What's Cool In Road Cycling
Hamme - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Mathieu van der Poel pictured during the Flandirencross, the third stage of the DVV verzekeringen trofee in Hamme, Belgium, on sunday 27/11/2016 - photo PN/Cor Vos © 2016

EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

A double win at the weekend for Mathieu van der Poel and two 2nd places for the World champion, Wout Van Aert. Full reports, results and video from Hamme and Zeven. Will there be war again between the race organizers and the UCI? – TOP STORY. In other cycling news: WorldTour and ProConti licenses, contract news from Cycling Academy and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, no 192 in Gent-Wevelgem, Vuelta a Murcia still a 1 day race,teams for the Étoile de Bessèges, Peter Velits retires, Dimension Data show off their new kit and we finish with some retro video of Jacques Anquetil. A full EUROTRASH sack to empty!

TOP STORY: UCI/Race Organizers Battle Reignited
Race organizers; ASO, RCS Sport and Flanders Classics announced that team sizes would be reduced in their events in 2017 (read bellow), basically that Grand Tours would now have 8 and other events 7 riders.

Then, the Union Cycliste Internationale stated that they [the race organizers] could not decide to change the rules of the sport: “The UCI wishes to clarify the current position regarding team sizes. Whilst a potential reduction in team sizes may reflect a view held by some stakeholders, including some race organizers, any changes to the regulations governing men’s professional road cycling must be agreed by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC), on which the race organizers are fully represented. In UCI WorldTour events, the number of starting riders per team is 9 for Grand Tours and 8 for other events. However, subject to prior approval by the Professional Cycling Council, the organizer may fix the number of starting riders per team at 7. The organizer shall request the permission of the Professional Cycling Council on or before 1st January of the year of the event.”

The decision was taken without any consultation with the teams, managers or the rider organizations. ASO has wanted smaller team for many years and the UCI had agreed to look at request, but that there would be change in 2017. The many team managers have also expressed their displeasure with the move, stating that they could have employed less riders and staff for the season, but that would have put around ten people out of work.

Next move? ASO threatens to leave the WorldTour again and as always it’s the teams and riders who lose out.

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A reduction in the number of riders for the RCS Sport, Flanders Classics and A.S.O. races
Following the General Assembly of the International Association of Cycling Race Organizers (AIOCC), RCS Sport, Flanders Classics and A.S.O have taken the decision to reduce the number of riders per team at the start of their races. The number of riders per team will thus decrease from 9 to 8 on the Grand Tours and from 8 to 7 on the other events.

This decision responds to two-pronged objective: the first being to improve the safety conditions for the riders with a smaller peloton on roads equipped with more and more street furniture. The second, which is a fortunate consequence of the first, is to make it more difficult to dominate a race as well as enhance conditions for events to offer better racing for cycling fans.

This decision will go into effect for the 2017 season, the number of teams will obviously remain the same.

UCI’s Brian Cookson with Tom Van Damme, president of the Belgian cycling federation and Wouter Vandenhaute of Flanders Classics:
Gent - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Brian Cookson, president of UCI, Tom Van Damme, president of the Belgian cycling federation and Wouter Vandenhaute of Flanders Classics pictured during the presentation of the Flanders Classics cycling races 2016 at the Opera House of Ghent, Belgium. Flanders Classics is an official cooperation among the organizers of the classic cycle races held in Flanders - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2016

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DVV verzekeringen trofee KwadrO Flandriencross – Hamme 2016
Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) took his second win of the weekend in the Flandriencross on Sunday. The Dutch champion won solo again, ahead of World champion Wout van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice), Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus) was third.

It was a fast start and Laurens Sweeck took the lead from the gun with Wout van Aert chasing and Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Mathieu van der Poel close behind. Van der Poel attacked on the second lap and dropped everyone except Wout van Aert, but it was obvious who was the strongest rider in the race. By the 4th lap Van der Poel was on his own. From then on the Dutch champion held the others off all the way to the line, but he never had more than 10 seconds lead. Van Aert and Sweeck worked together for podium places, but the World champion had the better sprint for second place. Van Aert holds the overall lead in the DVV Trofee Series.

