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Dour - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Niki TERPSTRA (Netherlands / Team Quick - Step Floors) pictured during Le Samyn 2018 for Elite men a one day cyclingrace on 27-02-2018 - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

A packed EUROTRASH Thursday with all the cycling news of the week. Niki Terpstra takes his second Le Samyn – Race report, result and video. Rioja race in Spain cancelled – Top Story. Teams for Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, news from the Giro del Belvedere and the Tour of the Alps, Tom Boonen becomes ambassador for Captains of Cycling, Wanty-Group Gobert drive Ford, Quick-Step Floors pop-up store, Arjen Livyns joins Veranda’s Willems-Crelan and Mandy Marquardt rides the Track Worlds.

TOP STORY: Another Race in Trouble
The Logroñés Cycling Club, organizer of la Vuelta a La Rioja, has issued an official announcement, stating that the 58th Tour of La Rioja (UCI 1.1) will not be held in 2018. The race was due to run on Sunday, April 1, but due to the economic difficulties that have been dragging on over the past years the organizing committee have decided they cannot this year’s edition. The committee added that they are going to study the possibility of it returning in 2019.

“We do not want to jeopardize the good name of the race or the public and private sponsors who have been supporting us unconditionally for years,” the CC Logroñés explained. “Given the new demands of professional road cycling, we want to give ourselves a one-year margin to rethink the event and make it more attractive to sponsors.”

It looks like yet another smaller European race might bite the dust, ‘mondialism’ might be opening the World to pro cycling, but what about the home countries of cycling? There are less and less races in France, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

Movistar’s Rory Sutherland won the 2017 Rioja race:

Le Samyn 2018
Quick-Step Floors totally owned the 49th edition of Le Samyn (Quaregnon – Dour, 200 kilometers), as Niki Terpstra became the first double-winner of the race since it has been introduced on the UCI Europe Tour calendar, 13 years ago, with 2012 World Champion Philippe Gilbert taking a close second for a remarkable 1-2 of our team on the last race of February.

Seven riders made it into the escape on Tuesday, but the real race began with over 120 kilometers to go, on the first of the four punishing laps in Dour, when Quick-Step Floors amassed the entire team at the front and upped the tempo in the crosswinds, blowing the peloton to pieces and joining the escapees with only three other riders on their wheels. Tim Declercq, Davide Martinelli and Florian Sénéchal sacrificed themselves for the team, trading pulls at the front, extending the gap and shredding the group to just a handful of riders for the final 70 kilometers of the afternoon.

Philippe Gilbert and Niki Terpstra, together with Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie), Alex Kirsch (WB Aqua Protect) and Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), managed to hold off the late charges of the peloton, and despite a mechanical for Philippe, who had to change his bike inside the last 40 kilometers, the group entered on the penultimate lap in pole-position to fight for the top prize at the Belgian race, which took place in freezing conditions, with the mercury showing -3ºC.

An injection of pace from Niki distanced Kirsch and Van der Sande, a move followed with 20 kilometers to go by a true tactical coup of Quick-Step Floors, as Gilbert and Terpstra set up a perfect 1-2, harassing their opponent with two incisive attacks; first of these was launched by the Ronde van Vlaanderen reigning champion, before the Dutchman came round the Frenchman and went into time trial mode, quickly opening a gap which he then increased as he prepared to tackle the final two cobbled sectors of the race, Cote de la Roquette and Rue de Belle Vue.

Not only that he didn’t encounter any problem there, but the 33-year-old continued to stretch out his advantage, giving himself plenty of time to celebrate his success at the finish in Dour, where Philippe Gilbert arrived second. After grabbing the 20th victory of his career and the first since coming out on top at the 2016 Eneco Tour, Niki was obviously delighted at the end of the day.

Dour - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - TERPSTRA Niki (NED) of Quick - Step Floors during the 50th Grand Prix Samyn cycling race with start in Quaregnon and finish in Dour (200 kms) on February 27, 2018 in Namur, Belgium - foto: VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

Le Samyn winner, Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors): “I am very happy, but must say we suffered today with every kilometer, because the cold made use spend a lot of energy. It wasn’t easy to race in these conditions, but fortunately it worked out well for us at the end of the day. We knew the break was strong and the responsibility was on us, so that’s why we attacked in the crosswinds from afar. We went full gas and turned everything into an elimination race, with more and more guys getting tired and dropped. The team rode a textbook race, Philippe was perfect in the finale and we just made use of our numerical advantage, so that I could get away and take this beautiful win.”

2nd, Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors): “Our team made the selection and once we split the peloton we had a dream scenario, with all our riders in the front. I am really proud of the guys, they were incredible and this performance gives us even more confidence for the next races. The race was hard and alert, and Gaudin was very strong, so we knew we had to get rid of him, which we did thanks to a perfect tactic. I am happy for Niki and glad to see the form is there ahead of Strade Bianche, one of my favorite races of the year.”

2017 Le Samyn winner was 12th, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I missed the QuickStep echelon that was created after 80 kilometers. I was positioned a bit too far away and the peloton immediately broke into several pieces. I myself have tried to set the chase in motion by attacking several times. We always got clear, but the gap with the leaders was never closed. In the final lap I got a knock of all the previous efforts in combination with the extreme cold. I completely parked. The condition is good and that is the most important. I hope I can continue this line and not let myself be surprised anymore. Sunday I ride West Flanders, then I go on training camp.”

Le Samyn Result:
1. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors
2. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
3. Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie
4. Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
5. Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R-La Mondiale
6. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
7. Benoit Jarrier (Fra) Fortuneo-Oscaro
8. Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10. Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Direct Energie.

Le Samyn’18:

Strade Bianche
Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED) said: “This Saturday we have Strade Bianche, one of the most beautiful and unique races through Tuscany, which includes a total of 63 kilometers on sterrato-roads. Depending on weather, we expect that soon after the feeding zone the race will really start with two long and challenging sections where most of the time the first shift will be made. From here the race is on and will be for sure decided on the last three sectors which come 25 kilometers from the finish. We have a few riders that are suited to this final with Michael, Søren, Simon and Tom. They need to work together to cover the right moves and will be supported by Nikias, Laurens and Lennard. Our goal is to create a move with one of our guys in it and aim for a good result.”

Michael Matthews Out of Strade Bianche Due to Small Fracture to Shoulder
Due to a small fracture to his shoulder sustained from a late crash at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, Team Sunweb’s Michael Matthews (AUS) is unable to compete at this weekend’s Strade Bianche, also leaving participation at Tirreno Adriatico next week uncertain. Initially suspected to be purely external abrasions, Matthews underwent further investigation upon returning home where the fracture in his left shoulder was discovered.

Team Sunweb Physician Anko Boelens explained: “The diagnosis from the MRI scan is a non-displaced fracture of the greater tuberosity of the left upper arm. Because the fragment is not displaced, surgery in this case is not required. Michael will need to take some rest and afterwards undergo physiotherapy before restarting training on the rollers. Much is dependent on improvement over the next days, but at the moment we can certainly say that Strade Bianche on Saturday is not possible. The healing process and Michael’s pain levels will determine when he can return to the bike. After the weekend we will re-evaluate for his upcoming races and see if Tirreno is realistic.”

