What's Cool In Road Cycling
Murcia - Spanje - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Jhonatan Restrepo (COL - Katusha - Alpecin) - Alejandro Valverde (ESP - Movistar)†- Patrick Konrad (AUT - Bora - Hansgrohe) pictured during Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia 2017 - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

The Euro season is now well under way with two races in Spain and one in Italy, and there is still some cyclocross on the go. Reports, results and video from Murcia, Almeria, Laigueglia and Middelkerke. TOP STORY – The disc brake argument is back. In other cycling news: South African road champs, 2018 Tour de France Grand Départ, team previews of Oman, Algarve and Ruta del Sol, successful return for Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Cycling Academy to race in Belgium, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA presentation and video of the Lotto Soudal training camp. EUROTRASH coffee time.

TOP STORY: The Disc Brake Argument is Back!
Even though Tom Boonen and Marcel Kittel have both won while using disc brakes on their Specialized bikes this season, the other riders are not so keen. The Cyclistes Professionels Associés (CPA) is not pleased about the reintroduction of the braking system without more protection for the riders, covers on the disc to prevent injury similar to the one that befell Fran Ventoso in last year’s Paris-Roubaix. The other problem being the difference between the two systems, the rider on traditional brakes has to start to slow down earlier than the disc user and that the disc stops you quicker. If everyone is on one system there is no problem, mix the braking systems and you have chaos.

The riders association feel that disc brakes were brought back to the peloton without any consultation with them. It seems that a majority of pro riders don’t want disks in the peloton and the CPA will be writing a letter to the UCI setting out their feeling and will make the letter public in the coming weeks.

Tom Boonen likes his discs in his final year, pity he didn’t have disc wheels with disc brakes for the time trial in the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina:
San Juan - Argentina - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Tom BOONEN (Belgium / Team Quick Step - Floors)  pictured during  Vuelta a San Juan 2017 - 35th Edition -  stage 3 - ITT Time Trial Induvidual - San Juan - San Juan - photo IB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Trofeo Laigueglia 2017
Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo), racing with the Italian National team, soloed to the win in the 54th edition of Trofeo Laigueglia on Sunday. Felline launched the winning attack on the final climb and held off the chase for the final 10 kilometers, to take the win in his first race of the season.

The 192.5-kilometer race ended with three local laps that included a steep two-kilometer climb (10% average gradient) creating a natural selection and whittling the peloton to a select group by the last lap. On the third and final ascent with 11 kilometers remaining, Felline accelerated and immediately opened a gap. By the top of the two-kilometer climb he had 14 seconds, and on the run-in to the line he stretched it to 30 seconds; enough time to savor the victory in his first race of the 2017 season.

A small group arrived to contest the minor places 25 seconds later. Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Mauro Finetto (Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM) rounded out the podium in second and third places respectively.

Full race report HERE on PEZ.

Laigueglia - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Fabio Felline (ITA - Nazionale Italiana)  pictured during 54th Trofeo Laigueglia (1.HC) from Laigueglia to  Laigueglia (192.5k) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Race winner, Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo): “I am very happy, this is an area where I trained a lot when I was young, and my parents and fan club were at the finish. It is never easy to win a professional race and to win here, in front of them, is very special.” “On the final climb I was waiting for someone to attack, but no one did so I decided to go,” explained Felline. “When I looked behind me, no one was on my wheel, and so I went à bloc. I knew that if I was à bloc then they would also be à bloc behind me. I was told I had 20 seconds when I arrived to the final flat kilometers. I think it was 30 seconds, or 25 at the finish, but it doesn’t matter; what matters is to get the win. It has been more than a year since I have won a race, and for me my goal for 2017 was to win again. To do it in my very first race gives me a lot of moral for the rest of the season.”

8th, Matej Mohoric (UAE Abu Dhabi): “Congrats to Felline, his attack was really impressive and he succeeded in reaching the finish line for a solo victory. It was a good day for me, my feelings were great and I was in the front positions in the final part of the course. On the climb of Colla Micheri I was with the early chasers of Felline, however on the downhill it became clear that it was not possible to bridge the gap, so I focused my attention on the sprint. I launched my action early, but the opponents succeeded in recovering.”

Pre-race favorite, Diego Ulissi (UAE Abu Dhabi) finished 37th: “A cold prevented me from having a perfect approach to the race, however this morning I was on the start line determined to fight for a top result. During the race the feelings were not good, so I tried to give my contribution to the team, by supporting Mohoric in the final part of the course. My next appointment is the Abu Dhabi Tour, that will be a big event for our team and for the sponsors.”

Trofeo Laigueglia Result:
1. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 4:54:01
2. Romain Hardy (Fra) Fortuneo-Vital Concept at 0:25
3. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
5. Cyril Gautier (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
6. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
7. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ
8. Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Abu Dhabi
9. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
10. Romain Combaud (Fra) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM.

Laigueglia ’17:

Clasica de Almeria 2017
Opposite to Sunday’s race in Murcia, Sunday’s parcour favored the fast men. Mainly flat 191 kilometers around Almeria, with one hilly section about half way through the course, promised a sprint finish in the Clasica de Almeria.

Straight from the start a three men breakaway decided to go for early glory. Their lead increased rapidly to more than 8 minutes, while the race favorites didn’t panic at all. After about 100 kilometers the peloton started to organize the chase, slowly but constantly. BORA-hansgrohe along with Orica-Scott and Movistar pulled the bunch.

With 50K to go the gap was down to 3 minutes, 30 kilometers later their time at the front of the race was finally over. On the last laps of the finishing circuit in Almeria; Orcia-Scott took over control of the peloton for their sprinter Magnus Cort Nielsen. The pace was high and when the fight for positions started to get a little frantic, a crash happened. BORA-hansgrohe had Pfingsten and Schwarzmann to lead-out Rudi Selig. With an early move, 250m from the line, Rudi tried to fool his rivals, but Cort Nielsen reacted fast and just passed the German on the line.

Race winner, Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-Scott): “It is a really great feeling to win again. It was a long race and the team were fantastic in the finale, I couldn’t have asked for a better lead out and I am really happy that I could finish it off.”

2nd, Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe): “When we decided to switch tactics, Schwarzi took over control of the lead-out. Unfortunately, Pascal was involved in a crash, but still Christoph rode us into a good position. When Schwarzi dropped me on Magnus’ wheel I thought: go for it. I thought maybe a can surprise him by going early, but he reacted immediately and we sprinted 250m head to head. In the end, he wasn’t faster than me, but could hold the speed a little longer. It was close, but not enough. Still the second place is an excellent result.”

