EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!
The week's cycling news
A fun-packed EUROTRASH Thursday: Results and video from the Dwars Door Vlaanderen. Primoz Roglič to ride all the hilly Classics – TOP STORY. Race news: Bruges and Antwerp to take turns as Tour of Flanders start and teams for De Ronde. Rider news: Yousif Mirza wins UAE TT champs, Chris Froome on the Volta a Catalunya, UCI to punish Nacer Bouhanni with broken hand for Jake Stewart, new contract for Peter Sagan and no Flanders for Philippe Gilbert. Other news: UCI rankings, Steff Cras in quarantine, Vini Zabù risk suspension, Fuentes says nothing in TV interview, Scheldeprijs to run under strict conditions, Segafredo Giro sponsor, Tour of Norway postponement, Tom Boonen understand Tom Dumoulin, the passing of Pedro Saúl Morales and Jean Bourlès. Plus Qhubeka-Assos podcast. Big coffee read.
TOP STORY: Primoz Roglič Confirms Participation in Amstel Gold Race
Primoz Roglic will make his debut in the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, April 18. The leader of Jumbo-Visma already indicated in January that he would like to ride the three hilly classics; Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year. He has now confirmed his participation in all three.
For the hilly classics, the number one in the UCI ranking, will starts in the Tour of the Basque Country for preparation. The Slovenian the Basque stage race in 2018. Last year Roglic made his debut in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and won the Ardennes Monument. It can be expected that he will start with ambitions in the Amstel Gold Race on the tough course with Cauberg, Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg.
Various teams have already indicated that their composition for the Amstel Gold Race may still change if Paris-Roubaix is canceled. Then various riders who normally close their classic period after the Hell of the North will decide to add the Limburg race to the race program.
Liège’20 win for Roglič at the expense of Alaphilippe:
Dwars door Vlaanderen Men 2021
Dylan van Baarle has added the Dwars door Vlaanderen to his palmarès. The classic specialist of INEOS Grenadiers rode solo for more than 50 kilometres to the finish line in Waregem. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) finished just ahead of the chase bunch in second place, as Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) won the sprint for third.
The route had been changed; an extra climb of the Kluisberg was added, so that the Kwaremont was no longer the first climb of the race. In addition, the Kruisstraat was an additional obstacle at more than 40 kilometres from the finish. “Our final is now a lot tougher and more balanced,” said race director Guy Delesie. Trek-Segafredo and BORA-hansgrohe were present, unlike Sunday in Gent-Wevelgem after positive corona tests. Alberto Bettiol dropped out at the last minute and teammate Jonas Rutsch wasn’t at the start.
Fifty kilometres was covered in the first hour, but no breaks had been formed. Before the first climb of the day, the Kluisberg, the race was neutralised due to a truck on the course, but after a short delay the peloton was able to start racing again. On the climb six riders then tried to get away, but they too were not given any space. Ethan Hayter was next to attack, he was joined by Florian Vermeersch and Jelle Wallays. Nils Eekhoff counter-attacked, but the escape was too far off. On the Knokteberg, the fourth climb, Vermeersch had to let Wallays and Hayter go. On the Maria Borrestraat the peloton lifted the speed, reducing the lead of the two up front. Matteo Trentin and Elia Viviani crashed hard on the cobbles. Wallays and Hayter had 20 seconds at the Taaienberg, but that turned out not to be enough to stay ahead of the peloton. On the cobbled climb, the large group split apart. Dylan Teuns rode ahead for a while, but the Bahrain Victorious rider got little space. Not much later the lead group emerged.
A group of seven men got together, and on the Berg ten Houte Dylan van Baarle rode away, although the Dutchman still had 52 kilometres to go. Among the favourites, Mathieu van der Poel tested his legs for the first time, 50 kilometres from the finish. The Dutch champion was accompanied by Florian Sénéchal. On the way to the Kruisstraat, Van Baarle had a lead of 30 seconds on a first group including Alexander Kristoff and Tim Wellens. Van der Poel was in the next group, while world champion Julian Alaphilippe was further back. Before the climb, the first two chasing groups got together. On the Kruisstraat, Nils Politt tried an escape, but Van Baarle managed to hold out on his own at the front. Several riders counter-attacked the Dutchman, but they always encountered a reaction. On the Knokteberg Van der Poel eased off the pace, while Alaphilippe was moving up. The World champion had the race leader Van Baarle and a first chasing group with Christophe Laporte, Greg Van Avermaet, Warren Barguil, Rui Oliveira, Dylan Teuns, Milan-San Remo winner Jasper Stuyven, Victor Campenaerts , Florian Sénéchal and Luke Durbridge ahead of him.
Van Baarle maintained his lead of 20 to 30 seconds on the first chasers as the race headed towards the climb of the Vossenhol. In that group, Van Avermaet was working hard to stay ahead of the merged peloton, including Alaphilippe and Van der Poel. In the first group, Stuyven pushed strongly on the Holstraat, the penultimate climb, but the other men were on his wheel. Durbridge had a difficult time, but was the next attacker just after the climb. Campenaerts and the others, however, were quickly back on the Australian’s wheel. Van Baarle started the Nokerberg, the last climb at 10 kilometres from the finish with a lead of 30 seconds. Van Avermaet led on the cobbled climb in pursuit, but the group did not get any closer. Van Baarle crossed the cobblestones of the Herlegemstraat 8 kilometres from the finish with ease. The pursuers were defeated and after 184 kilometres the Dutchman was the winner of the 75th Dwars door Vlaanderen. In the final kilometres, the peloton joined the chasing group as Van der Poel sat up. Christophe Laporte finished second, Tim Merlier third.
