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Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Vincenzo NIBALI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida) pictured during Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo POOL Fabio Ferrari/VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

Vincenzo Nibali stormed the Poggio for the win in Sanremo on Saturday – Report, result, quotes and video from La Primavera and the Handzame Classic. Óscar Sevilla robbed in Colombia – Top Story. Volta a Catalunya team previews, injury up-dates on Mark Cavendish and Fernando Gaviria, Critérium du Dauphiné route, Tour of the Alps use natural gas-driven FIAT 500 and we get a Sanremo ‘Back Stage Pass’ from Mitchelton-Scott. Cappuccino anyone?

TOP STORY: Sevilla Mugged for his Bike
Spanish rider Óscar Sevilla was attacked by five men while he was training near his home in north Bogota, Colombia on Sunday morning and had his bike stolen. It was reported in Spanish sports-paper Marca that the 41 year-old three time Tour of Colombia winner was approached by a taxi and pushed from his bike, then other man who had covered faces took his bike. Sevilla was transferred by witnesses to a hospital, where doctors diagnosed the fracture of the radius of his right arm.

“He took blows to the body and several fractures to the right arm,” said José Julián Velásquez, Team Medellín manager. “He was robbed, he was punched in the body punches and his broken arm will be operated this afternoon, he broke his arm when he fell on the road.”

The Mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, condemned the incident and called for stronger sentences for the criminals. “I’m very sorry for the robbery of Óscar Sevilla, we need bigger sentences from the judges for bike thieves!” Peñalosa wrote on Twitter.

Sevilla’s wife told Caracol radio station that “he is stable, but sad because the fracture will prevent him from competing in some tests in the coming weeks.” Sevilla was preparing to travel in less than two weeks to Spain to race in an international event with the Inder Medellín team. “We do not know how long the recovery will take. Sevilla has the desire and temperament of a professional, but we still do not know if he can go to Europe,” team manager Velásquez explained.

The police have deployed ‘Operación Candado’ (Operation Padlock) to capture the thieves.

Oscar Sevilla with Luis Henao in Colombia:
Buga  - Colombia  - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Oscar Sevilla and Sergio Luis HENAO MONTOYA (Columbia / Team Sky) pictured during the 2018 1st Colombia Oro y Paz stage 3 - from Palmira to Buga (163.2KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Milano-Sanremo 2018
Starting the day in rain jackets, leg warmers and overshoes, it was obvious before the flag had dropped that it was going to be a hard race. Rain showers soaked the riders and even when this stopped, the roads remained wet and the temperature was cold. In spite of this, the day’s break wasn’t deterred from a long ride up front, with a group of nine making their move early on. At their peak, this group’s advantage hit seven minutes, but the peloton was clearly confident in their ability to eventually reel this group back in. After 260km out in front, the remaining four members of the break were caught just before the race hit the Cipressa.

With the sun setting, a larger peloton than expected carried the high pace to the foot of the Poggio, nobody knowing who was going to make a move and when, the nerves building steadily. A crash with just 10km to go saw a split in the bunch. German National Champion, Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), surged ahead on the 8% gradients, but the pivotal move came with 6km remaining with an attack from Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) just holding off the sprinters, who at full speed, crossed the line with just a few meters between them and the race winner.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Vincenzo NIBALI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida) - Caleb EWAN (Australia / Team Mitchelton - Scott) - Peter SAGAN (Slowakia / Team Bora - hansgrohe) - Arnaud DEMARE (France / Team FDJ) - Michael James MATTHEWS (Australia / Team Sunweb) - Alexander KRISTOFF (Norway / UAE Team Emirates) pictured during Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Race winner, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida): “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, because it is all so unexpected. It was incredible. When the Latvian champion Neilands attacked, he asked me to collaborate. The team was riding for Colbrelli who was in great shape, but Neilands was strong and when I saw we had opened a 20 second gap, I decided to continue that attack. At the top of the Poggio, where the gradient is a bit higher, I accelerated and then pressed on. I believed victory was within my reach in the final part of the race when I saw the empty road in front of me. Even so, the final 2km were interminable.

