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Willunga Hill - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Richie PORTE (Australia / BMC Racing Team) pictured during the Santos Tour Down Under 2017 - BikeExchange Stage 5 - in Willunga Hill, Australia on jan 21 - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

Richie Porte has won the first WorldTour race of 2017 – the Santos Tour Down Under. Stage reports, results, quotes and video from Australia and the World Cup cyclocross from Hoogerheide. Belgian coach commits suicide possibly due to doping young riders – Top Story. In other cycling news: Vuelta a San Juan, Quintana and Valverde 2017 schedule, Rémy Mertz looking forward to racing, Vuelta jerseys and Pan American Record charity record. A load of Euro Trash to empty.

TOP STORY: Belgian Coach Commits Suicide
Belgian newspaper and website Nieuwsblad.be has reported that the coach of junior cyclocross rider Fabio Verberckmoes had committed suicide on Wednesday. Seventeen year-old Verberckmoes had tested positive for a ‘cortisone-like substance’ after a second place in a race in Oleye in the Wallonia region of Belgium.

It is said that Verberckmoes had a good previous season, but was not getting the results in the 2016/17 cross season and was riding lesser ‘B’ events in Wallonia. His mother, Erika said: “Fabio had been seeing a new trainer and he always said they were vitamins. We asked him several times if he was sure, he said again and we slept soundly. We trusted him.” She added: “The new coach offered to (train Fabio) us in December during a race, a calm and gentle man. He saw it in Fabio, he kept saying it. He finally put the syringe on January 15th.”

When Fabio’s doping news was imparted to his coach, the man must have promptly taken his own life. According to both the team and the family of Fabio, his positive was possibly the reason for the suicide. “Out of shame. Or because he was afraid of getting a severe punishment. Really it is not clear.” The deceased man’s name has been withheld.

After the announcement of the positive, Verberckmoes was dismissed by his team, Cycling.be-Alphamotorhomes. “A tragedy,” said team manager Eddy Van Bunder. “Fabio has been naive. He knew he could not get syringes. As just about every cyclist, he had a personal coach, a new one that we did not know. A man who absolutely did not have a place in the race, as it turns out. Though I certainly wish no such drama. This is very bad.” The team immediately fired Fabio. “Well. He understood it, we impress everyone in the head that doping has absolutely no place in our team. Everyone knows the consequences if it does happen.”

Verberckmoes is facing a four year ban for the positive test, but he may get a shorter sentence if it can be proven he was given something without his knowledge, but the man who could confirm that is no longer with us.

The career of the boy is possibly over before it started. “What is happening now with us is terrible,” said his mother. “Until the Commission’s decision we can’t say anything about Fabio. With our family, we have long been involved with cycling, but not like this. We are absolutely against doping. Meanwhile, we have taken a lot of blame on our heads. We are not good.”

Fabio Verberckmoes:

Santos Tour Down Under 2017
The breakaway dominated much of Stage 4 of the Santos Tour Down Under. However, after leading from the 12 kilometer mark, the sprinters again swallowed up the escape with kilometers to spare and fought it out for glory at the finish line. Again Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) beat World Champion, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) for the win. Richie Porte (BMC-TAG Heuer) crossed the line safely after a hectic finale, to retain his overall lead.

The road from the day’s start in Norwood to the finish in Campbelltown is less than 10km on the map, but the Tour Down Under managed to stretch it out to 149.5km. This undulating out and back route – the first of this year’s Tour not to feature a circuit – climbed into the Adelaide hills before heading back into the city for the bumpy, slightly uphill finale.

The parkour, while undulating, did not feature any particularly challenging climbs, and encouraged aggressive riding. From the off, a three-man breakaway went up the road and stayed out much of the day. However, despite their best efforts to make the attack stick, the break began to fall apart with 50km to race, with counter attacks from the peloton. The final rider, Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors), pushed hard, but was reeled in with just a few kilometers to go.

As the finish drew close, it was clear that the final kilometer, with its uphill gradient, would make it hard for the fast men, the sprinters were going to have another go at the win. As riders jostled for position, Sagan, was held up as the sprinters clashed in the run in. Having to make his way around different riders’ wheels in his charge for the line, the World champion still managed to take second behind Caleb Ewan.

Campbelltown - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Danny VAN POPPEL (Netherlands / Team Sky) - Caleb EWAN (Australia / Team Orica Scott) - Peter SAGAN (Slowakei / Team Bora - Hansgrohe) pictured during  the Santos Tour Down Under 2017 - Bupa Stage 4 - in Campbelltown, Australia on jan 20 - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

2nd on the stage, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Although I would have, obviously, liked to win, I’m satisfied with today’s result. The squad, again, did an excellent job, but I think I might have started my sprint a bit too late. However, the sensations are good, even if the heat takes its toll. Tomorrow, we have an important day where Jay will fight for his GC chances and I will give it a try again on Sunday.”

