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EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

Three winners at the weekend; two young guys and one not so young. All the news from the Tour of Oman, Volta ao Algarve and the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol with reports, results, quotes and video. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke retires – Top Story. In other cycling news: Team announcement for the Abu Dhabi Tour, Cervélo Bigla team for 2017 and Jens Keukelaire crashes while training in Spain and might miss Het Het Nieuwsblad. EUROTRASH Monday Coffee time.

TOP STORY: Tiernan-Locke Hangs Up his Wheels
Ex-Sky rider, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke has decided to retire. The English rider made a return to racing in 2016 after he lost his case with the UCI over his irregular blood values from 2012, when he was with the Endura team. 2012 was his best year with win the Tours of Alsace, Méditerranéen, Haut Var and the Tour of Britain. The next year he moved to the Sky team and did nothing. Then at the end of 2013 his blood values were questioned by the UCI, he was suspended by Sky and eventually banned until the end of 2015. His excuse for irregular blood values was that he had been binge drinking, it could be true that he had been ‘hitting the bottle’ as on 24 April 2015 Tiernan-Locke was arrested and charged for drink driving and he was given a 17-month driving ban. This of course was 3 years after his good season and that alcohol does not affect the blood in the way he claimed. Ask Floyd Landis about that one.

In an interview with his local newspaper, The Exeter Herald Express he said: “I have searched for the motivation, but the fact is that it’s difficult to get fired up about the kind of races that I once saw as stepping-stones to the pro world. To make the sacrifices needed for me to be decent again, I’d need to be in a completely different mindset. And I wouldn’t want to be a pro again anyway.”

There must be something in the phrase: ‘If something is too good to be true, then it probably is.’ His phenomenal 2012 wasn’t a complete surprise as he was 2nd Overall in the Vuelta Ciclista a León, winning the Mountains classification and a stage, plus the KOM in the Tour of Britain in 2011. It was rumored that there were a few WorldTour teams looking to sign the Englishman, but for some reason they were scared off. Too good to be true?

Tiernan Locke wins the Tour of Britain (NOT):

Tour of Oman 2017
Stage 3 of the Tour of Oman again finished with a fine battle between the big guns of the GC. But this time, young Soren Kragh Andersen surprised the field by clinching his maiden success in Oman. After the final demanding climb, the Dane powered to the line in Quriyat, beating Rui Costa and Ben Hermans to capture his first win as a professional. The overall leader’s red jersey remains on the shoulders of Hermans before the two decisive stages of this 8th edition including the climb up Green Mountain on Saturday.

There was a very festive atmosphere in morning at the start of stage 3 of the Tour of Oman set at the Sultan Qaboos University. Welcomed by the students proud to present their photography exhibition of Oman and their splendid cycling paintings, created live, the 141 riders gathered together for the start of the 162-km stage heading to Quriyat. After waving goodbye to the University and the dozen thoroughbred stallions that also had a taste of the show, it was time to race.

It only took six kilometers for 6 riders to break away from the pack: Brammeier (Aqua Blue Sport), Feng (Bahrain-Merida), Van Lerberghe (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Mannion (UnitedHealthcare), Kuboki (Nipon-Vini Fantini) and Sisr (CCC-Sprandi). After enjoying a 4 minute lead, the gap started dropping as team BMC of Red jersey, Ben Hermans, took command of the pack. At the top of the first climb of the day (Bousher Al Amerat, km 33) where Kuboki captured the most points ahead of Van Lerberghe and Brammeier, the pack remained 2:20 adrift. Again the gap grew to 4’ before dropping to 3’ once at the first intermediate sprint (km 81) claimed by Van Lerberghe ahead of Kuboki and Sisr.

The front six continued their progression towards Quriyat heading south-west, clear from the pack but within control. At the second bonus sprint (km 139.5), won by Sisr in front of Van Lerberghe and Kuboki, the pack had moved closer, only 50 seconds adrift. While Brammeier was the first to be dropped and caught, the remaining five leading riders hung on before they were gobbled up by the peloton with 17kms remaining.

On the final climb just on the outskirts of Quriyat, Julian Arredondo (Nipon-Vini Fantini) was the first to give it a go in the last 2kms. He was soon caught and distanced by Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step) who could enjoy a 8 seconds lead with only 1 kilometer to go. The Belgian remained alone in front in the closing moments but was caught by the group of favorites including 30 men. Like on the previous day, timing was essential, as Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) powered to the finish. The Danish victoriously crossed the line beating Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and red jersey Ben Hermans (BMC). A fantastic performance by the young 22-year-old, clinching his first professional success after shining as an Under-23 rider with stage wins at the Tour de l’Avenir and the GC of the ZLM Tour.

Third on the day, Ben Hermans remains in the overall lead with a 2 second advantage over Rui Costa and 10 seconds over Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). The Belgian also takes command of the points classification while Kudus keeps the best young rider’s white jersey. Mark Christian also keeps the most aggressive jersey on his shoulders.

Quriyat - Oman - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Soren Krach Andersen (Sunweb)   pictured during Tour of Oman stage 3 - from Sultan Qaboos University to Quriyat (162 km) - photo PdV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Stage winner, Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb): “The team was amazing again today. They delivered me to the bottom of the climb as fresh as possible. After their great work it was up to me to finish the job. I started the sprint with 250m to go and from then on rode full gas. It was an incredible feeling to cross the line in first place. It was a day of great team effort and great legs and one I will remember.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi): “Today my feelings were even better than yesterday and the support from the team was as usual impressive. The final hill was covered at a very intense pace, it was difficult to go clear, that’s why the timing became the key factor which, unfortunately, prevented me to obtain the victory.However, I feel that this second place is an additional confirmation of my good shape, I’m happy I’m constant in my performances. It would be great to obtain a top results in order to thank my team mates and the sponsors, I’m giving my best, however I’m aware also that there are many competitive opponents.”

Tour of Oman Stage 3 Result:
1. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb in 3:53:11
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Abu Dhabi
3. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC
4. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
5. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
6. David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
8. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data
9. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:04
10. Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 3:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 11:00:15
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Abu Dhabi at 0:02
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 0:10
4. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data at 0:18
5. David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 0:21
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
7. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
8. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb
9. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:25
10.Janier Acevedo (Col) UnitedHealthcare.

Oman stage 3:

Katusha-Alpecin’s Alexander Kristoff is so far one of the most successful riders of the year. In Stage 4 of the Tour of Oman the Norwegian rider took his third victory of the 2017 season. In front of the Ministry of Tourism, Kristoff was the fastest rider of a group beating Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrein-Merida) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).