Clasica de Almeria Result:
1. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott in 4:31:22
2. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar
5. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
7. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
8. Daniel Lopez (Spa) Burgos-BH
9. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
10. Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Cofidis.

Almeria 2017:

Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia 2017
As expected, an early breakaway of three riders – Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott), Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) and Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) – built a solid lead in the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia. But with a Cat 1 climb in the last third of the race, it was also expected that the break wouldn’t be able to stay in front of the race until the finish.

Movistar with their leader Alejandro Valverde started early to control the race. BORA-Hansgrohe captain for the day was Patrick Konrad, a rider who is a strong climber but at the same time a pretty fast guy when it comes to a sprint finish. Seeing these talents, the course for favored a rider like Patrick, who did come close.

After the breakaway was reeled in before the climb up the Alto Collado Bermejo, everything was set for the climbers. When Valverde decided to go, nobody was able to follow. The Movistar team leader shone in front of home crowds with impressive 70km solo break to bring the team its 3th victory of 2017; Bala now just two short of his first 100 wins as a professional.

Vuelta A Murcia 2017 ,Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) gana la Vuelta a Murcia

Race winner, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “It really was hard, mainly because of those strong headwinds in the later part of the race down to Murcia. I had planned to jump from the bottom of the Collado Bermejo, and I had my team-mates pushing hard from the Aledo part of the climb, but I was really hoping for someone to come from behind and take some turns with me. In the end, I saw I was alone and I told to myself: ‘I keep going on the descent, and should they catch me, maybe I can go for it in the sprint, and shouldn’t they, I win’ – and I made it to the finish. I just had to give it a try, even if it was so far away from the finish and it was a long shot, but that was the only point where I could win solo from. I took that chance, and I succeeded.”

“It’s always special for me to win on home roads – this victory goes to all the people in this region, who always cheer for me so much when I’m racing abroad. It truly is the most beautiful of the five I’ve achieved here: it was a big effort and so tough to keep up against the wind and the climbs to win here. After Nairo’s success in Valencia, things are looking really promising for us this season – it’s just taking from where we left, after we won those four consecutive WorldTour titles all the way up to 2016. Now it’s about having some rest and taking the start of the Ruta del Sol on Wednesday. There, we’ll find Alberto Contador and many other big riders, and we will have to try and continue with this streak.”

2nd, Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin): “It was a tough race today because of the wind, making it all the more important to work well together in the team. Valverde had attacked very early in the climb, about 5km before the summit. But he raced in his own league. It was impossible to follow him. In the last 30 kilometers, our team really tried everything to catch Valverde, after it became clear that we couldn’t catch him, we all prepared for the sprint. Our real sprinter, Baptiste, felt tired in the final, and so he helped me in the lead out. Thanks to my teammates today. I am happy to be the first after Valverde.”

3rd, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe): “When Valverda made his move, the bunch broke into pieces. Among the first chasers was Emu with eight guys, I was a few seconds further back with another four. But everything regrouped then a little and also Silvio was able to come back. In the end both did a great job for me. I just missed out 2nd place, but I am really happy with my performance, especially considering that I came directly from a training camp and my legs were a bit tired today. I think some of us did another step forward this winter, you could see that today.”

Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 4:03:08
2. Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha-Alpecin at 2:10
3. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
5. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
6. Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
7. Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-Scott
8. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
10. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe.

Murcia 2017:

Superprestige Middelkerke 2017
Another race and another win for Mathieu Van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) as he got the better of World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) in the last round of the Superprestige series in Middelkerke on Saturday. With the win he took the final overall victory in the series. Van der Poel dropped Van Aert at the halfway point to finish twenty seconds up. Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate-Circus) was 3rd.

Van Aert was the fastest starter ahead of Vincent Baestaens and Van der Poel, but Baestaens crashed soon after leaving a group of nine riders off the front. Van der Poel made his first attack on the 1st lap and soon there were only four riders left with any hope. Van der Poel, Van Aert, Corné van Kessel (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Gianni Vermeersch (Steylaerts-Verona). Van der Poel made a second attack on a muddy section and so had a lead on the other three at the start of the 3rd lap. Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea Lions) was not far behind and Laurens Sweeck was at 15 seconds.

Van Aert worked hard to bring the lead group back together, but Van Kessel and Vermeersch could not hold the pace and were dropped during the third lap, allowing Van der Haar move into 3rd place. On lap 4 Van der Poel kept the pressure on and put more time into Van Aert and the others all the way to the finish line.

The battle for third place between Van der Haar, Vermeersch and Sweeck was fought out over 30 seconds down. It was Sweeck who was the strongest with Van der Haar struggling in 4th.

Middelkerke - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -   Van Der Poel Mathieu (NED) of Beobank - Corendon celebrates the win of the the 8th and last leg of the men’s elite Hansgrohe Superprestige cyclocross race of Middelkerke on February 11, 2017 in Middelkerke, Belgium  - photo Cor Vos © 2017

Race winner, Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon): “Before the race I said that I love to do courses like this one. You just have to do your own thing. If you’re good enough then the gaps will come eventually. It’s great to win a classification this season. Eight out of eight would’ve been nice but I’m very pleased anyway. I wasn’t going too well in the sand during the first laps. It was harder than during the warm-up because they cleaned it up. Later, you save some energy in order to get better through the sand.”

2nd, Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles): “It’s the reality. It’s better to finish second than nowhere at all. It wasn’t about details on this course. Mathieu was better. He’s the deserved winner of the series with seven wins. That’s quite unique. I knew it would be hard to move ahead of him today. Especially during the second half of the race my tank was empty. A few good passages through the sand allowed me to come back on Mathieu but I was never able to dominate. I never believed that I could win today.”

3rd, Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus): “The sand was important today. You could gain ten seconds with a good passage but you could also kill yourself there. I’m pleased that I can confirm my third place overall with a podium here. I missed a podium result in the World Cup due to illness so I’m glad with this one.”

Superprestige Middelkerke Result:
1. Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon in 56:26
2. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Charles at 0:20
3. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus at 0:30
4. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:37
5. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Steylaerts at 0:59
6. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:25
7. Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon at 1:46
8. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:55
9. Diether Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus at 1:58
10. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 2:03.


South African Championships: Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Stefan de Bod win Gold
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka execute team plan perfectly to win South African nationals Gold.

The South African National Road Race Championships which took place in Wellington today, turned out to be the perfect race for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as Reinardt Janse van Rensburg was crowned the national elite champion and Stefan de Bod defended his u23 title. The duo crossed the line side by side after a well-executed team plan.