4th on the stage, Ben Swift (Team UAE Abu Dhabi): “I really thank my team mates who lead me in a perfect position in the approach of the last bend of the course. I’m aware that they had already worked hard to support our captain Ulissi during the stage, which had been nervous because of the wind, so they additional efforts for me were appreciated. I would have loved to be on the podium, it would have been a good reward for my team mates and for the sponsors of the team.”

Overall leader, Richie Porte (BMC-TAG Heuer): “Yesterday and today, I had so much to lose and not a lot to gain so to get that one done is a massive relief and now it’s Willunga which I know quite well. But that’s a different scenario going into it now. I don’t have to attack, I’ve just got to follow. So it’s not all about the stage win tomorrow, it’s more about trying to defend the ochre jersey. We have a great team and I’m pretty relaxed with where I’m at. If they [General Classification contenders] want to hit out early, we have the team to try and control it. But we have a trump card in Rohan Dennis, he’s lean, he’s strong and he’s pretty motivated. The atmosphere on Willunga is incredible. It’s like riding the Tour de France every year, so it’s a special stage to win. So we’ll just see how it all pans out.”

6th overall, Rohan Dennis (BMC-TAG Heuer): “I think everyone will be pretty aggressive tomorrow but they’re going to have to have pretty good legs. If they’re going to go too early it could actually open them up and they could lose everything, so I’m not 100% sure if they will take that approach but I guess that’s the only way they can really beat Richie. I don’t think anyone can really catch the wheel of Richie unless there is serious bad luck tomorrow. If Richie is there up the front on the last lap of Willunga, the way he climbed Paracombe I say good luck to anyone.”

Santos Tour Down Under Stage 4 Result:
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott in 3:45:19
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Sky
4. Ben Swift (GB) Team UAE Abu Dhabi
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data
6. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
7. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
8. Callum Scotson (Aus) UniSA-Australia
9. Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar
10. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNl-Jumbo.

Santos Tour Down Under Overall After Stage 4:
1. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC-TAG Heuer in 14:20:18
2. Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar at 0:20
3. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-Scott at 0:22
4. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:24
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data at 0:27
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC-TAG Heuer at 0:29
7. Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Astana
8. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Team UAE Abu Dhabi
9. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lotto Soudal
10. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo.

Stage 4:

Richie Porte (BMC-TAG Heuer) has continued to re-write Santos Tour Down Under history with his fourth consecutive win on Willunga Hill, with a stunning solo attack on the final ascent of the climb on Stage 5. Porte crossed the line with a 20-second advantage on Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott), to extended his lead to 48 seconds over Chaves in the General Classification.

The penultimate stage of the Santos Tour Down Under was the final battle for the General Classification contenders and with Porte holding a 22-second advantage before the stage, the battle for the ochre jersey was far from over.

A four-rider breakaway went clear soon after the McLaren Vale start and built a steady advantage over the BMC Racing Team-controlled bunch. Three remaining breakaway riders remained in front on the first ascent of Willunga Hill but will 10km to go the reduced peloton was closing in.

At the bottom of the final ascent it was a small group of riders left with Porte joined by teammate Rohan Dennis. As riders began to drop, Porte attacked with 1.7km to go and managed to accelerate clear of his rivals and take the solo win for the fourth time in his career. Porte’s win was enough to secure the King of the Mountain classification, with just one stage remaining.

Willunga Hill - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Richie PORTE (Australia / BMC Racing Team) pictured during  the Santos Tour Down Under 2017 - BikeExchange Stage 5 - in Willunga Hill, Australia on jan 21 - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

Interview with stage winner and overall leader, Richie Porte (BMC-TAG Heuer):
Richie, you’ve won on Willunga Hill for the fourth consecutive year. How does it feel?

“To win the stage like that is great. I get the accolades up there on the podium as the winner, but I can’t say enough for my teammates. Each and every one of them put me in a great position today and it’s just nice to finish it off. With one day to go I’d love to win this race. I’m so happy.”

How was it on the final climb?
“It was the hardest climb up Willunga Hill that I’ve had so far. I didn’t want to go so early but I didn’t think they would attack so early on Willunga Hill. I was in a world of pain there. But the other guys were more stuffed than I was so I think that was the perfect moment to go.”

With one day remaining you have all but wrapped up the ochre jersey.
“Tomorrow’s not a procession. I’m in a good position and I think I can stay out of trouble. I just want to finish it off tomorrow. I’ve always wanted to win this race since I raced it with UniSA. I’ve said it before, I’d love to have my name up there.”

