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EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

A very full EUROTRASH Monday – Arctic Race of Norway, EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg and the BinckBank Tour with reports, results and video. Hard times for pro teams – Top Story. News from the Vuelta a España teams and riders, Geraint Thomas for the Tour of Germany and more contract news. A fun packed morning coffee time.

TOP STORY: What will happen when there are no teams?
With the news that long time sponsor, Jelly Belly is pulling out, the BMC team being saved by the owner of the current CCC team and Quick-Step Floors, the top winning team, losing Niki Terpstra because they can’t afford to keep him, it looks like hard times for the professional classes. On the other hand; ASO don’t seem to have a problem finding sponsors, even for their smaller races. Last week the French based sporting behemoth announced that current sponsor of the Arctic Race of Norway, Equinor, would “continue their partnership until 2021 and will strengthen Equinor’s positioning as the main partner of the event.” That’s all well and good, but as teams are getting more expensive and receiving no help from the biggest race organizer, ASO, or the UCI, what does that hold for the future? Races, but no riders. One depends on the other after all.

Terpstra; off to Direct Energie in 2019:
Oudenaarde - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Niki TERPSTRA (Netherlands / Team Quick - Step Floors) and wife Ramona pictured during the Ronde Van Vlaanderen 2018 - Elite men - a one day UCI world tour race between Antwerpen and Oudenaarde - photo GvG/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg 2018
Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) took his first success wearing the Italian national champion jersey in the 23rd EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg, where he became the second rider in history to win the one-day race twice. Just like in 2017, Viviani out-sprinted Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) after jumping from the Frenchman’s wheel after an impressive lead-out from a strong Quick-Step Floors delegation consisting of Michael Mørkøv and Fabio Sabatini, in a hectic finale disrupted by a crash 1500 meters out.

The 216.4km-long race was animated until the last 20 kilometers by a five-man breakaway group which took off soon after the start, only to get reeled in before the third and final ascent of the 400m Waseberg hill, whose 10% average gradients were used by some riders as springboard in a desperate attempt to foil the sprinters. The teams of the peloton’s fast men controlled the gap and nullified the move inside the last six kilometers.

Davide Martinelli, Mørkøv and Sabatini formed a high-speed lead-out train for Viviani, drilling the pace at the front from three kilometers to go and stretching the reduced bunch as they kept their leader in a good position. The Italian capitalized on the excellent work of his team by taking a dominant victory ahead of Démare and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates).

Race winner, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “I was second in the Cadel Evans Race, Gent-Wevelgem and RideLondon, so to finally win a World Tour one-day race this year feels incredible. It’s also my first victory in the beautiful maglia tricolore, which is something special that I will remember for the rest of my life. The team did again a perfect and impressive job: Iljo pulled the entire day, in his first race since June, then we had Rémi and Kasper for the hilly part of the race, where they kept things together, before Davide, Michael and Saba took over. We studied the closing part of the race yesterday evening and knew we had to be in the front for the last three kilometers, which were really technical. It’s a pleasure to be part of this team, the best in the world, and I feel really luck to be a member of the Wolfpack. With 400 meters left, I was on Démare’s wheel, who had Guarnieri in front of him, and that was the best position to find myself in. All that I had to do was to wait for the best moment to launch my sprint and power past my opponent, and this was inside the last 150 meters, 50 meters later than in 2017. Getting this victory bodes well before flying to Spain next week for La Vuelta.”

3rd, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates): “The team did great work at the start of the climb at the head of the bunch so I was in the best position and I could use my abilities the best possible trying to keep myself in the wheels of the other riders but the others were bringing the peloton closer to the escape group. At that point I had to decide if I should set up or remain in the escape. There were lot of fast men and I knew they would be difficult to hold off behind but I decided to stay in alert to not miss any chance. At the same time, I was saving my energy as much as possible. When the group had us at four kilometers to go, I held a good position and used my teammates Ferrari and Marcato to get to the front of the group and manage the curve at two kilometers remaining so I was able to launch myself well in the sprint, however, I did not find the legs that I needed to win. I was able to get a good third place and that leaves me satisfied.”

10th, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe): “The Cyclassics Hamburg was for me the first real race after the Tour de France. I felt quite a bit better today, I think I’m improving day by day but I still need some more time to recover in full. Up to the last kilometers, we had a good race, the team worked well but, unfortunately, Pascal’s late crash disrupted our plans for the sprint. Viviani was the fastest and won the race while I was 10th. Time to turn my attention now to the next big goal, the Vuelta, a week from now.”

EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg Result:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors in 4:46:02
2. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
4. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
5. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
6. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:01
7. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
8. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Sunweb
9. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe.


BinckBank Tour 2018
Jasper Stuyven’s gutsy move at the end of Stage 4 of the BinckBank Tour – attacking out of the final S-turn with one kilometer to go to hold off the sprinters and take a dramatic win – gave Trek-Segafredo and team director Dirk Demol a hometown win they had been chasing for years.

Trek-Segafredo carried out its pre-race plan to perfection. It was a full team effort – from Markel Irizar and Ruben Guerreiro kicking things off, to Matthias Brändle and Ryan Mullen’s powerful engines pulling into the crucial chicane, to Mads Pedersen opening the gap behind Stuyven. Only Boy van Poppel was missing as he had an ill-timed puncture three kilometers from the finish.

Stage winner, Japer Stuyven (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Every year [Dirk] says it’s an important day for the team and for him, so we always try to make the best out of it. [The team] came up with the plan ourselves and both Dirk and Steven (de Jongh, director) supported our idea, and they knew we had the guys to bring me in the first position with one kilometer to go. It’s always a big fight to get there, and we all committed to the plan, and all believed we could do it, and that made a difference today to get the win. I set the plan yesterday evening at dinner. Maybe we are not the fastest, but we have such a strong team, and with the chicane coming into the finish, every year it’s a hard fight. We made the plan to really come late and go all-in and then someone just opened up the gap. We stayed in the back, out of the wind, in the local laps, and then we came full to the front with Markel and Ruben, and then Matthias and Ryan – they are just really strong horses. It’s unbelievable how they can ride in the front and accelerate. We said we wanted to turn first and these guys made it happen. Then Boy had a flat tire, normally he would have let the gap [in the chicane], and Mads would have attacked with me in his wheel, so maybe it was a little bit longer and harder effort for me. Mads opened up the gap, and it was just all-out to the finish. I tried not to look too much back, of course, you always do, but it was a nice effort after always being there. I was getting a little bit frustrated the last weeks, to be honest, and it’s nice the guys keep believing in me, and I could pay them back with this victory. I think going for the GC is really hard because there’s a lot of strong guys in front of me. Of course, I won Sunday’s race last year, and everyone thinks that I will get it again but that’s not how it goes in cycling. It’s a nice stage, I like it that it’s a little bit longer, and with more hard days ahead of it – today was also not that easy – it benefits the stronger classics riders to make a nice race and a big fight for the win. I will focus on getting other results and making the race and if we get ahead, then maybe the GC comes with it.”

Overall leader, Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida): “In the golden kilometer I managed to win one sprint to keep the leader’s jersey, so our goal was complete. My team-mates did a great job as always. I also tried to do the finish sprint, but I went a bit too early and couldn’t hang on for top ten stage place. But it was important not to crash and tomorrow is a new day.”

4th on the stage, Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe): “After Matteo crashed, we had a little talk together and decided that I will be the man for the sprint. I tried to save energy until the finale, to fight maybe for the victory. As we arrived in Ardooie, I gave my best and crossed the line in fourth position. A huge thank especially to Jay, Maciej and Juraj, they were amazing in the finale and helped me perfectly.”

BinckBank Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo in 3:44:46
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
4. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
6. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC
7. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
8. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
9. Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) Groupama-FDJ
10. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo.