Lennard Hofstede (NED) will replace Matthews at Strade Bianche.

Strade Bianche (WT)

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Nikias Arndt (GER), Laurens ten Dam (NED), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Simon Geschke (GER), Lennard Kämna (GER), Michael Matthews (AUS), Lennard Hofstede (NED).
Coach: Marc Reef.

Tom Dumoulin:
Adnoc School - Abu Dhabi - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Tom DUMOULIN (Netherlands / Team Sunweb) pictured during the 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour stage 1 from Madinat Zaya to Adnoc School (189KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Van Avermaet to Lead BMC Racing Team at Strade Bianche
Greg Van Avermaet will continue his Classics campaign in Italy this weekend when he leads BMC Racing Team at Strade Bianche on Saturday, 3 March.

A strong team will support Van Avermaet at the UCI WorldTour one-day race, BMC Racing Team Sports Director Valerio Piva said. “Strade Bianche is a race that Greg traditionally likes to do, and he has been just short of the victory a couple of times, including finishing second place last year, so, he will be our leader. We know he is in good shape and he will have a good team around him. I expect Alberto Bettiol, as this is almost a home race for him, together with Damiano Caruso and Stefan Küng to be there in the final with Greg. Of course, we need to be careful and pay attention during the whole race and try to jump in the moves, but with the help of these guys, I think we can do a good race. We also have strong guys like Francisco Ventoso, Michael Schär and Loïc Vliegen there in support of Greg. It depends on the tactics of the race, and the weather forecast is not so good at the moment, but we will see what happens and hopefully we can produce a good result,” Piva explained.

Greg Van Avermaet, who finished on the podium in 2015 and 2017, is looking forward to heading back to the start line in Siena. “Strade Bianche is a race that is pretty honest, so I am looking forward to it. It is one of my favorite races in the year, and I hope the weather is okay because I do not love the cold that much, or the rain. We will see how it goes, but I am feeling motivated again. Last year, I was second, and I have been on the podium a few times already so hopefully this year I can win,” Van Avermaet said.

Strade Bianche (3 March)
Rider Roster:

Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Stefan Küng (SUI), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Maximilian Sciandri (ITA).

Greg Van Avermaet in Strade Bianche’17:
Siena - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Greg VAN AVERMAET (Belgium / BMC Racing Team) - Tiesj BENOOT (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) - Tim WELLENS (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) pictured during Strade Bianche elite 2017 - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Strade Bianche
Former winners Philippe Gilbert and Zdenek Stybar will headline our squad for the 12th edition of the Italian one-day race.

Famous for its dirt roads, rolling hills, picturesque landscapes and one of the best finish venues in the sport, Strade Bianche has turned into an instant classic ever since its inception, despite being one of the newest races on the block. With a terrain mixing gravel sectors and undulating roads, the Italian race showed that it’s open for the taking for both Classics specialists and climbers, going down every year as one of the finest and most spectacular events of the season.

The fourth World Tour stop of 2018, Strade Bianche will see the peloton set out on Saturday morning from Siena’s Piazza della Liberta and head into the countryside for a 184km-long route that includes 11 gravel sectors – many of which have double-digit gradients – totaling 62 kilometers. After leaving all these sterrate behind, the riders will have to overcome one final hurdle, the steep climb leading to the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares, renowned for hosting the Palio twice a year.

Philippe Gilbert, runner-up this week in a thrilling edition of Le Samyn, and Czech Champion Zdenek Stybar will lead the charge for Quick-Step Floors at Strade Bianche, where the two former winners will be joined by Eros Capecchi, Fernando Gaviria, Iljo Keisse, Maximilian Schachmann – who comes after two solid displays at last weekend’s Classic Sud-Ardèche and Drôme Classic – and Pieter Serry.

A protagonist at the previous four editions, our squad will look to shape again the race and be in the mix for a resounding victory, as sports director Davide Bramati underlined: “We make no secret of the fact that we have several guys capable of winning on Saturday, but it won’t be easy, because there’s a star-studded field out there, with many strong riders all wanting the top prize. Unlike other years, the weather could play a bigger role this time, as we expect low temperatures and rain during the race, but we’ll do our best to kick-start the month of March on the right foot.”

03.03 Strade Bianche (ITA) 1.UWT

Eros Capecchi (ITA), Fernando Gaviria Rendon (COL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Maximilian Schachmann (GER), Pieter Serry (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE).
Sports Director: Davide Bramati (ITA) and Rik van Slycke (BEL).

Philippe Gilbert:

UAE Team Emirates’ line-up for the Strade Bianche
On March 3, Emirati team will race in Tuscany.

UAE Team Emirates will ride in the Strade Bianche race, their first event in Italy in 2018.

This quirky race will be held in Tuscany on March 3. Riders will cover 184 km, starting from and arriving in Siena. What makes this event particular is that the route will feature 11 stretches of dirt road for a total of 63 km.

Sports Director Daniele Righi (Italy), assisted by his colleague Mario Scirea (Italy), will call on the following 7 athletes:
– Valerio Conti (Italy)
– Marco Marcato (Italy)
– Manuele Mori (Italy)
– Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland)
– Jan Polanc (Slovenia)
– Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belorussia)
– Diego Ulissi (Italy)

Diego Ulissi will be the team captain: “I’ve only participated in the Strade Bianche twice. In just a few years this race has become a prestigious appointment on the international calendar. The last time I appeared in this race was 2016. I managed to give a nice performance, ending up in 7th place. The placement could have been even better, considering that I was in good shape, which is what kept me going. I really hope I can count on strong legs like the ones I had two years ago, to stay in the lead group, which will inevitably become selective on the more challenging dirt road sectors. Hopefully I will be with some of my team mates, for example Mori, Niemiec and Marcato, all athletes with plenty of potential. I should point out that in the Strade Bianche you must never underestimate the luck factor, considering that the tricky gravel roads can cause flats or slide-outs, which of course will affect performance.”

Strade Bianche
The World Tour makes it’s first stop in Italy for the year, this weekend, as the 12th edition of Strade Bianche takes place on Saturday. The 184km classic will include no less than 63km of white gravel roads, which has made this race a favourite among riders and fans alike.

The Strade Bianche, with it’s white gravel roads, has fast become one of the most important modern day classics in world cycling. This year the dirt roads and short, sharp climbs around Siena will once again be the main stage for an epic battle but the current cold front that has gripped most of Europe could well add to the day’s challenges too.

Following a strong showing by Scott Thwaites and Julien Vermote during ‘Opening Weekend’ last week, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will once again rally around our in-form duo on Saturday. Both riders have fared well in the past on these roads, with Thwaites securing a hardy top 10 placing for our African Team at least year’s edition of the race.

Joining our 2 classics specialists and completing our line-up this weekend will be Edvald Boasson Hagen, Merhawi Kudus, Lachlan Morton, Ben O’Connor and Bernie Eisel.

Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
I think we are in for an interesting race this weekend. We know that currently the roads are full of snow so we will have to see what the conditions are like on Saturday. We will be ready though, we have a nice team who have proven themselves on the white roads before. Scott and Julien are both going well at the moment, so we have some good options available to us and will race for a top result.