How confident were you ahead of today’s stage?
“It’s been a hard week of racing and they [my rivals] were good. They pushed me. Team SKY made that really hard at the bottom which kind of played into my hands a bit. At the end of the day obviously I’ve shown that I’m in good form. To win two stages here is just incredible. This is not an easy climb so to win it is great for the morale. For me the biggest goal this year is July with the Tour de France.”

3rd on the stage and 2nd overall, Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott): “It was really hard, especially on the climbs but it was beautiful at the same time,” Chaves said. “There was a lot of people at the border, it was like the Tour de France for three kilometers, twice. The team worked really well for me. All day they protected me from the wind and also gave me bottles and put me in the sweet position. We tried to split the group with Sky before the second climb in the wind but it’s not really strong so everyone started (the climb) together. Richie, like the last years, (went) one kilometer from the finish. It’s impressive, congratulations to him, and we just fight for the podium. We were going really fast and when (Richie) attacked the first time I am with him. He rested for like 10seconds and attacked again and I can’t go with him. For the moment I am second on GC and I’m happy to start the season in this form. We are in the third week of January and this is a WorldTour race so we can’t complain, it’s good.”

4th on the stage and 5th overall,Diego Ulissi (Team UAE Abu Dhabi): “Today I aimed to climb up the general classification and to enter in the top five. It was not an easy goal, I was aware that a top performance would have been necessary, also because in the general classification there were many riders in few seconds of gap. On the final ascent, I focused my attention only on my efforts, I had good feedbacks from my leg and I succeeded in crossing the line with the first chasers of Porte. Porte demonstrated to be the best, my compliments; on my side, I appreciated my performance, it is good to have these feelings in the first seasonal race and it is good to be able to compete with many of the best riders of the world. We won’t decrease our attention until the last meter of tomorrow final stage in Adelaide, the city circuit is fast and could give surprises. I’d really love to obtain a place in the top 5 of the final general classification, that would be a huge satisfaction and I feel that could be a good way to thank our new sponsors and our president Mr Matar for their commitment with the team.”

5th on the stage and 4th overall, Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It’s a tough result to just finish off the podium after today’s stage. The boys rode really well and we were calm during the first 110km of the race. Coming into the first climb we were in a good position and weren’t stressed, and coming into the final we had a bit of a crosswind but I had Peter still with me and he kept me calm. We came into the final climb in a good position and at the bottom I could see a couple of the guys behind me in the GC that were struggling, so I didn’t follow Richie Porte in the last kilometer – I knew that his acceleration would be too much for me, so I stayed with Chaves and we brought Henao back in. Coming into the final 1.5km I touched wheels with Henao and I had to stop and restart and just as that happened Haas and Ulissi came back coming into the final. I gave it everything to the line but I couldn’t quite get the seconds I needed for the podium. I’m a bit disappointed but I rode my best.”

Santos Tour Down Under Stage 5 Result:
1. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC-TAG Heuer in 3:40:13
2. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data at 0:20
3. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-Scott
4. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Team UAE Abu Dhabi
5. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Nathan Earle (Aus) UniSA-Australia at 0:23
7. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lotto Soudal
8. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky
9. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
10. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac.

Santos Tour Down Under Overall After Stage 5:
1. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC-TAG Heuer in 18:00:21
2. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-Scott at 0:48
3. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data at 0:51
4. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:54
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Team UAE Abu Dhabi at 0:59
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC-TAG Heuer in 1:02
7. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lotto Soudal
8. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb
10. Nathan Earle (Aus) UniSA-Australia at 1:06.

Stage 5:

Richie Porte (BMC-TAG Heuer) crossed the finish line at the Santos Tour Down Under Stage 6 criterium to secure the overall win for the first time in his career. After standing on the podium in 2015 and 2016 in second place, Porte stamped his authority on the 2017 edition with two impressive solo victories on the Paracombe and Willunga climbs, to win with the biggest winning margin in the race’s history. With a 48-second lead before stage 6, Porte was kept safe by his teammates as the peloton tackled the 20-lap circuit around Adelaide and crossed the line safely to retain his lead.

There was plenty to play for on the final day of the Tour Down Under, despite Porte having a stranglehold on the overall title. Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) started the day in second place on the general classification but a narrow three second margin to Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) meant that bonus seconds could see a shift in the podium.

The racing didn’t disappoint, with the first intermediate sprint hotly contested and won by McCarthy who moved himself within three seconds of Chaves and into third overall by countback. A bigger breakaway group then formed, easing the pressure as they swept up the second intermediate sprint points with no threat to the overall contenders.

Racing calmed down in the build up to the crucial final sprint which would determine the last stage victor and overall podium. Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) again showed he was the fastest rider in the field to claim his fourth stage, whilst the minor placings eliminated any threat to Chaves’ overall standing. Jay McCarthy took 3rd overall from Nathan Haas and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) won the King of the Mountains.

