EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!
No racing but still a lot to talk about in EUROTRASH Monday. COVID-19 is the main subject, but not all bad news. Santini turn to making masks – Top Story. Julian Alaphilippe talks about his Milan-Sanremo. Other news: Tim Wellens criticised for training video, Bernard Hinault Tour cancelation, Patrick Lefevere worried for the future, Wout van Aert taking a break, Alpecin-Fenix hopes to race in May, Yves Lampaert without contract, no UCI decision on calendar, French extends season, Tim Merlier hopeful for Belgian champs, Tour of Slovenia canceled, Remco Evenepoel not keen on cobbles, Tiesj Benoot worried, Vincenzo Nibali says move the Olympics, Dylan van Baarle and Chris Froome in Africa, MPCC strict measures and a special message from The Wolfpack. Big coffee time.
TOP STORY: Santini to produce surgical masks
Santini – Italian clothing manufacturer for Trek-Segafredo – will focus on making face masks in the near future. “When the crisis broke out, we immediately wondered what we could do,” said marketing manager Paola Santini. In several European countries there is a shortage of masks for medical personnel, in particular in Italy and the Lombardy region, one of the most affected areas. Nearly fifty-thousand (official) infections have been detected since the outbreak of the virus, while more than four thousand Italians have died.
The Santini clothing company – located in the northern Italian City of Lallio, near the equally badly hit Bergamo – now wants to play a role in the fight against the corona virus and hopes to produce ten thousand mouth masks per day, Paola Santini explains in conversation with Bergamo News. “We made a prototype together with Sitip (manufacturer of waterproof, breathable fabrics). We now have to wait for the green light from the authorities. We can put the mask into production from next Monday.” “There is an enormous demand for face masks, but Bergamo and the Italian provinces are given priority. We have see with our own eyes how difficult it is for hospitals at the moment.”
From the World champions jersey to face masks:
Julian Alaphilippe: “Milano-Sanremo is my most beautiful win”
The fourth reigning Tour de France KOM champion in history to conquer “La Primavera” looked back on his perfect day on the Italian Riviera.
One year ago, overcome with emotion, a delighted, ecstatic, thrilled and exultant Julian Alaphilippe stopped for a second moments after crossing the finish line and caught his breath, before letting out a huge roar of joy that rang in the ears of the large and boisterous crowd that lined both sides of the Via Roma.
The 26-year-old Frenchman was now a Monument winner, after 291 long kilometres spiced up by an insanely exciting finale, that saw him cap off a superb teamwork of the Wolfpack, who patrolled the front of the peloton from the beginning and set him up for victory.
It was one of Julian’s and Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s highlights of another unforgettable season, so it was only right that ahead of this weekend, which had originally scheduled the 111th edition of La Primavera, we talk with the reigning champion about his memorable triumph at the season’s first Monument.
Julian, let’s go back to the morning of 23 March 2019. What were your thoughts at the start of the race?
To tell the truth, I was quite relaxed. Ok, there was a bit of stress, but the kind you have before any race. Other than that, I was confident and motivated, as I knew I was going into the race on the top of my shape and surrounded by a team committed to helping me achieve my objective.
As always with Milano-Sanremo, the final 40 kilometres were the most nervous. Did you feel the tension building up as the Poggio approached?
It was my third time in Milano-Sanremo and what I had learned from the past participations was that it’s a long race and you have to remain calm for the final, which is always explosive. Things became hectic at the front as early as the Cipressa, but I was protected at all times by my incredible team, who made sure I was in the best position at the start of the Poggio.
How important was it to be able to rely on such a great team, who controlled the race and pushed a hard tempo until the moment of your attack?
Their spectacular workload made the difference and allowed me to asses my rivals on the Poggio, while they kept the tempo high and prevented any moves until the moment I felt it was the right time to attack.
Your acceleration forced an important selection, only a small group arriving on the Via Roma. What went through your mind as it seemed that it will come down to a reduced sprint?
When I attacked inside the last kilometre of the climb, I tried to make a difference and looking over my shoulder as I crested the top, I could see that only a couple of riders were still left, but they were all strong guys, big names. So, on the downhill I just tried to recover and keep my focus, knowing I had to do a perfect sprint in order to take the victory.
Did winning a bunch sprint in Tirreno-Adriatico just a few days before Sanremo give your morale a boost for this scenario?
That victory augured well. Coming into Milano-Sanremo I knew I was in good shape, with a total of three Italian wins at Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico under my belt, so I’ve got to say I had a bulletproof confidence when it became clear the win will be played out in a sprint.
Take us through those last 200 meters.