After the tough stage to Quriyat and on the eve of the decisive climb of Jabal Al Akhdhar (or the Green Mountain), day 4 of the Tour of Oman was almost as demanding. Taking off from the splendid resort of Yiti (Al Sifah) just by the sea, the peloton went up and down all day. A total of five difficulties were on the course of this short 118-km stage including three in the last 40kms.

Ben Hermans (BMC) still leads the General Classification and Alexander Kristoff is back in green as leader of the Points Classification.

Stage winner, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin): “We knew it could be a sprint with a selected group. The last years I was dropped but we were determined to go deep. We wanted to go all the way to finish. It was not easy at all as I was dropped again on that last climb but the teammates did an amazing job. First of all, they stayed with me all day, but later they managed to pull it back for me. It was fantastic what Rein Taaramäe, Marco Haller and Reto Hollenstein did till the end. Without them I would never have been able to win. We managed to come back and then it was just to me to finish the job in the sprint. It is cool to win like this. This was a real team effort. It cannot get better.”

Ait el Abdia (UAE Abu Dhabi): “I simply try to do what my sports director asks me to do and I try to do it in the best possible way. Today my shape was very good and I exploited it for going clear in a breakaway in the early kilometers, which were very demanding. Once I was in the front of the race, I managed my energies and I was still enough brilliant to try to attack again in the final kilometers. Unfortunately Zeits took a wrong road and our attempts was over, however today remains a day to remember and I really hope there will be many others.”

Tour of Oman Stage 4 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin in 2:50:29
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
4. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data
5. Marko Kump (Slo) UAE Abu Dhabi
6. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
7. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
10. Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 4:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 13:50:41
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Abu Dhabi at 0:05
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 0:13
4. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data at 0:21
5. David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 0:22
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:23
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:24
8. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
9. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb
10. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:28.

Oman stage 4:

Ben Hermans (BMC) put in a spectacular show on the Green Mountain summit of the Tour of Oman to take the win and all but wrap up the race victory. The Queen Stage 5 of the six-day race saw the peloton tackle 146km of flat terrain before the final 6km summit of Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain).

A five-rider breakaway established a solid advantage of eight minutes and Hermans’ BMC Racing Team teammates spent the day controlling the race behind.

With 50km remaining, the teams eyeing the stage win started to pull the breakaway back and at the base of the climb the gap was down to two minutes. BMC reached the base of the climb first with Michael Schaer setting the pace in the first kilometer, followed by Daniel Oss, who kicked in with 4km to go. By the time Greg Van Avermaet finished the next pull the peloton was down to a select group of General Classification contenders.

Attacks from the group first came from Lachlan Morton and Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), followed by Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), but Hermans launched the winning attack to overtake Kudus and Bardet and win by three seconds from Fabio Aru (Astana).

Hermans’ win gives him a 22-second lead on the General Classification and also sees him regain the lead in the Sprint Classification with one stage remaining.

Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain) - Oman - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Ben HERMANS (Belgium / BMC Racing Team)   - Fabio ARU (Italy / Team Astana)  pictured during Tour of Oman stage 5 - from Samail > Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain) (152.5 km) - photo PdV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

The Winner’s Interview with Ben Hermans
Congratulations Ben! Is this the biggest victory of your career?

“Against the riders that I faced here today, yes I think so.”

How did it play out in the final two kilometers?
“It was really hard. It was hard for everyone of course. Fabio Aru was just behind me at ten of fifteen meters so it was really fast right until the line. Kudus attacked and he was just ten seconds in front of me but I still had a good effort in my legs. I was afraid that the others might come back but in the end it was ok.”

This morning did you think that you could win?
“After the victory on the second stage I had the confidence, and also the sprint for the bonus seconds on the last climb yesterday also gave the confidence for today. Normally, it is just a mechanical problem that could kill me tomorrow so it’s a nice feeling to be in this position.”

The entire BMC Racing Team has worked incredibly hard all week. What do you say about that?
“It is such a hard job for the guys to pull in the front here on the big, wide roads with lots of wind. It was a tremendous job from the guys and I really appreciate their work which is also why I wanted to win the stage today.”

What are your thoughts before the final stage?
“It will be my first GC win. We still have to do one stage of course, but without bad luck I will win the overall. It’s a big step forward for me and I’m really happy that I can finish the work of the team. I never expected to have this kind of start to the year in Valencia and here in Oman. I just wanted top tens in those races and now I have finished second in Valencia and will normally win this race so it’s the perfect situation.”

2nd on the stage and 2nd overall, Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi): “I’m very satisfied, it was not easy to be so competitive fighting against pure climbers as Aru, Kudus, Bardet, Grmay – Rui Costa (in photo Anne Wu, recovering from the effort made on the final ascent) explained – I preferred to cover the ascent pedaling at a regular pace and it paid off. Hermans was impressive, my congrats. I was once again very happy for the help which my team mates gave me. It’s telling that we avoided the echelons and in the crash, these are very important signs and I’m confident that we have good chances to be ready tomorrow, in the final stage, to face the tricks of the wind”.

4th on the stage, Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida): “I’m very happy with my and team effort. This result will get Grmay and me in GC top 10. I can go home with high moral after today’s performance. It was difficult because 4 of us crashed, but at the end we achieved a good result and we can all be happy”.

Tour of Oman Stage 5 Result:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 4:08:46
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:03
3. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Abu Dhabi at 0:11
4. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:27
5. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data
6. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Bahrain-Merida at 0:34
7. Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data at 0:38
8. Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:41
9. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data at 0:44
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 6:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 17:59:17
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Abu Dhabi at 0:22
3. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:35
4. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data at 0:58
5. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Bahrain-Merida at 1:12
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:17
7. Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:19
8. Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data at 1:21
9. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 1:33
10. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data at 1:38.

Oman stage 5:

Ben Hermans has claimed the first stage race win of his career after winning two stages and the overall victory at the Tour of Oman in an impressive display of strength and determination. Hermans wore the leader’s red jersey after taking the win on stage two of the six-day race, and with the entire BMC Racing Team behind him, defended it until he crossed the finish line on the Matrah Corniche today safely in the bunch. Despite a scare when he crashed on the approach to the first climb, Hermans and his BMC Racing Team teammates were flawless all week and showed impressive strength at the front of the bunch to control the race. Hermans’ win signals his maturity and abilities as a rider after claiming second place at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, and now going one better in Oman.