Race winner, Dylan van Baarle (INEOS Grenadiers): “Last year was a difficult year with everything that happened. We’ve approached the Classics a little bit differently this year. We’re attacking them much more and it’s nice – it’s nice to race like this. I’m happy that I could finish this off. To win a semi-Classic is super special. It’s high on my list, up there with the stage I won in the Dauphine.”
2nd, Christophe Laporte (Cofidis): “This was the highest attainable, because we did not manage to get back to Van Baarle. In our group the cooperation was not very good and that was difficult. Sometimes we rode faster, then the pace went completely off again. I attacked at the flag of the last kilometre, when I saw that the peloton would return, but Van Baarle is the deserved winner. The condition is there. Sunday (Gent-Wevelgem) was not good at all, but this was okay. It’s a race that suits me too. Sunday, in the Tour of Flanders, I’m going to give the maximum. De Ronde is a great race”
3rd, Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix): “When Mathieu indicated that he was not good enough, we drew my card. Until the first big selection I really didn’t have a good feeling. That heat didn’t do me any good. I then started to cool myself down with water and it went better and better. When Mathieu (Van der Poel) said that he wasn’t feeling great and we noticed that Jasper (Philipsen) was on the road with too many fast men in the group in front of us, we decided to work for a sprint. We received too little support for that. FdJ cooperated for a while, but perhaps Demare had little faith in his sprint, so that his teammates dropped out. I explored the final yesterday. When the gap to Nokereberg had not really narrowed, I knew it would be difficult. The heat played a major role today. I had a hard time with it myself, but I heard a lot of riders around me in the peloton complaining that it was too hot. But that doesn’t say anything for Sunday, of course. The Tour of Flanders is a different race and less warm weather is predicted.”
7th, Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën): “It was a good day, we had a good race. Stan was with me after the Taaienberg, and it was good to be two. We tried to be aggressive behind Van Baarle, but without success. We couldn’t pull him back and when the peloton caught up to us, we couldn’t hope for more. I’m pretty happy with my day and hope to keep this form until Sunday which is my big goal.”
Nils Politt (BORA-hansgrohe): “I have to say that the first race after our quarantine was actually harder than we thought it would be. However, the team was always in a good position at the key points in the race. I attempted to get a good gap on the Taaienberg, but unfortunately the cooperation within the group was not quite there, and then on the penultimate ascent I missed the group in front. Perhaps it’s because I invested a bit too much before, but in the end, I rode a solid race and I think I’m now able head towards the Tour of Flanders on Sunday with a positive outlook.”
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “No, I didn’t play hide and seek. I didn’t have the legs. But I don’t draw any conclusions from that for the Tour of Flanders. I felt it quite early, it didn’t work well in the beginning. It really wasn’t my day. Whether it was the heat? That could be. I don’t like that. In any case, I have done enough food and drink. That was not the problem. Today I put some money in the parking meter, but I was certainly not alone. Julian Alaphilippe also came to tell me on the way that he was not worth a penny. I could not suffer either. I already knew it on the Hotond. I had to quickly fall back on my own pace. Better today than Sunday, I think. I can post something like that in the meantime. In the final I did my best for Tim Merlier. Nice that he still sprints to the podium. But why should my underachievement be a precursor to Sunday? Look at Van Aert. He was also not top in E3 Saxo Bank Classic, but then you see him convincingly winning Gent-Wevelgem. And it will also be less warm on Sunday than today. What is still on the program for the next day? I have yet to discuss that with my trainer. Now and then I suspect an incentive to keep the legs under tension.”
Dwars door Vlaanderen Men Result:
1. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) INEOS Grenadiers in 3:58:59
2. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis at 0:26
3. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
4. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
5. Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën
8. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
9. Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo.
Dwars door Vlaanderen’21:
Dwars door Vlaanderen Women 2021
Annemiek van Vleuten took her first victory of the season in the ninth edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen for women. She beat Katarzyna Niewiadoma in a sprint, after a breakaway of almost 40 kilometres. It was also her first victory for the Movistar team.
A number of riders tried to escape, but it was difficult to get a gap early in the race. The riders went in one group to the Kluisberg, which came after 47 kilometres. Just before the Steenbeekdries-Stationsberg-Taaienberg trio, Trek-Segafredo split the group apart, after which there were around forty riders in the front group, but many riders were able to return. There were a lot of attacks from that point on. Ruth Winder (DSM) and Liane Lippert (Trek-Segafredo) tried on Berg Ten Houte, but they couldn’t make it work, as were subsequent attacks from Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM), Alison Jackson (Liv) and Anouska Koster (Jumbo-Visma). A break of six consisting of Alison Jackson, Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo), Leah Thomas (Movistar), Julie Van de Velde (Jumbo-Visma), Thalita de Jong (Bingoal-Chevalmeire) and Naomi Rüegg got away, but not by much.
Annemiek van Vleuten attacked on the Knokteberg, the European champion went up to and past the leading group, with only Katarzyna Niewiadoma in her wheel. It was still 37 kilometres to the finish, but this was the decision in the race. The lead of the two was never very big, but they managed to hold the others off. Ellen van Dijk, winner of the last two editions of Dwars door Vlaanderen, attacked from the group of pursuers but all attempts failed. At the front, Niewiadoma seemed to have a little trouble, but Van Vleuten was unable to shake her off her wheel before Waregem. Van Vleuten started her sprint from the front, which was too much for Niewiadoma who could not prevent the European champion from winning. In the chasing group, Alexis Ryan had the strongest sprint to take third place for Canyon-SRAM to put two riders on the podium.
