds. It’s sad for us to see Egan claiming those decisive seconds, but at the end, it was also Dayer who won the stage, and that’s really great for us. I’m happier for him than if it were myself who had won the stage. The most important conclusion we draw from this race is that I’ve shown I’m in good condition and our preparations continue to be on the right path. This race leaves us with a great taste and pride of what Colombia represents. They went in hundreds of thousands to the roads to watch us, it was beautiful to see. It’s very difficult to find roads so crowded as we saw here this week, and that’s something we will hold dear about this Colombia Oro y Paz.”

Points winner, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors): “We came here to take a victory, but we are going home with four and this beautiful jersey. The team showed again unity and worked hard for these results. There’s a reason why we are called the Wolfpack. The past two days have been hard for me, but nevertheless, I went into the break and got some workload ahead of my next appointments. The public was fantastic, I can’t find the words to tell you how much it means to see them cheering for me and chanting my name. The Colombians love cycling and are very passionate about it, and I’m extremely happy that the entire world got to see that. I can’t wait to return here next year, especially as the race will take place in my home region of Antioquia. From here, I’m going to Europe for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. I am really excited about making my debut there.”

Colombia Oro y Paz Stage 6 Result:
1. Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar at 4:22:11
2. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky at 0:10
3. Sebastian Henao (Col) Sky
4. Angel Alexander Gil Sanchez (Col) EPM at 0:14
5. Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:18
6. Oscar Sevilla Rivera (Spa) Medellin
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:21
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:22
9. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky
10. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors.

Colombia Oro y Paz Final Overall Result:
1. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky in 20:49:03
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:09
3. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:11
4. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 0:13
5. Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:43
6. Ivan Sosa (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:46
7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors at 0:48
8. Aristobulo Cala Cala (Col) Bicicletas Strongman Colombia Coldeportes at 1:11
9. Danny Alberto Osorio (Col) Orgullo Paisa at 1:13
10. Rafael Aniba Montiel (Col) Orgullo Paisa at 1:27.

Oro y Paz stage 6:

Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia 2018
After a number of top results and high podium places in the first races of the 2018 season, finally Astana has got a beautiful victory: today, Luis Leon Sanchez won the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia Costa Calida after a powerful counterattack inside the last kilometers of the race.

The Spanish race took its start in Beniel and finished on the streets of Murcia after 208,3 km of racing. It was a race plenty of attacks and actions, but in the final there were only two riders, who played the race victory: Luis Leon Sanchez and the recent winner of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Alejandro Valverde.

It was Valverde, who tried to attack with about 2 km to go, but Astana rider was able to answer that attack and to launch a powerful counterattack, which brought him a nice solo victory in Murcia. The race podium in Murcia was completed by the Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert. Also, another Astana rider Jakob Fuglsang did a very good race and finished 6th.

Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia Costa Calida 2018 - Beniel - Murica 208,3 km - 10/02/2018 - Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP - Astana Pro Team) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2018

Race winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana): “My first words are about the team. The guys were super today and I have to thank all of them for the huge help! In the beginning a big group went away and we had to work the whole day. It was not easy to control this race, but the team did it! In the final I went away together with Valverde. I knew, if we come for a sprint it would be the same situation as it was at Valenciana. So, I knew I have to do something and I saw my chance with 2 km to go. Anyway, I think this is a team success, not only mine. The team is great these days. At the Volta Valenciana we did a strong race and took two podium places. Now, in Dubai Magnus was close to the victory too. That’s great!”

3rd, Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors): “I knew from the start that Sanchez and Valverde were the most dangerous riders, as they knew the roads, so that is why we tried something different. After 20 kilometers we went away together with a big group and as some riders weren’t willing to share the work, we made a selection, followed by two more later in the race. Unfortunately, a strong headwind thwarted our efforts and we couldn’t extend the lead. On the final downhill, the three chasers bridged across and then the attacks began. When Sanchez went and Valverde followed, I tried to respond, but couldn’t close the gap. They worked well together and stretched out their advantage to over a minute, while for me it was over once I hit again the strong headwinds. Still, third in my first race of the year isn’t a bad result and I’m satisfied with how I felt today and already looking forward to the next races of the calendar”

Vuelta a Murcia Result:
1. Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana in 5:06:35
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:15
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 2:15
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott at 3:54
5. Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
8. Willie Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin
9. José Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
10. Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert.


