EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!
The Great Ocean Race headlines a full week-end of racing all around the World. All the results and video from Australia, Argentina, Spain and France. Vincenzo Nibali to ride Flanders – Top Story. Other cycling news: Race news from Valencia, Roubaix, Liège, Flèche and the Tour of the Alps. Team news from Quick-Step Floors and AG2R-La Mondiale. To finish: The Katusha-Alpecin Shuffle.
TOP STORY: Vincenzo to Ride Vlaanderen
According to the Italian sports paper, la Gazzetta dello Sport, Bahrain-Merida’s Vincinzo Nibali will be on the start line of the 2018 Ronde van Vlaanderen on April the 1st. No, it’s not an April Fools’ Day joke, the Grand Tour winner will be in Antwerp to take on the bergs alongside Philippe Gilbert, Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet and the other cobbled Classic hard men.
Nibali’s long time coach and confidant, Paolo Slongo told la Gazzetta: “Vincenzo has long expressed his desire to race Flanders, and we will not object to his will. We have talked about it in the last days, and from us there is the green light.”
It is suggested that Nibali wants to see how good he can be on the Northern roads and that it is not just a ‘dry’ run as practice for the Tour de France stage 9 with its 22 kilometers of cobbles. There is one problem for ‘The Shark’, also wants to ride the Tour of the Basque Country which starts on Monday, 2nd of April, which might be a bit tight. Nibali is also planning on riding Strade Bianche, maybe the Italian will be having a go at the World cyclocross championships next?
Nibali on the cobbles:
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2018
The fourth edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race saw some of the toughest racing of the season so far. With the mercury hitting 40 degrees, conditions were testing, particularly during the last third of the course, which featured several short yet steep climbs. The race came down to the wire, with a small group of riders escaping in the final kilometers, and Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) emerging victorious from this reduced group.
Of the 164 km long route, the first 105km took the riders through a large coastal loop around Barwon Heads, Torquay and Bells Beach, before heading back in the direction of Geelong and ending with three 16.7km long laps of the finishing circuit in Geelong. The course, which bears similarity to the one which was used during the 2010 UCI Road World Championships, started out fairly flat, yet became gradually more challenging and undulating. The hilly parcours also featured the famed Challambra Crescent climb, a 900 meter long ascent with a maximum gradient of 22%, which the riders had to face a total of four times.
Given how the last three editions of the race panned out, it was widely expected that the winner would come from a reduced group or even be a rider who managed to escape from a select group towards the finish. In the earlier part of the course around the coast, there were no climbs that were expected to be of sufficient difficulty to cause a split in the field. However, it was anticipated that the wind could potentially come into play between Barwon Heads and Bells Beach. One crucial point in the race was also likely to be the Challambra Crescent climb, which is where Peter Kennaugh made a decisive move in the 2016 edition of the race that arguably won him the day. For riders and their teams still in the mix at this point, it would be important to keep a watch on this crucial part of the race to avoid seeing their chances of victory slip away on the climb.
It was a day of fast-paced racing straight from the start. Right from the get-go, the attacks came thick and fast, with a select group of 5 riders escaping from the peloton. They worked together well and quickly built up a significant advantage within the first few kilometers of racing, with their lead stretching to 6:40 minutes at one point. After the chase was put on in earnest by the peloton, the gap was reduced to approximately 2 minutes with 25 km remaining. As the breakaway came closer to being caught, several riders jumped off the front of the peloton during the last 20 km, yet to no avail. The break was ultimately caught with 15km remaining. A small group of riders subsequently escaped from the bunch in the final few kilometers, with Jay McCarthy ultimately getting the better of Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) in the final stretch to take the win for BORA-hansgrohe at the end of a very testing and hot day in the saddle.
More photos from Geelong in PeloPics.
Race winner, Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe): “In this race, everything went well. I was a bit disappointed with my performance at the Tour Down Under, but I came with confidence to Geelong and wanted to achieve a good result. It was good that Daniel was with me in the last kilometer. We had Chaves and Viviani on our heels and it motivated me to have a teammate there in the final. I’m really happy to end my racing in Australia in this way.”
3rd, Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott): “I felt pretty good all day, I told the guys I felt good and they gave me every opportunity to be good. Mat (Hayman) did a great job leading into the climb and Jack (Bauer) and Michael (Hepburn) did a massive job all day. It was great that Esteban and I were in that group of eight or nine guys so numbers were on our side. At first Esteban was riding but no one was riding with him so we decided that we might as well throw it out there and create something that would suit us. We did it, Esteban did a great job to keep the pressure on and we used that to our advantage to force the other guys to ride a little bit. We were caught there in the end, it was touch as go, it was a good race but third place is alright, Jay was quick and obviously Viviani is fast.”
KOM, Lasse Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue Sport): “We attacked from the gun and got a massive gap quickly. We were dictating the speed all day and took it relatively easy until we hit the circuit. We were quickly down to three riders but I felt strong and sprinted for some mountain points and got them all. In the end I got the Mountains jersey and I’m super happy about that. I don’t think anyone in the break thought we could hold off the peloton, we just rode as hard as we could and I think we were all surprised with how far we made it into the race. All the team did a super job even if some of the guys struggled a bit in the heat. I did as well but had a big advantage before I started to suffer because I had six minutes to give.”
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Result:
1. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe in 4:04:00
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
3. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
4. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
5. Simon Gerrans (Aus) BMC
6. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Sunweb
7. Steele von Hoff (Aus) Kordamentha Real Estate -Australia
8. Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-Alpecin
9. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo
10. Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal.
Great Ocean Race:
Grand Prix La Marseillaise 2018
Alexandre Geniez (AG2R-La Mondiale) took the victory in the GP La Marseillaise marked by many and continuous attacks that were happened throughout the race and did not stop until the last moment. Geniez, in fact, raised his arms after the peloton closed down the break of Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) and Remy Di Grégorio (Delko Marseille Provence-KTM) in the final two kilometers.
Before all this happened in the finalé, the race was marked by the flight of Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM), Dries De Bondt (Verandas Willems-Crelan), Brecht Ruyters (Cibel-Cebon), Tom Dernies and Emiel Vermeulen (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), who had a maximum advantage of 6 minutes, but was pulled back by the work of Direct Energie and AG2R-La Mondiale.
Once that move was neutralized, it was Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) and Geniez himself who took a slight advantage, but they too were caught. In the final sprint, Geniez out-sprinted Odd Christian Eiking (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Lilian Calmejane while Cofidis’s Spaniard, Jesus Herrada, was only just off the podium.
Winner, Alexandre Geniez (AG2R-La Mondiale): “Today I especially want to remember the amazing team. From now on, we are seven guys on the start line, and every element of the team is important! Everyone played his part today, we didn’t miss a thing. Everything worked well. Romain (Bardet) did a huge job of work in the last kilometer and put me in the perfect position with 250 meters to go. It was ideal. I have started the season very well, and that’s not only satisfying but reassuring too. I am happy to win this event in particular since the AG2R-La Mondiale team has not won it in a long time. Now, we must take this momentum into the next races and not fall asleep ahead of what it to come!”
2nd, Odd Christian Eiking (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “With eight other riders, including Bardet, Gallopin and teammate Guillaume Martin, we made the decisive break. Riders were attacking the whole time. Guillaume and I understood each other well and took turns in reacting and attacking. In the end, a sprint did decide for the victory, in which I was one wheel length behind winner Geniez. This podium spot is in any case an excellent start of the season, although I would have preferred to give Wanty-Groupe Gobert a victory to start. I have never really started the season so strong, I feel very good and hope to improve that feeling in the coming weeks. The strong team performance (five riders in top-20) also give confidence for the upcoming races. The Tour of Oman is my next race, In which I want to achieve a good general classification.”