Before the race I had two key points which in mind: the Cipressa, if there was a breakaway group of 6, 7 or even 9, I’d try to get into it, but without working. Then there was the Poggio, the most dangerous place, where an attack by Kwiatkowski, Van Avermaet or Sagan was likely. I was well positioned in the group behind Mohoric, waiting for someone to move, and to react to it, and that is what happened. In the final 50m, I knew I’d won. I could see the finish line ahead of me, and I made sure I enjoyed the victory.

With Peter Sagan, I’m a great friend. I said to him, “What are you doing, waiting for the sprint?” He didn’t know what to say. My role today was as a stopper, working for Colbrelli. I wanted to understand what Peter had in mind. When I saw he was strong, I knew I had to go because I had great form. Peter is always unpredictable, and a rider like me has to arrive alone to win. On past form, if I finish in the company of riders like Alaphilippe, Kwiatkowski or Gilbert, I always finish second.

For that reason I was very cold-blooded in my decision-making. I was working for the team and when I attacked I said to myself, I have to go alone if I’m going to do anything. It was a good move, made with a clear head, but also with the heart because to arrive alone to the finish line after all those kilometers and all that rain, it took a lot of determination.

When I set my targets at the start of each season, it’s important to me to target races that really count. I felt I was behind in my preparation for Sanremo, but during Tirreno Adriatico my form grew and I was only lacking in the final 300m. I went home and rested, but it was only during the race that I realized I had come to this Milano-Sanremo in great condition. I finished last season by winning Il Lombardia, and started this season with winning Milano Sanremo. One day races are special for me, but that also makes things difficult for me in my preparation for the Grand Tours. Perhaps Milano Sanremo was the race I least expected to win because it doesn’t really suit me. In the past I’ve attacked on the Poggio and made the podium, but I’ve always been beaten by a faster finish than me. That said, today I won and I am very happy.”

Second, Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott): “The boys were so strong, so in the end we can’t have any regrets. That said, I came here in good form, so of course I am a bit disappointed with second place. Matteo Trentin was very strong today and he gave it his best shot. He got close but it wasn’t to be because Vincenzo Nibali was the strongest today.”

Third, Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ): “The sprint was into a headwind so I knew I had to be patient. I got on the back of the Quick Step train but I could see we weren’t going to catch Nibali. He did something very special today, attacking into the headwind on the Poggio. Behind him Kwiatkowski attacked and Sagan brought him back, so the chase took time to organize. After the stage, it was something to be on the podium in front of a crowd of fans who adore him.”

Fourth, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates): “On one hand, I’m pretty upset for not being able to get on the podium, but on the other, I can’t help but be content for this fourth place since I pulled out of Paris-Nice with the flu and I had to take antibiotics. During the race, I didn’t feel super. On the Cipressa, my legs felt empty, then on the Poggio, it seemed to me that I was slightly better, but in the sprint, my legs weren’t that great. Anyway, I’m upset for not having got that podium spot, but satisfied nonetheless. And today, I also fell on the ground during the feed zone, but luckily, the crash didn’t have any consequences. The team worked truly well, above all Ben Swift, who in the final helped keep me at the front for the last curve. This is a fourth place different from last year since I won the sprint behind the escape of three riders. If I repeated that this time, I would’ve been second. The podium was my minimum goal, but since I didn’t have super legs, this placing is not that bad either. Now, I’ll concentrate on the Northern Classics.”

Sixth, World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe): “After a very wet start, fortunately, the rain didn’t affect the final part of this year’s Milano-Sanremo and thanks to the slower pace as well, the selection was less and the group to arrive at the finish quite a lot bigger. We worked very well throughout the day and at the start of the climb on the Poggio we were well positioned at the front. Then Nibali attacked and I remained with the group of sprinters as we thought he would be caught and the race would finish with a bunch sprint. However, Nibali proved very strong and was able to hold on and take the win. Congratulations to him, he deserved it. This victory is good for Italy and the sport of cycling in general.”

Milano-Sanremo Result:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida in 7:18:43
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
5. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
8. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana
9. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo.


Handzame Classic 2018
Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) sprinted to his first pro win at Handzame Classic. The Quick-Step Floors team controlled things from the outset in Bredene, keeping the ten escapees in constant check and making sure to reel them in as the peloton went into the business end of the 199.1km-long race, before setting up the young Colombian in the frantic finale which unfolded in Handzame.