Adelaide - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Peter SAGAN (Slowakei / Team Bora - Hansgrohe) - Danny VAN POPPEL (Netherlands / Team Sky) - Caleb EWAN (Australia / Team Orica Scott) - Marko KUMP (Slowenia / Team Abu Dhabi) pictured during  the Santos Tour Down Under 2017 - Be Safe Be Seen MAC Stage 6 - in Adelaide, Australia on jan 21 - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

2017 Santos Tour Down Under overall winner, Richie Porte (BMC-TAG Heuer):
Richie, how does it feel to win the Santos Tour Down Under?

“It’s an incredible relief. I think back to nine years ago when this race really kicked off my career. This is where I came a wild card. Then two years later I was in the WorldTour. So to win it is a massive relief. I’ve been close two times before so it just feels fantastic. Cycling is kicking massive goals in Australia with the crowds you’re seeing on the road. I must say I’m so happy with my team too. They rode incredibly today and the whole week so it’s just an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction to win this.”

When were you able to enjoy the victory?
“It’s not over until you ride over the line. I felt good and the team put in me in a great position all day and kept me out of trouble. So it was probably the most uneventful final criterium that I’ve done on this circuit, so that’s thanks to the team.”

You first rode the Santos Tour Down Under in 2008. How would you look at your career since then?
“It’s been a journey for sure with ups and downs. There have been so many great people who have helped me. I’d like to say thanks to my parents and the teams that I’ve ridden for over the years. Hopefully it will be a great season for me and I’m really looking forward to getting back to Europe and getting stuck in.”

How much confidence does this win give you?
“Quite a few of the guys here will do a program in the lead up to the Tour de France with me. That’s exciting that I’ve got a team built around me for the first time ever. I’ve often been the plan B but BMC Racing Team has put a lot of faith in me this year. I think today I’ve shown that I can repay that faith they’ve put in me.”

How does this bode for the rest of your season?
“My next race is Paris-Nice. I love that race. It’s sort of my adopted home race in Europe. It’s early days but I’m ok with any pressure. If there was pressure here from the team, then I didn’t feel it. Nothing was really ever said. It was just in the media that people were saying that I was the favorite.”

Stage winner, Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott): “I actually joked with my girlfriend at the start of the week that I would go for four stages but I didn’t actually think it was going to be possible. I kept backing up and feeling good every day, the team backed me 100% on the days that could have gone either way and I really have them to thank. I felt like the pressure got more as I won more. It’s not usual that you get lucky enough to win all of the sprints in one race and I was just waiting for something bad to happen because there’s a whole lot of luck that goes into winning a race.”

2nd on the stage, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was a really good race for us. I heard that every year the race is getting more difficult, and it gets harder to win stages, but I think I had a really good week and I enjoyed being here.”

3rd on the stage, Marko Kump (UAE Abu Dhabi): “The sprint was very fast, it was not simple to recover positions, however I had good legs and I launched my action from behind on the left side of the road. Unfortunately, I had to slow down to avoid an opponents, then I could overtake Van Poppel and I was close to Sagan. The third place it’s a good achievement, our goal was to obtain a place on the podium and we’re happy we did it.”

2nd overall, Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott): “We are really really happy, not just me but all the team. We won four stages, the (People’s Choice) criterium and second in overall so this is a beautiful form for starting the season. Richie started very well here. He showed a really good performance and on the two climbs he had no contenders. We came here for the summer because the other seasons, for me, start super hard in the beginning, in March or April when it’s cold, and it’s not really good. So we tried something different, we started early, so we will see. It’s one experiment.”

3rd overall, Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I’m super happy – we had the plan to go for the intermediate in the team meeting this morning and it worked. I have to thank the team so much – we controlled it from the start and made sure the breakaway wasn’t gone for the intermediate. Having the current World Champion, Peter Sagan, leading me out, is bloody awesome, so I’m really happy I’m on the podium.”

4th overall, Nathan Haas (Dimension Data): “The competition at the Tour Down Under was a formidable one and I think we have been presenting ourselves well over the last few days. The energy we have in the team feels like a big win, and that is what makes me really proud about this week. Apparently the stars didn’t align for us today. McCarthy was strongly led out by Sagan and bumped ahead of me on GC. I fought my best but it just wasn’t meant to be. I came close at the Nationals and I came close here. I feel like I’m going in the right direction and I think something big is coming, so as a team we’ll go hard at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.”