Clasica de Almeria 2018
Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) took a sprint win in the Clasica de Almeria on Sunday, getting the better of Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) at the end of the 185 kilometer race.

The break of the day included Axel Journiaux (Direct Energie), Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH), Dries De Bondt (Vérandas Willems-Crelan), Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin), Rob Britton (Rally Cycling), Cristian Rodríguez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Marc Buades (Fundación Euskadi) to gain nearly 5 minutes after 25K.

The sprinter teams of Mitchelton-Scott and LottoNL-Jumbo started to chase after 50 kilometers and after the climbing was over the leaders only had just over a minute as they entered the final 50 kilometers. There were caught with 25 kilometers remaining.

Ewan was led-out by his team and burst onto the front on the slight bend to the finish. Van Poppel tried his hardest, but there was no chance he could get past the little rocket. Dupont sprinted well for 3rd ahead of Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis) and Florian Senechal (Quick-Step Floors).

Roquetas de Mar - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Caleb Ewan (AUS - Mitchelton - Scott) - Danny Van Poppel (NED - Team LottoNL - Jumbo) pictured during  Clasica de Almeria 2018 foto Almeria to Roquetas de Mar 185.1 Km - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2018

Race winner, Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott): “It’s really good to hit the ground running in my first European race and it was good to have the full lead-out squad behind me today. We were all a bit lost after getting caught behind a crash but once we all got back together and started the lead-out, no-one came round us and I am happy I was able to finish it off. I haven’t raced with these lead-out guys since the Tour of Britain so that’s a fair chunk of time away. It is good to get the confidence back in working together and that nothing has really changed, that is what we needed going into these next big races.I felt pretty tired during the day because we did five hours training yesterday, so I didn’t feel great but in the final when the adrenalin kicks in I felt alright and overall it was a good day.”

2nd, Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo): “It was a relaxed race, really. The team did an amazing job all day and chased down the breakaway. In the end we had two short final laps, but it went wrong on a slippery roundabout. I could avoid the crash, but I was the last one to hook up with the front group. In the sprint, I was in Ewan’s wheel but due to the headwind I waited to start my sprint. I also clicked out of my pedal and ultimately I wasn’t able to beat Ewan on the line. It’s a pity that I couldn’t finish off the teamwork, but I am happy that I was still able to sprint.”

3rd, Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “In the final I was isolated after the crash. Thus I had to move up on my own in the sprint preparation. With 250 meters to go I initiated the sprint, and only Caleb Ewan and Danny Van Poppel, two strong sprinters, could pass me. I want to double thank my teammates for their terrific work. They kept me in front of the peloton during the whole day and in the final Van Keirsbulck and Offredo brought me back after the crash with only 5 kilometers to go. Now we are heading to Volta Algarve. Tonight we sleep here and tomorrow a 700km bus ride to Portugal awaits. In Algarve three sprint stages should suit my profile.”

Clasica de Almeria Result:
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 4:35:28
2. Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
3. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis
5. Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
6. Marko Kump (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
7. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-Alpecin
8. Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar
9. Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias.


Tour of Oman: A Concentration of Colors
Concentrated in the northern part of the Sultanate, the Tour of Oman is a journey through the diversity of the country’s landscapes, territories and lifestyles.

With six days of racing ahead, the pack on the Tour of Oman is readying itself to cover 900 kilometers of the Sultanate’s roads. The event’s route essentially explores the Gulf of Oman coastline on the country’s northern façade around the capital Muscat, as well as proposing escapades liable to reveal the different aspects of Oman’s territory to viewers. As such, the first stage includes the largest incursion inland, with a start from Nizwa, the former capital at the crossroads of commercial routes used in ancient times by caravans. The riders will then have an opportunity for an in-depth visit of the capital, because four of the finishes will take place there in total: in front of the Sultan Qaboos University on the first day, on the shores of the Al Bustan Bay the following day, at the foot of the Tourism Ministry for the fourth stage, then at the finish on the final day for a sprint along the Muttrah corniche in the district that is home to the city’s oldest souk.