BinckBank Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida in 11:48:28
2. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan at 0:03
3. Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC at 0:22
4. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Aqua Protect-Veranclassic at 0:28
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb at 0:31
6. Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:32
7. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:36
8. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb at 0:37
9. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors at 0:41
10. Alex Dowsett (GB) Katusha-Alpecin.

Stage 4:

The fifth win for Magnus Cort in the Astana jersey, as he took Stage 5 at the BinckBank Tour. For the third time this week, the peloton was not able to catch the breakaway, and Magnus Cort could sprint for the stage victory with the two other riders from the break; Julius van den Berg (Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale).

The 204.4-kilometer-long stage from Sint-Pieters-Leeuw to Lanaken was expected to be another day for a bunch sprint, but for the third time this week the peloton let a breakaway go clear and were not able to catch them before the finish line. Magnus Cort took off with three other riders, creating a maximum advantage of 4 minutes. After riding in the front for 197 kilometers, they sprinted for the stage victory in the streets of Lanaken. Magnus Cort started his sprint from the front of the group, after a long sprint he was the first rider to cross the finish line. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) brought in the peloton 33 seconds down. There were no significant changes in the overall classification.

Stage winner, Magnus Cort (Astana): “It’s unbelievable that we made it with the breakaway, as the sprinter teams were aware that it’s not easy to catch the breakaway during this Binck Bank Tour. But all the riders in the break committed 100% and we worked very well together. We were able to save some energy until the final hour of the race, and during this hour we gave it all to stay clear from the peloton. I’m very happy with the victory, it’s a special way to win.”

Overall Leader, Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Merida): “Today was a really hard day to keep the leader’s jersey. We controlled the race the whole day and all my team-mates did a really great job, taking turns at the front and having eyes on the breakaway group. We are very happy to wear the jersey today as well for the upcoming stages. It will be my first experience at the cobble stones tomorrow so I’m looking forward to it and I will do my best to keep my goal. I’m self confident and I respect all the competitors and the cobbles.”

3rd on the stage, Alexis Gougeard (AG2r-La Mondiale): “There were four of us in the breakaway. It was a great adventure, but I knew with a rider like Magnus Cort Nielsen among us, we could go far. This has been a good day for my morale, and is good training ahead of the Vuelta. After having had a catastrophic time at the European Championship, I was able to give myself a little reassurance today. We still have a weekend of hard racing where the whole team will be welded around Oliver Naesen.”

6th on the stage, Matteo Pelucchi (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I recovered well from yesterday’s crash, therefore I wanted to go for a good stage result today. But again, the breakaway made it and, in the finale, I tried to make the best out of it and sprinted out of the bunch.”

BinckBank Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana in 4:39:50
2. Julius van den Berg (Ned) Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
3. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
4. Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:29
5. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:33
6. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
8. Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida.

BinckBank Tour Overall After Stage 5:
1. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida at 16:28:51
2. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan at 0:03
3. Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC at 0:22
4. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Aqua Protect-Veranclassic at 0:28
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb at 0:30
6. Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:32
7. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:36
8. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb at 0:37
9. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors at 0:41
10. Alex Dowsett (GB) Katusha-Alpecin.

Stage 5:

Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) took his first WorldTour victory after an impressive ride on Stage 6 at the BinckBank Tour on Saturday. After the breakaway of the day was caught, the race went on fire as several riders attacked, but it was Mühlberger, who surprised all by taking an impressive win in Sittard-Geleen, the first WorldTour victory in his career.

Four riders escaped and built the break of the day with a gap of around four minutes. They were: Matthias Brändle (Trek-Segafredo), Nick van der Lijke (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale). The peloton pulled hard and with 85 km to go the gap decreased to two minutes.

The peloton had just closed the gap with 45 km remaining, Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo) launched an attack from the main field. After a few kilometers some other riders were able to join the new breakaway, but the escape was closed down. With 5 km to go it was Bora-Hansgrohe rider Gregor Mühlberger who made the final move and managed to open a gap. The Austrian flew to his first WorldTour victory and took an impressive stage win ahead of Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) at 3 seconds.

Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) now has an overall lead of 30 seconds on Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and 32 on stage 3 winner, Taco van der Hoorn (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij).

Stage winner, Gregor Mülberger (Bora-Hansgrohe): “All my team mates did a stellar job today, Rudi, Jay and Maciej are in a really good shape, as you could see during the race. My victory was a surprise even for me, because the course, especially the finale, would fit Jay more actually. But as there was nothing to lose, I just grabbed the opportunity with both hands and fought for the win. I more than happy it worked out so well, and to celebrate my first WorldTour victory together with my teammates.”

Overall leader, Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Merida): “Today was a hard stage. It was even harder then I expected. I tried to stay at the front whenever it was possible. In one moment I missed a little bit of legs when Van Avermaet and Mathews attacked on a smooth line and across to the breakaway. Then I was thinking that they will go to the finish and that the others will not catch back so I made it on my own and lost lots of energy. In the final it was all ok and the losses to the breakaway. At the end Lampert crashed in front of me, so I couldn’t take a better position for the sprint. I am glad that me and my team-mates managed to defend the leader’s jersey. Tomorrow is the decisive stage and I hope I will have good legs like today and do all possible to take the overall victory of the BinckBank Tour.”

BinckBank Tour Stage 6 Result:
1. Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe in 4:05:10
2. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:03
3. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
4. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Sky
5. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors at 0:05
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:08
7. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb
8. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:11
9. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-Alpecin.

BinckBank Tour Overall After Stage 6:
1. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida in 20:34:12
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb at 0:30
3. Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:32
4. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb at 0:34
5. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors at 0:35
6. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:36
7. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:37
9. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 0:43
10. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Sky at 0:44.

Stage 6:

Sunweb’s Michael Matthews took the win on the Final Stage 7 of the BinckBank Tour on Sunday, after a late break was brought back in time for the sprint. Matthews was victorious ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors). Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) held the overall lead for the final win as Matthews moved into second place at 5 seconds, with Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) at 20 seconds in third.

After an earlier group was caught by the peloton, a group of seven riders, Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo), Jonas Rickaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Balois), Elmar Reinders (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Ludwig De Winter (WB Aqua Protect-Veranclassic) escaped after 64km of racing and built up a maximum gap of four minutes. But as expected the breakaway fell apart on the final laps in Geraardsbergen. The last lap saw several attacks, but it was Matthews who took the win ahead of Van Avermaet. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) finished safely in the peloton for the overall win.

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Michael Matthews (Sunweb): “This win is incredible. We came here with a GC goal and it was a real big team effort to secure 2nd. Today was a big goal for me personally, we wanted to finish off the race on a high note. Søren did a great job in the final and sacrificed his chances so we could take the win. We tried everything to crack the leader but he played it really smart so we have to be happy with 2nd. I’m so happy with this win, it’s the big victory I’ve been looking for.”

Overall winner, Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida): “I’m super happy. It is the biggest victory in my career so far. It was an incredible tough stage today. We controlled the race from the start and all the guys helped me until they could. I managed to come back, even if there were several attacks. At the finish it was very close, but fortunately it was enough. I’m also happy because it was the first time for me on the cobbles and it has been a good test for the next season.”

6th on the stage and 3rd overall, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “I wanted to join Oliver Naesen after he attacked, but his pace was just a little too high for me. I went over my limit and actually, I never recovered from that effort. It’s a shame because it was a nice opportunity. Things would have looked differently if there had been a tougher stage on the menu this week, but it is what It is. The team assisted me perfectly, Victor Campenaerts also raced strongly as he attacked several times today. Of course, we would have loved to take a stage victory, but I think this is the highest result that was possible. It’s always nice to battle for victory and to be one of the strongest riders in the race. Mohoric definitely deserves the GC win, he never cracked today. Actually, he laid the foundations for his win especially during the stage to Antwerp. Next week, I will ride the GP Plouay after which I will travel to Canada, I really love the races there. Then, I will train hard towards the World Championships in Innsbruck. It is now important to not go into overdrive and to be in top shape at the right moment.”