Scott Thwaites, Julien Vermote, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Merhawi Kudus, Lachlan Morton, Ben O’Connor, Bernie Eisel.

Vanmarcke opens Classics season with third at Omloop het Nieuwsblad
Strade Bianche takes the WorldTour peloton from the cobbles of Belgium to the white roads of Tuscany. The young-but-instant classic tempts general classification contenders and one-day specialists. The 12th edition of the Italian one-day race looks set to throw up an additional challenge beyond the dirt farm tracks synonymous with the course – snow!

“I’m not surprised by the popularity of this race,” said sport director Fabrizio Guidi. “I also think that there are conditions for the popularity to continue to grow. The scenario and characteristics of the course are unique. Strade Bianche represents the answers to those looking for both spectacle and tradition and offers the opportunity for victory to climbers and classics riders.”

An on-form Sep Vanmarcke captains the EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale squad on Saturday. Vanmarcke, third last weekend at Omloop het Nieuwsblad, will be joined by road captain Simon Clarke, Alex Howes, Swedish road champion Kim Magnusson, Dani Moreno, Taylor Phinney and Tom Van Asbroeck. Phinney, who missed out on Abu Dhabi Tour due to illness, makes his season debut in Siena.

“We have a strong team and start with important ambitions,” said Guidi. “It’s difficult to predict how the race will unfold in light of the weather forecast. We have a plan for every situation. We are prepared. We start to win, as always, and strategy and team spirit will make a difference.”

What Strade Bianche lacks in heritage it more than compensates for in mystique. The race has been both a fan favorite and rider favorite since inception.

“It’s a special race because it’s heroic,” said Vanmarkce. “It’s very hard to race on gravel roads. Like with a a cobbled classic, you need to be in good position, stay focused from start to finish and have some luck.”

Saturday’s 184-kilometer course takes the peloton through the Chianti and Brunello vineyards in the Tuscan hills. The route includes 11 gravel sectors, totaling 63 kilometers of dirt roads or 34% of the unforgiving course. The race is typically one of attrition, with selections made over the sharp climbs and descents featured in final few sectors. Traditionally, it’s the cobbled climb to Siena’s Piazza del Campo with 900 meters still to race that determines the victor.

Weather conditions may force a departure from tradition. Snow began to fall in Southern Tuscany on Thursday and temperatures dipped below freezing. Current forecasts call for milder temperatures and rain on Saturday, which would turn dusty dirt to soupy mud.

“Growing up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, most of my favorite routes incorporate wild dirt roads where conditions are often times unpredictable and inhospitable,” said Howes. “To have a spring classic on dirt with the potential for snow is a dream come true for me.”

“The snow can upset this race, making it very hard,” said Guidi. “We’re not worried about this. The weather conditions support us and our goals.”

#PinkArgyle’s early season success has cultivated a team-wide sense of momentum, ambition and optimism headed into Strade Bianche.

“The team on a whole feels like it’s been given a second chance,” said Howes. “Everyone knows that with second chances, anything is possible. Plus, we’re pink. Who needs rosy-colored lenses when the whole kit is pink?”

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 Strade Bianche

Simon Clarke (AUS), Alex Howes (USA), Kim Magnusson (SWE), Dani Moreno (ESP), Taylor Phinney (USA), Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL).
Sport Directors: Fabrizio Guidi (ITA) and Ken Vanmarcke (BEL).

Tiesj Benoot wants to do better than the 8th place in his third Strade Bianche
Saturday the twelfth edition of Strade Bianche is scheduled. Although the race is still very young it has become a real Classic. Lotto Soudal rider Tiesj Benoot can’t wait to race it for the third time!

Tiesj Benoot: “I finished eighth twice and that proves the races suits me. I can say that it is one of the spring races in which I can use my skills the best. The course is a mix between Flemish and Walloon Classics and that reflects in the names on the start list too. It’s one of the strongest pelotons in the spring.”

“I was very satisfied with my feeling past weekend. Because of different circumstances that didn’t show in the result, but I did get confirmation that my altitude training camp at Sierra Nevada was a good choice. As a team we raced aggressively and we shouldn’t change that way of racing. I am convinced it will get us a good result in the near future.”

Siena is both the start and finish place of Strade Bianche. The course of this WorldTour race is 184 kilometres long and there are eleven white gravel sectors, or ‘strade bianche’, on the route. The longest one is sector eight, which leads towards the top of Monte Sante Marie. That sector is 11.5 kilometres long and starts at 54 kilometres from the finish. The last sector, only 1.1 kilometres long, lies at thirteen kilometres from Il Campo, where the winner can triumph. Before the riders reach the finish line they have to overcome a short, steep hill in the centre of Siena with peaks up to 16%!

Tiesj Benoot: “If it’s bad weather on Saturday, then the eighth sector, to Monte Sante Marie, will be a crucial part in the race. It’s the toughest sector, because of its length and gradient. The Strade Bianche is unpredictable though. You need to be attentive all the time, because something can happen at any moment. Just like at Paris-Roubaix, luck is an important factor. The climb towards the finish is honest and doesn’t scare me. The best man in the race, who doesn’t have bad luck, will win the race.”

“This race doesn’t need bad weather to be tough. Last year it rained and it surprised me how little the effect was on the soil. The dirt you get in your eyes and mouth is worse.”

“Kwiatkowski, Sagan and Van Avermaet are the main favourites according to me. Normally I would add Valverde’s name to that list, but I don’t know how well he will have recovered from his illness. Tom Dumoulin is also dangerous on that course. After two eight places it’s my goal to do better.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Tiesj Benoot, Victor Campenaerts, Jens Debusschere, Jens Keukeleire, Nikolas Maes, Tomasz Marczyński and Tosh Van der Sande.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Mario Aerts.

Tiesj Benoot:
Alto de Colorado - Argentina- wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Tiesj Benoot (BEL - Lotto Soudal) pictured during Vuelta a San Juan 2017 - 36th Edition - stage 5 - from San Martín : Alto de Colorado (169.5KM) - photo ilario Biondi/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Nippo Vini Fantini Europa Ovini: 7 #ORANGEBLUE Riders for the Strade Bianche
Strade Bianche will be the first Italian World Tour race of the season, a big start of a month full of wonderful Italian races. Juan Josè Lobato, Eduard Grosu and Simone Ponzi will lead the team in the race of Siena that will be broadcasted live by the Italian Television Rai and by Eurosport.

A week-end of Italian races for the NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini team. On Saturday an #OrangeBlue line-up will be involved in the important race organized by RCS Sport, the Strade Bianche. On Sunday an important race of the Ciclismo Cup will take place with the edition n.41 of GP Industria & Artigianato. Today is official the first line-up for the Saturday race in Siena.

Strade Bianche, The Line-Up
184km to ride, with 11 fractions and 63 km of dirty roads, that it means the 34% of the full race. An enviroment very fascinating for the public, very hard for the riders, but for this reason a quite recent race as the Strade Bianche is yet a big monument and World Tour race of the International calendar. The #OrangeBlue team will afford the World Tour race of the Italian calendar 2018 with a complete line-up. After the debut in France with the Italian-Japanese team, the experience of Juan Josè Lobato will be at disposal of the team on the roads of Siena. Together with him, also the Rumanian rider Eduard Grosu will be one important rider of the team. After the second place in one stage of the Tour de La Provence he is also a rider for dirty roads, as Rumanian National Champion of Ciclocross. The experience of Simone Ponzi, the determination of Marco Tizza and Sho Hatsuyama, the young talent of Damiano Cima and Joan Bou will compete the line-up.