Our African Team started the 180km championship race as the marked favorites but we were confident that our depth in strength and a solid race tactic would be enough to come out on top. The race got off to just the start we had hoped, with a small group of 6 riders going clear from the peloton. We had Jacques Janse van Rensburg in the move, and the plan was to then have more of our troops ride across to the breakaway after the halfway point in the race.

As the break reached a lead of 4 minutes and the peloton hit a big crosswind section, our African Team put the peloton into the gutter and blew the race to pieces. The result was we had 5 riders in a group of 7 go clear from the peloton, pursuing the 6 early leaders. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg was our protected rider for the day and he was able to rely on Nic Dougall, Ryan Gibbons, Nicholas Dlamini and de Bod to drive the pace in the chase group.

Up the road, the break had splintered under the pressure being applied by Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Willie Smit (Roadcover). The remnants of the break were soon caught and dropped by our chase group, and then Jacques and Smit were also brought back into the fold. It was then up to our African Team to use our superior numbers to take command of the race.

De Bod attacked with a little over 50km to go and was soon joined by Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Smit. The trio worked well together to quickly open a 1’30” gap over the rest of the race. Gibbons and Jacques Janse van Rensburg then also attacked in an attempt to bridge to the 3 leaders. All that was left now was for Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and de Bod to shake Smit, which they did with just under 20km to go.

A team time trial effort followed by our 2 leaders, and they went all the way to line together. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg crossing first to take the elite gold medal and the national jersey, de Bod 2nd overall and taking the spoils in the u23 category. Smit held on for a commendable 3rd place with Gibbons 4th and Jacques Janse van Rensburg 5th.

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg – Rider: “This is the first time I have won the nationals road race in any category so it is a very special moment for me. The team was fantastic today, they really did a super job. The conditions suited us with the strong crosswinds, we were always hoping for the wind today and without the wind to make the race hard, it could’ve been trickier for us. We put the race in the gutter after 90km and then it became a numbers game. Stefan was really incredible, what a talent he is but I thank the whole team for this victory. This a dream come true for me and I will wear the national jersey in Europe with pride.”

Stefan de Bod – Rider: “The u23 race went really well for us today. In the end my strongest competition was my teammate Nicholas and we obviously weren’t even racing against each other. So in the overall race I saw an opportunity to attack and it worked out really with Reinardt coming across to me with Willie. This is a great start to the year for me and I just hope I can take this form to Europe now as doing well in Europe is my main focus this year.”

South African champs podium:

Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2018: The Vendée and the Pays de la Loire
The departments in the Pays de la Loire region hosted the Tour de France’s cyclists on its very first edition. Indeed, it was via the department of the Vendée that the pack entered the region in 1903 on the Bordeaux-Nantes stage, destined to become a classic on the routes of the era in which the Tour de France emerged. Since this time, the cities and towns of the Pays de la Loire region have welcomed the Grand Départ of the race nine times, five of which have set out from the Vendée. In 2018, once again the riders will gather in this cycling-crazy part of the country to tackle the 105th edition of the Tour de France.

The Grand Départs of the Tour de France hosted by the Pays de la Loire region:
1957: Nantes
1967: Angers
1972: Angers
1976: Saint-Jean-de-Monts
1988: Pornichet
1993: Puy-du-Fou
1999: Puy-du-Fou
2005: Fromentine
2011: Passage du Gois

Tour ’18 Promo:

Romain Bardet: “There will be real opportunities to race”
It is time to return to action for the runner-up to Chris Froome in the 2016 Tour de France. Romain Bardet, who also finished second last year just behind Vincenzo Nibali, will compete in his third Tour of Oman this coming February 14-19, with the status as the rider to beat. Before focusing on the stiff competition from Fabio Aru, Bob Jungels and Rui Costa, the leader of AG2R La Mondiale will firstly pay close attention to how he is feeling at the conclusion of the training carried out this winter. Then, he will aim for the overall victory!

Romain Bardet, the Tour of Oman will be for the first time your return to competition … how did you plan your winter preparation?
“There were no major chances compared to previous years, because we don’t change our work method. We just fine-tuned some of the training sessions, for example on the positions, but they were only adjustments. I have progressed over the past six years, and we know how to work during the winter to arrive at a strong level for the return to competition. I have reliable training benchmarks, and I’m glad I worked hard this winter.”

Do the conditions seem ideal for you to start your season in Oman?
“I took a close look at the stages and I saw that there will be difficulties just about every day. A six-day race is the right format to put in the mileage, especially since the weather will be mild, while the winter is quite severe this year in Europe. I have the feeling there will be real opportunities to put in strong race, which for me is motivating.”

You have always shown well on this event … have you made this race a goal this year?
“More than anything it is a return to competition that I am taking on with some unknown factors. Firstly, I will go there to find my marks and verify that all the work put in will pay off. It will be a very important moment: if I do well in dealing with the pressure I should be competitive, even for the win.”

The make-up of the team makes us believe that you will work as a team during this week…
“Some riders have already returned to competition, where for me it is a real start to the season. The team is divided between those who are preparing for the classics and those that will ride with me on the stage races. It will be, for example, the first time that I will be riding with Mathias Frank. I have already gotten to know him in spending two weeks with him in training. He has the calm of an Olympian, who knows this race very well and knows how to use his experience. We can rely on one another. I think he will be a big asset for the team this season.”

Your progress has been consistent since your arrival on the professional scene… do you feel even stronger in 2017?
“Sure. I feel both stronger and more mature, after a 2016 season that was decisive concerning my confidence. I can’t wait for this season to start but at the same time I know how things go. And I know very well that you cannot waste your energy in February.”

Romain Bardet:

Bahrain-Merida Tour of Oman Preview
Last year Vincenzo Nibali won Tour of Oman after winning the mountain stage. This year the mountain top finish at Jabal Al Akhdhar will be at penultimate stage, and will likely, once again, decide the winner.

After winning the Dubai Tour, team Quick Step Floors is sending a strong team led by Tom Boonen and Bob Jungels, aiming to continue the winning streak. Astana’s Fabio Aru will also be contender for the overall win.

This year our team didn’t send Nibali to the Tour of Oman, but we are sending an experienced team (Bole, Bozic, Feng, Wang, Agnoli, Visconti and Grmay) that will try to guide young Sonny Colbrelli to a stage win. Apart for mountain finish at stage 5, other stages are looking like sprinters stages, but stages where our Sonny will have a lot of chances. He likes a difficult stage with sprint finish, a stage that is not completely flat, and he’ll have few of those in Oman. This race will be a great preparation for our team ahead of the classics.

Temperature at mid 20s will be ideal for races, but we can always expect some wind to break the peloton apart and make the race interesting.