Around halfway, Vincent Baestaens and Jens Adams were arguing about an earlier problem, where Adams had blocked Baestaens. Baestaens took a swing at Adams and was disqualified.

Hamme - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Mathieu van der Poel pictured during the Flandirencross, the third stage of the DVV verzekeringen trofee in  Hamme, Belgium, on sunday 27/11/2016  - photo PN/Cor Vos © 2016

Race winner, Van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon): “It was still more difficult than expected, I was not the plan to be alone in the lead so early. Well, a lot of riders were still together at the front,” he explained. “I do not like to ride in a big group. So I accelerated and I could keep the advantage. I had the idea to keep the lead at around ten-seconds, but it proved more difficult than expected. They rode really fast behind me. I used more energy more than yesterday when I still had it a bit easier. The race in Zeven suited me better. Normally I am good at defending a small lead under pressure, but I was happy when I crossed the line because I could not make any mistake. It is a difficult circuit and I am glad that I could get my first win here in the pro ranks. I’m in a good flow and hope to maintain it for a while. I have always said that I needed two months to be on top after my injury. Well, now that time has come.”

2nd, Wout van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice): “Mathieu is currently just better, but I can also add a few more percent. I do not panic. I’ve also had many victories. Early on, I decided to set my own pace, I did my own race as I like to do. Mathieu came to the front and when he accelerated, I was not in a good position and honestly, it was also a bit too fast for me. We worked well together (with Sweeck). That’s better than to ride against each other and we both end up on the podium. The pace was very fast. It was such a race that it is very fast and that suits me less. The lead seemed surmountable. We got closer but never reached his wheel. He is good at defending such a gap and I knew that we rode for second place. With two laps to go we got a little closer and we believed a bit in it again but yes, he had to make a mistake. We continued to ride and I was finally second. I hope to have a battle with Mathieu again next week in Francorchamps. For the moment, he is that little bit stronger, but I do not panic. It seems like I haven’t won for a long time but in the end it is not that many race. I won on the Koppenberg. Since then he has been the best but I can still add a few percent. On Monday, I will go to Spain for a training camp with the team. I will train well, rest and ride on Saturday in Francorchamps.”

3rd, Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus): “I tried to get a fast start but Mathieu quickly joined me and immediately got a gap of 10 seconds, I think that we kept the gap at that mark for the entire race. We gained two, three-seconds but we could not close the gap. As long as you are at 10 seconds, you still put him under pressure and he may make some mistakes.”

DVV verzekeringen trofee KwadrO Flandriencross – Hamme Result:
1. Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon in 57:50
2. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice at 0:06
3. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus at 0:07
4. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 0:20
5. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:28
6. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 0:29
7. Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice at 1:16
8. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts at 1:18
9. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:29
10. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:53.

All the races from Hamme:

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Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup – Zeven 2016
Mathieu Van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) won round 4 of the Telenet UCI WorldCup in Zeven, Germany on Saturday. Even after a bad start, he was too strong for World Champion Wout van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice). Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) was third and Van Aert is still WorldCup leader.

Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Lions) was the first leader, followed by Van Aert and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games), Van der Poel at this point was well down the field. Van Aert put the pressure on and only Meeusen could follow, they built up a lead of 10 seconds at the end of 2 laps. Van der Poel caught the chase group of Vanthourenhout, Toon Aerts and Kevin Pauwels. Van Aert dropped Meeusen.

On the 4th lap; Van Aert was on his own, Meeusen at 8 seconds and Van der Poel with the chase group were at 15 seconds. The Dutchman jumped away from the chasers to catch Meeusen and head on after Van Aert.

Van der Poel caught Van Aert at the halfway point, then with 3 laps remaining the Dutch champion dropped the World champion. Van der Poel had no problems and soloed to a fine win. Van Aert was second to defend his overall lead in the Telenet UCI WorldCup. Pauwels passed Meeusen for 3rd place.