The complete line-up:
Juan José Lobato, Eduard Grosu, Simone Ponzi, Damiano Cima, Joan Bon, Marco Tizza and Sho Hatsuyama.
DS: Mario Manzoni

The Declaration
The #OrangeBlue Sports Director in these two important races will be Mario Manzoni. Here his words looking forward to this week-end of big competitions: “We are going to approach two very important races. At Strade Bianche we will do our best with the international experience of Juan Josè Lobato and Simone Ponzi, supported by Eduard Grosu and the other young riders of the team. Strade Bianche will be a strong and intense race that we want to honor in the best way as possibile.”

Races Info and Broadcast
The week-end of Italian races will be Broadcasted live by Italian and International Television. The Strade Bianche, that will start in Siena on Saturday 3rd at 10.45 am, will arrive in Piazza del Campo in Siena around 3.30 pm, after 184 km of race with 63 km of dirty roads. The race will be broadcasted by Rai 2 starting from 2.50 pm and on Eurosport 2 starting from 2.00 pm.

Strade Bianche (March 3) – Tirreno Adriatico (March 7 to 13)
Romain Bardet in discovery mode. The winner of the Drôme Classic last Saturday, Romain Bardet will be racing the Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico for the first time in his career. He has already been in Italy for a few days, and reconnoitered the Strade Bianche course during the week.

Matteo Montaguti: “I am coming off a period of good preparation, with the Tour Down Under in Australia, a training camp in the Canaries (Spain), and then the Abu Dhabi Tour. I’ve been racing and riding in sunny hot conditions for nearly two months now, which makes the snow and cold that prevails in Italy not really to my liking at the moment. Nevertheless, I am in good shape, and will tackle the two very difficult races with a lot of motivation. And I am very happy to race again with Romain Bardet, which does not happen very often. I just hope that the weather will improve a bit because cycling in two degrees is never very pleasant. I know the Strade Bianche well and I will be there to “pilot” Romain and Silvan Dillier. It has always been a race for warriors, and will be even more so this year if the weather isn’t any better. In fact some sectors may have to be cut out. We will just have to adapt. We also have a very good team for Tirreno-Adriatico. Since we won’t be going with any sprinters, I will try, if the racing situation allows, to play my personal card in the 3rd, 5th and 6th stages, and I will of course be working for the team. Tirreno is a good race, very hard and with a lot of variety since we cross Italy. Landscapes and routes change in a week. Every year there is a beautiful selection. It is an event where the best riders come to win and to really race. This is not a preparatory race for anyone. And personally, I am just very happy to be able to be racing in my country.”

Paris-Nice 2018
Always on form at the start to the season, Lilian Calmejane has again distinguished himself this year on the French racing calendar, with a first decisive sequence punctuated by victory on the Drôme Classic last Sunday. Having won the Polka Dot Jersey in 2017, the Direct Energie team leader is readying himself for Paris-Nice with ambitions in the general classification, as well as an analysis of the route that allows him to be hopeful.

Lilian Calmejane, what lessons have you learned from the competitive sequence that has made you one of the men to watch on Paris-Nice?
Since my debut as a professional, I’ve always ridden well at the season’s beginning. I think it’s important to not mess up this point of the year. This time, I’ve just missed out on victory on several races, but the level was already good. All that was missing was a little win, which came last weekend. So, my start to the season is now a success. As a result, there is no longer any pressure on me, but the main goal is Paris-Nice. Only once I’ve completed this race I will be able to take stock of the first part of the season.

Have you used a different approach in relation to previous seasons?
In previous years, I tried to ride as much as I could, but this year the maturity that I’m starting to acquire encouraged me to give the Tour of Haut-Var a miss in order to say fresh. By missing a weekend of racing, I was able to save all my mental and physical energy. I got reassurance about the condition I’m in by finishing 3rd behind Romain Bardet, who was in great shape, on the Classic of the Ardèche and by winning the Drôme Classic, so all systems are go. All I have to do is make sure that I don’t get ill.

Is your current form giving you enough confidence for an attempt on the general classification?
Paris-Nice is a bit like the first week on the Tour de France, in terms of tension and performance. I found that out the first time I took part as a newcomer to the professional ranks in 2016. I was astounded. All sorts of things can happen, including in the first part of the race up until the time-trial. So, all that I can say is that I’m going to try and fight for a good place in the general classification. With the little experience that I possess, I have to be careful to avoid all the pitfalls there can be on the start to Paris-Nice. In general, I can look after myself and not get pushed around in the pack. The main aim will be to avoid losing too much time until the evening of the time-trial. After that, on the difficult stages, the strongest legs will come up trumps. It would be good if I could be in with a shout for the general classification and I’ll try my hardest to make sure it happens.

The 2018 route looks fairly well-suited to your characteristics, starting with the lack of a prologue on the first day…
It’s true that with a prologue, over a short distance, I sometimes lose quite a bit of time. So, a finish like that is quite better, but there will be more tension because you have to be well-placed and there will be breaks in the pack. Further into the race, the time-trial will be extremely important and will have a big effect on the rest of the race. What is interesting is that on the World Tour, I can slip under the radar a bit better than on the French cycling calendar, so I can use that to my advantage. Let’s say that if I’m slightly off the lead after the time-trial, it will still be possible to fight for a stage victory and gain back time in the general standings at the same time… There will be plenty of opportunities, and I’m going to be approaching it with plenty of desire to do well.

The last weekend again promises an intense climax to the race. How will you be tackling these stages?
What I really like again this year is that there will be four difficult stages in a row instead of three. I get the impression that the stage at La Colmiane will be less demanding than the one at La Couillole last year. I haven’t been able to do any reconnoitering, but when we climbed up to the Col Saint-Martin pass in 2017 and I was leading, this was the portion that we descended. I can remember it fairly well and I think that it isn’t as hard. That means the general classification won’t just be a battle between pure climbers, as is the case on the Dauphiné, for example. As a result, the winner could come from a wider profile of riders than in the last two years, in my opinion.

With this in mind, will your team be sufficiently well armed to compete with the teams that dominate the pack?
We have a relatively young group, which will also be working for Thomas Boudat on the sprints. In the mountains, I’ll be riding with Sylvain Chavanel who has displayed good form so far, but it’s a sure thing that I won’t have too many riders to accompany me. The main thing involves not getting caught out by the pitfalls and avoiding “eating the wind” too much on the first few stages. If we are fortunate enough to be defending a jersey, it’s true that we don’t have the resources of Sky or Movistar.

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Paris-Nice
The eight-day race will be held between 4-11 March and include 27 classified climbs, as well as a testing individual time trial.

The first major stage race of the year, Paris-Nice will start in Chatou, a small commune in the Yvelines department, with a stage for punchy riders, who are set to fight for victory and the first yellow jersey on a 1.9km-long climb averaging 6%, whose final 500 meters have cobbles.

