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Madrid - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - LOPEZ MORENO Miguel Angel (COL) of Astana Pro Team - YATES Simon (GBR) of Mitchelton - Scott - MAS NICOLAU Enric (ESP) of Quick - Step Floors pictured during 73rd La Vuelta ciclista a España (2.UWT) Stage 21 from Alcorcón to Madrid (112.3 KM) - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

The Vuelta a España has again proved its self the best Grand Tour of the year and Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates was a worthy winner. Lots of race news with reports, results and video from Spain, plus the Grote Prijs Jef Scherens, Coppa Bernocchi, Coppa Agostoni and Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen. Other cycling news: World Hour Record, Philippe Gilbert returns, Igor Anton retires, more contract news and Simon Yates’ winning speech. A very full EUROTRASH Monday.

TOP STORY: History In The Making
On Sunday, Simon Yates confirmed his win of the 2018 Vuelta a España, thus making cycling history. Never before has one nation won the three Grand Tours with different riders; Chris Froome was victor in the Giro d’Italia and Geraint Thomas – the Tour de France. France did the triple in 1964, but Jacques Anquetil won the Giro and Tour and Raymond Poulidor took the Vuelta. Spain has also won three GTs in the same season in 2008; Alberto Contador did the Giro/Vuelta double and Carlos Sastre won the Tour, So Britain is the only county with three different riders, and also set up a five in a row run.

Resident PEZ Grand Tour expert, Ed Hood summed it up in one comment: “GB wins all three Grand Tours – never thought I’d live to see that. . .”

If you think back a few years there were only a handful of British professional riders on the continent and the sport was not taken seriously by the media or the general public. How times have changed.

Vuelta a España 2018
Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) crossed the line ahead of his breakaway companion, Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates) to take the victory on Stage 18 of La Vuelta a España on Thursday The two finished just ahead of the chasing bunch with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and expected winner, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) at the head.

The stage was a relatively flat, a day earmarked for the sprinters. After a week of mountains, the 186.1 kilometer stage from Ejea de los Caballeros to Lleida offered some relief to the peloton and a chance for the fast men to test their legs.

A break of three was established after 3km of racing, including: Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates) and Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH). The sprint teams worked hard on the front of the peloton, but once the break had lost Bol they just managed to outwit the peloton and take the top two spots by the matter of a meter. Peter Sagan led the pack home for third place. All the top GC riders finished in the peloton and so there was no change in the overall standings.

The PEZ Stage Report HERE.

Stage winner, Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal): “I came to Spain with the ambition to win a stage and today I took one! Ahead of this Grand Tour, I had one to four stages in my mind, in which I could take my chance. However, my crash after the rest day interfered with my plans, leaving me with only one opportunity. I’m so happy to have taken my chance today and realize my dream! When I heard we still had an advantage of 30 seconds over the peloton, I decided to stay behind Bystrøm and to no longer focus on the peloton behind us. I knew he was the fastest on paper, but I also knew that the final kilometer was uphill, with gradients of 2 to 3%. I decided to stay in his wheel and to start my sprint from there. I’ve been in similar situations before and I can keep my cool. I took a shot, but the gamble helped me to this victory, so I’m very happy I stayed in Bystrøm’s wheel. It wasn’t easy to escape the bunch at first. My legs didn’t feel superb, but I’m a diesel and the more kilometers we covered, the better I felt. I did’t have the feeling to be the strongest in the breakaway neither, but I know I can finish strong after a long day in the breakaway, which I proved again today. The wind was also in our advantage, so we were able to ride at a significant high pace. Yesterday, I changed from gear as well, enabling me to ride even faster at this course. I think we maintained an average speed of 50 km/h during the final fifteen kilometers, which is quite fast.”

“I recovered well from the previous mountain stages. I was already in great shape ahead of the Tour de France and as soon as I heard I wasn’t part of the Tour’s selection, I focussed myself on this Vuelta, so I started this Vuelta in a perfect shape. We came to Spain with the team to take a stage win back home and today we succeeded in our mission. After the finish it felt like justice had been done as sports director Van Slycke (QS) called me some names earlier on the stage. That also explains my strong reaction. Then, of course, it feels good that they were not able to catch you before the finish line. But no offense to the blue squad. We currently are in the possession of the polka dot jersey with Thomas De Gendt as well. Saturday will be another important day for him, but he’s really strong and motivated to defend his jersey. It would be nice to go home with a stage win and the polka dot jersey, of course. Either way, we already have our desired stage win and that’s something nobody can take from us!”

Overall leader, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): “It was ok today until the final, it was very fast because of the wind and that made it hard, but for the rest it was a nice day and probably the easiest of the race so far. I am looking forward to tomorrow now. I was just trying to safe with my positioning in the final, there was quite a lot of roundabouts coming into town and up near the front is the safest place to be. I wasn’t thinking of bonus seconds. It’s going to be very difficult over the next couple of days, but we will try. I know the roads, so maybe that will help a little a bit, but it is going to be very difficult and I will give it my best shot.”

2nd on the stage, Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates): “It was close in the end for the win, but unfortunately I had to settle for second. Wallays was very strong in the breakaway and we had cooperated well until the last 2kms when he decided to sit up and I had to pull us to the line. Unfortunately that decision resulted in me coming second. I thought we were tactically strong in the breakaway, riding quite easy in the first part and then in the last 50kms we agreed to go full gas and play with the peloton a bit, which worked out pretty well in the end. Of course I am very disappointed right now – but at least I was there and fighting for the win.”

3rd on the stage, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Flat and fast stage today with a strange finish. I felt in good shape but it’s a pity I missed the win as the break managed to hold on until the end.”

2nd overall, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “Up until 150km into the stage, it’s been a quick, but really comfortable ride towards the finish into a tailwind. On the other hand, it also meant that all riders had all strength and energy left for the finale, so it was really demanding on the final 30km – even if the break sticked until the end. I think my legs are doing well; actually, I didn’t expect to finish so fresh and strong in this Vuelta. I knew I was getting to the start in Málaga with good legs, hence the two stage victories on week one, but I didn’t think I could finish the race that strong. Nairo’s words? It makes me really happy, having such a strong rider and such a good team-mate say that yesterday. It makes me really calm.”

5th on the stage, Ivan Garcia (Bahrain-Merida): “I am a rider who always likes to try to make a result and then even if I knew that by now the victory had vanished I made a full gas sprint to get into the Top5. I was behind Elia Viviani and we arrived very close. The last chance is now the last stage in Madrid and I hope that the pure sprinters arrive in the Spanish Capital a bit more tired than me!”