Boom - Belgie - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - van Aert Wout (BEL) of Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace and Van Der Poel Mathieu (NED) of Beobank - Corendon in action during the Elite men Niels Abertcross cyclocross race on October 22, 2016 in Boom, Belgium  - photo PdV/PN/Cor Vos © 2016

Mathieu Van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon): “I have felt good for a few weeks, I hope I can maintain this form for a long time and that I can add a few percent for the Worlds in Luxembourg. I was surprised because the light changed to green so quickly. Then I was a bit behind. In itself that was not so bad but later I broke a few spokes in my wheel in the sand. I could not ride my smallest gear. I lost valuable time and it took a long time before I could change bike. I wanted to close that gap as quickly as possible and it worked. It gave me confidence. When I rejoined Wout, I knew I was the strongest in the race. I chose to go on the counter-attack directly and immediately had a big gap. That was fun. Whether this is my best shape ever? That’s hard to say, but for a few weeks I have felt that I’m really good. The training week in Spain worked as I wanted and I felt I was ready for Koksijde, but the race was canceled. Then I did another long training ride and I took it easy the rest of the week to get ready for this weekend. In training I felt the good form. I hope I can maintain this condition until the end of the year. It is my goal to remain ahead until we go on a training camp in the build-up to the Worlds. I want to try to add a few percent. In this period it is especially important not to get sick, to rest enough and get to the start of the races as fresh as possible.”

Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice): “I simply cannot follow him, I felt it immediately when he joined me. He took three turns and I knew what would happen. It seems like he rides in another league. I simply cannot follow him. He is especially good on such a fast course, with that many technical turns. He always rides away from me. I try not to hang with the head and am glad that I made it difficult for him in the first half of the race, but I hope to be able to offer a bit more resistance in the coming weeks. On Sunday in Hamme, we will have another fast race. It just has to rain again, with real winter weather and races in deep mud. I like that more and then I’ll be more visible. It may happen that I will get beaten anyway but such races, really difficult ones, should still suit me better.”

Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games): “In the beginning, Mathieu was behind me, but he caught us very quickly. He rode past us and was gone immediately. With the way he rides at the moment, there is little we can do against him. I had a super day here and he still wins. That says enough. I was strong, but my start was not good enough. In the beginning, it was hard to move up. It was a long race to catch up and I did a good race. When I caught Tom [Meeusen], I felt that I was better and I rode to a third place. I have to be happy with that.”

Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup – Zeven Result:
1. Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon in 1:03:21
2. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice at 0:21
3. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 0:31
4. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:53
5. Clement Venturini (Fra) Cofidis at 1:08
6. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus at 1:24
7. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:32
8. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts at 1:38
9. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games at 1:53
10. Marcel Meisen (Ger) Steylaerts-Verona at 1:59.

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UCI Licenses for 2017
The UCI have announced 17 teams that will receive WorldTour licenses for 2017, the missing team is TJ Sport (ex-Lampre-Merida) it is still under review. New teams, Bora-hansgrohe and Bahrain-Merida are in and Dimension Data keep their place. The other fourteen teams stay from last season.

New Pro Continental teams for 2017 includes: Aqua Blue Sport, Cycling Academy, Manzana Postobon, Veranda’s Willems and WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect (ex-Wallonie-Bruxelles), all were Continental last year. Androni Giocattoli and Verva ActiveJet are still under review and the Brazil team, Funvic, may be suspended due to three drug positives.

“This is an exciting time and I am really looking forward to the arrival of new partners on the 2017 UCI WorldTour. The confidence shown by both new and existing sponsors confirms the growing interest in men’s professional road cycling’s major competition. With new teams and a global calendar enhanced with new races, the forthcoming season promises to be more exciting than ever.” remarked UCI President Brian Cookson.

WorldTour teams:
AG2R LA MONDIALE (FRA), ASTANA PRO TEAM (KAZ), BMC RACING TEAM (BMC), BORA – HANSGROHE (GER), CANNONDALE DRAPAC PRO CYCLING TEAM (USA), TEAM DIMENSION DATA (RSA), QUICK – STEP FLOORS (BEL), FDJ (FRA), LOTTO SOUDAL (BEL), MOVISTAR TEAM (ESP), ORICA – BIKEEXCHANGE (AUS), BAHRAIN-MERIDA (BRN), TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN (SUI), TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO (NED), TEAM SKY (GBR), TEAM SUNWEB (GER), TREK SEGAFREDO (USA).