The race was full gas and very difficult to control after the downhill. Everybody was looking at each other, waiting for the sprint and turning the final into a very tactical one. Victory is never as simple as it looks from the outside and I knew from the 2017 edition that you have to be smart, stay calm and do a good effort at the right moment as the adrenaline is going up. When Mohoric started the sprint, I followed him and when we entered the final straight, I stopped thinking and just pushed as hard as I could on the pedals.
Your palmarès boasts several Classics, Grand Tour stages, and stage races. Where do you rank your Milano-Sanremo victory?
It’s really complicated to choose, because all these wins are all special and they all mean something to me. On the other hand, to take my first Monument at Milano-Sanremo – the longest and maybe most difficult to read race of the year – is something I will never forget. On that day, with the help of a superb and outstanding team of whom I am very proud, I turned my dream into reality, so I can say it’s my most beautiful victory to date.
Lotto Soudal Criticised for Tim Wellens Training Video During Lockdown
Lilian Calmejane has strongly criticised a video by Lotto Soudal on social media. In the video Tim Wellens trains in France and Monaco while a lockdown applies due to the corona virus. “What image do you give to the world?” The Total Direct Energie rider Tweeted. According to Lotto Soudal, the recording was made before the announcement of the lockdown.
“Your rider goes out during a lockdown with impunity. That is unacceptable. It’s always the same people who despise others,” said Calmejane. The Frenchman also gives his unvarnished opinion about a message from Thomas De Gendt and Jasper De Buyst. “In Belgium such rides are allowed. But the boys who live in Monaco will train 120 kilometres on the roads around Nice, I find that unacceptable.”
In the video Wellens trains outside, together with Jasper Stuyven. The Lotto Soudal rider also shows that he needed three documents to get on the road. The Belgian team has said that Wellens no longer trains outside. “The recording was made when it was still allowed, but broadcast when it was no longer allowed,” spokesman Philippe Maertens explained to cycling website WielerFlits.
Lockdown Journals 1 – Tim Wellens:
Bernard Hinault: “If the Tour has to be canceled, don’t hesitate”
A lot of bike races have already been canceled due to the corona virus, but many cyclists hope to be at the start of the Tour de France at the end of June. Bernard Hinault, however, argues for a cancellation of the French stage race, if that helps to prevent the virus from spreading further. “Cycling is not important now,” said the five-time Tour winner.
In an interview with Le Parisien, Hinault looks ahead to the Tour de France, which starts on June 27 in Nice in the south of France. “The Tour de France is a great party, but life is more important,” said the former rider. “People are now at risk of dying, cycling is really not important now.”
“We are currently fighting against a disease, we are talking about a serious situation,” Hinault is certain. According to the Frenchman, action must therefore be taken if it appears that in a few months there will still be too many risks associated with organising a three-week bike race through France.
“We can’t afford to let the Tour go ahead if the situation isn’t safe yet. It is not up to me to make a decision and we still have time, but we have to ask ourselves whether it makes sense if people stand by the side of the road at risk time. You quickly speak of tens of thousands of spectators every day.”
According to Hinault, race organiser ASO must cut the knot by early June at the latest. “The Tour is really a huge machine, since you also need police escort and hotels. We should certainly not hesitate.” ASO boss Christian Prudhomme said a few days ago that he was optimistic about the upcoming Tour de France. “It is still more than a hundred days until the start of the Tour. The hunger for the race will be immense once the activities are resumed.” said Prudhomme.
Five time Tour winners:
Patrick Lefevere Worried About the Future of Cycling
Deceuninck – Quick-Step team manager Patrick Lefevere is concerned about his riders and staff members because of the corona virus. But according to him, the future of cycling is also at risk if the Tour de France is canceled. Lefevere saw his riders ride to fifteen victories in the first months of the season, until the entire peloton came to a halt due to the corona virus. “What I read worries me,” wrote the team manager in his column for Het Nieuwsblad. “Every day I am afraid that a rider or someone on the staff will call me to say that they have become ill. With Davide Bramati and Davide Ballerini, we have two people who live in Bergamo, the worst hit city in Europe.”
“I realise that in the big story, cycling is just a footnote, but I’m a cycling team manager, so I’m also worried,” continued Lefevere, who also reads the disturbing news about austerity in business. “All companies that export see their turnover drop. And then savings are quickly made in marketing. It would be naive to think that the economic impact of the corona crisis does not translate into cycling.”
That he has no signal that his sponsors would like compensation for the missed races, he continues. “But the spring, the most important showcase for my team, is completely gone. At Quick-Step we have certainly built up historical credit, but Deceuninck only sponsors for the second year. We have won eighty-three races so far, so I hope they will think about that too.”