10th on the stage, Ryan Gibbons (Movistar): “It was a fast day as their was also a tailwind for the majority of the day. The wind was fairly strong all day, so it did add an unnecessary stress, the whole time the peloton was on edge. The breakaway played it very well today. I think they held us knowing we wouldn’t want to go too fast to close them and then in the last 20kms they just really opened up. Kudos to them. The final stretch was really tricky, a lot of corners and then a deceiving false flat to the end. It was a sprint, but it was a long effort. I was too far back from the last corner and I had to scramble for what I could get.”

Vuelta a España Stage 18 Result:
1. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal 03:57:03
2. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
5. Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
6. Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
7. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
8. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
9. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
10. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 18:
1. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott in 73:02:37
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:25
3. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 1:22
4. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 1:36
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:48
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2:11
7. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 4:09
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 4:36
9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 5:31
10. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 6:05.

Stage 18:

After winning at the Lagos de Covadonga; Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) doubled up with another stage victory on the summit of the Coll de la Rabassa on Friday’s Stage 19. Second on the stage, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is the other winner of the day after a dominant performance that saw him take more than a minute on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). The British climber’s lead on GC is now 1:38 on the eve of a brutal stage 20 in Andorra.

Many riders were willing to have a go at the front of the race, but Alejandro Valverde’s Movistar Team wouldn’t let any attempt go for more than 70 kilometers. Benjamin Thomas (Groupama-FDJ) and Jonathan Castroviejo (Sky) eventually got away with 80 kilometers to go. Tom Van Asbroeck (ED Education First-Drapac) had gone with them but he waited for the bunch when he realized Movistar were not giving this breakaway much of a margin as they were going to settle the battle in the Coll de la Rabassa.

With Movistar controlling the race all day long, the gap reached a maximum of 2:30 with 40km to go. Five kilometers further, Valverde’s teammates accelerated again and briefly split the peloton. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) was trapped behind but his teammates quickly brought the red jersey back to the front. After three hours of racing at 45.6KPH, the bunch caught the attackers at the bottom of the final ascent and the GC contenders were ready to battle it out up Coll de la Rabassa (17km at an average gradient of 6.6%).

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked with 13 kilometers to go. Steven Kruijswijk and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) followed him and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) joined them after a kilometer. They didn’t open much of a gap and Simon Yates bridged over on his own 2 kilometers later. The British climber set a hard pace and Quintana was dropped 8km form the summit.

Thibaut Pinot helped Simon Yates at the front and they quickly opened a 1 minute gap over the Valverde-Lopez group. The French climber eventually claimed the victory in the final kilometer while Valverde was dropped by his GC rivals. Yates tightened his grip on the red jersey with a 1:38 lead on Valverde. Kruijswijk is back on the podium, 20 seconds behind Valverde.

The PEZ Stage 19 Report HERE.

Stage winner and 7th overall, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ): “I did not think to attack from so far, but when I saw Kruijswijk and Quintana, I thought it was the right moment. I thought Valverde would jump, but it was Yates who came back and rolled hard to make the gap. He made me understand that if I helped him, he would give me the victory, so I did not ask myself questions even though I did not do as much as him because I did not know if Kruijswijk was bluffing. The latter lost contact and I waited until the last moment to do my sprint. Win a second time is the icing on the cake!”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): “I felt good, I felt good myself which is why I tried, the team did a fantastic job again, Jack Haig did a good ride to really set me up before I went away and Adam was behind incase I came back. We did fantastic job. I have to thank Thibaut for helping me a lot in the final, of course he could have sat on and not helped, so chapeau, you don’t forget things like that very fast. We didn’t really have any plan today, just to see how we felt, keep control and calm and I was. When you feel good you have to try sometimes so I did. There is only one more day to go, we really need to focus on that now, we will enjoy this moment but it is not over for another day. I know too well in one-day everything can chance so we will try to recover and give it everything to try and win the race now. I will just try to stay focussed now, it is not over until it is over.”

3rd on the stage and overall, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo): “It went better than two days ago, even though I had a difficult moment in the end. We did a good job today. In the end, I didn’t have much energy left, so I was lucky that I could stay in their wheels. I knew Pinot was going for the stage win and Yates wanted to take as much time as possible on Movistar. It was ideal for me. Luckily, I took time back again. The team did a good job today. Especially George, who was worth his weight in gold on the final climb. He responded to an attack from Quintana and to my surprise, nobody followed. We pulled through. It also surprised me that Yates joined us. But in the end, that was very beneficial for me. I was able to benefit from it and to sit on a bit out of the wind. Tomorrow is a new day. Today, I took time back, maybe tomorrow, I will lose time again. It will be a short, but very challenging stage. We have to race smartly and divide our powers. The team is strong and we are definitely going to try to defend it. It would be nice if we are still on the podium after the stage tomorrow evening.”

5th on the stage and overall, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana): “Today I did my best, but, honestly, I was just empty. It was a tough stage for me since I am sick a bit and during the stage could not breathe normally; I had some problem with respiration. So, it was impossible for me to do something more in this stage. In the final I tired to counterattack for several times, but in the end of the day it was too much for me, I was dead crossing the finish line. I hope to recover a bit through the night to be ready for the queen stage. Anyway, I will keep on fighting tomorrow and let’s see how it will be.”

8th on the stage and 2nd overall, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “It was a very difficult day for me. We went out to try and win this one, but sometimes you win and some other you don’t. The rivals were simply stronger than me; it is what it is, you’ve got to accept it. We struggled, we lost some seconds, but we’re still in 2nd place, we’re still in contention, and that’s what matters in the end. When Yates attacked, I tried to stay behind Carapaz to see if it was possible for Richard to close that gap. However, it turned out too fast for the two of us, two difficult. Despite the help from Nairo, I ended up cracking a little bit at the end. Sadly, your body doesn’t respond always like you want it to. It’s obvious that the final red jersey is further for us now than it was this morning, but we won’t settle. Saturday’s is a stage where anything can happen: you can win, you can lose even more time – it’s another tough day.”

15th on the stage and 11th overall, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It wasn’t an easy stage today. My legs weren’t responding the way I would have expected, so I tried to limit my time losses. Rafał Majka stayed with me in the final climb and supported me in order to make sure I was also able to hold on to my position in the GC. I will now focus on recovering and on performing tomorrow, in the last mountain stage of this Vuelta.”