7th on the stage and 20th overall, Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “This was a pretty tough stage. It was rough from the start with the crosswinds. Quite a few teams wanted to be in the break, so it took around 60 kilometers for the break to be formed. We had Guillaume Van Keirsbulck in there, which was really good. The bigger teams controlled the stage till the finishing circuit. To be honest I never felt amazing. I got a little bit tired, but everyone was on the limit. On Denderoordberg the front group split up. Race leader Mohoric was dropped, but I was on his wheel. I know he would have to dig deep to come back. We came back in the first group. Then it was a matter of going as hard as possible on the finish. In the end I am pretty happy with this result. We had four or five guys present in the final. That was good. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck also did a great job in the break. This shows the depth of the team. Compared to last year I felt a lot more comfortable on the terrain. Now Plouay and Tour of Britain are next for me.”

11th on the stage and 8th overall, Gregor Mülberger (Bora-Hansgrohe): “The team was amazing today, they worked so hard for me and brought me into perfect position. Especially, Rudi did an impressive ride today, the last two laps he was so strong. I am not the cobblestone expert but with this great team today I was able to finish just some seconds behind the stage winner. All in all, I am so happy with my performance this week and looking forward to my upcoming races.”

3rd on the stage and points winner, Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors): “The stage was hard from the beginning, with average speeds reaching 50km/h in the first hour, and this made things even more complicated on the narrow and twisty roads. Being far in the ranking I tried several times, hoping to make it all the way to the line, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the stage, as it was fun, and I leave home happy with the legs I had here and the points jersey I got.”

BinckBank Tour Stage 7 Result:
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb in 4:38:36
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:01
3. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors at 0:03
4. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
6. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7. Dion Smith (NZ) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors
9. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Sky
10. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 0:07.

BinckBank Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida at 25:13:01
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb at 0:05
3. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:20
4. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors at 0:25
5. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Sky at 0:34
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:37
7. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb at 0:39
8. Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:43
9. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors
10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:50.

Stage 7:

Arctic Race of Norway 2018
Touted as the hot favorite for Stage 1 and possibly for the overall classification, Dutch national champion Mathieu Van der Poel claimed his first victory at the Arctic Race of Norway, fresh from being the silver medallist at the European championship. He rushed to victory in the uphill sprint at Kirkenes, imposing himself ahead of Sergei Chernetskii from Astana and Benjamin De Clercq of Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

113 riders started stage 1 of the sixth Arctic Race of Norway in Vadsø. Early skirmishes didn’t lead to any breakaway being formed in the first half hour of racing. Boris Vallée of Wanty-Groupe Gobert won the first intermediate sprint from a compact bunch at Vestre Jakobselv (km 15.5) ahead of Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy) and Alberto Bettiol (BMC). With the help of a favorable wind, the peloton rode at a very high speed.

A front group of 26 riders took shape after 34km. It included Damiano Caruso and Nicolas Roche (BMC), Tiago Machado and Maurits Lammertink (Katusha-Alpecin), Sébastien Delfosse and Tom Wirtgen (WB Aqua Protect-Veranclassic), Bert De Backer and Johan Le Bon (Vital Concept), Herman Dahl and Carl Fredrik Hagen (Joker-Icopal), Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Daniil Fominhykh (Astana), Romain Cardis (Direct Energie), Christophe Laporte and Anders Skaarseth (Cofidis), Kevin Deltombe and Preben van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Marcel Meisen (Corendon-Circus), Warren Barguil, Romain Hardy and Sindre Lunke (Fortuneo-Samsic), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Øyvind Lukkedal (Team Coop), Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Delko Marseille-Provence-KTM), Miguel Byron (Holowesko-Citadel) and Sindre Kulset (Uno-X). Echelons were formed as several teams reacted from the peloton, which split in three pieces at some stage. Barguil showed his motivation by winning the first KOM price at Gandvikklubben, km 88, but also his intention to fight for the overall classification as he sprinted for the second intermediate sprint, coming second to Cardis while Roche settled for third. Barguil also took the second place at the second KOM at Buktfjelled (km 133), behind Lukkedal while Kulset has been dropped.

After exceeding two minutes, the time gap between the leading group and the peloton led by Israel Cycling Academy and Rally went under one minute for the first time with 50km to go. Eight riders refused to being reeled in at the difference of their companions 34km before the finish: Machado, De Backer, Dahl, Fominhykh, Skaarseth, Deltombe, Lunke and Kasperkiewicz. Skaarseth out-sprinted Lunke and Deltombe at the summit of Tusenvikfjellet, km 156. The Norwegian trainee from Cofidis also claimed the third intermediate sprint at Høybuktmoen airport and the fourth climbers’ price of to become the first King of the Mountains. Skaarseth and De Backer were the last two breakaway member to surrender after Bram Welten (Fortuneo-Samsic) crashed by himself in the middle of the bunch and last year’s runner up August Jensen (Israel Cycling Academy) was hampered by a mechanical with 8km to go.

As Skaarseth and De Backer were about to get caught at bell lap, Angelo Tulik (Direct Energie) and Markus Hoelgaard (Joker Icopal) took over at the front and forged on until they got reined in 300 meters before the line. That was the moment chosen by Mathieu Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) to accelerate. The Dutchman quickly made a significant gap over his rivals. Russia’s Sergei Chernetskii (Astana) and Belgium’s Benjamin De Clercq (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) rounded out the podium.

Stage winner and overall leader, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus): “It feels good to win this race. It was a pretty hard day. I was at the back in the beginning when a group went away. I didn’t expect it because the wind was blowing from behind, so I didn’t think such a big group would go. The pace was incredibly high all day. Even in the bunch, it was hard because of the wind. On the local lap at the end, it was just a question of staying at the front. The last curve was very important. But I was in a good position there.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 1 Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus in 3:50:19
2. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Astana
3. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Joker Icopal
5. Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept Club
6. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC
7. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
9. Krister Hagen (Nor) Team Coop at 0:05
10. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling.

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 1:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus in 3:50:09
2. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Astana at 0:04
3. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:06
4. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC at 0:09
5. Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Joker Icopal at 0:10
6. Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept Club
7. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
9. Krister Hagen (Nor) Team Coop at 0:15
10. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling.

Stage 1:

American fast-man Colin Joyce of Rally Cycling won an eventful Stage 2 in the Arctic Race of Norway while Russia’s Sergei Chernetskii from Astana took the lead over from Mathieu Van der Poel in Kjøllefjord.

Although Mathieu Van der Poel had insisted that his main goal was a stage win, which he acquired after only one stage, he evidenced his GC ambitions by sprinting for time bonus at the first intermediate sprint 20km after the start of stage 2 in Tana. Third behind Adrien Petit (Direct Energie) and Alberto Bettiol (BMC), he extended his overall lead by one second. After the first summit at Duoriejeaggi (km 45), where Krister Hagen (Coop) was first ahead of Nicolas Roche (BMC) and Sindre Lunke (Fortuneo-Samsic), a group of six leaders was formed in three waves as Ryan Anderson (Rally) and Loïc Chetout (Cofidis) were reinforced firstly by Henrik Evensen (Joker-Icopal) and Dennis van Winden (Israel Cycling Academy), secondly by Yannick Martinez (Delko Marseille-Provence KTM) and Lunke. The latter crested the first category Ifjordfjellet summit (km 60) at the front, before Van Winden and Anderson. The advantage of the six escapees reached four minutes after 65km of racing.