Not even the numerous cobbled sectors or a crash of Florian Sénéchal with seven kilometers to go could derail Quick-Step Floors’ excellent sprint train, who delivered Hodeg – a stage winner at the 2017 Tour de l’Avenir – in an ideal position inside the last 200 meters of the race, from where the 21-year-old blasted past Kristoffer Halvorson (Sky) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe), dashing to victory on Friday afternoon, to become the third Colombian winner of a Belgian semi-classic, after Leonardo Duque and teammate Fernando Gaviria.

It was Quick-Step Floors fourth victory in as many races in the Belgian Cup this season, after the ones netted by Niki Terpstra (Le Samyn), Rémi Cavagna (Dwars door West-Vlaanderen) and Fabio Jakobsen (Nokere Koerse), and it left Alvaro to take the team’s 15th win of the 2018 season.

KORTEMARK, BELGIUM - MARCH 16: Arrival / Alvaro Jose Hodeg of Colombia and Team Quick-Step Floors / Celebration / during the 16th Handzame Classic 2018 a 199,1km from Bredene to Handzame on March 16, 2018 in Kortemark, Belgium. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Hanzame winner, Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors): “It’s difficult to tell you how I’m feeling after this win. It means the world to take my maiden pro victory with Quick-Step Floors, the team I have always dreamt of racing for. I always try to do my best and today it wasn’t any different. The plan from the beginning of the race was to do the sprint for me and I’m grateful to the boys for their support, they were fantastic. I am super happy to get this success and can tell you I’ll continue to work hard in order to repay the team for their confidence.”

3rd, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “The team did an amazing job today, and I’m really happy with their performance. In the end, I finished in third place, and I’m satisfied with that. Now my focus turns to my upcoming races and I’m looking forward to seeing how well we can perform there. It was a very hectic finish today in the last few kilometers, and I think I may have gone a bit too early in the end. However, we worked well as a team and I think we can improve in the next races.”

Hanzame Classic Result:
1. Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (Col) Quick-Step Floors in 4:34:35
2. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Sky
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Adam Blythe (GB) Aqua Blue Sport
6. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) WB Aqua Protect-Veranclassic
7. Rui Oliveira (Por) Hagens Berman Axeon
8. Tanguy Turgis (Fra) Vital Concept Cycling Club
9. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal
10. Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Sprandi Polkowice.


Mark Cavendish Update – Milan-Sanremo Crash
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka can confirm that, thankfully, Mark Cavendish sustained no serious injury following a major crash within 10 kilometers of the finish of Milan-Sanremo on Saturday.

The 32-year-old fell heavily after striking a bollard and was immediately assisted by race medical personnel, after which he was taken to a local hospital.

Following medical imaging, it was determined that he avoided major injury in the incident.

He did sustain a new rib fracture (5th) on the same side as the one that he damaged in the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico (7th).

He also has bruising and abrasions consistent with the scale of the crash as well as a possible “ligamentous ankle injury” that will require further assessment once he returns home on Saturday.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - crash val sturz fall - Mark CAVENDISH (GBR / Team Dimension Data) pictured during Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Volta a Catalunya
Bob Jungels will make his debut at the Spanish race, where he’ll lead a young and motivated seven-man squad.

First held in 1911 and boasting a rich history, the Volta a Catalunya is one of the oldest stage races on the calendar, part of the World Tour since 2005 and a real heaven for the climbers. For the 98th edition, the race will once again take on a well-known path, meaning there will be no opportunities for time trialists and limited chances for sprinters, whose teams will have to work hard so they don’t leave Spain empty-handed.

Two mountain top finishes – Vallter 2000 (12.7km, 7.4%) and La Molina (12.2km, 4.5%) – a fast descent to Vielha, the traditional Montjuic circuit and a total of 26 classified climbs, these will be just some of the highlights of the race that will take place between 19-25 March.