8th, Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale): “We all had fun today! We saw we have a good team, we had a surplus of riders in the final, and we took the opportunity to win. It is a perfect way to start the season. I am glad to have pinned on a bib, and to have had the feeling already of being at the front of the race. We were tested and we answered well. I knew that Alex (Geniez) was one of the fastest, and so we simply had to play the best option for the team.”
9th, Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale): “It was my first race with the AG2R-La Mondiale jersey, and we immediately found the right rhythm together. With Romain and Alex in the end, we did not need to talk to each other. Everything was done automatically. I had a lot of fun riding today. I’m happy with my form, it’s the ideal condition for now. It gives me confidence for the future.”
Grand Prix La Marseillaise Result:
1. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale in 3:47:21
2. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
3. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie
4. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
5. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
6. Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM
7. Valentin Madouas (Fra) FDJ
8. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis at 1:52.
Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan 2018
Filippo Ganna (UAE Team Emirates) fought with determination on Stage 5 of the Vuelta a San Juan, where he was able to arrive seventh despite the difficult finish at nearly 2600 meters on Alto Colorado. He finished at 2:23 minutes behind the stage winner Argentinean Gonzalo Najar, who races for the local SEP team.
Ganna holds the lead in the under 23 classification and sits third in the overall classification at 1:22. 40-year-old Oscar Sevilla (Medellin), second on the day and second overall, sits at 1:02.
Photos from San Juan stage 5.
7th on the stage and 3rd overall, Filippo Ganna (UAE Team Emirates): “I think that I was the only rider weighing more than 85kg to arrive in the top positions. More than that, I couldn’t do. I made such a tough effort. It was not easy today racing up to more than 2500 meters. To breathe was very demanding. I’m not going to take anything for granted in the next two stages. I will try to gain from any occasion in the hope that I find a favorable moment.”
Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Stage 5 Result:
1. Gonzalo Najar (Arg) S.E.P. de San Juan in 4:16:26
2. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin at 1:58
3. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 2:05
4. Roman Villalovos (CRc) Canel’s-Specialized at 2:15
5. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:23
6. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar
7. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8. Cristian Muñoz (Col) Coldeportes-Zenu at 2:52
9. Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2:57
10. Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates.
Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Overall After Stage 5:
1. Gonzalo Najar (Arg) S.E.P. de San Juan in 15:47:52
2. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin at 1:02
3. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 1:22
4. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 1:52
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 2:11
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:12
7. Omar Mendoza (Col) Medellin at 2:22
8. Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3:09
9. Kanstantsin Suitsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida at 3:30
10. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors at 3:37.
San Juan stage 5:
Jelle Wallays claimed the victory on the Stage 6 of Vuelta a San Juan, as he successfully completed an early breakaway. The new season couldn’t start any better for the Belgian after the previous season ended abruptly because of the consequences of a crash at the Vuelta. For Lotto Soudal this is already the fourth victory of 2018.
In theory the sixth stage suited the sprinters, but the riders needed to be attentive for possible echelons on the Argentine plains. Early down the stage a large breakaway of seventeen riders was formed, including Jelle Wallays. They never had more than three minutes lead and in the last fifteen kilometers the gap was only half a minute. Nonetheless, that turned out to be sufficient for a breakaway rider to take the victory. Especially because of the strength of Jelle Wallays.
Thirteen kilometers before the finish Jelle Wallays and Fausto Masnada created a small gap at the front, but their companions could catch them. Wallays attacked again with five kilometers to go. His opponents were breathing down his neck, but the Lotto Soudal rider didn’t give up and he was rewarded with the stage win. He had two seconds advantage left at the finish. Robigzon Oyola got second, Travis McCabe third. Iljo Keisse finished fourth. And the chasing peloton arrived twelve seconds after Wallays.
Stage 6 winner, Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal): “I saw the others coming closer in the last kilometer, but I kept riding my own pace. We had done a recon of the last kilometers before the start and I knew that I had to save some energy for the last 900 meters as there was a headwind. When we escaped the bunch I knew we had a chance of battling for the stage win, because it was a large front group and I didn’t expect the GC riders would bother. But we would have to work together and that wasn’t always the case. Luckily our advantage turned out to be enough. I know that when I make a race hard, I am one of the strongest in tough circumstances like the heat here in Argentina. I have felt good all week long and I have been able to do my job for the team. It’s fantastic to start the season this way. There’s a great atmosphere in the team and we took initiative on each stage. Today we were rewarded with the stage win. I don’t win often and so it is wonderful to cross the finish as a winner. I’m very happy. It can only get better. This shows that I had a good winter after my injuries. Together with Wim Van Hoolst from Energy Lab and my brother and trainer Arne I worked hard towards this new season; this victory proves that I stand where I need to.”
Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Stage 6 Result:
1. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:15:28
2. Robigzon Oyola (Col) Medellin at 0:02
3. Travis McCabe (USA) UnitedHealthcare
4. Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
5. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar
6. Miguel Rubiano (Col) Coldeportes-Zenu
7. Gerardo Tivani (Arg) Municipalidad de Pocito
8. Eugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
9. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
10. Mattia Bais (Ita) Italy at 0:08.
Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Overall After Stage 6:
1. Gonzalo Najar (Arg) S.E.P. de San Juan in 19:03:43
2. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin at 0:51
3. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 1:11
4. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 1:41
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 2:00
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:01
7. Omar Mendoza (Col) Medellin at 2:11
8. Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2:58
9. Kanstantsin Suitsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida at 3:19
10. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors at 3:26.
San Juan stage 6:
After a frustrating 2017 plagued with injury, Giacomo Nizzolo finally pushed the monkey off his back in the Final Stage 7 at the Vuelta a San Juan on Sunday, sprinting to his first victory since the Abu Dhabi Tour in October, 2016.
There was no plan B for Trek-Segafredo in the fast, flat circuit race after a breakaway thwarted a bunch finish in stage six, and Peter Stetina and Greg Daniel did a massive amount of grunt work to keep the breakaway contained, and one last monster pull by Daniel with nine kilometers remaining sealed their fate.
In the final five kilometers the rest of the pinstriped team swarmed the front, making sure Nizzolo was well protected, and the savvy Nizzolo – positioning in sprints always his strong suit – finished off the final kilometer to perfection. Nizzolo clinched the team’s fifth win in six days.
Stage 7 photos and video.
Stage 7 winner, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo): “I am, super happy, and the team today was great, they took the responsibility to control the race since the beginning. I have to thank the team for believing in me. In the end, I found the right timing for the sprint and everything worked out pretty well. It means a lot to win again after what happened last year… Yeah, I am pretty happy. For sure this has given me high morale to keep working even harder to come back to 100 percent. There’s not much to say – it just shows that we have all done our homework over the winter. There is no secret; we have just done a lot of hard work, and I hope we can continue this… like forever!”
3rd overall, Filippo Ganna (UAE Team Emirates): “I can’t help but be proud of how my team took on the Vuelta a San Juan. We fought so hard, we defended the leader’s jersey as far as we could and we tried to retake it, too. It was an honor to compete in this race. I have to be particularly satisfied with the improvement I have made over the past year and I hope that this is a good omen for the rest of the season.”