Race winner, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar): “I’m so happy with this first victory and being able to pay the team back after the great job they’ve been doing since the start of the season. Races like this one and everything we’ve done this month make me feel really confident about the strength we can display together. At Omloop, I still felt like I had to get into how the team worked, then at Strade everything went really well and today we went a step even further. The whole team has followed the plan 100% and did their fullest. Gloria and Alicia covered us well in the beginning, then Barbara and Aude put me into the right position at all important moments, and having Leah at the front allowed us playing two cards. After we did a recon of the course yesterday I was so motivated, and the test we carried out during the last two months at my Tenerife camps showed that the condition was good, yet it’s true that such a long-range attack, more than 30km from the finish, was a risky gamble, but it was at climbs like the Knokteberg where I felt I could make the difference. When I attacked and saw that only Kasia could follow me, I knew it was the time to keep pushing. Some strong riders were missing at today’s field, but I’ve seen that I’ve got the strength to go on the attack, and feeling well gives me confidence for what’s to come. People tall a lot about Sunday, but it was actually a big goal to be up there for the team, to keep paying them back for the support. This will really help the whole squad ride with more confidence. Seeing how we’re racing, everyone in this team, I’m more and more proud to be a member of the Movistar Team. For the time being, let’s enjoy this win, take some rest and get my body back to ‘normal’ after altitude training, then we’ll start thinking about Sunday.”
Dwars door Vlaanderen Women Result:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar in 3:04:04
2. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM
3. Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon-SRAM at 0:19
4. Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service
5. Alison Jackson (Can) Liv Racing
6. Grace Brown (Aus) BikeExchange
7. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) DSM
8. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) Alé BTC Ljubljana
9. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
10. Stine Borgli (Nor) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope.
Dwars door Vlaanderen’21:
Bruges and Antwerp Want to Take Turns Hosting the Start of the Tour of Flanders
The Tour of Flanders last started from the centre of Bruges in 2016. But that could change. The city has reached an agreement with Antwerp, the current starting place of Flanders’ Finest, to alternately organise the start of the Flemish cycling monument.
The contract between Flanders Classics and the city of Antwerp will expire after this year. The perfect opportunity for Bruges to bring the Ronde back. However, it does not want to bid against Antwerp for that, but rather seek cooperation. The two cities have therefore submitted a joint proposal to Flanders Classics, Sporza reports. The cycling classic started in Bruges for almost twenty years, until Antwerp took over the starting place in 2017.
The start in Antwerp:
Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Sport Elegant – Quick-Step jersey in Ronde van Vlaanderen
Deceuninck – Quick-Step will become Elegant – Quick-Step again for the 105th edition of the race
30-Mar-2021: The navy-blue jersey will display Deceuninck’s ultimate window concept – Elegant – a series that continues to amaze through its technicality and design and which perfectly matches the team’s values.
No better way to show the commitment than by designing a special jersey for the most important Flemish race of the year. For Deceuninck, it’s important to keep the Elegant series in the spotlight, as CEO Francis Van Eeckhout explained.
“As a Belgian multinational we are more than proud to reinforce the launch of our Elegant window concept again in collaboration with the team by changing the jersey temporary in Elegant – Quick-Step. Elegant has the look and feel of aluminum, is more sustainable and has better isolation performances. The lift-off throughout Europe has known a strong start even during these challenging times. As a main sponsor we find it very important to include The Wolfpack in this product launch during one of the most beautiful races. It makes the link between us, the team and Deceuninck, even more profound. The pursuit of perfection and focus on excellence in our activities are only a few pillars we have in common.”
Patrick Lefevere, CEO of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, is happy to support this project: “Elegant is a unique window frame design which we can perfectly highlight again this year on our iconic blue jersey. Julian Alaphilippe will display the Elegant – Quick-Step UCI World Champion jersey for the second time in the space of five months. It’s important to keep supporting each other, definitely in these strange times. We hope for the best result on Sunday and hopefully this jersey will bring us some luck during the race.”
Ronde van Vlaanderen – Tour des Flandres – APR 4
Marc Reef – Team DSM coach: “Ronde van Vlaanderen is the second Monument of the year and arguably the hardest event of the whole cobbled Flemish racing block. Like last year, it will be strange to race without all of the fans on the hills and cobbled climbs, but in these times we are happy to be able to race on this famous parcours. As in most of our one-day races, we aim to race aggressively. We need to be alert from early in the day so that we can get as many riders ahead of the race as possible, so that we’re present in numbers as the race heads into the finale. On the second passage of the Oude Kwaremont the race is normally already full-gas and from there a winning move can go at any time. Søren and Tiesj will be our two main cards to play, with the rest of the team working to support them throughout the day.”
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Nico Denz (GER)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED)
Jasha Sütterlin (GER).
Ronde van Vlaanderen – Tour des Flandres – APR 4
Albert Timmer – Team DSM coach: “Ronde van Vlaanderen is an incredibly hard day in the saddle, with its famous cobbled climbs and challenging sections. We want to race actively as a team throughout the day and anticipate the attacks so that we are together and have options as the race heads towards the finale. With Floortje, Liane and Juliette we have three riders who are capable over the climbs here and we’ll work to get them into a good position for when the action starts. We then want to use our numbers and race aggressively in search of a good result.”
Susanne Andersen (NOR)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Franziska Koch (GER)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED).