Quick-Step Floors will go at the start of the Volta a Catalunya, the season’s ninth World Tour stop, with a young team comprising three neo-pros – Alvaro Hodeg, James Knox and Ecuadorian Champion Jhonatan Narvaez – Enric Mas, Michael Mørkøv, Maximilian Schachmann and Bob Jungels, who is lining out for the seven-day race after previously riding Tirreno-Adriatico, where a bout of illness impacted on his performance after what has been a promising start.

“Tirreno-Adriatico went a bit differently than I had expected. I came there in a good shape but I got sick after a few days and just didn’t have the legs on the key stages, but finished off with a solid time trial, which was reassuring. Catalunya is a race I’ve never done before and one of the hardest on the calendar, but I’m really looking forward to it. We have a strong team and hopefully we’ll come out of the race with some nice results”, Bob said when asked about the expectations for next week.

19.03–25.03 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (ESP) 2.UWT

Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (COL), Bob Jungels (LUX), James Knox (GBR), Enric Mas (ESP), Michael Mørkøv (DEN), Jhonnatan Narvaez (ECU), Maximilian Schachmann (GER).
Sports Director: Brian Holm (DEN) and Geert Van Bondt (BEL).

Bob Jungels:

Lotto Soudal Look Forward to the Volta a Catalunya
While the Flemish roads will host quite a few races next week, part of the WorldTour peloton will meet in the North of Spain, where the Volta a Catalunya will take place from Monday 19 March until Sunday 25 March.

Bjorg Lambrecht will be one of the seven Lotto Soudal riders at the start in Calella next Monday. After the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Abu Dhabi Tour, this will be the third race of the season for the Belgian neo-pro. In the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Bjorg managed to join the front group, which consisted of 24 riders, and he eventually crossed the line in 19th position. In the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, he also claimed a very good 13th place at the top of Jebel Hafeet.

Bjorg Lambrecht: “I have learned a lot during my first few months as a professional. At the Abu Dhabi Tour, I realized that it was very important to ride at the front, especially when echelons can form. In the U23 peloton there is always a way to fix the situation, even if you ride at the back of the group, but this is not the case with the pros. I now know that I must hold onto my position and that I must not let others push me to the side. In the finales, you cannot catch your breath once the pace is up, and it’s impossible to hide when you have a bad day. During my first two races as a pro, Thomas De Gendt and Marcel Sieberg helped me position myself before the climbs. They also gave me tips for dealing with the stress during the flatter stages.”

“I got a top-twenty in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and in the last stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour without being in top shape, and that gives me confidence. It was quite surprising to ride alongside Aru in the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour and I was aware that the level was very high. The following week, I trained quite intensively, just like last week. This week is a little quieter, to be as fresh as possible for the Volta a Catalunya.”

“I really want to make my contribution to the team next week. I will race in this region for the first time so it’s a bit of an unknown territory for me. It is important to do this kind of recon in the early stages of my career because I know it could be useful if I ever take part in the Vuelta. Next week will be without any doubt very exciting and I’m looking forward to starting my third race of the season.”

Mario Aerts, sports director Lotto Soudal: “There’s a lot of climbing to do next week, but the sprinters do get some chances. The opening stage can definitely end with a bunch sprint. On the second day there lies a hill in the finale with top at ten kilometers from the finish, but it can definitely be a large group that battles for victory. Although it’s a question which teams will work for a bunch sprint, because apart from Nacer Bouhanni there are no other top sprinters on the start list.”

“Next, two mountain stages are scheduled with a summit finish; Wednesday on Vallter 2000 and Thursday on La Molina. Probably the GC riders will want to win the third stage. We don’t have any GC ambitions. Tim Wellens won’t be racing in Catalunya as he hasn’t sufficiently recovered from illness. Although it wasn’t intended that Tim would aim for an overall result, he would have tried to pick out his stage.”

“The fifth stage is most probable for a breakaway to make it to the finish. Depending on which fast guys are still in the race, there could be a sprint on Saturday. If no teams want to take initiative, also then the escapees stand a chance. Sunday it’s the traditional last stage in Barcelona, with a number of ascents of Montjuïc. A tough stage to end the week.”