From there, the riders will begin the long road south, with Vierzon and Châtel-Guyon (where the race’s longest stage will conclude) promised to the sprinters. Saint-Étienne – who first featured on the route at the third edition – will return as a stage finish for the first time since 2009, this time with an 18.4km ITT held over a course that can be easily split in two: a first half uphill, on 4% roads, and a second one very fast, suited to the specialists of the discipline.

The peloton’s fast men will have one more chance to shine in Sisteron, from where the race will then roll out on Friday, when a hilly stage, punctuated by six categorized climbs, will smile to the riders interested in taking home the KOM jersey, but also to the attackers, as the final hill on the course, Côte de la Colle-sur-Loup, comes with ten kilometers to go.

For the second consecutive year, the sole mountain top finish of the race will feature on the penultimate stage. Valdeblore La Colmiane (16.3 kilometers, 6.2%) is back in Paris-Nice and it’s very likely to weigh heavily in the fight for the yellow jersey, as the favorites will face a genuine climbing challenge. Last day will take the riders around Nice and over six classified climbs, including the legendary Col d’Eze (1.6 kilometers, 8.1%), which will be tackled from a different side, before Col des Quatre Chemins and the descent to the Promenade des Anglais.

Quick-Step Floors raced the “Course au Soleil” for the first time in 2003, and since then, our team took 15 stage victories and seven wins in secondary classification. Most recently, at the 2017 edition, Julian Alaphilippe took a sensational stage win on an uphill time trial, on his way to becoming the first rider to win the green and white jerseys in the same year.

“I’m quite satisfied with my first two races of the season, it was nice to be in Colombia and then in Abu Dhabi, where only two seconds separated me from a top-3 finish. My results in these races gave me confidence ahead of my first outing in Europe, which I’m delighted to make at Paris-Nice, a beautiful race which I became fond of long before turning pro.”

“I know many of the roads of this year’s edition and I dare to say the parcours is even more demanding than the one of last year. In the first part of the week the weather will also be a factor, with forecasted rain and strong winds, but we are coming here with a strong team and we are very determined to continue the impressive run of solid results that we have been enjoying since the start of the season. I would love to win a stage like last year, but I will take it day by day and see what happens”, concluded Alaphilippe, best Frenchman of the previous edition, which he finished in fifth place overall.

Also lining up at the start of the “Course au Soleil” for Quick-Step Floors will be Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns – who lies in third place in the World Tour individual standings – Belgian ITT Champion Yves Lampaert, Michael Mørkøv, Fabio Sabatini and Elia Viviani, who’ll look with confidence to the flat stages, after taking five wins so far this season, including the Dubai Tour general classification.

04.03–11.03 Paris-Nice (FRA) 2.UWT

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Tim Declercq (BEL), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Michael Mørkøv (DEN), Fabio Sabatini (ITA), Elia Viviani (ITA).
Sports Director: Brian Holm (DEN) and Wilfried Peeters (BEL).

Julian Alaphilippe has the form:

Paris Nice
Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS) said: “Paris-Nice can be broken down into two parts with the early stages giving some opportunities to the faster riders, a time trial in the middle of the race and then the harder mountain stages coming in the last days where the GC will be decided. The early stages all contain some level of difficulty with uphill sprints and climbs in the finals, Phil and Edward are both showing great form and they will fly the flag for the team in the early stages, with Roy and Mike providing a high level of support to guide them. When the race heads towards the mountains our youngster, Sam, will aim to be at the pointy end of the bike race, with Chris and debutant Louis backing him up. The GC will take shape during the stage 4 time trial and stage 7 mountain top finish but won’t be decided until the riders cross the line in Nice.”


Phil Bauhaus (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Chris Hamilton (AUS), Sam Oomen (NED), Mike Teunissen (NED), Edward Theuns (BEL), Louis Vervaeke (BEL).
Coach: Luke Roberts.

Sam Oomen:
Adelaide - Australie - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - illustration - sfeer - illustratie - Sam Oomen (Netherlands / Team Sunweb) - Mike Teunissen (Netherlands / Team Sunweb) - recon Tour Down Under 2018 in Adelaide, Australie -photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos© 2018

AG2R-La Mondiale for Paris Nice
The AG2R-La Mondiale team has placed a rider on each step of the podium in the past with Jean Christophe Peraud (3rd in 2013), Rinaldo Nocentini (2nd in 2008) and the victory in 2014 with Carlos Betancur.

Vincent Lavenu: “We can be happy with our start to the season already with six wins and 40 top tens. It is a very beautiful beginning. It allows us to approach Paris-Nice with confidence but also with humility.

We want to shine in an important UCI WorldTour event, which is the first big stage race of the season. We will have a strong team with Tony Gallopin as our leader, but we can also count on Alexis Vuillermoz and Oliver Naesen. The latter proved at the opening of the classics that his form is very good.

Tony joined the team over the winter, and he integrated perfectly. He is ambitious, the team is solid, a final place on the podium is definitely possible.

From experience, we know that Paris-Nice is a hard race, and every day has its share of difficulties. This year will be no exception, and will be tough right up until the last day in Nice. It’s up to us to be animators in this battle.”

Van Garderen Set to Continue Season at Paris-Nice
Tejay van Garderen will line up at Paris-Nice, his first UCI WorldTour stage race of the season, with a well-balanced team to support the American’s General Classification objectives.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said both van Garderen and the team are motivated for a good result in France. “Tejay van Garderen is our outright leader at Paris-Nice and after a strong performance at Volta ao Algarve, I think he can produce another good result in France. Having lived in Nice, Tejay is familiar with the climbs on the final two days and he will have good climbing support with Nicolas Roche, Dylan Teuns, and Alessandro de Marchi,” Baldato explained.

“For the flat stages, Jempy Drucker, Simon Gerrans, and Jürgen Roelandts are excellent riders to have around Tejay, so we have a well-balanced team lining up. Tejay put in a strong time trial in Portugal and this will be another important day for a good overall result at Paris-Nice.”

Tejay Van Garderen has lined up at Paris-Nice on five occasions and was last at the start line in 2015. “Volta ao Algarve was a good form builder and confidence booster. To be able to nab a podium result was a good way to start the season as well as a chance to learn what I needed to address in training heading into Paris-Nice. I’ve done some more work on the time trial bike in preparation for stage 4,” van Garderen said.

“The last time I raced Paris-Nice was in 2015 where I had a disastrous day in the cold, so hopefully we can learn from that and correct the mistakes from the past and make a solid push for a high General Classification result. With the strength, experience, and motivation BMC Racing Team is bringing to Paris Nice we shouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than a top result.”

Paris-Nice (4-10 March)
Rider Roster:

Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA).
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL).

Tejay to lead BMC in Paris-Nice:

Bahrain-Merida – Strong Team for Paris-Nice
The 76th edition of Paris-Nice will take place from Sunday, 4th March to Sunday, 11th March 2018. Beside the Grand Tours, it is one of the most famous and important races on the UCI cycling calendar. The Queen stage this year will be the 7th Stage with 175 kilometres, four intermediate climbs and the last, 16,3 kilometres closing climb at 6.2%. Also the rest of the stages are true challenges, with demanding hills and intensive sprint opportunities.