Yousif Mirza Wins UAE TT Championships
32 year old takes 8th career time trial victory title in Dubai.
Yousif Mirza put in a storming ride to win the United Arab Emirates time trial championships in Al Hamriya, Dubai.
The Emirati veteran had an average speed of 48kmph over the 30km course despite testing wind conditions, putting over 3 minutes into the second placed rider.
This win adds to the clean sweep for Mirza who also won the UAE Road Championships earlier in the year for the 11th time.
Yousif Mirza: “I was feeling really strong in the race. It was a windy day out there but I managed to do a good ride and win quite well in the end. I’d like to thank the fans here in UAE. It’s always an honour to race here on home roads and I’m very proud to keep the national team jersey for another year. I love racing here in UAE whenever I can and I hope to inspire more and more young people to take up cycling, it’s a big part of my motivation in my career.”
Chris Froome on the Volta a Catalunya: “It was a tough week”
Chris Froome rode an anonymous Volta a Catalunya wearing the Israel Start-Up Nation kit. The Briton proved unable to follow the best climbers, finishing only 81st overall. “It was a tough week, but I felt that I was getting better,” said the four-time Tour winner.
The 35-year-old Froome is still trying to fight back after his bad crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2019. In Catalonia, the rider was not yet able to do much, but the Brit remains optimistic. “It was a tough week, but I got better and better during the tour. That gives me confidence for the future.”
Froome also saw a strong team at work. “It was fantastic to see how all the boys rode for each other. It is still a relatively new group, but we quickly grow into comrades. I will now slow down and recover for a few days before heading to the Tour of the Alps (April 19-23) via a training camp.”
Froome would like to take a shot at a fifth Tour de France victory this year, he announced at the beginning of February. “I am sure that the rehabilitation process is now behind me. Given my data on the bike, my left-right balance is now the same as before the fall, maybe even better. This gives me a lot of confidence.”
Froome on the way back?
UCI to Punish Bouhanni After Dangerous Sprint
The UCI firmly distances itself from the dangerous behaviour of Nacer Bouhanni in the final sprint of Cholet-Pays de la Loire. The French sprinter pushed Jake Stewart into the crush barriers. The UCI said in a press release.
Bouhanni was in the spotlight on Sunday. The Arkéa-Samsic sprinter finished third in the French one-day race, but was disqualified for his dangerous manoeuvre in the bunch sprint. Bouhanni pushed Stewart firmly into the barriers, but the Brit remained upright. The day later, the UCI announced that it rejects Bouhanni’s behaviour in the sprint and that the incident has been sent to the disciplinary committee. “The UCI asks the committee to impose a penalty that is appropriate to the seriousness of this action.”
On social media, Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), reacted furiously at Bouhanni’s action. “Yo Nacer, I would like to ask what you were thinking at the time. It is clear that you have no brain cells,” the Brit commented. “The irony is that you told me after the finish that I had no respect. Here is an educational video of what ‘no respect’ looks like.” Stewart is not alone in criticising Bouhanni’s action. On social media, many cyclists didn’t hold back. The comparison with the crash of Dylan Groenewegen and Fabio Jakobsen has been drawn.
Nacer Bouhanni, through his Arkéa-Samsic team, has apologised for his dangerous action in the sprint during Cholet-Pays de la Loire. “I admit it was my mistake to deviate from my line, but it was certainly not intentional,” said Bouhanni. “I want to say to Jake Stewart I’m sorry.” Bouhanni describes his sprint. “I saw Elia Viviani start and wanted to follow his wheel. It’s my mistake to change lines. I didn’t see Jake Stewart at the time. When we came into contact with each other, I noticed that I was getting out of balance. I tried as best I could to avoid falling there. I really wanted to follow Viviani’s slipstream as the wind was coming from the right side. But my action was certainly not deliberate.”
The Cholet-Pays de la Loire sprint:
Broken Hand for Stewart
Jake Stewart will miss the spring races. The British Groupama-FDJ sprinter suffered a fracture in his hand during the incident with Nacer Bouhanni in Cholet-Pays de la Loire. Stewart will not ride the Tour of Flanders.
Groupama-FDJ reports that the 21-year-old rider, who was second in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the beginning of this season, will be sidelined for about three weeks with his injury. That injury was caused due to Stewart being pushed against the barriers by Bouhanni in the bunch sprint finish of the GP Cholet. Stewart didn’t crash, but did damage his hand. Further examination at the hospital showed that Stewart had suffered a fracture in his left hand. “I am disappointed that I cannot start in the coming classics, especially because I have very good legs,” he said. “It was not my fault, but that is also part of the sport. I can be happy with my condition so I take the time to recover and hope to come back just as strong.”
Stewart on the Besseges podium:
Peter Sagan and BORA-hansgrohe Discuss New Contract
Peter Sagan and BORA-hansgrohe are in talks to extend his expiring contract. Team boss Ralph Denk told the Kölner Stadtanzeiger. According to the German manager, there is a chance that the team will part with the Slovakian rider. “Peter is entering the fall of his career,” says Denk.
“The outcome of our conversation is open. We would like to make a decision in April, but I don’t dare to say which way things are going,” said Denk. “We are very grateful for what Peter has meant to us. The sponsors have received a lot of attention thanks to him, but he will be entering the fall of his career.”
31-year-old Sagan is one of the highest paid riders in the peloton. He reportedly earns around five million euros. “We also have to consider whether we still want to pay for that. Or is it better to invest that money in the youth? If Peter doesn’t stay, I have a lot of money available. The sponsors trust that I can put together the best possible team with the money.” Three-time world champion Sagan has been riding for BORA-hansgrohe since 2017.