With still 128km remaining, seven riders including Van der Poel and Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) countered behind the six leading riders. They chased flat out for 25 kilometers before the regrouped peloton reduced the deficit to 1:45 with 100km to go. Lunke went for more points and the conquest of the salmon jersey of King of the Mountains in the second cat. 1 climb of the day at Bekkarfordfjellet (km 120.5) while Chetout and Martinez got dropped. As the peloton came closer to the four remaining breakaway riders, Barguil crashed from an echelon within 50km to go. It was all together again 40km before the end. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) put the hammer down in the last climb of the day, the Hopseidet summit (cat. 1) with 35.5km to go. Only his team-mate Sergei Chernetskii, second overall, and Bettiol managed to follow him over the top. The peloton was split into pieces and Van der Poel got caught in the third group with a deficit of two minutes with 20km remaining while Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), a very active member of the first chasing group, went down in a windy curve.

Fuglsang, Chernetskii and Bettiol had 1:40 lead over the main peloton with 10km to go. But another change of wind direction modified the scenario again. 11 chasers came across 5km before the end. Chernetskii sped up in the crosswind 4.5km to go and took three seconds bonus. 11 riders regrouped at the front with 2km to go. Michael Schär (BMC) sped up but it was a sprint finish that looked like going well for Van Winden but America’s Colin Joyce (Rally Cycling) showed his top end speed to the European riders. Norway’s Markus Hoelgaard (Joker-Icopal) rounded out the podium. The same trio topped the overall classification with Chernetskii in first place with an advantage of four seconds ahead of Joyce and five seconds ahead of Hoelgaard. Van der Poel dropped to 14th at 1:11 at half way into the sixth Arctic Race of Norway.

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Colin Joyce (Rally Cycling): “To win this race here is huge for me. This is my biggest win. The team has been working really hard for me, so it’s a really good way to thank them. Yesterday we kinda screwed up but we ended up riding all day. It’s nice to show that we came to race! There were kind of a lot of attacks in the last downhill like 3k to go or so. I knew I had a decent sprint. I was feeling OK so I thought I’d just follow as much as possible. It came back together with 700 meters to go. I tried to stay at the front. Then at 200 or 150 to go, I opened it up and I managed to take it by a little bit. I’m happy with that. This whole stage was difficult. It was super windy. It took a while for the break to go. That made it hard at the beginning. It was hilly all day. The climbs were hard and it was super windy at the top of the climbs. On the last KOM it was really exploding. I found myself a bit too far back and I just rode at my steady pace up the climb. I was able to make the second group, and we worked together to bring back those three leaders.”

5th on the stage and overall leader, Sergei Chernetskii (Astana): “It was quit fast, tough and hard race with a strong wind during the whole day. Our team was always in front of the peloton and controlled the race, and during one of the attacks from the group, we answered with Jakob Fuglsang and escaped to the breakaway. At the one of the hard climbs Jakob pulled like a machine, and most of the riders were dropped, so we stayed only three riders in the lead. Jakob did an incredible work today; he was always at the first position and set the hard pace. I’m very happy for the today’s result, day by day I feel myself better and better and hope to save the leaders jersey till the final podium of the race.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 2 Result:
1. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling in 4:20:24
2. Dennis van Winden (Ned) Israel Cycling Academy
3. Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Joker Icopal
4. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC
5. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Astana
6. Laurent Pichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic
7. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Joker Icopal
8. Steff Cras (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC.

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 2:
1. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Astana in 8:10:34
2. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling at 0:04
3. Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Joker Icopal at 0:05
4. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC at 0:19
5. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC at 0:23
6. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Joker Icopal at 0:32
7. Dennis van Winden (Ned) Israel Cycling Academy
8. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC at 0:33
9. Laurent Pichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic at 0:34
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana.

Stage 2:

Czech cyclo-cross specialist Adam Toupalik fended off the whole peloton as he managed to stay up front after a long breakaway on Stage 3. The Corendon-Circus team made a one-two with Mathieu Van der Poel sprinting to second place while Sergei Chernetskii, third, extended his lead in the overall ranking.

108 riders started stage 3 in Honningsvåg. Just after Matteo Fabbro of Katusha-Alpecin won the King of the Mountains price at the exit of the North Cape tunnel (km 16) ahead of Damiano Caruso (BMC) and Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy), the main breakaway of the day was formed by nine riders: Willie Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), Tom Wirtgen (WB Aqua Protect-Veranclassic), Johan Le Bon (Vital Concept), Connor Swift (Dimension Data), Axel Journiaux (Direct Energie), Adam Toupalik (Corendon-Circus), Robin Carpenter and Adam De Vos (Rally Cycling) and Øyvind Lukkedal (Coop). De Vos who was the highest ranked of them in the GC (at 1:37) dropped back to the pack. Lukkedal won the King of the Mountains price at Olderfjordalen (km 97.5). The time difference reached four minutes at half way into the race before the Astana team of race leader Sergei Chernetskii set a higher tempo at the front of the peloton to reduce the deficit and stabilize it around three minutes.

Lukkedal also won the intermediate sprint at Kvalsund (km 140). The breakaway was no threat to the lead of Chernetskii since Toupalik was the best placed of them, at 4:19, so other teams like Wanty-Groupe Gobert took care of the chase to bring the time gap down. On the first passage on the finishing line with 16km to go, the difference was only 55 seconds. The front group split to leave Le Bon, Toupalik and Carpenter with an advantage of 25 seconds over the peloton led by BMC and Astana at bell lap.

The peloton was rushing to catch the breakaway riders but Toupalik looked behind and valued the advantage he had left after dropping Le Bon and Carpenter off in the uphill finish. He managed to stay away while his team-mate Mathieu Van der Poel was the fastest of the bunch. Chernetskii, third, took three seconds bonus to extend his overall lead with one day to go.

In the Arctic heroes of tomorrow races, a tradition for u19 promising cyclists since the inception of the event in 2013, Amalie Lutro of Stavanger SK (Region Sør) won the girls competition ahead of Anne Dorthe Ysland from Gaudal SK (Region Midt) and Thale Kielland Bjerk of BOC (Region Sør). Daniel Årnes of Kristiansand (Region Sør) was the winner among the boys ahead of Søren Warenskjold (Ringerike SK) and Vegard Stokke (Glamdal). Region Tevebu was the winning team cumulating the points of both races with Region Sør second and Region Øst third.

Stage winner, Adam Toupalik (Corendon-Circus): “This is my biggest win. In the last kilometer, I looked behind to the peloton. We were in three and I thought it was time to start. Nobody caught me when I attacked. I looked behind in the last 50 meters and I realized that I’d win and Van der Poel, my teammate, was positioned for finishing second. Only when I crossed the line, I believe I had won though.”

Overall leader, Sergei Chernetskii (Astana): “My team did a very good job all day, so if it’s a good day for me, it’s thanks to them. This is a great team! We’ll try to control the way we did it today but two riders behind me on GC are still near. I’m confident but I haven’t won yet.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 3 Result:
1. Adam Toupalik (Cze) Corendon-Circus in 4:24:08
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus at 0:02
3. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Astana
4. Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept Club
5. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
6. Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Joker Icopal
7. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling
8. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Kevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Nicolai Brøchner (Den) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources.

Arctic Race of Norway Overall After Stage 3:
1. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Astana in 12:34:40
2. Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Joker Icopal at 0:07
3. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling at 0:08
4. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC at 0:23
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC at 0:37
6. Laurent Pichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic at 0:38
7. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Joker Icopal
8. Steff Cras (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
9. Dennis van Winden (Ned) Israel Cycling Academy at 0:52
10. Michael Schär (Swi) BMC at 0:53.

Stage 3:

Dutch national champion Mathieu Van der Poel claimed his second stage win at the Arctic Race of Norway as he won the Final Stage 4 in Alta in an uphill sprint finish ahead of Sondre Holst Enger and Quentin Pacher. Russia’s Sergei Chernetski took the overall victory.