But we’re ready for it! A fierce team with Ivan Cortina, Heinrich Haussler, Ion Izagirre, Gorka Izagirre, Manuele Boaro, Antonio Nibali and Luka Pibernik is a guarantee for determined performance of BAHRAIN MERIDA Team. Leaders of the Paris-Nice line-up will be Izagirre brothers.

“It’s a pretty tough race, with different stages each year. Some of the stages and climbs might be the same as in previous years, but riders certainly don’t know all the stages,” points out Sports Director Gorazd Štangelj, who will be the head of the Team on Paris-Nice. “Another element that makes this race a hard one, is the weather … Last year we had really tough conditions with wind, rain and cold. We’ll see what this year will bring.”

“On the first three sprint stages, our goal will be foremost to protect our leaders, to avoid crashes and to finish the race in time with the winner. Of course we will try to aim for the podium with Haussler and Cortina, but not at any price,” Štangelj reveals the key strategy. “The truly difficult stages will be the last few, after the time trial on the fourth stage. But with two leaders we will certainly be stronger and more flexible.”

Heinrich Haussler, one of the key members of the Paris-Nice Team, commented: “I am feeling strong and ready for Paris-Nice. I haven’t ridden a Tour in a very long time so I’m excited to be out there with the Team and test my legs with the rest of the peloton. It’s a great race to build the form for the upcoming one-day races.”

2018 Tirreno-Adriatico, Like a Grand Tour
The provisional entry list for the 53rd Race of the Two Seas is announced today with many of the best names in cycling: Froome, Dumoulin, Nibali, Uran, Bardet, Aru, Porte, Landa, Lopez, Adam Yates, Dennis and Thomas for the GC; Sagan, Van Avermaet, Kwiatkowski, Gilbert, Ulissi, Boasson Hagen, Gaviria, Cavendish, Ewan and Matthews hunting for stages – and plenty of others.

Foto LaPresse/ Gian Mattia D'Alberto 13/03/2017 Ascoli Piceno (Italia)  Sport Ciclismo Gara Ciclistica Tirreno Adriatico 2017 - Sesta tappa - Ascoli Piceno - Civitanova Marche km 159. Nella foto: corridori alla partenza  Photo LaPresse/ Gian Mattia D'Alberto March 13, 2017 Ascoli Piceno (Italy) Sport  Cycling Race  Tirreno Adriatico 2017 -  step 6 - Ascoli Piceno - Civitanova Marche km 159. In the pic: ryders at the start

The 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico NamedSport is set to be an unprecedented Race of the Two Seas, thanks to the presence of many of the greatest cycling aces on the provisional entry list, announced today. The race takes place from 7th to the 13th March, organized by RCS Sport/La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Now in its 53rd edition, the race will see 154 riders on the start line, representing 22 teams between them. Among them will be many of the best cyclists in the world, including the entire Tour de France 2017 podium and two thirds of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España podiums, thanks to Chris Froome (winner of Tour and Vuelta), Tom Dumoulin (winner of the Giro), Vincenzo Nibali (third at the Giro and second at the Vuelta), Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet (respectively second and third at the Tour). And if this wasn’t enough, among the riders fighting for the General Classification will be Fabio Aru, Richie Porte, Mikel Landa, Miguel Angel Lopez, Adam Yates, Rohan Dennis and Geraint Thomas.

The list of stage hunters is also impressive, starting with the three (consecutive) times UCI Road World Champion Peter Sagan, his historic rivals Greg Van Avermaet and Michal Kwiatkowski, Philippe Gilbert, Diego Ulissi, Edvald Boasson Hagen and the sprinters Fernando Gaviria, Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan and Michael Matthews – among the many candidates for a stage win.

UCI WORLDTEAMS – 18 (eligible); total of 22 teams each with 7 riders:
AG2R LA MONDIALE – Bardet, Dillier, Geniez
ASTANA PRO TEAM – Lopez, Moser, Lutsenko
BAHRAIN – MERIDA – Nibali, Colbrelli, Pozzovivo
BMC RACING TEAM – Porte, Van Avermaet, Dennis
BORA – HANSGROHE – Sagan, Majka, Formolo
FDJ – Bonnet, Roux, Vaugrenard
LOTTO SOUDAL – Benoot, Marczynski, Debusschere
MITCHELTON – SCOTT – Yates, Ewan, Mezgec
MOVISTAR TEAM – Landa, Amador, Bennati
QUICK – STEP FLOORS – Gaviria, Gilbert, Jungels
TEAM DIMENSION DATA – Cavendish, Boasson Hagen, Meintjes
TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN – Spilak, Haas, Tony Martin
TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO – Roglic, Bennett, Van Emden
TEAM SKY – Froome, Thomas, Kwiatkowski
TEAM SUNWEB – Dumoulin, Matthews, Kelderman
TREK – SEGAFREDO – Brambilla, Nizzolo, Stuyven
UAE TEAM EMIRATES – Aru, Ulissi, Ganna.

UCI Professional Continental Teams – 4 wild cards:
GAZPROM – RUSVELO – Firsanov, Foliforov, Vlasov
ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – Boivin, Hermans, Sbaragli
NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – EUROPA OVINI – Cunego, Canola, Santaromita
WILIER TRIESTINA – SELLE ITALIA – Pozzato, Mareczko, Zardini

Live Tweets:
Follow Tirreno-Adriatico NamedSport daily via its Twitter feed delivering all the news directly from the race, by following the official Twitter account @TirrenAdriatico and using the hashtag #TirrenoAdriatico.

Giro del Belvedere to host Team Wiggins’ rising stars
The Continental team founded by Sir Bradley Wiggins will be at the start of the “Easter Monday Classic” on Monday April 2nd. Villa di Cordignano ready to welcome the best young prospects of British cycling.

Team Wiggins is the latest high-end addition to the starting field of the 2018 Giro del Belvedere, to be held on Monday April 2nd in Villa di Cordignano (Treviso, Northern Italy). The 80th edition of the U23 International Classic promises to be spectacular as ever, while fielding a significant share of foreign power to go with the top outfits of the Italian panorama.

The Continental team founded in 2015 by Sir Bradley Wiggins – a World and Olympic Champion in his career, winner of the 2012 Tour de France – World and Olympic Championships on both the track and the road and the 2012 Tour the France – has a mission of working in perspective and growing young talents, with the ambition of raising tomorrow’s leaders. Team Wiggins’ philosophy is a perfect match with the Giro del Belvedere, a showcase that brought to prominence some of the brightest talents over the years, from Italy and beyond.

Standing out among Team Wiggins’ prospects is 18-year-old Tom Pidcock, who competes in cyclo-cross, a standout talent making impression in both road and cyclocross in spite of his young age. The route of the “Easter Monday Classic” could be perfectly suited for his puncheur’s skills. The traditional 166,6-Km course – characterized by the Conche hill, the classic Montaner climb in Borgo Canalet and the Via delle Longhe hill – seems tailor-made for Pidcock.