Katusha-Alpecin team leader, Alexander Kristoff, put the finishing touch in the Tour of Oman, taking a nice victory in the Final Stage 6 of the race (The Wave Muscat – Matrah Corniche, 130,5 k). Kristoff repeated his 2016 win at the same finish location and has now already seven Oman stage wins on his palmarès. The Norwegian rider took the third win in the 2017 edition of the Tour of Oman and his fourth victory of the season. In the final sprint Kristoff passed Italian Sascha Modolo (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Romanian Michael Eduard Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini).

Katusha-Alpecin started to control the race from the very first kilometers. The breakaway of the day never had a too big gap, and with 7K to go the break was completely neutralized. In the final kilometers however hard work was still to be done, as some riders tried their luck attacking. With the three stage wins, Alexander Kristoff secured the green jersey of the points classification.

Overall winner, Ben Hermans (BMC).
Firstly, tell us about the stage today with the crash.

“I was scared that something like that [crash] could happen, especially with the wind as the whole peloton was nervous. It was very dangerous and then they made a big mess by chasing the breakaway down for the sprints. It was just nervous but this is bike racing so we always have to be concentrating until we cross the finish line.”

How can you summarize your performance here?
“I’m really happy that I could take two stage and the GC. It’s more than I could have dreamed of. It was the perfect week for me, perfect start to the season. I always like to start the season in good shape and then normally it continues for the rest of the year.”

Did you know coming into the race that you were in such good shape?
“I knew from training that I was really, really good. I was going so hard. I already had this feeling several times but I never won the GC, I won stages or I won classics, but I was never performing so well against the kind of climbers who are here. So in this way I surprised myself.”

How do you feel going into the rest of your season after such a good start?
“It definitely gives me more confidence. I am not the level of Richie Porte, Tejay van Garderen or Greg Van Avermaet. I am going to have my chances though I think. For the classics perhaps I will have a chance. Liege-Bastogne-Liege is for sure a goal for me.”

Stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin): “It was today one of the windiest days in a long time in Oman and we knew it would be hard to control the race. We were lucky however as also the BMC Team tried to control the race for the GC leader Hermans. At the end they tried to win with the late attack of Greg Van Avermaet. We did not control the whole race but we did our main work in the final. Luckily I had my teammates to support me in the local laps. Especially Marco Haller did an amazing job in the last two kilometers. He brought me in a good position for the sprint. With 150 meters to go I was second and there was a really strong headwind. The last 150 meters felt like 300 meters but in the end I managed to win and I am really happy to win my third stage in the Tour of Oman 2017! In the Belgian races Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne we have also ambitions. Me favorite now? We have other good riders in the team too as Tony Martin and Baptiste Planckaert… Anyway I am happy about my Oman campaign. 3 victories and really nice weather which was perfect to train and to race. We had also good climbs. I needed those climbs too for my classics preparation. I need to suffer on training. It was good that I could go deep here. We had a high level race, it was the perfect preparation for our Spring campaign.”

2nd overall, Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi): “What a great feeling to be on the podium at the end of this exciting competition, which was raced by Team UAE with a constant desire to be protagonist. The course of the Tour of Oman was demanding and it enhanced the qualities of the top riders, that’s why I consider this second place a good achievement. Of course I would have been even more satisfied if I would have won one of the two stages in which I obtained the second position, however this will be an additional motivation for continuing on this good trend of performances.”

Best Young Rider, Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data): “I am really happy to win this jersey. I came to the race with high objectives for the overall classification and to finish 4th overall and win the young rider competition, I can be pleased with this performance. I must say thank you to the whole team for the support. We have some strong riders, even Lachlan and Nathan finished in the top 10, so it was very nice to also stand on the podium with all these guys who supported me. The season has started in a good way and now I go to Abu Dhabi Tour with good confidence, the field will be very strong there but again we have a strong team and I will hope to do my best once again.”

Tour of Oman Stage 6 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin in 2:57:03
2. Eduard Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini
3. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Team UAE Abu Dhabi
4. Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Wilier Triestina
6. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Sunweb
7. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
8. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport
9. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
10. Roy Jans (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect.

Tour of Oman Final Overall Result:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 20:56:20
2. Rui Costa (Por) Team UAE Abu Dhabi at 0:22
3. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:35
4. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data at 0:58
5. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Bahrain-Merida at 1:12
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 1:17
7. Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale at 1:19
8. Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data at 1:21
9. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 1:33
10. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data at 1:38.

Final stage 6:

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2017
Stage 2 of Volta ao Algarve (Lagoa – Alto da Foia, 189.3 kilometers) started with Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step) in the yellow jersey, following his spectacular success on the opening day, but that didn’t stop the Colombian prodigy from pulling hard at the front and helping his teammates control the seven-man breakaway which at one point had five minutes over the pack before succumbing on the penultimate ascent of the stage.

With the peloton strung out after Alto da Pomba, Quick-Step Floors picked up the pace at the foot of Alto da Foia, where Daniel Martin, neo-pro Enric Mas and Zdenek Stybar split the field and distanced all riders bar two, Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) and Primoz Roglic (LottoNl-Jumbo). Amaro Antunes (FC Porto) soon joined, but not for too long, as on the steepest part of the climb Dan Martin put in a powerful surge, to which only the Slovenian could respond.

For his part, Roglic tested the waters and tried twice to dislodge the Quick-Step Floors rider, but Martin proved too strong and each time his opponent accelerated, he responded. Soon, it became obvious the victor would emerge following a two-up sprint at the top of Alto da Foia, and Martin chose to start his acceleration just as they came out of a bend, with 200 meters left. His rival tried to come around on the right side of the road, but the Irishman held him off for the squad 12th victory of the season.

Dan Martin took the yellow jersey, as well as the red points and blue KOM jerseys. On top of that, he also became the first Irish rider to score a stage win in Volta ao Algarve.

Fóia - Portugal  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Daniel Martin (IRL - QuickStep - Floors)†- Primoz Roglic (SLO - LottoNL - Jumbo)  pictured during the Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2017  stage 2 from  Lagoa - Foia, 189.30 km  - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Stage winner and overall leader, Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors): “It’s always difficult to win a race when people say you are the favorite, but I was lucky to have an incredible team around me. That was a fantastic teamwork, you could see that even Fernando, who was in yellow, rode in the wind for me. I arrived here on Sunday and went for a recon on Monday, so I knew the last climb and that it suited me. It was important to be at the front just as we started it, and the team delivered me in an excellent position. Bottom end, it was a perfect day for us, and I got this nice win which is good for confidence. Tomorrow we’ll have an individual time trial, and I know that other riders are stronger in this discipline, but we will just see what happens.”