“We’ll need to race aggressively. We can choose for an early breakaway in stages where there’s a chance this break will remain ahead or we can attack in the finale. We have strong riders, like Thomas De Gendt who already won twice in Catalunya. Bjorg Lambrecht, our neo-pro, doesn’t need to achieve any stage results. This will be harder than the Abu Dhabi Tour. Bjorg is coming to Catalunya to learn, to support the team and to get experience for the future.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Sander Armée, Thomas De Gendt, Adam Hansen, Bjorg Lambrecht, Maxime Monfort, James Shaw and Jelle Vanendert.
Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Bart Leysen.

Bjorg Lambrecht and Thomas De Gendt will ride in Catalunya:
Adelaide - Australie - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Bjorg Lambrecht (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) - Jens Debusschere (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) - Thomas de Gendt (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) training - recon Tour Down Under 2018 in Adelaide, Australie -photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos© 2018

Sunweb to Catalunya
Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS): “This year the route combines a mix of summit finishes, hilly stages and opportunities for the sprinters over seven stages. Our initial plan was to go with Wilco for a GC result, but with his fractured collarbone our plans have had to change. We line up with a young team who now have the chance to gain experience with no pressure on results. We will take a day by day approach and the younger guys can use this as an opportunity to learn from the more experienced riders like Laurens and Johannes, and also test what they’re capable of without the expectation of a result on their shoulders. For the flatter stages we have Max as our sprinter, who we believe could take a nice result here.”

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (WT)

Laurens ten Dam (NED), Chris Hamilton (AUS), Jai Hindley (AUS), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Michael Storer (AUS), Louis Vervaeke (BEL), Max Walscheid (GER).
Coach: Luke Roberts (AUS).

Laurens ten Dam:

Van Garderen to Lead BMC Racing Team at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Tejay van Garderen will return to the start line in Spain next week where he is set to lead BMC Racing Team’s General Classification ambitions at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (19 – 25 March).

A strong and well-rounded team will support Tejay van Garderen at the seven-day UCI WorldTour stage race, BMC Racing Team Sports Director Valerio Piva said. “We are going into the race with Tejay as our leader for the General Classification. He is feeling good following his crash at Paris-Nice and he is really motivated to start racing. He has won stages here on two occasions in the past and both of those finishes will feature in this year’s race, so he knows it well.”

“We will have a strong team around Tejay and as well as looking for chances to go for the General Classification, the objective for everyone will be to try and win a stage. Then with Joey Rosskopf, Danilo Wyss, Brent Bookwalter and Nicolas Roche, who is coming from Paris-Nice, we have a good group of riders who can climb well, and this will important looking at this year’s parcours. It will be a hard stage race, but I think we have the right people for the job and we will try to do a good race and support Tejay,” Piva explained.

Tejay Van Garderen is looking forward to getting back to racing after being forced to withdraw from Paris-Nice following a crash on stage 1. “I am feeling good on the bike. I was a little worried after my crash in Paris-Nice as you never know how hitting your head is going to affect performance. I took a few days off to recover, but after getting back on the bike, I haven’t felt any ill effects from the crash. I like this year’s Volta Ciclista a Catalunya course and I have good memories from both La Molina and Vallter 2000. This has been a race that has brought me lots of success in the past and I hope to keep that trend going. We have a strong, motivated team and we’ll be looking to perform well,” van Garderen said.

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (19 – 25 March)
Rider Roster:

Brent Bookwalter (USA), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Danilo Wyss (SUI), Tom Bohli (SUI) and Miles Scotson (AUS).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA).

Tejay van Garderen:

First WorldTour test with the Volta a Catalunya
Next week starts an important part of the season for the professionals of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA. The Volta a Catalunya, which begins in Calella next Monday, will be the first World Tour race of the season after a beginning of 2018 full of competitions and a short break to prepare the second block of races. This is the eighth consecutive participation in Catalonia for the green squad, which does not miss any edition of the race since its return to the Professional-Continental category in 2011.

The oldest race of the Spanish cycling calendar consists of seven stages, with two mountain finishes in Vallter 2000 (3rd stage) and La Molina (4th) and a third day with final in the Valle de Arán (5th). In addition, the arrivals to Valls (2nd) and Torrefarrera (6th) are also complicated, with an uncertain outcome. If the Volta reaches Barcelona with the best men of the general classification very close, the traditional circuit of Montjuic (7th) will solve the general.