But what if the Tour de France is also canceled? “Then we are talking about a total disaster, but it would be downright stupid not to take this into account. My maxim is to always start from a best case and a worst case. In the first case we race again in June, in the worst case the season is over. I may be a pessimist, but who would have dared to predict three weeks ago that half of Europe would suddenly be under house arrest?”
For the goodwill of the sponsors, Tour may or may not make a big difference, Lefevere thinks. “And then I hold my heart. Organiser ASO can take a beating, the teams cannot. If there is no Tour de France, the whole model of cycling can collapse.”
Lefevere – Worried for the future:
Wout van Aert: “The past few weeks have cost me a lot of mental energy”
Wout van Aert is currently taking a break, the Jumbo-Visma rider said via social media. Van Aert has that chance because the UCI has canceled all races until the end of April because of the coronavirus. “I am much more relaxed, because we can now make some kind of plan,” says Van Aert.
“Although cycling was not the only thing on my mind this week, I would like to update my situation as a rider. Since the UCI decided to cancel all games until the end of April, I have taken a short break from my training,” said Van Aert.
“I feel that the uncertainty of the past weeks and the constant ‘risk’ of contamination have cost me a lot of energy mentally,” said the man from Lille. “Next week I want to start building up to May and summer with a full battery. Until then, I’ll help Sarah (his wife) clean the house and do other work.”
Wout going to do some house-work:
Optimistic Alpecin-Fenix Hopes to Race again at the end of May
Alpecin-Fenix has added two stage races to their program during these uncertain times. The team of Mathieu van der Poel has made commitments to the Tour of Norway in late May and the Tour of Austria in late June. “Of course only if circumstances allow,” the team said.
“Our team respects the measures and recommendations taken by the authorities to combat the rapid spread of the coronavirus,” said Alpecin-Fenix on social media. “We want to remain optimistic. We are therefore carefully anticipating the resumption of the road season. The global goal is to start again at the end of May, so we have an agreement with the Tour of Norway and Österreich Rundfahrt organisations to start there.”
The Norwegian stage race is on the UCI calendar from May 21-24, and Tour of Austria is from June 27-July 3. “Of course only if circumstances allow and no other changes take place,” says the team. “Our first goal is to stop the spread of the virus and to level it off.”
Van der Poel wants to be racing soon:
Yves Lampaert Without a Contract for 2021
Yves Lampaert would normally have been able to prove himself for a contract for next year during this period of the season, but due to the corona virus, all races have been suspended for the time being. “I’ve shown my skills in recent years, and there is still progress.”
Lampaert is in his sixth season at Deceuninck – Quick-Step. In 2018 he extended his contract for another two years, but that is now coming to an end. He saw the opportunities to prove himself in the spring classics disappear because of the corona virus. “That is not ideal,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “But I already showed something this season.” His highlight was second place in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, three weeks ago. “I’ve shown my skills in recent years, and there is still progress. I hope they take that into account. I have not yet talked to Patrick Lefevere, the negotiations will now start a bit later.”
Just like for his colleagues, it is guessing when the racing will resume, at least until April. “From next week I prepare myself as I would in the winter. Calmly with base training, in consultation with my coach Tom Steels. I assume that there will be no race before mid-May. It will be even before June.” Lampaert hopes for a selection for the Tour de France. “The Belgian championships in Anzegem is a goal. It is also to be seen whether certain classics will still be ridden on a different date. Whatever the date, not all riders will be top at the time like in April, depending on which races they have ridden.”
Yves Lampaert leads Het Nieuwsblad:
Giro d’Italia – UCI Repeats: No Decision Has Yet Been Taken
If a new place is sought on the calendar for postponed races, the Giro d’Italia will take precedence, the UCI once again stated.
The Giro d’Italia has been postponed until further notice due to the corona crisis. The start should have be on May 5 in Budapest, Hungary, but a state of emergency was declared. The situation surrounding the coronavirus is also very serious in Italy. According to reports, organiser RCS now hopes to have a modified stage race starting on May 29, but the UCI does not want to comment.
The UCI announced that the Giro will indeed be given priority in a rearranged calendar. After that, the Monument Classics, that will not run this spring, will be given priority. However, no decision has yet been made about new dates on the cycling calendar and in what form this will be done.
Too early to plan il Giro’20:
French Cycling Federation Extends Season to November 29
The French Cycling Federation has decided to extend the season until November 29. This is to catch up on postponed races due to the corona virus. Federation chairman Michel Callot told DirectVélo. “We want to give organisers as much opportunity as possible to postpone an event and also to race. The calendar was drawn up with the UCI, I was still on the phone with the President. They will present their idea of an alternative calendar next week.”