Vuelta a España Stage 19 Result:
1. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 3:42:05
2. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:05
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:13
4. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:52
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana
6. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 1:03
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1:12
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:15
10. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 1:49.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 19:
1. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott in 76:44:41
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1:38
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:58
4. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 2:15
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 2:29
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team at 4:01
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 5:22
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 5:29
9. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 6:30
10. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 7:21.

Stage 19:

Stage 20 saw Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) conquer his first Grand Tour success. The 23 year-old Spanish climber out-sprinted Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) in a mano-a-mano up the Coll de la Gallina and moved into second on the general classification. The red jersey Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) dropped 23 seconds in the final climb but Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) cracked and lost more than 3 minutes. With a lead of 1:46 on Enric Mas, the British climber is set to win La Vuelta 18 on Sunday in Madrid.

The battle was on from the start, with the riders immediately facing the Coll de la Comella (4.3km, 8.6%). Salvatore Puccio (Sky) quickly opened a small gap but Lotto Soudal reeled them in so Thomas De Gendt could take the points at the summit. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) accelerated in the following downhill and about 15 riders followed him. Thomas De Gendt was part of the group and he went solo on the Coll de Beixalis (7.1km, 8%). Nibali was chasing him with Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac), Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).

With 80km to go, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) went for a few first digs, but Simon Yates’ Mitchelton-Scott and Steven Kruijswijk’s LottoNL-Jumbo controlled him. Thomas De Gendt took 10 more KOM points at the summit and the five chasers joined him in the descent. Dario Cataldo and Omar Fraile (Astana), Nicolas Roche (BMC), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Amanuel Ghebreigzhabier (Dimension Data), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), David de la Cruz (Sky), Jai Hindley (Sunweb) and Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) also joined the front of the race in the third climb of the day, the Coll de Ordino (9.8km, 7.1%).

Jesus Herrada went on his own in the final kilometer of ascent while Astana upped the tempo, caught the chasers and cut the lead down to 1:20. The Spanish all-rounder was caught by his breakaway companions with 46km to go. Astana was still driving the bunch with a gap of 1:07. Jon Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) and Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale) were missing from the main group.

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) attacked with 38km to go. He got back to the front of the race with the help of Fraile and Cataldo but was then caught at the summit. Nairo Quintana accelerated again on the downhill and was joined by Lopez just ahead of the penultimate climb of the 2018 Vuelta. Lopez set a strong pace to open a 20 second gap. Simon Yates attacked at the summit and got back to the Colombian duo with Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) on the downhill, 13km out. The Valverde group was trailing by 22 seconds with 10km to go.

Quintana let the group go at the bottom of the final climb. And Simon Yates also lost contact with 6km to go. The British climber limited his losses to 23 seconds on the line while Enric Mas edged Miguel Angel Lopez on the line. With the support of Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde lost more than 3 minutes and dropped to fifth on the general classification, behind Mas, Lopez and Kruijswijk.

PEZ Stage 20 Stage Report HERE.

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors): “I watched last week the video of the 2012 stage that concluded atop Gallina, so I knew I had to be at the front before the last bend and that’s why I kept the speed high and accelerated 150 meters from the line. Taking my first Grand Tour stage win is something beautiful which I will always remember. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be in the top three, but at the moment I still don’t want to think about this, because there’s still one day to go and only in Madrid I will truly savor this achievement. It’s the first time that I am in this position and hopefully it won’t be the last time. After the penultimate weekend, I began thinking I could finish in the top five or even on the podium, and helped by a great Quick-Step Floors team, I took it day by day and continued to rise in the GC, culminating with this beautiful result, for which I worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices, that today paid off.”

Overall leader and 3rd on the stage, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): “Finally. I think it’s still sinking in. I’m incredibly proud, of the team also. They have carried me through this entire three weeks. It’s the first Grand Tour for the team, it’s just unbelievable. Adam was running out of legs on the penultimate climb and I didn’t want to be in a position where I was riding through the valley to the final climb, that could have been the worse situation possible. I knew that Lopez and Quintana were up the road and Lopez especially had something to gain so I knew that he would maybe work with me, so as we say, sometimes attack is best form of defense. On the last climb I was OK, I was really at my limit and Lopez and Mas they were both incredible in the final and I just tried to ride my own rhythm and that was it. I gave everything that I had and thankfully it was enough. I feel much better now that we have finished, it was a really crazy day and fast. Once again, I want to thank the team. Everybody really stepped up, even the big guys who you didn’t expect to be there on the climbs. They were just unbelievable, a really incredible day.”

2nd on the stage and 3rd overall, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana): “It was all or nothing for me today as I wanted to reach the podium and it was my only goal today. Our tactics for today was to do all possible to step on the podium. I did all I could in this stage and I think we can be more than happy. I want to thank my team for a huge support today and during all this race. On the final climb I pushed as hard as I could, I did not think about the stage win because if I would begin to play games I could miss the GC podium. Of course when we came to the finish I wanted to win a stage as well, I missed just a little in the final, but I gave my all, so I don’t have anything to regret about. My team and I did our best and we can be proud. We still have one stage to go in Madrid and only after the finish I will believe in my second GC podium in this season.”

Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Another stage with a fast start. I gave it a try and went into the breakaway group but as it fell apart, I waited for Emu to support him and, together with Davide, we finished the three of us together. We are now on our way to Madrid for the final stage of this year’s Vuelta.”

7th on the stage and 4th overall, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo): “This is a real pity, I gave everything and fought until the end, but there were a few guys stronger today. I didn’t have much left so this was all I could do. I did try to join them when they attacked on the penultimate climb, but I was not able to make the jump. You have to be realistic and honest, and conclude that I was not good enough today. It is a pity that I finish just outside the final podium in the Vuelta. I know many riders haven’t taken fifth in the Tour de France and fourth in the Vuelta in the same year, but I would have liked to have traded that for a podium in a grand tour. We can’t blame ourselves too much. For three weeks, we worked very hard day in, day out doing what we had to do. Then we have to be satisfied with it.”

10th on the stage, 5th overall and points leader, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “You’ve got to stay happy when you give everything you’ve got. You must accept defeat – when you win, it’s all fantastic, but when you lose, you’ve got to recognize your rivals are better than you and move forward. I’ve been up there all Vuelta long and I can only be happy about that. Also because of the teamwork, my two stage victories, this green jersey and the team GC, which will get everyone on the podium. These final days haven’t been the ending I hoped for, but you’ve got to accept things like they happen. It hurts to be out of the podium, but when you leave everything on the road, you can’t really ask for more. At the second climb of Beixalis I was struggling a lot, I wasn’t comfortable at all, and I wasn’t able to turn things around in the remainder of the stage. After that, it was just suffering. You sort of surrender and don’t perform the same way; it’s the same for you to lose 1:30 or three minutes. The whole team was phenomenal all Vuelta long, and Nairo proved again to be an excellent team-mate, supporting me all the way to the finish. I thank him for that. Now it’s time to rest up and face what’s coming up at the Worlds; let’s see what we can do there. These two days weren’t the best for me, but I think there’s enough time to let the body rest and get back to my best form before Innsbruck. I’m so happy about Enric Mas, he did an excellent race. Yates was a well-deserved overall winner.”