Eugenio Goikoetxea (sport director): “After a short break, we return to the competition with several important races for us, such as the Volta, the Itzulia or the Settimana Coppi Bartali. In the case of the Volta, we arrive with enthusiasm but also with some doubts because of the lack of competition, but we will supply them with the illusion of being able to race our first World Tour race of the year. We have a good team, with people for all the terrains. We will try to give the best we have, since this race is a nice showcase for both riders and teams.”

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA will line up a solid ‘seven’ with strong riders for a race as demanding as the Volta. Sergio Pardilla and Lluis Mas are the most experienced men in a group that also includes the youth of Cristian Rodríguez, Nick Schultz or the Colombian Nelson Soto, who is a debutant in a World Tour event, as well as the Portuguese Joaquim Silva. Antonio Molina completes the team on his return to Catalonia.

Aru and Martin to be tested at the Volta a Catalunya
UAE Team Emirates is ready for the Catalonian climbs in this challenging race

The World Tour circuit is moving to the Iberian Peninsula for the Volta a Catalunya, from March 19 to 25.

The seven stages, with two climbing arrivals and a total of twenty four Mountain Grand Prix, will be kind to riders who can get fired up on the mountains, like Daniel Martin, the 2013 winner with no less than four podiums in the Catalonian race. “Volta a Catalunya has always been a special race for me, not only because I have lived in the region now for ten years so it is as close to a home race as I can get, but also because the course is very suited to my characteristics and it was the scene of my greatest stage race victory when I took the general classification in 2013”, Martin explained. “The 2018 route is very tough and really shows the beautiful region off well.”

“It will be a really hard fight for the overall with a lot of the best GC riders in the world riding, but I think we have a great team to attack this race and be successful.”

“Getting sick at the Paris-Nice was not ideal, of course. I had great condition before the race and believe I could have done well there. I’m not sure how the sickness has effected my form, but I’m finally feeling healthy again, so that’s the most important thing.”

Next to Martin, UAE Team Emirates will line up another big name, Fabio Aru: “This year will be my fifth time participating in the Volta a Catalunya. I’m very familiar with the most important climbs on the route, like La Molina and Vallter 2000: the perfect conditions are in place to take on this race with good prospects and there is still a lot of desire to further improve and achieve important results, after I closed out the Tirreno-Adriatico on a high note in spite of a few unfortunate minor setbacks.”

Here is the list of the riders who will be coached by Sports Directors Joxean Matxin (Spain), Daniele Righi (Italy) and Bruno Vicino (Italy):
– Fabio Aru (Italy)
– Darwin Atapuma (Colombia)
– Roberto Ferrari (Italy)
– Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)
– Daniel Martin (Ireland)
– Edward Ravasi (Italy)
– Rory Sutherland (Australia).

Stephane Goubert: “The Tour de Catalunya for 2018 has a more mountainous course than in previous years with two summit finishes, one with an hors category climb, and the final stage on the Montjuic that can always be a tricky climb. This race will offer may pitfalls that could seal the fate of those who have high ambitions. There won’t be much room for the sprinters. There will be a very high level of quality riders with Valverde, Quintana, Soler, Van Garderen in particular. On our side, we will have two main assets, one being Mathias Frank, who is just coming off a strong Tirreno-Adriatico, and the other being Pierre Latour, who is testing out a different program compared to what he has done in previous seasons. We know how strong Mathias is, and Pierre is certainly motivated, especially since he did not race Paris-Nice. We will go into this race with high ambitions while being realistic.”

#PinkArgyle aims for Volta a Ciclista Catalunya overall podium
The 98th edition of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya is a climber’s delight. The seven-day stage race includes back-to-back summit finishes at Vallter 2000 and La Molina ski resorts and few meters of flat road.

“Catalunya has the pace of a one-week race over terrain that you’d typically find in the final week of a grand tour,” said Mike Woods, who lines up in Calella on Monday for his third Volta Catalunya appearance. “In the third week of a grand tour the courses are often extremely challenging; however, by this time the top 10 or so riders have established themselves, and there is a bit more civility in the peloton — guys are more focused on surviving as opposed to attacking. There is no civility in Catalunya. It’s aggressive racing from the gun to tape.”