In his first season among U23, the prospect from Leeds could be an outsider to take it all. Though Team Wiggins has still to announce its lineup, Villa di Cordignano is ready to embrace “Pidders”.

Team Wiggins’ Tom Pidcock in action in the JR time trial at 2017 Road World Championships:

Meran and Lienz await the champions before the grand finale
After the first two days in Trentino, the Tour of the Alps passes through Südtirol and Tyrol with stages 3 and 4. The Mendel Pass-Gampen Pass combo and the Bannberg hill will launch towards the finishes where Pantani and Bartoli revealed themselves.

After the first edition had started by Kufstein (Austria) and ended in Trento (Italy), passing through the Euroregion southbound, the Tour of the Alps (April 16th-20th, 2018) goes backwards, moving up three territories from South to North, while maintaining its trademark “formula” made of short and intense stages. The Tour of the Alps’ first two days, entirely in Trentino with finishes in Folgaria and Alpe di Pampeago, could cause a shake-up in the overall standings, but more crucial moments will be proposed by the following stages in Südtirol and Tyrol.

Tour of the Alps’ stages 3 and 4 will be much more than transitional stages. The top GC riders will need to pay attention to the course’s tricks to avoid wasting time in view of the final showdown in Innsbruck (Austria) on the circuit of the 2018 UCI Road World Championships.

Entirely in Südtirol, stage 3 will start from Auer (Italy) on the Adige left riverbank, on Wednesday April 18th to end in Meran (Italy) after 138,3 Km. The early part of the stage, characterized by the “Mendolina” ascent, will be a warm-up for a finale where the athletes will face the Mendel Pass (18 Km at 6,3%) and the Gampen Pass (13 Km at 4,1%). From the top of the last climb, 26,3 km will be left to the finish. After 24 years, Meran will return to host the finish of an international cycling event after 1994 Giro d’Italia stage 14, made famous by the first pro’ win of the late Marco Pantani.

“We are proud to host a stage of a prestigious event like the Tour of the Alps. Meran has a history with big cycling races, starting by the Giro d’Italia, and is looking forward to welcome athletes and teams with warmth, starting from the fans on the roads. With the Tour of the Alps, Meran confirms its vocation to attract international events,” said Ingrid Hofer, President of Meran Tourism Office.

The race remains in Südtirol for the start of the stage 4, 134,3 Km from Klausen (Italy) to Lienz (Austria), on Thursday April 19th. The Austrian city repeatedly hosted the Giro del Trentino, also staging the race start in the 2013 edition. Terenten climb is the first categorized ascent of the day, whilst after the following downhill, the peloton will face the Pustertal valley floor before crossing the Austrian border. The riders will proceed on the B100 road, before the passage in Abfaltersbach lifts the curtain on a tough finale. First, the athletes will tackle the Anras climb – stage finish at 2016 Giro del Trentino with the success of Mikel Landa – with its 4 km at a 7% average gradient, with steep sections peaking at 10%. After the descent and a short stint through the valley floor, will start the second categorized climb of the day in Thal-Aue, the Bannberg, where Marco Pantani and Michele Bartoli first showed up on the big scene at the 1994 Giro d’Italia. 7 km at a 6,5% average gradient will represent the final springboard towards the Hauptplatz in Lienz, where a reduced group will probably have the opportunity to contest the day’s win.

“From 1995, we are related to Giro del Trentino and the Tour of the Alps” – said Franz Theurl, President of Osttirol Tourism Office. – “In recent years, many stages have crossed the Osttirol, hosting cycling superstars such as Miguel Indurain, Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich. Osttirol is a cycling stronghold, an elected destination for road and Mountain Bike cyclists, offering ideal routes for training. From last year, World Champion Peter Sagan and his teammates of the Bora-Hansgrohe also train on our roads. In addition, there is a strategic partnership between the German team and Osttirol. I’m happy that the Tour of the Alps is back in Osttirol: it is a very important event that strengthens the connection between the Euregio territories.”

The peloton on the Mendel Pass at 2017 Tour of the Alps:

Captains of Cycling – Tom Boonen Becomes Ambassador
Last week Tom Boonen was presented as ambassador of Captains of Cycling. Captains of Cycling couldn’t wish for a better ambassador than the 37-year-old Belgian who’s a former world champion, three-time winner of Tour of Flanders and four-time winner of Paris-Roubaix.

Paul De Geyter, general manager Captains of Cycling: “In April last year, Tom Boonen retired from cycling and as of September I quit being a manager of cyclists. I am very happy that we can now work together again, this time as part of the Captains of Cycling and Lotto Soudal story.”

“I am very satisfied that Tom wants to contribute to the Captains of Cycling project and wants to advise the Lotto Soudal team too. Hopefully this is the beginning of a successful cooperation for many years.”

“Tom becomes ambassador for Captains of Cycling. It was obvious that Tom was most suited for the task. As a rider he already was an ambassador of Belgian cycling. This is merely a continuation of his promotion for Belgian cycling.”

“The first reactions from the team and the staff of Captains of Cycling are very positive and the riders are looking forward to exchanging thoughts with Tom and to receiving tips to improve their performances.”

Tom Boonen: “Last year I watched the Captains of Cycling project from a distance. Paul has told me more about it and I consider it a challenge to support this project as an ambassador. I think that as a rider I have contributed to the promotion of Belgian cycling and I will try to do the same in my new role. Cycling has always been the sport of the people and Belgium has an immense cycling history. Both the fan and entrepreneur feel connected to the sport.”

“My role for the Lotto Soudal team will be an advising role. I certainly won’t be looking over the shoulders of everybody, but on the areas where I can share my experience, I will gladly do so. Of course I know a lot of staff members and riders, so I won’t need to adapt much to the team.”

More info about Captains of Cycling: https://www.captainsofcycling.be/nl

Deerlijk -  Belgium  - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Tom Boonen pictured during the press conference of Lotto Soudal Cycling team on February 22, 2018 in Deerlijk , Belgium.  - foto: JB/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

Wanty-Groupe Gobert rides Ford in 2018 and 2019
The Wanty-Groupe Gobert cycling team is equipped with a new range of Ford vehicles for the next two seasons. Our directors will follow the races in the Ford Mondeo, the staff can enjoy the Ford Focus while our guests are transported in the Ford Tourneo Custom. This collaboration, which emphasizes the importance of motor vehicles in the management of a professional cycling team, was made possible by garages Ford De Doncker, where we presented our cars for 2018 in the Mons concession (Cuesmes) on the eve of Le Samyn.

MONS, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY 26 : Team Wanty - Groupe Gobert and VAN DER SCHUEREN Hilaire (BEL) Ass. Sports Director of Wanty - Groupe Gobert and BOURLART Jean-Franois  (BEL) General Manager of Wanty - Groupe Gobert pictured during the inauguration of the new Wanty - Groupe Gobert Ford team cars at the garage Den Doncker on February 26, 2018 in Mons, Belgium, 26/02/2018 ( Photo by Nico Vereecken / Photonews

De Doncker Group is a family business active in the automobile sector since 1987. It is managed by Franz De Doncker and his daughter Séverine. Groupe De Doncker is Ford’s official distributor for the Mons and Soignies regions and also has a second hand car center in Lens. Thanks to their mechanical workshops and authorized agencies, their dealers are committed to providing a high-quality after-sales service, that takes care of maintenance and repairs of your new or used FORD vehicle.