5th on the stage, Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida): “I tried to anticipate the other sprinters, starting my sprint with 350 meters to go. It was too early. In the last 50 meters I was overtaken by four opponents. I’m sorry because I showed a good condition in this Vuelta but I could not win. However, I’m back home satisfied with the work done and I know that I still have a lot of work to do. But the road is the right one.”
Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Stage 7 Result:
1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 2:55:23
2. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
3. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Quick-Step Floors
4. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6. Manuel Peñalver (Spa) Trevigiani Phonix-Hemus
7. Federico Burchio (Ita) Italy
8. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel-Cycling Academy
10. Carlos Alzate (Col) UnitedHealthcare.
Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Final Overall Result:
1. Gonzalo Najar (Arg) S.E.P. de San Juan in 21:59:06
2. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin at 0:51
3. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 1:11
4. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 1:41
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 1:58
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:59
7. Omar Mendoza (Col) Medellin at 2:08
8. Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2:58
9. Kanstantsin Suitsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida at 3:19
10. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors at 3:26.
San Juan final stage 7:
Challenge Mallorca – Trofeo Campos-Porreres-Felanitx-Ses Salines 2018
John Degenkolb opened his season with a victory, sprinting to the win in the first day of the Challenge Ciclista Mallorca from Campos to Ses Salines.
Trek-Segafredo surrounded Degenkolb with a team of Classics and lead-out specialists for the 178-kilometer race, giving the German sprinter the support he needed for a much-needed win with his last almost a year ago in the Dubai Tour.
“It’s a great feeling to get the first victory already, to achieve this together with the team,” Degenkolb explained to journalists shortly after the finish. “We had a really nice week of training already this week in Mallorca, in the training camp, and to start the season like this with a win is always great.
“I felt really good; the team did a perfect job to make a good sprint for me. I have good memories of this race because for me this was my first professional race in 2011. Today was a great revival.”
It is the second victory for Trek-Segafredo this season, coming two days after Ryan Mullen’s win in stage three of Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, giving the team an early boost as they start their first year without a headlining star like Fabian Cancellara or Alberto Contador.
“We have already won two races as a team, and I think for the whole team it’s a big relief to start the season like this,” continued Degenkolb. “Everyone knows we have done our homework, what’s needed to win races, and I think we can be very optimistic for the next races.”
There is no secret that Degenkolb has had his share of misfortune in the last few years, from his horrific training accident in 2016 to respiratory issues at the end of 2017 severe enough to hospitalize him. His respiratory problems forced him out of the Vuelta a España, the Tour of Denmark, and caused him to forego the World Championships in Bergen, Norway, where he would have led the German team as one of the race favorites.
“It’s a fantastic feeling! I have worked really hard this winter, and after all what has happened at the end of last year, this is such a big relief to get this winning feeling back and know that I am still able to win races because it’s quite a long time since I crossed the finish line in first position,” exclaimed a happy Degenkolb. “For me, it’s just very amazing to feel that, and to also to feel the whole support from the riders: The whole team for the whole winter was behind me and pushed me to come to this level again.”
Trofeo Campos-Porreres-Felanitx-Ses Salines Result:
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo in 4:02:18
2. Sondre Enger (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy
3. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
5. Albert Torres Barcelo (Spa) National team
6. Xavier Cañellas (Spa) National team
7. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar
8. Erik Baska (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Leonardo Basso (Ita) Sky
10. Aaron Grosser (Ger) Team Sauerland Nrw P B Sk.
Trofeo Campos-Porreres-Felanitx-Ses Salines:
Challenge Mallorca: Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana 2018
It was only his second race day and Tim Wellens already claimed his first victory of the season! For the second year in a row he was the best at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, one of the four races of the Challenge Mallorca.
The Trofeo was 140 kilometers long and contained six official climbs, starting with Coll de Sóller immediately after the start. Sondre Holst Enger, who sprinted to the second place yesterday, rode solo in front for a long time. On the Coll de sa Batalla, with top at about forty kilometers from the finish, the situation changed. Tim Wellens got in a front group with Brambilla, Moscon, Mühlberger and Valverde.
Race winner, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “Our team started up the battle. We were all strong and made sure it was a hard day in the saddle. Valverde attacked uphill when Jasper De Buyst and Rémy Mertz were setting the pace. I responded to his attack and got in a front group of five. We were going really hard the first ten minutes and soon we had a few minutes advantage. It was clear that one of us would win the race. Moscon and I put pressure on Valverde during the descent of Puig Major. He lost contact and had to make an effort to join us again. Valverde, who had better legs uphill, tried to drop us on the last climb, but didn’t succeed in his attempt. In the descent Moscon and I created a gap again. A sprint between the two of us would determine the winner. We knew you had to be first to enter the last corner at 200 meters from the finish. It was a fair sprint, man against man. It’s great to win so soon. Yesterday we already had a great result with Jasper finishing third. Tomorrow is my last day. The course is less tough than today and it could be that a group of about twenty riders sprints for victory. But if it’s bad weather, positioning will be crucial.”
3rd, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “Today’s result and feelings have been good, really great I’d say. I felt really strong today. The training had gone well, but today’s race was the real test to check if my knee was recovered. It was the best place to give it a good try: a cold race, under the rain, on dangerous roads… It all went really smooth, the best I could dream of. Especially on the climbs. I really felt strong on the uphill parts. On the descents, though, it was more difficult for me. I was a bit worried and didn’t want to take any risks, because the roads were on a very dangerous state. To see my team-mates falling down really made me see that staying on the bike was already a victory today. I knew that the breakaway would split in the finale if they took more risks than I wanted, and that’s how it happened. Hats off to Wellens and Moscon, a well deserved first and second, but for me, taking 3rd is like a victory. Keeping the pace of those guys uphill after everything that happened is something to be really happy about. I knew I was doing well, but not so much.”
Challenge Mallorca: Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana Result:
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:45:52
2. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Sky
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:24
4. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:27
5. Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:37
6. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 5:06
7. Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
9. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
10. Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe.
Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana:
Challenge Mallorca: Trofeo Andratx 2018
Latvian star Toms Skujins rounded off an impressive display of teamwork to take his first victory in the Trek-Segafredo stripes at the Trofeo Lloseta – Andratx. He attacked with around 7 kilometers remaining and held off all competition to the line to savor a solo victory in Andratx.
The race is part of the Mallorca Challenge, a series of four one-day races on the Balearic Island. The race featured a hilly parcours over 165 kilometers, with two categorized climbs and rolling hills throughout. Such an amount of climbing combined with uncharacteristic inclement weather meant this race was never going to be easy.
There were many attacks from the moment the flag dropped, but none were allowed much breathing room due to the relentless pace of the peloton. Eventually, a group of escapees jumped clear for a while, but never gained a comfortable lead. Michael Gogl’s attack on a descent was the first to look threatening, and he gained a decent advantage of just over a minute over a reduced bunch. Gogl rode strongly and led solo for 60 kilometers, an effort which earned him the day’s combativity award and set the stage for Skujins’ attack.
By forcing the other teams to do the chasing, Skujins had the perfect opportunity to launch his winning move in the closing kilometers. The young Latvian talent took his chance with both hands, holding off two looming chasers and the rest of the peloton all the way to the line to take an impressive solo victory – his first since joining the team.