Vuelta a España Stage 20 Result:
1. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors in 2:59:30
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana
3. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:23
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:54
5. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:57
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 1:11
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:15
8. David De La Cruz (Spa) Sky at 2:17
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3:10
10. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 20:
1. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott in 79:44:30
2. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 1:46
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 2:04
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 2:54
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 4:28
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 5:57
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 6:07
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 6:51
9. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 11:09
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 11:11.

Stage 20:

The Final Stage 21 was a ceremonial one in the first part, that is until the peloton hit the streets of Madrid, where Quick-Step Floors shut down the two separate breakaways which emerged inside the final 40 kilometers, before bringing Elia Viviani to the front. Despite losing the wheel of his teammates in the hectic final that ensued, the Italian Champion bounced back in the closing meters and found a space on the left side of the road, powering down the barriers and claiming his 18th victory of the season and Quick-Step Floors’ 67th.

Overall leader, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) finished safely in the peloton and received his final red jersey. Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) took their places on the podium.

Catch up with Ed’s Vuelta Final Week Round Up and the PEZ Vuelta Photo Gallery.

Stage 21 PEZ Stage Report HERE.

Stage winner, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “It was the last day of a really tough Vuelta and I came into this stage having lost a lot of power compared to the first part of the race, but still was super motivated. I lost my lead-out with two kilometers to go in a roundabout, but I remained confident and on the last corner I informed my guys to not go full gas, so they stopped. I came strong from the back in the finale, found a gap and surged to victory here in Madrid, which was one of my goal since we embarked on this journey in Malaga. We can be really proud with what we have achieved as a team. It’s been a tremendous season, which I end here with this great win, and I want to thank Quick-Step Floors for the way they supported and helped me since joining the team. I scored 18 wins, which is incredible and only motivates me to work hard in the winter, so I can continue to be up there also next year.”

Overall winner, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): “It feels great. Really unbelievable, I think it’s still sinking in. I have no words, it’s just really unbelievable. I like to race on my instinct and I hope that I continue to do so and achieve more big results like today at the Vuelta a España. The day I won on stage 14 is probably my favorite moment from the race, getting your hands in the air, there’s no feeling like winning a bike race and that will hold a special place, but also the first stage in Andorra. That was the first day I laid everything on the line to try and win this race and I managed to get a bit of a gap and you start to believe that you may have it, so those two days really stand out for me. I came back from real heartbreak from the Giro d’Italia and I am still in shock that I’ve managed to pull it off and it will take a while for it to sink in just what we’ve accomplished. I get really nervous up on the stage, but it was a very special moment that I will cherish forever.”

2nd overall, Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors): “It will take a few days for this to sink in, because it’s been an awesome adventure, at the end of which I am very grateful to my teammates and staff. Second and best young rider it’s something I wouldn’t have dreamed of at the start of the race, but arriving in Madrid having achieved this makes me extremely happy. From here, I will fly to Innsbruck for the World Championships, where I want to help Spain get a good result, before my last races of the season with Quick-Step Floors. It was the last day of a really tough Vuelta and I came into this stage having lost a lot of power compared to the first part of the race, but still was super motivated. I lost my lead-out with two kilometers to go in a roundabout, but I remained confident and on the last corner I informed my guys to not go full gas, so they stopped. I came strong from the back in the finale, found a gap and surged to victory here in Madrid, which was one of my goal since we embarked on this journey in Malaga.”

3rd overall, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana): “I am more than happy with this result. Coming into the second Grand Tour in a season, I did not know what to expect since I did not experience this before. The Giro d’Italia gave me a lot of confidence in myself as well as in my team, which supported me really well in Italy, bringing me on the podium in Rome. So, here in La Vuelta we decided to move on day by day trying to reach as high as possible. For sure, it was a super difficult race and we had to stay concentrated during all the three weeks, but finally, we did it! I want to thank the whole Astana Pro Team for absolutely fantastic support. It is our common success. It is really great to achieve a second Grand Tour podium in the same year, it is a big result for me. I felt strong during the race and, of course, I wanted to win a stage so much. Three times I was so close for a win, finishing second, but from the other hand I knew, if I aim for the stage results, I could miss the final podium, which was my biggest goal. I am so happy to step on the podium here in Madrid! It is a special season for me!”

2nd on the stage, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe): “As expected, the Vuelta ended with a fast bunch sprint in Madrid. I tried my best but it wasn’t enough to win the stage. Congratulations to Elia for his victory.”

11th overall, Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale): “The Top Ten was my goal after winning the seventh stage. Yesterday, after the finish, I was inevitably disappointed to fall down to 11th place. But with hindsight, I realize that I have experienced three beautiful weeks. I was able to fight with the best. I had never come to a Grand Tour this way, as a team leader, and I must say that I had a lot of fun. And that was the whole goal of starting. I was very well protected during the three weeks. We rode as a really great team and at all levels. This is a race that will long live in my memory.”

First time Grand Tour rider, Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates): “I finished quite a positive Vuelta. I was always able to contest the sprints and finish inside the top 10, except for stage 18, where I placed 11th. Today I still had good legs and I had hoped for better, but the final run in was chaotic and I wasn’t able to launch my sprint in the best position. However, I am proud to have been able to finish my first big stage race. Now I want to recover for a few days and on Thursday I’ll be back racing in Italy.”

Vuelta a España Stage 21 Result:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors in 2:21:28
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
4. Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
7. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
9. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
10. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data.

Vuelta a España Final Overall Result:
1. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott in 82:05:58
2. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 1:46
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 2:04
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 2:54
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 4:28
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 5:57
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 6:07
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 6:51
9. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 11:09
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 11:11.

Final stage 21:

Grote Prijs Jef Scherens – Rondom Leuven 2018
Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) had red-circled the Grand Prix Jef Scherens – Leuven, a race in the city where he was born, raised and where he still resides, and when it all came down to a bunch sprint he came through on his goal and jumped to the win.