6th overall, Rohan Dennis (BMC-TAG Heuer): “We did everything perfectly. Obviously I didn’t have great luck on one of the stages but the best man in the peloton won, and the most-deserving. He’s been second twice and he’s always constantly coming back just as motivated every year. The fact that he’s able to do that every year in, year out, is impressive and I’m really, really happy for him. I haven’t been quiet about the transformation from pure time trials and one week races to Grand Tours. That was my role here this week in that whenever something went wrong or I got dropped or when you would sit up and try and save energy, it was all about trying to minimize any time loss. It’s all practice for when I go to the Giro d’Italia this year, or the Tour de France or Vuelta a España in other years. It’s all about making sure I don’t sit up when something goes wrong or I have some bad luck, it’s about being consistent. It was a learning curve this week.”

7th overall, Rafael Valls (Lott Soudal): “I am satisfied with my result here at Tour Down Under. It’s a good performance after all these months without competition. I felt good on training, but didn’t know how it would be during a race. The past week has proven that my condition is really well. This is good for the confidence. I already felt quite good on day one. The finale of the second stage, to Paracombe, was very explosive. I am glad I could follow the strongest riders in the race and that I finished in a group that battled for the fourth place. Also at Willunga Hill I was good, but at the end faster riders gained some seconds. So I could have ended up a bit higher on GC, as the gaps are very small. Richie Porte was the strongest rider in the race, there is no doubt about that. We are now staying another week in Australia and will participate in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race next Sunday. We want to do well again with the team.”

KOM, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal): “Before the start, we had agreed within the team that we would keep the group together until the first KOM sprint. Sander Armée closed the gap on the escapees. Adam Hansen was in the right place at the right moment and he accelerated with me on his wheel. Adam knows what to do in these kind of situations thanks to his experience in the train of André Greipel. It’s thanks to the teamwork that I could pick up these extra points and can take the KOM jersey home with me. It’s always nice to win a classification in a stage race. Several of our sponsors are on the Australian market as well, so for them it’s great that a Lotto Soudal rider can go up on stage. For me this is a confirmation after the hard work I’ve done the past winter.”

Yukiya Arashiro (Bahrain-Merida): “You know, it’s a new team, new start, first race, we are first time here for racing, no? Every day, better and better, no? Maybe soon we will get our first win. I feel that this tour was good for us and I am happy to ride for this team. Teammates, team staff, good organizations, thank you to everybody.”

Santos Tour Down Under stage 6 Result:
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott in 1:55:28
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Marko Kump (Slo) Team UAE Abu Dhabi
4. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Sky
5. Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ
7. Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
8. Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar
9. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data
10. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe.

Santos Tour Down Under Final Overall:
1. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC-Heuer in 19:55:49
2. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-Scott at 0:48
3. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:51
4. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Team UAE Abu Dhabi at 0:59
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC-TAG Heuer at 1:02
7. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lotto Soudal
8. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb
10. Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha-Alpecin at 1:04.

Final Stage 6:

Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup – Hoogerheide 2017
Lars van der Haar won the final Telenet UCI World Cup race in Hoogerheide on Sunday. The Dutchman won with a solo effort ahead of his Telenet Fidea teammates Tom Meeusen and Corné van Kessel. World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) didn’t have to ride as he had already enough points for the overall win and decided to prepare for next weeks World championships in Luxembourg. Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) had a bad day to finish outside the top 20.

The frozen conditions made the course fast, but also made it difficult for riders to take any gaps. Favorite for the win. Van der Poel looked to be going for yet another win and eventual winner Van der Haar had been delayed by a crash. After a fast first lap Van der Poel eased up to allow the field to close up and by halfway there was more than 25 riders still in contention.

Van der Poel escaped with French champion Clément Venturini (Cofidis), Van der Haar crossed to them and then Tom Meeusen dragged a group of around a dozen up to them. After a hard ride on the front by Van der poel, Van der Haar came to the front to take a gap as Van der Poel held the others back through a single track section. Meeusen and Van Kessel also slowed the chase behind giving Van Haar the chance to build up a good lead. Van der Poel sat up and dropped back over 20 places.

Venturini, Van Kessel and Tim Merlier (Crelan-Charles) rode away from the other chasers, but Meeusen pulled the group back together with one lap to go, but Van der Haar already had a minutes advantage. Meeusen, Van Kessel, Venturini and Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) escaped the others and then before the finishing straight Van Kessel and Meeusen dropped Venturini to fight it out for the podium places. Meeusen won the sprint from Van Kessel, Venturini took 4th ahead of Pauwels with Merlier 5th.

Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) had already won the UCI cyclocross World Cup with 530 points, Kevin Pauwels was second with 474 points and Tom Meeusen in third with 447 points. Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) jumped up to fourth, past Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate-Circus) who dropped to fifth.