Pro Continental teams:
AQUA BLUE SPORT (IRL), BARDIANI CSF (ITA), CAJA RURAL – SEGUROS RGA (ESP), CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE (POL), COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS (FRA), DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM (FRA), DIRECT ENERGIE (FRA), FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT (FRA), GAZPROM – RUSVELO (RUS), ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY (ISR), MANZANA POSTOBON (COL), NIPPO – VINI FANTINI (ITA), ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ (NED), SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE (BEL), TEAM NOVO NORDISK (USA), UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM (USA), VERANDA’S WILLEMS CRELAN (BEL), WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT (BEL), WB VERANCLASSIC AQUA PROTECT (BEL), WILIER TRIESTINA (ITA).

The Pro peloton might be smaller in 2017:
Lugo - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  illustration - sfeer - illustratie peloton  pictured during stage 5 from Viveiro to Lugo - Vuelta Espana 2016 - photo Sabine Jacob/Cor Vos © 2016

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BMC Racing Team Awarded Two-Year UCI WorldTour Licence
BMC Racing Team has been awarded a two-year UCI WorldTour licence for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, General Manager Jim Ochowicz today confirmed.

Ochowicz said the UCI’s decision to grant the team a two-year UCI WorldTour licence is a step in the right direction for BMC Racing Team and cycling.

“It plays well into our long term strategy and vision in that this is the longest extension that has been available for UCI WorldTour licensing to any of the teams. So we’re very happy to be one of the teams chosen to retain UCI WorldTour status for the next two years. We’re looking at the long game, and with the two-year licence granted everything is now in order and we can focus on our 2017 season and beyond,” Ochowicz said.

“For our existing partners it’s an opportunity to be able to leverage their investment at the highest level in cycling and with a multiple year extension it lets us grow across the board. It gives confidence to the athletes, and confidence to our existing partners and any potential partners who may be looking to invest in BMC Racing Team.”

BMC Racing Team has operated at the UCI WorldTour level since 2011, following three years at the UCI Professional Continental level and the inaugural year as a UCI Continental Team.

BMC and TAG WorldTour for 2017:
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BORA – hansgrohe moves up to World Tour
Since last Friday it´s official: BORA – hansgrohe will race with a World Tour licence in 2017. The International Cycling Federation UCI awarded 17 licenses on the 25th of November. One of them went to the team based in Raubling, Germany. The license also means guaranteed starts at all World Tour races, which include the Grand Tours, Monuments and Classics.

The team management, riders and sponsors are now looking forward to this new challenge and also to an exciting first World Tour season, which will start already in January in Australia.

“It’s a dream come true. We expected to get one of the licenses, but you can’t be sure until it’s official. Now that we got this confirmation it feels even better to have got one. It’s a first big success already before the start of the season. This license is a result of a hard work over the last 7 years. We stepped up from Continental level to Pro Continental level and now finally managed to get into the elite club of cycling – the UCI World Tour. I want to thank our title sponsors BORA and hansgrohe, but also Specialized, for their trust in us, they all have a big share in this great achievement. But I also need to thank all our supporters from the last years. I am sure that BORA – hansgrohe will worthy represent Germany in the highest cycling league.” – Ralph Denk, Teammanager

BORA-hansgrohe top man, Peter Sagan:
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Bahrain Merida gets UCI WorldTour Licence
BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team after a strong strategic plan, clear goals and a huge effort and commitment, succeeded to became one of the eighteen teams in WorldTour to have a UCI WorldTour licence.

We can all agree that having an UCI WorldTour licence is a great honor and a great step forward in our combined efforts towards a mutual goal. Although, we never doubted this to be achieved we would take this opportunity and thank all the people who were intensely involved in building the project of placing a Middle Eastern cycling team to the global cycling map. BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team is the first WT team to be based in the Middle East. The team is funded through a consortium of businesses and partners from a small island country of Bahrain that now has the chance to show the cycling world just how big it can be. All of our partners are strongly committed to the growth and development of the team and have ensured the best conditions for its 27 confirmed riders to achieve top results in the WorldTour races around the world.