A united and one hundred percent committed Trek-Segafredo team worked for Stuyven from the gun on a tough 14.5-kilometer circuit in Leuven, helping make a hard race. By the final laps, the bunched was reduced to just over 50 riders, and only Toms Skujins and Jasper Stuyven remained.

The breakaway was brought back with still 40 kilometers to race, and with not enough teammates remaining to defend, Skujins instead went on the offensive. In the last two laps, his attack created a breakaway group of three and the trio built a lead of 30 seconds before the Lotto Soudal led bunch finally contained them nine kilometers from the end.

The last kilometers saw constant attacks, but with the help of Skujins and other teams interested in a sprint finish, it was all together under the red kite with Stuyven placed perfectly behind the Wanty-Group Gobert lead-out train.

Stuyven launched his sprint in the last meters and led the way home, shouting and punching the air with joy over the line. And just behind, Toms Skuijns still had enough left in his tank to claim seventh.

Race winner, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo): “This feels really great! It may not be a WorldTour race, but it’s my hometown race, and there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I was really motivated and asked the guys to go all-in like a big Classic, and they did. They really rode incredible, and then it’s really nice to finish it off and win in front of the home crowds. The feeling is hard to describe. We decided to make the race hard from the beginning, and it was not perfect since one part of the course was headwind, but we stuck to the plan. By making the race hard we risked being one man short in the final, but it turned out well. It was a great day from everyone. In the final, Toms attacked and attacked and put pressure on the other teams. From the moment we caught Toms back he put me in good position for the sprint. I saw there were some teams with a lot of guys left who would go for the sprint, and I felt confident and strong enough to sprint against those strong guys after a hard race like today. I think I am on a good streak at the moment and it’s really nice to finish the season in this way. I had a strong spring campaign with a lot of top tens, and now I grab podium places and wins, and that feels really good. Today the team believed in me, it was great teamwork all day, and this also gave me more confidence for the sprint. I am happy to pay back the team with this victory.”

3rd, Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “The team delivered an excellent job once more! It was a tough day since the pace was high all day. It was my third race day in a row after Koolskamp Koers and GP Impanis. I missed some freshness. I had to start the sprint a little too early. Jasper Stuyven was ideally positioned in my wheel, so I knew it would be tough to win. I gave everything I could and have to be satisfied with third place. Next up for me are more Belgian one day races, starting with Omloop van het Houtland on Wednesday.”

Grote Prijs Jef Scherens – Rondom Leuven Result:
1. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo in 4:16:54
2. Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Vital Concept
3. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
5. Aksel Nömmela (Est) Beat Cycling club
6. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Hagens Berman Axeon
7. Toms Skujins (Let) Trek-Segafredo
8. Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Team Joker Icopal
9. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard Pro Cycling
10. Sean De Bie (Bel) Verandas Willems-Creland.

GP Jef Scherens’18:

Coppa Bernocchi 2018
With an impressive sprint Sonny Colbrelli wins the Coppa Bernocchi again, after the triumph he took last year, always with Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team jersey. A special victory seen that it was the 100th edition of this classical Italian race, part of the Trittico Lombardo series, with start and finish in Legnano, north of Milan. A race that suits to sprinters and Sonny Colbrelli was among the favorites.

Race winner, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida): “I never could have won without the help of my teammates. They have been fantastic. I had just to raise my arms to celebrate. Grega Bole and Giovanni Visconti lead me out perfectly. Wang did a good job too, working at the front of the peloton in the finale to bridge the gap to the four attackers. Happily we succeeded to catch them and I could sprint very well. I want to dedicate this win to my family, especially to Adelina that soon will give birth to our baby girl.”

Coppa Bernocchi Result:
1. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
2. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
3. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
4. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
5. Leonardo Basso (Ita) Sky
6. Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
7. Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
9. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
10. Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Sprandi Polkowice.


Coppa Agostoni – Giro delle Brianze 2018
Gianni Moscon (Sky) powered clear of the pack on the tough roads around Lissone and forged on into the final 60 kilometers to win the Coppa Agostoni-Giro delle Brianze on Saturday. Moscon was joined by Damiano Caruso (BMC) and Angel Madrazo (Delko Marseille), then catching the break of the day.

Sky had worked hard on the front during the day to keep the early move in check, providing an ideal launchpad for Moscon’s move. With two groups giving chase behind, Rein Taaramae (Direct Energie) made the bridge across the gap and it would be he and Moscon who headed into the final kilometer together.

Moscon played it cool to comfortably win the two-up sprint, taking his first victory of the year in the process. Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida) came in 23 seconds later, just 1 second ahead of Luca Wackermann (Bardiani-CSF). Pierpaolo Ficara (Amore e Vita-Prodir) brought in the chasers at 30 seconds.

Sky DS, Dario Cioni spoke to TeamSky.com: “It was a hard race and also a long way from the local circuit to the finish line. This was a challenge, but Gianni was very motivated to work and he’s done a lot of training up on the Stelvio. Obviously today he also wanted to show to the Italian team ahead of the world championships that he is ready to race. He did a ride very similar to what Egan (Bernal) did last year and we decided to take it on. Mark Donovan was pulling early on, and then Eddie and (Michal) Golas took it up before the last two climbs. That is where Gianni went and he managed to get away. It was a long way with a small gap, but we know he is a good time triallist so we were confident that he could hold on. When Taaramae came across that was a good thing and that helped a lot for the last 10km. Gianni played it really smart at the finish. He put himself in the best position and started the last kilometer on the wheel. He was very smart.”

3rd, Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida): “Actually it was a tough race as always, I suffered a lot in the first part, maybe because of the jet leg after Canada. So I was not so much confident of my personal possibilities for today. But at the end I had good legs. Moscon and Caruso were too fast to succeed to follow them on the climb and then in my group, in the final circuit, there was nobody with enough legs to catch Moscon and Taaramäe. I cannot be disappointed. I’m happy with my performance and I did my best as always.”

Coppa Agostoni – Giro delle Brianze Result:
1. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Sky in 4:49:33
2. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Direct Energie at 0:01
3. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:23
4. Luca Wackermann (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 0:24
5. Pierpaolo Ficara (Ita) Amore e Vita-Prodir at 0:30
6. Davide Orrico (Ita) Team Vorarlberg Santic
7. Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic
8. Marc Hirschi (Swi) Switzerland
9. Ivan Rovny (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:54
10. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec.

Coppa Agostoni’18:

Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen 2018
Dylan Groenewegen won the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen in an impressive way. The sprinter of Team LottoNL-Jumbo easily won the bunch sprint in Koolskamp. Groenewegen was perfectly positioned for the final sprint by his teammates after having controlled most of the race. It is Groenewegen’s thirteenth season victory and the thirty-first for Team LottoNL-Jumbo this year.