Hoogerheide - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea Lions)  pictured during World Cup veldrijden - Cyclocross - Querfeldein in Hoogerheide, Netherlands - elite - photo Anton Vos/Cor Vos © 2017

Race winner, Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea): “Very unexpected, It was special. The last lap I couldn’t stop smiling. I was struggling in the beginning but then I came back in the race. Van der Poel just did a hard lap. I thought, I’ll go to the front and help him, and go on. I think, at that Van der Poel thought, this is ok, let him go. Behind him, were some teammates of mine. It gave me a big gap in a short period of time. Then I was alone. The support of my teammates was really nice and it offered me a big gap. Still, it was difficult to hold onto my lead as it was such a fast course. It was cool to see that my teammates also got onto the podium. Worlds? I’m good but it’ll be a completely different race. Mathieu? Don’t worry. He trained hard. I believe in Mathieu. We all can.”

Dutch champion, Mathieu Van Der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) was not on a good day finishing 24th: “It wasn’t what I expected, I hoped to go better. It’s no drama as next week is what matters most. I’m a bit disappointed but prefer it today over next week. After my first acceleration I realized that there was no punch on my move. I started becoming worse and worse. My legs were really feeling the fatigue. I tried to finish the race as well as possible, but after a while nothing was going right. Technically it wasn’t good either. On a bad day, everything goes bad. The last two years I was always very good here and the week afterwards it was slightly less good. Hopefully it’ll be the other way around this time.”

Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup – Hoogerheide Result:
1. Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions in 1:03:32
2. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:44
3. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:45
4. Clement Venturini (Fra) Cofidis at 0:47
5. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games
6. Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Charlesteam at 0:51
7. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts at 0:53
8. Marcel Meisen (Ger) Steylaerts-Verona at 0:54
9. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions
10. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon.

Hoogerheide 2017 action:

Joris Nieuwenhuis Wins at Hoogerheide and Seals Overall Victory in U23 UCI Cyclocross World Cup
Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED) has taken the overall win at the U23 Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup, after an exciting finale to the end of the 2016-2017 series this morning at Hoogerheide where he crossed the line in first place.

With three laps to go, Nieuwenhuis was leading the race with a significant gap against his chasers. His final win of the series, totals his podium tally to five out of six from this World Cup.

After the podium ceremony Nieuwenhuis said: “It was one of my goals to be in good shape throughout the whole year and I’m really glad that I managed to achieve this. To finish the series with a win at Hoogerheide could not be better and it gives me some more confidence going into the World Championships. Although the worlds is a race in itself so you can never predict the outcome. It’s great to take the overall World Cup win, especially wearing my new Team Sunweb colors.”

Joris Nieuwenhuis in Hoogerheide:
Hoogerheide - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Joris Nieuwenhuis (Sunweb)   pictured during World Cup veldrijden - Cyclocross - Querfeldein in Hoogerheide, Netherlands - Under 23 - photo Anton Vos/Cor Vos © 2017

Bahrain Merida for Vuelta a San Juan with Vincenzo Nibali as Captain
35th edition of the Vuelta a San Juan, one of the classics of South American calendar, is starting on Monday.

The race has 7 stages; 5 are in line with a probable sprint finish, one is 12km individual time trial and the last one, “Queen Stage”, with the finish at the top of Alto Colorado, has a 15km climb with maximum gradient of 7 % and an average of 4.5 %.

“The team is ready,” says sports director Paolo Slongo. “We have worked well in the past months and here in San Juan the team is competitive and can do well, both uphill and in the ITT. The two unknowns are the heat and the South American riders who are in the middle of the season so far ahead in the preparation than their European colleagues.”

For the ITT the team can count on three very strong athletes: Manuele Boaro, Ramūnas Navardauskas and Kanstantsin Siutsou. The latter said: “The route is suitable for those who develop a lot of strength and manage to push big gears. Me and my mates – we can aim for a good result.”

In addition to the time trial, the Argentine race has a very specific climb towards the end. “It is not so much the slope,” said Vincenzo Nibali at the end of the reconnaissance, “but we found a great heat, headwind and the altitude above 2500 meters to be an extra element of difficulty.” At his side will be two experienced riders, Valerio Agnoli and Franco Pellizotti, who will help the captain in what appears to be the decisive stage of the Tour.

Beside Bahrain Merida team another three WorldTour teams, six European professional teams, different continental teams from South America and the national representatives from Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile will be at the start in San Juan.

Caja Rural – Seguros RGA Begins 2017 in Argentina
On Thursday, Caja Rural – Seguros RGA traveled to Argentina to start the Spanish team’s eight consecutive season in the professional peloton as the riders take on Vuelta a San Juan from the 23rd to the 29th of January.