Race winner, Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo): “That was hard, much harder than expected. I was in trouble a lot of times but in the end with the teamwork we had it was just incredible. The way we rode today it was really a pleasure to be wearing the Trek-Segafredo Jersey. We never sat back, we were always up there for the action, and if it were not for Michael Gogl going on the attack for 60kms, we wouldn’t have won today. We saw in the end when Gogl was still solo – we had 3 or 4 guys in the next group so all we had to do was follow the wheels, and that we could go on the offensive again when he was caught.”
2nd, Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I felt really good today and we worked very well together. It’s nice to finish a great teamwork with a good result like today.”
Breakaway rider, Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo): “I got a gap and I heard over the radio “Just go!” So I went, I took the guys from the original breakaway straight away and I put the hammer down as hard as I could and I was really motivated, but I knew I was on a big mission so it would take a lot to hold it to the finish. But at 20km to go I still had a minute so I was still going full gas, giving it all I had. I’m really happy for Toms (Skujins) and for our team that we managed another win. It was a really big day and I think everyone saw what we are capable of doing here, and we are hungry for more.”
Challenge Mallorca: Trofeo Andratx Result:
1. Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo in 4:19:14
2. Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:25
3. Elmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:31
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:42
5. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
6. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
7. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Sky
9. Vicente Garcia (Spa) Spain
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo.
Mallorca Challenge: Trofeo Playa de Palma 2018
In only his second race start of the season, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) made no mistake and sprinted to his second victory on Sunday, taking the win in the Trofeo Palma, the final race of the Challenge Ciclista Mallorca. The win comes after Degenkolb claimed victory in the opening race of the four-day series on Thursday, giving the German a perfect start to the year.
The race began and finished in Palma and despite a significant climb with 40 kilometers to go, was destined to end in a bunch finish with both Trek-Segafredo and Lotto Soudal interested in bringing it together. Coming off a two-week training camp in Mallorca, Trek-Segafredo had its Classics team around Degenkolb and controlled the 159-kilometer race from start to end. Degenkolb was positioned perfectly in the final meters, leaving little doubt to the outcome.
Winner in Palma, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo): “I am so happy – thanks to my team! I know that I am in good shape and I feel pretty good. It’s always nice to start the season like this. I think it’s the first time I have won the first two races in a season, that’s a premiere for me. To have this feeling, which I missed so much last year and now I have it already twice…It’s so nice to be in the winning line again! We showed again we were the strongest team in the race. It was fantastic teamwork; we took responsibility to control the race from the start and everyone on the team did the job he had to do. I had some bad luck just before the climb and I had to come back after a flat tire and it cost some energy, but it the end I was still able to follow in the big group. In the lead-out, we picked the right moment to come to the front, and I only had to do the last 200 meters! So that was for me super nice and I am so happy. This victory is definitely a team victory – for all of us. We took the responsibility and we got the reward for it.”
Mallorca Challenge: Trofeo Playa de Palma 2018
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo in 3:47:29
2. Erik Baska (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
4. Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
5. Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar
6. Albert Torres Barcelo (Spa) Inteja Dominican
7. Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. José Rojas (Spa) Movistar
9. Leonardo Basso (Ita) Sky
10. Xavier Canellas (Spa) Spain.
Towards Zero Race – Melbourne 2018
After the Tour Down Under, BORA – hansgrohe turned its attention towards the first of two events at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Australia. Today saw the curtain raiser kermesse-style Towards Zero Race Melbourne, a fast-paced circuit race in the state capital. After a breakaway of 7 riders led for most of the day, they were caught in the last lap, with Sam Bennett sprinting to victory.
The race took place on the Albert Park Formula One Grand Prix circuit. The event consisted of 22 laps of a 5.3 km circuit, making a total of just over 116 km. The course’s flat profile, which made for very fast-paced racing, was complicated by some tight turns, which became particularly significant going into the finishing stretch. With a sprint classification also being included as part of the race, points were awarded to the three fastest riders at intermediate sprint points on laps 5, 10 and 15. Today’s race therefore required not only power and speed, but also strategy.
The course is notoriously fast and flat, with some tricky bends which become particularly significant in the finishing stretch. It was always going to be essential to control the breakaway, and watch out for the crosswinds on this circuit. With several high-quality sprinters in attendance, positioning into the final stretch would be essential to ensuring a good chance for the sprinters to go for the victory.
There was quite a lot of nervous tension in the peloton as the race began, with Maciej Bodnar becoming involved in a crash with one other rider after one lap of the circuit, and having to abandon today’s race, thankfully without serious injuries.
It was expected that the day would end in a bunch sprint. However, this did not stop several riders from trying their luck and attempting to escape off the front of the peloton. A very large group initially managed to establish itself at the head of the race, but the number of riders present was reduced to seven by the fourth lap. Two laps later, they had built up an advantage of 48 seconds, and maintained this gap for much of the race, increasing it to a maximum of 1:15 at one point. The break worked well together to attempt to counteract the effects of the crosswinds, and managed to stay out in front for 20 laps. However, with the sprinters’ teams putting down the hammer and driving a hard tempo to pull back their advantage, the escapees were caught on the last lap. The peloton’s chase was timed to perfection, and at the line it was Sam Bennett who took the win at the end of a very fast-paced day of racing.
Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe): “This win is really important for my morale and confidence. I came to the Tour Down Under and unfortunately fell ill there, and didn’t have very good form. Yesterday I even had to turn back from training, because I felt in a bad way. So today’s result is a bit of a surprise. I had good legs and the BORA-hansgrohe guys did an excellent job to put me in a good position into the final stretch. It is very encouraging to get this win, which I think bodes well for the rest of the season. To win twice here is also a great feeling.”
Bora-Hansgrohe DS, Steffen Radochla: “The plan was to put Sam in a good position in the finishing straight, and deal with the headwind on the finish line. This is a fantastic win for him, and also a very important win. I’m very proud of the team which delivered him to victory today. At the Tour Down Under, he struggled with the heat and illness and so it’s good to see him bounce back and gain confidence for the rest of the reason. Almost half of the WorldTour teams are here, and so to see Sam emerge victorious ahead of sprinters like Ewan and Viviani is very encouraging. These are top-notch sprinters who are not easy to beat. We are confident heading into the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Sunday, and are looking forward to racing there in a few days.”
Towards Zero Race – Melbourne Result:
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe in 2:29:08
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
3. Steele von Hoff (Aus) Kordamentha Real Estate-Australia
4. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Sunweb
5. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
6. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7. Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-Alpecin
8. Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Sky
9. Robert Wagner (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo
10. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Sunweb.
Towards Zero Race:
Strong Team Sky Squad Announced for Valenciana
Team Sky will continue the European road season this week with a strong lineup at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
Team Sky have tackled the event twice since it returned to the cycling calendar in 2016, and will be hoping to continue a strong run of form in the Spanish stage race.
Wout Poels won the race overall two years ago and returns to lead the team’s challenge across the five days (31 January – 4 February).
The Dutchman is joined by David de la Cruz, Vasil Kiryienka, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Diego Rosa and Ian Stannard.
Looking forward to his first start of 2018, Poels said: “I’m really looking forward to this season. I finished 2017 off strongly at the Vuelta a Espana and now it’s time to get back in the game and try to get some nice results.
“Naturally sixth place at the Vuelta gave me a lot of confidence. I hope I get more opportunities to do more things like that in the Grand Tours. For now, I’m just excited to get back to racing, starting this week.”
Sport Director Servais Knaven will be calling the shots from the team car, and explained the plan for the week ahead.