One of the main supporters and a huge fan of the team His Highness Sheikh Nasser expressed his thoughts after official confirmation from the UCI: “We are extremely proud to be joining an exceptional group of cycling professionals and enthusiasts in our pursuit of further reach to the sport of cycling in our region. The BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team will also showcase the Kingdom of Bahrain on the global stage, by showcasing the Kingdom as a premier destination for both business and tourism, as well as supporting the growth of cycling within our part of the world. No doubt that with the stellar team of cyclists, management and staff alongside the support and passion of the sponsors and cycling enthusiasts in the region will be a great motivation for the team to reach its potential.”

Without the co-title sponsor Merida who trusted team strategy from the beginning of this great story this project would not be where it is. With the dedicated support from the people at Merida the team is what it meant it to be. Team would like to take this opportunity and thank everyone at Merida for their support and great work.

Management is comprised of globally recognized cycling experts, who have been selected for their commitment due to their independent and results driven approach. Two years ago they decided to dedicate their time and expertise to form a strategic approach to the project, carefully planning and analyzing the growth of professional road cycling sport and creating a clear vision for the team and until this day they strongly believe that they will succeed. As of today that could not be more accurate as the project was given approval by the highest cycling authority.

This huge project will have many successful consequences for the investors with their determined goals and also and most important for the riders and staff who will get a chance to ride and work with elite.

As this surely is great news in reality it means a lot of hard work and even more dedication to the project as the season is getting closer every day. As you read this, the team is preparing for the official presentation in Bahrain where people from the whole team from 12 different countries in the world will have an honor to meet the Royal Family, that are huge supporters of this beautiful sport and the great international team. Now it is our time to prove that big dreams are allowed and to prove to everyone and ourselves that if you keep your mind open and believe strong enough, there are no limits to what you can achieve.

General Manager of the team, Brent Copeland said: “We are very pleased to receive the official notification from the UCI, on behalf of WorldTour team BAHRAIN MERIDA I would like to thank the UCI and president Cookson for their decision made, we are very proud to have put one of the worlds top teams together both with riders as well as with very professional staff and we will not disappoint neither the UCI WorldTour races neither our ever growing fans, we will go to every race as competitive as possible to make the racing as exciting as possible. We would also like to thank everyone that has been involved and believed in the project from the start, putting a new project together is never an easy task however it is a pleasure working with all the people involved in helping this project become a reality and with this comes a lot of satisfaction for the hard work that has been invested. We have come to meet some very experienced and organized people from Bahrain who have given a huge amount of support in all areas as well as the immense amount of support from one of the worlds most important bicycle brands, namely Merida who have always believed in getting to where we are today, having said that, this is just the start of the new project, now the real work starts where we will continue to invest in expertise, organization and a good image which will help put our WorldTour team BAHRAIN MERIDA on the map and expose both our partners in a way that will make them proud.”

His Highness Sheikh Nasser added how will the world-class team inspire many athletes in their part of the world: “This collective effort follows a time of increasing sport success of the people of the Kingdom of Bahrain and I want to recognize the exceptional commitment of our local companies to support the promotion of the sport of cycling in Bahrain and the Middle East. This also coincides with significant efforts we are making within our nation to provide opportunities for our young people to enjoy and compete in a number of different sports. We are seeing real progress with this and I am absolutely committed to ensuring that this continues, as I truly believe that being exposed to a group of world-class cyclists and athletes will inspire many in our part of the world to join in sport alongside friends and family in a manner that can be both beneficial and rewarding for everyone whatever their ability, skill or passion.”

Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa with the new jersey and bike:
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Cycling Academy signs its 10th rider to its Pro continental Squad
“The unpolished Latvian Diamond” Krists Neilands will complete a strong classics group.

Israel Cycling Academy team has signed Latvian rider Krists Neilands as its 10th rider since it started bolstering its roster for the teams inaugural pro continental season.

Neilands may be a young 22, but he is seen by his new team as a special “Unpolished diamond” whom it expects to quickly develop into an exceptional classics rider. The addition of Neilands will further improve what has already shaped up as a strong group of riders to focus on the teams spring classics campaign. Neilands will join the Cycling Academies classics specialists group of: Zak Dempster, Guillaume Boivin, Mihkel Raim, Hamish Schurers, Tyler Williams, Dennis Van Winden, and Benjamin Perry.