Whilst Muscat will give viewers an idea of Oman’s cultural riches (museums, opera, gastronomy, etc.), to get the measure of the countries diverse territories and lifestyles, a journey away from the capital is necessary. Since 2010, the pack has got used to climbing up the slopes of Jabal Al Akhdar, which dominates the central part of the Al Hajar mountain range. The site has become a target for climbers, but in the villages of the “Green Mountain”, roses and fruit trees are traditionally grown for use in production of perfume oils, in particular. Lastly, in Oman the desert and mountainous areas also stand alongside many Wadi. Indeed, some of these creeks have carved out wide valleys. The creek that the riders will visit on the third stage, Wadi Daykah, has been used for the construction of a dam of the same name that supplies water to the cities of Muscat and Quriyat.

Find out more…
As big in size as half of mainland France (with an area of more than 309,000 km²), the Sultanate of Oman boasts a 3,165-km long coastline that borders on both the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, a small part of which will be visited by the Tour of Oman. Similarly, the pack has not yet gone as far as to explore the desert regions in the centre and south of the country.

Jabal Shams
The “Sun Mountain” is the summit of the country as well as the gateway to the “Grand Canyon” of Wadi an Nakhar, one of the country’s most breath-taking sights.

Le désert d’Ash Sharqiyah Sands
On heading inland, the desert changes color from white sand to ochre-red as the high dunes of Ash Sharqiyah Sands appear.

Le Dhofar (the south of the country)
The most southern part of Oman, soaked by the summer monsoon, offers a striking contrast with the rest of the country, thanks to its summits covered with green pastureland and the tropical ambiance of Salalah.

The “Country of Incense” sites listed as UNESCO world heritage
Produced by a tree that originates from the Dhofar, the Boswellia sacra, this incense resin was at the root of one of the most thriving commercial activities in the antiquity and medieval times. Four sites are listed by UNESCO: the incense trees of Wadi Dawkah, the remains of the Shisr oasis (Ubar) and the ports of Khor Rori (Sumhuram in the Antiquity) and Al-Balid, which today play host to the Sultanates most interesting archaeological vestiges.

Van Avermaet to Lead BMC Racing Team at the Tour of Oman
Greg Van Avermaet will return to the Tour of Oman next week where he is set to lead an ambitious BMC Racing Team line-up.

Van Avermaet will line up alongside a strong team that can look to take different opportunities as they arise, BMC Racing Team Sports Director Valerio Piva said.

“We are heading to Oman with some of our Classics team, and traditionally this race is the final preparation for Van Avermaet ahead of the first Classic. We saw that he was looking strong in Valencia and there are some finishes that should be good for him here, so he will be our leader. However, we will also have Jempy Drucker on the start line as our sprinter, and then, when we look to the General Classification and the stage finish on Green Mountain, I think we will look to protect Nicolas Roche. He will be coming out of the Dubai Tour and I think he can do something there. Overall, we will have to take the race day by day, but we are taking a strong group of riders, and collectively we can look for opportunities to go for stage wins,” Piva explained.

Van Avermaet will continue to test his form in Oman ahead of the start of the Classics season.

“The season started with a solid week of racing in Spain, and now, I’m looking forward to heading back to the start line at the Tour of Oman. It’s a good race with some nice stages that should suit me so, not only will I be looking to improve my shape before the start of my Classics campaign in Belgium but I also want to take the opportunity to go for stage wins where possible,” Van Avermaet said.

Tour of Oman (13 – 18 February)

Rider Roster:
Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP)
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL)

Greg Van Avermaet in Valencia:
Albuixech - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Greg VAN AVERMAET (Belgium / BMC Racing Team) pictured during stage 2 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana from Bétera to Albuixech (153.9KM) - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2018

Three Arrows for the Team Bahrain Merida’s Bow
Vincenzo, Giovanni and Gorka. Three arrows for the Team Bahrain Merida’s bow at the Tour of Oman, starting next Tuesday. This ninth edition presents an even more challenging route compare with last years. Six stages for a total of 914 km with two finish for sprinters, three with an open final and suitable for strikers and the “Queen stage” with the arrival at Green Mountain: 5.7 km climb with an average gradient of 10.5%.

Our team is really competitive as explained by sport director Gorazd Štangelj “Vincenzo is the captain, but together with him Giovanni and Gorka will be able to look for the stage victory and also aim for the general classification. The path is selective and the ascent of Green Mountain is very hard and probably will decide the race.”