2nd on the stage and overall,Primoz Roglic (LottoNl-Jumbo): “I race to win, but I can be happy with my level. Second place proves that I am doing well, Martin was just slightly stronger today. I gave everything on the climb and tried to attack a number of times, but I could not lose him. I am at a good level. My good form is there and I want to do everything to show that. I do my best, and this was the result. This gives us confidence for the next few days. It was a tough day and the team helped me today. Tomorrow, we have to do our best in the time trial again.”

12th on the stage, Jaime Rosón (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “This was a very hard day. On the final climb, we went full gas from the bottom to the top. I tried to follow some of the attacks but at the end, I ran out of legs. However, I think I managed to do a good ascent. The time trial tomorrow will be tough for me as I’m not really a specialist but I still have the final stage to Malhão to look forward to. I continue to aim at a good result in the general classification.”

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Stage 2 Result:
1. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors in 4:46:35
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNl-Jumbo
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 0:20
4. Amaro Antunes (Por) W52-FC Porto at 0:33
5. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Sporting Tavira
6. Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 0:35
7. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar
8. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
9. Edgar Pinto (Por) LA-Metalusa Blackjack
10. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:46.

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Overall After Stage 2:
1. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors in 9:14:56
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNl-Jumbo at 0:04
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 0:26
4. Amaro Antunes (Por) W52-FC Porto at 0:43
5. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
6. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Sporting Tavira
7. Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 0:45
8. Edgar Pinto (Por) LA-Metalusa Blackjack
9. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar
10. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:56.

Stage 2:

A brilliant win by the reigning European time trial champion against rainbow jersey holder Tony Martin and GC leader Primoz Roglic; ‘Castro’ now sits 3rd overall after claiming Movistar’s 5th success of the 2017 season in Stage 3 of the Volta ao Algarve.

Jonathan Castroviejo claimed a sensational win in the 18km individual time trial in and around Sagres. The Basque allrounder claimed success over a flat, windy course suiting heavier competitors, the man from Getxo managing to beat World champion Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) by 4 seconds and leave race leader Primoz Roglic (lottoNl-Jumbo) 5 seconds behind. ‘Castro’ now sits third overall, 36 seconds down from the Slovenian and 14 seconds in arrears of Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), who climbed onto second place.

Castroviejo, fourth quickest through the first intermediate point (5km), maintained a constant pace over the parcours that held off the final charge by Martin, the strongest through the second half of the course, and round off a magnificent race by the Blues, with Alex Dowsett in 7th and Nelson Oliveira in 9th. It’s the Spaniard’s first win of the season and the ninth of his pro career.

Sagres - Portugal  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Primoz Roglic (SLO - LottoNL - Jumbo) pictured during the Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2017  stage 3 from Sagres - to Sagres - ITT, 18.00 km  - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Stage winner and 3rd overall, Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar): “It’s so special for me to come back to this race, after everything that happened for me last season, and be a protagonist again. As well yesterday as today I could be up there with the top guns, and claiming this victory is a marvelous feeling for me. I couldn’t be more proud of what I achieved on this TT. It’s been so rewarding, beating the rivals I managed to leave behind today. I was within the top four at all time trials I took part last season, claimed the European title, a medal in the Worlds… but winning here in the beginning of the season, against such big names, is even a step above for me. Also, my performance yesterday on a mountain finish was quite good, which gives me lots of motivation to keep chasing these one-week stageraces. The GC might not be decided yet, I think. Sunday’s finish will see some fireworks for sure. Malhao is a short climb, one you take only eight minutes to complete, but I think it will create more gaps than Fóia. It’s a very explosive one, and with the race finishing there, everyone will do their best and the bunch will split completely, even before the final ascent.”

3rd on the stage and Overall leader, Primoz Roglic (LottoNl-Jumbo): “This was a good result and it’s nice to take the leader’s jersey. We have a strong team and I believe we can hold the lead through until the end. First, I took it a bit easy, there were many twists and turns. I had to be careful, you have to stay on your bike to win, as always, I want to finish strongly. I took many risks, but watched out in the final. After a bad day in the Valenciana stage race last week, this is a good result. I was not good enough to be able to help the team in Valenciana during the team time trial, but it’s nice to prove that I’m in good shape. Today, I was good and that gives me confidence for the rest of this race, but also with an eye on the rest of the season. I do not have to be the best in time trials. I want to do everything possible to be good in the mountains and grow into a classification rider. It is nice to hear that Victor (Campenaerts in the time trial of the Ruta del Sol) won. That means that we are doing the right things.”

Jaime Rosón (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “This was a very hard time trial and really way too flat for me. I tried to keep my watts steady and to lose 1:50 minutes to the European Champion [Castroviejo] is not bad for a pure climber like me. I still have room for improvement and I think I’m on the right path, getting better against the clock every year. Now, I’m looking forward to the final day on Malhão. It’s my last chance to shine and I’m eager to go for it.”

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Stage 3 Result:
1. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar in 21:24
2. Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:04
3. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNl-Jumbo at 0:05
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky
5. Lars Boom (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 0:11
6. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ at 0:12
7. Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar at 0:16
8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data at 0:20
9. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar
10. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal at 0:21.

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Overall After Stage 3:
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNl-Jumbo in 9:36:29
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 0:22
3. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar at 0:36
4. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal at 0:55
5. Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 0:59
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors at 1:31
7. Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin at 1:40
8. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:49
9. Amaro Antunes (Por) W52-FC Porto at 1:54
10. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Sporting Tavira at 1:56.

Algarve stage 3:

André Greipel won Stage 4 of the Volta ao Algarve with an impressive sprint! It was expected to be a typical sprint stage. Four riders got in a breakaway which had up to six minutes advantage. Before the finalé began João Matias was dropped. Ryan Mullen, Dion Smith and Taco van der Hoorn were left in front. They decided not to give up and it was a difficult task for the sprint teams to catch them. The teams had to give all they had to catch the escapees in time. In the end the sprint teams were stronger. The sprint was very close and the photo finish had to confirm that German champion André Greipel had won the stage. He beat John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo).

Jens Debusschere crashed at sixty kilometers from the finish and hurt his hand. He completed the stage, but couldn’t play his role in the finale as planned.