Race winner, Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto Nl-Jumbo): “I am really pleased to finally take the win here. Last year, I finished second, one year I was sick and once I crashed really bad. Then it is really nice that it has worked out this time. It was not an easy sprint. It is difficult to perfectly time your sprint because the finish was slightly uphill and there was some headwind too. I positioned myself in Degenkolb’s wheel before I started my sprint. It worked out well. The team did a great job today and for that, I am grateful to my teammates. It has been a wonderful season so far. I am very happy with my thirteenth victory.”

Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen Result:
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Lotto Nl-Jumbo in 4:14:33
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
3. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
4. Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Roubaix Lille Metropole
5. Bram Welten (Ned) Fortuneo-Samsic
6. Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Vital Concept
7. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
8. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Wb Aqua Protect-Veranclassic
9. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan
10. Yoeri Havik (Ned) Vlasman Ct.

Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen podium:

On Thursday, 13th September 2018, Vittoria Bussi broke the UCI Hour Record in Aguicientes, Mexico with a distance of 48.007km, clinching the Women’s Hour Record by 27 meters.

Last October the Italian, a doctor of pure mathematics, and formerly a member of the Servetto Footon UCI squad, came tantalizingly close to bettering the mark of 47.980km, established in 2016 by Evelyn Stevens. Having suffered from a bout of ill health in the lead up to the attempt made in Mexico on October 6, 2017, Vittoria was only short by 405 meters. Read the story of this inspirational athlete and her first hour record attempt here https://endura.exposure.co/vittoria-bussi.

Vittoria has been working relentlessly ever since with the sole purpose of completing the task after this painful setback and as part of her preparation she has been working closely with Endura and its aerodynamics partner Drag2Zero to further develop Endura’s D2Z Encapsulator Suit and D2Z Aeroswitch helmet.

Vittoria set out to take the record on Wednesday in adverse conditions after cooler weather had set in. She abandoned after 40 minutes, sensing the record may not be possible in such low temperatures. But, having secured a two day track booking and with echoes of Graeme Obree’s famous 1993 record attempt in Norway, Vittoria returned the following day and showed her mettle by breaking through the 48km barrier to set a new Women’s UCI Hour Record of 48,007m.

With two successful attempts at the Hour Record already on its palmarès (Alex Dowsett’s #PerfectHour in May 2015, and Dr Bridie O’Donnell’s success in January 2016), the Livingston brand’s Encapsulator suit has already proven itself uniquely suited to the task. Both the Endura D2Z Encapsulator Suit and the D2Z Aeroswitch helmet are available to ambitious amateur cyclists, too, in Endura’s D2Z Aero Range which has been launched to the general public earlier this year.

Endura would like to send massive congratulations to Vittoria!

Philippe Gilbert: Back to Action at the End of September
Driven by a huge ambition, the Belgian has recovered after his Tour de France crash and will return in the peloton next week.

The first days after the crash were a bit difficult, to be honest. Experts were saying that the injury didn’t look good and that it would take a long time to recover, many even said the season was over and that I should start focusing on 2019. I didn’t want to hear this, however, and wanted to prove them wrong, so I worked really hard to get back, day and night. And I mean it: I literally woke up at night and started doing exercises.

I remained for just two days in the hospital, and then I rented the material they used in the hospital for my recovery, which meant I could leave already after two days and instead build my own rehab center at home, a more relaxed environment with my own team around me, which were really important for my comeback.

Staying optimistic was the key as I kept working hard every day and after three weeks, I was on the bike again, able to pedal for one hour and a half. Truth being told, I still felt a lot of pain and was only doing some 20 kilometers on average, but as the days went by I improved, not pushing hard but going easy. After one week I was able to do two hours and a half, and last week I could finally do a proper effort on the pedals, like eight minutes, and was relieved as I felt no pain and my numbers were rather good.

I still have more than one week of training but I am really happy to announce that I will return to racing already at the end of September, in the Grand Prix d’Isbergues, a race which I first did in my first pro season, 15 years ago. Over the next weeks, a very hard block of training and some more specific exercises, like training behind a motorbike, will hopefully take my condition one step up and get me some race speed back into the legs.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I will be back racing this year. There are some interesting appointments for me, like racing in China, both on World Tour level in the Tour of Guangxi and of course in the final Hammer Series in Hong Kong. Our team is sitting second on the leaderboard, so we can expect a good fight for the overall victory next month.

I am very ambitious, I want to win races, that is how things are working in my head. People may think it’s crazy to set such goals – and maybe it won’t happen this year – but this mentality is what drives me as a rider and what gave me the motivation to get back to the Wolfpack as fast as possible, against all odds.

The crash that took out Philippe Gilbert:

Igor Anton Calls Time on 14-year Career
“14 years ago I started my career as a professional, in a really hard sport but a very beautiful and amazing sport. Vuelta España has defined me as a person in many aspects, it is where I achieved my best results, it gave me some of my best moments and some of my worst moments. Therefore, after thinking well about my career, I have decided that tomorrow I will end my career with my final race number, 102.

It is a fitting scenario and race to bring this adventure I have been on to an end. This chapter of my life has been unbelievable, and I would not want to change anything because I have been privileged to make a small contribution to the long and magnificent history of the sport of cycling.

After 21 grand tours I think this has been an amazing final tour, it has also been very emotional for me. A lot of memories have been coming back to me and many scenarios have been reappearing in my mind.

I want to say a big THANKS to all the partners that supported me at my 3 teams; Euskaltel-Euskadi, Movistar Team and Dimension Data for Qhubeka. From the first day of my career until this very last moment I have been backed by these incredible organizations. At Team Dimension Data I had 3 very special years and it was a great experience to be part of this unique project, it made my career so much more interesting.

I want to remember my mother MaryJose in this time, who I dearly miss. She sacrificed a lot for me and put in great effort to help me achieve my dream. Also, my father, he allowed me to pursue this career. My wife, she suffered with me through all of the bad moments but always stayed by my side to help me through the tough situations. Then to my loving daughter Udane, because she is my engine now.

A final thanks to the rest of my family, friends and the many people who have helped and supported me since the beginning of my career, they know who they are.

Now starts a new adventure for me, which I am very excited for.

See you all soon… THANKS!! Igor Anton.”