Vincenzo Nibali smiles: “The Dubai Tour helped me to improve my shape and now I would like to do well too here in Oman, where I won the general classification two years ago. The route is even harder and will help me to test my real condition before the Italian races”.

For Gorka Izagirre it’s a new experience: “It is the first time I will be at the start of Tour of Oman but everyone has told me that the route is difficult. I think I have a good condition and I would like to win at least one stage.”

Also for Giovanni Visconti the Tour is an important race: “In Spain I had good feelings and I’m here to continue my journey of growth. I saw a couple of arrivals that fit my characteristics and I’ll definitely try.”

Team Bahrain Merida’s lineup for Tour of Oman:
Vincenzo Nibali, Antonio Nibali, Manuele Boaro, Luka Pibernik, Giovanni Visconti, Gorka Izagirre and Borut Bozic.

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Tour of Oman
The ninth edition of the Middle East race will see the peloton tackle six stages totaling 914.5 kilometers.

This year’s Tour of Oman, a race which Quick-Step Floors has won in 2012, will have something for everyone – sprinters, puncheurs and climbers – all present on the line to fine-tune their form before starting their European season.

Bookended by flat stages, the six-day event will once again revolve around the Green Mountain climb, which will feature on the course for the eight year running. Averaging 10.5% over 5.7 kilometers, the grueling ascent will take the sting out of the riders’ legs as they will fight not only for the stage win, but also for the overall classification.

Quick-Step Floors will hit the roads of the Sultanate of Oman with a seven-man squad capable of being a protagonist regardless of the terrain. Led from behind the wheel by sports directors Brian Holm and Wilfried Peeters, our riders will try to keep the momentum going and add to the team’s astonishing list of results this season.

Tim Declercq, Fabio Jakobsen and Niki Terpstra will continue their Middle East adventure, lining out for the Tour of Oman just three days after completing the Dubai Tour, and will be joined on the start line by Eros Capecchi, Rémi Cavagna, Dries Devenyns and Davide Martinelli, a team that sports director Brian Holm is confident can leave its mark on the race.

“Oman is always demanding, with a mix of sprints and hilly stages. For the flat, we’ll rely on Tim ‘El Tractor’ Declercq and Niki Terpstra to chase the breaks, you could see in Dubai how strong and important they were for the team. In the bunch sprints we’ll look to Davide and Fabio, but without putting any pressure on them. Cavagna is a flexible rider, who we can use on the flat, but also when the road rises; together with Capecchi, he will support Dries, who was flying in Australia last month and will carry our GC ambitions here.”

13.02–18.02 Tour of Oman (OMA) 2.HC

Eros Capecchi (ITA), Rémi Cavagna (FRA), Tim Declercq (BEL), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Fabio Jakobsen (NED), Davide Martinelli (ITA), Niki Terpstra (NED).
Sports Director: Brian Holm (DEN) and Wilfried Peeters (BEL).

Niki Terpstra:
Palm Jumeirah - Dubai - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Niki Terpstra (NED - QuickStep - Floors)  pictured during the 2018 Dubai Tour stage 1 - from Skydive Dubai to Palm Jumeirah (167KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Kristoff and Rui Costa are the stars for UAE Team Emirates at the Tour of Oman
The Emirati formation will hit the scene again in the Middle East from 13 to 18 of February.

After the Dubai Tour, UAE Team Emirates will attend another event in the Middle East, the Tour of Oman (13-18 February). The leading men in the Emirati formation will be Alexander Kristoff (7 career stage wins in Oman) and Rui Costa (2nd in 2017’s general classification). Durasek and Niemiec will be making their season debuts. The route for the Tour of Oman will alternate between stages for sprinters, finisseurs and climbers. The 5th stage featuring a climbing arrival at Jabal Al Akhdhar will be decisive.

Sports Directors Mario Scirea (Italy) and Bruno Vicino (Italy) will call on the following 7 athletes:
– Rui Costa (Portugal)
– Kristijan Durasek (Croatia)
– Roberto Ferrari (Italy)
– Alexander Kristoff (Norway)
– Marco Marcato (Italy)
– Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland)
– Oliviero Troia (Italy)

Alexander Kristoff: “The Tour of Oman will be the second appointment for me in a series of races in the Middle East, coming between the Dubai Tour and the Abu Dhabi Tour. Traditionally I have done well in Oman; I’ve had seven stage successes here. I would like to continue achieving good results in a race that is suited to my strengths. It will also be an interesting chance to perfect the mechanics with Marcato, Troia and Ferrari, riders who can give me excellent support in approaching the sprints”.