“Axel Merckx who was Neilands manager last year for the American continental team Axeon, described Neilands as a rider with a huge engine- and we certainly agree” said Cycling academy manager Ran Margaliot. “Although unpolished, we can see his this combination of power and great technical control, and believe that it all will develop quickly into the full package. More importantly, he is a perfect fit to our DNA as a team that wants to develop its riders and not be based mainly on proven veteran riders”.

For his part, the Latvian rider admitted openly and sincerely that “I am a bit concerned. It’s certainly a big step for me but I am excited and confident that I will be able to handle it and face the challenge”.

Krists was born in a small town kissing the Baltic Sea and found himself riding a (mountain) bike before his 10th birthday, and winning his first race soon after. “They were pretty old bikes but I found out it did not matter even one bit” he laughs.

His unique raw talent earned him a spot on his countries top Athletes Academy, and after two years of racing for a Latvian team he made the decision to leave everything behind and cross the Atlantic to go to the U.S. But his real affection was racing in the toughest of races: The cobblestoned classics. “I just love the cobblestones” he said of the surface most rider learn to hate (He finished 10th last year in under 23 Liege – Bastogne – Liege and 5th in Ronde van Vlaanderen). “I seem to flourish when other riders seem to be fearful” he explains.

On Israel’s Cycling Academy he is expected to do much more. “He worked a lot for other riders but we envision him as a leader” said his new manager. And Krists is welcoming the challenge: “This team is going into unchartered water next year and so am I” he said. “That’s what makes me even more motivated”.

Cycling Academy was founded in December 2014 in Jerusalem, as Israel’s first Professional cycling team with the clear vision to help Israeli Cycling and bring young Cyclists, especially Israelis, to top levels of cycling.

The team recorded wins in races over 4 continents in the last 20 months and backed by sponsors like Cannondale, Lazer, Hertz Israel, and Verge, as well as the Israeli Canadian Philanthropist Sylvan Adams – Israel Cycling Academy is now set to go Pro Continental for the 2017 season.

Krists Neilands:
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No 192 in Gent-Wevelgem
The organizers of Gent-Wevelgem have decided to honor Belgian Antoine Demoitié, who died after a collision with a motorcycle in the 2016 race, by never issuing the 192 race number. Het Nieuwsblad reported that number 192 will never be seen in the race again and there will be an intermediate sprint after 192 kilometers with a trophy and a prize. Money will also be donated to the charity of choice of the Demoitié family.

Antoine Demoitié:
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Vuelta a Murcia Still a 1 Day Race in 2017
The 2017 Vuelta a Murcia will be the same as this year’s edition. The organizers want to return to a stage race format, but they still don’t have the financial backing. The organizers announced on Tuesday that the 2017 race route between San Javier and Murcia will be unchanged. 199 kilometers, with climbs of Aledo, Collado Bermejo and Cresta del Gallo.

Philippe Gilbert won in 2016:

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2017 Étoile de Bessèges Teams
The early season French race has announce the line up of teams for February. A good mix of WorldTour, ProConti and Continental teams will take part in the Gard department of the South of France.

Teams:
WorldTour: AG2R-La Mondiale, FDJ, Lotto Soudal, Cofidis, Delko Marseille-Provence KTM, Direct Energie, Fortunéo Vital Concept, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Sport Vlaanderen, Verandas Willems-Crelan, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect, Armee de Terre, HP BTP-Auber 93, Roubaix Lille Metropole, An Post-Chain Reaction, Roth-Akros.

2017 Étoile de Bessèges Stages:
Wednesday, Feb 1: Stage 1, Bellegarde-Beaucaire (158km)
Thursday, Feb 2: Stage 2: Nîmes-Rodilhan (152km)
Friday, Feb 3: Stage 3: Bessèges-Bessèges (152km)
Saturday, Feb 4: Stage 4: Chusclan-Laudun (153km)
Sunday, Feb 5: Stage 5: Time trial, Ales (12km).

Jérôme Coppel wins the 46th Étoile de Bessèges:

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Caja Rural – Seguros RGA Completes Roster with American Signing
Caja Rural – Seguros RGA is thrilled to announce that Justin Oien will join the team on a two-year contract. The 21-year-old American is the final signing for the Spanish team ahead of the 2017 season.