Soon after the flag off, 12 riders took off: Guy Niv (Israel Cycling Academy), Tiago Machado (Katusha-Alpecin), Sébastien Delfosse and Julien Mortier (WV Aqua Protect-Veranclassic), Kristoffer Skjerping (Joker-Icopal), Mekseb Debesay and Connor Swift (Dimension Data), Cyrille Lemoine (Cofidis), Preben van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Wesley Kreder (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Nikolay Mihaylov (Delko Marseille Provence-KTM) and Miguel Bryon (Holowesko-Citadel). After 10km of racing, their advantage was already 45 seconds. The highest ranked on GC being Van Hecke, 24th at 2:09, the Astana team of race leader Sergei Chernetski maintained the time difference around three minutes.

On the final laps in Alta, Direct Energie took over from the Kazakh team at the helm of the peloton. Machado tried to avoid the return of the main pack by breaking away from the leading group with 13km to go but he was reined in two kilometers further. The Corendon-Circus team of stage 1 and stage 3 winners Mathieu Van der Poel and Adam Toupalik showed their motivation for getting one more victory. Debesay was swallowed by the bunch 9km before the end. The peloton was very active in the Thomasbakken climb 5km before the finish. It was all back together with 2km to go, except for Swift and Skjerping who forged on until the red flame.

Van der Poel was perfectly positioned. Nicolas Roche launched the sprint but the Dutch champion passed him with 200 meters to go to cross the line with a significant advantage over Sondre Holst Enger (Israel Cycling Academy) and Quentin Pacher (Vital Concept). Escorted by his Astana team-mates till the end, Chernetski put his name on the record book of the Arctic Race of Norway after Thor Hushovd (2013), Steven Kruijswijk (2014), Rein Taaramäe (2015), Gianni Moscon (2016) and Dylan Teuns (2017).

8th on the stage and final overall winner, Sergei Chernetskii (Astana): “First of all, I want to thank the team, the riders, the staff, and the management, everyone was worked perfectly, team prepared all the conditions, it is only remained to win. The whole team believed in me and supported up to the last hundred meters. I’m very happy to win this race, because I had a long time without victories, the last time I won in 2015. Especially I wanted to win in the team “Astana”, to thank in this way the general manager Alexandr Vinokurov, Dmitriy Fofonov, that they invited me two years ago to the team, they believed in me, despite the trauma at the Olympic Games. Many thanks to all who helped and supported us on this race. I do not plan to stop with this victory and I’m aiming for a good performance in Canada and at the final races of the season.”

Arctic Race of Norway Stage 4 Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus in 3:21:02
2. Sondre Enger (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy
3. Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept Club
4. Loic Chetout (Fra) Cofidis
5. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Laurent Pichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic
7. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Astana
9. Nicolai Brøchner (Den) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC.

Arctic Race of Norway Final Overall Result:
1. Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Astana in 15:55:42
2. Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Joker Icopal at 0:11
3. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling at 0:12
4. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC at 0:27
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC at 0:37
6. Laurent Pichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic at 0:38
7. Steff Cras (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:42
8. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Joker Icopal
9. Dmitrii Strakhov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:56
10. Dennis van Winden (Ned) Israel Cycling Academy.

Stage 4:

Provisional Start List of La Vuelta 2018
The 73rd edition of La Vuelta will, once again, feature today’s biggest cycling stars in its peloton. 176 riders, divided into 22 teams, will line-up at the official start on Saturday the 25th of August in Malaga, and fight for “La Roja”, the leader’s red jersey that will crown the winner of the race’s general classification.

Four winners of La Vuelta will be in contention again this year: Alejandro Valverde (MOV), Vincenzo Nibali (TBM), Fabio Aru (UAE) and Nairo Quintana (MOV). But they will not be the only top riders in the pack: Richie Porte (BMC), Rigoberto Urán (EFD), Mikel Landa (MOV), Ilnur Zakarin (TKA), Wilco Kelderman (SUN), Adam and Simon Yates (MTS), Steven Kruijswijk (TLJ), Daniel Martin (UAE), Miguel Ángel López (AST) or Thibaut Pinot (GFC) will also be fighting for the glory in Madrid. Team Sky, will try to extend its domination in the Grand Tours with David de la Cruz and Michal Kwiatkowski.

The world’s eyes will be fixed on stage hunters, sprinters and climbers, who would also try to get their piece of the cake, particularly Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka (BOH), Ion and Gorka Izagirre (TBM), Omar Fraile (AST), Rohan Dennis (BMC), Elia Viviani (QST), Pello Bilbao (AST), Nacer Bouhanni (COF), Enric Mas (QST) or Matteo Trentin (MTS), recently proclaimed European Champion.

More information about La Vuelta 18: www.lavuelta.com

Pinot Feels “Comforte” Ahead of La Vuelta
Two months after abandoning the Giro d’Italia, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) made his return to competition with a podium finish at the Tour of Pologne. “Now we can prepare for La Vuelta with a relaxed mind”, the French climber says ahead of his third participation in the Spanish grand tour.

Only two weeks ahead of La Vuelta, Tour de Pologne attracts riders who want to perform well in Spain. In 2017, Wouter Poels (Team Sky) won the queen stage before offering essential support to overall winner Chris Froome en route to Madrid. The Dutch climber finished 6th himself and Vincenzo Nibali (2nd), Ilnur Zakarin (3rd) and Wilco Kelderman (4th) had all lined up in Krakow to participate in the one-week World Tour event.

This year, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) made his return to competition in Poland. “When I arrived I was in the unknown regarding my shape, and I came out comforted”, the French climber says. He hadn’t participated in a race since abandoning the Giro in May and finished 3rd overall in Poland, behind Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) who are also set to be major players at La Vuelta.

“Except for Kwiatkowski, we mainly saw the riders who didn’t ride the Tour de France”, Thibaut Pinot notes. “We’re going to have a very strong field at La Vuelta with the riders who didn’t do the Tour and those who want to do the Tour and La Vuelta ahead of the World championships. The level will be really high and it should be interesting to watch.”

Thibaut Pinot enjoyed good legs in Poland and saw his teammate Georg Preidler win stage 6. Pinot himself was in the chasing group, covering moves from rivals to make sure his Austrian partner would claim victory. “Georg is someone who does a lot of work in the shadow of his leaders, so to see him win is a good thing for him and for the group”, Thibaut Pinot says. “Now we can prepare for La Vuelta with a relaxed mind.”

Thibaut Pinot’s road to Malaga has led him to Tignes, where he’ll stay until the end of the week before heading to Andalusia. “I’m going to do some training sessions in the mountain and then rest, the start of La Vuelta is coming fast”, the Frenchman says ahead of his third participation in the Spanish grand tour (7th overall in 2013, abandon in 2014).

“I’ll try to get into a rhythm as La Vuelta goes on”, he anticipates. “I’ll see how things go day by day and we’ll assess the situation midway through La Vuelta, to see if we fight for the general classification, if I’m close to the top 5, or if we aim for a stage victory in the third week. We’ll discuss it along the race.” Already a stage winner on the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, Thibaut Pinot will find at La Vuelta mountainous terrain to add a La Vuelta victory to his tally.

More information about La Vuelta 18 at www.lavuelta.com.

Thibaut Pinot:

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Vuelta a España
Our squad goes into the final Grand Tour of the season as World Tour team classification leader.

Nine summit finishes, 41 kilometers of time trialing and 46 classified climbs (many having excruciating double-digit gradients), these are the main ingredients of the 73rd Vuelta a España (25 August – 16 September), which this year starts with a stage against the clock from Malaga – the vibrant Andalusian city visited by the race for the 30th time since making its first appearance, in 1936 – and concludes in Madrid, after covering 3255 kilometers.

Having won a plethora of stages at the last eight Grand Tours, Quick-Step Floors hopes to extend this spectacular streak, and for that will look to Giro d’Italia maglia ciclamino Elia Viviani, who will be supported by Danish Champion Michael Mørkøv and Fabio Sabatini, two of the best and most respected lead-out men in the peloton, whose experience is second to none.