What next for Sagan?
No Tour of Flanders for Philippe Gilbert
Following a disappointing Milan-Sanremo and abandons at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic and Gent-Wevelgem, the 2017 Tour of Flanders winner will take a period of necessary rest, both physically and mentally. Gilbert hopes to be back for the Ardennes Classics, but this is not yet certain.
“We decided with the team that I would take a period of rest now because it is not going well at all”, explains Philippe Gilbert. “It’s been a few weeks now that things haven’t been going well. We took the time to analyse everything there was to discuss and we came to the conclusion that it is a lack of mental and physical freshness. I think it is due to all the work I did after my crash at the Tour de France last year. I am still human. I put in a lot of work, without any decent rest really, because during the weeks off the bike, I was working hard with the physiotherapist or other specialists. At the time, I’ve had a bad diagnosis of the knee. We didn’t really realise how serious that second crash was. In the end, it was much more serious than we initially thought. Maybe I should have stopped my 2020 season at that point.”
“You have to know that the Friday before Milan-Sanremo was the first time I could pedal without any knee pain. So, this has been eleven days now. Maybe this is also an explanation that the body is doing a kind of decompression after having to face with so much pain. During this process, I think it took me a lot more energy to let the body heal than we could have imagined. I think I’m now paying the price for this. Another important element is that I have been riding in the cold a lot this year. Of course, this doesn’t help with an injury like that.”
“After the analysis, I now realise that at the team training camp in January, I was still at least 20 or 30% behind the average level of the group, I think. So, I went through a period of doubt, especially because I was putting pressure on myself to be ready for Milan-Sanremo. So I worked even harder to try to come back. I made big physical progress since the training camp, but it maybe went a little too fast. And now, I am paying for it. At Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, I managed to take a good result, but this had more to do with experience than with the shape. In the end, I haven’t been at my best yet this season. It is now time to take a step back and this will allow me to get over the hurdle. I’ve reached a point where my shape is no longer evolving. I am stagnating and I can’t reach the next level. Every year, I normally move up a level and I become stronger after Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. Now, I’m staying at the same level. So, the body doesn’t accept the workload or the system of overcompensation anymore. When you find yourself in this stage, the only way to let your body work naturally, is to give it some rest. At Paris-Nice, I didn’t have a single day where I had the legs to be up there in the final. I was only able to follow. This was also the case in the Belgian races. Around 150 kilometres, the legs started to hurt. Normally, that’s when I start to be able to make the difference.”
Philippe Gilbert will decide later on – together with the team – if it’s possible to return to competition at the Ardennes Classics.
“My idea is to have 4-5 days off the bike and then slowly resume training. The Ardennes Classics remain an option, but it’s still too early to talk about this. First, I want to feel 100%, both physically and mentally, in order to play a role in the finales. After all, that’s why I practice sport”, concludes Philippe Gilbert.
Gilbert in Paris-Nice:
UCI Team Ranking
On Tuesday, March 30, the UCI updated the 2021 Team Ranking. Deceuninck – Quick-Step is still the leader, but otherwise there are many changes in the top-10. INEOS Grenadiers (second) and Jumbo-Visma (third), have moved up the rankings.
INEOS had to give up second place to Trek-Segafredo last week, but the British team had excellent results in the Volta a Catalunya with the full podium in the final overall and took a load of points. Jumbo-Visma is also a big winner after Wout van Aert’s victory in Gent-Wevelgem. Trek-Segafredo dropped three places and is now fifth. The American team was not allowed to start in Gent-Wevelgem due to two positive corona tests and didn’t start Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday. UAE Team Emirates, with Tour winner Tadej Pogačar, is currently fourth.
Alpecin-Fenix (seventh), AG2R Citroën (ninth) and BikeExchange (tenth) have also jumped in the rankings. The Australian team enters the top 10. BORA-hansgrohe (sixth) and Bahrain Victorious (eighth) drop a place, Astana-Premier Tech is out of the top 10. Outside the top 10; Qhubeka ASSOS moved up four places. Total Direct Energie, Movistar and Cofidis also rose in the world rankings. DSM is stuck in eighteenth place, Movistar is new in the top 20, this comes at the expense of EF Education-Nippo.
Alpecin-Fenix is still the best ProTeam in the UCI Team Ranking. Arkéa-Samsic is no longer the closest competition, as the team of Nairo Quintana and Nacer Bouhanni has been overtaken by Total Direct Energie. The difference between Alpecin-Fenix and Total Direct Energie is more than a thousand points. The best ProTeam in the UCI Team Ranking 2021 must, according to UCI rules, be given a wildcard for every WorldTour event in 2022, including the three Grand Tours. The team that finishes second will receive an invitation for all the WorldTour one-day races.
UCI Team Ranking (on March 30, 2021):
1. Deceuninck – Quick-Step – 4,251 points
2. INEOS Grenadiers – 3,259 points
3. Jumbo-Visma – 2,825 points
4. UAE Emirates – 2,511 points
5. Trek-Segafredo – 2,439 points
6. BORA-hansgrohe – 2,301 points
7. Alpecin-Fenix - 2,096 points
8. Bahrain Victorious – 2,040 points
9. AG2R Citroën – 1,917 points
10. Team BikeExchange – 1,697 points
11. Qhubeka ASSOS – 1,609 points
12. Astana-Premier Tech – 1,571 points
13. Lotto Soudal – 1,411 points
14. Israel Start-Up Nation – 1,402 points
15. Groupama-FDJ – 1,359 points
16. Total Direct Energy – 953 points
17. Arkéa-Samsic – 868 points
18. Team DSM – 836 points
19. Movistar – 821 points
20. Cofidis – 818 points
21. EF Education-Nippo – 806 points
24. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert – 522 points.