Knaven said: “Wout is going to be the leader and he is aiming to win the race again, like he did two years ago. I saw him in Mallorca and he’s feeling good. He’s got no issues, he had a good winter and he’s up for going full gas this week. We have a few cards to play but Wout will be the leader.
“David de la Cruz is really excited to start the season and is in good shape as well, and Diego just had a son, so for sure he will be motivated!”
From a general classification standpoint Knaven also broke down the race. “There are two days for GC. There’s a 30km team time trial on Friday and a mountaintop finish on Saturday. That will be important and we have a strong lineup for that TTT. Hopefully the guys will be able to take time on the other GC contenders – that would be great and that’s the aim. Then you’re in a good position for the mountaintop finish on Saturday, but if we have to make time back then we have a strong team who could make the race hard.
“It’s always good to have a TTT in a stage race. There’s not so many in general so it’s good to have it. It’s good practise for the new guys in the team but also, when you have a strong team, it could be a good start for GC as well. We’re really focused on that TTT – it’s a big goal for the week.
“The route is different again compared to last year and the year before, but it is similar. Two days for the sprinters, one day for the climbers, and last year we had a TTT as well. There’s a day with a pretty steep climb in the final where we expect a pretty small group to contest the finish. There’s a bit of everything so it’s a good race to start the season.”
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka are set to get our 2018 European campaign underway, starting the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain on Wednesday, 31 January. The UCI 2.1 category race will once again comprise of 5 stages, with a 30km team time trial stage, splitting 4 road stages.
Our African Team has once again chosen the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana as our first European race of the season. Last year, who could forget Merhawi Kudus phenomenal ride on the queen stage of the race to finish 2nd, just behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Our Eritrean climber returns this year, hoping to repeat his performance of last year, together with fellow climbers Igor Anton and Serge Pauwels.
Bernie Eisel, Scott Thwaites, Nic Dougall and Johann van Zyl will complete our 7-rider roster for the 5 stage race. Their fire power will certainly come in handy during stage 3’s 30km team time trial, a stage which is sure to play a pivotal role in deciding the overall general classification. Stage 2 and the summit finish on stage 4 are where the climbers will look to gain or make-up time in the mountains.
The opening and closing stage both suit the fast finishers, but the ever undulating roads around Valencia do provide opportunists with a real chance of stealing the stage, or at least reducing the bunch somewhat before a possible group sprint. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will look to our climbers for strong results in the mountains and in the general classification, while the likes of Thwaites, Dougall and van Zyl could fancy their chances on the undulating stages.
Igor Anton – Rider
“I’m really looking forward to starting the new season with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, for me it will be my 14th season as a professional and I am sure it is going to be amazing. I start in Volta Valenciana, a race I know very well. The weather is normally very good and I know these roads. I don’t come to this race with my best shape, but many riders are in the same place at this point in the season and overall we have a good team starting here so for sure we have chances to get a good result. I am happy to be starting the season at this nice race which is close to my home once again.”
Team Roster for the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2018
Igor Anton, Serge Pauwels, Merhawi Kudus, Bernie Eisel, Scott Thwaites, Nic Dougall, Johann van Zyl.
Giovanni Visconti leading a strong squad for Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, the European opening race of the season 2018 is starting next Wednesday. The 69th edition of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana – or, Tour of Valencia – will be played out from January 31, until February 4, 2018.
After a seven-year gap the race is back again on the calendar since 2016. The Queen Stage of, the 2018 edition runs to El Alto de las Canteras, a peak above Cocentaina, but the other two stages and also one time-trial stage will equally be demanding.
BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team will be led by the captain Giovanni Visconti and a 2nd leader Enrico Gasparotto. It will be an official debut for Hermann Pernsteiner, our new member who is very motivated and excited for his first performance in the redesigned jersey of TBM.
Our sports director Rik Verbrugghe will also have his debut accompanied with his colleague Harald Morscher, who is with the TBM for the second season. Both of them are very optimistic for the upcoming Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. The team was having great preparations in Calpe for almost two weeks and both of the directors expressed their thoughts that Giovanni Visconti is showing a very good form and all the other riders worked very well and are highly motivated and focused for their first race performance and towards the whole season 2018 in general. Ramunas Navardauskas is also on the road again and looking great after a successful heart surgery that he had last summer and after a hard work to be strong again with all the big confidence he has after Tour Down Under. Franco Pellizotti, our top experienced rider with Luka Pibernik and Domen Novak give us faith that a strong and ambitious TBM will perform well at Volta de la Comunitat Valenciana.
Team BAHRAIN MERIDA’s line up for Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana:
Giovanni Visconti, Enrico Gasparotto, Franco Pellizotti, Ramunas Navardauskas, Luka Pibernik, Domen Novak and Hermann Pernsteiner.
Valverde Heads Blues’ Line-up in Valencia
Five-day Volta Com. Valenciana to test Movistar Team’s cohesion, its demanding route including two mountain stages + 30km TTT.
Following its European debut in the Challenge Mallorca, Movistar Team will tackle the 69th edition of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana from Wednesday through Sunday. The Spanish, UCI 2.1 race will feature two mountain stages on Thursday and most notably Saturday – finishing atop the Cat-1 Alto de las Canteras in Cocentaina – a 30km team time trial to Calpe on Friday and two stages for sprinters to open and close the race.
For this event in eastern Spain, the Movistar Team will bring a balanced roster led by Alejandro Valverde, who will be making his stagerace debut -following his three race days in the Challenge- after crashing out early in the 2017 TDF. The 37-year-old from Murcia will be joined by Andrey Amador, Jorge Arcas, Nuno Bico, Héctor Carretero, José Joaquín Rojas and Jaime Rosón.
BMC Racing Team Set to Target Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Team Time Trial
Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line of Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana as BMC Racing Team’s road captain, while Brent Bookwalter and Kilian Frankiny represent the team’s General Classification aspirations.
The team lines up at the five-day race with multiple objectives, including the team time trial on stage three, Sports Director Valerio Piva said.
“We have a tradition in this team to target the team time trial so that is one of our objectives at the race and like last year, we want to win. It’s the third stage and it’s a technical parcours. We also want to win an individual stage and for this we have Greg Van Avermaet, who is our road captain, as well as Jürgen Roelandts for a sprint finish. There is a short, uphill finish which will make the selection for the General Classification so we will have Brent Bookwalter and Kilian Frankiny as our protected riders, as both are in good shape and can climb well,” Piva explained.
Van Avermaet will open the season with Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana to test his early season form, as he did in 2017.
“I’m feeling pretty good and I’m happy with my winter. We have trained hard in Spain before the race so I’m happy to finally put my training efforts to the test in the race. Everybody always looks forward to the first race of the season. We are motivated again for the team time trial, which we won last year, as it’s a nice way to start the season. The parcours is a little different from last year but I think we are one of the favorites there. Personally, I just want to have a good feeling in the race, and not necessarily go for a big result. My bigger goals are later in the season so sometimes the best thing you can take out of a race is a good feeling on a climb or something else like that, and I hope to finish Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana with this feeling,” Van Avermaet said.
The long road back
The Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana is not only Bookwalter and Frankiny’s first race of the season, but also their first race since suffering nasty crashes at the Tour of Britain and Vuelta a España respectively.
Bookwalter is looking to gain confidence from his first race back before embarking on the rest of the season. “I’m ready to start the season. It’s been a long off season for me as I stopped the season pretty early last year with my concussion at the Tour of Britain, which was a forced, early off season. The recovery was much longer than I had hoped and planned for so it was a new challenge in the off season. I feel like I’m back to a good level and can start racing. I’ve never done Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana before so I’m always excited to do a new race, especially after 11 years with the team. It fits well with our training camps as we ride these roads in Valencia every year,” Bookwalter explained.