Tavira - Portugal  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - John DEGENKOLB (Germany / Team Trek Segafredo) - Andre GREIPEL (Germany / Team Lotto Soudal) pictured during the Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2017  stage 4 from Almodôvar to Tavira, 203.40 km  - photo LG/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Stage winner, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal): “It was a cat and mouse game between the break and the bunch. In the last 70 kilometers it was really à bloc. Frederik Frison and Jelle Wallays where riding at the head of the bunch for us, chasing down the leaders. It was really close, but we caught them in the end. The escapees were strong, but so were our riders and those of the other sprint teams. Jens Debusschere had crashed so we had to change our plan. Nikolas Maes took me, Tiesj Benoot, Tony Gallopin and Jürgen Roelandts to the front. Jürgen led me to the wheel of Arnaud Démare in the last kilometer. I lost some positions when Richeze took Gavria to the front. I did a long and fast sprint and was lucky to get the wheel of Degenkolb. I beat him on the line. It was a nice sprint to watch I think. I knew that I won. It was close, but as sprinters we are dealing a lot with centimeters. This was a nice victory! The Alto do Malhão, where tomorrow’s stage finishes, is steep and tough. Tiesj and Tony can definitely gain positions on GC.”

3rd, Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo): “I have enough power and my speed is good. It sucks that it just does not work out,” said Groenewegen, who was just a few centimeters short of the win. “In the last corner, I was too excited to try to get by Greipel. I should not do that, it failed and I lost some speed. I started the sprint a few bike lengths behind him. I still was close, which indicates that I’m fine. To retain the leader’s jersey for Primoz was more important today. We controlled the pack and so you miss those guys in the sprint. At such a time, you have to deal with it differently. My lead-out man Robert Wagner got a flat tyre, which made my final even harder.”

Overall leader, Promoz Roglic (LottoNl-Jumbo): “The team controlled the race. It’s not an easy task, but we succeeded. Tomorrow, we should do the same and keep the jersey.”

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Stage 4 Result:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal in 4:57:51
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
3. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
4. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
5. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors
8. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
9. Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data.

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Overall After Stage 4:
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNl-Jumbo in 14:34:20
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 0:22
3. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar at 0:36
4. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal at 0:55
5. Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 0:59
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors at 1:31
7. Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin at 1:40
8. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:49
9. Amaro Antunes (Por) W52-FC Porto at 1:54
10. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Sporting Tavira at 1:56.

Algarve stage 4:

Primoz Roglic (LottoNl-Jumbo) won the Volta ao Algarve overall classification in Portugal. The Slovenian finished 5th on the final climb of the Final Stage 5, just behind his biggest challenger Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky). On the final climb, the Alto de Malhão, the peloton caught the lead group and it was a battle between the GC riders. Kwiatkowski attacked, but Roglic followed. In the last hundred meters, Portuguese Manuel Antunes (W52-FC Porto) attacked and took the stage win. Kwiatkowski placed fourth with Roglic in his wheel. Roglic retained 22-second lead and gave the main sponsors, Lotto, Jumbo and BrandLoyalty their second overall classification victory.

Malhao - Portugal  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Amaro Antunes (W52-FC Porto)  pictured during the Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2017  stage 5 from Loulé  to  Malhao (179.2k  - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Overall winner, Primoz Roglic (LottoNl-Jumbo): “We did it perfectly, at the beginning of the race we controlled the pack and on the climb, it was up to me. In the final, I had three team-mates with me, but on the climb, it was every man for himself. It was tough, but it was for everyone, we fought, but we did it. It’s wait and see what the future brings. I want to be good in the time trials, but also in the mountains. I hope to win more races like this one.”

Jaime Rosón (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “This was another very hard stage with a lot of wind and narrow roads in bad condition. I felt good as we started on the final climb but the wind made it extra hard. I did what I could and I think seventh place is a good result. On the two uphill finishes in this race, I’ve now finished 12th and seventh. My goal was to make Top10 overall. It didn’t work out like that but I came very close and I think I can be satisfied with my race.”

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Stage 5 Result:
1. Amaro Antunes (Por) W52-FC Porto in 4:29:28
2. Vicente Garcia (Spa) Louletano-Hospital de Loule at 0:12
3. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 0:15
5. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNl-Jumbo at 0:16
6. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Sporting Tavira at 0:17
7. Jaime Roson (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
8. Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal at 0:18
10. David de la Fuente (Spa) Louletano-Hospital de Loule.

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Final Overall Result:

Algarve final stage 5:

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol 2017
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) won Stage 2 of the Ruta del Sol on Thursday, ahead of Trek-Segafredo’s Alberto Contador, who took the overall lead from Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Contador put in what looked like the winning move on the final climb of the Alto Peña del Águila, with 3 kilometers to go. Pinot fought hard and caught the Spaniard and then jumped past with 200 meters to go for the stage win by 2 seconds. Overall leader, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished 3rd and lost the lead to Contador.

Break of the day: Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Felix Grosschartner (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Georg Preidler (Sunweb) had a maximum lead of over 8 minutes at around the halfway point, but with 60 kilometers remaining Wellens and Grosscharner dropped the others and then Wellens went on his own. The Belgian was caught on the final climb with about 5K to go.

First to attack was Warren Barguil (Sunweb), he was replaced off the front by Mikel Landa (Sky), but Trek-Segafredo chased him down to set Contador up for his attack with 3 kilometers to the line. Pinot was the only rider to keep Contador in sight as Valverde, Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Landa and Diego Rosa formed a chase group. Pinot got across to Contador and then jumped past with 200 meters to go for the stage win and Contador the overall lead.

Mancha Real - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Thibaut PINOT (France / Team FDJ)  pictured during the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2017 - stage - 2 from Torredonjimeno to Mancha Real, 179.90 km - photo Gomez/Cor Vos © 2017***SPAIN OUT)

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol Stage 2 Result:
1. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ in 4:44:03
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 0:02
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:07
4. Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
5. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky at 0:09
6. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky
7. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky at 0:13
8. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 0:28
9. Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:46
10. Floris De Tier (Bel) LottoNl-Jumbo.

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol Overall After Stage 2:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo in 8:46:33
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:03
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:05
4. Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
5. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky at 0:07
6. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky at 0:11
7. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky at 0:12
8. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 0:26
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:49
10. Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 1:08.