Best five ProTeams in the UCI Team Ranking (on March 30, 2021):
7. Alpecin-Fenix - 2,096 points
16. Total Direct Energy – 953 points
17. Arkéa-Samsic – 868 points
22. Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB – 802 points
23. B&B Hotels p/b KTM – 529 points.
One Day Race World Ranking
Wout van Aert is the new leader in the rankings that the UCI keeps for the one-day races. The Belgian from Jumbo-Visma has passed Mathieu van der Poel, who is now second, due to his victory in Gent-Wevelgem. Van Aert has 2,356 points, compared to 2,160 points for Van der Poel. Julian Alaphilippe is third with 1,366 points. UCI One Day Race World Ranking is a continuous ranking. Points earned in 2020 will expire once the 2021 edition has been run.
One Day Ranking (on March 30, 2021):
1. Wout van Aert – 2,356 points
2. Mathieu van der Poel – 2,160 points
3. Julian Alaphilippe – 1,366 points
4. Giacomo Nizzolo – 1,240 points
5. Florian Sénéchal – 1,240 points
6. Marc Hirschi – 1,200 points
7. Michael Matthews – 975 points
8. Jakob Fuglsang – 913 points
9. Tim Merlier – 863 points
10. Primož Roglič – 855 points.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step well in the lead:
Women’s WorldTour Ranking
Marianne Vos sprinted to victory in Gent-Wevelgem and gave the Jumbo-Visma women’s team their first success. She was also awarded the purple jersey as the new leader of the Women’s WorldTour. Vos gained 400 points for the Women’s WorldTour standings with her victory. Because she was seventh in Strade Bianche and second in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, her total came to 840 points. She passed Elisa Longo Borghini, who only got 8 points from Wevelgem. The Italian is second. Lotte Kopecky and Elisa Balsamo are in third and fourth place.
Women’s WorldTour Ranking (as of March 28, 2021):
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma – 840 points
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo – 728 points
3. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing – 564 points
4. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service – 520 points
5. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Fut. – 448 points
6. Grace Brown (Aus) BikeExchange – 416 points
7. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned) SD Worx – 408 points
8. Cecilie Jørgensen (Den) Movistar – 400 points
9. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM – 308 points
10. Lisa Brennauer (Den) Ceratizit-WNT – 284 points
Marianne Vos wins Gent Wevelgem and tops the WorldTour:
Steff Cras in Quarantine
Steff Cras tested positive for the corona virus. The Lotto Soudal rider and his entourage have to be quarantined in Spain, where he rode the Volta a Catalunya last week.
Cras did not start in the final stage, around Montjuïc. In the morning he had a fever, after which his team decided not to take any chances. The 25-year-old Belgian and the people he had been in contact with were immediately isolated and underwent a PCR test in Barcelona. Later in the day, Cras got a positive result, the others a negative result. Prior to the last ride, the five remaining riders of the team and all staff members received a negative result after a quick test.
Cras and his close contacts remain in quarantine in Spain. The rider feels better again and no longer shows any symptoms. In line with the applicable corona protocols, Lotto Soudal will continue to monitor all riders and staff members and will be conducting more corona tests in the near future.
Matteo De Bonis EPO Positive, Vini Zabù Risk Suspension
Vini Zabú risks a suspension of 15 to 45 days after two positive doping tests within 12 months. The 25-year-old Italian Matteo De Bonis has been caught using EPO. Matteo Spreafico returned two Adverse Analytical Findings and provisionally suspended and sacked by the team.
De Bonis tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition control on 16 February, the UCI said in a press release. The test was conducted by anti-doping agency ITA. The Italian still has the right to request a B-sample. The UCI has suspended De Bonis for the time being. This is the second positive doping test for Vini Zabù within twelve months. In the 2020 Giro d’Italia, Matteo Spreafico was caught with the drug enobosarm, also known as ostarine, a drug that has the same effect as anabolic steroids. The positive tests on the 27-year-old Spreafico were taken on October 15 and 16.
The UCI now relies on article 11.3.1, which states that a team will receive a collective suspension in the event of two positive doping cases in one year. The UCI disciplinary committee will shortly consider the matter and then make a decision. With a maximum suspension of 45 days, the team will miss the Giro d’Italia.
Maybe no Giro for Visconti:
Fuentes Says Nothing in TV Interview
Ex-sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, the man behind the Operación Puerto doping case, gave an interview on Spanish television which potentially made some people a bit nervous. In the end, he did not make any revelations in the Lo de Évole program on La Sexta channel.
Fuentes was active in the peloton as a sports doctor for many years, but kept a low profile about his role in cycling. He did, however, admit that he supervised Fermín Cacho medically. The runner became Olympic champion in the 1500 meters in 1992. “I gave him everything there was then. Products to increase plasma volume and reduce lactic acid content, testosterone, amino acids. But I want to make it clear that you don’t turn a donkey into a race horse. Just because I helped him doesn’t mean he could win. Cacho was an excellent athlete.”