“My biggest objective is to improve my condition and my confidence going into the rest of the season. Coming off my first time dealing with a head injury, my confidence definitely took a hit. To get back into my first race and get through it safely is important. We are defending our team time trial win from last year so that’s definitely a focus for us. We’ll see how the General Classification goes. Kilian Frankiny looks to be climbing the best out of anyone in our group right now so whether it’s helping him out or my form allows me to go for it, we’ll see how it goes.”
Frankiny is excited to return to the start line after his long off season. “I’m very motivated as I had a long off season after my crash in the Vuelta a Espana. This is the first race in five months so I’m happy to be at the start line and I’m well prepared having done a lot of good training at home and at our training camps. Stage 2 will be pretty hard. The last climb we know from stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana and it’s a very steep climb. We will see how many guys make the selection and I hope I can be in the front group. Then of course, the team time trial is a big objective for the whole team as everyone knows that BMC Racing Team is really good in the discipline,” Frankiny said.
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (31 Jan – 4 Feb)
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)
Sports Director: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA)
Greg Van Avermaet:
#PinkArgyle targets sprint stages in European season opener
Two new sprint signings headline EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale’s seven-man roster for the 69th edition of Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
“I think Valencia is a really good opportunity for us to start playing a little bit with our new sprint capabilities in Dan McLay and Sacha Modolo,” said EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “That’s what I’m looking for this week more so than a general classification performance.”
The five-day race runs from Wednesday January 31 – Sunday February 4. The race opens and closes with projected sprint stages. Two climbing stages and a team time trial are sandwiched between the likely sprints.
Pierre Rolland represents the only true climber amongst the #PinkArgyle’s seven-man squad, which largely consists of Classics riders – all of whom will race for the first time this season in Valencia.
“For the climbing days, stage two and stage four, we can go into the breakaways,” said sport director Ken Vanmarcke. “We’ll see what’s possible. Maybe on the second stage the break has a real chance to stay in the front, and even if not, then somebody gets a really good training day.”
While the Volta Valenciana squad has had plenty of good training days leading up to the race’s start on Wednesday, those training days have been filled with all sorts of non-training activity, too. EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale held its annual training camp in Girona in the build-up to the race. The days were filled with photo shoots, POC helmet fittings, Cannondale product information sessions, all sorts of team meetings and sponsor meet-and-greets.
“For this team at this time, my expectations are somewhat tempered as they’re coming off a busy training camp,” said Vaughters.
Vanmarcke’s expectations are slightly less measured: “With the two sprinters we have there, we have to go for a win. There are two sprint stages, and we tried everything on the Parcmotor Castelloí circuit last Thursday. We have to go full on the sprint days.”
McLay eagerly anticipates the challenge.
“Between me and Sacha, I expect we’ll find our way and have a good go in the sprints,” said the Manxman. “There will be a little bit of learning, but there’s no point in hesitating. We’ll give it our best effort.”
And for stage three team time trial?
“There will be a nice taste of blood in the throat on Friday, I reckon,” said McLay.
EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 Volta Valenciana:
Matti Breschel (DEN), Sebastian Langeveld (NLD), Dan McLay (GBR), Sacha Modolo (ITA), Pierre Rolland (FRA), Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL).
Director: Ken Vanmarcke (BEL).
AG2R-La Mondiale for Valencia
Oliver Naesen: “Just like last year, I have decided to return to the competition at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. I’m happy to pin on a bib. It’s a difficult race, but that won’t be a problem for me. My winter has been good, I have not been slowed down by health problems, and I feel like I’m a little stronger than last year.
In the offseason, I spent six weeks in Spain to train under ideal conditions. And then during the training camps with the team, I saw that the group has melded together, with everyone motivated and ready to fight. After Valenciana, I will move onto the Ruta Del Sol (February 14-18), then it will be time to think of the Classics with the opening of the Belgian calendar at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 24).”
Gazprom – RusVelo is to Start the Season in Spain
On 31 January – 4 February Gazprom – RusVelo is to compete in Volta a la Communitat Valenciana. That will be the opening road race for the Russian cycling team in season 2018.
As in the previous editions the Spanish race will have a strong list of contenders. In total 25 squads are to cross the starting line in Oropesa del Mar. In five racing days riders are to cover 688 kilometres. Traditionally the contest has stages with various altimetries, which makes the race appealing for riders of all specializations. Whereas the first and the last stages are supposed to bring bunch sprint finishes, the fourth queen stage is to have six intermediate climbs. Apart from flat and mountainous stages, the third racing day is to challenge the squads with 23 kilometres long team time trial.
Main hopes of Gazprom – RusVelo are on the current Russian national champion Alexander Porsev. That’s what he said before the opening race of the season: “We have just finished our pre-season training camp in Santa Severa and I would say that everyone in the team is ready to start the season powerfully. I have competed in Volta a la Communitat Valenciana, so it’s not a new race for me and I want to improve the result. I am mostly focused on the first and fifth stages, which are expected to finish with bunch sprints. We will see in which conditions are our competitors and how they prepared for the start of the season, but I can confidently say that we are set up for a fierce competition and ready to fight for victories.”
Gazprom – RusVelo line-up:
Sergey Firsanov, Igor Boev, Alexander Vlasov, Artem Nych, Alexander Porsev, Nikolay Trusov, Stepan Kurianov.
Nippo Vini Fantini Europa Ovini: Ready for the Official Debut in Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana
#OrangeBlue are ready for the seasonal debut in Volta a la Comunitat Valencia. Marco Canola, after his great end of season in 2017, winning the 2 last races, will try to start very well. 3 debuts with the #OrangeBlue jersey for Simone Ponzi, Marco Tizza and the Spanish rider Joan Bou. A well balanced line-up with Hideto Nakane and Ivan Santaromita as climbers and Nicola Bagioli to complete the roster, for the race that will have in the start-list 11 World Tour teams, many Professional teams and the NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini as the only Italian team.
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana – The #OrangeBlue seasonal debut.
Just finished the strong training camp with the warm temperature of Calpe, the NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini team is ready for the great seasonal debut. The #OrangeBlue have been involved in a competition of high level: the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. The race has on his start-kist 11 World Tour teams, all the Professional Spanish teams, and many other high level Professional teams as the Cofidis, Direct Energy and many others. As the only Italian team invited, the NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini team will have a competitive and well balanced roster.
7 Riders, 3 Season Debuts
7 #OrangeBlue riders have been selected by Mario Manzoni and Valerio Tebaldi at the end of the training camp. The leader and captain of the team Marco Canola and winner of the last 2 races that he made in 2017 will be yet ready to battle. His goal will be to start as well as possibile also in 2018. La Volta a la Comunitat Valencia will be the opportunity of debut with the #OrangeBlue jersey also for 3 riders.
Simone Ponzi will be back in race with an Italian team and will be an important support both for the leader and also for the youngest rider of the team. For Joan Bou will be the official debut among Pros. His debut will be in his country the Spain. Important debut in the Professional level also for the Italian rider Marco Tizza. For the 4th stage will be important the climbers, such as Hideto Nakane and Ivan Santaromita, while during all the stage will be important the team work of Nicola Bagioli, the young Italian rider at his second season among PROs.