Rui Costa: “In 2017, the Tour of Oman was an essential step in making it to victory at the Abu Dhabi Tour. I hope I can be competitive this year as well, even though when I got back from Australia I wasn’t able to train very well for a few days due to a cold”.

Tour of Oman
The Tour of Oman is the next Middle-East appointment on our race calendar with the UCI 2.HC race starting on Tuesday 13 February. Once again the race will comprise of 6 road stages, finishing on Sunday 18th February.

This years Tour of Oman will see 2 stages suited to the bunch sprinters, 3 undulating stages for opportunists and small bunch sprint specialists and the Queen stage, with the finish at the summit of Green Mountain. Our African Team will send a strong team this years edition of the race, capable of winning on any given day.

For the GC we will have Merhawi Kudus, who showed good signs of form at last weeks Vuelta Valencia. Jacques Janse van Rensburg is also a rider who could feature on the climb up Green Mountain particularly after the strong performance he put in at the weekends national championships. Natnael Berhane, Nic Dougall, Nic Dlamini and Scott Davies will be worthy teammates but could also surprise on the more undulating days.

Mark Cavendish will be our fast finishing option in the event of a group sprint. The Tour of Oman is also a race that has treated our African Team well. We’ve had top 10 GC placings two years in succession, two stage wins in 2016 and Kudus won the white jersey last year. Our African Team will be hoping for more of the same this year.

Merhawi Kudus – Rider
“I am really looking forward to the Tour of Oman, it is a nice race with generally good weather. The climb up Green Mountain is difficult but it is a climb that suits me. I have finished close to the podium on that stage two years in a row and I would like to realize that good result this year. We have a strong team for Oman so a good GC result and stages are both possible for us this week.”

Mark Cavendish, Merhawi Kudus, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Natnael Berhane, Nic Dougall, Nic Dlamini, Scott Davies.

No Ruta del Sol for Tomasz Marczyński after Collision
Tomasz Marczyński was hit by a car during a training ride in the south of Spain yesterday. The Pole was riding downhill on a main road when a car coming from the right suddenly turned left. Marczyński was unable to avoid the vehicle and crashed head first into its side.

Tomasz Marczyński: “I was finishing one of my last training sessions for the Ruta del Sol when I was hit by a car yesterday. I was cruising down a main road when a car from a right-hand side street turned left. I could not brake in time, and crash head on into the vehicle.”

“The x-rays fortunately revealed that nothing was broken. My face is heavily bruised and my nose had to be stitched. I also have a whiplash and that’s what hurts the most at the moment. I am currently back home, but I will undergo a series of tests next week.”

“I only started training again last Monday after my crash in the Challenge Mallorca. I hurt the ligaments in my lower back and I was still in treatment with a physiotherapist and an osteopath. Yesterday’s crash fortunately did not make this worse. This is a new setback, but I’ll be back.”

The 64th Vuelta a Andalucía or Ruta del Sol starts on 14th February, and will take the riders through the southernmost regions of Spain. Tomasz was one of the seven Lotto Soudal riders selected for this Europe Tour event. He will be replaced by James Shaw.

The first stage finishes in Granada. Immediately after the start, the road goes up until the top of a second category climb. In the last ninety kilometers, the riders will tackle five more climbs, with the last summit some twenty kilometers from the finish. There is an uphill finish at top of the Alto de las Allanadas in Jaén on Thursday, followed by the flattest stage of the week the day after. Halfway through the penultimate stage looms the Puerto de las Palomas (1st category), immediately followed by the Puerto del Boyar (3rd category). The route is then much flatter, except for the final kilometer, which is painfully steep. The Ruta del Sol finishes on Sunday with an individual time trial of 14.2 kilometers.

Bart Leysen, sports director for Lotto Soudal: “It is unfortunate that we have to miss Tomasz Marczyński in the Ruta del Sol, which is a home race for him since he lives in Granada. He could have played a prominent role as road captain. But we can mostly be pleased that his injuries are not too bad after his crash yesterday; this could have been much worse.”