Igor Anton on the Zoncolan in the 2011 Giro d’Italia:

Sergio Henao Will Ride for UAE Team Emirates
Colombian champion signed a two-year contract through 2020

Sergio Henao Montoya will join the Emirates roster for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The team welcome the standout Colombian cyclist, who is easy to spot in his national champion jersey. Born in Rionegro in 1987, Sergio Luis Henao Montoya is one of the best Colombian climbers. He started as a professional in 2007 and has pulled in 19 wins so far which include twice in a row the National Championship in 2017 and 2018 and the overall Paris-Nice. His attributes suit short stage races, stages in grand tours and one-day races. He is always reliable especially in the long three-week tours like the Tour de France. A strong attribute is his eventual availability to work in support of his team-mates which Henao has shown over and over that he can live up to the task. Also in UAE Team Emirates he’ll ride alongside fellow Colombian, neo-professional Cristian Muñoz.

Sergio Henao Montoya:

Larry Warbasse Signs for One Year
American rider Larry Warbasse signed a one year contract with the AG2R-La Mondiale team in Chambéry.

Larry Warbasse: “I am very excited about joining the AG2R-La Mondiale team. This is a great team, one of the best in the world, with a long and beautiful story, and I want to take advantage of this incredible opportunity. I live in Nice and I will use it to continue to immerse myself in the French culture. I already know some riders with whom I have good relations in the pack. I am a pretty complete rider, both a climber and a rouleur. I hope I can contribute to some more victories. I will do my best to find my place, be a good teammate, enjoy the chance to ride for Romain Bardet or Oliver Naesen, … and seize the opportunities for my own victories that may arise.”

Vincent Lavenu: “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to include Larry in our squad for 2019. He is a very good rider who has been the US champion. He’s both a rouleur and climber, and he will be able to stay with the best climbers in difficult races. Larry is the first American rider ever to join our team. We are happy to continue this “internationalizing” our team.”

Larry Warbasse in brief:
28 years old
Born June 28, 1990
Professional since 2012 (BMC (2012-2014), IAM Cycling (2015-2016), Aqua Blue (2017-2018)
US Champion and stage winner at the Tour de Suisse in 2017.

Larry Warbasse and Vincent Lavenu:

Jakub Mareczko to Add Sprint Dimension to Continuum Sports Roster
Continuum Sports will welcome Italian sprint sensation Jakub Mareczko to the roster in 2019, General Manager Jim Ochowicz announced today.

The 24-year-old’s sprinting prowess will diversify the team’s roster and allow the team to be competitive in sprint stages throughout the season, Ochowicz said. “At 24-years-old, Jakub Mareczko is an up-and-coming sprint talent and we are excited to welcome him to Continuum Sports. With 35 career wins to his name, Jakub has already recorded an impressive palmarès while racing at the Professional Continental level so we look forward to helping him develop further and achieve his first WorldTour win in the near future. Jakub has had some near misses at the Giro d’Italia, with three second places in the last two editions, against some of the best sprinters in the World so it is clear he has a lot of talent” Ochowicz explained. “Jakub will have the opportunity to work with an established performance team and learn from some of the best riders in the peloton. Although Continuum Sports has never been a team dedicated to sprinters, we have many riders in the roster who will make a valuable lead out for Jakub in the sprint finishes.”

The majority of Mareczko’s victories have come in Asia in the past three seasons, however his international success includes stage wins at Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali and the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey.

Mareczko is excited to make the step up to the WorldTour with Continuum Sports, which will be sponsored by Polish shoe and mag manufacturer CCC from 2019. “I’m very happy to join a WorldTour team for the first time in my career. With my Polish heritage, it is particularly exciting to join Continuum Sports when CCC come on board as the title sponsor,” Mareczko said. “I hope to learn as much as I can from my new teammates and contribute to the team’s success. My first ambition for the 2019 season is to be competitive in the biggest sprint races and hopefully get my first WorldTour victory.”

In keeping with team policy, no other details of the contract were released.

Jakub Mareczko:
Praia a Mare - Italië - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Jakub Mareczko (ITA - Wilier Triestina - Selle Italia) pictured during the 101st Giro d’Italia 2018 - stage 7 from Pizzo to Praia a Mare (159 KM) - photo DB/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Brian van Goethem Signs with Lotto Soudal
Dutchman Brian van Goethem will reinforce Lotto Soudal the next two seasons. The 27-year-old cyclist comes from the procontinental team Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij and is ready to make the step towards the WordTour formation in 2019. The past seasons he was in the spotlights several times and animated the Spring Classics by, amongst other, being part of a 200-kilometer-long early breakaway in Ghent-Wevelgem. With his experience and capacities, Van Goethem will definitely be an asset to Lotto Soudal.

Brian van Goethem: “Being part of a WorldTour team is the highest achievable goal for every rider. So, I am definitely looking forward to next season. After having raced at a procontinental level for four years, I am ready to make the step towards the WorldTour. Certainly, if I can achieve this with one of the longest existing teams in professional cycling. At a certain moment you must make a choice as a cyclist and that moment emerged this season. When Lotto Soudal noticed my performances, I didn’t have to think twice to take the step and move to this team.”

“I do not win a lot of races but by choosing for the attack in many races, I was able to assert myself over the past few years. This year, Ghent-Wevelgem was the biggest example. I joined the early breakaway and we were able to take a nice lead. You never know when a breakaway will end but you always try to stay as long as possible in the front and try to survive. The final of Ghent-Wevelgem was difficult with a lot of echelons and a large group who joined us, but I felt I had some force left. I tried to make the jump with two kilometers to go, knowing that I would have no chance in the sprint. Yet, I was not able to stay ahead. In hindsight it was a beautiful adventure and I am very proud of this performance.”

“With Lotto Soudal, I will be the one to chase the leaders rather than to join the breakaway myself. I will certainly be able to exploit my capabilities, with the difference that it will be in service of the team. I cannot follow the big names in the final, so I will enjoy working for the team. Besides my role in the Classic races, the team can also count on me during the other races of the season. In the Tour of Belgium, for example, I got third in the time trial. But the focus is mainly on the spring. I just live above the border between the Netherlands and Belgium, relatively close to the Flemish Ardennes. I can easily go there to train, to prepare myself and to gather course knowledge.”

“I hope my experience in the peloton will be a surplus for the team. After having participated in Classic races for a few years, you know the crucial spots on a certain course and you know where you must be in the front to be able to play a role in the finale. Positioning is essential in the Classic races and I can certainly help the leaders with that. In that way, I hope and think to be an added value for the team. It will certainly be an entire new experience and the WorldTour level is obviously a higher level than I am used to, but I’m really looking forward to support the team and to make progress in a new professional environment.”