“Elia has had a tremendous season and will be our card on the stages that could come down to a bunch sprint, where Michael and Fabio make for a strong lead-out train, as they have done with success so many other times this year. It’s not going to be easy, as there’s a quality field here and we have to be careful with how we spend our efforts, especially as there’s a lot of tricky stages, which you think they are flat but they aren’t. Last but not least, the wind and the blazing heat could also play a big role in the outcome, but we will try to be ready for any kind of obstacle”, said sports director Rik van Slycke, who will lead the team from the car together with Wilfried Peeters and Geert Van Bondt.

For both Dries Devenyns and Pieter Serry, La Vuelta will mark the ninth Grand Tour presence of their career and Van Slycke knows the support and input they will bring can make the difference during the three weeks of the race: “Pieter and Dries both have the experience and will be invaluable assets for the team’s success. Dries can survive the shorter climbs and has a very fast kick, which can bring him into contention, should the fastest men succumb on the last climb, while Serry is strong as a horse and will play a very important role, keeping the guys in the mix or going into the break.”

In 2017, Enric Mas caught everyone’s attention at his home Grand Tour not only with his third place in Sagunto, but also with a composed ride on the mighty Angliru, one of cycling’s most brutal climbs. This year, he built on those results, landing his first pro victory, as well as two top 10 overall results at World Tour level, in Vuelta al Pais Vasco and Tour de Suisse. Together with neo-pro Kasper Asgreen and Laurens De Plus, he will be one of the three young riders which Quick-Step Floors will field at the Vuelta.

“Enric has proved throughout this season that he can stay with the best on his day. He will start with a free role, without any kind of pressure, and then we will see what the race will bring GC wise. The same goes for Laurens, who impressed on the climbs at last year’s Giro. As for Kasper, his maiden Grand Tour will be a big and important step for his development and we look forward to see how far he can go. Overall, we have a strong and determined squad that blends youth and experience and we will be ready to take responsibility, animate the race and create our chances instead of just waiting for them to come.”

La Vuelta ciclista a España (ESP) 2.UWT

Kasper Asgreen (DEN), Laurens De Plus (BEL), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Enric Mas (ESP), Michael Mørkøv (DEN), Fabio Sabatini (ITA), Pieter Serry (BEL), Elia Viviani (ITA).
Sports Directors: Wilfried Peeters (BEL), Geert Van Bondt (BEL), Rik van Slycke (BEL).

Buchmann to lead BORA-hansgrohe at La Vuelta a España, Sagan and Majka on the Hunt for Stage Wins
While Emanuel Buchmann takes on his first leadership at a Grand Tour, Sagan and Majka will be on the haunt for stage wins. With a strong squad to support them,
BORA – hansgrohe aims for a top ten in the final GC and at least one stage win.

“I am very proud, that now is the time for Emanuel Buchmann to take on his first leadership at a Grand Tour. This is a special moment not just for him, but also for the team and myself, as he turned pro in my team as a promising talent four years ago. He is very well prepared and already had lots of strong results in 2018. We are expecting at least a top ten in the final GC, but depending on how the race develops, I think he can do even better than that. With Peter and Rafal we have two more cards to play when it comes to stage wins. We’ll have to see how Peter recovered from his crash in the Tour, but I am confident that we’ll have a very strong team out there.”Ralph Denk, Team Manager.

“I think I am ready. It is an honor the lead such a big team like BORA – hansgrohe at a Grand Tour, but I’ll do everything to meet the teams’ expectations. I prepared very conscientiously and the whole season went well so far. This will be my biggest challenge so far as a cyclist, but I feel I am at my best. I did everything to arrive here in perfect shape, now we need a little bit of luck to come through the Vuelta without any crashes or other setbacks.”Emanuel Buchmann.

“I decided to race the Vuelta this year, as it fits perfectly into my preparations for the World Championships in Innsbruck. We’ll have to see how my crash at the Tour still affects me, but I feel I am on a good way back to my best. There are a lot of interesting stages at the Vuelta. We have a really strong team here in Spain, and a lot of cards to play when it comes to stage wins – and of course I’ll also try to take one as well.”Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion.

“I came through the Tour in good shape. I was back at my best in the last week, and I still feel fresh enough to do a good Vuelta. I spent the last weeks again at altitude and prepared well. My role changed, and I am here to go for stage wins. I have very good memories from the Vuelta and I am ready to fight for results the next three weeks.”Rafal Majka.

Sunweb Present Vuelta a España Line-Up
Team Sunweb are pleased to unveil their line-up for the final grand tour of the season, La Vuelta a España. After successful campaigns in Italy and France, Team Sunweb head to Spain with their main focus on the sprints with the young German powerhouse Phil Bauhaus.

Unable to start the Tour de France due to injury, the Vuelta marks Wilco Kelderman’s (NED) first race back after re-injuring his shoulder at the Dutch national championships. The 27-year-old starts the race following a good period of recovery and training, but with no recent racing in his books the team applies a day-to-day approach to explore GC possibilities.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED): “Phil will be our sprinter at the Vuelta whilst we aim for a result in the sprints. We’re very pleased to have Wilco at the start, which could be considered a small miracle after another difficult period with recovering from a complicated injury. He has worked hard to come back, but we don’t know how stable his level will be throughout the three weeks of racing. We’ll have to take a day by day approach with the aim to keep him in the GC and see where he stands going into the third week. We’re also excited to have three riders making their grand tour debut with Jai, Michael and Martijn. Heading to Spain will be great for their long-term development and we’re looking forward to seeing what they do with the opportunity.”

Phil Bauhaus (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Jai Hindley (AUS), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Wilco Kelderman (NED), Michael Storer (AUS), Mike Teunissen (NED), Martijn Tusveld (NED).
Coaches: Brian Stephens (AUS), Tom Veelers (NED) and Aike Visbeek (NED).

A Young and Strong Team for the Seventh Consecutive Vuelta of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
Málaga is going to be the start of a new edition of La Vuelta a España (25/08 – 16/09), the seventh consecutive edition for Caja Rural-Seguros RGA. The Spanish squad has prepared carefully the most important objective of the season, a race where the best teams and riders of the world fight for great victories during three weeks. The main target is to do a good performance in this demanding course.

The management of the Navarrese team has had a hard time selecting the riders who will represent the team in the Spanish round. The good average level in the last competitions has forced to think a lot to choose the final eight. Sergio Pardilla, Alex Aranburu, Lluis Mas, Nick Schultz, Nelson Soto, Cristian Rodriguez, Jonathan Lastra and Antonio Molina will finally be the men who will participate in the 73rd edition of La Vuelta.

For Aranburu, Soto, Lastra and Molina this will be their first time in a Grand Tour; while Rodriguez faces his first appointment in this race after his two participations in the Giro d’Italia. So, only Pardilla, Mas and Schultz are veterans in this competition. This is a very young team, with only Pardi over thirty, and five cyclists with 25 years or less, fulfilling one of the maxims of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA: provide the opportunity to shine in the best scenarios to young values.

Juan Manuel Hernández (manager of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): It is the seventh consecutive participation for Caja Rural-Seguros RGA in the Vuelta a España, and we do it with a well-balanced team. On one hand we will look for presence in the sprint arrivals with Soto and on the other hand we will fight from the break in the mountain stages. We arrive very motivated after the good role of the whole team in the last races, like in Vuelta Burgos, where we were very close to the victory in several occasions. The main goal is clear: to win a stage. I think we have a trained team, a young group that arrives with a lot of enthusiasm and the job well done, as well as the necessary talent that I think they have to achieve it.

A demanding and without rest course from the first weekend
As usual, La Vuelta has prepared a spectacular layout, with demanding stages from very early. After the brief but intense ITT in Málaga, the riders will face two difficult days before the first mountain top on the fourth day, thanks to the unprecedented Alfacar (Sierra de la Alfaguara). The well-known Covatilla will close the first week of the race with the second mountain top.