“The first and third stages will probably end with a sprint and we will thus back Moreno Hofland. Although the opening stage does not have the typical profile for a bunch sprint, I expect that sprinters’ teams will control the race. The second stage finishes at the top of the Alto de Allanadas and is therefore a real mountain stage. Tim Wellens will be our main asset on such a hard profile. He is not at his best yet, but he made a very strong impression in Mallorca and took the victory in the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana. Moreover, we also have Maxime Monfort and Jelle Vanendert with us, and both will try to get into a breakaway. The fourth stage could be really hard, which is perfect for Tim. Our main objective is to win a stage, but if Tim can get a good place in the general classification, he is more than able to defend his position in the final time trial.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Lars Bak, Moreno Hofland, Maxime Monfort, James Shaw, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Marc Wauters.

Wellens wins in Mallorca:
Mallorca - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Tim WELLENS (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) pictured during the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana (1.1) a one Day Race from Serra de Tramuntana to Deia (140.1KM) - photo Luis GomezCor Vos © 2018

Porte and van Garderen Headline Volta ao Algarve Roster
Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen will make their race debut in Europe this season at the five-stage Volta ao Algarve starting on Wednesday, 14 February.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the demanding course will be a good test of form as the race delivers summit finishes, flat sprint stages, and an individual time trial.

“It will be nice to return to Volta ao Algarve for the first time since 2012 as it is a good race to gauge the riders’ form this early in the season. We have a strong team lining up including Richie Porte, who is a former winner, and Tejay van Garderen, who will make his season debut. This will be Richie’s first race back after the Australian season and Tejay is coming in from a solid block at altitude. Both riders will be lining up motivated but given their big goals in the spring are Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice, this is the perfect race to use as preparation and to test their condition,” Baldato said.

“It is a really demanding race with two summit finishes and a fast, rolling time trial. While Richie and Tejay will want to produce a good time trial, we also have Stefan Küng who showed he is great shape at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana last week. I think we will already have a good idea of how the race is developing after stage 2 with the summit finish in Fóia and from there we will take things day by day.”

Richie Porte claimed the overall win in 2012 and last lined up at Volta ao Algarve in 2015.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to racing and lining up with the team in Portugal. It’s still really early in the season and as this is my first race in Europe this year, I’m not going in with any huge expectations. My main goal is to get some good race days in my legs and having come from a very hot Australian summer, adjust to racing in the cooler weather again. We have a strong team and different cards to play on the various stages,” Porte explained.

Van Garderen has finished in the top ten on three occasions, including second overall in 2011.

“This winter has been really great preparation wise. I feel like all the boxes have been ticked, and I’m super motivated to start the season strong. Richie will be the leader going into the race, but if we are on good form it’ll be a lot of fun playing off one another. I’ve raced this race five times in the past, finishing on the podium once in 2011, so I know what to expect,” van Garderen said.

Volta ao Algarve (14-18 February)

Rider Roster:
Simon Gerrans (AUS),Stefan Küng (SUI), Richie Porte (AUS), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Marco Pinotti (ITA)

Richie Porte Down Under:
Willunga Hill - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Richie PORTE (Australia / BMC Racing Team) pictured during 20th Santos Tour Down Under (2.UWT) stage -5 from McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill (151.5KM) - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2018

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Volta ao Algarve
Giro d’Italia white jersey winner Bob Jungels will ride the Portuguese race for the first time in his career.

Quick-Step Floors has been one of the top performers at the past editions of the Volta ao Algarve, where our team has won 13 stages with ten different riders, most recent victories coming last year, when the squad left its imprint on two stages. In 2018, Quick-Step Floors will try to add to that success, as we are lining out a strong seven-man team, comprising riders who’ve scored more than 100 pro victories.

One of these is Bob Jungels, who will make his first appearance at the Volta ao Algarve, after completing an altitude camp in South Africa last week and riding to his maiden top 10 of the year at Vuelta a Murcia. The Luxembourg Champion, who later this season will return to the Tour de France after racing the Giro d’Italia in the past two years, is looking with optimism to the five-day race.

“It will be my first time at the Volta ao Algarve, but I’m not going there only as part of a preparation campaign. I will grab all opportunities I can, I feel good and looking over the course, it’s a race that suits me. I don’t know if I can compete for the general classification, it’s still too early to say that, but as you could see in Murcia, my form is good and that’s all that matters.”