Woods will be joined in Catalunya by Nate Brown, Hugh Carthy, Joe Dombrowski, Alex Howes, Pierre Rolland and Rigoberto Uran.

“Catalunya is on our way to the Ardennes Classics, of course, but it’s also a goal in itself,” said sport director Juan Manual Garate. “With two uphill finishes and no time trials, it looks like a race for the climbers, and we have a team full of them. We want to win one stage and be on the final podium.”

Four of the team’s seven riders call the northeastern Catalan town of Girona home during the off-season. Girona also hosts the EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale service course.

“Normally when I race in Europe, when I am on course, I have no clue where I am, and I have to rely completely on my director for course info,” said Woods. “Catalunya has begun to feel like a home race, and it is so nice to know when there is a sharp corner coming up, or a key feature, without simply having to trust in my director a kilometer behind in the car.”

“We’re not the only ones who live here,” Garate is quick to note. “This is a home race for half the peloton.”

While the race may not be well-known to the casual cycling fan, Volta a Catalunya is one of the toughest and most competitive one-week long races on the calendar. As ever, the 2018 edition boasts a star-studded line-up with several teams bringing multiple options for the general classification.

“Catalunya is one of the big testing grounds for guys as they prepare for the grand tours,” said Woods. “How riders fare here is a good indicator as to how they are going to progress throughout the season. A win at this race doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to win a grand tour, but coming out of a race like this without positive momentum means you are going to have to go back to the drawing board prior to the grandies.

“We put Catalunya in my calendar for the same purpose as the previous years, to get the ball rolling, and build on my confidence in preparation for the Ardennes and the Giro,” explained Woods. “I’m just hoping to try to play an aggressive role in the race, and help contribute to getting a teammate, or myself, across the line first.”

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for the 2018 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya:

Nate Brown (USA), Hugh Carthy (GBR), Joe Dombrowski (USA), Alex Howes (USA), Pierre Rolland (FRA), Rigoberto Uran (COL), Mike Woods (CAN).
Sport Directors: Juan Manual Garate (ESP) and Tom Southam (GBR).

photo credit: EF Education First

Gaviria to Return to Colombia after Successful Surgery
Quick-Step Floors’ rider – victorious in four races this season – will miss the Spring Classics.

Injured on the penultimate day of Tirreno-Adriatico, when a crash spelled the end of his tilt at a third career stage victory in the “Race of the Two Seas”, Fernando Gaviria underwent surgery on Wednesday afternoon at the AZ Herentals Hospital to repair the spiral fracture he sustained at the metacarpal 1 on his left hand.

The 23-year-old, who will return to his native Colombia after the intervention, will have to wear a cast and observe a week’s rest before getting back on the bike and resuming training. If the recovery goes well, Fernando should return to competition in one month. This means that Gaviria, who was slated to start both Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix this spring, will prematurely end his classics campaign, which he kick-started in February, at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

An update on Fernando Gaviria’s new racing schedule will be made in the following weeks.

Critérium du Dauphiné 2018 – The Alpine Equation
For cycling enthusiasts, the city of Valence and more broadly the Rhône Valley bring to mind sprint finishes, whether on the Critérium du Dauphiné, Paris-Nice or Tour de France. The region is also conducive to time-trial routes, which is what took place the last time that the Dauphiné stopped off in Valence in 2009 (with a victory for Bert Grabsch). For the return of the race to the administrative centre of the Drôme, the riders will again have the opportunity to express themselves against the clock on a 6.6-km prologue. The sprinters will have their turn the following day at Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert and, if circumstances allow, the day afterwards in Belleville.