Fuentes also said that if he revealed everything he knew about the 1992 Games in Barcelona, ”medals would break. That’s why I don’t want to tell you. I think (there was doping in Barcelona), but I cannot prove it. I would have to say that I know that doping has won medals, but 28 years later it is almost impossible to prove, and it could lead to an indictment. If you say something that you cannot prove, you could be taken to court and I don’t want that.”
The newspaper El Pais published a document allegedly showing that he had contact with Real Sociedad football club. “I see this document and I acknowledge that it is my letter. I was not the club doctor but you can think that I gave advice in one way or another.” He also had contact with FC Barcelona, but without further follow-up. He remained vague about a collaboration with Real Madrid. “I’m not going to say anything about that, but that doesn’t mean it was. I had to testify about that in a court case and then I said ‘no’. So now I say ‘no’.”
Nothing new from Fuentes:
Scheldeprijs Starts in Terneuzen Under Strict Conditions
On April 7, the Scheldeprijs will again be the first cycling race for men on Dutch soil. The first seventy kilometres of the sprinters classic are run over Dutch territory. This will be done under strict conditions, NOS reports.
Last year, the organisation was not allowed to start in the Zeeland town. Now the regional Safety Dept, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the police have agreed to the event, although strict requirements have been set. The start of the race will not take place in the centre of Terneuzen, but a sheltered location and will be diverted to make it easier to keep out the public. Along the route, extra traffic controllers and police motorcycles will be used to keep any spectators at a distance.
“The Scheldeprijs falls under the top sports scheme. Only because the organisation can meet strict conditions to organise the competition corona proof, the competition can continue,” said Mayor Jan Lonink about the race. “Of course it is a shame that the public cannot be present at the start and along the route,” adds Alderman Jack Begijn to Lonink’s story. “Together with the province, we are making every effort to broadcast images of the arrival of the cyclists’ buses, podium presentation and the start via a livestream.”
The race, also known as the unofficial World Championship for sprinters, runs through the Westerscheldetunnel and passes through the municipalities of Borsele, Reimerswaal, Kapelle and Woensdrecht. The border with Belgium is crossed before the finish circuit in Schoten. There is also a women’s race for the first time, but this does not take place on Dutch territory.
The only UCI race that took place in the Netherlands this year is the Healthy Aging Tour. After the Scheldeprijs, the Amstel Gold Race is the next Dutch race on the cycling calendar. For that race, a local circuit of 17 kilometres was chosen in the Heuvelland between Valkenburg and Maastricht. This route includes the climbs of the Cauberg, Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg.
Caleb Ewan won in 2020:
Segafredo Zanetti will be the official sponsor of the Maglia Ciclamino at the 2021 Giro
A market leader for espresso coffee in its home country of Italy and across the world, Segafredo Zanetti has renewed its partnership for 2021 and will be the official sponsor of the Maglia Ciclamino at the 104th Giro d’Italia, starting from Turin on 8 May and finishing in Milan on 30 May.
Segafredo RCS partnership renewal for the cyclamen jersey of the Giro D’Italia 2021. Luca Baraldi, Marco Belinelli, Paolo Bellino
The agreement was sealed with the handing over of the official Maglia Ciclamino by Paolo Bellino, CEO and General Manager of RCS Sport to Luca Baraldi, Director of Segafredo Zanetti Grandi Eventi and CEO of Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna, in the presence of Virtus Segafredo Bologna club player Marco Belinelli.
The Maglia Ciclamino, sponsored by Segafredo Zanetti, has enjoyed a rich history in the race. The establishment of a points ranking as a stand-alone classification first took place in 1958. Since 1967, the leader of this ranking has worn a distinctive jersey. In 1967, 1968 and 1969 this jersey was red (sponsored by Dreher), this then became the colour cyclamen (sponsored by Termozeta) until 2009. From 2010 to 2016 the jersey returned to red, and from 2017, on the occasion of the 100th Giro, the Maglia Ciclamino returned with the official sponsor Segafredo Zanetti.
Tied at the top of the rankings for most overall victories in the points standings, are the two great rivals of the 70s and 80s: Francesco Moser and Giuseppe Saronni, with four Maglia Ciclamino each. Mario Cipollini, Roger de Vlaeminck and Johan van der Velde follow at 3.
The new Maglia Ciclamino is developed and designed by Castelli. Together with the fabric manufacturer Sitip, 100% recycled yarns were used to reduce the jersey’s environmental impact.
Marco Belinelli: “I like cycling and, when I can, I also follow the Giro d’Italia. Basketball and cycling, like all sports, must be an example and a driving force for a reopening of society that we hope is drawing ever closer. I wish the whole Giro caravan good luck and hope, one day, to be able to attend a stage live.”
Luca Baraldi: “It is with great satisfaction and great pleasure that today we are here to present, for the fifth consecutive year, our partnership with RCS Sport and the sponsorship of the Maglia Ciclamino for this year’s Giro d’Italia. Segafredo Zanetti will therefore be a key player again among the most important sponsors of this wonderful event that involves all cycling enthusiasts. We will carry around Italy the Maglia Ciclamino that has always represented victory by definition, because it is worn by the rider who wins the points classification. It is therefore a winning combination between those who cross the finish line first on the road several times during this upcoming Giro d’Italia, and those who represent the ‘Caffè dello sport’ in Italy and around the world, and in particular the coffee culture of cycling. With our new commercial liaison and strategic partnership with RCS, we wish all the participants, sportspeople, athletes, teams and all professionals a memorable Giro d’Italia! And that the Maglia Ciclamino, together with the other race jerseys, can bring wonderful emotions to all cycling fans on the streets of Italy.”