On the team cars the Sports Directors Mario Manzoni expects good performances from his riders, especially in single stages: “After many weeks of trainings is good to have now the possibility to have a comparison on our condition against other competitors. We will battle with high level teams, with big names cycling so it will be a very good test for us. The Valenciana has every kind of road, from mixed stages, to climbs up to Time-Trial. For sure our leader in the first and last stages will be Marco Canola, with Marco Tizza and Nicola Bagioli that could also have their chance. For the climb stage Hideto Nakane and Ivan Santaromita will be our leaders, while Joan Bou will debut among PROs, he his very young so he must follow in race most experienced riders, such as Simone Ponzi that could be helpful both for him and for leaders.”
La Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana will take place in Spain. Among previous winners big riders such as Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. The edition of the 2018 will take place in Valencia region and will be composed by 5 stages, from 31st of January up to the 4th of February. If in the first 2 stages a group arrival is expected in the third stage the team time trial will start to put some gaps in the general ranking. The fourth stage will probably decide the final leader as climber stage, while the last stage is again for fast riders.
The complete line-up:
Marco Canola, Simone Ponzi, Hideto Nakane, Ivan Santaromita, Marco Tizza, Nicola Bagioli, Joan Bou.
Sports Directors: Mario Manzoni, Valerio Tebaldi.
2018 Ardennes Classics: See You at the Summit
Boels Rental renewed its commitment to cycling by extending its sponsorship of the Ardennes classics until 2020.
The Ardennes week brings down the curtain on the first part of the cycling season with two world-renowned classics. La Flèche Wallonne will start in Seraing for the first time in 82 editions of the race, with the usual finish on the Mur de Huy after 198.5 km. The peloton will take a detour on the roads of the Dean of Classics, tackling La Vecquée and then La Redoute prior to completing two laps of the final 29 km circuit.
In contrast with the puncher party in Huy, the Dean of Classics will again descend into a war of attrition. The toughest parts of the 258 km course will be the two trilogies of Pont, Bellevaux and Ferme Libert and La Redoute, Roche-aux-Faucons and Saint-Nicolas. This time around, the final spring classic is combining tradition and modernity with a direct ride from Liège to Bastogne via Côte de Bonnevue. Côte de Mont-le-Soie will spring a final surprise on the peloton on the way back.
“Loyalty” will be the buzzword of the 2018 Ardennes campaign for the female peloton. The 21st La Flèche Wallonne Femmes will feature a 118.5 km course with two ascents of Côte de Cherave instead of the usual one, but the puncher’s crown will still be decided atop the Mur de Huy.
Finally, the second edition of Liège–Bastogne–Liège Femmes (135.5 km) is bringing back last year’s course without changes in a bid to earn the loyalty of the female cycling elite. The race will start in Bastogne and feature many difficulties, with the final 45 km stretch similar to the one in the men’s event. These climbs will provide a launch pad for anyone looking to succeed Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen.
Boels extends the adventure
The best performances require ambition, perseverance and foolproof material. That’s why Boels Rental continues to show its loyalty to the four Ardennes races by extending its two-year partnership until 2020 inclusive. The equipment rental company, present as a major partner since 2013, is one of the most invested brands in the development of women’s cycling. The Boels Dolmans cycling team, which has been playing at the highest level since the 2012 season, has among its ranks Anna van der Breggen, triple title holder of the Flèche Wallonne Femmes and Olympic champion in Rio. On the Flèche as in Liège, Boels Rental will also be a partner in the classification of passes and coasts to reward the attack, the show and the audacity within the pack.
· The women’s and men’s races of the Flèche Wallonne will take place on Wednesday 18th April and the women’s and men’s races of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will take place on Sunday 22th April.
· The 82nd edition of La Flèche Wallonne will take place entirely within the Province of Liège and feature the famous Côte de La Redoute.
· Two of the eleven climbs in Liège–Bastogne–Liège (Côte de Bonnerue and Côte de Mont-le-Soie) were not in the previous edition.
As well as unveiling the courses of the Ardennes classics, the organizers revealed the team selection for the upcoming editions of Paris–Roubaix, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. The following squads have been selected to compete alongside the 18 WorldTour outfits:
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits (FRA)
Delko Marseille Provence KTM (FRA)
Direct Energie (FRA)
Team Fortuneo – Samsic (FRA)
Veranda’s Willems – Crelan (BEL)
Vital Concept Cycling Club (FRA)
WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic (BEL).
Aqua Blue Sport (IRL)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits (FRA)
Direct Energie (FRA)
Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise (BEL)
Team Fortuneo – Samsic (FRA)
WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic (BEL)
Wanty – Groupe Gobert (BEL).
2018 Flèche Wallonne
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits (FRA)
Delko Marseille Provence KTM (FRA)
Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise (BEL)
Team Fortuneo – Samsic (FRA)
Vital Concept Cycling Club (FRA)
WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic (BEL)
Wanty – Groupe Gobert (BEL).
De Plus and Vakoc injured in South Africa
The two Quick-Step Floors riders are in hospital after being hit by a speeding truck while out training
Quick-Step Floors would like to inform that Laurens De Plus and Petr Vakoc are both in hospital, following an incident that took place on Thursday afternoon, in South Africa, during their daily training ride. The two, together with Bob Jungels, were on the road, when a truck came from behind and hit them, the collision sending them on the tarmac.
The riders – both conscious – were immediately attended by team trainer Koen Pelgrim and soon they were transported to the Mediclinic Nelspruit, where Laurens was diagnosed with multiple abrasions and a minor pulmonary and kidney contusion, as consequence of the crash; the Belgian will be kept under observation, but should be released from the hospital in a few days. Petr was less fortunate, after the scans revealed several fractured vertebrae, which require surgery that will be performed later today.
Bob Jungels described what happened: “The three of us were out training, when suddenly I heard a loud noise and then in the following second I saw Laurens and Petr on the ground. I did not see the truck coming from behind, but it must have hit them with the left front mirror or even the front left part. I ran to them and could see they were injured, so I did not dare to move them. A lady who was on the side of the road came and helped us, calling the ambulance, while our trainer Koen and I talked with them. It was really tough to see them like that and I hope they will get over this difficult moment soon. I wish them a fast recovery.”
The team will release further information on the riders’ condition later. In the meantime, Quick-Step Floors kindly ask you to respect the privacy of the riders and their families, and address any enquiry to the team.
Petr Vakoc Update
The Quick-Step Floors rider will return to Europe in ten days.
Petr Vakoc underwent surgery at the Mediclinic Nelspruit to stabilize the broken vertebrae he sustained during his Thursday training ride in South Africa, when he was clipped by a truck. Stable and conscious after the accident in which also teammate Laurens De Plus was involved, the 25-year-old Czech went into surgery Friday afternoon and spent the entire night under observation, before being awakened by the doctors on Saturday.
The post-surgery tests conducted this morning showed Petr responding to all stimuli, moving and talking with the doctors, who deemed the intervention a success. Now, the Quick-Step Floors rider will remain for ten more days in the hospital before traveling back to Europe.
“This morning I talked with Petr and he was relieved that everything went fine. The last 48 hours were long and nerve consuming, but we are happy things are good now. Petr needs a lot of rest and time to recover now, and we will be by his side to help him”, said the team’s trainer Koen Pelgrim.
Gaviria to return to Colombia after San Juan abandon
Quick-Step Floors’ rider will start his recovery at home, with the hope of returning to action at Colombia Oro y Paz.