A stage winner at the 2011 edition, Philippe Gilbert will also be present at the start, four days after scoring a podium finish at Vuelta a Murcia. Yves Lampaert, Maximilian Schachmann, Florian Sénéchal, Pieter Serry and Czech Champion Zdenek Stybar will be the other riders fielded by Quick-Step Floors for the 44th edition of the Portuguese race (14-18 February), which will roll out with a flat stage between Albufeira and Lagos.

One day later, Alto da Foia (6 kilometers at 7.3%) should spark the imagination of the GC riders, who’ll be forced to make a move on the climb so they can put a considerable gap between them and the time trialists, with the latter having the chance to bounce back on the 20km-long undulating individual time trial in Lagoa. The sprinters will get another opportunity in Tavira, before the iconic Alto do Malhão (2.7 kilometers, 9.2%) will bring down the curtain over the Volta ao Algarve with what should be a great showdown.

14.02–18.02 Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta (POR) 2.HC

Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Bob Jungels (LUX), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Maximilian Schachmann (GER), Florian Sénéchal (FRA), Pieter Serry (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE).
Sports Director: Tom Steels (BEL).

Philippe Gilbert:

2018 Amgen Tour of California Men’s and Women’s Race Routes Announced
With seven new courses between them, the annual professional cycling events are the only U.S. races on the UCI WorldTour calendar and attract some of the most renowned cyclists and teams in the world. The Amgen Tour of California is designed to cover a variety of terrain, allowing different types of specialists among the field of the world’s greatest cyclists to shine throughout the week. 2018 will mark the third time the race will run south to north.

Sagan will come into the Amgen Tour of California defending his seventh California Green Jersey for dominating the race’s overall Sprint competition. “Building up to the Tour de France with a strong performance at the Amgen Tour of California is always an important goal. The race is one of my favorite competitions every year – always challenging competition and such beautiful scenery – and I’m excited to return and try for more stage wins this year!” said Peter Sagan.

“I’m excited about the season ahead and will be working hard to make the 2018 season a hugely successful one. The Amgen Tour of California has always been an incredibly special race for me, and will once again be a priority in my race calendar this year in the lead-up to the Tour de France” said Mark Cavendish, who won 30 Tour de France stage wins.

“I like racing as well as training in California – I can see the beach and do altitude training all in one place. I’ve always had a really good time at the Amgen Tour of California and I am excited to compete this year” said Marcel Kittel, who claimed the opening stage last year.

“We have such an exciting mix of courses, cities and world-class athletes coming together for the 2018 Amgen Tour of California men’s and women’s races,” said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports. “Sports fans – and California fans – everywhere can start counting down the days for a can’t-miss pairing of the best in sports and the best of the west.”

Key points:
Ø America’s premier cycling stage race will cover 1038 kilometers during seven stages from Long Beach to Sacramento May 13-19.
Ø The Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM, showcasing the world’s best women cyclists, will run concurrently May 17-19, covering upward of 301 kilometers over three stages.
Ø Known for epic sprinter showdowns, three of the sport’s greatest are confirmed to race this year: Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Team Katusha Alpecin) and Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe).

With parts of the state still impacted by wildfires and subsequent mudslides, affected portions of the route will be inspected up until race time, and race routes are subject to change to ensure fan and rider safety.

Presented by Visit California, a visual overview of the men’s and women’s courses is viewable at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/2018-route-overview.

The stages of the 2018 Amgen Tour of California:
Ø Sunday, May 13th, stage 1 presented by Amgen’s breakaway from Cancer® : Long Beach – Long Beach, 133 km
Ø Monday, May 14th, stage 2 presented by Lexus: Ventura – Gilbratar Road, 155 km
Ø Tuesday, May15th, stage 3 presented by Lexus : King City – Laguna Seca Recreation Area (Monterey County), 197 km
Ø Wednesday, May 16th, stage 4 presented by TAG Heuer : San José / Morgan Hill, CLM – 34,7 km
Ø Thursday, May 17th, stage 5 presented by Visit California : Stockton – Elk Grove, 176 km
Ø Friday, May 18th, stage 6 presented by Visit California: Folsom – South Lake Tahoe , 196,5 km
Ø Saturday, May 19th, stage 7, presented by Amgen’s Breakaway from Heart Disease™ : Sacramento – Sacramento, 146 km

The stages of the 2018 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM:
Ø Thursday, May 17th, stage 1 presented by Visit California : Elk Grove- Elk Grove, 123,5 km
Ø Friday, May 18th, stage 2 presented by Visit California : South Lake Tahoe – South Lake Tahoe, 108 km
Ø Saturday, May 19th, stage 3 presented by Amgen’s Breakaway from Heart Disease™ : Sacramento – Sacramento, 70 km.