Stage 2:

Victor Campenaerts (LottoNl-Jumbo) won the Ruta del Sol’s Stage 3 time trial in Córdoba by 1 second over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) for the first win of the season for the LottoNl-Jumbo team. The Belgian time trial champion beat Valverde, overall leader Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and stage 2 winner Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), the three main men for the overall prize. Contador was beaten by Valverde by 6 seconds putting him back in the overall lead by 1 seconds, time Contador may have lost due to two dogs on the TT course. Pinot in 3rd overall at 6 seconds.

Lucena - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Victor CAMPENAERTS (Netherlands / Team Lotto NL - Jumbo)  pictured during the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2017 - stage - 3 from  Lucena to Lucena - ITT, 11.90 km  - photo Gomez/Cor Vos © 2017***SPAIN OUT)

Victor Campenaerts (LottoNl-Jumbo): “Everything today was good, my preparation was good and the race went perfectly for me. We worked hard as a team and it is nice that it pays off with a victory. Several weeks ago, I felt in good shape. This was the first individual time trial and we made every effort possible to have a good one here. We’ve been to the wind tunnel and adapted my equipment as well as possible. The course was not in my favor, a little too much climbing, but I managed to use all of my power. I kept a high pace and I handled the curves perfectly. Even if I’m riding alone, this feels like a team victory. I could save some energy in the last few days and made sure that I arrived at the start line relatively fresh. When the moment neared I became nervous, but the team around me makes sure that I stay calm. Grischa Niermann coached me for the first time and I really liked that.”

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol Stage 3 Result:
1. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) LottoNl-Jumbo in 14:55
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:01
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 0:07
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:09
5. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
6. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky at 0:16
7. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:20
8. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky at 0:21
9. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) FDJ at 0:25
10. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo at 0:28.

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol Overall After Stage 3:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 9:01:34
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 0:01
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:06
4. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky at 0:21
5. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky at 0:45
6. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky at 0:48
7. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 0:52
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac at 1:29
9. Ondrej Cink (Cze) Bahrain-Merida at 1:48
10. Javier Moreno (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 1:50.

Stage 3:

A classic sprint scenario at the Ruta del Sol Stage 4. An early break of six with among other Jens Wallays, brother of Lotto Soudal rider Jelle Wallays, only got up to two and a half minutes advantage. Three kilometers from the end the peloton had reeled them all in. Pim Ligthart tried to avoid the sprint, but his attempt was not successful. Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) was the fastest of the pack in Sevilla. He beat Bryan Hoelgaard (FDJ) and Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis). Moreno Hofland (Lotto Soudal) finished fourth in the sprint. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) held his 1 second lead over Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and 6 seconds on Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) in 3rd.

Sevilla - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Bryan COQUARD (France / Team Direct Ernergie)  pictured during the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2017 - stage - 4 from La Campana to Sevilla, 179.30 km - photo Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2017

Break rider, Diego Rubio (Caja rural-Seguros RGA): “The first 70 km were very hard for me as I couldn’t really breathe properly. However, later it got better and I decided to attack in order to up the speed in the group since we didn’t have that much of a gap. During the last 10 km, there was a moment where I thought we might make it, but it didn’t go like that. Anyway, I end the day with a good feeling. To be in a break like this in my first race of the year, after my injury, leaves me very satisfied.”

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol Stage 4 Result:
1. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie in 4:10:33
2. Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) FDJ
3. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis
4. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal
5. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
6. Mihkel Räim (Est) Israel Cycling Academy
7. Roman Maikin (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
8. Maxime Farazijn (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac
10. Eduard Prades (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol Overall After Stage 4:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 13:12:07
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 0:01
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:06
4. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky at 0:21
5. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky at 0:45
6. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky at 0:48
7. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 0:52
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac at 1:29
9. Ondrej Cink (Cze) Bahrain-Merida at 1:48
10. Javier Moreno (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 1:50.

Stage 4:

Just like Thursday Tim Wellens chose to join an early breakaway on Sunday. His adventure was successful and he won the Final Stage 5 of the Ruta del Sol!

After only a few kilometers of racing Tim got in front with seven others: Bravo, Campenaerts, Clarke, Minnaard, Novak, Paterski and van der Lijke. The escapees got more than 6 minutes advantage. In the finalé; Sport Vlaanderen did loads of work to get closer to the front group, but the peloton couldn’t close the gap. Six riders – Bravo and Minnaard had been dropped – battled for the stage win. They had enough time – 1:45 advantage at the finish. There were some accelerations, but eventually they sprinted for the first place in Coín. Tim Wellens won easily with Simon Clarke second and Victor Campenaerts third.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) continues to write his legend as one of the best cyclists the world has ever seen. Sunday 19 February, just over fifteen years since his pro debut, the 36-year-old from Murcia claimed his 100th victory in the sport’s top category, a figure only reached by three currently active riders: sprinters Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Tom Boonen. Valverde claimed overall honors in the 63rd edition of the Vuelta a Andalucía-Ruta del Sol – his fifth GC success in the Spanish five-day course – after maintaining the one-second gap over Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo).

Coín - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Tim WELLENS (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal)  pictured during the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2017 - stage - 5 from Setenil de las Bodegas to Coín, 151.50 km - photo Gomez/Cor Vos © 2017***SPAIN OUT)

Overall winner, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “I’m super happy. It was quite a fought race and it made it even more sweet to win. The team was superb, all of them – as with every victory I’ve achieved, I can’t thank them enough for their support. It wasn’t an easy day by any means: rain, cold temperatures, gusty winds… We all really suffered. At the end, that struggling made difficult to see any attacks, and so we secured this fifth victory in the race, which took so much to obtain. It obviously makes me happy to be celebrating 100 victories as a professional. It’s the sign of a fantastic career, one where above all I’ve enjoyed a lot riding my bike – and I hope I can improve those numbers in the future. There won’t be much time for celebrations, as Paris-Nice starts in two weeks’ time and it will be a big goal for us. Let’s hope the season continues this way.”

Stage winner, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “There was a lot of headwind in the beginning of the stage. Everyone was attentive and nervous. Still, we could get away with eight on an uphill section. We had to ride very hard to build a sufficient lead. When the gap rose from four to six minutes I believed we would battle for the stage win. In the finale I tried to get rid of the others, but my attempt was unsuccessful. With twenty kilometres to go we had three minutes advantage left, a big enough margin. In the break we were all scared of each other. Everyone was looking at the others and no one could get away. I started sprinting at two hundred meters from the finish. Beforehand, I wasn’t certain at all that I would win the sprint, but it was actually pretty convincing. I like it more to win this way than to finish solo. If I can choose it can be exciting. I know the area where we rode very well because I rented a house in Torremolinos last year and trained a lot on these roads. It’s nice to win here now. Last season I won four times. Now it’s half February and I have already won three races. I had never expected that a few weeks ago. My next goal will be Strade Bianche on 4 March. It’s the first time that I will take part in that race, but I believe that I can set a nice result.”