Several championships in France, such as BMX and mountain biking, are postponed till September or October. It is also reportedly under investigation whether the World Championships in those disciplines can be postponed. The French road championship may continue in two of the UCI’s three scenarios from its current date in late June, the chairman added.
France looking forward
Tim Merlier Hopeful the Belgian Championships Can Take Place
Tim Merlier will be trying to maintain his condition in the coming period, like everyone else, since the UCI decided to remove all events from the calendar until April 30 because of the corona virus. However, the 27-year-old rider hopes to be at the start of the Belgian championship on June 21 in Anzegem.
For Merlier it promises to be a special championship. The Alpecin-Fenix rider not only defends his title after his triumph in Gent, but the championships also takes place in his backyard. “The course passes by my parental home and the finish in Anzegem is four kilometres from my current home,” he told Sporza.
However, the question is whether the riders will compete for the coveted tricolour in three months, given the current developments regarding the corona virus. “It is still about three months until the Belgian champs. We have to hope that the coronavirus will be gone by then,” said Merlier, who will now have a short rest period. “I will not get on my bike for ten days now. I will maintain my condition on the treadmill. Since last year’s championships I have rested for five days every two months. I then felt mentally reborn and lost little fitness. It is sour that I will not be able to race in my Belgian jersey in the coming months, but health is paramount now.”
Tim Merlier winning the 2019 Belgian championships:
Tour of Slovenia Canceled in June
The list of canceled races is getting longer and longer: the organisation of the Tour of Slovenia has decided to postpone the 27th edition by one year because of the corona virus. The race should have been in mid-June.
The Tour of Slovenia is scheduled to take place from June 10-14, but the organisation has already put an end to the event. The reason: there is not enough time to organise everything down to the last detail. “It is a complex project with many different partners and employees,” according to a press release. “We should already be organising the stage race by now, but there is currently nothing we can do because of the corona virus. This in turn creates financial uncertainty, which means that we are forced to cancel the race. It is not an easy decision, but we have thought it through carefully.”
“We also have to think about the safety of the people involved in the event. It is currently too much of a responsibility for the Adria Mobil Cycling Club organising committee.” This means that Diego Ulissi will remain the last winner of the Tour of Slovenia for a while. The UAE Team Emirates Italian managed to stay ahead of his countryman Giovanni Visconti last year after five days of racing. Russian, Aleksandr Vlasov finished third.
Remco Evenepoel Not Keen on Cobbles
Remco Evenepoel would not have ridden the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix this season, even if they hadn’t been cancelled. He does not currently see the cobblestones as his terrain, but conversations with teammates Iljo Keisse and Dries Devenyns may open the door for the future.
In the past few days, Evenepoel could be found in the Flemish Ardennes, where he also rode parts of the Tour of Flanders route. “All the climbs, except the cobblestones because I don’t really like them,” he said to Sporza. “Let me put it this way, I still like to do the Muur van Geraardsbergen, because it is such a mythical climb, but I’m really not going to climb the Oude Kwaremont. That is not my area.”
On the other hand, he has climbed the Berendries often. “I even did it almost every day recently, because I think that’s just a very nice loop, Valkenberg-Berendries and then back over the Kruisberg. I think that is a super nice tour.”
His former teammate Philippe Gilbert is currently chasing his “Strive for Five”. He has already won the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy; all Monuments, only Milan-San Remo is still missing. Does Evenepoel see himself chasing the same series in the long term? “That is a very difficult question, especially now, because I have only been a professional for a year and a half.”
“But I did talk to Iljo (Keisse) about this and also to men like Dries (Devenyns), who has also been in the peloton for a long time and has a lot of experience,” he continued. “And they predict that as I get closer to 30 and a little older, I might want to focus on the cobbled classics. But for the moment I don’t really adhere to that.”
“But let me say that my motivation to go for a climb is higher than to go for a cobblestone section or a short cobblestone climb like the Paterberg for example. I would rather have a climb in the Volta ao Algarve, rather than throw myself at a cobblestone stretch.”
Tiesj Benoot: “Are we going to race at all this season?”
Tiesj Benoot is unable to show off his good form from Paris-Nice in the classics due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. In his own words, he felt stronger than two years ago when he won Strade Bianche. He wonders if there is still going to be any racing in 2020.
“I wonder if we are going to race at all this season. Although I try not to be too busy with that,” said Benoot to Sporza. “This reality is very special. I try to watch it from day to day. But when I resume training next week, it is with the thought that the Tour de France will continue.”