La Vuelta will travel to the North for several rugged stages in Galician territory. Then, the peloton will face a tough triptych with finals at La Camperona, the unprecedented and explosive climb to Les Praeres and the classic Lagos de Covadonga. After the second rest day, an individual time trial between Santillana del Mar and Torrelavega and a 100% Basque stage -between Getxo and the Monte Oiz- will mark the positions in the general before the resolution in Andorra. A only one climb journey in La Rabassa and the queen stage, with six climbs in less than 100 km and the finish line in La Gallina, will decide the race before the tribute to the winners in Madrid.

Guests Want to Make La Vuelta a Party
Basques are back, Burgos-BH discovers La Vuelta, Cofidis and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA know the drill: the four teams who were granted wild-cards for La Vuelta 2018 promise offensive cycling as they seek success between Malaga and Madrid.

Euskadi is Back: “There are no words”
Five years after the iconic jersey “naranjo” of Euskaltel Euskadi left the peloton, Basques are back at La Vuelta with Euskadi-Murias. “It’s a dream I’ve had since the team was built”, says Jon Ordiozola, who’s led the project since 2015 after participating in cycling’s biggest races as a rider and then a sports director with Euskaltel-Euskadi. “Here, cycling lives in a unique way and a project like Euskadi-Murias was the missing piece to come back to the forefront.”

Not only Euskadi is back at La Vuelta but the festivities are set to reach a climax during stage 17. Starting from Getxo, the peloton will travel through Bilbao on the way to an unprecedented and already dreaded finish at Balcón de Bizkaia. “It’s our queen stage”, Jon Odriozola announces. “It will be hard to get a result because it comes at the end of La Vuelta, our riders lack experience and will be tired, and everyone will be watching us because they know how important this is for us. A stage of La Vuelta in Bilbao, for a team named Euskadi, there are no words”.

In their first season after making the jump to Continental Pro, Euskadi-Murias have claimed six victories so far, with Enrique Sanz winning last week a stage at the Volta a Portugal. At La Vuelta, Jon Odriozola will rely on an “aggressive team fighting for stages. With Jon Aberasturi, I have strong hopes for stages finishing with a sprint. Mikel Bizkarra and Oscar Rodriguez can do good things in the mountain. And Edu Prades and the rest will aim the other stages.”

Cofidis: Bouhani and “a dynamic squad”
“La Vuelta is part of the identity of Cofidis, who is very involved in Spain”, so Christian Guiberteau wants from his rider “a cohesion and a behavior that will make us actors of the race. And then, the consequence of it, the icing on the cake, will be a stage victory and we’ll do everything to get it. We clearly have the tools to get that win, we have to believe it. But I also know it’s very difficult.”

One of the sports director’s cards will be Nacer Bouhanni. The French sprinter won two stages of La Vuelta in 2014 and hasn’t participated since 2015 (he abandoned during stage 8). “A gastroenteritis prevented Nacer from finishing the Tour of Poland”, Christian Guiberteau explains. “But he’s recovering well and should be in top shape for the start of La Vuelta, with stages that should suit him in the first week.”

“Nacer will have a lead-out man with him, and other teammates will offer additional support on occasions”, the sports director elaborates. “It’s not about having a full train, it’s very complicated at La Vuelta furthermore with climbs always throwing off the sprinters and their teams. La Vuelta is more for sprinters like Trentin (4 stage wins in 2017) than Kittel.”

In addition to Nacer Bouhanni, Christian Guiberteau will rely on a “dynamic squad. Jesús Herrada was very strong at the European championships and he will be very motivated at La Vuelta. There aren’t as many sprinters teams to control the race so it’s interesting to have someone in the breakaway. If it’s a sprint, so be it, but having someone in the break is important because you can also fight for the stage that way”.

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA: “be actors on every terrain”
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA will tackle their seventh participation at La Vuelta in a row with “a young and balanced team”, according to sports director Eugenio Goikoetxea. He’s set a goal for the team from Navarre, used to claiming success through long range attacks (stage victory at Lagos de Covadonga for Antonio Piedra in 2012, King of the Mountain victories for Luis Leon Sanchez in 2014 and Omar Fraile in 2015): “Be actors of the race on every terrain”.

“La Vuelta is the race that gets us inspired all year long”, Eugenio Goikoetxea says. “First we work hard to get the invitation, and then to arrive in the best conditions to offer a good outing. La Vuelta is a dream in itself. Our sponsors are Spanish companies and it is fundamental for us to look for reasons to rejoice every day.”

After David Arroyo’s departure, Sergio Pardilla will be the only rider over 30 years of age. “He will be our leader and captain”, says Eugenio Goikoetxea about the experienced climber, who’s already finished three times inside the top 20 of La Vuelta (15th in 2017, his best result). “We have Nelson Soto for sprints, he is really fast. A rider like Lluis Mas is more a stage hunter on all kind of routes.”

Burgos-BH: “We’ll be at our best”
Burgos-BH also participates in La Vuelta in their first year as a Continental Pro team. “It’s our goal of the year”, sports director Jose Cabedo says. He hopes for better luck after a year marred with struggles, most notably the injuries of the two young talents Silvio Herklotz and Matvey Mamykin (the Russian has left the team at the beginning of the month). “We’ve suffered with injuries but since June we’ve been able to work well with the riders who will participate in La Vuelta”, Jose Cabedo explains. “We’ll be at our best.”

“We want to show we have the skills to be there”, he insists. Ahead of La Vuelta, Burgos-BH have signed the Dutch rider Jetse Bol. “He will be our reference”, his sports director establishes. “He’s had a very good La Vuelta last year. He led the virtual standings on two occasions and took part in breakaways that fought for the stage victory.”

Jose Cabedo also counts on riders like Diego Rubio (7th of the Oridizako Klasika) and Pablo Torres to “have our say in the breaks that can make it to the finish”. Finally, the Portugues José Mendes will bring his experience as a finisher of the five grand tours he participated in (22nd of La Vuelta in 2013). “We want to see what he can do in the mountains and if he can bring us a top 20 on general classification in our first Vuelta”, Jose Cabedo says.

More information about La Vuelta at www.lavuelta.com

Campenaerts replaces Marczynski in Vuelta
Due to illness, Lotto Soudal rider Tomasz Marczyński won’t be able to participate in the upcoming Vuelta a España. European time trial champion Victor Campenaerts will replace the Polish rider in the line-up. That way, eight Belgian Lotto Soudal riders will be at the start in Malaga on the 25th of August.

Victor Campenaerts: “I always wanted to ride the Vuelta. So far, I have been satisfied with the program and the opportunities the team has offered me. I fully understood that I wasn’t part of the initial line-up. There were a lot of other guys who were eager to participate in the Vuelta. The sports directors told me that if something would happen to the riders who were selected, I would certainly be one of the guys to replace them. The Vuelta a España takes off with a prologue, that’s always nice. Eight kilometers is not that long but I will do everything to obtain a good result. Afterwards, we’ll see if there are any other opportunities.”

Victor Campenaerts Euro TT Champs:
Jerusalem - Israel - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Victor Campenaerts (BEL - Lotto Soudal) pictured during the 101st Giro d’Italia 2018 - stage 1 from Jerusalem to Jerusalem (9.7 KM) - ITT - Time Trial Individual - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Jarlinson Pantano to Miss Vuelta a España
Trek-Segafredo announced today that Jarlinson Pantano won’t be competing in the upcoming Vuelta a España after tests revealed he has become infected with the Toxoplasma parasite, one of the world’s most common parasites.

Trek-Segafredo Head Physician, Gaetano Daniele: “After sickness forced Jarlinson (Pantano) to abandon the Tour of Poland we immediately did some blood exams. We have repeated those exams this week, and they confirm the diagnosis of acute toxoplasmosis. Unfortunately, this means that Jarlinson is definitely out for the Vuelta.