Brian van Goethem in the 2018 E3 Harelbeke:

Team Bahrain-Merida Sign Andrea Garosio for 2019
Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team is delighted to announce the signing of Andrea Garosio for 2019 season.

The 25-year-old Italian rider turned pro with a professional continental team in 2018 and he is currently one of the three stagiaires of our team, for which he already rode as a trainee in 2017 too.

“Andrea is a rider who very well deserves this opportunity” said Team Bahrain-Merida General Manager Brent Copeland “He is an athlete who our coach Paolo Slongo advised to us and we are very excited to have him join our team. We believe that he will fit the role of climber, which we have been looking for. We gave him a chance in the past two years to ride as trainee for the team and his experience is now at a point where we feel he can make the move to WorldTour”.

Upon signing a one-year contract with Team Bahrain-Merida, Garosio said: “It’s a very big step and very big opportunity for me. I’m thrilled to become a part of such an important cycling team. I’ve enjoyed every moment as a stagiaire so far and I’m now ready to continue learning and improving alongside some of the best riders in the WorldTour. I want to say a huge thank you to the Team Management and to Paolo Slongo as well, who knows me since when I was in the Junior category. I didn’t get where I am without his precious advices and help. I’m looking forward to starting the upcoming season and giving everything possible for the team”.

Andrea Garosio:

Sunweb Sign Marc Hirschi and Casper Pedersen to WorldTour Program
Team Sunweb are proud to announce two new arrivals to their WorldTour program, as Marc Hirschi (SWI) and Casper Pedersen (DEN) sign three year contracts with the team, until the end of 2021.

Marc Hirschi (SWI)
20 year old Hirschi makes the step up to the WorldTour from Team Sunweb’s Development Program. A fantastic debut year with the team saw him win a stage of the Istrian Spring Trophy, Grand Prix Priessnitz Spa and Tour Alsace, as well as the U23 European road race title and youth jersey win at Tour de l’Ain. The young Swiss talent has impressed on almost every terrain and will benefit from the team’s continual focus on development as he reaches the professional ranks.

Hirschi said: “I have dreamed of being a professional cyclist for so long – this is my childhood dream coming true. I 100 percent believe that Team Sunweb is the best option for me and my development as a rider and I’m super happy to be making this big step in my career. I’m really proud to become a part of the WorldTour program and look forward to the new challenges that it will bring.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED) said: “Marc has shown that he is one of the biggest talents of his generation and we are thankful for the work of the Swiss Cycling Federation and the mutual trust between them, Marc and the team. He has made some very good progress this year in our Development Program and has had a really stable level throughout, with some good results on every terrain, even when riding amongst the professionals. Together we will focus on a smooth transition to the pros and step by step further his development. We are sure that together with our experts and support structure we can bring him to the next level.”

Marc Hirschi:

Casper Pedersen (DEN)
The 22 year old makes his WorldTour debut with Team Sunweb, after spending the previous four years riding at continental and pro continental level. Notable performances for the young Dane include the 2017 European road race title, a stage win in the 2017 Tour of Denmark, multiple top 10’s at 4 Jours de Dunkerque as well as the youth classification win. Upon joining Team Sunweb, Pedersen will have the support to develop in the Flemish Classics and the team’s sprint train, whilst focusing on his long-term growth as a rider.

Pedersen said: “I am really happy to sign with Team Sunweb. I’ve been wanting to become a part of this team for years, so it’s truly a dream come true for me. I can’t wait to get to work with a new team of riders and staff and I look forward to continuing my development as a rider and playing a part in what I hope are many successes together.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef said: “We are very happy to have Casper join the team. We have been following him for quite a while now and we believe there is a lot of potential for him in the Flemish Classics and also in our sprint train. He will start in a support role and gradually grow in our way of working from there.”

Casper Pedersen:

Trek announces time trial specialist Ellen van Dijk to join new team in 2019
The Dutch powerhouse is the latest addition to the new UCI women’s team as Trek continues to build a well-rounded squad.

Ellen van Dijk needs little introduction in the world of women’s cycling; she is renowned for her time trial ability and over her career has become one the world’s best in the race against the clock. She has five World Titles to her name, the first coming on the track in the Scratch race in 2008, and has won the coveted rainbow jersey at the 2013 World Championships in the Individual Time Trial. Ellen also has three World Titles (2012, 2013, 2016) with her respective trade teams in the Team Time Trial.

Ellen first turned pro in 2006 and has been a member of top-level UCI women’s teams over the years that included Columbia–High Road, Specialized–lululemon, Boels–Dolmans, and most recently, Sunweb, joining the German squad in 2017.

She excels in tough one-day races like the spring classics and flat stage races. Her powerful engine and selfless demeanor have made her into an invaluable teammate – she’s as happy to help a teammate win as herself.

Ellen’s list of successes is impressive; the most notable wins coming in the Tour of Flanders (2014) and overall victories at the Tour of Qatar (2011), Boels Ladies Tour (2013) and three times at the Healthy Aging Tour (2013, 2016, 2017).

This season, Ellen, 31, has not shown any signs of slowing down, taking wins in Omloop van het Hageland- Tielt-Winge and Dwars door Vlaanderen, winning the time trial stage and finishing second overall in Thüringen Ladies Tour, helping her team win the team time trial in the Giro d’Italia Femminile, winning both the National and European time trial titles (again!), and finishing second overall in the Boels Ladies Tour.

Ellen is also an accomplished track cyclist, winning multiple World Cup races in the points race, individual pursuit, and team pursuit, and competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in both road and track.

“I’m very excited to join the Trek Factory Racing team next year. It’s great to see Trek stepping up as a sponsor and bringing women’s cycling to a higher level with this team. The way they approach women’s cycling is exactly what is needed to see it grow,” said van Dijk.

“For me, it’s an opportunity to work together with such a cool company, and honestly, I can’t wait to start riding a Trek bike. The team has a great line up, and with so many enthusiastic people involved, I’m sure it’s going to be a huge success.”

Ellen van Dijk joins Lizzie Deignan, 29, (GBR), Elisa Longo Borghini,26,( ITA), Lotta Lepistö, 29, (FIN), Ruth Winder,25, (USA), Tayler Wiles, 29, (USA), Lauretta Hanson, 23, (AUS), Abi Van Twisk,21, (GBR), Letizia Paternoster, 19, (ITA), and sport directors Ina Teutenberg (GER) and Giorgia Bronzini (ITA).

Ellen van Dijk:

Simon Yates – La Vuelta a España Winner 2018
The Vuelta podium presentation and speech by Simon Yates:

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