Wanty-Groupe Gobert to Oman
Wanty-Groupe Gobert continues its season in the Far East. For the Tour of Oman (2.HC) sports director Steven De Neef selected eight riders. Four riders will make their season’s debut: Simone Antonini, Kenny Dehaes, Fabien Doubey and Danilo Napolitano. Wesley Kreder, Guillaume Levarlet, Guillaume Martin and Robin Stenuit are our four other riders.

Steven De Neef (sports director): “It is an agressive course in Oman. Tuesday is the only flat stage. After that the stages get more difficult with the Green Mountain as climax. I see only two, maximum three chances for the sprinters.”

“In the sprint we want to go for Kenny Dehaes. Robin Stenuit or Wesley Kreder can replace him, depending on the circumstances. For the general classification our hopes lie with Guillaume Martin. He is in good shape and I expect something from him on the Green Mountain, a tough climb of six kilometers. The strongest will win over there.”

Team UAE: Rui Costa and the deb Ait el Abdia are ready
Team UAE will return to the Arabian Peninsula for participating in the Tour of Oman 2017 (14-19 February).

Sports director Simone Pedrazzini will oversee the performances of 8 riders, who’ll represent five different countries (Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Slovenia, UAE). These are the members of the team’s line-up: Moroccan champion Anass Ait el Abdia, Rui Costa, the fast riders Ferrari, Kump, Modolo, UAE champion Mirza, Marcato and Zurlo, who’ll race his first seasonal event.

In the team’s staff there will be the physician Dr De Grandi, the masseurs Capelli, Lima and Mugnaini and the mechanics Bacchion and Coelho.

In the schedule of the race, two flat road stages completely suitable for pure sprinters, two stages which could be suitable for sprinters of for late attacks, one stage whose final will be enriched by three passages on the hill of Bousher al Amerat and the queen stage with summit arrival at Jabel al Akhdar. Team UAE has the potential to be competitive in each stage.

The trio of jet-men Ferrari-Kump-Modolo will battle in the stages which are suitable for sprinters.
Rui Costa demonstrated in Argentina, in the Vuelta de San Juan, that his shape is good and he’ll try to impress in the summit arrival at Jabel al Akhdar, also thanks to the support by the team and by an experienced rider such Marcato. Zurlo will make his first appearance in 2017 and he’ll support his team mates, while Mirza will try to exploit his skills as fighter and his attacking instinct for joining the breakaways. Very important debut in Team UAE: Ait el Abdia will race for the first time as member of a World Tour team, his skills will help him to become soon a key rider for the Emirati team.

Rui Costa wins in San Juan:
Alto Colorado - Argentina - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA (Portugal/ Team Abu Dhabi) pictured during Vuelta a San Juan 2017 - 35th Edition - stage 5 - Alto Colorado - photo IB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Van Avermaet Headlines Tour of Oman Team
Greg Van Avermaet returns to the start line at the Tour of Oman next week, where he will be looking for stage wins at the six-day race.

Van Avermaet is backed by a strong team and collectively the riders will look for different opportunities, BMC Racing Team Sports Director Valerio Piva said.

“The Tour of Oman is traditionally a tough race and this year the level of competition is high, so we’re expecting a good race. We know that Greg is in good form and motivated, and we also have an ambitious team to support him, including riders like Martin Elmiger and Kilian Frankiny who not only race for the first time this season but make their debut with BMC Racing Team,” Piva explained.

Having narrowly missed a stage win in 2016, Van Avermaet is motivated to continue his good start to the season.

“The 2017 season has already started win a win and time in the yellow jersey in Valencia, so I’m looking forward to continuing my season at the Tour of Oman. It’s a hard race but my form is good, so I’ll be on the look out for stage wins where possible,” Van Avermaet said.

The Tour of Oman will be Van Avermaet’s last race before the Classics season gets underway in Europe.

Rider roster:
Jempy Drucker (LUX), Martin Elmiger (SUI), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Ben Hermans (BEL), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA).

Greg Van Avermaet:

Dimension Data to Oman
The 7th edition of the Tour of Oman is the next appointment on the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka race calendar, starting on Tuesday the 14th February and ending on Sunday the 19th. After Edvald Boasson Hagen won 2 stages at last year’s edition of the race, our African Team are hoping for similar success this year.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka head to the Tour of Oman this year with ambitions of stage wins once again but with a concentrated effort on the overall general classification too. To achieve the lofty goals our African Team have set for Oman, we will start with a powerful line-up. Merhawi Kudus will lead our general classification charge while Nathan Haas and Kristian Sbaragli will be on the hunt for stage wins.

In support, Lachlan Morton, Mekseb Debesay, Jay Thomson, Tyler Farrar and Youcef Reguigui will be key to our team’s success. With 4 of the 6 stages teed up to create time gaps, an exciting race is expected. Kudus proved at the recent Volta a la Valenciana that his climbing legs are in pretty good shape at the moment and so the Green Mountain stage in Oman is a big focus for him and our African Team.

Merhawi Kudus – Rider: “The preparation for Oman has gone really well. I have worked well with my coach over the last few months and we have worked on my 30 minute power because the Green Mountain takes around 27 minutes. So I really tried to improve for that and also, I did the stage last year so I know what is a good time. Last year’s result has already given me good motivation to do well this week. We also have a good team here with a nice mix of climbers and sprinters so I hope we get some good results here.”

Lotto Soudal: Preview Ruta del Sol
Lotto Soudal rides a double program next week. On Wednesday the Vuelta a Andalucía and Volta ao Algarve begin. Both races last five days and are part of the Europe Tour. Today we have a preview of the Vuelta a Andalucía or Ruta del Sol, tomorrow we’ll publish a preview of the Volta ao Algarve.

The Ruta del Sol is a race in the south of Spain, in the region Andalucía. This stage race starts with a stage to Granada. In the finale the riders need to climb the Puerto de Monachil. From the top it’s still 18.9 kilometers to the finish. The day after, there’s a summit finish on Peña del Águila. On Friday an individual time trial of 11.9 kilometers is scheduled in Lucena. Saturday it’s the most flat stage of the week, a stage to Sevilla that’s very likely to end with a bunch sprint. The last stage takes the riders to Coín. In the beginning of the stage the riders need to overcome several altitude meters, after a flat part there is one last hill at sixteen kilometers from the finish. That third category climb could be decisive for the stage win.

Sports director Bart Leysen takes a closer look at the stages of the Ruta del Sol.

Bart Leysen: “The GC riders will have to be attentive on Wednesday during the ascent of the Puerto de Monachil, but it’s definitely possible that a big group will sprint in Granada. The top of that last climb lies at twenty kilometers from the finish. The descent is not technical, so I don’t expect specialists to attack on that descent. If the group doesn’t fall apart on the climb, that won’t happen afterwards either.”