Oien is a strong sprinter and one-day specialist, which he proved in the U23 Paris-Roubaix by finishing in sixth place this year. Racing for Axeon Hagens Berman, he did well in the European races as well as on the American scene, earning him a spot on the national U23 team for the World Championships in Qatar. Here, Oien finished in the select group of riders fighting for the win.

Justin Oien: “I am extremely happy and grateful for the opportunity to take this next step in my career and join Caja Rural – Seguros RGA. When I first started racing, my dream was to do it professionally in Europe one day. Then you realize ‘wow, I’ve got some work to do’ and you start slowly progressing, inching your way closer to that dream, which is now coming true. However, this is just another step on the way. Now, it’s time to set new goals, dream bigger and once again say ‘wow I’ve got some work to do’. I am going to continue to put in the work and with the help of my personal coach, the team staff and my new teammates, I will continue to progress steadily. I want to enter each race with the goal of having an impact on the race because that’s how you learn and get better, by testing yourself and putting yourself in different scenarios.”

After Chris Butler, Oien is Caja Rural – Seguros RGA’s second American signing and one of seven foreign riders on the team next year.

In total, the following 20 riders will represent and show off the green colors of the team in 2017: Alex Aranburu*, David Arroyo, Miguel Ángel Benito, Butler*, Fabricio Ferrari, Jon Irisarri*, Jonathan Lastra, Lluis Mas, Antonio Molina, Oien*, Dylan Page*, Sergio Pardilla, Eduard Prades, Rafael Reis*, Jaime Rosón, Diego Rubio, Héctor Sáez, Nick Schultz*, Yuri Trofimov* and Josu Zabala*.
*Indicates new signing

Justin Oien:
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Peter Velits Retires
Slovakian, Peter Velits has announced that he will retire from professional cycling. The 31 year-old was no re-signed by BMC for 2017 and has not managed to find a new team in the WorldTour and does not want to race at a lower level.

In an interview with TASR he said: “At the beginning of last season I traded managers with my brother Martin, and they did what they could. But it did not work. I know that they were trying different options. Discussions were held but after two bad seasons, it was difficult. In terms of downgrading, I don’t think I could find the necessary motivation, and it would be even worse.”

Velits needed surgery on an artery in his left leg before the 2015 season, but was not the same rider he had been in his early years: “For two years I was not feeling well. After last year’s spring operations artery to the leg, I could not get to a specific level and did not get good results. My season started in January, and the first race block lasted until the Tour de Romandie. The team then suddenly said that it would be good for me to look for another team and I wasn’t very surprised.”

Peter Velits:
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Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka Reveals 2017 Team and Race Outfit
Big goals for Africa’s leading cycling team.

The 2016 cycling season concluded a couple of weeks ago and once again it has been an incredibly successful one for Africa’s leading professional cycling team. Based out of Johannesburg, Dimension Data for Qhubeka managed to win 32 races this year, while climbing the podium more than 70 times. 5 stage wins, a “Yellow” and “Green Jersey” at the Tour de France was also among the achievements as was the team’s first ever win in a special category at a Grand Tour, taking home the “Best Climber” classification of the Vuelta a Espana.

Staying at the Southern Sun, The Cullinan, Dimension Data for Qhubeka is currently preparing for the upcoming season in the Western Cape. It is the first time the 2017 team meets. Over the last few days the riders went out on several training rides and spent some time with its main sponsors Dimension Data, Deloitte and Cervélo, to name a few.

The team presented itself to the public at the scenic Cape Town Waterfront. In an engaging event all 28 riders were introduced to fans and media. Lead by Mark Cavendish, Omar Fraile, and Daniel Teklehaimanot the team also revealed its fresh new look.

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In recent years the 5-finger-salute has become synonymous with our African team. The hand will once again feature on the back of the jersey. However, the jersey also reveals 28 smaller hands. Subtly printed on the green livery they symbolize the children who receive help through the way how our 28 riders are racing, through the amount of awareness they are able to raise for Qhubeka and through their way of competing at the highest level of our sport. During this weeks training camp each of the riders will personally give a child a Qhubeka bike at a distribution ceremony, thus offering a direct link. Furthermore, the team will also be echoing Qhubeka’s new call to action #DoYourPart, an innovative way to contribute to the charity. Supporters can now fund single parts or a complete bike to help mobilizing people in Africa. To find out more, go to doyourpart.qhubeka.org.