The battle between the favorites will take on another dimension when the traditional time-trial takes place on Wednesday, which this year will be a team time-trial between Pont-de-Vaux and Louhans-Châteaurenaud. The time-trial specialists will give themselves an option for victory on this stage, but only the best climbers will retain any chance of success as the program turns mountainous at the end of the week. The climbing will start on the stage at Lans-en-Vercors, which the riders will reach after having crossed the Col du Mont Noir pass and its 17.5 km of slopes with a 6.9% average gradient for the very first time. The ascent to Valmorel has been well-known to the pack since the 2013 edition and could again be used as a springboard for a future winner. The two remaining days will nevertheless still offer opportunities to burst upwards from the pack. The route to La Rosière, identical to the 11th stage of the Tour de France 2018, boasts an ultra-dynamic 110-km format. The finish at Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc has also proved its worth on the Tour de France, via the show of strength with which Romain Bardet climbed up to 2nd place in the general classification in 2016. At the foot of Mont Blanc, the riders can aim high…

Key points:
The route of the 70th edition, which will take place between 3rd and 10th June, was unveiled this morning in Lyon by Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, and Laurent Wauquiez, President of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Regional Council.

Ø One month before the start of the Tour de France, the favorites such as Vincenzo Nibali, Rigoberto Uran, Romain Bardet, Warren Barguil or also Dan Martin will be battling for position as early on as the prologue in Valence, a city to which the Dauphiné will be making its return.

Ø It is in the Alpine portions at the end of the week where the title will be contested, with, for example, the stage at La Rosière that is identical to the 11th stage of the Tour de France, where the final effort will be deployed in Saint-Gervais, on the Mont Blanc mountain range.

The stages:
Sunday, June 3rd: Prologue: Valence > Valence (6,6 km)
Monday, June 4th: Stage 1: Valence > Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert (179 km)
Tuesday, June 5th: Stage 2: Montbrison > Belleville (180,5 km)
Wednesday, June 6th: Stage 3: Pont-de-Vaux > Louhans Châteaurenaud (TTT, 35 km)
Thursday, June 7th: Stage 4: Chazey-sur-Ain > Lans-en-Vercors (181 km)
Friday, June 8th: Stage 5: Grenoble > Valmorel (130,5 km)
Saturday, June 9th: Stage 6: Frontenex > La Rosière (110 km)
Sunday, June 10th: Stage 7: Moûtiers > Saint-Gervais (129 km)

Route video:

Tour of the Alps and FIAT Lüftner Together in the Name of Ecology
The natural gas-driven FIAT 500 unveiled in Innsbruck as the official car of the Euroregional stage race (April 16th-20th, 2018) confirming the environmental awareness of the event.

Climbs, champions, big show, yet something more: the Tour of the Alps (April 16th-20th, 2018) confirmed to be an event characterized by environment protection and respect for nature – core values fully shared by the three Euroregions (Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino).

To underline the ecological footprint of the event, today, Friday March 16th, in Innsbruck, the Tour of the Alps established the partnership with FIAT Lüftner, one of Austria’s biggest Fiat-Dealers.

The natural gas-driven FIAT 500L is the Tour of the Alps official car: one of the most technically-advanced and convenient natural gas-driven cars manufactured by the Turin company on the market. In fact, Fiat Lüftner is one of Austria’s most successful dealers with natural gas-driven cars as demonstrated by their relationship with TIGAS and SEL in South Tyrol. Moreover, the “fleet” of vehicles of the Euroregional race is completed by four FIAT Talento vans.

Thanks to the partnership with the Tour of the Alps, FIAT Lüftner confirmed its longterm commitment in cycling. “We’ve been supporting the very successful Tyrol Cycling Team and its mission statement ‘ride with passion’ for over ten years. Therefore, we are proud to be the new Tour of the Alps’ car partner – the event is on the best way to become one of Europe’s leading cycling tours”, FIAT Lüftner’s CEO Harald Nössig explained.

“The Tour of the Alps honors the environmental commitment with an ambitious project in the name of ecology, finding on its way a great ‘ally’ like FIAT Lüftner. In fact, the natural gas-driven cars represent a big step forward to reduce gas emissions and sound pollution”, G.S. Alto Garda’s President Giacomo Santini said.

The natural gas-driven FIAT 500L is the 2018 Tour of the Alps official car:

Mitchelton-Scott ‘Back Stage Pass’ at La Primavera
A loooong day in the saddle, Daryl Impey shows his serious side, Matteo Trentin tries everything to prepare for the rain, in car snacks & an agonizingly close 2nd place for Caleb Ewan. Check out the Mitchelton-Scott team day at Milan-San Remo.

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