“The stage on Thursday will determine the overall classification a lot. Bart De Clercq and Tim Wellens are our leaders for that stage. The Peña del Águila is a pretty steep climb, with lots of turns. Friday is another important day for the GC riders with the individual time trial. The course is not too hard, but still tough. It will be a power time trial, which should suit both Bart and Tim.”

“We can expect a bunch sprint on Saturday. Moreno Hofland or Jasper De Buyst will sprint for us. On the last day it’s also possible that the stage ends with a sprint, but a successful break is also possible. There is also a climb at fifteen kilometers from the finish that could reduce the bunch. We have to see how Moreno and Jasper feel by the end. We have another asset. Tosh Van der Sande has already set several good results in sprints after a tough finale. The GC riders can’t relax on Sunday though, because the first part of the stage is tough and it won’t be easy to control the race.”

“We have different options for each type of stage at the Ruta del Sol. We aim for a top three place on GC, although that won’t be easy with the strong competitors. Alejandro Valverde will be the main contender. His victory in Murcia was really impressive. At the Challenge Mallorca Tim already proved that he is in very good condition though and he beat Valverde.”

Lotto Soudal Line-up:
Jasper De Buyst, Bart De Clercq, Moreno Hofland, Tomasz Marczynski, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Marc Wauters.

Moreno Hofland:
Palma de Mallorca - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Moreno Hofland and Sean de Bie - pictured during Lotto - Soudal team photoshoot 2017- photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2016

Gazprom – RusVelo is taking the Route of the Sun
From 15th to 19th of February Gazprom – RusVelo will participate in the Spanish race Vuelta a Andalucia. It is one of the oldest races in Spain, with it’s foundation in 1925. In 2017 UCI awarded Vuelta a Andalucia with a higher race category – 2HC.

Route of the Sun, which is a nickname to Vuelta a Andalucia, consists of five stages. On the first two days riders will conquer four categorized hills. During the opening stage riders are to climb the top of the pass Puerto de Monachil just 19 kilometers before the finish line in the city of Granada. The top of a steep climb Pena del Aguila will be the endpoint to the second race day. These two stages will be the most challenging and crucial for the riders who aim high in the GC.

Line-up of Gazprom – RusVelo for Vuelta a Andalucia includes both climbers and sprinters and on the flat finishes hopes would be for Roman Maikin, due to his strong sprint abilities.

Sergey Firsanov, Gazprom – RusVelo rider, says that Vuelta a Andalucia is one of his favourite races: “I will compete for the third time on the Vuelta a Andalucia and I really like this route. The individual time trial and the first stages will show our abilities and physical condition. Hopefully, everything will go well and I will be able to show my best result. We as a team are ready and willing to compete for the highest places.”

Gazprom – RusVelo line-up:
Roman Maikin, Andrey Solomennikov, Sergey Firsanov, Aidar Zakarin, Kirill Sveshnikov, Dmitry Kozonchuk, Anton Vorobyev.

Bahrain-Merida for the Ruta del Sol
After two races in Murcia and Almeria and our good team performance, the team is moving to Andalusia. After leaving Almeria this morning, heading to Marbella, it will be a rest day with few hours of light training and training with the Merida time trail bikes.

Luka Pibernik and David Per, to whom we congratulate his 22nd birthday are leaving this “Andalusia squad” and have other trainings and races to join.

So let us announce the team roaster for the upcomming Tour of Andalusia;
Yukira Arashiro / Ondrej Cink / Ivan Garcia Cortina / Ion Izaguirre / Javier Moreno / Antonio Nibali / Domen Novak
Harald Morsher and Vladimir Miholjević are the team directors for Tour of Andalusia.

Harald Morscher, team director says; “We are looking forward to Vuelta Andalusia, the homeland of Javier Moreno who is very motivated and wants to share all his experience and motivation with his team-mates. I’m also glad that we are improving day by day and I see that the Andalusia time trial race will also be a huge motivation for our riders as Ion Izaguirre is the Spanish time trial champion in 2016.”

Hola Andalusia !

Sunweb to Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol
The 2017 edition of the Vuelta a Andalucia takes place from 15 February with a 155km hilly circuit to open the race. Stage 2 is considered the decisive stage of the race and will see a 6km summit finish to Peña del Aguila. Stage 3 is a day for the time trial specialists with a technical 11.9km course sure to create even more time gaps in the general classification. The final two stages feature hilly parcours, and will test the team’s strength in working together before a finish near Malaga.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: “For the riders lining up at Andalucia, this is their first race of the year and it will be a good reality check to see where their legs are going into the new season. We have had some good training camps and TT specific tests through the winter, which gives us confidence going into the race. In Spain we will have a team with quite some climbing skills and we will aim to get some good stage results. Our strategy will be an offensive one, with a special focus on the TT stage, where we will implement all we have learned over the recent months.”

Warren Barguil (FRA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR), Sam Oomen (NED), Georg Preidler (AUT), Laurens ten Dam (NED).
Coach: Aike Visbeek (NED).

Warren Barguil:
Morzine - France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Warren Barguil (FRA-Giant-Alpecin) pictured during stage 20 of the 2016 Tour de France from Megeve to Morzine, 146.00 km - photo Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2016

Team LottoNL-Jumbo goes sprinting in Algarve and climbing in Andalucía
After the Volta a Valenciana and the Dubai Tour, team LottoNl-Jumbo will continue with two European stage races. A number of climbers start in the Ruta del Sol on Wednesday, February 15, and on the same day 300 kilometers west in Portugal, the sprint train races the Volta ao Algarve.

Volta ao Algarve
In the Volta ao Algarve, team LottoNL-Jumbo starts with the sprint train around Dylan Groenewegen. Compared with Dubai Tour, there are some changes. Lars Boom and Robert Wagner will join the train along

Primoz Roglic will join the team and race for general classification. The Slovenian placed third last year on the Alto da Fóia, which is the spot of the second stage in 2017. Roglic closed the 2016 edition fifth overall.

Groenewegen will have opportunities to sprint in the first and fourth stages, days that should suit a mass sprint. The third stage time trial covers 18 kilometers around Sagres. It will be an ideal opportunity for Roglic and Boom to show their TT legs.

Lars Boom, Dylan Groenewegen, Gijs Van Hoecke, Tom Leezer, Primož Roglič, Timo Roosen, Robert Wagner, Maarten Wynants.
Sports Director: Frans Maassen.