5th on the stage, Domen Novak (Bahrain-Merida): “It was a big day for me, getting the 5th place in a very hard stage. I got very good tactics plan from Vladimir Miholjević and it really worked out. I’m looking forward to the next races in the season.”

3rd on the stage, Victor Campenaerts (LottoNl-Jumbo): “I never felt cold, it was good to be in the breakaway. It didn’t take long before we escaped and we knew we would ride for the victory. At first, I thought the sprint teams would chase. But during the neutralized zone, I saw that Wellens wanted to escape so I knew his team wouldn’t chase us. I wanted to attack over the hill at 15 kilometres from the finish, but is wasn’t hard enough. During the final, I tried it a few times, but unfortunately, I didn’t escape. I had to trust on my sprint, if you asked me before the race if I’d accept a stage win and third in another, I would’ve said yes. I’m really happy with this Ruta del Sol.”

11th on the stage and 19th overall, Eduard Prades (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “It was a strange stage due to the rainy and windy conditions but the team supported me perfectly today. I’m very satisfied with this week of racing. My legs felt great on the climbs and I think my shape is really good at the moment. Now, I’m going to Volta ao Alentejo aiming for a stage win and, if everything works out, a good general classification as well.”

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol Stage 5 Result:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:58:31
2. Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac
3. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) LottoNl-Jumbo
4. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
5. Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
6. Nick Van Der Lijke (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
7. Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 1:34
8. Hector Saez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:45
9. Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
10. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis.

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol Final Overall Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 17:12:23
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 0:01
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:06
4. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky at 0:21
5. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky at 0:45
6. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky at 0:48
7. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ at 0:52
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac at 1:29
9. Ondrej Cink (Cze) Bahrain-Merida at 1:48
10. Javier Moreno (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 1:50.

Final stage 5:

LottoNL-Jumbo travels to Abu Dhabi Tour with leaders Gesink and Kruijswijk
Team LottoNL-Jumbo starts the Abu Dhabi Tour next week with leaders Steven Kruijswijk and Robert Gesink. The four-day stage race, February 23 to 26, is the third WorldTour event after the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Road Race.

After the last two editions, the Abu Dhabi Tour this year stepped up from HC to WorldTour status and moved from an autumn to a spring date. This will be the second time for the race in six months given the 2016 tour ran in October.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo takes a wide selection of cyclists to the Middle East. George Bennett will make his comeback after struggling with mononucleosis. He spent the winter at home in New Zealand and recovered enough to race in the United Arab Eremites. Team leaders Kruijswijk and Gesink will ride together for the first time this year and Spaniard Juan José Lobato will lead the sprint train.

The global mix is strengthened with German Paul Martens, Italian Enrico Battaglin and American Alexey Vermeulen. Sports Director Addy Engels will have six different nationalities in his Abu Dhabi team.

Most stages suit sprinters like Lobato. Only the third stage features a serious climb, the summit finish at Jebel Hafeet. As with the last two years, the climb will likely determine the overall winner.

Steven Kruijswijk, Robert Gesink, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Enrico Battaglin, Paul Martens, Alexey Vermeulen, Juan José Lobato, George Bennett.
Sports Director: Addy Engels.

Steven Kruijswijk leading the Giro d’Italia:
Andalo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL - Jumbo) - Valverde Belmonte Alejandro (Spain / Team Movistar) - Ilnur Zakarin (Russia / Team Katusha) pictured during stage 16 of the 99th Giro d’Italia 2016 from Bressanone - Andalo 132 km - foto LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2016

Bahrain-Merida to Abu Dhabi Tour
Entered this year in the UCI World Tour circuit, the third edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour will kick off on February 23 with four stages for a total of 671 kilometres.

“Race preview” – said sport director Gorazd Štangelj“suggest three stages for sprinters with a medium mountain stages to outline the general classification”. “That’s why – he continued – the team will have two leading figures: Bonifazio for the sprints and Nibali for the GC.”

The Italian young sprinter will be to return to competitions after the Australian Santos Tour Down Under in January: “I have prepared this race riding on the roads of the Ligurian sea,” – tells Niccolò – “and I hope to fight with the best.”

Good feelings also for the captain Vincenzo Nibali: “I just came back from the Teide training camp and the condition is improving. Compared to Argentina, I should be more competitive and I expect to do a good race.”

“I will be on my third Abu Dhabi Tour participation,” – said the Italian champion – “and I well know the decisive climb. Slopes are interesting and there’s even a short downhill section. If you attack at the right time can make the difference.”

The Team Bahrain Merida will be at the start of Abu Dhabi Tour with: Vincenzo Nibali, Manuele Boaro, Franco Pellizotti, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Ramunas Navardauskas, Janez Brajkovic, Valerio Agnoli and Niccolò Bonifazio.

Van Garderen to Lead BMC Racing Team’s Abu Dhabi Tour Team
Tejay van Garderen will make his 2017 debut this week when he headlines BMC Racing Team’s eight-rider roster at the UCI World Tour race, Abu Dhabi Tour.

Sports Director Jackson Stewart said that BMC Racing Team is taking a competitive team to the four-day stage race.

“With Abu Dhabi Tour now part of the UCI World Tour, there will be added pressure for everyone however we have a strong team surrounding van Garderen, who, as always, has prepared well for the season ahead.”

“Nicolas Roche, who was second here last year, and Samuel Sánchez, have both shown early season form and will be able to play a crucial support role on the steeper stage or step up if needed. We have already seen some fast finishes in Dubai and Oman, so I think we can expect that here too. Our team is definitely up to the challenge, and each rider is capable of aggressive racing when it makes sense.”

For van Garderen, this is the first opportunity of the year to put his off-season training to the test.

“I’m excited to get my 2017 season underway at Abu Dhabi Tour. It will be a very competitive race, especially as there are also UCI World Tour points on the line this year. I’ve worked hard this winter, and I hope to be able to prove this and to be up there on the General Classification.”

Abu Dhabi Tour (23 – 26 February)
Rider Roster:

Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Manuel Senni (ITA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart (USA), Max Sciandri (ITA).