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Mark Cavendish, Rider, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka
“We had some incredible success this year. The amount of exposure that we got for Qhubeka was beyond of what we could have imagined, stepping up to the World Tour. That’s what we want to build on to do more. We want to do more together as a team, with our partners and fans and raise more than the 5.000 bikes that we raised this year.”

Douglas Ryder, Team Principal, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka
“2016 was a year that fulfilled many dreams and out performed our expectations as a team, with our partners and the Qhubeka charity. Our goal for 2017 is to be even better together, better in the way we integrate as team mates, better with our partners and better connected to our fans. With this team of incredible individuals we look forward to building on our successes of this year.”

Dimension Data for Qhubeka will take on the 2017 season with riders from 12 different nations. Once again the team will race ambitiously as it has set itself some serious goals. Racing to race awareness for the Qhubeka charity, the following 28 riders will sport the colors of the African team:

Igor Anton (Spain), Natnael Berhane (Eritrea), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway), Mark Cavendish (Great Britain), Stephen Cummings (Great Britain), Mekseb Debesay (Eritrea), Nicolas Dougall (South Africa), Bernhard Eisel (Austria), Tyler Farrar (USA), Omar Fraile (Spain), Ryan Gibbons (South Africa), Nathan Haas (Australia), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (South Africa), Jacques Janse van Rensburg (South Africa), Ben King (USA), Merhawi Kudus (Eritrea), Lachlan Morton (Australia), Adrien Niyonsuti (Rwanda), Ben O’Connor (Australia), Serge Pauwels (Belgium), Youcef Reguigui (Algeria), Mark Renshaw (Australia), Kristian Sbaragli (Italy), Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea), Jay Robert Thomson (South Africa), Scott Thwaites (Great Britain), Johann van Zyl (South Africa), Jaco Venter (South Africa)

Jeremy Ord, Executive Chairman, Dimension Data
“As the team’s title sponsor, 2016 was an exhilarating year for Dimension Data. Team Dimension Data’s achievements over the past two years has ignited the enthusiasm and interest of millions of fans – not only in South Africa and Africa, but across the world. We’re proud to be part of the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka ‚family‘, and are committed to making a significant contribution to the future success of the African youth by continuing to support the team and the Qhubeka charity.”

Tom Galizia, Deloitte Principal and Sponsorship Lead
“The arc of this one-of-a-kind cycling team will continue to rise in 2017 on the back of another magical season. Deloitte and our people are proud of our 28 riders and a cast of the best sports directors, coaches, mechanics and support team who act everyday with a true sense of purpose on and off the bike. Giving a bike to a child through Qhubeka, allowed us to do our part and make a tangible and measurable impact 1,000’s of times this year and we are just warming up.”

Antoine Ballon, Head of Marketing, Cervélo
“This team continues to amaze us all. Whether from a pure fan side or from the industry one, the success and enthusiasm they demonstrated all over the globe fighting for the right cause is something no other team can match. We are proud to be their partner of choice for the bikes. We cherish the relationship we have with the riders to keep making our bikes better. 2015 was great, 2016 has been amazing. We are looking forward to seeing where Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is going to take us in 2017 on Cervélo bikes.”

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Retro: Jacques Anquetil
Some great video of the French Super-Champion; Jacques Anquetil. He was one of the greatest cyclists of all time. Pro from September of 1953 to 1969 with 205 victories. Winner of five Tours de France, is also one of only six runners (the first in chronological order) to be able to establish themselves in each of the three major national tours. He also won in the same season (1964) the Tour of Italy and the Tour de France, previously only managed by Fausto Coppi. When he finished his career as a cyclist he was manager of the French national team at the worlds. Cancer ended his life prematurely. Jacques Anquetil died in 1987 and is buried at the cemetery Quincampoix. Documentary in Italian, but worth a watch to see how smooth a peddler Anquetil was.


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