Vuelta a Andalucía, Ruta Ciclista Del Sol
When Algarve starts, so does the Vuelta a Andalucía Ruta Ciclista Del Sol – or simply the Ruta del Sol. The team’s young riders will debut here in Spain. Antwan Tolhoek and Floris Tier will race in the team’s yellow kit for the first time.

The Ruta del Sol will run over five days, much of it climbing. Despite the number of climbing meters, only the second stage ends uphill. After 178 kilometers the queen stage finishes at the Será la Peña del Águila.

The Belgian time trial specialists Jurgen Van den Broeck and Victor Campenaerts can enjoy themselves in the third stage, a time trial over 12 kilometers between Lucena and Cordoba.

Jurgen Van den Broeck, Victor Campenaerts, Stef Clement, Martijn Keizer, Bram Tankink, Floris De Tier, Antwan Tolhoek.
Sports Directors: Grischa Niermann and Sierk Jan de Haan.

Dylan Groenewegen will be in Algarve:

Gazprom – RusVelo is ready for an intense competition in Portugal
Gazprom – Rusvelo will take part in a stage race Volta ao Algarve, which starts on the 15th of February in the south of Portugal. Volta ao Algarve is a five-day race which includes twelve WorldTour, five Pro-Continental and several local continental teams.

The race kicks off on the upcoming Wednesday 15th of February and finishes on the 19th of February. In 2017 the route remains almost the same as the last year’s edition. The second, third and fifth stages of the race will be vital to define the winners.

The management of the team expects effective performance of riders in breakaways. Sergey Klimov, Sports Director of Gazprom – RusVelo shared his opinion about the Portugal race: «The first races were more like recovery after the off-season but now it’s getting more and more dynamic. Volta ao Algarve – is a very intense race and unpredictable at some point. The plan is to be as active and show our best in the breakaways. On the flat stages team’s work would be for Alexey Tsatevich to finish on the leading positions despite strong competition among sprinters. We are ready for any challenges in this demanding race».

Gazprom – RusVelo line-up:
Ildar Arslanov, Igor Boev, Artem Nych, Alexander Foliforov, Sergey Nikolaev, Alexey Rybalkin, Evgeniy Shalunov, Alexey Tsatevich.

Preview Volta ao Algarve
The day after tomorrow, Wednesday 15 February, the Volta ao Algarve begins. This Europe Tour stage race ends on Sunday 19 February. Most riders of the Lotto Soudal roster for this race rode in Murcia and Almería past weekend.

André Greipel is one of the two riders that will join the team. Wednesday is a first opportunity for him to win a stage as the stage to Lagos is perfect for a bunch sprint. The next day it’s a stage for climbers and GC riders. The first half of the stage runs over flat roads, but afterwards it goes uphill, starting with a third category climb. In the last 25 kilometres the riders find a second category climb on the route and the stage finishes on the Alto da Foia (first category). On Friday an individual time trial is scheduled. It’s a flat course along the coast. Saturday the sprinters get a second chance in the stage to Tavira. On the last day another tough stage lies ahead of the riders. In the finale they need to climb the Alto do Malhão (second category) twice. This climb has gradients above 9%.

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “We can count on André Greipel for the two sprint stages at the Volta ao Algarve. There will be some strong opponents like John Degenkolb, Fernando Gaviria and Dylan Groenewegen. Tiesj Benoot and Tony Gallopin are the riders that need to set a good result in the two tougher stages, on Thursday and Sunday. Tony Gallopin was very strong at Etoile de Bessèges where he won the time trial and finished second on GC. We know the Alto do Malhão, which has to be climbed twice on the last day, from previous years. That climb is not very long, but it is steep. The time gaps are often small at this race. That’s why the time trial will also be crucial, just like the bonus seconds. The course of the time trial should suit Tony, there are many long straight parts. There will be stronger and more opponents than in Bessèges, but I expect Tony can set a good overall result.”

Nikolas Maes takes the plane to Portugal tomorrow for his first race in the shirt of Lotto Soudal. He should have made his début at the Challenge Mallorca, but illness prevented him from doing so. In the meantime Maes has healed and he’s ready to start the season!

Nikolas Maes: “My preparation for the season didn’t run smoothly. I got ill a first time at the end of December. Afterwards I got a viral infection during the training camp in January. I had to take sufficient rest for two weeks and barely touched my bike in that period. I’ve been training since three weeks now. The condition is good enough to start racing. I hope this first race goes well and that I reach the level I want for the Classics.”

“It has been postponed because of my illness, but I am really looking forward to put on the Lotto Soudal outfit for my first race. This gives a lot of motivation. After the Volta ao Algarve I will ride the Belgian opening weekend, followed by the Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico and then I will ride the Classics starting with Dwars door Vlaanderen. About ten days ago we did a recon of the Omloop, Kuurne and E3 Harelbeke with five riders. Last Wednesday I rode up some Flemish hills together with André Greipel and Jens Debusschere. It were three tough trainings that I could definitely use.”

“There are two sprint stages at the Volta ao Algarve and with André Greipel we have a big chance of winning. I will help the team in the run-up to those sprints. In Portugal we get to ride over some hills that are quite similar to those in Flanders. I need this race to get in a better shape and the way they race in Portugal is perfect for that.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Tiesj Benoot, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Nikolas Maes, Jürgen Roelandts and Jelle Wallays.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

André Greipel will be looking for a win in Algarve:

Quick-Step Floors Team to Volta ao Algarve
The 43rd edition of the 2.HC race will take place between 15-19 February

Algarve is not only one of the most beautiful and picturesque regions of Portugal, with a variety of enchanting and breathtaking landscapes, but it’s also home to one of the country’s finest races, Volta ao Algarve, which Quick-Step Floors have won on three occasions (2008, 2013, 2014), racking up 11 stage victories in the process with 8 different riders.

This year’s edition is sure to be one of the most difficult and testing in recent history, despite the fact that the sprinters are expected to cut the lion’s share on the first (Lagos) and the fourth day (Tavira). Alto da Fóia (highest point of the race, at 902 meters) and the iconic Alto do Malhão (2.5km, 9.4%) will give the climbers a chance to shine, but also the ground to distance the strong time trialists, who can count on a 18km-long stage against the clock in Sagres to come back into contention.

A star-studded field is expected to line up for the 43rd edition of the Portuguese race, and Fernando Gaviria and Maximiliano Richeze, who won two stages apiece at the Vuelta a San Juan in January, will be part of it. Daniel Martin, fifth at last week’s Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, will make his Volta ao Algarve debut, while Dries Devenyns, neo-pro Enric Mas, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote will round up the eight-man squad, thus giving Quick-Step Floors a balanced and experienced team for next week’s five-stage race.