Fernando Gaviria’s participation in the Vuelta a San Juan came to a halt on Wednesday, when the young Colombian hit the deck with 45 kilometers remaining of stage 4, in an incident that took down several riders. After assessing his condition, the Quick-Step Floors doctor decided a further medical examination was needed, and so Fernando was taken to the San Juan hospital by helicopter, where the doctors – after conducting several tests and scans – excluded any fractures.
In the aftermath of the crash occurred on the roads to Villa San Agustin, where Gaviria’s teammate Maximiliano Richeze sprinted to the win, the 23-year-old was left with several abrasions on his body, as well as a deep wound on his left knee, that didn’t require any stitches.
“I am feeling okay after yesterday’s crash. As you saw, we were riding in the side wind and the pace was high, stretching out the peloton. In a split second there was a move in the line of the guys in front of me and my wheel got caught on the wrong side of my teammate. None of us could have done anything to prevent it”, said Fernando after leaving the hospital for his home country, where he’ll aim to recover for the inaugural edition of Colombia Oro y Paz (6-11 February).
“It’s sad to leave the Vuelta a San Juan because it’s a fantastic event and I was looking forward to racing it all the way to the end. Tonight, I will travel to Colombia, where I’ll have further examinations, which I hope to confirm that there’s no serious damage, and try to prepare the best I can for Colombia Oro y Paz. It will be important to see how my body reacts to this crash, but I hope for a smooth recovery”, explained Gaviria, who was grateful for the help and support he got from the organizers and doctors.
“I would like to thank the organization of Vuelta San Juan, the local and provincial sports government, and the medical staff of Hospital Dr. Albarracín and Clinical Castaño for the very professional, fast, and not least, kind service. Everything was handled perfectly and in a professional way”, concluded Fernando, who in Vuelta a San Juan scored his 24th victory in the Quick-Step Floors jersey.
San Juan stage 1 winner, Fernando Gaviria:
Official Presentation of the 2018 AG2R LA MONDIALE Pro Cycling Team
Aces High: Tour of the Alps with 9 WorldTeams in Exciting 2018 Edition
The Euroregional stage race unveiled its 20-team list for the upcoming edition in a press conference in Seefeld in Tirol. 2018 TotA records new high in World Teams’ participation, expects load of Giro contenders.
The expectations for a highly exciting 2018 edition of the Tour of the Alps, the 2.HC Euroregional stage race taking place from April 16th to 20th, have risen even higher after GS Alto Garda, the organizing company of the race, has revealed the official list of the starting teams in a press conference in Seefeld in Tirol (Austria), on Thursday January 25th.
In the Media Center of the Nordic Combined World Cup event currently underway in Seefeld, Tour of the Alps General Manager Maurizio Evangelista proudly presented the 20 teams that will be looking to shine over five demanding stages, from the start in Arco to the grand finale on the 2018 World Championships’ circuit in Innsbruck, passing through Trentino, Südtirol and Tirol.
“Tirol is a great region for sports, in which the role of cycling is increasingly big, partly thanks to the 2018 World Championships, but the consistency of our commitment on the two-wheels is represented by the Tour of the Alps, where together with our friends from Südtirol and Trentino we share the common values of our territories in a great Euroregional project,” told Josef Margreiter, Tirol Werbung’s Director.
The 2018 Tour of the Alps sets its new historical high for World Teams’ participation with nine, boasting some of the most competitive lineups in the World and further establishing its role as key dress rehearsal ahead of the Giro d’Italia. Among them there is Team Sky, whose riders won the last three editions of the Tour of the Alps (formerly known as Giro del Trentino) and four teams making their first appearance in the race: Bahrain-Merida, Dimension Data, Lotto.NL-Jumbo and UAE-Emirates.
Joining the TotA peloton will be also eight Pro Continental teams, two Continental teams and one National selection. Teams from no less than fourteen Nations will show up at the start in Arco (Italy, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, France, Kazakhstan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, South Africa, Netherlands, Russia, Israel, Poland, Spain), each one fielding seven riders.
AG2R-La Mondiale (France)
Astana Pro Team (Kazakhstan)
Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team (Bahrain)
Dimension Data (South Africa)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
UAE-Emirates (United Arab Emirates)
Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec (Italy)
Israel Cycling Academy (Israel)
Nippo-Vini Fantini (Italy)
Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia (Italy)
Tirol Cycling Team (Austria)
Team Felbermayr-Simplon (Austria)
Not every team has its line-up already set up. Team Sky, the winning team of the last three editions with Richie Porte, Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas, has its list still on hold, waiting for the unfolding of the position of 4-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, who had set his sight on the Tour of the Alps as final testing ground ahead of his Giro d’Italia bid. Either way, the starting field will undoubtedly be very competitive, starting with UAE Emirates’ leader Fabio Aru, fellow Italian Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), South African Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data), New Zealander George Bennett (Lotto.NL-Jumbo).
In the year of the Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria will field two Continental teams: Tirol Cycling Team, in its second participation after 2017, and debutant Team Felbermayr-Simplon.
Santini (GS Alto Garda President): “We have stepped up another level”
GS Alto Garda President Giacomo Santini openly expressed his satisfaction for the appreciation expressed by top-tier teams towards the Tour of the Alps and its new project, started a year ago by the partnership between Tirol, Südtirol and Trentino under the aegis of Euregio. “We feel proud to present such a prestigious list of teams, and we are already looking forward to the show they will be able to bring on our roads. Top teams have come to us expressing their interest in the race even earlier than in the past, and to welcome a big number of first-time teams this year is another reason for satisfaction. We feel like we have moved up another level.”
“Once again last year, the Tour of the Alps has shown to be the perfect ground for the Giro d’Italia contenders to test themselves and refine their conditions: all of the TotA top protagonists went on to feature prominently at the Giro. If not for his unfortunate Blockhaus crash, who knows if Dumoulin would have beaten Geraint Thomas. And of course, we would have loved to see what Michele Scarponi could have done in another GC run. That’s why I am sure we will see a great list of top riders lining up in Arco,” Santini concluded.
Maurizio Fondriest, celebrating the 30 years of his World Championship in Renaix 1988, has analyzed the five stages: “The route follows the tradition of this race, a very demanding challenge with two decisive stages: the finish in Pampeago and the one on the World Championships’ circuit in Innsbruck.”
THE 2018 TOUR OF THE ALPS ROUTE
The five stages of the 2018 Tour of the Alps have been unveiled in the race’s official presentation in Milan, in November 2017.
Stage 1 – Monday April 16th
Arco – Folgaria, km 134,6
Altitude: 2530m. Difficulty: ***
Stage 2 – Tuesday April 17th
Lavarone – Fiemme/Alpe di Pampeago km 145,5
Altitude: 2900m. Difficulty: ****
Stage 3 – Wednesday April 18th
Ora/Auer – Merano/Meran km 138,3
Altitude: 2600m. Difficulty: **
Stage 4 – Thursday April 19th
Chiusa/Klausen – Lienz km 134,3
Altitude: 2300m. Difficulty: ***
Stage 5 – Friday April 20th
Rattenberg – Innsbruck km 161,6
Altitude: 2770m. Difficulty: ***
Five racing days, 714,3 km overall distance, 13.100 mt overall altitude, 10 categorized climbs: the Tour of the Alps features all the elements of a modern race, that after the 2017 success confirms a spectacular formula made of short and intense routes.
2018 Tour of the Alps Route:
The Katusha-Alpecin Shuffle
More adventures with the South African Katusha-Alpecin rider Willie Smit:
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