“It’s impossible to say right now if he will be fit again to compete before the end of the season. The most important thing for him to do right now is to rest as much as he can to give his body the opportunity to recover from this infection.”

Jarlinson Pantano: “To be honest, I am going through a tough time right now. I am so disappointed, but at the same time, I am relieved to know what the problem is and why I was feeling so bad for a while. Now I have to focus on my recovery, and I hope it will be a fast one so that I can go back to racing as soon as possible and grab some results.

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank the team for all the support they have given me, in these difficult times. Especially the doctors, Josu (Larrazabal, Head of Performance) and Luca (Guercilena, General Manager), they have all been very patient and supportive of me. I hope to pay them back by great victories in the near future.”

The team will update on Pantano’s condition and race schedule when more information becomes available.

The Trek-Segafredo line-up for the Vuelta a España will be announced early next week.

Jarlinson Pantano:

Tour de France Winner Geraint Thomas to Start in the Tour of Germany
When the Tour of Germany celebrates its comeback after a ten-year break on August 23, one rider will stand out among the 132 professionals. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) will make his first official race appearance after winning the Tour de France at the Deutschland Tour. The 32-year-old Welshman has opted for the four-day race from Koblenz to Stuttgart to enter the second half of the season.

The roads of Germany have been a good place for Thomas so far. Last year he won the opening ITT of the Tour de France in Düsseldorf and wore the yellow jersey in the world’s biggest race for the first time. A good omen for the sovereign victory this year. The German races in the years before were also characterized by success, especially at the Tour of Bavaria.

Geraint Thomas: “I’ve won Bayern-Rundfahrt twice and I really enjoy racing in Germany. It’s a lovely country and I really enjoy going there. It will be great to race the Deutschland Tour. I went to see my coach Tim Kerrison after the Tour and we outlined the Deutschland Tour as a great race to make my comeback. I’m looking forward to it.”

In addition to Geraint Thomas, who also relies on the home field advantage of his teammate Christian Knees, more international top stars will line-up for the Tour of Germany. The high-profile start list, which will be announced on Monday, underlines the importance of the newly launched stage race. With its varied route and its position in the international calendar, the Deutschland Tour is attractive for different types of riders. Alongside Team Sky, 11 WorldTour teams are competing, including Bora-hansgrohe and Sunweb from Germany. In addition, there are six teams from the second division as well as four German continental teams and one from Luxembourg.

Claude Rach, Managing Director of the Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Radsports, the German subsidiary of race organizer A.S.O.: “The best German young riders will ride together with the winner of the Tour de France. This only happens at the Tour of Germany. Top sprinters, classic stars and the world’s best GC riders will be at the start in Koblenz. This is a dream debut for the new Deutschland Tour. During the four days, we will create Germany’s biggest natural stadium.“

Geraint Thomas:

US National Time Trial Champion Joey Rosskopf Re-signs with Continuum Sports
Two-time US national time trial champion Joey Rosskopf is the latest rider to extend his contract with Continuum Sports after four successful years with team, currently operating as BMC Racing Team.

Rosskopf joined BMC Racing Team in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength in that time, General Manager Jim Ochowicz said. “Joey Rosskopf is an incredibly talented rider who often flies under the radar because of his selflessness and professionalism when it comes to supporting his teammates. He has played a key domestique role at stage races and Grand Tours over the years and can also make the most of his own opportunities. Joey’s time trialling has come a long way in the last four years and as we have seen, he is now one of the team’s best time trialists with two national titles to his name and most recently, second in the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah prologue. Joey has also played an important role in many of our team time trial victories over the years,” Ochowicz said. “At 28-years-old, Joey is still young and has the potential to keep developing as a rider so it is a pleasure to re-sign Joey for the 2019 season when Polish company CCC becomes title sponsor.”

Joey Rosskopf acknowledged the team’s support as a key factor in extending his contract. “In my four years with BMC Racing Team, the team management has shown an incredible amount of patience and dedication in helping me find my most productive role within the team. Their support has enabled me to constantly continue improving as a bike racer, and I have faith that I can continue on this steady trajectory with their guidance. With that in mind, it was an easy decision to renew with the Continuum Sports organization,” Rosskopf explained.

“Obviously in 2019 there will be some big changes in appearance, riders, and staff with CCC coming on board. To me, it seems like it will be a really exciting mix between our established, proven management structure and a lot of new faces. I am really looking forward to participating in the creation and successful execution of this ‘new look’ team in 2019 and beyond.”

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

Joey Rosskopf:

Roelandts Becomes Movistar Team’s Second Signing for 2019
Belgian classics specialist, 33, set to bolster Blues’ roster for Northern classics, support for leaders on flat stages.

The Movistar Team announces it has reached an agreement with Jürgen Roelandts (Asse, BEL; 1985) that will see him joining the Eusebio Unzué-led squad for the 2019 season. A strong rouleur (1.84m, 78kg) of undeniable class and quality for the cobbled classics, Roelandts is joining the Telefónica-backed team to support the Blues’ leaders on flat, windy races and become a key member on the pavé.

The Flemish rider, a very fast finisher, has an excellent record when it comes to supporting big names in the sport, as well as good individual results. His palmarès includes a podium finish in the Ronde van Vlaanderen (3rd, 2013) and a 2nd place in the E3 Harelbeke (2011), together with a 3rd spot in Milano-Sanremo (2016) and a Belgian road race title, notched up in 2008.

Roelandts joins the Movistar Team from the BMC Racing Team, with which he’s achieved two victories in 2018: the final stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana -ahead of top sprinter Danny Van Poppel- and the Gullegem Koerse, where he bested the prestigious of Greg van Avermaet, Oliver Naesen or Sep Vanmarcke. Jürgen will be only the second Belgian rider to compete for the Abarca Sports organization in its 40 years of history -a milestone to be reached in 2019- the only to date being Francis Vermaelen (in 1983).

Jürgen Roelandts:

2018 Omnium World Champion Szymon Sajnok Signs with Continuum Sports
Polish track star Szymon Sajnok will make his WorldTour debut when he moves from CCC Sprandi Polkowice to Continuum Sports for the 2019 season.

The 20-year-old, who was crowned omnium world champion at the 2018 UCI Track World Championships, shows tremendous potential on the road, Continuum Sports General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

“Szymon Sajnok is one of the most talented up-and-coming Polish riders and if his results on the track are anything to go by, we can expect big things from him in the coming years. Already, at such a young age, Szymon has shown signs of what is to come with third place at Rund um Köln this year against some of the best sprinters in the peloton. Back in 2015, he was fifth at Paris-Roubaix Juniors amongst riders who are now in the WorldTour. With his track background and obvious strength in the omnium, Szymon is naturally a good sprinter and time trialist and we plan on developing his abilities in these disciplines as well,” Ochowicz said.

“Szymon has already impressed in his debut season with CCC Sprandi Polkowice and with CCC becoming title sponsor of Continuum Sports in 2019, it was an obvious decision to bring him on board for his second neo pro year. He will have the opportunity to learn from some of the best and most experienced riders in the peloton when he joins the team next year, so we are looking forward to seeing Szymon develop further.”

Szymon Sajnok is excited to transition to the WorldTour and continue his development on the road.

“I am very happy to have the opportunity to keep developing as a rider and grow in a WorldTour environment. This is a step forward in my career and an amazing challenge so I thank the team for their confidence in me. My main goal is to gain experience and to learn as much as possible from the more experienced riders. To race in the same team as an Olympic champion gives me an amazing feeling and it’s a great honor. Although it will be new for me during my first season, I will give the team everything I have and make the most of this opportunity,” Sajnok said.

“Although I do not know my program yet, I would like to perform well in the classics as I like these races and I think they suit me more. I will try my best to fight in the bunch sprints and show what I can do in different races.”

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

Szymon Sajnok:

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