The majority of the seven stages awaiting the strong field, which includes several World Tour teams, are expected to suit the sprinters. On paper, only stage three and five will create significant time differences in the general classification. The third stage is an 11.9 km flat time trial in San Juan, while stage five is the only uphill finish in the race with a 15 km long ascent towards the top of Alto Colorado.

Caja Rural – Seguros RGA will line up at Vuelta a San Juan with the following six riders: Jonathan Lastra, Miguel Ángel Benito, Sergio Pardilla, Antonio Molina, Héctor Sáez and Rafael Reis, one of the team’s nine new signings this season.

Sports director, Eugenio Goikoetxea: “We go to Vuelta a San Juan with a very balanced team with riders well-suited for both the flat and the hilly stages. It’s the first race of the season for us and we will have to wait and see how the race evolves before starting to look at the general classification.”

Rafael Reis: “I feel good right now. I have been able to train well and I’m looking forward to giving it a go in the time trial on stage 3. However, I haven’t done many races against World Tour teams, so I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. The most important thing is that the team does well.”

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 2017:

Nairo to ride both Giro & Tour in 2017
Movistar Team defines early season schedules for Quintana and Valverde; Colombian set to ride Corsa Rosa, which he already won in 2017.

Nairo Quintana will be at the start of the 100th Giro d’Italia. On the way to the biggest challenge of his season, the Tour de France, the Colombian rider will be back in the Corsa Rosa, which already saw him coming victorious through his maiden and, so far, only attempt to conquer pink, back in 2014. Quintana will thus aim for the Giro-Tour double for the first time in his career, looking for his fourth two-GT challenge after his presences in Giro-Vuelta, in 2014 (winner in Italy, DNF in Spain after wearing the red jersey), and in Tour-Vuelta for the last two seasons (2nd, then 4th in 2015; 3rd & winner in 2016).

Nairo will participate in at least one of the Mallorca Challenge trophies next week. Also confirmed are his appearances at both the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and the Abu Dhabi Tour, his first UCI WorldTour event of the season, during the month of February. Tirreno-Adriatico, in March, will be his final race before taking on an altitude stay at his home in Colombia, a final preparation for the Italian Grand Tour he’ll complete with the Vuelta a Asturias in late April.

In turn, the Movistar Team’s other big leader Alejandro Valverde, now recovered from the training crash sustained last week, will race a couple trophies from the Mallorca Challenge to start his season. Later on, he will be present at the Vuelta a Murcia, Clásica de Almería, Vuelta a Andalucía, Paris-Nice and one between Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al País Vasco (he will be at the GP Miguel Indurain either way), before taking on his first main goal of the season in the Ardennes Classics (Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège), which have seen him claiming seven victories and 14 podium finishes. The Tour de France and the Vuelta a España will be his Grand Tours this season.

Rémy Mertz counting down to his pro début at Challenge Mallorca
In a few days time, Rémy Mertz will make his pro début. Last week, the 21-year-old Belgian was in Mallorca for the second team training camp of the pre-season. Tomorrow, he heads back to the island to take part in the Challenge Mallorca (26 – 29 January), which will be his first race as a pro.

Rémy Mertz: “I can’t wait for my first pro race. This time of the year is completely different from last year. The U23 season doesn’t start until the end of February. Now I will be racing much earlier in the year and in completely different circumstances. That should also be in nicer weather, although I’ve seen that it has also snowed in Mallorca a few days ago. I am used to snow though. I live in Arlon, in the Ardennes. We’ve had up to ten centimeters of snow. Luckily I have the newest Revbox to train indoors if necessary.”

“I’m already leaving for Mallorca on Saturday. Next week, I will take part in the Challenge Mallorca, but it’s also a third training camp. I returned from the previous training camp only a few days ago. In the beginning of the training camp I had some stomach ache, so I had to adapt my program. Luckily, it was not too serious. I just needed a few days of rest and then I could do the trainings as planned.”

“The tempo was higher than at the training camp in December. We also trained more intensively and did more specific trainings. We were divided in groups, depending on the type of rider you are. I was part of a group of climbers. The past few months I learnt a lot about the way of riding ad eating. It’s also good to speak other languages with the staff and teammates.”

Rémy Mertz:

La Vuelta 2017 and Santini: Six Jerseys for Six Stages
As part of the celebrations for the International Tourism Fair in Madrid, Santini Cycling Wear and La Vuelta are presenting six new jerseys dedicated to various stages of La Vuelta 2017. The jerseys were made by Santini Cycling Wear, an historic Italian company which also joins the Spanish tour as official partner from this year.

· Nîmes, Madrid, Asturias, Granada, La Rioja and the Angliru are the special jerseys of La Vuelta 2017.
· Aside from the four official jerseys for the respective classifications, the six special jerseys are unique pieces in a collection aimed at cycling enthusiasts eager to wear the rollercoaster emotions of La Vuelta.
· The jerseys will be available to purchase on www.santinisms.it and www.lavuelta.com and select cycling stores worldwide.