He thinks it will be difficult to move the spring classics to autumn, saying: “There will be races anyway. It will never be the same.” As far as he is concerned, priority must be given to the monuments in a new calendar. But what do you do with the races in Canada? “If the Tour is held a week after Canada, I will not go to Canada.”
Paris-Nice stage 6:
Vincenzo Nibali: Move the Olympic Games to 2021
For Vincenzo Nibali, the season is still dominated by the Olympic road race in Tokyo. He doesn’t think moving the Games to 2021 is a bad idea. “I’m 35 now, so it may still be a goal for me.”
Nibali confirmed in a Facebook Live session that no matter what the season may look like now that the corona virus is spreading around the world, the Olympic road race in Tokyo is still on the cards. “We simply don’t know what my potential race schedule will be. There are many problems and the organisations are trying to find a solution. It all depends on whether the Games continue and the dates of the three major tours.”
The Olympic road race is currently planned four months away. “The Games are held only every four years, so it’s very important,” said Nibali. “We’ll see if they happen or if we have to wait a year. I don’t think moving the Games to 2021 is a bad idea. I’m 35 now, so it can still be a goal for me. It’s all about peaking there.”
Nibali still seems eager to ride the Giro d’Italia, with the Tour only as a consideration if the Games were to be postponed. “I’m going to consult with the team and manager Luca Guercilena, as we always do in winter, to put together an ad hoc calendar. I think all three Grand Tours should stay the same length. I do not agree with the idea of a shortened Giro. That wouldn’t make sense.”
Time yet for Vincenzo:
Dylan van Baarle and Chris Froome Returned from South Africa
Dylan van Baarle has been back in his hometown of Monaco since Wednesday. He had been in South Africa with Chris Froome for a training camp, but due to the spread of the coronavirus, they returned home earlier than planned.
That decision was made overnight, Van Baarle told AD. Although they would rather have stayed. “It was all safe. There were infections in South Africa, but not as many as in Europe. Traveling home was perhaps a greater risk. There is hardly a good decision today. Because if we stayed, the situation exploded there and they shut everything down, you are in trouble.”
Froome hopes to be able to compete for his fifth victory in the Tour de France this season. Van Baarle: “It is difficult to say how good he really is because we are not racing. Chris is not yet at the level where he should be, but this camp has also made him better. It will take a while until the Tour, but it looks good.”
For the time being, the Tour still has a green light, but nothing is certain at this time. “I didn’t even know on Tuesday that I would be leaving South Africa. How I should approach the coming period, I haven’t really discussed this with my trainer yet. It is a pity that races will not take place in the coming months, but I cannot lie awake. There are more important things at the moment.”
Dylan van Baarle and Chris Froome in South Africa:
MPCC Supports Very Strict Health Measures
Because it is a matter of protection for everyone, because the health of the riders has always been our main focus and because we have been committed to fostering credibility for 12 years, MPCC asks everyone, and especially its members, to comply at once with all of the health measures with the same determination that they have shown towards sports and ethical rules.
The efforts of the governments focus on slowing down the propagation of the COVID-19 virus in order to create a sufficient level of immunity among the population. The main goal here is to avoid a huge number of persons getting sick at the same time, thus overcrowding the hospitals and preventing those really in need from getting a sufficient level of care. As a consequence, during the spread of the virus, the governments already have to – or will very soon – restrict the free movement of persons. These restrictions will only get more permissive during an ulterior phase.
In numerous countries, the population is already required to stay home to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. In these areas, MPCC believes that the same rule should apply to everyone, whether you are a mere amateur cyclist or a cycling champion, for as long as imposed and following the different rules enforced by the governments.
The doctor of our movement, Pierre Lebreton, haematologist, has a clear statement for them: “If some of you wonder whether they can go out to train, the answer is no! Not going out is the answer to two potential issues: contaminating the others, and having an accident that would overcrowd the hospitals even more.”
During the following weeks, we are convinced that our 861 members, including 380 professional athletes, males and females, will support this behaviour, whatever the consequences on their professional activity and on their mid-term and long-term sporting goals.
Before anything else, cyclists are global citizens. Solidarity is a crucial value that sport must encourage, especially in these circumstances.
We sincerely hope that our individual behaviours and our collective will are key to defeat this pandemic.
We wish all of you ‘Bon courage’ in this difficult moment.
Divided, but United: A special message from The Wolfpack
We’re going through difficult and trying times, but it’s important to stay safe, take care, think of others, and remain confident better days will come.
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