Dries Devenyns (BEL), Fernando Gaviria Rendon (COL), Daniel Martin (IRL), Enric Mas (ESP), Maximiliano Richeze (ARG), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Julien Vermote (BEL).
Sports Director Davide Bramati (ITA) and Tom Steels (BEL).

Eager to Start Big Week of Racing
This week, Caja Rural – Seguros RGA takes on two important stage races as the Spanish team lines up for Volta ao Algarve (Portugal) and Vuelta a Andalucia (Spain). Both races on the Iberian Peninsula begin on Wednesday the 15th of February and finish the following Sunday on the 19th of February.

Volta ao Algarve starts out in Albufeira with a stage for the sprinters, which is followed by a difficult uphill finish in Fóia on day two. The third stage is an 18 km long individual time trial, while stage 4 offers another opportunity for the many sprinters in the race. The final stage is also the queen stage with the uphill finish on Alto de Malhão. The ascent isn’t very long, only 2.8 km, but its average gradient of 9 % can create significant time gaps and really shake up the general classification.

The course for Vuelta a Andalucia somehow mimics the one in Portugal. Despite several climbs, it won’t be a surprise to see the opening stage end in sprint within a reduced group. Stage 2 presents a tough mountain top finish on Sierra Peña del Águila (5.4 km / avg. 9 %), while an 11.9 km long individual time trial awaits on day three. The sprinters will get their chance to shine on stage 4 and, most likely, also on the final day in Coín.

Caja Rural – Seguros RGA brings two strong teams, eager to show off the green colors and compete against the best riders in the world. Jaime Rosón leads the team in Portugal, while Héctor Sáez aims to take advantage of his current condition and fight for a good result in Spain.

Jaime Rosón: “Volta ao Algarve is a big race that I have a lot of respect for. I feel that I have overcome the physical problems I suffered from after the races on Mallorca and I think I can perform on a good level now. We will do everything in our power to show the Caja Rural – Seguros RGA name as high up as possible in the standings”.

Héctor Sáez: “After a difficult start to the season, where I had to withdraw from Vuelta a San Juan, I now feel much better and in great condition, which I also showed in Vuelta a Murcia, where I stayed with the best riders. There are many strong teams in Vuelta a Andalucia but I aim to do well and show off the team colors during the week”.

Lineup for Volta ao Algarve:
Jaime Rosón, Jonathan Lastra, Dylan Page, Justin Oien, Fabricio Ferrari, Rafael Reis and Josu Zabala.

Lineup for Vuelta a Andalucia:
Héctor Sáez, Diego Rubio, Sergio Pardilla, Eduard Prades, Alex Aranburu, Jon Irisarri and Antonio Molina.

Héctor Sáez:

Team to Start Season in Spain and Portugal
Rally Cycling kicked off the 2017 season at the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia in Spain (UCI 1.1) before heading to Portugal for the Volta ao Algarve (UCI 2.HC) on February 15-19. The events are considered premier early season races on the European calendar and Rally Cycling aims for success against the top teams in the world – including Bora-Hansgrohe, Movistar and Sky. This is the second year in a row that the team has started its season in Europe and will utilize the events to lay the foundation for success later in the season at top-level races in North America.

After a strong training camp, Colin Joyce is ready to make his mark in Europe: “We are excited to be starting the season off in Europe and are looking forward to taking part in such prestigious events as the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia and the Tour of Algarve,” said Performance Manager Jonas Carney. “We expect a tough race and tough competition from some of the top riders in the world. The team is very motivated and our early season training has prepared them well. The consensus from the guys is that training camp was more challenging than ever, and that’s good because we wanted them to be prepared for what Europe is going to dish out.”

Sepp Kuss will be looking to climb high in the general classification at the Volta ao Algarve: “Murcia and Algarve will certainly be tough races, especially as season-openers,” said Kuss. “I’m excited to test myself against some very strong riders and race aggressively. Sometimes it helps to be the underdog, and hopefully, we can use that to our advantage riding against the larger WorldTour teams.”

Despite its underdog status, Rally Cycling enters the Volta ao Algarve keen on winning stages and riding high in the general classification. With a flat finish, the first stage looks to be one for team sprinter Eric Young. However, with several punchy hills along the route, the team may look to Colin Joyce or Evan Huffman to steal the stage from a breakaway. Stages two and three will be key for general classification riders Britton, Dal-Cin, and Kuss. An uphill finish punctuates the second stage while stage three is a short, but tough 18-kilometer time trial. The fourth stage provides more opportunity for the all around riders, or Young to again show his speed. The final stage ends with a tough 2.8 kilometer ascent to Alto do Malháo. The final climb features an average gradient of over 8% and will be the perfect launch pad for Britton and Kuss to make a final assault on the general classification.

Volta ao Algarve Stages
Stage 1 | Albufeira – Lagos | 183 km | Wednesday, February 15
Stage 2 | Lagoa – Alto Da Fóia | 189 km | Thursday, February 16
Stage 3 | Sagres – Sagres | 18 km | Friday, February 17
Stage 4 | Almodôvar – Tavira | 203 km | Saturday, February 18
Stage 5 | Loulé – Alto do Malhão | 179 km | Sunday, February 19

Rally Cycling for Volta ao Algarve:
Rob Britton, Matteo Dal-Cin, Adam DeVos, Evan Huffman, Colin Joyce, Sepp Kuss, Danny Pate, Eric Young.

Sepp Kuss:

BMC Racing Team to Target Stage Wins At Back To Back Races in France
BMC Racing Team will be targeting stage wins in France when they line up at Cycliste International du Haut Var-Matin (18 – 19 February) and the 2ème Tour Cycliste International La Provence (21 – 23 February).

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said that he is confident in the abilities of every rider. “We are not heading into these races with a particular team leader. Instead, we will look out for any opportunities that present themselves to us to go for stage victories. We are still early in the season, and the number one goal will be to help our riders continue their preparation, so they are ready to race at the highest level at the UCI World Tour races which lie ahead. I think we will have a good dynamic with both teams and I trust that every rider will give their best to achieve results.”

Brent Bookwalter is looking forward to starting 2017 with the two French races, in what will be the start of his tenth season with BMC Racing Team. “I’ve raced Cycliste International du Haut Var-Matin on a few occasions. It is always demanding, and the two-day race is a solid way to measure my early season form. More and more of the peloton have already raced by the end of February, so every year these races seem to get faster. I’m excited to get stuck into the action for another year with my BMC Racing Team teammates. I hope we can continue the team’s strong start to the season and the success which has already been achieved.”