Franz De Doncker (director of the Ford De Doncker branches): “We have long wanted to support a cycling team. My friendship with manager Jean-François Bourlart has resulted in an agreement. Both Ford and De Doncker branches, led by my daughter Séverine and myself, are delighted to start this collaboration with Wanty-Groupe Gobert. Our vehicles will be valuable for the transportation of riders, but also for equipment and bicycles. ”

“It is unexpected but beautiful for a garage like De Doncker to be present on the roads of Tour de France. But I’m happy to know that our vehicles will accompany the Wanty-Groupe Gobert team and the riders on all events, whether it is in Belgium, Italy, France, Spain or another country.”

Sébastien Demarbaix (sports director Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I have already had the opportunity to follow ten race days in the new Ford Mondeo, and this is exactly the vehicle we are looking for. We have room for spare equipment and water bottles.But the Ford Mondeo remains light and nervous, which is essential if you need to help a rider after a mechanical problem. I am very pleased with our new Ford Mondeo.”

MONS, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY 26 : VAN DER SCHUEREN Hilaire  (BEL) Ass. Sports Director of Wanty - Groupe Gobert pictured during the inauguration of the new Wanty - Groupe Gobert Ford team cars at the garage Den Doncker on February 26, 2018 in Mons, Belgium, 26/02/2018 ( Photo by Nico Vereecken / Photonews

Quick-Step Floors Pop-up Store – Next Events
Come at the Ring Shopping Kortrijk to meet Tim Declercq and Laurens De Plus.

Last week, the launch of the Quick-Step Floors Pop-up Store at the Ring Shopping Kortrijk proved to be a hit, hundreds of people already visiting us and getting a taste of this unique experience which we hope that will make our fans’ Classics season even more exciting.

After meeting the likes of Fernando Gaviria, Philippe Gilbert, Zdenek Stybar or Niki Terpstra at the pre-Omloop Het Nieuwsblad press conference, we are now ready for three great events, first of which is scheduled on March 1st (5 pm): a two-hour Meet & Greet with Tim Declercq and Laurens De Plus, which includes also an autograph session. Declercq, fresh off his participation in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, will give a fascinating insight into last Sunday’s race, while Laurens will update you on his recovery after last month’s injury which postponed his season debut.

That’s not all! After the Great Bike Sale we organized last October, on March 3rd we are putting on sale a small amount of 2017 team exclusive bikes used by our riders in the past season. Come from 10 am and have a look which suits you best, take it home and then out for a ride like a true champ!

Later that day, starting from 5 pm, Laurens De Plus will meet the kids, the cycling superstars of tomorrow, with whom he will talk of what becoming a rider means and what are the steps you need to follow in order to arrive in the World Tour.

You can check the complete calendar event at this link.

Arjen Livyns Treansfers to Veranda’s Willems-Crelan
Arjen Livyns will leave BEAT Cycling Club just before the start of the road season and join the Pro Continental team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan. Last season, the 23-year-old from East Flanders also rode as a trainee for the same team, and he now has another chance to prove himself in the pro peloton.

“On March 1 I will switch from my current club, BEAT, to Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, where I will finish my first professional season as a neo-pro,” said Livyns. “For me, it’s a boy’s dream that is coming true, and I am glad that I can achieve it. I really hoped to become a pro at the end of last season after my internship with them, but there was no follow-up, so the plans fell apart. The chance that has arisen now is a turn that I had not anticipated but I’ve always dreamed of. I want to seize this opportunity with both hands and continue my own #RoadToBEAT.”

“At BEAT, I experienced a professional environment in a Continental team where I felt 110% well, and I was convinced that this was a good step for my further development as a cyclist. The professionalism and perfectionism of the team aren’t often seen at the Continental level. This motivated me to get the best out of myself again. I am sure that there is a future in BEAT, and I am proud to be a very small part of it. I felt the confidence of the team, and that helped me stay motivated during the winter months. That’s why I want to thank the management, the team leadership, the staff and riders. I remain a member of the club and continue to follow the project closely.”

“Our goal for this season is to help everyone within our club, from pro riders to partners to members, realize their ambitions,” said BEAT co-founder Geert Broekhuizen. “We are proud of the fact that Arjen can make another step in his career before the start of the season. For us, it is a challenge, because shortly before the start of the season we are losing an important rider in the team. We will be looking for a replacement for Arjen in the coming period. We wish him a lot of success on his #RoadToBEAT, and we will continue following him as a club member with enthusiasm.”

Arjen Livyns in action during the first training camp with BEAT Cycling Club:

Marquardt Making UCI Track World Championship Debut
Team Novo Nordisk’s Mandy Marquardt will represent the United States at the 2018 UCI Track World Championships when it kicks off on Wednesday, February 28th in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.

The 26-year-old will compete as part of USA Cycling’s 14-athlete team. She will race the sprint, team sprint, and 500-meter time trial events. This serves as her first UCI Track World Championship appearance.

“Mandy has been with our organization since 2010 when she started racing for Team Novo Nordisk’s predecessor, Team Type 1, and we’ve seen amazing growth in her over the years,” said Team Novo Nordisk CEO and Co-Founder Phil Southerland. “I met Mandy for the first time in southern Florida when Mandy was 17 years old, and she was already dreaming of the Olympics. She’s continued to deliver incredible performances, and we are immensely proud that she’s achieved such an enormous milestone. Mandy will be representing the entire diabetes community at the UCI Track World Championships and showing the world what is possible with diabetes. This is all one step closer to a lifelong dream coming true.”

Marquardt was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 16 and is currently ranked in the top 20 in the world out of 336 female track sprinters (UCI World Sprint Ranking-February 2018).

Career highlights include 13-time U.S. National Champion, two-time U.S. National Track Record Holder – 500m Time Trial and Team Sprint (set in 2016), Pan American Track Champion (2017 Team Sprint), three-time Pan American Track medalist (2016 Team Sprint, 2017 Silver in Keirin, Bronze in 500m Time Trial) and continuous Team USA World Cup member (since 2014). Marquardt has represented the United States at multiple UCI Track World Cups and was named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic ‘Long Team’ for track sprinting.

“I’m thrilled to be part of USA Cycling’s national team for the 2018 season and can’t wait to zip up my Team USA speedsuit and represent my country at Worlds,” Mandy Marquardt said. “I’m feeling strong and very motivated to race alongside my phenomenal team of riders and thankful for the support from our staff and coaches. This is part of my continuous build to an Olympic dream, and I’m grateful that I get to wake up and do what I love every day.”

Since graduating from Penn State Lehigh Valley in 2014, Marquardt has been training full-time for UCI track races, UCI Track World Cups and the Olympic Games. The Olympic hopeful lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania and is coached by Andrew Harris. She trains full-time with Sprinter’s Edge, works as a Penn State Lehigh Valley cycling coach and serves on Penn State Lehigh Valley’s Alumni Board of Directors.

The UCI Track World Championships will be held in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands from February 28-March 04.

For more information, go to www.teamnovonordisk.com.

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