Tejay van Garderen:

Quick-Step Floors Team to Abu Dhabi Tour
The first ever World Tour event held in the Middle East will coincide with Quick-Step Floors’ final stage race in February.

Following his successful campaign in the Dubai Tour, where he crowned himself champion for the second year in a row, a triumph to which he added three stage victories and the points jersey, Marcel Kittel returns to the Middle East for the third edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour, a four-day race spiced up by strong winds and a tough summit finish.

Julian Alaphilippe, New Zealand National ITT Champion Jack Bauer, Gianluca Brambilla, Davide Martinelli, Fabio Sabatini, Pieter Serry and Petr Vakoc will be by Marcel’s side, as Quick-Step Floors will try to get a win with the German sprinter, as well as leave their mark on the penultimate stage, which promises to be a challenging one. This will see the riders go up Jebel Hafeet, a 11km-long climb averaging 8%, but with double digit gradients inside the last three kilometers.

“We come to Abu Dhabi with a strong team, and our first goal is obviously to nab a stage win with Marcel. The race has three flat stages, which means as many chances for Marcel, but we must keep in mind that in Abu Dhabi the wind could be an important factor,” said sport director Geert Van Bondt. “On the third day a mountain top finish awaits, and Julian, who proved in Dubai he’s in good condition, and Gianluca, who was in the top 10 here two years ago, will be our cards. This way, we’ll get to see where we stand before our March objectives.”

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Jack Bauer (NZL), Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Marcel Kittel (GER), Davide Martinelli (ITA), Fabio Sabatini (ITA), Pieter Serry (BEL), Petr Vakoc (CZE).
Sports Directors: Geert Van Bondt (BEL) and Rik van Slycke (BEL).

Cycling : 4th Tour Dubai 2017 / Stage 5Landscape / Dubai City / Palm Tree/ Team Quick-Step Floors (BEL)/ Dubai-DIMC - Dubai-City Walk (124km) / Meraas Stage / Dubai Tour / © Tim De Waele

Alberto Contador to Ride the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour
Abu Dhabi, 17 February 2017 – The Abu Dhabi Sports Council and RCS Sport, as Abu Dhabi Tour organizers, are delighted to announce the participation of the Spanish rider Alberto Contador from Trek-Segafredo at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Tour, the only Middle Eastern race in the UCI WorldTour calendar. Contador will attend the Top Riders’ press conference that will be held at the Press Conference room at the Yas Marina Circuit on Wednesday 22 February at 4pm.

Alberto Contador (ESP – Trek-Segafredo)
Alberto Contador Velasco, born 6 December 1982, Madrid, is undoubtedly one of the world’s best stage racers and a legend in his own lifetime. With seven Grand Tour GC victories – more than any other active rider – along with numerous wins in stage races, Alberto has a claim to being the finest overall cyclist of this generation. “El Pistolero”, a nickname given for his signature celebration move, has won two Tours de France (2007, 2009), two Giro d’Italia (2008, 2015), and the Vuelta a España three times: 2008, 2012 and 2014.

Alberto Contador:

Gazprom – RusVelo will take part in Volta ao Alentejo
This week Gazprom – RusVelo will take part in a stage-race Volta ao Alentejo in the south of Portugal from the 22nd to 26th of February. In 2017 UCI awarded this race with a 2.1 category.

Portalegre will be the starting point of Volta ao Alentejo. The total distance of the race is 883 kilometers with it’s five stages and the finish-line in the city of Evora. This year it will be the 35th competition since the foundation in 1983.

The route of Volta ao Alentejo has no long decisive climbs, which perfectly suit climbing specialists. However, most of the stages have short, but steep uphill finales. Those route types fit Roman Maikin, Gazprom – RusVelo sprinter. Due to the lack of steep hill climbs and individual time trial the fight for the victory is going to be very intense till the final stage. Every bonus second is going to play a key role to win the race.

Evgeny Shalunov, Gazprom – RusVelo rider shared his expectations about the Portugal race: «My season started perfectly, I feel that my physical condition is improving with each competition. I have already participated in Volta ao Alentejo in 2012 and my teammate has won the race in the general standings. The route is quite tough, because it has multiple short, but steep climbs. However, I feel positive about the chances to breakaway on several stages. It is vital to believe in yourself and the result will be only a matter of time».

Gazprom – RusVelo line-up:
Ildar Arslanov, Igor Boev, Roman Maikin, Artem Nych, Sergey Nikolaev, Alexey Rybalkin, Evgeny Shalunov.

2017 Team values launched
The Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team is in the process of completing its pre-racing training camp in Spain. The team used the opportunity to unite as a group around its team values for the 2017 season.
The following values are branded on the Endura team kit.

• Honesty
• Innovate
• Sacrifice
• Unite
• Succeed

Team Manager, Thomas Campana, explained the strategy behind the addition to the clothing. “I found it personally very important to remind ourselves of these values which are part of the legacy of Cervélo professional cycling teams and they are more relevant today than ever. This is what we stand for.

Innovation is driven in partnership with our partners. The goal of the management is to unite the group. To be successful, you have to unite. If you’re honest, you can unite. All these values come full circle and if we adhere to them, we create one group and have a better chance of succeeding.”

The team ended the 2016 season as one of its most successful to date earning 45 podium places, including 14 victories and two medals from the UCI world championships in Doha. Lotta Lepistö won the bronze medal in the road race while the team also finished third in the team time trial discipline.

Early success has already been achieved this year with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio winning the South African National time trial championships. The team will get its European campaign underway in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (25 Feb) and Omloop van Het Hageland (26 Feb).

2017 Roster:
Allie Dragoo (USA), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA), Cecilie Ludwig (DEN), Ciara Horne (GBR), Christina Perchtold (AUT), Clara Koppenburg (GER), Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin (CAN), Lisa Klein (GER), Lotta Lepistö (FIN), Marie Vilmann (DEN), Nicole Hanselmann (SUI), Stephanie Pohl (GER).

Possibly No Het Nieuwsblad for Jens Keukelaire
Nicolás Van Looy of the Spanish web-site Ciclo21 has reported that Orica-Scott rider Jens Keukelaire was involved in a collision with a vehicle on his last day of training in Benidorm, Spain and that he may have susstained a broken collarbone. The collision is said not to be the fault of the driver, although he did turn right in front of Keukelaire. The driver stayed with the Orica-Scott rider until the police and ambulance arrived.

Keukeleire said he had pain in his left shoulder which reminded him of when he broke his collarbone. Keukeleire will have X-rays on his returns to Belgium.

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