Rohan Dennis, who will be joining the team for the 2ème Tour Cycliste International La Provence, said that the race provides an opportunity to get back into the racing mindset. “For me, this race is all about getting back into the swing of European racing for 2017. It marks a return to the normal race routine, and the main goal for me will be to test out my legs. At this stage, I have felt really good since I landed in Europe so hopefully racing will confirm that.”

Tour Cycliste International du Haut Var-Matin (18 – 19 February)
Rider Roster:

Tom Bohli (SUI), Brent Bookwalter (USA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Miles Scotson (AUS), Fran Ventoso (ESP)
Sports Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA)

2ème Tour Cycliste International La Provence (21 – 23 February)
Rider Roster:

Tom Bohli (SUI), Brent Bookwalter (USA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Danilo Wyss (SUI)
Sports Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA).

Rohan Dennis:

Gold Medal Marks Successful Return from Injury for Moolman-Pasio
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio got her season underway in the best possible way by winning the South African individual time trial championships today. The title is Moolman-Pasio’s fourth elite national time trial gold medal after previous successes in 2015, 2014 and 2013.

More importantly, the result is an indicator of a successful recovery from a hip fracture sustained during a time trial in October last year.

“It’s awesome to win the title back. I actually haven’t really been on the TT bike after the injury last year and I just realized how at home I feel on the TT bike. It’s one of the reasons I joined Cervélo Bigla because of the amazing partners we have and the focus on the TT,” a delighted Moolman-Pasio said.

“The rehab has gone well. There were a few instances where I’ve been compensating with my back and I’ve had to back off a bit. There have been obstacles along the way in the recovery but I’ve learnt to take my time in the recovery, this has been a slower build up than the past which is a blessing in disguise after seven years of racing in Europe and South Africa non-stop without a good break. This result today is good for the confidence to show that things are on track for the year.”

Moolman-Pasio crossed the line in a time of 32 minutes 10 seconds to average 42.6km/h. She beat her closest competitor by over 3 minutes.

Israel Cycling Academy Team earns Wild-Card invitation for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars Doors Vlaanderen
Team to race opening World-Tour Cobbled Classics of 2017

Israel Cycling Academy will continue the first part of its first season as a Pro-Continental team by racing two of the Belgian cobbled classics: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 25th and Dwars Doors Vlaanderen on March 22.

Said team manager Ran Margaliot: “We see this as a great demonstration of trust, and we don’t take that for granted. These races are simply brutal. We are jumping into some very deep water here, and we know that it is going to be a bit like David and Goliath – Racing against the likes of Boonen and Sagan in some of the world’s most prestigious classics. But that doesn’t scare us. We have a very talented team who can pull out some amazing things with our will, a bit of luck, and some Israeli Chutzpah. That’s what our project is all about.”

Omloop will mark another milestone for the young and feisty team, which showed it’s racing style in Comunitat de Valencia with 2 men in a breakaway most of the 2nd day, as it will be the first ever World-Tour race.

While the team is in it’s fledgling stage at the Pro-Continental level, the focus for this season are the cobbled classics. “We are well aware that it is a long-shot, but we believe that it is in races such as Flanders and Roubaix that we can really leave our mark, and we hope to get an invitation for them as well” Said Margaliot.

Israel Cycling Academy was founded in December 2014 in Jerusalem, as Israel’s first Professional cycling team, with a clear vision to help Israeli Cycling and bring young cyclists, especially Israelis, to the top levels of cycling.

The team recorded wins in races over 4 continents in the last 20 months, and is backed by sponsors like Cannondale, Lazer, Hertz Israel, and Verge, as well as the Israeli-Canadian philanthropist Sylvan Adams- Israel Cycling Academy is now set to go Pro Continental for the 2017 season.

Caja Rural – Seguros RGA presented in Pamplona
Caja Rural – Seguros RGA held its official 2017 team presentation on home soil in Pamplona, Spain. Following the recent successful seasons with 17 victories (2015) and 11 (2016), the Spanish Pro-Continental team aims to add another strong year to the history books.

With many news faces, nine in total, the team has seen a significant change in its 20-man roster ahead of this season. The likes of Chris Butler, Justin Oien, Dylan Page, Rafael Reis, Nick Schultz and Yuri Trofimov will all aim to achieve strong results and raise the international profile of the team, while Alex Aranburu, Jon Irisarri and Josu Zabala are amongst the best young riders on the national scene. Together with already established names such as Sergio Pardilla and David Arroyo and big talents like Jaime Rosón, Caja Rural – Seguors RGA has put together a strong and promising team eager to shine.

Ricardo Goñi (Director of Institutional Relations at Caja Rural): “We believe that cycling is one of the best ways to make a brand known and history has proven us right. 30 years is no coincidence. Like cycling, we have managed to adapt as an entity. We have innovated, transformed and grown all without losing the essence of Caja Rural. We also have many similarities to cycling. One is that we always give young people the confidence they need to grow and become good professionals as well as good individuals. Furthermore, we share the same values such as hard work, good preparation and honesty”.

Ramón Méndez de Vigo (Director of Institutional Relations at Seguros RGA): “In just four years, we have created a strong bond between the people working at Seguros RGA and the cycling team. Our hashtag #SúmateAlVerde [Join The Green] has reached 8 million impressions on social media and we estimate that our brands were presented on live TV for 790 minutes during Vuelta a España last year. Also, in 2016, the Seguros RGA brand reached 20 million impressions in total, a number which prior to our sponsorship of the team barely exceeded 20.000”.

Milay Gálvez (Sponsorship and Marketing manager at Fuji Bikes): “Fuji has been producing bikes for 118 years. We share the philosophy of Caja Rural – Seguros RGA in terms of the values of stability. This team is very competitive and it really is the perfect representative of our bikes”.

Fabricio Ferrari (Rider): “The team continues to grow every year. This season, we have a very young team and you really feel the enthusiasm. I enjoy working with my teammates and helping the young riders evolve and achieve great results”.

The following 20 riders will represent and show off their Fuji bikes and green colors of the team in 2017: Alex Aranburu*, David Arroyo, Miguel Ángel Benito, Chris Butler*, Fabricio Ferrari, Jon Irisarri*, Jonathan Lastra, Lluis Mas, Antonio Molina, Justin Oien*, Dylan Page*, Sergio Pardilla, Eduard Prades, Rafael Reis*, Jaime Rosón, Diego Rubio, Héctor Sáez, Nick Schultz*, Yuri Trofimov* and Josu Zabala*.
* Indicates new signing.

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 2017 Presentation:

Lotto Soudal Training Camp 2017
The Belgian Lotto Soudal ladies team have just finished their last Spanish training camp before the start of the season and here is a video of what they got up to.

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