Paolo Bellino: “Segafredo Zanetti has been, more than a partner, a travel companion of the Giro d’Italia since 2017, the year in which the historic Maglia Ciclamino returned with this sponsor. This jersey is an important symbol of the Corsa Rosa and the partnership with Segafredo Zanetti over the years has always been successful: we are sure that we will continue to go a long way together, starting with the Giro which will begin on 8 May”.
Tour of Norway Requests Postponement
The Tour of Norway will not run this year from May 21-24. According to the organisers, there is still too much uncertainty about the corona measures in the Scandinavian country, including the travel restrictions. The stage race hopes to continue later this year.
The corona situation is not expected to have improved very much by May, wrote the Tour of Norway organisers. “We don’t know if it is possible for teams to enter the country in May. That is why we have decided to postpone the 2021 edition until this autumn.”
In consultation with the UCI, the Tour of Norway (2.Pro) is looking for a new date, at the end of August or the beginning of September. Ten WorldTour teams were ready to participate in the stage race in May, including Jumbo-Visma, Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Lotto Soudal, INEOS Grenadiers and Team DSM.
Tour of Norway 2019 stage 6:
Tom Boonen Can Fully Understand Tom Dumoulin
Tom Boonen can fully understand Tom Dumoulin’s choice to stop temporarily. So says the 40-year-old classic king who ended his career four years ago after Paris-Roubaix. In a major interview with WielerFlits editor Raymond Kerckhoffs for the magazine Helden, the Belgian said that in his last years as a professional cyclist he had already discussed a few times with some team mates how hard life is for a rider.
“My team mate Kevin de Weert absolutely wanted to finish in the top-10 of the Tour de France once,” Boonen said. “He never made it to that place, but that urge probably cost him ten years of his life. He had to go altitude training for five months every year, had only a fat percentage of three percent and was continuously half depressed. A classification in a Grand Tour has a huge impact on your body when you are actually not made for it. If you just fall short of that little bit of class. That’s horrible.”
“Tom Dumoulin is a top class rider, but with his 1.85 meters is actually a bit too big to ride a classification,” Boonen pointed out. “He has to be super thin to be able to go uphill with the best. He has to pay great attention to his diet and sleep at height every second when he can. If you have problems with that, you will quickly feel very lonely. If I had put everything on the lap, I would have stopped much earlier. Preparing the classics is much more fun than the big tour.”
Boonen still fit:
Former Cyclist Morales Dies of Heart Attack
Pedro Saúl Morales passed away last week at the age of 56. The Colombian ex-cyclist had a heart attack on 24 March during a bike ride in his home region of Huíla. Morales rode for Kelme and Manzana Postobon during his career. The climber rode the Tour de France twice and the Vuelta a España eight times. In the 1989 Vuelta he finished 8th overall. That year he also won two stages in the Catalan Cycling Week.
In recent years, Morales, who was considered one of the best Colombian cyclists in the 80s and 90s, has been running a sportswear company in southern Colombia. Former cyclist Victor Hugo Peña, now a cycling commentator, responded to the news of Morales’s death on social media. “He was a great man in the golden history of cycling in Colombia. Rest in peace.”
Pedro Saúl Morales RIP:
Tour Stage Winner Jean Bourlès Dies at 90
Former cyclist Jean Bourlès died on Tuesday at the age of 90. Le Télégramme reports. The Frenchman was one of the figureheads of cycling in Brittany in the 50s and 60s. He won a Tour stage in 1957.
His Tour stage victory was achieved on the sixteenth stage from Barcelona to Ax-les-Termes in the colours of France West, is the highlight of Bourlès’s career. In addition, he once stood on the podium of the GP Ouest France-Plouay (second in 1966) and Paris-Camembert (third in 1959).
From 1960 to 1963, Bourlès was a Mercier-BP-Hutchinson teammate of Raymond Poulidor, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 83.
LISTEN NOW: Unclipped with Doug Ryder
Douglas Ryder, Team Qhubeka ASSOS founder and principal, has spoken candidly of just how close he came to seeing his dream of having Africa’s UCI WorldTour team competing at the highest level of the sport extinguished, as in late 2020 his prospects of finding a sponsor to secure its future looked over.
The first episode of the team’s podcast ‘Unclipped’ as Team Qhubeka ASSOS sees Ryder talk in-depth about the incredible fight to survive after staring down the barrel of extinction following the conclusion of the 2020 season.
“This team has a strong message and does some great things, so it was important for us to continue to exist and fight for what we believe in; the mobility of people and giving them hope, opportunity and of course to do significant things at the highest level of world cycling,” Ryder said.
The episode also sees Ryder reflect on the team’s purpose-led outlook in its endeavour to harness the power of sport for good, dealing with critics and also addresses the question of the team’s existence beyond 2021.
This exciting content offering aims to further enhance the way in which supporters can engage with the team, offering unique insights and access in a way that hasn’t been widely available in the peloton before. So look out for further episodes to come during the course of the season.
Please subscribe, download the episode, share it widely, leave a review and to send us your feedback.
‘Unclipped with Team Qhubeka’ is available via all podcasting platforms including:
About the image
‘UnClipped’ was chosen as the series title for a number of reasons using the iconic toe clip as the perfect representation of what the series hopes to achieve.
The toe clip firstly reminds us about the rich history of the sport as well as being a visual metaphor related to being off the bike and having a conversation. It also reflects the intended unscripted candour of the content while also mirroring the innovation and technological advantages so important to our team.
Plus, ‘old school’ is simply cool.
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