Santini Cycling Wear and La Vuelta are marking the International Tourism Fair in Madrid today by presenting a new capsule collection designed as an homage to Spain. These technical garments embody and communicate all the emotion and history of the race and, of course, the backdrops to La Vuelta 2017.

Complete cycling kits designed and manufactured by Santini Cycling Wear which from this year will partner the stage race that starts on Saturday, August 19 from Nîmes in France. The prestige of the Santini brand, which is internationally renowned for the quality of its products and its long technical cycling clothing tradition, was the key factor in sparking this synergic new relationship.

“Partnering La Vuelta is a huge source of pride for us,” declared Santini Cycling Wear CEO Monica Santini, “because the Spanish tour is becoming an increasingly high-profile part of World Tour calendar. We intend to be part of that growth through this collaboration and will pour all our know-how into the products in the range dedicated to the event”. “These jerseys consolidate the Vuelta brand as a unique entity in the worldwide sporting landscape. We want people to feel pride when wearing our jerseys and for them to display La Vuelta wherever they go”, added Javier Guillén, General Director of Unipublic.

Aside from the four official jerseys for the Tour classifications (red for the overall race leader, white for the combined classification leader, green for the points leader and blue polka dot for the best climber, King of the Mountains), Santini Cycling Wear and La Vuelta are also unveiling six full kits comprising jersey, bib shorts, socks, cap and gloves: KM Cero, Nîmes, El Infierno, La Rioja, Asturias and Granada.

The KM Cero jersey is dedicated to Puerta del Sol, one of the most famous squares in Madrid’s historic old town. It has a wind rose inlaid into its cobbled surface which marks Kilometre Zero or the starting point for Spain’s radial main road network. This also works as a clever reference to the Kilometre Zero concept for line races. The Santini-designed jersey is a mix of dark and light blue, and features a motif comprising a sequence of zeros in red and yellow, the colors of the Spanish flag.

The El Infierno jersey is dedicated to the Angliru climb, one of the toughest in Europe, which has been reintroduced into one of the stages this year. At its steepest, the Asturian climb’s incline easily exceeds 20%, earning it the nickname of “El Infierno”. The Santini jersey is very fittingly in the hellish colors of red and black with the El Infierno moniker emblazoned on the chest where it melds with Angliru name and a repeated fork motif to underscore just how diabolically grueling the climb is.

The jerseys will be available to purchase from the Santini Maglificio Sportivo site (www.santinisms.it), the official La Vuelta web store (www.lavuelta.com) and select cycling stores worldwide.

Special Forces Veteran/Novice Cyclist Targets Pan American Record to Raise £1,000,000 for Heads Together
As a soldier with the UK Special Forces unit the Special Boat Service, Dean Stott pushed himself to the limit executing the most harrowing of missions. He describes his new venture, a quest to break the world record for cycling the length of North and South America, a total of almost 14,000 miles, as ‘the biggest challenge of my life’.

“Physically it’s going to be hard. Psychologically, it’s probably going to be harder,” declared the 16-year veteran of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. “With close friends in the military suffering from PTSD, I was keen to focus on mental health. I’m aware that mental health is an area that affects all walks of life and not just military personnel and so I wanted to raise that awareness and lift the stigma that accompanies it.” One of the goals of the Heads Together organization is to enable people to be open with their mental problems, in much the same way that Stott must be with his own difficulties during the project.

Prince Harry thanked Dean for supporting Heads Together in a video message, which is featured on Stott’s website and social media channels. Prince Harry said: “Every one of us will face hard times at some point in our lives. We should all feel able to talk openly about it and get the support we need to get through it – we are just storing up problems for later life if we don’t. No one should be put off getting the support they need because they are worried what other people think.”

A television show will be created to further publicize the ride, as well as substantial digital content throughout Stott’s training, preparation and the challenge itself. Discussions are currently taking place with network partners and sponsors, the details of which will be made available in due course.

Information on the Pan American Highway Challenge, along with the video, can be found at Facebook: Pan American Highway Challenge 2018 and website: deanstott.com Contributions can be made at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PanAmericanHighway18. All donations made from the site will go directly to Heads Together, with the funds to cover the ride and associated expenses to come from sponsors. Any sponsorship and merchandising funds over and above costs will also be directed to the charity. In addition, the production team will produce content throughout Stott’s endeavor designed to raise awareness of relevant mental health topics.

Facebook: facebook.com/Pan-American-Highway-Challenge-2018-1784111865139734/
Instagram: PAH2018
Twitter: PAH_2018
Web: deanstott.com

Pan American Highway Challenge from FourNine Productions on Vimeo.

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