More information about Amgen Tour of California on www.amgentourofcalifornia.com

In Trentino pure adrenaline between Folgaria and Pampeago
Focus on the first two stages of the 2018 Tour of the Alps (April 16th-20th): start from Arco (Garda Trentino) and first duels between the top riders on the climbs of Alpe Cimbra and Val di Fiemme.

Tour of the Alps’ stage 2, Alpe di Pampeago will return to welcome an international cycling event after Roman Kreuziger’s win at the 2012 Giro d’Italia

The Tour of the Alps’ route – unveiled last November in Milan – has lived up to everybody’s expectations: the Euro-regional event features all the elements of a modern race, with its spectacular formula made of short and intense stages. From Monday April 16th to Friday April 20th, the second edition of the Tour of the Alps will be the ideal springboard in view of the Giro d’Italia, with 5 days of exciting challenges on the mountains of Trentino, Südtirol and Tirol.

Garda Trentino and Arco, seat of the race’s organizing company, will host the 2018 Tour of the Alps’ start: the race returns to the origins of the Giro del Trentino, that passed the baton to the event born under the aegis of Euregio-Tirol-Trentino-Südtirol last year, after 40 years of glorious history. In addition, Arco will host an entertaining event’s eve on Sunday April 15th, with the preliminary operations, the teams’ official presentation and the top-riders press conference.

After a flat start, in the opening stage (Arco – Folgaria 134,6 Km), the riders will warm up their legs on the Valico di Andalo climb, before facing the final ascent in Serrada; from there, only 6,2 Km will be left to Folgaria’s finish line. The last 700 mt, in the city center of the pearl of Alpe Cimbra, are characterized by a final uphill drag, whose gradient peaks at 10%: a demanding finale, suited to puncheurs, that will assign the first Tour of the Alps leader’s jersey.

“The finish line in Folgaria will be scenic” – Alpe Cimbra Tourism Board President Michael Rech explains – “I’m sure that it will provide a perfect opening to the race. This stage emphasizes the friendship between our territory and the Tour of the Alps. Alpe Cimbra has been focusing on cycling over the last few years, and the Tour of the Alps is an excellent opportunity to enrich this project and relaunch it on the national and international scale, in an event that represents the Euroregional spirit at its best.”

The race remains on the Alpe Cimbra for the start of stage 2 (Lavarone – Alpe di Pampeago-Fiemme 145,5 Km), where a shake-up in the overall standings has to be expected. The Redebus Pass represents a severe anticipation of what will come in the final 7,5 Km ascent, the most demanding of the 2018 Tour of the Alps, towards the finish line on the Alpe di Pampeago. After crossing Tesero, in Val di Fiemme, the riders will face a brutal climb, whose final 4 km never get below 10%. The Alpe di Pampeago is a popular climb in road cycling, made famous by the feats of champions like Pavel Tonkov, Marco Pantani and Gilberto Simoni.

“Pampeago returns to welcome a great cycling event, after hosting the Giro d’Italia on 5 occasions” – said Bruno Felicetti, director of the Val di Fiemme Tourism Board – “The race’s route pass through the whole Val di Fiemme, a place that welcomes a number of amateur cyclists who try to emulate their favorite champions, from May to October, like on the occasion of the Marcialonga Cycling, a popular amateur cycling event taking place on May 27th in Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa.”

“The Pampeago climb is closed to traffic during the summer” – Felicetti continues – “It’s a wonderful place for the cycling fans who want to test themselves, living the experience through unique Dolomite landscapes”.

Tour of the Alps 2018, the adventure restarts:

Fernando Gaviria and his Love for Tattoos
There are a lot of tattoos in the pro peloton, but we don’t usually hear the reasons behind them. Quick-Step Floors’ Colombian sprinter explains the meaning behind his two spectacular tattoos.

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